Team Notes week 6 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. ...

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Arizona Cardinals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 10 October 2023

The Cardinals made what appeared to be a crucial stop just before halftime, stuffing Cincinnati on consecutive plays at the 1-yard line.

Two plays later, Josh Dobbs threw his first interception of the season and Cam Taylor-Britt returned it 11 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bengals a three-point lead instead of a deficit.

As Associated Press sports writer John Marshall noted, for all the Cardinals did right, mistakes at critical junctures led to another what-could-have-been loss, 34-20 to the Bengals on Sunday.

"When you lose the takeaway game 3-1, it's a hard way to go," head coach Jonathan Gannon said. "We've got to do a better job of protecting the football and that's all 11."

The Cardinals (1-4) left San Francisco last week with a bit of optimism despite losing by 19.

Arizona also had some good moments against the Bengals (2-3).

The Cardinals rallied from an early 10-point hole, matched a Cincinnati touchdown early in the third quarter and were in scoring position on another second-half drive.

Dobbs threw for two touchdowns in his fifth start for the injured Kyler Murray, but had two interceptions on overthrows and lost a fumble that set up a Bengals' fourth-quarter field goal.

The Cardinals also turned the ball over on downs at the Cincinnati 17-yard line early in the fourth quarter and Joe Burrow followed by finding Ja'Marr Chase for a 3-yard touchdown that put the Bengals up 31-20.

"Turnovers are tough," Dobbs said. "We take pride in taking care of the football. I have to be extremely smart and take care of the football, no matter what the circumstance is.

"When we take care of the football we have a chance and we are in games."

Dobbs was inconsistent, throwing for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-32 passing while turning it over three times.

Arizona didn't have much of a run game after James Conner went out with a knee injury in the second quarter.

As Darren Urban of the team's official website suggests, playing from behind doesn't suit Gannon's team, nor can it survive multiple turnovers. Allowing Chase to rack up 15 receptions for 192 yards while catching three touchdown passes from Burrow didn't help.

Stopping Chase -- who had his big day a week after 49ers running back Christian McCaffery tallied four touchdowns himself against the Cardinals -- was the lead story. But there were other issues.

The pass defense will be tested again next week on the road when the Cardinals go to Los Angeles to play the Rams, which just got back wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

The Cardinals need to make sure he doesn't have a Chase-like performance. ...

Other notes of interest. ... As noted above, Conner left with a knee injury, and while he returned to the sideline at one point with helmet on head apparently lobbying to return, the Cardinals were without the NFL's third-leading rusher. "Obviously, when you lose one of your best players that hurts, but we have to carry the load for him," Gannon said.

They're going to have to get used to that.

The Cardinals placed Conner on injured reserve Tuesday. He'll miss at least four games before becoming eligible to return.

Keaontay Ingram is Conner's backup, but he was inactive on Sunday with a neck injury. The next man up was backup rookie tailback Emari Demercado. Demercado rushed for 45 yards on 10 attempts and picked up his first career touchdown.

The Cardinals had 142 of their 294 total yards on the ground, highlighted by a Rondale Moore 41-yard run and Demercado.

The Cardinals added running back Tony Jones Jr. off waivers from the Saints to add depth. The Cardinals had also elevated running back Corey Clement the past two weeks from the practice squad, but he has not yet played an offensive snap.

Conner, who had been the third-leading rusher in the NFL going into Week 5, had 46 yards on six carries Sunday before getting hurt.

He has 76 touches for 394 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Ingram has missed the last two games after hurting his neck in practice.

Jones has 88 carries for 249 yards rushing in a career that started in 2020, and he has spent time with the Saints and the Seahawks. He had 70 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries for the Saints this season before he was cut once Alvin Kamara returned from suspension.

I'll be watching for more on the team's plan to cover for Conner's loss in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Zach Ertz scored his first touchdown of the year and the emotional spike he had (after dropping two other potential scores this season) showed how important it was to him. ...

Rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson, coming off his best game, wasn't targeted until three minutes left in the game. His one catch went for 18 yards and it was a heck of a play since he was drilled in the air hard and still held on to the ball. The offense is probably not going to focus on one guy week after week, but I'd think Wilson will be targeted earlier going forward.

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 10 October 2023

Arthur Smith's response to his first postgame question regarding Desmond Ridder was quick and strong.

"Pretty damn good," the coach said Sunday of his quarterback's performance in the win over Houston.

Smith could have added Ridder's showing also was important for the quarterback and the team.

Ridder had his first 300-yard game, fourth game-winning drive and third fourth-quarter comeback of his career in Atlanta's 21-19 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, one where he was particularly sharp throughout.

As's Michael Rothstein put it, "Ridder grew Sunday."

He completed a career-high 28 passes (on 37 attempts) for a career-best 75.7 percent. His 329 yards -- a career-high, as was his 8.29 yards per attempt. He had one passing touchdown and rushed for another.

Ridder's play lifted the performance of his teammates, including tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London, casting a more optimistic outlook on the season.

Ridder's passing yards were the most by an Atlanta quarterback since Matt Ryan's 371 in Week 6 of the 2020 season. Abut Associated Press sports writer Charles Odum contends the numbers were not as important as the poise he showed while completing each of his five passes in Atlanta's game-winning drive.

Ridder, who had been 4-4 in his first eight career starts, played like a winner in the most impressive two-minute offense Falcons fans had seen since the heyday of "Matty Ice."

Smith said "it takes a special mindset" to be a winning quarterback and added Ridder has that.

The coach, perhaps seeking to manage his own exuberance, added "We're not going to take any victory laps."

The victory lap can wait. For now, it's enough to suggest the Falcons' first selection in the 2024 NFL draft may not be a quarterback after all.

Next up, the Falcons will try to end a two-game losing streak against Washington when the Commanders visit Atlanta next Sunday. Washington took a 19-13 home win over the Falcons on Nov. 27, 2022, and leads the all-time series 17-10-1.

Other notes of interest. ... One 300-yard game from Ridder may not be enough to convince defenses to stop loading the box against Robinson and the Atlanta running game, but it was a start.

Robinson has scored two touchdowns in his first five games. While the rookie running back has been explosive and dynamic as expected while averaging 5.4 yards with his runs, his only scores have come as a receiver.

Robinson, who often lines up wide, at times with Allgeier at running back, already has 21 catches for 146 yards while rushing for 364 yards. ...

Just when fantasy managers had given up on starting Pitts and London, the two joined tight end Jonnu Smith to give Atlanta three players with at least six receptions and 60 receiving yards for the first time since Week 1 of 2020 (Russell Gage, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley).

Pitts was targeted 11 times and had seven catches for 87 yards. London had nine targets and six catches, including a 23-yarder that was the biggest play on the game-winning drive.

With Ridder showing more willingness to throw downfield instead of relying on shorter passes, Pitts showed flashes of his 2021 rookie form in perhaps his best game since hurting his knee last season. London played strong when making catches in traffic.

Even fullback Keith Smith somehow found his way downfield for a 28-yard grab that Ridder said may have been his favorite pass of the game. ...

On a less positive note. ... Tyler Allgeier averaged 2.4 yards while gaining 40 yards on 17 carries. He has averaged 3.1 yards for the season, a sharp drop from his 4.1 average as a rookie in 2022, when he ran for 1,035 yards. Allgeier will continue to have ample playing time as the complement to Robinson, though Cordarrelle Patterson's role could grow as the versatile option as a running back, wide receiver and return specialist after missing the first three games with a thigh injury.

It's likely the Falcons will say Patterson is still working his way back into the lineup, but he's been an offensive nonfactor his first two weeks, with a handful of combined snaps and one catch for 7 yards. ...

Finally. ... Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Rams are trading receiver Van Jefferson to the Falcons.

Los Angeles will receive a 2025 sixth-round pick in exchange for Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round pick.

Jefferson's most productive season was 2021, when he caught 50 passes for 802 yards with six touchdowns. But in 2022, he had only 24 receptions for 369 yards with three TDs in 11 games. In five contests this season, he's caught eight passes for 108 yards.

Jefferson's father, Shawn, is currently the receivers coach for the Panthers. After defeating Carolina in Week 1, Atlanta will host the second matchup in Week 15.

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 10 October 2023

The Ravens let a chance to take control of the AFC North literally slip through their hands Sunday in Pittsburgh, and that was just the start of their offensive troubles.

Drops, fumbles, an end-zone interception, and more led to the Ravens' 17-10 defeat in Week 5, in a game the Ravens should have won and they know it.

The Ravens fell to 3-2, the same record as the Steelers, and they have themselves to blame.

"There's a lot of things where we just hurt ourselves," tight end Mark Andrews said. "This is a tough game to lose because you feel like you control the whole game. I feel like we could do what we wanted, impose our will, and we still lost the game."

"We had them beat," quarterback Lamar Jackson said.

Though he had some critical mistakes down the stretch, Jackson had arguably his best performance against the Steelers yet.

His receivers, however, had a day to forget.

The Ravens were one of just two NFL teams to have zero dropped passes by wide receivers through the first four weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. Baltimore dropped seven passes Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. Those accounted for about half of Jackson's 15 incompletions.

The drops clearly cost the Ravens points. Rashod Bateman dropped a pass in the end zone in the second quarter and Nelson Agholor had a ball go through his hands on a deep pass in the third.

Beckham, the team's big offseason signing at wide receiver, had only two catches for 13 yards in his return from an ankle injury.

It started with rookie Zay Flowers on the opening drive and seemed to spread like a disease. Flowers' first drop would have put the Ravens in scoring range, but instead resulted in a punt. He also dropped a shorter pass in the second half.

Flowers' most gut-wrenching play wasn't a drop, but when he fell down after getting wide open behind Pittsburgh's secondary in the fourth quarter for what should have been a huge gain. Flowers said the wind kind of took the ball and he slipped trying to turn around and catch it.

After playing his first career game in Pittsburgh, Flowers was the last player to take off his pads, as he seemed to reflect on what had happened.

"[I was] just thinking about some plays that I could've helped change the game, like the one I slipped," Flowers said. "[The Steelers] came out [and] played their game and ended up getting one victory, [but] we let them take that one."

Flowers wasn't alone.

On the Ravens' third drive, with a chance to take a two-touchdown lead early in the second quarter, Andrews didn't hang onto one pass to the end zone, then Rashod Bateman dropped a gimme touchdown. In his first game back from a hamstring injury, Bateman slammed the turf with his hands, then spiked his helmet on the bench.

"We have too good of players, too great of players, myself included," Andrews said. "That stuff can't be contagious. If one [drop] happens, whatever, [we have to] move on and get to the next play. We need to be better. Obviously, Lamar is putting the ball right where it needs to be, and we need to be there for him and make plays. We do that, we win this game."

On the drive following the end-zone drops, running back Justice Hill fumbled when defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi punched the ball out from behind.

Then came another brutal drop. In the third quarter, Jackson floated a perfect deep pass to Nelson Agholor, but it went right through his outstretched hands for what could have been a touchdown. Jackson was sacked and the Ravens punted again.

With the Ravens defense smothering Pittsburgh's offense, Baltimore was still in the lead midway through the fourth quarter. And despite all the mistakes, the Ravens got a bit of good fortune when the Steelers coughed up a special team punt return, setting Baltimore's offense up at the 7-yard line with a two-point lead. A touchdown probably finishes the game.

Instead, Jackson left an end zone lob short for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., back in his first game since Week 2, and it was intercepted by rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. The Steelers then went down the field for the game-winning touchdown drive.

"I was just trying to get my boy a shot," Jackson said. "We've just got to get in sync -- that's all. [Porter] made a great play [and] made a great interception. We didn't want it to happen, but it happened."

The Ravens had a couple final chances to win or tie the game, but the injuries at right tackle (Morgan Moses was ruled out and Patrick Mekari left early with a chest injury) left T.J. Watt pinning his ears back against second-year tackle Daniel Faalele and the Steelers pass rush overwhelmed the Ravens' comeback chances.

Baltimore's offense moved the ball, but again shot itself in the foot like it did in the Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Now the Ravens have a long flight to London to think it over.

"Personally, I'm moving on," Andrews said. "If you look at this game, and you see what type of team this is, the team that we have, and [if] you're going to kind of reminisce in the past and be sad about that -- you're not on the right team because this team is dangerous. We're good, very good. So, it's a matter of being efficient, playing good ball, and every time, just do your job, that's all it is."

Meanwhile, after a blowout loss in London six years ago, the Ravens are taking a much different route to England this time.

The Ravens headed overseas Monday morning, which marks the earliest a team has traveled for an international game this year. The Falcons, Jaguars and Bills all left on Thursday for their London games this season.

Baltimore decided to fly out six days before its game against the Tennessee Titans because of a forgettable experience in 2017. In the Ravens' only international game in franchise history, the team flew out on Thursday night and got routed by the Jaguars 44-7. The 37-point loss is the second-largest margin of defeat in an NFL international game.

"It's mostly driven by the fact that we didn't do well, so we did the opposite," Harbaugh said when asked about leaving early in the week. "There's no data -- and we looked for it -- to say when you should go out there and what's the ideal thing. I'll say this kind of in jest, what's the science on that? As often is the case, they really don't know. That's just the way it is."

The Titans are flying out Thursday after practice.

By spending the entire week in London, the Ravens will temporarily move their entire operations across the pond.

"The good thing about it is I personally don't have to worry about any of that. I just expect it to be perfect," Harbaugh said with a smile. "They do a great job. You got the video, you got the medical, you got the equipment, you got all those things -- you got the computer stuff. As coaches and players, all we really have to do is go out there and focus on preparing and getting ready for the game."

This is a quick turnaround for the Ravens. Baltimore left for England about 12 hours after landing back from Pittsburgh. But the Ravens are banking on being fully adjusted for Sunday's game, which kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET. ...

Worth noting. ... Jackson averaged a season-high 7.7 air yards per completion, which suggests the Ravens are making some progress in trying to throw deeper. If not for all the drops, this could have been a very impressive game for him, even with the costly interception in the end zone.

Flowers, who caught 5-of-11 passes for 73 yards, came up with several big receptions on the day. Despite the missing a handful of deep passes that would have led to a more productive outing, Rotoworld reports the rookie receiver continues to be Jackson's No. 1 target as he's now seen double-digit targets in three of his first five games this season.

Andrews caught 6-of-10 passes for 65 yards, finishing second on the team in both targets and yards. The 10 targets were the most Andrews has seen in a game this season, as he continues to be an invaluable fantasy asset at a position lacking upside. ...

Gus Edwards rushed 12 times for 48 yards and as Rotoworld suggests, he continues to be a touchdown-dependent RB2 who seldom scores touchdowns. The Ravens' lone rushing score on the day went to Hill, who scampered in from 14 yards out in the first quarter.

Fantasy managers will be pleased to know Edwards let all Ravens in rush attempts, but that doesn't mean much when he isn't scoring. He'll be a touchdown-dependent RB2 in Week 6 against the Titans.

Finally. ... The Ravens have now lost six fumbles in five games. Only Minnesota has given away more.

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 10 October 2023

Last week, the Buffalo Bills lost cornerback Tre'Davious White, a cornerstone of the team's defense, in a win over the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday, the defensive injuries kept coming after they lost linebacker Matt Milano to what appears to be multiple lower body injuries and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones to an injured pectoral muscle.

Not to mention the three defenders who missed Sunday's 25-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London due to injuries, including starting defensive end Greg Rousseau (foot) and starting cornerback Christian Benford (shoulder).

"It was like midway through the first, second quarter, you kind of look out there and some of the guys normally out there kind of gone. Milano, [Jones]," safety Jordan Poyer said after the game. "For the guys that stepped in [like linebacker Tyrel Dodson], I thought played extremely well, stepping in the role of Matt."

As's Alaina Getzenberg notes, the question now turns to what happens the rest of the season for a Bills defense that has been among the league's best, including holding the Dolphins' No. 1 offense to just 20 points last week. The depth of the Bills (3-2) will now be seriously tested.

"It's tough to see guys get hurt, but flip side, I try to think about it, we do have depth, we do have a lot of guys that can play football at a very high level," wide receiver Stefon Diggs said. "So, when you go into that deep, the depth that we have, the deep edge that we do have, guys need to play well, guys need to step up and it's still a standard."

Meanwhile, a rarity for the Bills' second-ranked scoring offense occurred Sunday as they didn't record a first down until the final 15 seconds of the first quarter.

Further, Josh Allen was limited to a season-low 23 yards passing in the first quarter.

"They were putting us in what we call 'red situations'," Allen said. "We weren't very efficient on first and second down, never felt like we really got into a rhythm until late there. They came up with a good plan."

Allen finished the day going 27 of 40 for 359 yards and two touchdown passes and an interception. Diggs had eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown and Gabe Davis had six catches for 100 yards and a score.

"We didn't take care of the little things," Allen said. "That's on us captains, making sure that this team is ready to go. You know, the opposing team, they were ready to go today. We weren't."

Buffalo's inability to sustain drives can be attributed to several factors, but notably an ineffective run game. Between four different rushers, the Bills averaged a season-low 2.1 yards per carry and 29 yards total. James Cook, the team's leading rusher this season, was held to negative yards for the first time in his career, logging five carries for -4 yards.

"That's not gonna be good enough to win most times in the NFL," head coach Sean McDermott said of the team's overall rushing performance.

As a result of a sluggish run game and Allen unable to connect with his receivers on long third down plays, the Bills punted on their first four possessions and six times total.

Prior to Sunday, they had punted just seven times all season.

Was this offensive performance a one-off or something that will be an issue going forward?

According to Getzenberg, there's reason for concern, but not alarm.

Jet lag isn't to blame for a Bills offense (which had scored 37 or more points in the previous three games) being held to 20 points. The Bills gave up on the running game, finishing with only 13 carries for 29 yards. Allen also struggled with pressure, resulting in an inability to sustain long drives. It's nothing that can't be corrected, but a lack of balance can't become a theme.

The good news?

The Bills get another home game when former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and the Giants travel to play Buffalo on Sunday night. ...

For the record. ... Milano suffered a fractured leg. According to Ian Rapoport, Milano is also having an MRI on his ACL, but the organization fears this is a season-ending knee injury.

Losing Milano for the season just one week after losing White to an ACL tear is a brutal blow for this defense. Milano is one of the best linebackers in the NFL and a crucial component of Buffalo's defense.

Aside from Milano and Jones, DE Floyd was twice treated for injuries on the sideline. TE Dalton Kincaid returned after being evaluated for a concussion, with McDermott saying the rookie has since been placed in the concussion protocol. CB Taron Johnson returned after hurting his knee.

I'll have more on Kincaid via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses.

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 10 October 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Dave Hogg noted, Bryce Young had plenty of excuses available for his performance against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The rookie was playing just his fourth NFL game against one of the league's hottest teams in one of the sport's loudest arenas. Early in the game, he lost one of his offensive linemen to a scary injury.

Given all of those factors, going 25 of 41 for 247 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions doesn't sound all that bad.

Young, though, wasn't going down that road.

"This is 100 percent on me," he said after a 42-24 loss to the Lions. "There were two times in the game where I took a drive away from us and gave Detroit great position to start a drive of their own. I put our defense in a terrible position, and I'd love to have those plays back, but that's not how this works."

Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Panthers were facing second-and-7 at their own 31 when Young tried to set up a slip screen for tight end Ian Thomas.

"That's a play where you want to push the (defensive) end out wide and then dip inside with the pass," Panthers coach Frank Reich said.

Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, though, hadn't been pushed as far outside as Young expected. He intercepted the pass 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and returned it to the Panthers 20. Five plays later, Jared Goff's pass to Sam LaPorta gave Detroit a 14-0 lead.

The next play from scrimmage -- a routine-looking 1-yard gain by running back Chuba Hubbard -- ended with left guard Chandler Zavala motionless, face down on the turf.

