Team Notes week 10 2023

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris<


Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. .... There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...

Please feel free to download Text-Only or MS Word formatted versions of this file as necessary.

Team Menu

Arizona Cardinals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

For one NFL Sunday, at least, Clayton Tune was the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback.

Part of his job was a post-game press conference.

For five minutes, Tune was asked about the Cardinals' historic 27-0 loss and wasn't fazed. He was, as his teammates described last week, cool, calm and collected -- despite the Cardinals' 58 offensive yards being the fewest by the franchise since Dec. 4, 1955.

Sunday could also end up being the only time Tune is in the spotlight like that this season.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon wouldn't say it unequivocally -- saying his quarterback first needs to have a good week of practice -- but the coach did say Kyler Murray will start Sunday against the Falcons at State Farm Stadium, ending Murray's long rehab process and the equally long wait to see the quarterback return to the field.

"He'll take the 'One' reps and if all goes well, he'll start," Gannon said.

"We have to be willing to understand it might not look like Kyler," Gannon said. "I think he has a good expectation of that, the coaches have a good expectation of that. I know this, he's going to come out there, play his game and help us win."

Murray was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday.

After Josh Dobbs was traded to Minnesota, Tune got the nod in Cleveland. The rookie struggled with only 58 yards passing in a 27-0 loss, turning the ball over three times and being sacked seven times.

"It's a valuable learning experience for him, but we didn't do enough with the other guys in uniform to give us a chance in the game," Gannon said. "That doesn't solely land on Clayton. He'll continue to progress."

Murray should give the Cardinals a "a jolt of energy," Gannon said.

Gannon said he just wants to see Murray practice more, and see more examples of both the mental and physical strides the QB has made in his comeback. Getting him all the first-string reps is the last step in the process before seeing him in a game.

"He's always around and I know he wants to be out there," defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter said. "They are doing the best things for him to be out there -- that's kind of out my hands, I'm not an athletic trainer. But I know they are doing what they have to do to get him on the field, I know he wants to be on the field. When he does get out there, I know he'll be his best."

Gannon said the team was "sorting through" the injuries of offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Will Hernandez, and that "hopefully" the team can open the practice window of running back James Conner, who is eligible to come off IR this week.

Murray has "embraced" walking the line between trying to lead but also working on his rehab.

"He's excited to get back into the huddle," Gannon said.

One thing is certain: Murray will need more help than Tune got in Cleveland.

The team's top two running backs -- Conner and Emari Demercado -- missed Sunday's game with injuries and it's unclear if either will return against the Falcons.

The run game took little off the rookie's plate.

It accounted for just 41 total yards -- with 28 coming from Tune. The other rushers -- Keaontay Ingram, Rondale Moore and Tony Jones Jr. -- had just 13 yards on the ground. However, they barely had time to run.

On 21 of Arizona's carries -- five of which were by Tune -- ball carriers were hit at or behind the line of scrimmage 11 times. Ingram, Moore and Jones all averaged between 0.7 and 0.9 rushing yards per attempt.

"Some of that's on me, as well," Tune said. "I gotta get the ball out quicker, I gotta find guys quicker. So, I don't put that on other people. I'm gonna look at myself in the mirror first before I assess anything. I just gotta get the ball out a little quicker."

Despite the numbers, despite the result and despite him taking the blame, Tune's teammates walked away from Sunday impressed with how the rookie handled such a rough go.

"I thought for the circumstance that he was thrown into, I thought Clayton played really well," tight end Trey McBride said.

Tune "fought his ass off," left tackle D.J. Humphries said.

Nonetheless, it looks like Murray's time to fight is here. ...

As noted above, in addition to keeping an eye on the return of Murray, fantasy managers here will also want to watch for Conner, who the Cardinals also are hoping to open the practice window for this week. Ideally, Conner will return quickly and all other Cardinal running backs can be dropped from fantasy rosters.

Rookie receiver Michael Wilson missed Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. I'll also be watching for more on his status going forward. Zach Pascal got the start in Wilson's absence and was held without a target.

Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section in coming days for more on Murray, Conner, Demercado and Wilson. ...

One last item here. ... As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes the Cardinals didn't do much of anything offensively, but McBride saw a 25 percent target share Sunday. Last week it was 38.9 percent. Usage has been strong without Zach Ertz.

QBs: Kyler Murray, Desmond Ridder, Clayton Tune
RBs: James Conner, Michael Carter, Emari Demercado
WRs: Zay Jones, Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch, Zach Pascal
TEs: Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim

Atlanta Falcons

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

All last week, head coach Arthur Smith insisted Taylor Heinicke was the starter for "this week," because the Falcons needed to win "this game," against the Vikings.

Long-term plans didn't exist -- at least not publicly. This week would be Heinicke's week. What happened from there was largely unknown.

Immediately after the game, it still was. Smith declined to say who would start against Arizona in Week 10. Heinicke said after the game he wasn't thinking about it, either.

"Not right now," Smith said after his team lost to Minnesota, 31-28. "We'll just have to get back to evaluate it. I'm not going to give you some answer that we haven't sat back and looked at everything."

That changed a day later.

In fact, that wasn't the only change.

Smith shaved his mustache and is keeping Heinicke as the starting quarterback.

Smith is having second thoughts about one of those decisions.

The coach's facial hair was the victim in the middle of a sleepless night after the Falcons' third loss in four games.

"I kind of regret it already," Smith said Monday, adding he made the impromptu decision to shave at about 3:45 a.m.

The QB situation? He's fine with that.

"Taylor gives us the best chance, with everything going on right now," Smith said, via Scott Bair of the team's website.

Smith noted that Desmond Ridder could still be a factor going forward, saying, via Tori McElhaney of the team's website, "Doesn't mean anything is over for Des."

Ridder started the first eight games of the season for Atlanta, completing 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,701 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Smith added that the team will reassess the position after the Week 11 bye.

Heinicke, though, made a reasonable case to start against the Arizona Cardinals before the team heads into its bye week. He handled the offense fairly well with only a few questionable throws, including an interception in the third quarter where he threw it well behind his intended receiver and a couple of others which could have been intercepted.

He completed 21 of 38 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. His completion percentage (55.3) tied with Atlanta's loss to the Detroit Lions as the lowest of the season. His 9.2 air yards per attempt were the highest average in a Falcons game this year. Atlanta put up a season-high 28 points. And with Heinicke in for the second half against the Titans last week, the Falcons scored 20 points, which is more than they scored in four games Ridder started.

Smith liked how Heinicke handled third downs -- 10 of 18 (56 percent) -- and that "he gave us some chances." Like the past three games with Ridder as the starter, though, the same issues remained: Turnovers. Atlanta had two that helped flip the game: The Heinicke interception and a Bijan Robinson fumble. Atlanta has had at least one turnover in its last eight games, and two or more turnovers in five of its last six.

Heinicke faced 16 blitzes -- tied for the Falcons' season high -- and only took one sack. Although almost all of the yardage was tight end Jonnu Smith and the offensive line's doing, he completed the longest pass of the year for Atlanta with a 60-yard touchdown to Smith which began as a screen pass.

It was, in many ways, a very average performance.

"Pretty clean," Heinicke said. "There's a couple of plays here and there that I really wish I could have back."

Notably the interception and some fourth-quarter passes where he said his feet were "getting a little excited," so he started throwing passes behind guys.

Atlanta has some big questions to answer now at 4-5. How can the defense stop allowing explosive plays? It allowed six plays of 20 yards or more to Minnesota, a team who had a quarterback in Josh Dobbs who arrived this week and was essentially learning the offense on the fly. How can its offense stop making critical mistakes at critical times?

Looking for positives here?

Twenty-eight points set a new season-high total for the Falcons. Their previous high was 25 in the Week 2 win over the Green Bay Packers.

As noted above, the Falcons hit the road again for Week 10 to take on the Arizona Cardinals (1-8) on Sunday. The Cardinals are coming off a 27-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns for their own Week 9 contest. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Smith's ongoing production hit another level Sunday when he took a screen pass 60 yards -- the longest play from scrimmage for Atlanta this season -- and had five catches for 100 yards, his first 100-yard day.

Smith reached a top speed of 21.15 mph during his 60-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. That's the third-fastest speed by a tight end since 2016, according to Next Gen Stats. The distance also sets a season-high long for a Falcons touchdown and is the second-longest touchdown of Smith's career. His longest remains a 61-yarder when he played for the Tennessee Titans in 2018.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Smith now has two of the top-10 tight end receiving-yard performances this season (he gained 95 yards in Week 4 to go with his 100-yard effort Sunday). Travis Kelce is the only other tight end with two top-10 performances. ...

Running back Tyler Allgeier scored on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter. It capped a 13-play, 79-yard drive in which Allgeier had eight carries for 41 yards. That means Allgeier powered 51.9 percent of that drive.

It also begs a question: What about Robinson?

Robinson rushed the ball 11 times for 51 yards. He added two catches on four targets for eight yards.

Robinson had six carries at halftime as opposed to only three for Allgeier. That usage flipped when Robinson lost a fumble late in the third quarter, and he found himself on the bench for Atlanta's next two possessions. When he was on the field, Robinson didn't record many big plays, but he consistently picked up several yards per carry.

Despite being selected eighth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, Robinson has seen fewer than 15 carries in all but one game in his rookie campaign.

Running back Cordarrelle Patterson played four first-quarter snaps but left the game due to an ankle injury. He returned to the game in the middle of the third quarter. ...

Drake London sat out this game with a groin injury he suffered in Week 8. According to Jahnke, the Falcons use a committee to replace London.

Van Jefferson had seemingly emerged as the Falcons' No. 2 wide receiver behind London. He was pretty consistently on the field in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs) Sunday but only played in two-thirds of Atlanta's 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs) snaps. He played a lower percentage of Atlanta's offensive snaps this week than last.

KhaDarel Hodge was the top guy in 11 personnel, playing 14-of-15 snaps while equaling Jefferson in 12 personnel.

Mack Hollins and Scott Miller rounded out the depth chart while Damiere Byrd made his season debut as the fifth receiver who played significant snaps. Byrd had been a rotational receiver for Atlanta in 2022.

While playing time has been somewhat predictable for Falcons players this season, opportunities have been completely unpredictable and that was true for the wide receivers.

Hodge led the wide receivers in receiving with three catches for 60 yards, Hollins was second with three receptions for 36 yards while Jefferson had one catch. ...

Hollins left the game with an ankle injury. Smith said he hoped London can return this week but Hollins' status is a concern.

Check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more on London and Hollins in coming days. ...

Finally. ... Kicker Younghoe Koo was single-handedly (single-footedly?) responsible for half of the Falcons' 28 points. He made two extra points and four field goals, adding up to 14 points. Koo can take credit for 72 of the Falcons' 166 points overall this season. That's good for 43.3 percent.

QBs: Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside, Kirk Cousins
RBs: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson
WRs: Drake London, Darnell Mooney, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge, Van Jefferson, Scott Miller, Jared Bernhardt, Josh Ali
TEs: Kyle Pitts, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick

Baltimore Ravens

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

Keaton Mitchell, the son of former Ravens Super Bowl-winning safety Anthony Mitchell, scored his first career touchdown as part of a 138-yard rushing day in the Ravens' 37-3 beatdown of the Seattle Seahawks.

Anthony wasn't in attendance for his son's breakout, but Keaton wasn't worried.

"It's many more games like this to come, so it will be alright," Keaton said.

An undrafted rookie, just like his dad, Mitchell ripped off a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter and a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter, showing the breakaway speed that made him a fan favorite in the preseason.

Mitchell made the Ravens' initial 53-man roster but went to injured reserve with a shoulder injury. A hamstring injury further delayed his breakout.

But with the Ravens holding a sizeable lead against the Seahawks, the Ravens let the rookie loose and he showed why he can be another dangerous weapon in Baltimore's offense over the second half of the season.

Who needs another running back when you've got Mitchell?

Head coach John Harbaugh admitted that Mitchell wasn't a big part of the calculation when the Ravens didn't acquire a running back at the trade deadline, but "It turned out OK, right?"

The Ravens did know Mitchell had this potential. The 5-8, 191-pounder piled up 2,584 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons at East Carolina. It was obvious early in training camp that he had another gear, and Mitchell often made plays with the first-team offense.

Mitchell said as soon as he saw an opening on his 40-yard touchdown run and knew he was taking it all the way, he started thinking about his touchdown celebration. He hit 20.99 mph on the run, the fastest speed of any Ravens ball carrier this season, per Next Gen Stats.

"We were actually talking about it right before he did break the touchdown; we were like, 'It's one person [who] keeps stopping him, and if that one person is not there, he's gone," linebacker Patrick Queen said. "Sure enough, [on] the next play, he outruns them all."

Of course, the Ravens started with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill splitting snaps in the first quarter. Edwards played eight snaps and Hill played seven. Mitchell didn't start mixing in until the middle of the second quarter. Edwards only played in three snaps in the second quarter, three in the third quarter and didn't play at all in the fourth.

Edwards was dealing with a toe injury to start the week, but he was a full participant in practice on both Thursday and Friday, making it surprising he was completely phased out after scoring two touchdowns.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, the Ravens largely turned to backups in the fourth quarter.

Tyler Huntley played the entire quarter, and Hill was the running back for 17 of those 19 snaps. Garbage time is why Hill dominated snaps as much as he did.

Whatever the case, in scoring two touchdowns, Edwards continues to be a touchdown machine, tying a Ravens record with six touchdowns in his last three games.

That said, it's fair to wonder how sustainable that is -- especially with this backfield morphing into a three-man committee. This might be a great sell-high opportunity for those with Edwards and needs at other positions. ...

Meanwhile, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday by catching his first touchdown pass in 21 months.

Beckham became the first player in Ravens history to catch a touchdown pass on his birthday. Until Sunday, there wasn't much for Beckham to celebrate.

After sitting out all of last season while recovering from a second surgery to his left knee, Beckham averaged a career-low 27 receiving yards per game though the first eight weeks. A week ago, he was held without a catch for only the second time in his nine-year career.

On Sunday, Beckham rebounded by recording a season-high five catches for 56 yards.

"It's been a long journey for me since February 2022 all the way until now," Beckham said. "It's been a very long, long journey. Tough days, dark days, hard days [and] some good in there."

When Beckham scored, the entire Ravens sideline erupted in celebration.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw for 187 yards and ran for 60 before sitting out the fourth quarter in the blowout, leaped in the air several times.

Jackson had been vocal about getting Beckham a touchdown. ...

Looking ahead, the Ravens are off to their first 7-2 start since 2019, when they earned the AFC's No. 1 seed for the only time in franchise history. Baltimore shares the best record in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs and improved to 3-0 against teams that had winning records at the time, outscoring them 103-12.

Much of their success has come thanks to their defense.

As's Jamison Hensley notes, the Ravens lead the NFL in fewest points allowed (13.8 per game), Baltimore's best mark in that category in the first nine weeks of a season since its historic 2000 defense.

Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has Baltimore attacking from all angles. Baltimore finished with more sacks (four) than points given up, and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike now has 7.5 sacks, setting a team record with at least a half-sack in six straight games. Safety Geno Stone made his NFL-leading sixth interception.

This week, the Ravens face Cleveland for the second time this season Sunday. Baltimore won the first matchup 28-3, but the Browns didn't have quarterback Deshaun Watson for that one.

They also have a pretty tough defense of their own. The Browns just held the Clayton Tune-led Cardinals to just 58 yards of offense offensive yards being the fewest by the franchise since Dec. 4, 1955. ...

Also of interest. ... Jackson improved to 18-1 as a starter against NFC teams. ...

Sunday was another typically strong day at the office for Mark Andrews -- nine catches for 80 yards, but the Seahawks kept the All-Pro tight end out of the end zone.

Fellow tight end Isaiah Likely (4 catches, 42 yards) had his most productive game of the year, after entering the game with just four catches. Likely had 36 catches as a rookie last season and if he gets rolling it will give Jackson another go-to weapon.

Zay Flowers caught his lone target for 11 yards on a run-heavy day. He will have better games ahead for fantasy managers, but this is the risk of the Ravens offense.

QBs: Lamar Jackson, Josh Johnson
RBs: Derrick Henry, Justice Hill, Melvin Gordon, Keaton Mitchell
WRs: Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace
TEs: Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Mark Andrews

Buffalo Bills

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Jeff Wallner notes, the Bills entered their prime-time matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals holding an early playoff spot in the AFC.

Another inconsistent offensive performance in a 24-18 loss Sunday night dropped the Bills (5-4) out of postseason position -- and gave them more regular-season losses already than they had all last year.

Still, Sean McDermott isn't concerned about the confidence level of his team.

"These guys are invested," the coach said. "It's tough to win in the NFL. When you go up against a good football team, you have to do things right. We didn't do enough things right tonight to win."

And it cost the Bills a chance to tie the Dolphins for first place in the AFC East after Miami lost to Kansas City earlier Sunday.

It was a rematch of last season's AFC divisional playoff round when the Bills, who went 13-3 in the regular season, lost 27-10 to the Bengals. This one got off to an encouraging for the Bills, who drove 85 yards in seven plays on their first possession. A 2-yard touchdown run by Josh Allen tied it at 7.

The Bills averaged 12.1 yards per play on the first drive, but Allen, who has thrown an interception in each of his past five games, and the Bills' offense couldn't keep up with the Bengals' resurgent offense and a healthy Joe Burrow.

"We've got to continue to coach and continue to play and play hard," McDermott said. "You have to find ways to win. It starts up front on both sides of the ball. Right now, it's too inconsistent."

The Bills haven't gotten much production from the receiving corps outside of Stefon Diggs and tight end Dalton Kincaid.

On Sunday, Diggs and Kincaid combined for 167 of the Bills' 258 yards receiving.

"Last week, we spread the ball around and tonight not as much," McDermott said. "There was times when Josh had time back there, but nobody was open. We need to look at that."

McDermott also cited the offenses' difficulty to establish the run as a reason behind the lack of complementary football displayed in their loss.

As a unit, the Bills rushers (Allen and running backs James Cook and Latavius Murray) combined for 16 carries and 68 yards, their lowest total of the season.

"You have to [establish the run] in order to move the chains and keep a good offense off the field. And I think that's all part of being a good offense is being two-dimensional," McDermott said.

On defense, the Bills haven't had an interception since their game against Miami on Oct. 1.

"More times than not, interceptions happen when you can affect the quarterback," McDermott said. "We weren't able to affect (Burrow) enough, especially on third down."

Sunday night's matchup represented a huge opportunity for both teams to improve their position in the AFC playoff picture. But Buffalo isn't making the most of its opportunities.

If the Bills need a frame of reference for a late-season run, they can look back to the 2021 season when they started 6-4 and then went 5-2 down the stretch to reach the playoffs.

"Realistically. ... You need 10, maybe 11 wins to get into the playoff picture in the AFC," Allen said. "We've got eight games left. We've got five wins. The math isn't pretty."

There are few indications things will get easier based on a schedule that still features games against Philadelphia (8-1), Kansas City (7-2), Dallas (5-3) and a season-ending finale at Miami (6-3).

"Losing is never fun. Losing sucks," Allen said. "We're not going to let this divide us. We're going to come together. We're going to figure it out. I've got a lot of faith in the men in this locker room."

Next up, the Bills host the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, Buffalo's third-straight prime-time game. ...

Other notes of interest. ... While his fourth-quarter fumble as he was flipped in the air ended a big drive,'s Alaina Getzenberg notes that Kincaid continues to flash and show why the Bills traded up to select him in the first round. He had 10 receptions for 81 yards on 11 targets, becoming the first rookie tight end with 10 or more receptions in a game since Jace Amaro in 2014.

Kincaid has 23 receptions the past three games, tied for the most in NFL history by a rookie tight end in a three-game span. ...

Khalil Shakir continued solidifying his spot as the Bills' third wide receiver. He caught four passes for 57 yards while Davis followed up the first nine-reception game of his career with his first no-reception game since mid-2021. ...

As for the backfield. ...'s Nathan Jahnke notes that Cook had been sharing early-down snaps with Murray, but Cook played 100 percent of early-down snaps over the first three quarters. Murray played only on third downs, on one goal-line play and in the two-minute drill in that time.

Cook and Murray split third-down snaps during that time. Murray had been dominating third-down snaps in recent weeks.

Murray took over in the fourth quarter while Buffalo was throwing to catch up.

That didn't lead to much production for Cook. The Bills lost the time of possession battle and were playing from behind, which didn't produce many rushing opportunities.

And again, they weren't effective when they did. Cook averaged 3.3 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, it's worth remembering the Bills added Leonard Fournette to the practice squad this past week. He wasn't brought to the active roster for this game, but Murray's decreased role makes it more likely that Fournette will get some work once he is added to the active roster. ...

Finally. ... More and more Bills fans want Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey to be gone.

"Fire Dorsey," for example, was trending on Twitter/X Monday.

Meeting with reporters on Monday, McDermott was asked whether any consideration is being given to a possible change in Dorsey's status. Said McDermott, "No."

But Dorsey, given that McDermott isn't an offensive head coach, is the guy ultimately responsible for the offense. And the offense isn't working.

Dorsey separately met with reporters on Monday. There were plenty of good questions. There weren't many answers that will make fans think anything is going to be any better, any time soon.

One change that won't happen (apparently) is the adjustment the Steelers made with Matt Canada, by bringing him from the booth to the sideline. Dorsey said that hasn't been discussed.

Plenty of Bills fans would currently be in favor of moving him from the booth to completely out of the stadium.

QBs: Josh Allen
RBs: James Cook, Latavius Murray, Ty Johnson
WRs: Khalil Shakir, Curtis Samuel, Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty
TEs: Dalton Kincaid, Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris

Carolina Panthers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

According to Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed notes, Bryce Young isn't playing the blame game.

Yes, the rookie quarterback has been under constant pressure all season, sacked 26 times and hit 53 times in his seven NFL starts. And outside of veteran Adam Thielen, the depth is thin at wide receiver and tight end. And the Panthers' running game has been sporadic at best this season.

All of that would make it easy for the No. 1 overall pick to complain about his current circumstances.

But Young said Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, a game in which two of his three interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Kenny Moore, are squarely on him.

"I turned the ball over three times and two of them turned into 14 points, and that's how you lose a game," Young said. "Everyone else around me did a great job and it's on me. It is what it is, and I have to be better. But no one is going to feel sorry for me and no one is going to feel sorry for us."

The last part is certainly true for Thursday night when the Panthers visit the Chicago Bears.

If the Bears beat the Panthers (1-7), they will only improve their own draft position for next season. Chicago owns Carolina's first-round pick in 2024 as part of the deal the Panthers made to move up eight draft spots to get Young.

So far, the former Alabama star has been a disappointment.

Young is averaging fewer than 200 yards passing per game and has only eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions and his quarterback rating is among the worst in the league.

By comparison, No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud continues to excel in Houston, where he's averaging 283.7 yards per game passing while throwing 14 touchdown passes and one interception. He set the NFL rookie mark with 470 yards passing in the Texans' 39-37 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Stroud also tossed five TD passes.

But head coach Frank Reich refuses to give up on Young and seems willing to go through the growing pains, saying benching the rookie for capable veteran backup Andy Dalton has never entered his mind.

Reich said he thought Young was coming off his best game of the season when the Panthers beat Stroud and the Houston Texans 15-13 last Sunday on this same field.

But he called this a "step backward."

"We thought we had several games in a row where we're making good strides, and then we went out and laid an egg today offensively," Reich said. "We have to do a better job, but it was one game. In reality, it's not that we were lighting up the scoreboard, but Bryce has been playing good football."

Reich said it's the wrong time to panic.

And he wants the young QB to know he's completely behind him -- and that things will get better.

"I told Bryce I've seen the best quarterbacks in the game have way worse games than this. Way worse," Reich said. "You don't flinch. In some ways, it's good for him to go through this. In some ways, it's good to kind of have to bounce back after something like this. So that's what we do. We learn. You don't like to fail, but when you do fail, if we really learn from it and if we get better from it, it's ultimately put in the category of just another step to getting us where we want to be."

Still, it's totally fair to question whether the Panthers made the right move trading to No. 1 in order to land Young.

While's David Newton contends it's far too early to make that case -- understanding the dreadful first-season history of quarterbacks taken No. 1, but there's no doubt Sunday's performance by Young was a bad look for him and the organization.

The interceptions were a huge reason for the loss. He had only 35 yards passing at halftime and continued to dink and dunk his way to mediocrity that has defined this offense.

Obviously, the protection and lack of talent around Young is a factor, but opponents now have 45 points scored off turnovers against him.

Beyond that, play caller Thomas Brown got a game ball last week after calling his first game, a 15-13 victory. But in two games with Brown calling plays, Carolina has only two touchdowns. While you can't blame Brown for poor decision-making, turnovers and penalties, Sunday's effort was particularly lackadaisical against a Colts defense that had given up an average of 38 points the past three games. ...

If you're looking for positives, Young has completed 20 or more passes in seven-consecutive games played to start his career. He trails Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (15) for most consecutive 20-completion games to start a career by a rookie in NFL history.

Whatever the case, Young said he's happy the Panthers play Thursday night, which he hopes will allow the team to turn the page quickly and move on.

"You can't carry that over," Young said. "You have to go over the stuff and correct it and move on. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... Seven of the 11 offensive starters played every snap, including the offensive line, plus Young and Thielen.

With all of the personnel shuffling triggered by injuries elsewhere, the line has been stable for the moment.

Wideout Jonathan Mingo wasn't far behind, playing 70 of the 71 snaps.

The running back division of labor remains heavily tilted toward Chuba Hubbard, as he got 65 percent of the snaps and Miles Sanders 25 percent.

Sanders lost his starting job to Hubbard a few weeks ago, but he started a case to get it back in the second half with four solid gains in a six-play stretch to help the Panthers score a touchdown. He finished with six rushes for 39 yards and three catches for 22 yards.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, Hubbard is still the top player to consider from this backfield, but given the quality of play of Hubbard and Sanders in this one, it wouldn't be all that surprising if this moves closer to a 50-50 backfield this week. ...

Not too many players are having good seasons for Carolina other than the 33-year-old Thielen, who is having a career season with 62 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns through the first eight games. Thielen has caught at least 11 passes in three different games this season and entered Week 9 as the NFL's leader in third down receptions. ...

Wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. was questionable to play with a painful elbow injury, playing 58 percent of the snaps and catching a touchdown -- his third of the season.

That left some space for Terrace Marshall Jr. to play 44 percent of the snaps. ...

Laviska Shenault Jr. missed another game due to injury, but he will also factor in once he's healthy again; I'll be watching for more on that in coming days and you should check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more in coming days. ...

The tight end rotation remains split, with Tommy Tremble getting more snaps (32) than Hayden Hurst (24), and Stephen Sullivan getting 15.

They're spreading the ball among all of them, though Hurst had the big play this week when he caught Young's longest throw of his career, a 48-yard completion in the second half. ...

After making two field goals against the Colts, kicker Eddy Pineiro has now made 26-consecutive field goals at Bank of America Stadium. He has been a remarkable find for the Panthers since joining the team last season, converting 92.2 percent (47 of 51) of his field-goal attempts.

To put that in perspective, that rate is better than Justin Tucker, the NFL's most accurate field goal kicker of all time.

Pineiro is 14 of 16 this season and his game-winner against the Texans at the end of regulation resulted in the team's only win. ...

By the way. ... The Panthers' defense allowed a season-low 198 total net yards to the Colts. They haven't allowed less than 200 net yards all year, with their best performance heading into Sunday coming in Week 1, when they allowed 221 total yards to the Falcons. The defense also allowed Indianapolis a season-low 78 rushing yards. They hadn't allowed less than 110 rushing yards all season until Sunday.

On the injury front. ... Carolina's initial injury report was only an estimate given that the team held a walk-through on Monday. But Chark (elbow) and edge rusher Brian Burns (concussion/elbow) are among eight players who wouldn't have practiced. That carried over to Tuesday as well.

In his Monday press conference, Reich effectively ruled Burns out for Week 10.

"I'm not even thinking there's any chance of getting him [back for Thursday], honestly," Reich said. "Even if there were, there's a part of me that I can't imagine letting him out there -- even if he wanted to go out there. ..."

Safety Xavier Woods (thigh), linebacker Luiji Vilain (knee), Sullivan< (shoulder) and Shenault (ankle) joined Chark and Burns as nonparticipants.

C.J. Henderson (concussion) also missed practice and the time required to clear the league's concussion protocol means that they are all but ruled out for Thursday night already.

Safety Vonn Bell (quadriceps), running back Raheem Blackshear (ankle), left tackle Ikem Ekwonu (ankle), linebacker Marquis Haynes (back), linebacker Frankie Luvu (hip), and Tremble (shoulder) remained in the full participant group. That likely puts them on track to play against the Bears, although Haynes will have to be activated from injured reserve if he's going to get on the field.

A few final items. ... Free agent linebacker Blake Martinez is ending his retirement to sign with the Panthers, Jordan Schultz of the Bleacher Report reports.

Martinez worked out for the Panthers on Oct. 25. He last played in the NFL in 2022 as a member of the Raiders, seeing action in four games.

The Packers drafted Martinez in the fourth round in 2016, and he played four seasons in Green Bay. Martinez led the league in tackles in 2017 with 144 stops.

He totaled 144 tackles in 2018 and 155 in 2019.

Martinez signed a three-year, $30 million pact with the Giants in 2020, but the team released him after two seasons.

He joined the Raiders' practice squad last October.

And last. ... Running back Tarik Cohen signed to the Panthers practice squad in a bid to come back to the NFL, but that effort has hit a snag.

Cohen injured his hamstring recently and the Panthers announced that he has been placed on the practice squad injured reserve list as a result. He will not be eligible to be called up to the active roster for the next four games as a result of the move.

Cohen last played in the NFL as a member of the Bears in 2020. He suffered a severe knee injury early that season and missed all of 2021 while recovering. Cohen then suffered a torn Achilles while working out in an attempt to come back in 2022.

The Panthers signed running back Spencer Brown to the practice squad to fill the spot left open by Cohen's injury.

QBs: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton
RBs: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: Adam Thielen, Diontae Johnson, Jonathan Mingo, D.J. Chark, Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Mike Strachan
TEs: Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan, Ian Thomas, Hayden Hurst

Chicago Bears

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Guerry Smith reported, undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent and the Chicago Bears had their way with one of the top-rated defenses in the NFL for nearly three quarters.

Then, suddenly, they couldn't cross the 50-yard-line.

Bagent, who threw two of his three interceptions and lost a fumble on a sack in a nine-minute span of the fourth quarter, blamed himself for the Bears' offensive implosion in a 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Chicago, which lost the turnover battle 5-0, never got past its own 35-yard line in five series after tying it at 17 on Cairo Santos' 31-yard field goal with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

"It all comes to me in that last quarter being able to do a better job of taking care of the ball," Bagent said.

Head coach Matt Eberflus "talks about how important it is every single day," Bagent added. "It was basically just me (making mistakes) there in that last quarter."

Making his third straight start in place of an injured Justin Fields, Bagent was 15 of 19 for 201 yards with two touchdowns through three quarters. He went 3 of 11 for 19 yards with the three turnovers from there.

Two plays after the Saints went ahead 24-17, safety Marcus Maye made a diving interception of a pass Bagent said he threw late over the middle. After Chicago stopped Derek Carr on a fourth-down sneak at their 17, Bagent was picked off by cornerback Paulson Adebo.

"It was good on their part and bad on my part," Bagent said. "Tight coverage, and they made a couple of really good plays. Hats off to them, but I have to probably go somewhere else with the ball."

Chicago's defense kept giving the offense more chances, but it could not take advantage.

The Bears failed to pick up a first down after the Saints downed a punt at the 2, and they turned the ball over following a missed 47-yard field by Blake Grupe with 2:27 left that kept them in the game.

The Saints then ran out the clock in a bizarre fourth quarter in which all 34 plays run by both teams started in Bears' territory.

"We came kind of to a screaming halt there," said tight end Cole Kmet, who had touchdown catches on two of Chicago's first three possessions. "I don't know if it ever happened before where they are on our side of the 50 for the entire fourth quarter. I've never seen that in my life."

Kmet capped the Bears' opening drive by outfighting safety Tyrann Mathieu in the end zone for an 18-yard grab. Bagent hit Kmet again for a 9-yard score in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead.

Bagent scrambled eight times for 70 yards, running back D'Onta Foreman gained 82 yards on 18 carries through three quarters and the Bears had outgained the Saints 348-171 at one point.

"It's frustrating because there were some opportunities to really extend the lead," Kmet said. "I really think Tyson played great, and I think the film will show that. We can do better as a skill group for Tyson in terms of being more friendly with the routes and making more plays for him."

The Bears lost by only one touchdown despite their five turnovers and getting penalized eight times for 71 yards to the Saints' one flag for 5 yards. Those negative numbers prompted some positivity from Eberflus, who also lauded the addition of defensive end Montez Sweat.

Sweat, acquired in a trade with Washington this week and signed to a long-term contract extension Saturday, had two tackles and broke up a pass in his first game. He has 35 1/2 sacks in 4 1/2 seasons.

"We're all excited," Eberflus said. "You add a pass rusher to your defense, that's a big deal for us going into our future."

The immediate future may not include Bagent.

Fields, who opened the week with a pair of limited practices, was just starting to heat up when he went down with the thumb injury. He had back-to-back starts with four touchdown passes, then was injured halfway through a loss to Minnesota Oct. 15.

"If Justin is there and is available and is functional, we will go with him. So we'll see where it is."

Meanwhile, fullback Khari Blasingame suffered a concussion Sunday and has been ruled out for Thursday.

The Bears have also started the 21-day windows to consider running back Khalil Herbert (ankle), wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (hamstring) and cornerback Josh Blackwell (hamstring) for returns from injured reserve. Herbert worked fully on Monday.

The same goes for Kmet, who sat out Monday to rest a knee before working fully Tuesday.

I'll have more on Fields, Bagent, Herbert and Kmet via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday night's kickoff. ...

Other notes of interest. ... As's Courtney Cronin notes, coordinator Luke Getsy's game plan kept his rookie quarterback on schedule and looking efficient, and it gave the Bears a chance -- despite Bagent's four turnovers -- with a healthy balance of run and pass calls.

The Bears' 156 rushing yards marked the second most the Saints gave up this season.

Foreman paved the way, finishing with 83 yards on a season-high 20 carries. Foreman's longest carry of the game was 22 yards and gave the Bears a first down after facing 2nd-and-16, leading to a Cairo Santos 31-yard field goal.

Foreman dominated carries in a way we haven't seen this season. Roschon Johnson was restricted to two carries for six yards while Darrynton Evans ran once for two yards.

With the short turnaround that goes with a Thursday kickoff, it's not clear if Herbert will make it back this week. But when he does return, it will be interesting to see how the Bears' approach changes.

Foreman was typically a healthy inactive when Herbert was healthy, but based on the Bears' recent reliance on Foreman, he will likely be active.'s Nathan Jahnke believes we could see Herbert and Foreman share time on early downs while Herbert and Johnson share time on third downs.

This means there is a chance Foreman can stay relevant in fantasy leagues even when Herbert is back and will make it much harder for Johnson to be fantasy-relevant this year despite some good play early in the season. ...

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney had by far his best game of the season after coming out of offseason ankle surgery. Mooney had season highs of five catches and 82 yards, including a 38-yard catch.

The Tulane product also surpassed 200 career catches and now sits at 202. Mooney's 82 receiving yards are his most since Oct. 2, 2022, when he recorded 94 yards against the Giants in New Jersey.

D.J. Moore made three catches for 44 yards and lost a fumble against the Saints.

He hasn't had more than 55 yards receiving in a game since Oct. 5 on a Thursday night when he had 230 yards against Washington.

QBs: Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Khalil Herbert, D'Andre Swift, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame
WRs: D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, Tyler Scott, Trent Taylor, Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown
TEs: Gerald Everett, Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Jake Tonges

Cincinnati Bengals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Cincinnati Bengals showed a national TV audience on Sunday night they are still serious AFC playoff contenders.

The Bengals were all but counted out after starting the season with two losses and falling to 1/3 on Oct. 1.

But four straight wins have pulled them back up and into the conversation.

The latest was a 24-18 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a rematch of a divisional playoff game from last season.

"We went out and proved to the world we're back and we're here," said receiver Tee Higgins, who had eight catches for a season-high 110 yards.

Joe Burrow threw for a season-high 348 yards and two touchdowns, and Cincinnati's defense forced two turnovers and held off the Bills.

"We're coming along," Burrow said. "We've played well the last couple of weeks and we have to keep it going."

"Getting up by two scores was big," head coach Zac Taylor said. "I also was happy with the offense on the final drive. We take pride in finishing with the ball."

Cincinnati (5-3) is locked in a tie with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, all of them chasing the division-leading Ravens (7-2) in the AFC North. The Bengals still have to play the Steelers twice and have rematches with the Browns and Ravens on the schedule.

Burrow, who was still struggling with a calf injury early in the season, was 31 for 44 while completing passes to eight receivers, with tight ends Irv Smith Jr. and Drew Sample making the touchdown grabs.

In his postgame news conference, Burrow did his best to temper expectations.

"We were 1-0 this week. We have to be 1-0 next week, too," he said. "This is only game (No.) 8. We've got nine games left."

Does Burrow belong in the MVP conversation?

As's Ben Baby suggests, it may seem early, but the answer is a resounding yes.

Now that he's back to full strength following his right calf injury, Burrow has steered the offense to two quality performances and helped the Bengals beat two division winners in back-to-back weeks. Burrow and the Bengals have now won four straight and are building momentum as they enter the back half of the regular season.

If the success continues, he'll continue to garner MVP buzz. ...

Next on the agenda?

As Associated Press sports writer Mitch Stacy put it, "Re-establish dominance in the AFC North."

How the Bengals play in their four remaining division games will be critical to their hopes of getting back to the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Asked Sunday if the Bengals were a championship contender again, Taylor brushed it off.

"We don't need to worry about that right now," he said. "We have a team we trust and believe in. We have a huge game next week against the Houston Texans, and that's all we're worried about."

This week, the Bengals host impressive rookie QB C.J. Stroud and the Texans on Sunday.

Of some concern, receiver Ja'Marr Chase landed hard on his back during Sunday night's game. He appeared in pain on the sideline as athletic trainers treated him.

Chase confirmed Monday he was in pain, which got worse as the game went on and is worse today.

"I'm alive," Chase said, via video from Mike Petraglia of Jungle Roar Pod. "That's the best thing right now. ... It's pretty sore just moving around."

Chase will undergo more medical tests, which will help determine his practice availability. Taylor called Chase day to day.

As notes, Chase caught four passes for 41 yards in the victory over the Bills, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least five catches. Chase ended up playing 63 of 70 offensive snaps.

Chase said because it's his spine, they are exercising caution with the injury.

"All I can do is pray and be a good teammate and be there for those guys and try to get healthy," Chase said. "That's the only thing I can do right now. Everybody is counting on me to be healthy."

I'll obviously have more on Chase via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ....

Meanwhile, as hard as Joe Mixon runs, the Bengals are still struggling to move the ball on the ground. Cincinnati's featured back is averaging just over 61 yards per game.

After a great week in San Francisco, gained 28 yards on his first 10 carries and had minus-25 rush yards over expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats. He finished with 37 yards on 14 carries and a TD, giving him , a season-low per-carry average of 2.6 yards. ....

Finally. ... After being criticized for a lack of production this season, tight ends Smith, Sample and Tanner Hudson combined for 10 catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

QBs: Jake Browning, Joe Burrow
RBs: Zack Moss, Chase Brown, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Trenton Irwin, Andrei Iosivas, Charlie Jones
TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Mike Gesicki, Tanner Hudson, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox

Cleveland Browns

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Browns clicked on all cylinders Sunday with a complete performance on both sides of the ball in a 27-0 victory over the Cardinals.

With the return of Deshaun Watson, the Browns offense found success in both the pass and the run game. Watson took control, finding his pass catchers, moving the ball down field, and connecting with them in the end zone. They balanced their passing attack with the run game, using RB Kareem Hunt and Jerome Ford effectively.

Defensively, the Browns showcased once again why they are a top defense in the league. They allowed a total of 58 net yards and sacked rookie QB Clayton Tune seven times. They finished the game with two interceptions as well.

This was the type of game the Browns needed to win over a struggling Cardinals team who plays hard. It was also the Browns first shutout win since 2007 when the Browns beat the Bills. ...

Watson took the field at quarterback for the first time since Week 7 and played his first full game since Sept. 24. He looked to be comfortable in commanding the offense. He finished the game throwing 19-of-30 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. His longest throw of the day he connected with Amari Cooper for a 59-yard reception. Watson finished with a passer rating of 107.5.

"I thought he had some really, really good moments. He ran the ball when he needed to, made plays, so I was really pleased for him," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I thought he looked really good and looked like himself to me."

Stefanski said that early on they wanted to test out of the run game, which then played a role in some short early passes in the first quarter. But then Watson threw the aforementioned 59-yarder to Cooper.

"The first deep ball he threw convinced me he was back because if he wasn't feeling good, he wouldn't have thrown the ball deep," Cooper said. "So, once he threw that I'm like okay, cool let's go because I know Deshaun likes to throw the ball deep. That's his thing, so once he threw it, I was like he must be feeling good."

The three days of practice during the week gave Stefanski the necessary information that Watson would be in good shape for Sunday's game.

Then, in pregame, Stefanski said that Watson looked like himself. Watson said that it felt good to take the field again on Sunday.

"This is what I've been preparing and training very hard to get back to," Watson said. "Just to get out there and play free and be able to be very close to myself and just go out there and compete and have fun with my teammates, and that's what today brought."

