Although the Patriots are on a bye, there are plenty of football games worth checking out this week. The 5-3 Browns take on 5-2-1 Cincinnati in an AFC North showdown and battle for bragging rights in Ohio to start things off Thursday night. Saturday afternoon it’s #13 Baylor at #18 Oklahoma early, followed by #10 Notre Dame at #14 Arizona State. Then Saturday evening BC hosts #25 Louisville while several other key college games kick off soon afterwards: #9 Kansas State at #7 TCU, #6 Alabama at #19 LSU and #16 Ohio State at #8 Michigan State. Then finally in the late night game #5 Oregon goes on the road to play #17 Utah.

On Sunday there are a pair of early games on CBS with implications to the Patriots and the AFC East. Currently the Bills and Dolphins are just one game behind New England in the loss column, and both have interesting matchups against playoff contenders with winning records. Miami is coming off an impressive 37-0 shutout over San Diego, and travels to Detroit to take on the 6-2 Lions and the NFL’s number one (15.8 ppg) defense. Buffalo, who has won three of their last four games, host Kansas City in a game between two 5-3 clubs. The best early game on FOX is between a pair of 4-4 teams that thus far have not lived up to preseason expectations, as San Francisco travels to New Orleans, where the Saints rarely lose.

In the late afternoon there’s a game that looked like a snoozer a few weeks ago, that now could be interesting. The Rams – a team I wrote off early in the season as one that might end up with the number one overall draft pick – have beaten both the Niners and Seahawks, and go for the division trifecta. St. Louis travels to Arizona to take on the Cardinals, who now own the NFL’s best record at 7-1. After that it’s another good game Sunday night with the Bears at Green Bay, and then Carolina and Philadelphia wrap week ten up on Monday night.

 

All the pre-game hype of Brady-Manning XVI paid off for CBS. The broadcast amassed an 18.6 average household rating nationally and a market share of 32. Those numbers represent the third highest rating by CBS since they took over AFC broadcast rights from NBC in 1998, and the game was the second-highest rated game of this season for any of the five networks. For perspective the Pats-Broncos week nine game had a higher television rating than last year’s college football championship game, or last week’s world series game seven. Since CBS began broadcasting AFC games sixteen years ago their three highest-rated NFL games have all involved the Pats: the 2007 game between undefeated Indy and undefeated New England, Sunday’s game, and the 2011 regular season game at Denver when the Broncos were riding a six-game winning streak with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

In other NFL broadcasting-related news, two week eleven games have flip-flopped time slots. The Eagles-Packers game has been moved back to a late afternoon start, while the Vikings-Bears game will kickoff early. Considering the records of those four teams, the switch makes perfect sense as it sets up what will probably be a game between a 6-3 team and a 7-2 club in front of an almost national television audience; it will be a much more watched broadcast than Minnesota-Chicago or Detroit-Arizona would have been.

 

Cleveland Browns (5-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1) ★★★★
Thursday night game on NFLN
Announcing crew: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Bengals favored by 6 (5½ to 6½ depending where you shop), with a point total of 44½ (44-45 at various venues)
Browns +240 or Bengals -280 is the average money line
Broadcast in all US television markets

Dallas Cowboys (6-3) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) in London ★★
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Cowboys favored by 5 (4½ to 6½ depending where you shop), with an over/under of 44 (43½ to 46)
No money lines yet; outlets are waiting for the initial injury report on Tony Romo
Broadcast in 30 television markets, including Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Jacksonville, Ocala, Cincinnati, DC and Virginia

Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Detroit Lions (6-2) ★★★★
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell
Lions favored by 3 (2½ to 3), with a point total of 43½ (43½ to 44)
Miami +135 and Detroit -155 is the early average money line
Broadcast in Florida (except Tampa and Jacksonville), Georgia (except Atlanta), Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana (except New Orleans), Texas (except Houston), Indiana (except Indianapolis), Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon (except Portland), Washington, Alaska and Hawaii

Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) at Buffalo Bills (5-3) ★★★★
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, Chris Fischer
Chiefs favored by 1½ (1½ to 2½), with a point total of 42 (41½ to 43)
Kansas City -125 or Buffalo +105 is the money line
Broadcast in 31 television markets, including Providence, Boston, New Hampshire, Maine, New York (except NYC and Albany), Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma

San Francisco 49ers (4-4) at New Orleans Saints (4-4) ★★★★
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Saints favored by 4 (3½ to 4½), with a point total of 49 (48½ to 49½)
San Francisco +190 and New Orleans -220 is the average money line
Broadcast in most markets, excluding New York City, Buffalo, Detroit, DC, Virginia, Georgia, Florida (except Miami, West Palm and Fort Myers), Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico

Tennessee Titans (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-4) ★★
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Ravens favored by 9½ (9½ to 10), with a point total of 44
Tennessee +400 and Baltimore -500 is the typical money line
Broadcast in 13 markets, including DC, Maryland, Tennessee, Huntsville, Columbus MS and Houston

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at New York Jets (1-8) ★★★
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Otis Livingston
Steelers favored by 4 (3½ to 5½), with a point total of 45½ (45 to 46)
Pittsburgh -205 and New York +180 is the typical money line
Broadcast in 40 television markets, including Hartford, Springfield MA, Vermont, NYC, Albany, Pennsylvania, Ohio (except Toledo), West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Portland OR

Atlanta Falcons (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Thom Brennaman, David Diehl, Laura Okmin
Pick’em (ranging from Falcons -1½ to Bucs -1), with a point total of 46 (45½ to 46½)
Typical money line is -110 for either team
Broadcast in eleven markets: all six in Georgia, plus five in Florida (Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee, Panama City and West Palm Beach)

Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (0-8) ★★★
Late game on CBS
Announcing crew: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Broncos favored by 11½ (11 to 12), with a point total of 49 (49 to 49½)
Denver -670 and Oakland +530 is the typical money line
The only late CBS game is scheduled to be broadcast in 59 markets, including Jacksonville, Tampa, Atlanta, New Orleans, Indianapolis, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and New Mexico

St. Louis Rams (3-5) at Arizona Cardinals (7-1) ★★★★
Late game on FOX
Announcing crew: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Cardinals favored by 7 (7 to 7½), with a point total of 44 (43 to 43½)
St. Louis +290 and Arizona -330 is the typical money line
Broadcast in eleven television markets: all three in Arizona, southern Illinois, Topeka KS, Davenport IA, and most of Missouri

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks ★★★★
Late game on FOX
Announcing crew: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Seahawks favored by 9 (8½ to 9), with a point total of 43½ (43 to 43½)
Money line opened up with the Giants +360 and Seattle -440
Broadcast most everywhere except San Francisco, Arizona, southern Illinois and Missouri

Chicago Bears (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-3) ★★★★
Sunday night game on NBC
Announcing crew: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Packers favored by 7 (7 to 7½), with a point total of 53 (53-53½)
Chicago +310 or Green Bay -350 is the early money line
Broadcast in all markets

Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-2) ★★★★
Monday night game on ESPN
Announcing crew: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Eagles favored by 6 (5½ to 6 depending where you shop), with an over/under of 48 (47½-49)
Carolina +210 or Philadelphia -250 is the typical early money line
Broadcast in all markets

Bye week: New England Patriots (7-2), Indianapolis Colts (6-3), San Diego Chargers (5-4), Houston Texans (4-5), Minnesota Vikings (4-5) and Washington Redskins (3-6)

 

Here is a listing of some of the college football games being played on Saturday:

Noon — Penn State (-6½, two units) at Indiana (over 44)
Noon — #11 Georgia at Kentucky (+10½), on ESPN (under 58)
Noon — #13 Baylor (+5½, one unit) at #18 Oklahoma, on FS1 (over 73½)
3:30 — Texas A&M at #3 Auburn (-20½, one unit), on CBS (over 66)
3:30 — #10 Notre Dame at #14 Arizona St (-2½, one unit), on ABC (under 59½)
3:30 — #20 West Virginia at Texas (+4½), on FS1 (over 52)
3:30 — Michigan at Northwestern (+1½), on ESPN2 (over 41)
6:30 — Virginia at #2 Florida St (-18½, one unit), on ESPN (over 55½, one unit)
7:00 — #22 UCLA (-4½, one unit) at Washington, on FS1 (over 56, one unit)
7:15 — #25 Louisville (-2½, one unit) at Boston College, on ESPN2 (over 45½)
7:30 — #9 Kansas St (+6) at #7 Texas Christian, on FOX (over 59)
8:00 — #6 Alabama (-6, one unit) at #19 Louisiana St, on CBS (over 45½)
8:00 — #16 Ohio St at #8 Michigan St (-3, one unit), on ABC (under 63½, one unit)
10:00 — #5 Oregon at #17 Utah (+9½, one unit), on ESPN (under 62½)

 

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