We’re not big on jumping on small samples here or overreacting to small sample sizes. And it bears mentioning a desire to write these very words a few weeks ago was put on hold in an effort to be sensible. But it’s now time to have a quick discussion about Todd Gurley.

We aren’t going to go crazy and proclaim that Gurley is the best running back in the NFL. That would be crazy and irresponsible. What we are willing to say is that Gurley has been the best running back in the NFL over the past seven weeks.

That’s an incredible statement considering that Gurley missed time at the start of the season while recovering from an ACL injury. But it hasn’t mattered. At all. Despite that missed time, he’s only 134 yards behind Adrian Peterson for the league lead in rushing yards, and ranks third in the NFL in yards per attempt with 5.6 yards per carry.

This is an amazing feat, and there’s a chance Gurley could soon become the best running back in the NFL and hang onto that title for years to come. He has a chance to become a franchise running back in an era where running backs are supposed to be disposable.

And, if stats mean anything, he should be able to keep his momentum going this week. The Chicago Bears have been one of the worst teams in the league at stopping the run this year, allowing 121.6 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry this season on the ground.

But, really, it hasn’t seemed to matter much. Gurley has gotten his yards against everyone this season, including the Arizona Cardinals, who rank in the top 10 in run defense.

Nick Underhill

NICK’S PICKS: Underhill’s top five teams (this week)

1. Patriots (8-0)

The Giants have a way of spoiling things for the Patriots. It seems like it happens more than it should. But this isn’t 2007 and David Tyree no longer plays for New York.

2. Bengals (8-0)

Tyler Eifert is quickly becoming one of the better tight ends, and Andy Dalton continues to ascend up the QB rankings. If they stay healthy, the Bengals could go far.

3. Panthers (8-0)

The Panthers have won their past 12 games in the regular season. That’s an impressive run. It’s time to believe it. This is the best team in the NFC right now.

4. Cardinals (6-2)

The last time they cracked this list, the Cardinals promptly lost a game and fell out of the rankings. But the Packers had to go after losing consecutive games.

5. BRONCOS (7-1)

Denver is getting the same treatment as the Packers. They’re on notice after losing to the Colts last week. One hiccup is fine. Two and that will be it for them here.

This week’s games

Jaguars (2-6) at Ravens (2-6)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Ravens by 5

BRIEFLY: Jaguars’ .556 winning percentage against Ravens is second-best in franchise history behind .689 percentage vs. Cleveland (minimum 15 games). ... Fourteen of 18 games between Baltimore and Jacksonville have been decided by eight points for fewer. ... In last year’s meeting, Jaguars couldn’t score touchdown, surrendered eight sacks and were limited to 248 yards in offense.

NICK’S PICK: Jaguars 20, Ravens 17

Panthers (8-0) at TITANS (2-6)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Panthers by 4

BRIEFLY: Panthers QB Cam Newton had three TD passes and one rushing TD last week, giving him 29 games with TD pass and TD run. That’s second-most in NFL history. Newton also is one of three in NFL history with 15 or more games with two TD passes and TD run. ... Titans have matched win total for all last season. ... Titans have lost nine straight at home dating to last season.

NICK’S PICK: Panthers 24, Titans 17


WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Buccaneers by 1

BRIEFLY: Cowboys have won five straight in series. Buccaneers last won 16-0 in Tampa in 2003. ... Cowboys’ six-game losing streak is club’s longest since six-game skid bridging 2000-01 seasons. ... Cowboys’ Jason Witten needs 13 receptions to join Tony Gonzalez as only tight ends in NFL history with 1,000 career catches. ... Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston has four TD passes, zero interceptions over past four games, leading Bucs to 2-2 record.

NICK’S PICK: Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 20

DOLPHINS (3-5) at EAGLES (4-4)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Eagles by 6

BRIEFLY: Eagles have won last three meetings. ... Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has completed 109 of 151 (72.2 percent) for 1,106 yards with eight TDs and two INTs for 104.9 rating in past four games vs. NFC. ... WR Jarvis Landry (LSU) had season-high 11 catches for 69 yards last week. ... Eagles QB Sam Bradford has won past four starts vs. AFC.

NICK’S PICK: Eagles 24, Dolphins 21

Browns (2-7) at Steelers (5-4)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Steelers by 6

BRIEFLY: Browns have lost four straight games and haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003. ... Steelers are 27-5 against Cleveland since Browns came back into league in 1999. ... Only seven of last 22 meetings have been decided by eight points or less. ... Cleveland LT Joe Thomas has played 8,496 consecutive offensive snaps, longest active streak in league. ... Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is not expected to play due to left foot injury. Steelers are 10-9 in games without Roethlisberger during his career.

