Team Notes Week 10 2019

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris<

NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF

Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. 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 5 November 2019

As NFL.com's Kevin Patra suggested, the next time someone wonders how quickly a player can get up to speed after joining a new squad, point to Thursday night's Arizona Cardinals game.

Kenyan Drake was traded from Miami to Arizona last Monday. He played against the 49ers on Thursday.

With just two days of prep, Drake didn't just participate in a handful of plays. No. The running back was the focal point of Kliff Kingsbury's offense in the 28-25 loss to San Francisco.

"Coach (Kliff) Kingsbury told me he was going to get me the ball," Drake said, via the team's official website. "I didn't know to what degree, but to go out here, make plays and help this team win games, that's what I'm here for. They went out and gave an asset for me, so regardless of the short week they expected me to come in and produce and help this team win games. I took it upon myself to do my part."

Drake rushed 15 times for 110 yards (7.3 YPC) and a touchdown while adding four receptions for 52 yards. His 162 scrimmage yards were the most by a Cardinals player in a game this season (David Johnson, 156 in Week 5 was previous high).

"Super impressed," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "To be honest, I kind of felt or knew what he was capable of. Everybody's situations are different, but in this offense I felt like if he just felt comfortable enough to understand the plays and concepts, he would thrive."

Drake noted that the Cards didn't throw the whole playbook at him, rather giving him a specific game plan for this week. But after Thursday's performance, it's clear Arizona found a piece who fits well into what Kingsbury wants from his running backs.

The 25-year-old showed he can pop the big play -- 34-yard-run on the first carry of the night -- get to the edge of the defense, pick up tough yards up the gut when it's blocked well, and can be a menace in the screen game. Watching Thursday night's tilt, it was impossible not to come away scratching your head at how underutilized Drake was in Miami under Adam Gase and this season with OC Chad O'Shea.

"I think his skillset is perfect for what we do," Kingsbury said. "He's explosive, he runs tough. For him to come in and learn an entire game plan -- and we didn't pull anything back. We knew we'd have to call our best game against those guys."

Coupling Drake's performance with Chase Edmonds' breakout two weeks ago, and Johnson's play earlier in the season, it's clear early in his coaching tenure that Kingsbury knows how to get the most out of his running backs.

We'll likely get a chance to see more of that this week.

According to the team's official website, Drake will be joined by Johnson, who is expected back after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.

"Having two guys that we feel like can be dominant players for us is exciting," Kingsbury said.

Edmonds (hamstring) is not expected to play against Tampa Bay, but when he does return, it would result in a crowded backfield.

Kingsbury said he would rather have too many running backs than too few.

"We learned that," Kingsbury said. "Reps, rotation, that will work itself out."

Drake is used to a timeshare, as he was often part of a two- or three-headed attack with the Dolphins. Johnson has been used as the bell cow since his 2016 breakout season, and it remains to be seen how the playing time will be distributed against Tampa Bay.

Kingsbury said some running backs perform better when they aren't overloaded with touches, while others get stronger as the game moves along.

"You've got to know what their capacity is, if you will," Kingsbury said. "We'll see what Kenyan can do. I thought he handled a heavy load last night. With David back, you know you have two fresh running backs that are really good players."

According to ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss, Kingsbury will find a way to utilize both Johnson and Drake, but Kingsbury will go with the hot hand, and as of now, that's Drake.

Drake showed he can fill Johnson's roles in the run and passing game, which is important from a play calling standpoint: Kingsbury doesn't have to change the playbook for Drake. That'll lead to a seamless integration to the offense, and Weinfuss can see Johnson being used more in a receiving role while Drake handles more of the rushing duties once they're on the field together. ...

For what it's worth, Kingsbury said Johnson "looked great" in practice Monday. But after missing in essence three games, Johnson's immediate role back on the field has a feel of a work in progress.

"We would be smart with how we'd use him, to make sure we don't give him the ball 40 times, anything like that, just get his game conditioning back," Kingsbury said. "But he's been working hard and I like what I've seen so far and hopefully he can contribute on Sunday."

I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days as we get a better feel for Johnson's (and Edmonds') health. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Rookie receiver Andy Isabella has been buried on the depth chart for much of the season but broke out with a stunning 88-yard touchdown catch to pull the Cardinals within 28-25 in the fourth quarter last Thursday.

Coaches and teammates have raved about Isabella's speed since he arrived in Arizona and this was the first time it became evident in a game. The 5-9,188-pound caught Murray's pass and then accelerated past the 49ers secondary for his first career touchdown.

Murray hasn't thrown an interception in five straight games. The rookie quarterback shows uncommon poise in the pocket and rarely makes bad decisions that lead to turnovers.

And finally. ... Arizona enters a strange portion of their schedule with just two games in November. Both are on the road against Tampa Bay and San Francisco.

The extra time to rest and focus could make the Cardinals a dangerous team by December.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley
RBs: Kenyan Drake, David Johnson, Zach Zenner, Chase Edmonds
WRs: Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, KeeSean Johnson, Trent Sherfield, Andy Isabella, Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper
TEs: Charles Clay, Maxx Williams

Atlanta Falcons

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

The Atlanta Falcons never thought they'd be 1-7 at the halfway point of the season.

But here they coming off their bye, tied for the NFC's worst record and looking even worse than last year's disappointing team.

A six-game losing streak caused Falcons owner Arthur Blank to spend this week evaluating coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and the football operations.

Blank was noncommittal on the future of both men when asked after last week's loss to Seattle.

"It's very painful," Blank said. "I understand that. I've always been here. I'm going to be in my seat. Hopefully, the great majority of our fans will as well. I think they understand our ownership has been committed for almost 20 years now in doing the right things for the franchise. I look at our record over that period of time compared to the prior 36 years, and it's extraordinarily good."

But all indications are, Quinn is safe. For now.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport reported Saturday the coach wouldn't be fired -- at least in the near-term. Quinn will presumably be on the sideline for Atlanta's Week 10 matchup against the Saints.

Even if Quinn is safe for now, unless the Falcons have some miraculous turnaround, there's little chance he sticks with the team next season. Garafolo says that many people believe Quinn will ultimately be fired, especially after the team didn't respond to the overhaul of the coaching staff this past offseason.

Atlanta's defense, which is supposedly Quinn's specialty, has been non-existent, and it's currently ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every defensive category, allowing almost 400 yards of total offense per game. The Falcons lost their sixth straight game last weekend, dropping them to 1-7.

Quinn is currently in his fifth season and most notably led Atlanta to the Super Bowl after the 2016 regular season. The Falcons posted a 10-6 record the following year, which was the last time Atlanta finished the season above .500 and/or went to the postseason.

Last week's trade of veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu was the first sign that changes are coming even.

Players and coaches have said all season that effort isn't lacking, but the team begins most games looking poorly prepared. As Associated Press sports writer George Henry noted, no number has been worse than the aggregate deficit in first halves, a differential of 94 points that's given Atlanta little hope of rallying after intermission.

Quinn said he was more frustrated than ever as he watched his team fall behind 24-0 in the first half last week.

"What's it been like? You really want to know that? It makes you mad as hell because we're not hitting the mark that you want to that we're capable of," Quinn said. "That's why you want to push like hell. As a coach, when there's a problem, you want to solve the problem. Each week you're trying to find the space to get yourself being more consistent. When you have that happen, yeah, you're upset about it."

Atlanta has issues at nearly every position.

Matt Ryan missed his first game since 2009 when he was sacked for the fifth time two weeks ago and suffered a sprained ankle. Right guard Chris Lindstrom has been sidelined most of the season with an injury. Defensive ends Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley, both former first-round picks, lead a pass rush that ranks last in sacks. Strong safety Keanu Neal is injured for the second straight season, and Isaiah Oliver, a second-round pick last year, has struggled as a starting cornerback.

Quinn, though, still hopes for the best.

"For whatever reason, this is a good team that has a bad record," he said, "and we have not had that kind of chemistry to play all complementary football together."

While the ship in Atlanta may not be sinking yet, it's time to rearrange the deck chairs.

On Monday, the Falcons announced that former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris was moving from working with the team's wide receivers to the secondary.

Morris carries the assistant head coach title, but has spent most of his career coaching defensive backs, so it was a natural move.

He was head coach of the Bucs from 2009-11.

The Falcons also moved running backs coach Dave Brock to cover receivers, and promoted offensive assistant Bernie Parmalee to running backs coach. ...

On the injury front. ... In addition to Ryan, Ito Smith missed the team's Week 8 game after suffering a concussion in Week 7.

The Falcons have an extra day of practice this week as they come off their bye, so they gave Ryan an extra day off. Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the quarterback was held out again Monday but he returned on Wednesday.

They also held out cornerback Desmond Trufant (turf toe) and defensive tackle John Cominsky (ankle); Trufant also returned Wednesday.

"A couple guys, who are injured and we intentionally held them all today," Quinn said. "Just to max out as much time as we could. Full injury report on Wednesday. The good news is a lot of those guys made good progress. The guys with the lingering injuries, we held them just to give them a couple more days of treatment."

Ryan had started 163 straight games prior to missing the Seahawks game. Matt Schaub started in his place.

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

Also of interest. ... As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, following the trade of Mohamed Sanu to New England, it was Russell Gage who stepped in as Atlanta's No. 3 receiver. Gage was on the field for 56 percent of the snaps on Sunday, which trailed only Calvin Ridley (79 percent) and Julio Jones (75 percent). Christian Blake (20 percent), Justin Hardy (15 percent) and Olamide Zaccheaus (3 percent) also saw the field.

Gage posted a 7-58-0 receiving line in a game that saw Schaub throw for 460 yards on 52 pass attempts.

Clay went on to note the volume obviously won't be that high moving forward, but with Atlanta's defense struggling badly, opportunity won't elude the team's top pass catchers very often. Gage, a 2018 sixth-round pick, makes for a fine dynasty stash, but he doesn't need to be added to season-long rosters except in very deep leagues.

In a related note. ... The team announced on Tuesday that they were promoting wide receiver Brandon Powell to the active roster.

Powell spent 2018 with the Lions, and has been on the Falcons practice squad this season.

He caught 11 passes for 129 yards for the Lions last year. ...

And finally. ... With the team's running game struggles in mind, could Brian Hill or Qadree Ollison play an expanded role following the bye?

According to ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, Hill, for sure, will be in the mix, coming off the Seattle game where he scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard run. He might get more looks by default if the above-mentioned concussion keeps Smith sidelined.

As for Ollison, he hasn't been active for a game so far, but it would seem wise for the Falcons to at least see what they have in him as a big back.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
RBs: Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, Kenjon Barner, Devonta Freeman
WRs: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Justin Hardy, Christian Blake
TEs: Luke Stocker, Jaeden Graham, Austin Hooper

Baltimore Ravens

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

Lamar Jackson delivered the most monumental victory of his career, and the Baltimore Ravens can stake their claim to being the AFC's best team.

As ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley put it, "Before a national television audience, the Ravens stomped the undefeated and defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots 37-20 on the strength of Jackson's elusiveness, a punishing running game and an opportunistic defense."

Jackson ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, which caused the sellout crowd at MandT Bank Stadium to serenade him with chants of "MVP" in the game's final minutes. Sidestepping and slashing past a defense that stacked the box, he finished with 224 yards of total offense, throwing for 163 yards and rushing for 61.

Jackson's record as a starter improved to 12-3, but none of those victories has been more impressive than this one.

Jackson and the Ravens upset the NFL's most decorated quarterback and coach, as well as a defense off to a historic start.

The buzz before the game centered on how the Patriots' top-ranked defense would try to defend Jackson, who has proved too much for so many teams in 2019.

What did the Patriots do?

They mixed coverages and fronts, brought pressure from different angles, focused a "spy" defender on him on many plays - tried pretty much everything.

"Nobody does it better than they do," head coach John Harbaugh said.

That may be true, but Jackson easily won the battle.

The Ravens scored four offensive touchdowns against a New England defense that had allowed four offensive touchdowns in its first eight games. Baltimore scored 37 points against a team that hadn't allowed more than 14 in a game this season.

Baltimore not only showed that it belongs in the same class as New England, but the Ravens are also threatening the Patriots' hold on the AFC's top seed at the midway point of the season. The Ravens (6-2) are 1.5 games back of the Patriots for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Ravens' first win against the Patriots since the 2012 AFC Championship Game was more than a one-man show.

Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards contributed to a rushing attack that totaled 210 yards.

"Baltimore played a brand of football unlike anything the Patriots have seen all season," The Athletic's Nick Underhill wrote. "The Ravens came out intent on setting a tone and letting New England know this was going to be a different kind of game."

Underhill noted that even when the Patriots stacked the box with three defensive linemen and five linebackers, the Ravens weren't deterred.

Ingram and Jackson broke runs of 14 and 32 yards against that look.

In addition, the often maligned Ravens defense relentlessly hit Tom Brady and forced two turnovers.

But perhaps the biggest advantage of the Ravens' run game was their ability to sustain long drives. They entered Week 9 leading the NFL in average time of possession (35:15) and dominated the Patriots 37:01 to 22:59 in that category.

Baltimore sustained two 14-play drives of over eight and nine minutes to end the game, and the best defense was the offense keeping the ball out of Brady's hands.

This marked the fifth 6-2 start by the Ravens and their first since their 2012 Super Bowl season.

Jackson ended New England's streak of 21 straight wins against first- or second-year starting quarterbacks, the longest such streak in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jackson, 22, becomes the youngest quarterback in the Super Bowl era to defeat a team that entered the game 8-0 or better. That mark previously belonged to Mark Sanchez, who took down the 14-0 Colts in 2009 (Peyton Manning was pulled in the third quarter when the Colts were leading). ...

A few final notes on Jackson: With 1,813 yards passing and 637 yards rushing at the midpoint, he's on pace to become the first player in NFL history with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing in the same season. ... And according to ESPN.com's Tristan Cockroft, in his past three games, Jackson has scored 56.9 fantasy points on rushing plays alone. During that same time span, only nine running backs have that many total points using PPR scoring - and seven of them played four games to Jackson's three (Jackson's bye was in Week 8).

On Wednesday, the quarterback was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. This is Jackson's second Player of the Week honor of the season after earning his first career award in Week 1. ...

The Ravens face winless Cincinnati on Sunday. Harbaugh is an NFL coach, so naturally he's insisting this game is going to be a serious challenge for the Ravens. "If you want to make a big win matter, you've got to follow it up with a win," he said. "We understand that records don't mean one thing. We'll have to play our best game of the year. ..."

Also of interest. ... Nick Boyle's 5-yard touchdown catch from Jackson in the fourth quarter was a pivotal play.

After the Patriots closed to 24-20, the Ravens answered with a 14-play, 81-yard drive. This 8-minute, 9-second drive was the longest against New England in the past two seasons. It also ended the longest touchdown drought by an active wide receiver or tight end.

Boyle caught the first touchdown of his career on his 91st reception, which covered his first four-and-a-half seasons in the league. It came on a night when he led the team in receptions with five.

The Ravens are healthier than at any point in the season thus far. No one was seriously hurt Sunday night, and three players sidelined several weeks returned to contribute in positive fashion against the Patriots, including receiver Marquise Brown. ...

The outlier on Wednesday?

Wide receiver Chris Moore (thumb) was limited. I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update as needed, but trusting any of the team's wideouts beyond Brown seems risky. ...

And finally. ... The Ravens signed receiver/return man De'Anthony Thomas, who was previously with the Chiefs. Expect him to serve primarily as a returner.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley
RBs: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
WRs: Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin, Jaleel Scott
TEs: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Hayden Hurst

Buffalo Bills

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

After Sunday's 24-9 win over the Redskins, Buffalo is off to its best start since going 7-1 in 1993. But skeptics can point out the Bills' six wins have come against teams that entered this weekend with a combined 7-31 record.

The Bills didn't exactly ease concerns following an inconsistent performance against an opponent that has already changed coaches and turned to rookie Dwayne Haskins with starter Case Keenum in the NFL's concussion protocol.

After leading 17-3 following its first three possessions, Buffalo allowed Washington to cut it to eight before rookie Devin Singletary scored on a 2-yard run with 2:21 left.

"Listen, we're a work in progress," head coach Sean McDermott said. "We're 6-2 with a lot of games to play and we've got to continue to improve."

Buffalo's run defense started the game by continuing its porous performance from a week earlier, when it allowed a season-worst 218 yards rushing in a 31-13 loss to Philadelphia.

The defense responded in the second half by limiting Washington to 78 yards of offense and a field goal.

It wasn't quite a complete game, but for the first time this season, the Bills led from start to finish.

Josh Allen finished with 160 passing yards and two total touchdowns (a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley and a 1-yard plunge), but the story of the day was the statement game from Singletary. In his third game back from a hamstring injury, Buffalo dialed the rookie's number 23 times.

He did not disappoint, producing 140 yards on 23 touches -- both career-highs. Singletary touched the ball nine times in the first half, alone, matching the previous season high he set in Week 1. He had 95 rushing yards and a TD on 20 carries and took a screen pass 49 yards to set up a field goal. He finished with three receptions.

Singletary's 140 yards from scrimmage was the most since LeSean McCoy had 147 two years ago.

The rookie took advantage of his most playing time this season, appearing to displace Frank Gore as Buffalo's featured running back. Singletary's 20 carries Sunday matched his previous season total and his 59 percent usage rate on 41 snaps marked by far a career-high; his usage rate for the season was a paltry 22 percent entering Week 9.

Apart from the increased production and workload, nothing felt different to the Bills' third-round pick.

"It was the same approach," Singletary told ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques. "I was told to just stay ready, stay locked in -- and when your number is called, be ready to make a play.

"I felt the same coming in, just had more opportunities."

Teammates rave about him -- especially Gore, who has mentored and trained with Singletary since his pre-draft preparation. The front office was undeniably confident in him entering the season, proven by general manager Brandon Beane's decision to release McCoy following the preseason.

For the record, Gore wasn't completely phased out, but was only able to muster 15 yards on 11 carries -- the third-lowest yardage total on double-digit carries of his career.

Singletary received Buffalo's first 20-carry workload of 2019 as the Bills ran the ball a season-high 39 times.

Granted, this performance came against a Washington defense that's ranked 28th against the run, despite several impact players on its defensive line. However, Buffalo's next two games are against the Browns and Dolphins, who have the 29th and 31st-ranked run defenses, respectively.

There's not much data suggesting a similar game plan can't work against those teams.

McDermott predictably declined to heap too much praise on Singletary, although he did lightly commend him for his game before crediting the offensive line.

McDermott also stood by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who has been the target of outside criticism over his calls over the past few weeks.

"I thought the game plan was a good game plan put together by our coaching staff -- Brian Daboll and his staff," McDermott said. "It's never just one guy but it's good to get Devin going, for sure."

No matter how many people were responsible for Singletary's performance, it's difficult to justify any game plan that doesn't involve him moving forward.

Given all that, Louis-Jacques offered up the following production for this week: Singletary will get at least 15 touches against the Browns in the Bills' first road game in more than a month.

"Ball control will be key against a potentially explosive Cleveland offense," Louis-Jacques wrote, "paving the way for another heavy workload for the rookie -- and he won't disappoint. Singletary sets another career-high in total yards as he continues to seize the role of Buffalo's lead back. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... John Brown has been nothing short of a go-to option in Buffalo's passing game. Though he may rank just 16th in the league in receiving yards, he has the sixth-most third down receptions in the NFL and has delivered clutch plays in crunch time, like his game-winning touchdown catch in Week 1 versus the Jets.

Brown and Beasley were signed to provide consistent production to Buffalo's passing game and help to push Allen’s personal game forward. With eight games in the books the Brown and Beasley combo have been as advertised.

The pair have accounted for 49 percent of the team's receptions, 53 percent of the team's receiving yards and half of the team's receiving touchdowns. ...

And finally. ... While the Bills offense hasn't been in the red zone a ton, their ability to reach the end zone on almost 86 percent of their red zone possessions (85.7 percent) is not only impressive, it leads the league.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley
RBs: Devin Singletary, Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon
WRs: John Brown, Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts, Isaiah McKenzie, Duke Williams, Robert Foster
TEs: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Tommy Sweeney, Lee Smith, Jason Croom

Carolina Panthers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

The Carolina Panthers have been searching for what to call their identity since Cam Newton was sidelined with a left foot sprain in Week 2.

The do-it-all running back reasserted himself in the MVP race Sunday with three touchdowns and 166 yards from scrimmage to lead the Panthers to their fifth win in their past six games, a 30-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Bank of America Stadium.

As McCaffrey raced 58 yards to the end zone for his third touchdown of the game, chants of "MVP! MVP!" echoed throughout Bank of America Stadium.

"Well deserved," said quarterback Kyle Allen.

McCaffrey turned in yet another spectacular stat line Sunday, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Halfway through the season, the third-year running back leads the NFL with 1,244 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns and has put himself firmly in the hunt for the league's top individual honor.

"He's the heart and soul of our offense and the heart and soul of our team," Allen said. "Three touchdowns today. ... Those plays change the game - and he does that week in and week out."

Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro called McCaffrey "elite."

"It's not like it's a fluke," Vaccaro said. "He does it all of the time."

As ESPN.com's David Newton suggested, it's not that McCaffrey can do everything. But for the Panthers (5-3) to make a run at the playoffs, they will have to do it behind the herculean effort of McCaffrey, an efficient Kyle Allen at quarterback and an aggressive defense.

