Team Notes week 11 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 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reported, Kyler Murray set an NFL record for most consecutive pass attempts by a rookie without an interception with his 177th throw in the first quarter of Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then snapped his streak in the fourth quarter. Murray's record now stands at 211 interception-free attempts.

The previous record of 176 was held by Oakland's Derek Carr in 2014 and Dallas' Dak Prescott in 2016.

Murray credited the streak to simply "just taking care of the ball."

Murray set the record on an 11-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald on the first play of the Cardinals' second possession Sunday.

Fitzgerald said the most impressive part of Murray's streak was the good decisions he made.

"He's done it throughout the course of the year," Fitzgerald said. "This is what, nine or 10 games in as a rookie? He's done an unbelievable job of putting us in position to win week in and week out. There's gonna be times where there's gonna be mistakes happen. I mean, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, I mean, all the great ones, it happens. But we learn from it and move forward."

The streak ended with 3:47 left in the game on Murray's short pass from the Tampa Bay 15, intended for receiver Trent Sherfield that was intercepted by Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury took blame for the interception, saying it was a poorly designed play. Murray refuted that.

"When I threw it, there was no way in hell I thought he was gonna pick the ball off so it is unfortunate," Murray said.

Murray, who had thrown just four interceptions before that, had not thrown a pick since Sept. 29 against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew had owned the longest streak for this season with 163 consecutive attempts, before Murray surpassed him last week in Arizona's 28-25 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Murray finished with 324 yards, three touchdowns -- all to wide receiver Christian Kirk -- and one interception on 27-for-44 passing.

"That's what happens when you go on a streak like that is you don't force a bunch of things, you just take what the defense gives you and we move on to the next play," Kirk said. "Today was just some unfortunate things, some things that didn't go our way but you know that's usually where that comes from."

Kirk finished with six catches for 138 yards and the three touchdowns.

An ankle injury kept him out for three games earlier this season but Kirk looked healthy and dangerous in Tampa.

It was Kirk's first three touchdowns of the season.

"That felt good," he said. "A long time coming."

Kirk caught a couple of long bombs and his third touchdown was an impressive display of hand-eye coordination, pulling in a deflected pass for the score. The first score came right before halftime as Kirk caught a pass from 33 yards out. His second was a 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter in which he faked a block and then went screaming down the sideline. The final one was a 15-yarder which gave the Cardinals a 27-23 fourth-quarter lead.

The Cardinals have some impressive skill players but Kirk has often looked like the most electric of the bunch this season.

"He's a dynamic player," Kingsbury said. "Inside, outside (receiver). Works his tail off. Doesn't come off the field. When you work that hard, good things happen to you on Sundays."

It was the first NFL touchdown connection from Murray to Kirk, but not the first of their life. They played together for a season at Texas A and M, where Kirk caught Murray's first career scoring throw.

"Christian is special," Murray said. "I know that. We all know that."

Kirk may not be seen among the upper echelon of receivers in the NFL quite yet, but has shown that type of ability in only his second season and wants to be recognized in that group eventually.

"I don't play this game to be average," Kirk said. "I plan to, every game that I step onto the field, keep trying to prove that I can be (seen as a star)."

Other notes of interest. ... David Johnson's return was not one to remember. He was going against the best rush defense in the league, but he had just 2 yards on five carries, one catch for 8 yards and he fumbled the ball away on that catch. I don't know if he was 100 percent like he declared last week. But it was a rough outing. Kingsbury acknowledged after the game on his radio interview it was his call to bench Johnson.

Johnson didn't play again after his fumble.

"We just felt like Kenyan Drake needed to get something going and kept him rolling," Kingsbury said. "The last couple weeks, in practice and games, (Drake) has brought a little pop to the run game and the pass game. We felt like he was the guy to close out the game."

Although Johnson declared himself "100 percent" last week, he does not look that way yet after dealing with the ankle injury and also back issues this season. He has never fully found a groove even when healthy this season, but it's also true that his production (particularly in the pass game) were crucial in the Cardinals' wins against the Bengals and Falcons as well as the tie against the Lions.

Johnson has "obviously been hampered" by injuries, Kingsbury said, and that Johnson is still trying to work through it.

Drake had 10 carries for 35 yards and six catches for six yards, so as Profootballtalk.com suggested, rolling is likely relative to Johnson's five carries for two yards.

That said, Kingsbury did use Drake and Johnson together a bunch of times, including a cool play early in which Murray was in shotgun, Johnson to his left and Drake to Johnson's left. At the snap, both ran past Murray, who handed it to Drake while Johnson was the lead blocker.

In addition to losing a fumble for the first time all season, the Cardinals were hurt by a huge second-half drop by tight end Maxx Williams that cost the Cardinals a sure touchdown early in the third quarter.

Kingsbury said Williams lost the ball in the sun.

Arizona had 11 penalties, including an offside call on a fourth-quarter Tampa Bay missed field-goal attempt. That turned into a Matt Gay 41-yarder that put the Buccaneers up 23-20.

"That's what separates the really good teams from the average teams," Kingsbury said. "We had a bunch of those mistakes. Things keep showing up. We've got to do better as a team because the effort is outstanding but we're hurting ourselves. ..."

On the injury front. ... Chase Edmonds, who suffered a hamstring injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 that has forced him to miss the last two games, is still an unknown for this week. Kingsbury said he wasn't sure about Edmonds' status for Sunday against San Francisco but noted, "I would expect him hopefully in the near future."

More on Edmonds via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses.

Kingsbury said cornerback Patrick Peterson is day-to-day with calf injury. Kingsbury was unsure if Peterson would practice Wednesday.

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

Atlanta Falcons

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure suggested, "Maybe that speech from Julio Jones had an effect. Or maybe switching receivers coach Raheem Morris over to the secondary made an impact.

"Whatever the case, the Atlanta Falcons looked like a totally different team Sunday in upsetting the rival New Orleans Saints, 26-9. For one afternoon, they actually appeared capable of competing with any team in the league."

The Falcons didn't look like the same team that started the season 1-7 and had dropped six games in a row. This was a team determined to silence the critics and show it had enough talent on the roster to take down the mighty Saints, even on the road.

How did the reeling Falcons suddenly turn things around? It all started up front. A team that ranked dead last in the league with seven sacks finally found a way to generate consistent pressure on one of the league's best in Drew Brees. The Falcons had six sacks, led by defensive tackle Grady Jarrett with 2.5. Vic Beasley Jr., De'Vondre Campbell, and Adrian Clayborn all got in on the sack party.

The early sacks came in crucial third-down situations and kept the Saints from scoring touchdowns.

It's the type of pressure that Falcons coach Dan Quinn, a defensive line guru, has been seeking all season.

In addition, they ran the ball better than we've seen all season.

The Atlanta Falcons were adamant about running the football on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and they made that clear on their very first possession of the game.

After winning the coin toss, the Falcons elected to start on offense and proceeded to establish the run against one of the NFL's top run defenses.

Atlanta ran the ball on six of its first seven plays, gaining 57 yards and setting up a Younghoe Koo field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

That drive proved to be a sign of things to come for a Falcons offense that had struggled to run the ball this season in the face of some big score deficits. Atlanta faced no such deficit in New Orleans, and the Falcons used their ground attack to dominate the time of possession and keep the Saints' potent offense on the sideline.

"Any time you can give this offense less chances and less possessions that, to me, is the key," Quinn said.

The most rush attempts the Falcons had in a single game entering Sunday was 25, which came in their one-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Atlanta shattered that number in New Orleans, running the ball 34 times for a season-high 143 yards.

Even more impressive than the Falcons' output on the ground was that it came against a Saints defense that entered Sunday's game allowing an average of 84.3 rushing yards per game, the fourth-fewest in the league. Right from the jump, however, it was clear Atlanta was going to test the validity of that statistic.

"It was a huge part of the game plan," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. "Coming into it we wanted to be able to establish the run and get that going. I thought our offensive line played extremely well."

It was a group effort for the Falcons running the ball. The first carry of the afternoon went to receiver Calvin Ridley, who broke free for a 19-yard gain on a sweep around the left end on the first offensive snap for Atlanta. Later on the opening drive, Kenjon Barner took a direct snap and picked up 12 yards.

The bulk of the work was done by second-string running back Brian Hill, who became the team's bell cow after Devonta Freeman exited the game with a foot injury and did not return. Freeman finished the game with 38 yards on 10 carries, while Hill earned 20 carries for 61 yards and also had a 10-yard touchdown catch.

"This team trusts Brian in a big way," Quinn said. "When his moment came to deliver he was able to. We don't know the extent of [Freeman's] injury or where he's at, but Brian was certainly ready for the moment. He's one of the hardest workers that we have."

Once the Falcons built a first-half lead, the team's defense, led by a pass rush that notched six sacks, helped them keep it. That allowed Atlanta to stick to its run game and possess the football for over 33 minutes, flipping the script yet again on the Saints, who entered the game averaging 33:18 in time of possession, the third-best mark in the NFL.

Atlanta had four scoring drives of 10 plays or more, and the same number of drives that spanned at least 60 yards. It was the most efficient and balanced offensive approach the Falcons have put together thus far in 2019.

The Falcons entered the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday morning with the league's top passing offense but just the 29th-ranked rushing attack. Despite their success throwing the ball, the Falcons coaching staff has stressed how important it is to have more balance and become more effective on the ground.

During its victory in New Orleans, Atlanta showed exactly why that balance is so important.

If the Falcons can do the same next week at Carolina and the week after at home against Tampa Bay, then maybe they can string a couple of wins together.

And maybe Quinn, who has been on the hot seat, will give owner Arthur Blank something to think about.

Other notes of interest. ... Ryan completed 20 of 35 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 78.5. Ryan showed his ankle wasn't an issue when he scrambled for a couple of first downs. Ryan completed passes to seven receivers, including touchdown passes to tight end Austin Hooper and Hill.

Jones caught three passes for 79 yards -- including a 54-yarder to set up a field goal -- for Atlanta, which possessed the ball nearly 34 minutes and rolled up 317 yards. The Falcons were the first Saints opponent since Seattle in Week 3 to gain more than 257 yards. ...

The win came at a cost. As mentioned above, Freeman left the game with a foot injury and Hooper was knocked out with a knee injury.

Hooper definitely won't play Sunday at Carolina while nursing an MCL sprain in his left knee. An MRI revealed the sprain, but Hooper got a follow-up, second-opinion to see how long the injury will sideline him. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapopoort, Hooper is expected to be out about a month.

Hooper leads the Falcons with 56 receptions, three more receptions than Jones. Hooper also leads the Falcons with six touchdown receptions to go with his 608 receiving yards.

Freeman has a foot sprain, Rapoport reported, and the running back could miss "about two weeks."

The injury affects the toe more than the foot, according to Rapoport.

Freeman leads the team in rushing with 371 rushing yards on 107 attempts.

The Falcons expressed confidence in Hill carrying the load out of the backfield if Freeman is sidelined. Backup Ito Smith was placed on injured reserve following a concussion and neck injury. Then Freeman's injury thrusted Hill into the spotlight against the Saints.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said rookie running back Qadree Ollison could have a role on offense behind Hill if Freeman misses time. Barner is the other running back in the mix.

Koetter also expressed confidence in tight end Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham with Hooper hurting, with Graham being more in the Hooper mold as a pass-catching type and Stocker known more for his blocking.

And finally. ... The Falcons may have found some stability at placekicker with Koo, who made four field goals, including a 48-yarder. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Koo took over after 44-year-old Matt Bryant was inconsistent in his return to the team and was cut in the bye week. Giorgio Tavecchio couldn't hold the job after Bryant was released following last season.

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

Baltimore Ravens

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley reported, on the day Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson delivered the longest touchdown run of his career, he joined elite company with his arm, as well.

In Sunday's 49-13 rout of the winless Bengals, Jackson became the second player in NFL history to produce a perfect passer rating (158.3) in multiple games in a single season. The only other player to do so was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had two in 2007.

"I'm a quarterback at the end of the day," Jackson said. "I want to prove that each and every day I go out and practice. I treat it like it's a game. If I miss a pass at practice, I'm ticked off."

Jackson, who began the season with a perfect rating in Miami, became the sixth player in NFL history with perfect passer ratings in multiple career games, reaching that feat in his 16th NFL start. This came during a season that started with Jackson facing questions as to whether he could be an effective NFL passer.

"I mean, jeez, you go out there and he's whipping the ball and putting it in awesome spots," tight end Nick Boyle said. "You saw his awesome passes today. That's something he can do that people don't think he can do or didn't think he could do. That's what makes him so dangerous. He could do everything."

In going against the NFL's worst run defense, Jackson and the Ravens surprisingly attacked the Bengals through the air. Before being pulled after three quarters, Jackson was 15-of-17 passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns. His only incompletions were a spike to stop the clock late in the second quarter and a pass to tight end Mark Andrews in the end zone that was nearly caught.

But Jackson's best highlight came with his feet. Midway through the third quarter, Jackson scored on a thrilling, 47-yard dash that displayed his jaw-dropping speed and athleticism. After getting to the open field, Jackson sidestepped Bengals safety Jessie Bates III and then spun around linebacker Nick Vigil to get to the end zone.

Head coach John Harbaugh remarked, "I said to the offensive coaches on the [head]phones, 'They'll be watching that run for decades and decades. That's one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.'"

It was the longest run by a quarterback since Cam Newton's 62-yarder on Dec. 10, 2017. It was also the longest touchdown run by any Ravens player since Ray Rice's 51-yarder in 2012.

Asked if that was the best run of his career, Jackson said, "I don't know. I don't know. It don't matter. We scored. Move on."

Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to finish a game with a perfect passer rating (minimum 15 attempts), at least 50 yards rushing and one touchdown run, according to the Elias Sports Bureau data.

Also, Jackson joined Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana as the only players with three TD passes, a TD run and a perfect passer rating with at least 15 completions in the Super Bowl era.

"He's one of the most exciting players I've ever seen," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. "(He's) dynamic. I'm interested to see what teams do down the road here to stop him, because he certainly is hitting on all cylinders right now."

On Wednesday, Jackson was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. ... again. Jackson took home his second consecutive honor, and his third of the season.

Thanks to Jackson, the Ravens (7-2) won for the fifth straight time, closing to within one game of the New England Patriots (8-1) and the top seed in the AFC.

In the third quarter, chants of "MVP" filled Paul Brown Stadium.

"He has my vote, definitely," Bengals safety Shawn Williams said. "He's definitely the best we've faced this year. Hats off to them and what they are doing over there."

Next up, a matchup against another very good quarterback in Houston's Deshaun Watson. ...

Other notes of interest. ... How many wide receivers did Jackson target Sunday on his way to generating a perfect passer rating?

The answer is one.

He targeted Marquise Brown four times as they continue to develop their chemistry, and it was a worthwhile effort, as Brown caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. But Jackson didn't aim a pass at any other wide receiver all day, and he never targeted a running back, either. Other than those four passes aimed at Brown, every one of Jackson's attempts targeted one of his tight ends, either Andrews (seven targets), Boyle (three) or Hayden Hurst (twice).

As BaltimoreRavens.com's John Eisenberg pointed out, the run-first Ravens have shot to the top of the league in offense with a passing game built around having three quality tight ends -- all of whom can get downfield, by the way, which is crucial. Jackson isn't dink-and-dunking it with them. He's using them to make big plays with his arm. Unconventional? Sure. One would think a productive passing game requires a variety of productive wide receivers.

But they're calling this Baltimore offense revolutionary for a reason. ...

With all the attention surrounding Jackson and the skill players (deservedly so), the offensive line has been a consistent force all season. There were questions and concerns about how the unit would fare heading into the year, but they put together another clean pocket for Jackson on Sunday.

Consistency is key, and Bradley Bozeman, Matt Skura, and Orlando Brown Jr. played 100 percent of the offensive snaps in the blowout win. Marshal Yanda is still blocking at an elite level at 35-years-old, and Ronnie Stanley is establishing himself as one of the league's best left tackles. ...

The Ravens made a handful of personnel moves on Tuesday, including the addition of veteran defensive tackle Justin Ellis. A piece among the Raiders' D-line rotation for six seasons, Ellis gives the Ravens an experienced midseason addition, given the injuries at that position. He was released by Oakland on Oct. 8. In corresponding moves, the Ravens cut CB Cyrus Jones and placed DL Daylon Mack on IR with a knee injury, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Pelissero also confirmed that the team will sign free agent nose tackle Domata Peko to a deal that will pay him $1 million for the rest of the season, per an informed source. Pelissero added that the veteran will get $700K guaranteed and can earn another $300K in incentives. Peko, 34, has racked up 585 total tackles, 20 sacks and 14 pass deflections in 201 career games (186 starts). ...

And finally. ... The Ravens had three Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield for an option play in the second quarter. Jackson (2016 winner) pitched it to Robert Griffin III (2011) for a 12-yard gain.

"That's the Heisman Package," said running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 winner. "Lamar can give me the ball or he can pull it and option with (Griffin)."

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

Buffalo Bills

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques pointed out, the "easy" part of the Buffalo Bills schedule has officially come to a screeching halt.

Buffalo allowed a 10-play, 82-yard drive in the waning minutes of Sunday's 19-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns to fall to 6-3. Even after Baker Mayfield's go-ahead touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins, Buffalo was in position to tie -- only to watch Stephen Hauschka's 53-yard field goal fall short of the uprights.

After entering the week as a clear front-runner for one of the AFC's two wild-card spots, the Bills' loss makes things interesting as the Colts, Raiders and Jaguars are now all within a game of Buffalo. The Bills play the Dolphins and Broncos in their next two games before facing a tough stretch against the Cowboys, Ravens and Patriots in a four-week span.

On Sunday, Buffalo's offense struggled from the start, the Bills defense made several big stops near the goal line but couldn't get the one it needed most and Hauschka missed two field goals.

With a long line of doubters questioning their best start since 1993 because of a soft schedule, the Bills (6-3) did nothing to dispel the idea that they're not playoff material.

"Obviously, we're disappointed with today," said Josh Allen, who had two rushing TDs. "We're going to learn from it. This one hurts because of the preparation that we had, I thought, was good enough. We had a really good week at practice. There were opportunities in that game where I have to be better. I have to put our offense in better situations, and I just didn't do that today."

As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers noted, Allen was OK, completing 22 of 41 passes for 266 yards and no turnovers.

But the Bills spun their wheels early on, running just seven plays and getting 12 yards in the first quarter.

"I thought we moved the ball at times, but again, we have to score more points," head coach Sean McDermott said. "However we do that -- running it, throwing it -- we have to be more of a threat to score points."

Despite their issues, the Bills, whose six wins had come against teams with a 9-42 record, still had a chance to tie it in the final minute.

The Bills got all they could have hoped from their defense.

During one stunning sequence in the first quarter, the Bills denied the Browns on eight consecutive plays, overcoming two pass interference calls that gave Cleveland automatic first downs at the 1.

It was two goal-line stands in one.

"I have been a part of some cool goal-line stands and some tough defenses, but I do not think I have ever gone a full two series on the two-yard line," said defensive end Trent Murphy. "That was awesome. I will remember that forever. I would have liked the outcome today to be different, but it is still a positive."

With their defense playing so well, the Bills seemed poised to move to 7-2 after Allen, who has six rushing TDs, sneaked in from the 1-yard line with 5:26 left.

But they couldn't close the deal.

A road to the playoffs still exists but it just got a lot more treacherous. ...

Other notes of interest. ... According to Louis-Jacques, Allen can no longer be described as "struggling" with his deep-ball accuracy; doing so implies that he's had at least minimal success.

Allen is instead failing with his deep-ball accuracy after missing on four such passes Sunday afternoon -- two of which won't count against the stat sheet thanks to a pair of Cleveland penalties. The second-year quarterback continues to shine with his intermediate throws but his inability to connect on a single pass beyond 30 yards this season has graduated from "troubling trend" to "crippling concern."

Nonetheless, John Brown has been a pretty special addition to the Bills throughout the first nine games. He quickly became Allen's favorite target and has proven to be more than a deep threat in Brian Daboll's offense.

On Sunday, Brown became the first Bill in franchise history to record four receptions and 50 yards receiving in nine straight games, passing Andre Reed's record of eight games in 1988-89. He's the first Bill to open the season with nine games of 50-plus receiving yards since Eric Moulds in 2002.

Brown wasn't the receiver on the play, but the Bills also surpassed 300,000 offensive scrimmage yards in franchise history. The milestone was reached on a seven-yard pass in the second quarter from Allen to Seth Roberts.

And while Allen didn't pass for a touchdown on Sunday, he finished with two rushing touchdowns. His career total is at 14 and ties Tyrod Taylor for second-most all time by a Bills quarterback. Only Jack Kemp (25) has tallied more.

