The line: Packers by 7
The story: Relax, Cheeseheads. Yes, Green Bay is 1-2, but it started 1-2 a year ago, too, and wound up winning the division. Now the Packers are playing division-leader Detroit, but here is why that may not be all that bad: They have a history of success against the Lions, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers never losing.
Of course, the Bears had a history of success against them, too, with Jay Cutler producing staggering numbers in his history against Detroit ... and look what happened last week. The Packers are vulnerable to the pass (see San Francisco and Cincinnati), and few quarterbacks are better throwing the football than Matt Stafford. But one of them is Rodgers, and he has produced big numbers against Detroit.
That should give you an idea of what this game looks like: a tennis match, with a raft of points. The key will be turnovers. If Green Bay can avoid them, it has the advantage ... not just because it is home but because it has the ammunition to outscore Stafford & Co.
Something to consider: Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is 13-1 vs. Detroit.
--New England at Cincinnati
The line: Bengals by 1
The story: People cannot figure out New England. The Patriots lose a slew of receivers, do not suit up Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, are not sure if running back Stevan Ridley can play Sunday, yet they keep on winning. But what is so hard to understand? As long as Tom Brady is standing, New England is one of the toughest outs in the NFL.
This is the Patriots' second straight road game, and while the opponent is not as formidable as Atlanta it will be tough to overcome. Let the record show that Cincinnati won five of its last six at home, with quarterback Andy Dalton throwing 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Let it also show that New England just lost defensive tackle Vince Wilfork -- a team leader and its best defensive player -- for the season.
The Patriots still have the irrepressible Brady, but he cannot play defense, too. Subtracting Wilfork is an enormous blow, and it is here we find out how ... or if ... the Patriots' defense can survive his loss.
Something to consider: Dating back to 2012, New England has 12 wins in its last 13 regular-season games.
MONDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
N.Y. Jets at Atlanta
The line: Falcons by 10
The story: Geno Smith is a) talented, b) error-prone, c) an accurate deep passer, d) an inaccurate intermediate passer, e) all of the above. If you answered e) all of the above, go to the head of the class.
The New York media is not sure what to make of Smith, one week hailing him as a hero and the next asking coach Rex Ryan if the guy is going to get benched. Puh-leeze, people. He is not getting benched, not when Matt Simms is the next best option. Phil Simms? Maybe. Matt. Uh-uh.
The Jets will rise and fall with Smith, and get ready for a bumpy ride. He commits a zillion mistakes, which is what happens with rookie quarterbacks, but he makes plays, too. That may not get you beaten against someone like, say, Tampa Bay, which handed Smith and the Jets an improbable victory in Week One, but it will here.
Reason: Atlanta is desperate. It must stop the bleeding now, and the Falcons are in the right place at the right time. They seldom lose at home, and they never lose three straight under Mike Smith -- with a 14-game winning streak following losses broken by New England last weekend.
Something to consider: Ryan is 34-6 at home, including wins in 12 of his last 14.
CRUMMY GAME OF THE WEEK
Jacksonville at St. Louis
The line: Rams by 11 1/2
The story: Any game involving Jacksonville is going to make it here, with people beginning to wonder where the Jags find a victory ... any victory. Coach Gus Bradley pledges his support for embattled quarterback Blaine Gabbert, but that is because his next-best option is Chad Henne, and there is only one guy there with upside -- albeit a limited one -- and it is not Henne. The league's lowest-rated passer, Gabbert, is Jacksonville's quarterback until next year's draft when, with the first pick, the Jags find their next starter -- mercifully ending the Blaine Gabbert tenure.
In the meantime, they suffer another loss against an opponent that desperately needs a wake-up call, and talk about timing. Quarterback Sam Bradford is under fire, there is no running game and what should be a decent defense is, in the words of lineman Chris Long, "disgusting." That is why the Rams re-signed linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and he will not make the biggest difference here.
The opponent will.