That's how they won four straight before last week's 51-13 loss to the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. That's what they did Sunday against the Titans (4-5).

Newton wasn't on the sideline Sunday, and he won't be a factor going forward after being placed on the injured reserve list Monday, essentially ending his 2019 regular season. More on that below.

In Newton's absence, McCaffrey has become the unquestioned face of the Panthers.

He caught a 7-yard touchdown pass and had touchdown runs of 1 and 58 yards. He finished with 146 yards rushing on 24 carries and three catches for 20 yards.

His 58-yarder was his third touchdown run of 50-plus yards this season. No other player in the NFL has more than one.

Allen played within himself, and the defense forced three turnovers and sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill four times.

With a trip to Green Bay next and a tough second-half schedule, the Panthers had to win this one to show the loss to the 49ers didn't define them.

On the injury front. ... McCaffrey might have been even more productive had he not left the game midway through the fourth quarter after hitting his head on the ground at the end of that 58-yard run when he was tackled crossing the goal line. He was evaluated for a concussion and was cleared to return to the game but did not.

McCaffrey said he was "fine" afterward, and Rivera said he just wanted to "be smart" with the Panthers up 16 points. ...

As for Newton. ... In case you missed it Sunday morning, the veteran signal caller visited noted foot and ankle expert Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay last weekend.

While Newton has been frustrated with how long his Lisfranc injury is taking to heal, surgery was not recommended and it's not currently in the plans, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The hope is that more rest will allow the injury to heal without having a procedure that would knock him out months.

While there is no timetable for recovery, Newton was expected to be sidelined several weeks and potentially more.

Given that timeline, the Panthers and Newton decided he should on IR.

"For the past seven weeks, Cam has diligently followed a program of rest and rehab and still is experiencing pain in his foot," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He saw two foot specialists last week who agreed that he should continue that path prescribed by the team's medical staff, and that it likely will take significant time for the injury to fully heal.

"We have said all along that it is impossible to put a timetable on this injury. Nobody is more frustrated with that fact than Cam. He's one of the fiercest competitors I've been around during my 20-plus years in the League. At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserve."

Now, as NFL.com suggests, intrigue gives way to the certainty that Newton is out for the rest of the season and it's Allen's show for the remainder of 2019.

Beyond 2019 is now the No. 1 question for the Panthers.

Newton is coming off back-to-back injury-shortened seasons (he missed the final two games of last season with a right shoulder injury), and has undergone shoulder surgery in each of the past two offseasons. He has one year remaining on his current deal, and is due $19.1 million in 2020 with a salary cap hit of $21.1 million.

Newton's $19.1 million, however, is not guaranteed, and the Panthers would endure just $2 million in dead money if they opted to release him this offseason.

Going that route would mark an unceremonious end for the greatest and most decorated quarterback -- and perhaps player -- in franchise history.

Newton holds franchise records for both passing and rushing touchdowns (182 and 58, respectively). He led the Panthers to a 15-1 record in 2015 and won league MVP honors before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Before that, he earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2011.

But Newton's play has suffered as the injuries have mounted, and the team won't have the luxury of seeing what a healthy Cam can do on the field before having to make a decision on his contract.

But that's a question for another day. For now, the Panthers will mount a playoff push with Allen, who threw for 232 yards and two scores against the Titans, bringing his record at 5-1 this season as Carolina's starting QB.

Early in the game, Allen looked as if he was suffering from a hangover from the loss in San Francisco the week before, in which he threw three interceptions and looked unsettled. He started 4-for-12 with an interception. He then completed 9 of 10 attempts for two touchdowns and moved into the efficient game manager mode that helped him win his first five starts. ...

The Panthers are 5-3 at the midway point of the season despite playing six games without Newton. The second half of the schedule includes some difficult games beginning with Sunday's NFC showdown at Green Bay (7-2). The Panthers also must play the Saints (7-1) twice, Seahawks (7-2) and Colts (5-3). On the flip side, they play two games against the Falcons (1-7) and one against the Redskins (1-8). ...

Other notes of interest. ... Last week, former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith made a statement about the team's current wideouts.

On Charlotte's WFNZ sports radio station, Smith criticized the group, from its effort to its ability to beat press coverage - even suggesting the franchise consider drafting a new pass catcher come April.

"Outside stuff, we don't really pay attention to it. For me and DJ it's about just going out there and getting better each and every week," Curtis Samuel said after Sunday's game. "I don't really follow stuff on social media like that. I honestly don't care, but everybody has their own opinion, so I'm not mad at him."

Whether Samuel or D.J. Moore heard Smith's message or not, the duo certainly responded on Sunday against the Titans.

Samuel hauled in three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Moore exploded for 101 yards on seven receptions, marking the second-best performance of his career.

Typically, games this season have been an either-or scenario for the duo, with one stepping into the spotlight while the other has a fairly regular outing. That both delivered in this one is promising. ...

For the record, Moore played all but four snaps in the game, totaling just his second career 100-yard receiving game. ...

Where has tight end Ian Thomas been all season? Thomas' reps have shrunk in his second season and he has yet to catch a pass. This comes after a rookie season when he showed promise, catching 36 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. ...

Wide receiver Donte Moncrief's time in Pittsburgh came to an end on Saturday, but he wasn't out of work for long.

The Panthers announced on Monday that they claimed Moncrief off of waivers. They had an open roster spot, so did not need to make another roster move to free a spot for the veteran wideout.

Moncrief opened the season as a starter for the Steelers, but a series of drops in the opening weeks of the season led to a trip to the bench. He caught four passes for 18 yards in five overall appearances and only one of those catches came after the second week of the regular season.

The move to Carolina reunite Moncrief with wide receivers coach Jim Hostler. Hostler had the same job with the Colts when Moncrief was in Indianapolis in 2015.

Moore, Samuel, Jarius Wright, Brandon Zylstra, Greg Dortch and DeAndrew White are the other wideouts for the Panthers.

And finally. ... McCaffrey missed Wednesday’s work with a knee injury. It is nothing to worry about, though, as it appears to be a maintenance day for McCaffrey.

The Panthers also sat Samuel (hamstring), defensive tackle Vernon Butler (back), offensive tackle Greg Little (concussion), cornerback James Bradberry (groin), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (knee) and safety Eric Reid (ankle)

Rivera expressed optimism at Bradberry’s return to practice Thursday but concern about Butler’s injury, Max Henson of the team website reports.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Kyle Allen, Will Grier, Cam Newton
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Mike Davis, Jordan Scarlett, Elijah Holyfield
WRs: D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright, Donte Moncrief, Brandon Zylstra, Chris Hogan
TEs: Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz

Chicago Bears

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson, the Chicago Bears just fell into the football abyss.

Whatever illusions the Bears (3-5) had of contending for a playoff spot likely vanished after 22-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

The offense was hopeless early.

As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston framed it, "The Bears' stat sheet for most of the first half read like Chicago's winter forecast."

Yards passing after the first quarter? Minus-2.

Total yards in the quarter? Minus-1.

Don't worry: Once Chicago warmed up, the offense hit single digits: 9. As in total yards in the first half. Or one less than inept Mitchell Trubisky's uniform number.

And on the scoreboard, a 0.

The Bears survived one of the worst offensive outputs in recent franchise history to gamely make a run at the Eagles in the second half. They trailed 19-0 before David Montgomery had a pair of 1-yard TD runs to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles had enough on the final drive to hold on Sunday for a 22-14 victory, sending the Bears to their fourth straight loss.

"The score felt a lot worse than it was," head coach Matt Nagy said.

The late push in a game the Eagles tried to give away made Chicago seem more competitive than it actually was in a rematch of last season's playoff game. The Bears lost that one on the famous double-doink field goal attempt that hit the upright and the crossbar.

They lost this one on a double dose of offensive incompetence: Trubisky was only 10 of 21 for 125 yards and Montgomery topped the running game with a measly 40 yards.

The Bears seemingly started every drive down 10 yards before second or third down.

"We just couldn't get going and it snowballed. One thing after the next," Nagy said.

Nagy said he never considered making a QB change, and stuck with Trubisky through a string of sacks and incomplete passes. Trubisky was sacked three times.

"You're just looking for that one or two plays that will turn things around," Trubisky said. "You've got to have conversations on the sideline and just be real with each other and figure out how to change things."

The Bears got going in the third when Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel on a 53-yard pass to the Eagles 9 and Montgomery ran in from the 1 to make it 19-7. Montgomery again leaped in from the 1 early in the fourth quarter, getting Chicago within 19-14.

The Bears had nothing left.

"Every single position on offense, guys just have to make plays," wide receiver Allen Robinson said. "We're not making enough right now, and we didn't make enough today."

The Bears are 3-5 and could hope two games against Detroit and one against the New York Giants over the next four could give them a jolt.

Nagy has public faith in Trubisky, a former No. 2 overall pick who isn't playing like a franchise QB.

Trubisky isn't Chicago's only problem, but he completed 6 of 13 balls for 24 yards in the first half. That's beyond terrible. Trubisky routinely struggles to put together four solid quarters.

Going to backup Chase Daniel would be a temporary fix.

The veteran backup is nowhere close to a long-term solution. But at what point does Nagy reach his breaking point? All available evidence suggests Trubisky is not a franchise quarterback.

Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Andrew Seligman reminded readers, the Bears expected to take a big step on offense in Nagy's second season.

What they didn't envision was it being a big step backward.

Trubisky looks rattled. A line that figured to be strong is getting pushed around. The run game has largely been ineffective when it hasn't been ignored. And besides Robinson, the receivers aren't delivering.

It all seems to have added up to a lack of confidence in his players from Nagy, whose creative calls were a benchmark last season. Against the Chargers two weeks ago, he opted to take a knee with about 40 seconds left rather than try to get closer to the end zone. Eddy Pineiro then missed a 41-yard field goal as time expired, sealing a 17-16 loss.

And on Sunday, Nagy called for a punt on fourth-and-6 at the Eagles 44 late in the third.

If Nagy doesn't trust his offense, it's not hard to see why. The Bears ranked 29th overall, 30th in passing and 27th in rushing through Sunday.

"We've done some different things, we've tried different things," Nagy said. "And we feel like in some areas we've gotten better and others we haven't. I don't feel like it's handicapped me at all, but I do feel like it's not where we were last year. That's the part that bothers me. I want to make sure I do everything I can to do what I know we can do with these players."

Nagy and the Bears will look to rebound Sunday when they host the Lions. ...

Looking for positives?

With 47 catches for 532 yards and three touchdowns, Robinson is well on his way to exceeding last year's totals of 55 receptions for 754 yards and four TDs in 13 games. ...

On the injury front. ... Nagy admitted to reporters on Wednesday that tight end Trey Burton is still not 100 percent coming off groin surgery. Burton has 14 catches for 84 yards. ...

One last note here. ... The Bears haven't had much use for running back Mike Davis since signing him to a two-year, $6 million contract this offseason and his lack of a role on offense has led to suggestions that the Bears cut him before Saturday.

As Profootballtalk.com explained, doing so would remove Davis's signing from the formula for compensatory picks and cutting him would leave the team in line for a fourth-round pick thanks to safety Adrian Amos signing with the Packers.

"Thinking of something like that is negative," Davis said, via 670 The Score. "I really don't care about outside voices or whatever comes with it. All I can do is come up, show up every day, be a great teammate and be ready to go, no matter what happens."

Davis has 11 carries for 25 yards and seven catches for 22 yards on the season and hasn't touched the ball in four of the team's last five games.
According to ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson, the Chicago Bears just fell into the football abyss.

Whatever illusions the Bears (3-5) had of contending for a playoff spot likely vanished after 22-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

The offense was hopeless early.

As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston framed it, "The Bears' stat sheet for most of the first half read like Chicago's winter forecast."

Yards passing after the first quarter? Minus-2.

Total yards in the quarter? Minus-1.

Don't worry: Once Chicago warmed up, the offense hit single digits: 9. As in total yards in the first half. Or one less than inept Mitchell Trubisky's uniform number.

And on the scoreboard, a 0.

The Bears survived one of the worst offensive outputs in recent franchise history to gamely make a run at the Eagles in the second half. They trailed 19-0 before David Montgomery had a pair of 1-yard TD runs to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles had enough on the final drive to hold on Sunday for a 22-14 victory, sending the Bears to their fourth straight loss.

"The score felt a lot worse than it was," head coach Matt Nagy said.

The late push in a game the Eagles tried to give away made Chicago seem more competitive than it actually was in a rematch of last season's playoff game. The Bears lost that one on the famous double-doink field goal attempt that hit the upright and the crossbar.

They lost this one on a double dose of offensive incompetence: Trubisky was only 10 of 21 for 125 yards and Montgomery topped the running game with a measly 40 yards.

The Bears seemingly started every drive down 10 yards before second or third down.

"We just couldn't get going and it snowballed. One thing after the next," Nagy said.

Nagy said he never considered making a QB change, and stuck with Trubisky through a string of sacks and incomplete passes. Trubisky was sacked three times.

"You're just looking for that one or two plays that will turn things around," Trubisky said. "You've got to have conversations on the sideline and just be real with each other and figure out how to change things."

The Bears got going in the third when Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel on a 53-yard pass to the Eagles 9 and Montgomery ran in from the 1 to make it 19-7. Montgomery again leaped in from the 1 early in the fourth quarter, getting Chicago within 19-14.

The Bears had nothing left.

"Every single position on offense, guys just have to make plays," wide receiver Allen Robinson said. "We're not making enough right now, and we didn't make enough today."

The Bears are 3-5 and could hope two games against Detroit and one against the New York Giants over the next four could give them a jolt.

Nagy has public faith in Trubisky, a former No. 2 overall pick who isn't playing like a franchise QB.

Trubisky isn't Chicago's only problem, but he completed 6 of 13 balls for 24 yards in the first half. That's beyond terrible. Trubisky routinely struggles to put together four solid quarters.

Going to backup Chase Daniel would be a temporary fix.

The veteran backup is nowhere close to a long-term solution. But at what point does Nagy reach his breaking point? All available evidence suggests Trubisky is not a franchise quarterback.

Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Andrew Seligman reminded readers, the Bears expected to take a big step on offense in Nagy's second season.

What they didn't envision was it being a big step backward.

Trubisky looks rattled. A line that figured to be strong is getting pushed around. The run game has largely been ineffective when it hasn't been ignored. And besides Robinson, the receivers aren't delivering.

It all seems to have added up to a lack of confidence in his players from Nagy, whose creative calls were a benchmark last season. Against the Chargers two weeks ago, he opted to take a knee with about 40 seconds left rather than try to get closer to the end zone. Eddy Pineiro then missed a 41-yard field goal as time expired, sealing a 17-16 loss.

And on Sunday, Nagy called for a punt on fourth-and-6 at the Eagles 44 late in the third.

If Nagy doesn't trust his offense, it's not hard to see why. The Bears ranked 29th overall, 30th in passing and 27th in rushing through Sunday.

"We've done some different things, we've tried different things," Nagy said. "And we feel like in some areas we've gotten better and others we haven't. I don't feel like it's handicapped me at all, but I do feel like it's not where we were last year. That's the part that bothers me. I want to make sure I do everything I can to do what I know we can do with these players."

Nagy and the Bears will look to rebound Sunday when they host the Lions. ...

Looking for positives?

With 47 catches for 532 yards and three touchdowns, Robinson is well on his way to exceeding last year's totals of 55 receptions for 754 yards and four TDs in 13 games. ...

On the injury front. ... Nagy admitted to reporters on Wednesday that tight end Trey Burton is still not 100 percent coming off groin surgery. Burton has 14 catches for 84 yards. ...

One last note here. ... The Bears haven't had much use for running back Mike Davis since signing him to a two-year, $6 million contract this offseason and his lack of a role on offense has led to suggestions that the Bears cut him before Saturday.

As Profootballtalk.com explained, doing so would remove Davis's signing from the formula for compensatory picks and cutting him would leave the team in line for a fourth-round pick thanks to safety Adrian Amos signing with the Packers.

"Thinking of something like that is negative," Davis said, via 670 The Score. "I really don't care about outside voices or whatever comes with it. All I can do is come up, show up every day, be a great teammate and be ready to go, no matter what happens."

Davis has 11 carries for 25 yards and seven catches for 22 yards on the season and hasn't touched the ball in four of the team's last five games.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel
RBs: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Kerrith Whyte Jr.
WRs: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley
TEs: Ben Braunecker, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Bradley Sowell

Cincinnati Bengals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

As the Associated Press framed it, "Andy Dalton is getting pushed out the door. A rookie takes over at quarterback. The Bengals are already thinking about their first pick in next year's draft and how they'll shape the roster long term, a function of being winless at the season's midpoint.

"The overriding question: How long until any of it makes a difference? If at all?"

A 24-10 loss to the Rams in London left the Bengals 0-8 for the first time in 11 years and prompted first-year coach Zac Taylor to bench Dalton in favor of fourth-round pick Ryan Finley, who gets a chance to show he can be the team's quarterback for years to come.

Or, he can struggle behind Cincinnati's dreadful offensive line - just as Dalton did - and leave the Bengals undecided at the most important position heading into another offseason of trying to sell tickets based upon promises of better things ahead.

"I'm sure we'll have to re-evaluate after these next eight games," safety Shawn Williams said. "Is Ryan the answer or what? At this point, what do you do?"

Until their bye week, the Bengals had been doing pretty much the same thing as in years past - holding onto veterans, eschewing prominent free agents and hoping for better outcomes. When they fired coach Marvin Lewis after his 16th season without a playoff win and hired the 36-year-old Taylor, they tried to sell optimism by calling it the start of a "New Dey."

As the losses mounted, fans dubbed it a "Boo Dey" season - same old, same old.

By benching Dalton, Taylor indicated he's ready to start reshaping the lineup - as much as the front office will allow through its personnel decisions, anyway. The move got players' attention.

"This is a new day, it's not just a saying or a phrase for us," defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. "They want to exhaust every opportunity there is to win long-term football."

With Taylor's decision, their long term got murkier.

Dalton led the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15 but couldn't get a postseason win. He has one year left on his contract, but his future with the team appears limited to the rest of this year as a backup.

"If this is the end here, I don't know," the ninth-year veteran said. "I don't know what the future holds, but this is not how I envisioned it."

There's more.

Receiver A.J. Green - the franchise's best player - can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He's recovering from a severe ankle injury suffered the first practice of camp and hopes to return in Finley's debut against the Ravens this weekend week at Paul Brown Stadium.

Green wants to stay in Cincinnati if the Bengals are willing to offer a suitable contract. He'll be upset if negotiations fail and the club uses its franchise tag to keep him for one more year.

"For me, it would be an insult," Green said.

In the short term, things could get worse, given Finley's inexperience and the offensive line's continued struggles. The Bengals' running game is by far the league's worst - Dalton has all three of Cincinnati's touchdowns rushing - and they've given up the third-most sacks in the NFL.

It's far from an ideal situation for a rookie quarterback.

The Bengals are two losses away from matching the worst start in club history, an 0-10 mark under Dave Shula in 1993. A loss to the Ravens in Finley's debut would give them 11 straight from the end of last season, tying the club record for longest losing streak over two seasons.

"The first half of the season was embarrassing," Dunlap said.

Meanwhile, as we try to figure out who stands to benefit most now that Finley is under center, ESPN.com's Ben Bay believes receiver Tyler Boyd could see some increased targets with Finley under center.

If Green returns this week, defenses should ease up the coverage on Boyd, who has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. Boyd's percentage of targets dropped in recent weeks as the offense leaned on the likes of Auden Tate, Alex Erickson and Tyler Eifert.

In a related note, Eifert played 71 percent of the Bengals' offensive snaps against the Rams, which is his highest usage since he played 79 percent in Week 2 of the 2017 season.

He converted the promotion into a 6-74-0 receiving line on nine targets.

Despite the strong performance, ESPN's Mike Clay believes we need to see more before Eifert can be counted on as a weekly starter. The 29-year-old entered the week having fallen short of 28 yards in seven consecutive games to open the season, totaling one touchdown during the span.

Beyond that, the targets just keep on piling up for Tate, who had 13 in Week 8 and is now up to 52 over the past six weeks. While it's fair to wonder how Green's return could impact Tate's role, it would behoove Cincy to keep developing him.

He's good for what feels like one highlight-reel catch -- at minimum -- per week. He's a fun player to watch.

In addition, Erickson has three straight games with at least six targets and is coming off back-to-back games with at least 15 fantasy points. Like the aforementioned Tate, it's hard to tell how much Green's return would impact Erickson's role, but given how much the Bengals have to throw the football, targets should remain plentiful. ...

For the record, even though Taylor said Green is returning this week, the veteran wideout did not practice Wednesday and he's now considered "day-to-day" heading into weekend; I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Finally. ... Joe Mixon is frustrated but understanding about the limited touches this season.

He's averaging 12.6 carries per game and has only 320 rushing yards.

"I'm not frustrated with my team, I'm not frustrated with [Taylor]. I'm frustrated with myself because I'm not putting up what I know I could do. It is what it is. I can only hope for the best and for us to get better."

On that, we can all agree.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Ryan Finley, Andy Dalton, Jake Dolegala
RBs: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Samaje Perine
WRs: Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, Josh Malone, Stanley Morgan Jr., A.J. Green, John Ross
TEs: Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Cethan Carter, Drew Sample

Cleveland Browns

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter reminded readers, the Denver Broncos ended a pair of magical Browns seasons during the 1980s.