The game was delayed for 10 minutes before Zavala was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field, headed for a hospital. Reich said after the game that Zavala was believed to have suffered a stinger.

"That was really scary," Young said. "He's obviously a great player, but he's also such a great dude. It has been really cool to come in as part of the same (rookie) class, so that's the last thing you ever want to see."

Young, though, got some important encouragement from Zavala.

"Even in that moment, he was telling me to keep playing well and telling everyone to keep pounding," Young said. "That shows you what kind of man he is."

Knowing his teammate was able to move his arms and legs -- Zavala gave a thumbs-up as he was carted toward the tunnel -- Young led the Panthers on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that finished with a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Tommy Tremble.

When the Panthers' defense stopped the Lions on fourth down on their next possession, it looked like Carolina had grabbed the momentum.

However, Miles Sanders lost a fumble on the next snap and the Lions turned it into a touchdown. After the kickoff, Young's deep pass was intercepted by Jerry Jacobs, and Detroit responded with a reverse flea-flicker for LaPorta's second touchdown of the game.

In 29 seconds, the game had gone from 14-7 to 28-7 and the Panthers were headed directly for 0-5.

"Obviously, that's another one I wish I had back, but I have to keep moving forward," Young said. "I put us in a tough situation."

Young improved in the second half, going 13 of 19 for 127 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"At the end of the day, all we care about is winning or losing," Young said. "We came up short, but we do have to acknowledge the positives so we can build off them. It's hard right now, fresh off the loss, but we have to get back tomorrow and get this fixed."

For what it's worth, head coach Frank Reich was questioned about the team's play-calling and the quarterback situation in general. He said that he continued to call the plays, with the usual amount of collaboration with offensive coordinator Thomas Brown.

When asked specifically if he considered pulling rookie quarterback Bryce Young, he replied: "No, there was no point where I was considering any change."

But should the Panthers sit Young in favor of Andy Dalton?

As's David Newton notes, Young's turnovers are hurting the Panthers, who've given up 45 points off turnovers this season. Of those, 31 came directly after a Young fumble or interception, including 14 in the first half against the Lions. The most efficient the offense has been was in Week 3 vs. Seattle, when Dalton started in place of an injured Young.

The Seahawks had zero points off turnovers. Young is the long-term answer, but Dalton may be the short-term solution for this 0-5 team as it looks for an identity. ...

Next up, the Panthers travel to Miami to talk on the Dolphins. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Sanders got a four-year, $25.4 million deal to be Carolina's lead back and take the pressure off Young as a runner and receiver. He came into Sunday's game averaging 2.9 yards per carry, and against the Lions he had only 32 yards rushing and a fumble that led to a Lions touchdown.

He also got out-snapped by Chuba Hubbard for a second-straight week.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, the roles of the running backs were basically the reverse of what we've seen all season. Sanders played the majority of third-down snaps while Hubbard took the majority in short-yardage situations.

Hubbard has been, by far, the more efficient runner this season, gaining a first down or touchdown on 37.1 percent of his carries compared to Sanders' 14.8 percent.

Sanders has been the better receiver, posting a better yards per route run figure.

Similarly, Hubbard has been avoiding more tackles in the run game while Sanders has forced more in the passing game this year, so this change might be something that sticks going forward.

It's worth noting Sanders remained limited in practice to begin the week due to a groin injury but was a full participant by the end of the week.

In addition, the Panthers have been trying to decide whether Laviska Shenault Jr. is best at wide receiver or running back. They seemed to tip their hand Sunday, giving the 2020 second-round pick (by the Jaguars) five rushes for 27 yards.

Wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. recorded a touchdown against his former team in the fourth quarter on an 18-yard pass from Young. Adam Thielen recorded 11 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown, coming off a 1-yard touchdown pass from Young. Over the last four games, Thielen has averaged nine catches and 95.5 yards per game along with three touchdowns.

Jonathan Mingo caught 5-of-7 targets for 48 yards.

As Rotoworld notes, the five catches and 48 yards were both new season highs for the second-round rookie, who has now drawn at least six looks in each of his past three healthy appearances. Mingo has seen at least five balls all four games this season.

After Hayden Hurst's strong Week 1 performance, he's caught eight passes for 59 yards over the last four games.

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 10 October 2023

Four days after squandering a three-touchdown lead to mark their 14th straight loss, the Chicago Bears ended the longest losing streak in franchise history with a 40-20 walloping of the Washington Commanders on Thursday.

Nearly an entire year -- 346 days, to be exact -- had passed since Chicago's last victory.

After an 0-4 start amid off-field drama and poor on-field performances, just how badly did the Bears need this win?

"Pretty bad, I'm not going to lie," tight end Cole Kmet said. "I think the emotion I felt literally until. ... The clock hit zero was relief. It's been a long time coming to get this first win. We've got a lot of talent; we've just got to put it together. These types of performances can carry over, but we have to be able to execute and be in sync as a group."

Only a handful of players remain from the last Bears team to score 40 points, in a 41-17 win against Jacksonville in Week 16 of the 2020 season. Wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who was a rookie that season, hardly remembered the outcome given how many losses the Bears accumulated from that time on.

What did feel familiar was the rut the Bears' offense found itself in after a blazing start. Chicago scored a touchdown or field goal on every drive in the first half, sparked by two TD receptions from DJ Moore, and built a 24-point lead by the end of the second quarter.

Quarterback Justin Fields became the first Bears player since the 1970 merger to throw for three touchdowns in the first half of back-to-back games.

A third quarter that featured two drives for Chicago, both of which resulted in punts, while Washington scored a touchdown and field goal, was the motivation the Bears used to avoid another letdown.

"We're not allowing this to happen again," Mooney said. "We felt that power of another team having that against us, and we don't want to feel that again."

Moore's huge night prevented another disappointment and helped the Bears secure a win on the road. The 25-year-old receiver caught eight passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns, the second-most receiving yards in a game in Bears history.

His fourth-quarter touchdown sealed the game for Chicago. Moore ran a curl route, which Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller unsuccessfully jumped, and took a short reception 56 yards down the visitors sideline to the end zone.

As Fields watched his No. 1 wideout extend his yards after the catch to 141 -- the most by any Bears player since ESPN began tracking YAC in 2006 -- the quarterback categorized that moment of closing out the game as a "sigh of relief."

"I think we just had to reset," Fields said. "Of course, the drive where we had a false start, you know, everybody's kind of jumping around a little bit. But I just went over to the guys and just said, 'Calm down. We're in a great position, the defense is going to go out there and do their thing.' They did. They got a stop, and you know, of course, when DJ made that catch and run, it was pretty much game over by then. A heck of a play, great catch, great protection up front and executed it well."

As's Courtney Cronin notes, Moore was a key part of the trade package Chicago received from the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick in March. In five games with the Bears, Moore has:

  • 531 receiving yards and five touchdowns, which is already more than any Bears wide receiver accumulated during the 2022 season.

  • Accounted for 47 percent of the Bears' receiving yards this season, the highest of any player in the NFL.

  • Every tight-window reception for the Bears, per Next Gen Stats. Fields is 8-of-11 for 137 yards and three TDs to Moore on tight-window throws and 0-of-8 to all other Bears on those plays.

    It has been a while since Chicago had this much offense generated by one player. Moore became the first Bears player with 200 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage in game since Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton in 1979, a type of performance the receiver said he didn't see coming.

    "No, this morning I was nervous," Moore said. "Out of this world nervous, so I guess that was my body telling me we were about to go off. I look forward to having some more nervous days before games."

    The Bears averaged 7.0 yards per play on a night when Fields threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns, coupled with another strong display from Chicago's running game (178 yards).

    Days after starting to show their strengths as a team, it's clear to some what the Bears believe is their offensive identity.

    "Get the ball to D.J., man," Mooney said. "Get the ball to D.J.. Really, get the ball to D.J., and like I've said before, allow us to have an opportunity to make that catch, not make that catch, whatever. Put the weight on our shoulders and just give us the opportunity to make that play."

    The Bears will try to make it two in a row when they host Minnesota on Oct. 15. ...

    Running back Khalil Herbert suffered an ankle injury in the win over Washington and Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that he will miss multiple weeks while he recovers.

    Herbert ran nine times for 27 yards and caught three passes for 37 yards on Thursday. He has 51 carries for 272 yards and 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown on the season.

    Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer are also dealing with injuries, which leaves D'Onta Foreman as the only healthy back in Chicago at the moment -- although the team re-signed RB Darrynton Evans off the Dolphins' practice squad.

    As's Dwain McFarland notes, Foreman hasn't played since Week 1 but could busy this week. In fact, if both Herbert and Johnson are out, Foreman would be the undisputed RB1. McFarland added: "Foreman might not have long-lived value but is an RB2 when both starters are out and is an RB3 if Johnson plays. ..."

    I'll have more on Herbert and Johnson via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

    A few final items. ... In case you missed it, the Bears shipped Chase Claypool and a 2025 seventh-round pick to Miami in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick on Friday.

    The previous Friday, the wide receiver expressed frustration with how he was being used in Chicago's offense and he was made inactive after being told by the team not to attend the Bears' Week 4 game against the Denver Broncos.

    Before Thursday's game, Bears general manager Ryan Poles had expressed disappointment in how things unfolded with Claypool after taking a big swing to land the 2020 second-round receiver to aid in the development of Fields.

    "I think Chase is going to learn from this situation, we all will, and I wish him luck moving forward throughout his career," Poles said on ESPN 1000's pregame radio show.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Ben Baby framed it, "Joe Burrow did something Sunday that he hasn't been able to do this season.

    "He shuffled in the pocket and waited. ..."

    In Sunday's 34-20 win against the Arizona Cardinals, Burrow moved around and bought time as wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase streaked across the back of the end zone. The moment Chase was open, Burrow rifled in a touchdown pass -- the duo's third of the day.

    Burrow's improved mobility, which was absent the first four weeks, was on full display in his scrambling and ability to extend plays, including on the last of his three touchdown passes.

    Like other instances in their four years together, head coach Zac Taylor was yelling on the sideline for Burrow to throw the ball away.

    But like in years past, Burrow waited just long enough to make a big play.

    "The great quarterbacks, you can't just keep them in the pocket and put them in a little box," Taylor said. "They're going to extend plays sometimes when you're thinking you shouldn't. They're going to hang on to the ball for a second longer than people feel comfortable with, and usually great things happen when that happens.

    "That's the special magic that he's got that you don't ever want to take away from him."

    Burrow was 36-of-46 passing for 317 yards and an interception. Chase had 15 catches for 192 yards and set the franchise record for single-game receptions.

    Coming into the game, Burrow said the contest against the Cardinals (1-4) was a must-win for a Cincinnati team that sputtered at the start of the season. The back-to-back AFC North champions had scored just three offensive touchdowns in the first four games, and Burrow was dealing with the effect of having aggravated the calf injury in a Week 2 loss against Baltimore.

    The fact that he was able to slide to his right, plant his leg and throw across his body to Chase for a 2-yard touchdown gave him confidence that he could move well.

    "There's been a lot of moments that I thought I was good and it turned out not [that way]," Burrow said.

    Burrow compared Sunday's win to last year's Week 5 victory against the New Orleans Saints, which also was the Bengals' second win of the season.

    "It means nothing if we don't go out there and build on it and continue to get better," Burrow said. "So we're going to celebrate it tonight and come back to work tomorrow."

    The road gets more treacherous for the Bengals moving forward with a Week 6 game against Seattle. Cincy then comes out of a Week 7 bye with games against San Francisco, Buffalo, Houston and Baltimore. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Chase had three touchdowns Sunday after coming into the week with zero. He became only the fifth player since 1950 with 15-plus receptions and three receiving TDs in a game -- joining HOF Steve Largent, HOF Jerry Rice, Jimmy Smith, and Tyler Lockett. ...

    The team's second-leading receiver Tee Higgins (ribs) was on the inactive list. He was listed as questionable on Friday. ... CB Chidobe Awuzie (back) was also inactive.

    As Rotoworld notes, with Higgins out, Tyler Boyd moved to the outside and Trenton Irwin was able to operate over the middle of the field, where he showed good short area quickness and the ability to find soft spots in the Cardinals' coverage.

    Irwin caught 8-of-10 targets for 60 yards.

    If Higgins were to miss next week as well, Irwin could be a sneaky deep league option against the Seahawks.

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

    One last note. ... Joe Mixon rushed 25 times for 81 yards against the Cardinals.

    As Rotoworld suggests, it was not an impressive performance from Mixon, who also added 13 yards receiving on four catches. He had tons of volume on the day and really nothing to show for it. At one point late in the second quarter, Mixon was stood up at the one-yard line on three straight runs. He was also stopped for a loss on first and goal from the one in the fourth quarter.

    The Bengals offensive line was unable to get much push, but Mixon seemed unable to make defenders miss or run them over.

    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 10 October 2023

    Deshaun Watson did not practice Monday as he continues to deal with a right shoulder injury that sidelined him for one game before the bye week.

    Watson remained inside the team's facility while his teammates worked outdoors in their first practice following their bye. He unexpectedly missed the Oct. 1 game against Baltimore with a shoulder bruise sustained a week earlier against Tennessee.

    Browns coach Kevin Stefanski did not provide any new specifics about Watson's injury on Monday.

    He also would not speculate if Watson, who has made just nine starts in two seasons with Cleveland, would be available for this week's game against the San Francisco 49ers (5-0).

    "I know it's a broken record, but really just treat it day by day," Stefanski said. "He's doing everything that he's being asked to do and getting better."

    The 28-year-old Watson had been expected to play against the Ravens despite being limited and not throwing any passes with power during practices leading into that game.

    But when he got to the stadium on game day, Watson was unable to throw with any velocity in an on-field workout three hours before kickoff, and the decision was made for him to be inactive despite being medically cleared to play.

    Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson started for Watson and struggled in his NFL debut, throwing three interceptions and being sacked four times.

    The Browns have said Watson did not sustain any tears or structural damage in his shoulder. If that's the case, Stefanski was asked why he's not ready to play.

    "The piece there that's important is medically cleared versus functionally able to do your job," Stefanski said. "That's what with all of our guys, when you're working through an injury, you need to be able to functionally perform, and that's what Deshaun's working very hard in his rehab -- to be able to get back to 100 percent."'

    Worth noting. ... All-Pro DE Myles Garrett (foot), TE David Njoku (burns), LG Joel Bitonio (ankle) and C Ethan Pocic (chest, knee) were also kept out of practice to rehab injuries.

    I'll have more on all involved via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...

    Meanwhile, general manager Andrew Berry held a bye week press conference last Wednesday.

    Even though the running game has dropped off the last few games, Berry didn't sound like someone in a hurry to trade for help at running back, Scott Petrak of the The Chronicle-Telegram reports.

    "Because of the tampering rules, I know I can't touch on specific players," Berry said Wednesday in his annual at-the-bye news conference. "We're always active seekers, participants in the trade market, but I would say we're pleased with the running back room."

    This despite the season-ending knee injury Nick Chubb suffered in Week 2.

    The four-time Pro Bowler tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments as well as suffering other damage, will need a second surgery in the coming months and isn't expected to be available until sometime next season.

    Jerome Ford replaced him as the starter and Kareem Hunt was re-signed after Chubb's injury. Pierre Strong Jr. is the third back. Ford and Strong are in their second season.

    Ford has rushed 50 times for 186 yards, a 3.7 average and a touchdown.

    "Jerome provides us big-play ability," Berry said. "We've seen that over the first month of the season. His speed and strength is a real asset, and then also he's a real contributor in the passing game. We think Jerome's ability to actually split out and run routes, that's something that's pretty hard to find.

    "And then with Kareem, we do look at getting him ramped up more heavily. We really do look at that position as more of a platoon position, as opposed to, 'Hey, this is your one, this is your two,' that type of thing. We've been spoiled by having Nick, but that's probably more where this position is trending with us and it's certainly trended around the league."

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Todd Archer put it, "If Sunday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers was supposed to be a measuring stick for the Dallas Cowboys, then the gap between the teams is ginormous. ..."

    San Francisco pinned a 42-10 loss on the Cowboys at Levi's Stadium that left their locker room as silent as it was in January, when the Niners ended Dallas' season in the divisional round of the playoffs.

    "Didn't see it coming," Dak Prescott said. "Put everything into it and got punched in the mouth. Called it a couple weeks ago humbling against Arizona, but this may be the most humbling I've ever been a part of. Felt good about the preparation and felt good about everything, honestly, coming into this game, matchups, and they beat us in every aspect."

    It was the second-worst loss of Mike McCarthy's head-coaching career; only a 35-0 shutout against the New England Patriots in his first year with the Green Bay Packers in 2006 was worse. It was the largest defeat of Prescott's career, going back to a 39-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 19, 2017, during his second season as the Cowboys' starting quarterback.

    "It's a punch in the gut, it's a kick in the ass, whatever phrase you want to put on it," McCarthy said. "We've been knocked down, clearly. They beat us in all three phases. We will clearly acknowledge it. I've never been a burn-the-tape guy. I think that is a crock of s---. We're going to go through it, make sure we're clear on exactly what the expectations are and make sure we're giving the players what they need to be successful. They played extremely well, and we did not.

    "I thought we had taken a step as a team. I didn't see this coming. I thought the prep was good this week. I thought we had one of our better Friday and Saturdays of the year. But it's like we talked about before: Sometimes you have a great week of preparation and it doesn't go so well. We did not hit the mark at all."

    A defense that allowed a league-low 10.3 points per game through four weeks gave up 21 points through six possessions. A defense that allowed two touchdown passes in the first four games saw Brock Purdy throw four. A defense that recorded 14 sacks in four games sacked Purdy just once. The run defense was hit for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries.

    Offensively, it was worse for the Cowboys. Prescott completed 14 of 24 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown pass with three interceptions before he was pulled with 8:47 left to play. Running back Tony Pollard lost his first fumble since 2019, his rookie year, in the first quarter. Of the 11 possessions with Prescott at quarterback, nine of them lasted three plays or fewer.

    "I don't foresee a whole lot of winning grades coming out of this performance," McCarthy said. "I think the most important thing for all of us, and I expressed it, just be accountable for what you did tonight, how you played. We've got to clean our own house up."

    The Cowboys also lost linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the fourth quarter to a neck injury. Receiver KaVontae Turpin, who scored their only touchdown, did not return following a second-quarter ankle injury. Special teams ace C.J. Goodwin exited in the first half after sustaining a shoulder injury.

    "This game is not indicative of who we are as an offense," Dallas left guard Tyler Smith said. "This game isn't indicative of who we are as a defense. It's not indicative of who we are as a team."

    The Cowboys will return to California next week for "Monday Night Football" against the Los Angeles Chargers.

    In fact, the Cowboys get both LA teams in consecutive games with the open week in between. The game against the Rams on Oct. 29 is the only one at home in a five-week stretch. ...

    For the 10th time since Jerry Jones took over as owner and general manager in 1989 the Cowboys are 3-2; three times they failed to make the playoffs, including 2019.

    On Sunday, the gap between the Cowboys and the Niners -- who along with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas' NFC East rivals, are undefeated -- looked wider than ever.

    "I mean, obviously, they're further ahead than us right now," Prescott said of the 49ers. "Yeah, so we've got to close that gap and be ready. To get to where we want to get, we know we're going to have to go through this team and most likely come back to this place. ..."

    When asked what the concerns were about regarding the offense moving forward, a frustrated CeeDee Lamb was blunt about where he feels things are.

    "I'm not concerned at all," Lamb said.

    What's the solution?

    "Score touchdowns. ..."

    Other notes of interest. ... Near the bottom of the NFL in touchdown efficiency inside the opponent's 20-yard line this season, Dallas didn't make that number worse. The Cowboys didn't run a play in the red zone against the Niners.

    Meanwhile, PK Brandon Aubrey is now four made field goals from tying the NFL record for perfect starts to a career. The 28-year-old rookie made a 50-yarder to reach 14 of 14. Six kickers have longer career-opening streaks, with Travis Coons holding the longest at 18 with Cleveland in 2015.

    As for the injuries. ... The Cowboys are considering placing linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on injured reserve, McCarthy said Monday.

    Vander Esch injured his neck with 13:59 remaining in the fourth quarter when 49ers left tackle Trent Williams blocked Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons into Vander Esch. Vander Esch's helmet jammed into Parsons' side.

    Vander Esch has a history of neck injuries, dating to his college days. He missed three games last season and seven in 2019 with neck issues.

    A stint on injured reserve would cost him at least four weeks this season.

    Goodwin is expected to go onto season-ending injured reserve after reportedly tearing a pectoral muscle.

    Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Turpin has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain. He will have an MRI to further evaluate the injury and determine how long he is expected to be out of the lineup although McCarthy told reporters Turpin has a chance to play next Monday night.

    Turpin's 26-yard score on Sunday night was the first touchdown catch of his career. He had a touchdown run against the Giants in Week 1 and has served as the Cowboys' lead kick returner for the last two seasons.

    Finally. ... Micah Parsons has gone without a QB hit in consecutive games for just the second time in his three-year career. Only once, early in his rookie season, has the 2021 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year gone three straight games without a sack. He'll be trying to avoid of repeat of that against Justin Herbert and the Chargers.

    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 10 October 2023

    According to Associated Press sports writer Pat Graham, the expression on Sean Payton's face when his quarterback retreated to the sideline after his last-minute fumble sealed Denver's latest loss was a combination of exasperation, irritation and frustration.

    A telling look by the coach of the Broncos to sum up the game and, really, the season so far.

    Payton appeared none too pleased with Russell Wilson after his QB's late fumble while scrambling away from pressure was returned 39 yards for a touchdown by Bryce Hall that capped the New York Jets' 31-21 win Sunday.

    It was that sort of head-scratching afternoon for the Broncos (1-4), who also had a muffed punt, lost a fumble on a poorly executed reverse and saw Wilson called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety. If that wasn't enough, Denver had a third quarter in which the offense totaled minus-16 yards in four drives.

    "No one cares about what ails us or woes us," Payton said. "This one hurts. We didn't play well."

    Or outcoach Nathaniel Hackett, either.

    The Jets offensive coordinator and Payton's predecessor in Denver got the last laugh. Hackett was fired as Denver's head coach last season after going 4-11 as Wilson struggled in his transition from Seattle. Payton was hired to help fix the Broncos and find the old Wilson.

    Payton didn't do himself any favors at the start of training camp when he ripped Hackett for the job he'd done in Denver, particularly the way he handled Wilson during the quarterback's dismal 2022 season.

    He called Hackett's season in Denver one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history -- something that's backfired as the Broncos bungle their way through some of the same problems that plagued them a year ago.

    Payton's trashing of Hackett riled up the Jets (2-3) for this one.

    Tight end C.J. Uzomah delivered a fiery speech in defense of Hackett right before the Jets took the field. It worked and Hackett was given a game ball by Jets coach Robert Saleh. "We're playing for our boys, right?" Uzomah said. "Like if somebody talks (expletive) about somebody on this team ... we're going to play for that person."

    The Broncos have started the Payton era with three losses at home, to the Raiders, Commanders and Jets, who are a combined 2-9 against opponents other than Denver.

    The Broncos haven't found out how to put together two good halves, and they don't have much time to figure it out as they travel to Kansas City on Thursday night to try to snap a 15-game losing streak against the Chiefs.

    Early on, the Broncos had the offense revving, with Jaleel McLaughlin scoring on a 22-yard pass from Wilson.

    Then, it began to go sideways, with Wilson called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.

    And then, the offense really went into a tailspin where the Broncos had no first downs in the third quarter.

    "That was a big part of the game, the third quarter," Wilson said. "We've got to be better in the third quarter."

    They finally found traction in the fourth quarter and trailed 24-21 when Patrick Surtain II's interception of Zach Wilson at the Denver 3 gave Russell Wilson a chance to tie or win it. They approached midfield as the clock ticked under a minute when Wilson was flushed from the pocket and linebacker Quincy Williams knocked the ball out from behind.

    "Just trying to get something positive there," Wilson said. "Obviously, it didn't work out."

    Wilson tried to be his typical optimistic self after a game that led to boos from the crowd.

    "I thought we did a lot of great things," said Wilson, who threw for 196 yards and two scores. "We got in and out of the huddle, guys were making great plays."

    That, as he was alluding to, was in the first half. The second half was the version that got Hackett run out of town.

    Wilson, who signed a five-year, $245 million extension before his first season in Denver, has shown flashes of solid play under Payton.

    "I think we've played some really good ball," Wilson said. "Just little mistakes that really do matter throughout the game. Game-altering plays that we can really be clean on."

    Like a muffed punt in the first quarter from Marvin Mims Jr. Or Samaje Perine's lost fumble on a reverse at midfield. Both of those turnovers resulted in Jets field goals. All told, the Jets scored 13 points off a trio of takeaways.

    Also worth noting, the Jets became the fourth consecutive team to rush for more than 170 yards against the Broncos and the fifth in a row to rush for at least 122 yards.

    "Tough to win a game like that," Payton said. "No one's going to hand it to you."

    The Broncos have to now face the Kansas City Chiefs twice, including this Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Green Bay Packers before they get to their Week 9 bye with the Buffalo Bills waiting after that. The Chiefs and Bills are among the league's top 10 in rushing. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton, Courtland Sutton wasn't a big part of the game plan and by the fourth quarter was jogging through some of his routes. Sutton was targeted three times and caught one pass for 13 yards.

    Yet he once again led Broncos receivers with 54 snaps (tied with Jerry Jeudy) while Brandon Johnson got 32 and Mims 20.

    That early bobble on a first-quarter punt seemed to derail Mims for the afternoon. He finished with one catch and was part of a bad exchange with Perine that resulted in other aforementioned turnover. ...

    Running back Javonte Williams was among Denver's five inactive players for Sunday's matchup with the Jets. Williams was a full participant in Friday's practice, but he was listed as questionable on the Broncos' final injury report.

    With Williams out, McLaughlin had 63 yards of offense and a touchdown the first four times he touched the ball. The Broncos moved away from him, or seemingly put him in a more traditional between-the-tackles look as the game progressed, which doesn't play to his strengths, but he continues to flash the kind of quick-strike capability the Broncos have not been able to produce often enough.

    Expect him to have a role even after Williams returns.

    As for Williams' return; he practiced fully on Tuesday (as he did last Friday) and it's possible he was held out against the Jets to make sure he'd be ready for Thursday's divisional matchup in Kansas City.

    I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday night's kickoff. ...

    Finally. ... Denver designated tight end Greg Dulcich for return from injured reserve, the team announced Tuesday. Dulcich is now eligible to practice with the team, and he participated during the media-viewing portion of Tuesday's walkthrough.

    Dulcich remains on injured reserve, but he is eligible to be activated for Denver's Week 6 game against the Chiefs.

    "He's out here moving around," Payton said on Tuesday. "I don't want to guess relative to this week's game, but he's close."

    The Broncos now have a 21-day window in which they must activate Dulcich to the 53-man roster. If the team chooses not to activate him in that span, he will revert to IR for the remainder of the season.

    Injured in the first half of Week 1, Dulcich recorded two catches for 22 yards before suffering a hamstring injury. As a rookie in 2022, he caught 33 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns.

    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 10 October 2023

    The Lions refused to let their foot off the gas in Sunday's dominant 42-24 win against the winless Carolina Panthers at Ford Field.

    Without leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen) and rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring), the Lions took control from start to finish to give them their first 4-1 start since 2011.

    "Just like I told them, I'm not worried about the opponents that you can see eye-to-eye because I believe we can compete with anybody and beat anybody," head coach Dan Campbell said he told his team. "It's the ones you don't see coming, and they know exactly who's coming and they know who's around, and they proved that today."

    As's Eric Woodyard noted, the Lions displayed their depth on both sides of the ball Sunday, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for three in a game for the first time since 1962 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Defensively, they allowed the Panthers 99 rushing yards. Through the first five games, the Lions defense has allowed only 342 rushing yards, which is their fewest in that span since 1932.

    The victory also marked Detroit's third straight win by double digits, which is the longest active streak in the NFL and the team's longest streak since 1997, per ESPN Stats and Information research.

    Jared Goff said the way in which Detroit handled the Carolina win shows the team's growth.

    "I think we're becoming a more mature team and understanding when we play a team, with all due respect to them, they're 0-4 and we feel like we can do some good things against, we go out and do good things against," said Goff, who finished 20 of 28 passing with 236 yards and three touchdowns.

    "Again, all due respect, we've been there. We know what that feels like, but when we're becoming this team that we hope to be, when we play a team that we want to get after, we've got to go do it and I thought we did a good job there."

    Receiver Jameson Williams returned from a four-game suspension for gambling with a quiet game -- two catches for 2 yards. But Campbell says the coaching staff is integrating Williams back into the team slowly, giving him time to get more comfortable following the time away.

    Williams had a key drop that helped end a Lions drive. He did make several key downfield blocks, though.

    Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta continued to shine, though, with two touchdowns on three catches. He is now the third tight end since 1950 to record 25 or more catches in the first five games of his career, joining Keith Jackson (29 in 1988) and Jordan Reed (26 in 2013).

    "It's a little yes and a little no," LaPorta said when asked if he's surprised by Detroit's hot start and his individual accomplishments in the professional ranks.

    LaPorta called the Lions a "hungry group" who are still "on the hunt" despite the early success.

    "I get a lot of help from my teammates certainly. I play with a lot of great guys that help me elevate my game so it's cool that I get to acknowledge some of the tally marks and accomplishments that I'm receiving, but you can only stop and smell the roses for so long," he said. "We've got a big one [against the Buccaneers] next week."

    With Gibbs out, David Montgomery continued to carry the load with 109 yards on 19 carries. His rushing touchdown on Sunday gives him six in his first four games. Former Lions RB Jamaal Williams set the franchise mark with 17 rushing touchdowns last season, with most coming on the goal line, but Montgomery has displayed an ability to do more.

    He scored a 42-yard touchdown in the first quarter, which was the second longest of his career.

    He became the first Lion to run for 100-plus yards and score in two straight games since Kevin Jones in 2004.

    Detroit scored at least 27 points in consecutive first halves for the first time in franchise history and topped 20 points in a team-record 14th game in a row.

    Up next, the Lions head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers next Sunday. The game was moved to a late afternoon start to take advantage of Detroit's surging popularity.

    On the injury front. ... St. Brown could be back in that role against the Buccaneers this week. Campbell said on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday that he thinks St. Brown is close to returning from his abdomen injury.

    "I feel pretty good about the possibility of him playing this week," Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "I think it's certainly more than questionable, I think it's closer to probable at this point. We'll see how this week goes."

    St. Brown still leads the Lions in catches and receiving yards despite missing Sunday's win and it sounds like a good bet that he'll be adding to those numbers in Week 6.

    Meanwhile, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley's 2023 season is over before it could really get started, and now the Lions are dealing with depth issues in their secondary.

    Campbell confirmed Monday afternoon Moseley suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on just his second play of the season Sunday. RB Zonovan Knight (shoulder) was hurt in the third quarter. ... St. Brown, Gibbs and DB Brian Branch (ankle) were inactive.

    I'll have more on St. Brown and Gibbs and their chances of returning this week in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

    Meanwhile, with St. Brown out, Josh Reynolds caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Kalif Raymond had a big catch on the first play of the game and finished with 45 receiving yards on three catches. Marvin Jones Jr. had a couple nice catches.

    The famous line in football is that it's not a matter of if injuries are going to happen but when. How teams are able to navigate through them and have others step up in big moments can make the difference between the teams playing meaningful football in December and January and those who aren't.

    "Make plays. It's tough to lose a guy like Saint and not have him," Reynolds said after the game. "But we pride ourselves in being able to make plays top-down in the receiving room. That's what we did."

    We've seen the same thing develop on Detroit's defense with defensive backs Tracy Walker, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Will Harris. Detroit's depth has been tested early on and they're proving to be a very deep football team.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Rob Demovsky framed it: "Jordan Love can't keep throwing interceptions. Christian Watson can't keep coming close -- but not close enough -- to making big plays. And head coach Matt LaFleur can't keep coming up with offensive game plans that put the Green Bay Packers in a hole week after week."

    Demovsky went on to acknowledge it would help if Aaron Jones' ailing hamstring wouldn't have kept him out Monday night for the third time in the past four games. And the star running back's presence alone might have made a difference in what was an unsightly 17-13 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.

    But if the shortcomings displayed on offense aren't rectified soon, the Packers (2-3) -- with or without Jones -- could be headed for a second straight non-playoff season.

    "I think at this point, it's pretty obvious that the defense has to not give up any touchdowns," Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander said. "I think that's the part of being self-critical of our defense, because the offense is pretty young and they're still figuring out their mojo. So the defense, we gotta do more to score and stop them from scoring."

    At least they have the Week 6 bye to try to find something that will work.

    However, LaFleur thought the unusually long time between the Week 4 Thursday night loss to the Detroit Lions and Monday night's Week 5 game in Vegas gave them time to figure something out.

    As Demovsky suggested, LaFleur thought wrong.

    "Obviously, searching for a little bit of answers right now," LaFleur said. "I think this week will give us an opportunity to kind of go back. You know, I thought we did that over the mini-bye. But we've got to find something to get us going, to jump-start us."

    Whatever LaFleur's game-opening scripts have said, they haven't worked.'

    Indeed, as Associated Press sports writer W.G. Ramirez pointed out, the Packers have scored a total of six first-half points in their last three games.

    "Yeah, it's tough, we had a lot of opportunities," Love said. "Defense did a great job giving us those opportunities. And we just didn't do enough. I didn't do enough. Obviously, it's a lot of good stuff to learn from, but it's tough because we had opportunities to go win it. And we couldn't do it."

    Love, who finished 16 of 30 for 182 yards and three interceptions, was just 7 of 12 for 56 yards and one interception in the first half.

    The Packers rushed for 56 yards in the first half, 36 coming from Love on two rushes, including a 26-yard scamper. A.J. Dillon, who finished with 76 yards, had just 28 yards on eight carries while Patrick Taylor and Watson each had negative yardage.

    Nevertheless, Love had no problem falling on the sword.

    "I think the run game started off good tonight," Love said. "And still, coming up with only three points, it's tough. I've got to be better. Having the turnover early, and then just a slow start. We just got to find a way to get going faster, get a rhythm going, and I gotta find a way to just be better, get some completions going, and move the ball."

    But it wasn't just Love, as the Packers' offense struggled in every facet, as they crossed midfield just once in the first half. Their other five possessions ended with three punts, Love's interception and a missed field goal at the end of the half.

    Green Bay's first-half inefficiency was glaring, as it was just 1 of 5 (20 percent) on third down and 0 for 1 in the Red Zone in terms of getting in the end zone.

    Perspective: Las Vegas (2-3) had 35 offensive plays over its six first-half possessions, including just one in the first quarter, while Green Bay had 24 offensive snaps over six possessions.

    Now, after 10 days between a Thursday night home loss to the Lions and Monday's loss to the Raiders, the Packers will go back to the drawing board with a bye week before traveling to Denver on Oct. 22.

    "Obviously searching for a little bit of answers right now," LaFleur said. "I think this week will give us an opportunity to kind of go back, and I thought we did that over the mini-bye. We got under center for probably the majority of the second half, and I thought that really helped us, some more downhill runs. I thought A.J. was running really hard. I thought our line was doing a pretty good job of coming off the ball. And that kind of got us going a little bit.

    "But we got to look at everything because it seemed like when we dialed up some passes, they had some timely calls defensively. Give credit to Patrick Graham and their staff. They definitely did a better job than we did. ..."

    Other notes of interest. ... Love targeted him seven times, yet Watson finished with just three catches for 94 yards. One of those was a 77-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. Raiders cornerback Marcus Peters stopped Watson from scoring with a horse-collar tackle that he was penalized for, but it saved four points after the Packers only managed a field goal on that drive.

    Watson said he should have had enough speed to break away from Peters. He also acknowledged that he needed to track and adjust better to a deep ball that he couldn't catch up to in the fourth quarter. And on the Packers' final play, an end zone shot from the 35-yard line with just under a minute to play that ended up as Love's third interception, Watson said he should have found a way to at least break up that pass and give Love -- who might have been able to run for a first down and get out of bounds on that play -- one more down.

    "I think my number was called way too many times tonight for the amount of plays I made," Watson said. "I've got to make some more plays."

    Watson missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. He played less than half of the offensive snaps in his return last week, catching two passes for 25 yards and scoring a touchdown.

    But he played a vast majority of the team's offensive snaps in Las Vegas, similar to his role from last season.

    According to's Nathan Jahnke, this did not impact Romeo Doubs' and Jayden Reed's playing time. Like last week, Doubs played most of the snaps. Reed played in 11 personnel and no other personnel groupings, as he has done all season.

    Fifth-round rookie Dontayvion Wicks had played at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps in each of the first four games. His playing time was greatly reduced with everyone healthy, but he was the primary backup for both Watson and Doubs. ...

    Luke Musgrave was temporarily benched after LaFleur chewed out the second-round rookie after the Packers' first drive.

    Backup tight ends Josiah Deguara and Ben Sims had receptions on the drive and were first and second on the team in receiving yards throughout the first half. Musgrave returned after that point and resumed his usual role. ...

    With Jones out, Dillon took the majority of snaps, only leaving the field during the two-minute drill and some passing downs, as he did in other games. Jones' injury will continue to be something to monitor, but the long layoff should help him out.

    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 10 October 2023

    C.J. Stroud set another record Sunday during his team's 21-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

    Stroud went 20-for-35 for 249 yards and a touchdown and finished the game without an interception, setting the record for the most pass attempts without an interception to start a career, breaking Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's mark (176) from 2016.

    The No. 2 overall pick, who now has 186 career attempts, views the achievement as "special."

    "It's cool. I got close a couple of times. Those DBs are really good," Stroud said after the game. "It's important to take care of the football. I don't think I've put it in harm's way too many times. I just want to let our offense know and let my coach know they can trust me with the football, because turning the ball over is a recipe to lose."

    As's DJ Bien-Aime notes, Stroud eclipsed the previous record in the third quarter, when the Texans were leading 9-7 and he rolled out of the pocket and threw the ball out of bounds for his 177th attempt.

    "C.J. continues to do a really good job of protecting the ball, protecting the team," head coach DeMeco Ryans said. "C.J. continues to play well. We just have to continue to play well around him."

    Later in the game, with the Texans trailing, Stroud threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Schultz with 1:49 left to give the Texans a 19-18 lead. Ryans acknowledged the offense had a few hiccups Sunday, but he was impressed with how Stroud put the team ahead in the clutch.

    "Credit to him and the offense for when it was time to go and make a play, even though it wasn't great throughout the game," Ryans said. "We started a little slow there, but when it was time to go finish, [I'm] proud of C.J. and the way he drove the offense down."

    The Falcons, however, drove down the field and won the game with a Younghoe Koo field goal with two seconds left.

    Stroud's record isn't the first historic accomplishment for the former Ohio State standout.

    Following the Texans' 37-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3, when Stroud threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least 900 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first three career starts, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

    Meanwhile, it's fair to wonder if the Texans' scoring woes will become a trend.

    Even though Stroud threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Schultz, the passing attack was inconsistent. The Texans' passing offense was humming over the past three weeks -- ranking fourth in passing yards per game (281) coming into the matchup. And even with Stroud throwing for 249 yards with a touchdown, the offense scored only 19 points -- with four drives ending in field goals.