Cooper's success in the receiving game on Sunday played an important role in their overall offensive success. Cooper scored their first touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Watson that was deflected off the helmet of a Cardinals' defender.

Cooper finished Sunday's game with 139 yards on five targets and one touchdown. He had a 59-yard reception in the first quarter, and another 49-yard reception in the fourth that set the Browns up for a touchdown.

Sunday marks Coopers' 33rd career game surpassing 100-receiving yards, and his third this season. Cooper's 139 yards is also his highest yardage total with the Browns, and the most since Week 1 of 2021.

Watson's return comes in time for a critical two-game stretch against AFC North foes Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

If the Browns can somehow sweep both, they could take command of the division. Watson had plenty of rust to shake off, but he gives the Browns the upside to make such a run.

Remember, the Ravens wrecked the Browns 28-3 on Oct. 1. That was the first game missed by Watson, who had been expected to play before being ruled out a few hours before kickoff. ...

Other notes of interest. ... According to's Nathan Jahnke, the Browns running backs appeared to establish clearer roles in this one. The backfield has been in flux due to Kareem Hunt's return to the team followed by injuries to both Hunt and Jerome Ford, but things seem to have stabilized.

Ford was a full participant in practice by the end of the week while Hunt didn't show up on the injury report this week, which was generally a good sign.

The two split snaps on early downs. There was a slight tendency toward Hunt in short-yardage situations while Ford was the clear passing-down back. This allowed Ford to lead the backfield in both rushing attempts and targets while Hunt was the player to score a touchdown.

Both players averaged between 2-3 yards per carry.

Pierre Strong Jr. had seen plenty of opportunities in recent weeks due to the injuries, but he only received five offensive snaps. It was surprising he didn't see more considering the 27-0 blowout win.

Jahnke added: "Ford can return to fantasy starting lineups assuming the matchup isn't bad while Hunt should at least remain on fantasy rosters. ..."

In addition, Cedric Tillman went from being inactive to a top-two wide receiver after Donovan Peoples-Jones was traded to the Detroit Lions.

Tillman caught one pass in his first four games and was inactive for each of the last three. He played 43 of a possible 51 snaps in 11 personnel and 11 of 13 in 12 personnel.

Marquise Goodwin was often on the field when Tillman was off, but Goodwin suffered a concussion at the end of the third quarter and didn't return.

David Bell was inactive with a knee injury. It's possible Bell will take some time from Tillman once he's healthy.

Tillman caught his only target for three yards, but the opportunity is there for Tillman to be a much bigger part of the Browns offense going forward. ...

Wide receiver Elijah Moore hasn't had nearly the impact on Cleveland's offense as many predicted (29 catches, no touchdowns), though Watson's injury may have contributed to that.

Now that Watson is back, maybe Moore's production will pick up. ....

Finally. ... Stefanski said that left tackle Jedrick Wills would be placed on injured reserve with an MCL sprain and the move became official on Tuesday.

Wills will miss a minimum of four games, but word on Monday was that he's expected to be out for about six weeks. This week's game at Baltimore will be the first one that Wills has missed since the 2021 season.

The Browns also placed cornerback Cameron Mitchell on injured reserve. Mitchell, who has a shoulder injury, has nine tackles and one pass defensed while appearing on defense and special teams in all eight games this season.

Wide receiver James Proche and tackle Geron Christian were signed off the practice squad to fill the open spots on the roster.

QBs: Jameis Winston, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Tyler Huntley, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Jerome Ford, D'Onta Foreman, Pierre Strong Jr., Nick Chubb
WRs: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Jerry Jeudy, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell
TEs: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant

Dallas Cowboys

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston noted, Dak Prescott got all the help he needed -- thanks to a startling 56 yards of Eagles' penalties -- to deliver the Cowboys to the brink of an extraordinary victory that would have kept them in the mix for the top spot in the NFC.

The Cowboys fell oh-so short.

About 5 yards shy, in fact, of the go-ahead touchdown when CeeDee Lamb was wrapped up by Darius Slay in the final seconds that sealed Dallas' 28-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

The Cowboys (5-3) needed a major comeback to even try and pull this game out -- and they'll need an even bigger resurgence to make a run at the NFC East crown.

The 49ers already blew out Dallas 42-10 last month. This loss -- in a game stuffed with close calls that never went their way -- left the Cowboys 2½ games behind the Eagles (8-1) for first in the division.

Sure, nine games are left, including a Dec. 10 primetime home rematch against the Eagles, but two losses already to two of the top teams in the conference have left Dallas reeling headed into next week's game against the Giants.

The Cowboys said all the right things after the loss. They'll learn from their mistakes. They were in the game against the NFC champs until the end. There's plenty of season left.

"That's what we'll do, get back to work," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

The Cowboys are stuck where they have been so many times at the halfway point of the season through the years, lamenting what could have been, rather than celebrating a decisive win against a contender.

"Lot of good we can take from this and use as we keep going," Prescott said.

From a fantasy perspective, the passing attack delivered.

Prescott threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns and Lamb caught 11 passes for 191 yards, but the decisive numbers might be the ones not found in the box score.

The few feet, the final inches lost.

Yes, the final drive was the crusher. Prescott needed to move the Cowboys 86 yards in 46 seconds for the potential winning score. Aided by 56 yards of Eagles' penalties, the Cowboys reached the 6-yard-line.

"We're gonna win," Prescott said of his thought process. "At no point in my mind did I think it was going to be anything different."

With an upset victory in sight, Prescott failed to throw the ball away or make some sort of play for even a yard or two and instead was sacked by Josh Sweat for a crushing 11-yard loss.

Prescott then threw an incomplete pass with 11 seconds left.

After a delay of game penalty on the Cowboys moved them to the 27, Prescott hit Lamb for 22 yards, but he was tackled and actually lost the ball on a fumble. Game over.

Take a second look, though -- the officials sure did -- and it's easy to pinpoint where it went wrong for Dallas.

Trailing 28-17 late, Prescott's determined run toward the end zone was scuttled when Eagles linebacker Zach Cunningham flipped him on a hit to the 1-yard line. On fourth down, Prescott's pass to tight end Luke Schoonmaker was initially called a touchdown. But a replay review showed Schoonmaker's left knee was down on about the inch line and the TD was overturned.

Prescott hit Jalen Tolbert for a 7-yard score to make it 28-23 and the QB scrambled for a 2-point conversion that would have made it a three-point game. The replay showed Prescott's right foot stepped out at around the 2 and the conversion also was overturned

"An inch or two on one of those three plays and we could be talking about a different outcome," Prescott said.

Instead, the Cowboys had to explain away another loss. ...

Dallas is better set for success this week as they prepare to host the Giants.

New York QB Daniel Jones suffered a torn ACL on Sunday against the Raiders and will miss the rest of the season, according to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. With backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the injured reserve, the Giants will turn to rookie Tommy DeVito for the game against the Cowboys.

With DeVito being the only healthy quarterback on the roster, it's expected that New York will sign a quarterback this week to backup DeVito in his first career start. ...

Other motes of interest. ... Lamb has exceeded 150 receiving yards twice in his career -- last week against the Las Vegas Raiders and this week against the Eagles. ...

Tony Pollard's first year as the lead back after the offseason release of Ezekiel Elliott and McCarthy's stated desire to run more in his play-calling debut with Dallas have not been a bonanza for the running game.

Pollard is averaging less than 4 yards per carry after being above 5 each of the past two seasons as a complementary back to Elliott, a two-time rushing champion. The Cowboys are middle of the pack in rushing offense after finishing in the top 10 the past two seasons.

Pollard had 12 rushes for 51 yards against the Eagles, adding three catches for 12 yards.

Among the league leaders in inside-the-ten touches, Pollard should eventually score his third touchdown of the season after opening the season with two scores against the Giants, the same defense he'll face this week -- except minus Leonard Williams. ...

Last year, he scored his first career touchdown in Philly. This time around, Jake Ferguson had his best game to date, catching seven passes for 91 yards and another touchdown, marking the second straight game in which he's hauled in a score from Prescott.

Ferguson, who was targeted a career-high 10 times, also drew a pass interference call near the goal line on another drive that led to a Cowboys touchdown.

This year, Ferguson is second on the team in catches (32) and yards (328) and is tied for the team-lead in TD receptions with Lamb with three each. ...

Michael Gallup's role continues to decline; the veteran receiver played less than 50 percent of the offensive snaps, losing time to Tolbert, who scored his first NFL touchdown.

Tolbert was also targeted more often and caught three passes.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, it's possible that Tolbert will play more snaps than Gallup as soon as this week. ...

PK Brandon Aubrey set an NFL record with his 19th consecutive made field goal to open his career, a 51-yarder late in the second quarter. And to think Aubrey missed his first kick of his career, an extra point against the Giants. He's been perfect since.

Finally. ... Martavis Bryant is back in the NFL.

Bryant, a wide receiver whose last NFL game was in 2018, is signing with the Cowboys' practice squad, according to multiple reports.

The 31-year-old Bryant was once among the best big-play threats in football. As a rookie in 2014 with the Steelers, he averaged a whopping 21.1 yards per catch and scored eight touchdowns in 10 games. But he was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and then suspended for the entire 2016 season for another violation. In 2017 he returned to the Steelers but didn't play as well, and in 2018 he was traded to the Raiders.

After starting the season with the Raiders, Bryant was suspended again late in 2018 and hasn't been back in the NFL. He played for the XFL's Vegas Vipers this year but didn't do anything special, and it's not clear whether he has anything left.

QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Trey Lance
RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Hunter Luepke
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks
TEs: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot

Denver Broncos

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As the Broncos return from their bye week looking to extend a two-game winning streak, head coach Sean Payton has seen the strides his team has taken in recent weeks.

"Clearly, I feel like we're a better team today than we were four or five weeks ago," Payton said Monday. "You can see that in a lot of ways."

Defensively, Payton pointed to the Broncos' improved run defense and success in the red zone.

After allowing 219.3 rushing yards per game over a four-game stretch from Weeks 2-5, the Broncos have allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in two of their last three games and limited the Chiefs to 62 rushing yards in a Week 8 win. In the red zone, Denver has held its opponents to three touchdowns in their last 16 opportunities dating back to Week 5.

More to the point, Denver's rejuvenated defense has surrendered 19, 17 and nine points in the last three games after allowing an average of 36.2 over the first five weeks.

Not only that, but they held the Chiefs to just one touchdown in eight red-zone trips in their two games against Kansas City that were sandwiched around a win over the Packers.

On offense, Payton said he's been encouraged by the running game's efficiency and a 3-for-5 red-zone performance in a win over the Chiefs.

Denver's special teams unit, meanwhile, has won "most of those battles, which means a lot."

Put simply, Payton has seen his team execute at a level that is good enough to win games.

"We're doing a number of the things that are necessary to win games that I don't think we were doing nearly as well at the start of the season," Payton said.

The Broncos' reward for their improved level of play is a chance to earn a third consecutive win when they travel to Buffalo for a "Monday Night Football" meeting. That matchup -- combined with a Week 11 "Sunday Night Football" game against the Vikings -- will present Denver with important opportunities as the team looks to re-enter the wild-card race.

"Overall, from the overview of the team, I think we're a lot further down the road," Payton said. "Because of that, you get that much more invested and recognize the next opportunity at hand. We're going to play a national TV game a week from tonight and then another national TV game the following Sunday night. Those will both be important games for us as a team."

Payton said he addresses with his team the spotlight that comes with playing in prime time, and he noted that significant teams are the ones who are offered the chance to play in front of their peers and the nation.

"For us, it's twofold," Payton said. "We're playing good teams. Buffalo's been a perennial playoff team here, right on the cusp of being in a handful of Super Bowls and a team that we've got great respect for. [Buffalo head coach] Sean [McDermott]'s been fantastic there in what he's done. I think they present a huge challenge, especially in Buffalo in the month of November. Just do any October, November, December Google search [on games] at Buffalo; it's a tough place to play. And then to play them on Monday night.

"Those are great challenges. The competitor in you wants to play in front of large audiences in important games. These are those opportunities."

Meanwhile, as Payton evaluates the first eight games of quarterback Russell Wilson's season, the coach said he and the team are impressed with a number of elements of Wilson's game.

The veteran has thrown 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions and has posted a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. His 16 touchdown passes rank fifth in the NFL -- though three of the players above him have played an additional game -- and he also ranks fifth in quarterback rating.

"I think this, those numbers are all good," Payton said. "I think the most important thing is how we're playing as a team and how we're playing as an offense. The number one job is to get us in the end zone. I think the things that we've seen I've been encouraged with are obviously the off-schedule plays. He does a great job of working the pocket, climbing the pocket. He makes a real good throw to Jerry Jeudy doing that last week [and] Courtland Sutton the same way.

"And then continuing to look at reducing the turnovers, managing the game the right way and understanding who we're playing and how we're playing it. All of those things, that transition for him so far -- he's in his third offense now in three years. Every day [he's] working at it, working his tail off at it.

"To answer your question, I'd say, man, there's a lot of things that we've been impressed with that he's doing very well, and there's some things that obviously he wants to improve on and collectively we want to offensively."

Remember, the passing game will be without speedster Brandon Johnson (hamstring) for three more games. Sutton and Jeudy both had a pair of catches against the Chiefs and rookie Marvin Mims Jr. only had one target despite being the most dangerous ball-catcher on the field.

Mims had nine catches for 242 yards and a touchdown -- a 60-yarder in Week 2 -- in the first four weeks of the season, but he had just two catches for four yards over the next four games.

The second-round pick has also returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, so it's not hard to understand why Payton is focused on getting the ball to the rookie more often in the second half of the year.

"How do we get Marvin more touches and how do we incorporate him more into what we're doing offensively?" Payton said. "I'm sitting here looking at a notepad with his jersey number on it in front of me. And that's our job as coaches. We really believe we have a good, young, talented player. Obviously, there's other players on the offense that deserve the same type of attention relative to play design. But we're going to work our tails off to move that needle where he's getting opportunities not only in the passing game but he just does a lot of things well and he's really good with the ball in his hands."

Trading Jeudy would have been one way to open the door to more of a role for Mims, but the Broncos passed on doing that before last week's deadline so the plan to get Mims going will have to take another path in the weeks to come. ...

One last note here. ... Javonte Williams carried 27 times for 85 yards against the Chiefs after gaining 82 yards on 15 carries a week earlier. That's the kind of use and production that will help Denver cover up its offensive weaknesses.

QBs: Zach Wilson, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin, Samaje Perine
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Brandon Johnson
TEs: Adam Trautman, Chris Manhertz, Greg Dulcich

Detroit Lions

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Larry Lage noted, the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions have their best record since 2014, putting them in a position to win a division title for the first time in three decades.

"It's a good spot to be in," head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged.

Detroit (6-2) went into its bye with a bounce-back win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night after a humbling rout at Baltimore.

"Huge to go into the bye with a 'W,' coming off the sour taste in our mouth," quarterback Jared Goff said.

Detroit has lived up to the preseason hype despite missing key players in each game, a sign general manager Brad Holmes has assembled a deep roster that can withstand some setbacks and still have success.

The Lions are hopeful starting running back David Montgomery, along with first-string offensive linemen Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson will return to the lineup after being out with injuries when they travel to play Nov. 12 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Campbell said Monday that he expects all three to return Sunday.

"They've been trending the right way now for a while, so certainly hopeful," Campbell said, via Tim Twentyman of the team website.

Montgomery has missed the past two games with a rib injury.

He had back-to-back 100-yard, one-touchdown performances the two games before getting injured against the Buccaneers.

He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry on the season with six touchdowns.

Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs had a breakout game in Montgomery's absence, rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Raiders.

When Detroit traded up to draft Gibbs No. 12 overall this year, some questioned using that high of a pick on a running back that might be limited to running and receiving on the outside. The Lions, though, didn't see it that way last spring and their view of the former Alabama star has been validated with runs between the tackles and over defenders.

"We don't feel like he's some finesse back," Campbell said. "That's not his deal and he runs on his tippy toes."

Starting in place of Montgomery the previous two games, Gibbs had 315 yards rushing and receiving along with two touchdowns.

After a solid showing against the Ravens, he had his best performance against the Raiders.

He had 26 carries for 152 yards and five catches for 37 yards in a 26-14 win over Las Vegas. He had 564 yards from scrimmage, trailing the totals of just Billy Sims (1980) and Barry Sanders (1989) through the first six games with the franchise.

Gibbs, clearly, is finding his groove.

"In the beginning, I was playing too fast," he said. "I was a little bit nervous and stuff. These two games helped me progress as a player, and slow me down a little bit for my reads and all of that."

Assuming Montgomery does indeed return from his rib injury against the Chargers, Campbell was asked on Monday how they'll split the workload going forward.

"We know what David can do, but we know that Gibbs has gotten better every week, so we're going to ask those guys to do the things they do well and that help our offense move the football," Campbell said. "I don't think, necessarily sitting here talking to you right now, that I see Gibbs getting 65 plays. I don't see that. But he's going to get his fair share now.

"We know what he can be and he's growing. I think it'll be a little bit by committee and make sure we get those guys their touches. Gibbs will get his touches."

When healthy, Montgomery has been the starter, and it appears that will remain the case for the rest of the season. But Gibbs' breakout game against the Raiders likely means he'll get close to an equal workload going forward. ...

Meanwhile, rookie Sam LaPorta is making plays, too. He's the first NFL tight end to have at least three catches and 35 yards receiving in each of his first eight games.

Detroit's dynamic duo of rookies are opening up options for Goff and an offense led by receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has had 40-plus yards receiving in 18 straight games.

"The more they're able to do, the more they allow us to do," Campbell said. ...

Even though the Lions could have made major moves at the trade deadline, they chose to make only one subtle move.

Detroit dealt a 2025 sixth-round pick to Cleveland for receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. The Detroit native and former Michigan star has 117 career catches for 1,837 yards and eight touchdowns over four seasons, giving the team depth to the position group that lost Marvin Jones when family matters led to his release.

"You always feel like you're one injury away," Campbell said. "That was a position we felt like, can we find a steady, reliable guy that fits us, that can play outside."

While the Lions did beat Las Vegas by 12 points, they could have won by much more. They stalled on three drives, settling for three points each time, had three turnovers and missed a field goal.

"We're 6-2, we're leading our division, playing good ball," Goff said. "And, still feels like there's meat on the bone. So, yeah, it feels good. ..."

Stay tuned. ... I'll have more on Montgomery's status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

QBs: Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater
RBs: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green
TEs: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell

Green Bay Packers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Steve Megargee noted, Aaron Jones finally ended the Packers' first-half touchdown drought.

Green Bay's resourceful reinforcements on defense took over from there and helped the Packers snap a four-game skid by beating the Los Angeles Rams 20-3 on a rainy Sunday.

"I feel like that will help us get rolling, give us that confidence that we need," said Jones, who ran for 73 yards on 20 carries to lead Green Bay's 184-yard ground attack. "I always say it only takes one to get things going."

Jones put the Packers ahead for good with a 3-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, the first time Green Bay had reached the end zone in the first half of a game since a Sept. 17 loss in Atlanta.

Rookie tight end Luke Musgrave scored his first career touchdown on a 20-yard reception from Jordan Love and Anders Carlson went 2 of 3 on field-goal attempts for the Packers (3-5).

Love went 20 of 26 for 228 yards despite getting sacked four times.

That was more than enough to beat the Rams, who dropped their third straight. The Rams played without quarterback Matthew Stafford, who sprained a ligament in his right thumb last week in a loss at Dallas.

The Packers had been outscored 73-9 in the first half of their past five games, but they led this one 7-3 at the break and could have been up by more if they hadn't wasted opportunities with penalties. Green Bay's defense shut the Rams (3-6) down the rest of the way.

But the offense still had too many miscues.

Right guard Jon Runyan was flagged for lining up in the neutral zone on a pair of fourth-and-1 sneaks due to his helmet being too far forward. Word was the league is now emphasizing short-yardage alignment, and players will have to adjust.

A dropped pass by rookie Malik Heath, a sack taken by Love despite good protection, and a false start on rookie receiver Jayden Reed all nearly conspired to take away a chance at a field goal at the end of the first half. The Packers still got a crack at the kick, but Carlson missed from 48 yards out anyway.

The second half began with rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks and Jones losing fumbles on the first two drives.

"It wasn't the most perfect game, by any stretch, and there's a lot of things to clean up," head coach Matt LaFleur said. "But I was proud of the guys in terms of their ability to continue to compete at a high level."

"It's not perfect -- it's never going to be perfect -- but I think just the position we were able to put ourselves in and come out with a win, it definitely is going to help us," Love said. "We've just got to keep stacking going forward."

What the offense did late in the game is the real building block, though, because the steady production and success wasn't the result of rallying in desperation mode.
The Packers had a lead, and they executed to get the job done. As staffer Mark Spofford suggests, it's a small step, but a meaningful one.

They finally got Christian Watson the ball on a deep route with a 37-yard catch in the fourth quarter (although he got banged up on the play) after Love badly underthrew him, and Love was a little better on deeper throws (6-of-8 on passes with 10-plus air yards after entering the game with a league-worst 36 percent rate on such throws).