Sunday, Denver might have simply put this debacle of a Browns season out of its misery.

Once again, Cleveland failed to produce the winning play down the stretch, as Denver held on 24-19, which most likely will be the dagger in the Browns' ever-evaporating playoff hopes.

At 2-6, with one of the NFL's easiest remaining schedules, Cleveland technically isn't yet out of the playoff picture. But if the Browns couldn't defeat Brandon Allen in his first career start quarterbacking a previously dilapidated Denver offense, who can they beat?

Underlying what a disaster of a season this has become, the Browns finally cleaned up the penalties and eliminated the turnovers in Denver only to flop in the red zone offensively, while collapsing on defense.

The only real question for Cleveland now is, what changes are on the way?

Because the Browns remain what they've largely been since their return to the NFL at the turn of the millennium -- a losing football team.

Meanwhile, Odell Beckham Jr. is fit to be tied - over a controversy with his cleats and with his faltering team.

Beckham was frustrated after a late fourth-down pass didn't come his way and was overheard expressing that frustration as he walked off the field.

"It was a tough loss," Beckham repeated over and over when asked about it later.

Asked if the Browns were headed in the right direction, Beckham said to check back later.

"Once we put a complete game together, you can come back and ask me," said Beckham, who had five catches for 87 yards. "We'll see. It's just tough. When you don't play a complete game and (have) stuff left on the field, or plays left on the table, it's hard to beat any team."

That said, Beckham hasn't written off the season.

"Win the division. See what happens. Finish the season 10-6. That's all you can do," said Beckham, whose team is mired in a four-game skid. "Just keep going, see what happens. That's all you can really do."

Baker Mayfield feels a similar way. He threw for 272 yards and one TD, but he couldn't convert a fourth-and-short on a QB sneak at the Broncos 5 with 5:23 left in the third.

"Singular focus on the next week ahead," Mayfield said. "Look at the film, see what happened. Obviously not getting touchdowns in the red zone is the biggest problem."

Head coach Freddie Kitchens called the loss "disappointing" and added, "we just didn't make enough plays to win the game."

But make no mistake: This team is a mess and Kitchens is on the hot seat.

Mayfield can't seem to get the offense on the same page (one touchdown against Denver in five trips to the red zone). Safety Jermaine Whitehead sent threatening posts on Twitter following the loss that led to the team condemning his behavior in a statement.

Whitehead posted threatening comments toward fans on Twitter. A few hours after the game, the Browns issued a statement.

"Jermaine Whitehead's social media posts following today's game were totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate," the statement read. "We immediately spoke with Jermaine upon learning of these comments. The Browns in no way condone that type of language or behavior. This matter will be further addressed internally."

As for his job security, Kitchens said he doesn't give it a thought.

"I've never worried about it before," Kitchens said. "I'll do the best job I can do."

Meanwhile, Beckham was told by the league to change his shoes at halftime on Sunday.

That didn't sit well with Beckham or fellow receiver Jarvis Landry, who also was informed his cleats didn't conform with the dress code and needed to be changed.

At his locker after the game, Beckham talked almost as much about his footwear choice as his feats on the field.

At issue were a pair of clown-themed Nike cleats. He said he wore them for comfort, but they didn't match the Browns' deep orange and brown color scheme.

So he switched to a dark pair of that had "OBJ" stitched in white lettering on the side. He wasn't the only one to draw the league's attention, with Landry being told to change his gold ones featuring orange laces. He went to a brighter orange pair.

Still, Landry didn't understand.

"You see guys wear highlighted green cleats not playing for the Seahawks, that don't have highlighter in their jersey at all - and they still wear the cleats," said Landry, who caught a 9-yard TD pass with 10:47 remaining. "Again, out of my control, those things. I switched cleats and tried to go back out there and win a game."

Same with Beckham. But he did wonder if the cleat controversy had everything to do with him (Beckham caused a stir earlier this season by wearing a nearly $200,000 watch that the NFL told Beckham not to wear again).

"I've seen people wearing cleats that are a completely different color from their team and they can wear them all game, on a prime-time game," Beckham said. "For some reason, when it comes to me, it's just not the case."

Beckham explained he's planned the choices of his cleats since the summer and they're predicated on what uniforms the Browns will be wearing. He said the team switched from an all-white jersey to this ensemble during the week.

"When I have cleats on my feet, they could be hot pink, lime green, it's never going to affect me," Beckham said. "It's not something I worry about while I'm running routes. ... It's tough."

And the fact we're talking about Beckham and Landry's choice in shoes after another miserable loss is part of the problem. ...

Now, it's back to the drawing board.

"Leave this loss here, get on a plane, get back at it," Beckham said.

Other notes of interest. ... Kitchens' play calling has been questioned regularly this season, so it's no surprise we get more of the same this week.

As Trotter noted, on two critical plays, the Browns left Nick Chubb, their best player this season, off the field. On third-and-3 from the Denver 21, they instead gave the ball to Dontrell Hilliard, who was stuffed for no gain, forcing Cleveland to settle for a field goal. Far more critically in the third quarter, the Browns went for it on fourth-and-1.

But with Chubb on the sidelines again, Cleveland went with a Mayfield QB sneak. Mayfield was stopped short of a first down, robbing the Browns of another touchdown opportunity.

But there will be at least one change as the Browns try to snap a four-game losing streak against the Bills.

Running back Kareem Hunt's eight-game suspension came to an end with Sunday's loss. That leaves him eligible to play in a game for the first time since Week 11 of last season.

Hunt got approval from the league to resume practicing two weeks ago, so Kitchens has had a chance to see how the back looks after an extended layoff that also included core muscle surgery. That's apparently gone well because Kitchens said on Monday that Hunt will "definitely" have a role in the offense this week.

Asked if Hunt might cut into Chubb's workload, Kitchens said: " Nick is about one thing and one thing only and that's winning. I don't think either one of those two are selfish at all."

The Browns have not formally added Hunt to their 53-man roster yet. They did open up a spot by cutting safety Whitehead on Monday. ...

On the injury front. ... Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones left in the second quarter with a knee injury and didn't return. He did not practice Wednesday. I'll have more on his status as further details come to light; check the Late-Breaking News section for more in coming days.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Drew Stanton, Garrett Gilbert
RBs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Dontrell Hilliard, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins, Taywan Taylor, Damion Ratley, Derrick Willies
TEs: Demetrius Harris, Ricky Seals-Jones, Pharaoh Brown, David Njoku

Dallas Cowboys

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Todd Archer, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones is superstitious. Head coach Jason Garrett claims he is not, but he has been known to follow the same routine, such as wearing the same sweatshirt day after day.

When a black cat ran on the field in the second quarter Monday, things certainly did not favor the Cowboys, with quarterback Dak Prescott's first pass of the game intercepted, wide receiver Randall Cobb losing a fumble and place-kicker Brett Maher missing a 54-yard field goal attempt to the left.

But after the cat scampered off the MetLife Stadium field, the Cowboys' luck changed, and they were fortunate enough to leave with a 37-18 win, having outscored the Giants 34-9 after the feline left the field.

Ezekiel Elliott has now rushed for more than 100 yards in three straight games and is finding his groove, finishing with a season-high 139 yards Monday.

"I mean that was the easiest 140 yards I ever gained," Elliott said. "I don't really know if I broke a tackle. I just ran inside the scheme and those guys just mauled them up front. So I mean thanks to them for making it easy on me today. Gotta love the big fellas."

Elliott might have needed some time to get into the flow after spending training camp in Cabo, Mexico, during a contract holdout, but he is getting stronger at the right time. He has five 100-yard rushing games this season, putting him on pace to surpass the most 100-yard games he has had in a season, with seven in 2016 and 2018.

He has 24 100-yard games in his pro career, tying him with Larry Johnson and Adrian Peterson for 11th-most in a player's first four seasons since the 1970 merger. Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith has the most in Cowboys' team history through a player's first four seasons, with 25.

With the way Elliott is trending in 2019, he might tie that mark next week.

For much of Monday night's game, the only thing that was working in Kellen Moore's offense was Elliott.

Still, the Cowboys put the game in the hands of Prescott (257 yards, 3 TDs, INT), more so than its highly paid back, and the QB struggled to string together big completions. Unable to hit deep shots to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Prescott relied on a short passing game to Jason Witten and Randall Cobb, 20 of the quarterback's 22 completions traveling less than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.

As NFL.com suggested, Moore's attack that inspired many in the season's first month to consider the first-year OC a wunderkind had lost all creativity.

All that is to say the lasting image of Monday's win, other than that black cat sprinting across the off-grey MetLife Stadium turf, was Cooper doing so after Prescott hit the receiver on a crosser on a fourth-quarter third-and-12 from New York's 45 and he took off for the end zone to extend Dallas' late lead.

Overall, the Cowboys offense didn't put forth its best effort, but a 5-3 mark at the NFL season's midway point is significantly better than 4-4.

This was a key matchup for the Cowboys with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) winning two straight entering their bye week.

A short week awaits the Cowboys with the Vikings (6-3) coming to town but, if the Cowboys can continue to create turnovers and apply pressure, this will be a team no one wants to face come the postseason.

Worth noting. ... Cooper (knee) was not on the field for the start of Wednesday's practice; I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update, but there isn't much concern about his availability against the Vikings at this point in time.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard
WRs: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Devin Smith, Ventell Bryant
TEs: Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz

Denver Broncos

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold put it, "There's waiting your turn and then there's waiting 42 months for your turn as quarterback Brandon Allen did. ..."

Allen, who took the first regular-season snap in his NFL career Sunday, filled-in for the injured Joe Flacco and led the Broncos to a 24-19 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Empower Field at Mile High.

The win nudged the Broncos to 3-6 as they head into their Week 10 bye as Denver equaled its best scoring output of the season -- they scored 24 in a Week 4 loss to Jacksonville. Allen finished 12-of-20 passing for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Allen was forced into duty when the 34-year-old Flacco suffered a herniated disc in his neck, an injury Flacco said he believed he aggravated in the team's loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week. Flacco was placed on injured reserve this past week and Allen, who had been claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Rams just before the start of the regular season, was pushed into the starting lineup.

The Rams play a similar scheme on offense, which was one of the reasons the Broncos claimed him in the first week of the regular season. That comfort level showed, at least after some initial jitters, as Allen led the Broncos on three touchdown drives.

"(I'm) very comfortable, it's a very a similar offense from where I came from, even when I first got here I was fairly comfortable," Allen said this past week. "Here and there every week there's a couple plays they give me (in practice) just to be able to get in with the first O."

The Broncos' 95-yard scoring drive in the third quarter -- their third of the game -- meant Allen was the first quarterback to lead his team on a touchdown drive of 95 yards or more in his first career game since Marc Bulger in 2002.

The Broncos kept much the same play-calling for Allen with plenty of three-wide receiver sets mixed in with the two-tight end and two-back sets. The Broncos the first-career 100-yard receiving game from rookie tight end Noah Fant, which included a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the first quarter, and a big-play outing from running back Phillip Lindsay.

Lindsay had a key 40-yard run to go with a 30-yard touchdown run that gave the Broncos a 24-12 lead with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the third quarter. Toss in another good defensive effort -- the Broncos have held four of their opponents to 20 or fewer points -- and the Broncos escaped with a much-needed win.

Allen became the second Broncos quarterback to start his first game and see the Broncos win. John Elway made his NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1983, a game the Broncos won, 14-10, but Elway was pulled from that game after he was 1-of-8 for 14 yards and an interception.

All of the quarterback questions will come later. Allen will start the Broncos' Week 11 game in Minnesota and likely the Week 12 game in Buffalo. Head coach Vic Fangio has said rookie quarterback Drew Lock, who is on injured reserve at the moment recovering from a right thumb injury he suffered in the preseason, is expected to return to practice in Week 11 after the team returns from the bye.

Lock can practice for up to three weeks before the Broncos must decide to keep him on injured reserve or put him on the roster.

Lock was a second-round pick -- the 42nd pick overall -- in this past April's draft.

"I'm ready whenever," Lock said earlier last week. "Whenever they're ready, I'll be ready. I don't know, I've been in this league for, what is it? It's been eight weeks, nine weeks, whatever, [so] they know a lot more about this league than I do and they know a lot more about timing and this whole process."

But he has some idea about it.

"When I come back, they want to give me some practice reps before they put me into a game without even practicing a little," Lock said on Tuesday. "I think they have an awesome plan and whenever they feel like they want to put that plan in place, I'll be good."

They need to get Lock on the field, for a couple of reasons. First, they need to see what he can do, especially since the 2-6 Broncos may be in position to draft a quarterback in the upper reaches of round one. Second, they may need him to play. With Flacco on IR, it's Allen and Brett Rypien as the two-deep depth chart in Denver. ...

Fant rebounded in a major way from some rookie struggles, as he caught three passes for 115 yards.

He scored on the above-mentioned 75-yard catch and run during which he broke three tackles.

Fangio said he believes Fant's success can help him maintain the right mentality moving forward through the rest of the year.

"I think it can," Fangio said. "I'm a believer in doing it on the field gives you confidence. Not imagining it, not sitting on some psych's couch and not thinking it. You have to go out and do it. He did it yesterday. He's had other times this year where he's done it, albeit inconsistently as you alluded to. Hopefully this will be a game that can put him over the top and at least he knows he can do it. If a game's not going his way in that regard, he still knows he can do it. The next play might be the one. ..."

Fangio said he didn't yet know if tackle Ja'Wuan James (knee) would be able to play against the Vikings. James exited the Broncos' Week 1 game, returned for the team's Week 8 game in Indianapolis and then reaggravated his injury in that contest. He missed Sunday's game against Cleveland.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Brandon Allen, Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Joe Flacco
RBs: Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Theo Riddick
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Fred Brown, Daesean Hamilton, Juwann Winfree, Diontae Spencer
TEs: Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli, Jake Butt

Detroit Lions

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

Detroit's defense couldn't come up with the late stop the Lions needed on one end of the field. Matthew Stafford couldn't convert the fourth-down play at the other end.

It added up to another loss for the Lions, who are quickly falling out of contention in the NFC playoff race after a promising start to the season.

Stafford's pass to Logan Thomas from the 1 was broken up in the end zone with 3 seconds remaining Sunday, sending the Lions to their fourth loss in five games with a 31-24 defeat to the Oakland Raiders.

"We didn't convert, we didn't score, we didn't win the game," Stafford said. "You can look at it all you want. Had we scored there I wouldn't be fielding these questions. We just have to execute the play better and score."

Stafford did plenty of good things against the Raiders but it was a few missed opportunities that proved to be the difference.

Three weeks ago in a loss to Minnesota, Stafford and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. hooked up for four touchdowns.

That connection was working again in Oakland, as Stafford and Jones hooked up six times in the first half for 106 yards and a touchdown. For the game, Jones finished with 126 yards and a score.

Third-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay also got into the mix, catching four passes for 132 yards and a score. It was Jones' second 100-yard receiving game of the season and Golladay's third.

For Stafford, it was his third straight game with at least 300 yards passing and three scores.

Stafford finished Sunday with 406 yards passing and three touchdowns.

"Our guys are making great plays on the outside," Stafford said. "(OC Darrell Bevell) was drawing up some really good plays to get some guys open and we were hitting them. Kind of using everyone again. Marv had a big day, Kenny had a big day, McKissic got a big one out of the backfield, (tight end T.J. Hockenson) caught a screen for a big play, a couple other big ones, so, just trying to make sure we use everyone for the best of their abilities and I'm just trying to spread the ball around."

But there were less impressive moments.

There was a botched handoff to McKissic on the opening drive that denied Detroit (3-4-1) a scoring opportunity, an interception in the end zone in the second quarter when the Lions had a chance to take a two-score lead and then problems on both sides of the ball in the closing minutes after Stafford's 26-yard TD pass to McKissic tied the game with 5:16 to play.

The Lions still had a chance at the end and Stafford managed to move the ball inside the 10 with less than a minute to play following a 26-yard pass interference call on Nevin Lawson.

Stafford scrambled for 4 yards to the 4 on first down, was sacked by P.J. Hall on second down and then scrambled 13 yards to the 1 on third down. With the clock running down, the Raiders called a timeout with 8 seconds left to get the right personnel on the field.

The Lions responded with heavy personnel with six offensive linemen, two tight ends and no receivers and called for a pass play.

In other words, with one down to essentially tie the game, the Lions took Jones, Golladay and Danny Amendola off the field -- and already had Hockenson out seeking medical attention. So, Detroit took out two 100-yard receivers and a reliable third-down option for a heavy play-action play and an end zone pass to Thomas that was predictably broken up.

Just an awful play call for that situation, when you're going to rely on Stafford to make the pass.

So why take away his top playmakers?

"We had a one-on-one shot," Stafford said. "We had one of our big guys on one of their not-so-big guys and a chance to go up and make it. I have to give him a better chance and a better ball."

Generally speaking, the Lions need to play better defense as well.

Detroit allowed 450 yards of offense against the Raiders, 171 on the ground and 279 in the air. Never mind that the Lions actually outgained Oakland. Their defense didn't help at all.

This happened on a day when the rest of the NFC North lost, when the Lions could have gained ground in the division and climbed back into the playoff race. Instead, the franchise couldn't take advantage and remained what it is -- a team that has parts and pieces to be successful but not enough to fully take advantage of opportunities when it has the chance to.

And with a defense like the one the Lions have now, it's not clear if they'll be able to do so this season. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Stafford's passer rating is at 106 - he's never finished a season in triple digits in that category. He's thrown for 2,499 yards in half a season, with 19 touchdown passes and only five interceptions.

Jones and Golladay are the only teammates this season to have at least 125 receiving yards and a touchdown in the same game.

As ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein notes, McKissic isn't a prototypical running back, and if you're the Lions, you likely don't want him to be your lead rusher on a game-to-game basis.

But the catch-all running back with receiving skills continues to carve out a specific role in the offense. On Sunday, that role seemed to grow ever so slightly, as he was targeted three times -- resulting in three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown -- and ran four times for 32 yards. Detroit needs a stronger run game but continues to show it has something in McKissic. ...

Hockenson caught three passes for 56 yards, his most yards receiving since he had 131 in the season opener. Detroit's first-round draft pick has had at least three catches in four of his last five games.

Head coach Matt Patricia said Hockenson took a hit to the back and was "pretty sore" - but the coach did not indicate that the injury was particularly serious.

Indeed, Hockenson was not on the team's initial injury/participation report on Wednesday; Stafford was.

The QB was listed as limited by hip and back issues on the injury report, although there's no real concern about his availability for Sunday at this point.

I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update as needed in coming days.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Jeff Driskel, Matthew Stafford
RBs: J.D. McKissic, Paul Perkins, Ty Johnson
WRs: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Jermaine Kearse, Brandon Powell, Chris Lacy, Travis Fulgham
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Logan Thomas

Green Bay Packers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

According to Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham, there's a saying around the NBA about visiting teams that play terribly at Staples Center after spending the previous evening out enjoying Hollywood's innumerable pleasures for young millionaires.

LA nightlife is undefeated.

Aaron Rodgers wouldn't go so far as to say explicitly that the young Packers enjoyed too much of the good life during their weekend on the coast. But the 35-year-old superstar said something was very wrong with the Packers' preparation before their 26-11 thrashing from the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

"We've got to be honest with our routine and the decisions we made in the last 48 hours, and make sure that our head is in the right place the next time we come on a big road trip," Rodgers said.

The Packers fell to 7-2 when their four-game winning streak ended in embarrassing fashion. Green Bay managed 184 total yards - nearly 200 below its season average - while yielding 442 yards to the Bolts, who blew out the NFC North leaders with shocking comprehensiveness.

"I don't think it was complacency at all," Rodgers said. "I just think whether it was the trip, not everybody taking care of themselves the right way over the two days, or we were just tired, or the differences in temperature. But those are just excuses, and the facts are that we just weren't locked in from the start, and that's a little disappointing."

Rodgers went back to mention his offense's poor preparation and the possible reasons for it several times during his postgame news conference. The oldest player on the Green Bay offense appeared to be highlighting a message he had already sent to his younger teammates in private about professionalism.

"This was a good slice of humble pie for us," Rodgers said. "We're kind of rolling, 7-1, and starting to listen to the chatter maybe a little too much. I think this will be a good thing for us."

Rodgers went 23 of 35 for 161 yards, his lowest total in a full game since December 2015. His 61 yards passing through three quarters were his lowest career total during a game in which he played all three. He appeared to have little cohesion with his receivers, even with the return of Davante Adams from a four-game absence with turf toe.

The Packers' offensive line -- which came in with the highest pass-block win rate in the NFL, according to ESPN's pass rush metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats -- couldn't handle the Chargers' edge duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who combined for three sacks and six quarterback hits even though the Bolts almost never blitzed, using only their four-man front.

They sent an extra pass-rusher on just one of Rodgers' 39 dropbacks in the game (at 2.6 percent, that was the lowest rate of his career). Rodgers entered the game as one of three quarterbacks averaging at least 10 yards per attempt against the blitz this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

And in a road stadium where crowd noise was not an issue, three of the Packers' five offensive line starters had a false-start penalty in the first half.

All told, Green Bay managed only six first downs and 69 yards in the first three quarters between several sustained drives by Los Angeles.

"I've got to do a lot better job of putting our guys in position, because we really didn't even get into the game plan," head coach Matt LaFleur said. "It was a spread, throw-it-all-over-the-yard kind of game, and that's not what we want to be."

