Texans, Jags cross pond to battle

Well, well, well. Look who’s finding some balance in Jacksonville. John DeFilippo, fired after 13 games as the Vikings’ pass-happy offensive coordinator a season ago, is overseeing a Jaguars offense that has the AFC’s leading rusher (Leonard Fournette) and its leading receiver (D.J. Chark). In the only division without a losing team, the AFC South’s featured matchup Sunday is Texans (5-3) vs. Jaguars (4-4) in London.

Jackson faces Patriots defense

The unbeaten Patriots (8-0) and their league-smothering defense travel to Baltimore (5-2) Sunday night to face a quarterback whose running exploits are surpassing even those of Michael Vick, the most gifted runner to ever play the position. In Weeks 6 and 7, Jackson became the first quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in consecutive games. With 1 yard on Sunday, Jackson will reach 577 rushing and surpass Vick for the most by a quarterback through eight games in NFL history.

Look out, Barry. Here comes Frank

The Bills (5-2) need a bounce-back game after being embarrassed at home by the Eagles. Running back Frank Gore needs 100 yards to reach 15,270 and move past the great Barry Sanders into third place on the NFL’s career rushing list. Here comes Washington to make both a strong possibility. The Redskins are 1-7 and ranked 28th in run defense with an average of 137.8 yards allowed per game.

100 NFL SEASONS A LOOK BACK at 1970

Sept. 20, 1970: Nine months of being told their “defense of the ’60s” couldn’t compete with Kansas City’s “offense of the ’70s,” the Vikings opened the 1970 season at home against the Chiefs team that beat them 23-7 in Super Bowl IV.

Let’s just say the Purple were a tad fired up. They won 27-10 at Met Stadium en route to a 12-2 season and a one-and-done exit in the NFC playoffs. The Chiefs went 7-5-2 and missed the playoffs in the AFC.

The AFL-NFL merger had taken effect after Super Bowl IV. Because there were 16 NFL teams and only 13 AFL teams, three NFL teams — Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore — agreed to switch to the new AFC and were paid $3 million apiece to do so.

The Jets’ upset of Don Shula’s Colts in Super Bowl III is credited with giving the AFL credibility. The Chiefs’ upset of the Vikings in Super Bowl IV was undisputed confirmation.

Ironically, the first Super Bowl champion after the merger was Baltimore. But it wasn’t Shula who raised the Lombardi Trophy. Don McCafferty replaced Shula, who had left for Miami after the 1969 season. It further cemented — at the time at least — that Shula couldn’t win the big one.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

After three straight road trips, the Eagles are back home and favored by 4½ points over a Bears team that’s lost three straight and looks lost offensively. A ticked-off Bears defense will exploit the Eagles’ suspect pass protection while an ashamed Bears offense musters enough oomph to take down an inconsistent favorite.

Pick: Bears 19, Eagles 16. Last week: Chiefs 24, Packers 21. Result: Packers 31, Chiefs 24. Record: 3-5.

MARK CRAIG