Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS -


There’s no bet­ter mea­sur­ing stick for the red-hot Kan­sas City Chiefs and young QB Pa­trick Ma­homes. Beat the Pa­tri­ots in Foxbor­ough, and all that ex­cite­ment might be val­i­dated. Re­mem­ber, though, that the Chiefs — with Alex Smith at QB — won the 2017 NFL opener there, went on an up-and-down ride the rest of the reg­u­lar sea­son, then lost in the wild-card round of the play­offs. The Pa­tri­ots straight­ened out and made the Su­per Bowl be­fore los­ing to the Philadel­phia Ea­gles. Given the start­ing job in his sec­ond pro sea­son, Ma­homes has looked im­mune to any sort of high-stakes pres­sure while throw­ing a league-lead­ing 14 touch­down passes. Can he outdo New Eng­land coun­ter­part Tom Brady tonight?


One of the NFL’s most vi­cious and yel­low-tinted ri­val­ries gets re­newed. Th­ese teams com­bined for four penal­ties for un­nec­es­sary rough­ness, one for un­sports­man­like con­duct, one for taunt­ing, one for rough­ing the passer and two 15-yard penal­ties for grab­bing a face­mask in their most re­cent meet­ing. Cincin­nati set a fran­chise record with 173 yards in penal­ties in that messy af­fair, when the Steel­ers over­came a 17-0 deficit to win for the sixth straight time in the se­ries.

L.A. CHARG­ERS (3-2) AT CLEVE­LAND (2-2-1)

When last they met in Cleve­land, the host Browns won in their 15th game to avoid a per­fect sea­son on the wrong side of the ledger. Then they lost every game in 2017, in­clud­ing to the Charg­ers on the road. They’ve got two wins al­ready this sea­son and lead the NFL with 15 take­aways, two more than in the en­tire 2017 sea­son.

CHICAGO (3-1) AT MI­AMI (3-2)

The Bears, com­ing off a bye, are try­ing to win four straight for the first time since 2012. They rank No. 1 against the run and sec­ond over­all. If sec­ond-year QB Mitch Tru­bisky truly has found the pass­ing rhythm — his six TD throws in a rout of Tampa Bay two weeks ago tied for sec­ond-most in an NFL game — the Bears need to be taken se­ri­ously. The Dol­phins were taken se­ri­ously un­til they laid eggs at New Eng­land and Cincin­nati.


Wash­ing­ton’s in­ef­fi­cient de­fense was the vic­tim last Mon­day night as New Or­leans Saints QB Drew Brees be­came the NFL’s all-time pass­ing leader dur­ing a 363-yard per­for­mance. Now comes Carolina, which has the NFL’s top rush­ing of­fense, in part be­cause quar­ter­back Cam New­ton is such a weapon on the ground. Oh, and he’s 4-0 with nine TDs and zero in­ter­cep­tions for a 115.4 passer rat­ing against Wash­ing­ton, along with two rush­ing scores.

L.A. RAMS (5-0) AT DEN­VER (2-3)

The Rams’ of­fense has looked un­stop­pable. Jared Goff leads the league with 1,727 pass­ing yards, and Todd Gur­ley is tops with seven TD runs and ranks sec­ond with 645 yards from scrim­mage. The Bron­cos yielded 323 rush­ing yards to the New York Jets last week. Yes, Gur­ley is aware.


Oddly, Dal­las has never won its first three home games at Jerry World. With Jack­sonville RB Leonard Four­nette still hurt, the show­piece matchup with top Cow­boys run­ner Ezekiel El­liott dis­ap­pears. El­liott has been the prime weapon for Dal­las and av­er­aged 154 yards from scrim­mage per game in the past three. The pass­ing game is 30th, though, as Dak Prescott strug­gles with­out a top-notch re­ceiver. Now he’ll face the stingi­est de­fense in the NFL.

SEAT­TLE (2-3) VS. OAK­LAND (1-4)

It’s back to Lon­don for the NFL as Seat­tle makes its first reg­u­lar-sea­son over­seas ap­pear­ance with a visit to Wem­b­ley Sta­dium. If the crowd is eager to see good de­fense, don’t count on the Raiders de­liv­er­ing. They rank 30th over­all, have the fewest QB pres­sures (29), are tied for fewest sacks (six) and are tied for third-fewest take­aways (five).

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS (1-4) AT N.Y. JETS (2-3)

If any team needed the long lay­off from a Thurs­day night game, it was the Colts. They went into New Eng­land un­der­manned on Oct. 4, then got ham­mered with more in­juries, giv­ing them lit­tle chance against the Pa­tri­ots. As­sum­ing they are some­what health­ier, this is a far bet­ter chance for In­di­anapo­lis to straighten out its sea­son. An­drew Luck’s arm has looked strong in his re­turn sea­son, but who does he have to throw to if T.Y. Hilton isn’t in the lineup? New York opened up its of­fense in the win over Den­ver, let­ting rookie Sam Darnold oc­ca­sion­ally fling the ball down­field. It led to some huge plays, and the Colts are vul­ner­a­ble to that.

BUF­FALO (2-3) AT HOUS­TON (2-3)

Each team comes off a tight vic­tory in which the of­fenses were stag­nant while the de­fenses and kick­ing games were de­ci­sive. Hous­ton wants things more open when it has the ball, with De­shaun Wat­son con­nect­ing on throws to De­An­dre Hop­kins. Buf­falo’s solid sec­ond-year CB, Tre’Davi­ous White, will be tested. Ap­par­ently fully healthy af­ter two tough years, Tex­ans DE J.J. Watt is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks.

ARI­ZONA (1-4) AT MIN­NESOTA (2-2-1)

Min­nesota WRs Ste­fon Diggs and Adam Thie­len have a com­bined 38 points. Ari­zona, with the NFL’s worst of­fense, has scored all of 65 points. The Car­di­nals are com­ing off a win, though, and lost their pre­vi­ous two games by a com­bined five points.


Af­ter a stinker at home to hand Ari­zona its first win, the 49ers go to the prime-time show­case Mon­day against Green Bay, which is fol­low­ing a stinker of its own at Detroit. Both teams strug­gle to pro­tect the ball, and the 49ers can’t find ways to take it away from op­po­nents; they have a league-low one in­ter­cep­tion and have forced three turnovers.

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