From top to bottom, the Packers looked nothing like the impressive team that got off to a superb start for LaFleur and sparked immediate talk of Super Bowl contention.

But the rookie head coach isn't worried just yet, and the Packers have no more trips to Los Angeles on their regular season schedule.

Just New York and San Francisco.

"It was a frustrating day," LaFleur said. "We just have to hit the reset button, like we say every week, and get back to the drawing board. Just be more prepared for these situations."

LaFleur said it all will be examined, from the Green Bay workouts coming off a Sunday night road game to the travel schedule to the Saturday walk-through in Los Angeles.

With another West Coast trip, to San Francisco, looming after next week's bye, LaFleur wants everything under a microscope to make sure the players are better prepared, physically and mentally, for the next such excursion.

"I think anytime you go out there and you have a game like that, you kind of look at everything you did," LaFleur said. "I think all of us coaches, players, have to look inward and make sure we were doing the right things and really learn from that experience so we don't have another one of those moving forward."

Before the next West Coast trip, though, there's a home game with NFC contender Carolina at Lambeau Field heading into the Packers' bye week. ...

Other notes of interest. ... As noted above, after a month-long layoff due to a turf toe injury, Adams finally made his long-awaited return for the Packers' lineup against the Chargers.

Working on a slight rep count, the two-time Pro Bowl receiver caught a team-high seven passes against the Chargers for 41 yards in his first action since catching 10 passes for 180 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 26.

"It felt good to be out there with squad, obviously," Adams said. "It had been a long time. It wasn't the product that we wanted to put out there but it was good to get back out there."

Adams felt good about his chances of playing Sunday, but an official decision wasn't made until he spoke with the team's training staff and doctors on Sunday morning.

Although Adams won't go as far as to label the injury as "100 percent normal" quite yet, he said it has healed properly. The issue now is merely "fighting through some of the uncomfortable stuff."

The sixth-year receiver started Sunday's game but occasionally rotated out with Geronimo Allison, Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow against the Chargers.

"We wanted to manage my snap count and make sure I wasn't too exhausted or exhausted my foot, either," Adams said. "Just we just wanted to be smart about it. I felt like the coaches did a good job of managing that, and we'll see how we go moving forward. ..."

After catching two passes for 133 yards and one touchdown against Oakland in Week 7, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has caught 1 of 4 passes for 4 yards the past two weeks. He had zero catches against the Chargers.

"We just have to make sure we're putting him in the right spots," LaFleur said. "He is a weapon, he is a threat down the field, and really yesterday we only ran him down the field a couple times. We just have to do a better job with him."

And finally. ... Despite the low probability of a comeback, running back Jamaal Williams pushed and plowed for every available yard during the Packers' late nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive.

After bulldozing his way to a first down through two would-be tackles in the red zone on second-and-5, Williams scrambled into the Chargers' end zone on an extended play to catch a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers with 6 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.

With the touchdown, Williams became the first Packers running back since Ahman Green in 2003 to catch a touchdown pass in four consecutive games.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle
RBs: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams
WRs: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd
TEs: Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger

Houston Texans

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio reminded readers, it was two years ago this past weekend that Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL, ending a stellar rookie season that had begun to generate some MVP buzz. Now, with a wide-open field of MVP candidates, Watson is finally getting noticed as a candidate to win the league's ultimate individual prize.

On Sunday in London, Watson completed 22 of 28 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He added 37 yards rushing, and he generated a passer rating of 120.4.

For the year, Watson has 2,432 passing yards (270 yards per game), 18 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.

Not reflected in the stats is the manner in which Watson extends plays with his legs, fighting through traffic and contact and somehow making things happen.

Throughout Sunday's game, Watson showed off his mobility and his ability to escape pressure.

Although left tackle Laremy Tunsil was inactive after being limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury, Watson was able to escape pressure.

As ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop pointed out, Watson was sacked only once by the Jaguars because he was able to scramble out of several close calls. In the second quarter, he escaped pressure before finding running back Carlos Hyde for a lateral pass that he threw as he was being hit by two Jaguars defenders.

The Jaguars entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL with 29 sacks, including four against Watson when the teams played in Week 2.

Watson had two completions in which he took at least five seconds from snap to throw, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. In the past two seasons, his 30 completions when taking at least five seconds from snap to throw are the most in the NFL.

The good news is that the officials have learned not to whistle the play dead based on the perception that Watson is in the grasp, because he's never really in the grasp. Speaking to PFT by phone from London after Sunday's 26-3 win over Jacksonville, Watson was still thinking about the touchdown that wasn't against the Colts, thanks to a quick whistle and an "in the grasp" ruling.

"I still wish I could get that touchdown back," Watson said about a bad call from two weeks ago. "We could have won that game."

They didn't win that day, but they've won four of five and enter the bye week at 6-3. And Watson is indeed a candidate for league MVP.

Watson said he's not thinking about that, and that he's just focusing on playing ball. When asked, however, whether he thinks he gets enough credit for what he's done, Watson said, "Sometimes, yes."

He needs to get more and more credit for what he's doing. Fearless despite that torn ACL, Watson is playing the position as well as anyone - and he's clearly the most important member of a team that is trying to win the AFC South for a second straight year.

With a post-bye slate that starts with a game at the Ravens, continues with a visit from the Colts, and then moves on to a Sunday night showdown against the Patriots, Watson will definitely get more notice if he can keep doing what he's done for the next three games. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Running back Duke Johnson had his biggest game of the season, with five catches for 68 yards. He also had a rushing touchdown, his first since Week 17 of the 2017 season. Johnson's 68 receiving yards were by far the most of the season, and he filled an important role, as Watson has several targets dealing with injuries.

Houston also got a huge game from Hyde, who had a season-high 160 yards rushing against the Jaguars for his most yards since running for 193 yards in 2016.

He did, however, fumble the ball before getting into the end zone on a long run late in the fourth quarter, resulting in a touchback.

Hyde, who was traded to Houston in August, continues to play an important role in the offense while filling in for Lamar Miller, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Hyde ranks seventh in the NFL with 704 yards rushing. ...

Receiver Keke Coutee is healthy but did not play for the second straight week. Coutee appeared in six games with three starts this season and has 154 yards receiving. Head coach Bill O'Brien hasn't provided a reason for not playing Coutee and instead going with Steven Mitchell and DeAndre Carter.

Will Fuller missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury and it's unclear when he'll return. ...

Tight end Darren Fells continues to be a reliable red zone target for Watson. Fells' 1-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his sixth of the season, which ties him with Owen Daniels (2012) and Joel Dreessen (2011) for the most by a tight end in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

This week, Watson praised Fells for not only the success he has been having in the end zone but also for the professionalism he's shown as a veteran in a tight end room full of young players.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Deshaun Watson, AJ McCarron
RBs: Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, Buddy Howell, Taiwan Jones
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills, DeAndre Carter, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee
TEs: Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Kahale Warring, Jerell Adams, Jordan Thomas

Indianapolis Colts

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

The Colts will spend the coming days closely monitoring how starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett's left knee responds after he was knocked out of Sunday's 26-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with what "looks like a sprain," according to head coach Frank Reich.

The good news?

An MRI on Brissett's injured left knee revealed nothing unexpected, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports. The QB officially has a sprain of his medial collateral ligament.

He has a chance to play this week against the Dolphins, but there is "nothing definite" on his status for this week yet, according to Mortensen.

While Brissett was slated to work on a limited basis Wednesday, his response to treatment this week will determine his availability for Sunday.

The Colts regard him as week to week.

Not surprisingly, Brissett was relieved when he received the results of the MRI.

He said Tuesday that he feels significantly better than he did two days earlier, but wasn't ready to confirm he’ll practice Wednesday.

“I think we will see in about 24 hours,” Brissett said.

Brissett suffered the injury in the second quarter when guard Quenton Nelson was pushed back into him deep in Pittsburgh territory. Brissett remained on the ground for a couple of minutes before jogging to the sideline with a noticeable limp.

Brissett, who was 4-of-5 passing for 59 yards prior the injury, spent an extended amount of time in the medical tent before he put his helmet on briefly, then took it back off and watched the rest of the game from the sideline.

"I don't think he was good enough to go," Reich said. "We made the best decision for Jacoby and for the team, really, to hold him out."

Brissett was never officially ruled out for the remainder of the game. He said while he wanted to return, he was having a difficult time moving laterally with the pain in his knee.

"My job is lateral," he said. "I didn't think it was ready to go and I think we did a couple of tests and the doctors confirmed it. Obviously I'm in there pushing it, trying to get out there, but it wouldn't have been smart."

The loss knocked the Colts (5-3) out of first place in the AFC South.

They could keep Brissett out for a game because they host Miami in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Veteran Brian Hoyer, signed by the Colts after the retirement of Andrew Luck, replaced Brissett and was 17-of-26 passing for 168 yards and three touchdowns despite not having top receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) and losing starting center Ryan Kelly in the second quarter due to a burner.

Those were Hoyer's first touchdown passes since he threw one against the Colts in Week 5 of the 2017 season while he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

Hoyer committed two of the Colts' three turnovers. He threw an interception that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick when the Colts had the ball deep in Pittsburgh territory. Hoyer then fumbled the ball on a strip-sack on fourth down.

"I thought he did a great job, especially with the limited reps he's had," Brissett said. "He made throws I knew I wouldn't throw probably. That's what makes him special."

While the Colts' hopes of winning the AFC South may depend on Brissett's availability, ESPN.com's Mike Wells suggested on Monday that avoiding careless mistakes like the team made against the Steelers in Sunday's loss are just as important.

It wasn't just one area that the Colts had problems. It was in all areas.

Three turnovers by the offense. Seven penalties, including three unnecessary-roughness calls and a pass interference by the defense. Five sacks given up. A blocked extra point and missed potential game-winning kick by Adam Vinatieri. But as uncharacteristic as the penalties were, the same could be said about the Colts' sloppiness with the football.

The Colts, who entered Sunday with just seven turnovers, had nearly half of that against the Steelers.

Hoyer threw an interception that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown. He also fumbled on a strip-sack when Reich went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Steelers' 35-yard line instead of having Vinatieri, who has been inconsistent this season, attempt a 52-yard kick. The Colts had a chance to extend their lead after a safety, but Chester Rogers fumbled the free kick, which gave the Steelers a short field.

The Steelers scored 10 points off Indianapolis' turnovers.

As ESPN.com's Mike Wells put it, "The Colts aren't good enough to getting away with mistake after mistake and expect to win."

They are the fifth team since the 1970 merger to have each of their first eight games of the season decided by seven points or fewer, according to ESPN Stats and Information. ...

For the record, I'll be following up on Brissett via Late-Breaking Update in coming days while reminding you that Reich told reporters last week that Hilton's injury would keep him out three to four weeks. ...

Meanwhile, receiver Parris Campbell fractured his hand late in Sunday's loss to the Steelers, Reich announced during his press conference Monday.

Campbell underwent surgery Monday and will miss time, but the Colts won't place him on injured reserve.

Campbell bemoaned his lack of injury luck in his first season after Sunday's game.

"It’s just always one thing after the other. I get fully healthy and something else happens," Campbell said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star.

The second-round choice had five catches for a career-best 53 yards Sunday. He has 15 receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in six games this season.

In a few semi-related notes. ... Zach Pascal, an undrafted free agent, was released three times in 13 months but has found a home in Indianapolis after being claimed off waivers in June 2018.

He had more targets than any other Colts receiver Sunday and now has 11 receptions, 188 yards and three TDs in the last three games. The coaches also like his blocking skills. ...

Also. ... Devin Funchess is getting closer to returning from injured reserve. Will he slot right back in as the team's No. 2 wide receiver?

According to Wells, the former Panther has to get back first and then get up to speed because he has played only one game this season due to a clavicle injury. But time is running out. The opportunity will be there for Funchess if he does return in time, though, because the Colts have lacked consistency from the No. 2 receiver spot this season.

And finally. ... The Colts have no plans to make a kicking change despite the season-long struggles of Vinatieri.

Vinatieri has made a career-low 70.6 percent of his field goal attempts this season. He's missed 10 kicks -- five extra points and five field goals -- in just eight games this season. Some teams would have made a kicking change, especially considering the Colts would likely be 7-1 if Vinatieri didn't miss kicks against the Chargers in Week 1 and the Steelers in Week 9.

But the Colts are standing pat with the NFL's all-time leading scorer despite general manager Chris Ballard working out six kickers after Week 2.

"A lot of confidence, no plans to do anything different," Reich said Monday.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Chad Kelly
RBs: Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams
WRs: Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Deon Cain, Devin Funchess, Ashton Dulin, T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell
TEs: Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox

Jacksonville Jaguars

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

In the aftermath of a dreadful 26-3 defeat against the Texans on Sunday in England, head coach Doug Marrone said he would wait until the end of the upcoming bye week before deciding whether Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew was his quarterback going forward.

Earlier than expected, Marrone made his choice.

Marrone announced on Tuesday that Foles will be the team's starting quarterback in Week 11 against the Colts and Minshew will return to being the backup.

Foles, who was officially activated from the reserve/injured list to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, was injured in the first quarter of Week 1 with a broken collarbone and Minshew has started since then.

"I made a decision on the quarterbacks and Nick will be our starting quarterback going forward," Marrone said. "Obviously [it's] my decision. I worked hard on it, came to it."

Marrone called in both players and spoke to them, informing them of his decision before telling the team and then announcing it to the media.

A former Super Bowl MVP for the Eagles, Foles arrived in Duval to turn the team around and take the starting reins. However, his debut lasted less than a quarter.

As NFL.com's Grant Gordon noted, Minshew took over and Minshew Mania came with it.

Showcasing a trademark headband and mustache, Minshew showed poise and talent far beyond that of a rookie drafted in the sixth round.

The Jaguars (4-5) went 4-4 with the Washington State product as a starter and Marrone believes his future is bright despite taking a step back to the bench.

"He's done a great job. I feel a whole lot different about him now than I did prior to him playing in a very positive way," Marrone said. "We took some things and had some discussions on things that we're gonna work on going forward which will give him the ability to be a player in this league for a long time. I really believe that."

In the aforementioned loss to Houston, Minshew had three turnovers in his worst start of the season. Marrone stated his decision wouldn't be made based on that game alone and on Tuesday said it hadn't.

"I looked at the body of work," Marrone said.

At the heart of Marrone's decision was Foles' experience and the belief that the QB who has started for the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs gives the Jaguars the best option at victory during the current campaign.

"Looking back at all the work we put in and I just go back to the experience of what he's going to be able to do," Marrone said. "I think that's going to give us the ability, a better chance of winning right now."

When asked at what point Minshew made Marrone second-guess having the rookie as the starter, the Jags coach said it never happened. In many ways, Foles never got his chance to be the Jacksonville starter and Marrone is ready for that to happen.

"I don't know if I had that thought process," Marrone said. "If I'm dancing with this person, but I know at the end of the night I'm gonna be dancing with this other, I don't think I'm going to be dancing that well with the first one."

On Nov. 17 in Indianapolis, Foles will get a re-start as the franchise quarterback for the Jaguars. His dance card had been filled and Minshew Mania will take a backseat.

Other notes of interest. ... The Jaguars are 31st in the league in red-zone efficiency, only better than winless Cincinnati. Jacksonville has scored 10 touchdowns in 29 drives inside the opponents' 20-yard line, a 34.48 percent clip that's a big reason for the team's offensive woes.

The Jags have just three touchdowns in their past 13 red-zone trips. ...

According to ESPN.com's Mike DiRocco, the situation at receiver will be a major issue the rest of the season. Receiver Dede Westbrook did not play because of a shoulder/neck injury, and Westbrook said it will be something that he'll have to deal with the regular season.

That means his availability will be iffy each week and not having him is significant because he's the team's third-leading receiver (second in yardage).

The team also put Marqise Lee (shoulder) on IR earlier in the week. The Jaguars had to activate undrafted rookie Michael Walker from the practice squad and use first-year player C.J. Board, who had appeared in only one previous game this season, and use them against the Texans.

The Jaguars cannot afford an injury to DJ Chark, Chris Conley or Keelan Cole.

And what it Leonard Fournette's workhorse usage leads to an injury?

Ryquell Armstead would be the feature back in that case, though DiRocco doesn't believe the Jaguars would use him as exclusively as they have Fournette. Tyler Ervin and Devine Ozigbo are the only other backs on the roster, and they'd get some touches, but the Jaguars would take a look at any unsigned veteran backs (though pickings are slim).

And finally. ... Rookie tight end Josh Oliver has been a non-factor since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out the first six games. He has two receptions for 10 yards, including one catch in each of the last two weeks.

The lack of presence at the position has left Jacksonville with no one creating mismatches for linebackers and safeties.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, Josh Dobbs, Phillip Walker
RBs: Leonard Fournette, Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, Tyler Ervin
WRs: D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, CJ Board, Marqise Lee
TEs: Josh Oliver, Seth DeValve, Ben Koyack, Geoff Swaim, James O'Shaughnessy

Kansas City Chiefs

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

The Chiefs might eventually look back at Sunday’s win over the Vikings as the one that allowed them to reach all of their goals.

From ESPN.com's Adam Teicher's vantage point, their 26-23 victory looks like it saved their season. They picked up a much-needed win on Harrison Butker’s 44-yard field goal as time expired, raising their record to 6-3 just as it appears the Chiefs will get reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes back in their lineup for this week’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

With a loss, the Chiefs’ chances of holding on to their AFC West lead and making the playoffs didn’t look good.

Now, with Mahomes perhaps returning this week, the situation looks much brighter -- in part because of the confidence gained in Mahomes' absence.

Just listen to wide receiver Tyreek Hill:

  • On his spectacular 40-yard touchdown reception, when it looked as if Matt Moore's throw had sailed long: "No, man. Can't nobody overthrow me. Don't do that. Don't do that, all right?"

  • On being sent in to return a late punt, with the outcome still hanging in the balance: "I said, 'Let's go.' It's either going to be a bad kick or a touchdown. So, it was a bad kick."

  • On running side-by-side with Damien Williams on the running back's 91-yard touchdown run: "If I'd had five more yards, I would have stripped the ball from him. I told him that."

    Hill has never been short on confidence, of course.

    For the record, Next Gen Stats notes that Hill reached the fastest speed of any player over the last two seasons -- 22.67 mph -- on Williams' touchdown run. ...

    But Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta advised readers the way it was overflowing in a jubilant locker room stood in stark contrast to the past few weeks, when the Chiefs had struggled to defend home turf and lost star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a dislocated kneecap.

    Now that their confidence is back, getting Mahomes back is next.

    He sure looked fine racing off the sideline and joining Butker and the rest of the Chiefs in jumping up and down in a wild midfield party following the game-ending field goal.

    Mahomes has practiced on a limited basis the past two weeks and was questionable for Sunday. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters the star quarterback will continue to ramp up the workload in practice this week, but the coach continues to stress the decision will be made by the medical experts.

    "He wants to be out there. It's not his decision on this," Reid said. "We kind of backed up on it. We listened to the doctors, the trainers and made the decision. If he had it his way, he would have played the next play after it happened. That's how he's wired."

    I'll obviously be following up on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days; be sure to check back for the latest. ...

    While Mahomes' return will no doubt provide a boost to a struggling team, it won't fix everything. The Chiefs lost each of the last two games he both started and finished. The Chiefs will need to play better defensively against the Titans, who are struggling to score points themselves.

    Worth noting. ... The Chiefs don't return to Arrowhead Stadium for almost a month.

    They visit the Titans next week, then face the Chargers in Mexico City, before getting their long-awaited bye. Their next home game is Dec. 1 against Oakland.

    Also of interest. ... Matt Moore completed 25-of-35 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, posting a 103.9 passer rating. Additionally, while under pressure, Moore completed 6-of-7 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, amassing a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.

    Moore owns a 100.9 passer rating this season overall, impressing immensely in relief of Mahomes, and it paid off on Sunday with his first victory as a starter in over two years. ...

    Damien Williams looks like he's regained the featured back spot that LeSean McCoy had locked up earlier in the season.

    Williams, who earned the starting job off big performances late last season, is finally looking like a lead running back. He ran 12 times for 125 yards, most of it coming on the above-mentioned 91-yard TD run.

    The Chiefs have struggled for big running plays most of the season and Williams' came at a crucial juncture. It put the Chiefs ahead and tied Jamaal Charles' seven-year-old team record for longest TD run.

    McCoy has ceded time to Williams the past few weeks. He had just three carries for nine yards against Minnesota, and he caught a single pass that went for no gain. ...

    As the team's official website reminded readers, Butker heard his number called multiple times in the game's final moments, connecting on a 54-yard field goal to tie the game with just over two minutes left and the 44-yard game-winner as the clock hit zeroes.

    The 54-yarder tied Butker's career-long, which he set against Seattle last season, and according to the folks at Next Gen Stats, it was the toughest kick of his young career (with a 48.3 percent Make Probability). He finished hitting all four of his field goals and both extra points.

    Butker was about as clutch as a player can be on both kicks, which is further demonstrated by this admittedly obscure - but still awesome - stat: He's first kicker to nail a 50-plus yarder to tie a game and then a 40-puls yarder to win it all in the final three minutes since Martin Gramatica in 2002.

    On Wednesday, Butker was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. This is the third-year man's third Player of the Week honor and his first this season.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Matt Moore, Chad Henne
    RBs: Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, LeSean McCoy
    WRs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle
    TEs: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Deon Yelder

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    Just when the Los Angeles Chargers' season looked lost, they put together their best game of the year against one of the league's top teams.

