Top spot in AFC East on line with Patriots vs., uh, Jets?
FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2017, file photo, New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse celebrate touchdown during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. The Jets host the New England Patriots on Sunday. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)
By Barry Wilner, Associated Press
It's difficult to decipher which is more unexpected: The New England Patriots losing twice at home in the first month of the NFL, or the New York Jets holding a 3-2 win record, the same as the Patriots.
They meet on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, and with Buffalo on a bye, the winner grabs first place in the AFC East division. Heady atmosphere for New York, commonplace for New England.
Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who is new to this rivalry that the Patriots have dominated for years, winning 10 of the past 12, says: "What they've done so well over the years is game-planning for you. Having 10 days to prepare for us, we know that they'll be ready to go."
That's right: The Patriots haven't played since an Oct. 5 victory at Tampa Bay.
Patriots passer Tom Brady has been nursing a sore left shoulder, but promises he'll be behind center going for a record 187th regular-season win for a quarterback. He's tied with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Brady's 211 combined career wins, including regular season and playoffs, are already a league record.
The Kansas City Chiefs are relishing the opportunity to exact a little revenge on visiting Pittsburgh. The last time the Steelers went to Arrowhead Stadium, in January in the playoffs, they beat the Chiefs 18-16 without scoring a touchdown.
The Chiefs are much better now, the NFL's lone unbeaten team through the first five weeks.
On offense, they're more dynamic. Alex Smith is the league's top-rated passer, receiver Tyreek Hill has built on his dramatic debut season, and rookie Kareem Hunt has emerged as a premier running back. On defense, they return just about everyone who held Ben Roethlisberger and Co. in check in January.
Last week against Jacksonville, Roethlisberger tossed five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns, and the Jaguars rolled to a 30-9 victory. Roethlisberger wasn't panicking: "We're still top of the AFC North. We're right there in the hunt in the AFC."
The Green Bay Packers can really establish themselves as the cream of the NFC North by extending their superiority over the Vikings. Green Bay has won five of its past seven road games versus Minnesota, though it lost at U.S. Bank Stadium a year ago.
Aaron Rodgers has been at the top of his game in the tightest situations such as last week at Dallas, and he likes facing Minnesota. Rodgers is 12-6 as a starter against the Vikings, with a 68.3 percent completion rate, 4,810 yards, 40 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
He will need to be aware of defensive end Everson Griffen, who has at least one sack in each of five games this season, tying a career-long streak.
An 11-day road trip begins for the Los Angeles Rams, fortunately for them in Jacksonville, then across the Atlantic to face division rival Arizona in London next week. The team will spend four days in Jacksonville following Sunday's game.
The Jaguars have an NFL-worst 9-28 record at home (not including five London games) since 2011. They have dropped eight of their past nine at EverBank Field.
A highlight could be the running games, with rookie Leonard Fournette for Jacksonville and Todd Gurley, the 2015 top offensive rookie, for Los Angeles.
Week 6 began with Philadelphia beating Carolina 28-23 on Thursday. Carson Wentz threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns to help the Eagles improve to an NFC-best 5-1. Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina.