Team Notes week 12 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 21 November 2023

A second straight win since Kyler Murray returned from a torn right ACL was Arizona's for the taking. After giving up 21 points and 333 yards -- 259 of which were thrown by Houston's rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud -- Arizona tinkered with its defense at halftime.

The Cardinals would shut out the Texans in the second half while picking Stroud off twice. (Stroud threw three interceptions for the game.)

Yet, the Cardinals' offense couldn't figure out a way to come all the way back and the team left Houston with a 21-16 loss.

"I feel like offensively, myself, I feel like had enough chances to win the game," Murray said during his post-game news conference. "Let the team down. That's how I feel."

As's Josh Weinfuss noted, Murray tried to do his part and recreate the late-game magic from last week, when the Cardinals rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons. He rushed for a touchdown from the 1-yard line on a fourth down in the third quarter on Sunday but couldn't convert the 2-point conversion on a quarterback keeper.

From there, Arizona failed to convert its next three fourth downs.

Murray finished 20-of-30 passing for 214 yards, with one TD pass and one interception -- along with 51 rushing yards and a score. But Murray said it wasn't enough.

"Yeah, we made some plays, but it just felt like the defense did what they needed to do and we didn't hold up our end of the bargain on our side," Murray said.

"So, that was frustrating. It felt like we had too many opportunities not to win that game."

Despite it being just his second game back, Murray wouldn't give himself a break.

His standard, Murray said, is his standard.

"I'm sure this one's going to sting," Murray added.

It was, however, another step, another situation, another hurdle for Murray and the Cardinals' offense in a second half of a season that'll be full of them.

Arizona played in a hostile road environment for the first time with Murray, who had to burn a timeout in each half because of operational issues. Murray said his footwork was off on a fourth-down pass that was slightly behind tight end Trey McBride and fell incomplete. Murray wants the offense to be smoother in and out of the huddle, to communicate better and to have more urgency.

The general feeling around Arizona's offense is that it's close. How close, though, differs.

"I think it's very close," tackle D.J. Humphries told Weinfuss. "I think this game was the epitome of a game of inches."

Said wide receiver Marquise Brown: "I feel like we're close and far at the same time. I feel like it's a lot of things we do well, a lot of things we don't do well. Um, just got to keep practicing, keep working on it."

In the immediate aftermath Sunday, Murray couldn't see the optimism of being close and a few plays away from a win. It'll come together with reps, head coach Jonathan Gannon said.

"It's going to continue to improve," Gannon said. "He made some big-time plays today and, just like everybody, I'm sure he wants a couple back, but I thought he played well."

Each of Murray's two games have been an education. He's learning what he can do -- and to what level.

Running the offense has been an adjustment with the terminology as has been having a new voice, that of new offensive coordinator Drew Petzing, in his ear. Murray's had to learn how to adjust his footwork to fit the West Coast offense. Last week, he slid for the first time on his reconstructed knee. And he's been trying to keep old habits out of his head, which is an additional task on top of everything else Murray has been navigating.

"It'll be a good learning lesson for us to go back and watch and be able to learn from those things," Murray said. "I feel like we made some strides today, but we lost."

And Murray is apparently eager to climb the learning curve.

Following Sunday game, Murray and Gannon watched video together on the plane ride home to Phoenix, and Gannon said his quarterback was "wearing me out" with questions and observations.

After they landed, Gannon was driving back to his house when his phone rang.

It was Murray. He wanted to talk more football.

"He's got fire in his gut," Gannon said. "And that's cool."

During his postgame speech in the locker room, Gannon made sure to let his players know that they went nose-to-nose with a playoff-caliber team.

That wasn't enough for Murray. He wants to win.

"There's no moral victories when it comes to what we're doing," Murray said. "So, it's just frustrating."

The Cardinals return home for an NFC West matchup against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday and it's fair to wonder what a reasonable finish for the Cardinals might be.

According to Weinfuss, the Cardinals could realistically be looking at two more wins this season -- this week against the Rams (at home) and then on Christmas Eve against the Bears. That would give them four on the season.

With games against the 49ers, Seahawks and Steelers left, and Murray under center, Arizona could potentially steal another one, maybe two.

But after losing to the Texans, a 4-13 record seems realistic. ...

Other notes of interest. ... The Cardinals were without two receivers -- Michael Wilson (shoulder) and Zach Pascal (hamstring) -- due to injuries.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Wilson has been an outside wide receiver all season, with Pascal as his primary backup. On Sunday. Arizona opted to give both Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch more playing time despite both players primarily being slot receivers.

The two split snaps across from Brown in two-receiver set. Typically, Moore was the slot receiver with Dortch outside in three receiver sets, but at times the roles were reversed.

Moore scored his first receiving touchdown of the season on a deep pass out of 12 personnel (two receivers). The 48 yards he gained on that play were also enough to mark a season-high in receiving yards. That was his only catch of the game.

Dortch caught six passes for 76 yards. He played just as many offensive snaps in this game as the first 10 weeks combined, and he put together better reception and receiving yard numbers than Moore's had in any game this season.

If anything, we could see more of Dortch going forward after his many good plays late in this game.

That will, of course depend on Wilson's health. ...

In a related note: In two games with Murray, Brown has averaged a meager 3.5 PPR points per game and a 15.1 percent target share per game rate. ...

Meanwhile, Tony Jones Jr. was the only back outside of James Conner to see playing time for Arizona for potentially the last time.

This was the third straight game where Jones played nearly every third-down snap as a practice squad elevation. If the Cardinals want to do that again, they would need to sign him to the active roster which seems unlikely considering they have four running backs on the active roster.

Emari Demercado missed his third-straight game due to a toe injury while Keaontay Ingram was active but didn't play on offense.

The Cardinals also added Michael Carter off waivers from the New York Jets earlier this week. Carter had been the Jets' third-down back all season. Either he or Demercado will take the third-down snaps going forward.

Conner was the primary third-down back both last season and the start of this season, but his days as an every-down back appear to be over. ...

But the rushing attack is working.

Or, as Associated Press sports writer Dave Brandt put it, "The Cardinals continue to be good at running the ball."

Conner had 62 yards rushing on 14 carries and Murray complemented him. Arizona's 126 yards rushing per game ranks ninth in the NFL. ...

I'll have more on Wilson, Pascal, Demercado and Carter via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Finally. ... McBride played 100 percent of Arizona's offensive snaps for the first time of his career. Both he and Zach Ertz had played over 95 percent of the team's snaps at times in the past few seasons with Arizona, but Ertz had never reached 100 percent with Arizona at any point either.

In a related note. ... Ertz has missed the minimum four games with his quad injury, so the Cardinals can open his practice window when needed. With how McBride has been playing, seeing how coordinator Drew Petzing integrates the two tight ends will be a storyline to watch whenever Ertz returns.

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

Atlanta Falcons

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 22 November 2023

The Falcons are planning to go back to Desmond Ridder as their starting quarterback when they come off their bye in Week 12 against the New Orleans Saints, a source confirmed to's Michael Rothstein on Sunday. NFL Network first reported the Falcons' move back to Ridder on Sunday.

Head coach Arthur Smith confirmed the news on Monday.

Ridder sat for the past two games in favor of Taylor Heinicke, but the Falcons used the bye week to reassess their quarterback situation.

It marks the latest -- and perhaps final -- move in what had been a constant question about Atlanta's quarterback situation over the past month since Ridder, who started the Falcons' first eight games this season, threw three interceptions against the Washington Commanders and then lost three red zone fumbles the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The turnovers were part of the reason the Falcons made the switch from Ridder to Heinicke -- a move Smith never committed to for the long term. In making the initial move leading into Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings, Smith reiterated multiple times it was a switch for one week that would be reevaluated.

While Heinicke started against the Cardinals in Week 10, Ridder had to come back in and finish the game because Heinicke suffered a hamstring injury. Heinicke is still sidelined to begin the week, Smith said.

"Des did a nice job having to come back in that game, gave us a chance," Smith said. "Situation is where it's at, so we think Des gives us the best chance. And then on top of that, Taylor won't practice this week. We've got to assess throughout the week to even see what his role is going to be on Sunday.

"So we'll just monitor that as it goes, but we have a lot of confidence in Des. We think the last couple of weeks, he's handled it really well -- a lot of things going on. I think the reset will be very beneficial for him."

Smith said on multiple occasions that there were "a lot of variables" that factored into his decision to play Heinicke over Ridder.

Although he was benched, Ridder insisted he believed he would get another opportunity at some point and that his preparation wouldn't change even if he wasn't taking Sunday snaps.

Ridder still helped lead a self-called daily offensive meeting and had apparent ownership on what the offense was attempting to do.

In his eight starts this season, Ridder completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,701 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. The 2022 third-round draft selection has started 12 games for Atlanta with a 64.8 percent completion percentage, eight touchdowns and six interceptions.

Ridder will take over a Falcons team at 4-6, one game behind the Saints in the NFC South.

With their original starter back, and a week to get rested and healthy, it all should help for the Falcons. Ridder looked solid when he stepped in for Heinicke to end last week's game, completing 4 of 6 passes for 39 yards.

"Sometimes you need a fresh perspective," Smith said this past week of Ridder. "That's what I think helped him. The reset, the refocus and working on things that I thought could help him, he's done that."

Whatever the case, the Falcons are at a turning point. Can Ridder, Smith and the rest of the team stop the regression that's been the story of Atlanta's season?

It is critical for the season and, perhaps, for Smith's tenure as a head coach.

Heading into the bye, Smith said they'll take a look at everything they're doing.

"You can take a step back and say all right, there are other things you can do logistically to help, you know, manage it," Smith said. "And ultimately I need to be a better head coach, too, right? So it all goes into it. That'll be a good time to look at everything and things that we switch year-to-year, things that we've done before that may help us.

"So we'll look at it all."

Now that the quarterback decision has indeed been made, there's plenty to work on beyond that.

It starts with an offense that while statistically average the last three games -- 24.67 points scored was No. 14 in the league, 322 yards per game averaged was No. 17 -- still feels like it's figuring itself out. Red-zone issues were a problem against the Minnesota Vikings.

Yet over the past three games, the Falcons have scored touchdowns on 66.7 percent of their red zone trips.

"There's natural evolutions and a lot of it is just getting over this hump," Smith said. "It's an enormous game coming in."

For now, Atlanta remains in the NFC South race. How Falcons coaches handle the bye week and come out against the New Orleans Saints this week could speak more to the long-term plan.

As Rothstein suggested, this was a season where the direction was supposed to be clearer. Before the season, owner Arthur Blank said when Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot were hired, they laid out a three-year plan to get out of salary cap issues.

The first two years, despite 7-10 records where Smith got the most out of his cap-strapped teams, Blank saw where Smith and Fontenot were headed. The third year was where it was expected to coalesce after being able to spend in free agency and have more of the players Smith and Fontenot personally picked on the roster.

"Our team is going to be even more competitive than it's been in the last couple years," Blank said in August. "I think they'd be disappointed if that was not the case. I would be disappointed, and our fans would be disappointed."

There's still time with seven games to go, but it isn't at that point. Yet.

Atlanta has been competitive in every game but two -- against the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars -- and is fortunate to be in a division where no teams have been dominant.

At the beginning of the season, it looked like it might be different. Atlanta won its first two games. Then it started to falter, an offense finding its way while the defense held games together. Then the last three weeks, the defense and special teams joined the offense in critical errors at critical times while the offense produced average NFL numbers.

Three losses in a row and the Falcons are here. We'll see where they go next with Ridder back at the helm.

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

Baltimore Ravens

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

Shortly after one of the biggest wins of the season -- a 34-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night -- head coach John Harbaugh delivered news that could significantly impact his team's promising season going forward.

Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews suffered what's almost certainly a season-ending left ankle injury -- although Harbaugh dialed back on that slightly Monday.

"My understanding is, in talking to our trainer and the doctors," Harbaugh said, "was that it wasn't as bad as it initially feared. It was a little cleaner than they thought."

Andrews underwent surgery on Tuesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.

Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist, performed the surgery in Charlotte.

Despite Harbaugh's optimism, Andrews likely is out for the year, Garafolo added, with an outside chance of returning if Baltimore makes a deep playoff run.

Meanwhile, the injury sparked some controversy. On the opening drive, he was thrown to the ground with a "hip drop" tackle by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson.

It's the same type of tackle that led to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' high ankle sprain in the divisional round of last season's playoffs. There was talk this past offseason that the NFL could outlaw that tackling technique in which the defender grabs the ball carrier from behind and pulls him down while dropping his own body to the ground.

"It was definitely a hip-drop tackle, and it is being discussed," Harbaugh said. "It's a tough tackle. Was it even necessary in that situation?"

Necessary or not, the Ravens (8-3) held on to first place in the AFC North, but they presumably lost Lamar Jackson's favorite target for the foreseeable future.

Over the past six years, Andrews caught 287 passes from Jackson -- 123 more than any other player.

Andrews also connected with Jackson for 33 touchdowns, which ranks behind only Mahomes-Travis Kelce (50 touchdowns) among quarterback-tight end combinations.

Jackson saw Andrews get injured but said, "I was hoping he was going to get up."

"I believe it's going to be a huge challenge," Jackson said of moving forward with Andrews, "but we have [tight ends] Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely. Those guys are going to step up. We're going to build chemistry."

With Andrews out, Jackson relied more on his outside targets than he ever has in the past. Jackson totaled 206 yards passing when targeting wide receivers Thursday, his most in a game over the past two seasons.

Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Rashod Bateman both caught touchdown passes, and Odell Beckham Jr. produced a season-best 116 yards receiving.

"It's going to take everybody," Harbaugh said. "It's going to take a team to do it and our guys will be up for the challenge and up for the task, but those receivers are obviously going to be a big part of that."

Likely, a fourth-round pick from a year ago, will take over as the Ravens' starting tight end. He didn't have a catch Thursday, and he has 45 catches for 462 yards in 27 career games.

"It means every game from this point on is for Mark in my eyes," Likely said. "Every snap I'm going to take for the rest of the season is going to be for No. 89 [Andrews' number]."

Andrews' six touchdowns led all tight ends through the first 10 weeks of the season. He was one score away from tying Todd Heap for the most touchdown catches in franchise history (41).

"It's a big hit for this team," Beckham said. "Mark has been an integral part of this team since him and Lamar have been here, so we just got to find a way to step up. ..."

After a short week to prepare for Cincinnati, the Ravens don't play again until another prime-time matchup Sunday night on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Baltimore's open date comes immediately after that. ...

Other notes of interest. ... After a slow start, the Baltimore running game began rolling and finished with 157 yards on 31 attempts -- 5.1 yards per carry. Gus Edwards scored two touchdowns, bringing his season total to 10. Only Miami's Raheem Mostert has run for more.

Jackson ran for 54 yards on nine carries and shifty rookie Keaton Mitchell had 33 on eight attempts.

Worth noting, however; Mitchell's playing time is increasing. Looking at his last three games, Mitchell enjoyed a 33.3 percent RB rush share and 3.1 percent target share in Week 9; those numbers went to 18.8 percent and 8.7 percent in Week 10; and 38.1 percent and 4.3 percent in Week 11.

According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Mitchell played a season high 37 percent snap rate on Thursday. ...

Worth noting. ... With the emergence of Mitchell, Justice Hill has dropped to become the team's No. 3 running back and received a season-low one carry on 17 snaps. ...

Beckham's improved production was a welcome development for the Ravens after Andrews' injury.

"It's been a long time coming," Beckham said of his performance via the Baltimore Sun. "Been a lot of hard work.

"Early on in the season, I was hurting. I couldn't be myself. I didn't have the explosion. I couldn't move the way that I wanted to, and I don't think people really knew what I was dealing with."

Beckham, who missed all last season with a knee injury, received medical attention on his shoulder following his final catch and run but said after the game that he was fine.

Thursday night, his 116 yards led the Ravens; the next closest player was Zay Flowers with 43. OBJ's night could have been even bigger, as he burned defensive backs two other times but couldn't connect with Jackson.

The 100-yard explosion from Beckham came after back-to-back weeks in which he scored a touchdown, including a vintage 40-yard take-a-slant-to-the-house last week against Cleveland. OBJ's recent play suggests he's fully integrated into the offense and ready to make noise.

"Yes, I believe so," Jackson said when asked if his connection with Beckham finally clicked. "As we keep going, keep practicing, keep getting better each and every week, and him to keep doing what he's doing, I feel like our chemistry's going to be skyrocketing."

Per Zachariason, Beckham saw a season high 30.4 percent target share against the Bengals, but he finished tied for fourth in routes run for Baltimore.

The Ravens will need Beckham more than ever with Andrews out.

As's Kevin Patra suggested, in past years, Baltimore would have been sunk sans Andrews, but this year's iteration is better positioned to withstand the loss.

That starts with Beckham and Flowers seeing more targets on key downs.

"You say next man up, it's not just the next player in that position, it's all the men, it's all the players stepping up and filling that," Harbaugh said. "To replace a player like [Andrews], it's going to take everybody. It's going to take a team to do it, and our guys will be up for the challenge and up for the task. But those receivers are obviously going to be a big part of that. ..."

Beyond Andrews on the injury front, Jackson played through some ankle trouble, and Beckham had a shoulder issue. Baltimore now has a 23-day stretch with only one game, which should help the team deal with these injuries. ...

Finally. ... With his 54 rushing yards, Jackson now has 4,972 for his career putting the 26-year-old in position to become just the fourth QB with 5,000 yards rushing.

Jackson entered Week 11 needing just 11 rushing yards to run past Randall Cunningham (4,928) for the No. 4 spot. He now trails all-time leader Michael Vick (6,109 yards), Cam Newton (5,628) and Russell Wilson (5,197).

Heading into Thursday's matchup, Jackson's 48.1 rushing yards were tops among QBs.

Only the second QB in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (joined by Vick), Jackson is the only signal-caller with multiple 1,000-yard campaigns.

On Thursday, his long-lauded legs carried him up another rung on the all-time QB rushing list.

QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson
RBs: Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Melvin Gordon, J.K. Dobbins, Keaton Mitchell
WRs: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace
TEs: Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Mark Andrews

Buffalo Bills

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

After the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey last week, head coach Sean McDermott said he wanted to see quarterback Josh Allen get "back to having that look in his eye and having some fun out there" against the Jets in Week 12.

Mission accomplished.

With interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady in the booth and calling plays for the first time for the Bills, the emphasis on energy showed, as the team scored its most points since Week 4 and the most points the Jets have allowed since Dec. 5, 2021.

Allen threw three touchdowns and the Bills rolled to a 32-6 win that snapped a two-game losing streak and offered a reminder of why the season started with such high hopes in Buffalo. After the win, Allen referenced McDermott's comments while discussing how he shifted his focus for this game.

"Our team was energetic as we needed to be," Allen said, via the team's website. "A lot of that, for better or worse, comes from the quarterback. So just making that a point of emphasis throughout the week. Like, let's have fun playing this game."

As's Josh Alper noted, Dorsey's firing hit Allen hard, but the quarterback insisted it wasn't a sign that the offense was broken. Sunday's game provided evidence to back up that assertion and Allen said he thinks that a rough week might have been something the team needed to get back on the right track.

"Like every season, man, it has its ups and downs," Allen said. "You're going to have adversity. It's how you bounce back from adversity. And sometimes it takes a spark like this to ignite your team."

As a bad offensive team playing on the road, the Jets were an ideal opponent for the Bills to bounce back against in Week 11.

While the Bills still sit outside the playoff picture as of now, with a game at the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday and then a game at the Kansas City Chiefs following a bye week, improving the team's AFC record (3-5) and AFC East record (2-2) was important for any path to the postseason.

Despite kicking three field goals within the Jets' 30-yard line on the first three drives of the game, the 16 first-half points scored by the Bills were their second most since Week 4 (17 vs. the Buccaneers). Buffalo then came out of halftime and put together back-to-back touchdown drives, including an 81-yard touchdown from Allen to Khalil Shakir, the longest play from scrimmage in the league this year.

That was all led by Allen, who finished the game completing 20 of 32 passes for 275 yards, the aforementioned three passing touchdowns and one interception (a deep throw downfield at the end of the first half).

With the Jets turning the ball over four times, the Bills ended their six-game streak of losing the turnover battle.

"I saw a little bit more of [Allen's] personality and our offense's personality," McDermott said. "And this is nothing about what had happened before with Coach Dorsey. It's more of just us getting back to just an energy on offense and guys having some fun, and I thought the offensive staff did a real good job of shaping a game plan that the guys felt good about and could execute, and fundamentally I thought we did a good job with the line of scrimmage as well."

With Brady calling plays, the Bills got a variety of players involved, from second-year running back James Cook tying his season high of 17 carries (73 rushing yards in addition to three receptions with a receiving touchdown) to running back Ty Johnson catching a 28-yard touchdown. Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid continues to be a key cog in the offense and now has five straight games with five or more receptions (six receptions for 46 yards), one of four Bills since 1970 to do so.

In the slot, the Bills have found success with Shakir, with all three of his receptions coming when he lined up in the slot. He has 288 receiving yards over his past four games after totaling 236 receiving yards in his first 21 career games combined.

The offensive performance came despite Stefon Diggs catching four passes on eight targets for 27 yards and wide receiver Gabe Davis finishing without a target despite playing the most snaps of any receiver (87.3 percent of offensive plays).

"I thought I didn't try to force anything," Allen said. "Trusting the guys around me to make plays and that's what we did tonight."

The task for Brady and the Bills' offense moving forward is to keep the mistakes to a minimum and the energy and confidence high.

The win against the Jets was the Bills' fourth this season by 25 or more points, tied for their most in a season in franchise history (1992, 2021).

Building off this energy will be key as they face the toughest remaining strength of schedule, per ESPN Analytics, and a number of higher-scoring offenses.

"Josh has always been that guy who will get us going, who will say something before whether it's him or Diggs or somebody, but I mean tonight it was just nonstop," Shakir said. "It was fun. It felt fun to operate the way we were playing tonight and 17 was the head honcho of all that, so appreciate him. ..."

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, the Bills started the season with a three-man committee with Damien Harris. After Harris landed on injured reserve, Johnson was added to the roster but was rarely used before this game.

Johnson most notably took the two-minute drill to end the first half. Cook and Latavius Murray had split those responsibilities in past games.

Johnson took the last four snaps in garbage time but was also sprinkled in for normal early-down situations throughout the game. Cook received roughly the same amount of playing time as last week in a game where he was benched for roughly a quarter after fumbling.

Murray also received his lowest share of offensive snaps since Harris' injury.

Johnson's emergence wasn't a problem for Cook's fantasy value in this game because it was a blowout victory, but Jahnke believes it could hurt his value in other weeks.

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

Carolina Panthers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

As's David Newton framed it: "When you have just fallen to 1-9, and you're guaranteed a sixth straight losing season, and there are rumblings your head coach could be on the hot seat, you look for anything positive."

Newton went on to report that's what tight end Tommy Tremble and the Panthers did after Sunday's 33-10 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys, which -- based on fan reaction -- at times sounded like a Cowboys home game.

Instead of focusing on the pick-six thrown by rookie quarterback Bryce Young on the first play after Dallas scored a touchdown to take a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, or Young's fumble the next series when he wasn't even hit, Tremble turned to the Panthers' 17-play, 70-yard drive in the third quarter that got them within a touchdown.

He focused on the three fourth-down conversions in that 8-minute, 58-second drive, during which Young completed six of 10 pass attempts for 45 yards, including the 4-yard touchdown to Tremble.

"The confidence just to drive down the field and be able to score, going for it on fourth down. That -- as much as the end result wasn't what we wanted -- that helps build this team, that builds the character, that builds the grit," Tremble said. "That's what's going to keep us on the right track, especially in this hard time."

At 1-9, coach Frank Reich is in the midst of one of the worst seasons in Carolina history. He is trying to keep Young, the 2023 No. 1 draft pick, from losing his confidence while critics suggest Carolina would have been better off taking C.J. Stroud with the top pick.

"This season has been such ups and downs that we all as men are collectively trying to keep stacking," Tremble said. "Today you saw the progress of it and you saw the negatives. We've just got to fix the negatives. That's the only thing that's holding us back is the problems that we cause for ourselves.

"And so if we can fix that, I really feel like the sky is the limit for us."

That was the theme from Reich to the players. The drive was almost like a symbol of what could be.

Much of the drive was built around Carolina running the no-huddle offense, when Young seems most comfortable, and going with a 12-personnel set (1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs) instead of one tight end and three or four wide receivers, as had been the case for much of the season.

It opened up the running game that netted 110 yards after producing only 43 last week against Chicago. That created the balance Reich was seeking when he reclaimed playcalling duties this past week after turning it over to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown for three games.

What it didn't do was protect Young, who was sacked seven times and pressured on 35 percent of his dropbacks.

But there were things Reich and players saw in that drive that they believe will be useful over the final seven games.

"There are some things we found that we can kind of lean on, some bigger people on the field, and just moving the ball anyway we have to," said Adam Thielen, who led Carolina with eight catches for 74 yards.

"Still, we have to get a lot better."

That was obvious after Carolina had 187 yards of total offense, the fewest since Week 17 of 2021 against the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers had only 13 first downs and produced only 10 points, making it four straight games in which the team has scored 15 or fewer points.

That's not good when owner David Tepper hired Reich because of his offensive prowess.

"It's preferable to have a coach that is really extraordinary on one side of the ball or the other side of the ball," Tepper said the day Reich was hired. "And we think Frank is really good on offense."

The Panthers haven't been good offensively. They rank in the bottom half of the league in most categories, including scoring. They came into the day ranked 29th with 17 points per game.

Young hasn't been good statistically. His pick-six was his third in three games and gave him eight interceptions to only nine touchdowns on the season.

It reached the point on Sunday where Thielen was asked if he ever felt sorry for Young

"Yeah, you feel bad, obviously, because you know how hard he works, you know how good of a football player he is, and the results aren't coming with that," he said.

The third-quarter drive was a small sample of why Thielen and others have faith in their quarterback and what this offense can be when more pieces are added.

"I think he's made to handle stuff like this, and I don't think he'll accept it," Reich said.

Tremble agreed. That's why the tight end focused on the positive of Sunday's loss as they begin to prepare for the Titans next week (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

"Really, just his poise in that stuff," he said. "Because it's hard, man. It's hard playing an NFL game, especially with a good defense like that, it's hard to keep your composure, but he still kept it even when stuff wasn't going our way.

"He wanted to win. He was telling us, 'Let's go win this thing, I still got y'all.' And we had him."

Whatever the case, while Reich's move to take back offensive play-calling duties didn't result in a better outcome on Sunday, he's not planning any other major changes heading into Week 12.

Reich said at a Monday press conference that the team will not be making any changes to the coaching staff this week. He also said he has given no thought to inserting veteran quarterback Andy Dalton into the lineup in place of Young.

"No consideration of that," Reich said.

Still, Young struggles in the pocket and has now thrown three pick-6s in the past three games. Young has only nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions and is 1-8 as a starter. By comparison, Stroud has 17 TD passes and five interceptions and is 6-4 as a starter.

That has to leave the Panthers wondering if they made the wrong decision by taking Young over Stroud.

Reich did say there will be conversations about other potential changes to the lineup as the Panthers try to beat the Titans in Nashville this Sunday for their second win of the season, but it's hard to conjure up much confidence that better answers are waiting in the wings in Carolina right now. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Miles Sanders lost the starting job to Chuba Hubbard a month ago but showed glimpses of what the Panthers hoped he would be -- when they gave him a four-year, $25 million deal during the offseason -- with his most productive outing since Week 1.

Hubbard ran the ball 10 times for 57 yards and caught two passes for eight yards while Sanders ran 11 times for 50 yards and caught a two-yard pass.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, their split was near-perfect in every situation. Hubbard played one more snap than Sanders on early downs, one more on third downs, and the two took two snaps each in short-yardage or goal-line situations. Hubbard started the game and they rotated by drive, but if the drive lasted more than four plays, then both running backs would play snaps on the drive.

Typically, when a team rotates by drive, a running back will stay on the field even if it is a longer drive.

The backfield will likely start as a 50/50 split for the foreseeable future, but if one running back gets the hot hand, they could take over for the second part of the game or potentially earn the job for the rest of the season.

Worth noting, the Panthers have one of the worst schedules for running backs the rest of the season, so this is likely a situation for most fantasy managers to avoid except in deeper leagues. ...

In a related note. ... With 57 yards, Hubbard has recorded 1,429 rushing yards as a Panther, passing Nick Goings (1,470) for 10th most in franchise history. ...

Thielen finished the game with eight receptions for 74 yards. The 33-year-old wide receiver continues to make incredible clutch catches and remains the lone bright spot in a bad offense.

As of the early window games, his 76 catches are the third-most in the league trailing only Keenan Allen (83) and Tyreek Hill (79).

Thielen is now one of six players to have at least five games with eight or more receptions this season. Thielen has now recorded five-plus receptions in nine-straight games, tying for the second-longest such streak of his career (last: Weeks 1-12, 2017 season). ...

Finally. ... Whether or not the offense's struggles might cost Reich and/or general manager Scott Fitterer their jobs remains to be seen.

As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed notes, Reich is in the first year of a four-year contract, so Tepper might give him a pass rather than pay him an estimated $27 million over the next three years. Reich's contract numbers have never been made public, but when the Indianapolis Colts fired him last year they did so still owing him $9 per season.

Fitterer took over in 2021 and hasn't built a winner, so patience with him might be even shorter.

Tepper hasn't conducted any interviews with reporters since the start of the season so it is difficult to gauge his level of frustration.

But this is a billionaire who demands success and hasn't shown much patience.

He fired Ron Rivera less than two years after purchasing the team and then fired Matt Rhule less than 2 1/2 years into a seven-year, $63 million contract. He's also fired two Charlotte FC head coaches within two seasons of owning that franchise. In addition, several other top level executives from the football and soccer teams have either been fired or stepped away since Tepper purchased the team from the late Jerry Richardson in 2018.

One thing is for sure, the fanbase is fed up.

Since Tepper took over a playoff team in 2017, the Panthers have suffered through six losing seasons and have won less than one-third (30-62 overall) of their games under his ownership.

Many of the team's PSL owners sold their tickets to Cowboys fans, who essentially took over Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, a source of embarrassment for any team owner.

Reich said he understand the fans' frustration.

"You start to set things in place to make a change and you want it to happen overnight," Reich said. "Sometimes it takes longer than you want. But you have to keep your head down, be strong-willed, keep the vision clear, and come to work every day, and you've got to be able to fight your way through the tough times."

QBs: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton
RBs: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: Adam Thielen, 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 21 November 2023

Justin Fields looked crisp in his return to action and gave the Bears plenty to consider as they further evaluate their third-year QB.

He completed 16 of 23 pass attempts for 169 yards and a touchdown and had a team-high 18 rushes for 104 yards (14 of those 18 attempts were designed runs, a career high and the most by a quarterback in a game this season) in the team's 31-26 loss in Detroit.

Fields finished with a 105.2 passer rating.

As's Courtney Cronin suggests, that stat line should have been enough for the Bears to win.

For the majority of the game, the Bears offense was in control, orchestrating four drives that had at least 10 plays.

The Bears dominated time of possession -- the offense was on the field for 40:24.

According to ESPN Analytics, the Bears had a 98.2 percent chance to win with 4:15 remaining and a 26-14 lead. But instead of celebrating an upset win in his return, Fields was left wondering how -- for a second time this season -- the Bears blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead which resulted in Detroit walking away with a 31-26 victory.

"I think the offense did a good job of pushing the ball downfield, controlling the ball, forcing long-play drives," Fields said. "Overall, we did good. I think what we've got to get better at is just the situations."

It was the first loss by any team this season when leading by at least 10 points in the final four minutes. Teams were 83-0 in those situations entering Sunday.

But if the top priority was evaluating Fields, the final score didn't dampen the result.

"You always want major production, right?" head coach Matt Eberflus said. "But we'll look at the tape and see where he needs to improve and see where everybody needs to improve."

If Fields builds on what he did in Detroit, the Bears may face a tough decision if they land one of the top two picks with the option of taking USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye.

Fields recorded his fifth 100-yard rushing game, which passed Denver's Russell Wilson for the third most by a quarterback in NFL history.

And Fields entered the day with the fourth-highest pressure rate faced in the NFL (37 percent). When the Lions brought pressure, Fields still delivered, completing 7 of 9 passes for 102 yards and a 39-yard touchdown to wide receiver D.J. Moore.

"He had that, 'I'm here. I'm back' mentality,'" receiver Tyler Scott said. "You could see it. Just his confidence running the ball, throwing the ball. He just stepped in like he never left.

"Even after that play where we didn't connect, he came over, he had a smirk on his face. He said, 'Man, we gonna hit it.' And so, that's encouraging for him."

But for as good as Fields looked for over 58 minutes on Sunday, his fumble off a strip-sack made its way out of the back of the end zone for a safety. After not turning the ball over all game, the moment that squandered the Bears last chance at a comeback was a teaching point for the 24-year-old but should not overshadow the strides he showed in his return.

"If I'm keeping it real with y'all, we should've won that game," Fields said. "It just comes down to finishing and executing at the end of the game."

Can Fields continue this level of play in his next six games?

That's the most important question for the Bears to answer in coming weeks, starting Monday night, when they host the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears have lost five straight and six of seven against the Vikings, including 19-13 at Soldier Field in Week 6. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Khalil Herbert returned to action after missing the last five games while on injured reserve due to ankle and shin injuries.

Herbert was the clear starter when he was healthy while Roschon Johnson was his backup.

D'Onta Foreman played well enough during Herbert's absence that this was a three-man committee for this game.

As's Nathan Jahnke reported, Foreman started the game and took eight of the 10 snaps on the Bears' first drive. Foreman proceeded to play more snaps than Herbert in the first half, taking 16 snaps to Herbert's 12. Johnson played nine snaps in the first half, mostly coming on third downs or second-and-long.

Foreman started the third quarter but injured his ankle on the second play of the quarter and didn't return. He was also limited in practice all week due to an ankle injury.

Herbert played 20 snaps after the injury compared to Johnson's 16.

Jahnke went on to suggest that Herbert can return to fantasy starting lineups if the Foreman injury is serious, as he should receive the clear majority of carries.

If Foreman returns, then Herbert should still play more snaps than he did in the first half, but Foreman might remain the better fantasy back due to goal-line opportunities.

He scored a one-yard touchdown run in this game.

Jahnke added the Bears have one of the worst schedules for running backs going forward, so this might be something to avoid in most leagues regardless of the health of Foreman. ...

Moore hit a new milestone against the Lions, surpassing 6,000 career receiving yards and reaching 800 this season. Moore is the first player drafted in 2018 or later to reach the 6,000 yard mark.

Moore caught seven of his nine targets for 96 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass from Fields in the third quarter. Moore now sits at 6,090 career receiving yards. ...

For the second straight week, Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown and Scott rotated for the second and third receiver spots rather than Mooney being a clear starter. ...

Also according to Jahnke, Cole Kmet ran his fewest routes in a game this season. He was targeted three times after seeing at least seven targets each of the last three weeks.

For the record, Eberflus had no update on Foreman; I'll have more via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Finally. ... The Bears cut Trace McSorley from the practice squad Tuesday. Fields' return made McSorley expendable.

The Bears signed McSorley to serve as the third quarterback and run the scout team while Fields was recovering from a dislocated thumb. The team still has Tyson Bagent and Nathan Peterman on their roster behind Fields.

QBs: Justin Fields, Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Khalil Herbert, D'Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame
WRs: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., Trent Taylor, Equanimeous St. Brown
TEs: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Jake Tonges

Cincinnati Bengals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy reported, even before Joe Burrow's season-ending wrist injury was announced, the Cincinnati Bengals already were facing a challenging road in trying to get back to the playoffs for a third straight season.

Without Burrow, Reedy believes that might be too big of a hill to climb.

Thursday night's 34-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens evened the Bengals' record at 5-5. When Jake Browning walked into the complex on Monday to begin preparations for the Nov. 26 game against Pittsburgh, it was for a team that is only one game out of wild-card spot.

However, the Bengals are an AFC-worst 1-5 in conference games and are winless in their three division matchups.

Cincinnati's six remaining opponents -- it plays the Steelers twice -- are .500 or better. If there is any modicum of hope, it is that Indianapolis, Minnesota and Cleveland also are fielding backup quarterbacks.

"I don't feel a lot of weight. Maybe I'm the one off with that assessment," Browning told reporters on Friday. "I think I would be doing myself a disservice if I started hopping into all the different narratives of a good player going down. Not really my job. My job is to keep trying to get better, focus on the day to day, week to week and game to game.

"It sounds kind of repetitive, but there's a lot of different ways your mind can go. If you take everything and just narrow it down to: 'Hey, here's what I really need to focus on. Here's what actually matters,' everything else kind of falls into place."

Browning spent the past two seasons on the Bengals' practice squad before being elevated to Burrow's backup this season. Against the Ravens, Browning was 8 of 14 for 68 yards and threw a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Browning played at the University of Washington, where he was a four-year starter and led the Huskies to a pair of Pac-12 titles. He went undrafted, though, and spent the 2019 and '20 seasons on Minnesota's practice squad.

Head coach Zac Taylor said that Browning getting a lot of snaps during training camp, when Burrow was out because of a calf injury, and being in Cincinnati for three seasons was a benefit when trying to install a game plan.

"I feel really comfortable he can do all the things we ask our guys to do in our offense. So, it doesn't take anything off the table," Taylor said. "Obviously, you want to continue to play to his strengths. You continue to change conversations from, 'Hey, Joe, what do you like in the plan?' to more, 'Hey, Jake, what do you feel most comfortable about in these situations?' That's the only thing that really changes within the scope of our offense. Everything stays on the table."

Browning showed he can be shifty when pressured.

He was sacked three times, but he also gained 40 yards on four quarterback scrambles, including two that picked up a first down.

Whatever the case, the odds are stacked against the Bengals.

As of Sunday afternoon, Cincinnati had a 10.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN Analytics. But even with Burrow gone and Browning at quarterback, Cincinnati isn't ready to write off its 2023 campaign just yet.

"We've got a lot of talent on this roster and this season is far from over," Taylor said.

And Browning is looking forward to showing that all that preparation wasn't in vain as he finally gets his big break in the NFL. Browning recalled watching Bengals wide receiver Trenton Irwin go from a practice squad player to someone who is a trusted part of the 53-player roster.

"It was like, 'All right, that was pretty cool to see, that's gonna be me at some point,'" Browning said. "Now that opportunity is here and I'm looking to make the most of it."

Again, the Bengals look to avoid dropping their first four AFC North games for the first time since 2020 when they hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 26. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Tight end Tanner Hudson, another former practice squad player, led the Bengals in catches (4) and receiving yards (49) Thursday.

In his first four games of the season, he had 14 catches for 126 yards.

Finally. ... As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason pointed out, Joe Mixon has finished as a top-10 PPR running back in three of his last four games. He's scored a touchdown in four straight.

It's fair to wonder if that touchdown production is sustainable in a post-Burrow stretch run.

Adding to that is a schedule that includes the Vikings, Steelers, and Chiefs.

As Zachariason points out, Minnesota and Kansas City are bottom-10 matchups by adjusted fantasy points allowed for running backs, and Pittsburgh is about average. You'd imagine a game against the Steelers will be pretty low-scoring, too.

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

Cleveland Browns

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

According to's Jake Trotter, even after the Browns signed veteran Joe Flacco on Monday, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will remain Cleveland's starting quarterback, head coach Kevin Stefanski said.

Thompson-Robinson led the Browns on a game-winning field goal drive Sunday as Cleveland defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10. Thompson-Robinson completed all four of his passes on the final drive. He finished 24-of-43 for 165 yards with an interception.

The Browns worked out Flacco last week following the season-ending shoulder injury to quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is expected to undergo surgery in the coming days.

Flacco has thrown for 42,320 yards and 232 touchdowns in his career. He won the Super Bowl in 2013 while with the Baltimore Ravens and was named Super Bowl MVP.

Flacco, 38, most recently started games for the New York Jets during the 2022 season and led the team to an improbable fourth-quarter comeback in Week 2 in Cleveland that year. In that game, Flacco threw four touchdown passes, including the game winner to Garrett Wilson with 22 seconds remaining.

P.J. Walker, who has two starts this year, is the other quarterback on the Browns' roster.

"Joe's role is to support this team," Stefanski said. "He'll be great for that [quarterback] room. He'll be great for this team."

Thompson-Robinson admitted he heard the crowd chanting "DTR" toward the end of Sunday's game, which he said was great for his family. But at the same time, he's trying to stay focused and do his job.

To that end, he wasn't taking too much time to linger on the victory -- his first as an NFL starter.

"I'm already focused on next week. I'm focused on going to Denver," Thompson-Robinson said. "But yeah, man, I'm super happy, glad that I can get this one for my teammates and actually go out there, like I said, get the reps at practice, make the mistakes throughout the week. And so that way those mistakes don't come up on Sunday.

"And there were some times where there were plays I messed up in the week that we got corrected today, and they were huge for us coming down the stretch."

Cleveland is 7-3 and faces the Denver Broncos on the road this weekend. ...

The Browns lost another key player to injury Sunday. Stefanski confirmed that safety Rodney McLeod Jr. is out for the season with a biceps injury that will require surgery. He replaced starting safety Juan Thornhill on Sunday. Thornhill is battling a calf injury.

Can this version of the Browns make the playoffs?

No Nick Chubb. And no Watson.

Still, these Browns continue to find ways to win games.

The Browns defense once again was magnificent, giving the offense a chance for the game-winning drive. Thompson-Robinson made the plays when he needed to down the stretch, despite a rough second half completing passes.

And special teams, namely kicker Dustin Hopkins, was clutch with the game-winning field goal. ...

Meanwhile, the team has a solid backfield to complement their powerhouse defense.

The Browns backfield seemed to stabilize the past two weeks, but Cleveland changed its tendencies this week.

Jerome Ford played a clear majority of Cleveland's early-down snaps over the past two weeks with both running backs healthy, so it seemed like that trend would continue. Instead, Kareem Hunt played more snaps in those situations against the Steelers.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, Ford played all 12 snaps on first and second down on the first two drives and Pierre Strong Jr. took the snaps on the third drive. Hunt played for most of the game after that. Ford was also playing 100 percent of the two-minute drill work, but those snaps were split this week.

The end result: Ford played just 50.7 percent of Cleveland's offensive snaps. According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, that was his lowest rate since playing injured in Week 8.

Fortunately -- at least for Ford investors, while Hunt had consistently been the goal-line back when both players were healthy, it was Ford this week, leading to a one-yard touchdown.

Hunt took 15 of a possible 16 snaps in the fourth quarter. There were times throughout Hunt's career when Chubb played most of the first three quarters and then Hunt would close the game in the fourth, and that seemed to be the case this week.

Both players ended up with 12 carries for 30-40 yards and a few receptions each for single-digit yards.

According to Jahnke, it will remain a risk counting on either one of these running backs for the rest of the season based on their inconsistent usage. But it's late in the season and sometimes risky is as good as it gets. ...

Amari Cooper has now failed to score 8 PPR points in three of five games without Watson this season (including a contest against Colts where Watson threw 5 passes.) As Zachariason noted, in games with Watson, he hit 15-plus points in 4 of 5.

Finally. ... Watson underwent successful surgery on the displaced fracture in his throwing shoulder on Tuesday, the Browns announced.

Watson's rehab process is scheduled to begin on Friday, per the team, and he is expected to be fully recovered prior to the start of the 2024 season.

Although he sustained the injury in the first half of the Browns' Week 10 game against the Ravens, Watson stayed under center for the entirety of Cleveland's triumphant 33-31 comeback victory over Baltimore.

As's Bobby Kownack suggested, it was perhaps Watson's greatest moment with the team since signing a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract with Cleveland in 2022.

In two years with the Browns, the QB has 2,217 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 59.8 completion percentage with an 8-4 record.

Five of those victories have come this season, helping propel the Browns to 7-3 -- good enough for the fifth seed in the AFC through Week 11.

QBs: Joe Flacco, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong Jr., Nick Chubb
WRs: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell
TEs: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant

Dallas Cowboys

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

According to's Todd Archer, by the time coach Mike McCarthy got onto the Dallas Cowboys' American Airlines charter flight back to Dallas early Sunday evening, he was no longer thinking about the 33-10 win against the Carolina Panthers.

The coach's mind was on the Cowboys' next opponent for a Thursday showdown on Thanksgiving, the Washington Commanders.

"A lot of good to come out of this and, frankly, we're not going to spend a whole lot of time [on it]," McCarthy said after the game. "We'll be watching Washington on the way home. Sorry, I'm not here to go ticky-tack with you on stats today. I apologize because my mind's already on the next one."

The coaches actually started looking at Washington late last week, but that is something normal, considering the quick turnaround for the annual holiday game. McCarthy has altered the practice schedule, as the Cowboys play three games in a 12-day period, moving to walkthroughs for Wednesday practices and cutting some reps out of Thursday's practice.

"I feel like we came here and did what we needed to do," McCarthy said.

It wasn't always pretty, but DaRon Bland's pick-six, seven sacks from the defense (including 2.5 from Micah Parsons) and Tony Pollard's 21-yard touchdown run in which he ran over former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods at the 5-yard line were the highlights.

If there was a tight moment Sunday, it came after the Panthers cut the gap to 17-10 on a 17-play, 70-yard drive that ate up 8 minutes and 58 seconds. But then the Cowboys answered with a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Pollard's first touchdown since the season opener.

Pollard's 61 yards rushing were the most since his only 100-yard game of the season in Week 3.

Ten seconds later, Bland had his NFL-record tying fourth pick-six.

"To say it was clean and it was exactly what we wanted to do, I can't say that," quarterback Dak Prescott said.

But it was a win, and Prescott's attention will turn to Washington on Monday. He watched the Panthers' game on the plane ride home to see the good and the bad.

"It's a factor of needing to clear my head," Prescott said. "When you're watching film, you want to make sure that you're really into it."

While the Commanders (4-7) are coming off a 31-19 loss to a New York Giants team the Cowboys obliterated 42-17 two week ago, three of the Commanders four wins have come on the road. Before Sunday's three-interception performance against the Giants, Sam Howell was one of the hotter quarterbacks in the NFL (three straight 300-yard passing games). Even in the loss Sunday, Washington managed to run for 174 yards, and the run defense has been the one hiccup the Cowboys have had this season.

"Division opponent, had beat us the last time we played them, so focus will be high," Prescott said. "Damn sure from my part. I know, the rest of the guys, that will be my job as a leader is making sure guys understand that. Once again, looking on paper, their record, lesser opponent, but we've got to come in, division opponent, be who we are. Take care of business on Thanksgiving, and then we can enjoy our holidays the right way."

The Cowboys are just 4-6 in their past 10 Thanksgiving Day games, but they are also in the midst of a 12-game winning streak at ATamp;T Stadium, their longest at home since winning 18 straight from 1979 to 1981.

After the Commanders' game, the Cowboys play the Seattle Seahawks at home on Nov. 30 for "Thursday Night Football," then comes the rematch against the Eagles.

Being 9-3 is almost a must.

"Having a little bit of an odd schedule, it's going to help being at home, and taking the travel out of it," Prescott said. "It's about us winning and about us focusing on our job, what we've got to do and just continuing to build off of the last couple of games. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... Michael Gallup's share of offensive snaps has declined each game since Week 5. Sunday, his playing time reached a new low.

Gallup played in 18 of a possible 32 snaps in 11 (three-receiver) personnel over the first three quarters with Jalen Tolbert taking 14. Tolbert played more last week by taking a few snaps from Brandin Cooks as well, but Cooks played in 29 of 32 snaps in 11 personnel.

Gallup also took all five snaps in 01 personnel -- a grouping with no running back while KaVontae Turpin is on the field. Turpin is capable of running with the ball.

Gallup didn't take a single snap in a two-wide-receiver set for the second straight week.

Last week, Gallup continued to play into the fourth quarter with the backups because Turpin was inactive, making Gallup clearly among the bottom three on the depth chart.

This week, Gallup only took two snaps in the fourth quarter with Jalen Brooks and Tolbert taking most of the fourth-quarter snaps.

Gallup caught three passes for 31 yards.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, it's possible Gallup's playing time bounces back in a more competitive game but even with a bounceback, he can be dropped in most fantasy leagues. ...

Running back Rico Dowdle popped up on the injury report Saturday as questionable with an ankle injury. He was active and third-string running back Deuce Vaughn was a healthy inactive, which pointed to Dowdle being fine for this game.

The blowout win impacted the playing time of all Cowboys star players in the second half of the fourth quarter. Most notably, Pollard only took four of a possible 20 fourth-quarter snaps.

On the injury front. ... CeeDee Lamb landed on the team's first injury report of the week.

The Cowboys did not hold a practice because they will be hosting the Commanders on Thursday afternoon, but they estimated that Lamb would have been limited if they had their usual session. An ankle injury is listed as the reason why he would not have fully participated.

Fortunately, he was upgraded to full participation Tuesday and guarantees he will play Thanksgiving Day.

"I'm straight. I'll be out there," Lamb said.

Lamb had six catches for 38 yards and a touchdown in the 33-10 win over the Panthers.

Gallup (personal) and left tackle Tyron Smith (rest) did not practice Tuesday; and right tackle Terence Steele (ankle) was a full participant.

Dowdle (ankle) and safety Jayron Kearse (back) remained out of practice for a second-straight day Tuesday.

I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant in advance of Thursday's game.

Finally. ... Tight end Peyton Hendershot is close to a return from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for seven games. The Cowboys figure to wait at least another game because of the short week. Hendershot said he has been cleared for all activities and he's practicing fully this week.

QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Trey Lance
RBs: Tony Pollard, 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 21 November 2023

After an ugly 1-5 start to the season, the Broncos have clawed their way back to .500 with a four-game winning streak.

And, as's Michael David Smith suggests, it's no coincidence that the Broncos have won the turnover battle in all four games.

In the five games the Broncos have won this season, they're plus-13 in turnover margin. In the five games the Broncos have lost, they're minus-7. In Sunday night's win over the Vikings, the Broncos were plus-three, and head coach Sean Payton says that's why they won.

"If you just looked at the stat line you would see Minnesota did a lot of things better than us. We really struggled offensively, especially on third down," Payton said. "The one thing we did, we took the ball away three times and we didn't turn it over, so that becomes the trump card in a game like this."

Payton acknowledged that there are things the Broncos have to do better, but as long as the offense isn't turning the ball over and the defense is taking it away, he thinks they're going to be a tough team to beat.

"We were fortunate to win. I'm proud of our fight. There's still a lot we need to clean up, but the turnovers and the takeaways can do that for you when you're not playing how you want to," Payton said.

A season that looked lost a month ago now looks like it could end with a playoff berth. And turnovers are the biggest reason for that.

But there's more to it than that.

The Broncos spent most of Sunday night settling for field goals after getting close to scoring a touchdown, but that wouldn't suffice late in the fourth quarter on Sunday night.

Vikings kicker Greg Joseph's field goal with just over three minutes left to play put his team up 20-15 and it meant that the Broncos needed a touchdown if they were going to pull out a win at home. For the fifth time in the game, quarterback Russell Wilson piloted the team inside the Vikings' 20-yard-line.

One of the biggest plays on the drive was a fourth-down catch by wide receiver Courtland Sutton and Wilson looked Sutton's way again on a first down from the Vikings' 15-yard-line. Wilson put the ball in the left corner of the end zone and Sutton went up to get it with defenders around him.

"Once I saw it coming, I knew I was like, 'I can't wait for this to come down,'" Sutton said, via the team's website. "I knew there were defenders around us, so I had to go and make a play. It was up in the air and you never know, you can run your route and you never know where the ball will go because we have great weapons on offense and you never know where the ball is going to go, who it is going to find. I looked up and saw the ball finding me. It was nice."

"This guy's been lights out," Wilson said of Sutton, who outleapt cornerback Mekhi Blackmon for his eighth TD of the season. "He's one of the best in the game and I tried to put it on a place that only he could get it. And sure enough."

Wilson went 27 of 35 for 259 yards without an interception for Denver.

The catch made the Broncos 21-20 winners and it extended their winning streak to four games with a home game against the Browns on tap for Week 12. If they can keep the streak alive, they will be in the thick of the playoff chase as the calendar flips to December and Sutton is a big reason why the team has been able to turn its season around.

Other notes of interest. ...

Wil Lutz made all five of his field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder with no time remaining in the first half. The five made field goals represented a career high for Lutz.

Samaje Perine was stellar on the Broncos' final drive, as he caught four passes for 40 yards and ran once for a 7-yard gain.

Finally. ... Kareem Jackson has been suspended for a second time in as many months for repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players.

The NFL announced Jackson's latest suspension for four games on Monday in light of the defensive back lowering his helmet to hit Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs.

Sunday was Jackson's first game back from his previous suspension, handed out after a Week 7 game against the Green Bay Packers for violating unnecessary roughness rules. That was also a four-game suspension but it was subsequently reduced to two games following an appeal.

Jackson appealed this suspension as well.

This time, unlike the last one, there was no reduction. NFL hearing officer Derrick Brooks upheld Jackson's four-game suspension.

Jackson will now be eligible to return to the Broncos' active roster following the team's Week 15 contest against the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, 35, is in his 14th season overall and fifth with the Broncos. He's posted 51 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups in eight starts this year.

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

Detroit Lions

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

According to's Eric Woodyard, even Jared Goff acknowledged that it wasn't close to his greatest day at the office.

But despite a three-interception performance, the veteran quarterback still managed to lead the Lions to a nail-biting 31-26 comeback win against the NFC North rival Chicago Bears on Sunday at Ford Field.

"It's a lot easier to play bad and win than to play bad and lose," said Goff, who went 23-for-35 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. "Kind of what we did today, we played not our best ball and not my best ball for about three and a half quarters and we found a way to make it work here at the end.

"It's the sign of a good team. We're a resilient group, we're tough, we have a lot of courage, and we don't back down from anything."

Detroit, now 8-2 for the first time since 1962, was trailing 26-14 with 4:15 remaining in the game. According to ESPN Analytics, the Bears had a 98.2 percent chance to win at that point, but Goff kept his composure to lead two touchdown drives down the stretch, even while playing through light boos from fans at one point.

"I get it. They're upset, I'm upset. They can be upset and boo, that's alright," Goff said of the fans. "But yeah, I think the expectations for our team are higher than they've ever been and we want to win home games in front of our home [fans] against division opponents. Today, we ultimately did that. We didn't get there in a straight line, but we ultimately came out with the W."

Goff connected with second-year receiver Jameson Williams for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 2:59 remaining while going 10-for-12 for 115 yards on Detroit's final two drives.

The Lions capped the victory with a 1-yard touchdown rush up the middle by running back David Montgomery with 29 seconds left, followed by a two-point conversion catch by rookie tight end Sam LaPorta. Detroit's defense then sealed it with a sack/fumble that resulted in a safety by edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson.

Even when they trailed by 12, Montgomery told Woodyard the mood on the sideline was "we've got time left" and they were "still in the fight." It marked the first win by any team this season when trailing by 10 or more points in the final four minutes. Teams were 0-83 in that scenario entering Sunday.

"It means that the guys that you have around you are willing to go to the wit's ends to make sure that they know we've got each other's back and knowing that we can win certain facets, different, multitude of facets and come out on top," said Montgomery, who rushed for a team-high 76 yards off 12 carries against his former team. "It definitely shows a lot of resiliency with this team, and we have that. I'm grateful to be a part of that."

After the clutch victory, head coach Dan Campbell said when "the pressure went up and our heart rate leveled out ... we talked about."

It marked the first time Goff had thrown three interceptions since Week 4 against Tampa Bay in 2019 (as a member of the Los Angeles Rams), but he showed up when it mattered. All three of Goff's interceptions versus Chicago came against Cover-3 defense by the Bears, according to ESPN Analytics/NFL Next Gen Stats.

Detroit registered four turnovers for the first time since Week 7 of last season at Dallas.

But the Lions still did enough to win their seventh straight division game, the team's longest streak since the 1970 merger.

"At the end of the game, down two scores, that's when he's at his best in a game where he's not playing his best game; I think that speaks volumes," Campbell said of Goff. "Here's what we know about Goff: At the very least, he's going to be mentally tough and physically tough, and you can always count on that. You can bank on that."

Sunday's victory over the Bears has given Goff a .500 record with the Lions.

He's 20-20-1, which is quite an accomplishment considering he started his career as a Lion with 10 losses and a tie before winning a game. ...

Worth noting. ... According to's Tim Twentyman, three of Detroit's four touchdowns came with the Lions in the two-minute, up-tempo offense at the end of the first half and the two drives at the end of the game. Goff was 17-of-21 passing for 188 yards with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion completion in those three drives. ...

Should the Lions be worried about their NFC North lead?

The Lions have been favored all season to win their first divisional crown since 1993, and while that goal seemed vulnerable at times Sunday with four turnovers, the Lions found a way to win. Detroit still has four divisional games, including Thursday's Thanksgiving Day tilt with the Packers, two against the Vikings and one more against Chicago.

Their path won't be easy if the Lions don't clean it up on both sides of the ball going forward. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs recorded his fourth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown. Gibbs, who has five touchdowns on the season, joined Kevin Jones (2004) and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (1989) as the only Lions rookies to have one-plus rushing touchdown in four consecutive games in franchise history.

On Sunday, Montgomery and Gibbs got equal touches -- 14 and 14.

After the game, Montgomery was asked whether he's happy with the division of labor between him and the rookie.

"I'm happy that we're winning," Montgomery told's Mike Florio. "I'm happy with everything right now and we're doing a great job right now. Jahmyr's playing great ball and I'm playing some good ball, too. We also understand that we hold great value to this team, to this offense. We both know that they need us both, so whatever it may be, we're ready for it."

Gibbs was on the field for 35 snaps and Montgomery was on the field for 25 against the Bears. Montgomery technically got the start. He also scored the game-winning touchdown.

For the game, Montgomery had 76 yards on 12 carries, and 22 yards on two catches. Gibbs had eight carries for 36 yards and six catches for 59 yards.

That amounts to 98 yards from scrimmage for Montgomery, and 95 for Gibbs.

Against the Chargers in Week 10, Montgomery had 12 touches (all rushes) for 116 yards and Gibbs had 17 touches for 112. Gibbs had 38 offensive plays and Montgomery had 25.

How will the workload be divided on Thursday against the Packers?

We'll see. And Montgomery apparently won't have a problem with sharing the workload almost equally (and playing fewer plays on offense), as long as the Lions keep on winning. ...

The Lions drafted Williams last year to be a playmaker and deep threat in Ben Johnson's offense with his world-class speed. Williams had a 32-yard touchdown late to help the Lions in their comeback win over Chicago. It was Williams' third career touchdown and all three have been from 30-or-more yards.

It's exactly what the Lions hoped for when they drafted him No. 12 overall last year. ...

Donovan Peoples-Jones made his debut with the Lions after getting traded from the Browns at the trade deadline. He only played three offensive snaps and didn't catch his only target. ...

LaPorta was held to three receptions for 18 yards. His previous career-low in receiving yards in a game was 36. It similarly tied his career low in receptions at three.

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 21 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Steve Megargee noted, this is season of transition for Green Bay's offense gives the Packers plenty of opportunities to figure out which of their young players could emerge as long-term key performers.

It appears they've found a couple of keepers in rookie wide receivers Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks.

Reed scored on a 32-yard end-around and Wicks had three catches for a career-high 91 yards Sunday in a 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

"They're playmakers," quarterback Jordan Love said after the game.

Reed, a second-round pick from Michigan State, has a team-high 463 yards receiving. After catching four touchdown passes in the Packers' first nine games, Reed showcased his versatility Sunday by scoring his first career rushing touchdown.

Love faked a handoff to Aaron Jones and then flipped the ball backward to Reed, who raced around the right end. Reed also caught four passes for 46 yards.

"He was a little banged up, as well," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "Nothing serious, but battling through. He took a nice hit. He is a dog. He's a war daddy."

Before leaving Sunday's game to get evaluated for a concussion, Wicks set up the Packers' go-ahead touchdown by catching a short pass, bouncing off cornerback Michael Davis and heading upfield for a 35-yard gain.

"I was telling him early in the game, 'Stay into it, a play's going to come to you,'" Reed said. "And it did."

All three of Wicks' catches Sunday went for at least 25 yards. He's the first Packers rookie over the past 45 seasons to have at least three receptions of 25-plus yards in a single game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wicks is a fifth-round pick from Virginia.

In addition, Romeo Doubs had the winning score Sunday and has caught a touchdown pass in four of his past five games.

His seven touchdown catches this season put him in a tie for third place in the NFL, behind only Miami's Tyreek Hill and Denver's Courtland Sutton entering Monday.

Still, the emergence of Reed and Wicks provided a spark Sunday as Love threw for a career-high 322 yards. The Packers (4-6) needed more production than usual from their passing game Sunday when injuries to Jones and Emanuel Wilson left A.J. Dillon as their only available running back.

Green Bay's issues at running back could persist as the Packers have little time to get ready for their Thanksgiving Day game with the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (8-2).

"I might have to play running back at some point," Reed joked after the game. I'm just kidding. No doubt, you've definitely got to make adjustments in those situations. And I think we did a good job."

It didn't look good when Jones was carted off the field while holding a towel over his head in the second quarter of the game, but LaFleur said he does not expect Jones to be out for an extended period of the time.

"I don't think it's long term," LaFleur said after the game.

While Jones avoided a major injury, he is unlikely to be on the field on Thanksgiving Day versus the Detroit Lions.

Jones suffered an MCL sprain and is considered week to week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday, per a source informed of the situation. With a Thursday game in fewer than 48 hours, the RB is unlikely to be ready in time for Week 12.

Thursday will likely mark the fourth missed game of the season for Jones, who dealt with a hamstring injury earlier this season, missing three games and barely playing in the first meeting against Detroit on Sept. 28.

With rookie Wilson also injuring his shoulder in Week 11, Green Bay is set to lean heavily on running back Dillon on Thanksgiving Day. The club signed Patrick Taylor off the Patriots practice squad and added veteran James Robinson to the practice squad on Monday.

Dillon, who will be a free agent this offseason, didn't exactly take advantage of his opportunity on Sunday with just 61 total yards on 18 touches. He'll need to do better in Detroit Thursday to help keep the offense on schedule. ...

Also on the injury front. ... Wicks was listed as a nonparticipant Tuesday with a knee injury and concussion. Reed (chest) was listed as a limited participant in the Tuesday walkthrough session.

The likelihood of Wicks playing on a short Thanksgiving week is low. Wicks' absence means a few more targets for Christian Watson and Doubs.

In addition,'s Bill Huber reports that Luke Musgrave suffered an abdomen injury against the Chargers.

Despite playing through injury, Musgrave has been in the hospital according to LaFleur. He described it by saying "He didn't say anything all game."

LaFleur commended his toughness, but as Rotoworld suggests, this doesn't look good for the rookie tight end who's recorded at least 50 receiving yards in two of his last three games. Tucker Kraft is next man up if Musgrave can't go.