    Melvin Gordon scored two touchdowns and the defense held Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers to one of his worst outings as the Chargers dominated the Packers on Sunday, winning 26-11.

    "For whatever reason we do better when it's a little bit 'the Chargers don't have a chance.' I don't know why. I don't think anyone gave us a chance in this one," said Philip Rivers, who got his first win over Green Bay. "I wish we did better when everyone thought we were really good like the beginning of the season. All three phases did a heck of a job."

    Green Bay came in as the second-best team in the NFC but had its four-game winning streak snapped to fall to 7-2.

    "This was a good slice of humble pie for us. We're kind of rolling, 7-1, and starting to listen to the chatter maybe a little too much," said Rodgers, who threw for 161 yards, his fifth-lowest total when he plays all four quarters.

    For the first time this year, the Chargers (4-5) looked like a team that won 12 games and made the playoffs last season.

    The offense was balanced and moved the ball consistently in Shane Steichen's first game as coordinator, and the defense kept Rodgers and the Packers out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter. Michael Badgley kicked four field goals in his first game back from injury.

    Steichen, who was promoted after Ken Whisenhunt was fired last Monday, called a good game as the Chargers held the ball for nearly 36 minutes and averaged 6.5 yards per play. Los Angeles didn't have a three-and-out on any of its nine possessions and only had to punt once.

    According to ESPN.com's Eric Williams, the offense looked crisper and in better rhythm under the direction of Steichen. One thing that stood out was the play seemed to get into the huddle much quicker, allowing Rivers to get to the line of scrimmage earlier and read the defense. The Chargers rolled up 442 total yards on offense.

    Rivers did a nice job of taking what the defense gave him and taking care of the football. Rivers completed 21 of 28 passes for 294 yards, with no touchdown passes or interceptions. Rivers was sacked twice, finishing with a 108.3 passer rating.

    Rivers averaged 10.5 yards per completion, his highest average in a game since Week 7 last season. Rivers completed 75 percent of his passes, his second-highest percentage this season. The 37-year-old veteran's 56-yard pass to Mike Williams represented his longest completion since Week 10 against the Raiders last season when Rivers found Gordon for a 66-yard gain.

    It's only the third game this season Rivers finished a game without a turnover. The Chargers are 2-1 in those games.

    Williams had the first 100-yard receiving day in his three-year career with three receptions for 111 yards.

    The running game, which had been held under 40 yards in four straight games, had a season-high 159 yards. Gordon, who came in averaging only 2.5 yards per carry, had 80 yards on 20 carries and Austin Ekeler added 12 carries for 70 yards.

    "We established the run and committed to it. It was giving them enough opportunities," head coach Anthony Lynn said. "Shane did an outstanding job. I thought he was aggressive when he needed to be. He prepared well all week and the players have confidence in him. Everyone stepped up and did what they had to do."

    Most of Gordon's carries came in the second half, including a pair of 1-yard TDs off left guard in the third and fourth quarters. He also had the play of the game when he hurdled over Green Bay defensive back Chandon Sullivan during a 16-yard gain in the third quarter.

    "I was finally in a groove," Gordon said. "We got a chance to actually try to seal the game with the run, so I was definitely excited about that."

    Gordon posted his ninth career multi-touchdown game. The 26-year-old Wisconsin product has now found the end zone in three consecutive games. ...

    Next up, the Chargers travel to Oakland for a Thursday night game against the Raiders.

    On the injury front. ... Los Angeles did not practice Monday, but they still had to release an injury report since it's three days before the game. Monday's report is just an estimation, but running back Justin Jackson (calf) and receiver Geremy Davis (hamstring) would not have practiced.

    Lynn did not have an update on linebacker Denzel Perryman or Sam Tevi. Both players sustained a knee injury in Sunday's victory, which forced them to call off the field. ...

    Lynn said that he is hopeful to have defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones back in the lineup, but he won't find out until Wednesday or on the day of the game.

    For the record, Jackson and Davis were listed as doubtful on Wednesday; I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update early Thursday. ...

    One last note. ... Badgley trademarked his nickname, "Money Badger," his attorney Darren Heitner told ESPN's Josina Anderson.

    Badgley was indeed money in his rookie year for the Chargers, going 15-of-16 on field goals and 27-of-28 on extra points last season.

    He has been hampered by a groin injury that has kept him sidelined until this past weekend.

    Badgley outscored the Packers himself in his return to action, scoring 14 points. The "Money Badger" drilled his first four field goals of the game, going 4-for-5 overall, and made both of his extra-point opportunities.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Philip Rivers, Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
    RBs: Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome, Troymaine Pope
    WRs: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Geremy Davis, Andre Patton, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin
    TEs: Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson

    Los Angeles Rams

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    Coming off their bye and heading into the second half of their season, the Rams' passing offense is fifth in the league with 287.2 yards per game, and Jared Goff has thrown just one interception against five touchdown passes in their last four games.

    Cooper Kupp has been one of the NFL's top receivers, catching 58 passes for 792 yards and five touchdowns in an impressive return from the knee injury that sidelined him midway through last season.

    The passing offense still has many areas for improvement, and so does the line charged with keeping Goff upright, but Los Angeles is confident it can throw the ball even if receiver Brandin Cooks is out for a while with his latest concussion.

    Cooks (concussion) has already been ruled out this week as the Rams begin their preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Cooks, who was placed in concussion protocol after exiting Los Angeles' Week 8 win over Cincinnati on the third play of the game, saw concussion specialists in Pittsburgh during the Rams' bye week last week and he was returning for further examimation on Wednesday, head coach Sean McVay announced.

    The concussion against the Bengals in London marked Cooks' second in 24 days, as he also sustained one at Seattle in Week 5. According to McVay, the goal of seeing a specialist was to help both Cooks and the Rams seek clarity on what he's dealing with and how to handle that as time goes on.

    "For him, just being able to learn more about the entirety of what's going on and maybe have a better understanding of maybe why some of these things have occurred, I think it gives him a quieted mind and it gives us a good feeling about how we want to progress moving forward with this," McVay said.

    McVay said he and Cooks have had conversations about where Cooks' life is compared to where his professional career is as it relates to brain injuries in football, but out of respect for the privacy of Cooks and the information shared by the doctors in Pittsburgh, declined to elaborate on the details of those discussions.

    "He's got a great perspective on what's most important: I think, No. 1, he's got so many great things going," McVay said. "We're not going to do anything to put him in harm's way. That's the No. 1 priority, that will continue to remain that not only with Brandin, but with all of our players. We'll be very smart with how we ease him back into this whenever that time comes if that's the decision we make."

    Josh Reynolds, who found the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown catch against the Bengals, will be the presumptive starter in place of Cooks.

    As ESPN's Mike Clay suggests, it's uncommon to call a wide receiver a handcuff, but given LA's reliance on three receivers (no team has had three or more receivers on the field on a higher percentage of dropbacks than the Rams this season), Reynolds is excellent insurance. ...

    Meanwhile, the Rams' rushing offense is 20th in the league, and its 3.9 yards per carry is 21st.

    McVay's high-flying schemes were built on the play-action threats created by a solid running game, and the Rams don't have it yet this season.

    Todd Gurley's massive new contract doesn't kick in until next season, but the Rams could use a big impact now from their franchise running back.

    Gurley hasn't produced a 100-yard rushing game this season, and he hasn't topped 65 yards since Week 1. His touches and production are down sharply, but the Rams still insist they aren't preserving Gurley's health for the stretch run.

    We'll soon find out whether Gurley can give more than he was allowed in the first half.

    Asked if she expects Gurley to put together some big yardage games, or will he continue to be heavily touchdown dependent, ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry replied by advising readers it's difficult to determine how Gurley will be used going into the second half of the season.

    He was spelled by Malcolm Brown through six weeks, then he was spelled -- and then some -- in Week 7 and 8 by rookie Darrell Henderson after Brown suffered an ankle injury.

    There's no clear picture how Gurley has been, or will be, used, and McVay cites game flow for determining his usage.

    Gurley has 92 carries through eight games. He had 169 at the midway point of last season. ...

    The Rams will be tested immediately by the Steelers, but a win would put them in position to go to 7-3 at home against struggling Chicago a week later. The final six weeks will determine the NFC West, with Baltimore arriving for a Monday night showdown before four division matchups in December. ...

    Also. ... McVay said he expects LB Clay Matthews to return to the practice field this week.

    Matthews missed the Rams' last three games due to a broken jaw sustained in Week 5 against the Seahawks. McVay has previously stated this week - the week after the bye - as being the most realistic scenario for when Matthews would come back from injury.

    "I think, really, it's just kind of getting him back into normal routine, seeing how he's feeling," McVay said of how they plan to bring Matthews along this week. "Everything's checked out in a positive manner up to this point, so I think it's just kind of progressing back to, 'How comfortable do you feel putting a helmet on?' Some of the collisions that naturally would occur and just kind of trusting that you're nice and secure in that absence of some of that stuff that kind of kept it in place and helped it heal over the last couple weeks."

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Jared Goff, Blake Bortles
    RBs: Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson
    WRs: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, JoJo Natson, Mike Thomas, Nsimba Webster, Brandin Cooks
    TEs: Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Johnny Mundt

    Miami Dolphins

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe suggested, "It's not quite a pop-the-champagne moment, but the Miami Dolphins are winless no more. ..."

    The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Dolphins ended their 10-game losing streak with a 26-18 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

    There was an extra satisfaction in winning Sunday because they beat former head coach Adam Gase and the AFC East-rival Jets.

    Head coach Brian Flores was doused with a postgame Gatorade bath, a dozen players surrounded him with congratulations, and owner Stephen Ross gave him a hug as the two headed into the locker room with wide smiles. Ross was also seen giving a fist pump to a pending Dolphins victory by the CBS broadcast.

    Flores got the game ball from Ross after the victory.

    "A lot about coaching is building relationships and having fun out there, so those moments mean a lot more. I wasn't expecting any kind of bath," Flores said. "It was a fun moment for them, fun moment for me. It was something I'll never forget."

    Players were ecstatic in the locker room.

    Fitzpatrick gave a group hug to his offensive linemen and then proceeded to his locker where two of his sons were hanging all over him laughing and pumped that their dad got a victory.

    "I had a lot of pressure on me today because my two boys were here, and when we win I bring my boys in the locker room. I was tired of the puppy-dog eyes when I was walking off the field with them not being able to come into the locker room. So we were going to get them in the dang locker room today," Fitzpatrick said. "I know we didn't win the Super Bowl, but I know the things that we've gone through already this season and trying to deal with it with a smile on your face and remaining positive. To have my two boys sitting here watching this, those are lessons that are hard to teach in other aspects outside of sports. That's part of the reason you still play and part of the reason it's such a special win for us."

    Fitzpatrick has been the leader of a resurgent Dolphins team that has turned its performance around over the past few weeks.

    "To do it with these guys, the things that we've had to fight through and all the negativity that is surrounding from the outside looking in, the way that guys have decided to be positive, decided to practice well, decided to come to work every single day and work hard, that's what makes this one so special," Fitzpatrick said. "It's nice when something like that pays off and you can see the fruits of your labor."

    For the 1-7 Dolphins, it's just a small taste of victory in an otherwise painful 2019 season.

    Fitzpatrick had a revenge-game-type performance against one of his former teams. He went 24-of-36 for 288 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 118.8 passer rating.

    Rookie receiver Preston Williams and second-year tight end Mike Gesicki had the best games of their young NFL careers in the Dolphins' first victory. Williams had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Gesicki had a game-high 95 receiving yards on six catches.

    The Jets couldn't figure out how to stop either one of them.

    But the post-game news wasn't as good for Williams, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, Flores confirmed on Monday.

    "It's a big loss for us," Flores told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. "I talked to him this morning. He's done an incredible job. Came to us as a free agent and has really grown the last six, seven months. I was devastated for the kid."

    Williams signed as an undrafted rookie out of Colorado State and quickly impressed the coaching staff, earning a starting job and leading the team with 32 catches and 428 yards this season.

    Williams ranks fourth among all rookies in receiving yards behind DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown. He emerged as a starter in Week 1 after the Dolphins traded veteran receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans.

    Now the Dolphins will hope they can get him healthy for next year.

    According to Wolfe, Isaiah Ford is a strong candidate to be called up from the practice squad to replace Williams.

    Veteran receivers Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are expected to take larger roles.

    In the meantime, as NFL.com's Marcas Grant put it, "We've been clamoring for it for years. Plenty of us had given up on it. But alas, it appears to be materializing before our very eyes. The mythical DeVante Parker breakout season is upon us."

    With his touchdown catch on Sunday, he's tied his career high in that category and is on pace to set a new career-high in receiving yards.

    With a schedule that includes another game against the Jets along with the Browns, Eagles, Giants, and Bengals, Grant believes it's worth exploring having Parker as flex options for the rest of the season.

    The news for Mark Walton was also lousy.

    The starting halfback was given a four-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct and substance abuse policies.

    Walton was arrested three times this offseason. He was a Bengal at the time, but was released and signed with the Dolphins. Walton faced felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon as well as misdemeanor charges of battery, marijuana possession and reckless driving. He eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge and had the other charges dropped.

    In Sunday's win over the Jets, Walton had 12 carries for 29 yards and three catches for 12 yards.

    Miami will turn to Kalen Ballage to again be their lead back during Walton's absence. Ballage began the season as the Dolphins' starting running back before being pushed down the pecking order by Drake and eventually Walton.

    Rookie running backs Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin will see increased playing time during Walton's suspension. The two have not received any carries so far this season. ...

    And finally. ... Fitzpatrick is the first Dolphins player to throw three TDs in a quarter since Ryan Tannehill in 2015 Week 7 vs the Texans. He's only the third QB to do that this season, joining Patrick Mahomes (Week 2 against Oakland) and Mitchell Trubisky (Week 3 against Washington).

    It was a FitzMagic first half: He went 12-of-19 for 164 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs and a 130.3 passer rating.

    Fitzpatrick has a right shoulder injury. Despite the injury, he fully participated in practice on Wednesday.

    A total of 15 Dolphins appear on the injury report, including Wilson (hip). Only one Miami player did not practice: cornerback Ken Webster (ankle).

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen
    RBs: Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, Mark Walton
    WRs: DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Allen Hurns, Preston Williams
    TEs: Mike Gesicki, Nick O'Leary, Durham Smythe, Chris Myarick

    Minnesota Vikings

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    The Vikings should have felt good about their chances against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, especially when Kirk Cousins and their high-scoring offense got the ball back with a 23-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

    Everything unraveled in spectacular fashion.

    Cousins threw an incompletion, Dalvin Cook was bottled up twice and the Vikings were forced to punt. The Chiefs promptly marched the other way for a tying 54-yard field goal with 2:30 to go.

    Still with a chance to drive for a winning field goal of their own, the Vikings instead went backward. Cousins threw another incompletion, then completed a pass to Irv Smith Jr. for a 7-yard loss, before another incompletion and another punt - this one shanked.

    After another quick-strike drive by the Chiefs, Harrison Butker knocked through another field goal, and the Vikings were left to slump out of Arrowhead Stadium with a 26-23 loss.

    "I don't feel like the game is yours," Cousins said, "but it's certainly a great opportunity to make it yours and to go do something. That was certainly one of the disappointments to not do more on those final two drives."

    The final two drives by one of the NFL's five best offenses? Six plays for minus-7 yards.

    That came against a defense that, while rapidly improving, has been among the league's worst most of the season. The Chiefs had been especially bad against the run, but they stuffed Cook most of the afternoon, forcing the Vikings to throw the ball more than coach Mike Zimmer wanted.

    Kirk Cousins had been averaging 315 yards over the past four games, throwing eight touchdown passes and just one interception. He even set a franchise-record for completion percentage in a game last week, going 23 of 26 for 285 yards against the Washington Redskins.

    He was 19 of 30 for 220 yards against the Chiefs. And while he threw three touchdown passes without a pick, he also was sacked once, hit four more times and was relentlessly under pressure.

    "There's some plays he'd like to get back," Zimmer said. "I don't think we helped him a lot."

    Cook had rolled into the game with an NFL-best 823 yards rushing, and he'd been a big part of the Vikings offense out of the backfield. But Cook was held to only 71 yards rushing - an average of 3.4 per carry - and his longest run was limited to just 12 yards.

    "He's a great running back, the best right now going," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Our guys buckled down. They took that challenge. They worked hard this week and they started with that."

    It didn't help the Vikings' cause that they got little production from their wide receivers.

    Adam Thielen tried to go after hurting his hamstring against Detroit and missing last week's game against Washington. But after testing it during warmups and giving it a go, Thielen exited the game after the fourth play of Minnesota's first scoring drive in the first quarter and did not return despite never being officially ruled out.

    The Pro Bowl receiver was limited in practice throughout the week after being sidelined for Minnesota's win over Washington in Week 8.

    Stefon Diggs, who was fourth in the league with 704 yards receiving coming into the game, was held to one catch for 4 yards. His biggest impact was a 12-yard end-around.

    Zimmer didn't have much of an update on Thielen's condition after the game and he didn't have a timeline when he spoke to reporters at a Monday press conference either.

    "I'm not sure, honestly. Whenever the doctors say he's ready, he's ready," Zimmer said.

    But NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported on Tuesday that Thielen is unlikely to play this Sunday against the Cowboys.

    In addition, Pelissero explained Thielen's strained hamstring suffered no further damage against the Chiefs, but he could feel it pulling and needed to "calm it down."

    A bye in Week 12 could also factor into how the team handles things with Thielen the next two weeks.

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

    In a related note. ... Receiver Josh Doctson is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury but has been designated to return and could perhaps make his way back next week. ...

    Beyond all that, as ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin suggested, the Vikings offense looked out of sync, uncharacteristic of the performances this unit had turned in from Weeks 5-8. The bootlegs, play-action passes and moving pockets just weren't there in Week 9, and the Vikings couldn't keep pace with the Chiefs in ripping off big plays.

    Cousins went 0-of-9 when passing under duress, the worst of his career and the 2nd most attempts without a completion in those situations this season (Cam Newton, 0-of-10 in Week 2), per ESPN Stats and Info. It was just as bad against the blitz, where Cousins went 1-for-6.

    That's his second-worst single-game completion percentage (17 percent) against the blitz in his career (1-of-7 at Giants in 2017).

    He'll be looking to get back on track against this week, but another road game against a winning team comes Sunday night as the Vikings travel to Dallas.

    Three of the next five games are on the road for Minnesota, which will look to prove that Sunday's missed opportunity in Kansas City was a one-game issue. ...

    Worth noting. ... Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr.'s role continues to grow. After totaling seven catches the first six games, he has 12 catches the past three weeks. On Sunday, he tied a career high with six targets, finishing with four catches for 33 yards.

    The offensive line had improved during the Vikings' winning streak, opening holes for Cook and backup Alexander Mattison, and keeping Cousins clean in the pocket. It took a step back on Sunday against a defense that had given up an average of 145 rushing yards entering the game.

    Cook was hit behind, or within a yard, of the line of scrimmage on 15 of his 21 carries on Sunday. He finished with a 3.4-yard average and 71 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, zero of his 71 rushing yards came before contact.

    "We didn't get as much movement on them as we hoped, and we didn't finish blocks," Zimmer said.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion
    RBs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone, Ameer Abdullah
    WRs: Stefon Diggs, Olabisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell, Chad Beebe, Davion Davis, Adam Thielen
    TEs: Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., Brandon Dillon, Tyler Conklin

    New England Patriots

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As Associated Press sports writer David Ginsburg not3d, Bill Belichick can be prickly and standoffish, even after a dominating victory.

    Belichick showed a different side Sunday night after the Patriots lost for the first time in 11 months, 37-20 to the Baltimore Ravens.

    After watching his defense get shredded by Ravens dual threat Lamar Jackson and unable to will quarterback Tom Brady into another amazing comeback, the usually unflappable Belichick was uncharacteristically soft-spoken, barely registering above a whisper as he tried to explain what happened.

    "We competed out there, but it just wasn't good enough," Belichick said. "There is really not much to say tonight."

    Virtually every question posed to Belichick during his five-minute postgame availability was met with some variation on that theme.

    Belichick acknowledged that Jackson's speed posed problems for a defense that couldn't keep up with him. He agreed that the Patriots committed too many self-inflicted mistakes to overcome. A coach who always seems supremely confident of his team and Brady looked shell-shocked and seemed at a loss for words.

    "We all have to do a better job, starting with me," he sighed.

    The Patriots (8-1) came in allowing only 7.6 points per game and with a plus-17 turnover differential. None of that seemed to matter to the Ravens, who scored on each of their first three possessions to take a 17-0 lead.

    An offside penalty on the initial drive enabled the Ravens to get out of field goal formation and go for a touchdown, which Jackson scored on a frolic around left end.

    The Patriots forced two turnovers, made two themselves and never got closer than four points after putting themselves in that early hole. The Patriots' first giveaway, a fumble by Julian Edelman, was taken 70 yards the opposite way for a Baltimore touchdown.

    "He was just trying to get yards," Brady said of Edelman. "Give them credit. Those types of plays, good defenses make."

    The Patriots' other turnover, an interception by Brady in the fourth quarter, was following a 14-play drive that sealed the deal.

    New England hit hard, but simply didn't play as well as the Ravens.

    "It was a physical game. My neck feels it right now," Ravens guard Marshal Yanda said. "Give them a lot of credit. They're very physical, but tonight we made more plays than them."

    Most of them by Jackson, who ran for two scores and threw for another. Belichick said in the days leading up to the game that he didn't have anyone on his team who could emulate Jackson's speed and agility, and on Sunday he saw first-hand just how quick the second-year quarterback can be.

    At least the Patriots won't have to face him again - until, perhaps, the playoffs.

    "They are not on the schedule, so we don't have to worry about them," Belichick said.

    The offense was sound, with the exception of the two turnovers. Brady went 30 for 46 for 285 yards and a touchdown, and Edelman and Mohamed Sanu each had 10 catches.

    Sanu racked up 81 yards and a touchdown in his second game since the Patriots acquired him from Atlanta.

    He said his comfort in the offense is growing.

    "I am getting better and better each step of the way. I still have a ways to go, but I am getting better and better with it," he said. "I am just learning day by day. I am just being me. If they want me to do something, I am going to go ahead and do it. I am a competitor, so I am going to find a way to do the best at it that I can."

    Sanu is the 74th player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady, who already held the NFL record for most unique TD receivers.

    If there was a bright spot for the Patriots, it was in the kicking game.

    Nick Folk, who debuted after New England cut Mike Nugent last week following a rough four-game stretch, made both of his field-goal attempts and a pair of extra points on Sunday.

    Now comes a bye, and the Patriots will spend some of the time thinking about their first loss of the season and how to improve for the second half.

    "Losses always find a way to recalibrate how you see yourself," Brady said. "We obviously have a lot of work to do. When you get beat by 17 points, that's now what we're about."

    Said Edelman: "We can go either of two days from here - we can learn from it and get better or go the other way. I have faith we are going to learn from it and get back to where we need to be."

    After their bye, the Patriots return to action Nov. 17 at Philadelphia. ...

    According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, one area they can work on over the bye is the running game.

    When operating at peak efficiency, one of the defining aspects of the offense under coordinator Josh McDaniels and Brady is that it morphs its approach on a weekly basis to exploit the vulnerabilities of the defense.

    But here's a hot-button question: If the Patriots had to turn to the rushing attack to grind out a win, what is your level of confidence? It probably isn't high, in part because the attack hasn't given McDaniels enough reason to keep calling runs.

    The Patriots' 17 rushing attempts Sunday night were a season low, and part of that was obviously due to falling behind 17-0 early in the second quarter, and also a predetermined game plan to focus on tempo in the passing game.

    Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was hard on himself last week, pinpointing the line as the primary reason for the struggles. The holes aren't consistently there, with the combination of losing center David Andrews (IR) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (retirement) contributing to the struggles.

    Maybe the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn on Nov. 24 against Dallas will be the key to turning things around, as fill-in Marshall Newhouse has struggled at times.

    If the Patriots can't turn to the run game to settle things down at times, too much of the burden will fall on Brady, which isn't a championship formula.

    Don't, however, expect to see much of rookie running back Damien Harris, who is following the same path as Shane Vereen (2011) and James White (2014).

    It's easy to forget that Vereen and White hardly played as rookies before becoming key cogs, and that seemed to be the point that running backs coach Ivan Fears made when asked last week. Harris has been active for two games this season, with Sony Michel, White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden ahead of him.

    The value that Burkhead and Bolden provide on special teams gives them a clearer path to a spot on the game-day roster, but with Burkhead in the final year of his contract, there should be a greater opening for Harris in 2020.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham, Cody Kessler
    RBs: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden
    WRs: Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski
    TEs: Ben Watson, Eric Tomlinson, Ryan Izzo, Matt LaCosse

    New Orleans Saints

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    With Michael Thomas' prolific receiving and Cam Jordan's pass-rushing prowess setting the tone, the Saints spent most of the past six weeks disproving the notion that they would sink without record-setting quarterback Drew Brees.

    Now Brees is back and in form, and the Saints will emerge from this weekend's bye on a six-game winning streak that has validated their Super Bowl-contending credentials and given them confidence in how well-balanced and resilient they've become.

    "There are a lot of things to be pleased about, knowing the way the schedule unfolded," coach Sean Payton said, alluding to early season games against playoff hopefuls such as the Texans , Rams, Seahawks , Cowboys and Bears in the first seven weeks.

    "We felt like we were going to play some tough teams early, playoff teams early, a challenging West Coast road trip. I think given the circumstances with Drew's injury, I just think there are a lot of things that are encouraging as a coach.

    "Obviously, we have a lot of football left. You go through momentum cycles," Payton continued. "I'd say this is a pretty close and resilient group. I think that they care a lot about each other. I think that they understand how to win and also how difficult it is."

    Defensively, the Saints are possibly as good as they've ever been since Payton became coach in 2006. Having held five straight opponents to 257 or fewer total yards, they're statistically in the midst of their best stint of shut-down defense since 1992, when they enjoyed an 11-game stretch that saw them limit nine teams to 281 or fewer yards, including five to fewer than 200.

    The Saints made marked strides defensively last season, when they ranked second in the NFL against the run. That's where they rank this season, too, despite missing starting defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins for three weeks while he recovered from an Achilles tendon tear last January, and fellow defensive tackle David Onyemata for Week 1 while he served a suspension.

    When Rankins returned, the Saints stifled Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott and has continued shutting down the run since - including against Jacksonville's Leonard Fournette.

    Jordan, a 2011 first-round draft choice and 2017 All-Pro, has eight sacks, putting him on pace for a career-best 16. And in the secondary, 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore has shaken off an undistinctive first couple of games and has begun to lock down top receivers, from Dallas' Amari Cooper to Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Jacksonville's D.J. Chark.

    New Orleans ranks 12th against the pass and sixth in total defense.

    Special teams play also has been strong, highlighted by Thomas Morstead's effective punting, rookie returner Deonte Harris' touchdown on a punt return and J.T. Gray's blocked punt for a safety.

    New Orleans' effectiveness on defense and special teams eased pressure on Brees' backup, Teddy Bridgewater. But coaches and teammates still gave Bridgewater high marks for how he performed in his five starts - all of which the Saints won.

    Bridgewater was 115 of 165 (69.7 percent) passing for 1,205 yards and nine TDs.

    "He was outstanding," Payton said. "It's a big reason why we acquired him in the offseason. Sometimes, you don't know if you are going to need that. It was good to see the team rally and play well when we needed to and continue that momentum here when Drew came back."

    Bridgewater's last performance may have been his best.

    With dynamic top running back Alvin Kamara and top receiving tight end Jared Cook out injured, Bridgewater passed for 281 yards and two TDs without an interception in Chicago.

    Fortunately for Bridgewater, he could still look for Thomas, who had 42 catches for 551 yards and two TDs during the backup QB's five starts. And when Brees came back from thumb surgery last week, he, too, often looked Thomas' way, connecting with him 11 times for 112 yards and a touchdown.

    But Thomas wasn't a one-man show. Even though Kamara and Cook were still out, Brees completed passes to nine players in a 373-yard, three-touchdown performance. Running back Latavius Murray picked up the slack with Kamara out - both as a runner and receiver.

    Brees connected with tight ends Josh Hill and Dan Arnold, as well as with third-string QB and utility player Taysom Hill, who periodically lines up at tight end or receiver.

    "We are right where we want to be," Taysom Hill said. "We set high expectations of ourselves at the beginning of the season. We are kind of hitting our groove and things are going really well."

    As for how a week off might disrupt New Orleans' recent momentum, Hill doesn't sound worried.

    "This is going to work out really well for us with injuries and kind of be able to take a step back and rehab and kind of get our bodies back," he said. "We've got great leadership that I think as we come back next week, we'll handle it the right way."

    Meanwhile, for those of us wondering if someone other than Kamara and Thomas will emerge as a consistent producer, ESPN.com's Mike Triplett isn't so sure.

    "Consistent" is the tough word there.

    Nonetheless, Triplett still hasn't lost all hope that Cook could produce a few nice games down the stretch.

    He was third on the team in targets before he missed the past two games, and he was finding a little groove with his first two TDs in Weeks 5 and 6. The Saints still have a glaring need for a No. 3 option, so Cook should get more opportunities to fill it.

    Finally. ... Kamara, Cook and receiver Tre'Quan Smith were all on the practice field Wednesday; I'll have more on their progress via

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill
    RBs: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington
    WRs: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Tre'quan Smith, Austin Carr, Deonte Harris, Emmanuel Butler
    TEs: Jared Cook, Josh Hill

    New York Giants

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As NFL.com's Grant Gordon framed it, "In a flash, Saquon Barkley showcased the explosiveness and astounding ability that delighted the Giants faithful in his rookie season.

    "It was but a flash, though. ..."

    Barkley was bottled up on Monday to a frustrating level as the Giants offense sputtered in a 37-18 defeat to Dallas and questions remained as to whether the 22-year-old dynamo is his old self since returning from an ankle injury.

    "It's football, it's the NFL. It's week what? I don't even know," Barkley told reporters following the last game of Week 9 when asked where he was physically. "I'm coming off of an ankle injury. I'm not going to make any excuses."

    It was a brilliant Barkley 65-yard catch and run from Daniel Jones that stood as the lone highlight of the night for the Penn State product. It came in the fourth quarter, but it led only to a field goal and a deceiving stat line for Barkley. In 14 carries, Barkley produced just 28 yards, tying a career-low in a full game, with a scant two yards per handoff. Though he had the aforementioned 65-yard reception, he finished with six catches for 67 yards. Quick math will tell you that's five grabs for only two yards on the rest of his plays in the passing game.

    "Things aren't going our way right now, we can't just cry about it," Barkley said. "It's part of football, it's part of your profession, it's part of your job. You just have to go back, watch film and learn from it and try to get better throughout the rest of the season and focus on the next game with that being the Jets."

    Losers of five in a row, the Giants have yet to win since Barkley returned in Week 7.

    To be fair, his first two games back were fine and dandy. They just weren't outstanding and Barkley has showed time and again that's the elite level he lives at.

    Barkley began his sophomore NFL campaign with back-to-back 100-yard rushing outings. Questions will continue as to Barkley's health and perhaps extend into quandaries if he'll reclaim the stellar level he seemingly made standard.

    He's not losing focus or hopefulness, though.

    "We are struggling right now and things aren't going our way, but I'm not going to lose my focus, I'm not going to lose belief in this team and this coaching staff," Barkley said. "I'm just going to continue to come to work every single day and I am 100 percent sure that it will turn around.

    "It just hasn't turned around as soon as we would have liked it to."

    Indeed, as ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan suggested, it's getting ugly early for the Giants, who have lost five straight.

    It's fair to start wondering if this organization has any chance to meet owner John Mara's preseason mandate. Mara said this summer that he wanted the Giants to "win some games" and "feel at the end of the season we're moving in the right direction."

    That seems improbable, given the current state of the Giants, who at 2-7 haven't won since late September. They have the most losses (31) of any team since the start of the 2017 season -- more than the Cleveland Browns, who have an 0-16 campaign during that span.

    It has been such an awful stretch that the Giants are somehow 0-6 in games where Barkley has played from start to finish.

    The struggles set up perhaps the strangest of key games for head coach Pat Shurmur and the Giants when they meet the rival New York Jets on Sunday. A loss would send the Giants into their bye week with six straight losses and questions about the state of the franchise.

    It's hard to imagine how ownership would handle such an embarrassment. ...

    Meanwhile, progress from their rookie quarterback might help counterbalance the losses. Instead, it was another game filled with ups and down for Jones. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown (a one-yarder to Cody Latimer) and one interception for a passer rating of 74.2.

    He was sacked five times for losses totaling 39 yards and lost two fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown.

    Jones is now tied for the league lead with 16 turnovers.

    The turnovers were costly. Jones threw an interception in the final minute of the first half and fumbled on a third-down run in the third quarter. This is becoming a disturbing trend. The rookie has at least two turnovers in five of his seven starts.

    Jones has 16 turnovers this season. That ties him with Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston, and Jones has started only seven of the Giants' games.

    "Anytime you turn the ball over, it's costly to the team," Jones said. "I have to work on that and making sure I'm securing the ball."

    As NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman suggested, the rookie is still developing his pocket awareness to that befitting of an NFL starter, but Jones' recklessness with the ball and with his body should be concerning to interested parties.

    That was the rub on the first-year signal-caller in the preseason, and he has not improved in that department. ...

    Barkley, Evan Engram and Golden Tate each had a team-high six catches.

    Barkley led the team with 67 receiving yards, but that included a 65-yarder, meaning he totaled two yards on his other five catches. ...

    Aldrick Rosas kicked a career-high four field goals, from 21, 25, 26 and 29 yards. His previous high was three field goals, which he accomplished three times last season, most recently on Dec. 2 against Chicago.

    But Rosas, who missed just one extra point attempt in the entire 2018 season, failed on a PAT for the second time in as many weeks when his try following the Giants' first touchdown hit the right upright. Last week in Detroit, his PAT was wide left. Rosas is 18-for-20 this season. In 2018, he made 31 of 32 extra point attempts. ...

    The Giants gained 271 yards, the fourth time in five games they finished with less than 300 yards. And finally, after entering the game having scored touchdowns on 11 of 20 offensive trips into the red zone (55 percent), New York had one touchdown and four field goals in five opportunities inside the Dallas 20-yard line. ...

    On the injury front. ... Engram came out of Monday night's game with a sore foot and an MRI of the injury is being sent to noted Dr. Robert Anderson for a second opinion, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Shurmur called it "little bit of a sore foot" yesterday.

    But the official verdict is Engram has been diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain and is considered "week to week."

    I'll be following up on this one via Late-Breaking Update in coming days, don't expect Engram to play. ...

    The same goes for receiver Sterling Shepard, who was expected to make his return to the lineup against the Cowboys on Monday night after missing three games with a concussion, but his clearance from the concussion protocol proved to be short-lived.

    The Giants announced that Shepard was cleared last week before updating his status on Sunday morning. Shepard, who also suffered a concussion in Week 1, reported symptoms on Saturday and the team put him back into the protocol ahead of their loss to Dallas.

    On Tuesday, Shurmur didn't have much to offer about when Shepard might be able to play again.

    "This is a serious injury and it requires a serious response," Shurmur said during a conference call.

    Shurmur wouldn't say if ending Shepard's season is a consideration, but said that the team will have to use "good judgment" about bringing Shepard back and that suggests it could be one of the possible outcomes for the wideout.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Alex Tanney
    RBs: Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Javorius Allen, Elijhaa Penny, Austin Walter
    WRs: Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Cody Latimer, Cody Core, Sterling Shepard
    TEs: Rhett Ellison, Garrett Dickerson, Kaden Smith, Evan Engram

    New York Jets

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    Adam Gase isn't easily embarrassed, apparently.

    Following the New York Jets' 26-18 loss to the previously winless Miami Dolphins, Gase was asked if losing to a tanking team was embarrassing.

    "It's the NFL. You can't be embarrassed by this s---," the coach shot back.

    That said, Sunday's game was pretty embarrassing for the hapless Jets.

    As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini wrote, "Is there a level below tanking? If there is, the New York Jets found it Sunday."

    The offense gained 75 yards and a touchdown on the first 11 plays of the game. On the next 52, they earned 241 yards and zero TDs.

    Sam Darnold isn't making strides under Gase, and the offense is a mishmash of inconsistency, poor play calls, and a lack of execution.

    Entering the season with hopes of at least competing for a playoff spot have cratered with a loss to a team actively trying to tank its season.

    The loss pushed the Jets to 1-7, the seventh time in franchise history New York has started 1-7 or worse -- first such start since 2014 (finished 4-12).

    "We're 1-7. Everybody -- you feel like crap," Gase said. "You don't put in all this time and effort to come out here and lose. We've got to get things fixed. That's what they know. That's what I told them. That what other guys in the locker room are saying the same thing."

    With the way it's heading in New York, Gase could be one-and-done unless things turn around quickly, which would be hard to fathom after Sunday's performance.

    Getting Darnold on track would be a good first step.

    The second-year signal caller has regressed. He has been badly outplayed by Tom Brady (no shame in that), rookie Gardner Minshew and journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in a span of three weeks, raising questions the organization never thought it would have to confront.

    What's wrong with Darnold? How can they get him fixed?

    As Cimini noted, Darnold's three-game slide, which began with the "ghosts" game against the New England Patriots, has produced ghastly numbers -- 59-for-101, 564 yards, three touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 50.9 passer rating. The Darnold-led offense has generated only two touchdown drives in that span, both game-opening possessions. After that, it falls apart.

    Gase, fiercely protective of his quarterback, refused to acknowledge the obvious.

    "I don't know if I can say that," Gase said, when asked if Darnold has taken steps backward. "I've got to go back and watch this thing and really diagnose kind of what happened throughout the game. Like the last game, there were a lot of good things; it was just two or three bad plays. Just for a quarterback sometimes, when you have a bad play, it's a turnover. I've got to go back and look at this thing and kind of see what was going on."

    Darnold was trending upward after his brilliant performance against the Cowboys, but the lack of pass protection has caused him to develop bad habits -- happy feet, back-foot throws and bad decisions under pressure. He looks like he did in his final season at USC in 2017, when he was pressing and his turnover count soared.

    He has terrific instincts for the position, but he can get off track when he starts playing outside his comfort zone.

    In his past 31 games, counting his final year in college, Darnold has 36 interceptions.

    "My confidence is never going to waver," he said. "I'm very, very confident in myself and this team. We have flashes of going down there and scoring. We just have to do it every single drive."

    Sunday's low point came late in the second quarter, when he was intercepted near the goal line on a sprint out to the left. His No. 1 read was wide receiver Jamison Crowder, but he got knocked off his route by teammate Robby Anderson, who was re-routed by the defensive back. Instead of sailing the ball out of bounds, Darnold waited too long. By the time he tried to throw it away, linebacker Raekwon McMillan was draped on him and the ball came out like a bar of soap -- Darnold's fifth red zone interception since 2018, most in the league.

    "Once I saw everything was crowded, I just tried to throw it away," Darnold said. "It didn't work out."

    Darnold (27-for-39, 260 yards) struggled against a secondary that was missing its two best players, cornerback Xavien Howard and safety Reshad Jones. Later, there was a miscommunication on an errant shotgun snap that resulted in a safety. Darnold, protecting his teammates, refused to reveal the culprit. Gase has seen that play before; it was eerily similar to Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII when Gase was the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator.

    This week, the spotlight will intensify on Darnold because the next opponent is the New York Giants.

    That means a week of comparisons to Daniel Jones, who has outplayed Darnold even though he's only a rookie.

    Gase and Darnold are joined at the hip. If Darnold continues to spiral, Gase continues to spiral. The coach needs to get his star pupil on track, or it will continue to get ugly.

    As for the whole one and done thing?

    According to Cimini, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson doesn't want to fire Gase; he wants it to work. Gase was his first significant hire as acting owner, and he surrounded Gase with strong allies, including first-year general manager Joe Douglas and new team president Hymie Elhai.

    He also gave Gase a four-year contract, so he would be paying three head coaches in 2020 if he makes a move -- Gase, former coach Todd Bowles and the future coach.

    But this is unacceptable.

    The Jets haven't been a laughingstock like this since 1996, their darkest season (1-15). Clearly, the issues run deeper than Darnold, the offensive line (which can't block) and the defense (which can't cover). Johnson has a Gase issue, and nothing short of a second-half resurgence will make it go away. ...

    On a more positive note, running back Le'Veon Bell -- frustrated by his lack of involvement last week -- received a total of 25 touches, 14 more than last week. Bell's text message to Gase apparently worked. Bell was featured, but the yards on the ground were hard to come by, as he finished with only 66.

    There was simply no daylight. So much for the theory Bell could single-handedly lift the offense.

    At least the Jets had Crowder, who finished with 8 catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown as a Jet.

    They also had tight end Chris Herndon. Or at least he was active in Miami. He did not play.

    As New York Post staffer Brian Costello noted before Sunday's game, the Jets had so many injuries they didn't have enough healthy bodies to fill a 46-man roster, which is why Herndon dressed even though Gase all but ruled him out earlier last week.

    Ryan Griffin continued to serve as the front-line tight end with Herndon still working his way back from the hamstring injury that's sidelined him since his Week 6 return from suspension.

    Also on the injury front. ... Bell had an MRI Monday for a knee injury. The running back got up limping after a tackle with under 12 minutes to play, but he remained in the game.

    ESPN's Adam Schefter was reporting early Tuesday that Bell is, in the word of one source, "good," and Gase confirmed at his Wednesday press conference that the MRI did not show any structural damage in the knee, which was checked out because Bell was experiencing soreness.

    Gase added that Bell wanted to work on Wednesday, but that the team thought it was best to take a cautious approach to kick off the practice week.

    Gase also said that Herndon is set to practice fully for the first time since his four-game suspension came to an end, but he ended up being listed as limited.

    I'll be following up on Bell and Herndon via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

    The Jets placed CB Trumaine Johnson and WR Josh Bellamy on IR.

    And finally. ... The Jets promoted running back Josh Adams to the active roster from their practice squad on Tuesday. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported it sounded like another team was possibly going to sign Adams away.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Sam Darnold, David Fales
    RBs: Le'Veon Bell, Ty Montgomery, Trenton Cannon, Bilal Powell, Josh Adams
    WRs: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas, Tim White, Braxton Berrios, Josh Bellamy
    TEs: Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown, Chris Herndon

    Oakland Raiders

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As the Associated Press noted, Derek Carr and the Raiders gave their football-starved fans quite a show in their first game back in Oakland in seven weeks.