Allen has now produced multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. His five-game streak is also the longest by a Bill in one season since Drew Bledsoe's five-game streak in 2002. ...

Devin Singletary wasn't nearly as involved with the Bills' offense as he was last week, when he turned in 140 total yards on 24 touches -- both career-highs. The rookie turned his first six carries of the game into 42 rushing yards but got two more carries the rest of the game. He's the best big-play threat the Bills have on offense, and it's difficult to fathom why Singletary didn't get more opportunities. ...

And finally. ... Stephen Hauschka is no longer performing to his "Haush-Money" reputation, and on the heels of signing a two-year contract extension in August. Hauschka missed both field-goal attempts against Cleveland, including a 53-yarder in the final seconds that went wide left. He's missed six consecutive attempts of 49 yards or longer going back to last season.

He also missed a 34-yarder against the Browns, marking the first time he's missed an attempt from inside 39 yards since 2016.

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

Carolina Panthers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's David Newton noted, the Panthers lost 24-16 to the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field, but showed they might have what it takes to remain a contender in the NFC playoff hunt for the duration.

And quarterback Kyle Allen, despite a costly interception, may have earned a little more respect by taking this one down to the final play inside the Green Bay 1.

The Panthers (5-4) were in position to potentially force overtime on the game's final play, a run by Christian McCaffrey that was stopped inches from the goal line, because of Allen.

Tight end Greg Olsen said Allen's performance, particularly in the fourth quarter, was as good as he has seen, considering the Panthers faced one of the NFL's best teams at one of the league's most historic stadiums while being blasted by snow and wind.

"What he did against that defense, against that front pinning their ears back, knowing we had to throw the ball. ... Was pretty incredible," said Olsen, who caught eight passes for 98 yards. "I thought what he did tonight overall and that fourth quarter was as impressive a quarterback display as I've ever seen."

Newton went on to remind readers that not many outside of NFL personnel directors and coaches knew who Allen was before the season. There still were skeptics after the second-year, undrafted quarterback threw three interceptions in a 51-13 loss against undefeated San Francisco after a 4-0 start this season and 5-0 start to his career.

Going toe-to-toe with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers on Rodgers' home turf showed that Allen belongs in the league. The 23-year-old might be the future franchise quarterback with uncertainty surrounding Newton, who is on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury as he heads into the final year of his contract (more on that below).

"I love his toughness, his mental toughness," head coach Ron Rivera said after the Panthers fell to 5-2 under Allen. "The young man is going to go out there and we're going to learn and we're going to grow with him.

"The young man has done a terrific job. Unfortunately, we just had a couple of bad things happen."

In the end, Allen did far more good things than bad. He completed 28 of 43 pass attempts for a career-high 307 yards and one touchdown. His passer rating of 84.2 was almost identical to the 84.4 from Rodgers, who completed 17 of 29 attempts for 233 yards and no touchdowns.

Along the way, Allen, whose record as the starter fell to 5-2 this season and 6-2 overall, showed the poise he lacked against the 49ers, the poise it will take down the stretch to remain a contender. Certainly, if the Panthers had any doubt whether Allen could lead them in big games, they ended on Sunday.

"We all have a lot of confidence in what Kyle can do," Olsen said. "We all know the circumstances that are in play. He's handled it incredibly well. His poise, his maturity, his performances. Tonight, it's hard to say we were amazing because we scored 16 points.

"[But] when you look at what he did specifically, leading our offense, [it] is really impressive."

Meanwhile, the schedule sets up nicely for Carolina.

The Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons (2-7) next week and then play the New Orleans Saints (7-2) before facing the Washington Redskins and the Falcons again -- both at home. Even if they lose at New Orleans, they should be able to win three of the next four games to get to 8-5.

Then it's a matter of winning two of their final three games: home against the Seattle Seahawks, at the Indianapolis Colts and home against the Saints.

They have a chance to get to 10-6, and they'll likely need to in order to reach the playoffs. ...

Other notes of interest. ... McCaffrey was noticeably distraught following the Panthers' loss on Sunday. The MVP candidate sat with his head in his hands in the locker room after he was stopped just short of the end zone as time expired.

A brief replay review upheld the call.

"I don't know. It's tough to see when my head's not facing straight," McCaffrey said of the final play. "You've just got to get in those situations and give ourselves a shot, and I didn't get it."

McCaffrey entered the day as the league leader in rushing yards per game, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. The third-year running back finished Sunday with a relatively quiet 108 yards and a score on 20 carries and 33 yards on six catches. It was his lowest output since Week 6 at Tampa.

Green Bay kept McCaffrey out of the end zone on the last two plays of the Panthers' final drive. Outside of an 18-yard run and an 11-yard reception, McCaffrey was limited to small gains and had to work for every yard.

McCaffrey is no longer dominating the field. He ended the night tied with Packers running back Aaron Jones in both total touchdowns (14) and rushing touchdowns (11).

"We all know that Christian is a very talented player, and he's been mentioned in the MVP race. So maybe it's time to start talking about Aaron Jones," Rodgers said.

McCaffrey has to quickly put Sunday night behind him with a matchup against division-rival Atlanta next week.

"You've just got to move on, you've got to get better this week," he said. ...

McCaffrey played 100 percent of the snaps for the first time since Week 4. D.J. Moore also played 100 percent of the offensive snaps as well as four special teams snaps. He caught nine of 11 passes thrown his way for 120 yards on Sunday against the Packers, including a clutch catch on fourth down on the team's final drive. He also had three fair catches on four punt returns.

As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed suggested, Moore is developing into the No. 1 wide receiver the Panthers have hoped for when they selected him in the first round in 2018. Moore has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. ...

In case you missed it over the weekend, before Newton was placed on injured reserve, he sought several opinions from various experts. The visit to Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay sealed it -- he would put off surgery and try to rehab and heal over a matter of weeks.

This week, however, that situation may have changed.

Almost certainly out for the season, Newton is now considering surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury in his foot, sources tell NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The procedure, which would come in the next week or two, has a recovery time of eight-to-10 weeks -- three months at the most.

Conceivably, Newton's ligaments in his foot would be healthy and repaired by March, when his future will be decided. The original plan was to wait and rehab, with the hope being that in a matter of weeks he could return. When he was placed on IR, which he understood, the focus shifted to the future.

Newton wants to continue playing, a source told Rapoport, despite the various injuries that have severely limited him the last two seasons. While the team won't publicly or privately address what happens next with Newton, it remains highly unlikely that he'll be with the Panthers in 2020.

Due $18.6 million in 2020, along with a $2 million option bonus, Newton is quite tradeable, similar to Joe Flacco last year. That seems to be the most likely option.

Allen also has a fascinating contract situation. In his second year, Allen just has one accrued season because he spent most of last season on the practice squad. That means he was cut off his rookie contract. Because of that, he's a rare starting QB who can be extended at any point. In fact, if Carolina wanted, it could extend Allen this offseason -- a year earlier than all other players who came out in 2018.

If he's not extended, he's an incredible bargain for the Panthers. Making $495,000 this year, he's going to be an exclusive rights free agent in 2020 and 2021, then restricted in 2022.

Whatever the case, plenty of decisions await Carolina this offseason.

And finally. ... The Bears cut running back Mike Davis on Saturday in a move that helps them net a fourth-round compensatory draft pick in 2020 and the veteran didn't have to wait long to find a new team.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers have claimed Davis off of waivers. There's no word on a corresponding move.

Davis signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Bears as a free agent, but quickly became an afterthought on offense. Davis ran 11 times for 25 yards and caught seven passes for 22 yards in seven games with the Bears.

The Panthers haven't had much use for running backs not named McCaffrey this season. Reggie Bonnafon has 11 carries while Alex Armah and Jordan Scarlett have each carried the ball four times while McCaffrey has run 185 times.

Davis's arrival may not change the usage patterns in Carolina, but he does give the team a more experienced alternative to McCaffrey for the coming weeks.

To create an open roster spot for Davis, Carolina waived rookie returner Greg Dortch, who was signed off the New York Jets practice squad a couple weeks ago. Dortch appeared in one game for the Panthers. He was inactive this past Sunday against Green Bay.

The Panthers opted to use wide receiver DeAndrew White on kick returns and Moore on punt returns versus the Packers.

Carolina also cut guard Bryan Witzmann, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

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: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Greg Olsen

Chicago Bears

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

Much-maligned Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky broke out of a season-long slump and fired three touchdown passes in Chicago's 20-13 victory over the Detroit Lions.

According to ChicagoBears.com's Nathan Smith, Trubisky threw his first non-garbage time touchdown since mid-September, then went back for more in the next two drives.

As ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson noted, Trubisky's three touchdown throws occurred over the span of five attempts. Prior to that, Trubisky had two touchdown passes in his previous 134 attempts, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

After another shaky start in which the Bears' offense picked up just one first down in the first quarter, Trubisky finally got the team going when he lofted a perfectly thrown 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Braunecker right before halftime.

Trubisky later completed touchdown passes to running back Tarik Cohen and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (from 24 yards).

Cohen credited the Braunecker catch for igniting the offense, which entered the third quarter receiving the ball and repeating the efficiency of the previous drive. From nine yards out, Trubisky found Cohen in the flat, allowing the running back to race down the sideline for a second score.

"The coaches schemed up," said Cohen, "and we know they play a lot of man. Everybody executed on what the play was supposed to be, and it happened."

Gabriel said that the Bears had run the same play in practice all week to great success, though the Lions came out with different coverage than expected. When Gabriel broke free, he could feel the touchdown coming.

"Like, man, where's the ball?" said Gabriel. "You see the ball in there. You just want to make a big play for your guys. At the end of the day, the quarterback made an amazing throw."

"I feel like that was a glimpse of how this offense can be," Trubisky said. "When all 11 guys are on the same page, the receivers are getting open, the offensive line is blocking really well, we are able to make plays and stay on the field. It wasn't pretty. It was a tough, hard-fought battle. I'm proud of the way we stuck together and handled all this adversity."

The 25-year-old quarterback finished the game 16-of-23 for 173 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 131.0.

"Making those touchdown throws gives you confidence," Trubisky said. "It's a signal to your teammates that you can do the job. That's what I expect out of myself. When everyone is doing their jobs on offense, I need to be doing mine as well. It just feels good to win."

The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft, Trubisky has been under heavy scrutiny most of the year. He entered Week 10 with only 1,217 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. A formidable runner in each of the past two seasons, Trubisky had carried the ball just 11 times for 46 yards while taking 17 sacks.

Trubisky's 34.8 QBR ranked 30th among qualified quarterbacks.

Chicago's offense managed 9 total net yards in the first half of last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and did not record a first down until under a minute left until halftime. It has ranked near the bottom of most statistical categories throughout 2019.

On Sunday, the Bears' offense sputtered for most of the opening 30 minutes but sprang to life in the third quarter courtesy of Trubisky, who had his second three-touchdown performance of the season.

David Montgomery rushed for a team-leading 60 yards on 17 carries, while Allen Robinson caught a team-high six passes for 86 yards.

"I just sat back," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "Just to be able to watch the guys (in the postgame celebration). ... They ended up doing some one-on-one dancing, which is pretty neat. It's exciting. We enjoy it. It brings you together."

Nagy credited Trubisky with mental fortitude and refusing to let the early struggles swallow the offense.

After going through TV footage with Nagy two weeks ago to analyze his body language, Trubisky seems to have taken to heart the sentiment that the team will follow his lead, for better or worse.

"I think the guys feed off how I react," said Trubisky, "my body demeanor and everything like that, and just communicating on the sidelines. Letting the guys know we're close."

While Trubisky looks to lead, he found strength in the team's reconfigured offensive line, which switched Cody Whitehair to center and James Daniels to guard. Whitehair built a strong relationship with Trubisky as the Bears' center for the past two seasons, and his return to the position, while showing some rust, helped Trubisky settle in.

"He's really good with communicating," said Trubisky, "helping those young guys to the sides of him now, and we have really good chemistry, me and him. So, he gives me confidence, and we've just got to keep feeding off that."

All parties noted that the Bears still have much to prove and little room for error in the next seven weeks. The offense trailed off in the fourth quarter, and those 173 passing yards were hardly world shattering.

In addition, the way the Bears open games on offense has to improve if they're going to make a run in the season's second half. They have scored only one touchdown on an opening drive in nine games and have had three-and-outs to open three of their last four games. They haven't had the ball for more than four plays on opening possessions to start any of the four games.

"It goes back to right now we got to be better on the opening drive," Nagy said. "We're not as good there, and we need to be better."

Still, the Trubisky and the Bears were able to walk off the field Sunday as winners. That's a start.

The Bears (4-5) travel to Los Angeles next week for a prime-time game against the Rams.

Also of interest. ... The Bears used the 44th overall choice on tight end Adam Shaheen in 2017. As Profootballtalk.com's Charean Williams reminded readers, they selected Shaheen before Joe Mixon, Cooper Kupp, Alvin Kamara, JuJu Smith-Schuster and George Kittle were selected.

Shaheen has started only 13 games and made only 26 catches for 249 yards and four touchdowns.

On Sunday, the Bears made Shaheen a healthy scratch.

"We want all of our players to be able to be completely detailed and play hard and do everything they can to be the best player they can be," Nagy explained Monday, mincing no words, via Arthur Arkush of Pro Football Weekly.

Nagy would not commit to Shaheen's return to the lineup.

"We're still working through all of that," he said.

The Bears used Braunecker, Trey Burton, who is injured and primary fullback J.P. Holtz as their tight ends Sunday.

Braunecker first career TD was the only reception by a Bears tight end against the Lions.

Braunecker played 12 snaps, Holtz 19 and Burton 20.

Burton injured his calf late in last Sunday's win against the Lions. Burton finished the game with zero catches on one target. For the year, Burton has 14 receptions for 84 yards. The Bears are paying him $6.8 million in 2019.

The Bears did not give any more details regarding Burton's injury on Monday, but he did not practice Wednesday while Montgomery (ankle) was limited; I'll follow up on both via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel
RBs: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen
WRs: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Taylor Gabriel
TEs: Jesper Horsted, J.P. Holtz, Bradley Sowell, Eric Saubert, Ben Braunecker, Trey Burton

Cincinnati Bengals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Kay framed it, "So much for thinking a different quarterback could make a difference."

The Bengals gave rookie Ryan Finley his debut and finally got their running game going in front of another sparse crowd at Paul Brown Stadium. The outcome? Pretty much the same.

Ravens 49, Bengals 13.

Cincinnati remains the NFL's only winless team after another game of offensive ineptitude and defensive breakdowns. Lamar Jackson threw for three touchdowns and ran 47 yards for another score as the Ravens jumped on the 0-9 Bengals early and coasted.

Now what?

"There's a ton to work on," Finley said.

True. And it goes way beyond the guy taking the snaps.

The Ravens piled up 230 yards on their first three drives, all ending in touchdowns.

"That's a really powerful offense right now that many teams haves shown no solution to stopping," head coach Zac Taylor said.

And then there's Finley.

The Bengals benched Andy Dalton during their bye to give the fourth-round pick a chance to audition for the starting job next season. Finley hadn't played since the preseason, when he faced opponents' backups. He hadn't worked out much with the starting offense until last week.

And he had the same challenges as Dalton, missing top receivers A.J. Green and John Ross.

The Bengals took some of the pressure off Finley by giving the ball to running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon cleared the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since 2018. He had a career-high 30 carries for 114 yards, with a decent chunk of that coming as the Bengals tried to bleed the clock in the fourth quarter. But even at the beginning of the game, Mixon was effective and found small openings to pick up modest gains.

Beyond that, running hard in an out-of-hand game, Mixon showed what he can do when given some room. The Bengals used more toss plays to get him on the perimeter with some space to run.

It's a bright spot for a Bengals rushing offense that entered Week 10 as the worst in the NFL, but it didn't much matter as Finley had two turnovers that gave the Ravens touchdowns.

Marcus Peters read the rookie's eyes and stepped in front of a sideline pass, returning the interception 89 yards for a touchdown. Tyus Bowser returned Finley's fumble 33 yards for another score.

The interception by Peters came on a throw to Alex Erickson that was slightly off, allowing the cornerback to step in front cleanly for the interception.

"He just jumped it," Finley said. "He gambles, and he gambled right. It was just a bad throw."

Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, the one interception and a pair of sacks. He also scrambled five times for 22 yards. Taylor plans to keep him in the starter's role as the Bengals decide whether to take a quarterback in the first round of the draft next year.

"All I can do is play my best, and give energy and give juice, and go help this team win its first game," Finley said. "So that's the plan."

As ESPN.com's Ben Bay suggested, Finley isn't competing against anyone on Cincinnati's roster to be Dalton's successor as the Bengals' top quarterback. He will likely have to fend off Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or LSU's Joe Burrow, two potential options who could be on the board when the Bengals make their first pick.

Looking good against the AFC North leaders was always going to be a tough task for Finley, especially given the Bengals' current state. Cincinnati has struggled to defend the pass rush all season, and minus two of their top receivers.

Because Taylor and the Bengals made the switch early, Finley will have more opportunities to prove he should be the starter in 2020 and beyond.

But to do that, he has to have better performances than Sunday's outing against the Ravens.

The loss was the Bengals' 11th in a row from the end of last season, matching the longest losing streak in club history over two seasons. They're one loss shy of tying the club record for worst start and longest losing streak in one season.

Asked to describe the feeling, receiver Tyler Boyd declined.

"I can't even, because I've never experienced this before," Boyd said. "I've never been on a winless team up until this point."

Also of interest. ... In case you missed it over the weekend, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Green, who was on the field for a rehab workout in advance of Sunday's game, isn't in danger of having his season end early.

Pelissero's understanding is they'll reassess Green this coming week and there's no plan to shut him down as of now.

For what it's worth, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Green is said to be extremely frustrated he can't play today.

On Monday, Taylor told reporters Green is "day-to-day" and will see if he can run on Wednesday. The coach was hesitant to say anything definitively after what happened last week, when Taylor said Green would play only to have swelling in that surgically-repaired ankle apparently sideline him.

Green did not practice Wednesday; I'll have more on Green via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...

The Bengals announced on Wednesday that Ross has been cleared to practice after recovering from the shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve in early October. As a result, Ross has been designated to return from injured reserve.

Ross will be eligible to play against the Browns in Week 14. He’s the first of two players the Bengals are permitted to bring back from injured reserve this season. ...

Rookie Drew Sample suffered a high-ankle sprain during the loss to the Ravens, tests showed. According to Rapoport, Sample will have more done to determine how much time he'll miss, but the second-rounder is considered a candidate for injured reserve.

And finally. ... In March the Bengals re-signed linebacker Preston Brown to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. That did not go well.

Tuesday the Bengals released Brown, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported.

Brown will end up counting more than $6 million against the Bengals' salary cap after playing half a season. Brown was a starter all season until Sunday, when he came off the bench for the first time all season, and played more on special teams than on defense. Clearly, he wasn't meeting expectations.

Brown will now go on waivers, where he's available to any team that wants to pick up the balance of his 2019 base salary, which is about $400,000.

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

Cleveland Browns

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

When Kareem Hunt arrived for his first game in nearly a year, an unexpected gift was waiting for him.

Sitting on the top shelf of his locker was a rock. Browns general manager John Dorsey left it and delivered Hunt a message.

"Always stay solid," Hunt said, holding the large stone in his hand. "You've got to be solid as a rock."

Hunt returned to football on Sunday, playing in an NFL game for the first time since he was suspended for eight games by the league following two violent, off-field altercations, one in which he shoved and kicked a woman during an argument.

The 24-year-old Hunt, who was released on Nov. 30 by the Kansas City Chiefs, had 30 yards rushing and 44 yards receiving as Cleveland snapped a four-game losing streak with a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.

It was an emotional comeback for Hunt, a Cleveland native who often imagined playing for the Browns as he drove past FirstEnergy Stadium along Lake Erie's south shore.

"It was a dream always driving down 90, seeing the stadium right along the water," he said. "I would be like, 'Wow, that's a big stadium, way bigger than Willoughby South (his high school). I'd love to play in that' and honestly it's a dream come true to be able to play for my hometown and be able to be home."

The Browns took a chance in signing Hunt, who won the league rushing title as a rookie in 2017 before his troubling actions careened his career off course. Dorsey drafted Hunt out of Toledo while he was the Chiefs GM and felt compelled to offer him redemption.

With Hunt on the field, the Browns are better. It's up to him to stay there.

Following his first game since Nov. 19 with Kansas City, Hunt said he felt grateful to be getting back to one of his passions.

"Honestly, there's not enough words to describe how I felt," he said. "It was so emotional. Sometimes I was thankful, sad. A couple of times I thought I was going to shed a few (tears). It felt so good to be back out there. This is what I love to do. I couldn't be happier to be home, too. It felt good. My first real game playing for the Cleveland Browns we got a 'W' so I'm happy."

As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter noted, the Browns were able to utilize Nick Chubb and Hunt out of two-back sets, answering questions about whether Cleveland would be able to play two of its top playmakers at the same time in Hunt's season debut.

Chubb, who played 80.3 percent of Cleveland's offensive snaps, finished with 116 yards on 20 carries, including a 24-yard yard gain with Hunt as a lead blocker.

Hunt, who was on the field for 57.6 percent of the Browns' snaps, was especially effective lining up at receiver with seven catches for 44 yards.

Chubb came into the weekend second in the NFL, averaging more than 100 rushing yards per game. Hunt was the 2017 NFL rushing champ.

Together, they provide Cleveland with a different and potent dimension offensively, although it's going to create a dicier-than-hoped for situation for Chubb owners. ...

In a related note. ... Chubb's 919 yards rushing through nine games are the most by a Cleveland player not named Jim Brown. The Hall of Famer and NFL legend owns the top five spots on the list, including a franchise-record 1,293 yards in 1963.

Chubb has four 100-yard rushing games this season, giving him nine in two years. ...

Beyond the backfield, Cleveland's season, more specifically its playoff hopes, would've been over with a loss. Despite how ugly the game was at times, Baker Mayfield & Co. made the plays offensively down the stretch and the defense came up with the final stop to secure a win this franchise badly needed.

This week, the Browns face another major test for their offense when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Antonio Callaway was a late healthy scratch Sunday for reasons head coach Freddie Kitchens declined to disclose. But Callaway's scratch allowed his replacement in the lineup, Rashard Higgins, to come through with the game-winning touchdown grab, which lifted Cleveland to a 19-16 victory over Buffalo on Sunday.

Callaway, who was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, was seen warming up with the other Cleveland receivers pregame. But after he was declared inactive, Callaway changed clothes and was spotted being escorted to watch the game from elsewhere in FirstEnergy Stadium.

"He was going to be part of the game plan," Mayfield admitted afterward. "But things happen."

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that Callaway was left out of the lineup because he was "a few minutes late" to the game after parking in a different parking lot than he'd used in the past.

Kitchens didn't confirm that particular sequence of events on Monday, but didn't deny he was sending a message to the wideout.

"I don't know if he got the message or not, but I'm not wavering," Kitchens said on a conference call.

Kitchens also said that the decision to bench Callaway was a one-game thing. ...

With Callaway out, the Browns activated receiver Damion Ratley instead and inserted both Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge into the role of No. 3 wide receiver, alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Mayfield targeted Higgins only once the entire game. That proved to be the touchdown catch with 1:48 remaining.

Mayfield had his second straight solid game, completing 26 of 38 passes for 238 yards and two TDs. He didn't throw an interception for the second week in a row.

On the injury front. ... Ricky Seals-Jones (knee) was listed as a limited participant in practice Monday.

As Rotoworld.com notes, Demetrius Harris worked as the offense's featured TE with Seals-Jones sidelined against the Bills, catching both of his targets for 28 yards.

Beckham (groin) and Landry (hip) continued to work fully despite their ongoing issues.

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said earlier this week that he was hopeful that defensive end Olivier Vernon would wake up feeling well enough to play against the Steelers on Thursday night, but that hope has evaporated.

The Browns released their final injury report before Thursday’s game and Vernon has been ruled out for the second straight week. Vernon is dealing with a knee injury. Chad Thomas saw an uptick in playing time against Buffalo last week and will likely be in line for a similar workload against Pittsburgh.

Cleveland also ruled out safety Eric Murray. Like Vernon, Murray is dealing with a knee injury that kept him from playing last Sunday.

Ricky Seals-Jones (knee) is listed as questionable after going from limited to full practice participation on Wednesday. Tackle Kendall Lamm (knee) drew the same listing.

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

Dallas Cowboys

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Stephen Hawkins noted, the Cowboys kept force-feeding the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott while trying to make a late comeback.

Once a fourth-down pass to Elliott in the final minute fell incomplete, after he lost 3 yards and was stuffed for no gain on the previous two plays, the Cowboys were no longer alone atop the NFC East. They had again lost to another playoff-contending team.

After recovering from an early two-touchdown deficit to even have a chance, the Cowboys lost 28-24 on Sunday night to the Minnesota Vikings and their former defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer.

"Make no mistake about it, Zim and the Vikings had everything to say about this tonight," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

"I'm concerned just because we played a good team tonight. It would have been a big win for us. Even though we're at home, it could have been a big win for us to get this win," Jones said. "But we were short, and that means we've got a bigger challenge these next seven ballgames."

The Cowboys (5-4) fell back into a tie for the division lead with Philadelphia (5-4). The Eagles have won their last two games since losing at Dallas in another Sunday night game three weeks ago.

While Dak Prescott and Co. began the season with huge expectations, they are certainly making things harder on themselves.

They have lost their games played against other playoff contenders -- New Orleans and Green Bay before the Vikings (7-3), who are a game behind the Packers in the NFC North. There is also that unexplainable loss at the then-winless New York Jets in Week 6.

If the regular season ended now, the Cowboys would be in the playoffs only because of that win over the Eagles and be the only NFC East team still playing. Dallas' chance at making the postseason could come down to which of those teams wins the division -- they meet again in the second-to-last game of the season in Philadelphia.

Aside from the Eagles, the other four wins for Dallas are against teams with two wins or less.

The Cowboys play three of their next four games on the road. They go to Detroit and New England before playoff-contending Buffalo visits on Thanksgiving Day.

While Prescott threw for 397 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb both having 100-yard receiving games, the Vikings clearly had a different defensive plan.

"Just basically could have put a sign on the start of the game that said Zeke's not going anywhere," Jones said. "And that was the story of the game."

After three 100-yard rushing games, Elliott was limited to 47 yards on 20 carries -- a 2.4-yard average with a long of only 6 yards. He caught two passes for only 16 yards. The Cowboys had only 50 yards rushing.

"It's definitely frustrating, but they're a pro team too," Elliott said. "They did a good job bottling up the run."

As for any frustration about the Cowboys losing to another potential playoff team, Elliott flatly said there was none.

"Because I know what type of team we have. We have a lot of talent in this locker room. We could be a really good team," Elliott said. "We've just got to make sure that we go out and put that on the field. Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of football left. A lot of football left. A lot of time to get better. You definitely don't want to be peaking right now, so I mean, we've just got to get back to work and keep grinding."

The Cowboys' season is approaching a “should have and could have” situation. They have lost key NFC games to the Saints, Green Bay Packers and now Vikings.

"We're a confident team. We're not going to let anybody outside of that locker room get in between us," Prescott said. "We're going to stay close together. We're going to just keep working, put our head down and do exactly that. We still control our own destiny. As long as we can do that, we can't ask for anything more. ..."

The Cowboys travel to Detroit next Sunday. ...

Worth noting. ... Cooper had the most circus catches on a night full of them for both teams, including a toe-tapping TD for Dallas' only lead in the third quarter.

Earlier, with the Cowboys trailing 14-0, Cooper kick-started their first TD drive with a heel-dragging catch on third-and-12, followed two plays later by Michael Gallup's 23-yard scoring grab.

Then the player Dallas gave up a first-round pick for at midseason last year had two toe-dragging catches in a row, the second a 12-yard touchdown that put the Cowboys in front for the first time 21-20 in the third quarter. Cooper had 11 catches for 147 yards, giving him more than 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in five home games

But his sideline heroics are nothing short of remarkable.

According to NextGen Stats, that touchdown had .17 yards of sideline distance, a 13-yarder had minus-.58 yards of sideline distance and a 20-yarder in the second quarter had minus-.33 yards of sideline space. None of the receptions had better than a 29.9 percent completion probability.

Jones described Cooper's sideline work as, "brilliant."

How does Cooper describe his sideline work?

"I mean it's just an awareness," he said. "You have to know where you are on the field. As far as the difficulty level, you just have to try to keep your feet down. A lot of times I've been in that situation before and my feet would come up. Just have to try to keep your feet down."

Jason Witten said Cooper is becoming close to unguardable. The sideline is one reason why. ...

Prescott nearly had 400 yards passing in a loss for the second time this season, finishing with 397 yards and three touchdowns while his only interception was on a desperation heave into the end zone on the final play.

The 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year entered Monday second to Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers in yards passing with 2,777, tied for third in TD passes with 18 and seventh in completion percentage (68.3). ...

On the injury front. ... Connor Williams will have surgery on his knee Tuesday but the hope is he will be able to return after a few weeks. Xavier Su'a-Filo will likely move into the left guard role, which is how the Cowboys handled Williams' absence last year because of a knee scope. ...

Cooper (knee, ankle) did not practice Wednesday, by the way; I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

And finally. ... First-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will have to answer for the play-calling with a second-and-2 at the Minnesota 11-yard line in the final two minutes when a touchdown would have given the Cowboys the lead.

As noted above, on a night when Prescott and several of his receivers were hot while the two-time rushing champion Elliott was held to a 2.4-yard average (20 carries for 47 yards), Elliott got the ball on consecutive running plays. The first was stopped for no gain, the second for minus-3 yards. Dallas tried him again on a passing play on fourth-and-5. It was broken up.

"I'm not going to question the play-calling," Prescott said. "There were opportunities. We just have to do a better job at executing those plays."

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 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Pat Graham noted, Brandon Allen's first start for the Denver Broncos nearly rivaled that of Peyton Manning.

It was that efficient. It was that precise.

It may not matter.

The fourth-year quarterback might be only a temporary fix. Allen is caught between the brief Joe Flacco Era and the possible Drew Lock Experiment.

As the Broncos (3-6) returned after the bye week, Lock practiced Tuesday. The Broncos have 21 days to add him to their active roster.

All signs point toward Allen starting at Minnesota on Nov. 17, especially after he threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-19 win over a reeling Cleveland squad.

Allen posted a passer rating of 125.6 in that game, which was the third-best for a Broncos quarterback making his first start with the team. Only Manning (129.2) and Brock Osweiler (127.1) were better.

Allen understands the situation. He's rolling with it.

Then again, he's learned the art of patience since being a sixth-round selection by Jacksonville and then getting cut by the Jaguars. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Rams, who ended up waiving him, and finally arrived in Denver on Sept. 1.

"I take everything one day at a time," said Allen, who made his first start since guiding Arkansas past Kansas State 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2, 2016. "Obviously, we've got a lot of great talent at quarterback on this team. Whatever opportunities I get, I'm going to try to take advantage."

Allen earned his chance to start when Flacco went on IR with a herniated disk in his neck after a loss at Indianapolis.

Backing up Allen for now is undrafted rookie Brett Rypien, who was promoted from the practice squad.

That will change this week. Lock, the second-round pick out of Missouri, figures to occupy some sort of spot in the QB hierarchy.

The Broncos aren't tipping their hand, though.

"Still up in the air," first-year Broncos coach Vic Fangio said.

One player the Broncos did bring back from IR the week before the bye was wide receiver Tim Patrick (hand), and Fangio said a decision will be made by week's end whether to activate him.

The Broncos don't really have a blueprint for Lock over the next few weeks.

"No, it's not mapped because it's going to be determined by how he looks and what we think," Fangio said.

What exactly will convince the Broncos that he's ready is also nebulous.

"Good quarterback play and that he belongs," Fangio said.

Of course, Allen's play will also play a role in any decision on Lock.

"That's part of the equation, also," Fangio said.

What isn't a factor is the team's playoff prospects.

"Our whole focus is on trying to get to 4-6," Fangio said. "As bad as that sounds, we're trying to win the game we play this week. Whether that includes or doesn't include Drew down the road remains to be seen."

Denver remains haunted by an offensive line that's allowed 30 sacks (one was on punter Colby Wadman when he attempted a failed fake). And one of the biggest distresses has been the play of left tackle Garett Bolles, the 2017 first-round pick whose number frequently gets called by officials for holding.

"I think Garett kind of plays with more confidence than you think and maybe that is warranted," Fangio said. "It's our job to maximize and make sure we're doing everything possible to develop him. If the guy has talent, we want to maximize every opportunity to develop it."

There's no real contingent plan for Bolles considering the injury to right tackle Ja'Wuan James (knee), who's given Denver only a handful of snaps for the $32 million in guarantees he signed for.

The shaky line could be a factor why offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello was so conservative with his play-calling early in the season. Flacco called out the rookie coordinator, although not by name, after a loss in Indy when the team took a cautious approach in the latter stages.

With a more mobile Allen running the show last weekend, Scangarello opened up the playbook. He broke out all the modernized elements expected of him since he arrived from San Francisco, even using tailback Phillip Lindsay in the wildcat formation to pick up a first down to close out the win.

What's more, Scangarello got the younger players involved -- rookie tight end Noah Fant had a 75-yard score and Courtland Sutton caught a leaping TD pass over a Browns defensive back.

It was that sort of day.

"We need it to be a weekly thing for all of them," Fangio said.

The Broncos' defense has been dependable for the most part. Denver is currently ranked fourth in total defense.

Still, Fangio, who oversees the defense, believes there's another level for a unit that's missing Bradley Chubb (torn ACL) and cornerback Bryce Callahan, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal in free agency, only to reinjure his surgically repaired foot in July.

And while teams have double-teamed pass rusher extraordinaire Von Miller -- he has four sacks -- it's led to opportunities for Derek Wolfe (five sacks) and DeMarcus Walker (four sacks).

"There's no quit in this locker room," linebacker Todd Davis said. "We know what type of team we can be."

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

Detroit Lions

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Kay framed it, "So much for thinking a different quarterback could make a difference."

The Bengals gave rookie Ryan Finley his debut and finally got their running game going in front of another sparse crowd at Paul Brown Stadium. The outcome? Pretty much the same.

Ravens 49, Bengals 13.

Cincinnati remains the NFL's only winless team after another game of offensive ineptitude and defensive breakdowns. Lamar Jackson threw for three touchdowns and ran 47 yards for another score as the Ravens jumped on the 0-9 Bengals early and coasted.

Now what?

"There's a ton to work on," Finley said.

True. And it goes way beyond the guy taking the snaps.

The Ravens piled up 230 yards on their first three drives, all ending in touchdowns.

"That's a really powerful offense right now that many teams haves shown no solution to stopping," head coach Zac Taylor said.

And then there's Finley.

The Bengals benched Andy Dalton during their bye to give the fourth-round pick a chance to audition for the starting job next season. Finley hadn't played since the preseason, when he faced opponents' backups. He hadn't worked out much with the starting offense until last week.

And he had the same challenges as Dalton, missing top receivers A.J. Green and John Ross.

The Bengals took some of the pressure off Finley by giving the ball to running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon cleared the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since 2018. He had a career-high 30 carries for 114 yards, with a decent chunk of that coming as the Bengals tried to bleed the clock in the fourth quarter. But even at the beginning of the game, Mixon was effective and found small openings to pick up modest gains.

Beyond that, running hard in an out-of-hand game, Mixon showed what he can do when given some room. The Bengals used more toss plays to get him on the perimeter with some space to run.

It's a bright spot for a Bengals rushing offense that entered Week 10 as the worst in the NFL, but it didn't much matter as Finley had two turnovers that gave the Ravens touchdowns.

Marcus Peters read the rookie's eyes and stepped in front of a sideline pass, returning the interception 89 yards for a touchdown. Tyus Bowser returned Finley's fumble 33 yards for another score.

The interception by Peters came on a throw to Alex Erickson that was slightly off, allowing the cornerback to step in front cleanly for the interception.

"He just jumped it," Finley said. "He gambles, and he gambled right. It was just a bad throw."

Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, the one interception and a pair of sacks. He also scrambled five times for 22 yards. Taylor plans to keep him in the starter's role as the Bengals decide whether to take a quarterback in the first round of the draft next year.

"All I can do is play my best, and give energy and give juice, and go help this team win its first game," Finley said. "So that's the plan."

As ESPN.com's Ben Bay suggested, Finley isn't competing against anyone on Cincinnati's roster to be Dalton's successor as the Bengals' top quarterback. He will likely have to fend off Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or LSU's Joe Burrow, two potential options who could be on the board when the Bengals make their first pick.

Looking good against the AFC North leaders was always going to be a tough task for Finley, especially given the Bengals' current state. Cincinnati has struggled to defend the pass rush all season, and minus two of their top receivers.

Because Taylor and the Bengals made the switch early, Finley will have more opportunities to prove he should be the starter in 2020 and beyond.

But to do that, he has to have better performances than Sunday's outing against the Ravens.

The loss was the Bengals' 11th in a row from the end of last season, matching the longest losing streak in club history over two seasons. They're one loss shy of tying the club record for worst start and longest losing streak in one season.

Asked to describe the feeling, receiver Tyler Boyd declined.

"I can't even, because I've never experienced this before," Boyd said. "I've never been on a winless team up until this point."

Also of interest. ... In case you missed it over the weekend, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Green, who was on the field for a rehab workout in advance of Sunday's game, isn't in danger of having his season end early.

Pelissero's understanding is they'll reassess Green this coming week and there's no plan to shut him down as of now.

For what it's worth, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Green is said to be extremely frustrated he can't play today.

On Monday, Taylor told reporters Green is "day-to-day" and will see if he can run on Wednesday. The coach was hesitant to say anything definitively after what happened last week, when Taylor said Green would play only to have swelling in that surgically-repaired ankle apparently sideline him.

Green did not practice Wednesday; Erickson (back) was also held out. ... I'll have more on both via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...

The Bengals announced on Wednesday that Ross has been cleared to practice after recovering from the shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve in early October. As a result, Ross has been designated to return from injured reserve.

Ross will be eligible to play against the Browns in Week 14. He’s the first of two players the Bengals are permitted to bring back from injured reserve this season. ...
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Rookie Drew Sample suffered a high-ankle sprain during the loss to the Ravens, tests showed. According to Rapoport, Sample will have more done to determine how much time he'll miss, but the second-rounder is considered a candidate for injured reserve.

And finally. ... In March the Bengals re-signed linebacker Preston Brown to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. That did not go well.

Tuesday the Bengals released Brown, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported.

Brown will end up counting more than $6 million against the Bengals' salary cap after playing half a season. Brown was a starter all season until Sunday, when he came off the bench for the first time all season, and played more on special teams than on defense. Clearly, he wasn't meeting expectations.

Brown will now go on waivers, where he's available to any team that wants to pick up the balance of his 2019 base salary, which is about $400,000.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: David Blough, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Sloter
RBs: Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic, Paul Perkins, Kerryon 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 12 November 2019

As the Associated Press framed it, "A matchup featuring two MVP candidates turned into a stage for a third player to make his case to be included in the MVP conversation. ..."

Preston Smith and Green Bay's defense stopped MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey at the goal line as time expired and the Packers defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-16 on a snowy Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Jones scored three rushing touchdowns for the second time this season to lead Green Bay (8-2), which improved to 5-2 all-time against the Panthers at home. Jones is the first Packers player since Sterling Sharpe in 1994 with multiple three-touchdown games in a season. Jones is also the first Green Bay running back since Jim Taylor in 1962 with multiple three-touchdown games in a season. Taylor did it three times that year.

"We all know that Christian is a very talented player, and he's been mentioned in the MVP race. So maybe it's time to start talking about Aaron Jones," Aaron Rodgers said.

Rodgers was held out of the end zone, but the two-time MVP completed 17 of 29 passes for 233 yards, including 118 yards to Davante Adams.

"I'm just glad I could help my team get the win. It all starts up front with those guys getting the push up front and the rest of the blocking unit," said Jones, who has a career-high 11 scores on the ground this season.

All three of Jones' scores on Sunday came on the ground, giving him 11 rushing touchdowns on the season.

The Packers not only found a mix between Jones and Jamaal Williams -- the two combined for 156 yards rushing -- but also enough targets for Pro Bowl receiver Adams to make a difference. He went over the 100-yard receiving mark late in the third quarter when his 38-yard deep ball got the Packers out of a second-and-26 from their 9-yard line.

All in all, it gave the Packers (8-2) a bounce-back win heading into their bye week.

There are plenty of positives here, but chief among them, Adams looked more like himself Sunday. He said he felt more like himself, too.

Adams caught seven passes for 118 yards. It was his second-best game of the season and his best game since returning from turf toe.

Adams said he will stay in Green Bay during the team's off week to continue treatment on his right big toe.

Adams said he still has some soreness, but it is much better than it was.

"It's 3 million percent better," Adams said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

Adams played 45 snaps in Week Nine and 54 on Sunday after missing four games with his injury.

Adams still has yet to score this season.

Still, with Adams now back in the fold, someone's numbers were going to take a dip. That someone is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The second-year speedy receiver has been shut out completely in each of the past two games after hauling in 133 yards and a touchdown in Week 7.

"No. 1, he has battled through a little bit of an injury (knee, ankle), which definitely has slowed him down," head coach Matt LaFleur said of the 6-4 wideout. "But I also think we gotta look critically at ourselves and what we're asking him to do and making sure we're putting him in position to get some of those balls because he does have a great talent."

The overall offensive line play has been solid.

Other than the breakdown on the final play of the first half, the Packers controlled the line of scrimmage. They averaged 3.6 yards per rush before contact, their second-best in a game this season. Jones averaged 4.3 yards per rush before contact. Rodgers was pressured (sack or duress) on a season-low four dropbacks. Rodgers averaged 3.08 seconds to throw for the game, per ESPN Stats and information.

There's plenty for the Packers to work on over the bye week. But overall, they'll head into the stretch run in very good shape.

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

Houston Texans

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

After the Houston Texans improved to 6-3 with a win over the Jaguars before their bye week, DeAndre Hopkins was asked to make the case for Deshaun Watson to be the league's MVP.

"Deshaun can make the case for himself from his play," Hopkins said. "I can't. I can get up here and say a thousand words, but if you watch him play, his play speaks for himself and what he can do. Not just run the football, but throwing the football, getting out of the pocket and helping his team win."

Indeed. As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken noted, Watson's development in his third NFL season has the Texans leading the AFC South and made his name firmly planted in the MVP conversation more than halfway through the season.

Watson has wowed with spectacular plays in recent weeks. But what's been most valuable to the Texans is his consistency in leading a powerful offense that has carried the team in a season when the defense lost Jadeveon Clowney to a preseason trade before J.J. Watt suffered a season-ending injury last month.

"He's a great player," offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. "Every time he steps on the field, we have a chance to win. He's capable of making great plays and hopefully he can keep doing that for us whenever we take the field."

Watson, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, leads an offense that ranks third in the NFL by averaging 396.7 yards a game. His 2,432 yards passing rank sixth in the league and his 18 TD passes are third.

Watson, who played just seven games as a rookie because of a knee injury, has thrown for 8,296 yards in his first 32 career games, making him just the fifth play in NFL history to reach 8,200 yards passing in 32 games. His 63 touchdown passes in 32 games are tied with Matthew Stafford for fourth most in NFL history and his 8,296 yards passing rank fifth in NFL history in that span.

But perhaps more impressive than all the numbers he's putting up is an innate ability to win. From Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to Houston coach Bill O'Brien to opposing coaches around the NFL, almost everyone who is asked about Watson brings up the fact that regardless of anything else, Watson is simply a winner.

Swinney, who won a national championship with Watson in 2017, believes so strongly in his former quarterback that before the draft that year, he said that if the Browns didn't draft him with the first overall pick it would be like "passing on Michael Jordan."

That comment has led people to say that Swinney was comparing the quarterback to perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time. He was asked about Watson and Jordan by reporters again this week and clarified his statement, but he stuck to his original supposition about the most important quality he believes Watson possesses.

"I just meant he's a winner and a killer like Michael Jordan," Swinney said. "I didn't mean he's Michael Jordan. I mean, he's got a will to win that is rare. And you only see that every now and then. And when I think of that, I think of Jordan, who would claw your eyeballs out to win.

"He's just a winner and that's what Deshaun is. ... I had to call Deshaun and say: 'Hey man, sorry I put you in this position,'" Swinney continued.

But Swinney isn't the only one who has brought up Jordan when speaking of Watson. After he got kicked in the eye and still managed to escape a defender to throw a touchdown pass in a win over Oakland two weeks ago, Raiders coach Jon Gruden did it, too.

"What do you want me to say? You see Michael Jordan, you see some of the great athletic plays in any sport, you've got to tip your hat to the guy," Gruden said. "We had him three times, and then he makes an unbelievable throw and the kid makes a great catch."

Watson isn't getting caught up in the MVP hype. He's happy about his work so far but knows he has a lot more to do if he and the Texans hope to not just reach the postseason this year but make a deep playoff run.

"It's a good spot," Watson said. "Halfway through the season (there's) a lot to look back over the past weeks to correct, and then a lot to actually build on. So the biggest thing is really getting everyone healthy, getting everyone rested up for a long stretch, and for us to be able to try to make a run."

After the Texans play the Ravens this weekend coming off their bye, Watson will get a chance to showcase his talents to a national audience with two straight prime-time games at home against Indianapolis and New England.

"We have a lot more football to play and a lot of tough, challenging games that are coming up ahead of us," Watson said. "We're going to be ready. ..."

The Texans returned from their bye week on Monday and they held a practice at their facility that featured wide receiver Will Fuller.

It had been a while since Fuller was on the field in any capacity. Fuller left the team's Week 7 loss to the Colts with a hamstring injury and did not practice at all before being ruled out of the last two games.

The team won't issue an injury report detailing how much work Fuller did during the session, but being on the field at all is a step in the right direction for the team's passing game.

Fuller has 34 catches for 450 yards and three touchdowns in seven appearances this season.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans also had tight end Jordan Thomas on the practice field. Thomas went on injured reserve on September 2 and can be activated off the list if the team feels he's ready to go.

And finally. ... The Texans worked out running backs Jeremy Hill and Elijah McGuire, Wilson reports.

Hill had a strong work out, but sources told Wilson he isn't being signed to a contract at this time.

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

Indianapolis Colts

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As Associated press sports writer Michael Marot noted, the Colts won five games with the perfect offensive mix.

They relied on an offensive line widely considered to be one of the league's top units. They let Marlon Mack set up the passing game with his legs and stretched the field with four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton.

Now, nothing is going right as evidenced by the Colts' first back-to-back regular-season losses in 13 months.

"Tough loss, tough to swallow -- always tough to swallow when you're at home in front of your fans," head coach Frank Reich said after Sunday's 16-12 defeat to the Miami Dolphins. "I thought we'd come out with a lot more energy and play better than we did. We got outcoached and outplayed on all fronts, so give the Dolphins a lot of credit for that."

The reality is Indy's defense is playing well enough to win.

It hasn't allowed an opponent to top the 24-point mark in regulation all season, and on Sunday it only allowed one touchdown despite three turnovers.

But the offense has struggled mightily for myriad reasons.

Starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett was knocked out of last week's loss at Pittsburgh because of an injured left knee and was held out Sunday, too. Hilton has missed two straight games with an injured calf and the Colts have been without their other starting receiver, Devin Funchess, since the season opener.

And the ensuing miscues have prevented the Colts from maintaining drives.

All of it was on full display again Sunday when Brian Hoyer was 18 of 39 with 204 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in his first start with the Colts. Miami (2-7) capitalized on all three turnovers, scoring 13 points.

Hoyer is not the only one struggling.

The Colts managed to gain just 300 yards against the league's No. 29 defense, Indy's vaunted offensive line has allowed 10 sacks in the past three weeks and Mack hasn't had a 100-yard game since Oct. 6.

Even the usually trustworthy Adam Vinatieri is misfiring.

Another errant extra point, his sixth of the season, meant Indy needed to score a touchdown after reaching the Miami 16-yard line with less than a minute left instead of kicking a short field goal to force overtime.

The result: Hoyer threw to the end zone three times, all incompletions, and then threw an 8-yard completion to Eric Ebron on fourth-and-10 to seal the Colts' fate.

"When they're playing man (coverage) you want to advantage of the opportunities and take a shot," Hoyer said. "So looking back, when I realize it's fourth down, you think back and maybe we could have taken a shorter gain, but those three opportunities before that, I felt we had legit chances to score."

Now following their first back-to-back regular-season losses in 13 months, the Colts need to break out of this funk.

Indy is one game behind AFC South-leading Houston and is still ahead of Tennessee and Jacksonville, with the Jaguars (4-6) coming to town next weekend. Then Indy visits Houston on a short week and hosts Tennessee.

Whether or not Brissett is back will be determined soon enough.

Brissett practiced in limited fashion all of last week, which raised hope that he'd be able to play. It also limited the amount of work Hoyer got with the first team ahead of making his first start of the 2019 season. Reich said Monday that Brissett will start against Jacksonville if he practices without setback this week.

"If Jacoby is healthy, he's our starting quarterback, and he'll go," Reich said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. "We're optimistic that the rest was helpful. We'll get to Wednesday and see how he goes."

Brissett was scheduled to practice fully Wednesday, so that's a good start. ...

Reich also said the team considers Hilton day-to-day after missing two games with a calf injury, so the team could get two big offensive pieces back this weekalthough Hilton did not practice Wednesday. Also sitting out Wednesday were Jordan Wilkins (calf), Jack Doyle (shoulder) and Mo Alie-Cox (hip).

I'll have more on all the walking wounded via Late-Breaking Update in coming days; still, they can't afford to wait for guys to get healthy.

They must start finding solutions now.

"We should have scored so many points," center Ryan Kelly said. "We just left a lot of points on the board. We got in the red zone a bunch of different times and ended with field goals. In this league, you have to score."

As for Vinatieri, ESPN.com's Mike Wells believes the NFL's all-time leading scorer is no longer a reliable player for the Colts.

Vinatieri has missed 11 kicks -- six extra points and five field goals -- while costing the Colts two games this season. Five of Vinatieri's six missed extra points have come when the game was within three points, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. Every kicker in the NFL with at least two extra-point kicks has made over 75 percent of his extra points in that scenario this season. Vinatieri is at 16.7 percent.

Following his miss on Sunday, an report surfaced that the team has invited four kickers to their practice facility in Indianapolis for a workout. According to ESPN's Field Yates, Elliott Fry, Greg Joseph, Mike Nugent and Nick Rose were the players brought in for a look.

This would be the second time this season the Colts have auditioned kickers.

The word in Indy is "no decision has been made" about Vinatieri's future, though it seems apparent the Colts are determined to study their options. ...

A few final items. ... As noted above, Funchess went on injured reserve after breaking his collarbone in the season opener and has been eligible to resume practicing for the last few weeks. The team hasn't felt comfortable taking that step, but that was slated to change Wednesday.

"Technically, he could be cleared to play the game," Reich told the Indianapolis Star. "But he's got a few more boxes to check. We have to make sure he's good to go because this will really be his first week of practice. Then we still have to see how much he'll be able to do Wednesday. We're really encouraged. I think there's another box he has to check before we can go full boar on the practice."

Funchess had three catches for 32 yards before getting hurt in Week 1.

Parris Campbell hopes to be back by December. The rookie isn't sure how he broke his hand, but it happened in fourth quarter at Pittsburgh.

Stay tuned. I'll obviously be following up on Brissett and Hilton via Late-Breaking Update in coming days; I'll be watching for more on Funchess as well.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

Running back Leonard Fournette was in the middle of three dustups this season -- and got praised for how he handled them.

As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long noted, Fournette pulled head coach Doug Marrone away from cornerback Jalen Ramsey during their heated sideline exchange in mid-September. Fournette was caught on camera two weeks later screaming at left tackle Cam Robinson after Robinson came awfully close to potentially costing Jacksonville a victory at Denver.

And in London, Fournette yelled at safety Ronnie Harrison at the end of the game following Harrison's near-scuffle with several Houston players.

Fournette was a peacemaker -- no longer the instigator -- in all three situations.

Many believe it's a sign of growth for the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, a player who created more headaches and headlines last season for what he did off the field than on it.

"I let people down," Fournette said last month. "I don't want to do that again."

The former LSU star endured the worst season in his 24 years in 2018, and it carried into the offseason. He was injured, suspended and on the bench in crunch time. He was fined, criticized and admittedly not in ideal shape late.

The most telling part: The Jaguars voided the remaining guarantees in his rookie contract following his one-game suspension for fighting, and personnel chief Tom Coughlin ripped him for being "disrespectful" and "selfish" during the season finale. Adding to the chaos, Fournette was arrested in April for driving with a suspended license.

He was clearly at a crossroads.

He responded with a comeback.

Marrone isn't ready to claim Fournette's season a total turnaround, but he does see progress.

"I don't want to get into where (people are saying), 'He was awful,' but has he gotten better? I think absolutely," Marrone said. "A lot of players have, though, from the first year or second year and having gone through injuries, which is always tough. ... You see that, and it's great growth.

"You go through a day and you think: 'Hey, what can I do to be a better teammate? What can I do to be a better coach?' Every day that you go through your job or your situation, you want to be better. You want to be better for everyone. ... It's not just Leonard; it's everyone. But Leonard's done a very good job, and I'm very happy in the direction that he's going."

Fournette had nowhere to go but up after last season.

He finished with 439 yards rushing and five touchdowns in eight games after running for 1,040 yards and nine scores as a rookie. He missed 11 games in his first two seasons, including two because of suspensions. He was more of a problem than a pro.

Jacksonville reacted by completely revamping its running backs room around Fournette, firing position coach Tyrone Wheatley and parting ways with backups T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde and Corey Grant. Marrone then hired 64-year-old Terry Robiskie, who, like Fournette, was born and raised in New Orleans and attended LSU, as running backs coach.

Fournette spent part of the offseason training in Dallas and then went to Wyoming to work with his college strength and conditioning coach in hopes of getting back to his "foundation." He then arrived in Jacksonville in the best shape of his NFL career, down about 15 pounds from the end of last season.

And the results are showing -- even though he's barely sniffed the end zone.

Fournette has 831 yards rushing and 1,126 yards from scrimmage as Jacksonville (4-5) enters its bye week. Both are tops in the AFC. His scrimmage yards also are the most in team history through nine games.

He's the only player in the NFL with at least 70 yards from scrimmage in every game this season, and he's one of three -- Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey and Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs are the others -- with three plays of 50 or more yards this season.

And he did most of it behind a shaky offensive line that includes a rookie and a first-year starter and with a rookie quarterback, Gardner Minshew. Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles returns this week at Indianapolis, a potential boost for the entire offense.

The change also could help Fournette find the end zone, something he's done just once this season. His mounting frustration was evident in a victory against the New York Jets last month, but he's otherwise been a model teammate -- equal parts peacemaker and playmaker -- in his third year.

"I think growth," Fournette said. "The vibe is just different from last year. Despite everything that we had going on, despite what we have going on right now, the vibe is there.

"We're playing for each other, and that's a good thing. We've got to keep it up. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... With Dede Westbrook sidelined in Week 9, Keelan Cole posted a 5-80-0 receiving line on six targets. Cole was on the field for 82 percent of the offensive snaps, which was just behind starters DJ Chark (95 percent) and Chris Conley (88 percent). That performance marks only the third time during Cole's past 17 games that he reached six targets in a game.

As ESPN's Mike Clay suggested, Cole does not need to be prioritized on waivers and will be on only the flex radar in deeper leagues if Westbrook misses more time.

But Marrone said he expected every player to practice on Monday, which is a great sign that Westbrook (shoulder/neck) and CB D.J. Hayden (shoulder/neck) are on pace to play on Sunday at Indianapolis.

In addition, LB Jake Ryan (knee) is coming off the non-football injury list and will practice on Monday as well.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles, 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: Ben Koyack, Nick O'Leary, Seth DeValve, Geoff Swaim, Josh Oliver, James O'Shaughnessy

Kansas City Chiefs

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Adam Teicher, if there was any doubt about Patrick Mahomes' ability to be effective in his return to the Kansas City Chiefs' lineup, he erased it in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Mahomes beat the Titans' pass rush by throwing a jump pass to Mecole Hardman, who finished the play by outrunning defenders to the end zone for a 63-yard touchdown.

There was no doubt that Mahomes was at his best even before the jump pass. He missed the previous two-and-a-half games after dislocating his right knee but finished 36-of-50 for 446 yards and three touchdowns.

"The knee is feeling fine," Mahomes said afterward. "Just how we expected going into the game.

"I trust in [his doctors and trainers], and they told me I was ready to go. ... I had full confidence I was going to be able to play this game."

Even playing as well as he did, Mahomes couldn't prevent the Chiefs from losing 35-32. He made his usual variety of big throws, including the jump pass to Hardman, which Mahomes said he had been working on with quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka.

"That's Pat," Hardman said. "I think that's all you've got to say. He's Pat, so that's what he [does]. He maneuvers in the pocket. He makes throws that people can't make. I think he made his name known for doing stuff like that."

Mahomes failed to make the play that could have clinched a Chiefs victory. The Chiefs faced a third-and-2 from the Tennessee 24 with 1:36 left when they called a screen pass to tight end Blake Bell, similar to the play they used to wrap up an early-season win over the Baltimore Ravens.

"They covered it well," Mahomes said. "Their [defensive] end didn't come up the field. He sat in front of it. ... We were trying to hit [Bell], let him get up the field and get the first down and essentially win the game there. But he wasn't open."

Mahomes took a 5-yard loss instead. Afterward, the Chiefs botched a field goal attempt when holder Dustin Colquitt wasn't ready for the snap.

The Titans then took the lead, and the Chiefs missed another field goal attempt on the game's last play, this one blocked.

Mahomes, the NFL MVP in 2018, didn't need much time to get back to top form. He led the Chiefs on a touchdown drive on the game's opening possession, with the score coming on his 3-yard pass to Travis Kelce. That TD pass was his 66th in 25 career starts, breaking Dan Marino's record of 65.

Mahomes had another touchdown pass to Kelce called back because of a penalty later in the first quarter. He threw a perfectly placed, 11-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in the back of the end zone.

"It was amazing just to see him out there, back from a bad injury just like he did," Hill said. "It was amazing to see him out there having fun, playing the game that he loves."

Still, the Chiefs' once-commanding lead in the AFC West race is down to a half-game. The 6-4 Chiefs will play against the 5-4 Raiders in Week 13 at Arrowhead Stadium in serious need of a win. This week, Kansas City gets an extra day to prepare for Monday night's game against the Chargers in Mexico City.

Then comes a long-awaited bye and an opportunity to get healthy. ...

Also of interest. ... The Chiefs made running back LeSean McCoy a healthy scratch against the Titans on Sunday, and head coach Andy Reid explained why after the game.

Reid called Sunday a "load management" day for McCoy.

"LeSean's not getting any younger, so it's important I manage him the right way as we go," Reid told reporters.

McCoy, 31, signed with the Chiefs on Sept. 1. He had played 36 percent of the team's offensive snaps through the first nine games, gaining 500 yards from scrimmage on 92 touches.

Without McCoy, Damien Williams and Darrel Williams saw more action. Damien Williams had 24 touches for 109 yards from scrimmage, while Darrel Williams got three touches for 15 yards. ...

Kelce had 75 yards receiving and a score, and he had another touchdown reception called back by a penalty. It was a solid performance by one of the league's best at his position, and it came on the heels of a couple of shaky efforts marked by penalties and drops. ...

The Chiefs had offensive linemen leave the game with knee injuries on back-to-back plays late in the first half of Sunday's loss to the Titans and one of them won't be coming back this year.

Martinas Rankin started Sunday's game at left guard, but kicked over to right tackle when Mitchell Schwartz had to go to the sideline for medical attention. Rankin went down at the end of the next play and needed a cart to take him to the locker room. Schwartz returned in the second half, but Rankin was placed on injured reserve Monday. His roster spot will be filled with offensive lineman Jackson Barton, who had been on the Colts' practice squad.

The Chiefs opened Sunday's game without left tackle Eric Fisher and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, so they were short on healthy linemen when Rankin and Schwartz went down.

Also. ... DE Emmanuel Ogbah will undergo season-ending surgery this week for a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during Sunday's loss at Tennessee, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Ogbah, who leads KC in sacks, is scheduled to be a free agent this off-season but is expected to be recovered by then.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Matt Moore, Chad Henne
RBs: LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Spencer Ware
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 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy put it, "The Los Angeles Chargers' brief winning streak evaporated into Oakland's Black Hole on Thursday night -- and it might have swallowed their hopes for a return to the playoffs, too."

A 26-24 defeat to the Raiders ended Los Angeles' two-game spurt and dropped the Bolts to 4-6 for the second time in three years. Now they're facing a rocky schedule and long odds of returning to the postseason a year after winning 12 games.

Four of their final six games are against teams over .500. Two are against Kansas City, including a matchup Nov. 18 in Mexico City. Even if the Chargers do make a run, they aren't likely to win any tiebreaker thanks to lousy marks in the conference (2-5) and division (0-2).

"We have to work our tail off to reach our goal, which is to get back to the tournament. I don't know if we can lose another game, and they understand that," head coach Anthony Lynn said.

Los Angeles won five of six to finish 9-7 in 2017 but was on the wrong side of a four-way tiebreaker for the two wild cards.

In a two-point game, two plays loomed large -- Philip Rivers' pick six in the first quarter, and missed tackles in the secondary on Josh Jacobs' go-ahead 18-yard touchdown.

After the midweek loss to Oakland, the Chargers get extra time to prepare for the Chiefs, which Rivers sees as an advantage.

"They have a different defensive coordinator. It won't be the same that we had there for the last six or seven years. We won't be as familiar," he said. "I think the rest will be good and get a little bit of a head start of preparation."