Musgrave had four catches Sunday and now has 33 this season, putting the second-round pick from Oregon State one away from the Packers rookie record for a tight end. Bubba Franks caught 34 passes as a rookie in 2000.

I'll follow up on the all involved via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday's game. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Love has had his two highest passing yardage totals in Green Bay's past two games. He threw for 289 yards at Pittsburgh before his 322-yard performance Sunday.

Anders Carlson missed an extra-point attempt Sunday after having a PAT blocked the previous week.

After Thursday's game against the Lions, Green Bay has a Dec. 3 home game with the Kansas City Chiefs. Once the Packers get through this tough two-game stretch, only one of their last five contests will be against a team that currently has a winning record.

QBs: Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
RBs: Aaron Jones, 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 21 November 2023

C.J. Stroud threw a career-high three interceptions in Sunday's 21-16 win over Arizona, but that won't slow the dynamic rookie.

In athlete parlance, shooters shoot.

"Man, Steph Curry don't ever stop shooting," Stroud said after the game, via the team's official website. "I'm going to keep letting it ride. And I've got no shame in my game. I've definitely got to be smarter. No confidence is taken away from me. I'm going to keep letting it fly."

Stroud's first INT came sandwiched around three touchdown drives as the Texans raced out to a 21-10 halftime lead. His second and third interceptions came on the final two possessions, allowing the Cardinals a chance to win the game, but DeMeco Ryans' D came up with a stop each time. Arizona scored zero points off Stroud's three INTs.

"I thought we threw the ball really well," Stroud said. "I don't look at three plays and, like, dang, I had a bad game. Of course, I can't turn the ball over that much. Threw for 300 yards again two touchdowns. I don't think I played terrible, but of course, you can't turn the ball over."

Stroud had more INTs in Week 11 (three) than in his first nine career games (two).

It's much easier to clean up after a win than a loss.

In back-to-back weeks, Stroud has thrown late picks, but each game the Texans stood tall and came out with a W. That's how good teams operate. Find a way to win even after stubbing your toe.

At this stage, we can no longer consider Ryans' club a fluke or just lucky to hang around. The schedule has been favorable, but outside the disappointment against Carolina, Houston has proven that it can make the plays needed to win games.

"For C.J., we continue to highlight the good he's doing," Ryans said. "You're talking about a young guy who can move the football down the field. You're going to have miscues and bad plays, but it's all about how you respond to those plays."

Stroud's response will come against the Jaguars in a Week 12 game that will decide who is leading the AFC South heading into the final month of 2023.

Worth noting. ... On Sunday, Stroud earned his fourth game this season with 300-plus yards passing and two-plus passing TDs (ties him for the third-most such games by a rookie QB in NFL history, behind Justin Herbert and Andrew Luck). He joined Joe Burrow as the only rookies in NFL history with 300 or more yards passing in three consecutive games.

Stroud's 336 pass yards in Week 11 moved him into fourth place for most passing yards in a player's first 10 career games with 2,962 -- trailing only Patrick Mahomes (3,185), Herbert (3,015) and Andrew Luck (2,965).

The second overall pick has thrown for 1,695 yards in five home games, which is the most through a player's first five home games in NFL history.

The home crowd showered Stroud with chants of "M-V-P, M-V-P!" Sunday after he got a pass off under heavy pressure and found Tank Dell in the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown that made it 21-10 just before halftime.

"I really didn't hear it, but I appreciate it," Stroud said. "That's cool. Hopefully, I keep playing well and keep putting wins together. That's definitely of course my end goal, not just this year, but for every year. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... At just 5-8 and 165 pounds, Dell was plagued by doubters who thought his size would hold him back in the NFL.

Nine games into his rookie season, Dell is proving those critics wrong by emerging as one of Houston's top receivers.

"It's just extra motivation that made me walk around with two chips on my shoulder," Dell said. "When I do get my chance to go out there and perform in front of the millions of people, I just try my best and do what I have to do, and God blesses me."

Dell had a season-high 149 yards on eight receptions and set a franchise rookie record with his sixth touchdown catch on Sunday.

It's the second time he's set the team rookie record for yards in a game; he had a 145-yard performance in Week 3.

He's second on the team with 659 yards receiving, despite missing one game with a concussion. With seven games left, he already ranks third among Houston rookies in that category, trailing Andre Johnson (976 yards in 2003) and DeAndre Hopkins (802 in 2013).

Nico Collins, who leads Houston with 696 yards receiving, has been impressed with his fellow wideout.

"Size don't matter man, it's about the heart, the mindset you've got," Collins said. "Tank's a dog and it continues to show and it's only going to get better for him."

The Texans traded up to nab Dell in the third round with the 69th pick after he had two straight 1,300-yard seasons to wrap up his career just down the road with the Houston Cougars. He caught 32 touchdowns in three years at Houston. He believes his size caused him to fall to the third round and said on draft night that he wrote in his notes the names of every receiver drafted ahead of him.

He doesn't have blazing speed, running a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the combine, but he's quick off the line of scrimmage and has a knack for getting open.

Stroud and Dell have become close friends and the quarterback said they're always texting each other about plays and sharing little things that they think will help them improve.

Dell doesn't like talking about himself and often answers questions about his play by giving those around him credit. On Sunday, he said Stroud is a big reason for his success.

"Seven (Stroud), he's the best player on the field every time he steps out there, man," Dell said. "So it starts up front, but he puts it where it's supposed to be and he does a great job at that. ..."

From a fantasy perspective, Dell has been on fire over the last three games.

He's averaged 11.7 targets per game, has four touchdowns and 25 PPR points per game. ...

As noted above, Dell's success doesn't keep others from delivering. As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason pointed out, Collins had a 28.9 percent target share today, his highest since Week 4. ...

A few final items. ... The Texans ran the ball well again Sunday a week after they had a season-high 188 yards in a win at Cincinnati. Devin Singletary had his second straight 100-yard game with 112 yards rushing against the Cardinals.

That performance came after he ran for a career-best 150 yards against the Bengals. The fifth-year pro has taken advantage of his opportunity in the starting lineup, filling in for Dameon Pierce, who is out with an ankle injury.

Singletary has potentially played well enough in the last three games to keep the starting job even when Pierce is healthy.

I'll have more on Pierce, who was able to return to practice late last week, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Brevin Jordan returned to the Texans after missing the last three games with a foot injury. They were comfortable enough with his health to make Eric Saubert inactive, leaving them with two tight ends and fullback/tight end hybrid Andrew Beck, who also missed last week.

QBs: C.J. Stroud, Case Keenum, Davis Mills
RBs: Devin Singletary, Dameon Pierce, Mike Boone, Dare Ogunbowale
WRs: Nico Collins, 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 21 November 2023

The Colts re-convened at team headquarters on Monday with an opportunity to make a playoff push -- but with a fresh focus that isn't necessarily on their standing in the AFC.

Lying ahead in Week 12 is a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which will kick off a seven-game sprint to the end of the season for the 5-5 Colts.

After the Buccaneers (4-6), the Colts face the Tennessee Titans (3-7), Cincinnati Bengals (5-5), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4), Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Las Vegas Raiders (5-6) and Houston Texans (6-4). But the Colts' attention is less on the playoff race and more on what it'll take to stay in that picture going forward.

"I think the biggest thing for us is control what we can control, (that's) what I told the team," head coach Shane Steichen said. "Let's be 1-0 each week and not think about the future. Let's focus on Tampa Bay and then we'll worry about the next one when it comes."

Still, there's a legitimate opportunity here for the Colts.

The AFC playoff odds, per DVOA, from teams other than the four current division leaders (Kansas City, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Miami):

  • Cleveland (89.1 percent)
  • Pittsburgh (68.0 percent)
  • Houston (59.9 percent)
  • Indianapolis (32.5 percent)
  • Buffalo (32.5 percent)
  • Los Angeles (12.1 percent)
  • Denver (11.8 percent)
  • Cincinnati (7.8 percent)
  • Las Vegas (3.2 percent)
  • New York (3.2 percent)
  • Tennessee (1.3 percent)
  • New England (0.2 percent)

    ESPN's FPI doesn't include every team still contending in the AFC playoff race, but has the wild card race shaping up like this:

  • Cleveland (82 percent)
  • Houston (63 percent)
  • Pittsburgh (52 percent)
  • Buffalo (40 percent)
  • Indianapolis (32 percent)
  • Los Angeles (21 percent)'s JJ Stankevitz reports, however, these aren't numbers the Colts are particularly concerned about.

    "You start looking at percentages and it's kind of confusing, too and it changes every week," defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo said. "So I kind of don't pay attention to the playoff standings until obviously, the last couple of weeks when it really comes down to it."

    Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was a part of playoff pushes with the Buffalo Bills, who reached the postseason in four of his five seasons there (2019-2022). Over the bye week, McKenzie started scoreboard watching a little bit, knowing on a young team his experience navigating late-season playoff pushes will provide valuable insight for his teammates.

    "We've got a lot of young guys on the team and they don't really understand one loss, one win could change your whole scenario, the playoff picture, things like that," McKenzie said. "I try to watch it as close as possible now than I ever had because -- like I said, we're a young team but we have some ability and a lot of chances to go and make a playoff run, try and get to the playoffs the best way we can. I'm watching it this bye week like this team loses, this is where it puts us or if this team wins, this is where it puts us. I've been paying a lot of attention to it. I don't know about other guys, but I'm pretty sure it's been in the ear like, 'Hey, we can do this.'"

    The Colts still have games remaining against the Bengals (Week 14), Steelers (Week 15) and Texans (Week 18) that could carry major playoff implications. Cincinnati, like the Colts and so many other teams this season, will have to adjust to life without their starting quarterback, as Joe Burrow sustained a season-ending right wrist injury against the Baltimore Ravens last week.

    Stankevitz went on to suggest the balance now for the Colts is to be aware of the stakes of their remaining seven games, starting Sunday against Tampa Bay, but not hyper-focused on their position in the standings or what their odds of reaching the playoffs are.

    "I've been a part of the playoffs a couple years now and it's pretty fun and it's good to be in it, in the thick of things," McKenzie said. "I feel like for me, I'm always going to be motivated to try to get to the playoffs and try and win the championship like everyone else. For everybody on the team, everybody sees that now, considering how the AFC is going and the playoff picture is looking. So, I feel like everybody is on board and everybody has to always be on board because this is the NFL. You never know what's going to happen.

    "I feel like everybody is in-tune to what's going on and ready to try and make a playoff run. ..."

    In a surprising development, three-time first-team All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard's time in Indianapolis is at an end.

    The Colts waived the 28-year-old former second-round pick on Tuesday, the team announced.

    Leonard said his goodbye to Indianapolis in a social media post.

    "Indy, I want to thank you for accepting me and my family with open arms," Leonard wrote. "These past six years has been nothing but incredible! Through the good times and bad time y'all stood by my side. I apologize for not bringing that trophy back to the 317. The energy in Lucas Oil has been nothing but amazing and I thank you for every memory. I'm thankful to play for such an amazing fan base. I love you guys and wish the Colts nothing but the best! Maniac out."

    Colts owner Jim Irsay issued the following statement confirming the release.

    "Colts Nation will always remember The Maniac's palpable energy on the field with each tackle, interception, punchout, and fumble recovery," Irsay said. "Off the field, he's a servant leader and assisted numerous families in both his hometown and the Indianapolis community. We're thankful for Shaq and the contributions he made to our organization. We wish him and his beautiful family the best moving forward."

    Leonard burst on the scene as a rookie, leading the league with 163 tackles, including 111 solo, and generating four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, eight passes defended, and seven sacks. The linebacker took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and was named an All-Pro in his first campaign.

    Leonard would continue to gobble up tackles as a patrolman in the middle of the Colts' defense. In his first four seasons, Leonard earned 538 tackles and 15 sacks. A tackling machine and stellar in coverage, Leonard was an ideal linebacker for the modern game and earned himself a five-year, $98.25 million extension in 2021.

    Then, injury struck.

    Leonard underwent back surgery in the 2022 offseason to correct a nagging injury. He missed the opening of the 2022 season, suffered a concussion and broken nose in his first game back, and eventually reinjured his back, forcing him to miss the end of the season. Leonard played in just three games last season.

    In 2023, Leonard still didn't look like his former All-Pro self, missing tackles and seeming a step out of position at times. His play-time dwindled under the new coaching staff. Earlier this month, Leonard became frustrated with his usage.

    "They say I don't make enough splash plays, so I guess I'll still be watching for a bit," he said at the time.

    Now Leonard will have a chance to prove the Colts wrong.

    With about $6.1 million in base salary for the balance of this season and $6.5 million guaranteed for injury in 2024, it's unlikely a team will claim Leonard -- and his contract -- off waivers. If he clears, the linebacker will be a free agent.

    Later Tuesday, the Colts signed linebacker Ronnie Harrison to the active roster from their practice squad.

    QBs: Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger, Kellen Mond, Anthony Richardson
    RBs: Zack Moss, 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 21 November 2023

    According to's Michael DiRocco, Trevor Lawrence keeps receipts. He admitted that earlier this season after some harsh criticism of his development during a national television broadcast.

    But just because he's keeping track of some of the negative things being said about him and the Jaguars doesn't mean he's taking any of it to heart. And if he's not going to let the criticism get to him, he's darn sure not going to let all the praise that's bound to come his way after Sunday's performance go to his head, either.

    "I'm not thinking about any of that stuff," Lawrence told DiRocco after the Jaguars' 34-14 victory over Tennessee Titans at EverBank Stadium. "I [couldn't] care less about what those guys say. That's really my only response to that. If those guys think I'm the best thing in the world it doesn't matter, either."

    The conversation about Lawrence and the Jaguars would certainly trend more toward the latter after Sunday.

    Lawrence threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns -- making him the first player in franchise history to accomplish that -- and posted the fourth-best passer rating of his career (119.5).

    It was the first time since he suffered a sprained left knee against Indianapolis on Oct. 15 that Lawrence wasn't limited in what he could do. Offensive coordinator Press Taylor brought back rollouts that Lawrence likes to run and had him line up under center for plays other than just short yardage.

    Lawrence launched off his left leg when he dove for the pylon on his first touchdown run -- he beat Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons to the corner -- and threw his second touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley while scrambling to his left.

    "It's definitely a little frustrating when you have things you feel like are limiting you to whatever extent that may be," said Lawrence, who still wears a brace on the left knee. "Then just from the confidence standpoint of having the confidence to move and take off and do all the things that you [normally do]. When you feel like maybe you can't do some of that, it changes how you play the game, and I think that's maybe more of the frustrating part.

    "So, it felt good today to just be able to cut it loose. Obviously still try to protect myself. Took some hits that I probably didn't need to take outside of the pocket that I probably could have got down running, but it felt good just to go play and let the instincts take over when needed."

    Lawrence did rush for a game-high 59 yards against New Orleans four days after hurting his knee, but that was all on scrambles.

    The Jaguars hadn't called designed QB runs or rollouts since Lawrence was injured against the Colts.

    Receiver Christian Kirk said it was good to see the mobile Lawrence again.

    "Using his legs is a big part of what he does," Kirk said. "You saw that on his two touchdowns that he was able to run it in today, too. I think a lot of it's evading and being able to get out of the pocket and throw the ball away. That's a big thing instead of having to take a sack just because you're not as mobile.

    "It's good to see him moving around. Obviously he's more confident in that knee, and he'll be able to progress and keep on getting better."

    This was a big bounce-back performance for Lawrence and the Jaguars after last Sunday's 34-3 loss at home to San Francisco in which he was sacked five times, turned the ball over three times and posted the third-worst passer rating of his career (48.8). Ridley caught two touchdown passes and posted his third 100-yard receiving game of the season.

    The defense held the Titans to 235 yards and forced one turnover, the special teams got another (long-snapper Ross Matiscik forced and recovered a fumble), and the Jaguars won their third in a row over the Titans for the first time since 2005-06.

    "We needed a win like this," said linebacker Josh Allen, one of four players to be credited with a half-sack. "When everybody does their job and they just want to go out there and perform we can beat any team in the league."

    And that -- not what anybody says, good or bad -- is what Lawrence said he won't ever lose sight of.

    "It's about how you perform on Sunday," he said. "It's not about what other people say, but if you want to change the narrative, then change the narrative and play better. There are things that obviously I take accountability on. My main goal is to win, though. We're sitting at 7-3. We're in a great spot. We've got to keep this energy and this attacking like we did today every week. ...

    "All I care about is winning, so I don't really care what people think I can or can't do."

    One issue?

    The Jaguars came into the game with the fourth-worst red zone offense (44 percent) and went 1 for 3 in the first half. It's an area that head coach Doug Pederson pegged as a major issue for the second half of the season. ...

    The good news?

    The Jaguars can take control of the division by beating the Texans on Sunday. Jacksonville is a road favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, against Houston for just the third time since 2007. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long pointed out, Ridley is better when Zay Jones is around.

    Ridley's top three games of the season came with Jones healthy and playing alongside him.

    Coincidence? Circumstantial evidence? The Jaguars consider it proof that Jones is an integral part of what makes Jacksonville's offense hum. Although Jones might not be as important as Ridley, Lawrence, Travis Etienne Jr., Kirk or Evan Engram, it's clear he makes everything easier for Ridley -- and maybe everyone -- when he's on the field.

    Jones returned from a nagging right knee injury to play Sunday against Tennessee -- he missed four consecutive games and five of the previous six -- and helped the Jaguars deliver their cleanest and most efficient outing of the season.

    Ridley finished with seven catches for 103 yards and aforementioned pair of touchdowns, both coming on flawless throws from Lawrence. Jones caught four passes for 20 yards but also drew a 27-yard penalty for pass interference.

    "When we're a complete core, I mean, come on," Ridley said. "When we have our complete core, we are more comfortable and we communicate better."

    The Jaguars insist that Jones' size, speed and versatility don't allow defenses to double or bracket Ridley as often.

    The numbers agree. In the three full games that Jones and Ridley have played together, Ridley has 22 catches for 326 yards and three TDs. He has 20 catches for 248 yards and a score in the other seven.

    "Just having his presence out there opened up some other things for us," Pederson said of Jones.

    Jones was arrested last week on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge following an argument with the mother of his child. He spent a night in jail before being released on a $2,500 bond. Jones practiced the rest of the week and was back on the field a week earlier than expected as he continues to recover from the knee injury.

    "When players come back from injury, you don't bring them back slowly," Pederson said. "They're in for a reason, and you go full steam ahead. Zay was ready to go, and he was a big part of this. He played tough. He played physical. He made some catches."

    And he really helped Ridley.

    Jamal Agnew has spent most of the season as the Jaguars' third wide receiver with Jones out, but he landed on injured reserve this past week due to shoulder and rib injuries. He will miss the next four games.

    Sixth-round rookie wide receiver Parker Washington returned off injured reserve to be the Jaguars' fifth receiver.

    He had played one offensive snap and one punt return in Week 4 during his only previous NFL game. He played 10 offensive snaps as the Jaguars' fifth wide receiver with eight of them coming in the last five minutes of the game. ...

    Also, as's Nathan Jahnke notes, Etienne played significantly in the first half but barely saw the field in the second.

    He played in 32 of a possible 36 snaps in the first half which was typical of him. Etienne ran 10 times for 38 yards in that time with two receptions for two yards.

    The Jaguars started the third quarter with D'Ernest Johnson as their lead back, playing nine of the 15 snaps in the quarter.

    Etienne took six of a possible 15 third-quarter snaps and nine of a possible 20 in the fourth. Jacksonville used Tank Bigsby significantly in the fourth quarter with other backups.

    This was the second straight game where the Jaguars played in a game that was out of reach part way into the second half and the second straight where Etienne didn't see nearly as much work as the first half of the season. He remains a must-start for fantasy football purposes, but expectations should be tempered for games where the Jaguars blow their opponent our or are getting blown out.

    QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Rourke
    RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby, D'Ernest Johnson
    WRs: Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, 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 21 November 2023

    The Kansas City Chiefs have scored an NFL-worst 53 points in the second half of games this season, which equates to just over five per game, and they sure could have used that measly total against the Eagles on Monday night.

    Instead, they got none.

    The Chiefs were shut out in the second half for the third consecutive game, this time by Philadelphia in their highly anticipated Super Bowl rematch, allowing Jalen Hurts and Co. to rally from a 10-point deficit for a 21-17 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

    Whether it was penalties, red-zone turnovers or two dropped passes in the closing minutes, the Chiefs made the kind of mistakes on offense that have been rare since Andy Reid -- who had never lost in four tries against his former team -- took over as their coach in 2013 and Patrick Mahomes began his prolific career as their starting quarterback in 2018.

    "All season long," Mahomes said, "we haven't played good football in the second half. We've got to continue to work. Obviously, we had a pretty good first half running the football, but we've got to find ways to finish games offensively."

    Mahomes was held to 177 yards with two touchdowns and a pick in the end zone. Travis Kelce was his top target, catching seven passes for 44 yards and a score, but he likewise turned the ball over in the red zone with a fourth-quarter fumble.

    "Just not playing up to the level I have in the past," Kelce said afterward. "I've got to be better."

    As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta notes, had he held onto the ball, the Chiefs could have turned a 17-14 lead into a two-possession game. Instead, the Eagles went 80 yards the other way, and Hurts tush-pushed his way for the go-ahead touchdown with about six minutes to go.