    Carr threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie Hunter Renfrow with 2:04 remaining and Karl Joseph broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 3 seconds left to give the Raiders a 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in their first game back in Oakland since Week 2.

    "I love this place. It's special," Carr said. "To come home in front of them and get a win, especially the way we did it. It would be nice to win something 40-0 some time. But when you win one like this, it does so many good things for a team."

    After surviving an odyssey that forced them to travel about 20,000 miles for four road games and a neutral site game in London, the Raiders (4-4) came back home for the first time since losing to Kansas City on Sept. 15. They put on quite a show for the fans who are hoping the Raiders can put together a successful season before their planned move to Las Vegas next year.

    Carr's clutch pass to Renfrow gave Oakland the win to start the crucial three-game homestand. Carr also connected with rookie Foster Moreau on a 3-yard score opening seconds of the fourth quarter and another rookie, Josh Jacobs, ran for 120 yards and two scores. It was the first time since the merger that the Raiders got four TDs from rookies in a single game.

    Carr threw for 289 yards and connected on passes of 31 and 23 yards to Jalen Richard on the game-winning drive. Then with Oakland facing a third down, Carr scrambled to extend the play before finding Renfrow in the front corner of the end zone.

    "I saw it in his eyes today," Richard said of Carr. "It's in his eyes all the time, but in times where you really, really need it, you just look at him and you just see that greatness coming and you're like, `OK, he's going to give us an opportunity so we got to make the plays."

    According to ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez, it might be time to award the NFL offensive rookie of the year award to Jacobs. All he did was go over 100 rushing yards for the third time in the past four games, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries and set a new franchise record for most rushing yards by a rookie in a single season.

    Marcus Allen rushed for 697 yards in the nine-game, strike-shortened 1982 season. Jacobs has rushed for 740 yards thus far in eight games.

    Carr was in uncomfortable territory with someone other than Rodney Hudson starting at center for the first time since Dec. 6, 2015, as undrafted rookie Andre James replaced the injured Hudson. There were at least three low snaps on shotgun plays, and Carr adeptly averted disaster on one of them by picking up the ball and running out of the pocket far enough to avoid the sack and a grounding penalty with a throwaway.

    Carr scrambled 21.1 yards on his game-winning TD pass to Renfrow, twice as many scramble yards as any of his other passing TDs in the past three seasons.

    All four of the Raiders' touchdowns were scored by rookies -- Jacobs had two, running it in from 2 and 3 yards out, while tight end Foster Moreau had a 3-yard reception and Renfrow scored from 9 yards out.

    It's a short week for the Raiders, as they play host to the suddenly resurgent Los Angeles Chargers and their fearsome pass rush on Thursday night.

    And with Hudson's 60-game playing streak ending against the Lions thanks to a right ankle injury and right tackle Trent Brown injuring his right knee and unable to return after putting on a brace, Oakland is going to have to go jumbo, with tight ends helping the tackles on passing downs.

    Brown was not at practice Monday as the Raiders are awaiting the results of his MRI to see how serious it is.

    "A little bit later this afternoon, we'll find out," Gruden said of Brown's injury status. "Hopefully, we'll have Trent, but if not, we'll go with David Sharpe, who's played quite well in the games that he's been in."

    Hudson was missing once again, and his status appears shaky at best.

    "I don't know that he was close," Gruden said of Hudson's status against the Lions. "He gave it everything he could. Don't know his status for this game, either. Cross my fingers. We'll try to update it as the week unfolds, but he just couldn't push off it, and we'll leave it at that."

    Jacobs was held out with the same shoulder issue he's been playing through the last two weeks, but he returned to work fully on Tuesday.

    That said, I'll be following up on his status in advance of Thursday night's kickoff (watch the Late-Breaking Updates for more).

    While the above-outlined injuries are not currently feared to be long term, an injury to DE Arden Key appears serious.

    "Arden Key, we fear he broke his foot. I'm worried about that," said Gruden. "I don't want to predict anything, but I do have a lot of concerns that Arden is injured. But I'm waiting to hear on the finality of all the others. But I can't really tell you the severity of anything until I know."

    Key, who had a sack in each of the last two games, is getting a second opinion from Dr. Robert Anderson to confirm the initial view.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Derek Carr, Mike Glennon
    RBs: Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington
    WRs: Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow, Trevor Davis, Keelan Doss, Dwayne Harris
    TEs: Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier

    Philadelphia Eagles

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As PhiladelphiaEagles.com's Dave Spadaro reported it, there are no murky questions about DeSean Jackson and his availability in the Eagles' offense now.

    Jackson is having surgery on a core muscle injury and the Eagles placed him on injured reserve Tuesday. He would have to miss eight games to have any chance of returning to action, so any return couldn't come before the divisional round of the playoffs at the earliest.

    The move ends a disappointing return to Philadelphia and leaves head coach Doug Pederson and his offensive coaching staff facing the challenge of constructing an offense that wins with what it has.

    This isn't an ideal situation, and there are a lot of questions about the course of action taken after Jackson suffered an abdominal injury early in the September 15 game against Atlanta.

    Opting against surgery and instead following a rest-and-rehabilitation practice, Jackson returned only for Sunday's game against Chicago, played four snaps, caught one pass, and exited the field.

    After the game, Pederson talked about Jackson leaving the game for "precautionary" reasons and adding that he would have more information following further testing. The information came on Monday afternoon, and it was a downer: Jackson is having surgery this week.

    One note before looking ahead: This is a damn shame for Jackson, who worked hard throughout the offseason, blended in well with his teammates, and was a model Eagle. In addition, he lit up the airwaves, literally, with his opening-game performance against Washington, catching eight passes for 154 yards, including touchdowns of 51 and 53 yards.

    One week later, everything changed.

    Spadaro reminded readers the Eagles have played without Jackson since the Washington game. They've had their ups and downs in those games and they've learned to adjust the game plan in his absence. This Eagles offense moves forward with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery as the primary receivers. They'll comb through the free agent lists to potentially add a veteran during the bye week. Hopefully, any new addition will be a solid role player in the passing game.

    Young receivers Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will have opportunities to step up their production, because the Eagles are going to need it from everybody.

    Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh will revolve the offense around what the team has now on the roster.

    According to Spadaro, we're going to see a lot of 12 personnel, with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert lined up all over the formation. You're going to see Miles Sanders and maybe even Darren Sproles have some packages in the passing game designed for them. We're going to see a team rely on its powerful offensive line to run the football and establish the line of scrimmage.

    We're going to see quarterback Carson Wentz make plays with his arm and his legs.

    We're going to see an offense that has played without Jackson since Week 1, an offense that has been short of spectacular, but certainly has been mostly functional and, at times, terrific. The Eagles will move forward and continue to march toward the postseason with a defense that should be as whole as possible when New England comes to town after the bye week and an offense that still has some mighty good pieces.

    What the offense does lack is the vertical speed that Jackson brings to the table. His presence alters the way defenses play. During this crucial week of self-examination, the Eagles have to find a way to become more explosive in the passing game.

    Against Chicago, Wentz finished 26-of-39 for 239 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions. Jeffery had three drops, adding to the degree of difficulty. It wasn't Wentz's finest performance -- his accuracy on downfield throws left something to be desired -- but he helped engineer a game-sealing field goal late.

    Now the question remains: How can they beat defenses in the deep game?

    Perhaps a continued emphasis on the run will help.

    Jordan Howard made a statement against his former team, rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown against the Bears that puts the Eagles in good position heading into their bye.

    Howard was traded from the Bears to the Eagles for a conditional sixth-round pick in March despite averaging more than 1,100 rushing yards during his three years in Chicago. He downplayed the significance of the matchup this week but made his presence felt with a physical brand of running that has quickly endeared him to his new city.

    Fueled largely by their success on the ground, the Eagles responded to consecutive blowout losses to the Vikings and Cowboys with back-to-back wins over the Bills and Bears that puts them back on solid footing.

    They have home games against the Patriots and Seahawks coming out of the bye, but their finishing schedule is favorable after that.

    As for the receiving corp. ... Jordan Matthews has reportedly signed a deal with the Eagles. Matthews will most likely begin his second stint with Philly after the bye this week. ...

    It's a two-horse race between the Eagles and the Cowboys (4-3) for the NFC East crown. Philly plays four of its next six games at home, including a Week 16 game against Dallas. ...

    One last note here. ... The Eagles' defense held the Bears to 9 yards of offense in the first half, which was Chicago's fewest in the past 40 years, according to Elias.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson
    RBs: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement
    WRs: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Greg Ward, DeSean Jackson
    TEs: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves, the franchise quarterback hasn't taken a snap since the middle of Week 2 and has essentially become the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL. The guy tasked with taking over left his third career start after getting knocked unconscious. The running game is a bit of a mess. The wide receivers have struggled to find any sort of identity or consistency.

    And yet the Steelers reached the midpoint of a chaotic season very much alive following a 26-24 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday. Their third straight win pushed them to 4-4.

    "We will work forever trying to get that September stench off of us," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "But that is life in this thing, and I appreciate the effort and fight."

    Pittsburgh's resurgence has been led by a defense that's regained its swagger behind the kind of "splash" plays it missed so desperately in 2018. The Steelers managed just 15 takeaways last season, next-to-last in the NFL.

    They've already produced 22 in 2018, including safety Minkah Fitzpatrick's 96-yard pick six in the second quarter against the Colts, his fourth interception since arriving in a trade with Miami in mid-September.

    Meanwhile, one of the biggest problems with the Steelers in 2019 has been the tendency for the entire team to get off to a slow start.

    This has been especially true of the offense. Some of this is easily attributed to the revolving door at both quarterback and running back this season. This was something acknowledged by Tomlin in his press conference after the win over the Colts.

    A reporter asked about the slow starts with Mason Rudolph and Tomlin jokingly said: "Rudolph needs to help Rudolph start faster."

    He then amended his comment by noting the team would implement some things in hopes of getting the offense off to a faster start.

    But don't misunderstand, this is more than a Rudolph problem. No doubt his quick trigger to the checkdown is brutal and does nothing for the offense in the big picture.

    Rudolph has been steady if not spectacular since replacing Roethlisberger, completing 66 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also hasn't been much of a difference maker in the red zone. The Steelers converted just 1 of 4 red-zone possessions into touchdowns against Indianapolis. Pittsburgh is in the bottom quarter of the league in red-zone touchdown percentage (38, a number that needs to change if the Steelers want to take some of the pressure off the defense.

    "We're looking to do our part more," Rudolph said.

    With both James Conner and Benny Snell Jr. out Sunday, the run game looked a lot different from the duo who chewed up 158 yards against the Dolphins on Monday night. Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds were a strong tandem at times, but the Steelers finished with a total of 90 rushing yards.

    Samuels had 10 rushing yards but also 13 receptions for 73 yards -- which sets the team record for receptions in a game by a running back, breaking Le'Veon Bell's mark.

    But the two struggled in short yardage in the red zone -- gaining 6 yards on six carries -- leading to the Steelers to settle for two fourth-quarter field goals.

    So a more consistent running game would take some of the pressure off Rudolph. The Steelers are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and have done little in short-yardage situations, including near the goal line.

    That said, there are fixes with things like play design to get the football into the hands of the team's other playmakers beyond Samuels.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster has 33 catches so far a year after had 111 catches and emerged as a star. Defenses are keying on Smith-Schuster with Antonio Brown gone.

    But James Washington had his best game of the season with four catches on all four targets for 69 yards, including a 40-yard catch over rookie Rock Ya-Sin in the fourth quarter. Washington has been quiet this season, but playing with his college quarterback, it felt like only a matter of time before he hit his stride.

    Whatever the case, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner needs to find ways to create more 1-on-1 matchups.

    This week the Steelers will wrap up a three-game homestand against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams passing offense makes it such that if the Steelers start slow, they might not have time to catch up.

    As for Conner, he didn't practice at all last week and a report on Sunday suggested he would not only sit out against the Colts, but that he could miss this weeks' game. Snell was expected to miss two to three weeks after having his meniscus trimmed early last week.

    But much like he did last week, Tomlin characterized Conner as "questionable" on Tuesday and said the running back would be limited early in the week and could practice late.

    Tomlin added that he expects the running back will "perk up" as this week's sessions unfold.

    I'll follow up in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, Ben Roethlisberger
    RBs: James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell
    WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Johnny Holton, Ryan Switzer
    TEs: Vance McDonald, Nick Vannett, Zach Gentry, Xavier Grimble

    San Francisco 49ers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    As NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman reminded readers, two weeks ago, Emmanuel Sanders was catching passes from an aging Joe Flacco on a sub-.500 Denver Broncos unit going nowhere fast. One trade and two games later, Sanders is the focal point of a San Francisco 49ers offense piloted by Jimmy Garoppolo in the prime of his career, leading his club to its eighth win in eight tries.

    Sanders had to pinch himself after last Thursday night's 28-25 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in which he caught a game-high seven balls and 112 receiving yards and Garoppolo threw a career-high four TDs including one to Sanders.

    "This is one of those games that Jimmy had a coming-out party for me," Sanders told reporters after the win. "I'm looking forward to continuously gain chemistry with him and getting better and better. The sky is the limit."

    Sanders found himself on the receiving end of some of Garoppolo's best throws of the night, on which the QB anticipated Sanders' route and break so well that the ball was in the veteran's hands right when he turned around. One second-quarter pass had Sanders, with Patrick Peterson on his hip, marveling at Garoppolo's ability.

    "It was one of those throws that you know, obviously I made the play, but I couldn't even take the credit, I couldn't pound my chest because I just had to point at Jimmy," Sanders said. "It was just so easy. Literally I turned my head and the ball like fell in my lap. Jimmy was on fire tonight."

    Garoppolo was similarly complimentary of his new favorite target, who caught more passes (7) and racked up more yards (112) on Thursday than any Niners wide receiver had in a game all season.

    "He's picking things up very quickly, coming from a similar offense, I've said this before. Just his body language on routes, I can kind of anticipate what he's going to do," Garoppolo said. "I think we've got room for improvement but I'm pretty happy with where we're at."

    The QB continued his gushing on Sanders later in his postgame presser: "He's savvy. He knows what to do, he feels space when it's zone and he beats the guy when it's man. It's a nice combination. He's so smart that he does things that as a QB you love to see and it makes it easy on you to throw the ball to him."

    Sanders was making things easy on Flacco and the Broncos offense just nine days ago before Denver traded him and a fifth-rounder to San Francisco in exchange for a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Two games, two touchdowns and two wins into his time with the Niners, San Francisco is surely considering that dearly departed parted capital money well spent.

    The 32-year-old wideout is enjoying the change of scenery as well, already buying into the Jimmy G experience, on and off the field.

    "I think it's just energy. A lot of positive energy. You know how Jimmy is. He still has his Eastern Illinois backpack," Sanders said of Garoppolo's attraction. "He's young, but at the same time, the sky is the limit. In his head, he wants to be great."

    The Niners were already good without Sanders, but now, as with Garoppolo, they can aspire to be great with the veteran WR in tow. The performance the pair put on Thursday night is proof of that possibility.

    As much as the 32-year-old wide receiver has added already, he's actually exceeded expectations of some there.

    "When you're watching him, you always know he's a pro," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He's even been better than expected since he's been here with how unbelievably smart he's been in picking up the offense and going out there that much, especially here on a short week. That game would have been real tough without him."

    As Profootballtalk.com's Darin Gantt pointed out, Garoppolo and Sanders have been spending extra time together on the practice field, but the level of results they're showing in just two weeks is still amazing, and a good sign for an offense that needed some balance and gravity. ...

    Meanwhile, even though he wasn't able to finish Thursday's game because of a knee injury, tight end George Kittle didn't seem to be bothered by it in his post-game press conference.

    Via Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com, Kittle was asked how he felt after the 28-25 win over the Cardinals that kept the team perfect, and he replied: "Great. You kidding me? Eight and oh."

    Maybe so, but with the game on the line, one of their most reliable targets was on the sideline. Kittle took a helmet to his knee from Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones on the first offensive play, and was clearly bothered. He left the game briefly, then returned, but wasn't able to finish.

    His replacement, Ross Dwelley, caught a key third-down conversion after the two-minute warning, allowing the 49ers to run out the clock.

    "In football, stuff happens," Kittle said. "You either decide to go back out or you don't. I tried to give my team everything I could, and in the fourth quarter, I really couldn't go any more. I'm happy to have a guy like Ross Dwelley in there stepping up. Can't say enough about Ross and the play he made. I'm so happy for him. ...

    "I know once something happens, you try to push through it as much as you can, but there comes a point if I feel like I'm a liability to the team, and I'm not the best man for the job, I definitely have to [leave the game]. I talked to my coach about it and we made a decision about it. Definitely thought Dwelley was definitely more mobile than I was in the fourth quarter."

    Shanahan said afterward that Kittle was dealing with a knee and ankle injury, in addition to the groin issue he's been dealing with in recent weeks.

    And MRI on Friday confirmed the injury wasn't serious, but Kittle wasn’t on the practice field on Tuesday. The 49ers won't issue an injury report until Thursday and the team will likely do whatever they can to limit Kittle during the week if it means he's ready to go against the Seahawks.

    I will, of course, follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...

    Linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his pectoral muscle in Thursday night's win. He was placed on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season. Dre Greenlaw, a fifth-round rookie out of Arkansas, will be Alexander's likely replacement.

    On a more positive note, as the Niners prepare for Monday night's showdown against the Seahawks, they're expected to begin welcoming back a quartet of starters from previous injuries. It's a group that includes tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

    From that group, Staley and Juszczyk look most likely to return, but it's possible McGlinchey and Witherspoon will also be back. ...

    One last note here. ... When asked if the backfield production will continue to seesaw between Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida throughout the season, ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner advised readers there's no reason to think otherwise and, frankly, anyone who thought one back was suddenly going to become the workhorse was setting themselves up for disappointment.

    Coleman and Breida are clearly the top two, but Shanahan has always said he wants to give both opportunities and he likes the idea of keeping his guys fresh and healthy with a rotation. Barring injuries, expect the Niners to continue going with the hot hand in games.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
    RBs: Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Matt Breida
    WRs: Deebo Samuel, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Richie James, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Emmanuel Sanders
    TEs: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Levine Toilolo

    Seattle Seahawks

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    After leading a masterful drive in the final seconds of regulation only to see a potential winning field goal attempt on the last play sail wide, Russell Wilson took it upon himself in overtime.

    No way was Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston going to end up with the ball in his hands again.

    "Knowing when to run, knowing when to pass, he's doing an amazing job," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said of his quarterback. "It's fun to watch him and I'll never get used to it because he's always going to do something to surprise us."

    Wilson finished off one of the finest games of his career with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister on the opening drive of overtime, capping Seattle's rally for a 40-34 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

    Wilson continued his brilliant season, tying his career high with five touchdown passes as Seattle (7-2) overcame Jason Myers' missed 40-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation and never gave Tampa Bay a chance in the extra session. Wilson was 5 of 8 for 70 yards in overtime, capping the winning drive by hitting the reserve tight end across the middle for his second touchdown of the game.

    Wilson finished 29 of 43 for 378 yards. It was his third career game with five TD passes and capped Seattle's wild second half after trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter. And it was a win Seattle absolutely needed with a brutal final seven games with six games against teams currently above .500.

    "We've been able to do it all year. For us to be able to go downfield - what's the circumstances, what's the situation - let's go do it," Wilson said. "And I think that confidence, that unwavering belief it's real."
    On Wednesday, Wilson was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season (and the ninth of his career) as he continued to build a case worthy of MVP consideration. He has 22 touchdown passes and only one interception and became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to post those numbers through a team's first nine games of the season. His passer rating has been 102 or above in eight of nine games.

    And he was great in the fourth quarter and overtime against Tampa Bay as the Bucs and Seahawks trading scoring drives back and forth. Wilson was 11 of 20 for 177 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.

    Hollister had a 1-yard TD catch in the first half, then made the biggest catch of his brief Seattle career. He flashed across the middle and barely got the ball across the goal line to set off a wild celebration.

    Tyler Lockett had a career-high 13 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns.

    Lockett became the first Seattle wide receiver since Brian Blades in 1995 to have at least 150 yards receiving and two touchdown catches in the same game on Sunday. Lockett is on pace for 104 catches for 1,363 yards and 10 touchdowns. The catches and yards would both be franchise records for the Seahawks.

    But the difference against Tampa Bay was the contribution from Seattle's supporting cast of DK Metcalf and Hollister. Metcalf had a 53-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter and had a key 29-yard completion in overtime that moved Seattle inside the Tampa Bay 10. Metcalf finished with six catches for 123 yards.

    "He's trusting me. It starts in practice. He's trusting me in practice and it translates to the game," Metcalf said.

    Hollister, the former Patriots tight end, had a strong preseason with Seattle but was cut and re-signed to the practice squad as the team opted to go with Will Dissly and Nick Vannett instead.

    Both Dissly and Vannett are no longer in the picture, and Hollister has stepped into a big role alongside veteran Luke Willson in this offense.

    Seattle is expected to get veteran tight end Ed Dickson back in Week 10, which will likely cut into Hollister's opportunities in the passing game.

