Photo: Patrick Mahomes – Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Image North America

Preview: Chargers at Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have a chance to take a huge step toward tightening their grip on the top overall seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. However, the Chiefs could see control of the conference as well as the AFC West diminish in a showdown for division supremacy against Los Angeles.

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History is on the side of Kansas City (11-2), which has won nine in a row over the Chargers (10-3) and extended the streak with a 38-28 victory in Los Angeles in the season opener. “The Chargers are a good team — a team that’s on a hot streak right now — and you’re basically playing for the AFC West title,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “You have to go out there and try to get yourself ready to go — physically and mentally – to win a football game.” Los Angeles has won three in a row overall and can clinch a playoff spot with a victory Thursday, but its last win over Kansas City was in 2013 — the last time the franchise advanced to the postseason. “The nine in a row is one thing, but personally I’m 0-3 against this team, and that’s too many,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “We’re doing everything we can to try to break that streak. We’ve got to go out and play relaxed and very confident. That’s when this team plays its best football.”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Chiefs -3.5. O/U: 53

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (10-3): Los Angeles could again be without star running back Melvin Gordon, who has 13 total touchdowns despite missing the past two games and told reporters Tuesday that he expects to be a game-day decision. Backup Austin Ekeler sustained a neck injury and concussion in Sunday’s win over Cincinnati and is expected to sit out, leaving the possibility that rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome will carry the ground game. Philip Rivers, who is third in the league in passer rating (114.5) and has thrown for 29 touchdowns against six interceptions, has connected with wideout Keenan Allen with a scoring pass in five straight games. Joey Bosa has four sacks in four games since returning to the lineup.

ABOUT THE CHIEFS (11-2): Kansas City has withstood a pair of close calls the past two weeks since running back Kareem Hunt was abruptly released, but Mahomes supplied a late touchdown pass in each game and enters Thursday’s matchup with a league-leading 43 scoring strikes. Injuries are also a major concern for the Chiefs, who are uncertain about the status of wide receiver Tyreek Hill (foot) and expect to be without running back Spencer Ware (shoulder/hamstring). Hill torched the Chargers in the season opener with a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown and two scoring passes from Mahomes, who also has passed for an NFL-high 4,300 yards. Kansas City’s defense ranks 30th in total yards and is last against the pass (281.8 yards).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Chiefs DE Chris Jones has at least one sack in nine consecutive games, the longest single-season streak since 1982.

2. Allen had eight catches for 108 yards and a TD in the Week 1 matchup.

3. Chiefs WR Kelvin Benjamin, claimed off waivers last week, is expected to make his Kansas City debut.

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Preview: Jaguars at Titans

The Tennessee Titans were 15 minutes away from a third consecutive loss that would have all but snuffed out their postseason hopes, but a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback on Sunday has the team back in contention. The Titans will look to sweep the Jacksonville Jaguars for the second straight season when the AFC South Division rivals square off on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

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Tennessee erased an early 16-point deficit in Sunday’s 26-22 victory over the New York Jets but is among four teams trailing the Baltimore Ravens by one game for the sixth and final playoff slot in the AFC. “When you’re playing on Monday night and Thursday night, you’re playing good football and getting more TV games,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said. “We have to take advantage of those and worry about us, not any of those other teams in the hunt.” The Jaguars showed they haven’t given up on the season, halting a seven-game losing streak by pitching a shutout in a 6-0 win over the red-hot Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. “The best we can do is play a bunch of spoilers to a bunch of teams who are in the hunt,” Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson said. “We want to end the season in the right way. Who says we can’t win five out?”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Titans -4. O/U: 37.5

ABOUT THE JAGUARS (4-8): Jacksonville’s only loss in September was a 9-6 setback to the visiting Titans in Week 3 but that was without star running back Leonard Fournette, who also sat out Sunday’s victory while serving a one-game suspension. Quarterback Cody Kessler, taking over for a benched Blake Bortles, posted his first win in nine NFL starts by throwing for 150 yards and completing 18 of 24 against Indianapolis. The running game managed only 79 yards in the absence of Fournette, who rushed for 190 yards and three touchdowns in his previous two games. The Jaguars, who held Tennessee to 233 yards of total offense in the first matchup, blanked an Indy offense that averaged more then 34 points in its previous five games.

ABOUT THE TITANS (6-6): An ailing Marcus Mariota came off the bench to lift Tennessee over Jacksonville in Week 3 and produced another comeback last week by leading the Titans to 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a winning touchdown pass with 36 seconds left. “I’d rather him not have to do it, but if we have to, that has really been fun to watch,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “It is exciting to have him be able to do that and keep his composure, find the guys, make plays.” Wide receiver Taywan Taylor provided a spark to the offense Sunday, returning from a three-game absence with three receptions for 104 yards — all in the fourth quarter. The Titans rank in the top 10 in total and passing yards allowed but give up 119.8 on the ground.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Tennessee has limited Jacksonville to 32 points while winning the past three meetings.

2. Fournette has 197 yards from scimmage and a TD in two matchups against the Titans.

3. Mariota has eight TD passes and two interceptions in seven games versus the Jaguars.

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Preview: Saints at Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have cobbled together three straight wins to alter the complexion of their season and vault into a share of first place in the mediocre NFC East. The Cowboys will encounter quite the litmus test on Thursday when they host the surging New Orleans Saints, who have won a staggering 10 in a row since their season-opening loss to Tampa Bay.

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Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL with 1,074 rushing yards and has amassed 531 scrimmage yards (394 rushing, 137 receiving) and four touchdowns in his last three games, including 143 (121 rushing, 22 receiving) with a 16-yard scoring run in Dallas’ 31-23 win over Washington on Thanksgiving Day. The 23-year-old Elliott likely would need a similar performance against New Orleans’ top-ranked rush defense (73.2 yards) as a means to control the clock and keep NFL MVP candidate Drew Brees (league-best 76.4 completion percentage) on the sideline. With Brees under center, the high-octane Saints have scored an NFL-best 37.2 points per game and are fifth in yards (416.6). New Orleans had no issue continuing its frenetic pace last Thursday, as Brees tossed four touchdown passes in a 31-17 win over Atlanta and has 11 scoring strikes against one interception in his last four meetings with the Cowboys.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Saints -7.5. O/U: 53

ABOUT THE SAINTS (10-1): The electric Alvin Kamara has shown no signs of slowing down with 575 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns (six rushing, three receiving) in his past six games. Fellow running back Mark Ingram has three scores in his last three outings and Michael Thomas has proven to be Brees’ most trusted target with an NFL second-best 86 receptions. While the offense receives its fair share of headlines, the defense is getting plenty of press too, as it forced four turnovers, registered a season-high six sacks and held Falcons running backs Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith to just six rushing yards on 10 carries last week. “We all know what Dallas is gonna want to do — hand it to Zeke as many times as they can and try to pound out a win,” defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. “So it’s gonna be fun.”

ABOUT THE COWBOYS (6-5): Louisiana native Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper look to exploit New Orleans’ 30th-ranked pass defense after the pair hooked up for two long touchdown passes against the Redskins. Prescott has a rushing score in each of his last three games while Cooper joined Kansas City speedster Tyreek Hill in recording his second 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in the last two seasons with his sterling effort versus Washington. Cooper has seen eight-plus targets in three of four games since being acquired from Oakland, giving Dallas a new version of a familiar three-pronged attack made famous by “The Triplets” of Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. “I think the sky’s the limit,” the 24-year-old Cooper said. “Obviously we’ll have to wait and see, but Dak is a great player. Zeke is a great player. So who knows?”

EXTRA POINTS

1. New Orleans WR Tre’Quan Smith was limited in practice on Tuesday as he attempts to return from a one-game absence due to a foot injury.

