Many weeks, football fans find other things to watch on Thursday nights. The matchups aren't exactly intriguing.
This is a week to tune in.
Pittsburgh, ranked third in the AP Pro32, is a 7-point favorite over No. 11 Tennessee. It's an important game for several reasons:
-- Both teams lead their divisions, the 7-2 Steelers in the AFC North, the 6-3 Titans in a tie with Jacksonville atop the AFC South.
-- Both are in good shape for wild-card slots, and this game could have tiebreaker ramifications.
-- Both teams are on four-game winning streaks.
-- Each comes off tight tests against inferior opponents, Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, Tennessee at home to Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see how (or if) they rebound with stronger performances.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey isn't concerned that the short turnaround will affect his club. Playing the Steelers always gets a team's attention.
"If we let that become a distraction, it can be, yes," Mularkey said. "This team's pretty mature and pretty good about handling different situations, and this won't be any different."
Unfortunately for Tennessee, it has not played particularly well on the road. So …
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
The Lions did their thing, though it took a while, against Cleveland. Difficult to find an eligible team, will try JACKSONVILLE on the whoever-plays-Cleveland theory.
No. 2 New England (minus 6) vs. No. 18 Oakland at Mexico City
It gets tiresome making Patriots the top choice, but it also makes a lot of sense.
BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 30-20
No. 20 Arizona (minus 2 1-2) at No. 24 Houston
One of several home underdogs we like this week.
UPSET SPECIAL: TEXANS, 19-13
No. 19 Baltimore (minus 2 1-2) at No. 16 Green Bay
Another home dog we will go with.
No. 13 Detroit (minus 2 1-2) at No. 27 Chicago
No. 7 Kansas City (minus 9) at No. 31 New York Giants
OK, enough of that. Here's a favorite ready to romp.
No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (plus 2 1-2) at No. 6 Minnesota
Who would have projected this to be the highlight of Week 11?
No. 1 Philadelphia (plus 3) at No. 14 Dallas
Cowboys can kiss NFC East title and maybe a wild card goodbye if they lose.
No. 12 Atlanta (plus 3) at No. 9 Seattle
Dan Quinn against his mentor, Pete Carroll. Even though they are undermanned …
No. 10 Jacksonville (minus 7 1-2) at No. 32 Cleveland
Just can't pick the Browns to win.
No. 28 Tampa Bay (plus 3) at No. 23 Miami
This was Week 1 matchup postponed by Hurricane Irma.
No. 17 Washington (plus 8) at No. 4 New Orleans
Saints have that rising-up look, Redskins have that banged-up look.
No. 15 Buffalo (plus 4 1-2) at No. 21 Los Angeles Chargers
Did prospect of finally making playoffs scare Bills into QB change?
No. 26 Cincinnati (plus 2 1-2) at No. 25 Denver
Remember when Denver was a tough place to play?
Last week: Against spread (7-6). Straight up (8-5)
Season Totals: Against spread (67-69-3). Straight up: (88-57)
Best Bet: 6-4 against spread, 8-2 straight up.
Upset special: 6-4 against spread, 6-4 straight up