Big Ben, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton are all out with injuries. Sam Darnold is out with mono, and his backup is hurt. Eli Manning has been benched and will not make it easy for the Giants to trade him. Maybe there are enough openings to give Kaepernick a job now. For whoever’s sake, it had better be as a backup.

Also, this rash of QB absences is NOT an argument against an 18-game schedule. Right now, the last 2 games on everyone’s schedule are the teams in the divisions they don’t play that finished in the same spot in the standings. For example, the Panthers (NFC South) play the NFC West teams, plus Green Bay and Washington, who finished 3rd in the NFC North and East. Tampa Bay, which finished 4th in the division last year, plays Detroit and the NY Giants. With an 18-game schedule, everyone in the NFC South would play everyone in the NFC West and everyone in either the NFC North or East. That would make everyone’s schedule equal. To address increased injury risk, the roster should go from 53 players to 60, with no gameday inactives (there are 7 gameday inactives now). Practice squad players should be protected (as in, you cannot sign another team’s practice squad player unless the team releases him first). There should be 3 tiers of injured reserve – 3 weeks, 8 weeks and 8 months (season-ending). This gives a team 70 players on a team, 60 of which could play on game day, and several options for the active roster depending on the severity of an injury.

Let’s pick some games, shall we?

Tennessee at Jacksonville (Thur) – Easily the Who Cares Game of the Week if it were taking place on a day when there were any other games. Jax is already a mess. Titans 23, Jags 16  

Cincinnati at Buffalo – Remember when the Bills were a powerhouse? Yeah, it’s been a couple of generations, but they might look like it against this bunch. Buffalo, NC 31, Bangles 14  

Miami at Dallas – The Who Cares Game of the Week, if only because the winner will have been decided 20 real-time minutes after kickoff. Cowboys 41, Fish 7 

Denver at Green Bay – A great game if you love defense. Packers 17, Donkeys 9 

Atlanta at Indianapolis – Total coin-flip, as both of these teams looked completely different in week 2 from week 1. I’m guessing the outcome that is least favorable to a Panthers fan. Falcons 23, Dolts 17 

Baltimore at Kansas City – This should be quite fun. Is Baltimore this good? I think they’re good, but not quite elite. Chiefs 27, Ravens 24 

Oakland at Minnesota – Gruden has the Raiders slightly better, but still a long way to go. Norwegians 27, Fakers 17 

NY Jets at New England – See Miami at Dallas above, at least as far as the outcome is concerned. Patriots 37, J-E-T-S jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets 10 

Detroit at Philadelphia – The Defensive guru has Detroit playing defense. Offense is another matter entirely. Eagles 24, lion cubs 13 

NY Giants at Tampa Bay – Not the Who Cares game because everyone want to check in and see if the G-Men are idiots for giving the QB job to Daniel Jones so quickly. They aren’t, but there are a lot of holes on this squad. Yuck-aneers 19, Little People 13 

Houston at LA Chargers – Two more teams that changed a lot from week 1 to week 2. Should be some points scored here. Clippers 33, Texans 28 

New Orleans at Seattle – You want to root for Teddy Bridgewater, still coming back from that gruesome injury. Not sure if he can be as proficient as Brees though. Seahawks 24, Aints 21 

Pittsburgh at San Francisco – Pittsburgh does have a viable backup. But this week’s opponent is playing some mighty fine defense. 49ers 23, Steelers 16 

LA Rams at Cleveland – There is a lot to like with the Browns. But this offense is too good. Rams 27, Browns 20 

Chicago at Washington (Mon) – See Tennessee at Jacksonville above. Bears 20, Dead-skins 10 

Carolina at Arizona – Cam Newton has looked awful, and now we know he’s hurt. The Cards have made big comebacks late after getting in big holes. I see that pattern continuing, as Christian McCaffrey puts up big early numbers for me and all his other fantasy owners. PANTHERS 27, Cards 23 

Last week’s record: 10-6

Season: 21-11