    "Third down wasn't good enough, red zone wasn't good enough," Ryans said. "We needed to get points there and we didn't. Credit to Atlanta; they have a really good defense and did a really good job of forcing us to kick field goals in those positions."

    While Stroud took responsibility for Houston's inability to score touchdowns against Atlanta, a much bigger factor than his performance was the team's struggles in the run game.

    The Texans have had a tough time running the ball all season and rank 27th in the league by averaging just 82.6 yards rushing a game. They managed just 64 yards rushing Sunday after running for a season-high 139 yards against Pittsburgh.

    "We have to get it going," Ryans said. "Keep running it. We have to block it better, and we have to run it better."

    The Texans dropped a tough one at Atlanta but they're already focused on what they can do to beat New Orleans in Houston this Sunday.

    "We are going to go back to the drawing board and try to get better," Stroud said. "I think this game will teach us that we can't shoot ourselves in the foot and expect to win close games. We had plenty of times to score points and it's on me to execute our offense at a higher level. ..."

    Also of interest. ... Dameon Pierce has 44 attempts over the last two games. The efficiency hasn’t been there, but the offensive line is getting healthier and the Texans offense is much better than anticipated.'s Dwain McFarland contends Pierce remains a buy-low candidate.

    Robert Woods had several drops Sunday and finished with three receptions for just 30 yards. The outing came a week after he had 26 yards receiving in the win over the Steelers.

    Schultz had his best game as a Texan with seven catches for 65 yards, a season high, with a touchdown.

    On the injury front. ... Ryans said Tank Dell suffered a concussion on Sunday. The rookie receiver was ruled out for the second half of Sunday's game after catching three passes for 57 yards. Dell has now caught 19 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but will need to clear concussion protocol in time for the team's Week 6 matchup against the Saints.

    Ryans said he'd know more about Dell's status later in the week. Woods sustained a rib injury in the third quarter; I'll have more on both players via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

    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 10 October 2023

    Anthony Richardson has an AC joint injury and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

    Richardson sustained the right shoulder injury in Sunday's victory over the Tennessee Titans when he was tackled from behind by outside linebacker Harold Landry III, leaving him unable to move his right arm.

    Richardson is now expected to miss four to eight weeks, depending on his rehab and whether or not he still would need surgery on his right shoulder, a source tells ESPN's Adam Schefter. By placing him on IR, the Colts are giving him time so nothing can, or has to be, rushed.

    The Colts are 3-2 and tied for the lead in the AFC South with Jacksonville heading into Sunday's matchup with the Jaguars. Gardner Minshew, a former Jaguars draft pick, will start the rematch of a Week 1 contest that Jacksonville won 31-21. Minshew entered Sunday's game and completed 11 of 14 attempts for 155 yards in two-plus quarters of action.

    Minshew has won three of the four games in which he's appeared, two in relief of an injured Richardson. He's completing nearly 69 percent of his throws and does not have an interception.

    Sunday's injury was the third time Richardson has had an injury situation this season. The 2023 fourth overall pick has now left three separate games prematurely. Richardson was pulled from the season opener against Jacksonville after taking a hit to his knee, then missed Indianapolis' Week 3 contest against the Ravens after suffering a concussion against the Texans in the previous game.

    "It gets tough when a guy gets dinged up, and he's been dinged up," head coach Shane Steichen said. "He's obviously a very, very talented player and it's tough. But we have a lot of faith in Gardner to step in and go operate the way he's been doing."

    Regarding any potential frustration from Richardson, Steichen said the rookie is coping with the setback.

    "Obviously, when you have an injury, it is obviously tough on everybody," Steichen said, "but he's fighting through it."

    In addition to losing Richardson, TE Mo Alie-Cox entered the concussion protocol after his head bounced hard off the turf in the second half.

    I'll follow up on both Richardson and Alie-Cox via Late-Breaking Update in coming days, but fantasy managers can plan on Minshew getting this start. ...

    Also of interest. ... Two-time league rushing champion Derrick Henry and Tennessee were coming back to a venue where they'd been dominant in recent years. Jonathan Taylor, the 2021 league rushing champ, was returning to game action for the first time since mid-December.

    Nonetheless, Zack Moss rewrote the script and upstaged the two big stars by running for a career-best 165 yards, scoring twice while helping Minshew and the Colts overcome the loss of injured Richardson.

    "I just don't know how he keeps hitting that spin move," an impressed Taylor said. "I've got to add it into my repertoire. You just see how dynamic he is. He's a tough runner, and then you guys saw today, he has breakaway speed, too, so don't sleep (on him)."

    Taylor thinks he and Moss can combine for a dangerous duo.

    "I think it can get really scary," he said. "You guys have been getting a taste the past few weeks. So now it's on me in order to continue to do my part and continue to help this team."

    With Richardson out, Indy auditioned more help at the position. Via Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, the Colts worked out a quartet of quarterbacks: Kellen Mond, Ian Book, Holton Ahlers, and Trace McSorley.

    The team subsequently signed Mond, who spent the preseason with the Browns before being released on cut-down day.

    They needed to have a No. 3, especially since they're one injury away from Sam Ehlinger returning to the position of QB1.

    Also with Richardson out, the Colts will likely lean heavily on the Taylor-Moss backfield moving forward. ...

    In a related note. ... With his new three-year, $42 million contract extension on Saturday, Taylor believes the deal represents a step forward for the running back market.

    "I definitely think it is [a shift]," Taylor said after the game, via ESPN. "Anytime a running back can go out there and perform but also have some security, it just shows that running backs are essential."

    The contract ended a rancorous offseason, which included a trade request and an elongated stint on the physically unable to perform list due to an ankle injury suffered last season.

    "It weighs [on you] a lot, especially when you're not healthy and you can't go out there and do what you love," Taylor said. "It is tough. It pushes you and it puts you in tough positions mentally and you've got to have a good support system."

    After getting cleared to return to practice last week, Taylor returned to the lineup Sunday. He played just 10 snaps in his return, generating six carries for 18 yards and catching one pass for 16 yards. It marked Taylor's first game played in 295 days (last game: Week 15, 2022 at MIN).

    Expect that workload to increase noticeably going forward. ...

    Rookie receiver Josh Downs has been a favorite of Richardson, his training camp roommate. But the rookie has caught at least six passes for at least 55 yards in games where Minshew plays significantly, and he has been held to four or fewer catches for 40 or fewer yards in games where Minshew doesn't play.

    With and without Richardson, Downs delivered on Sunday. He had his best game so far with six catches for 97 yards.

    Alec Pierce, Indy's top draft pick in 2022, showed promise last season with his body control and ability to make contested catches. This season, he's largely been a decoy. He only had two passes thrown his way against Tennessee, catching one for 10 yards. ...

    As noted above, Alie-Cox left the game in the third quarter due to a concussion and didn't return. This allowed both Andrew Ogletree and Kylen Granson to play more snaps, but neither ran a route on over half the Colts' passing plays.

    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 10 October 2023

    The Jaguars won a second London game in as many weeks Sunday, beating the Buffalo Bills a week after beating the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium. The victory kept the Jaguars atop the AFC South, with head coach Doug Pederson on Monday saying Sunday felt important beyond the standings.

    "Overall, it gives you confidence moving forward," Pederson said the day after a 25-20 victory over the Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    Pederson, speaking to local media Monday following the team's return to Jacksonville, called the three-time defending AFC East Champion Bills "a great football team."

    "They're playing with a lot of confidence, obviously, and [they're] a well-coached team," Pederson said of Buffalo, which entered Sunday having won three consecutive games by a combined 90 points. "For our guys to go out and go toe to toe with them, No. 1, it just shows where our guys are, and the type of team we have.

    "It's a no-quit mentality. They hung in there for 60 minutes. It wasn't a perfect football game by any means. There are a lot of areas we can continue to improve. But it gives you sort of an outlook at what you can be and, and who you can become."

    Pederson added, "It's the type of football team that we are right now. We have areas to clean up and we'll do that. We have some areas to clean up and, and we'll do that and continue to get better.

    The Jaguars, after a 1-2 start through three games, are 3-2 and tied with the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South a game ahead of the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. After beating the Colts 31-21 in Week 1 in Indianapolis, they will play host to the Colts at EverBank Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.

    As John Oehser of the team's official website noted, a storyline entering the week: How the Jaguars adjust to Eastern Daylight Time after 10 days on British Summer Time.

    "The fatigue aspect is real," Pederson said. "It takes a couple of days to get back on the Eastern (Daylight) Time from a time-zone that's actually five hours ahead. I'm going to be very mindful of that this week and making sure the guys get plenty of rest during the week but at the same time, getting our work done the rest of the week and preparing for Indy on Sunday.

    "It's a give and take this week, the players have to understand that, and we still have to get our work in."

    The Jaguars on Sunday outgained the Bills, 474-388, and had 29 first downs to 18 for the Bills. The Jaguars held the Bills to one touchdown until less than five minutes remained, with running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s fourth-quarter touchdown runs of six and 35 yards securing the victory.

    Etienne rushed for 136 yards on 26 carries and caught four passes for 48 yards, rushing for 111 second-half yards on 17 carries. The Jaguars converted 10 of 18 third-down opportunities, with Etienne running for a key fourth-quarter first-down with a 10-yard gain on third-and-5 from the Bills 27.

    Etienne rushed for 11 yards on the ensuing carry, and his six-yard touchdown on the next play gave the Jaguars an 18-7 lead.

    "He's so impactful," Pederson said. "In those third down spots, just to be able to run the football and pick up a first down. Sometimes for a defense, that changes the way maybe you call up the next time on third downs. Those are things that we've got to continue to improve, but Travis is definitely someone that we can lean on in the run game and the pass game to help us overcome some of those third downs.

    "Overall, I thought Etienne had an outstanding, probably his best, game of the year."

    After a rough start, is this victory a sign the Jaguars are going to be a factor in the AFC after all?

    As's Mike DiRocco notes, Trevor Lawrence has said multiple times that you're measured by what you do against the league's best teams. The Jaguars failed against Kansas City in Week 2, but against the Bills -- one of the hottest teams in the NFL -- the Jaguars dominated time of possession, yardage and third downs.

    So by Lawrence's measure, the answer is yes. There are still concerns -- especially along the offensive line -- but the Jaguars now have a critical tiebreaker over the Bills when it comes to playoff seeding.

    Meanwhile, the Jaguars have one additional piece to wade through before fully gauging their London experience. They host AFC South rival Indianapolis (3-2) on Sunday, with Pederson planning to build in extra rest for his players as they recover from another round of jet lag.

    According to Associated Press sports writer Mark Long, Jacksonville could have taken a bye after the extended overseas trip, but Pederson wanted the off week closer to the middle of the season. So the Jags asked for a home game and ended up with arguably the best scenario possible: a division team they know well and already have beaten this season.

    They'll meet the Colts with rookie QB Anthony Richardson sidelined by a shoulder injury; that means they'll face their former draft pick, Gardner Minshew. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Lawrence has been sacked 13 times in five games and is on pace to shatter his career high of 32 in 2021. It's not the protection Jacksonville wants for its franchise quarterback.

    Lawrence was sacked five times Sunday and twisted on several of those. Jacksonville had hoped left tackle Cam Robinson's return from a four-game suspension would solidify Lawrence's offensive line. But guard Walker Little injured his left knee in the first quarter, forcing the Jags to shuffle again.

    On the injury front. ... Robinson, playing for the first time this season, sustained a hyperextended elbow late in the fourth quarter and returned to the game. "He'll be fine," Pederson said Monday.

    Zay Jones is considered day-to-day after aggravating a knee injury during Jacksonville's victory over Buffalo in London. Pederson had noted while speaking to the media on Monday that Jones was slated to undergo an MRI.

    Jones had also missed Weeks 3 and 4 with a knee issue. In three games this season, he has eight catches for 78 yards with two touchdowns.

    In 2022, Jones set career highs with 82 catches and 823 yards for the Jaguars. He finished the year with five touchdowns.

    I'll have more on his status 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 10 October 2023

    Patrick Mahomes said he didn't know Travis Kelce would return to Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings until he saw him on the field in the third quarter.

    But Kelce's teammate of several seasons had an idea that Kelce would be back in the Kansas City Chiefs' lineup at some point.

    "I feel like Travis had the same mindset as I do," Mahomes said. "If you give him the window of he can get back in the game, he's going to be back in the game . . . That's why he's one of the greatest is that he will battle through stuff like that and came back and made a lot of great catches for us."

    As's Adam Teicher noted, Kelce was a key factor in the Chiefs' 27-20 win. He returned after injuring his right ankle late in the second quarter to catch three passes on a third-quarter drive that put the Chiefs ahead 27-13. Kelce finished the game with 10 catches for 67 yards.

    His biggest catch was a leaping 14-yard grab on third down.

    The Vikings took the ball away from Kelce after the catch but the officials ruled that Kelce was down when the ball was pried loose and their call withstood a Minnesota video challenge.

    "I was giving him a chance, just putting it up to the big guy and he had a tough catch, held onto it into the ground," Mahomes said. "Once you're on the ground you've just got to get touched if you have possession and so it was a big time catch and a big moment in the game and we obviously were able to go down the score after that."

    Kelce scored the touchdown to finish the drive on a 4-yard catch.

    Kelce's day looked like it was over late in the half, when he went down awkwardly without being touched. He limped off the field, slammed his helmet in frustration and after briefly visiting with Chiefs' medical personnel went to the locker room before the first half ended.

    He didn't initially return to the field with his teammates at the end of halftime but re-emerged from the locker room before the start of the second half.

    Head coach Andy Reid said he didn't know Kelce would return to the game "until he came out and told me." Kelce stayed on the sideline for the Chiefs' first drive of the half but returned on the next possession.

    The Chiefs scored on both of their possessions without Kelce, a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown to start the third quarter.

    "Those other guys stepped up," Mahomes said. "That was a big drive at the end of that half there for those guys to step up, make plays. [Backup tight end Noah Gray] always does a great job when he gets his opportunities and then we were able to kind of mess with the personnel [groups] a little bit and kind of have something going until [Kelce] could get back in the game."

    Reid said it was "pretty amazing" that Kelce returned. Kelce played most of the second half after the opening drive, including on defense at the end as the Chiefs snuffed a final Vikings drive.

    Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Kelce suffered a low-ankle sprain in the game.

    Kelce was on the practice field Tuesday after being listed as a DNP on Monday's estimated practice report.

    "He's done well," Reid said in his Tuesday press conference. "He's gotten quite a little bit of treatment on it. So, he's feeling a little bit better, which is good."

    If Kelce is limited at all, Gray and Blake Bell would get additional time at tight end. But the Chiefs also would look to their young wide receivers, including Rashee Rice, who started to shine during the win over the Vikings.

    "We have guys that where it might have been a three-tight end set, we throw a receiver in there and stuff like that. We have guys that are able to learn that, know the offense," Mahomes said.

    "So we prepare for that stuff. You can't always prepare for everything, but we try to prepare for if someone goes down or if something happens how we can still run our plays."

    Kelce has proven to be one of the most durable players in the league, though, and that he was able to return in the second half gives Kansas City hope that he will be on the field again Thursday night.

    "He finds a new way to surprise me every week," wide receiver Justin Watson said. "That looked like a gnarly injury, and I was surprised he even made it off the sideline. Then for him to come back and have the second half he did, that guy is tough as nails. I love playing with Trav. He fired us all back up coming in here. ..."

    Beyond Kelce, the Chiefs largely came out of the Minnesota game healthy. Running back Isiah Pacheco banged up his ribs on the final series of the game and linebacker Drue Tranquill hurt his knee but managed to finish it out.

    Stay tuned. I'll have more on Kelce and Pacheco via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday night's kickoff. ...

    Worth noting. ... Pacheco played well over 50 percent of offensive snaps for the second straight week.

    As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Kansas City over the past two seasons has used a primary early-down back and a secondary early-down back. Pacheco has been the primary early-down back in 2023, but they've trusted him to take a higher percentage of those snaps recently. This has meant less time for both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon.

    McKinnon has typically been the goal-line back, but this week it was Pacheco, which helped him find the end zone from one yard out. If he keeps getting goal-line opportunities, it will be huge for his rest-of-season value.

    McKinnon continued to play all of the two-minute drill and third-and-long snaps, as usual.

    This wasn't the most efficient game for Pacheco, at 3.4 yards per carry, but if he keeps up with this playing time, he will be a regular fantasy starter for the rest of the season. ...

    Also of interest. ... As Associated press sports writer Dave Skretta notes, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is carrying a salary cap hit of $11 million this season. The other seven wide receivers combined have a cap hit of $7.279 million.

    So Valdes-Scantling having one catch for 12 yards against Minnesota, failing to catch more than two in any game and having seven catches total for 116 yards this season has become a big problem.

    Meanwhile, Rice caught two passes on the opening drive of the third quarter, one for a touchdown, while Kelce was out of the game with an ankle injury. Rice, a rookie, has dropped too many passes this season, but if he can lose that habit, he'll become a bigger factor in the Chiefs' passing game.

    For the record, the wide receiver rotation remained similar to last week. Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson led the team in snaps, ran a route on a little more than 50 percent of pass plays and barely received any targets.

    Kadarius Toney and Rice both played a low number of snaps, ran a route on less than 40 percent of pass plays, but maintained high target rates.

    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 10 October 2023

    According to's Paul Gutierrez, Davante Adams' injured right shoulder was in pain after the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13 on Monday night.

    But it would have hurt a lot worse had Adams, who needed help removing his shoulder pads in the locker room, and his new team not been able to defeat his old team.

    "It was good," he said of facing Green Bay, which drafted him in 2014 and traded him to Las Vegas in 2022.

    "I wish I could have been able to send them off with a few more plays made, but at the end of the day, we beat them. Now nobody can make up this crazy narrative and talk about how I shouldn't have left and all of this stuff that was getting ready to come if we didn't win. So, glad to get that win over them today. We just want to beat everybody."

    Adams suffered the injury at the Los Angeles Chargers last week, when he was slammed to the SoFi Stadium artificial turn by cornerback Michael Davis. Adams returned to the game but missed two days of practice this past week, before being a limited participant on Saturday and listed as questionable for "Monday Night Football."

    Adams had only one catch, on one target, in the first half against the Packers, for 12 yards. But he came to life in a quick third-quarter burst with three receptions in four plays -- for 21, 5 and 7 yards -- on slant passes to help set up running back Josh Jacobs' 2-yard touchdown run at the start of the fourth that proved to be the winning score.

    "We just found a way to execute," said Adams, who finished with those four catches for 45 yards. "Got a call for me and then I just went up and won the matchup, and it was as simple as that, basically."

    Adams was matched up against linebacker Preston Smith on his 21-yard pickup.

    "Yeah, that's happened a lot when Davante was playing for us: You put a receiver in the slot -- you get 'penny,' or five bigs on the field, and a lot of times that 'backer has to walk and you're playing quarters coverage and that's what happens," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "Whether it's right or wrong, it's obviously not the most advantageous for us, so whether we can get a check and get out of that look for us, but credit to them. They schemed it up, they knew what to do when we put that personnel in the game, and I can remember games when we did that to teams.

    "That just happens sometimes, but obviously want to have better answers than that."

    Still, Adams did acknowledge the relationships he had forged on the other side of the ball.

    "It was hard not to be friendly with a couple of those guys out there just because I'm so used to being on the same side of the field with them," Adams said. "It was a lot of respect out there, on both sides. So, it was good to see them, good to chop it up before and after. And like I said, still glad we beat them, but it was good to see those guys."

    And as far as his sore shoulder, with a short week upcoming with the New England Patriots in Las Vegas on Sunday?