2. Dallas DE Demarcus Lawrence has three of his team-leading 8.5 sacks in the last four games.

3. The Saints have a league low-tying nine turnovers, one fewer than the Cowboys.

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Preview: Panthers at Steelers

After beginning their winning streak versus one Keystone State representative, the Carolina Panthers bid for their fourth straight victory against another on Thursday when they invade Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cam Newton led three fourth-quarter touchdown drives to upend defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia on Oct. 21 before tossing two more scoring strikes in wins over Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

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“Listen, we may not necessarily be the best team in the league, but we’re damn sure going to be the best team when we play. That’s all that matters,” Newton said. The 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games, and he’d set a franchise record should he repeat the feat versus Pittsburgh. Steelers running back James Conner also can scribble his name among the franchise’s elite should he rush for 100-plus yards in his fifth consecutive game — joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. The 23-year-old Conner has amassed a staggering 689 yards on 108 touches (88 carries, 20 receptions) over his last four games, including 163 yards (107 rushing, 56 receiving) in Pittsburgh’s 23-16 win over arch-rival Baltimore on Sunday.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Steelers -4. O/U: 51.5

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (6-2): The elusive Christian McCaffrey can give Conner a run for his money after totaling 157 scrimmage yards (79 rushing, 78 receiving) in Sunday’s 42-28 win over Tampa Bay. “He is an athletic, dynamic football player who just makes plays for us,” coach Ron Rivera said of the 22-year-old McCaffrey, who also found the end zone twice for the second week in a row after scoring one touchdown in his previous six games. Tight end Greg Olsen made a twisting one-handed catch versus the Buccaneers to reel in a scoring strike for the third straight outing. Star linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the team with 64 tackles in 2018 and had a club-best 14 in the last meeting with Pittsburgh, albeit in a 37-19 setback in September 2014.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (5-2-1): Ben Roethlisberger says he’s not a fan of Thursday games, and he let his listeners know why on his weekly radio show this week. “I’m sure the fans like (Thursday night games); they like seeing football as often as they can,” the 36-year-old Roethlisberger said. “Players? (Sighs) It’s like, ‘Oh here we go, short week, especially after a Baltimore game where you’re physically beat up.'” Roethlisberger has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception in his last two Thursday contests while Antonio Brown has reeled in three scoring strikes in each of his last two such tilts. The 30-year-old Brown has flourished during games on other days as well, collecting eight touchdowns in his last six games overall as well as finding the end zone on two occasions to go along with 10 catches in his last encounter with Carolina.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Pittsburgh WR JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team in receptions (53), receiving yards (672) and 20-plus-yard catches (nine).

2. Rivera said he is optimistic that C Ryan Kalil (ankle) will play versus the Steelers despite failing to practice on Tuesday.

3. Pittsburgh lost its first-ever encounter with Carolina before winning the last five in the series.

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Preview: Dolphins at Texans

The Houston Texans have turned their fortunes around, answering a season-opening three-game losing skid that landed them in the cellar of the AFC South with four straight wins that catapulted them to the top of the division. The torrid Texans bid to continue their winning ways on Thursday when they welcome a familiar face in Brock Osweiler and the visiting Miami Dolphins to NRG Stadium.

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“He ain’t here no more, so I don’t really care for him. We didn’t win a lot with him,” Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney told the Houston Chronicle of Osweiler, who lasted just one season with the Texans despite signing a four-year, $72 million contract in May 2016. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Osweiler has fared much better in Miami with 619 yards passing and five touchdowns in two starts in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill. “No emotion. This really is just another game, but it’s the most important one because it’s the next one,” Osweiler said of facing the Texans. An aggressive and opportunistic defense has been a major reason for Houston’s ascent, as the club has yielded just 36 points in its last three games while recording three fumble recoveries and as many interceptions — including one for a touchdown — in its last two.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Texans -7.5. O/U: 44.5

ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (4-3): Trade rumors began to circle as former first-round pick DeVante Parker was made a surprise inactive in Sunday’s 32-21 setback to Detroit, but injuries to fellow wideouts Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin) have made it an easy decision for Adam Gase. “We don’t have any more receivers, so I’m sure he’s going to play,” Gase said of the 25-year-old Parker, who claims he’s 100 percent healthy after being hampered by a quadriceps injury. Danny Amendola led the team with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown versus the Lions. Kenyan Drake found the end zone for the first time since Sept. 16 and has 15 catches in his last three games.

