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Sunday playbook: Eagles next up for unbeaten Vikings

There was a time when the National Football League turned over the mid-October stage to the baseball playoffs and World Series, especially when the big-city Yankees and Dodgers were involved.

Not any more, although the possibility of the Chicago Cubs joining the Cleveland Indians in the World Series certainly is intriguing.

The NFL was all set for a prime attraction between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

That was before Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury that required surgery in the last week. Now it’s the Patriots’ Tom Brady against Steelers backup Landry Jones. Not quite the same mystique.

But that’s not the only interesting match-up on the Week Six schedule. There are several candidates for the most attractive game on the docket.

Take your pick: the undefeated Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia; the burgeoning rivalry in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks at the Arizona Cardinals, or the Denver Broncos and coach Gary Kubiak facing former Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler, how with Houston.

A capsule look at the Week Seven games:

Game of the day

Vikings (5-0) at Eagles (3-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Vikings (-3)
The scoop: Two teams that thrive on turnovers have hardly any themselves. Vikings, with ex-Eagles QB Sam Bradford, have not thrown an interception. Eagles rookie Carson Wentz has just one. ... Minnesota is second in NFL in defense with 287.6 yards and is plus-11 on takeaways. Eagles are plus-6. Vikings are 2-0 on road with wins at Tennessee (25-16)and Carolina (22-10).
Outlook: Vikes average only 2.5 per rush but Eagles give up 4.8. Minny defense puts rookie Wentz to the test. Vikings, 17-13.

Top attractions

Patriots (5-1) at Steelers (4-2)
TV: CBS, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-7½).
The scoop: Torn meniscus that will keep Roethlisberger out spoils this showdown between two of AFC’s best. Patriots QB Tom Brady is 8-2 in career versus Steelers with 113 rating and 24-3 TD-INT ratio. ... Look for Pitt to try to muscle Patriots with ground game led by Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. Landry Jones makes first start of 2016 for Pittsburgh.
Outlook: Steelers ground game won’t be able to match points with Brady passes. New England, 34-21.

Seahawks (4-1) at Cardinals (3-3)
TV: NBC, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Cardinals (-2).
The scoop: Seattle has won three in a row since startling loss at Los Angeles and has taken over NFL lead in defense (283.6). Cardinals are allowing only 295. ... Seahawks routed Red Birds in Glendale, 36-6, after building a 30-6 halftime lead when they met in last week of 2015 NFL regular season, ending nine-game Arizona win streak.
Outlook: Arizona slowly rounding into form. 20-17.

Texans (4-2) at Broncos (4-2)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Broncos (-9).
The scoop: Lot of connections here. Gary Kubiak returns to Denver sidelines after brief medical issue, coaches against team he led as head coach from 2006 to late in 2013 season. Brock Osweiler, who jumped Broncos’ ship to sign with Texans as free agent, will try to lead Houston to victory. Osweiler (8 TDs, 8 INTs) came out of his funk and led comeback over Colts last Sunday night. ... Trevor Siemian of Broncos is 2-0 as starter at home. Rookie Paxton Lynch started the home loss versus Atlanta.
Outlook: Broncos know Osweiler too well. Denver, 27-14.

Bills (4-2) at Dolphins (2-4)
TV: CBS, 1 p.m.
The line: Bills (-2½).
The scoop: Remember Joe Danelo? He kicked winning FG in OT for Bills in 1983 victory that ended long string of Buffalo losses in Miami. ... Bills have more injury intrigue than any Buffalo team ever with McCoy, Dareus and Woods all up in the air going into weekend. ... Bills handled Niners’ Carlos Hyde last week. Now they better be wary of Jay Ajayi of Fish, who ran for career high 204 yards and two touchdowns in upset of Steelers last week. .... Dolphins whipped up on Steelers after two horrendous games against Cincinnati and Tennessee.
Outlook: This one will be tougher than Bills backers believe. Buffalo 24-23.