They put up three scores, totaling 13 points, in roughly a quarter's worth of time off the clock.

Yes, the two stalls in the red zone leading to field goals weren't ideal, but those six points stretched the lead to two scores before the clinching TD in the final four minutes.

LaFleur told the players this was "mirror week," not only because of the similarities schematically between the Packers and Rams, but also because it was on every player to look in the mirror to see what he can do better to help the cause.

"When things get tough and you have some adversity, it's easy to look out and point out what everybody else is doing wrong," LaFleur said. "You've got to look internally and what can I do better? And I think our guys totally embraced that."

Let's hope so.

The Packers are entering arguably the toughest four-game stretch of their schedule. They visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, host the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19, play at Detroit on Thanksgiving and welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Lambeau Field on Dec. 3. ...

Other notes of interest. ... The Packers need more playmakers, and perhaps Wicks (four catches for 49 yards) has some potential as long as he doesn't have another fumble like he did in the third quarter, when the ball popped free while he was trying to reach out for extra yards.

They might need him even more this week if Watson's injuries are an issue.

LaFleur told reporters in his Monday press conference that Watson was not diagnosed with a concussion and there aren't long-term concerns about Watson's back and chest.

"We're still following it closely just to make sure," LaFleur said, via Rob Demovsky of

Watson has 12 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown in five games this season. He had 41 catches for 611 yards and nine total touchdowns (seven receiving, two rushing) as a rookie last year. ...

Beyond that,'s Nathan Jahnke notes that Watson was playing his usual role over the first three quarters, playing in 42 of a possible 47 snaps. Wicks took over for Watson to end the game as he's done several times this season.

Jahnke went on to notes this was not a good matchup for Watson which explains his few targets, but ideally, he would have been more involved with the offense prior to his injury.

I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Worth noting. ... There are rookies delivering here. Reed has a team-high 333 yards receiving. Carlson has gone 11 of 13 on field goals and 15 of 15 on extra points. Musgrave has been the Packers' main tight end all season. ...

Finally. ... Running back James Robinson's quest to get back onto a 53-man roster led him to sign with the Packers practice squad in October, but it looks like he'll need to find another way to get back on the field this season.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the Packers will release Robinson from their practice squad. He was never elevated to the Packers' game day roster during his brief stay in Green Bay.

Robinson split last season between the Jaguars and Jets and he spent time with both the Patriots and Giants this offseason.

Robinson ran for 1,070 yards as an undrafted rookie in 2020 and had 767 yards in 14 games the next year before tearing his Achilles. He hasn't had the same kind of success since returning from that injury and his search for a place to show he still has something in the tank will have to continue somewhere else.

QBs: Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
RBs: Josh Jacobs, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor
WRs: Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks, Samori Toure, Malik Heath
TEs: Tucker Kraft, Ben Sims, Josiah Deguara, Luke Musgrave

Houston Texans

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As's DJ Bien-Aime reported it, with 46 seconds left in the Texans' matchup versus the Buccaneers, quarterback C.J. Stroud received the ball with two timeouts left.

The offense had 75 yards to go, and Stroud had one message for his offensive line.

"If you give me a little bit of time, I will make them pay," Stroud said.

Six plays later, Stroud triumphantly fired a winning, 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tank Dell to take the lead 39-37 with just six seconds left, the latest go-ahead touchdown pass in Texans team history.

Stroud's execution on the last drive set a record for passing yards by a rookie as he finished with 470 yards -- passing Andrew Luck (433) -- and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

"C.J. is different. He told us to stay poised and be ready, and he executed," Dell, who finished with two touchdowns and 114 yards, said. "He didn't panic. But we knew that out of him, and that's what he do."

Stroud's last drive propelled him into the record books in other categories, too. He became the sixth player in NFL history to record 450 pass yards and five passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He also became the first rookie with 400 passing yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

"It makes it easy on everybody. No cap, that boy is a problem," left guard Tytus Howard told Bien-Aime. "He's special. And to be doing all this as a rookie, the sky's the limit for him. We just got to do our job, keep giving time and we know he's going to deal."

Stroud finished the day with the most passing yards in a game this season. And before the winning drive, it appeared that a loss could have overshadowed Stroud's performance as he sat at four touchdowns and 395 yards.

The Buccaneers' offense capped a 10-play, 61-yard drive with Baker Mayfield's 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton that raised their win probability of 88.6 percent.

Texans safety Jalen Pitre walked to the sideline disappointed after the defense allowed the go-ahead score. But Pitre quickly realized the offense had two timeouts and 46 seconds and believed the Texans would still win.

And Stroud proved Pitre correct.

"That's not even coachable. They said something about he did a veggie meter to check how much veggies are in your bloodstream, and they found all ice," Pitre said with a smile. "He's like that for real. No vegetables, straight cold-blooded. [He's] ready for the moment, bro. I was about to put my head down, and I said, 'No. We still got time.' And they then start driving. [Stroud threw to] Dalton [Schultz], Noah [Brown], Tank and Tank. And I'm on the sidelines, smiling again."

The No. 2 pick's performance followed a three-game stretch in which he averaged 196 passing yards and threw only three touchdowns as the Texans won only one game.

"[Offensive coordinator] Bobby [Slowik] was looking for us to answer the bell," Stroud said. "We know we should have been way better against the Carolina Panthers, and he did a great job. He told me this game, 'You got to make plays and be special. You're a special player, go be special.' And he put the ball in my hand, and I appreciate that."

Even in a last-second, crushing defeat, the Buccaneers were impressed by Stroud's performance.

"I'll tell you what -- Stroud doesn't look like a rookie to me," Mayfield said. "That guy, he's so impressive. Looks like a polished NFL quarterback. So hats off to him. He played extremely, extremely well today."

The Texans (4-4) still have work to do, but with four wins they've already surpassed their total from last season with nine games remaining.

But in Texans players' eyes, as long as they have Stroud, they believe they can win any game.

"That boy the truth," running back Devin Singletary told Bien-Aime. "He's a dog. Killer instinct and never wavered. It wasn't pretty at first, but he led us, and we rallied."

Stroud and the Texans hope to build on their big win over Tampa Bay when they face a tough road test at Cincinnati on Sunday.

"I think it's something that can get us rolling," Stroud said. "Momentum is everything in this league and in the game of football. We've got to ride this momentum and work really hard in practice this week. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... Houston played the second half without kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, and running back Dare Ogunbowale, the emergency kicker, kicked a 29-yard field goal with 8:45 remaining to give the Texans the lead.

Three Texans' receivers went over 100 yards as Houston had 496 total yards. Noah Brown had six catches for 153 yards and a touchdown, Dalton Schultz 10 catches for 130 yards and one touchdown and Dell six for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Schultz's playing time has been rising due to injuries to multiple Texans tight ends.

The Texans' top run-blocking tight end Teagan Quitoriano landed on injured reserve earlier last week due to a groin injury that caused him to miss this game, and he will miss at least the next three. Brevin Jordan is the top backup receiving tight end, but he's missed the last two games due to a foot injury.

Schultz has been a borderline fantasy starter, but it's going to be safer starting him for the foreseeable future while Quitoriano is out. ...

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Singletary had been splitting snaps with Dameon Pierce on early downs while Mike Boone took the third down work.

With Pierce sidelined by an ankle injury, Singletary completely took over the early-down work while Boone stayed the third down back.

That didn't lead to much fantasy production.

Singletary ran the ball 13 times for 26 yards and caught two passes for no yards. The Buccaneers scored on three of their first four drives, so Houston was playing from behind most of the game.

The Texans as a whole finished with 53 yards, their second-lowest total of the season.

Singletary might have better luck this week if Pierce misses another game.

The Bengals haven't been as good as Tampa Bay against fantasy running backs, but the game script might be worse. ...

Fairbairn is set to miss at least a week with the quad injury he suffered during the first half of Sunday's victory over the Buccaneers, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC. He may miss more time.

To offset losing Fairbairn, the club signed Matt Ammendola to the practice squad, Wilson reports.

Fairbairn has hit 18-of-19 field goals this season, with the only miss coming from over 50 yards. He's also hit 14-of-14 extra points and sent 60 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks.

Ammendola has appeared in 15 games over the last two seasons for the Jets, Cardinals, and Chiefs. He's made just 18-of-26 field goals and 19-of-22 extra points. He's previously spent time with the Texans in 2022.

I'll have more on Pierce, Robert Woods, who has also missed the last two games with a foot injury, Jordan and Fairbairn in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

QBs: C.J. Stroud, Case Keenum, Davis Mills
RBs: Joe Mixon, Dameon Pierce, Mike Boone, Dare Ogunbowale
WRs: Nico Collins, Stefon Diggs, Noah Brown, Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Xavier Hutchinson, Tank Dell
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Brevin Jordan

Indianapolis Colts

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Colts defense entered Sunday's game reeling after allowing at least 37 points in each of its past three games.

Cornerback Kenny Moore II fixed all of that in a big way.

Moore returned two Bryce Young interceptions for touchdowns, Jonathan Taylor caught a touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-13 to snap a three-game losing streak.

"Just having that (winning) feeling again feels so good," Moore said. "We've obviously been on a tough stretch with some losses that didn't feel too good. We want to keep this feeling."

Head coach Shane Steichen called Moore's effort "phenomenal," but quickly added that he wasn't at all surprised.

"The way he practices and the way he works by watching tape and doing it the right way," Steichen said. "When you watch tape, you're going to make plays. And that's what he did for us. Fourteen points by him is phenomenal."

Meanwhile, the Colts did what they needed to on offense.

Minshew threw for 127 yards and Taylor ran for 47 yards for the Colts. But the most important number for the offense wasn't 198 (total yards gained) or 3.5 (yards per play). It was zero.

As in: Zero turnovers.

The Colts improved to 4-0 in 2023 when not turning the ball over, and that was the No. 1 thing Sunday's game called for. With Moore vaulting the Colts to a 17-point lead at halftime, and then another 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, the offense primarily had to avoid giving Carolina momentum.

"Kenny Moore II won the game today, 14-13 really if you look at it," Minshew said. "At the end of the day we knew what we had to do. Our defense was playing really, really well. Like I said Kenny Moore scored 14, so taking care of the ball was huge.

"We're undefeated this year when we take care of the ball. I think if we continue to be able to do that, put our defense in good spots and play complementary football, we can win games."

Since 2010, teams are 9-88 when gaining under 200 yards of total offense. Three other teams (the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams) gained under 200 yards of offense on Sunday and lost by a combined score of 74-6.

While Steichen said the Colts' offense needed to be more productive in the second half -- they averaged 1.3 yards per play over the final two quarters -- the focus was mostly on taking care of the football.

"There's a time and place to be aggressive," Steichen said, "and the second half wasn't that in that game."

The Colts will be traveling to Germany to face the Patriots in Frankfurt on Sunday. ...

Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot suggests, nobody has been a more pleasant surprise than Zack Moss, who served as a role player his first three NFL seasons. This year has been a breakout season. In eight games, he already has career bests in carries (132), yards (615) and TD runs (five) despite missing the opener with a broken arm and splitting carries with Taylor since Week 5.

Moss remains second in the league in rushing and is likely to cash in with a nice, new contract next season. ...

Worth noting. ... Per Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Taylor played 75 percent of Indianapolis' offensive snaps Sunday. He saw 72 percent of Indy's running back rushes, a season high by about 20 percent. ...

On the health front. ... Injuries to Josh Downs and Drew Ogletree are worth monitoring this week.

Both Downs (knee) and Ogletree (foot) left Sunday's game and did not return. Downs was listed as questionable with a knee injury coming into Week 9 and only played 11 snaps before exiting early in the second quarter.

Downs and Ogletree are central figures in the Colts' offense, so we'll keep an eye on their statuses when the Colts put out practice reports Wednesday and Thursday from Indianapolis, and Friday from Frankfurt ahead of Sunday's game at Deutsche Bank Park.

"We kind of knew through the week (Downs) was dealing with some stuff," Minshew said. "Hate to lose him. He's a great player. Felt really good about Isaiah McKenzie coming in. He did some good things. Got open. I didn't find him on a couple, but got open and played a good game.

I'll have more on both via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

In what might be a related note. ... Looking for receiving help, the Colts have turned their attention to a veteran free agent.

Indianapolis had a workout with Sammy Watkins, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Watkins was most recently with the Ravens last year, appearing in three games. He caught three passes for 119 yards in the regular season and then one pass for 12 yards in the postseason. Watkins also played nine games for the Packers in 2022, catching 123 passes for 206 yards.

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2014 draft, Watkins, 30, spent his first three seasons with the Bills before they traded him to the Rams in Aug. 2017. He then played for the Chiefs for three seasons, winning Super Bowl LIV with the club. He played for Baltimore in 2021.

He's recorded 364 career receptions for 5,384 yards with 34 touchdowns.

The Colts will face the Patriots in Germany on Sunday.

QBs: Joe Flacco, Sam Ehlinger, Kellen Mond, Anthony Richardson
RBs: Jonathan Taylor, Trey Sermon, Evan Hull
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie, D.J. Montgomery
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Will Mallory, Andrew Ogletree, Jelani Woods

Jacksonville Jaguars

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long reminded readers, the Jaguars looked lost at this time last year.

They had just wrapped up an 0-for-October skid in which they dropped five consecutive one-possession games. They were turning the ball over at an alarming rate and creating few, sometimes no, takeaways.

Trevor Lawrence and several teammates convened on the long plane ride back from London -- hours after a 21-17 loss to Denver -- and decided something needed to change.

They essentially demanded more from everyone.

And they got it. The Jaguars (6-2) have won 14 of 19 games since that brutally honest meeting over the Atlantic Ocean, with three of the five losses coming against the Kansas City Chiefs.

They won five in a row heading into their bye week -- a perfect October a year after a winless one -- and insist they still haven't played a complete game or come remotely close to the offensive juggernaut they believe they can be in head coach Doug Pederson's second season. Simply put, they are certain their best football is ahead.

"I know everyone feels much better and we're grateful for it," running back Travis Etienne said. "We know what it feels like on the other side. We want to enjoy this moment, just kind of soak in it right now, but don't get too stuck in the moment so we can still move forward."

The Jaguars hope to carry over one important lesson from 2022: What happens in the first half of the season means little compared to the second half. Jacksonville got hot in November and December last year, won the AFC South and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs before getting eliminated in Kansas City.

Receiver Christian Kirk recalled his last season in Arizona in 2021. The Cardinals started 7-0 and were 9-2 at their bye before losing four of their final five games. It's a story he relayed to teammates this week.

"Still made the playoffs, but we weren't playing great football and we were a first-round exit," Kirk said. "So it doesn't matter what you do in the first part of the season. It's all about how you play when these games start getting more important."

The Jags have several obvious areas of concern heading into the final two months of the regular season. They ranked 31st in the league with nine fumbles, including three by Lawrence and two by rookie running back Tank Bigsby, and are 23rd in red-zone scoring (47.6 percent).

They're 22nd in third-down conversions (35.5 percent) and far from where they want to be in short-yardage success.

"It's unacceptable," Kirk said. "It's something we've got to live with, but that was the first half of the season. That's the cool thing about the bye week: you're able to kind of reflect and take some time to really do some self-scouting and come back and you get a whole clean slate of a new opportunity."

Jacksonville's defense picked up the slack for much of the first half, holding opponents to 16.2 points during the winning streak and leading the NFL with 18 takeaways. But the unit ranks 23rd with 16 sacks, with nine of those by Josh Allen, and has dropped at least five would-be interceptions.

"We're not the perfect defense, but we play well together and we play for each other," Allen said.

And the Jags believe they have unlimited room for growth.

"Hopefully we're saving our best ball for when it counts the most," Kirk said. "I know the offense is going to have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder coming back off the bye and just showing what we can do because we're still not there yet.

"But it is encouraging that we're sitting here and we've only put together one complete game on offense on film. We're going to look to find that again."

Meanwhile, as the Jaguars begin preparing for Sunday's game against the 49ers in Jacksonville, receiver Zay Jones (knee) is still a ways away from returning, and a stint on injured reserve is not out of question, head coach Doug Pederson told reporters.

I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

QBs: Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Rourke
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Gabe Davis, Parker Washington, Tim Jones, Jamal Agnew, Christian Kirk
TEs: Evan Engram, Brenton Strange, Luke Farrell, Elijah Cooks

Kansas City Chiefs

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta framed it, the Kansas City Chiefs underscored in Sunday's victory over the Miami Dolphins three facts that became readily apparent through the first nine weeks of the season: They have one of the league's best defenses, their once high-powered offense has fizzled and yet they remain one of the league's best teams.

The Chiefs (7-2) followed a humbling loss in Denver, where Patrick Mahomes had one of his worst games and they failed to reach the end zone at all, with a 21-14 win over a fellow Super Bowl contender in Frankfurt, Germany.

But the victory over the Dolphins was owed largely to the work of the Kansas City defense, which produced a TD of its own that proved to be the margin of victory, and a fourth-down stop in the final minutes that kept the game from going to overtime.

"It's got to be the top defense in the NFL," said Mahomes, who was held to just 185 yards passing and two touchdowns by the Dolphins. "That's a great offense (in Miami). To hold them to 14 points where I fumbled in our own area for seven of those points -- that's a tremendous job. I think they're going to continue to get better because they're young and they love it."

Truth is, the defense can't get a whole lot better. The Chiefs have not allowed anyone to score more than 24 points in a game this season, and their only two losses came when their own offense failed to score more than 20.

In fact, the Chiefs have failed to score more than 20 points on four occasions, a significant departure from their high-flying ways that have produced two Super Bowl titles in the past four seasons. They've been done in by penalties, turnovers and, more than anything else, the inability of their wide receivers to get open down the field.

"I think if the offense gets to where it needs to be," Mahomes said, "we'll be a tough team to beat."

The Chiefs have the benefit of a late bye to work out some of the problems.

Then they return to face the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl rematch on Monday night, which should further energize Mahomes and Co. to turn things around.

"We have to take care of the penalties. That's the obvious. We'll get that worked out as we go here," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the win over Miami. "Listen, we came out of this with things we can work on to get better, and we'll do that."

What needs help the most is Mahomes, who needs some pass-catchers to get open.

They found space on the game's opening drive against Miami and it resulted in a touchdown, but such drives have been rare through nine weeks. ...

What's working?

Isiah Pacheco led the Chiefs in total yards of offense, running for 66 yards on 16 carries.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, his longest carry went for 9 yards, so his 66-yard game was due to consistently good play rather than one or two explosive runs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed this game due to an illness. Pacheco received a slight increase in snaps, while La'Mical Perine also received a few snaps after being elevated to the active roster.

Pacheco has been a pleasant surprise to fantasy managers all season, and he continues to be a must-start.

Jerick McKinnon played fewer snaps than usual this week, with the Chiefs maintaining a lead all game. It was surprising to see Perine take snaps instead of McKinnon, who was often the primary backup on early downs last season.

McKinnon scored a touchdown on one of his three opportunities, but Jahnke contends he can't be trusted in fantasy starting lineups right now, and even a Pacheco injury might not be enough to make him a starter. ...

Meanwhile, Rashee Rice's role continues to expand. The rookie receiver had a place in the Chiefs' starting lineup for the third straight game and played over two-thirds of the offensive snaps for the first time in his career.

In fact, Rice led the wide receiver room in snaps played, though he finished third in routes run. His target rate was also much lower than usual.

With his playing time increasing, Jahnke believes this might be the best time to buy low. The Chiefs have one of the easier schedules for wide receivers over the rest of the season.

Justin Watson played much more than usual, leading the wide receiver room in targets and routes. He recorded the highest snap percentage of his season. This came at the expense of Skyy Moore, who had played at least 50 percent of offensive snaps in every game until Week 9, but this week his role diminished.

Both Mecole Hardman Jr. and Kadarius Toney took steps back from last week.

While the box score didn't show it, this game was the clearest sign Rice will be the top wide receiver in most games going forward. ...

One last note here. ... Travis Kelce had 14 yards on a meager three catches against Miami. But it was enough by a single yard to push him past Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez and into first place in franchise history with 10,941 yards receiving.

QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert, Carson Wentz
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: Marquise Brown, Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney, Richie James, Justyn Ross, Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Blake Bell, Jody Fortson

Las Vegas Raiders

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Mark Anderson suggested, it could be 2021 all over again.

At least that's what the Las Vegas Raiders hope.

There are striking similarities.

Jon Gruden resigned after five games in 2021 after offensive emails were made public. The Raiders promoted special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, a players favorite, to interim coach. Las Vegas was one game under .500 late in the season before making an unlikely run to the playoffs by winning its final four games by a combined 12 points.

Last week, the Raiders fired coach Josh McDaniels and replaced him on an interim basis with linebackers coach and players favorite Antonio Pierce. After beating the New York Giants 30-6 on Sunday, the Raiders are a game under .500 at 4-5 and facing what remains an improbable path to the postseason.

But the Raiders got there two years ago in largely the same situation, and Pierce made it clear upon taking the job that he didn't see this as a lost season.

So what are the odds?

The Raiders are 2 1/2-point underdogs to the New York Jets this Sunday, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and the rest of the schedule isn't favorable, either.

Las Vegas probably will be an underdog or slight favorite in each remaining game.

All that said, as's Paul Gutierrez pointed out, the energy and emotion with which they played -- a large part supplied by the ultra-intense Pierce -- was something entirely different.

It's something the Raiders hope to build upon in the second half of the season.

"We've got a new leader right now," said All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, "and it's somebody that we can get behind and somebody that played the game. So it makes it a lot easier for us to connect with him, because he understands the mind of a player and he's done a really good job just making sure we understand that it's not about him -- it's about this team. It's about us figuring it out and getting behind him, obviously. And I feel like that's what everybody did. That's why it looked that way today."

The Raiders' 30 points marked a season high, as did their 125 rushing yards.

"It almost was like a reset for us," said All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs, who rushed for a season-high 98 yards and had two touchdowns for the first time this season. "Obviously, our record is what it is, we can't go back in the past. But we know what we can do from here on forward.

"So even if win or lose, we want it to look different -- the way we win and the way we lose. I know Tae has talked about that a little bit, but, man, just winning with our style -- we went out there and put up 30 points for the first time all year, so it's just fun to do. We want to continue that."

According to ESPN Stats and Information research, the Raiders, under new playcaller and interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree, called a designed rush on a season-high 58 percent of their plays against the Giants. This after calling a designed rush on 36 percent of plays in their first eight games under McDaniels.

It was noticed by Adams, who had just four catches on seven targets for 34 yards but was just fine with his stats.

"It's about how it looks, and it looked like it's supposed to look out there," Adams said. "We weren't perfect by any means, but we were able to run the ball and do things that we set out to do since I've been here and, one way or the other, we figured it out. So, I'm not concerned with that.

"Do I want to catch more balls? Of course. Why would I not? But I mean, at the end of the day ... this isn't about me; this is about the team and my whole want to catch more balls is to turn 30 [points] into 40 or 50. I mean, that's why it's for the team, so I'm good with it."

Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby had an inkling the Raiders would ride Pierce's emotional wave to a win in his debut.

So Saturday night, Crosby sent the Raiders' equipment guys out to purchase more than 100 cigars, and passed them out to his teammates and staff members following the Raiders' figurative smoking of the Giants. Then the literal smoking was on as the Raiders' locker room turned into a sweat-and-smoke-filled cigar lounge.

"Everybody knows I'm sober, but I love my cigars, so I wanted the guys to have some fun after the game," Crosby said after racking up three sacks for his third career three-sack game, tied with Anthony Smith for fourth most in franchise history since sacks became an official NFL stat in 1982. Only Hall of Famer Howie Long, franchise sack leader Greg Townsend and Bill Pickel have more three-sack games with four each.

"That's the confidence you have to have in this league," Crosby added. "You have to go out there with ... the intention to go win. If you have any doubt that you're going to go out there and succeed, you're already a step behind. So yeah, we had a lot of confidence, we were ready to go. And you just felt it in the building."

So 2023 might not be a repeat of 2021 in the long run, but for now, the similarities are striking.

If the Raiders can engineer another unlikely postseason run, maybe there would be a different kind of ending. Even though Bisaccia was beloved by the locker room, it wasn't enough to convince owner Mark Davis to retain him. Davis instead went with the big name in McDaniels, who built his reputation as the New England Patriots offensive coordinator with Tom Brady.

Maybe Davis would stay with Pierce this time if he's able to get the job done.

The players are behind Pierce, as was evident by the way they talked about him since he got the promotion and by the smell of cigar smoke in the locker room after beating the Giants.

"I'm very appreciative of it," Pierce said. "When you're straightforward, it is what it is. You don't have to worry about anything. ..."

Worth noting. ... Rookie Aidan O'Connell made his regular-season home debut and was more than up to the task. He didn't have to win the game by himself; he just had to play error-free. In completing 16 of 25 passes for 209 yards without an interception, the fourth-round draft pick, who was named by Pierce as the QB going forward, was confident, comfortable and in control.

Jacobs finally looked like his old self, rushing for 98 yards, including 86 in the first half when the Raiders took a 24-0 lead. Pierce said Monday that Jacobs is best when he runs angry, and that's what it looked like against New York when he repeatedly picked up yardage in traffic.

If Jacobs continues to play like this, the Raiders could surprise some teams in the season's second half.

Anderson pointed out one error the new staff made was not taking out Jacobs when given the chance.

Considering Jacobs was on a 13-game streak without a 100-yard performance, the moment he hit that mark late in the fourth quarter should've been the end to his game. The Raiders didn't need him anymore because the outcome wasn't in doubt, but Jacobs was given the ball once more -- and lost 3 yards to drop below 100.

It was one of the few questionable decisions on the day.

All in all, however, quality offensive playcalling, proper game management, the focus on running the ball and a stingy defense are the keys to making the success we saw against the Giants sustainable.

Of course, the second stop on their tour of New York teams -- the Jets -- should provide a tougher test this weekend.

QBs: Aidan O'Connell, Gardner Minshew, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Alexander Mattison, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden
WRs: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Tre Tucker, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter, Kristian Wilkerson
TEs: Michael Mayer, Austin Hooper, Jesper Horsted

Los Angeles Chargers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Chargers beat up on a bad Chicago Bears team 30-13 last week in their biggest win of the season. On Monday night, the Chargers faced a Jets squad boasting one of the best defenses in the league and wins over Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts.

Still, the Chargers won their second straight game thanks to an explosive first quarter, during which they went up by 14 points and exhibited dominant defensive line play that never let the Jets get close.

Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers' offense didn't have to do much.

Not when their sack-happy defense and opportunistic special teams were making big plays.

Derius Davis returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown, Austin Ekeler ran for two scores and Joey Bosa and Los Angeles' defense stifled Zach Wilson and the Jets' bumbling offense in the Chargers' 27-6 victory Monday night.

"The defense played terrific today, came up with some big stops and got a lot of turnovers," Herbert said. "Offensively, we can move the ball better. We did a good job not turning the ball over. We had a couple punts and a few miscues, but those are things that we could fix."

Herbert was 16 of 30 for just 136 yards, but became the fastest player in NFL history to 1,500 completions as the Chargers (4-4) snapped the Jets' three-game winning streak.

Keenan Allen had eight catches for 77 yards to reach 10,000 career yards receiving.

"That's amazing. Hard work paying off, consistency, resiliency. I've been through a lot, injuries and stuff like that, so it's nice," Allen said following the contest.

Allen joined tight end Antonio Gates (11,841) as the only Chargers players in franchise history with 10,000 career receiving yards.

"I mean, it's been 11 years, this is my 11th season, so I mean once you can stack up the years, all the coaches that I've always had, they've always said stack 'em up," he said, via the official transcript. "Stack up the seasons, stack up the wins. Once you start to do that, then you start to accumulate."

Allen became the 54th player in NFL history to hit the 10,000-yard plateau. If he keeps on his current season average (90 YPG), he'll coast into the top 45 before the end of the campaign.

"I'm not surprised by it, you know, the great things that he does and the plays that he makes," Herbert said of Allen. "It's just huge having him out there on our offense. He's a big part of our offense. To see him make plays like that, we see him make plays like that all the time in practice, as well, so he just goes up there, and he does what he does."

It came as little surprise that Allen's plateau-breaching catch came on the highlight of Monday's game, a ridiculous, twisting snag that he made look easy.

Allen is currently sixth in receiving yards among active players behind Julio Jones (13,640), DeAndre Hopkins (11,862), Mike Evans (11,019), Travis Kelce (10,941) and Davante Adams (10,210).

"To be a part of history, I think all of us know why he made history, cause everyone that's been with him sees what he does on a day-to-day basis, and he's the ultimate standard to me of consistency," Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. "You don't get to 10,000 yards without being that ultimate example of consistency, so I'm really happy for him."

Beyond that, Los Angeles, which forced New York (4-4) to fumble four times and recovered three of them, sacked Wilson eight times, including 2 1/2 by Bosa and two each by Khalil Mack and Tuli Tuipulotu.

"We did the things that good defenses do," Staley said. "I thought we were physical, we did a really good job against the run game and we rushed the passer. We limited the explosions in the deep part of the field and we were really good in the red zone.

"So it was a team win."

Next up, the Chargers will host the Detroit Lions at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Ekeler had three drops on Monday night, tied for the most in his career.

Outside of the drops, Ekeler played a good game, scoring the aforementioned two touchdowns and finishing with 47 yards from scrimmage.

But, as's Kris Rhim notes, Ekeler led the team in receptions last season, and his catches often spark big plays, so the Chargers will need Monday's drops to be an anomaly. ...

Also according to Rhim, Herbert has been sacked 10 times over the past three games. Herbert had less than 2.5 seconds to throw on 40 percent of his dropbacks, as the Jets' defensive line easily pushed back the Chargers' front throughout the contest.

Herbert did not have his biggest game statistically, but kept the ball out of harm’s way and didn't turn it over. ...

Ekeler once again led running backs in snaps with 39. The only other active running back on Monday was Joshua Kelley, who played 20 snaps in the win.

Allen led the wide receivers group in snaps with 50 (of 58) during his historic game. Rookie Quentin Johnston played the second-most snaps at 48, while Jalen Guyton played 33 snaps in his first game action since Week 3 of last season. Davis (eight snaps) and Simi Fehoko (four snaps) rounded out the group.

Gerald Everett made his return to the field and was tied with Donald Parham, Jr, for the most snaps at 32. Nick Vannett, who was signed to the active roster during the week, played the third-most at 12, while Stone Smartt rounded out the group with nine. ...

Staley said he wasn't surprised by Davis' monstrous play.

"It was electric. I thought we were connected, he's got the stuff that's hard to find," Staley said. "He's the one that deserves the credit because he found the crease and he hit it and he just doesn't need much room to finish those types of plays.

Staley later added: "He's a special player and our guys are blocking really hard for him. Our return units, you know it's a lot easier to block when you know that your returner can take it. So, we have to continue to improve, but it was obviously a big play for the game."

Davis also added a 17-yard return late in the second quarter that helped set up a Bolts field goal just before halftime.

That gave him 104 punt return yards in the first half, which equaled the same offensive output as the Jets offense through two quarters. ...

Staley handed out a handful of game balls in the postgame locker room Monday night.

Count Cameron Dicker as one of the recipients, as the Bolts kicker was once again Monday on special teams.

Dicker hit a pair of field goals in the win -- from 38 and 55 yards out -- and tallied a third straight game with a make from 50-plus. The 55-yarder also tied Dicker's career high that he set in Week 7 against the Chiefs.

"You can't minimize it," Staley said of Dicker's impact. "I think when you have a kicker that you know can knock it down, especially on the road, hostile environment, you feel like, 'Hey from 55, he's going to be good,' that gives you a lot of confidence.

"It takes the pressure off your offense and just gives you more flexibility in how you call the plays and don't have to be quite as perfect," Staley added.

Dicker has now made 12 of 13 field goals this season and is a perfect 22 of 22 on extra points.

QBs: Easton Stick, Justin Herbert
RBs: Gus Edwards, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Jalen Guyton, Derius Davis
TEs: Donald Parham, Stone Smartt

Los Angeles Rams

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham noted, when the Los Angeles Rams got out to a 3-3 start even after gutting their roster in the offseason, Sean McVay appeared to be working another year of coaching magic.

The magic might be running out for McVay and the Rams, who are plummeting back toward the bottom of the standings as they hit their bye week.

A three-game losing streak and an injury to Matthew Stafford have silenced any talk of a playoff race for the Rams (3-6), who now appear headed toward the losing record and high draft pick that seemed their likely fate before the season.

Los Angeles already knew it didn't have enough talent to contend for a title, but now it appears the Rams have run out of ways to outwit opponents on roughly equal talent footing as well.

"Even though I know the record is what it is, there's still a lot of football left," McVay said Monday. "I can feel good about looking at the (first) nine games and looking at the film, and I think there's some tangible solutions."

The Rams are 8-18 since winning the Super Bowl, but last year's 5-12 flop was a surprise. This season's struggles are not, since Los Angeles jettisoned Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd and a host of key depth players to solve many of its salary cap problems immediately, even at the expense of 2023.

So far, things are going to plan -- which isn't great for Rams fans watching mediocre football this fall and getting a season ticket price increase next season, but possibly good for their team's long-term hopes of contending again soon.

The Rams insisted they could compete this season because they still had three stars: Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald.

Turns out Stafford was the most important piece by far -- and Los Angeles was hopeless without him.

The Rams head into their bye this week smarting from a 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, a blowout McVay called one of the most humbling of his career. The Rams managed just 187 yards at rainy Lambeau Field, and their three points matched their February 2019 Super Bowl defeat for their weakest offensive production in McVay's seven seasons.

For all his offensive brilliance, McVay has yet to develop a strong backup for Stafford or Jared Goff.

Brett Rypien struggled in his start at Lambeau, going 13 of 28 for 130 yards with an interception, two fumbles and a 45.2 rating.

Rypien went three straight drives without a completion in the first half, and the Rams' offense was held under 100 yards in each half (91 in the first, 96 in the second). According to ESPN Stats and Information, it was the 11th and 12th times the Rams have been held under 100 yards in a half since 2022, the second most in the NFL in that span.

At least Stafford's injured thumb doesn't appear to be dire.

McVay on Monday expressed optimism about Stafford returning from his right thumb injury after the bye week.

"Feel really good about Matthew, and how much he's attacked doing everything in his power to be back and to lead the way for this team," McVay said. "And so we're gonna look at a lot of different things over this break, but I'm optimistic that I don't even think that's something that we have to worry about."

Asked if the Rams would stick with Rypien as the starter if Stafford is not able to return, McVay said that "the inclination and direction that we're headed, I don't think that's going to be part of the conversation."

We found out later what direction the Rams are heading.

According to multiple reports, the Rams are going to sign Carson Wentz to serve as a backup to Stafford.

Wentz last appeared in a game for the Commanders in Week 17 of the 2022 season and has not been on a roster since the Commanders released him in February. Wentz played poorly for most of the first six weeks of last season and then went on injured reserve after fracturing a finger on his throwing hand.

He was acquired in a trade with the Colts after his lone season in Indianapolis ended with the Colts crashing out of the playoffs by losing their last two games of the regular season.

All of that movement came after Wentz was drafted second overall by the Eagles in 2016 -- one pick after the Rams took Jared Goff -- and had himself in the MVP conversation in his second season before he tore his ACL. The Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles, Wentz's return to the starting lineup ended with a back injury and his time in Philly ended when he was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts in 2020.

The Rams subsequently announced that they've waived Rypien and running back Myles Gaskin. The club also released quarterback Dresser Winn from the practice squad.

Gaskin appeared in one game for Los Angeles after he was signed off Minnesota's practice squad. He played six snaps on special teams. ...

Meanwhile, McVay said the team expects to get Kyren Williams back in Week 12 against the Cardinals, which is the earliest he would be eligible to return from Injured Reserve.

The Rams' first game back from their bye week -- Week 11 against the Seahawks -- would represent the fourth game for Williams of the minimum four games a player must miss when placed on IR.

Make no mistake: The Rams' offense is dangerous with a healthy Stafford, Kupp and rookie Puka Nacua. Four Rams have at least 268 yards receiving, and Williams appeared to be one of the NFC's top running backs before he sprained his ankle last month.

The interior offensive line also has been much better than last season.

Nacua is a breakout star. Even with just six catches in the last two games, the fifth-round pick already has 827 yards receiving -- the fourth-most by a first-year player through nine games in NFL history. He's a rare standout talent in the Rams' pedestrian history of mid-round drafting, and he combines with Kupp and Tutu Atwell to make the Rams' receivers the team's strongest position group.

Assuming Stafford returns after the bye, the Rams have winnable games against Seattle and Arizona and a longer path to .500.

But if Stafford is slow to return or if Los Angeles has more significant injuries, it's probably time to write off a second straight season and focus every move on planning for 2024.

We'll be watching for more on that over the coming week.

QBs: Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Stetson Bennett
RBs: Kyren Williams, Royce Freeman, Zach Evans, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Demarcus Robinson
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Colby Parkinson, Hunter Long, Davis Allen

Miami Dolphins

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Tim Reynolds noted this week, the Miami Dolphins have faced three teams this season that currently have winning records. They're 0-3 in those games.

Against everyone else, they're 6-0.

The trend couldn't be clearer and it was on display again Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany, where the Dolphins got behind 21-0 against Kansas City and wound up losing 21-14 to the defending Super Bowl champions. They looked good in the second half but once again not good enough.

"All we can continue to do is work and not lose sight of where we want to go as a team," quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said. "We've got to continue to stick together and not deviate from that, regardless of what everyone outside is saying, and we've just got to put our head down and keep going."

Miami has lost games to Philadelphia (8-1), Kansas City (7-2) and Buffalo (5-4). Those three games are the only ones this season in which the Dolphins haven't held a lead; they trailed the Bills by 28, the Chiefs by 21 and the Eagles by 14.

Here's the rundown of the teams the Dolphins have beaten: the Los Angeles Chargers (3-4 entering Monday), Denver (3-5), the New England Patriots (an AFC-worst 2-7) twice, the New York Giants (2-7) and Carolina (1-7). Only the Panthers (who were up 14-0 early) held a lead of more than seven points at any time against Miami in those games.

Average point differential in the six Miami wins: 18.2 points.

Average point differential in the three Miami losses: 16.3 points.

"I know that NFL games, each and every one of them is tough," head coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think people undervalue poor records. It is hard to win in this league. To win in any right against any opponent is something not to take for granted. As long as you continue to get better, ultimately that narrative will subside.

"But that's on us collectively from coaches and players alike to -- if you want the narrative to change, change the narrative."

For now, the narrative isn't going anywhere as Miami enters its Week 10 bye.

That's not to say they didn't make an effort to change it.

As's Marcel Louis-Jacques noted, Sunday's game seemed destined to continue the narrative as Kansas City jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead before the Dolphins scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, and were in position to tie the game with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Running back Raheem Mostert broke runs of 25 and 19 yards to begin the drive, but Tagovailoa threw three straight incomplete passes. There was a miscommunication with wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. that likely would've ended in a touchdown. Tagovailoa mishandled the snap on fourth down to effectively end the game.

There are no more moral victories for a team with Super Bowl aspirations -- McDaniel called the loss a "heartbreaker" after he said his team fully invested in its preparation throughout the week.

But there were positives for the Dolphins.

Miami's defense has forced a turnover in three straight games after failing to force any in four of its first six games this season. Against the Chiefs on Sunday, Miami's defense pitched a shutout in the second half and pressured Patrick Mahomes 12 times, with a pair of sacks from Chubb and Jaelan Phillips.

Playing at full strength for the first time this season, with cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard both healthy, the Dolphins' defensive performance has the team feeling like it's close to competing with and beating the NFL's elite teams.

The Dolphins also have the 17th-toughest remaining schedule, according to ESPN's Football Power Index, starting with the Las Vegas Raiders at home in Week 11. McDaniel said Sunday's film was "tough to watch" but called the pain of watching it "healthy" as Miami looks to change the narrative.

There will be multiple opportunities to do so. Miami plays the New York Jets twice, the Bills and Dallas Cowboys at home and the Baltimore Ravens on the road.

But McDaniel is not looking past teams like the Raiders, Washington Commanders or Tennessee Titans, who the Dolphins will also play in the coming weeks.

The Dolphins practiced Tuesday, then take a few days off before returning next week and getting ready for a Nov. 19 home game against the Las Vegas Raiders. ...

Receiver Jaylen Waddle played through a left knee injury in Sunday's loss, but the team would like to avoid having Waddle at anything less than 100 percent for the rest of the season.

McDaniel said at his Tuesday press conference that Waddle is "definitely sore" because of the injury and that the team will be "measured" with anything they ask him to do heading into Week 11 because they want to make sure that this week's bye helps Waddle get his strength back.

"He did a great job battling for his teammates," McDaniel said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "There was competitiveness that really drove him. We gave him an end around on the fourth, fifth play of the game and he was making clear to me on the sidelines to still call that, that he wanted the ball. He's in a good spot but will make sure we don't do any harm to him moving forward. He's had to battle injuries unfortunately all season. We will utilize this bye week to make sure he's fully healthy."

Waddle had three catches for 42 yards and one carry for 12 yards against Kansas City. He has 40 catches for 522 yards and three touchdowns on the season. ...

Worth noting. ... Rookie running back De'Von Achane hasn't had any setbacks recovering from his knee injury and is on track to return from injured reserve when eligible next week, but Miami will take things "one day at a time," per McDaniel.

QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Mike White, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane, Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed, Christopher Brooks
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Odell Beckham, Braxton Berrios, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Claypool, River Cracraft
TEs: Durham Smythe, Jonnu Smith, Julian Hill, Tyler Kroft

Minnesota Vikings

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As's Kevin Seifert reported, Sunday was for celebrating.