    "Not great, but it's good enough to get through it," Adams said. "It's better than a week ago.

    "I'm going to be playing. But, I mean, it's got to take time to heal, but I'll be out there."

    Meanwhile, as's Nick Shook suggested, the stats accurately tell the story of this game, one that certainly wasn't a display of offensive prowess.

    Neither team broke 300 yards of offense. Neither lead running back reached four yards per carry, and none of the receivers who recorded receptions exceeded 100 yards. Both quarterbacks threw an ugly interception (or three).

    And yet, Las Vegas grinded out a win it desperately needed.

    Jacobs finally built a little bit of positive momentum on the ground, Adams reemerged from the abyss in a key sequence in the second half, and a too-safe coaching decision didn't end up sinking the Raiders.

    As Shook put it: "A win is a win, and while it wasn't pretty, it counts the same."

    But about those coaching decision. ... Between the lack of first-half usage for Adams (only one target), not using a timeout at the end of the first half -- settling for a 52-yard field goal was that blocked -- and settling for another missed field goal late instead of going for a game-clinching first down on fourth-and-1, Gutierrez contends McDaniels left a lot to be desired.

    Next up. ... McDaniels goes against his old boss for the second season in a row when Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots visit Sunday. ...

    A few final notes. ... According to, Jacobs has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in all five games this season. He was under 4.0 yards per carry in just six of 17 games last year. ...

    DeAndre Carter and Hunter Renfrow saw a near-identical amount of playing time in this game.'s Nathan Jahnke notes that Renfrow had been ahead of Carter and Tre Tucker for the last three weeks. Renfrow played 96 offensive snaps in that time compared to 39 by Tucker and 25 by Carter.

    Carter was used more throughout Monday night's game, while Renfrow received a lot of his snaps during the two-minute drill to end the first half and was used sparingly throughout the rest of the game. Jahnke believes this could be a sign the Raiders are closer to trading Renfrow.

    There have been trade rumors around Renfrow ever since they added Jakobi Meyers.

    Meyers has played as an outside receiver, so Meyers and Renfrow could co-exist, but Carter has been primarily a slot receiver throughout his career. It's unlikely the third Raiders receiver will have fantasy value this season, but it's possible Renfrow could find value with a new team if he is traded before the Oct. 31 trade deadline. ...

    Second-round rookie Michael Mayer caught one pass for 2 yards in the first four weeks. He caught two passes for 39 yards in this game, but Austin Hooper remains the primary tight end in passing situations.

    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 10 October 2023

    As Omar Navarro Jr. of the team's official website notes, Justin Herbert has been among the NFL's best through his first four games into his season.

    The quarterback has been on a tear to start, ranking fifth in the NFL with 1,106 passing yards through four games and has a 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He's also ran for three touchdowns and shown the ability to scramble when needed, keeping defenses on their heels on key downs.

    ESPN's Bill Barnwell dove into the top performers of the NFL season through the first quarter of the season, ranking his top three candidates for each award.

    And third on Barnwell's list for the Most Valuable Player was none other than Herbert, whose numbers speak for themselves under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

    Barnwell wrote: "Herbert has just one turnover in four games, an interception in the third quarter against Vegas. He has fumbled once. He ranks second in completion percentage over expected (CPOE) behind [Josh] Allen while throwing more than 15 percent of his passes 20 or more yards downfield, which is the second-highest rate behind Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill. He also has scored three rushing touchdowns, including two sneaks and a 12-yard scramble in Week 4.

    "Herbert has been a one-man wrecking crew in the red zone. His 95.3 QBR there is the third-best mark in football among quarterbacks who have started all four games. Inside the 20, he is 14-of-22 for 73 yards with six passing touchdowns and no picks. Add in those three rushing scores and I'm not sure anybody has been more ruthless in scoring range.

    "Herbert is throwing deeper more often, as expected after the arrival of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, but that's probably the area where he can still stand to improve if he wants to win MVP. His 86.4 QBR on passes traveling 20 yards or more in the air ranks 16th. He has attempted more deep throws than anybody else, but he has completed 39.1 percent of those passes. His 5 percent CPOE on those passes ranks 19th."

    This is good.

    Also good: Before the Chargers bye week, Herbert ranked eighth among all quarterbacks at 0.178 EPA per play. His average depth of target (ADOT) is third at 9.1, meaning he's pushing the ball down the field in Moore's offense.

    And he's been under some heat through his first four games as well, being blitzed on 69 drop backs, good for second-most in the NFL through Week 4, according to Pro Football Focus. When being blitzed Herbert has stood tall and also had the most completions through the first four games among all quarterbacks, completing 50 of 63 pass attempts (79.4 percent).

    No game was more evident of Herbert taking all the pressure than Week 3 in Minnesota, when Herbert set career highs in passing yards (405), completions (40), and completion percentage (85.1) for a single game while being blitzed over 81 percent of the time.

    It was one of Herbert's big time games of the early season, and he will have more opportunities to showcase himself on a grander stage with at least six primetime games coming up after the bye week.

    And Barnwell believes the Bolts quarterback's best chance to win the MVP award would be leading them to the top of their division by the end of the season.

    "We know Herbert can be a devastating downfield passer," Barnwell continued, "but if he can pull that off without Mike Williams -- who's out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee -- that might be the last barrier remaining for Herbert as a passer."

    The other big roadblock is the guy in Kansas City.

    Mahomes might not win MVP this season, but the award winner in real life almost always comes from a division winner. The last time a league MVP didn't finish the season with his team in first place was 2012, when Adrian Peterson carried the Vikings to the wild-card round. If the Chargers can somehow topple the Chiefs, Herbert might have his best shot of taking home hardware.

    Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy noted, teams usually go into the bye week looking back at their accomplishments. Brandon Staley, though, is trying to look ahead.

    After four games, Staley's Los Angeles Chargers squad had earliest in-season break since 2009. Instead of the usual intensive self-scouting done during bye weeks, Staley said his staff would focus on the remaining three-quarters of the season.

    "Maybe a little bit more think-tank of what we want our team to look like here in the weeks after the bye, and then projecting to the end of the season, instead of saying, 'Hey, I have all of this assessment for like half the season, where I have eight or nine games of inventory to look at,'" Staley said. "We have a much shorter inventory to go by."

    The Chargers continued to be plagued by some of the same issues exhibited throughout Staley's first two seasons. They have held double-digit leads in three games, only to see them go down to the final minute. After losing in overtime at Tennessee in Week 2, Los Angeles held on to defeat Minnesota and Las Vegas in the last two games to even its record at 2-2.

    If the Chargers are going to do a better job of putting teams away, it must improve in the third quarter.

    Since Staley became coach in 2021, they are being outscored by 83 points in the quarter, the third-worst scoring differential in the league.

    Even though the offense is ranked seventh in the league, it consistently fails to convert in critical situations. It went three-and-out in overtime at Tennessee and failed to convert on fourth-and-1 situations during the fourth quarter against the Vikings and Raiders.

    Los Angeles hopes to get back some key pieces when it begins practices this week for its Monday night game against Dallas. Herbert has a broken middle finger on his left hand, which is his non-throwing one, but isn't expected to miss any time.

    Running back Austin Ekeler has missed the last three games due to a high ankle sprain, but it sounds like the Chargers' starting running back will return for Week 6.

    Via multiple reporters, Ekeler said on Tuesday that there's a 99 percent chance he'll be back for Los Angeles' matchup against Dallas on Monday night.

    On defense, linebacker Joey Bosa (hamstring/toe), safety Derwin James (hamstring) and safety Alohi Gilman (heel) were sidelined against the Raiders.

    Center Corey Linsley is out for at least the next three games due to a non-emergent heart issue.

    The Chargers cannot afford to get off to a slow start after the bye. After hosting Dallas, they travel to Kansas City. Four of Los Angeles' next seven games are slated for prime time.

    I'll have more on Ekeler, who was working on the side on Tuesday, Herbert and the rest via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

    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 10 October 2023

    In his first game back for the Los Angeles Rams since November, Cooper Kupp's stat line looked familiar.

    Playing for the first time after missing the final eight games of last season with an ankle injury and then injuring his hamstring during training camp and spending the first four weeks of this season on injured reserve, Kupp had eight catches for 118 yards in the Rams' 23-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

    As's Sarah Barshop notes, it was Kupp's 17th 100-yard receiving game since 2021, tying Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams for the second most in the NFL despite playing 10 fewer games than Adams, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

    Kupp said it felt good to be back on the field but that when he watches the film, he thinks he'll see the opportunity for improvement.

    After catching six passes for 95 yards in the first half, Kupp had just two catches for 23 yards in the second half.

    "I think there's some stuff ... just processing, seeing the field, seeing what defenses are doing and then just being able to react to it," Kupp said. "There's a few things that I'm sure you're going to look at tomorrow and just feel like, 'Man, it's just going to happen a little bit faster.' But it did feel good to be out there playing football again."

    Kupp said he thought the Eagles' defense gave the Rams some opportunities, adding, "Offensively we've just got to capitalize."

    "But man, it felt like it was right there, right there for us," Kupp said. "Just got to go watch this film, execute just a little bit better and make a few more plays. And I think we're a really good football team."

    Matthew Stafford, who completed 21 of 37 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, said it feels like the Rams are close to putting together a consistent performance for an entire game.

    "I think you see it in spurts, right?" Stafford said. "And it's just, can you go out there and do it for the full game?"

    Head coach Sean McVay was emphatic at the podium after the loss, vowing that the Rams will find the "more consistent execution" he believes they are capable of.

    The truth is however, after five games, the Los Angeles Rams don't look much better or much worse than most people predicted after their eventful offseason of roster-stripping and reconstruction.

    As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham put it: "The Rams have several very good players, but they have far more average players."

    Record-setting rookie receiver Puka Nacua is tops among a few young players showing they're ready for the prominent roles they've been given, but even more youngsters just aren't there yet.

    McVay welcomed the challenge of rebuilding the Rams after they gutted the injury-plagued remnants of their Super Bowl team and decided to pay nearly all of their bills at once for their big-name-coveting, free-spending practices on the way to a championship.

    Los Angeles thrust its draft picks and undrafted finds into big roles while waiting to spend big again next spring.

    That's led to a starting offensive line with multiple undrafted players and a rookie protecting Stafford, a defensive line with two undrafted starters and a fourth-round pick supporting Aaron Donald, and a secondary with three starters getting their first significant NFL roles.

    The result has been pretty much what you'd expect.

    "There's a lot of learning opportunities, and that's going to be consistent with any team, but I think especially (about) a lot of guys that are going through things for the first time," McVay said. "I'm not making excuses at all, because we expect to accelerate our progression, and I believe in this group. (I'm) disappointed with the inability to be able to play off one another, but we're going to come back."

    In truth, nothing has happened yet to the Rams that probably wouldn't have happened if they had pulled out all the stops to contend.

    They've lost competitive games to San Francisco, Cincinnati and Philadelphia -- three opponents that reached conference championship games last season -- and beaten Seattle and Indianapolis. The schedule gets less daunting now, with visits from Arizona and Pittsburgh, followed by trips to Dallas and Green Bay before the bye week.

    The Rams still don't know if this collection of draft picks, spare parts and a few stars can be a real playoff contender, but they're making every attempt to win with what they've got.

    Starting with the Cardinals' visit to SoFi on Sunday, the next month will determine whether the Rams can grow into a playoff contender or whether they'll be better off completely punting away a second straight season.

    "I know we're doing everything we can," said Stafford, the NFL's fourth-leading passer with 1,451 yards. "Putting the work in, continue to work, trust that work that we do put into it on a weekly basis, go out there and trust yourself on the game day. ..."

    As's Dwain McFarland noted, Kyren Williams posted a dud with only eight fantasy points, but his utilization remained in tip-top shape. The second-year back accounted for 92 percent of rushing attempts and delivered a 76 percent route participation. Per McFarland, Williams remains a low-end RB1. ...

    On a more positive note. ... The Rams got a glimpse of their probable path forward on offense during their excellent opening drive when Stafford, Kupp, Nacua and Tutu Atwell picked apart the vaunted Eagles with their short passing game.

    The Rams couldn't sustain that effectiveness, but whenever Stafford's offensive line gave him time to work, he fed Kupp and Nacua relentlessly for 15 of his 21 completions and 189 of his 222 yards passing.

    In a related item. ... Receiver Van Jefferson played two snaps against the Eagles on Sunday. On Tuesday, he got a new team.

    Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Rams are trading Jefferson to the Falcons.

    Los Angeles will receive a 2025 sixth-round pick in exchange for Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round pick.

    With Kupp returning as the primary receiving asset, Jefferson, a 2020 second-round pick, was passed on the depth chart by Nacua, Atwell and even Ben Skowronek. ...

    On the injury front. ... Starting nose tackle Bobby Brown hurt his right knee late in the game and left the field on a cart. McVay said the injury didn't look good.

    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 10 October 2023

    It would be fair for fantasy managers invested in De'Von Achane to ask themselves why we can't have nice things.

    Sources tell ESPN's Adam Schefter the Dolphins are placing Achane on injured reserve due to a knee injury.

    Achane now will miss the Dolphins’ next four games -- Carolina, at Philadelphia, New England, at Kansas City.

    With the team’s bye in Week 10, he will be eligible to next play Week 11 vs. the Raiders.

    Head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters Monday that Achane was being further evaluated for a knee injury he sustained in Sunday's 31-16 win over the New York Giants, but declined to comment on the severity of the injury or what specific testing was being done.

    "It's just something we're treating that we'll get more information on," McDaniel said. "He was in and out of the game, a standard rotation. ... He thought he might have something, but he's such a tough kid. It was kind of tough to read, so we needed to evaluate more, and that's what we're doing today."

    The Dolphins have averaged a staggering 11.4 yards per rush when Achane is on the field (490 yards on 43 rushes) compared with 4.8 yards per rush with him on the sideline (439 yards on 92 rushes).

    Without Achane in the lineup, veteran Raheem Mostert, the NFL's co-leader in rushing touchdowns, is in line for a heavier workload.

    A source told's Marcel Louis-Jacques the Dolphins will also activate the practice window for running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who has spent the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve with multiple injuries.

    Achane has been highly effective through his first four games with the Dolphins. His 460 rushing yards ranks second in the NFL behind Christian McCaffrey, and his 12.1 yards per carry average is nearly 5 yards greater than that of the next closest player this season, Breece Hall (7.2).

    His yards per carry average is also the highest in NFL history through a team's first five games of a season, according to ESPN Stats and Info research.

    To put that in perspective, Tua Tagovailoa is leading the NFL with an average of 9.7 yards per pass. That's great -- and it's two and a half yards per play less than what Achane is averaging per run. (League-wide, passes typically gain about three more yards than runs; the league average yardage per pass is 7.0 and the league average yardage per run is 4.2.)

    On the strength of Achane's performances over the past three weeks, the Dolphins lead the NFL in passing, rushing and scoring while accumulating the most yards of offense through five games in NFL history.

    After being a healthy scratch in Week 1 and getting one carry in Week 2, Achane received an expanded role in Week 3 following an injury to Salvon Ahmed. He took advantage of the opportunity, compiling 233 total yards and four total touchdowns in a historic 70-20 win over the Denver Broncos.

    His effectiveness and demeanor have caught his teammates' attention and earned their respect early in his NFL career.

    "The coolest thing about someone like him being a rookie is just who he is as a person," Tagovailoa said. "How you see him on the sideline -- just chill, relaxed. That's who he is, and that's how he is in the huddle. To be able to go in the huddle and see someone like that, it's very promising to know that. ... Basically if he's getting the ball, you know it's going to be a big play more often than not.

    "I've got a lot of respect for that guy, and I think a lot of guys around the league have a lot of respect for him as well. The cool thing about it is like he doesn't take heed to listening to any of that. Just a humble guy. Just coming into work, doing what he needs to help the team win."

    Of course, Miami was getting the job done before Achane's ascent, so there's ample hope here.

    In fact, when asked his thoughts on the Dolphins' historic start to the season, McDaniel raised his eyebrows and smirked.

    "Mission accomplished," McDaniel said sarcastically. "We had the whole time, the whole offseason, that was our goal -- was output after five games."

    As Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames notes, Miami has totaled 2,568 yards of offense -- the most by any NFL team through five games. But McDaniel knows the Dolphins (4-1) haven't reached their ceiling, and continued improvement is necessary if the team wants to make a deep playoff run.

    "All that means is that people are going to give you their best shot," McDaniel said, "and you'd better continue to work and progress in your game if you're going to be satisfied because you're going to have a bullseye on your back."

    During their 31-16 win over the undermanned New York Giants on Sunday, the Dolphins had some offensive miscues that could be a problem against a tougher opponent -- like the Eagles, Chiefs or Bills, all of whom are on the schedule.

    Tagovailoa had two interceptions, one of which was returned 102 yards for a touchdown. He also threw for 308 yards and two scores. The Dolphins had 524 yards of total offense and averaged nearly 10 yards per play.

    "If we just stuck with our plan and we stuck with our rules for each play, I think things were going really smooth," Tagovailoa said. "There were just times where we were misaligned, things didn't play within the structure of our offense and things just got out of hand with some plays."

    McDaniel has repeated the importance of progress from one game to the next, and the Dolphins showed improvements on defense after a poor performance against Buffalo the previous Sunday.

    Miami didn't allow an offensive touchdown and limited the Giants to 85 yards rushing.

    The Dolphins will host the winless Carolina Panthers next Sunday, which could provide an opportunity to clean up their mistakes before their Sunday night showdown at Philadelphia on Oct. 22. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Tagovailoa is on pace to break the NFL's single-season passing yardage record.

    Tagovailoa has a league-high 1,614 passing yards this season. In a 17-game season, that puts him on pace to throw for 5,488 yards.

    That total would put him just ahead of the all-time mark set of 5,477 yards by Peyton Manning in a 16-game season in 2013.

    Tagovailoa has a comfortable lead in the passing yardage race (Kirk Cousins is second with 1,498 passing yards this season) and also leads the NFL with 9.7 yards per pass and 13.6 yards per completion. In the Dolphins' high-octane offense, Tagovailoa may put up historic numbers if he stays healthy.

    We knew they were fast entering the season, but the Dolphins are now responsible for the seven fastest ball-carrier speeds in the NFL this season, including a new top overall speed courtesy of Tyreek Hill (22.01 mph). ...

    Finally. ... The Dolphins did their research on Chase Claypool before pulling the trigger on Friday's trade, acquiring the disgruntled receiver the Chicago Bears told to stay home last week.

    Miami's decision makers put in a call to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization according a league source told's Omar Kelly, vetting the fourth-year receiver the Steelers traded away a year ago, and McDaniel spoke to the team's leadership about potentially adding Claypool to the locker room, addressing if there were any concerns.

    The receiver's character was also discussed, and tight end Durham Smythe, who played with Claypool at Notre Dame for two seasons, vouched for his college teammate of two seasons.

    What the Dolphins like about Claypool, whom Miami faced twice last season (he caught seven passes for 54 yards in both games), is that he brings size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), which was something missing from Miami's weaponry arsenal.

    If Claypool, who also ran a 4.42 40-time at the NFL combine, learns the playbook fast enough he could become an immediate factor in the red zone, potentially opening up a full set of plays the Dolphins couldn't previously utilize because of the team's limited size at receiver, which shrunk when Erik Ezukanma went on the NFI list because of a neck injury that he recently re-aggravated.

    "He's a very physical player. When he first got to Notre Dame he was the size he is now and was just destroying safeties and corners in the run game," Smythe said. "I think it's a part of his game that not a lot of people talk about. He's physically very talented and think he'll be a good complement to what we have here."

    Keep in mind Claypool, who is earning $2.99 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal, will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, so what he puts on film in Miami, and his behavior in South Florida, could have an impact on his future earnings.