The good news?

The running game is back to being one of the team's strengths after two straight 100-yard games for the first time since the first two games of the season. The Chargers ran for 146 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry as new coordinator Shane Steichen's mantra of calling plays quickly has got the ground game back on track. Most of the yards came from Melvin Gordon, who had his first 100-yard game of the season.

Gordon rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, achieving several milestones in the process. The performance moved him to No. 5 in franchise history in both yards rushing and rushing touchdowns past running backs Natrone Means and Marion Butts, respectively. Gordon, who now has 3,928 yards rushing and 32 rushing touchdowns in his career, has found the end zone in four-consecutive games.

Austin Ekeler reeled in his sixth touchdown catch of the season, tying him for second-most in a single season by a Bolts running back. Ekeler also moved into sole possession of fourth among Chargers running backs all-time with 12 career receiving touchdowns and to No. 9 among the group in receiving yards.

But Rivers needs to get going quicker in games.

Six of Rivers' 12 turnovers have come in the first quarter. He had two interceptions in the first 10 minutes against the Raiders, which led to 10 points and included a pick six.

"We have to figure out a way to do better because we can't keep turning over the football. That has been happening way too much this year," Lynn said.

One thing that might help?

With three receptions of 45 yards or more by Mike Williams in the past two games, the third-year receiver has emerged as Rivers' top target on deep passes in the same way that Tyrel Williams was last season.

Looking his way more often certainly wouldn't hurt. ...

On the injury front. ... Lynn said Sam Tevi had surgery on Monday to remove a small piece of cartilage in his knee. Tevi is not done for the year, and Lynn said he'll be back sooner rather than later.

The Chargers had the weekend off before heading to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for a week to prepare to play the Chiefs in Mexico City.

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, Andre Patton, Jason Moore
TEs: Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson

Los Angeles Rams

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry suggested, it was the type of loss, in the kind of circumstance, that could fracture a team.

The Los Angeles Rams' defense played superb, forcing two turnovers and scoring nine points, but the offense couldn't muster any momentum in a 17-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.

The loss dropped the Rams to 5-4, third place in a surging NFC West, and they appear to be falling behind in a tight race for a wild-card playoff spot a season after reaching the Super Bowl last season.

After the game, however, Rams players vowed in a quiet visitor’s locker room that they would stick together and would not let Sunday set the tone for the rest of their season.

"You don't point fingers at nobody," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "We lost as a team."

Said quarterback Jared Goff: "We're in a place where we're still good. We've got some time to make up some ground."

Time is not on the Rams' side, though, with seven games remaining and a schedule that includes the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens and division matchups against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, plus a trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys.

"All we are going to do is continue to fight and figure out what we can do to get better," said head coach Sean McVay, who was 10-0 against AFC teams in the regular season before falling to the Steelers. "That's everybody to a man."

The Rams' offense has regressed from its Super Bowl form and continued down an unnerving path Sunday, as the team's offensive line was forced to shift personnel when center Brian Allen and later right tackle Rob Havenstein were lost to knee injuries.

Goff completed 22 of 41 passes for 243 yards, with two interceptions, as the offense scored only three points behind a 30-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein. Goff also lost a fumble that the Steelers recovered and returned for a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead late in the first half.

A game after Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for a career-best 220 yards, Kupp did not have a single reception, though he was targeted four times.

"They doubled him, at times," Goff said. "They did a lot of different things."

Kupp is only the third player in the Super Bowl Era to catch over 200 yards one game and then zero yards the next. The others: Titans Kenny Britt in 2010 and fellow Ram Ron Jessie in 1976.

Todd Gurley rushed for 73 yards in 12 carries. He looked explosive against a formidable front seven, finishing with 12 carries for 73 yards.

His 22-yard run in the third quarter helped open up play action for the Rams offense on a drive that ended with the above-mentioned 30-yarder by Zuerlein. Five of Gurley's attempts went for six or more yards.

Overall, his 6.1 yard per carry average was best since averaging 6.9 on 14 carries for 97 yards against the Panthers in the season-opener.

However, in what has become a new normal this season, he continued to share the load with backups Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson, who were far less effective, as they combined for 14 yards in nine carries.

"No, not really," said Gurley, when asked if he wanted the ball more or expected more carries, especially in the second half. "I'm kind of used to it."

"That was just kind of the rotation," McVay said, when asked why Gurley wasn't on the field to begin the fourth quarter, via The Athletic. "Sometimes I'm on both sides of the headsets. There's just a lot of trust for our coaches that have some of the (confidence) to be really able to say, 'Alright, who's in?' Then I will be able to click back on, and then we know what we are going with."

As NFL.com's Kevin Patra suggested, it's fine for McVay to manage his starter's snaps, especially given Gurley's knee history. But it's not as though the running back was kept out the entire quarter. According to Next Gen Stats, Gurley played 11 of 17 fourth-quarter snaps after taking a breather the first two drives.

Yet, not once did McVay and/or Goff call his number. No rushes, no targets.

Gurley has now gone eight straight games without 100-plus rushing yards, his longest streak in a season since going the entire 2016 season without any 100-yard games.

The Rams have continually insisted Gurley is healthy -- he's not been on the injury report -- and McVay won't suggest his RB is on any sort of pitch-count, even though his actions suggest otherwise. Gurley has yet to record 20-plus offensive touches in a game this season.

With the Rams falling to 5-4 -- third in the NFC West by two games, and two games behind the final wild-card spot -- McVay might have to take a hard look at his offense and determine if his current rotation that ignores his best offensive weapon for an entire quarter can help dig his team out of its current hole.

Meanwhile, the defense, since trading in Week 7 for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, has proven itself as a top unit. On Sunday, they held the Steelers to 42 rushing yards and 273 total yards, while sacking quarterback Mason Rudolph three times. Donald was proud of the defense's performance but said the team could not concern itself with the division and playoff race.

"We just have to try to play ball," Donald said. "We go week-to-week trying to find ways to win games. That is what it comes down to."

Besides turnovers, an inability to convert on third down made it difficult for the Rams' offense to get going throughout the night.

L.A. converted on just one of 14 on third down, and McVay said there were "so many stoppages" that didn't allow the Rams offense to get into a rhythm. It was obviously an unusual performance by the offense, which entered Sunday's game converting 40.4 percent of its third down tries. ...

This week, the team will be short-handed once again.

McVay announced Monday that starting center Brian Allen will end his season on injured reserve.

Allen injured his medial collateral ligament Sunday, playing only 13 snaps.

The Rams also will have to play without right tackle Rob Havenstein for a couple of weeks. Havenstein injured his meniscus, leaving after 64 snaps.

McVay said the Rams are examining all of their options in the offensive line. Austin Blythe will start at center.

"We're working through some of those things," McVay said. "I think you got a chance to evaluate some guys yesterday, just based on the way the nature of the game went. I thought Austin Blythe did a nice job at center. He'll step into that position. Austin Corbett did some really good things at that left guard spot. Then I thought -- before he ended up having to transition out to the tackle spot -- David Edwards did a nice job at right guard. As far as the tackle position -- exactly how we fill that void from Rob -- you could look at Bobby Evans, some other options. We're working through those things right now."

Receiver Brandin Cooks also won't play this week, with the Rams already ruling him out. However, Cooks is taking steps forward in his return from another concussion.

"He's feeling good, asymptomatic," McVay said. "Everything is really in good shape with him right now, but he will miss this week again and then we'll reevaluate the following week."

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

Miami Dolphins

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe, as head coach Brian Flores aggressively clapped as his team made a game-clinching fourth-down stop, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stood on the sidelines smiling.

It barely felt real.

The prospect of the Dolphins looking like this, riding the high of a two-game winning streak, was laughable just a month ago. But the Dolphins are the ones laughing now as they recorded their second consecutive win Sunday with a gritty 16-12 victory at Indianapolis. They've already come a long way in a short time.

It's still about the future for the Dolphins, who hurt their draft-pick stock with every win. The dream of picking quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took a hit Sunday. But two consecutive wins is a great sign of Brian Flores' coaching promise. This team -- from the players to coaches and everyone in between -- have done a phenomenal job maximizing their talent.

Flores has a disciplined, hard-fighting team that doesn't use lack of talent as an excuse. Creative play calling by offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea is helping Miami's offense look like a different group. Obtaining the top draft pick might be in danger, but the Dolphins' long-term future is starting to beam with promise.

Their defense is forcing turnovers. Their offense is capitalizing on the miscues. And when they need a big stop they're getting those, too.

Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown run Sunday, the Dolphins converted three Colts turnovers into 13 points and the defense preserved a 16-12 victory at Indianapolis with a red-zone stop in the final minute.

"We created some turnovers and those are always big," Flores said. "We are starting to come together. I think being able to overcome adversity is part of playing in the National Football League. We're starting to do that at a higher level now."

That's major progress for a team that opened this season with seven straight losses and finally ended a 10-game skid last week.

Miami won this one despite gaining only 229 yards and scoring one TD -- courtesy of the nimble feet of the 36-year-old Fitzpatrick, who wasn't even sure he'd make it to the end zone.

"When I stepped up I saw a lot of daylight," Fitzpatrick said. "I was a little surprised I got all the way to the end zone, but I made it. So I still have a little bit of quickness I guess."

But the Colts didn't help themselves, either.

Brian Hoyer started in place of the injured Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and struggled mightily. Indy (5-4) gained only 300 total yards and while Hoyer completed just 18 of 39 passes with one touchdown and three interceptions, all of which led to Miami scores.

The first came when Steven Parker wrestled the ball away from Eric Ebron in the end zone and set up a 47-yard field goal.

The second set up Fitzpatrick's scoring run, and the third set up a 48-yard field goal that made it 16-12 after Adam Vinatieri missed his sixth extra point of the season -- a miss that caused the Colts to need a touchdown when they reached the Miami 16-yard line with less than a minute to play instead of a tying field goal.

Hoyer took three chances at the end zone with all three falling incomplete. The fourth pass was an 8-yard completion to Eric Ebron on fourth-and-10, sealing Miami's victory.

"We had plenty of time and timeouts to go, so all of those passes we threw had underneath options," coach Frank Reich said after losing his second straight regular-season game for the first time since October 2018.

Fitzpatrick finished 21 of 33 with 169 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

As Wolfe stressed, Fitzpatrick wasn't perfect. He threw an interception, and his play dropped off a tad in the second half. But he led the go-ahead field-goal drive with toughness, pocket presence and precise accuracy.

But Wolfe was quick to add Fitzpatrick is the perfect quarterback for this young Dolphins squad, and he's another huge part of this turnaround -- as is a defense that's gone six straight games without allowing 400 yards in offense.

Another positive?

The Dolphins led at halftime for the fourth consecutive game. It's another sign of their in-season turnaround and proof that this coaching staff is consistently coming up with good early game plans to get ahead. Second-half struggles continue to be a significant issue, but their 10-point lead at halftime was the biggest of the season and a promising trend moving forward.

The not so good part?

The Dolphins netted 229 yards, their lowest total since September, and the ground game remains the NFL's worst.

Kalen Ballage had a career-high 20 carries at Indy but totaled just 43 yards, and he's averaging 2.1 yards per carry this year.

The Dolphins have reached the 100-yard rushing mark only once this season, and they're on pace to set teams records for the fewest yards rushing and lowest per-carry average. ...

On the injury report. ... Fitzpatrick was annoyed that he was belatedly summoned for a mandatory concussion test in the fourth quarter. As a result, he missed three plays when the Dolphins were threatening, and they settled for a field goal.

The hit that raised concerns had occurred during Miami's previous possession. Fitzpatrick said he could have been examined while the Colts had the ball.

"There was a five-minute gap where I was sitting there doing nothing and they didn't need me on the field, where I could have been checked," Fitzpatrick said. "The timing of it was off, and that was difficult for me to understand. ..."

For the record, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that Flores said Fitzpatrick would remain in the starting role for the "foreseeable future."

Of course, Flores has made similar comments about Josh Rosen only to reverse course later, but this one appears a little more permanent.

Fitzpatrick has started the last four weeks, and has led them to wins over the Jets and Colts the last two weeks.

Kicker Jason Sanders was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his contributions in Miami's win over the Colts. Sanders knocked home all three of his field-goal attempts (47 yards, 48, 48) and an extra point attempt. He was responsible for 10 of Miami's 16 points in the Fins' second win of the season.

This is the first Player of the Week honor for Sanders, who made the All-Rookie Team in 2018. ...

The Dolphins return home to face division rival Buffalo Sunday. The Dolphins have a chance to show how much they've improved when they face the Bills. Miami gave up 22 points in the fourth quarter in Week 7 and lost at Buffalo, 31-21.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen
RBs: Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, Zach Zenner
WRs: DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, Isaiah Ford
TEs: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Chris Myarick

Minnesota Vikings

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

Dalvin Cook did plenty in the running game.

The NFL rushing leader from Minnesota might have had his biggest plays in the passing game while easily outshining two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott.

Cook ran for 97 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown on fourth down on the final play of the third quarter, and had 86 yards receiving that boosted three other scoring drives, leading the Vikings over the Dallas Cowboys 28-24 on Sunday night.

Cook's 183 scrimmage yards gave him the league lead in that category as well at 1,415 as the Vikings (7-3) beat a winning team on the road for the first time in almost two years. Minnesota was 0-9-1 in its previous 10 such games.

"Dalvin handled everything great," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "He played outstanding. Had some unbelievable runs, tough, competitive runs. I think Dalvin believes that he's really good. I believe that too."

Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdown passes, both to Kyle Rudolph, for just his second victory in nine prime-time road games.

But Minnesota's offensive star was Cook, who set up the first two Minnesota touchdowns for a 14-0 lead with catches of 27 and 29 yards on screens and got a first down with an 8-yarder early on the third scoring drive.

"We thought it was going to be a challenge to get some explosive screens and get some explosive runs in this game to have a chance, and I think we checked those two boxes," Cousins said. "That's a big reason why we're standing here with a win instead of a loss."

Cousins, who had 220 yards passing, beat the Cowboys for the second time in eight tries as the Vikings kept pace in the NFC North, a game behind division-leading Green Bay.

A big key for Cousins and the passing game without Adam Thielen was the success that Cook had after the catch.

The running back totaled a team-high 86 yards through the air on seven receptions.

He also carded two of the top nine yards-after-catch-above-expectations.

According to Next Gen Stats, Cook gained 27 yards after the catch on the above-mentioned 27-yard reception on Minnesota's fourth snap of the game. The running back was expected to get 2 on the play, and his 25 above expectations ranked fourth-highest in Week 10.

Similarly, he had 37 yards after the catch on a 30-yard reception during Minnesota's second possession.

Cook was expected to get 20 on the play, and he was credited with exceeding expectations by 16 yards (ninth in the NFL in Week 10).

On Wednesday, Cook was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Rudolph, meanwhile, started the night of circus catches with a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone and scored on another short TD toss.

Then the tight end put Minnesota up 28-21 after Cook's scoring run by winning a jump ball with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Rudolph's 14 points were the most in 122 career games for the ninth-year player.

Rudolph's efforts helped activate the passing attack on a night they'd be without Thielen.

Next up, the Vikings host the Broncos Sunday before their bye week.

For what it's worth, Zimmer wasted no time Monday afternoon getting to the point of why he thought his team came away with a gritty win over the Cowboys.

"I really thought both sides of the ball -- our offensive line and defensive line -- played outstanding," Zimmer said. "[They] played with a lot of toughness, a lot of physicality, a lot of grit."

The Vikings offensive line did its part to help a rushing attack tally 153 total yards on the ground. Minnesota ranks third in the NFL with exactly 153.0 rushing yards per game, as the Vikings have gained 1,530 yards on 326 rushes (4.7 yards per carry) in 10 games.

Zimmer said he liked the improvement from the previous game against Kansas City.

"Obviously, it was better," Zimmer said of the ground game. "We finished runs better, we finished blocks better."

Minnesota also allowed just one sack against a Cowboys team that was averaging 2.75 sacks per game entering Week 10.

And Minnesota's defensive line played well, even without starting defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who missed the game with a knee injury. ...

Beyond all that, the Vikings have won five of their past six games, and Cousins is a big reason why.

Cousins has completed 133 of 186 passes (71.5 percent) in the timespan for 1,701 total yards. He has thrown 15 touchdowns to just one interception, and has a passer rating of 124.4 during this stretch.

"He's playing fast, and that's probably the most important thing," Zimmer said. "Making good decisions and playing fast."

That includes getting the ball out quickly, as Cousins has taken just nine sacks in the past six games. He was sacked three times apiece against New York and Washington, but just twice in three combined wins against the Eagles, Lions and Cowboys.

Zimmer explained how Cousins, who has zero turnovers in his past four games, is helping out his offensive line at times.

"There was a lot of times that he did a great job of getting the ball out, too," Zimmer said. "He got hit quite a few times last night. I'm not calling out the offensive line. He got hit a bunch of times last night, and there was times that he had to get the ball out quick, and I thought he did that well.

"In each part of the passing game, you've got some maximum protection things, you've got some seven-man protections, some six-man and some five-man protections," Zimmer said. "It's important that when you get these fives and six-mans and you're getting extra pressure, to get the ball out, like they did a lot last night. ..."

Don't look now, but rookie Alexander Mattison actually has a higher yards-per-carry average than Cook.

Mattison has 389 yards on 79 carries (4.92), while Cook has a league-leading 991 yards on 203 carries (4.88).

Cook will continue to get the majority of the carries, but Mattison has shown he can be highly effective with his touches. Against Dallas, he had 52 yards on just eight rushes (6.5 yards per carry).

"He is a good player. He runs hard, he's physical," Zimmer said of Mattison. "I think he averaged six-something (yards per carry), maybe, last night.

"But yeah, he's a good back, and we're glad we have him. He can take some of the carries off of Dalvin," Zimmer added. "I liked the way he finishes runs. He seems like he's always falling forward, and is an aggressive style of runner."

Mattison was a third-round pick out of Boise State.

"He was a good player in college, but you don't really know," Zimmer said. "But I think his ability to hit the hole, and then the violence that he runs with -- there was 6-yard run on our sideline that was a heck of a run [Sunday] night. He doesn't go down easy and doesn't go out of bounds. ..."

In a related note. ... The Vikings have proved the fullback is not a dying position, with Cook and Mattison reaping the benefits of C.J. Ham's ability to clear out the first defender and pave the way for repeated success on the ground. Ham was the lead blocker on six of those 10 consecutive running plays on the go-ahead touchdown drive.

On the injury front. ... Zimmer said he wasn't sure yet about the status of Thielen for the upcoming game against Denver, but with the bye waiting next, the Vikings will likely take advantage of the two-for-one to give his hamstring further rest. He did not practice Wednesday.

The Vikings could really use Thielen, who missed two of the past three games with a hamstring injury. The offense gets stagnant without him, as there just aren't many receiving weapons for Cousins outside of Stefon Diggs.

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

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

New England Patriots

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As NFL.com's Grant Gordon reminded readers, over the initial eight weeks of the NFL season, Tom Brady and the Patriots were afforded the luxury of waking up winners the day after every game.

In Week 9, though, New England suffered its first loss to the Ravens and had a bye week to dwell on it. Still, Brady said nobody's about to complain in regards to such a stellar start as the Patriots are off to.

"It hasn't all been perfect, but 8-1, I don't think anyone's going to complain about that," Brady told Scott Zolak when asked about the current state of the Patriots on Friday's episode of Patriots All Access, via Boston.com.

Led in large part by a tenacious defense, the Patriots first eight games were mostly blowouts against over-matched opposition. Coming off the Ravens' loss and the bye week, though, New England faces four straight foes who currently possess winning records -- the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs.

There are no complaints, but Brady is aware that the road ahead is more arduous and all the more important week by week.

"We're ready to attack the second half of the year and play our best football," Brady said. "This is our chance, this is our opportunity. We put ourselves in a good position, but everything is ahead of us. It's our choice -- what are we going to be?"

The Patriots won't be perfect, that was a fate sealed by the Ravens. Aside from a collapse of ridiculous proportions, they will be a postseason team yet again. If Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champions can enter the playoffs free of complaints about the final seven games, then it's likely they'll be in prime position for a repeat.

"I think our entire season is determined by what happens from this point on," Brady said. "We've had our ups and downs; certainly our defense has been playing great, and offensively, I hope we can get some continuity and grow and learn.

"Become the version that we'd all expect ourselves to become."

Meanwhile, ahead of Sunday's game against the Eagles, the quarterback was asked during his weekly radio spot on WEEI about facing Philly after the 41-33 Super Bowl loss.

"You assume I'm over it? Come on now," Brady said. "That's a lot of mental scar tissue from that year. That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year. We won the Super Bowl in '18. I think everything is a matter of perspective and when you play in that game and you play great teams, you're not going to win them all. This is not the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. This is all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year, and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again. We've had a lot changes, they've had a lot of changes. It's totally different circumstances. Huge game for us. Big game for them. The better team is going to win."

To Brady's point, a lot has changed since the Eagles and Patriots gave us that memorable Super Bowl tussle. Rob Gronkowski retired. The Patriots have morphed into a defense-first squad. Nick Foles, author of the game-changing "Philly Special," is no longer an Eagle. On and on. Such is life in the ever-changing NFL.

With both teams coming off byes, Sunday's game in Philadelphia is pivotal to each squad. The Eagles need to stack wins to leapfrog the Cowboys in the division. And New England could be in danger of losing its grip on the top seed in the AFC to Baltimore if it falls.

The importance is not lost on Brady.

"Hopefully everyone got a chance to decompress a little bit mentally, physically and now we've got to get ready for a great week of preparation and then get ready to go in there and play our best game of the season on the road, in a really tough environment," he said. "It should be a great Sunday afternoon for football. ..."

Other notes of interest. ... According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, first-round draft choice N'Keal Harry was a healthy scratch upon his promotion to the 53-man roster from injured reserve, and word is that it was primarily a numbers crunch that led to the decision, with the club carrying an extra defensive lineman against the run-based Baltimore Ravens offense.

The offense choosing to play up-tempo throughout the game with the same three receivers (Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu) was also part of the consideration, as it would have been a lot to ask a rookie coming off IR to seamlessly transition into that approach.

Such an explanation makes sense to Reiss.

So assuming Harry has a good week of practice this week, he should be on the 46-man game-day roster Sunday in Philadelphia.

If he isn't, Reiss believes that would start to signal that Harry isn't meeting first-round expectations.

One last note here. ... A combination of the unexpected retirements of swing offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and interior backup Brian Schwenke in the offseason, coupled with starting center David Andrews (end of preseason) and starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (after Week 2) going on injured reserve, has had the Patriots playing catch-up on the offensive line all season.

The team's three trades for linemen at the end of the preseason -- center Russell Bodine, guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and tackle Korey Cunningham -- haven't produced the desired results. The running game, in particular, has struggled because of it. So for all the media-based talk about the addition of Sanu as the possible missing piece to help in the stretch run, to Reiss, it all starts and ends on the line.

Wynn's return from IR, and him staying healthy, is the key. He is eligible to play for the first time Nov. 24 vs. Dallas.

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, Phillip Dorsett, N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers
TEs: Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo

New Orleans Saints

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Mike Triplett suggested this week, maybe the stunning loss to the Falcons on Sunday was just a one-off.As ESPN.com's Mike Triplett suggested this week, maybe the stunning loss to the Falcons on Sunday was just a one-off.

Sometimes duds happen in the NFL -- even though this one was more historic than most.

But Triplett went on to note the Saints' sluggish start was no anomaly.

That was part of a more disturbing season-long trend that they're going to have to shake if they want to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.

The Saints (7-2) have scored a total of just 25 points in first quarters this season, which ranks 28th in the NFL. They have scored only one offensive touchdown in the first quarter, which is tied for last in the league with the Bears, Bengals and Rams.

"I'd say that's one of the bigger things that we're lacking right now offensively is that fast start," Drew Brees said after the Saints scored on an opening drive for the first time all season on Sunday against Atlanta.

Unfortunately, they settled for a field goal after squandering a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

The Saints are also tied for last in the NFL with just three points on opening drives this year, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

They're joined by the Bengals, Steelers and Texans in that dismal category.

"I can't think this season of really anytime where, man, we've just come out like gangbusters and just score, score, score," said Brees, who hasn't fared any better in his four starts than backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did in his five starts.

They each have thrown an interception on opening drives this season. Bridgewater threw the only first-quarter TD pass, in Week 7 at Chicago to tight end Josh Hill.

"It's been kind of a slow start and then we kind of find ourselves and then maybe we break it open in the second half," Brees said. "But I'd say that that's definitely an area where we can improve, and we'll need to improve if we want to get to where we want to go."

Head coach Sean Payton didn't pin Sunday's loss on New Orleans' latest slow start.

"Look, you come away from yesterday's game. ... I think this was first quarter through fourth quarter," Payton said Monday.

Obviously a faster start could have helped set a better tone, though. As offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said last week, a fast start leads to "a little bit of a confidence boost" for the team, and "it gets the crowd into the game, gets them going."

There are plenty of reasons for the Saints' early-game flops.

Red zone stalls have been a huge one, as offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk pointed out after Sunday's game. The Saints are now 1 of 7 in the red zone during the first quarter this season (14.3%). Only the Redskins (0 for 6) are worse.

Penalties have been another costly culprit, as Carmichael pointed out. The Saints rank second in the NFL with 14 offensive penalties called and 11 offensive penalties accepted in the first quarters of games this year.

They actually didn't commit any during their only first-quarter drive on Sunday. But then they got flagged three times on offense in the second quarter to make up for it.

Running the ball has been another issue. The Saints are averaging just 20 rushing yards per game in first quarters this year, which ranks 25th in the NFL.

But pointing out all the problem areas doesn't quite explain why New Orleans has suddenly forgotten how to come flying out of the tunnel -- which used to be one of this team's great strengths.

As the New Orleans Times-Picayune Luke Johnson pointed out, the Saints had actually scored opening-drive touchdowns in seven of their first 11 games in 2018 before they suddenly went frigid in a Week 13 loss at Dallas.

Since then, the Saints have scored a total of six points on opening drives in their past 16 games, including the playoffs.

"I wasn't aware it was the last 13 or 15, but certainly each Friday or Saturday when I'm in here putting [game plans] together, I've felt a cold streak," Payton said last week. "Because that's something that's been a strength of ours."

Payton has always scripted the first 15 offensive plays before games -- partly so he can mix personnel groupings and formations to gather information about how a defense will defend them. But not only for that reason, he stressed.

"Listen, there is a concern, because you're not just trying to see how you're being defended. You want to go down the field and score a touchdown or kick a field goal," Payton said. "Now you are hoping to gather some information. Like right away on the first play [in Week 8], I saw [cornerback Patrick] Peterson in the middle of the defensive huddle and I knew right away he was going to [shadow] Michael Thomas, and we felt that would be the case.

"But the overall goal or the objective would certainly be to score points, and we've got to be better. I've got to be better in that area."

New Orleans was favored by 13.5 points, according to Caesars Sportsbook -- making the Saints the biggest favorite to lose a game this season.

It was the fourth time -- and the first since 2001 -- that a team on a losing streak of at least six games beat a team on a winning streak of at least six games, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The others came in 1973 and 1948.

It was the first time since 2003 that a team with a record of 7-1 or better lost to a team with a record of 1-7 or worse, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

It snapped the Saints' streak of 110 home games in which they reached double-digits scoring. They were one shy of the NFL record set by the Indianapolis Colts from 1997 to 2011. ...

For the record, Brees went 32 of 45 for 287 yards and the Saints finished with 310 yards, well below their average of 375.3 coming in. That's despite getting running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook back from injuries. Other than Thomas, who caught 13 passes for 152 yards, few Saints offensive regulars approached their usual production. .

A pair of injuries to cornerback Marshon Lattimore and guard Andrus Peat also hurt the Saints.

Lattimore was shadowing Falcons receiver Julio Jones before he left the game in the second quarter with a thigh injury. He never returned despite trying to work himself back into shape on the sideline.

Before Lattimore's injury, Jones was held without a catch. Afterward, Jones caught three balls for 79 yards.

Lattimore is considered week-to-week. ...

But wait. ... It gets worse. Pro-Bowl G Andrus Peat, playing at a Pro-Bowl level again, broke his arm during Sunday’s loss to the Falcons and underwent surgery Wednesday that is expected to sideline him six weeks, a source tells NFL NEtwo.

By the way, Thomas is in hot pursuit of Marvin Harrison's NFL record of 143 catches in a season. His 13 receptions against the Falcons raised his total to 86 through nine games and put him on pace for 153. To break Harrison's mark, he will need to average 8.3 catches the rest of the way. He also is on pace for 1,826 yards, the fifth-highest total in NFL history.

After missing two games with ankle and knee issues, the normally electric Kamara did not look 100 percent healthy. He stumbled on third-and-goal just as Brees was about to throw to him on the Saints' opening series, leading to a sack that prevented a touchdown. Kamara finished with four rushes for 24 yards and eight catches for 50 yards.

Meanwhile, the Saints have three more division games upcoming on the slate, starting with a trip to Tampa Bay in Week 11.

"Shame on us if we can't get the corrections made," Payton said. "It's much easier to come in and watch tape after you win. But that's one of the things about this game that creates a little bit of toughness and grit."

The Saints will be looking to for a season sweep of the Buccaneers this weekend. We'll see if they can come up with a faster start in this one.


Sometimes duds happen in the NFL -- even though this one was more historic than most.

But Triplett went on to note the Saints' sluggish start was no anomaly.

That was part of a more disturbing season-long trend that they're going to have to shake if they want to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.

The Saints (7-2) have scored a total of just 25 points in first quarters this season, which ranks 28th in the NFL. They have scored only one offensive touchdown in the first quarter, which is tied for last in the league with the Bears, Bengals and Rams.

"I'd say that's one of the bigger things that we're lacking right now offensively is that fast start," Drew Brees said after the Saints scored on an opening drive for the first time all season on Sunday against Atlanta.

Unfortunately, they settled for a field goal after squandering a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

The Saints are also tied for last in the NFL with just three points on opening drives this year, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

They're joined by the Bengals, Steelers and Texans in that dismal category.

"I can't think this season of really anytime where, man, we've just come out like gangbusters and just score, score, score," said Brees, who hasn't fared any better in his four starts than backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did in his five starts.

They each have thrown an interception on opening drives this season. Bridgewater threw the only first-quarter TD pass, in Week 7 at Chicago to tight end Josh Hill.

"It's been kind of a slow start and then we kind of find ourselves and then maybe we break it open in the second half," Brees said. "But I'd say that that's definitely an area where we can improve, and we'll need to improve if we want to get to where we want to go."

Head coach Sean Payton didn't pin Sunday's loss on New Orleans' latest slow start.

"Look, you come away from yesterday's game. ... I think this was first quarter through fourth quarter," Payton said Monday.

Obviously a faster start could have helped set a better tone, though. As offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said last week, a fast start leads to "a little bit of a confidence boost" for the team, and "it gets the crowd into the game, gets them going."

There are plenty of reasons for the Saints' early-game flops.

Red zone stalls have been a huge one, as offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk pointed out after Sunday's game. The Saints are now 1 of 7 in the red zone during the first quarter this season (14.3%). Only the Redskins (0 for 6) are worse.

Penalties have been another costly culprit, as Carmichael pointed out. The Saints rank second in the NFL with 14 offensive penalties called and 11 offensive penalties accepted in the first quarters of games this year.

They actually didn't commit any during their only first-quarter drive on Sunday. But then they got flagged three times on offense in the second quarter to make up for it.

Running the ball has been another issue. The Saints are averaging just 20 rushing yards per game in first quarters this year, which ranks 25th in the NFL.

But pointing out all the problem areas doesn't quite explain why New Orleans has suddenly forgotten how to come flying out of the tunnel -- which used to be one of this team's great strengths.

As the New Orleans Times-Picayune Luke Johnson pointed out, the Saints had actually scored opening-drive touchdowns in seven of their first 11 games in 2018 before they suddenly went frigid in a Week 13 loss at Dallas.

Since then, the Saints have scored a total of six points on opening drives in their past 16 games, including the playoffs.

"I wasn't aware it was the last 13 or 15, but certainly each Friday or Saturday when I'm in here putting [game plans] together, I've felt a cold streak," Payton said last week. "Because that's something that's been a strength of ours."

Payton has always scripted the first 15 offensive plays before games -- partly so he can mix personnel groupings and formations to gather information about how a defense will defend them. But not only for that reason, he stressed.

"Listen, there is a concern, because you're not just trying to see how you're being defended. You want to go down the field and score a touchdown or kick a field goal," Payton said. "Now you are hoping to gather some information. Like right away on the first play [in Week 8], I saw [cornerback Patrick] Peterson in the middle of the defensive huddle and I knew right away he was going to [shadow] Michael Thomas, and we felt that would be the case.

"But the overall goal or the objective would certainly be to score points, and we've got to be better. I've got to be better in that area."

New Orleans was favored by 13.5 points, according to Caesars Sportsbook -- making the Saints the biggest favorite to lose a game this season.

It was the fourth time -- and the first since 2001 -- that a team on a losing streak of at least six games beat a team on a winning streak of at least six games, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The others came in 1973 and 1948.

It was the first time since 2003 that a team with a record of 7-1 or better lost to a team with a record of 1-7 or worse, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

It snapped the Saints' streak of 110 home games in which they reached double-digits scoring. They were one shy of the NFL record set by the Indianapolis Colts from 1997 to 2011. ...

For the record, Brees went 32 of 45 for 287 yards and the Saints finished with 310 yards, well below their average of 375.3 coming in. That's despite getting running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook back from injuries. Other than Thomas, who caught 13 passes for 152 yards, few Saints offensive regulars approached their usual production. .

A pair of injuries to cornerback Marshon Lattimore and guard Andrus Peat also hurt the Saints.

Lattimore was shadowing Falcons receiver Julio Jones before he left the game in the second quarter with a thigh injury. He never returned despite trying to work himself back into shape on the sideline.

Before Lattimore's injury, Jones was held without a catch. Afterward, Jones caught three balls for 79 yards.

Lattimore is considered week-to-week. ...

By the way, Thomas is in hot pursuit of Marvin Harrison's NFL record of 143 catches in a season. His 13 receptions against the Falcons raised his total to 86 through nine games and put him on pace for 153. To break Harrison's mark, he will need to average 8.3 catches the rest of the way. He also is on pace for 1,826 yards, the fifth-highest total in NFL history.

After missing two games with ankle and knee issues, the normally electric Kamara did not look 100 percent healthy. He stumbled on third-and-goal just as Brees was about to throw to him on the Saints' opening series, leading to a sack that prevented a touchdown. Kamara finished with four rushes for 24 yards and eight catches for 50 yards.

Meanwhile, the Saints have three more division games upcoming on the slate, starting with a trip to Tampa Bay in Week 11.

"Shame on us if we can't get the corrections made," Payton said. "It's much easier to come in and watch tape after you win. But that's one of the things about this game that creates a little bit of toughness and grit."

The Saints will be looking to for a season sweep of the Buccaneers this weekend. We'll see if they can come up with a faster start in this one.

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

New York Giants

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

Sunday's frustrating loss to the cross-town rival Jets appeared to also include a potential setback to a franchise cornerstone for the Giants.

Monday, however, has surprisingly brought a brighter outlook.

Less than 24 hours after Saquon Barkley posted his worst game as a professional (13 carries, one rushing yard, five catches and 30 receiving yards), the running back returned to Giants headquarters Monday feeling much better.

"He's fine," Giants coach Pat Shurmur told reporters. "I saw him today and he said he's feeling a lot better."

Shurmur said after the game Sunday Barkley was "banged up," and the running back could be seen entering the X-ray room after New York's 34-27 loss. Barkley later refused to answer questions pertaining to the X-ray room visit.

Sunday's loss dropped the Giants to 2-8, essentially ensuring another forgotten season in the Big Apple for the rebuilding franchise. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones had to carry the load in the defeat, completing 26 of 40 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns. His development and evaluation is now the most important product to be gained from 2019.

Barkley's previous low in a game he played from start to finish was 28 yards, which occurred last week against the Cowboys and Week 2 of his rookie season. His longest run against the Jets went for three yards. Barkley had four rushes that went for negative yards in the contest.

When asked about whether the injuries were affecting his play or about the X-ray, Barkley responded: "Next question."

It has been a struggle for Barkley ever since returning from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. He's averaging just 2.6 yards per carry in the four games since.

There were moments when Barkley was on the field that he was ineffective. It showed up on two costly plays with his blocking.

Barkley was dominated by Jets safety Jamal Adams on the sack/fumbles, with the second resulting in an Adams touchdown.

"Jamal Adams beat me. Simple as that. He's a heck of a player. All-Pro," Barkley said. "Didn't really want to switch jerseys with him after the game. Jokingly told him that. One of my good friends. One of my boys. Hell of a player. Much respect to him. I got to be better there."

There was a moment early in the second quarter when Barkley grabbed at his left leg after an incomplete pass thrown in his direction. He was taken off the field for one play, then returned without a limp.

Barkley's previous injury was to his right ankle. Regardless, as ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan advised readers, the Pro Bowl running back isn't passing the eye test at this point.

There may be reasons beyond the struggles of the Giants' offensive line, which finished the game with three backups on the field.

Whatever the case, Shurmur shut down any thought of intentionally sidelining Barkley this season, telling reporters he will "absolutely not" consider keeping the star running back out of action for the remainder of the season. Shurmur instead shifted the focus on his own shoulders, adding that he will not make any coaching changes during New York's Week 11 bye.

"It's important we coach and play better -- period," Shurmur said.

The Giants currently rank in the bottom fourth of the league in yards per game and yards allowed per game. Even with Sunday's 27-point output, they're still tied for 22nd in the NFL in scoring per game.

Barkley's involvement can only help improve those numbers and push the Giants closer toward Shurmur's goal of playing better.

We'll see by January if such a goal has been achieved.

For what it's worth, Barkley chimed in by saying he won't let injuries "be an excuse for why I'm not having a successful season."

Excuse or not, Barkley's production is down from his rookie season even as he pushes back at the idea that he's not feeling like himself.

"What's not being myself? Yes, I do feel like myself," Barkley said. "I would love to go for 100 yards every game. I would love to be doing the things I was doing last year. Trust me. I don't like the fact I was able to have one yard against a great team -- respect to them -- but I feel if you see me get into open space I was still making people miss."

Of course, Barkley isn't the only Giant heading into the bye at less than 100 percent. The off week gives them all time to heal.

Starting wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram, right tackle Mike Remmers and center Jon Halapio all missed Sunday's game because of injury. Left tackle Nate Solder exited in the second quarter with a concussion.

Looking for positives?

Jones, who threw four touchdown passes for the second time this season -- just the fifth rookie in history to accomplish the feat -- is one of their few reasons for hope.

In addition, the Giants appear to have found something with fifth-round pick Darius Slayton. The receiver caught a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and now has five this season.

Slayton, who was uncoverable for a struggling Jets secondary for most of the afternoon, finished with 10 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He also became just the third first-year player with the Giants -- joining Odell Beckham Jr. and Don Hermann -- with at least two games with multiple receiving TDs since 1950.

Veteran Golden Tate has also been on point. The playmaking wide receiver hit 20.88 miles per hour (per NextGen Status) on his 61-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. It was the second-fastest time recorded by a Giants ball carrier this season, with only Barkley doing better in the opener against the Cowboys.

Tate's touchdown was a gigantic play in the game. With the Giants trailing 21-13 early in the third quarter, he caught a screen pass near the right sideline and sprinted through a tackle downfield. The Jets had no chance to catch him at that speed. It was the first of two touchdowns for Tate.

Slayton and Tate will likely remain front and center even if Engram returns following the bye, as he predicted he would. That's because Shepard's return this season remains up in the air as he struggles to bounce back from his second concussion this season.

In addition, the announced that tight end Rhett Ellison has been placed in the concussion protocol after Sunday's game. So Solder, Janoris Jenkins and Ellison all sustained concussions against the Jets. Kaden Smith and the newly-resigned Scott Simpson are only healthy tight ends on the roster.

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

New York Jets

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini put it, "Let's say this for the New York Jets: They haven't quit on Adam Gase."

With pressure building on the embattled coach, the Jets responded Sunday with a gutty, if not artistic, 34-27 victory against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The so-called Battle of New York turned into a pillow fight, but the Jets prevailed because their two most important players -- quarterback Sam Darnold and safety Jamal Adams -- made enough big plays to save Gase from another week of intense scrutiny.

The fact that the Jets (2-7) beat an equally bad team doesn't make everything right -- heavens knows, they still did plenty of Jets-ian things -- but they showed some character after blowing a 14-0 lead, then rallying from a 27-21 deficit. They finished off the Giants (2-8), as Darnold -- cold in the second and third quarters -- sparked the offense to 13 unanswered points.

This was big for Gase because of some specific developments:

His team scored a season-high 34 points.

Darnold (19-for-30, 230 yards) snapped out of his three-game slump and didn't throw an interception for the first time since Week 1. It was only his seventh interception-free game in 19 career starts. Darnold's development is paramount for Gase, who hasn't been much of a quarterback whisperer.

Another positive was how the Jets showed late offense, a change from the usual deep freeze after the opening drive. The recent trend shined a light on Gase's inability to make in-game adjustments, but this time they figured out a way against the NFL's 28th-ranked defense. Before Sunday, they were outscored in the fourth quarter 50-27.

This was another frustrating game for running back Le'Veon Bell, despite the touchdown he scored. As Cimini suggested, the Jets' inability to create daylight is mind-boggling. Week after week, Bell gets stoned by marshmallow-soft run defenses.

As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. noted, there's no debate the star running back has said and done all the right things off the field this season in what has to be a downright frustrating first year in New York. But the numbers on the field look all wrong.

After gaining just 34 yards on 18 carries -- a 1.9 average -- Bell has just 449 yards on the season with a 3.1 average, which would rank as the lowest of his career. They've tweaked their scheme, using more double-team blocks in the middle, but that didn't work.

The offense's overall struggles have taken a toll on everyone, but Bell is still waiting to have a breakout game.

In addition, wide receiver Jamison Crowder had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. The Giants couldn't cover him. After that, Crowder disappeared. Inexplicably, they stopped going to him, save for one completion in the third quarter.

On the injury front. ... Tight end Chris Herndon, who made his 2019 debut Sunday, is done for the season after fracturing a rib.

The Jets placed Herndon and right guard Brian Winters on injured reserve Tuesday. Winters aggravated a shoulder injury against the Giants and will likely have surgery.

The Jets already have 11 players on injured reserve, including wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, linebacker Avery Williamson and cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

Winters and Herndon are the 12th and 13th.

This has been a nightmarish season for Herndon, a key component in the passing game. He was suspended four game for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, then missed another four due to a pulled hamstring.

He played only 16 offensive snaps against the Giants, catching one pass for seven yards. He received an X-ray after the game, with a CT scan Monday confirming the fracture.

Darnold said recently the offense would be "unstoppable" once Herndon returned. The offense, which has produced only 11 touchdowns in nine games, has fallen well short of expectations.

"I feel bad for Chris because he was excited to get back out there," Gase said. "For whatever reason, he couldn't catch a break this year."

The Jets will continue with Ryan Griffin, tied for the team lead with three touchdowns, as their lead tight end. ...

More immediately, Gase told reporters on Wednesday Bell would be held out of practice today with an illness. I'll be following up via Late-Breaking update in coming days. ...

This week, the Jets will look to make it two in a row Sunday at Washington against the Redskins, who'll start Dwayne Haskins at quarterback for the rest of the season. It will mark the second rookie QB in a row New York will face.

And finally. ... Gase's first year as the Jets’ head coach has not been a great success, but the team’s top decision maker said on Wednesday that he will get a chance to do a better job in 2020.

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson is running the show while his brother Woody serves as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and he spoke to reporters about Gase’s future on Wednesday. Johnson said that he’s disappointed with how this season has played out, but that he’s not going to make a second coaching change in as many years.

Johnson said that Gase will not be fired before the end of this season and that the team will not make a coaching change after the season either. Johnson cited general manager Joe Douglas and Darnold in his statement of support for Gase.

“I want to assure you there will be no changes in coaches here,” Johnson said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Adam has the trust of this team. He has the trust of Sam. He has Joe’s trust. He has my trust. He’s a good man. He’s a good coach.”

Johnson said he gave the team the same message last week before they beat the Giants 34-27 for Gase’s second win as a member of the organization.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Sam Darnold, David Fales
RBs: Le'Veon Bell, Bilal Powell, Ty Montgomery, Trenton Cannon, Josh Adams
WRs: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas, Braxton Berrios, Tim White, Josh Bellamy
TEs: Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown

Oakland Raiders

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow, the success for the Oakland Raiders this season has been built mostly by an efficient offense that has moved the ball as well as almost anyone to help overcome a sometimes suspect defense.

When that formula wasn't working against the stingy Los Angeles Chargers defense, the Raiders went back to a formula that worked well in 2016, the only year they have made the playoffs since a Super Bowl loss following the 2002 season.

A late touchdown drive by Derek Carr and a key interception by Karl Joseph sealed the 26-24 victory over the Chargers on Thursday night that has put the Raiders squarely in the AFC playoff race.

With back-to-back wins in a five-day span featuring a late TD drive and a game-sealing defensive play by Joseph, the Raiders (5-4) are only a half-game out of the playoffs.

"I think so," Joseph said if these wins reminded him of the 2016 team that used plenty of late-game magic to win 12 games. "Just the resilience that we had to be able to come back, our team driving when we need to go score and our defense coming up with the stop. It definitely is."

The Raiders survived a 48-day stretch without a home game by winning twice in five games and now have back-to-back wins to open a three-game homestand.

With games against winless Cincinnati and the one-win New York Jets the next two weeks, the Raiders are in good position to be in contention heading into the final month of their final season in Oakland.

"This team is a lot better than what we get credit for, and I think you see that now," said Josh Jacobs, who scored the game-winning 18-yard TD. "I mean we're just starting to put the pieces together. So, it's going to be fun and interesting to see how we go on this little stretch and see how we do next week."

But Carr has been key.

He completed five passes on the winning 75-yard drive before handing off to Jacobs for the final 18 yards on a TD run with 1:02 remaining. That gave Carr 18 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, the most by any player in his first six seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.

Carr also led a 92-yard comeback drive in London against the Bears last month and a 75-yard game-winning drive last week against Detroit.

One problem?

The offensive line had been the strength of the Raiders all season despite the five projected starters being on the field together for only 10 snaps before Thursday's game. Carr was sacked three times after going down just twice in the previous five games and the Raiders were held to a season-low 78 yards on the ground.

In addition, Daniel Carlson missed a field goal for the second straight week, giving him three misses this season after having only one last year for Oakland. But that miss from 53 yards wasn't nearly as bad as the missed extra point after Jacobs' go-ahead touchdown that kept the score at 26-24 and would have allowed the Chargers to win it with a field goal.

But there's plenty going right and it starts with Jacobs.

Besides the fact that Jacobs' 18-yard sprint to the end zone on Thursday was the difference in last week's win, the first-round pick has already reestablished the Raiders' rookie rushing record and his 811 yards are best among rookies this season.

He's got seven touchdowns, as well, with 4.8 yards per carry, 90.1 yards per game and is just 189 yards shy of becoming the first franchise 1,000-yard runner since Latavius Murray had 1,066 in 2015.

His abilities as a runner are only part of the package, though, as general manager Mike Mayock said the first two boxes that needed to be checked were his abilities to block in the passing game and to catch out of the backfield.

"I think his lateral quickness, his ability to make people miss, his pass protection, his hands. And the cool thing is, it looks like the play is blocked for one yard and he gets four. And then it looks like you block it for four and he gets 10," Mayock said while rattling off the rookie's attributes. "If this kid takes care of all the details, he has a chance to be good."

Most would likely say Jacobs has already run past good in a great first season.

"He's nine games into his career and we're cautiously optimistic," Mayock said.

Fantasy owners have moved past that point. ..

The Raiders got a few extra days off before hosting the winless Bengals on Nov. 17 and we'll see if Carr, Jacobs and Co. can keep the offense rolling in a great matchup.

A few final items here. ... The Raiders placed safety Karl Joseph, who suffered a season-ending injury on his game-sealing interception Thursday night, on injured reserve Saturday and signed free-agent safety D.J. Swearinger. The Raiders also added defensive end Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2013 draft who is serving out the final week of his NFL-mandated 10-game suspension this weekend, to help bolster their defense and fledgling playoff hopes.

DB Lamarcus Joyner is expected to miss up to a few weeks with a hamstring injury, according to NFL Network's Pelissero. Joyner's injury is not believed to be season-ending.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Derek Carr, Mike Glennon
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington
WRs: Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, Trevor Davis, Keelan Doss
TEs: Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier

Philadelphia Eagles

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi, changing their identity might give the Philadelphia Eagles their best chance to make a playoff run.

Though the Eagles (5-4) have been a pass-first offense under head coach Doug Pederson, they are more successful when they commit to running the ball. Since 2016, they're 21-2 when they have at least 120 yards rushing and 9-11 when they have 275 or more yards passing.

Relying on a strong ground attack when they return from a bye could help them overtake Dallas (5-3) in the NFC East, especially with DeSean Jackson out for the season.

"I think every team in the NFL would say they're a better team when they're able to establish the ground game," quarterback Carson Wentz said. "I think that's the recipe to open up the passing game and the play-action, the boot legs, and all of that."

Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are a terrific tandem in the backfield. Howard has 525 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Sanders has 336 yards rushing and one score. Both are averaging 4.4 yards per carry and each has a TD receiving. Sanders has been Philadelphia's best big-play receiver since Jackson injured his abdomen in Week 2. He has 22 catches for 305 yards and his average of 13.9 yards per reception is second behind Jackson's 17.7.

"Jordan has about as good of a feel for zone-blocking and zone plays as you can get when it's the mid-zone," center Jason Kelce said. "He has the patience and the vision and the hard work. He's a very even-keeled, go-about-his-business, lunch-pail type of guy. I have a lot of respect for how he goes about his business and plays this game."

Howard is a tough, physical runner who always seems to go forward and gets positive yards. Sanders is flashy, explosive and can go the distance any time he touches the ball. He had a 65-yard TD run against Buffalo.

"I can't say enough good things about him and really all the running backs," Wentz said. "But just the way he's come in as a rookie and willing to learn. We've asked a lot of him from obviously running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, picking up protections. We put a lot on his plate and he's really handled everything well and been able to make a lot of splash plays, a lot of big plays for this offense."

Sanders, Howard and the offensive linemen would be happy to see Pederson turn the Eagles into a ground-and-pound offense.

"We want to control the line of scrimmage," Sanders said. "We want to come in every game and take control of the line of scrimmage. As long as the run game is going and is effective, then it opens up a lot more because we have weapons outside, too."

The problem for the offense so far has been the wide receivers. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are excellent tight ends, but the wideouts aren't getting open or making plays. Jackson played one full game and now is recovering from surgery to repair a core muscle injury. Alshon Jeffery has struggled with drops. Nelson Agholor has also had issues catching the ball and getting open. Mack Hollins and rookie second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have one catch combined over the past six games.

Agholor and Arcega-Whiteside dropped what would've been go-ahead touchdown catches in the final two minutes in consecutive close losses in September.

"We just have to continue to work with these guys," Pederson said, referring to Jeffery and Agholor. "Every week is a new week. Every week is a new set of challenges. As we put game plans together, we do think about these guys and putting them into positions and look, sometimes you get in the game, and I'm the one calling the plays and sometimes the game kind of steers a different direction than what you think during the week. But I think overall, these guys have been in a position to help and help us win, and have a lot of confidence in both those guys moving forward."

On defense, the Eagles are getting healthy and improving. They're 2-1 this season and 15-5 overall with cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills starting together.

"We are getting there. We are definitely warming up," Mills said. "Coming off of this bye, everyone is going to rest their mind and rest their body and we are going to come back and play the Patriots at top level."

Tough homes games are coming up against New England (8-1) and Seattle (7-2).

Keeping the ball away from Tom Brady and Russell Wilson would certainly seem like a formula to win. Howard and Sanders could do that if Pederson sticks to the run. ...

Also worth noting. ... As ESPN's Mike Clay reminded readers, Ertz got back on track with a 9-103-1 receiving line on 11 targets against the Bears on Sunday.

Ertz had been in a bit of a slump, failing to clear 54 yards or find the end zone during his previous three games. Following that effort. Ertz sits fifth among tight ends in fantasy points, having posted four top-seven fantasy weeks. Ertz has been targeted at least seven times in seven of nine games.

There are eight "reliable" weekly tight end options right now, and Ertz certainly remains one of them. The Eagles' relatively easy remaining schedule should lead to more games like Sunday. ...

On the injury front. ... Pederson called Jeffery, who did no practice Wednesday, “day to day” due to an ankle injury while Howard was limited by a sore shoulder; I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

One last note here. ... The Eagles signed standout guard Brandon Brooks to a four-year extension Monday that runs through 2024.

The deal is worth $56.5 million with $30 million guaranteed and makes Brooks the highest-paid guard in the NFL, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Brooks is having what offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland described as "the best season of his life right now" despite the fact that he's coming off an Achilles rupture suffered last January in a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Pro Football Focus' 93.4 overall grade on the season for Brooks is the highest among any offensive lineman, and puts him on track to be the fourth-highest-graded player among guards since PFF began tracking players.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson
RBs: Miles Sanders, Jay Ajayi, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard
WRs: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward
TEs: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert

Pittsburgh Steelers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

After missing two weeks with a shoulder injury, running back James Conner expects to be back for Thursday night's game in Cleveland.

"I'm making a lot of progress on it, and I think I'll be good to go," Conner said. "I can't make no guarantees, but as of right now, I'm feeling very good and things are feeling very confident for me playing on Thursday."

As ESPN.com's Brooke Pryor notes, the Steelers run game pieced together with Jaylen Samuels and two former practice squad backs in Trey Edmunds and Tony Brooks-James desperately needs Conner to return. Against the Rams, the team averaged a paltry 1.6 yards per carry. A week earlier, it was marginally better at 3.6 yards per carry.

"We've been playing versus good defenses," Conner said. "I just want to contribute to the run game when I get back. Mason played good. We won the games without the run game. That doesn't mean we don't need it because we definitely do, and so hopefully I can contribute to it when I get back."

Conner, who was in the midst of his best game of the season with 145 rushing yards and a touchdown, was injured in the final minutes against Miami when he landed on his shoulder the wrong way and defenders piled on top of him.

The team was off Monday, but head coach Mike Tomlin said Conner would have been a full participant in practice if one had occurred.

"It's a hypothetical work day and so there's some angst there," Tomlin said. "We feel comfortable about his ability to be available to us as we do (guard) Ramon Foster, but we have to get through the week in that regard."

Conner last practiced on Nov. 6, but didn't participate the rest of the week after that.

"I didn't take a step back, just really was like a trial," Conner said. "Seeing how it felt. That's the main thing we preach, no steps back. I just wanted to be out there with the guys again and just being around some football, going through walkthroughs, catching a couple passes. I kind of knew where I was at, but I wanted to get back out there like a little trial."

Conner also spent more than 20 minutes on Heinz Field before Sunday's game, working out with a trainer one-on-one to stay in shape.

"If I do play on Thursday, it's kind of hard to match game fatigue to just regular out on the field running," he said. "I'm just trying to get a little exercise, a little sweat. Working the cardio."

The key to rebounding from this injury is pain management, Conner said Monday.

Although the team won't practice much before Thursday's game, Conner said he'll be able to tell if he's ready by reaching range of motion and strength benchmarks. A week after the injury, Conner wasn't easily able to move his arm above his head, he said. That's gotten progressively better.

Although he'll be playing in his first game back from injury, Conner isn't going to change his hard-charging running style.

"It's not really something I think about," Conner said. "My running style has got me this far, so I continue to do it. I'm not going to change my game completely. I'm a running back. Things happen."

Also according to Pryor, Mason Rudolph (22 of 38, 242 yards, 1 TD) played like he got permission to push the ball down the field more, attempting six passes of at least 15 yards downfield in the first half, tied for his second-most of any game this season.

In the second half, the Steelers went a long time between pass attempts, but found a rhythm in the 8-minute drive in the fourth quarter as Rudolph connected with Washington. Aaron Donald didn't record a sack, but he affected Rudolph plenty in the first half. Donald got into the backfield quickly, forcing Rudolph to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

For yet another week, Steelers receivers couldn't hold on to the ball. The most costly came in the third quarter when Vance McDonald dropped a pass from Rudolph that would have put the Steelers in field goal range. McDonald's drop was the Steelers' third on third down and fourth of the game.

Of course, a Thursday night game requires early injury report sharing practice participation levels on Monday even though they didn't practice.

Conner was listed as a full practice participant on Monday's estimated injury report and he worked in full when the team actually got on the field Tuesday as well.

He was removed from the final injury report on Wednesday.

One of the guys blocking for Conner looks to be on track to return as well. Left guard Ramon Foster was a full participant as he continues to make his way back from a concussion.

Linebackers Anthony Chickillo (ribs) and Ola Adeniyi (hip) were limited on Tuesday. Center Maurkice Pouncey got a rest day while wide receiver Ryan Switzer (back), running back Benny Snell (knee) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) sat out the session for injury reasons.

Switzer, Snell and Nix were ruled out on Wednesday

I'll have more on Conner and the rest via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday's game.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Devlin Hodges, Mason Rudolph, Ben Roethlisberger
RBs: James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Kerrith Whyte
WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Johnny Holton, Deon Cain, Tevin Jones
TEs: Vance McDonald, Nick Vannett, Zach Gentry

San Francisco 49ers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As NFL.com's Jelani Scott framed it, "Injuries, big plays and numerous twists of fate made this one an instant classic but, when it was over, the San Francisco 49ers fell short to the Seattle Seahawks for their first loss of 2019."

It took a 42-yard Jason Myers field goal in overtime with four seconds remaining to bring the 49ers back down to earth, if for only a moment, and sink their bid at a perfect season.

The game featured several plays both sides wish they could've had a second crack at. For head coach Kyle Shanahan, he spoke after the game about "definitely [wishing] we took more time off the clock" in OT to not give MVP candidate Russell Wilson a chance to create, which is exactly what he did on an 18-yard run to set up the game-winning kick for a 27-24 win.

On a night when the Niners turned the ball over three times and allowed five sacks and 10 quarterback hits, they still had their chances to win the game. None was more tailor-made for a storybook ending than kicker Chase McLaughlin's 47-yard field goal attempt in overtime.

After hitting his first three field goals of the night, including a 47-yarder to send the game to overtime, McLaughlin had another shot from the same distance to win it in the extra period. He couldn't convert.

McLaughlin, who was signed this week to replace injured veteran kicker Robbie Gould, wasn't sure what went wrong on the kick but suspected he rushed it a bit and hit it too high, resulting in the ball sailing wide left.

"That's the life of a kicker," said McLaughlin, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois. "There's a lot of ups and downs. You've just got stay constant through it. A lot of highs and lows, and you've got to just keep moving on day by day."

Now all Shanahan and his team can do is avoid hanging their heads and go back to the drawing board to figure out what happened Monday night.

"Obviously, it's disappointing when you don't win, especially when you felt you had a number of chances. I was very proud of our guys, I thought our guys competed very hard, guys left it all out there. I know guys are hurting right now," Shanahan said. "I thought all three phases played hard, I thought our defense was unbelievable. I thought the offense played hard as they could but made way too many mistakes to pull out a win in that game."

Like Shanahan mentioned, the defense lived up to its strong reputation for most of this one but the offense, who was without George Kittle coming in and lost Emmanuel Sanders to a rib injury early in the second quarter, struggled throughout.

Outside of a strong night from rookie receiver Deebo Samuel (8 receptions, 112 yards), the offense managed just one touchdown -- a 10-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne in the second quarter -- while the defense and special teams accounted for the rest.

The Niners' second-ranked ground game never got off the ground against Seattle's front, with Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman combining for just 58 rushing yards before Breida left with an ankle injury; the long runs that had bamboozled previous opponents weren't there.

Raheem Mostert got some turns, too.

In the end, the 49ers' normally imposing run game underperformed with just 86 yards between their three-headed monster in the backfield.

"I think everyone on offense had their moments but I think no one was consistent enough," Shanahan said. "I thought [the offensive line] gave us some decent time to throw. We didn't always get guys open right away and I think we struggled in the run game. I think that was pretty obvious, there wasn't a lot of clean lanes that we're used to having."

After taking just 12 sacks all season, Jimmy Garoppolo was brought down five times and faced a ton of pressure from a Seattle defense who, unlike their counterpart, had not lived up to expectations. The absence of his go-to targets, numerous drops by his receivers, solid coverage from the Seahawks' secondary and two lost fumbles certainly didn't help, and Jimmy G was not shy while offering his take on what transpired.

"I think I could throw the ball better, we could catch it better. I think it's just a little bit of everything," Garoppolo said when asked what the offense could've done differently. "There's not one specific thing that sticks out but it's a bit of a reality check for us.

He later added that the answers to their troubles can only be found by looking within.

"You got to be critical of yourself. What could we have done better? What caused this to happen? You got to be hard on yourselves and I think we got a good group of guys in there with the right mindset. We're going to come into work tomorrow and fight."

Make no mistake, however; The offense wasn't the same without Sanders. Shanahan said after Monday night's game that Sanders will have an MRI to determine the severity of the chest injury he suffered.

Shanahan called it an injury to Sanders' ribs. On the last play before he left, Sanders pulled up and grabbed at his side. The injury itself occurred earlier.

"Emmanuel was out there battling," Shanahan said. "Had that happen with his ribs. He tried to go a few more series longer, but he had to go out."

As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio notes, after Sanders went out, the air largely went out of the team's passing attack.

"Other guys came in, some guys stepped it up at times," Shanahan said. "We just didn't have the consistency out there."

