SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Upset is a bolt from the blue for Philip Rivers, Chargers

The Cardinals torched the Colts on Sunday, 40-11, which is one point smaller than the Rams' margin of victory when they clobbered Indianapolis, 38-8, two weeks ago.

Falling behind early has become a huge problem for the Colts, who have been outscored, 93-12, in the first halves of the last four games.

A dry heat

Arizona has won four in a row, and Sunday's victory over Indianapolis was a special one for Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians, who last season led the out-of-nowhere Colts to the playoffs as an interim head coach.

But to get where they want to go, the Cardinals have to start winning division games. They have lost their last six NFC West games, and are 0-3 in the division this season. Three of their final four games are against division rivals, with St. Louis and San Francisco at home, and Seattle on the road.

Long day

Brothers Chris and Kyle Long squared off against each other when St. Louis played host to Chicago, and what transpired wasn't always pretty.

In the second quarter of Chicago's 42-21 loss, a scuffle broke out in which Kyle Long, a Bears guard, kicked Rams defensive end William Haynes. Chris, also a Rams defensive end, sprinted off the sideline to pull his brother out of the fight.

"It's tough," said Chris, the eldest of Hall of Famer Howie Long's three sons. "One of your best friends [Haynes] and your brother. . . . Yeah, you think about it, but it's not the first time I've restrained him. I think both of those big strong guys probably needed to be restrained there. They're two of the strongest people I know. I'm just glad everybody got out of there OK. It's just a heated game."

Jettisoned

In losing to Baltimore, the New York Jets broke their pattern of win-loss-win-loss-win-loss, which had gone on all season. In the last three games, Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has completed eight, eight and nine passes.

Showdown Sunday

The schedule in two weeks features a couple of huge division games, with San Francisco playing host to Seattle and 8-3 Carolina playing at New Orleans.

The 8-3 Panthers have won seven in a row, and quarterback Cam Newton has brought them from behind in the last three. He brought them back Sunday for a 20-16 victory at Miami.

"We didn't play our best early on; we couldn't get it going," said Newton, who ran for 51 yards with a touchdown, and threw the winning touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with 43 seconds left. "But we just find ways to win."

Steely resolve

Pittsburgh has played its way back into the AFC wild-card conversation after losing its first four games. The Steelers posted a 27-11 victory at Cleveland on Sunday, running their record to 25-5 against the Browns since Cleveland got its team back in 1999.

"When we were 0-4, we knew we couldn't get four straight wins in one week," Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell said. "We had to chip away at it. . . . Now we're 5-6, so we're just going to keep grinding and grinding."

Go figure

Some people scoff at statistics, saying number crunchers put too much emphasis on the amount of yards given up or gained.

Well, here's some ammunition for those skeptics.

Heading into Sunday's games, Houston boasted the No. 1 defense and No. 8 offense in terms of yards.

The Texans were beaten by Jacksonville, extending their franchise-record losing streak to nine games.

Tied in knots

Minnesota and Green Bay played to a 26-26 deadlock, just the fourth NFL tie since 1998. No doubt Sunday's outcome generated a simultaneous and spontaneous reaction from thousands of fans trying to keep warm in the Green Bay stands:

The Lambeau Bleep.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

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