On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings began charting a path forward in the wake of their improbable 31-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Josh Dobbs will start the team's Week 10 game against the New Orleans Saints, head coach Kevin O'Connell said, with veteran Sean Mannion as the likeliest backup. Rookie Jaren Hall, whose first-quarter concussion Sunday opened the door for Dobbs to play just five days after the Vikings acquired him, is in concussion protocol.

And after spending last week preparing Hall for his first career start, while at the same time assimilating Dobbs into the offensive scheme, O'Connell said it was highly unlikely the team would try to sign another new quarterback this week. Mannion is on the practice squad and would have to be elevated to the active roster in order to be eligible to play against the Saints.

O'Connell joked that the only new quarterback the Vikings would consider adding is himself -- he was a 2008 third-round draft choice of the New England Patriots -- given "the amount of time and energy we'll now put into making sure Josh is ready to roll."

Dobbs lost two fumbles and was sacked for a safety in his first four possessions against the Falcons but ultimately accounted for three touchdowns and 224 yards from scrimmage, including a game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Powell with 22 seconds remaining.

"I thought what he did was remarkable," O'Connell said, "but there's a lot of things that we'll coach him through and get him a little bit more comfortable in what we do."

Dobbs, who majored in aerospace engineering at the University of Tennessee and has done two externships with NASA during his NFL career, was congratulated on social media by NASA's Glenn Research Center on Monday.

The Vikings are also making sure that Dobbs can find his jersey in the team store. In September, when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, he posted on social media that he couldn't find his jersey at the team's store. Dobbs' video went viral, prompting a quick response by the Cardinals to rectify the issue.

The Vikings acquired Dobbs from the Cardinals after losing starter Kirk Cousins to a torn right Achilles tendon and facing at least one more week without backup Nick Mullens, who is on injured reserve because of a back injury and became eligible Monday to have his 21-day practice window opened. O'Connell said Monday that Mullens is "progressing really well" but that there is no timetable yet for getting him back on the field.

Like Mullens, receiver Justin Jefferson (hamstring) became eligible Monday to return from injured reserve. O'Connell said "it's possible" the Vikings will open his practice widow Wednesday but made no firm commitment.

"We're going to do what's best for Justin," O'Connell said, "and make sure we're doing everything responsibly to make sure that when Justin does return, he can be the Justin Jefferson we all know and expect to see out there."

But the early word this week is that Jefferson isn't quite ready yet.

Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, Jefferson is unlikely to play in the Week 10 matchup against the Saints.

Jefferson has been out since suffering the injury in the Week 5 loss to Kansas City.

In five games, Jefferson has caught 36 passes for 571 yards with three touchdowns. Despite missing the last four weeks, Jefferson is still No. 18 in receiving yards among all players.

On the injury front. ... Running back Cam Akers joined Cousins in the torn Achilles tendon club, another blow to the banged-up offense. Hall and K.J. Osborn began the week in the concussion protocol, with no clarity yet about whether they'll recover in time to play Sunday against New Orleans.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson (ribs) will also be limited after taking a couple of hard hits from the Falcons. O'Connell said he's hopeful Hockenson will be able to play against the Saints.

The most significant injury news to watch this week, though, will be Jefferson's status.

I'll obviously be following up on that -- and the other injury issues -- in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Meanwhile, Associated Press sports writer Dave Campbell believes with the playbook design and play-calling by O'Connell and his staff as the foundation, the passing attack has still been able to thrive without Jefferson and now Cousins.

The Vikings have had 12 different players catch passes this season, and eight of them have 10-plus receptions. Powell has taken on a larger role in recent weeks, culminating with his go-ahead touchdown catch against the Falcons with 22 seconds left.

The NFC South-leading Saints (5-4), who visit Minnesota on Sunday, are the only opponent in the next six weeks that currently has a winning record. Then the Vikings visit Denver (3-5), host Chicago (2-7) and have their bye week before a game at Las Vegas (4-5).

Minnesota controls the third wild-card spot with a 5-2 record in the NFC that could prove valuable in tiebreakers. ...

Other notes of interest. ... With Akers' season over, it's worth noting that Alexander Mattison has been a borderline fantasy starter throughout the season with good volume but not great efficiency. As's Nathan Jahnke notes, it will be safer to put him in fantasy starting lineups going forward knowing he is unlikely to lose many snaps going forward.

Ty Chandler had been the primary backup before the team traded for Akers and will likely return to second on the depth chart.

Minnesota could look towards free agency or another team's practice squad, but there are no obvious names for the Vikings to consider.

Remember, Mattison and Akers combined for a lackluster 69 yards on 23 carries against the Falcons. Fortunately for the Vikings, Dobbs managed 66 rushing yards on his own.

Meanwhile, the Vikings wide receiver rotation started as usual. Osborn and Jordan Addison played on every down while Powell came in for three-receiver sets.

Osborn's injury occurred late in the second quarter.

According to Jahnke, Trishton Jackson completely took Osborn's place while playing in 42-of-43 offensive snaps in the second half. Osborn had caught two passes for 17 yards prior to the injury while Jackson caught one pass for two yards after it.

The matchup against the Saints is tough this week, so we should temper expectations for Jackson, even if Osborn is out this week and Jefferson isn't ready to return.

QBs: Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall, Sam Darnold
RBs: Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu, Cam Akers
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor
TEs: Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse, T.J. Hockenson

New England Patriots

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower framed it, "This season was supposed to be a course correction for the New England Patriots."

A year removed from an 8-9 finish that featured a regression for second-year quarterback Mac Jones and the offense under the direction of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, the 2023 season was supposed to be a step toward contending again in an AFC East they had once dominated with Tom Brady.

Instead, at 2-7 at the halfway point following a loss to Washington, the Patriots appear the furthest they've been from relevancy since Brady left following the 2019 season.

They are at the bottom of the AFC and are the only team yet to win a game outside of its division, the return of coordinator Bill O'Brien hasn't reinvigorated the offense, and they are dealing with a mounting number of injuries that make a resurgence in the second half of the schedule seem unlikely.

And as head coach Bill Belichick slogs through his worst start to a season in New England since his first one in 2000, chatter surrounding his job security suddenly seems much more than message board fodder.

Asked a day after the loss to the Commanders why their efforts haven't produced more wins this season, Belichick boiled it down to not seizing opportunities.

"Like yesterday (against Washington), we had our chances. We just need to make more plays at the critical times of the game," he said. "That's in the past here. We're moving ahead to Indianapolis and get ready for the Colts."

As Hightower suggested, making weekly tweaks at this point may not be enough.

Of the Patriots' eight remaining opponents, half currently have winning records.

Still, as bleak as things seem, veteran center and captain David Andrews is adamant that the belief in the locker room is that they can turn things around.

"You have to look in the mirror and go back to work," Andrews said. "It's not going to break my spirit. It’s not going to break our spirit," he said.

Still, it's clear the offense has in many ways taken steps backward this season. Last season, the Patriots averaged 314.6 yards and 27.8 points per game, ranking 26th and 16th in the league.

This season with O'Brien in charge, both numbers have slipped to 289.4 yards (27th in the NFL) and 15 points per game (31st).

Jones acknowledged it's been "tough" to remain confident in a system that hasn't produced the results they expected.

"The biggest thing is remaining confident in yourself," he said. "When you do everything you can every day, you should have no regrets. I have no regrets. I do need to do things better."

Next up, the Patriots head to Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday where they will be the designated home team for their matchup with the Colts. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Prior to sustaining a season-ending knee injury late in their Week 8 loss at Miami, Kendrick Bourne was the most consistent player on offense. His 37 catches, 406 yards and four touchdowns are all team highs just a year after he struggled to get playing time.

The injury comes at the worst moment for him as he wraps up the final year of the three-year, $15 million deal he signed in 2021.

Along those lines, when JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a three-year, $33 million free-agent deal this offseason he said he felt as if he was growing daily. That development hasn't continued into the regular season.

He has just 21 catches for 140 yards and didn't get his first touchdown until Week 8 against Miami.

On Sunday, Demario Douglas led the Patriots receivers, catching five-of-seven targets for 55 yards. He also ran the ball once.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, Douglas played in 100 percent of the team's 11 personnel snaps, but the Patriots spent the vast majority of the game in 12 personnel.

Douglas took 44 of a possible 54 snaps in that personnel grouping.

Jalen Reagor, who made his first start as a Patriot when they opened in a three-wide receiver set, was the closest receiver to him in terms of playing time, as he also played 100 percent of New England's 11 personnel snaps and 39-of-54 in 12 personnel. He only played so many snaps because DeVante Parker was out due to a concussion. Once Parker returns, he and Reagor will split snaps.

Smith-Schuster and Tyquan Thornton split snaps as the backup wide receivers.

Thornton played more than Smith-Schuster in 11 personnel, but Smith-Schuster played more in 12.

If this was a game where the Patriots were playing from behind more often, then Thornton may have out-snapped Smith-Schuster. Once Parker is back, Jahnke believes he could also cut into Smith-Schuster's 12 personnel playing time.

Jahnke summed up: "Douglas should have been picked up off the waiver wire last week. If he's still available in your league, he should be picked up this week. ..."

Rhamondre Stevenson's 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was a career high and the team's longest rushing TD since Damien Harris had a 64-yarder on Dec. 6, 2021, against the Bills.

His previous long was a 49-yard run against Detroit in 2022 and his previous longest touchdown run was a 34-yard touchdown run at Las Vegas in 2022.

Stevenson now has three touchdown runs of at least 30 yards.

Stevenson finished the game with 9 carries for 87 yards for a 9.7-yard average, the highest average of his career and the third time he has at least a 9.0-yard average.

Finally. ... Belichick, with 331 career wins, needs 17 to pass Hall of Famer Don Shula (347) for the most coaching wins (including playoffs) in NFL history. With the Patriots' Week 7 win over Buffalo, Belichick became just the third coach in league history with 300 regular-season wins, joining Shula (328) and George Halas (318).

He obviously won't get there this season, but whether he eventually does so in New England is to be determined.

QBs: Bailey Zappe, Jacoby Brissett
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Antonio Gibson, JaMycal Hasty
WRs: DeVante Parker, Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Matt Slater, Kendrick Bourne
TEs: Hunter Henry, Pharaoh Brown

New Orleans Saints

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As's Katherine Terrell suggested, Taysom Hill might be one of the most unique players to come along in the past 66 years.

That's how long it has been since a player joined the NFL's 10/10/10 club: 10 passing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Hill became the fifth player to hit that career mark Sunday in the Saints' 24-17 win against the Chicago Bears, joining Hall of Famers Frank Gifford, Charley Trippi, Red Grange and Jimmy Conzelman.

Gifford, who played multiple positions for the New York Giants from 1952 to 1964, was the last person to hit those marks, back in 1957.

He retired at age 34 with 34 rushing touchdowns, 43 receiving touchdowns and 14 passing touchdowns.

"I think that's pretty impressive, right?" head coach Dennis Allen said. "Half the guys in the locker room would have no idea who Frank Gifford is."

Hill, who was in the room as Allen was speaking after the game, smiled when asked if he was one of those players.

"I've heard of him because. ... The stats guys told me about these stats," Hill said. "So I have heard of him. Yeah, of course."

Against the Bears, Hill had 11 carries for 52 yards, caught four passes for 13 yards and a touchdown and also had a 3-yard TD pass to tight end Juwan Johnson.

Hill, with his first passing and receiving touchdowns of the season, became the third Saints player to have both types of TDs in the same game, joining Dalton Hilliard (1987) and Lamar Smith (1998).

Hill has been on a tear lately, accounting for five touchdowns in the past three weeks after not scoring in the first six.

"It's unbelievable," quarterback Derek Carr said. "Today he got so much man coverage. Usually when we're in there throwing the ball, we don't get much man, and when we do, usually it's a good play for us. ... They were playing some man things, and that's why his touchdown was wide open. Juwan [Johnson] comes back, boom, we have a big play. And you see his ability to run the football. They've got to load the box. They don't load the box, he can throw it."

Hill has 26 career rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns. He said he has mixed thoughts about what this mark means for him, as it's not how he envisioned his career playing out.

"I don't know. I mean, I look back at my career and I certainly didn't think that it would've gone the way that it has," Hill said. "But as I hear and think about stuff like that, it's overwhelming. I have a lot of gratitude to be able to be a part of this program and play with coaches that are creative enough to give me opportunities."

When Hill came into the league as an undrafted rookie in 2017, it was with the hope that he would earn a starting job at quarterback. The Saints had him playing all over the field by his second season in 2018.

However, he still harbored hope to play full-time quarterback for several years, losing the starter competition to Jameis Winston in the 2021 offseason and then officially moving to tight end in the 2022 offseason.

The Saints switched his label back to quarterback this season, but he's essentially a quarterback in name only, continuing to play in multiple spots and on special teams.

Hill accounted for 11 total touchdowns last season (seven rushing, two passing, two receiving), and he leads the team with three rushing scores this season.

He has been a key part for the Saints in solving red-zone woes in the past three games, getting a first down or scoring a touchdown in the red zone nine times (compared with just two first downs in the first six).

The Saints (5-4) are 2-1 in those games, and are atop of the NFC South after the Atlanta Falcons (4-5), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) and the Carolina Panthers (1-7) all lost Sunday.

Carr said that before he signed with the Saints, he used to see them take former quarterback Drew Brees off the field for Hill and not understand exactly why they were doing it. It didn't take long for him to see the vision.

"From afar, I was like, 'Man, they're taking Drew off the field?'" Carr said. "Then you get here and like, 'I see why. This guy's pretty good.' He's great in what he does for us -- ultimate competitor, great friend. He's been amazing to me since I got here. I celebrate him every chance I get.

"That just doesn't come around all the time, a guy that can go from tight end to running back to special teams, blocking on a punt return, to playing tight end, to going to quarterback to playing [blocking] receiver. That just doesn't happen all the time. ..."

But it happens in New Orleans. And also this week, in Minnesota, where the Saints will visit the Vikings on Sunday.

Assuming Hill has tight end eligibility on your commissioner platform, it's hard to make an argument against rolling him out based on that multi-purpose role and the premium opportunities it leads to on a regular basis. ...

In what might be a related note. ... The Saints have improved in the red zone during consecutive victories in the past two weeks but for most of the season have struggled to convert possessions inside an opponents' 20-yard line into touchdowns. New Orleans has a 45.5 percent conversion rate in the red zone, which ranks 28th in the NFL. ...

After facing another 5-4 team in Minnesota on Sunday, the Saints have a Week 11 bye, followed by seven games during which they play six against teams that currently have losing records. ...

Other notes of interest. ... According to's Nathan Jahnke, Alvin Kamara's role continues to decline. Against Chicago, he played under 50 percent of New Orleans' offensive snaps for the first time since 2020.

Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller took half of the early down snaps from Kamara while Williams has taken over as the clear third-down back for the team.

Kamara has averaged 3.7 yards per carry or less in each of the last five games. His fantasy value might be dependent on how much he's used as a receiver, and that will depend on the game script.

Meanwhile, Williams led the NFL in touchdowns rushing last season with 17 for Detroit. The Saints signed him in free agency with the intent of adding a proven power rusher to compliment the versatile and elusive Kamara. Because of a hamstring injury, Williams has missed four games. In the five games he's played, he has 41 carries for 124 yards without a TD. ...

Sixth-round rookie A.T. Perry was active for the first time last week and was eased into action with eight offensive snaps. He overtook Lynn Bowden Jr. in offensive snaps this week because his snap count doubled, but he still didn't receive a target. ...

Jimmy Graham was inactive for the second straight week. Last week, he showed up on the injury report due to an illness and was questionable heading into the game. This week, he didn't appear on the injury report, so it seems like the Saints are happy with three active tight ends -- Johnson, Hill and Foster Moreau. ...

Finally. ... Kicker Blake Grupe had a chance to put the finishing touches on a win when he was called on to try a 47-yard field goal with just over two minutes left to play against the Bears on Sunday.

Grupe's kick would have put the Saints up by 10 points, but he missed and the game remained in doubt until Demario Davis forced a fumble on a sack of Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent. It's the fifth missed field goal of the season for the rookie kicker, but those misfires aren't causing the team to rethink its approach at the position.

Allen said on Monday that he's "seen some really good kickers that have had some inconsistencies as a rookie" before going on to have success with other teams while explaining why the team has not made any plans to audition possible replacements. Allen did suggest that there won't be endless chances for Grupe to show the consistency that's been missing, however.

"This is a grown man's league," Allen said in his press conference. "We're not worried about anybody's feelings right now. Blake's got a job to do, he's got to kick it through the posts, and he understands that. It's the whole operation. There's a lot of things that go into it. ... We've got confidence in Blake, but yet you have to evaluate those things. You have to pay attention to it."

Grupe is 18-of-23 on field goals and 19-of-19 on extra points.

QBs: Derek Carr, Jake Haener
RBs: Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller
WRs: Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, A.T. Perry, Keith Kirkwood, Lynn Bowden, Michael Thomas
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, Foster Moreau, Jimmy Graham

New York Giants

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

According to's Jordan Raanan, the future of the Giants began to change as quarterback Daniel Jones started falling on the first play of the second quarter in Sunday's 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Raanan went on to explain that in a way, it looked similar to when Aaron Rodgers fell to the ground in the New York Jets' season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Rodgers tried to get up and went down on one knee. He immediately knew something was wrong. He had torn his Achilles.

Jones lifted himself off the turf Sunday at Allegiant Stadium and also immediately knew something was wrong. He went down on one knee. The ACL in his right knee was torn, a fate that was confirmed via an MRI on Monday.

It put an end to Jones' disappointing 2023 season.

And Raanan believes it also jump-started the process of perhaps locating the next Giants quarterback (USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye are the top prospects), even if coach Brian Daboll won't allow his mind to go there.

"I just heard he had an ACL here 10 minutes ago," Daboll said Monday afternoon. "So my focus is on being there for the young man. I know he'll do everything he can to get back and ready to play."

Either undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito or veteran Matt Barkley will start Sunday against the Cowboys in Dallas.

Daboll wouldn't commit to DeVito after he went 15-of-20 passing for 175 yards with a touchdown and interception in Las Vegas after throwing for minus-1 yard the previous week against the Jets.

The reality of the Giants' (2-7) situation is that without Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor -- Daboll expressed uncertainty about whether Taylor will return from a rib cage injury this season -- this team isn't going to win many games. The Giants likely were destined for a similar fate even if their quarterbacks were healthy.

But Raanan contends this puts the Giants squarely in the quarterback mix.

Jones' contract, injury history and regression this season should make it an impossible position to ignore if they have a high pick in the 2024 draft. Giants general manager Joe Schoen was in Buffalo at the time when they drafted Josh Allen seventh overall in 2018.

The likelihood of a high draft pick provides Schoen and the Giants options in a well-regarded quarterback class that is expected to be headlined by Williams and Maye. Schoen, at the very least, would have to explore the options if they were within reach.

Schoen was at the USC-Washington game this past weekend getting at least his second live look at Williams this season.

Jones is guaranteed $35.5 million next season. After that, only $23 million is guaranteed the following year for injury only.

This gives the Giants a realistic option to get out of the deal after next season with a manageable $22.2 million dead money cap hit as a penalty. It makes drafting a quarterback a suddenly realistic possibility, despite signing Jones this past offseason.

It doesn't mean this team will intentionally lose games.

"If [Jones being out for the season] is the reality, we're 2-7. We still have a job to do. We still have to come to work. We still have to compete," running back Saquon Barkley said after Sunday's loss. "That's the mindset, until you're mathematically out of it."

As Raanan suggested, that is the tricky part.

The best interest of the organization long term may be to get one of those top picks in this draft to get in position to land Williams or Maye.

Except there will be a lot of competition. The Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are all struggling teams that could be looking for a quarterback this offseason. Jones' injury puts the Giants in that conversation.

It has been four years since Jones was selected No. 8 overall in the 2019 NFL draft. It was the turnovers and injuries that left doubt early in his career. But last year, Jones did not miss a game because of injuries and had just eight total turnovers.

But now he has two neck injuries on his résumé and will be coming back from a torn ACL.

"You can't control what people say," wide receiver Darius Slayton said. "Quite frankly, people have been trying to get myself and him and multiple others out of here since we've been here. It hasn't stopped us before. It won't stop us now.

"Like I said earlier, he's a resilient human being. He's a good football player, and at the end of the day, he'll be back healthy one day and be back playing pro football somewhere. Hopefully here. And I look forward to that day. ..."

Meanwhile, the offense has scored a league-low 101 points. That's an 11.2 point average.

They have only scored more than 16 once, in a 31-28 comeback win over Arizona in Week 2.

So whether it's DeVito or Barkley at the helm, this offense is essentially limited to a single fantasy prospect: Barkley.

As noted above, the Giants' second half of the season starts at Dallas (5-3), which beat them 40-0 in the season opener. New York also has two games with the NFC East-leading Eagles (8-1) and one with the NFC South-leading Saints (5-4).