    So Kelly believes the Dolphins will likely get a 25-year-old on his best behavior.

    "I don't downplay what he's gone through. He went through it," McDaniel said. "You give [him] an opportunity and you allow someone to follow their dream, put the control in their own hands and show teammates each and every day what you're really about. That is an opportunity that we're happy to afford him."

    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 10 October 2023

    Receiver Justin Jefferson will miss at least the next four games because of a strained right hamstring he suffered Sunday in the team's 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the biggest blow in what has been a catastrophic start to the team's season.

    The Vikings plan to place Jefferson on injured reserve Tuesday, according to reports by both ESPN and NFL Network, to ensure that he does not return to the field too early and suffer a setback. NFL Network first reported the planned IR move.

    The earliest he could be activated is for a Week 10 game against the New Orleans Saints, but the Vikings will determine at that point whether he's ready to resume playing or if he needs more time.

    The decision tracks with what coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday during a news conference with reporters.

    "We're going to have to medically make a good decision and help almost protect him from himself a little bit in a way where we've got to take care of him and get him back to 100 percent," O'Connell said.

    Losing Jefferson, the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, will further impair a Vikings team that has started the season 1-4 and has three of its next four games on the road. Their only home game in that stretch is against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.

    The team runs its entire offense through Jefferson, O'Connell acknowledged Monday, and might need to reinvent its schemes to move forward. Entering Week 5, Jefferson ranked first in the NFL in receiving yards (543), was tied for second in catches (33) and third in targets (47).

    Rookie Jordan Addison could take on an even bigger role with Jefferson out. The 21-year-old, who was drafted 23rd overall out of USC, scored his third touchdown of the season on Sunday. He has 19 catches for 249 yards.

    "Jordan's the real deal," Cousins said after the game. "We hit on that draft pick."

    In addition to Addison, the Vikings veterans K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell as well as start tight end T.J. Hockenson to help pick up the slack, but the offense will also have to adjust to defenses that likely won't feel compelled to use the double-teams and other exotic coverages that Jefferson routinely sees.

    Speaking Monday, O'Connell said that if Jefferson missed any time, the Vikings would find out "whether people decide to play us a little more straight up or true, how we run it maybe against some looks that, quite frankly, we don't get a whole lot."

    Jefferson has never missed an NFL game and had started 53 consecutive games since Week 3 of his rookie season in 2020. He rarely has come off the field, having played 92 percent of the team's offensive snaps over that period.

    "Justin has done a phenomenal job for the last 3½ years of staying healthy and being healthy every week, which is hard to do," quarterback Kirk Cousins said Sunday. "Even with this injury, it makes you pause and be grateful for how healthy he has been."

    The Vikings negotiated for months during the offseason to sign Jefferson to a contract extension, but the sides were unable to find common ground and broke off negotiations last month. Jefferson will receive a $2.4 million base salary this season and would earn $19.7 million in 2024 under the terms of his fifth-year option if there is no extension at this point.

    But Jefferson's injury could have an impact on the team's decision-making for the rest of the season. Three prominent veterans -- Cousins, Osborn and linebacker Danielle Hunter -- are all playing with contracts that will expire after the season.

    The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 31. Cousins has a full no-trade clause that he would have to waive if the Vikings wanted to move him.

    Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Brian Hall notes, not much went wrong for O'Connell and the Vikings last year when they finished 13-4 in his first season and went a record 11-0 in games decided by one score.

    Minnesota (1-4) has already equaled the number of losses it had in 2022 -- all of them one-score defeats. A big reason has been miscues from an offense that returned nearly every starter.

    Last season, Minnesota's offense was seventh in the league in yards per game (361.5) and eighth in scoring (24.9 points). While the yardage this season is similar (ninth at 362.4 per game), the Vikings are scoring 22 points per game, which is 16th in the league.

    Minnesota has a league-high 12 giveaways.

    "Minus-9 on the turnover differential, which is saying something, knowing we lost to four teams that were in the playoffs last year," O'Connell said. "We have to stop giving away the football."

    On Sunday against Kansas City, there were also dropped passes and Cousins said he was sailing the ball on many throws.

    "I felt like it was consistently high and I don't have a great answer for that," Cousins said. "But I felt that it was showing up and yeah, maybe catchable, but it shouldn't be that hard on (Hockenson). The ball needs to be right in their chest. I was frustrated by that. It was early and I thought, 'We'll settle in,' and I felt as the game went on it was still that way."

    The turnovers have contributed to slow starts all season.

    Minnesota has been outscored 27-3 in the first quarter. Six of the team's turnovers have come in the opening quarter, including three times on the Vikings' first drive. Tight end Josh Oliver had a 15-yard catch-and-run on the first play Sunday but lost a fumble at the end of the play.

    They'll try to dial back on those turnovers as they face their first divisional opponent of the season when they play at Chicago on Sunday. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Beside Osborn taking over for Adam Thielen, the other change to the offensive starting unit was Alexander Mattison taking over at running back for Dalvin Cook.

    Minnesota hasn't been able to get much of a running game going this season, though, and after two games of rushing for at least 93 yards, Mattison had eight carries for 26 yards against the Chiefs. He also had a critical drop late in the game. ...

    Mattison did score a touchdown, but's Nathan Jahnke believes there is reason to be concerned about his long-term fantasy value.

    This was the second straight week that Mattison shared the backfield with Cam Akers. They continued to split short-yardage situations, which isn't great because it could take away future touchdowns from Mattison.

    Mattison saw the majority of work on early downs, as expected, but Akers took a higher percentage of those early-down snaps from him last week. The Vikings also opted to use C.J. Ham as their primary passing-down back. Some of this was to help with pass protection, but he also ran routes.

    Mattison should have more fantasy value in games where the Vikings are winning, but those games might not happen very often. And it's possible Akers will take over as the early-down back at some point. ...

    Beyond Jefferson on the injury front. ... Cornerback Akayleb Evans is dealing with a leg contusion. O'Connell also said the team might need to "make a roster move" with backup quarterback Nick Mullens, who wasn't active on Sunday because of a low back injury. ...

    Finally. ... Cousins has 2,014 completions in his six seasons in Minnesota, surpassing Tommy Kramer (2,011) for the second most in team history behind Fran Tarkenton (2,635).

    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 10 October 2023

    The New England Patriots' offense is in crisis and coach Bill Belichick spent the early portion of the week assessing if Mac Jones is the quarterback to lead them out of it.

    As's Mike Reiss pointed out, the 1-4 Patriots have scored three points in their past two games, their fewest over a two-game span since 1992.

    They have had 34 consecutive offensive drives without a touchdown, their longest streak under Belichick.

    They also have gone 10 straight quarters without scoring any kind of touchdown, also their longest streak under Belichick.

    In the aftermath of Sunday's 34-0 home loss to the New Orleans Saints, Belichick was asked if Jones was still his top choice and said: "Yeah, there were a lot of problems. It certainly wasn't all him."

    Belichick also said he planned to "start over."

    Then, after taking a night to sleep on it, he added Monday morning that personnel changes across the roster are in play.

    "We need to make some improvements on where we are, so we will see what all that entails," he said in his day-after-game video conference. "We haven't gone into it yet, but we will."

    Turnovers have been the No. 1 problem for the offense. Jones has had four returned for touchdowns.

    "The main focus here is to get things better -- to take care of the ball, move the ball and score points," Belichick said Monday.

    Belichick altered this week's schedule, moving the players' standard day off from Tuesday to Monday, perhaps allowing him to spend more time with his coaches.

    As for Jones?

    With five TDs and six INTs in five games this season, the promise he showed early in his career as the No. 15 overall pick in 2021 has worn off. Jones, playing behind a shaky offensive line and with receivers who don't consistently get open, has essentially bombed for the past three-and-a-half quarters he has been on the field.

    Still, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien told reporters in his Tuesday press conference that he's anticipating Jones will be the starter this week when New England takes on Las Vegas.

    Jones has played poorly in the last two games, with the Patriots being outscored by a combined 72-3 by the Cowboys and Saints. He's completed 24-of-43 passes for 260 yards with four interceptions and two lost fumbles in the two contests.

    O'Brien was asked if there might be a benefit to benching Jones for a proverbial mental break.

    "There's no time for mental breaks," O'Brien said, via Zack Cox of NESN. "Those are on your days off, I guess, you can take a little mental break. It's the grind of the season. In order to be in this league as a coach, as a player, as anybody in this league, you have to be mentally tough. There's a grind that goes to the league. It's a 17-week grind, and we all have to be mentally tough.

    "The sun came up today. We're going to practice today, and we're going to get after it and be fundamentally sound today and see what happens tomorrow. One day at a time."

    Overall this year, Jones has completed 62.5 percent of his throws for 1,008 yards. He's averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt with a 74.2 passer rating.

    Backups Bailey Zappe (who replaced Jones in the fourth quarter) or Will Grier might not be an upgrade, but Jones' slide the past two weeks is a major concern.

    "It's not about one guy," O'Brien said, "but as the quarterback you're going to shoulder a lot of that, and he understands that. He's working hard. He's in here early, in here [Monday] trying to think about things to do better.

    "We had a good fundamental meeting right here about half an hour ago. We're ready to go for practice [Tuesday], take things one day at a time, and try to dig ourselves out of it."

    For the record, Belichick confirmed on Wednesday that Jones will start Sunday. "Yeah, we're not making any changes," he said.

    Whatever the case, New England's offense ranks 26th in the league and hasn't scored a touchdown in 10 quarters. As noted above, the Patriots visit Las Vegas on Sunday, where they will try to avoid a second straight loss to former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The Raiders beat New England 30-24 last season. ...

    According to's Nathan Jahnke, Ezekiel Elliott broke even with Rhamondre Stevenson. The two running backs were close to even in offensive snaps and rushing attempts.

    The Patriots running backs had generally been rotating by drive but Stevenson often plays some snaps on some Elliott's drives, particularly on third downs. New England hasn't been as happy with Stevenson on passing downs, leaving Elliott to typically play all of the snaps on his drives, unlike the first few weeks of the season.

    Stevenson started the game, but Elliott's drives were roughly as successful as Stevenson's, leading the two to split.

    Stevenson has graded better as a receiver this season and has four first downs compared to none by Elliott, but Elliott has a much higher target rate at 22 percent to Stevenson's 14 percent this season. If Stevenson can start performing as a receiver similarly to last year, his playing time will likely bounce back.

    Until then, Stevenson probably isn't going to be a consistent fantasy starter anymore. ...

    On the injury front. ... Rookie receiver Demario Douglas left the game with a head injury after taking a hit from Marshon Lattimore. Right guard Mike Onwenu was sidelined with an ankle injury. Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster departed with a head injury. Safety Jabrill Peppers exited in the second half with an illness, and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder issue.

    Douglas, nicknamed Pop, provided the only pop for the team's offense with a 24-yard catch in the first quarter -- he's a promising prospect who should be part of the solution when he returns from concussion protocol.

    Finally. ... The Patriots designated receiver Tyquan Thornton to return from injured reserve, and he practiced Tuesday.

    It opens his 21-day practice window before the team is required to make a decision on his future. The Patriots can activate him back to the active roster at any point in the next three weeks.

    The Patriots placed Thornton on injured reserve Aug. 31 after he injured a shoulder in a joint practice with the Packers. Thornton also started last season on injured reserve.

    New England made him a second-round pick in 2022, and he caught 22 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns as a rookie. He also had three carries for 16 yards with a touchdown.

    "Tyquan, obviously, we had a lot of reps together in the offseason. He works really hard," Jones said last week, via Mark Daniels of "You'd obviously love to have a guy like that out there. We have plenty of guys out there who can make plays. Happy to have him back hopefully soon."

    I'll have more on Douglas and Thornton via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Josh Alper reminded readers, running back Alvin Kamara said the team's offense needed to have "tough conversations" after a Week Four loss to the Buccaneers and whatever was said this week appears to have done the trick.

    The Saints humiliated the Patriots 34-0 on Sunday and Kamara chipped in 97 yards and a touchdown to the overwhelming effort.

    The touchdown was the 73rd of his career, which broke a tie with Marques Colston for the most in franchise history.

    Kamara said after the game that the win was what matters to him and that he was "happy because my teammates were so hyped about it."

    His biggest focus was on the team finding their offensive groove after a tough week.

    "In the seven years I've been here, offensively, we are used to operating at a certain level of efficiency and effort where we could score at will," Kamara said, via a transcript from the Patriots. "When you can do that in this offense and limit the self-inflicted mistakes and penalties, the possibilities are endless. With the playmakers we have, there is enough for everybody. And as a team, when the defense is doing what they are doing, it can get ugly. It's a great feeling to go out there and put that on display."

    Kamara's record-setter was the topper for a collaborative effort across the sideline, defensive end Cameron Jordan said.

    "Gold standard, that's why he had gold cleats on," he said.

    It was the second worst shutout loss in team history for New England, trailing only a 52-0 drubbing in Miami against the undefeated Dolphins in 1972.

    The Saints entered Sunday's game last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency. They went 3 for 3 on their opportunities inside the 20-yard line on Sunday, taking advantage of a Patriots defense missing its two top performing defenders in linebacker Matt Judon and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

    Kamara, Foster Moreau, and Chris Olave scored their first TDs of the season, Michael Thomas had a season-best in receiving yards and the Saints (offense and defense) hit the 30-point mark for the first time since Oct. 20, 2022.

    Can the Saints sustain their offensive success?

    The Saints haven't had any momentum on offense dating back to last season, and they got their share of criticism after scoring only nine points in a loss to the Buccaneers last week. The Saints did what they've wanted to do all season: establish the run game and spread the ball around. Now they need to figure out a way to keep it going this week against the Houston Texans. ... And beyond.

    Other notes of interest. ... Derek Carr finished the day going 18 of 26 for 183 yards and two touchdowns, turning in a 114.7 rating. He had a few throws that were off the mark, and at one point he could have been a perfect 14 of 14 if Jimmy Graham made a catch being wide open and being on the mark for the other two throws.

    He also was fortunate to not get picked off on an overthrow. Overall, Carr managed the game and delivered. He won't have to light up the stat sheet, just get things executed when they need to be.

    Olave caught two balls on five targets for 12 yards and a score. He could have had two more big catches, including another one in the end zone. It was a decent rebound for him after last week's events, and he'll undoubtedly be better.

    Finally. ... Over the previous two seasons, the Saints have had little threat out of the backfield beyond Kamara.

    New Orleans addressed this problem during the offseason. They first signed RB Jamaal Williams in free agency. Williams was coming off a 1,000-yard campaign and a league-high 17 rushing touchdowns for Detroit. The Saints also used their third-round draft choice on Kendre Miller.

    Unfortunately, the 6-foot, 220-pound Miller dealt with injuries throughout preseason that resulted in reduced reps. A hamstring injury sidelined him for the first two regular season contests, games that Kamara also missed because of suspension. Williams also suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2 that landed him on injured reserve.

    Miller finally saw his first action in Week 3 at Green Bay. He saw just 21 snaps, but was the team's leading rusher with 34 yards on nine carries. Kamara returned to the lineup in Week 4 against Tampa Bay and got the brunt of the backfield reps. Miller saw only five snaps, largely due to his inexperience, with Tony Jones Jr. (11 snaps) getting slightly more use.

    New Orleans released Jones prior to the game at New England, going with only Kamara and Miller in the backfield.

    The rookie showed why the team had increased confidence in him. Miller picked up 37 yards rushing on 12 carries and had four receptions for 53 yards against the Patriots. All were the best numbers of his young career, as were his 26 offensive snaps.

    Of any player on both sides, only Kamara bettered the 90 yards from scrimmage that Miller picked up on Sunday.

    New Orleans showed enough confidence in Miller to let him take a couple series as the primary back to spell Kamara. He also took over sole backfield duties with the team up 31-0 in the fourth quarter, but continued to be productive.

    Williams will be eligible to come off injured reserve after this Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. Whenever Williams does return,'s Bob Rose believes the veteran might find touches scarce. Kamara will obviously continue to be the lead back and focal point of the offense. However, Miller adds an element of explosiveness that this team has lacked behind Kamara.

    Miller now appears to have the team's confidence in blitz pickup, an underrated part of being an NFL back. With his rushing and receiving skills, we can expect a bigger role for Miller in the Saints offense moving forward.

    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 10 October 2023

    According to's Jordan Raanan, the Giants are "optimistic" about quarterback Daniel Jones playing this week against the Bills after he left Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins with a neck injury.

    Jones was hurt in the fourth quarter when he was leveled from behind and sacked for the sixth time in the contest. He said he was in some pain after the game and had an MRI on Monday morning.

    "I'd say we're optimistic," head coach Brian Daboll said on an afternoon Zoom call with reporters. "He's feeling better [Monday]. So, I think he's moving in the right direction. See where he is, obviously, when he comes back on Wednesday.

    "Doesn't feel terrible today."

    Daboll said he still needed to speak with doctors and trainers about the MRI, but seemed relatively confident the Giants avoided a disaster scenario with their starting quarterback.

    The Giants play in Buffalo on Sunday night, the fourth time in six weeks they will be in prime time.

    "I'm optimistic after talking to him," Daboll said.

    Jones didn't reveal specifics about his current injury during an appearance on Up and Adams on FanDuel TV Tuesday, but he did say that it's not the same as the one that ended his 2021 season.

    "It's different than what I've dealt with in the past. Just trying to heal up as fast as possible, follow the advice from the trainers and doctors but I'm feeling better," Jones said.

    Jones said he's doing everything he can to remain in the lineup, but he was shut down in 2021 because he wasn't cleared for contact and he said that is an issue with his current injury as well.

    "I think the biggest thing is dealing with the contact. Getting hit in a certain way exposes you," Jones said.

    Jones isn't the Giants' only major injury concern on offense.

    Standout running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) haven't played in weeks. It has taken its toll on the unit. The Giants have not scored an offensive touchdown in 145 minutes, almost 2½ games.

    Barkley and Thomas' statuses are "yet to be determined" for this week against the Bills, per Daboll. He conceded that Barkley is closer to returning after missing the past three games with a high ankle sprain.

    Barkley practiced on a limited basis all last week but was unable to make it back in time for Sunday's latest Giants loss, which dropped them to 1-4.

    Jones has been taking a beating so far this season having taken 28 sacks, second most in the NFL through five weeks.

    It's the same thing every week.

    The Dolphins had seven sacks and 14 quarterback hits. That came less than a week after the Seahawks tied their franchise record with 11 sacks and 14 quarterback hits.

    In addition to Thomas, rookie center John Michael Schmitz was out Sunday with a shoulder injury and right guard Marcus McKethan hurt a knee against Miami.

    Jones was pressured on 44 percent of his dropbacks Sunday and 81 times this season, the third most of any player through five games since ESPN began tracking pressures in 2009.

    If Jones is unable to play, Tyrod Taylor would step into the lineup. Taylor filled in for Jones late in the fourth quarter Sunday and finished 9of 12 for 86 yards. But he was also under constant duress (pressured on 10 of 16 dropbacks) and sacked once. Taylor even looked to be banged up at one point after getting the wind knocked out of him but remained in the game. He is expected to be fine.

    I'll obviously have more on Jones, Barkley and the rest via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

    Meanwhile, the Giants (1-4) have lost three straight and are quickly running out of time to make the postseason again. As Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan noted, they need to go 8-3-1 in the final 12 games just to match last year, and that's no guarantee of a postseason trip.

    The final 12 games include two with the Eagles (5-0), this week at Buffalo (3-2) and another at Dallas (3-2), which beat New York 40-0 to open the season.

    There are other teams on the schedule that would seem not as tough, but the bottom line is the Giants have to get on a run -- now.

    But the offense has not scored a touchdown in the first half all season and it was limited to 268 total yards despite having the ball almost 36 minutes and 68 plays.

    Still, Daboll is refusing to push the panic button. He has rebuffed suggestions to take over the offensive play calling from Mike Kafka, and stood by O-line coach Bobby Johnson, whose injured unit has been bad.

    "It's a week-to-week, day-to-day proposition of trying to improve," Daboll said. "That's the focus, that's what you can control, so, that's what we do. ..."

    On a more positive note. ... Tight end Darren Waller finally lived up to expectations. He was targeted 11 times and caught eight passes for 86 yards. He got his hands on two other passes, one of which would have been a touchdown.

    "He (safety Xavier Howard) got his arm in there, but that's a play that's got to be made," Waller said. "I'll be thinking about that one."

    On a less positive note. ... Rookie receiver Jalin Hyatt, the team's third-round draft pick, was supposed to be a big-play guy. He has been invisible lately. Over the last two games, he has been on the field for 78 plays and caught two passes for 10 yards. Granted, the O-line is not providing much protection for Jones, but Hyatt needs to do more if he is on the field that much. ...

    Receiver Wan'Dale Robinson was checked for a concussion Sunday, but returned to action. He should go this week, but it's worth watching his status. ...

    Finally. ... The Giants designated receiver Cole Beasley to return from the practice squad injured reserve list Tuesday.

    The team plays the Bills -- Beasley's former team -- on Sunday.

    The Giants placed Beasley on the injured reserve list Sept. 4 with an undisclosed injury.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Rich Cimini reported it, "Facing the team that fired him and the coach who maligned him in print, New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett enjoyed a day of sweet revenge as his unit racked up 407 total yards Sunday in a 31-21 victory over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field. ..."

    Hackett was presented a game ball in a raucous winning locker room, where he was cheered and mobbed by players. He spoke briefly to the team, refusing to gloat or accept any credit. The players did that for him, describing how they badly they wanted to make him a winner.

    "If someone talks s--- about one of us or one of our coaches or anybody in the building, we want to have their back," tight end C.J. Uzomah said. "So this one was for Hack."

    Hackett was called out in training camp by Broncos coach Sean Payton, who told USA Today that the 2022 Broncos were undermined by "one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL." Hackett was fired with a 4-11 record in his first season.

    He didn't mention the Payton comments during the run-up to the game, players said, but it was on their minds. Before the game, Uzomah gathered his offensive teammates in the end zone and delivered a fiery, profanity-laced pep talk, taking direct aim at Payton.

    In his brief speech -- caught on video and posted on social media -- Uzomah accused Payton of making the game "personal." After dropping a couple of expletives, he implored his teammates, "Let's go win this b---- for Hackett!"

    Hackett wasn't available to the media after the win, which snapped a three-game losing streak for the Jets (2-3), but as Cimini suggests, it had to be enormously satisfying.

    It wasn't an artistic offensive performance -- the Jets were 0-for-5 in the red zone -- but they pounded away at Denver's soft run defense.

    Sparked by Breece Hall, who rushed for a career-high 177 yards (including a 72-yard touchdown), the Jets amassed 234 on the ground. Head coach Robert Saleh called it "a special game" for Hackett and, even though he didn't poke Payton or the Broncos, he made sure mention the Jets' exact yardage total -- 407.

    Speaking of Hackett, linebacker Quincy Williams told reporters, "Put some respect on my dog's name."

    Payton, who shook Saleh's hand at midfield and then retreated immediately to his locker room, didn't have much to say afterward.

    "Listen, they played better than us," Payton said. "I credit Robert and that staff, they won the game, that's how I look at it."

    Asked if he regrets making the comments in late July, Payton said, "I already addressed that, though it's a fair question. I addressed that the next day."

    At the time, he said it was "a mistake" to criticize Hackett in that fashion.

    Payton's postgame news conference ended with that question. With a pause between questions, he took the opportunity to leave the room.

    A month after getting fired by the Broncos, Hackett took the Jets job and was instrumental in luring Aaron Rodgers to the team. When Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1, it intensified the spotlight on Hackett, whose offense sputtered in the first three games. There was improvement in Week 4, but New York fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-20.

    Finally, Hackett was able to enjoy a winning smile.

    "Even if he wasn't telling us, 'This is personal to me,' you could just look how he carried himself all week, you know what I mean?" cornerback Sauce Gardner said. "He had that look on his face, like, man, he really wanted this game. So it meant a lot to get a win for him."

    It wasn't easy.

    Leading by only three points, Zach Wilson threw an interception deep in Denver territory with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter. With a chance to beat his former coach, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson coughed it up on a strip sack by Williams. Cornerback Bryce Hall, starting his first game since 2021, scooped up the ball and ran 39 yards for the clinching touchdown.

    Not only did they save their season, but the Jets gave their offensive coordinator a forever moment.

    "It was a tiny little cherry on top of a huge sundae," center Connor McGovern said.

    Meanwhile, Hall was the sundae on Sunday.

    According to Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr., the second-year back knew some still questioned his speed and whether it was too soon after a major knee injury for him to be able to take over games again.

    Hall silenced the doubters. And he reminded everyone why he's such a valuable -- maybe the most important -- part of New York's offense.

    "That dude is a stud," Zach Wilson said.

    "People been trying to say I'm not fast no more," Hall said. "I'm like, 'I just need some space.'"

    That's exactly what he got on his 72-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter that gave the Jets the lead for good.

    "I handed off and looked back and you could have driven a semi truck through that hole," Wilson said. "So, unbelievable job."

    Saleh said last week that Hall no longer had a snap limit and was able to carry a full load. And Hall's performance Sunday showed what the Jets' offense can be with him bursting out of the backfield.

    It's remarkable to think it was Week 7 of last season when Hall's promising rookie season ended and several months of healing and rehabilitation followed.

    "I don't think about it anymore," Hall said. "I'm new and improved now. I've got my robot knee, so I'm good."

    Hall now has three of the NFL's longest runs this season and his 177 yards rushing Sunday were the most by a Jets player since Isaiah Crowell's franchise-best 219 yards in 2018 and the ninth-highest total in team history.

    Hall's 387 yards this season rank fifth in the NFL and his 7.2 yards per carry are second only to Miami's De'Von Achane (12.1).

    With Wilson and the offense still finding their way, Hall has firmly reestablished himself as a game changer that has been sorely needed.

    "Everybody saw what he was capable of those first six games (last year)," Mosley said. "He has a lot to prove for himself and obviously to the world. We ride with Breece all day, so I'm glad to have him on our side."

    For the record, Wilson wasn't great this week.

    He threw a late interception and mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, costing his team a short field-goal try. This was a step back after his career day against the Chiefs in Week 4.

    Next up, the Jets host the undefeated Eagles on Sunday before their bye-week break. New York is 0-12 against Philadelphia -- the only team the Jets have never defeated in the regular season. ...

    On the injury front. ... Right tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, the team's best and most versatile offensive lineman, will miss the rest of the season after tearing an Achilles tendon, an MRI revealed Monday.

    It's the second straight season-ending injury for Vera-Tucker, and they both happened in the same stadium -- Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. Vera-Tucker tore a triceps tendon last Oct. 23 in the second quarter of a Jets victory over the Broncos.

    The injury will force the team to shuffle players. Left tackle Duane Brown (hip) already is on injured reserve; he's eligible to return in Week 8 against the New York Giants.

    In the short term, they probably will play Max Mitchell at right tackle Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mitchell, who started five games last season as a rookie, replaced Vera-Tucker on Sunday and played the entire second half as the Jets racked up 234 yards on the ground. Another option is Billy Turner, the swing tackle.

    "We'll keep that one close to the vest for the week," Saleh said of his plan, "but we have our options in-house."

    The Jets also have rookie Carter Warren, who is eligible to be activated from IR, but he missed OTAs and most of training camp because of knee and shoulder injuries. The fourth-round pick from Pitt has "a long way to go," according to Saleh, but he could be added to the roster this week to serve as the fourth tackle. ...

    Finally. ... Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that the Jets are looking at potential trade options for Mecole Hardman. The wideout signed with the Jets as a free agent this offseason, but was inactive in Sunday's win over the Broncos and has one catch on 22 offensive snaps over the entire season.

    Hardman signed a one-year deal worth $4 million as a free agent. The contract also has incentives that Hardman would seem to have little chance of reaching if he stays put.

    Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Xavier Gipson and Irv Charles were the active Jets receivers in Denver.

    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 10 October 2023

    Jalen Hurts set season highs in both rushing attempts (15) and rushing yards (72) to power the Philadelphia Eagles to a 23-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

    According to's Tim McManus, it was Hurts' most complete game of the season -- a performance reminiscent of last season's near-MVP campaign. He also threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown with one interception on 25-of-38 passing. It was his fifth career game with 300 passing yards and a rushing TD, passing Michael Vick for most in Eagles history, per ESPN Stats and Information research.

    "Overall, I think he had a really good performance," said wide receiver A.J. Brown, who finished with six catches for 127 yards. "Picking up third downs with his feet, strong runner as he's always been, but just having that will just to stay up on his feet, just staying poised the entire game."

    Hurts' legs were particularly critical on third down. He rushed a career-high eight times for 45 yards and tied a personal best with six first-down conversions.

    "The relief is like, first down, we're not getting off the field, hell yeah, continue the drive, let's go get some points," left tackle Jordan Mailata said. "That's how I feel when he does that. I'm like, 'I love you. Thank you for doing that.' He bailed us out, man.

    "He just used football IQ. He knows the routes, he knows how far they're going; and if he doesn't like what he's seeing, he's just going to take off and use his legs. That's him."

    Hurts had been relatively quiet on the ground over the first four weeks, totaling 134 yards on 40 attempts (3.35 yards per carry), sparking speculation about his health and whether something had changed in his game.

    "What did you all say? He couldn't do it anymore or something," head coach Nick Sirianni joked afterward.

    Hurts, who has been quicker to slide this season in an effort to protect himself and stay healthy for the long haul, showed he can still utilize the run element of his game when he needs it.

    "Things come when they're supposed to," Hurts said. "I think it's as simple as that."

    The Eagles improved to 5-0 on the year, with a trip to the 2-3 New York Jets up next.

    Bad news this week for the Jets?

    Hurts has won a team-record 11 consecutive road starts since 2021, the third-longest streak by an NFL QB since the 1970 merger. Only Joe Montana (18) and Tom Brady (13) had longer streaks. Patrick Mahomes also won 11 straight road games over the 2019-2020 seasons.

    For what it's worth. ... Sunday's contest marked one of the better all-around performances for Philadelphia, with the defense limiting the Rams (2-3) to 14 points and the offense surpassing 400 yards for the fourth consecutive game.

    "I watch him all the time. It's always magic," cornerback Darius Slay said of Hurts. "Every time I get the corrections [on the sideline], I stand there and go watch Hurts work."

    And Hurts knows what the expectations are.

    "This is a results-based business," Hurts said. "You're judged on what you do and the outcome of what you do. Nobody really cares about how you do it. They want to see if you win or you lose; if it works or if it doesn't."

    As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston notes, most parts of the game are working for the Eagles and in a "results-based business," only San Francisco (5-0) can match them as the best in the NFL.

    Other notes of interest. ... According to's Dwain McFarland, over the last three games, D'Andre Swift averages 19.7 opportunities per game. Since 2012, the average finish for RBs with 18 to 22 opportunities per game was RB13 with 15.4 points per game.

    Swift is at 16.7 points per game and is currently the RB9. As McFarland noted, Swift is a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside if he ever takes over more passing-down work from Kenneth Gainwell. ...

    As Gelston wrote: "Welcome back, Dallas Goedert."

    The tight end hadn't had his number called for much of the season and seemingly was lost in the shuffle while Brown and Smith had all the 100-yard receiving games.

    Against the Rams, Goedert broke through. He finished with a season-high 117 receiving yards and a touchdown. He also had a 49-yard reception in the third quarter, the longest of Goedert's career. ..

    The Eagles announced on Tuesday that they have designated Linebacker Nakobe Dean for return from injured reserve. Dean injured his foot in the team's Week One win over the Patriots and has missed the last four games.

    Dean will be able to practice with the team on Wednesday and can be activated at any point in the next 21 days. If he's not activated, he will have to miss the remainder of the season. The Eagles do not have to clear a spot on the 53-man roster for him because they have not filled the one that opened when guard Cam Jurgens went on the list.

    Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow have been starting for the Eagles at linebacker the last four weeks. ...

    Finally. ... Gelston notes that sideline arguments are part of the game, but the Eagles have had unusually high instances of bickering between plays this season.

    Sirianni chewed out Hurts after an interception and wide receiver Quez Watkins after a failed screen on Sunday. Center Jason Kelce had animated conversations with Sirianni and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

    "I'm not going to get into it," Kelce said. "I think that I love everybody in this building like a family, I've been here a very long time. I think I just got a little bit too heated. The red zone has been frustrating I think for everybody. We've left a lot of points on the board. And I let myself get too frustrated, too animated. And it wasn't productive."

    Sirianni brushed off the heated exchanges, saying: "This is the way football is. There's a lot of emotions in it."

    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 10 October 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves suggested, Kenny Pickett can talk about the noise -- no matter where it comes from -- and the need to drown it out.

    Graves went on to explain: "The reality for the Steelers quarterback and offensive coordinator Matt Canada is that every week is going to be a referendum on their performance.

    "Check that. Make it every quarter. Or maybe every drive. Or possibly every snap. At least until the Steelers (3-2) are able to find something even remotely close to consistency. ..."

    It took all of two plays for the boos to start on Sunday against Baltimore after a pair of running plays managed all of 4 yards. It took maybe three possessions -- all of which ended with punts -- before the "Fire Canada" chants popped up.

    And while they eventually morphed into some form of almost bewildered "how did that happen" euphoria after the Steelers pulled out a 17-10 victory in which the Ravens played a willing accomplice, five games into a season of sizable expectations, Pickett remains a somewhat erratic enigma and Canada remains on the hottest of seats.

    Pittsburgh somehow won despite gaining all of 88 yards in the first half. Despite Pickett sending passes high, low, behind and over intended receivers. Despite another game in which running back Najee Harris' legs furiously churned nowhere (37 yards on 14 carries).

    Still, as Pickett pointed out, they found a way. The offense had 201 yards over the final 30 minutes, 80 of them coming on a game-winning drive in which Pickett opted to throw the ball up and let 6-foot-4 wide receiver George Pickens go and get it.

    It was a glimmer of. ... Something.

    The issue for the Steelers is that those glimmers have too often looked like anomalies during Canada's two-plus seasons of calling the plays and Pickett's 17 NFL starts.

    Pickett still has more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (13). His career quarterback rating is 77.3. Pickett says repeatedly all he cares about is winning, and his 10-7 record is respectable for someone thrown into the fire a month into his rookie season.

    At some point, however, the Steelers are going to need to win games because of the offense, not in spite of it.

    It's an ability the teams they claim to be chasing, the Kansas Cities and Buffaloes and Miamis of the world, can do seemingly at will, not just occasionally. Not every team will come into Acrisure Stadium and basically say "here you go" to the hosts the way Cleveland and Baltimore did.

    Not every team will let T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith do whatever they want, seemingly whenever they want.

    At some point, Watt and Highsmith would also like the luxury of playing from ahead. Until that happens with any sense of regularity, Graves contends the boos, the noise and the questions will persist.

    Next up the Steelers will get some rest during the bye week and try to find some semblance of cohesion on offense before a trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams on Oct. 22.

    While the Steelers hardly look ready to compete with the AFC's elite, finding a way to score 20 points a game would put them in the mix with the best of the rest. ...

    Looking for good news?

    Receiver Diontae Johnson has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Week 1. But he's planning to return when the Steelers take on the Rams after the bye.

    "Hell yeah, I'm coming back," Johnson said Tuesday, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I have been working my behind off these last three, four weeks. … Today was one of those days to see how far I have come along, and everything looks great out there to [the training staff].

    "I felt completely great and healthy, so I am ready for Monday when we come back to start getting back to work."

    Johnson caught three passes for 48 yards in the season opener before going down with the hamstring injury. He's been on injured reserve but can be designated to return for the Week 7 matchup.

    In 17 games last year, Johnson caught 86 passes for 882 yards. As suggests, with Pittsburgh currently ranked No. 29 in points and No. 30 in total yards, the team could certainly use the offensive boost Johnson could bring. ...

    One last note here. ... Gunner Olszewski essentially lost his job as a returner to Calvin Austin III after essentially a brain cramp against Cleveland in Week 2 and only got it back briefly on Sunday because Austin was being evaluated for a concussion.

    Any second chance Olszewski had likely ended when he was stripped of the ball during a punt return in the fourth quarter, almost costing the Steelers the game.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's Kevin Patra reported, Brock Purdy torched Dallas on Sunday night in a 42-10 victory, the most lopsided result in the history of the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry.

    The second-year quarterback went 17-of-24 passing with four touchdowns, took just one sack, and didn't turn the ball over before being replaced by Sam Darnold early in the fourth quarter.

    Purdy became the first QB to start a career 10-0 since Ben Roethlisberger (2004-05) and one of four QBs to do so since 1950 (the first year QB starts were tracked). Purdy is the fourth QB in the last 30 seasons with four-plus pass TDs and zero interceptions in a game versus the No. 1 scoring defense entering that week (in Week 4 or later), per Elias Sports Bureau.

    "He's just so consistent and he just continues to go out there and prove people wrong," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said, via ESPN. "I'm happy that he's able to go out here and have a four-touchdown game on national television because, not that it matters what people on the outside are saying about him, but he deserves more respect than what he gets, I think. I hope he gets a little bit of that from this."

    Through five weeks, Purdy ranks first in passer rating (123.1), second in yards per attempt (9.3), second in completion percentage (72.1), tied for seventh in pass TDs (9), and eighth in yards (1,271).

    "I mean, he was really good," coach Kyle Shanahan said of Purdy's performance Sunday night. "Everybody was pretty good. But thought he missed one throw throughout the day, from what it seemed like, just a little behind [Brandon Aiyuk] in the first quarter on one and everything else seemed pretty flawless. He did a great job versus a real good pass rush, some tight coverages, guys gave him some time. Also, the guys made a lot of plays, too."

    Both the Cowboys and 49ers viewed Sunday's prime-time tilt as a measuring stick game for where they stood in the NFC. After the lopsided result, it's clear where the power resides.

    The Niners joined the Philadelphia Eagles as the only 5-0 teams in the NFL. Not that Shanahan is popping any bottles for a fast start.

    "Absolutely nothing," he said when asked about the significance of blowing out a rival. "If we would've lost this game, we would've been 4-1 and now we're 5-0. I mean it's exciting and all this is fun, but I've been in the NFL way too long, been 5-0 and haven't made the playoffs before. All that stuff really doesn't matter.

    "The way people talked about it during the week, we didn't see it that way. I told our team last night whether we win or lose this game, I expect it to make us better. If we go out there and play like we're capable of, we should feel that and be able to carry it on the next week and get better. And if we go out there and we get beat, as long as we do it the right way, I think it'll make us better going forward after that. You want to be in games like this just leading up to it. You want to be battle-tested in every facet of stuff that can happen later in the season.

    "I'm glad we did it the other way, being 5-0 feels good, but it means nothing until you get to the end."

    The 49ers have scored 30-plus points in eight straight regular-season games dating back to 2022, the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. The primary QB in the four longest streaks each won an NFL MVP award during that span (Kurt Warner, 1999-2000; Tom Brady, 2010-11; Peyton Manning, 2012-13; Brady, 2006-07).

    San Francisco is the sixth team ever to score at least 30 points in each of its first five games. Four of the previous five teams made the Super Bowl.

    The 49ers have outscored opponents by a league-best 99 points so far this season, becoming the ninth team with a point differential that high in a 5-0 start.

