NFL PRE­VIEWS

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Football -

Kan­sas City (5-0) at New Eng­land (3-2): There can be no bet­ter mea­sur­ing stick for the Chiefs and young quar­ter­back Pa­trick Ma­homes than what they face Sun­day night. Beat the Pa­tri­ots in Foxbor­ough and all that ex­cite­ment in Kan­sas City might be val­i­dated.

Af­ter a 1-2 start, the Pa­tri­ots ap­pear to have got­ten back on their usual win­ning path.

Pitts­burgh (2-2-1) at Cincin­nati (4-1):

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 pre­vi­ous meet­ing.

Los Angeles Charg­ers (3-2) at Cleve­land (2-2-1):

When last they met in Cleve­land, the Browns won in their 15th game to avoid a per­fect sea­son on the wrong side of the ledger. So they lost ev­ery game in 2017, in­clud­ing at the Charg­ers.

The Browns have two wins al­ready and lead the NFL with 15 take­aways, two more than in the en­tire 2017 sea­son.

Bal­ti­more (3-2) at Ten­nessee (3-2): Two clubs com­ing off down week­ends: Ten­nessee was punch­less at Buf­falo, Bal­ti­more was inept of­fen­sively at Cleve­land.

Both can play D, though, so don’t ex­pect a lot of end zone ac­tiv­ity in Mu­sic City.

Chicago (3-1) at Mi­ami (3-2): With Khalil Mack re­vi­tal­iz­ing the de­fense, Chicago ranks No. 1 against the run and sec­ond over­all. If sec­ond-year quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky truly has found the pass­ing rhythm, the Bears need to be taken se­ri­ously.

Mi­ami was taken se­ri­ously un­til it laid eggs at New Eng­land and Cincin­nati.

Carolina (3-1) atWash­ing­ton (2-2): Wash­ing­ton was on the wrong end of the record-set­ting Brees blitz through the air in New Orleans, and was dam­aged as much by penal­ties as in­ef­fi­cient de­fense.

Now comes Carolina, which has seven picks, is plus-5 in turnovers, and has nine sacks. The Pan­thers also have the NFL’s top rush­ing of­fense.

Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Den­ver (2-3): While Den­ver’s de­fense has been get­ting Or­ange Crushed re­cently, L.A.’s of­fense has looked un­stop­pable. Jared Goff leads the league with 1,727 yards pass­ing.

Den­ver star LB Von Miller has gone sack­less the past three weeks.

Jack­sonville (3-2) at Dal­las (2-3): With RB Leonard Four­nette still hurt, the show­piece matchup with Ezekiel El­liott dis­ap­pears. El­liott has been the prime weapon for Dal­las and is av­er­ag­ing 154 yards from scrim­mage per game in the past three. But the pass­ing game is 30th as Dak Prescott strug­gles with­out a top­notch re­ceiver. He’ll face the stingi­est de­fense in the NFL.

Seat­tle (2-3) vs. Oak­land (1-4) at Lon­don: Oak­land has the fewest QB pres­sures in the league (29), tied for fewest sacks (six), and is tied for third-fewest take­aways (five).

Seat­tle’s Pete Car­roll seeks his 91st win with the team to pass Mike Holm­gren as win­ningest coach for the fran­chise.

In­di­anapo­lis (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3): An­drew Luck’s arm looks strong, but who does he have to throw to if T.Y. Hil­ton isn’t in the Colts’ lineup?

New York opened up its of­fense in a win over Den­ver, let­ting Sam Darnold oc­ca­sion­ally fling the ball down­field and it led to some huge plays.

Buf­falo (2-3) at Houston (2-3): Houston wants things more open when it has the ball, with De­shaun Wat­son con­nect­ing on throws to DeAn­dre Hop­kins. Buf­falo’s solid sec­ond-year cor­ner­back Tre’Davi­ousWhite, will be tested.

Tex­ans DE J.J. Watt is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks.

Ari­zona (1-4) at Min­nesota (2-2-1): What could be a mis­match has one in­trigu­ing el­e­ment. Car­di­nal­sWR Larry Fitzger­ald, a likely Hall of Famer, re­turns to his home­town for the sixth time in his 15-year ca­reer.

On the other side, wide­outWRA­dam Thie­len leads the league in re­cep­tions (47) and is sec­ond in yards (589).

Tampa Bay (2-2) at At­lanta (1-4): Bucs QB Jameis Win­ston gets back his start­ing job fol­low­ing a bye; he was sus­pended for the first three games, when Ryan Fitz­patrick was ei­ther mag­i­cal orme­diocre.

At­lanta ranks worst in points al­lowed and worst in third-down per­cent­age. The of­fense strug­gles to pro­tect Matt Ryan and to gen­er­ate a run­ning game.

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