The New England Patriots are off this weekend, but fans looking to get their football fix still will have plenty of it at their fingertips.
Admittedly, this weekend’s NFL schedule isn’t particularly compelling, but here are five games that could pique Patriots fans’ interest:
Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
After starting the season strong, the Broncos — who will host the Patriots next Sunday night — have been a disaster of late, losing three in a row and four of their last five. Brock Osweiler, starting over the benched Trevor Siemian, will try to revitalize a Denver offense that hasn’t topped 20 points since Week 2, and he’ll have to do it against an Eagles team that, at 7-1, currently is the class of the NFC. A Broncos win here would make Week 10 a lot more interesting.
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Sure, this matchup looks pretty gross on paper, but between Leonard Fournette and that suffocating defense — and despite Blake Bortles — the Jags are unusually fun to watch this season. They’re also 4-3 after not surpassing five wins in any of the past six seasons and have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2007, especially with the Houston Texans likely cooked after losing Deshaun Watson to a torn ACL.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
This game only will be worth watching for the occasional shot of Jimmy Garoppolo standing on the sideline. Then you should change the channel as quickly as humanly possible. The ex-Patriots quarterback will back up rookie C.J. Beathard in his first game as a 49er, with Beathard squaring off against Cardinals backup Drew Stanton. Yuck.
Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Are the Chiefs still the Patriots’ strongest challenger in the AFC? They looked mortal in back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders but rebounded nicely last Monday against the Broncos, struggling on offense but forcing five turnovers in a 29-19 win. This week, they’ll be facing a 4-3 Cowboys team that needs a win to stay within striking distance of the Eagles in the NFC East. Dallas will have running back Ezekiel Elliot — whose suspension again was put on hold — at its disposal in what looks like the best game on the Week 9 slate.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
This matchup looked a whole lot better back when the schedule was first released. The Raiders have crashed back to earth after going 12-4 last year — they currently sit at 3-5 and have lost five of six — and the Dolphins, though somehow still above .500 at 4-3, are coming off an embarrassing 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday. A Miami loss would make the Patriots’ road to a ninth straight AFC East title a bit clearer. The Patriots will take on the Raiders in Mexico in Week 11.
The rest: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images