Jets at Miami Dolphins, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Line: Dolphins -8.5 | Total: 47
It’s not yet clear if Sam Darnold will return from a shoulder injury, which could lead to the Jets (0-5) starting Joe Flacco at quarterback and Frank Gore at running back. That’s a fitting tribute to the 2012 season’s Super Bowl, but not an ideal situation for a game in 2020. Regardless of who is at quarterback, Le’Veon Bell’s release appears to have left Gore, 37, locked in at starting running back, which defies all reason. We’re certain he’ll retire before getting the 1,176 rushing yards he needs to pass Walter Payton for second on the N.F.L.’s career rushing list — right?
The Dolphins (2-3), meanwhile, will probably win this game no matter what. But the enormous point spread will be justified only if the good version of Ryan Fitzpatrick shows up. And the bad version is probably itching to come out after last week’s stunner against San Francisco. Pick: Jets +8.5
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Off | Total: Off
This game being pushed off by a week led to a cascade of schedule changes, complicated the rest of the season for these two teams and contributed to the belief that the N.F.L. was losing its grip on its bubble-less existence during a pandemic. It certainly hasn’t helped that view that the Patriots were forced to cancel Friday’s practice because of at least one more positive test result.
But if you limit your view to the action on the field, the delay could make for a better game. Drew Lock has been practicing for the Broncos (1-3), which would be a mild upgrade from Brett Rypien at quarterback if things continue to progress. And the Patriots (2-2) may get Cam Newton back from the Reserve/Covid-19 list, which is an immeasurable improvement over Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer. If New England gets cornerback Stephon Gilmore back from the list as well, the Patriots will be much stronger on both sides of the ball. Pick: Patriots
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Panthers -2.5 | Total: 44
Expecting the Bears (4-1) to make sense is foolish. The team has had extended periods of total incompetence, but has managed to ride a combination of good timing, a weak schedule, erratic production and luck to one of the best records in the N.F.L. Last week, they escalated things by using their sorcery to beat a fairly decent team (Tampa Bay) in Chicago, but now they’ll be on the road against the Panthers (3-2), who aren’t perfect but shouldn’t be underestimated, even with running back Christian McCaffrey expected to miss at least one more game. Pick: Panthers -2.5