ABOUT THE TEXANS (4-3): Lamar Miller, who recorded his first 100-yard performance since the 2016 season in Sunday’s 20-7 win over Jacksonville, shared his reasoning of opting against re-signing with his hometown team and inking a four-year, $26 million contract with the Texans in 2016. “They offered me to come back,” the 27-year-old Miller told the Houston Chronicle. “I just felt like Houston at the time was a winning organization. They were giving me an opportunity to showcase my skill set. I don’t regret anything. I love it here in Houston.” Miller will face a Dolphins rush defense that was gashed for 248 yards by the Lions. Deshaun Watson overcame a bruised lung and injured ribs to throw a touchdown pass last week.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins didn’t take too kindly to Miami CB Xavien Howard claiming he “likes to push off a lot,” so much so that the two-time Pro Bowl wideout offered the following response: “Who’s Xavien Howard?”

2. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles in last meeting with the Texans.

3. Houston has won seven of eight encounters overall with Miami, including all four at home.

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New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns Preview

People were likely snickering as soon as they saw it on the NFL’s primetime schedule: Week 3, Jets at Browns. Typical Thursday night snoozer. The team that so many said could go winless last season against the team that actually did go winless.

And even now there’s not much to get excited about, right? The Browns still haven’t won, although they have scared the Saints and bungled a winnable game into a tie against the Steelers. The Jets won their opener in Detroit, but it’s hard to be impressed given how bad the Lions look. And they wasted a strong defensive performance in a loss last week, a familiar theme from a year ago.

Still… are we sure these teams can’t be good? The Jets turn the ball over a lot, not unexpected for a team starting a rookie quarterback, but they also take it away and rank fifth in total defense. The Browns could be 2–0 if not for kicker Zane Gonzalez, who was waived after missing two field goals and two PATs in a three-point loss to the Saints on Sunday after having the potential game-winning kick blocked in overtime against the Steelers in Week 1.

New York at Cleveland

Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NFL Network

Spread: Browns -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Riding the rookie roller-coaster

Sam Darnold hasn’t been perfect in his first two NFL starts, but he has been exciting. He bounced back in the season opener after throwing a pick-six on his first NFL play. He threw for 334 yards against the Dolphins last week but tossed a costly interception early and got the Jets into the end zone only once. He’ll have his hands full with a Browns defense that kept Drew Brees in check last week and forced six turnovers against the Steelers in the opener, including three interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger.

2. The Browns’ defense might be for real… if it’s healthy

Granted, Cleveland gave up a ton of yards in Week 1 to the Steelers, but the six turnovers made up for it. The Browns followed that up by holding Brees and the Saints to 275 yards in the Superdome. No team held New Orleans under 300 yards anywhere last season. In fact, you have to go back to 2012 to find a game in which the Saints didn’t gain at least 300 yards at home. So they could give a rookie passer fits… if they are at full strength, which is unlikely. Four starters — including both cornerbacks — are questionable for the Jets game, and on a short week it’s a safe bet they won’t all be active. Life becomes easier for Darnold if corners Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall can’t go.

3. Tyrod Taylor is who we thought he was

He’s uncharacteristically thrown interceptions in each of his first two games as a Brown, but Taylor otherwise is doing pretty much what he always has done as a starting quarterback. He takes a few more sacks than you’d like (10 through two games) but he also extends drives and drives defenses crazy with his legs (103 yards on 8.6 ypc and a touchdown so far this season). How long will that be enough to hold off top overall pick Baker Mayfield? A win would help, because the longer Cleveland is winless the sooner it will look to the future. Taylor usually found success against the Jets as a starter for the Bills (three wins in five starts with eight TDs and two INTs), but again, the formula for his success was familiar: He’s 3–0 against the Jets when his defense allows 17 or fewer points. It’s a safe bet the interceptions will disappear, but will he win enough games to delay the Baker Mayfield era?

Final Analysis

Despite the hints that these teams might be on the rise, they’re not there yet. Also, the Jets opened the season on a Monday night, meaning this is their third game in 11 days. In addition to the physical challenges, that’s a lot to throw at a rookie quarterback. This could swing the other way if none of the banged-up starters on the Browns’ defense can go, but we’ll take the home team to finally get in the win column.

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Thursday Night Football

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview

When the Bengals and Ravens last met, Cincinnati stunned Baltimore on New Year’s Eve with an unlikely upset thanks to a 49-yard Andy Dalton-to-Tyler Boyd touchdown pass on 4th-and-12 in the final minute. The play knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs and put Buffalo in.

Baltimore got its revenge on the Bills last week with a 47–3 blowout that turned into an extra preseason game in the second half. Now the Ravens look to pay back the Bengals, who rallied to beat the Colts 34–23 thanks to 17 fourth-quarter points. Because the Browns and Steelers played to a tie in Week 1, the winner of this one will have at least a half-game edge on the rest of the AFC North.

Is that enough juice to keep this one from being a typically sloppy,  early-season Thursday night game? Probably not. But at least there’s no rain in the forecast, so the weather will be better than it was for many of the games in Week 1.

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 13 at 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NFL Network

Spread: Bengals -1

Three Things to Watch

1. Baltimore’s new weapons

The Ravens revamped their receiving corps in the offseason, adding Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead, and all three caught touchdowns from Joe Flacco in Week 1. That’s a good sign, but the game got out of hand so quickly that it’s hard to read much into it. Six different players caught at least three passes, and none totaled more than 49 yards. Will anyone emerge as a true go-to guy who can be trusted to make plays in a close game? Will the depth help Flacco  silence his critics who are eager to see Lamar Jackson take over? We’ll start to get answers this week.

2. Joe Mixon becoming a workhorse?

Mixon has always had the skill set to be an every-down back for the Bengals, but they have also had Giovani Bernard around to handle most of the third-down back duties. If the Week 1 win over Indianapolis is any indication, that’s changing. Bernard got just two touches (one carry and one catch), while Mixon carried 17 times and caught five passes on seven targets. Last season, Bernard got more than 30 percent of the carries between the two and was targeted 60 times in the passing game to Mixon’s 34. On a short week, it’s certainly possible Bernard spells Mixon a little more often, so don’t expect another 149 yards from scrimmage for Mixon. But if Mixon finds success again against a tough Baltimore defense, he could be set up for a big season.

3. Is Lamar Jackson the new “Slash?”

Jackson ended up playing quarterback for most of the second half because the Ravens had jumped out to a 40–0 lead, so his seven carries for 39 yards are not an indication of how the Ravens intend to use him. But he was on the field often in the first half, carrying the ball once for no gain and throwing an incomplete pass after taking a handoff from Flacco on another play. While it’s very unlikely that the Ravens would risk their potential quarterback of the future by giving him that many carries or throwing him passes regularly as the Steelers once did with Kordell Stewart, there’s no doubt that they are going to get him on the field to at least give defenses something else to worry about.

Final Analysis

Given the glorified preseason nature of the Ravens opener, it’s tough to put too much stock in it. While the new-look offense produced a couple long scoring drives, the final score is misleading as Baltimore also had drives of eight, minus-three, 14 and a single yard all result in points. That’s 20 points for 20 yards. It’s tough to lose a game like that. The Bengals will be a much tougher test, especially in their home opener.

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Redskins versus Cowboys Preview

The Dallas Cowboys are a decidedly different team than the one that coasted to a 33-19 win against the Washington Redskins last month, especially considering Ezekiel Elliott rolled up a season-high 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that outing. With Elliott suspended, the Cowboys’ overall offense hasn’t been as potent and mustered just 22 points during the team’s three-game losing skid heading into Thursday’s contest versus the visiting Redskins. The Redskins versus Cowboys will be broadcast at 8:25pm on NBC. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 8:25pm ET.

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The Redskins reached 30 points in back-to-back losses before tightening their defense in a 20-10 win over the sputtering New York Giants on Thanksgiving. Kirk Cousins (NFL second-best 3,038 yards), who tossed a pair of touchdown passes against the Giants, has thrown for 625 passing yards, six TDs and no interceptions in his last two encounters with the Cowboys.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (5-6)

While coach Jay Gruden was pleased to see left tackle Trent Williams (knee) participate in practice in a bid to end a one-game absence versus Dallas, the coach doesn’t have high hopes for the return of tight end Jordan Reed. Reed has missed each of the last four games with a hamstring injury. Rookie running back Samaje Perine has looked healthy with 217 rushing yards in his last two contests, and a season-best 130 scrimmage yards (100 rushing, 30 receiving) last week.

ABOUT THE COWBOYS (5-6)

Dak Prescott and the Dallas passing game have taken a hit with the threat of Elliott removed from the offense. Prescott tossed five interceptions in his last two games to eclipse his total of four during his rookie season in 2016. Wideout Dez Bryant has struggled to get untracked without Elliott, failing to crack 40 yards receiving in two of the last three games.The Cowboys are averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry in Elliott’s absence.

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Seahawks versus Cardinals Preview

The Seattle Seahawks were fit to be tied after seeing their four-game winning streak come to a halt last week following three missed field-goal attempts and a season-high 16 penalties. Speaking of ties, the Seahawks return to the site of a rare draw last season when they visit the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday. The Seahawks versus Cardinals will be broadcast at 8:25 pm on NBC. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 7:30pm ET.

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Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw multiple touchdown passes for the third straight week and fifth time in six games in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to Washington. The 28-year-old tossed four scoring strikes in a 34-31 setback against Arizona last season on Christmas Eve after both teams were limited to field goals in a 6-6 tie on October 23, 2016. Adrian Peterson was not a member of the Cardinals for those contests, but the 32-year-old is making up for lost time in a hurry with a career-high 37 rushes for 159 yards in Sunday’s 20-10 victory over winless San Francisco.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (5-3)

Blair Walsh had reason to hang his head after missing field-goal attempts of 44, 39 and 49 yards versus the Redskins, but coach Pete Carroll didn’t want those misfires to lead to the 27-year-old kicker worrying about his job security either. Doug Baldwin, who made a career-best 13 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown in the last encounter with Arizona, has 22 receptions on 34 targets for 254 yards and two scores over his last three games.

ABOUT THE CARDINALS (4-4)

Drew Stanton traditionally has stepped up when called upon, and the 33-year-old did precisely that by extending his winning streak to four starts – albeit spread over nearly three years – by tossing two touchdown passes versus the 49ers. J.J. Nelson rolled up 132 receiving yards in his last encounter with Seattle but has made just three catches for 54 yards in his last three overall games.

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Bills versus Jets Preview

The Buffalo Bills aim to grab a share of the division lead while giving the spiraling New York Jets plenty of space in the cellar on Thursday, when the AFC East rivals meet at MetLife Stadium. The Bills versus Jets will be broadcast at 8:25 pm on the NFL Network. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 8pm ET.

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Buffalo, which is off to its best start since 2008, has won two in a row to remain one-half game behind first-place New England while New York has dropped three in a row following a promising 3-2 start. Buffalo owns a league-best plus-14 turnover margin and is third in the league with 115 points allowed, and continued opportunistic defensive play like that could go a long way in helping the team end its 17-season playoff drought. The Jets have been rather generous with the ball this season, committing 14 turnovers (seven interceptions, seven fumbles), including Jeremy Kerley’s costly muffed punt in Sunday’s 25-20 setback against Atlanta.

ABOUT THE BILLS (5-2)

LeSean McCoy recorded season highs in carries (27) and rushing yards (151) while registering his third touchdown in two games during Sunday’s 34-14 romp over Oakland. The versatile 29-year-old added at least six receptions for the fourth time this season and rolled up 159 yards from scrimmage in Buffalo’s season-opening 21-12 win over New York. Tyrod Taylor, who has impressed McDermott with a pair of strong performances since the team’s bye week, threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns in Buffalo’s 37-31 setback against New York on September 15, 2016. The Bills added a jolt to their passing game by acquiring wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (32 receptions, 475 yards, two touchdowns) from Carolina for two draft choices prior to Tuesday’s trading deadline.

ABOUT THE JETS (3-5)

Frustrations are mounting as the losses pile up for New York, which saw veteran Matt Forte openly question the play-calling of offensive coordinator John Morton as the team appeared to abandon the run in the rainy and sloppy conditions versus the Falcons. Josh McCown, who recorded his highest completion percentage of the season in that contest (26-of-33, 78.8 percent), has thrown nine touchdown passes in his last four games after being limited to three in his first four. Robby Anderson, who leads the team with 435 receiving yards, has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks.

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Bears vs Packers Preview

The oldest rivalry in the NFL has become one-sided in recent years, something the Chicago Bears hope to change when they pay a visit to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night in a prime-time NFC North matchup (Enter GOW Contest).

The Packers swept the season series last year en route to winning the division title and have captured six of the last seven matchups. It will mark the 195th matchup between Chicago and Green Bay — and the first where both teams are each coming off an overtime victory. Running back Jordan Howard’s 19-yard touchdown run provided the exclamation point on the Bears’ 23-17 victory over Pittsburgh, helping them avoid an 0-3 start for third straight season. Green Bay was seconds from a second straight defeat before Aaron Rodgers tossed a tying touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, setting up a game-winning field goal in overtime in a 27-24 victory over visiting Cincinnati. The series could not be more evenly matched — each team has won 93 times to go along with six ties.

ABOUT THE BEARS (1-2)

Chicago will try to run the ball for two reasons — to keep the ball out of Rodgers’ hands and alleviate the pressure on quarterback Mike Glennon, who threw for only 101 yards and a TD on 15-of-22 passing. The Bears rushed for 220 yards against the Steelers as Howard, despite dealing with an ailing shoulder, piled up 138 and two scores while electrifying rookie Tarik Cohen had 78 yards on 12 carries. With the wide receiver corps ravaged by injury, Howard and Cohen also led the team with five and four catches, respectively. Safety Quintin Demps broke his arm in Sunday’s game, a blow for a defense that has only eight interceptions in each of the past two seasons.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (2-1)

Rodgers is second in the league with 967 yards passing, exceeding 300 in each of the first three games, although his passer rating is below 100 for only the third time in 10 seasons since he took over as Green Bay’s starter. Rodgers has attempted at least 42 passes in each game behind a banged-up offensive line, among the reasons he has been sacked a league-high 13 times. Running back Ty Montgomery, despite leading the team with 18 receptions, has rushed for only 124 yards in three games, but he carved up the Bears for a career-best 162 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns in December. The Packers are eighth in the league, allowing 296.7 yards per game.

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FanPicks Games of the Week

Rams vs 49ers Preview

A pair of rookie head coaches will square off for the first time when the San Francisco 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night for FanPicks Games of the Week (Enter Contest). San Francisco has yet to find the end zone through its first two games, but has won three in a row in the series, including a season sweep against the Rams in 2016.

Although the 49ers acquitted themselves well in a three-point loss at Seattle last week, they have been limited to four field goals under coach Kyle Shanahan, marking the first time in franchise history they haven’t scored a touchdown in the opening two games. “I don’t think there are any moral victories in the NFL, especially with the way I played,” San Francisco quarterback Brian Hoyer said in the wake of the 12-9 defeat to the Seahawks. The Rams were denied a possible 2-0 start under coach Sean McVay after surrendering a late touchdown in a 27-20 setback to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Los Angeles had the second-worst passing game in the league last season — behind only San Francisco — and averaged an NFL-low 14.0 points, but it has amassed 86 points during its 1-1 start.

ABOUT THE RAMS (1-1)

The semblance of a passing game has provided a boost for third-year back Todd Gurley, who along with Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt are the only players to amass more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. Quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick a year ago, was not as sharp as his performance in the season opener but did rally Los Angeles from a pair of double-digit deficits to forge a fourth-quarter tie on Sunday. Sammy Watkins and rookie Cooper Kupp each have seven catches through the first two games to tie for the team lead. Stud defensive tackle Aaron Donald had a quiet debut after returning from a contract dispute but vowed to be better against San Francisco.

ABOUT THE 49ers (0-2)

Running back Carlos Hyde is coming off a huge game in Seattle, rushing for 124 yards on only 15 carries while ripping off runs of 61 and 27 yards. Given the state of San Francisco’s passing game, expect Shanahan to lean heavily on Hyde, who rambled for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns to carry the 49ers to a 28-0 rout of the Rams in the 2016 season opener. Journeyman Hoyer, playing with his fourth different team in four seasons, needs to rebound from a wretched performance in Seattle when he managed only 99 yards and an interception on 15-of-27 passing. Wideout Pierre Garcon has a team-leading nine receptions, but the 49ers are dealing with myriad injuries in their defensive backfield.

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