    After the teams traded punts, the Chiefs had one last chance with the ball at their own 9-yard line and 2:49 left. But while that would have been plenty of time in past years, but it seemed no amount would have done them any good Monday night.

    Their final series began with a fourth-down conversion, and a roughing-the-passer penalty pushed them near midfield. But then came the letdown: Mahomes had a perfectly-thrown ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a would-be 51-yard touchdown go right through the wide receiver's hands.

    Then, after Mahomes was called for intentional grounding, he threw one last incompletion on a ball that Justin Watson could have caught that would have kept the Chiefs alive with a first down.

    Instead, the Eagles ran out the clock.

    "The game certainly doesn't come down to one play. As much as anybody wants to say that, it doesn't," Watson said. "I've seen Marquez make that play 99 times out of a hundred times. That was just one that he didn't. And he's a phenomenal player and he'll make that for us next week or next time it's called upon."

    The final drive was a microcosm of the way the second half went for Kansas City, which had led 17-7 at the break. Its first drive was derailed by a holding penalty on Donovan Smith, its second drive on a false start on Jawaan Taylor and the third nearly was nearly sent off track by a holding call on Kelce, who fumbled the ball away later in the drive anyway.

    Standout center Creed Humphrey was also called for a false start that led to another punt later in the fourth quarter.

    The result of the red-zone turnovers, the seven penalties for 55 yards and the dropped passes and missed assignments was the Chiefs' second loss in their last three games, one that knocked them from their perch atop the AFC.

    "Offensively we're just not where I want to be at his point in the season," Mahomes said. "It starts with me. I have to make better throws at certain times. We have to continue to move the ball downfield and just be more consistent throughout the game."

    Monday's loss stings, but it's worth pointing out that the Chiefs' goals are all still right there in front of them.

    The Chiefs are currently 7-3 and a half-game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the top seed in the AFC playoff field, but all things being equal, Kansas City owns the tie-breaker over Baltimore due to the Ravens' three conference losses (the Chiefs only have one).

    Additionally, the Chiefs own head-to-head tie-breakers over the Jaguars and Dolphins, who are each 7-3 as well.

    It's all to say that the Chiefs remain in an excellent spot in the standings, but they still need to take care of business moving forward. Fortunately, Mahomes is 15-3 in his career following a loss, and he'll aim to continue that success this upcoming Sunday as the Chiefs travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders.

    QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert
    RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
    WRs: 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 21 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Mark Anderson reported, for the first time since taking over three weeks ago, Las Vegas Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce will regroup his team after a loss.

    The Raiders' two-game winning streak under Pierce ended in a 20-13 defeat against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

    Listed as 13 1/2-point underdogs, the Raiders (5-6) limited Miami's prolific offense to two touchdowns and two field goals. Their final drive at a potential tying score ended on a turnover in the Dolphins' end zone with 22 seconds remaining.

    "That's what we talk every day, pride and poise, passion," Pierce said. "Play the game the right way and the guys did. Played hard. Does that give you Ws? No, but it gives you a chance. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game."

    Although the Dolphins gained 422 yards, Las Vegas forced three turnovers to keep the game close.

    The real issue is that the offense came up short.

    While Pierce said Aidan O'Connell gave Las Vegas its best chance for success when announcing that the rookie would supplant veteran Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter in his introductory media conference, Pierce acknowledged after Sunday's loss that the Raiders went conservative "to protect the young quarterback."

    As's Paul Gutierrez suggests, "Some might see a mixed signal, or three."

    Because O'Connell ended the first quarter by launching a 46-yard scoring strike to All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and then, the offense went silent.

    No first downs in the second or third quarters. For the 10th time in 11 games this season, the Raiders (5-6) failed to score at least 20 points. And the Raiders were shut out in the second half of a winnable game. And O'Connell, who is now 2-2 as a starter, finished 24-of-41 passing for 260 yards with the TD and three interceptions against the Dolphins.

    "We've just got to execute better, can't turn the ball over," he said. "It's really, at the end of the day, do our job better, me in particular. So yeah, just frustrating."

    O'Connell also took a pair of sacks.

    "I think I have to probably not be as predictable and. ... Use my legs a little bit," he said. "I think, again, if I do my job better, we'll be in better situations. Just all around, I have to play better, pass the ball, decision-making, all that stuff."

    O'Connell, a fourth-round pick out of Purdue, was known for his accuracy in college. But his first interception came on a throw behind rookie receiver Tre Tucker which Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey was all too happy to pick off near midfield midway through the third quarter.

    The Raiders were trailing 14-13 at the time.

    O'Connell's second pick came on a busted play late in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders trailing by a touchdown and O'Connell being taken down by Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on fourth down. O'Connell saw receiver Jakobi Meyers and tried to flip him the ball, but it landed in linebacker Jaelan Phillips' arms.

    The final pick came with 25 seconds to play and the Raiders facing second-and-10 at the Dolphins' 39-yard line as they were attempting to drive for a game-tying score. O'Connell floated his deep ball to Tucker a bit too much and Ramsey again made him pay.


    "We were a little messed up in our alignment to start," O'Connell said. "I didn't communicate well enough to get into the huddle, so better communication would've gotten to the play better and all around would have been better. ... I know we had to get a chunk at some point and I hung it over too much trying to make a play."

    The Raiders next face the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (7-2), who have won 14 of the past 16 matchups in the AFC West series dating to 2015.

    No doubt O'Connell, if it's deemed that he still gives the Raiders their best shot at winning and making a run, will attempt to use the Miami experience to improve himself.

    "Got to do a good job with the football," Pierce said, when asked to comment on O'Connell's play. "Again, that starts with the coaches prepping him, getting him ready, making him understand the situation of football. But again, young player, will do better."

    Said Adams: "We're not freaking out; [Aidan's] not freaking out. We've just got to stay together and find a way to convert better."

    And as O'Connell said, this is all still new to him.

    "I'm learning how hard the NFL is and how hard it is to win and just, kudos to our defense, they just played so well in the second half," he said. "They kept us in the game with basically six points [allowed] in the second half. Obviously, we [didn't] score.

    "It comes down to the offense and watching the film and just being better all around, and it starts with me. ..."

    But there's more to it than just the personnel on the field.

    As Gutierrez put it, the offense "resembled a unit headed by a first-time play-caller (Bo Hardegree) under the direction of an interim coach with a rookie quarterback under center."

    That's not a great situation to be in heading into a tilt with a Kansas City defense that's among the league's best. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason points out, Josh Jacobs hasn't hit a double-digit percentage target share in each of his last three games.

    He did, however, see every Raiders running back rush against Miami.'s Nathan Jahnke added that Jacobs' rushing production continues to depend heavily on the game script. He's run 19 or more times in every win and 17 or fewer times in every loss including Sunday.

    Jacobs' receiving production has largely disappeared in recent weeks. He caught one pass for 12 yards today and has been held to two or fewer receptions in the last six games after averaging five receptions a game over the first five games. ...

    Rookie TE Michael Mayer caught four passes for 46 yards, making this his best receiving day in over a month.

    Per Jahnke, Meyer ran a route on just under 70 percent of pass plays, which is less than ideal, but the Raiders were passing a lot, leading to Mayer's five targets.

    There is still a chance Mayer can become a factor for fantasy leagues this year in this role if his target share can reach closer to 20 percent.

    If that doesn't happen this year, he will probably be one of the top sleeper tight ends during the fantasy draft season next year.

    QBs: Aidan O'Connell, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer
    RBs: Josh Jacobs, 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 21 November 2023

    According to's Kris Rhim, the Chargers locker room was mostly silent. Quarterback Justin Herbert and safety Derwin James talked quietly while many other players sat staring forward, seemingly in a mix of disbelief and frustration.

    Their 23-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was the Chargers' fifth one-score defeat this season.

    It was another game in which the opposing offense had one of its best outings against the Chargers.

    Last week versus Los Angeles, the Detroit Lions' rushing offense gained 200 yards, including 177 yards and three scores in the first half. It was the most the Lions had gained in a half in at least 30 years.

    On Sunday, it was Jordan Love and the Packers' passing offense.

    Love threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the most passing yards of Love's career and the first time the Packers had thrown for over 300 yards since 2021, when Aaron Rodgers was their starter.

    "We just fed up," safety Alohi Gilman told Rhim. "Something's got to change."

    In an incensed response to a reporter asking if he would consider significant changes on defense, head coach Brandon Staley said he wouldn't -- as he also did days after the Lions loss.

    "I have full confidence," Staley said Sunday. "Like I've told you from the beginning, I have full confidence in our way of playing. Full confidence in myself as the playcaller, in the way that we teach and the way that we scheme. Full confidence in that. We got to bring this group together and do it consistently. ... And that's where it's at.

    "So you can stop asking that question, OK? I'm going to be calling the defenses. ... So we're clear. So you don't have to ask that again."

    There was plenty of blame to go around on Sunday.

    Receiver Keenan Allen had a career-high three dropped passes, two of which were in the red zone.

    "I definitely was on bulls--- early in the game," Allen told Rhim. "Three drops, two of them on the goal line. ... I just got to be better."

    Fellow wideout Quentin Johnston dropped a pass on second down with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that would have put the Chargers in field goal range.

    "I feel like the game could've definitely went the other way if I had just caught that ball. Lack of concentration on my part," said Johnston, who was visibly upset. "I dropped the ball. I'm a receiver. They drafted me for a reason: that's to catch the ball. And I wasn't able to do that."

    The Chargers dropped six passes, three of them in the red zone. Both of those totals were the most by the team since ESPN began tracking drops in 2006.

    The offense had 150 rushing yards, but 73 were via scrambles by Herbert.

    Then there was the red-zone offense. The Chargers entered the day scoring on 72 percent of their red zone drives, second best in the NFL. Against Green Bay, they were 0-3 in the red zone.

    "We did this as a team. Stop making it about one unit, because that's not what happened out there today," Staley said.

    The loss, and Denver's comeback victory over Minnesota, dropped the Chargers into last place in the AFC West. Only two of Los Angeles' seven remaining opponents have losing records.

    The Chargers next play the Ravens (8-3), the No. 2 seed in the AFC, on Sunday night at Sofi Stadium. Los Angeles has dropped four of their last five regular-season meetings against the Baltimore Ravens heading into Sunday night's matchup. ...

    Will the Chargers stick with Staley?

    For a team with big-name players like Herbert, Allen, Ekeler, James and Khalil Mack, to name a few, the team is clearly falling short. The Chargers have only fired one coach mid-season, Kevin Gilbride in 1998.

    With the Chargers sitting at 4-6, their playoff chances are slim, could Staley be the second?

    Other notes of interest. ... Herbert and the starting offensive line -- left tackle Rashawn Slater, left guard Zion Johnson, center Will Clapp, right guard Jamaree Salyer and right tackle Trey Pipkins III -- played all 65 offensive snaps in Week 11.

    Herbert was dynamic on Sunday, throwing for 260 yards, two touchdowns and leading the team in rushing with 73 yards.

    Allen led the receiver group in snaps (61) and receiving yards by putting up another 100-yard performance with 10 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. He now has four games with over 100 yards receiving this season. Johnston followed with 56 snaps, while Alex Erickson, who was elevated from the practice squad for the game, had the third-highest snaps for a receiver with 51.

    Rookie Derius Davis played seven snaps, while Simi Fehoko and rookie Terrell Bynum, who was elevated from the practice squad, each played one snap.

    Running back Austin Ekeler led the position in snaps with 46 and ran the ball effectively, finishing with 10 carries for 64 yards on the afternoon. Joshua Kelley was the other active running back, playing 19 snaps in Week 11.

    As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Ekeler has seen his share of offensive snaps increase slightly in every game since Week 7. This was the first time since Week 12 of last season that he played over 70 percent of the Chargers' offensive snaps. Despite the increased playing time, Ekeler set a season-low in carries at 10 and he received his second-fewest targets at three. ...

    Donald Parham, Jr., led the tight end position with Gerald Everett out, playing 47 snaps and hauling in four passes for a career-high 57 yards. Stone Smartt followed, playing 23 snaps on Sunday and scoring his first career NFL touchdown with a 51-yard catch and run for the Bolts first touchdown of the afternoon. Finally, Nick Vannett rounded out the group with 11 offensive snaps.

    Kicker Cameron Dicker was perfect on the day once again, knocking in both of his field goals and extra points in nine special teams snaps. ...

    On the injury front. ... Jalen Guyton was the latest Chargers wide receiver to miss time due to a groin injury. Guyton didn't show up on the injury report until Friday, when he was a limited participant in practice, but he was ultimately inactive. Everett didn't practice all week due to a chest injury and was ultimately inactive.

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

    Also. ... Outside linebacker Joey Bosa has a right foot sprain and is "likely" headed to injured reserve, Staley said Monday.

    Bosa will miss at least the next four games if placed on IR, and Staley said it is "to be determined" if Bosa will play again this season.

    "We're just going to make kind of final determinations, but that's the direction that it's headed," Staley said.

    Bosa left Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers on a medical cart and in tears after getting hurt on the fourth play. He eventually returned to the field in the third quarter in street clothes, wearing a walking boot and using crutches. He also had what appeared to be a brace on his right hand in the locker room after the game but declined to speak with reporters.

    Since he made three straight Pro Bowls from 2019 to 2021, injuries have plagued Bosa. He appeared in just five games last season, injuring his groin in Week 3.

    The Chargers will lean on rookie Tuli Tuipulotu, who is tied for second among rookies in sacks this season with four, and Justin Hollins, whom the team signed ahead of Sunday's game.

    QBs: Easton Stick, Justin Herbert
    RBs: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson
    WRs: Keenan Allen, Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Jalen Guyton, Derius Davis, Mike Williams
    TEs: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Stone Smartt

    Los Angeles Rams

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham pointed out, the Rams are only on the fringe of the NFC playoff race, and they would need a spectacular finish just to avoid their second straight losing season.

    The fact that the rebuilding Rams (4-6) even have a chance at such a surge is a testament to the remarkable work done by their defense, which has over performed this season after a massive roster purge.

    Coordinator Raheem Morris' unit had another outstanding outing Sunday in Los Angeles' 17-16 comeback victory. The Rams allowed 87 yards and just four first downs in Seattle's three-point second half, and LA kept the Seahawks out of the end zone for the final 50 minutes.

    Matthew Stafford's offense finally scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, and the Rams won when Seattle missed a 55-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds. Everybody knew which unit got the job done for LA.

    "Unbelievable effort by our defense today," coach Sean McVay said. "They kept us in the game. I think the grit was on display. The mental toughness, the ability to get stops, the ability to be able to feed off of one another."

    To be clear: The Rams are far from dominant, ranking in the middle of the NFL in points allowed and yards allowed. They still need a significant influx of defensive talent in the offseason to be a Super Bowl contender again.

    But only two opponents -- offensive powerhouses San Francisco and Dallas -- have scored more than 24 points against the Rams this season.

    "We're getting better every week we play together, and you can see it," said cornerback Derion Kendrick, who made his first career interception in the fourth quarter. "We're just doing our jobs and playing for each other, and this is what happens."

    The problem is, the Rams have scored a measly 57 points in their last four games combined.

    They need to get course corrected. And they might have to do it without Cooper Kupp.

    The veteran receiver is considered day-to-day with a sprained ankle, McVay said Monday.

    McVay said "the goal" is for Kupp to play in this week against the Cardinals and that there's "a real possibility that he would be available."

    McVay said Kupp was encouraged "based on how it felt today" and the results of the testing done on his ankle.

    "I know he's going to do everything in his power [to play]," McVay said. "... It's not something where you're saying he's definitely going to be out for this week, but you want to see the functionality."

    The Rams, meanwhile, will get leading rusher Kyren Williams back against the Cardinals, McVay said.

    Williams, who has 456 yards and seven total touchdowns (six rushing) this season, has been on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

    Kupp left the Rams' victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was on the sideline in the third quarter with his helmet on, but he did not return to the field and was officially ruled out at the start of the fourth quarter.

    Given Kupp's history with ankle injuries, the Rams will be careful with him as they determine whether he can play against Arizona, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Kupp ended the 2022 season on injured reserve after leaving a Week 10 loss with a high ankle sprain that required surgery.

    Kupp, who missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, has 23 catches for 364 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

    Kupp had just one catch for 11 yards before he hurt his right ankle. Kupp missed a huge opportunity in the first quarter when he couldn't haul in a long, underthrown pass from Stafford for a sure touchdown. The Super Bowl MVP hasn't had a 50-yard receiving game in his last four outings since a strong two-game start to the season.

    Kupp's injury could be yet another setback for the Super Bowl MVP, but the Rams' passing game actually improved when he was out against Seattle, with McVay getting more creative without Stafford's No. 1 target.

    Next up, a visit to the Cardinals, who have the NFL's second-worst record. It's an opportunity to stay in the playoff race for another week.

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

    Additionally, wide receiver Puka Nacua hurt his shoulder on the pass interference he drew and will be day-to-day. Wide receiver Ben Skowronek "got a hip pointer."

    There doesn't seem to be much concern about Nacua's ability to hit the field Sunday, but I'll obviously watch for more on his progress as well.

    As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes, Nacua has yet to have a game with a sub-20 percent target share. He's one of five wide receivers who's seen a 20 percent target share in 10 games -- Michael Pittman, Garrett Wilson, Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins are the other four. ...

    In a related note. ... As’s Evan Tarracciano noted this week, Tutu Atwell was a force to begin the season, averaging almost 17 points in a PPR format through the first three weeks.

    Those totals coincided with Kupp's season-opening absence.

    Should Kupp miss any extended period of time, Tarracciano expects things to revert back to how they were originally, with Nacua operating as the chain-moving choice for Stafford up and down the field and Atwell being an explosive playmaker and gadget option. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Royce Freeman dominated carries in this one, running the ball 17 times for 73 yards. Darrell Henderson Jr. ran six times for 1 yard.

    Henderson partially made up for his one rushing yard with a rushing touchdown and four receptions for 28 yards, so Henderson still scored more fantasy points.

    But his run is over.

    With Williams and Ronnie Rivers both eligible to return from injured reserve this week, the Rams waived Henderson on Tuesday.

    Henderson, who was signed to the active roster early this month, ran 46 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns in four appearances. He also caught 10 passes for 103 yards.

    Again, more on Williams and Rivers in coming days.

    Finally. ... Tyler Higbee was held to one reception for 17 yards. This is the fifth time he was held under 20 receiving yards in the last six weeks.

    QBs: Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, 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, Hunter Long, Davis Allen

    Miami Dolphins

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    Running back De'Von Achane played just three snaps in Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders before leaving with a knee injury, but head coach Mike McDaniel said his removal was precautionary.

    As's Marcel Louis-Jacques reminded readers, Achane spent five weeks on injured reserve with a knee injury he suffered in Week 5 but was activated for Sunday's game. The rookie touched the ball twice before jogging gingerly off the field and did not return.

    "He kind of got landed on, and it was a little painful," McDaniel said. "He was politicking to try to come back in the game, but I was a little worried off the rust to go and do that. We kind of held him back, and we'll see what it looks like tomorrow."

    McDaniel confirmed that the knee that was landed on was the same one Achane hurt earlier this season.

    Achane left the game early in the first half and was escorted to the locker room after a lengthy stay in the medical tent. He returned to the sideline without his helmet but was listed as questionable to return to the game. He was the last Dolphins player out of the tunnel after halftime but left the locker room carrying his helmet.

    McDaniel said Miami's trainers essentially cleared Achane to play, but he made the ultimate call to keep him on the sideline for the remainder of the game.

    "We just didn't want to mess with him," he said. "We had some positive feedback from the training staff at the end of the second quarter and after halftime, but I didn't feel like at that point that would have been fair to him."

    The Dolphins had another injury scare in the first half when wide receiver Tyreek Hill went to the locker room with a hand injury.

    Hill said he took a helmet to the hand when he got "popped" while making a catch. He received X-rays but was able to return to the game after missing one series. Hill called the injury "nothing serious" and said he doesn't expect it to limit him for the Dolphins' game against the New York Jets on Friday.

    "I think I'll be fine, man," he said. "The only thing I'm really bummed about, I won't be able to play Fortnite. That's the kind of thing I'm bummed about. I won't be able to play video games. Which is good for my wife, though. She's got this new show she likes. She wants me to watch it."

    Meanwhile, the Dolphins put Salvon Ahmed on injured reserve Tuesday and two other running backs landed on their injury report.

    Achane (knee) and Raheem Mostert (ankle, knee) were both listed as limited participants in the team's first practice session of the week. Hill joined the two backs in that category. Hill hurt his hand against the Raiders on Sunday, but returned to the game.

    Both those listings and all the others on Tuesday's report are estimations because the Dolphins only held a walkthrough.

    Offensive lineman Rob Jones (knee) and tight end Durham Smythe (ankle) would not have practiced. Left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), wide receiver Chase Claypool (knee), guard Lester Cotton (hip), guard Rob Hunt (hamstring), fullback Alec Ingold (foot, ankle), and offensive lineman Austin Jackson (oblique) also drew limited tags.

    I'll have more on Achane and Hill in advance of Friday's game at MetLife Stadium.

    It seems reasonable to believe the short week will be an issue for Achane, but check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses. ...

    Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames noted, ball security and third-down efficiency were problem against the Raiders.

    The Dolphins surpassed 400 yards of offense for the fifth time this season but had their third-lowest scoring output. Turnovers and ineffectiveness on third down were big reasons for that. Tua Tagovailoa lost his third fumble of the season on a scramble on Miami's opening possession, and he threw an interception on the first play of the second half.

    Miami had multiple turnovers for the second time in three games and went 3 for 11 on third down.

    Fortunately, the defense took charge. The Dolphins (7-3) limited Las Vegas to 36 yards rushing and 260 yards passing, intercepted Aidan O'Connell three times and stopped the Raiders on two fourth-down attempts.

    That bodes well for Miami as it tries to maintain its hold on the AFC East.

    The Dolphins play at the division rival New York Jets on Friday.

    After a short week to prepare for the Jets, the Dolphins will play at Washington in Week 13. After that, four of their last five games are at home, where they are undefeated. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Achane played just three snaps before leaving with a knee injury and Miami averaged only 3.5 yards per carry.

    With Jeff Wilson Jr. a healthy scratch, Mostert ended up playing 78 percent of Miami's snaps as a result, which was actually his highest mark of the season. ...

    It's worth noting Braxton Berrios was inactive due to a hamstring injury and Claypool also missed due to a knee injury. Smythe was inactive due to an ankle injury.

    Undrafted rookie Julian Hill took most of the tight end duties and caught one pass for 10 yards, setting a new career-high in receiving yards.

    The issues at wideout left Cedrick Wilson Jr. as the third wide receiver on the depth chart. River Cracraft missed the last six weeks, but he was back for this game and served as the fourth wide receiver. He played more than expected with Hill missing time. ...

    Wide receiver Robbie Chosen is back on the Dolphins active roster. Chosen was waived last week, but returned to the practice squad after going unclaimed and is back on the 53-man roster Tuesday. Ahmed going on injured reserve opened up the spot for Chosen.

    Chosen was elevated to play against the Raiders in Week 11 and he caught two passes for 39 yards. His only other catch this season was a 68-yard touchdown in Miami's 70-20 rout of the Broncos in Week 3.

    Ahmed caught a touchdown against the Raiders and also ran for a touchdown earlier in the season. ...

    Finally. ... Jason Sanders entered the game with the fewest field goal attempts of any kicker in the league, and he missed a 50-yard kick with the Dolphins ahead 14-13 in the third. Sanders converted from 41 and 51 yards later in the quarter, but he's 5 of 15 on attempts of 50-plus yards since 2021.

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

    Minnesota Vikings

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    The Vikings will continue to ramp up receiver Justin Jefferson's recovery this week from an injured right hamstring, head coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday, but the team might keep him sidelined for next Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears to capitalize on the bye week that follows.

    "I think that will definitely go into the decision-making process," O'Connell said. "We're right at that six-week mark or so. He's really attacked his rehab, and I think when that time comes, we'll feel comfortable with Justin being out there. I know Justin will as well. It's one of those things that knowing you have the bye, and knowing there are five critical [games] to come after that bye, we do have to be smart.

    "This is a player that means a ton to our organization, both for this home stretch to try to solidify our positioning in the playoffs and still try to compete in the division as much as we possibly can, but Justin means a lot more than just these five or six games, as critical as they are. His long-term career here is the priority."

    As's Kevin Seifert reminded readers, ever since the injury occurred in Week 5, both O'Connell and Jefferson have said he would not return until he is 100 percent. The Vikings opened his 21-day practice window Nov. 8, as soon as he was eligible, but the timing of their bye could wind up giving him a total of eight weeks off if he does not return until their Dec. 10 game at the Las Vegas Raiders.

    O'Connell said the bye "doesn't mean he is going to be any less likely or more likely to play" against the Bears. But Seifert views the eight-week timeline is clearly an attractive option.

    Speaking two weeks ago, Jefferson insisted he wanted to return as soon as he believes he is ready.

    "I love the game of football," he said. "I always say that I want to be a Hall of Famer so I can't just sit out, missing games just for the fun of it, or just because we aren't doing well. I know I have a big role on this team and I know that every chance that I get to be on that field, I want to make the most of those opportunities."

    The Vikings won their first five games after Jefferson's injury before losing Sunday night to the Denver Broncos.

    It's worth noting the turnover bug that bit the Vikings hard at the beginning of the season apparently wasn't fully exterminated.

    The Vikings felt the sting in Denver.

    Due in large part to three giveaways the Broncos converted into field goals -- more so than Jefferson's absence, the Vikings saw their winning streak end in excruciating fashion with a 21-20 loss. "We've learned this lesson before," said O'Connell, sounding as annoyed as he's been all year. "Playing good football teams, you can't give them three extra opportunities."

    As Associated Press sports writer Dave Campbell notes, the Vikings (6-5) had more turnovers than their opponent in each of their first five games, losing four.

    During the streak, they had a total margin of plus-six.

    "Clearly, it's a winning and losing stat in this league," O'Connell said. "No matter what you do every other play in the game, you're just setting yourself behind and have to overcome even if you do have the lead."

    On the third play of the game, O'Connell tried to surprise the Broncos by lining up tight end T.J. Hockenson on third-and-1 at the Minnesota 34 for the snap and an unorthodox handoff to the quarterback. Josh Dobbs veered left and lost the ball at the first-down marker on a jarring helmet-first hit by safety Kareem Jackson that went unpenalized (Jackson was subsequently suspended for the hit).

    Ja'Quan McMillan recovered.

    Late in the third quarter, Alexander Mattison -- who otherwise played one of his best games of the season -- ran up the middle and had the ball knocked out at the Denver 35 and gobbled up by the home team.

    The Broncos recorded a takeaway on the next possession deep in Minnesota territory, when McMillan picked off a hurried pass by an under-pressure Dobbs and returned it to the 9.

    The defense delivered for the Vikings all night, forcing the Broncos to kick five field goals and not yielding a touchdown until Courtland Sutton's superb catch for the lead with 1:03 left. But there weren't any turnovers on that side of the ball to counteract the offense's flubs.

    That needs to be cleaned up. In addition, the Vikings are third-to-last in the league in goal-to-go situations, with touchdowns on just 55 percent of those possessions. Dobbs has added a valuable dimension with his running ability, but the Vikings have been stuffed for a loss on 35 percent of their rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line this season, according to Sportradar.

    That's the worst rate in the NFL.

    Now the Vikings are three losses behind NFC North leader Detroit (8-2), damaging their already difficult road to repeating as division champions. They might not be able to afford any more losses, even though they play the Lions twice in the last three weeks.

    With a 6-2 record in conference play, however, the Vikings remain in control of the third wild-card spot. They have one fewer loss than the next four teams in the NFC standings with a favorable outlook for potential tiebreakers. The Vikings host the Bears (3-8) on Monday night before entering their bye week. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... After coaching against Dobbs on Sunday night, Sean Payton was blown away by the way Dobbs can command an offense he's only been playing in for three weeks.

    Payton said he's amazed that Dobbs, who's on his third different team this season, seems perfectly comfortable in a system he's just learning and with teammates he's barely had time to practice with.

    "Considering what he's been through, where the year began. ... With Cleveland and then it was Arizona, and what he's doing now," Payton said, "there's so much that goes into playing that position, and to see the poise he's playing with is really remarkable. I haven't seen anything like it."

    Payton said that before the 2017 NFL draft, when he was coach of the Saints, he spent time with both Dobbs and his Tennessee teammate, Alvin Kamara. The Saints drafted Kamara in the third round and the Steelers drafted Dobbs in the fourth.

    Payton said he liked Dobbs in his pre-draft evaluation, but has also been impressed with how much Dobbs has grown since then.

    As's Michael David Smith notes, all 32 teams missed on Dobbs.

    "In the past year he has passed through waivers unclaimed," Smith wrote. "He's been a free agent and didn't get any offers better than the one-year, $2 million deal he signed with the Browns, and has been traded twice for peanuts. A quarterback capable of playing at the level Dobbs has played at is an incredibly valuable asset, and not one NFL team recognized how valuable Dobbs is.

    "It's a reminder that for all the time and money NFL teams spend on evaluating players, sometimes good players slip through the cracks. Dobbs certainly has. ..."

    The Vikings rushed 36 times for 175 yards, both season highs, against the team ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and per attempt. Mattison and Ty Chandler rushed for more yards Sunday night (154) than they had in any game this season, albeit against a Broncos defense that entered the game ranked last in the NFL in run stop win rate.

    Chandler had a career-high 73 yards on 10 carries, including a 31-yard scamper on a fake punt. He also had four catches for 37 yards, both career highs.

    "Ty in general is explosive. You can feel it when he's out there," O'Connell said.

    The true test of improvement on the ground will come this week against Chicago, which is giving up a league-best average of 3.39 yards per rush. ...

    Hockenson was limited in practice this past week with a ribs injury. As's Nathan Jahnke noted, Hockenson was also limited in Week 10 but played very well.

    Over the first 10 weeks, he played over 90 percent of offensive snaps in 11 personnel, over 90 percent of snaps in 12 personnel and rarely in 21 personnel.

    This week, Josh Oliver mixed in more than usual in 11 personnel. It was typically in run situations, but Oliver also took a few pass plays.

    Hockenson played around only half of the snaps in 12 personnel. Oliver consistently took the field in 12 personnel, while Hockenson rotated with Johnny Mundt. The Vikings tended to pass when Hockenson was on the field and run when Mundt was on the field.

    Hockenson caught four passes for 55 yards, but Oliver caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.

    Two of Oliver's receptions (including his touchdown) came from 11 personnel, plays that Hockenson would have played had he been 100 percent.

    Minnesota doesn't play again until Monday Night Football, so hopefully the extra rest will give Hockenson enough to recover. ...

    Finally. ... K.J. Osborn returned from a one-game absence because of a concussion but had only one reception for 7 yards on two targets despite playing more than 95 percent of the snaps on offense.

    QBs: Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall, Josh Dobbs, Kirk Cousins
    RBs: Alexander Mattison, 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 21 November 2023

    According to's Mike Reiss, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said Monday that the team's starting quarterback decision will be made by head coach Bill Belichick, while noting that Mac Jones was still take first-unit reps in practice after being benched in the team's Week 10 loss.

    "For me, I basically get everybody ready to play," O'Brien answered, when asked if Jones was still the team's starter. "At the end of the day, Bill [Belichick] will make that decision at some point and we'll go from there."

    The Patriots had one practice during their bye last week. O'Brien detailed how the team handled the quarterback position -- which includes Jones, top backup Bailey Zappe, No. 3 option Will Grier and Malik Cunningham, who is on the practice squad -- and hinted that the Patriots will choose their starting quarterback for Sunday's game at the New York Giants based on what unfolds in practice this week.

    "Mac took the first-team reps. Bailey rotated in there. Will Grier rotated in there," O'Brien said.

    "One of the reasons I really enjoy coaching here is you have to earn it on the practice field. You have to strive for perfection on the practice field and then hopefully that leads to good execution in the games. Right now, we haven't had consistent enough execution in the games.

    "So, we'll see what happens down the road here. We have to have good practices, and then we can all determine, at every position, who should play the most."

    Reiss reminded readers that Jones' hold on the starting job is in question after Belichick pulled him from the team's 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 12 after Jones threw an interception with 4:25 remaining. Tight end Mike Gesicki was open in the end zone but Jones, feeling pressure from his blind side, badly underthrew him.

    The Patriots still had a chance for a comeback win when they got the ball back at their own 14-yard line with 1:52 remaining and no timeouts. Belichick, who later said he felt the team needed a change, inserted Zappe into the game. Zappe was intercepted on the eighth play of the drive.

    The game continued a season-long struggle for the Patriots, who are 2-8 and in last place in the AFC. They rank 31st in the NFL in points scored, averaging 14.1 per game.

    Shaky quarterback play has been a notable issue, as well as a mix-and-match offensive line that has used seven different starting configurations in 10 games. The team's pass-catchers also don't consistently threaten opposing defenses.

    Asked about Jones hitting a rough stretch, O'Brien said Monday: "Everything is fixable. I think at times, Mac has played really well. I also think it's really important to point out there are 10 other guys on the field. Everybody has to play better. Then there's coaches on the sideline; we all have to coach better. That's the truth.

    "I don't believe in yips or anything like that. Mac has played well. Mac will play well again."

    For what it's worth, Belichick wasn't in a sharing mood when it came to his thoughts on the matter on Tuesday.

    "I've told all the players the same thing: Be ready to go. Hopefully they will be," Belichick said.

    Belichick was also asked if the players know who is going to be starting even if he isn't going to be making a public announcement.

    "We'll let you know on Sunday," Belichick said.

    Belichick said that he'll let what's best for the team be his guide on the call at quarterback, but their 2-8 record indicates that the best answers for the Patriots may not currently be in the organization.

    New England has lost three in a row, scoring 17, 17, and six points against the Dolphins, Commanders and Colts.

    Jones has been pulled from three games this season and is 212 of 324 for 2,031 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has been sacked 21 times.

    Jones has started every game this year, completing 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His passer rating is 80.2.

    Zappe has completed 10-of-25 passes for 104 yards with a pick in his three appearances.

    Whether the Patriots go with Jones or Zappe -- or shock everyone and start Cunningham -- the team has a lot of work to do around the quarterback to improve.

    For what it's worth, Grier was asked whether he received any first-team reps in practice on Tuesday. In response, he said nothing.

    "I'll let them tell you how the reps are divvied up," Grier said, via NBC Sports Boston. "I'm not going to be the one to do that."

    On Monday, O'Brien said Grier had gotten some reps with the starting offense. On Tuesday, Belichick was asked about that development.

    "Well, last week, we had an opportunity to kind of give the guys who didn't play as much an opportunity to run more of our stuff, less stuff off guards and scout-team things," Belichick told reporters. "So that was true for everybody across the board. We didn't work on any scout-team plays, we just ran our plays. So, everybody got to run what we ran. We had some guys who were out there, some guys weren't out there. A lot of the guys who have played a lot didn't practice as much."

    I'll obviously be watching for more; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for developments as the week progresses. I'll also be watching for more on DeVante Parker, who has missed the last two games with a concussion.

    QBs: Bailey Zappe, Mac Jones
    RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott, JaMycal Hasty
    WRs: DeVante Parker, Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Matt Slater, Kendrick Bourne
    TEs: Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, Pharaoh Brown

    New Orleans Saints

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    As John DeShazier of the Saints official website suggested, however it's sliced, diced, dissected and parsed, the fact to digest remains that the New Orleans Saints entered (5-5) entered their bye week leading the NFC South Division, and exited it in the same position.

    And because of it, the Saints continue to control their own destiny entering Sunday's game against the Falcons (4-6) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

    "I told the team today: We're not relying on help from anybody. We're relying on the guys in this room. And we don't need help from anybody, so it's really on us," head coach Dennis Allen said Monday.

    That said, Allen didn't overlook the fact that the Saints have been inconsistent, and the search for consistent improvement continued through the bye.

    "There were a lot of things that we looked at," he said. "I think we've been a tale of two teams in that the first part of the season, we struggled offensively the first five games, and defensively played pretty well. That's kind of flipped a little bit over the last five weeks.

    "We've got to be able to continue some of the things where we made improvement offensively, and certainly there's still some things that we need to do better, and we need to get back to playing the type of defense that we played earlier in the season.

    "I'm not going to go public with all the different things that we came up with, but I did think we identified a few things that will help us improve. Now, we've got to go out there and do it. There's not this, 'Aha!' moment, like that's the one thing that if we just do that, we're going to be fine. There's a few things that we've got to be better at."

    Defensively, mobile quarterbacks were especially troublesome over the last five games, contributing to overall slippage in the run defense. On offense, the red zone woes of the first give games partly were rectified heading into the bye, but all offensive flow dissipated for three quarters in New Orleans' most recent game, a 27-19 loss to Minnesota entering the bye.

    "I think when you go back and you look at it from a statistical standpoint, over the last five weeks we've done some really good things offensively," Allen said. "And yet, we still need to be more consistent there.

    "But I think a lot of the issue has been just our ability to play complementary football -- offense, defense, kicking game. When we're playing well defensively it's been pretty good. It hasn't been that way over the last month. And then offensively, I think we've improved a lot.

    "We've really got to find a way to get the first five weeks' defense to show up and the last five weeks' offense to show up, and see if those two units can play together as a team. I think if we can do that, then we'll see a lot better results."

    Allen said he has seen improvement from quarterback Derek Carr who is in protocol after suffering a concussion against the Vikings.

    In the first five games, Carr completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions, and was sacked 15 times as the Saints went 3-2. He exited the Green Bay game in the third quarter with a right AC joint sprain.

    In the last five, with the Saints winning two of five, Carr completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 1,285 yards and six touchdowns, with two interceptions, and was sacked six times. He left the Vikings game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and concussion.

    "I think as the season has gone on, I've seen improvement out of Derek," Allen said. "There are still things that you'd like to see better, but I think overall he's been efficient, I think he has protected the ball, he's been able to take some shots down the field when they've presented themselves.

    "And so I think, like a lot of our team, we'd still like to see more consistency in the passing game, and there's a lot of elements that go into that. But I think overall, I think Derek has done a good job."

    Injuries sustained by receiver Michael Thomas and Marshon Lattimore are an issue.

    "I think Michael Thomas and Lattimore, these are injuries that are going to take some time," Allen said. "But I think other than that, I think we're in a pretty good spot."

    In fact, Thomas was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. He'll miss at least four games, but Allen said it's not a season-ending issue.

    Dennis Allen has said Thomas' knee injury isn't a season-ending one but he'd miss time.

    With Allen going on IR, the Saints are signing WR Marquez Callaway to the practice squad. CB Cameron Dantzler is being promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.

    As for the fallout. ... As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes, Chris Olave is the team's top option, and his target share will likely see a little bit of a bump without Thomas in the lineup.

    Zachariason believes Rashid Shaheed's probably will, too. We saw evidence of that the last time we watched the Saints, with Shaheed hitting a season-high 22.5 percent target share. His route participation was 80 percent when that number hovered the 70 percent range previously.

    Also worth noting. ... In Week 10 -- the last time the Saints played -- rookie A.T. Perry tied Olave for the most routes run on the team. He played nine more snaps than Shaheed, lining up on the boundary with Shaheed in the slot.

    As Zachariason summed up: "Both Shaheed and Perry could be usable at times as long as Thomas is out."

    QBs: Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, 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 21 November 2023

    As's Jordan Raanan framed it: "Undrafted quarterback Tommy DeVito isn't just starting games for his hometown New York Giants -- he's setting franchise records."

    DeVito, a New Jersey native who is living at home during his rookie season, threw three touchdown passes in a 31-19 win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday at FedEx Field. He now has five touchdown passes in his first two career starts. That is the most by any Giants quarterback through his first two NFL starts since starters were first tracked in 1950, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

    DeVito threw a pair of touchdown passes in the previous week's loss to the Cowboys.

    "I did not [know it was a franchise record]," DeVito admitted afterward. "Like I said, it's all about the playcalling and executing the plays. Sometimes we get got by the defense, different coverage vs. what we don't want, and it's up to me to make the right decision and put us in a good situation.

    "But when we have the defense that we want vs. certain plays, my job is easy. I just give it to the guys in space and let them do what they do. And they made it easy for me [Sunday]."

    It helped the Giants snap a three-game skid.

    Raanan went on to point out that DeVito did it despite being sacked nine times by the Commanders.

    DeVito is the first starting quarterback to be sacked at least nine times and win since Randall Cunningham in Week 15 of the 1992 season. It's quite the contrast from DeVito's first NFL game, when he came in against the New York Jets in place for the injured Tyrod Taylor and threw for minus-1 yard in almost three quarters. It sparked questions about whether the Giants trusted him to throw the ball.

    "I definitely think he's proving people wrong," Barkley said. "We know what he's capable of doing. It's the NFL, the National Football League. You don't get here by accident. He's a great football player, and he's stepping up and making a lot of plays for us."

    Saquon Barkley came off the field with his arm around the 25-year-old rookie and screamed, "Jerseyyyy!!!" It's a refrain that was repeated by coach Brian Daboll in his postgame news conference.

    What they're referring to is the attitude and confidence that DeVito has displayed ever since joining the Giants after the draft. He has earned the respect of those around him.

    "For me, even the game where [it was] the first game he got in, he might have not thrown the ball that much, [but] just the confidence he came in with. The swagger that he has. I thought it goes a long way, especially with me," Barkley said. "I'm familiar with that going back to college [at Penn State] playing with a guy like Trace McSorley. Kind of has that same mentality. You can see it and it shows when he goes out there and plays."

    DeVito now has six touchdown passes and three interceptions in four appearances. He will get at least one more start this week against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium.

    Perhaps more.

    Taylor (rib cage) is eligible to return on Dec. 11 after the bye week for a Monday night game against the Green Bay Packers. The Giants (3-8) also signed quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Jacob Eason in recent weeks.

    "I was asked a fair amount of questions about bringing in some other guys," Daboll said. "I felt like [DeVito] was a good young player to work with. Again, he's played 2½ games so there is a lot of work to be done. But he certainly has put the work in.