Chargers (2-4) at Falcons (4-2)
TV: Fox, 4 p.m.
The line: Falcons (-6½).
The scoop: Atlanta has won last six meetings of teams. It’s only fourth time Bolts have visited Atlanta ever. ... Mike McCoy of Chargers and Dan Quinn of Falcons never have faced each other as head coaches. ... Chargers Philip Rivers is best QB on bad team in NFL. He has 105.9 rating and 12-3 TD-INT ratio. Matt Ryan of Falcons leads league in passing yards (2,075) and rating (117.9) and Julio Jones tops league with 656 receiving yards (21.5 average).
Outlook: Should be crazy passing duel. Falcons, 38-35.

Best of the rest

Saints (2-3) at Chiefs (3-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Chiefs (-6½).
The scoop: Kansas City, which has won nine in a row at home, will be facing revived Saints and Drew Brees. Brees threw for NFL-record 15th career 400-yard passing game in win over Carolina last week. All Bills QBs together have only four, the first was by Joe Ferguson (419) in that breakthrough win in Miami in 1983.
Outlook: Chiefs, tied for league lead with nine interceptions, will have plenty of opportunity against Brees. Chiefs keep run going, 28-26.

Giants (3-3) vs. Rams (3-3)
TV: CBS, 9:30 p.m.
The line: Giants (-3).
The scoop: First NFL game at London’s Twickenham Stadium. Expect Odell Beckham Jr. of Giants to put on show for Londoners. He had eight catches for 222 yards and two TDs in win over Ravens last week. Rams’ Case Keenum passed for three TD passes in three-point loss at Detroit.
Outlook: Giants have won last six in a row against Rams starting in 2002 − for what it’s worth. Big Blue, 30-24.

Redskins (4-2) at Lions (3-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Lions (-1).
The scoop: Who’s Jamison Crowder? He’s undersized (5-8, 185) receiver/returner from Duke who has four touchdowns (three receptions and one punt return) in last five games for Redskins, who have won four in a row. ... Lions scored last 10 points in fourth quarter to beat Rams, 31-28 last week with Matthew Stafford passing for four TDs. Stafford has 14 TD passes this season.
Outlook: Washington keeps finding ways to get it done. Redskins, 20-14.

Raiders (4-2) at Jaguars (2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Jaguars (-1).
The scoop: This is game Oakland needs to win coming off last week’s disappointing showing against division rival Chiefs. However, Raiders’ defense is allowing 444.8 per game, which makes them vulnerable. Oakland QB Derek Carr has 99.1 rating with 12 TDs, three INTs. ... Jaguars won at Chicago last week on 51-yard Blake Bortles pass to Arrelious Benn last week.
Outlook: This is Oakland’s fourth game out of Pacific Time Zone. Raiders, used to morning starts, win 34-28.

Colts (2-4) at Titans (4-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Titans (-3).
The scoop: Indy has dominated rivalry with Tennessee winning last nine and 15 of last 18. Chuck Pagano is 8-0 as Colts head coach against Titans. However, Titans Marcus Mariota burned Colts for 367 yards and two TDS only time he faced them last season in 35-33 loss.
Outlook: Pressure getting to Colts. Tennessee, 35-20.

Buccaneers (2-3) at 49ers (1-5)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Buccaneers (-1).
The scoop: Not very exciting matchup. Tampa Bay coming off bye. Last game was win at Carolina. Niners faded late in game and were routed at Bills.
Outlook: Bucs have disappointed since winning opener at Atlanta, but Niners are undermanned. Tampa Bay, 27-14.

Browns (0-6) at Bengals (2-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bengals (-10).
The scoop: With World Series ahead, will anybody in Cleveland really care. ... Browns were outscored 68-13 by Bengals last season. ... Bengals are most disappointing AFC team so far.
Outlook: Browns haven’t stop trying yet. Cincinnati, 23-16.

Dog of the day

Ravens (3-3) at Jets (1-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Jets (-2).
The scoop: Don’t think NFL passer rating truly reflects QB efficiency? It certainly does in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s case. His 63.4 rating is last in league and put him on bench in favor of Geno Smith. ... Jets are league-worst minus-11 turnovers. Combined New York teams are minus 21. ... Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco is 3-0 vs Gang Green including playoff win.
Outlook: Fitz’ failures have left Jets in bad way. Baltimore, 27-21.

Last week’s results: 10-4 straightup; 7-5-2 versus spread.
Season’s record: 54-32 straightup; 42-40-4 versus spread.

 

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