FIVE STORY LINES
1. Drama? In Pittsburgh?
The most drama-free franchise in the NFL the past 40-some years will have fans looking to see how receiver Antonio Brown acts toward Ben Roethlisberger this week after Brown went berserk on the sideline during a 15-point win last week. The up-and-down Jaguars are seven-point underdogs at Heinz Field. They can make things interesting by putting cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Brown. But can quarterback Blake Bortles stay calm enough to function efficiently enough in Pittsburgh?
2. Hunt, Hill, but what about Alex?
Rookie Kareem Hunt, receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are all having excellent years. But don’t shortchange quarterback Alex Smith when sizing up the 4-0 Chiefs visiting the 2-2 Texans and sudden sensation Deshaun Watson. Watson accounted for five TDs in a 57-14 win last week. But Smith has eight touchdown passes, no interceptions, a completion percentage of 76.0, a league-high passer rating of 124.2 and ranks No. 2 in yards per attempt (8.8).
3. Cam improving, at least on the field
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton hasn’t had a good week off the field, where he belittled female NFL reporters. When he returns to the field in Detroit, he’ll face a defense that’s better than the one that righted his season last week in New England. Newton threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns with only six incompletions. He also ran for a score. But quarterbacks are mustering only a 71.6 passer rating against Detroit’s defense.
4. Packers back for more in Big D?
Nine months after eliminating the NFC’s No. 1 seed in Dallas, the Packers return to JerryWorld looking to add a 2-3 start to the Cowboys’ misery. The Packers haven’t played since routing the Bears 10 days ago. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are reeling after giving up 281 yards and 21 points in a second-half collapse at home against the Rams. Dallas did, however, start the Rams game with 24 points and 287 yards in the first half.
5. J-E-T-S, win, win … win?!
If the Jets aren’t trying this season, they sure have a funny way of showing it. They’ve won two straight and will reach 3-2 if they beat Cleveland for their first road win. The Browns are 0-4 — again — and 1-22 in their past 23 games. They’re 1-10 at home during that stretch. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer will start again after taking a seat last week when his turnover total reached eight in his past nine quarters.