Sanders had two catches for 24 yards before he exited the game. As noted by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 49ers generated 108 yard and 10 points in their first two series, both with Sanders available. After he left, the offense generated only two field goals and 194 yards.

Even with all the offensive ups and downs, the game was still within the 49ers grasp, thanks to the defense giving it their all against Wilson. It's hard to ask for so many stops facing a player of his ilk, though, and it eventually caught up to them.

That said, more than maintaining an unbeaten record, a win Monday would have put the Niners firmly in control of the NFC West. Instead, Seattle now sits just one game back in the loss column and holds the early tiebreaker.

The Niners don't have much time to lick their wounds, either, as they will play the Arizona Cardinals on short rest before a three-game gantlet against the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that Breida will seek a second opinion about the extent of his ankle injury. The injury isn't thought to be terribly serious, but there's an expectation that Breida could miss time (perhaps one or two games perh NFL Network's Ian Rapoport). Breida has 465 yards and two touchdowns on 105 carries and 21 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.

In the meantime, I'll be watching for more on Sanders, Kittle and Breida in coming days -- but expect game-time decisions for at best for all three; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses.


Finally. ... The 49ers got left tackle Joe Staley back in the lineup on Monday night, but he may be back on the sideline for the next couple of weeks.

Staley didn’t suffer any problems with the fibula fracture that forced him to miss six games this season. He did injure his finger, however, and Shanahan said on Tuesday that Staley may need surgery to repair the problem.

If that’s the case, Shanahan said that Staley could miss a couple of weeks. The 49ers host the Cardinals and Packers the next two weeks.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
RBs: Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson
WRs: Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Richie James
TEs: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Levine Toilolo

Seattle Seahawks

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

According to ESPN.com's Brady Henderson, Russell Wilson called it the craziest game he has been part of. Duane Brown called it a championship boxing match. The Seattle Seahawks can call it their best win of the season, despite how sloppy it was at times.

Because of it, they're still alive in the NFC West race.

The Seahawks seemed headed for a heartbreaking defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday after Wilson threw an interception on the first possession of overtime, setting the Niners up with a short field. But the Seahawks overcame that turnover and three others to win 27-24 on Jason Myers' 42-yard field goal after Wilson led another game-winning drive two possessions later.

It handed the 49ers (8-1) their first loss of the season and gave the Seahawks (8-2) their second overtime win in as many weeks as they head into their bye. San Francisco remains a half-game ahead of Seattle, with a rematch set for Week 17 at CenturyLink Field.

Of the Seahawks' first seven wins, only two came against teams that had winning records as of Monday: the 5-4 Rams and the 5-4 Steelers.

The two teams combined for seven turnovers, and each scored a defensive touchdown. Jadeveon Clowney returned a second-quarter fumble for a TD as part of his monster night that included a strip sack, five QB hits, five tackles and at least two pressures that led to sacks by Seattle teammates. His score came on a strip sack by Jarran Reed, one of five sacks and 10 hits the Seahawks got on Jimmy Garoppolo as the pass rush that has been their defense's biggest weakness finally came alive.

Seattle's defense held the 49ers' offense to a pair of field goals after allowing 10 points in the first quarter, with the 49ers' lone touchdown of the second half coming on a Wilson fumble returned for a score.

Wilson has been squarely in the conversation for MVP, having thrown 22 touchdowns with one interception entering Monday, good for the league's best TD-to-INT ratio. Because of that, an interception was the last way anyone expected the Seahawks' first drive of overtime to end after the offense reached the red zone. But Dre Greenlaw picked off an underthrown pass to Jacob Hollister. According to ESPN Stats and Information, it was the second time a quarterback threw an interception in the red zone in overtime in the past 15 seasons (Jacoby Brissett in 2017 was the other).

The Seahawks took over with 1:25 left, and Wilson drove them 40 yards on seven plays -- including an 18-yard scramble on third-and-3 -- to set up Myers' kick on Seattle's third possession of OT. Wilson was 3-of-3 on that drive for 15 yards, not including a spike to stop the clock, and he finished 24-of-34 for 232 yards, a touchdown and the interception.

Wilson also led a game-winning drive last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he has 28 such drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his career. That ties him with Matthew Stafford for the most since Wilson's rookie season in 2012, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Wilson's the best quarterback in the league," Brown said. "When you've got him under center, I don't care how much time's on the clock. We feel like we've got a chance."

The Seahawks didn't have Tyler Lockett in overtime after their No. 1 receiver suffered what Carroll called a "really bad lower-leg bruise."

Lockett was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

"He's out of here right now to get looked at," Carroll said afterward. "It will be OK but it's a pretty severe situation for right now.

"I think there was a lot of swelling. The contusion caused a lot of swelling right away and they've got stuff. ... There [are] concerns about that so they've got to make sure. ... There's a compartment element in this so they've got to make sure and just got to take care of him. And we're ahead of it so we should be in good shape."

As Profootballtalk.com noted, the "compartment element" Carroll was referring to is likely compartment syndrome, which is a severe swelling of a muscle that could lead to cut off blood flow and effect nerve and muscle cells.

Lockett was unable to play in overtime due to the issue. He fielded the kickoff on the final play of regulation and took a knee to send the game to the extra quarter. He did not return to the field for the overtime session, leaving Seattle without their top receiver and top tight end as Luke Willson was also out due to a hamstring injury.

"You could tell not having [Lockett] out there, we looked different," Carroll said. "We need him back."

On Monday, Carroll said during his appearance on 710 ESPN today that Lockett "should be OK" -- even though the wideout was remaining in the hospital Tuesday night.

The Seahawks will have their bye week this week, which gives Lockett two weeks to recover before a scheduled Sunday night meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.

As for Willson, Carroll said the tight end has a "legit" hamstring injury (according to Henderson, Carroll's way of saying it's serious). Carroll said Ed Dickson was close to being activated off IR this weekend and will be back for Seattle's next game, following the bye this week. ...

One last note here. ... Josh Gordon joined the Seahawks as a waiver claim on November 1 and had a week of practice with the team before entering the lineup in Santa Clara. He would wait until late in the fourth quarter to make his first catch, but it came in a big spot.

Gordon caught a pass from Wilson and gained 13 yards on a third-and-six to continue a drive that ended with a Myers field goal. Wilson looked Gordon's way on another third down in overtime and Gordon picked up 14 yards on his second and final catch of the night.

"Josh Gordon has been a great addition to our team," Wilson said in his postgame press conference. "We have a lot of great receivers and a lot of guys who can catch the football and make plays. He made some huge, huge catches today on third downs. He had the one slant to the right and I think another on the left. Just some of the plays he was making with confidence on big third downs to continue drives. He was great. He had a great week. It's great to have him on our football team."

Gordon last played with the Patriots in Week 6, but said his experience made it easier to hit the ground running and that he's looking forward to expanding on the chemistry he appears to have with Wilson already.

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: Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall suggested, now that Tampa Bay has stopped a four-game losing streak, the next challenge for the Buccaneers is finding a way to win two straight.

That's been a daunting task for a young team in its first year under head coach Bruce Arians.

All season long, the Bucs (3-6) have undermined their chances for success with turnovers, untimely penalties and a knack for not making basic plays that can be the difference between winning and losing.

Sunday's 30-27 victory over Arizona was especially gratifying because for the first time in more than a month, the offense and defense both overcame critical mistakes to win for the first time since the team played possibly its best game of the season in beating the Los Angeles Rams 55-40 on the road.

"This could turn it around for us," second-year defensive tackle Vita Vea said.

"This is what we needed. We needed a big win," said tight end O.J. Howard, who returned from missing two games with a sore hamstring to catch four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. "It's all about confidence."

A week after playing poorly in the first extensive playing time of his career, rookie cornerback Jamel Dean rebounded to end Kyler Murray's streak of 211 consecutive pass attempts without an interception and set the stage for Jameis Winston to lead a six-play, 92-yard scoring drive that gave Tampa Bay the lead for good with 1:43 remaining.

Winston shrugged off throwing two more interceptions to boost his NFL-leading total to 14 with help from a defense that allowed 417 yards but minimized the damage caused by three turnovers by keeping Arizona from scoring after two of them.

"Offensively, we can talk about turnovers. ... We can talk about penalties. But again, we made plays to win the game," Arians said.

"We had so many close games that we couldn't finish," linebacker Shaquil Barrett noted, "and we were finally able to finish one."

The Bucs have led entering the fourth quarter in three of their six losses.

They've also not played well the week following victories, blowing an 18-point, second-half lead in a 32-31 home loss to the New York Giants on Sept. 22 and falling behind by two touchdowns early in the second half before falling 31-24 at New Orleans on Oct. 6.

They'll take a crack at winning consecutive games the first third time when they host the NFC South-leading Saints next Sunday.

Other notes of interest. ... Despite turning the ball over 12 times in the past five games, Winston continues to make strides in what essentially is a season he needs to prove he's Tampa Bay's long-term solution at quarterback. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft, making nearly $21 million in the final year of his contract, has been especially effective lately in the Bucs' two-minute offense. He led long TD drives in the closing minutes of the first and second half the past two weeks against Seattle and Arizona.

"Right now ... I don't know of anybody playing better in two-minute in the last three or four weeks," Arians said. ...

Ronald Jones had his most productive day as a pro Sunday. After the game, his emotions ranged from grateful to despondent.

Making his second NFL start, Jones led the Bucs with eight receptions for 77 yards. He scored Tampa Bay's first touchdown on the ground, but all he could think about was his fourth-quarter fumble that nearly cost the Bucs the game.

As the Tampa Bay Times noted, Jones had supplanted Peyton Barber as the team's starting tailback and Arians predicted his role would continue to increase.

On Sunday, he showcases his pass-catching abilities, something that hindered his playing time during a disappointing rookie season. He caught every ball thrown his way. He averaged 9.6 yards a catch. He caught four screen passes for a team-high 55 yards in the first half.

But his final catch of the day, another screen pass that would have likely been for a first down, slipped out of his hands at the Tampa Bay 43-yard line.

"It's good, good to be involved," Jones said. "But ball security is No. 1. Thank God for my teammates and the talent in this room, we were able to get the win still. But I've got to be better."

Jones didn't play again after the fumble, watching from the sidelines as Barber's 1-yard touchdown run capped the game-clinching drive following rookie Jamel Dean's interception.

"RoJo, he's still a work in progress," Arians said. "He made a great run for the touchdown. He's out there catching balls and making people miss and then he still misses a blitz pickup that he shouldn't miss. We get a penalty because he's running a screen when he's supposed to be picking up a blitzer. So he's still a work in progress, but it's still a hell of a good work."

Jones received a career-high 18 carries for 67 yards in his first career NFL start last week in Seattle. He entered Sunday with just eight catches on the season.

Jones said he didn't expect to see many balls thrown his way, but Cardinals were giving the Bucs space in the flat. In their first eight games, Bucs running backs averaged just 4.25 receptions a game, and 18 of the 34 catches went to Dare Ogunbowale, the team's primary third-down pass-catching back.

The new Bucs coaching staff loves Jones. His teammates also see how good he can be.

"I told him 'RoJo, we have your back. I make a lot of mistakes, but you don't see me hanging my head,'" Winston said. "You will make a big play for us.' He has been making big plays for us this whole year. It was big for him to be resilient. ..."

Howard, a first-round draft pick in 2017, has been underutilized this season. He was targeted seven times against the Cardinals and had his first TD reception. With 17 receptions for 223 yards, he's fourth on the team in catches and third in receiving yardage.

And finally. ... Arians benched former first-round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves in the third quarter Sunday because he didn't believe Hargreaves showed enough effort at the beginning of the third quarter, when the defense surrendered a 55-yard catch on a slant route by Andy Isabella.

"He didn't look like he was hustling to go in for a tackle," said Arians, who had called out the secondary earlier this week for giving up a fourth-quarter lead to the Seattle Seahawks.

"If that's what Coach saw, that's what he saw," said Hargreaves, the Bucs' most experienced corner with 34 career starts under his belt. "There's no arguing it. I need to hustle, point-blank, end of discussion. And I'll get better. I'm sure I'll talk with him this week and we'll get things straightened out, and we'll see where to go from here."

Two days later, we found out where it goes from here: The Bucs released Hargreaves Tuesday morning.

The 11th overall pick in 2016 from the University of Florida, Hargreaves struggled to hold up his reputation as a ball hawk in the NFL with only two career interceptions in four seasons.

Hargreaves was informed of the decision Tuesday morning at the team's training facility by general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians.

The decision to release Hargreaves has a financial component. The Bucs picked up Hargreaves' fifth-year option for $9 million for 2020 that is guaranteed only against injury. The Bucs also have liked the improvement of rookie cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting.

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, Scott Miller, Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson
TEs: Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, Tanner Hudson

Tennessee Titans

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

The Tennessee Titans get to rest now after clawing their way back to .500, salvaging a 2-4 start by winning three of their last four.

"We got a good bye week, timely bye week for us to rest up, get healthy, improve," cornerback Logan Ryan said Monday. "Get our guys back and get ready for an important stretch here, a lot of division games coming up, and obviously it's all about how you finish in this league, and the finish is near. I think it's a perfect bye week for us."

If the Titans (5-5) can finish the season the way they've won three straight at home, then they might have a chance at their first playoff berth under second-year coach Mike Vrabel. They turned in an amazing goal-line stand to beat the Chargers on Oct. 20, then Ryan intercepted a pass inside the final minute to beat Tampa Bay on Oct. 27.

They pulled out their biggest comeback yet on Sunday, rallying to beat Kansas City 35-32 with Joshua Kalu blocking a 52-yard field goal at the last second.

"Thank God that we were able to keep them to field goals in those situations," Vrabel said.

They should also thank Derrick Henry, who had a feeling the Titans might lean on him on Sunday.

After the win over the Chiefs, the Titans running back was glad they did.

It's safe to say he's not the only one.

"I knew this would be game where we would have to control the tempo, and the ball because they can score so fast -- they have so many weapons," Henry said after his 188-yard rushing performance. "I felt like as long as we can control the ball and move the line of scrimmage and have efficient runs and continue being physical, with me just doing my job, I felt like we had a great chance to win this game.

"I felt like the o-line, tight ends, the receivers did a great job blocking and I just had to go out there and do my job."

Henry did his job.

Henry ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries as the Titans came from behind to beat the Chiefs. Henry finished with the second-most rushing yards in a game in his career, behind only his 238-yard game against the Jaguars last December.

Henry's 68-yard touchdown run was the fourth longest of his career. He added a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Worth noting, Henry was clocked at 21.27 mph on his 68-yard touchdown run, per NextGen Stats. It was his fastest time this season. His previous high was 20.93 mph.

"Once I saw the whole defense overflow," Henry said of his 68-yard run, "I cut back and saw the seam, and my eyes got big. I broke the tackle and the rest is history -- it was six."

Ten games into the season, Henry is now fourth in the NFL with 832 yards rushing and fourth with eight TDs. He's tied for the fifth most games in a player's first four seasons in NFL history, with three career games of at least 170 yards and two TDs rushing, and only Jim Brown (six), Eric Dickerson (six), Earl Campbell (five) and Jamal Lewis (four) having more.

Even when the Titans fell down nine points in the fourth quarter, the Titans stuck with the run, and Henry. The 23 carries were the fourth most of his four-year NFL career.

"I think that's the willingness between us as an offense beating the man across from you and just being physical," Henry said. "Like I said, credit to those guys up front that do all the dirty work."

For the record, ESPN.com's Tristan Cockcroft notes that Henry's 33.1 PPR fantasy points Sunday were the second-most he has scored in any game in his career, trailing only the 47.8 he had in Week 14 of 2018.

Negatives?

The Titans struggled again to do anything offensively, managing only 16 yards in the first quarter against the Chiefs and fell behind 10-0. They gave up two sacks, with Ryan Tannehill stripped of the ball on one. One improvement from last week? Henry got the ball five times in just 5:27 after having only two rushes in the first half of last week's loss at Carolina.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan struggled in this one. The three-time Pro Bowler had three more penalties, giving him a team-high nine for the season despite being suspended the first four games. Lewan apologized after the game and spoke again Monday in the locker room.

"The reality is those penalties aren't good enough," he said.

Beyond that, The Titans turned to Tannehill looking for a spark on offense. They're scoring 26.2 points a game in Tannehill's four starts, 10 points more than in Marcus Mariota's six starts.

Now, as Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker noted, the team will rest up and heal for a six-game stretch run in which the Titans play three of the teams ahead of them in the AFC chase for the playoffs. The Jaguars (4-5), who visit on Nov. 23, are the only team left on Tennessee's schedule currently below .500. The Titans visit Indianapolis (5-4) and Oakland (5-4), with two to play against AFC South division leader Houston (6-3).

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, Kalif Raymond
TEs: Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, MyCole Pruitt

Washington Redskins

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 12 November 2019

As NFL.com's Nick Shook noted, the Redskins spent the bye week resting, healing and allowing speculation to run rampant in regards to their starting quarterback situation.

Monday brought a new work week and with it a definitive answer under center. Interim coach Bill Callahan announced rookie Dwayne Haskins will remain Washington's starter for the remainder of the season.

It was reported last week it was likely Callahan would come to such a decision, but with the relative anonymity afforded by the bye, the Redskins didn't make anything public until Monday's media availability. Callahan added that Case Keenum will serve as Haskins' backup, while Colt McCoy will be the No. 3 quarterback.

Haskins hasn't had much in the way of game reps so far, appearing in just two games before making his first start in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills. Haskins put together his best game of the three against the Bills, completing 15 of 22 passes for 144 yards and an 86.2 passer rating.

On the year, Haskins has completed 61.4 percent of his attempts but has yet to throw a touchdown pass. His four interceptions have left his passer rating below 45, but he's been sacked eight times in three games, pointing at least some of the blame on frequent pressure.

At 1-8 and playing under an interim coach, it's clear this Redskins season is about evaluating the talent on this roster before entering the offseason with a focus on turning over a good portion of said roster. Haskins will get seven more games in 2019 to prove he's the franchise's future at quarterback.

Meanwhile, as ESPN.com's John Keim reminded readers, the Redskins activated running back Derrius Guice off the injured reserve list, but that doesn't mean Adrian Peterson's days of starting have ended.

The Redskins announced Guice's return last Thursday. He was placed on IR after tearing the meniscus in his left knee in the season opener. Callahan said last week that Guice would be returning for this week's game against the New York Jets.

However, a source tells Keim they expects Peterson to continue to start, a move that runs counter to what the Redskins did in the season opener when both were available.

In that game, the Redskins started Guice and deactivated Peterson, which angered some veteran offensive linemen -- notably right tackle Morgan Moses. Other players said privately they were surprised but that they understood the move because Peterson wouldn't have had a big role in the game. Then-Redskins coach Jay Gruden said they kept only three backs active -- including Chris Thompson for third downs and Wendell Smallwood for special teams.

The Redskins have kept four backs active in each of the past three games, including fullback Michael Burton.

With Thompson still nursing turf toe that has sidelined him the past three games (he is not expected back this week), Peterson and Guice would both be active. Guice's ability to catch the ball and help in protection would enable him to still serve a role. The Redskins have been excited about the 2018 second-round pick's potential -- both as a runner and as a pass-catcher -- even after missing his rookie year with a torn ACL.

Guice has played only two games with Washington -- a preseason contest in 2018 and this season's opener -- and he hurt a knee in both games. Easing him back into the lineup while relying on Peterson would make sense.

Under Callahan, Peterson has become the identity of the Redskins' offense. In four games since Callahan took over, Peterson has rushed for 383 yards on 75 carries -- averaging 5.11 yards, third most in the NFL during that span. In those games, he leads the NFL with eight runs of 15 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

However, Peterson has not scored a touchdown during this time, and Washington has gone 13 quarters without reaching the end zone.

The Redskins have long liked Guice's explosiveness, which could complement Peterson. The Redskins did use Smallwood and Peterson together on two snaps last week in a loss to Buffalo.

Callahan said last week that they would address the running backs' respective roles when the "time is appropriate."

"When the game plan is put in and who we're playing, how we're going to attack that particular defense and how we're going to divide the repetitions and rotations and things of that nature," Callahan said. "Way too early to decide on reps and counts they'll have for that particular game."

If Peterson indeed continues to start, it could help him achieve a $500,000 incentive for surpassing 1,000 yards. He has 491 yards with seven games remaining.

But as NFL Network's Marcas Grant reminded us, last year, the veteran running back faded down the stretch after a surprising start.

If that's the case, Callahan's desire to be run heavy could force his hand.

I'll be watching for more on all that in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates for the latest.

DEPTH CHART
QBs: Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Colt McCoy
RBs: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Wendell Smallwood, Chris Thompson
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon, Trey Quinn, Paul Richardson, Steven Sims
TEs: Jeremy Sprinkle, Hale Hentges