    Of the previous eight teams to do it, three won the Super Bowl (2009 Saints, 1999 Rams, 1991 Washington) and three lost it (1968 Colts, 2006 Bears, 2007 Patriots).

    "The way we can attack on offense," edge rusher Nick Bosa said of the biggest difference between the teams. "In 2019 (it) was a majority run game. Now we can attack any which way. ... Whenever you double cover somebody, someone else makes a play."

    The next attack will come in Cleveland on Sunday against a Browns defense coming off a bye that followed one of its less impressive outings. ...

    Also of interest. ... After getting targeted only once in Week 4, George Kittle was a much bigger part of the Niners' offense on Sunday. He caught a 19-yard TD pass on the opening drive, a 38-yarder on a reverse flea-flicker in the second quarter and a 10-yarder in the third quarter. He was the first San Francisco player with three TD catches in a game since Vernon Davis in 2009.

    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 10 October 2023

    According to John Boyle of the team's official website, the Seahawks returned to work with a "bonus Monday" practice following their bye weekend, and while the team does not put out an injury report until Wednesday, Pete Carroll did provide some updates on the team's improving health following a weekend off.

    "We're better than we were," Carroll said. "There are some guys who are going to get a chance to jump back out, and it helps anybody that got banged up in the game. So we're hoping this will be a really productive week for returning a few guys. So we'll see how it goes."

    One of the players back on the field was left tackle Charles Cross, who has been out since suffering a toe injury in the season opener. It's too early in the week to know if he'll play when the Seahawks face the Bengals on Sunday, but it was a positive step in his comeback.

    "He was on the practice field today, he worked today. He looked quick and nifty and all that kind of stuff. We'll see how he does when we come back as we get through the week, see if he can maintain the practice level that will allow him a chance to play."

    When it comes to players who were injured in last week's game against the Giants, Carroll said safety Jamal Adams should clear the concussion protocol soon, possibly by Tuesday.

    "He's on the final stage coming up of getting cleared, and a pretty promising though that he will be cleared tomorrow," Carroll said.

    As for quarterback Geno Smith, who briefly left the game with a knee injury but was able to return, Carroll said, "He's fine."

    Also OK after leaving the game with an injury is nose tackle Jarran Reed, who was back on the practice field Monday after leaving last week's game with a shin injury.

    "He got banged up, but he's had an extra week and all of that, so he should be OK," Carroll said.

    Guards Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes also both left the Monday night win with injuries, and while it's too early in the week to know if either will be back, Carroll said it's possible that one or both could.

    "Both those guys have a chance to be OK this week," Carroll said. "We'll see how they go. It's going to take us a bit before we know, but both guys have a chance."

    Cornerback Tre Brown, who missed last week's game with a concussion, was back on the practice field Monday, while cornerback Coby Bryant was not due to the toe injury that sidelined him the past two games.

    "He wasn't quite ready to go today," Carroll said. "He's closer than he's been. He had some trouble with his footwear that was bothering him a little bit. So he's not quite ready yet, but he's getting close."

    Asked about receiver Dareke Young and running back Kenny McIntosh, who are both eligible to come off injured reserve starting this week, Carroll said, "Dareke is really close. He's a little bit closer than Kenny is. Dareke is running and doing all kinds of stuff. Kenny is getting back, but not quite yet. It's still another week or so. Dareke's got to prove it, he's doing all of the running stuff right now, but he is not ready to practice yet."

    Right tackle Abraham Lucas is still a week away from being eligible to return from injured reserve, and while he is expected to make a return relatively soon, Carroll said they won't rush that process.

    "We've invested so much time in his recovery we don't want to screw it up and bring him back too fast, so we'll be patient with it and see what happens," Carroll said. "But he's going to make it back here within the next couple of weeks."

    The Seahawks will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals on Sunday.

    Worth noting. ... Speaking for the first time since the NFL declined to discipline Adams for berating an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant after being ruled out of last Monday night's game, Carroll said Adams' behavior was (at least partly) a function of his concussion, that he deserves slack for that reason and that he may not even recall what he said amid the outburst.

    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 10 October 2023

    According to's Jenna Laine, Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III sat back in the visiting locking room Sunday with his arms folded, soaking it all in after a 26-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints that propelled the Bucs to first place in the NFC South heading into their Week 5 bye.

    The Bucs (3-1) held the Saints to just three field goals, and as Davis said with a big grin, "It's a new era. It's the Todd Bowles era, so get used to it."

    Bowles' hard-nosed brand of defense has found an offense equally as gritty and physical. An identity they spent much of the offseason and training camp searching for has arrived in the form of a new scrappy quarterback in Baker Mayfield -- who, on one particular first-down run Sunday, scrambled for 10 yards up the middle and dove head-first.

    Mayfield's 62 scrambling yards on the season now match that of Jalen Hurts, according to ESPN Statistics and Information, although he'll tell you it's because teams still aren't accounting for him as a runner, which may be the one area he's OK with being underestimated.

    "I don't take it personally," Mayfield said with a laugh. "I'm not the athlete that our skills guys are. I know better than that."

    Mayfield couldn't pass up the chance after the game to subtly address Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan's comments about this being a "non-rivalry."

    "It is a passionate rivalry, whether they want to say it or not," said Mayfield, who could be seen jawing with Jordan throughout the game.

    When asked about it after, Mayfield said with a chuckle, "I plead the fifth."

    Promising offensive mind and longtime Seattle Seahawks assistant Dave Canales got his first dose of the rivalry. His system -- chock full of pre-snap motion, quarterback throws on the move and getting receivers in space to gain yards after the catch -- is a derivative of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay's system and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's system with the Seahawks.

    Mind you, Bowles didn't select Byron Leftwich as his offensive coordinator -- or any member of his staff last year -- as he inherited the previous group from former head coach Bruce Arians. But Bowles did choose Canales, whose philosophy is more about incrementally advancing the ball versus hitting that one deep shot downfield, and, in many ways, pairs better with resting an aggressive defense.

    Lane acknowledges, it hasn't been a seamless changing of the guard.

    They were outmatched against the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles on "Monday Night Football" six days prior -- a game they'd hoped would be a litmus test but lost 25-11 in what several players described as a disappointing effort. Running back Rachaad White essentially ran into a brick wall of defenders when he was bottled up for a safety in the third quarter, a play Canales said he wished he could have back.

    It kind of just woke us up, made us realize, 'OK, we're not there yet,'" cornerback Zyon McCollum said. "It really just lit a fire in us."

    On one play against the Saints, the offensive line allowed Mayfield to have 7.68 seconds until Deven Thompkins, who made a diving grab in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, emerged in the end zone. And they did it without the team's leading receiver in Mike Evans, who left at the end of the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

    Currently, Mayfield's 69.6 completion percentage is eighth best, his 69.0 total QBR is seventh and his 72.5 raw QBR is sixth. His 5.8 completion percentage above expected is sixth best, and his 3.5 touchdown to interception ratio is ninth.

    "He's a fighter. [He's got] a ton of resilience. I think that he has been a great fit for us," wide receiver Chris Godwin said of Mayfield. "You see him making plays, scrambling. He takes some big shots and pops back up. ... It makes the offensive line want to block more. It makes us want to run our routes a little bit harder and give him a chance because we know that he is going to extend the play as much as he can to give us a chance. I am happy to have him."

    And then there's the defense, which Davis believes is a "Super Bowl-caliber" unit.

    They're holding teams to an average of 17 points a game, which ranks seventh. They've surrendered just three red zone touchdowns out of 11 trips, tied for second in the league, as are their 10 takeaways.

    Pro bowl safety Antoine Winfield Jr., back to his old role after a one-year stint at nickelback last season, has 2.0 sacks on eight pass-rush snaps, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups this season.

    Defensive tackle Vita Vea has 3.5 sacks -- tied with Chris Jones for the most of any player lined up at the defensive tackle spot.

    Backup defensive back Dee Delaney, who stepped in for an injured Jamel Dean at cornerback against the Eagles and then for safety Ryan Neal against the Saints, has two interceptions, as does rookie nickelback Christian Izien.

    Pro Bowl inside linebacker Devin White, who showed his improved coverage skills with an interception off Hurts last week, said, "We're going to the playoffs. I'm saying that right now."

    Health will play a big role in how the season shakes out. The bye week means they'll be more than a little nicked up down the stretch, but it does give guys like Davis and Evans a chance to rest. Davis has been nursing a toe injury, while Dean has been dealing with a neck/shoulder injury, Neal has a concussion and White has a foot/groin injury.

    According to the team's official website, the hope is that Evans will be able to play when the Buccaneers take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday. As well as the team's other receivers stepped up in his absence on Sunday, Evans is obviously a key cog in the Buccaneers' offense.

    He has also been one of the league's most efficient pass-catchers this season. Through four games he has 20 catches for 337 yards and three touchdowns. He has achieved those totals while running a total of 96 routes, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That gives him a yards-per-route figure of 3.5, which ranks fifth among all NFL players who have run at least 20 routes.

    The only four players ahead of Evans on the list prior to Week 5's games were Denver's Marvin Mims (36 routes, 6.7 avg.), San Francisco's Brandon Aiyuk (66, 4.8), Miami's Tyreek Hill (114, 4.1) and Houston's Nico Collins (117, 3.7).

    After the Saints game, Bowles said he believed at the time that Evans had just "tweaked" his hamstring, but that he would undergo tests during the bye week. On Monday, Bowles reiterated that tests were forthcoming for the receiver but had no updates at the time. Typically, muscle injuries are evaluated using an MRI examination.

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

    Meanwhile, things don't get easier in the coming weeks, as the Bucs don't face a team with a losing record until they host the Carolina Panthers (0-4) in Week 13 -- with the Lions (3-1) up this week.

    "If we were listening to everything that everyone outside of the building was saying, why even strap it up?" Godwin said. "I think the good thing about the people that we have in our building is that we are only worried about what we can control. We understand that we have to go out there and play the games. It's up to us. We have to go out and put the work in and then go out and prove it on the field.

    "Through the first month of the season, being 3-1, I think it's a good spot. ... I think we have a lot of room for improvement, but I am excited about where we are going."

    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 10 October 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker notes, the Titans find themselves at a critical point coming off their third straight road loss this season.

    They're at home only once in a seven-week span, though technically they're the home team Sunday in London against the Baltimore Ravens.

    The Titans (2-3) haven't won away from Nashville since Nov. 17 at Green Bay.

    Their 23-16 loss at Indianapolis has them mired at the bottom of the AFC South. They have lots of issues to fix before finishing this season with five of the final seven at home.

    Head coach Mike Vrabel knows what he wants to see from his Titans: Accountability, discipline and no more excuses.

    "It's a week-to-week league and focus on this week and everything that we can do and then figure out where we go after that," Vrabel said Monday.

    One of the issues they'll be looking to fix this week is the red-zone offense.

    Entering last Sunday's game, the Titans' red zone scoring percentage was 38.4, ranking 29th in the NFL.

    Tennessee's red zone woes continued against the Colts, as the Titans cashed in on only one of their four visits inside the 20. Third-round rookie running back Tyjae Spears scored their only touchdown of the day on a 19-yard run, and Nick Folk added three field goals.

    DeAndre Hopkins led the team in Indianapolis with eight receptions for 140 yards in the 150th game of his career. He notched his 40th career 100-yard receiving game (41st including postseason) and the most receiving yards by a Titans player in a game since A.J. Brown's 145 yards against San Francisco on Dec. 23, 2021.

    He just missed getting his left toes down for a TD on a throw from Derrick Henry.

    The Titans keep finding themselves in close-scoring games, which makes scoring touchdowns in the red zone even more critical.

    Ryan Tannehill threw for a season-high 264 yards with five plays of at least 19 yards or longer. An offensive line that had given up 16 sacks through four games gave the veteran time to throw until the last minute.

    Then he was sacked for the first time. On the next play, he was intercepted.

    Tannehill has more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (two) in the final year of his current contract. If the Titans can't stay close to the AFC South leader, they may be forced to see what Malik Willis or rookie Will Levis can do for an offense ranked 26th in the NFL in averaging 17.6 points a game.

    Against the Ravens, the Titans are looking for their first win of the season away from Nissan Stadium.

    Unlike Baltimore, who made the trip to England on Monday, the Titans fly to London on Thursday night, preferring to work at their team headquarters. A win would get them back to .500 going into their bye before that home game Oct. 29 against Atlanta. Then it's back on the road for three straight. ...

    A few final notes. ... Hopkins became only the fourth player in NFL history to make a catch in each of his first 150 games. He joined a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers in Marvin Harrison (first 190 games) and Marshall Faulk (first 158) along with Keyshawn Johnson (first 167).

    Henry moved into second place in franchise history in career scrimmage yards (10,008), surpassing Chris Johnson's total with the team (9,968) and putting him behind only Eddie George (12,153). The accomplishment came one week after Henry moved in front of Earl Campbell for second place on the team's all-time rushing list (8,663 yards), behind only George (10,009). ...

    Spears has played over 50 percent of the Titans' offensive snaps in four of five games this season. ...

    According to's Nathan Jahnke, Chigoziem Okonkwo finally received significant targets. He was thrown at eight times, but that only led to five receptions for 33 yards.

    He was held to four or fewer targets in each of the first four games. His target rate in this game was similar to his target share last season.

    Unfortunately, his playing time has also decreased compared to the start of the season. He played in 70.8 percent of his team's snaps in 11 personnel and 46.1 percent of the snaps in 12 personnel.

    Fifth-round rookie Josh Whyle set a career-high in both offensive snaps and pass routes while Kevin Rader played a bit in each of the last two weeks after not playing over his first three seasons.

    Jahnke went on to suggest that Okonkwo will need to go back to playing a similar amount of snaps as the start of this season, and he needs to make the big plays he was making last season. Just doing one or the other won't turn him into a fantasy starting tight end. ...

    On the injury front. ... When the Titans play the Ravens in London on Sunday, there's a chance they'll have receiver Treylon Burks back.

    Vrabel said "we'll see" if Burks can return in Week 6, but it sounds like he'll at least be able to get on the practice field.

    "[We're] hopeful that he can try to get out and start running around," Vrabel said, via Jim Wyatt of the team's website.

    Burks has missed the last two games with a knee injury. In three games the 2022 first-round pick has six catches for 99 yards plus one 9-yard carry.

    The Titans will practice in Nashville on Wednesday and Thursday before departing Thursday night. I'll have more on Burks and the rest via Late-Breaking Update.

    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 10 October 2023

    As's John Keim noted, Commanders limited partner Magic Johnson delivered harsh criticism of his new team following a 20-point loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.

    After the Commanders lost 40-20 to the previously winless Bears, Johnson tweeted in part that "the Commanders played with no intensity or fire. We didn't compete in the first half. ... It was too big of a hole to climb out of and that is why we ended up losing."

    Johnson, who attended the game, is one of 20 limited partners with new owner Josh Harris. Johnson has been highly visible as part of the franchise, between charitable events and attending games.

    But this was his first critical tweet of his new team. And the players did not disagree with his assessment.

    After all, Washington fell behind 27-3 at halftime.

    "I'd probably say that's pretty fair," receiver Terry McLaurin said.

    "Definitely," defensive end Montez Sweat said. "We came out flat."

    The Bears scored on each of their five possessions in the first half, often because of missed tackles or blown coverages in the secondary. A defense that entered with two sacks recorded four. And an offense that averaged 298 yards in the first four games managed 451.

    "We got our ass kicked," Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said.

    Head coach Ron Rivera said he couldn't repeat his postgame message to the players but that in short he told them, "That's not good enough."

    That's why no one in the locker room was about to reject what Johnson tweeted. However, some said there were other factors.

    "I mean, that's the perception when you're down that quick, it looks like that," left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. "I'm not going to say the guys did not have any intensity or urgency coming into the game. I would definitely say it was a lack of execution early offensively; when they put up seven on the defense, we need to respond."

    McLaurin said the Commanders' intentions, of course, were not to start that way. However, he said, intentions don't matter.

    "It's what you put on the field," McLaurin said. "I know we don't have a lazy bunch; I know we don't have a non-intense group of guys. That showing is not reflective of us, but that's who we are. We put that on tape. I'd say that's a pretty fair assessment [by Johnson]."

    Johnson has been complimentary toward the Commanders after other games. He lauded their effort against Philadelphia, saying he was proud and that he hoped that effort would be "part of our DNA" all season. He tweeted after a comeback win in Denver about his excitement watching the rally live.

    However, Thursday he opted for a different message -- one that was echoed in the locker room.

    "When you don't get off to a fast start," McLaurin said, "and a team that's hungry like that, fighting for every play, every yard and they're capitalizing, that's what can happen. The record didn't really matter. You don't come to play, that's what's going to happen to you."

    Meanwhile,'s Michael David Smith notes that Sam Howell is taking sacks like no other quarterback. By the end of this season, he may have taken more sacks than any quarterback in any season in NFL history.

    With five more sacks by the Bears, Howell has a total of 29 sacks through the first five games of the season. No other quarterback is close (Daniel Jones is next with 22 sacks), and Howell also has lost more yardage on sacks than any other quarterback in the NFL this season, with 185 yards lost (Jones is second with 131).

    Over a 17-game season, Howell's current total would project to 99 sacks. The NFL record for most times sacked in a season is 76, set by David Carr with the expansion Texans in 2002.

    Howell is also losing yardage on sacks like no other quarterback ever. His current total would project to a total of 629 yards lost on sacks in a 17-game season. The NFL record for yards lost on sacks in a season is 489, set by Randall Cunningham with the Eagles in 1986.

    At this point, if Howell doesn't break the all-time sacked record, it may be because a quarterback taking this many sacks won't last 17 games.

    To be fair, Washington dropped back to pass 55 consecutive times from 8:49 left in the second quarter through the end of the game, which is not a recipe to win at any level.

    It's a major problem facing Howell and the Commanders.

    It's noteworthy because Howell has played two productive games in a row, throwing for a combined 678 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He has posted a 79.4 quarterback rating in the past two games combined on third downs.

    Washington surrendered five plays of 25 yards or more against Chicago, giving the Commanders an NFL-high 16 such plays for the season. The secondary's attention to detail has been poor; rookie corner Emmanuel Forbes has struggled mightily and the entire unit has failed to produce big plays (one takeaway in the past three games combined).

    If the defense ever gets turned around, Washington can gain momentum.

    After five games last season, the defense ranked 25th in points and 17th in yards; it finished seventh and third, respectively. Without another turnaround, jobs will be lost.

    Next up, the Commanders head to Atlanta. The Falcons don't look like anything special, but given what the Bears just did to the Commanders, it would be unwise to underestimate any opponent. ...

    Also of interest. ... According to Keim, McLaurin remains a very good receiver; the opportunities have changed, however.

    He's averaging career lows in targets per game (6.5), yards per catch (10.4), yards after the catch (2.52) and also in percentage of catches for 20-plus yards (12). He is catching five passes per game (second best in his career), but McLaurin has now gone nine consecutive games without a 100-yard game, dating to last season. He averaged 13.5 fantasy points last season and has fallen to 12.6, ranking 27th at receiver.

    One big game could change this direction, but Washington needs to get him more involved downfield to create big plays. ...

    Tight end Logan Thomas had nine catches for 77 yards against Chicago in his second game back from a concussion. Judging by Eric Bieniemy's offense in Kansas City with Travis Kelce, tight ends can make a big difference, and, if all else fails, Thomas should be a nice safety valve for Howell. ...

    Finally. ... S Jeremy Reaves suffered a partially torn ACL in Washington's Week 5 loss and could miss the rest of the season, NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported, per sources. Reaves is gathering more medical opinions before making a decision on his immediate future. Washington placed Reaves on injured reserve Tuesday. In addition, S Darrick Forrest (shoulder) has been placed on IR.

    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