The weekend got off to a rocky start with the melee at the end of the Browns-Steelers game.
It was bad optics for the NFL and shows the Browns are a team out of control.
It also takes the focus off some great matchups this weekend, including a Super Bowl rematch from two years ago and a matchup of two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
Game of the Week
New England goes to Philadelphia for a Super Bowl rematch of two years ago. The Eagles have more at stake since they are fighting Dallas for the NFC East title. At 8-1, the Patriots are virtually already in the playoffs, but they don’t want to lose two in a row. They had a soft schedule going 8-0 before getting drilled by Baltimore. Losing two in a row to winning teams would raise questions about whether they are as good as their record. Carson Wentz will make his first start against the Patriots. Nick Foles, now in Jacksonville, quarterbacked the Eagles to the Super Bowl win when Wentz was hurt. The only surprising thing is that the game isn’t in prime time, but CBS probably protected it. The only other late game CBS is showing is the Bengals-Raiders so it will be virtually a national TV game.
Game of the Weak
New York Jets at Washington. These two teams have combined for three wins, two by the Jets. That means they have a combined 3-15 record. The Redskins are starting rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins against second year quarterback Sam Darnold, who is struggling.
What to watch for
—If we didn’t have a Super Bowl matchup on the schedule, the Houston visit to Baltimore would be the headline game because it will be the first Deshaun Watson-Lamar Jackson duel since 2016 when Watson and Clemson won an epic 42-36 shootout. It is surprising the NFL didn’t schedule this game in prime time or at least in the 4:25 p.m. slot. At 1 pm, CBS will also be showing three other games.
—While Nick Foles former team, the Eagles, will be playing a Super Bowl rematch, Foles will be returning from his broken clavicle to face the Colts. At 4-5, the Jaguars need to get on a run if they’re to be a playoff contender. Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett returns for the Colts after they lost to Miami last week with Brian Hoyer at quarterback.
—The Saints failed to score a touchdown in the Superdome for the first time with Drew Brees at quarterback in a loss to the Falcons. Now they Saints go to Tampa Bay attempting to show they can bounce back.–The Bears at the Rams will be the Sunday night prime time game, but the matchup of Mitch Tribusky and Jared Goff is not likely can be compelling. The Bears won 15-6 when they played late last year and the two quarterbacks combined for seven interceptions, four by Goff.
—The Chiefs and Chargers go to Mexico City for a quarterback matchup between young Patrick Mahomes and veteran Philip Rivers. Mahomes figures to outscore Rivers since the Chargers have scored 30 points only twice this year. But the Chiefs defense is so porous that Rivers might have a big day in which could be a shootout.