NICK’S PICK: Steelers 28, Browns 20

BEARS (3-5) at RAMS (4-4)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Rams by 7

BRIEFLY: Bears have won four of five in series. ... Bears QB Jay Cutler has franchise-record 139 TD passes, passing Hall of Famer Sid Luckman (137) in Monday night victory. Cutler has 12 winning TD passes in fourth quarter since joining Bears in 2009, most in NFL during that span, and is 2-0 against St. Louis. ... RB Matt Forte of Tulane (knee) could return after missing Chargers game. ... Rams QB Nick Foles won only career start against Bears in 2013 with Eagles, going 21 for 25 for 230 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. In first season with Rams, Foles has completed just 58.2 percent of passes for seven TDs with five interceptions.

NICK’S PICK: Rams 20, Bears 14

Lions (1-7) at Packers (6-2)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Packers by 101/2

BRIEFLY: Lions have lost 24 straight games to Packers in Wisconsin, last beating Green Bay on road 21-17 on Dec. 15, 1991. ... Lions playing first game since organization fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew following 1-7 start. ... Lions have league’s worst-ranked rushing attack (69.6 yards per game). ... Packers are playing first of four straight games in 19 days against divisional opponents, including two against Lions. .. Packers have won last six NFC North games.

NICK’S PICK: Packers 31, Lions 21

Vikings (6-2) at RAIDERS (4-4)

WHEN: 3:05 p.m. Sunday

Line: Raiders by 3

BRIEFLY: Vikings are only team in NFL to hold opponent to 23 or fewer points every game. Raiders have topped 23 points in five of eight contests. ... Minnesota seeks first five-game winning streak since starting 6-0 in 2009, when it went 12-4. ... Oakland QB Derek Carr has 11 TD passes of 20 or more yards, four more than anyone else in league.

NICK’S PICK: Raiders 28, Vikings 27

PATRIOTS (8-0) At N.Y. GIANTS (5-4)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

Line: Patriots by 7

BRIEFLY: Patriots are 8-0 for second time (2007). ... QB Tom Brady leads NFL in touchdown passes (22), fewest interceptions (2) and quarterback rating (113.5). He has at least two touchdowns passes in every game this season. ... WR Brandon LaFell (LSU) had 102 yards on five catches last week. Giants QB Eli Manning is 3-1 against New England, winning two Super Bowl MVPs. He needs one touchdown pass to hit 20 for 10th straight season. ... Former Patriots RB Shane Vereen has caught touchdown in two straight. ... WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) is fourth in league with 759 yards receiving, third with 20 third-down catches and sixth with 59 receptions overall.

NICK’S PICK: Patriots 31, Giants 24

CHIEFS (3-5) at BRONCOS (7-1)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

Line: Broncos by 41/2

BRIEFLY: Kansas City allowed two TDs in 9-second span during 31-24 loss to Broncos in Week 2, including Bradley Roby’s 21-yard fumble return with 27 seconds remaining. ... In six career games against Denver, QB Alex Smith has thrown seven TDs and five interceptions. ... Denver QB Peyton Manning is one win away from passing Brett Favre as NFL’s all-time winningest QB. ... Manning needs 3 yards to pass Favre’s mark of 71,838 yards passing.

NICK’S PICK: Broncos 27, Chiefs 20

CardinalS (6-2) at SEAHAWKS (4-4)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Line: Seahawks by 3

BRIEFLY: Second straight season that Cardinals lead NFC West at midpoint, but two games remain against Seahawks. ... First of two straight Sunday night games for Cardinals with Week 11 game vs. Bengals flexed into prime time. ... Seahawks put up franchise record 596 total yards in Week 16 win at Cardinals last season. ... QB Russell Wilson threw for 550 yards, three TDs and had a 122.4 rating in two games vs. Cardinals last season.

NICK’S PICK: Cardinals 28, Seahawks 21

TEXANS (3-5) at BENGALS (8-0)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Line: Bengals by 11

BRIEFLY: Texans’ 5-4 series edge includes wins in two wild-card playoff games at Houston in 2011 and 2012. ... Texans are 3-5 all-time on Monday night. Bengals are 11-20, but won their last Monday night game, beating Denver 37-28 at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 22, 2014.

NICK’S PICK: Bengals 34, Texans 23


Nick’s picks last week: 10-2

For the season: 77-42