game of the week: Chargers-steelers

The AFC’s top five seeds are separated by 1½ games. The No. 4 Steelers (7-3-1) and No. 5 Chargers (8-3) both have had seven-game win streaks ended by Denver the past two weeks. The Chargers have the No. 4 scoring defense (19.9) and are No. 2 in red zone defense (45.71 percent). The Steelers have the No. 2 red zone offense (75.76) but lost last week when Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the red zone late in the game.

Are Texans due for a loss to … Browns?

No team in the AFC is hotter than Houston, which has won eight straight since starting 0-3. The Browns (4-6-1) shouldn’t be a threat, but, then again, they have their own win streak for the first time since 2014. They also ended a 25-game road losing streak last week. With an eye on the Chiefs and that No. 1 seed in the AFC, will the Texans finally slip up and drop a game after some narrow escapes recently?

The Broncos quest to get back to .500

After disposing of the Chargers in Los Angeles and the Steelers at home, Denver (5-6) should go to Cincinnati and roll through a Bengals team that’s playing the worst defense in the league right now. Right? The Bengals have lost five games by a total of 97 points the past six weeks. Meanwhile, after losing six games in seven weeks, the Broncos’ win streak should reach three games heading to San Francisco next week.

Colts trying to move up AFC ladder

After playing four home games in their current five-game win streak, the Colts (6-5) head to Jacksonville to take advantage of the NFL season’s most disappointing flop. The Jaguars have lost three straight at home and seven straight overall, including 29-26 at Indianapolis three weeks ago. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s streak of games with at least three passing touchdowns stands at eight.

Eagles are back, but can they stay?

The defending champion Eagles (5-6) saved the competitive part of their season by rallying to beat the Giants at home last week. This week, they can jump right into the mix for the NFC East title and the conference’s No. 4 seed by beating the reeling Redskins (6-5) at home. The Redskins have lost two straight and are now led by Colt McCoy, who has an un-Alex Smith-like touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3-to-3.

PREDICTION

Don’t fret over what you’re about to read, Bears fans. There have only been two successful stabs at the POTW this year. This week, the sense is things have gone too swimmingly for too long for the surprising NFC North leaders. They’ve won five straight, including a road game with Chase Daniel (above) starting. They’re in the top five in scoring and points allowed. What better way for the NFL gods to do what they do and challenge the Bears’ mettle with a hiccup loss at the 3-8 Giants?

MARK CRAIG