    "When he was on the look-team in practice you could see some of the instinctiveness as the show-team quarterback in terms of throwing the ball on time and anticipation. So thought he'd be a good player to work with and give an opportunity to. There is a lot of things he did good and a lot of things we can help him improve on."

    Daboll specifically mentioned the nine sacks and how a bunch of them were on DeVito.

    The Giants will work with him on that, but the young quarterback gave them a chance to win and seemed to give the defense a mental jolt with his early success; that unit forced five turnovers (the special teams added one as well).

    New York came into Sunday ranked 32nd in offense and scoring. The Giants hadn't topped 20 points in nine games. So it's a low bar, but DeVito clearly hurdled it in Week 11

    The Giants face the Patriots Sunday and then finally get a bye. They return for a Monday night game against the visiting Green Bay Packers on Dec. 11.

    Overall, the Giants have six games left. Two are against the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. The records of the other four teams are .500 or worse -- the Saints (5-5), Patriots (2-8), Packers (4-6) and Rams (4-6). ...

    What does DeVito's success mean from a fantasy perspective?

    Mostly it keeps Barkley relevant.

    The Giants rushed for zero yards until the final play of the third quarter. Barkley had -2 yards until a 36-yard gain. This team needs more consistency from Barkley and the running attack, but as long as he's drawing targets fantasy managers will continue to benefit.

    Along those lines. ... Barkley has 12 games of 50 or more receiving yards, but this was his first such game since Week 4 of 2021. ...

    On the injury front. ... Darius Slayton left Sunday's game with an injury to his lower right arm and did not return. Daboll did not have an update on his condition.

    As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Slayton has been the one constant for New York's wide receiver room this season, consistently leading the team in offensive snaps from one week to another. That continued in this game, as he played 28 of a possible 33 first-half snaps.

    According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Barkley, Wan'Dale Robinson and Daniel Bellinger led the Giants in routes run Sunday, but Slayton still had his best game of the season. His 82 receiving yards were a season-high, and he also scored his first touchdown of the season.

    Sterling Shepard has been Slayton's primary backup all season. He took over as the top outside wide receiver. If Slayton misses time with this injury, it should have little to no impact on the other wide receivers' fantasy value.

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

    Finally. ... Daniel Jones is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday, 17 days after suffering tearing his ACL.

    Jones appeared on Kay Adams' FanDuel TV show and revealed that he's been rehabbing his knee in the lead-up to having surgery, which will be performed in New York. He mentioned that the surgery will require an 8-10 month recovery, if all goes well, which means he could return to the field somewhere between the start of training camp or Week 1 of the regular season.

    As Rotoworld suggests, that obviously depends on how his body responds to the surgery and the rehab, but it appears that Jones should be able to play the majority of the 2024 season.

    QBs: Tommy DeVito, Tyrod Taylor, Daniel Jones
    RBs: Saquon Barkley, 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 21 November 2023

    As's Rich Cimini framed it, the Jets, "performing at a historically poor level on offense, benched quarterback Zach Wilson on Monday, another crushing blow for a player once considered the future of the franchise."

    Cimini went on to remind readers this marked the third benching in the past 13 months for Wilson, who might have played his last game for the Jets. The No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft will be replaced by Tim Boyle, who will start Friday against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.

    Trevor Siemian was signed from the practice squad and will serve as Boyle's backup on Friday, coach Robert Saleh said. Wilson will be the No. 3 quarterback under the NFL's new emergency-quarterback rule.

    Jets' QB woes under Robert Saleh

    Since the start of 2021, when Robert Saleh took over as head coach, the Jets are one of two teams that have thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes -- alongside the Panthers.

    Saleh said he made the quarterback change to "give [Boyle] an opportunity, a different style of quarterback. It's really just to give him an opportunity to see if we can do something with the offense."

    The move has long-term implications for the Jets, whose grand plan was to have Wilson learn under Aaron Rodgers for a year or two before returning to the starting position -- an arrangement endorsed by Rodgers. That no longer seems likely, as Wilson played his way out of the No. 2 job.

    Saleh believes Wilson will have "a really good career in this league," but he declined to comment on Wilson's future with the organization, saying that will be addressed in the offseason. He said the Jets haven't considered releasing Wilson.

    "Like I said, it's not all on him, but there are things that he needs to be better at," said Saleh, who claimed recently that it would be "lazy" to single out Wilson for the many ills on offense. "And this is just another situation to see if we can get another guy an opportunity to see if something can change."

    Wilson was pressed into action on the fifth play of the season, when Rodgers went down with a torn Achilles. Under Wilson, the Jets managed only nine touchdown drives in nearly 10 full games while posting the worst red zone and third-down efficiency in modern NFL history.

    Saleh, who arrived with Wilson in 2021, stood by the former BYU star until Sunday night, when he pulled him late in the third quarter of a 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Afterward, Saleh was noncommittal on his quarterback plans -- a sure sign he had run out of patience.

    "When things aren't getting done, change has to be made, and I understand that," Wilson said after the game -- a 7-for-15, 81-yard performance in which he failed to complete a single pass to a wide receiver.

    For the season, Wilson is ranked 30th out of 31 qualified passers in QBR (30.7), with only six touchdown passes. In three years, he's 11-20 as a starter, with 21 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.

    Wilson was benched twice last season, prompting the organization to trade for Rodgers. Instead of acquiring a proven veteran to serve as the backup, the Jets opted to keep Wilson as Rodgers' understudy -- a decision by general manager Joe Douglas that might have compromised the season.

    "You could always play the hindsight-is-20/20 game, but we felt like we did what was best for the organization, best for the team," Saleh said. "It's been an unfortunate series of events when you look at all the injuries on the line and just the things that have transpired since the start of the year."

    Saleh offered a cryptic answer when asked if there was anything the team could have done differently during the pre-draft process in 2021.

    "You know what? Actually, I've got my thoughts," he said. "I've shared them with Joe, but I'm not going to get into it here with you guys."

    Wilson is signed through 2024, with virtually no chance of having his fifth-year option for 2025 picked up. The deadline is early May 2024.

    Boyle, 29, is an NFL journeyman who has played for the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. His only three starts came in 2021 for the Lions; he went 0-3 with three touchdowns and six interceptions. In Sunday's relief outing, he completed 7 of 14 passes for 33 yards and an interception.

    He was released by the Jets at the end of the preseason, then landed on their practice squad. He was signed to the roster when Rodgers was injured.

    "I think a part of my strength is being able to get the ball out of my hands quick, and the decisiveness, I think, is a part of my game that I lean on," Boyle said Sunday night.

    Rodgers reportedly is hoping to return Dec. 24 from Achilles surgery but has said it's contingent on the Jets being in playoff contention. They're not. Saleh confirmed Rodgers has a specific date in mind, but he wouldn't reveal it.

    "All of it's a moot point until he's cleared by doctors," Saleh said.

    That said, Rodgers confirmed he'd love to be trending toward practicing by his birthday, which falls on Dec. 2. He also believes the Jets still have everything to play for.

    "We're going to push as hard as we can," Rodgers said. "There's been some 4-6 teams that have made runs over the years. … The season is definitely not over. I'm good. A lot left to play for. I'm excited about where I'm at in the rehab. Things are progressing as quickly as I thought they would."

    The Jets (4-6) have lost three straight games, with only 31 points scored. Their third-down efficiency is 23 percent and their red zone rate is 26 percent, both last in the NFL and the worst since the 1970s, when that data started to be tracked.

    Can Boyle fix any of that? Can he keep the team competitive enough to make it worthwhile for Rodgers to even consider returning.

    That seems unrealistic. At best. ...

    Worth noting. ... When Boyle takes his first snap Friday, he'll become the 16th player to start at quarterback for the Jets in the 15 years since Brett Favre's failed cameo in 2008. The list includes: Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Greg McElroy, Geno Smith, Michael Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty, Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Siemian, Luke Falk, Joe Flacco, Wilson, Mike White, Rodgers and soon, Boyle. ...

    For what it's worth, Rodgers feels responsible for a portion of Wilson's downfall this year.

    "This was obviously not the way any of us thought this was going to go down," Rodgers said. "It was going to be me and my show, and Zach getting to learn and watch it first-hand, and not having the pressure to go out there and play. So, obviously, this is disappointing. I have some personal guilt around the whole thing. I'm pissed I wasn't able to play and frustrated that, you know, if I was out there then I feel like I'd be playing well, and there would be different narratives around our team.

    "So, I'm disappointed and sad about that, but it is what it is. We're all going to support Tim and move forward, but we're also gonna put our arms around Zach and love on him because he's a great kid, and it's not all his fault. This is the way it goes sometimes. ..."

    Other notes of interest. ...'s Nathan Jahnke points out the Jets used more young players throughout this game.

    The Jets' first big move was at running back. They released Michael Carter earlier in the week and activated Israel Abanikanda for the first time.

    Abanikanda became the primary backup on early downs, with Dalvin Cook serving as more of a third-down back, replacing Carter. ...

    In addition, Xavier Gipson overtook Allen Lazard as the Jets' second wide receiver.

    Gipson played 42 of a possible 44 snaps in 11 personnel (three-receiver sets), while Lazard played only 32. Jason Brownlee cut into Lazard's playing time in 11 personnel.

    The Jets rarely used two-wide receiver sets, but even then, Gipson was on the field more often than Lazard. ...

    Jeremy Ruckert overtook C.J. Uzomah as the second tight end. Uzomah had two costly penalties in Week 10 at Las Vegas and it was expected Uzomah's snaps would drop.

    But he played only six on offense. Ruckert, meanwhile, caught a career-high three passes, gaining 25 yards.

    Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and even Tyler Conklin were largely unaffected by the changes.

    QBs: Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, Aaron Rodgers
    RBs: Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook, Israel Abanikanda
    WRs: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Charles Irvin
    TEs: Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah, Kenny Yeboah

    Philadelphia Eagles

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    By their own standards, the Philadelphia Eagles' victory over the Kansas City Chiefs wasn't a masterpiece performance. But it was yet another masterclass in winning.

    As Associated Press sports writer Aaron Bracy noted, Jalen Hurts overcame five sacks in the first half, the Eagles pushed aside some ineffective play on both sides of the ball and the result was a 21-17 comeback victory over Kansas City in a rematch of last year's Super Bowl.

    "I'd trade winning last year for this one, but it feels good to get this one," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said.

    Sirianni was most impressed by his team's intangibles in the victory that improved them to a league-best 9-1.

    "We have a bunch of guys who know how to win," he said.

    The Eagles couldn't protect Hurts before halftime when they fell behind by 10 points and didn't look much better when they opened the second half with two consecutive three-and-outs. But there was no panic on the sideline.

    "There's a calmness there," Hurts said. "You have to truly remain in control. You want to play to the standard all the time, but things happen."

    Philadelphia, eventually, started making winning plays.

    D'Andre Swift's 35-yard third-quarter run set up 10-yard TD rush on a QB draw for Hurts that pulled the Eagles within three points. On the ensuing Chiefs possession, Bradley Roby halted a long drive by punching the ball out of Chiefs TE Travis Kelce's hands at Philadelphia's 9-yard line. The Eagles went ahead for good in the fourth quarter when Hurts checked off the called play and found DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard pass to the Chiefs' 1, followed by Hurts scoring on a tush-push 1-yard run.

    The offensive statistics weren't impressive, but the Eagles made just enough plays at the just the right time while beating former coach Andy Reid for the first time in five tries.

    "I don't think we played clean, nowhere near our standard," Hurts said. "But the thing you can't quantify is the resilience a team has, the ability to persevere and this team has that. We've yet to put up a performance to our standard, but we continue to find ways to win. That builds character."

    Indeed, Hurts continues to lead the Eagles to victories, even if they're not always the prettiest performances.

    Against Kansas City, he had a passer rating of just 64.6, completing 14 of 22 passes for 150 yards while rushing 12 times for 29 yards and two touchdowns. Those aren't gaudy statistics, but last year's MVP runner-up to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes makes winning plays.

    He perfectly read Kansas City's coverage when checking to a play that got Smith one-on-one with safety Mike Edwards on the game-changing long completion with 6:55 remaining.

    With leading receiver A.J. Brown bottled up on the other side of the field, Smith had another stellar outing. The third-year pro and former Heisman winner out of Alabama made six catches for 99 yards, including several tough ones over the middle, before securing the pivotal deep ball late that turned the game in Philadelphia's favor.

    Brown is tied with Dallas' CeeDee Lamb with 1,013 receiving yards, trailing only the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill's 1,222.

    But Hurts' top target had just one catch for eight yards against Kansas City. He also had a miscommunication with Hurts on a second-quarter target that was intercepted by L'Jarius Sneed. Expect him to rebound quickly.

    One issue: Production at tight end.

    With starting TE Dallas Goedert (fractured forearm) sidelined and backup Grant Calcaterra (ankle) leaving with an injury versus Kansas City, the Eagles have lost an important part of their offense. Third-stringer Jack Stoll made one catch for three yards.

    Next up. ... The Eagles host Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

    QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee
    RBs: D'Andre Swift, 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 21 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves framed it, "Mike Tomlin kept waiting for the offense Matt Canada put together to show signs of life."

    Signs of progress. Signs of the kind of dynamic play required to get where the franchise so desperately wants to go.

    Graves went on to state the obvious: "The signs never came. Not often enough or consistent enough anyway.

    "Not in 2021, when Canada and Ben Roethlisberger reached a frosty detente before squeaking into the playoffs. Not in 2022, when Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett carried a game plan designed exclusively to minimize risk.

    "And certainly not this year, when the weeks passed and the progress Tomlin kept expecting to see never materialized amid a flurry of three-and-outs, field goals and narrow escapes largely orchestrated by the defense. ..."

    By Tuesday morning, Tomlin had seen enough, firing Canada in a nearly unprecedented in-season move for one of the most stable clubs in the NFL.

    Pittsburgh hadn't made an in-season coaching change at the coordinator level or higher since going through three head coaches in 1941.

    Tomlin felt as if he ran out of options with the Steelers (6-4) ranking near the bottom of the league in every statistical offensive category ahead of a trip to Cincinnati (5-5) on Sunday.

    "This is a result-oriented business and to be short, the improvements were not rapid enough or consistent enough for us to proceed," Tomlin said.

    Pittsburgh is 28th in points and yards, and Pickett's development has stalled in a season in which Tomlin expected the 2022 first-round pick to "kill it."

    Pickett threw for just 106 yards in Sunday's 13-10 loss to Cleveland, including three straight incompletions on the Steelers' penultimate possession with the score tied.

    As's Brooke Prior notes, through three quarters, Pickett was 8 of 16 for 53 yards, regressing from a 12 of 18 for 118 yards outing through the same point a week ago.

    The Browns defense was all over Pickett from the Steelers' opening snap, but Pickett, who played his worst game of the season, exacerbated their impact with too many errant throws in critical times and holding on to the ball too long.

    While Tomlin said in the aftermath on Sunday he wouldn't "second guess" any of the decision-making, less than 48 hours later he jettisoned Canada and opted to split his duties between running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

    Faulkner will serve as the coordinator, with Sullivan -- an offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay and with the New York Giants earlier in his career -- serving as the play-caller.

    Tomlin stressed he would not be "grading on a curve" and declined to think much beyond what awaits the Steelers on Sunday at Cincinnati.

    "We're getting ready to play a football game and win this week, that is the only agenda here," Tomlin said. "(It's) not big picture and 2024 and all of that. This organization is not wired like that."

    Maybe, but the Steelers also aren't wired to take such drastic action during the season either.

    This, however, felt different. Pittsburgh hasn't won a playoff game since 2016 and the offense has been stuck in some sort of stasis for years. The Steelers haven't been in the top half of the league in yards or points since 2018.

    While Tomlin preached patience as Canada entered his third season, frustration outside the organization has been mounting for months.

    "Fire Canada" has become an ubiquitous chant, even popping up during Pittsburgh Penguins home games and on homemade signs in the background on ESPN's popular "College Gameday" broadcast.

    The hashtag "#FireCanada" became a fixture on social media during Steelers games, with the vitriol often feeling oddly personal.

    Tomlin has long grown accustomed to blocking out the outside noise. Recently, however, the volume has been raised internally.

    In the past month, right tackle Chuks Okorafor lost his job for venting about the direction of the offense. Wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson have both publicly expressed their frustrations -- be it verbally or with their body language or both -- and on Sunday afternoon running back Najee Harris said he was simply "tired of this (stuff)" after the Steelers were outgained for a 10th straight game.

    Tomlin declined to get into specifics about what the tipping point might have been, saying it came when he decided to make the change.

    "I'm just not going to get into a lot of details and give you the pound of flesh that you're hunting," Tomlin said.

    Pickett will remain the starter, though more will be expected going forward for a player who has a mere six touchdown passes on the season and just two since the calendar flipped to October, tangible evidence -- or lack thereof -- of an offense in search of an identity.

    "We're still showing signs of September football in some instances," Tomlin said. "You know, that's unacceptable. It's late November."

    The decision comes with the Steelers about ready to start a manageable stretch in their schedule. Each of their next five opponents -- Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati (twice), New England, Arizona and Indianapolis -- are currently at or below .500.

    Pittsburgh likely needs simply a small uptick in production in its bid to return to the playoffs after narrowly missing out a year ago. The emergence of the run game last winter fueled a 7-2 push that helped Canada keep his job.

    There was hope that better days were ahead this fall after a promising August that suggested the Steelers were ready to close the gap between themselves and the powers that be atop the AFC, teams such as Kansas City and Baltimore, clubs where the points can sometimes come easily.

    Yet the optimism dimmed when the games began to count. Slow starts became the norm. Success came in small batches -- typically at the end of games -- and cohesion, consistency and explosive playmaking were elusive.

    Tomlin moved Canada from the coach's box to the sideline three weeks ago, a decision that was met with immediate if modest success. Yet whatever progress they made was undone in Cleveland, when Canada's tumultuous tenure came to a predictably meek end.

    It wasn't one thing that led to Tuesday. It was everything.

    "It's a myriad of variables (that got us here)," Tomlin said. "You just know when you're there. ..."

    Are there positives to build on here?

    The running game.

    The Steelers have piled up 543 yards on the ground over the past three weeks, the team's most in a three-game span since Weeks 1-3 of the 2007 season.

    Jaylen Warren's feel-good rise from former undrafted rookie free agent long shot to legitimate NFL-quality starter seems to be gaining momentum by the week. Fresh off his first 100 yard game, Warren got the bulk of his yardage on a 74-yard touchdown run to open the second half. Then, in the fourth quarter he had a 21-yard carry to put the Steelers in field goal range to tie the game.

    He's the first Steeler to go over 100 yards rushing in consecutive games since James Conner did it in 2020.

    By the way, Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason points out that Harris has hit the 129-yard rushing mark Warren posted Sunday once in his career.

    In addition, Harris saw a sub-10 percent target share for the first time in six weeks.

    Also per Zachariason, Johnson hit a 32 percent target share, but failed to score 4 PPR points for a second straight week. That's the first time he's scored below 4 PPR points in back to back games in his career without an injury.

    Pickens hasn't hit 10 PPR points in four consecutive games.

    Will the change of coordinators help? We'll finally get a chance to find out.

    QBs: Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett
    RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
    WRs: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin
    TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington

    San Francisco 49ers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    As's Kevin Patra framed it, "Brock Purdy was immaculate" in Sunday's 27-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going 21 of 25 for 333 yards with three touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

    The second-year pro downplayed being the first 49ers quarterback with a perfect passer rating since Joe Montana in Week 10, 1989 (19 pass attempts).

    Purdy is the first San Francisco QB with a perfect passer rating with 20-plus attempts in team history.

    "What an honor, yeah at the same time, there's some plays and stuff that I wish I had back," Purdy said on Sunday, via the team's official website. "So I'm not completely content with just that, but I thought it was a great game. The guys around me, the coaching, the play calling all of it, so that's a testament to the team, really."

    After stumbling during the Niners' three-game skid, Purdy has bounced back the past two weeks. The QB said he used the bye week to get back on track.

    "It's the NFL, anything can happen on any Sunday, and that's like the chip that I was talking about," Purdy said, per ESPN. "So, sort of getting back to that and proving myself every drive, every play that I can be the guy for this team and I have to earn it every single week at practice, meetings, wherever it may be. That's the mindset of what I was talking about and definitely more in tune and being detailed the last couple weeks and finding that chip again."

    Asked about earning the perfect passer rating, Purdy quipped: "I still don't even really know what it means."

    Patra acknowledged that passer rating is an imperfect stat, but it does highlight the stellar player Purdy has displayed this season. Yes, he sometimes puts the ball in harm's way, but in this offense, he's pushing the Niners to new heights.

    "There's always going to be critics," running back Christian McCaffrey said, per ESPN. "He knows that. Everybody in here knows that, and I like when he plays a little bit edgy with a chip on his shoulder. I kind of hope the critics just keep coming because it pisses him off and he plays really well."

    For the year, Purdy leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.2), yards per attempt (9.7), and passer rating (116.1) and is tied for 3rd in TD-INT ratio (18-5).

    "Perfect game? Wow," defensive end Nick Bosa said, per ESPN. "I'm never surprised anymore with him. He's as good as it gets."

    Purdy’s damage came in nearly equal doses between the halves, though in different ways. In the first half, Purdy was 14-of-17 for 164 yards and a score. In the second, he was 7-of-8 for 169 yards and two scores, including a 77-yard strike to receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a touchdown early in the third quarter.

    According to's Nick Wagoner, most of Purdy's production came against the Bucs' man coverage as he threw for a career-high 210 yards and had all three touchdowns against that defensive look. Purdy now has 16 passing touchdowns when facing man, the most in the NFL this season.

    Between his Week 10 game against Jacksonville and Sunday against Tampa Bay, Purdy has gone 40-of-51 for an average of 314.5 passing yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while averaging 12.3 yards per attempt.

    Through Sunday's games, he's first in the NFL in QBR (76.6), passer rating (109.9), yards per attempt (9.7), third in completion percentage (70.2 percent), tied for fifth in touchdown passes (18) and sixth in passing yards per game (266.2). His five interceptions are tied for the second fewest among starters.

    Purdy's 9.7 yards per attempt are the second most through 10 games in NFL history among players with a minimum of 250 attempts. He's keeping company with Boomer Esiason in 1988 (9.8), Dan Marino in 1984 (9.7) and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 (9.6) at that rate. Esiason, Marino and Rodgers all went on to win the league's Most Valuable Player award.

    As Purdy continues to answer any and all questions about him, perhaps the better question might be what can't he do.

    "I don't know if he can run a 4.3 [second 40-yard dash]," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "But anything we've asked him to do, he's done at a real high level."

    Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow noted, the 49ers got back to their early-season form just in time for their most crucial stretch of the regular season.

    San Francisco (7-3) begins a tricky three-game stretch with a visit to division rival Seattle on Thursday night, following a trip to defending NFC champion Philadelphia and then a home game against the Seahawks.

    San Francisco enters this stretch looking much more like the team that began the season 5-0 instead of the one that lost three straight games before a bye week. ...

    One issue: Red zone offense.

    The Niners got stopped on two red zone drives in the first half, setting for field goals. That's been an issue of late as San Francisco has scored TDs on only 6 of 14 (242.9 percent) red zone drives the past four games for the eighth worst rate in the league after being fourth best through the first six games at 69.2 percent. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... McCaffrey ran the ball 20 or more times in three of the first four games this season. He then faced a five-game stretch of less than 20 attempts. That streak ended Sunday with his 21 carries for 78 yards. ...

    Aiyuk has been productive all season but seems to be rounding into form at a good time, with a career-best 156 yards on five catches with one touchdown Sunday. ...

    George Kittle scored more than 20 PPR points for the third straight game. According to's Nathan Jahnke, Kittle's role in the offense hasn't changed. He has lost playing time only in blowout victories where backups have been put in during the fourth quarter.

    He posted two of his three worst career games in October, catching one pass for single-digit yards in both of those games. The difference has been his target share.

    His target share was less than 7 percent in his two poor October games and over 30 percent in two of his last three games.

    QBs: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, 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 21 November 2023

    Head coach Pete Carroll said on his weekly radio show Monday that he thinks quarterback Geno Smith will be able to play on Thanksgiving night against the San Francisco 49ers despite sustaining a triceps contusion on Sunday.

    Smith was hurt late in the third quarter of the Seahawks' 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams when he was hit by Aaron Donald as he was throwing. He missed the remainder of that series and two full possessions before returning for the final drive.

    On Seattle Sports 710-AM, Carroll said Smith has a contusion on the tendon near the bottom of his triceps.

    "I don't think there's any damage other than that, but we've got to see how much it swells up," he said. "The docs were all over him all through the flight and all last night and all that, so he's getting all the treatment you can get."

    Asked if Smith will have scans for further evaluation, Carroll said, "They're taking a look at it, but they pretty much know what's going on there. It's just how soon it settles down. Like I said, it's a good sign that he's functional, so that's not the issue. It's just how sore he is. He'll make it back."

    By Thursday night?

    "I would think so," Carroll said.

    Smith himself didn't provide many clues one way or the other in his Tuesday press conference.

    After suffering a contusion at the bottom of his triceps on his right elbow, Smith said that he was feeling better a couple of days after suffering the injury.

    "I've had better days, but I'm getting there," Smith said, via's Brady Henderson.

    Asked if he's playing Smith said, "We'll see how it goes. It's up to coach [Carroll]."

    Is the plan still for him to not do much in practice?

    "Yeah, that's up to coach, I'll just do what I'm told," Smith said.

    On a Zoom call with reporters, Carroll said Smith likely won't practice until Wednesday with the goal of giving his contusion time to quiet down.

    "It's just a matter of how sore he is and if we can maintain keeping the swelling down so that he has the freedom to throw," Carroll said. "He looked great when he went back out there. He's more sore today than he was, but we've got a couple days. We really think that he's got a great chance to make it back."

    Carroll added: "It'll take a couple days to see what happens, and if he can't make it then [Drew Lock is] ready to go and we'll see how that goes. But Drew will get a couple days of work while we hold Geno back here until Wednesday. He'll get prepped and Geno will be getting prepped, and we'll be OK and ready to make the decision if we have to."

    While the status of Smith will get most of the attention, the loss of Kenneth Walker III to an oblique injury in the first quarter can't be overlooked.

    Walker had four carries for 18 yards prior to his injury. Walker's injury put more on Zach Charbonnet on a day the Seahawks had only three running backs active. Look for rookie Kenny McIntosh to be active on Thursday assuming Walker is unable to go.

    Carroll said Monday afternoon that the Seahawks confirmed Walker has a strained oblique and that those injuries typically take some time to figure out. According to Henderson, the team doesn't believe Walker is a candidate for injured reserve right now, Carroll said.

    Charbonnet seems set to be the primary ball carrier for Seattle at least for this week with Walker's status in doubt.

    Charbonnet finished with an 84 percent snap share. According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, that's the highest from any Seahawks back this season.

    Charbonnet rushed for 47 yards and had 15 carries against the Rams, his season high in carries. Charbonnet is averaging 4.9 yards per rush.

    Rookie Jerrick Reed III, a contributor on special teams, also suffered a knee injury and will miss some time, Carroll said.

    For the record, Smith and Walker were both listed as non-participants on Monday's estimated practice report.

    The Seahawks also estimated that Reed, wide receiver Dareke Young (abdomen) and wide receiver Jake Bobo (shoulder) would not have practiced.

    Wide receiver Tyler Lockett (hamstring), safety Jamal Adams (knee/rest), cornerback Riq Woolen (shoulder), cornerback Tre Brown (foot) and defensive back Cody Bryant (toe) were estimated as limited.

    On Tuesday, DK Metcalf was added to the injury report. The wideout popped up on the injury report with a new toe injury, adding to hip and rib issues he has dealt with earlier this season. ...

    Meanwhile, as if the 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday wasn't painful enough for the Seahawks, they have only three days to make corrections before facing another divisional matchup on Thanksgiving night. The short week does not help Seattle in this instance with the concerns about Smith's arm and Walker's oblique injury.

    And this one is without question more important, hosting San Francisco with first place in the NFC West at stake.

    "It's just really a difficult team to deal with. But teams have figured it out. They have found them out and they were able to get them," Carroll said.

    "So we understand that. They've got three losses. We got four losses. This is a huge opportunity for us."

    The Seahawks lost all three matchups with the 49ers last season, including in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Prior to last season, Seattle had won five of six. ...

    Worth noting. ... The early script Seattle used offensively on Sunday was nearly perfect.

    Smith was 7 of 8 on the opening possession and the Seahawks finished off the 14-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Metcalf. It's the kind of drive that was needed at other times in the game.

    "I thought we've had a number of nice opening drives during the season. That was one of the good ones," Carroll said. "But I'm just disappointed that we're not able to sustain it because you can see what we're capable of."

    That said, Seattle has scored just nine second-half touchdowns in 10 games and has been held out of the end zone in the final 30 minutes in five of the past seven games, including Sunday's loss. The Seahawks were 1 of 8 on third downs in the second half against the Rams.

    "When we're converting, it changes everything," Carroll said. ...

    Also of interest. ... With Lockett on an apparent snap count because of a hamstring injury, Metcalf led the Seahawks with 94 yards and a touchdown on five catches (nine targets). He hauled in a 21-yard catch over the middle, hanging on through contact, to set up Jason Myers' final kick.

    That was Metcalf's 38th career TD, passing Joey Galloway for fifth most in team history.

    Lockett still ended with an 18.4 percent target share. He did run fewer routes than Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and he played 10 fewer snaps than Metcalf. ...

    Lock was thrown into a challenging situation being asked to suddenly come off the bench in the final seconds of the third quarter. As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth noted, it's the life of being a backup quarterback. But his performance in the fourth quarter won't have fans clamoring for Lock to take over the starting role.

    Lock was 2 of 6 for 3 yards and an interception. Seattle went three-and-out on his first drive and the second ended when he was picked off. ...

    Finally. ... Seattle's 130 penalty yards on Sunday were the eighth most in franchise history. It was the fifth time in Carroll's tenure that the Seahawks had at least 130 yards in penalties in a game and were the most since 2018 when Seattle had a franchise-record 148 penalty yards in a loss to San Francisco.

    QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
    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, Colby Parkinson

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    According to Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall, there's a growing sense of urgency for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to pull out of a six-week tailspin and salvage their season.

    While a 27-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers only dropped the Bucs (4-6) a game behind the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints with seven weeks remaining, a sputtering offense and leaky defense have done little lately to instill confidence the team will be able to get back on track.

    Sunday's loss was Tampa Bay's fifth in six games following a 3-1 start.

    The Bucs will play four of their remaining seven games within the NFL's weakest division. Still, if they've proven anything through nine games it's that it would be a mistake to assume they can fix what ails them in time to claim a third straight NFC South title.

    "I still believe in this group," quarterback Baker Mayfield said.

    "We're going to fight and scrap and cut out some mistakes and be a better team because of it," coach Todd Bowles said after the Bucs trailed 27-7 before battling back to give themselves a chance to pull within one score in the fourth quarter.

    The comeback bid fell short after Mayfield led a pair drives that stalled deep in 49ers territory.

    It was Tampa Bay's third double-digit loss of the season. The Bucs also lost by a pair of touchdowns to Philadelphia and Detroit, although Bowles doesn't feel lopsided scores are necessarily an indication Tampa Bay can't compete with the 49ers, Eagles and Lions.

    "We feel like we're in every game and we have a chance to win every game when we come on the field. So, that's not an issue," the coach said.

    "We're on the road again next week," Mayfield noted, referencing Sunday's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.

    "We need to find a way to win and have a one game at a time mentality from here on out," the quarterback added. "Heads down, block out everything else and just see where we can take this thing."

    It hasn't taken Mayfield long to learn who he can count on to catch the ball in the end zone when the low-scoring Bucs wind up there. Mike Evans (48 receptions, 780 yards) is closing in on his 10th consecutive season with 1,000-plus yards receiving and has caught seven of Mayfield's 15 touchdown passes.

    Meanwhile, a usually reliable defense continues to struggle. The Bucs had no answers for the 49ers' offense, once again digging a deep hole that the Mayfield-led offense was unable to escape. The defense has been especially ineffective against the pass. Bowles said there's no single reason why, noting the pass rush has been inadequate at times and a leaky secondary is partially to blame, too.

    The starting secondary has one interception in nine games. San Francisco's Brock Purdy posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on Sunday, going 21 of 25 for 333 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

    Adding to the concern, three defensive starters -- CB Jamel Dean (ankle/foot), CB Carlton Davis III (hip) and LB Lavonte David (groin) -- were injured during the second half and did not finish Sunday's game.

    "They're pretty sore right now," Bowles said. "They're still getting test runs, so we'll have an answer as soon as the tests come back."

    The Buccaneers travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts Sunday, the second game in a stretch in which the Bucs will play four of five on the road. After winning their first two road games of the season at Minnesota and New Orleans, Tampa Bay has dropped three straight away from home to Buffalo, Houston and San Francisco.

    The good news?

    The rest of the schedule affords plenty of opportunities to take control of the NFC South. In addition to facing last-place Carolina twice (home and away), the Bucs face Atlanta on the road and New Orleans in Tampa down the stretch. ...

    Also of interest. ... According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Rachaad White has scored at least 15.9 PPR points in each of his last six games. He's now hit at least a 10 percent target share in every contest since Week 1.

    On Sunday, White joined Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Jahmyr Gibbs as the only running backs with three or more games of six or more receptions.

    He's run 20 times or caught six passes in the last five games.

    He scored just one touchdown over the first eight weeks, but he scored his fourth touchdown in the last three weeks in this game.

    As's Nathan Jahnke suggested, Tampa Bay may find a new early-down back next season, but White should remain in fantasy starting lineups for the rest of this season.

    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 21 November 2023

    According to's Turron Davenport, head coach Mike Vrabel was visibly bothered after a humiliating 34-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

    The Titans (3-7) are stuck in a funk having lost 14 of their last 17 games. As Davenport suggested, a once proud organization is now in unfamiliar territory under Vrabel who has had the team in playoff contention every season, but that looks to be in jeopardy.

    "I don't know what rock bottom feels like, but man this is definitely tough," running back Derrick Henry said.

    Henry said there are a lot of self-inflicted wounds and poor execution. He feels Vrabel has done a great job establishing a culture and standard for the Titans, but the team currently is not playing up to it and it's costing them.

    With all of the losses wearing on the organization, Vrabel's ability to find a way to maintain the locker room and not let things spiral out of control could loom large. Vrabel, who's led the franchise since 2018, said he's going to continue to come to the building with energy and passion regardless of the previous week's outcome.

    "I don't know how to do it any other way," Vrabel said of leading the team. "But, I don't think that [job security] is an issue. I'm not going to compromise the things that I believe are going to help us win. The little things, not letting those slide, and doing my best to hold everyone accountable, including myself, as we go through this."

    Last season, Tennessee lost the final seven games -- including a Week 18 loss to the Jaguars with the AFC South title and a trip to the playoffs on the line. The Titans have found a way to win at Nissan Stadium this season (3-0) but have yet to win any games on the road.

    They've gone from back-to-back division champs in 2020 and 2021 to sitting four games behind the Jaguars and in last place in the division race with seven games left, and for the first time, Vrabel's job security is in question.

    But Vrabel doesn't seem to be bothered by it.

    "I don't try to concern myself with that," Vrabel said Sunday. "I really am focused on these players. I hurt for them. I played for 14 years, won some games, and won some championships. I am frustrated for the players. I'm disappointed for the players. I want them to have some success. I know how hard they work and what they put into it."

    It looked like the team might have found an infusion of life when rookie Will Levis debuted to the tune of four touchdown passes in a Week 8 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but that was short-lived four days later when a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Thursday Night Football" began their current three-game skid.

    One of the changes that won't happen is within the coaching staff.

    Vrabel said he's had the luxury of playing in the league so he knows what it takes to win and what is being coached and taught in meetings and in practice.

    According to Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker, Vrabel gets some cushion from this being his first season with general manager Ran Carthon, hired in January to replace Jon Robinson whose draft misses and free agent mistakes still are being felt.

    The best example? Robinson's last three first-round draft picks have started 13 combined games, and he traded his 2020 pick away after an ugly rookie season.

    Vrabel, who won three Super Bowl rings playing linebacker over 14 seasons, said he has the luxury of knowing what players are being asked to do.

    Vrabel and his coaches will keep working to improve execution of details and fundamentals and demand the Titans play with great effort.

    "I know that's what works," Vrabel said.

    The Titans will put their home streak on the line Sunday) when they host the Carolina Panthers (1-9) and No. 1 overall pick in quarterback Bryce Young. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Trick plays by the offense doubled the number of touchdowns the Titans have scored away from Nashville.

    The first came with Levis lined up wide. Two-time NFL rushing champ Henry took the snap in the wildcat, handed to Tyjae Spears, who gave it to Levis.

    The rookie found DeAndre Hopkins for a 43-yard TD pass that was Tennessee's first on the road this season. Levis followed that up with a 2-yard TD pass to two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons.

    Levis is 1-3 since taking over as the starter. He's completing only 58.9 percent of his passes. But the 33rd pick overall out of Kentucky has an 89.4 passer rating with six TD passes and only two interceptions playing behind a patchwork offensive line on a unit that hasn't had one of its starting wide receivers half the season because of injuries.

    QBs: Will Levis, Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
    RBs: Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
    WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Kyle Philips, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore
    TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco

    Washington Commanders

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 21 November 2023

    As's Josh Alper noted, the Commanders picked up 403 yards of offense and sacked Tommy DeVito nine times on Sunday, but that wasn't enough to get the team a home win over a Giants team that was 2-8 at the start of the day.

    Sam Howell had three interceptions and the Commanders lost three fumbles while DeVito threw three touchdown passes to lead the Giants to a 31-19 win.

    Turning the ball over six times and giving up eight plays longer than 20 yards added up to another embarrassing loss for the Washington Commanders.

    They're 4-7, there are questions about Ron Rivera's future and the path forward isn't getting any easier with a game at the Dallas Cowboys coming up Thursday.

    "Well, it's a low point, that's for sure," Rivera said, via Ben Standig of The Athletic. "Any time you got an opportunity to win a football game, and you put up the numbers that we did, you got a chance -- but you got to convert."

    According to Associated Press sports writer Stephen Whyno, Howell did not look like the team's long-term answer at quarterback, including the interception he tossed in the final minute that Isaiah Simmons returned 54 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

    Rivera said Howell "had his moments" while acknowledging the turnovers cannot continue to happen. The second-year pro, who still leads the league in passing yards with 3,038, took responsibility for his mistakes.

    "I got to do a better job taking care of the football," Howell said. "No matter who you're playing in the NFL, if you turn the ball over that many times, you're not going to win."

    Rivera said "there are things that we have to look at" in terms of changes heading into Week 12, but it's a short week heading into Thursday's game in Dallas and there's only so many tweaks a team can make at this point in a season.

    That makes the bigger question what owner Josh Harris will do in the final weeks and offseason to put his team on a better path for 2024 and beyond.

    "It's extremely tough because this one hurts a lot," second-year wide receiver Jahan Dotson said Sunday following the loss. "You never know where you could be at the end of the season, but hurting ourselves like this against teams that I feel like we should be beat is tough."

    The Commanders have dropped the past three games they've been favored to win: Twice to the Giants, who are in last place in the NFC East, and once at home to the Bears. They're 10 1/2-point underdogs on FanDuel Sportsbook for the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving Day home game.

    Veteran tight end Logan Thomas, who had one of Washington's three fumbles lost in the latest loss to the Giants, said it was nice to move on quickly. But that's the only positive.

    "Nobody's body is ready to go on Thursday," Thomas said. "Everybody's hurting. Dallas is gonna be sore, too, so there's no pity from anybody. ..."

    Other notes of interest. ... Running back Brian Robinson Jr. continues to show he can be as good at catching the ball out of the backfield as he is running with it. He had a team-leading seven catches for 58 yards (tied with Thomas) to go along with 17 carries for 73.

    He also led the Commanders with nine targets in this one; his 21.4 percent target share is not only by far his highest of the season, but it's the first time he's ever been over the 15 percent mark in his career.

    Robinson has been responsible for 288 yards from scrimmage over the past two games alone. ...

    The Commanders didn't practice Monday, holding a walkthrough as they prepare for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys. They did have to issue an injury report.

    They estimated running back Antonio Gibson (toe) as a limited participant. He was limited again Tuesday.

    Gibson missed Sunday's loss to the Giants with his injury.

    In 10 games this season, he has 60 touches for 406 yards and two touchdowns.

    Fullback Alex Armah (hamstring) and defensive end James Smith-Williams (hamstring) did not play Sunday and are not ready to return to practice yet. Both have been nonparticipants so far this week along with linebacker De'Jon Harris (quad) and cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (elbow).

    Safety Quan Martin (shoulder) and guard Sam Cosmi (chest) were limited on the report. ...

    The Commanders had only two changes to their practice report Tuesday: They added linebacker Khaleke Hudson as a non-participant with a back injury, and offensive guard Sam Cosmi (chest) went from a limited practice to full participation.

    A few final items. ... Howell has been sacked 51 times this season after four more against the Giants. That's by far the most of anyone in the league. The Cowboys are tied for the fifth-most sacks with 34.

    And last. ... As noted above, Rivera is on the hot seat, but he says his focus is entirely on getting his team ready to play the Cowboys and not on whether his job is safe after the season.

    "I can only control what I can," Rivera said. "What happens beyond today, what happens beyond the end of the season, that's not in my control. So everything I can do is focus on today, the present. That's the only thing I have. I'll try to get that across to the players as well. I can't focus on what I can't control."

    Rivera said that game against the Cowboys is as far into the future as he's thinking.

    "I try to focus on the Cowboys and just take it one day at a time," Rivera said. "I try to focus in on what's important today, and that's preparing for Dallas."

    Rivera acknowledged that the Commanders haven't been good enough.

    "We're all frustrated. We're all trying to get this thing corrected. We're all trying to do the best we can," Rivera said.

    Rivera said he hasn't talked to Harris since Sunday's loss to the Giants. It's probably safe to say Harris isn't thrilled with what he's seeing from his new team.

    QBs: Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett
    RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson, Chris Rodriguez
    WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Jamison Crowder, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
    TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates