Historic matchup in Baltimore
For only the third time since 1970, an offense averaging more than 35 points a game (Baltimore) will face a defense giving up fewer than 15 points a game (San Francisco) this late in the season. The host Ravens (9-2) rank first in scoring (35.1) while the 49ers (10-1) lead the NFC in scoring defense (14.8). Of course, the 49ers also rank second in scoring (30.2) while the Ravens rank fifth in scoring defense (18.4).
AFC South race could get tight
With AFC South leader Houston (7-4) playing host to New England, the winner between Tennessee (6-5) and host Indianapolis (6-5) could end up leaping into a tie for the division lead with four games left to play. The Colts won at Tennessee in Week 2 and split their season series with Houston. Tennessee plays Houston twice in the last three weeks of the regular season.
Can KC regain firm grip on AFC West?
The Raiders (6-5) travel to Kansas City (7-4) for a rematch of their 28-10 loss at home in Week 2. Oakland was turning some heads with a three-game winning streak when it went to MetLife Stadium and got smoked by the Jets 34-3 last week. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were enjoying a much-needed bye week after going 3-4 over the previous seven weeks.
100 NFL SEASONS A LOOK BACK at 1976
Jan. 3, 1976: After a seven-year NFL playing career, Jack Patera decided to go into coaching. As good fortune would have it, he coached the defensive lines for the Rams from 1963-67 and the Vikings from 1969-75.
That made Patera the one person who got to coach two of the best defensive fronts in NFL history in LA's "Fearsome Foursome" and Minnesota's "Purple People Eaters."
On June 4, 1974, the NFL awarded a 28th franchise to Seattle. The Seahawks began play along with fellow expansion team Tampa Bay in 1976.
On Jan. 3, 1976, Seattle tabbed Patera for his first head coaching job. The Seahawks went 2-12 that year. Not great, but better than John McKay's 0-14 start in Tampa.
A year later, Seattle went 5-9 while the Buccaneers finished 2-12. Patera became known as a bit of a gambler on offense, especially as quarterback Jim Zorn and receiver Steve Largent began to develop.
"I had a team that could move the ball like hell but couldn't stop anybody," Patera once said when asked why he felt he had to take more chances on offense.
Patera had two winning seasons, going 9-7 in 1978 and 1979. He won the 1978 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award.
But Patera never led Seattle to the playoffs. He was fired after the Seahawks started 0-2 in 1982. A year later, Chuck Knox led the Seahawks to the AFC Championship Game.
Seattle was in the NFC West in 1976, the AFC West from 1977-2001 and returned to the NFC West in 2002.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
The 49ers are 10-1 and still a 5½-point underdog at Baltimore. That's how invincible the Ravens and Lamar Jackson have appeared to be during this seven-game winning streak. Time for a dose of NFL reality. Pick: 49ers 31, Ravens 24. Last week: Giants 19, Bears 9. Result: Bears 19, Giants 14. Record: 4-8.