    Dickson's return would be a welcome one for the Seahawks, who currently have only Willson and Hollister, along with tackle George Fant, who sees playing time as a blocking tight end/sixth lineman. Willson also missed part of Sunday's game with a rib injury though he was eventually able to return.

    Head coach Pete Carroll said the veteran tight end plans on playing this week despite an uncomfortable injury.

    "Luke was banged up yesterday in that game and made it through it just in enormously courageous fashion," Carroll said. "He was hurt and just stuck it out anyway… He says he is (playing). I believe Luke. Whatever he says, I'm going with."

    Before getting to a needed bye week, the Seahawks get a chance to make the NFC West a race, traveling to San Francisco next Monday night. Seattle has won four of its last five trips to San Francisco and a win would move the Seahawks only one-game behind in the division race.

    Players will get an extra day off this week due to their upcoming Monday night game, but when they do return to practice on Thursday, they're expecting to have two recent acquisitions on the field.

    Receiver Josh Gordon, who was claimed off of waivers on Friday, and safety Quandre Diggs, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury since being acquired in a trade, will both practice this week with the hope that they can be ready for Monday's game.

    Gordon was placed on injured reserve by the New England Patriots last month, but was released last week, indicating he is healthy, and Carroll confirmed that the former All-Pro "has been cleared to go, he's ready to go. So on Thursday when we get rolling again, he'll be going. He's in the building studying and all that, getting ready, so we'll see how it goes."

    Asked about his initial conversations with Gordon, Carroll said, "He's really clear, excited to be here. We had a good conversation on a lot of topics in a short time. He met with the coaches and all that. He's bright, sharp, ready to learn, humble, looking for the opportunity to make something happen to help he club. He seemingly had his sights on getting here, so that's a good thing."

    What Carroll isn't doing for now is putting any specific expectations on Gordon, a uniquely talented receiver who's playing time has been limited over the past few seasons due to multiple suspensions for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

    "I'm just waiting to see him," Carroll said. "I've seen him on film and he looks pretty special-he has a good history of making plays and all that-but I want to see him when he mixes with our guys and really just take it one step at a time with no expectations of how much he would contribute or play or whatever, I'm just going to see what happens. ..."

    The Seahawks were going to waive receiver Gary Jennings on Sept. 25 before reversing course and changing their mind a day later. Jennings remained on the roster until Tuesday.

    The team announced it waived Jennings on Tuesday, four days after claiming Gordon. It was not a surprise given Gordon gave the Seahawks eight receivers on their 53-player roster.

    They could bring Jennings back to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The fourth-round pick was inactive for every game this season. ...

    Worth noting. ... Seattle's offensive line had one of its best all-around games against the Bucs. The Seahawks rushed for 145 yards, the most allowed all season by Tampa Bay's top-ranked run defense. Chis Carson, despite two fumbles, rushed for 105 yards, the first back to top 100 yards against Tampa Bay.

    And in the pass game, Wilson had time and clear passing lanes to throw. He was sacked three times, but only once in the second half and overtime. ...

    And finally. ... Seattle admitted in the offseason it made a mistake by cutting Myers during training camp a year ago and watching him become a Pro Bowl selection with the Jets. They signed Myers to a four-year contract worth up to $15 million to solidify a position of inconsistency the previous two seasons.

    As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth suggested, Myers hasn't done his part in settling those concerns about Seattle's kicking game.

    He missed two field goals and an extra point on Sunday that somehow didn't end up costing the Seahawks. All three kicks missed were to the north end of CenturyLink Field, the last coming on the final play of regulation from 40 yards and would have kept Seattle from having to face overtime against the Bucs. Myers is just 3 of 8 from 40 or more yards this season and 5 of 9 for all kicks in Seattle.

    Those are not the numbers Seattle expected after making such a hefty commitment.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
    RBs: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, Travis Homer
    WRs: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Josh Gordon, David Moore, Malik Turner, John Ursua
    TEs: Luke Willson, Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly, Ed Dickson

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    Jameis Winston could do nothing but stand and watch.

    For most of the day he'd been the equal of Seattle's Russell Wilson. Even when Winston made a critical mistake in the fourth quarter - his only blunder of the game - he responded immediately by leading Tampa Bay on a scoring drive.

    But when overtime arrived, Winston never left the sideline as Wilson marched Seattle down the field and eventually handed the Buccaneers another painful loss.

    "We fought hard and that's all we can ask for everybody to do is give it all they got," Winston said. "We just fell up short. They have a good team too. Their quarterback did a great job finishing. We just got to get back in there and go at it again."

    Winston and the Bucs had a chance to get out of Seattle with a win on Sunday. They led 21-7 in the second quarter. They answered with an impressive touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter after Seattle had taken the lead. But no matter what Winston did, he was a helpless bystander as Wilson led the Seahawks to a 40-34 win in overtime.

    Wilson threw five touchdown passes, the last going to Jacob Hollister on the opening possession of overtime and setting off a wild celebration.

    Winston finished 29 of 44 for 335 yards and two touchdown passes in the first half. He combined with Mike Evans to expose major holes in Seattle's secondary, and Winston's only major mistake was a fumble early in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal for the Seahawks.

    It was another loss in what is a rebuilding year in coach Bruce Arians' first season. After starting 2-2 with a road win over the Rams, the Bucs (2-6) have dropped four straight.

    "They just kept finding a way to get those long drives on us," Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. "Jameis has gotten better. I told him after the game, I said, 'Man, you did a great job improving.' He did a good job today in using his weapons and (Byron) Leftwich did a good job play-calling."

    Evans had a season-high 12 catches and over the past three games has 32 receptions for 474 yards.

    Whether Seattle was playing man or zone, Winston was able to find open targets.

    Winston was at his best in the first half when he threw touchdowns of 15 yards to Breshad Perriman, off a deflection, and 5 yards to Evans. The Bucs were 5 of 7 on third downs in the first half and scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions in building a 21-point lead.

    But the touchdowns disappeared until the final drive of regulation. Winston was 4 of 6 for 64 yards and had a 5-yard scramble run to convert a key fourth down. Dare Ogunbowale scored on a 1-yard run with 48 seconds left to pull Tampa Bay within 34-33. Rather than going for the 2-point conversion, Arians opted to play for overtime with the extra point.

    "No, just because of history here and (Seattle's) kicker had just missed one," Arians said.

    It was the second straight week the Bucs had a lead entering the fourth quarter and were unable to close it out. Last week against the Titans, Tampa Bay committed two turnovers and gave the ball away on downs in the fourth quarter.

    This time, the Bucs simply got outplayed by a league MVP contender.

    "We're just getting better. We're right there. We just trying to take the extra step and finish the game," Tampa Bay LB Devin White said. "Everybody is like the Seahawks are one of the best teams. We just had them on the ropes. We just have to knock people out once we have them on the ropes. That's the one thing we have to get better at doing and doing it consistently."

    ESPN.com's Jenna Laine pointed out the Bucs became the first team in the league this season to score at least 21 points in the first half on the road and lose, according to ESPN Statistics and Information data.

    Prior to Sunday, NFL teams were 16-0 when scoring 21 points on the road in the first half of games. ...

    This week, Tampa Bay returns home to host Arizona. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... The Buccaneers started Peyton Barber at running back in their first seven games of the season, but made a change in Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

    Ronald Jones was in the game for the first snaps for the first time this season and head coach Bruce Arians said on Monday that Jones will remain in that role going forward.

    "I think he handled it really well," Arians said. "He's been consistent [and] he's been more explosive. It's not that Peyton did anything wrong. I think RoJo has earned the right to play a little bit more and start the ballgame."

    Jones was a second-round pick in 2018, but played sparingly in eight appearances. Arians and others around the team talked him up a lot this offseason and Jones's play has continued to impress the head coach.

    Jones ran 18 times for 67 yards and a touchdown in the 40-34 loss to the Seahawks. He's run 92 times for 381 yards and three touchdowns this season.

    For the record, the game in Seattle was only Evans' third-best output of this season, which has just now reached its halfway point. Those 180 yards would have been the fifth-highest single-game total in team history when the 2019 campaign began. Now it's seventh. Sunday's effort, while equally impressive, was statistically a fraction down from what Evans produced in Week 8 in Tennessee.

    Put those two games together, however, and you have a first in the Bucs' 44-season history. Evans is the first player in Buccaneers history to record consecutive games with 150 or more yards.

    Obviously, that also makes Evans the first player in team annals with consecutive 180-yard receiving games.

    The rarity of that feat extends beyond Tampa, however. Evans is just the 10th player in NFL history to do that in two straight games, and the first since Julio Jones in 2014. (Andre Johnson did it twice.) Nobody has ever had three straight 180-yard games, giving Evans a chance to make history against Arizona Sunday. ...

    In addition, Evans had 11 catches at Tennessee and 12 at Seattle, making him just the second player, and the first wide receiver, in franchise history with 10 or more catches in consecutive games. Running back James Wilder, who Evans recently passed on the franchise's career receptions list, accomplished that feat 35 years ago on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 1984.

    Evans also recorded eight catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants in Week 3. Thus, he joins Cincinnati's A.J. Green (2016) and New England's Wes Welker (2011) as the only players in league history to record three games with at least eight catches, 150 receiving yards and a touchdown within a team's first eight games of a season.

    Evans currently stands second in the NFL with an average of 105.3 receiving yards per game. Godwin, is fourth on the same list. ...

    In the Week 6 game at Carolina, starting tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate played a combined 90 snaps on offense. On Sunday in Seattle, they played a combined 11 snaps. That's not an ideal development for a team that has struggled to get production in the passing game behind the productive duo of Evans and Godwin.

    Since that game in London, in which Howard and Brate contributed a combined 82 yards and a touchdown to an offense that put up 407 net yards of offense, Howard hasn't played due to a hamstring injury. The Buccaneers had a bye week after returning from London, but Howard actually suffered his injury when the team returned to practice the following week.

    Brate took on a much bigger role in Week 8 at Tennessee with Howard sidelined but he also suffered a painful rib injury.

    Brate powered through his injury to remain active on Sunday in Seattle but most of the tight end snaps went to first-year man Tanner Hudson (49), playing in his second NFL game, and blocking ace Antony Auclair (45). The Bucs also employed a jumbo package with reserve tackle Josh Wells on the field as an eligible blocker, in place of a tight end, which may have in part due to another injury suffered in the game, this one by Auclair.

    On Tuesday, the Bucs placed Auclair on injured reserve after suffering a toe injury in Sunday's loss at Seattle (the team signed outside linebacker Sam Acho to fill the roster spot).

    That makes the situation even more complicated heading into Week 10.

    Arians said all the tight end shuffling and unavailability didn't affect the Bucs' play-calling, but obviously lineup adjustments have to be made when new injuries crop up.

    Brate was only on the field for 11 plays and he was not targeted with a pass, and that puts some doubt on how much he'll be able to contribute against Arizona. Fortunately, there is some good news.

    "O.J. should be ready to roll this week and we should get him back," said Arians.

    The good news? Both Howard and Brate were full participants on Wednesday; I'll have more on if that changes via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Jameis Winston, Ryan Griffin, Blaine Gabbert
    RBs: Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale, T.J. Logan
    WRs: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Scott Miller, Bobo Wilson
    TEs: O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair, Tanner Hudson

    Tennessee Titans

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    The Titans are doing their own version of a Tennessee two-step. Win two games, then it's back they go with nobody to blame but themselves.

    Tennessee (4-5) missed another chance to climb above .500 with a 30-20 loss at Carolina, and once again the Titans struggled from the opening kickoff with too many penalties, sacks and missed kicks, and they added a new wrinkle with turnovers.

    Derrick Henry got only two carries in the first half for 4 yards, though he finished with 63 yards and a touchdown. Henry also scored on a 23-yard screen pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    "He is a very large part (of our plan)," Vrabel said of Henry. "Once we were able to stay on track like we were in the second half, he was a large part of it."

    Vrabel said the penalties in the first half, and the team's failures to sustain drives, made running Henry more difficult.

    "We had 11 plays out of the first 21 plays that were either 1st and 15, 2nd and 10 plus, 3rd and long," head coach Mike Vrabel said. "So those are tough spots to be in when you want to have an identity to run the football. ... When we can stay on track. ... You can see there was some successful and good football."

    Top wide receiver Corey Davis had only one ball thrown his way before halftime.

    "Those are a lot of self-inflicted wounds that's really just not allowing us to get into drives," head coach Mike Vrabel said Monday.

    Starting slowly is nothing new for the Titans under first-time offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. The Titans have been shut out on the scoreboard over the first 30 minutes four times this season, though the Carolina loss was the first time since quarterback Marcus Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill.

    They've scored only one touchdown in the first half combined in their five losses. Asked how he evaluates Smith's performance so far, Vrabel made clear nobody has performed well enough.

    "The value on all of our jobs is below average because we're 4-5, so we haven't played well enough and we haven't coached well enough," Vrabel said. "That's where I value all of our efforts starting with me."

    The Titans were forced to play perfect football down the stretch to have a chance because they were far from perfect most of the contest. The team committed 11 penalties for 99 yards on a day when Dion Lewis lost a fumble, receiver A.J. Brown let a ball go off his hands that was intercepted, and Tannehill threw an ugly pick.

    Still, the offensive line remains the Titans' biggest issue.

    Center Ben Jones missed his first game this season with a concussion, but three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan struggled with two penalties on the Titans' second drive and rookie right guard Nate Davis followed two plays later with a face mask penalty of his own. Right tackle Jack Conklin had a false start to begin Tennessee's third possession.

    The Titans allowed four sacks and have allowed an NFL-worst 38 this season.

    The Titans still have hope with two games left to play against AFC South leader Houston (6-3). But the schedule only gets tougher from here, starting Sunday when they host the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3), who should have reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes back. Then the Titans reach their bye for a chance to try to fix some of their problems.

    Vrabel said they can't lose too much ground.

    "We took a step back in trying to do that, and we're going to try to take a step forward," Vrabel said.

    For what it's worth. ... Vrabel was asked to evaluate the job Smith has done as play caller this season.

    The Titans are currently ranked 26th in the NFL on offense.

    Vrabel said everyone needs to be better.

    "I think the value on all of our jobs is below average, because we are 4 and 5," Vrabel said. "So we haven't played well enough, and we haven't coached well enough -- that's where I value all of our efforts, starting with me."

    Vrabel also hesitated to heap praise on individual players and said no one should be casting blame.

    "We talk to them about not looking around and saying, 'Whose fault is that?'" Vrabel said. "It's everybody's fault. No one has played good enough for us to remain consistent. … No one is playing well enough, that's how I look at it. I would hate to have somebody walk in here today and say, 'I did my job.' That would be the absolute worst attitude that we could possibly have. I don't want that attitude.

    "When you lose, everyone can do a little bit more. Everyone can coach better, everyone can play better. And everyone has to do that for us to win. ..."

    Also of interest. ... Ryan Succop missed three field goals in his first game back off injured reserve, points that would've given the Titans a chance in Carolina. Succop, who kicked in a pair of preseason games, said when placed on injured reserve that the time would allow him to get the full strength back in his kicking leg after offseason surgery.

    He missed from 43, 56 and 44 yards.

    Vrabel said the 56-yarder can be blamed on a sack that led to the long attempt, but Vrabel has lost patience with Tennessee's kicking game. Three kickers have missed a combined nine attempts.

    "The expectation is that they make them," Vrabel said. ...

    On the injury front. ... Tight end Delanie Walker appears to be on the road to recovery after missing the last two games with an ankle injury, and there's a possibility he suits up against the Chiefs.

    Walker has been dealing with the ankle injury for a few weeks now. He tried to play through it in Week 7, but was forced from the game early after just five snaps. Since then, Walker has been ruled out in Weeks 8 and 9.

    Walker spoke to the media on Monday and said he is feeling better, while also sounding optimistic that he could play.

    The first sign of progress for Walker was his ability to shed his walking boot, but he's still not sure about practicing this week and he wasn't on the field for Wednesday's session. In addition Davis spent Wednesday's session riding a stationary bike.

    I'll be following up on Walker and Davis via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

    Fellow tight end Jonnu Smith was solid in the first two games that Walker either played sparingly or missed and he blessed fantasy owners who took a chance on him, but he didn't do much in Week 9 with just three catches for 18 yards, including a drop. ...

    Cornerback Malcolm Butler suffered a wrist injury during Sunday's loss and he was placed on season-ending IR on Tuesday.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota
    RBs: Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, Dalyn Dawkins, David Fluellen
    WRs: Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Adam Humphries, Tajae Sharpe, Darius Jennings, Kalif Raymond
    TEs: Jonnu Smith, Delanie Walker, MyCole Pruitt, Anthony Firkser

    Washington Redskins

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 5 November 2019

    Interim coach Bill Callahan said the expectation for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins in his first start was to win.

    He did not.

    The Redskins fell to 1-8 with a 24-9 loss at the Buffalo Bills, matching their worst start since 1998.

    According to ESPN.com's John Keim, Haskins looked like a rookie making his first start against the NFL's third-rated pass defense.

    The win for him is that he didn't turn it over. The loss is that there weren't any big plays down the field.

    Haskins was an acceptable 15 of 22 for 144 yards, avoided the interception trouble that plagued him in two relief appearances but didn't complete a pass longer than 22. There's no guarantee the 15th overall pick will be Washington's permanent starter when the New York Jets visit Nov. 17 following the bye week.

    "Nothing has been decided or determined," Callahan said. "I'm just going to give it a little time and go into the bye week, let everything settle, look at the health of (concussed veteran Case Keenum) and see where we're at as a team and make a decision going forward for the best of our team."

    While Callahan wouldn’t commit publicly, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday that sources tell him Haskins will continue in that role after this weekend’s bye, when the Redskins take on the Jets.

    Haskins showed promise in his first pro start, even if he'll be kicking himself for some rookie mistakes.

    "I thought it was a good start as far as my experience," Haskins said. "There are some things we want to take back and we didn't execute at a high level in all phases of everything, as far as our game plan and something we can continue to work on and get better at. As I get more reps and more experience, I feel like I can be in more control of certain things, and that will come with time."

    Now that Haskins has two full weeks to study the playbook, the Redskins should be able to expand options from the condensed menu he had for his first start.

    Given that the Redskins' playoff hopes are long gone, there's no logical argument against handing the starting job to Haskins now, if only to see what they have in him ahead of the draft. ...

    Meanwhile, Callahan's run first, run second and run third approach is paying dividends, and Adrian Peterson is in a groove. Peterson ran the ball 18 times for 108 yards, an average of 6 yards a carry.

    Callahan wanted to be committed to the run game, and he has been as Peterson now has rushed for 376 yards in four games since the coaching change. His 101 yards rushing in the first half in Buffalo were tied with Dalvin Cook for the most in the NFL this season.

    "We just felt that we're confident in ourselves," Callahan said. "We have a good, solid running back. ... And the concepts were good."

    Peterson has provided an identity for the offense; the Redskins just lack the passing game to capitalize on his success. He's found a good rhythm. There have been times when Peterson could have broken long runs with a different cut -- he has mentioned that. The problem Sunday: They couldn't sustain the run game as Peterson managed 7 yards on eight carries after halftime.

    Once again, the Redskins couldn't get anything going in the red zone, whether from play calls or execution or both.

    It's also a function of a one-dimensional offense that lacks strong red zone targets, so the Redskins must be creative to generate anything.

    On their first trip, facing third-and-2, they hoped to fool Buffalo with a fake to Peterson. It didn't work and a sprint rollout opposite Peterson was defeated. They ran on their first two plays on the next trip and gained a combined 2 yards. The Redskins have not scored a touchdown in their past 13 quarters. ...

    After leading all rookies with 23 catches - five for touchdowns - and 408 yards, Terry McLaurin is now being treated like the premier offensive weapon he is. Opposing defenses have clamped down on McLaurin, a third-round pick out of Ohio State who at one point was a front-runner for offensive rookie of the year.

    Buffalo held McLaurin to four catches for 39 yards. Haskins, his college teammate, said the Bills were clouding McLaurin - and now it'll be up to him and offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to devise a solution for that.

    Washington continues to be without versatile third-down back Chris Thompson (toe), tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) and safeties Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett (ankle).

    The bye week comes at a good time for those players and Keenum, whom Callahan trusts much more than former backup Colt McCoy, the favorite of since-fired coach Jay Gruden. ...

    One last note here. ... Asked if he expects Derrius Guice to quickly step back into lead-back duties once activated from IR, Keim replied that's not certain as of now.

    Callahan has often done the opposite of Gruden, so sticking with Peterson -- or at least keeping him a part of the offense -- would make sense. But the Redskins still have confidence in Guice and know he can be a bigger threat in the run and pass game.

    But when he takes over remains to be seen.

    But he's coming back and the team moved to clear a spot for him on the roster Tuesday.

    They announced that they waived running back Craig Reynolds.

    Reynolds was promoted to the active roster in October. He saw action on 28 special teams snaps without getting any time on offense in three games with the team.

    Guice started the season opener for Washington and went on injured reserve with a knee injury a few days later. Guice, a 2018 second-round pick, missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL.

    He ran 10 times for 18 yards and caught three passes for 20 yards in his lone appearance.

    DEPTH CHART
    QBs: Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Colt McCoy
    RBs: Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Wendell Smallwood, Chris Thompson, Craig Reynolds, Shaun Wilson, Bryce Love
    WRs: Terry McLaurin, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn, Jehu Chesson, Kelvin Harmon, Cam Sims
    TEs: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle, Hale Hentges, Jordan Reed