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Rodgers-Manning matchup will be a marquee one

You don’t usually find marquee NFL matchups smack in the middle of the World Series, but one of the best goes up against Game Five of baseball’s Autumn Classic on Sunday night.

The Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, two of the five remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, will go at it in the Mile High City. It’s also a matchup of two of the league’s elite quarterbacks – fading 39-year-old veteran Peyton Manning of the Broncos and the Packers’ 31-year-old Aaron Rodgers, who is in his prime.

It’s only the fourth time in NFL history that two teams with 6-0 records or better have met, and Manning and Rodgers are the only quarterbacks in league history to average at least two touchdown passes per game. No, not Tom Brady. It only seems like it.

Manning and Rodgers have faced each other only once before and that was when Manning was an Indianapolis Colt. Green Bay won, 34-14, at Lambeau Field in 2008. Rodgers completed 21 of 28 for 186 yards and one touchdown in his first year as the Packers’ starter. Manning completed 21 of 42 for 229 yards and two interceptions, but had no touchdown passes.

One of the unbeatens will bite the dust Sunday. New England already has gone to 7-0 with its Thursday night victory. The other two unbeatens put their 6-0 records on the line Sunday. Cincinnati visits Pittsburgh in a game that could put the Bengals solidly in charge of the AFC North. Carolina will be home to Indianapolis on Monday night.

A capsule look at the Week Eight games:

Game of the day

Packers (6-0) at Broncos (6-0)

TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.

The line: Packers (-3)

The scoop: In a rare case of NFL schedule fairness, two powerhouse teams are scheduled to meet after each had previous week off. … It’s a clash of unbeaten teams that have struggled putting up points lately. Denver’s offense has produced only one TD in each of last two games. Denver leads league in defense (281.3) and has not allowed more than 24 points to any opponent. Packers have allowed only three TDs last four games.

Outlook: Look for a defensive duel between two of NFL’s best. Just the kind of game Manning and kicker Brandon McManus (16 for 17 field goals) can pull out for Broncos. Denver an underdog at home? Broncos, 23-21.

Top attractions

Bengals (6-0) at Steelers (4-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Pick’em.

The scoop: Bengals were slight favorite until word that QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee) is ready to play for Steelers. … Bengals’ last game was 34-21 win over Bills at The Ralph. … Cincy aiming to go 7-0 for first time ever.

Outlook: Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant will be a tougher test for Bengals’ secondary than depleted Bills offered two weeks ago. Steelers, 24-20. Colts (3-4) at Panthers (6-0)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:15 p.m.

The line: Panthers (-6½)

The scoop: Panthers starting to get a little respect. Ever hear of Kawaan Short (five sacks) or Josh Norman (four interceptions)? They’re part of no-name Carolina defense. … All three Indy wins against weak AFC South but by only 2, 3 (OT) and 7. That and defense yielding 408.6 yards per game are reasons coach Chuck Pagano is on hot seat.

Outlook: Panthers don’t blow out many teams. Carolina, 26-20. Giants (4-3) at Saints (3-4)

TV: FOX, 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-3)

The scoop: Eli Manning goes home to New Orleans to face Saints. Pick-six and 100-yard kickoff return by Dwayne Harris saved Giants from loss to Cowboys last Sunday night and put them in lead in NFC East. … Saints have won last two at home after losing previous six there.

Outlook: Cameron Jordan and Saints’ pass rush gives Eli a tough day. Saints, 35-30. Vikings (4-2) at Bears (2-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-1)

The scoop: They won’t catch Packers, but Vikings looking more like a playoff team in NFC. They have best run-pass, offensive-defense balance plus kicking game among NFC wild-card contenders. … Bears coming off bye. … Jay Cutler needs two TD passes to break Bears’ career mark of 137 by Sid Luckman, who played at Columbia before World War II and retired from NFL in 1950. That’s oldest such mark in NFL.

Outlook: Like Bears at home against divisional rival. Chicago, 24-21. Cardinals (5-2) at Browns (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Cardinals (-5½)

The scoop: Cards first trip to Cleveland since 2003. They barely hung on to beat Ravens last week. … Fumble return and FG after turnover got Browns behind early at St. Louis and offense produced only two field goals. Losing QB Josh McCown late in game didn’t help. McCown should play Sunday.

Outlook: Arizona lost last two on road and Cleveland is dangerous at home. Cardinals, 23-20.

Best of the rest

Seahawks (3-4) at Cowboys (2-4)

TV: FOX, 4:25 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-5)

The scoop: Despite losing record, Seahawks holding opponents to 294-yard average and 128 points in seven games. … Cowboys may get WR Dez Bryant back, but will fill-in QB Matt Cassel be able to make use of deep receiving threat?

Outlook: Seattle QB Russell Wilson will be on the run against Dallas pass rush led by Greg Hardy. Seattle, 20-17. Lions (1-6) at Chiefs (2-5)

TV: Ch. 29, 9:30 a.m.

The line: Chiefs (-3½)

The scoop: Fans in Wembley Stadium can’t expect a wild game like Bills-Jags last Sunday. … Detroit coach Jim Caldwell shook up his offensive staff after last week’s loss to Vikings.

Outlook: Turmoil in Detroit plays into KC hands. Chiefs, 27-20. Chargers (2-5) at Ravens (1-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-3½)

The scoop: San Diego defeated playoff-bound Ravens last season in Baltimore. Now they come to town against a 1-5 team. Ravens had chance to upset Cardinals on road on Monday night but Joe Flacco couldn’t get them into end zone after first-and-goal from 4 with 18 seconds left and three timeouts in hand. … Philip Rivers of Chargers leads league with 2,452 passing yards and has 15 TD passes.

Outlook: Three of San Diego’s four road games so far have been in Central or Eastern time zones. Four of Ravens’ five road games have been in Pacific or Mountain times. Which team is less travel weary? Ravens, 30-23. Buccaneers (2-4) at Falcons (6-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons (-7)

The scoop: Bucs blew 24-0 lead in loss at Washington despite career-best performance by rookie QB Jameis Winston (21-29, 297 yards, 2 TDs. 0 INTs, 128.1 rating) and 136-yard rushing game by Doug Martin. Defense gave up scores on four straight second-half series. … Atlanta offense leads NFC (403.1) but produced only one TD in 10-7 win at Tennessee.

Outlook: If Falcons are for real this should be solid 31-17 victory. 49ers (2-5) at Rams (3-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Rams (-8)

The scoop: Is this old West Coast rivalry destined to become a West Coast rivalry again? Last two times they met, Colin Kaepernick of Niners passed for five TDs, no INTs. However, Kaepernick is only 6-5 this season and passed for only 124 in home loss to Seattle last week. … Running of rookie Todd Gurley adding juice to Rams’ attack. He’s rushed for 125 yards or more in last three games.

Outlook: Fast track in St. Louis helps Kaepernick, too. Rams 20-14. Jets (4-2) at Raiders (3-3)

TV: CBS, 4 p.m.

The line: Jets (-3)

The scoop: Gang Green shaking off reality check at New England and now run up against eager Raiders. Oakland QB Derek Carr has 11-3 TD-INT ratio and rookie receiver Amari Cooper has 33 catches for 15.7 average and three TDs. … Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is 3-0 in his career against Oakland with one win each with Rams, Bills and Texans.

Outlook: Jets are second in league in defense (283.2) but will get worn down by young Raiders. Oakland, 23-16.

Dog of the day

Titans (1-5) at Texans (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-4)

The scoop: QB duel: Zach Mettenberger versus Brian Hoyer. Two mediocre teams from weak AFC South, which as a group is 4-15 against outside competition.

Outlook: First road game since Sept. 20 for Tennessee, which lost four straight at home. Texans 31-24.

Last week’s results: 8-5 straight up; 6-7 versus line.

Season’s record: 66-31 straight up; 56-39-2 versus line.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.comsub

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