Also on the schedule are Washington (4-5), New England (2-7), Green Bay (3-5) and the Rams (3-6). ...

One last note here. ... Free agent quarterback Jacob Eason worked out for the Giants on Tuesday, Raanan reported citing a source. Subsequent reports indicated he's being added to the practice squad.

Eason had a tryout with the Giants in the spring. He played a game for the Colts and Panthers the last two years.

QBs: Tommy DeVito, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones
RBs: Devin Singletary, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray
WRs: Darius Slayton, Wan'Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard
TEs: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick

New York Jets

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Jets are having one of the worst offensive seasons in franchise history, and's Rich Cimini reports the frustration seeped out Monday night after a dispiriting 27-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium.

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall, the Jets' top playmakers, appeared annoyed by yet another no-show performance by the offense.

Hall said, "We all have to grow up and do our job," and Wilson echoed that sentiment.

"It's inexcusable, man, and it's getting to the point where it's disappointing," Wilson said in a quiet locker room. "I hate coming off the field, looking our defense in the eyes and knowing that we have to send them back out there after three-and-out. Them boys are my dogs and they come out and ball. They put us in a great position. It's time for us to start returning the favor, man. It's time. We got to figure it out."

The Jets (4-4) managed only two field goals against the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense, snapping their three-game winning streak. They lost three fumbles (two by quarterback Zach Wilson), allowed eight sacks and converted only three of 17 on third down. Their third-down success rate (22 percent) is lowest in the NFL over the past 45 years.

As Cimini explained -- and as fantasy managers invested here already know, this wasn't an isolated clunker.

The Jets have scored only eight offensive touchdowns for the season, tied for their third fewest in their first eight games in team history.

Garrett Wilson paused when asked if the Jets' issues are scheme related.

"I don't know, man, I really don't know," he said. "I like to think that isn't the case and that it's truly things that we can just watch the film and be like, 'All right, we have to do this better and this will lead to a touchdown.'"

The Jets had designs on being a prolific offense in 2023, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a torn Achilles tendon on the fourth play of the season. In came Zach Wilson, the former No. 2 overall pick. After making subtle improvements in recent weeks, he took a step backward Monday night.

His stat line wasn't ugly, as he completed 33 of a career high 49 attempts for 263 yards, but it doesn't tell the full story.

He missed open receivers and didn't sense pressure well, as the offense sputtered in every imaginable way. They had three pre-snap penalties, which didn't help. Not even a stellar performance by the defense, which sacked Justin Herbert five times and held him to a career low 136 passing yards, could bail out the Jets.

Head coach Robert Saleh refused to blame his quarterback.

"Was it his best game? Obviously not," Saleh said. "Was it his worst game? No, I'm not going to say it was worst game."

Despite having led the offense to only eight touchdown drives, four of which were one-play drives, Wilson insisted he's not the same quarterback who got benched twice last season.

"I feel like I'm a different player," he said. "I feel like I'm in the best position I've ever felt, mentally, my understanding of the game. I feel ready to be out there and be competing, and so that's so frustrating, just not getting things done. It's frustrating and it starts with me finding a way."

Saleh said he has no plans to change playcallers; he's sticking with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who came to the Jets from the Denver Broncos, ranked 32nd in scoring last season. A change wouldn't sit well with Rodgers, who is extremely close to Hackett.

Right now, the Jets are 30th in points per game and 31st in total yards per game.

"If you aren't angry, I would think something is wrong," said Garrett Wilson, who ruined a potential scoring drive with a first-quarter fumble. "This is disappointing and it definitely messes with your psyche a little bit, but it's nothing we can't handle. We're professionals. We're going to push through this and it's going to be better on the back end. But, yeah, I'd be lying if I said that we were all content with what we're doing out on the field because we're not."

Tight end Tyler Conklin shook his head when told they have only eight touchdowns for the season.

"I really don't know what to say right now, to be completely honest with you," he said.'s Nick Shook did know what to say -- at least when it comes to Zach Wilson.

"The small bits of progress Wilson has made in the last two months were nonexistent Monday night," Shook wrote immediately after the game. "He didn't sense pressure well at all, which was especially detrimental, considering how poorly the Jets' offensive line performed in pass protection.

"When he tried to extend plays, they ended in ugly fashion. He missed open targets and didn't really find any sort of rhythm until garbage time. It's surprising to see the Jets outgained the Chargers by nearly 80 yards, but then again, 73 of those yards came on New York's inconsequential final drive.

"New York's front office should be judged harshly for building a group that relied heavily on Rodgers with no legitimate backup plan in place. If general manager Joe Douglas thought Wilson would suddenly become a competent quarterback from one training camp spent learning from Rodgers, he was only fooling himself -- and now the Jets are paying the price for it. ..."

And to a degree, fantasy managers, too.

That doesn't mean the pieces we're interested in -- Hall and Garrett Wilson -- are unplayable.

But there will be weeks where it's not great.

QBs: Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: Breece Hall, Israel Abanikanda
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Mike Williams, Charles Irvin
TEs: Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah, Kenny Yeboah

Philadelphia Eagles

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

According to Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston, Jalen Hurts showed a rare moment of candor for a player who barely acknowledges he's playing through injury.

The effects of a bruised left knee that forced him to hobble to the sideline just before halftime are taking a toll.

Yes, even Hurts needs time off.

"Selfishly," he said, "I don't think the bye week could have come at a better time."

The Eagles stand strong as the only 8-1 team in the NFL even as Hurts stands in pain. The Eagles are off this week ahead of a Super Bowl rematch against Kansas City, giving Hurts a needed respite from the lingering pain in his knee that has plagued him most of the season. Hurts keeps brushing off questions about the severity of the injury -- even feigning ignorance when asked about a direct helmet-to-knee hit that briefly staggered him in a win against Dallas -- because that's just the way he's built.

"That's who he is," head coach Nick Sirianni said. "Whether his body is feeling 100 percent, whether his body is not feeling 100 percent, which nobody's body is at this particular time, he's a warrior. He's going to play through bumps and bruises and at a high level because he's a big-time player."

The defending NFC champions are in firm control of the NFC East. Sunday's win gives them not only a 2 1/2-game lead in the standings, the Eagles can tack on an extra game because they hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

Hurts set a franchise QB record with his 33rd career rushing TD and moved to sixth on the Eagles' career list for passing yards. The 25-year-old should have a long career ahead of him to try to set the record. But so much, of course, depends on his health.

Hurts said he doesn't know to manage the injury going forward. A week off is expected to help. His teammates have gushed over the way Hurts continues to thrive despite injuries.

"I don't like it being that way," Hurts said. "I love to be all good, but I'd do anything for this city and for my teammates."

Meanwhile, Gelston noted that a look at the final stats on Sunday reveals nothing on paper that really stood out. No 100-yard rusher. No 100-yard receiver. Hurts' passing numbers alone weren't necessarily eye-popping. And 10 penalties for 98 yards was pretty outrageous.

But when the Eagles really needed a play made, someone stepped up.

DeVonta Smith was open in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard score and 21-17 lead. Linebacker Zach Cunningham prevented a score on a hit that flipped Dak Prescott to the 1-yard line. Josh Sweat sacked Prescott for an 11-yard loss on the final drive that essentially ended Dallas' last-gasp comeback effort.

When a clutch play needed to be made, the Eagles found a way to make one.

But it wasn't all good.

Tight end Dallas Goedert has a fracture in his right forearm and he underwent an MRI on Monday to determine if there was any further damage, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Either way, Goedert is set to miss time and is an injured reserve candidate.

Goedert was injured in the third quarter, when he took a short pass from Hurts and raced up the left sideline for a 28-yard gain. Safety Markquese Bell grabbed Goedert by the right arm to make the tackle and his weight appeared to land on that arm as they fell to the ground.

Goedert exited and did not return, finishing with three catches for 50 yards. Jack Stoll received the bulk of the reps in Goedert's absence, while Albert Okwuegbunam, acquired from the Denver Broncos via trade in August, made his Eagles debut and played six snaps.

Grant Calcaterra was also sidelined Sunday after suffering a concussion in Week 9 against the Washington Commanders.

Goedert, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, has 35 catches for 360 yards and two scores on the year. He missed five games last season with a fracture in his left shoulder.

Jack Stoll and Calcaterra are among the top candidates to replace Goedert. ...

The Eagles have a Super Bowl rematch when they return from their bye to play the Kansas City Chiefs on "Monday Night Football."

The Nov. 20 game is also another edition of the Kelce Bowl. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce faces his brother, podcast partner and Eagles center Jason Kelce.

QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Kenny Pickett, Tanner McKee
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins
TEs: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Albert Okwuegbunam

Pittsburgh Steelers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves framed it: "Technically, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't getting it done with smoke and mirrors.

"It only feels like it. And at times, it certainly looks like it. ..."

Graves went on to explain that as the weeks go by, the on-field product "looks underwhelming" for long stretches.

The offense running in place. The defense susceptible to big plays. The coaching seemingly incapable -- or maybe unwilling -- to make substantial adjustments, unless of course, you count the not-exactly novel approach of practicing in pads.

Yet the Steelers find themselves at 5-3 anyway as the season nears the midway point after Thursday night's 20-16 victory over Tennessee which had all the hallmarks of so many other wins in recent memory.

Pittsburgh trailed entering the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett and his aching ribs ran hot/cold from series to series. The defense bent and bent and bent but rarely broke.

There have been 29 teams during the Super Bowl Era to give up more yards than they have piled up in each of their first eight games.

Only one -- the 2023 Steelers -- has managed to post a winning record over that stretch.

"Obviously not satisfied with where we are," star outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. "But we just need to continue to improve and eliminate problems as quickly as possible and just get as healthy as possible."

So are they a good team that has failed to live up to its potential? Or are they simply living right by going 5-0 in one-score games and will eventually be exposed?

It could go either way.

Yet head coach Mike Tomlin made it a point after a typically ugly comeback win over Cleveland in Week 2 that he was never going to apologize for winning. Good thing, because if he did at this point he'd be running out of ways to do it.

In a season where being "good" seems to be a week-to-week proposition, the Steelers might be one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

They haven't played particularly well. They haven't really come close to putting together four competent quarters. And yet only a handful of teams in the AFC are in a better position as Thanksgiving nears.

It's telling that for the first time in a long time, there were no chants for offensive coordinator Matt Canada to be fired. Instead, there was patience and -- in the end -- a roar that felt filled with equal parts amazement and relief after another victory that seemed inevitable as it did unlikely.

"The outside noise of everybody that harps on the negatives, you can't get caught up in that," Pickett said. "There's a lot of great things that we're doing. And we're close to getting where we want to get to."

Of course, there's also some inside noise.

As's Brooke Pryor noted, moments after wide receiver Diontae Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown against the Titans, fellow receiver George Pickens bowed his head and ran off the field as his teammates ran to Johnson to celebrate his first touchdown in nearly two years.

Afterward, cameras caught Pickens subdued and frowning on the bench as his teammates continued celebrating. Pickens finished the game with two catches for -1 yard. He also nearly scored his own go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, but he failed to get his second foot down in bounds despite seeming to have room to do so.

After back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, last Thursday night was the second-year receiver's second consecutive quiet outing. He had just one catch for 22 yards in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Asked Tuesday if Pickens has expressed frustration to him, Tomlin laughed.

"Heck yeah, man," Tomlin said at his weekly news conference. "He expresses frustration all the time. He wants to be significant. He wants to be a reason why we're successful. Y'all don't begrudge that. I want guys who want the football. I want guys who want to be central reasons why we're successful and so that's a non-issue to be quite honest with you."

A day after the Steelers' win against the Titans, social media sleuths took note as Pickens unfollowed the team on Instagram and deleted all references to the team and all posts except a highlight reel from April 2020 from his account. Some social media users also grabbed screenshots of a later-deleted Instagram Story that was captioned, "free me."

By Saturday morning, Pickens restored many of the Instagram posts to his account that featured the team. He also posted an Instagram Story on Saturday that read, 'Assumptions lol over a picture. That has nun to do with fb. yall need urgentcare lol"

Tomlin dismissed the idea of any trouble brewing with the receiver when he was asked how he coaches young players like Pickens through adversity.

"Like breathing, it's easy," Tomlin said. "I know it's a cute story for you guys, but it is a pebble in my shoe to be quite honest with you in terms of the things that I have to do in an effort to get this group ready to play. This week our focus is on the Green Bay Packers and what we're all going to do in this football game, and I can't state it any plainer than that. It's like reality television, the way you guys follow social media and write stories about it."

Pickens didn't talk to reporters after the game Thursday night, and he wasn't in the locker room during Monday's availability.

"The season can be a roller coaster sometimes," veteran receiver Allen Robinson said Monday when asked about Pickens. "It's one of those things where it's never exactly how you want it. It's not going to be easy, and different things like that. So, we've been continuing to just talk to him and communicate to him. He's a significant player in this league, and it's going to attract a significant amount of attention, and that's from defense is trying to take him away and different things like that. So just continuing to talk to him and just give him an understanding of that."

Pickens' numbers have been reduced since Johnson returned to the lineup from injured reserve against the Jaguars, but Pickett praised Pickens after the win against the Titans.

"Credit to him, he takes two guys," Pickett said Thursday. "The run game's opening up because of him. There's a lot of things that he's not getting credit for right now in the stat sheet, but he's helping us win football games. He's helping us have a lot of successful plays. You definitely want to reward him. I wish we hit that one in the red zone on the fade, the slot fade, but continue to try and get him the football as many ways as we can. Just definitely want to appreciate him for what he does to the defenses that opens up everything else."

For the record, Johnson has now played three games since coming back from injury. Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes Johnson has averaged a target share per game of 30.7 percent, and he's averaging 84.7 yards per contest. Pickens is averaging a 21.5 percent target share per game during this three-game stretch with Johnson, and his receiving yards average is 42.7.

He's been at 14.9 percent and 10.5 over his last two. ...

Tomlin confirmed Tuesday that Canada would remain on the sideline to call plays Sunday, when the Steelers host the Packers. ...

Other notes of interest. ... For all of his fourth-quarter moxie, consistency and accuracy remain elusive for Pickett. His completion percentage is a tick below where it was as a rookie and his quarterback rating is only marginally higher.

A player who looked ready to make a leap in his second season has instead mostly shuffled his feet, taking two steps forward almost immediately followed by two steps back.

There is time to get it together, but if the Steelers want to look like a playoff team on the field with regularity, Pickett needs to show more than flashes. ...

In a related item. ... Zachariason notes that Pickett has thrown more than one touchdown pass in 1 of 20 career starts. ...

Running back Jaylen Warren is proving that he's more than just a change-of-pace option behind starter Najee Harris.

The former undrafted free agent provides a spark nearly every time he touches the ball. Warren has 85 touches for 471 yards through eight games, numbers that essentially mirror Harris' 116 touches for 483 yards. ...

On the injury front. ... Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick sat out Thursday night's win with a hamstring injury though there's optimism Fitzpatrick won't be out long term. Inside linebacker Cole Holcomb's season is probably over after being carted off with a left knee injury after being hit by safety Keanu Neal. Tight end Pat Freiermuth is on injured reserve but could return at some point.

QBs: Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
WRs: George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington

San Francisco 49ers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

According to's Nick Wagoner, roughly 30 minutes after scoring two touchdowns and moving into second place all time with a touchdown streak of 16 consecutive games, running back Christian McCaffrey was fuming.

McCaffrey gritted his teeth and stepped to the podium in an understandably foul mood after his team's 22-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 23.

Talk of records, touchdowns and statistical milestones were the furthest thing from his mind as he used every question as an opportunity to blame himself for a first-quarter fumble he believed cost the Niners the game.

Wagoner went on to advise readers the moment was quintessential McCaffrey, full of the accountability and competitive fire the 49ers hoped they were getting when they traded second-, third-, and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-round choice in 2024 to the Carolina Panthers for him on Oct. 20, 2022.

But there was something a little different about McCaffrey in that moment: Anger.

"There are not a lot of guys who are as hard on themselves as he is," tight end George Kittle said. "You see him make a mistake and he's very upset about it. And not like emotionally upset. It's like, 'I need to be better than that and my expectations for myself are way too high for that'. And you never see him make the same mistake twice. ... Christian is an elite player."

McCaffrey rarely shows disgust in public, but that angst was even more surprising because there hasn't been much to be upset about in his year-plus in San Francisco.

Through 22 games (including playoffs), McCaffrey has been the perfect match for the Niners and Kyle Shanahan's offense, elevating it to new heights with his breakaway rushing ability and receiver-like pass-catching skills. He's even made a little history, tying Hall of Famer Lenny Moore for the longest streak of consecutive games (including playoffs) with a touchdown at 17, a record he can break Sunday against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

And McCaffrey is also just one game away from tying Marshall Faulk's record of 15 career games with a rushing and receiving touchdown.

McCaffrey ranks near the top of nearly every major category for a running back in addition to his record-setting touchdown streak.

Since joining the Niners, McCaffrey is first in scrimmage yards (2,453), scrimmage touchdowns (26), rushing yards before contact (975) and 10-plus yard rushes (41), second in rushing touchdowns (17), third in rushing yards (1,636) and fourth in rushing yards after contact (661).

Among running backs, he's fifth in yards per carry (4.9) and first in receptions (96) and receiving yards (817) and second in receiving touchdowns (nine).

But his teammates are most impressed by the behind-the-scenes work he does.

According to center Jake Brendel, McCaffrey is one of the few players already in the building when he arrives at 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. and is constantly doing things to take care of his body or develop a deeper understanding of the offense.

The day after McCaffrey injured his oblique in a loss to the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 15, he was texting Shanahan to tell him not to leave him out of the game plan and vowing to play against the Vikings even if he didn't take a practice rep all week.

"[He means] just a ton," Shanahan said. "Just how good he has been, how dependable he has been, how reliable he has been, how he learns everything, not just the running backs and stuff. It's really easy to put a lot on his plate, move him around each week.

"He reminds me of just like a walk-on guy who's just trying to get people's attention for working so hard. ... It's a really great example of how to be as a football player."

On a team with other stars such as Kittle and receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, McCaffrey has become the unquestioned fulcrum of the offense.

His versatility and production have made it increasingly difficult for Shanahan to take him out of games for short periods.

In a given week, Shanahan's game plan can center on handing it to McCaffrey 25 times, using his gravity to open things up for others, or putting it in his hands in multiple ways like he did in an Oct. 30, 2022, win against the Los Angeles Rams, when he became the fourth player since the 1970 merger to throw for, run for and catch a touchdown in a game.

That versatility, combined with McCaffrey's obsession to be great, challenges Shanahan and his coaches to never stop seeking creative ways to use him.

And fantasy managers who invested in the star running back this summer are reaping the benefits. And they should expect more of the same going forward.

In fact, there might be even more focus.

As's Marc Adams pointed out, in the 49ers' five wins, they rushed for 124 yards or better in each game. But in the three losses, they struggled to move the ball on the ground.

Granted, Samuel missed almost all of the three games, and Trent Williams missed the last two, but played the Cleveland game with a badly sprained ankle. McCaffrey missed most of the Browns game, as well.

But the 49ers offense has been built around the run game. Normally, they are pretty balanced, but the run game is the bread-and-butter of the offense, and Shanahan seems to prefer to lean more in the direction of being more run-heavy if he isn't as balanced.

In all five wins, the 49ers ran the ball more than they threw the ball. Don't think that's lost on Shanahan and his staff. ...

Meanwhile, Samuel has returned to practice.

Samuel had been sidelined with a hairline fracture in his shoulder, sustained during the game against the Browns. This forced him to exit the game prematurely and caused him to miss the subsequent two matches.

"I am ready to go," Samuel declared last week, indicating the receiver expected to play against the Jaguars.

He was on the field for Monday's bonus practice session with the team coming off its bye week.

Shanahan also expressed optimism that Williams would also return to practice this week. While Williams was not present on the field during Monday's session, there are still three more practices scheduled for the week.

Williams suffered a low-ankle sprain in that same game against the Browns but fought through the pain to finish that contest. However, this injury has kept the veteran offensive lineman inactive for the past two games, and he has yet to resume practice.

Wagoner notes other players missing from the Monday session. They are guard Aaron Banks, who is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a turf toe injury, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.

I'll have more on Samuel via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

QBs: Brock Purdy, Josh Dobbs, Brandon Allen
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk
WRs: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell, Danny Gray
TEs: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu

Seattle Seahawks

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

As's Brady Henderson framed it, "After all the heat the Baltimore Ravens' pass rush put on Geno Smith on Sunday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tried to take some of it off his struggling quarterback. ..."

Asked how he felt Smith played in the Seahawks' 37-3 loss, Carroll went out of his way to deflect the blame.

"I don't think this is about Geno at all. ... I think this is about our football team did not answer the bell here," Carroll said. "We couldn't get it done. We came in here to slug it out and they did a better job than we did, all of us. When they're rushing the passer, that's not Geno. This is not a one-guy deal."

In perhaps his worst game as a Seahawk, Smith completed 13 of 28 attempts for 157 yards and an interception against Baltimore's top-ranked scoring defense. The interception was Smith's sixth in the past four games compared to four touchdown passes in that span.

He also lost a fumble on one of the four times he was sacked by Baltimore, though Carroll said that wasn't on the quarterback. Smith's Total QBR of 14.4 was by far his lowest as Seattle's starter, including his three fill-in starts in 2021.

"Not good enough," Smith said when asked for an assessment of his play Sunday.

Including his lost fumble Sunday and another one two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals, Smith has committed eight turnovers in the past four games. He had 15 turnovers during his breakout season in 2022, when he made the Pro Bowl and was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.

"Yeah, I am concerned about that," Carroll said of Smith's turnover funk. "I'm concerned. The one on the fumble, that's a pass-rush deal. The interception, he threw it up and the guy that's been making the interceptions made another one. But that's not the direction for us to be going in. Up until this game, it took us to first place, whatever the heck we've been doing. And we didn't play like a first-place team today. With those kinds of turnovers, it's really hard to win."

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Smith was pressured on 49 percent of his dropbacks Sunday, his second-highest rate of the season behind the Seahawks' win over the New York Giants in Week 4 (50 percent). Three of the Ravens' four sacks came via a standard four-man rush.

"They was making Geno move and run around," said Jason Peters, who split time at right tackle. "We've got to do better. I've got to do better."

Ravens safety Geno Stone notched his sixth interception of the season in the second quarter when he picked off an overthrown Smith pass that was intended for receiver Tyler Lockett.

"He overthrew it," Carroll said. "I know Tyler didn't think he had a chance to get to the ball, is all I know. But it wound up being a really nice play by their guy. But I wish we would have contested it. I don't know that he could or not. I don't know how far overthrown it was, but I know he couldn't get to it."

Said Lockett: "I just think it was miscommunication on both of our parts. On my part, I could have did better. But it was miscommunication."

Smith, as he usually does, took the blame.

"It was on me," he said. "Bad pass."

The Seahawks' three points were their fewest since they were shut out by the Green Bay Packers in 2021. Their 151 yards of offense were their fewest since they managed 136 in a win over the Dallas Cowboys in 2017. They went just 1-of-12 on third down against Baltimore.

"It's tough," Smith said. "It sucks. We were looking forward to this matchup and I just feel like we didn't play our best football today. Obviously we made a ton of mistakes and a lot of things we need to correct. But as I always tell you, I put those things right at my own feet, and I look at myself in the mirror and say what can I do better to help this team and to help my guys?

"So that's exactly what I'm going to do again. I'm never going to shy away from it and I'm going to keep on working."

Whatever the case, given the opportunity to prove they could compete with an opponent deemed one of the elite in the league, the Seahawks failed badly and in the process showed there are major concerns going into the second half of the season despite sitting in a tie for the NFC West lead.

Sunday's loss amplified the gap between a good team such as the Seahawks and one such as the Ravens.

Sitting at 5-3 through eight games isn't a failure for Seattle. The Seahawks are tied for the division lead and should be right in the mix for a playoff spot into the final weeks of the regular season.

But it's how those three losses have played out that leaves an unsatisfying taste to what the Seahawks accomplished in the first half of the season.

There was the surprising blowout loss at home to the Rams to open the season; the frustrating red zone failures in a four-point loss at Cincinnati; and then Sunday's romp by the Ravens -- the second-worst loss of Pete Carroll's tenure in Seattle.

It's clear Seattle has the potential of being good. They won at Detroit. They have a nice win over Cleveland.

But as Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth suggests, the overall evidence is lacking so far to believe the Seahawks are a team capable of making a run should they get to the postseason.

"I would like that this game was maybe a marker that this is where things shifted, and we came right back and got back on track, and we see us come back to who we are," Carroll said. "We'll see. This is a big deal."

The next two weeks are vitally important to how Seattle's season goes because of what comes after.

The Seahawks will host Washington (4-5) followed by a trip to face the Rams (3-6).

After that comes four brutal weeks for the Seahawks: home to San Francisco on Thanksgiving, at Dallas on a Thursday night, at San Francisco, home for Philadelphia. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Zach Charbonnet led the Seahawks backfield in snaps again, playing more than 50 percent of Seattle's offensive snaps for a second-straight week.'s Nathan Jahnke noted the rookie was splitting snaps in passing situations with DeeJay Dallas for more of the season, but he completely took over last week.

That carried on into this game with Charbonnet playing 100 percent of Seattle's third downs and two-minute drill plays.

Seattle ran an abnormally high number of plays in those situations last week, and that happened again in Baltimore.

Neither running back did much in the run game or passing game, with Kenneth Walker III running nine times for 16 yards and Charbonnet gaining 13 yards off four carries and one reception.

Still, as Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason points out, during the past two games, Walker has averaged a 65.4 percent running back rush share. Before those two games, his average was 79.6 percent.

While Walker should still be viewed as the primary back at this point, it's at least possible that Charbonnet will start earning more opportunities on early downs over the rest of the season. ...

It's been a mostly quiet first half for DK Metcalf -- at least catching the ball. Metcalf had just one reception for 50 yards against the Ravens. He's only posted one 100-yard game thus far and hasn't had more than six receptions in a game.

Metcalf missed one game and has been dealing with injuries to his ribs and hip for weeks. His issues with penalties garnered attention early on. The Seahawks would like to see that attention placed on his pass catching moving forward.

On the injury front. ... Seattle felt it was pretty healthy this past week, all things considered. Shoulder injuries to rookie defensive end Derick Hall and Dallas suffered Sunday could be troublesome. Carroll said Hall was feeling better on Monday while they'll have to wait for a better idea on Dallas' availability.

Most important for Seattle would be clarity on right tackle Abraham Lucas and his possible return. Lucas has been out since Week 1, but Carroll said Monday the hope is he'll practice next week.

QBs: Sam Howell, Geno Smith
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, DeeJay Dallas, Kenny McIntosh
WRs: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jake Bobo, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

According to Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall, the struggling Buccaneers are at a loss to explain what's gone wrong after a promising start.

The two-time defending NFC South champions have lost four straight games -- five of six overall -- after winning three of four to begin the season.

The team's longest skid since 2019, however, has not knocked the Bucs (3-5) out of contention for another division title and what would be a franchise-best fourth consecutive playoff berth.

New Orleans (5-4) leads the NFC South, but the Bucs have beaten Saints once and have a home game remaining against them in late December. Second-place Atlanta (4-5) has beaten Tampa Bay, although the Bucs will have a chance to regain some ground in a road rematch with the Falcons in Week 14.

Not that coach Todd Bowles' focus is entirely on the division race, which Tampa Bay won a year ago with an 8-9 record.

Especially after a normally reliable defense wasted a struggling offense's biggest scoring output of the year in Sunday's 39-37 loss to rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans.

Baker Mayfield gave Tampa Bay a 37-33 lead with 46 seconds remaining, only to watch a regressing defense yield a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to lose the game.

"Right now, our urgency is to fix the things that went wrong yesterday and the last few weeks, and get ready for Tennessee," Bowles said Monday, looking ahead to Sunday's home game against another rookie quarterback, Will Levis, and the Titans. "All that other stuff will come later."

Without discussing specifics, Bowles reiterated that the team's problems are fixable and not related to a lack of effort or talent.

One thing Bowles said he's not considering is replacing himself as a defensive play-caller. Instead, he stressed that players and coaches have got to "look in the mirror" and do a better job to pull out of the puzzling tailspin.

"We have no one coming to save us. We've got to stay together in the building, go out and work and (perform better) on Sunday," said Bowles, who's in his second year as Bucs coach after serving three seasons as defensive coordinator.

Despite the team's scoring woes and current four-game skid, Mayfield has done a good job of minimizing turnovers and has been more effective than many envisioned him being when the Bucs signed him to compete for the starting job that opened when Tom Brady retired.

He has completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,865 yards and 12 touchdowns vs. four interceptions.

Until Sunday, there was a general belief that a sputtering offense was the main reason for the team's losing record.

But scoring a season-high 37 points against the Texans was encouraging.

So was tight end Cade Otton catching two TD passes and running back Rachaad White scoring the team's second and third rushing TDs of the season.

But the defense has been an issue in recent weeks.

In fact, twice in the past three weeks, the veteran-led unit has allowed young quarterbacks to lead game-winning drives after the offense scored late to either tie the score or put Tampa Bay ahead in the final minute.

"It's very disappointing, especially since they've been keeping us in games the past couple of weeks, but (Sunday) it fell apart," Bowles said. "The offense played well and the defense did not. You've got to play well together."

They'll try to rectify all the issues when they host Titans on Sunday, looking to break longest losing streak in four years. ...

Also of interest. ... As's Chris Towers notes, the concern with White has been that, though he opened the season as the clear lead back for the Buccaneers, it might be tough for him to hang on to his RB1 designation if he didn't play well.

So far, at least, that really hasn't been a concern, even with the team's complement of running backs behind him healthy now.

White continues to not be particularly efficient as a runner, but he still got 20 carries Sunday, rushing for 73 yards and a pair of scores. But as Towers points out, what's surely helping his case is that White continues to be terrific as a pass-catcher, hauling in all four passes thrown his way Sunday for 46 yards.

His four receptions resulted in 27 PPR points Sunday.

He's been targeted 17 times over the past three weeks. He's caught all 17 of them.

Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason added to that, noting White has averaged 20 PPR points per game, a 73.3 percent running back rush share per game and a 15.3 percent target share per game over that span.

Towers went on to suggest White may eventually lose his job -- he is still averaging just 3.4 YPC -- but it doesn't seem like it'll happen anytime soon. He's a fringe RB1 based on volume, especially in the passing game, and it sure doesn't look like that's going to change.

For the record, Chase Edmonds continues to share the backup job at running back with Ke'Shawn Vaughn in his second game back. Vaughn played more in rushing situations while Edmonds played more in passing situations. ...

Meanwhile, Chris Godwin brought in two of six targets for 16 yards on Sunday.

Godwin's output was disappointingly muted in the back-and-forth affair, with both his catch and yardage totals qualifying as season lows. The veteran receiver has topped 77 yards just once this season and has seen his totals decrease from that of the prior week in four consecutive games.

Following Sunday's quiet afternoon, Godwin seemingly has nowhere to go but up in a Week 10 home matchup against a vulnerable Titans pass defense.

Meanwhile, Mike Evans continues to move up the NFL's career receiving list. Already the first player in league history to begin his career with nine straight 1,000-yard receiving campaigns, the star wide receiver became the 39th player in league history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards against the Houston Texans.

Evans entered Sunday's game with 10,932 receiving yards, just behind former NFL wideout Joey Galloway and just ahead of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

He passed Galloway on Sunday and is just behind former Cincinnati Bengals standout Chad Johnson on the all-time list. Tennessee Titans wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Philadelphia Eagles receiver Julio Jones are the only active players with more career receiving yards than Evans.

Worth noting. ... Godwin has two more targets (62) this season than Evans (60). Evans has 116 PPR points while Godwin has 92.

QBs: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask
RBs: Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, Sean Tucker, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett, Russell Gage
TEs: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham

Tennessee Titans

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The Titans reach the halfway point of the NFL season unable to win away from home or close out close games.

One thing is clear: Rookie Will Levis showed during his first two NFL starts that he has what it takes to be their quarterback because he gives the team a chance to win now and in the future.

Head coach Mike Vrabel said last Friday he wasn't ready to name Levis the starting quarterback yet, wanting to see Ryan Tannehill healthy first.

That changed on Tuesday, when Vrabel announced Levis is the starting quarterback moving forward. Tannehill will be the backup.

"We are going to go with Will," Vrabel told reporters. "We think it's the best opportunity for our football team right now. We'll see where he's (Ryan) at is at. We'll progress through here this week. We think, hopeful (he'll) be a backup for us and prepare as a starter. That's where we are at right now. I shared that with the team and had a conversation with everyone involved. That's how that will look like."

Vrabel added, via Titans Insider: "There is clearly something there with Levis, and we want to prepare him and win with him."

The baton pass became official on Tuesday, but it was clear after the rookie's performances the past two weeks with Tannehill (ankle) injured that the Titans should stick with the big-armed quarterback.

Levis shined in his first career start in Week 8, dive-bombing the Atlanta Falcons with big plays, throwing four touchdowns with zero interceptions with 238 yards passing in a 28-23 win. Week 9 was more of a struggle as the second-round rookie missed several throws in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and tossed a game-ending interception.

However, the signs were evident it should be Levis' team moving forward.

The 33rd pick overall has twice as many touchdown passes (four) as Tannehill who started the first six games.

Levis' first turnover came Thursday night throwing into the end zone of a 20-16 loss at Pittsburgh, while Tannehill has six interceptions with two TD passes.

Levis boasts a cannon of an arm, is able to fit the ball in tight windows and opens the Titans' passing offense in ways Tannehill cannot.

As's Kevin Patra noted, Levis' willingness to stand strong in the pocket is veteran-esque but does lead to some sacks and big hits. In his first two outings, the 24-year-old rookie also displayed sound presnap processing, calling out blitzes and avoiding staring down his first reads too often.

There will be ups and downs, as with all young QBs, but Tennessee will ride through them with the high-upside quarterback.

With the QB change now official, the future is now in Tennessee.

The Titans sit at 3-5 -- last in the AFC South -- entering Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Winning is critical," Vrabel said. "I think that that's what you have to focus on today and what's best for us today. And then obviously, on the other hand, there is a long-term implications for decisions that we make."

Of the Titans' losses this season, four have been by one score with only one blowout.

"We got some ground to make up, but you do it one game at a time to do it, you do it one practice at a time," Vrabel said. "I'm confident that we'll do that and figure out a way to win on the road, which has avoided us up until this point for a number of reasons. ..."

Worth noting. ... The Titans' last road victory was Nov. 17 in Green Bay. They have lost seven straight, eight if counting the "home" loss against Baltimore on Oct. 15 in London. Only two of those losses were blowouts, with the other six all by one score or a combined 31 points.

The NFL's best run defense in 2022 also must figure out how to tackle again. The Titans have allowed at least 139 yards rushing in four straight games. ...

Other notes of interest. ... DeAndre Hopkins has produced. The three-time All-Pro wide receiver already has more yards receiving (564) and more touchdown catches (three) through eight games on just 35 receptions than the Titans' top receiver last season. Robert Woods had 527 yards receiving on 53 catches and only two TD receptions in 2022.

Levis' promotion should thrill Hopkins investors as the veteran wideout has been targeted 17 times in the rookie's two starts. ...

According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Tyjae Spears out-snapped Derrick Henry 41 to 33 against the Steelers. ...

If the Titans need a field goal to win a game, well, chances are Nick Folk is going to make it.

Folk has made 27 consecutive field goals, which is the second-longest streak of his 16-year career. On Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Folk also set a new NFL record for the most consecutive field goals made under 40 yards. He now has 72 straight field goals from under 40 yards without a miss.

On the injury front. ... Vrabel said WR Treylon Burks is in the concussion protocol and briefly lost consciousness after trying to make a catch on the sideline with 2:06 left. Burks was carted off the field but caught a bus home with the team. Vrabel said RG Daniel Brunskill missed only one snap after getting his right ankle heavily taped.

Petit-Frere returned but was limited to 14 snaps by an injured shoulder. LG Peter Skoronski missed seven snaps. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting's injured thumb limited him to eight snaps, and CB Roger McCreary missed a second straight game with an injured hamstring.

QBs: Will Levis, Malik Willis
RBs: Tony Pollard, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
WRs: Calvin Ridley, DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Tyler Boyd, Kyle Philips, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore
TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco

Washington Commanders

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 7 November 2023

The day after the Commanders traded two of their top young talents last week, head coach Ron Rivera at times steered the conversation toward a cheerier topic: His even younger quarterback. Rivera wanted to point to the future, focusing on Sam Howell.

After another strong game Sunday -- he threw for 325 yards and a touchdown in Washington's 20-17 win at New England -- it's not just Rivera preaching belief in Howell.

"Sam Howell is our leader," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "We found our next quarterback for five, 10 years. I truly believe that. ... I've seen a lot of great quarterbacks in my time, played against a lot of them. He has the potential to be one of them."

As's John Keim notes, Washington's quest to find "the next" quarterback has lasted decades.

Howell is the 33rd player to start at quarterback since the franchise last won the Super Bowl, after the 1991 season. Since Kirk Cousins last played here in 2017, Washington has started 12 quarterbacks.

It's not a high bar to step over, but Howell, in his second season, certainly hopes he can be the franchise's long-term answer.

"I want to be the quarterback here for a really long time," Howell said. "But how I'm going to get to that point is taking it one day at a time. That's the way I look at it. I never worry about the future."

The future can be difficult to predict in Washington.

With a new owner in Josh Harris, nothing is guaranteed for the coaching staff, or football operations staff, beyond this season. And that could impact Howell's future as well.

But the more good games he plays, the more he can cement himself in Washington. Howell has started only 10 games in Washington; the Commanders are 4-5 heading into Sunday's game at the Seattle Seahawks (5-3). There's a long way to go.

But Howell has injected hope that perhaps he, indeed, can be the answer.

In the last five games, Howell has topped 300 yards three times. He has an NFL-high 1,510 passing yards during that stretch, while tying Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts for the most touchdowns with 10. Howell also became the first quarterback in franchise history to surpass 2,500 yards in only 10 games.

A week ago, Howell threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Philadelphia.

="We feel we have a quarterback," Rivera said Wednesday. "This franchise has been looking for quite some time and for the first time in a while, I think that that guy might be here."

Because Howell's on a rookie deal for the next two seasons, it's an opportunity to invest in building a more complete roster.

"It's going to give us an opportunity to continue to build for the future and do things a little differently," Rivera said. "There may be a little bit of a shift in how we're going to construct things."

But a big key to that shift remains Howell.

Sunday, he made plays with his arm, lofting a perfectly placed 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jahan Dotson down the middle. The Patriots tried to fool him with a delayed blitz, but it didn't matter. He received good protection and threw the pass as calmly as if he was tossing a wad of paper into a trash can.

Howell made plays with his legs, scrambling away from a blitz pressure and then throwing back to the other side of the field to a wide-open Byron Pringle, who turned it into a 26-yard gain.

In the last two weeks Howell has attempted a combined 15 passes of 20 yards or more downfield, a byproduct of feeling comfortable again in the pocket with improved protection -- and of not letting the league-leading 44 sacks he's taken impact him. He had averaged 3.5 such throws in his first seven games when he was sacked a combined 40 times.

"You've got guys getting open down the field and he does a great job of keeping his eyes down the field," receiver Terry McLaurin said. "That's one of the better attributes he's developed over the course of the season."

Howell also ran 24 yards on a third-and-23 to pick up a first down late in the first half.

Rivera has mentioned that determining whether Howell can be the solution is a big part of this season. The organization wants to find out if what they're seeing now can last a while. The more they see, the more they can learn and know for sure.

The question then becomes: How will it look at the end of the season? And will Howell leave no doubt about whether he should be the future?

Whatever the case, Washington has put together back-to-back 400-yard games for the first time since 2020.

It helps that a revamped offensive line is protecting Howell better after he was sacked a league-high 40 times through the first seven games. Tyler Larsen replacing Nick Gates at center and Chris Paul sliding in at left guard for injured former starter Saahdiq Charles has made all the difference.

"They're very stout," Rivera said. "They're both 330 (pounds), so there's a lot of girth between our two guards and our center."

Howell still takes a lot of hits; he was sacked three more times Sunday even though Washington's protection held up well against a variety of stunts and delayed blitzes. On one of those, Howell was drilled as he unloaded a deep out to McLaurin for a 26-yard gain -- throwing to an open spot and letting him run under the ball.

"You can tell he's getting more comfortable in this offense," McLaurin said, "getting more comfortable with the looks he's getting and you can tell he's being decisive. It's really good to see at this point in the season."

Next up, the Commanders will try to string together consecutive wins when they visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Seattle, coming off a 37-3 loss at Baltimore, is a 6-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. ...

Also of interest. ... Curtis Samuel missed Sunday's game due to a toe injury, leading to more opportunities for several players.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, Jamison Crowder was Samuel's primary replacement, playing 37-of-52 snaps in 11 personnel and barely any snaps in other personnel groupings. He caught four passes for 23 yards.

Dyami Brown has also been playing more snaps over the last two weeks. He caught two passes for 33 yards, as he also took more snaps than usual in 11 personnel.

Samuel has posted a respectable 19.2 percent target rate this season. His replacements both had target rates between 26-27 percent that came at the expense of the running backs, McLaurin and Logan Thomas.

Samuel's absence hasn't impacted Dotson's playing time, but Dotson is back to making big plays.

He caught four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and is fantasy-relevant once again.

As Jahnke added, it's been great to see Dotson starting to live up to the preseason hype, but it will be good to see him continue to do this well even when Samuel is back.

I'll be watching for more on that in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Austin Ekeler, Chris Rodriguez
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Dyami Brown, Jamison Crowder, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates