Team Notes week 13 2023

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris<


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

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Arizona Cardinals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

As's Josh Weinfuss reported it: "Kyler Murray's face said one thing after the Cardinals got beaten easily on Sunday by the Los Angeles Rams.

"And it wasn't hard to decipher: Arizona's franchise quarterback was frustrated by the 37-14 loss. ..."

This after the Cardinals' offense was "stuck in the mud" following an impressive opening drive, finishing with 292 total yards.

However, Murray's words indicated something else.

He was by no means happy with the result, which he described as the Cardinals' worst beating of the season. But Weinfuss notes the QB wasn't disillusioned by it, either, after missing the first nine games of the season while recovering from offseason surgery to repair an ACL year in his right knee.

"This is my third game, seventh week of practice, there's obviously growing pains with this," Murray said. "It's my third game, a new scheme, new everything for me. So, I'm not discouraged at all by it. I know we'll be better because of it, but these are some of the things that we gotta go through as part of it."

Once the Cardinals fell behind -- and, Weinfuss noted, fell behind big, trailing 21-8 by halftime -- Murray was essentially playing left-handed, as head coach Jonathan Gannon described it. The Rams' defense was able to pin its ears back and go, and the Cardinals were left playing one-dimensional football trying to get back into the game.

By contrast, Arizona's first drive of the game went about as smoothly as possible --12 plays, a balance of pass and run with a few explosive plays sprinkled in. It put the Cardinals up 8-0.

"Then just kind of went downhill from there," Murray said.

The Cardinals went three-and-out on their next four possessions. Next thing Arizona knew, it was down by 13 points.

Wide receiver Marquise Brown said he didn't have many words to describe Arizona's offensive struggles.

"We just got our ass kicked," Murray said. "[We] played a good football game last week, won the week before. But this one, it was probably like the first time all year we just got beat terribly. We gotta flush it and move on."

Arizona's defense had its own struggles, giving up 228 rushing yards, including runs of 56, 24 and 23 yards.

Gannon didn't feel like Arizona matched the Rams' energy and enthusiasm, and, as he regularly does, shouldered the blame for that. Gannon, however, was optimistic that the tape would show that Sunday's performance wasn't as bad as initially believed. "We gotta take a good, hard look of how we're setting up the week because [it] really wasn't competitive in my mind," Gannon said. "And that's on me, first, and the coaches next. So, gotta put together a better plan going into Pittsburgh."

The Cardinals play the 7-4 Steelers in Pittsburgh this Sunday.

For what it's worth, Gannon said he plans on reviewing how Arizona operates during every day of the week, including how the periods, practice plans and meeting times are organized. Even though Gannon said he trusts his process, he's open to making tweaks to try to improve how Arizona manages its enthusiasm and energy.

As much as Gannon will look at everything this week, he doesn't think it's at a critical point where he'll need to rip up how Arizona does things and start from scratch.

Heading into the last game before their Week 14 bye sitting at 2-10, Murray can already feel the season flying by like it always does, he said. He'll head to the Cardinals' facility in the morning, watch the tape and relive all the aggravation and frustration, and by Tuesday he'll start moving on to next week.

"Obviously, we're not where we wanna be right now," Murray told Weinfuss, "but you gotta keep going. ..."

For the record. ... It's fair to say Murray didn't have his best game Sunday, completing 27 of 45 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown. A decent chunk of those stats were amassed on the final drive when the game was long decided.

Still, as Associated Press sports writer David Brandt, the 26-year-old basically looks like the quarterback he was before the injury, which is good news considering he signed a $230.5 million deal before the 2022 season.

According to Darren Urban of the team's official website, Murray was under center five times on the first drive of the game Sunday, which looked like a jump, but ended up with only eight snaps under center -- in line with his first two games (9, 5). ...

Other notes of interest. ... Emari Demercado was back from injury for Arizona after missing the last three games. This was the healthiest Arizona has been at running back in a long time, allowing Keaontay Ingram to be a healthy inactive and Tony Jones Jr. and Corey Clement to stay on the practice squad.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, it was originally thought that Michael Carter would take hold of the third-down role, which he held with the New York Jets.

Instead, Demercado regained his third-down job from earlier in the season, with Carter cutting significantly into James Conner's early-down and short-yardage role.

Carter took only three snaps in the first three quarters, all on early downs.

The Cardinals were down 31-8 by the time they got the ball in the fourth quarter. They decided to give Carter a chance by giving him the ball for 24 of the 27 fourth-quarter snaps.

Jahnke went on to point out the stat lines for both running backs were fairly similar. Conner ran six times for 27 yards and caught four passes for 5 yards. Carter ran four times for 19 yards and caught four passes for 15 yards.

Conner didn't get many opportunities, but he has generally graded well as a runner this season.

"His job shouldn't really be considered in jeopardy," Jahnke added, "but there is a chance Arizona is down by a lot late in other games, so Carter might get more chances. ..."

Worth noting: Gannon was asked about Ingram and his role going forward. "[He] will be battling to play," Gannon said.

Turns out, that won't be the case. Ingram was placed on waivers Tuesday. ...

Michael Wilson missed another game for Arizona, allowing Greg Dortch to receive significant opportunities again. He caught three of his eight targets for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Zach Pascal spent most of the season as Wilson's backup. Pascal missed last week and was limited this past week with a hamstring injury. Dortch may have simply passed him on the depth chart, or it's possible the Cardinals restricted his playing time in this game.

As for Wilson, who is dealing with a shoulder issue, Gannon said "he's trending the right way. We'll see how it goes. ..."

Of course, Hollywood Brown is the receiver to watch here. And things might be picking up. According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Brown had seen target shares of just 12.9 percent and 17.2 percent with Murray this season. Sunday, it shot up to 27.3 percent. ...

According to Urban, Matt Prater, noted long-distance expert, should've had another 50-plus yard field goal on his stat sheet after drilling a 56-yarder to end the first half. But tight end Geoff Swaim was flagged for holding with no time left on the clock. The rules say that despite the Rams accepting the penalty -- taking the three points off the board -- there is not an untimed down in a half on an offensive penalty.

So, with no time left on the clock, Prater wasn't able to try what would've been an NFL record-tying 66-yard field goal (assuming the Cardinals would have let him try and risk a kick-6 return).

Prater did get another 56-yard try in the second half but he got under the ball and pushed it wide right.

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

Atlanta Falcons

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

According to's Michael Rothstein, after it was all over -- snapping a three-game losing streak, posting a season high in rushing and, despite an under-.500 record, claiming the NFC South lead -- the Falcons could exhale for a few seconds.

Sunday's 24-15 win against the New Orleans Saints was what the Falcons needed.

The running game was effective. The defense held the Saints without a touchdown. Special teams didn't have a busted play. All three of those aspects had been issues in the Falcons' losses to Tennessee, Minnesota and Arizona in their previous three games.

After beating the Saints, the Falcons could take pride in the fact that they were in first place with six games left in the season.

"It's just one game," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said, "but we needed that win in the worst way."

It's a game that Rothstein described as feeling "tenuous" throughout -- despite the fact that Atlanta did not relinquish its lead after the 1:46 mark of the first quarter, when safety Jessie Bates III intercepted Derek Carr and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown.

Had the Falcons lost, they would have been two games back in the division and would have been losers of four straight and in a precarious position even with just one over-.500 team (Indianapolis) left on the schedule.

It's why, Rothstein suggests, the Falcons had almost an early-training-camp level of energy at practice during the week, noticeable enough that Smith and multiple players brought it up after the game. This came after a couple of weeks in which multiple players said the energy wasn't where it needed to be. It showed in how the Falcons performed.

The offense couldn't find a rhythm during their three-game losing streak. The defense, cornerback Jeff Okudah said, couldn't make plays to finish games.

As a result, the Falcons' first game following the bye week had a little more meaning to it.

The Falcons recognize first place after 12 weeks is relatively meaningless -- especially in a division in which no teams are over .500. The NFC South's champion last season (the Buccaneers, at 8-9) also had an under-.500 record.

But the relative mediocrity among their division foes gives the Falcons hope, despite their recent slide.

So does their rushing attack.

The Falcons put up at least 200 rushing yards on the Saints for the third consecutive game after not breaking 100 five games in a row. Atlanta had a season-high 228 rushing yards Sunday. That also extended the Falcons' active streak of games with more than 100 rushing yards to six, and the only NFL team with more at the moment is the Baltimore Ravens with 12.

Bijan Robinson, with 91 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving, became the first rookie in franchise history with 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in back-to-back games.

Bates, who also forced a fumble against the Saints, became the first player in the NFL this year to have an interception and a forced fumble in two games.

Yet the Falcons recognize this can't be a short-term plan. The energy they showed Sunday has to carry over to this weekend week against the Jets, the week after against Tampa Bay and for the rest of the season. According to ESPN Analytics, Atlanta now has a 44 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 38 percent chance to win the division.

Had they lost Sunday, the Falcons would have had less than a 15 percent chance to do either.

"Those things have got to play out," Smith said. "I mean, we've got six games to go, right? And it'll feel like six lifetimes."

The Falcons (5-6) hit the road for their Week 13 meeting with the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

The Jets are coming off a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins for their own Week 12 contest. ...

Desmond Ridder will need to improve overall for the Falcons to go on the run required to win the NFC South. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Ridder's interceptions were disappointing in his return as a starter after playing behind Taylor Heinicke the past two games.

"What you like about him is the way he came back," said Smith of Ridder. "He doesn't flinch. He's resilient and we'll keep working."

As Scott Bair of the team's official website put it, "While the Falcons were able to overcome critical mistakes in an absolutely-gotta-have-it game, it's difficult to imagine that continuing to happen often enough down the stretch.

"Simply put: The Falcons need more consistent quarterback play from Ridder, who spent his weeks as a reserve in reflection, focusing on how he could perform, prepare and lead better if he got the opportunity to be QB1 again."

Bair went on to acknowledge we saw Ridder make some solid plays when it mattered, with his arm and his legs. We also saw some issues that plagued him earlier in the year, most notably with passing efficiency and turnovers. While those subpar moments remain cause for concern, Bair contends his moxie and performance under extreme pressure provide optimism he can take the Falcons where they want to go. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Robinson scored his third rushing touchdown and his third receiving touchdown against the Saints.

He had a 10-yard scoring run in the first quarter and then added 26-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter.

It was the first time this season Robinson scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a single game.

And with that, Robinson became the first Falcons rookie to do so since running back Lynn Cain in 1979. Cain had a rushing and two receiving touchdowns in a Week 7 loss to the then-Oakland Raiders. ...

One of the main post-bye changes for Atlanta appears to be the re-emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson in the running back rotation with eight carries for 43 yards -- it's the only time he's put up these types of numbers this season with both Robinson and Tyler Allgeier (60 yards rushing) healthy.

Prior to Sunday and ignoring Week 8 (when Robinson sat out most of the game due to a headache), Patterson played 36 snaps at wide receiver and 32 at running back.

Against the Saints, he play just as many snaps out of the backfield as he did as a wide receiver for the first time since Week 7, and he played more snaps as the only running back on the field in early down situations than any other game this season.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, the Falcons were winning this game so they could focus on the run and everyone was playing well. All three running backs averaged between 5.4 and 6.4 yards per carry.

Luckily, the only team the Falcons face throughout the rest of the fantasy season with a record better than 4-7 is the Indianapolis Colts. The Falcons should be winning games and get to run a lot. Therefore, Jahnke believes Robinson should still see plenty of volume even if they are rotating three players in and out. ...

Also according to Jahnke, Jonnu Smith's role is declining.

Smith gained 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 9 but caught one pass for one yard in Week 10 and didn't see a target against the Saints.

Smith was once a top-10 fantasy tight end for the season, but his role in Atlanta has declined in the last three games. In Weeks 9 and 10, MyCole Pruitt played more snap than usual, cutting into Smith's time. This week, Parker Hesse cut significantly into both Smith and Pruitt's playing time.

Kyle Pitts and Smith remained the primary tight ends in 12 and 22 personnel. Pitts took most of the snaps out of 21 personnel, which led Pitts to play more snaps than Smith.

The Falcons have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, but Smith isn't a big enough part of the offense to remain on fantasy rosters. ...

Some would make the same argument about Pitts, who had only two receptions for 22 yards. He has only one touchdown catch this season and only one game with more than five receptions. He has no more than three catches in seven of 11 games.

On a more positive note. ... Wide receiver Drake London set a season high with his average of 18.2 yards per catch. He had five receptions for 91 yards. London, a 2022 first-round draft pick, continues to emerge as Atlanta's most consistent receiver. He has six games with at least five receptions and two with more than 90 yards.

Also. ... Wide receiver Mack Hollins missed a second-straight game with an ankle injury. This should be an opportunity for Van Jefferson to play significant snaps, but instead, he's been splitting time with KhaDarel Hodge and Scott Miller for the second, third and fourth wide receiver roles for Atlanta.

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

Baltimore Ravens

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

The Baltimore Ravens head into their bye atop the AFC by delivering one of their most decisive finishes this season.

In Sunday's 20-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Ravens closed out the final two minutes with two fourth-down stands on defense and a 37-yard run by rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers.

Finishing games has been a problem for Baltimore (9-3) this season. All three losses have come when the Ravens had the lead in the fourth quarter, which is why Sunday's victory represented a big moment.

"I thought the fourth quarter was a statement," head coach John Harbaugh said. "We put an exclamation point on the fourth quarter."

Indeed, Lamar Jackson was hearing praise for the road win over the Chargers, but he wanted to make sure to give credit to other members of the team for the win.

"Our defense was playing lights out all night and we weren't doing what we usually do [which is] putting points on the board for those guys," Jackson said, via the team's website. "But I'm grateful that we have a great defense, because without them, I don't know how this game would have went."

The Ravens' defense recorded a season-high four takeaways and three sacks Sunday night. Baltimore stepped up in the fourth quarter, stopping the Chargers on fourth down on their final two series with pressure from a blitzing cornerback Arthur Maulet on the first one and a pressure from outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney on the other.

The Ravens have allowed an NFL-best 15.5 points per game, their fewest through 12 games since 2006.

"The biggest thing is championship teams are built on great defense and defensive teams making those stops and covering for the offense," wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "That's what I feel like happened [Sunday]."

Jackson and the Ravens' offense struggled through most of the game. Baltimore converted only three points off three forced fumbles, and the Ravens were 4-of-13 on third downs.

It wasn't until there was 1:36 remaining when the offense put the finishing touches on the game, with Flowers scoring on a 37-yard run off a jet sweep. Flowers became the first rookie in Ravens history with a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game.

After tallying one touchdown in his first 11 contests, Flowers became the first Ravens wide receiver to score a rushing touchdown and a receiving TD in the same game.

"We need a lot more," Jackson said. "If anything, I've been waiting on him to score multiple times in the game."

With six weeks remaining, the Ravens currently have the top spot in the AFC. Their chances of earning the No. 1 seed are at 26 percent, which is second behind the Kansas City Chiefs (36 percent), according to ESPN Analytics.

"Getting into the Super Bowl is a goal, but we're going to just take it a week at a time," Jackson said. "That's all we can do. We can't worry about being the No. 1 seed or anything like that. It's the NFL. Anything can happen."

One thing that must happen: The Ravens need to play better against inferior teams.

As's Jamison Hensley notes, the Ravens lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 and nearly got upset by the Arizona Cardinals last month. It's a strange situation, as Baltimore has crushed top teams like the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks, beating them by a combined score of 75-9.

Four of Baltimore's five remaining opponents have winning records, which might be a positive considering how the season has gone for the Ravens. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Rookie Keaton Mitchell stepped into the lead running back role with 33 snaps, compared to 20 for Justice Hill and 19 for Gus Edwards. Mitchell had nine for 64 yards (7.1 per carry) and caught two passes for 25 yards. Edwards had eight rushes and Hill had five. ...

Odell Beckham Jr. started hot but didn't see a lot of snaps (23) as he played through a shoulder injury. Beckham made three catches for 34 yards. Flowers once again carried a heavy load despite getting one day off from practice (hip) last week, playing 94 percent of the offensive snaps and scoring the two touchdowns.

Rashod Bateman saw the second-most snaps among the wide receivers (80 percent).

As expected with Mark Andrews out, Isaiah Likely saw a major bump in snaps to 73 percent of the offensive action. He led the Ravens with four catches for 40 yards and earned a good PFF grade of 68.8. Charlie Kolar played 19 offensive snaps (27 percent).

One last note here. ... Justin Tucker is not perfect, after all. The NFL's most accurate kicker had made all 20 of his field goals under 50 yards this season until his miss from 44 yards in the fourth quarter.

Next up, the Ravens will return from their bye with a Week 14 visit from the Rams on Sunday, Dec. 10.

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

Buffalo Bills

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

As's Alaina Getzenberg suggested, "At times this season, the Bills have been a team without answers. A team that lost its wiggle room in the competitive AFC, facing a steep climb to even make the playoffs with one of the league's hardest schedules to end the season."

After another loss Sunday, this time against a talented Eagles team, dropped the Bills to 6-6 going into the bye week, it was defensive tackle Ed Oliver who put into words why this 37-34 overtime defeat in so many ways encapsulated the feelings around the team's season.

"Well, the frustrating part is being so close, but yet, being so far," Oliver said.

Losing close games is not necessarily a new issue.

The Bills are 2-6 in one-score games in 2023, tied with the New England Patriots for the worst record in eight or more one-score games and tied for the second-worst record in one-score games overall.

Sean McDermott is now 1-6 in overtime games, including the playoffs, as a head coach. That is tied with Dom Capers for the worst record by a head coach in NFL history with a minimum of seven overtime games coached (81 coaches have coached at least seven overtimes games, including the playoffs).

Allen has not won an overtime game in his career (0-6), the most losses without a win or tie in OT by a starting quarterback. In overtime, Allen has never thrown a touchdown pass or a completed pass more than 15 yards.

"We didn't do enough or make enough plays and do enough on the coaching end," McDermott said. "We are a good football team and just came out on the short end here. There are no moral victories. Each and every one of us has to look at ourselves. Like I told you, that starts with me. That is what you do. That is what the best do, and I know our football team is a darn good football team."

Despite the number of losses, the Bills carry a plus-101-point differential, the 268th team to be plus-100 or better through 12 games.

But they are the second team out of that group to not have a winning record, joining the 1950 Eagles, who also were 6-6.

In his second game with interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling the plays, Allen completed 29 of 51 passes for 339 yards, two passing touchdowns and the pick. On the ground, he rushed for a season-high 81 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Allen now has the most games with 300 passing yards and 75 rushing yards in NFL history.

"His level of play has risen over the last two weeks. That is really the biggest thing. When your quarterback is playing well, you have a chance," McDermott said. "The last two weeks, Josh's level of play has been good enough for us to win."

With 339 passing yards and 81 rushing yards, Allen became the only QB in NFL history to record four career games with at least 300 yards through the air and at least 75 on the ground, passing Cam Newton (3) and Michael Vick (3).

"I mean, he's running around, he's making plays with his arm and his feet. That's the Josh that we all know and I love to see it. I'm 17 til the wheels fall off. That's my guy," left tackle Dion Dawkins said.

Fantasy managers probably share in that sentiment.

At crucial moments in the game, Allen carried the Bills with both his legs and his arm. Trailing 28-24 with 7:02, Allen led Buffalo on a scoring drive lasting over five minutes. A drive that started with a powerful run game, ending with a 7-yard laser to Gabe Davis to take the lead with under two minutes to play.

Allen made impressive throws throughout, including on a second quarter touchdown to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and rushed for a season-high 77 yards, including two touchdowns for the first time since Week 9 in 2022.

Allen finished with two passing TDs and two rushing TDs, the first time this season he's had multiple passing and rushing scores in the same game.

"I think the effort was there, the execution was there. Just gonna make a couple more plays. And now there's a couple we wish we had back," Allen said.

The Bills will use the off week to regroup, reassess and rest.

At the other end of the bye, the Bills have a game against the other representative from last year's Super Bowl, at the Kansas City Chiefs. ...

A few final notes here. ... Ty Johnson was the Bills' third-down back last week, but Latavius Murray regained the role for this game.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Johnson still mixed in occasionally on early downs.

Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette remained on the practice squad for the fourth straight game. ...

The Bills made Deonte Harty a healthy scratch for this game. Harty started the season as the Bills' third wide receiver, but he lost that job to Khalil Shakir and his role has steadily declined.

This left Trent Sherfield as Shakir's primary competition for playing time.

The Bills ran 95 plays in this game, the most for a team in a game. When a team runs a lot of plays, players typically get rotated out more than usual, and we see snap shares decrease compared to usual.

Instead, Shakir played more than ever.

While this is generally good news for Shakir, there is a chance his playing time will decrease when Dawson Knox returns. The Bills never used a traditional two-tight end personnel in this game, although they did run 14 plays with a tight end and a sixth offensive lineman.

Once Knox is back, Jahnke believes they will be running much more 12 personnel, where Shakir is unlikely to be on the field. ...

A week after not being targeted, Davis finished with six catches for a season-high 109 yards and a touchdown. ....

Finally. .. After making all of his field goals and point-after attempts through the first five games of the season, Tyler Bass is going through a rough stretch with 9-of-14 field goals made (64.3 percent) since, including one blocked and one wide right against the Eagles, and even though he made the kick in overtime, his reliability has gone down.

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

Carolina Panthers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

The Frank Reich era in Carolina is over after only 11 games. ... The Carolina Panthers fired their coach on Monday following the team's NFL-worst 1-10 start in his first year at the helm.

Panthers owner David Tepper announced the move hours after several news outlets reported that he used a profanity as he was leaving the locker room following a 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Tepper hired Reich to fix one of the league's worst offenses over the past few seasons and develop Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick whom he gave up four draft picks and top wide receiver D.J. Moore to acquire this past offseason in the hopes of winning multiple Super Bowls.

Instead, the Panthers are assured a franchise-record sixth straight losing season.

The Panthers are 30-63 since Tepper bought the team from Jerry Richardson in 2018 for $2.275 billion and have never made the playoffs.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will take over as interim head coach. Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown will become the team's play caller, with senior assistant Jim Caldwell serving as his special adviser.

Tabor immediately began adjusting his coaching staff.

Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown were let go.

Staley came here with a strong tie to Reich, as they worked together in Philadelphia. The Panthers are 29th in the league in rushing this season, a drastic departure from last season's success in that area. McCown was in his first year as an assistant coach after a long playing career, including a stint with the Panthers.

Meanwhile, when Tepper makes his next head coaching hire after the season, it will be the seventh full-time or interim head coach to serve under him.

Reich is the second NFL head coach to be fired this season, joining Josh McDaniels of the Las Vegas Raiders.

As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed noted, Reich now has the second-shortest regular-season head coaching tenure in NFL history behind Pete McCulley (1-8 with San Francisco in 1978). Reich is also the fifth NFL head coach in the last six years to be fired during or after just one season, joining Nathaniel Hackett (Denver, 2022), Urban Meyer (Jacksonville, 2021), Freddie Kitchens (Cleveland, 2019) and Steve Wilks (Arizona, 2018).

Reed went on to remind readers that Tepper has shown a lack of patience as a team owner.

Reich is the Panthers' third head coach fired during the season under Tepper. He also owns the Major League Soccer team in Charlotte and has fired two coaches in the organization's first two years of existence.

On the NFL front, Tepper inherited Ron Rivera as his head coach in 2018 but fired him less than two years later during the season. Perry Fewell finished out the season before Tepper gave Matt Rhule, who previously coached at Baylor, a seven-year, $63 million contract.

But Rhule lasted less than 2 1/2 season before Tepper dismissed him and replaced him with Steve Wilks on an interim basis.

Tepper then hired Reich, who as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles helped them win the Super Bowl before becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, who fired him last season. Wilks, meanwhile, came from a defensive background.

But Carolina still ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive category. The Panthers are 30th in the league in total offense and 30th in passing yards per game and haven't scored more than 15 points in a game since the bye week.

Reich had signed a four-year contract with the Panthers that runs through the 2026 season. Tepper will be on the hook for an estimated $9 million per season over the next three seasons.

Reich had experience running good NFL offenses, but that didn't translate over to the Panthers.

As's David Newton explained Reich's spread offense typically features four to five receivers, which left Young vulnerable behind an offensive line that couldn't protect him. He has been sacked 40 times, tied for fifth most by a player through his first 10 games since sacks were first tracked in 1963.

He was pressured an NFL-high 14 times Sunday. Then there was the lack of receiving weapons around Young. Outside of wide receiver veteran Adam Thielen, nobody Reich brought in produced consistently.

Ultimately, Reich failed Young, who ranks near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories.

He has yet to throw for 250 yards in a game and has nearly as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (nine).

Newton went on to contend there was no need to continue the charade that things would turn around, because there was no evidence it would. That Reich consistently said after losses that he had the players to win didn't help, and neither did the fact the offensive unit he worked in concert with general manager Scott Fitterer to build around Young has failed miserably.

There simply was no reason to continue on this path.

And what about Tabor?

Carolina's special teams coach is one of the few holdovers from Rhule's staff. According to Newton, Tabor's strength is dealing with people and messaging, so from that standpoint, he is ideal to serve as the interim coach. Plus, there's little chance Tepper will be faced with the decision of whether to make Tabor the permanent coach after the season, unlike last season with Wilks, who almost led the Panthers to the playoffs with a 6-6 finish.

Tepper took a lot of heat for not giving Wilks the job.

What will Caldwell's influence be as special adviser on offense?

Caldwell, 68, will help give Brown, the offensive coordinator, guidance as he resumes playcalling duties again. Caldwell has a long history of offensive success as an NFL head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Brown is a former NFL running back who also coached the position.

So look for Caldwell to provide insight in the passing game and help develop Young as he did with Peyton Manning during his time with the Indianapolis Colts. This feels like it's more about helping Young than anything. ...

From a fantasy perspective?

Can it get any worse?

In the backfield, Raheem Blackshear was a healthy inactive, which left Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders as the team's only active running backs. Hubbard and Sanders played an even split in snaps on both early downs and third downs last week, but's Nathan Jahnke reports that Hubbard dominated those situations this week.

Sanders played the goal-line snaps and Hubbard took short yardage last week, but it was the opposite this week.

It remains to be seen how that changes -- if at all -- going forward.

Terrace Marshall Jr. was a healthy inactive for Carolina for a second straight game while Laviska Shenault Jr. suffered an ankle injury early in this game and didn't return.

This all led Ihmir Smith-Marsette taking over as the fourth wide receiver for Carolina.

And while their first three receivers are generally close or above 90 percent of the snaps, third-option D.J. Chark Jr. played 74 percent this week, as they used more two-tight end packages.

Hayden Hurst missed another game for Carolina, but they remained in a three-man rotation where all three players -- Tommy Tremble, Ian Thomas and Stephen Sullivan -- received one target.

Tremble played almost as many snaps as Chark and is becoming as close to an every-down player as a tight end can be in this offense.

It will be interesting to see how that plays out when Hurst returns from the concussion protocol. ...

If Shenault's injury is serious, expect Mike Strachan to get signed from the practice squad and take over as the fourth wide receiver.

I'll be watching for more signs of how the coaching change and injury situations impact our outlook and report back via Late-Breaking Update as the Panthers prepare to take on the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday.

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

Chicago Bears

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears can at least breathe a little easier during their bye.

They got a rare win over a division rival when it looked as if they were headed toward yet another ugly loss and beat the Minnesota Vikings 12-10 on a field goal in the closing seconds by Cairo Santos on Monday night.

Sure, it wasn't pretty. But as far as they're concerned, it beats the alternative.

"From what happened the week before and the way we came together on Monday and put our eyes forward to the next opponent, and to be able to do that going into the bye week with a win, and a win in that way, that fashion, is a big step for our football team and a big step for us as the Chicago Bears," head coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday.

Fields shook off two late lost fumbles and helped lead the winning drive before Santos made his fourth field goal. The defense intercepted Josh Dobbs four times, and the Bears (4-8) stopped a 12-game losing streak against NFC North opponents.

They were 0-9 against the division under Eberflus.

Not only was the win rare, they did it on the strength of just four field goals.

According to, Monday night's game was the first time this season that a team won a game without scoring a touchdown. The last team to win without a touchdown was the Dolphins in Week 18 of last season, when they beat the Jets 11-6 thanks to three field goals and a safety.

That was a battle of Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson and Jets quarterback Joe Flacco in which neither passer played well.

Poor quarterback play will typically be the case in a game when a team wins without a touchdown, and that was the case on Monday night. Fields lost two fumbles and averaged less than five yards per dropback, but Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs was even worse, with four interceptions.

Of course, the big story of the Bears as we head into December is the ongoing evaluation of Fields.

How does his winning drive factor into his evaluation?

According to's Courtney Cronin, Fields averaged the fewest air yards per attempt (2.4) and per completion (1.9) of his career while throwing 21 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage.

The Bears combatted the Vikings' aggressive blitz (52 percent of Fields' dropbacks) by turning the passing game horizontal, which hindered the offense's ability to capitalize off the defense's four takeaways. Fields put those two fourth-quarter fumbles behind him and led the Bears down the field for a winning field goal that was set up by a 36-yard pass to D.J. Moore, one of a few deep shots Monday.

Fields stepped up with the game on the line and helped deliver the Bears their first NFC North win of the Eberflus era.

In addition, rookie running back Roschon Johnson earned his way into a season-high 51 snaps, thanks in part to his strengths in pass protection.

Johnson turned in 10 rushes for 35 yards and five catches for 40 yards.

Darnell Mooney had just two catches for 6 yards and was targeted three times in another quiet performance. It was his third straight game with two receptions or fewer. Mooney has 25 receptions for 351 yards, after finishing with 40 receptions for 493 yards in 12 games last season. It's a steep drop from where he was in 2021, when he had 1,055 yards as a second-year pro.

The Bears have a bye, then will try to get some payback for a stinging loss at Detroit when they host the Lions on Dec. 10. Chicago blew a 12-point lead in the closing minutes in Week 11 at Ford Field and fell 31-26. The Bears have not won consecutive games since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season.

A few final notes here. ... A few final notes here. ... You have to wonder about offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Think about this: The Bears' offense only scored three points off four interceptions and struggled to move the ball when relying on the screen game (13 screen passes, which is tied for the most in the NFL this season).

This doesn't bode well for the fantasy fortunes of the skill players here going forward -- with one exception:

Moore caught 11 of his 13 targets in the game, including the 36-yarder on the final drive, with 73 of those 114 yards coming after the catch.

Monday also marked the fourth time this season and 19th time in Moore's career that he has recorded 100-plus yards in a game.

With his 114 yards Monday night, Moore is up to 1,003 yards on the season and has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in four of the last five seasons. ...

With his four field goals Monday night, Santos hit another career milestone this season by reaching the century mark as a Bear.

Two weeks ago in a win over Carolina, Santos reached 200 career field goals. ...

Fields' two fumbles gave him 35 in 35 games. He has seven this season after leading the league with 16 a year ago.

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

Cincinnati Bengals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

According to's Ben Baby, head coach Zac Taylor dismissed the notion that Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Steelers could be pinned on running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon was held to just 16 yards on eight carries.

The lack of production came in the team's third straight defeat and first game with quarterback Jake Browning playing in place of the injured Joe Burrow, who is out for the season with a torn ligament in his right wrist.

Taylor defended his veteran running back after he was asked about his confidence level in Mixon.

"This has nothing to do with Joe Mixon," Taylor said. "This is the entirety of the unit coming together.

"Don't make this about one person. It's not like there were missed opportunities there from what I could see. He continues to run hard and he's given us what we needed this season."

Mixon finished with -16 rush yards over expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats, his second-worst total in that category this season. In the team's Week 9 win over Buffalo, Mixon rushed for 20 yards fewer than what the NFL Next Gen model projected for his carries.

Cincinnati's offense managed just one touchdown against the Steelers (7-4).

Browning was 19-of-26 passing for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first career NFL start. Mixon had two receptions for 44 yards in the loss.

Last week, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said consistency is something he'd like to see from the rushing attack.

"It's hard to continue to hand it off if you do it once or twice and there's nothing," Callahan said last week. "But then you'll pop one for 10 or 12 yards. So, consistency would be the biggest factor in that."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said stopping Mixon was a focal point given Cincinnati's quarterback change.

"It really puts an emphasis on the run game," said Tomlin, who praised Pittsburgh's stout run defense for a second straight week after allowing 96 rushing yards to Cleveland a week earlier. "We were really committed to it and I'm appreciative of that."'s Mike Florio believes that focus on Mixon likely will continue in future weeks, unless and until Browning starts playing like Burrow was.

And what about Browning?

According to Baby, Cincinnati will allow its quarterback to audible in or out of a run play depending on the defensive formation presented before the snap.

Browning said he did that correctly in each situation against Pittsburgh.

Browning said a one-dimensional offense works in the defense's favor, but he also refused to pin blame for Sunday's loss on the ground game.

"Yes, it does make it difficult, but that's not really my area of focus," Browning said. "I need to focus on being better in the pass game."

Mixon's 16 total rushing yards were his lowest total since Week 7 of the 2019 season, when he had two yards in a 27-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

All of Mixon's carries on Sunday came on first or second down. Four yards was his longest carry and half of his rushes were for one yard.

Browning said that generally speaking, being ineffective on first downs makes it hard for the offense to succeed, particularly in the AFC North.

"I think anytime you get behind the sticks, especially in this division with all the really good defenses and really good pass rushers, it's going to be difficult," Browning said.

This year, Mixon ranks 21st in expected points added per carry among qualifying running backs, per NFL Next Gen Stats. On the season, a career-high 41.9 percent of Mixon's carries have surpassed what was projected.

That number is also slightly better than the league average of 38.4 percent among running backs that have at least 100 carries this season.

But on Sunday, neither Mixon nor the Bengals offense could muster much of anything in a third consecutive loss.

Meanwhile, Ja'Marr Chase turned a couple of deflected passes into big plays and was the lone bright spot on offense with four catches for 81 yards.

More than half of his yardage total (45) came on those deflected passes where he showed immense concentration.

"I don't know. It was just meant to be, I guess," Chase said. "(Browning) played well. But we can do better though."

"They just brought a lot of pressures. That's what kept it going (for them). We knew what kind of game -- it was going to be a possession game. We just had to make some opportunities when we got to the red zone and didn't make those opportunities last. That's how the game slipped away."

Browning was sacked four times and hit one other time, although he said he's still looking to find the line of getting rid of the ball or taking a sack.

"Figuring where that line is, playing aggressive but then also knowing that this isn't going to be a 42-45 game," Browning said. "So, taking some of those sacks when you're trying to make the play end up hurting you in some field position stuff. I think just the overall experience I will build from. Being able to see myself on tape and critique it pretty hard will be good for me, too. ..."

Browning and Mixon will both look to do better when the Bengals travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars on Monday Night Football. ...

Other notes of interest. ... With Tee Higgins out for a third-straight game, the Bengals ran out of one-back two-tight end sets on 23 percent of their offensive snaps after using it 10 percent of the time previously.

According to's Nathan Jahnke, roughly one-third of their previous uses of 12 personnel were simply late in the game when they were running out the clock. That was the first time this season it was a big part of their normal offensive philosophy.

Trenton Irwin was consistently on the field with Chase in 12 personnel. Tyler Boyd didn't play a single snap in 12 personnel in this game.

Irwin continued to take the majority of three-receiver personnel snaps like usual, but Andrei Iosivas mixed in significantly for Irwin and ended up with more targets.'

This change also made the Bengals' tight end rotation even more crazy than usual.

Mitchell Wilcox and Drew Sample were the pair in 12 and 22 personnel while it was mostly Irv Smith Jr. or Tanner Hudson splitting snaps in 11 personnel.

In general, this all meant a larger rotation of players than usual for Cincinnati, making it even harder for any player outside of Chase to be fantasy-relevant among the wide receivers and tight ends.

I'll have more on Higgins' status via Late-Breaking when the Bengals begin prepping for Monday night on Thursday. ...

Rookie running back Chase Brown was activated from injured reserve and was active for this game, but he didn't play a snap on offense. ...

Finally. ... Burrow had surgery Monday to repair that torn ligament. "The procedure went as planned and he is expected to make a complete recovery," the Bengals said in a statement.

The team didn't disclose where Burrow had surgery, but it said he was returning to Cincinnati to begin the recovery and rehab process.

The franchise quarterback was forced to miss training camp with a strained calf muscle that limited his mobility early in the season.

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

Cleveland Browns

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

The Browns had already suffered more than their share of major injuries this season but still worked their way into playoff position at the end of November.

They left Denver on Sunday with a host of new injuries to key players, including their quarterback -- again.

Two weeks after losing starter Deshaun Watson to a broken throwing shoulder, Cleveland (7-4) lost his replacement, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, to a head injury late in the third quarter of Sunday's 29-12 loss to the Broncos.

Also hurt during the game was star defensive end Myles Garrett, who said he felt something pop in his left shoulder and departed Empower Field with his arm in a sling.

Garrett had the injury scanned Monday in Los Angeles, where the Browns will practice before their game next weekend against the Rams (5-6), and it appears the team caught a huge break.

Head coach Stefanski said Garrett is "sore" and didn't suffer any structural damage to his left shoulder, the same one he hurt in a single-car accident last year.

Stefanski indicated Garrett might be able to play this week.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper (ribs) and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (ankle) were injured, too. All were expected to undergo further evaluation to determine the severity of their injuries.

The Browns lost star running back Nick Chubb to a major knee injury against the Steelers in Week 2.

"It's been tough," guard Joel Bitonio said in a subdued locker room. "From the start, we've been a little bit banged up, not great injury luck. Anytime you lose guys in the game, you've got to step up. They don't get as many practice reps and things like that. But we're resilient, so we're going to try to fight through that. That's not an excuse for us. We've just got to find a way to play better."

Thompson-Robinson was hit just below his chin by Broncos linebacker Baron Browning just as he released a pass. Browning was flagged for roughing the passer, and P.J. Walker replaced Thompson-Robinson for the remainder of the game.

"He's battling, and as you know, he took a shot there, unfortunately," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "You never want to see your quarterback get hit like that, but he battled."

Thompson-Robinson will have to progress through the NFL's concussion protocol in order to play next week. Walker and newly signed veteran Joe Flacco are the Browns' other options.

"Injuries are part of this game, obviously. We know that," Stefanski said. "You don't want to lose any of your guys in game. But that's part of our jobs, overcoming those injuries."

Walker said he'll be ready in the event Thompson-Robinson is unavailable.

"I'm going to do what I've got to do to prepare, and be ready for this week," said Walker, who was sacked four times, including once in the end zone for a safety.

Still, if Thompson-Robinson isn't cleared by next weekend (and even if he is) Cleveland could take a hard look at turning to the 38-year-old Flacco to keep its playoff push enact.

"We'll see where it goes, where this week goes based on, obviously, Dorian's health," Stefanski said on a Zoom call from Los Angeles, where Cleveland will spend the week practicing and healing up after a mile-high mauling.

The Browns were trailing 17-12 and facing a third-and-12 at their own 23-yard line with 22 seconds left in the third quarter when Thompson-Robinson was hurt. He was looking for an open receiver when Browning closed in and planted his shoulder in Thompson-Robinson's upper chest.

Thompson-Robinson's pass fell incomplete and he lay on the turf in obvious distress.

Walker entered and went 6 of 13 for 56 yards. He had to play the bulk of the fourth quarter without Cooper, the Browns' leading receiver.

"That was tough," Walker said. "We were out there, scrambling a little bit on offense but you've got to find ways to battle through it and I think this team is going to fine."

Stefanski offered no clues Monday about his QB plans heading into this week's game against the Los Angeles Rams, but it appears his best option is to see what the Flacco has left.

At this point, the Browns have nothing to lose.

Of course, Flacco hasn't played since the end of last season with the New York Jets, and it's possible he doesn't have it anymore.

The Browns didn't elevate him from the practice squad Sunday, and he was on the sideline in Denver wearing street clothes.

That could soon change.

"Of course there's a comfort at having a guy like Joe Flacco," running back Jerome Ford said. "With everything that he's accomplished, be in the same meeting room as you and on the same team as you, and we're just pretty much looking forward to what he can do to help the team and how we can help him and build a relationship."

Stay tuned. I'll have more on all the injured Browns via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses and the team prepares for a matchup with the resurgent Rams (5-6) that didn't look too daunting before the newest injuries and LA blasting Arizona 37-14. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Entering Sunday's game, the Browns knew the importance of protecting the ball and not allowing turnovers.

Entering Week 12, the Broncos had forced a total of 14 takeaways in their last five games.

The Broncos were able to do so early on against the Browns from the first quarter.

With 4:40 left in the first quarter, tight end Harrison Bryant fumbled the ball on a direct snap, and the Broncos recovered the ball. The Browns defense answered with a fumble recovery of their own on the Broncos next offensive drive. Then, in the second quarter, Thompson-Robinson fumbled the ball, but RB Kareem Hunt recovered to keep the offensive possession alive.

In the beginning of the fourth quarter, receiver Elijah Moore fumbled the ball on shotgun play that was recovered by Denver and set up their offense in good field position that they turned into a touchdown. The final turnover came with 8:28 left in the game when Walker was sacked for a loss of nine yards and fumbled the ball, which Denver recovered.

The Broncos then marched down the field and ended their offensive drive with a field goal.

In total, the Browns gave up three takeaways with three fumbles that the Broncos recovered. They had five total fumbles on the day.

The Browns turned more to their passing game on Sunday against the Broncos instead of their run game. They finished the day with 107 net rushing yards, compared to 162 net passing yards. Thompson-Robinson threw for 14 of 29 and 134 yards, while Walker threw for 6 of 13 for 56 yards. Their only touchdown of the game came on a two-yard reception from Bryant on a short pass from Thompson-Robinson in the red zone.

Ford led the Browns in rushing yards on Sunday with 65 total yards on nine carries. Thompson-Robinson also used his legs early in the game and ran for 21 yards on five quarterback keep plays. They had 24 total rushing attempts throughout the game.

However, the Broncos are last in the league in rushing yards allowed this season with 1,707 total rushing yards. They give up an average of 5.4 yards per carry.

"We're always looking at ways to move the ball, any which way you can," Stefanski said. "A lot of it is predicated on what the defense is doing from a personal standpoint, from a front standpoint, so those are all things we're constantly talking about."

As the Browns fell behind early and then were down two scores late in the game, it forced the Browns into more passing situations. Walker recognized that when he took over at quarterback in the fourth quarter when they were trailing by 12 points, there is a tendency to try and drive the ball downfield in those situations.

"They know you have to pass the ball, so it is hard to do it," Walker said. "You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they do present themselves. I was not able to do that today."

Worth noting. ... Rookie wideout Cedric Tillman had his best performance to date with four catches on five targets for 55 yards. With Cooper's status unclear, Tillman might need to carry a bigger load in the passing attack.

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

Dallas Cowboys

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

According to Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys seem weary of questions about how -- and why -- they've play so well since getting blown out in San Francisco almost seven weeks ago.

With the schedule about to get tougher again, the evidence of that foundation-shaking loss as a tipping point is hard to ignore.

The Cowboys (8-3) have won five of six games since then, including a late runaway in a 45-10 Thanksgiving victory over Washington, and their quarterback has 18 touchdown passes with two interceptions since one of the worst games of his eight-year career.

It should be noted that Dallas hasn't beaten a team currently with a winning record, and that the next five opponents are sitting above .500 at the moment.

Seattle (6-5) is the first of those on Thursday.

Regardless, Dixon notes the Cowboys could have let that puzzling performance in the Bay Area -- against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs each of the past two seasons -- send them spiraling.

Actually, it did -- except it's been up instead of down in Mike McCarthy's debut as the play-caller in his fourth season as Dallas' head coach.

"I don't know that I could just put my finger right on it and say this is the why," Prescott said. "As much as I've talked about the new system and the new play-calling, we know what we want to do. We know how we want to attack. We're running plays that we've ran since the spring."

Prescott and McCarthy got the same question after beating the Commanders, and settled on the same biggest reason about halfway through their answers. Prescott hasn't been sacked in three consecutive games, a first for the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

"I think that's where it starts," Prescott said of his offensive line. "The way they're protecting, giving me time to take shots down the field, allowing me to extend plays."

The lone loss since the 42-10 defeat to the 49ers was a five-point setback in Philadelphia, the defending NFC champion, and current NFC East leader after winning the division last season.

The Cowboys felt they let one get away at the Eagles. The rematch looms after the visit from the Seahawks in the last of three consecutive home games.

Dallas has a 13-game winning streak at AT&T Stadium, the club's longest since an 18-game run at old Texas Stadium from 1979-81.

"Yes," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said when asked if his team could end a 28-year run without even a trip to the NFC championship game and win the franchise's sixth Super Bowl title.

"There's four or five others at least that can win it, too, that are sitting there that some of them we've got to play," Jones said. "But this team is certainly capable of winning the whole thing."

Worth noting. ... The Cowboys are 3-1 in November with a fifth game remaining. Dallas has won five of its past six November games after losing seven of the first nine under McCarthy. ...

Other notes of interest. ... In the 33-10 victory at Carolina in Week 11, the Cowboys had nine receivers with at least two catches despite just 189 yards passing from Prescott. In his 331-yard effort against the Commanders, 10 receivers had at least one catch apiece.

Prescott even got a completion from a different receiver than the intended target when rookie Jalen Brooks grabbed a tipped pass for a 24-yard gain after the ball was deflected away from Jalen Tolbert.

Against Washington, he had touchdown passes on a screen (Rico Dowdle), on a line (Brandin Cooks), on time (CeeDee Lamb) and on a rope (KaVontae Turpin).

Prescott's name has to be in the MVP conversation at some point. ...

Any concerns?

As's Todd Archer suggested, we'd have to nitpick because Brandon Aubrey does not miss field-goal attempts. With a 52-yarder Thursday, he has made 22 straight attempts to open his career. But he missed a point-after attempt against the Commanders, his second in the last two games and his third on the season.

Let's be clear, though: This is not what happened to Brett Maher last year.

In case you missed it. ... DaRon Bland set an NFL record with his fifth interception return for a touchdown this season. The 63-yarder against Washington was his second in as many games and a broke a tie with three others for the previous record. ...

On the injury front. ... The had a real practice on Monday and defensive end Dante Fowler (illness) and rookie linebacker Tyrus Wheat (concussion) did not practice.

Left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin received rest days.

Dowdle (ankle) and safety Jayron Kearse (back) were limited.

Dowdle was questionable for Thanksgiving Day and played 12 offensive snaps and one on special teams. He saw four touches for 26 yards, including a 15-yard reception for a touchdown. ...

Finally. ... As reminded readers, several years ago, the NFL altered its celebration rules to permit a wide range of celebrations. However, the league still has a strict rule against the use of external props.

The Cowboys ignored that rule last Thursday by stashing a turkey leg in the Salvation Army kettle.

After a fourth-quarter touchdown that pushed the score to 38-10, Prescott retrieved the bird from the oversized bowl.

"Team effort, team idea," Prescott told reporters after the win. "We talked about as probably a two, three-day long process of whether it be a 15-yard penalty and whether coach would accept it. And I'll tell you, I actually go talk to [McCarthy] before every game and sure enough I caught him as he was talking to [owner/G.M.] Jerry [Jones] and so I mentioned it. Of course, Jerry liked it. ... At that point my direction was just make sure we're up and the game was in hand and so the touchdown to [Lamb] and the following two-point conversion [which made the score 31-10], if you watch I'm kind of like, is it time?

"Can we do it? I'm like, no we'll get another one. Sure enough, right after I threw the one to [Turpin] I was like yeah, let's go for it. And so, and it was good."

McCarthy indeed went along with the idea, on one condition.

"Well, you know when Jerry Jones is in the locker room before the game speaking on it and he was all for it," McCarthy told reporters. "So, I just told them that game better be well out of hand before we start pulling turkey nuggets out of a kettle can. That was a little different pregame for me."

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

Denver Broncos

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

According to John Riker of the team's official website, to knock off the Browns and claim their fifth consecutive victory, the Broncos knew it would be crucial to beat Cleveland at its own game: A gritty, physical style football defined by success in the run games and in the trenches.

The Browns entered Week 12 ranked first in time of possession, third in rushing yards per game, first in yardage allowed per game and first in third-down conversion percentage allowed.

The Broncos bested the visitors in all four categories, controlling possession for over five more minutes, gaining 62 more rushing yards, winning the yardage battle and earning four more first downs. The

Head Coach Sean Payton said the Broncos prioritized racing out to an early lead against a Browns team with one of the AFC's most punishing ground games and said Denver used heavy defensive fronts to disrupt Cleveland's attempts at establishing the run.

Payton also added that he felt "the rushing numbers were going to be really important" in determining the outcome of Sunday afternoon's matchup.

"When you get a team that rushes the ball so well, it's much harder to play them from behind than with a lead, and that kind of forces them to flip the script a little bit," Payton said. "Now that's easier said than done, but we were lucky to do that, and that was something we wanted to do."

On offense, the Broncos held possession for 32:48 and gained a season-high 169 yards on the ground. Four Denver players registered rushes of more than 10 yards, and running back Samaje Perine and quarterback Russell Wilson each recorded a red-zone rushing touchdown.

The Broncos' success on the ground helped neutralize Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and the Cleveland pass rush, which finished with a single sack on the afternoon.

"[The Browns] have a great defense," Perine said. "They have a great pass rush. The more we could take those pass rushers out of the game, the better. I feel like we did a pretty good job of that today."

Denver also improved its third-down efficiency, finishing 6-of-14 in third-down conversion attempts behind a strong performance by the offensive line.

The Broncos found particular success in the red zone, as Denver's offense scored three touchdowns inside the 20-yard line and the defense limited Cleveland's ability to score points.

Denver marched into the red zone on two of its first three drives and scored touchdowns on both red-zone opportunities. Later in the game, the Broncos added another touchdown on their fourth red-zone trip. Denver added field goals on its other two opportunities, which resulted in 27 points in five red-zone trips.

Prior to Sunday's game, the Browns allowed opponents to reach the red-zone about twice per game.

Denver's defense limited the league's third-ranked rushing offense to 107 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns. The Broncos also recovered three fumbles, tallied four sacks and held the Browns to two third-down conversions in 13 attempts.

Are the Broncos legitimate playoff contenders?

What was once a 1-5 team has won five consecutive games and is now 6-5 after clawing its way back to the fringes of the AFC playoff race. With the Sunday's win, the Broncos also have head-to-head wins against the Browns and Bills during the streak with a visit to the 6-5 Texans this weekend.

Denver has done it with an opportunistic defense that has 15 takeaways in the last four games and has surrendered fewer touchdowns in the last six games combined (nine) than it did in a 70-20 loss to Miami in Week 3. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Even after D.J. Jones' critical third-quarter fumble recovery, the Broncos needed a spectacular play from Wilson and tight end Adam Trautman to push their lead to two possessions early in the fourth quarter.

Wilson caught the shotgun snap, hung in the pocket and drifted to his left before reversing course and sprinting out to his right. He drilled the pass into the front right corner of the end zone, where Trautman made a sliding catch.

The officials initially ruled the pass incomplete, and Trautman was also unaware he caught the ball.

"I had no idea," Trautman said. "Honestly, I thought my knee was out. I mean, I can't really see -- I'm focusing on the ball -- but then I saw coach Payton put his hands up for a touchdown. I guess I missed the first replay on the [video] board, but I saw the second one and I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm in!' So yeah, it was awesome."

Payton quickly threw the challenge flag, as he got a good initial look and also saw the replay on the videoboard.

"There was not a lot of gray area there and a lot to gain with it," Payton said.

The Broncos won the challenge and took a 12-point lead, which forced the Browns to play catch-up on their next drive. ...

Javonte Williams played 70 percent of his team's offensive snaps for the second time in his career.

The only other time he surpassed 70 percent was in Week 13 of his rookie season when he started and Melvin Gordon was out with an injury. In that game, he ran 23 times for 102 yards and caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.

As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Williams has slowly but surely been playing a higher percentage of snaps on early downs and in short-yardage situations.

The Broncos happened to be in many of those Sunday, and they were rarely in clear passing situations, allowing him to reach his season-high in snaps.

The only problem is that Perine was on the field for half of the goal-line situations, which led to Perine's 3-yard touchdown run. As noted above, Wilson also scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown. This left Williams without a touchdown.

Perine rushed for 55 yards on seven carries while also emerging as a reliable option in the passing game. He has also consistently been the best back the Broncos have in pass protection.

Still, despite Sunday's relatively low fantasy total, Jahnke contends this is an encouraging sign for Williams' fantasy future, especially if he ever takes more of the third-down snaps. ...

Jerry Jeudy had three targets and two catches for a season-low 11 yards. ...

Finally. ... There were no injuries of consequence in the game as the Broncos remain one of the league's healthiest teams. WR Brandon Johnson (hamstring) is eligible to return from IR this week.

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

Detroit Lions

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

As Associated Press sports writer Dave Hogg reminded readers, the Detroit Lions haven't won a division title in 30 years.

Ending that streak wasn't going to be easy.

Two weeks ago, the Lions were 7-2 and facing a pair of home games against the struggling Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. A pair of victories would have put them in commanding position to win the NFC North and host their first playoff game since moving to Ford Field in 2002.

On Friday, the Lions were glad things didn't go even worse.

Detroit needed 17 points in the final three minutes to beat the Bears 31-26, then couldn't pull off another comeback in a 29-22 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Packers.

"I know what it looks like -- we haven't been good enough out there -- but I'm not panicked," head coach Dan Campbell said. "If we don't play our best game and the other team is perfect, it doesn't matter who we are facing, things like this are going to happen.

"We're the type of team that is going to have to fight and scratch and claw for everything. We can't be on cruise control."

The Lions have struggled on both sides of the ball, but no one has hurt the team as much as quarterback Jared Goff.

After throwing three interceptions against the Bears, he lost three fumbles against the Packers.

Goff's six turnovers in the past two games have matched his total in his previous 18 games combined. Goff was pressured 17 times by the Packers' defense, his most in a game against the Lions. He went 3-of-12 passing and committed three turnovers when pressured.

"There have certainly been some plays where I need to take better care of the ball," Goff said. "There's no rhyme or reason -- I'm going to look at all of them individually and figure out what I can fix."

With six games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Lions still sit atop the NFC North standings. In its current position, the team is expecting every team's best shot but looking to respond.

"We're going to clean up some things and then we've got six games to go," Goff said. "If we turn the ball over three times against everyone we play, the odds of winning are going to be pretty slim, but I don't see that happening."

The Lions should benefit from a few extra days off before getting ready to play at New Orleans on Dec. 3.

A road win would go a long way toward eliminating the possibility of a late-season collapse. ...

A few final notes here. ... Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has become Goff's No. 2 weapon behind Amon-Ra St. Brown. He has 55 catches for 539 yards and five touchdowns, including a 7-yard score in the first quarter against Green Bay.

In addition, second-year receiver Jameson Williams continues to grow more comfortable in the Lions' offense as the trust level increases among teammates. Williams, the No. 12 overall pick in 2022, made two catches for 51 yards, including a 38-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

And finally. ... According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Jahmyr Gibbs, in a negative script, out-snapped David Montgomery 54 to 22 on Thanksgiving. His 69 percent snap share was his highest since Montgomery came back from injury. He's now averaged a 17.9 percent target share per game over his last six.

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

Green Bay Packers

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

According to's Rob Demovsky, Jordan Love and Christian Watson went to sleep last Wednesday night with the perfect visualization: The Green Bay Packers quarterback and receiver were going to start the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions with something big.

And then head coach Matt LaFleur had second thoughts.

"Matter of fact, I almost changed that first play call," LaFleur admitted after Thursday's 29-22 upset win at Ford Field. "I was kind of mulling it over quite a bit, and I texted Jordan this morning and told him I was going to change it to something else."

Love, however, pushed back. LaFleur decided to trust his first-year starting quarterback and his speedy receiver who has, at times, struggled to come down with those plays.

Good thing, because on the first play from scrimmage, Watson played perfectly the deep ball that Love put up for grabs, and it turned into a 53-yard gain. It set up the game's first touchdown -- the third in as many games for rookie receiver Jayden Reed -- and the Packers (5-6) never looked back in beating the NFC North-leading Lions (8-3), who came in as 8.5-point favorites.

Love not only rewarded LaFleur for keeping the faith in him and Watson that they could make that play, but he offered another hint that he's going to reward the Packers for turning the team over to him after 15 years of Aaron Rodgers.

Among Love's accomplishments Thursday were:

  • His third three-touchdown game of the season. Since 1950, Rodgers is the only other Packers quarterback with a trio of three-touchdown pass games within his first 15 career starts.

  • Career highs as a starter in Total QBR (90.6), first-down rate (41 percent) and completion percentage over expectation (+7.3 percent, according to NFL Next Gen Stats).

  • Four completions in seven attempts on deep throws (15 or more air yards), including a touchdown. He has completed 61 percent of such throws the past four games after hitting on just 35 percent in his first seven games, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

    The Packers have won three of their past four. Before this stretch, Love ranked last in the NFL in completion rate (58 percent). Since then, he has completed 65 percent of his passes.

    "I think it's night and day," LaFleur said of Love's command of the offense over the past month.

    "And it's given us a lot of confidence to be a little bit more aggressive with some of the calls. And just when you're trusting your offensive line, when you're trusting your quarterback to facilitate and get the ball where it needs to go and throw on rhythm, that allows you to do that. And we had a lot of I would say deeper developing plays and hit a lot of intermediate throws for some chunk plays that ended up being big for us."

    Getting Watson back on track was important as well.

    He entered the game with the lowest catch rate (43 percent) of any player with at least 30 targets this season. On Thursday, he caught five of the first six balls thrown.

    Meanwhile, Love backed up his first career 300-yard passing game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers with 268 yards and completed 22 of 32 passes.

    "It definitely feels different," Love said of his command of the offense compared to early in the season. "I think it's just part of the process."

    The Packers have not put themselves back into the NFC playoff race. But the most important thing they needed from the 2023 season was to find out whether Love was the long-term answer at quarterback. And Demovsky believes this game might have helped in that process.

    "We've seen enough at this point," said Watson, who called Love "the most confident guy I've played with."

    The Packers still have lots of work to do, and they face a stern test this weekend when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) visit Lambeau Field for a Sunday night game.

    But four of their final five games are against teams with losing records. They visit the New York Giants (3-8), host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) and have a two-game road swing at Carolina (1-9) and Minnesota (6-5) before hosting the Chicago Bears (3-8) to close the regular season.

    "We're taking it week by week right now," Love said. "We need a win every week is the mindset we have. ..."

    Other notes of interest. ... With so many players recovering from injury, the Packers should benefit from the extra recovery time they have before their game with the Chiefs.

    The list of Packers inactive for the Thanksgiving Day game included Aaron Jones (knee), tight end Josiah Deguara (hip) and receiver Dontayvion Wicks (concussion/knee). TE Luke Musgrave (abdomen) and RB Emanuel Wilson (shoulder) were placed on injured reserve the day before the game.

    I'll have more on Jones, who took part in stretching before practice on Monday, and Wicks, who has cleared the concussion protocol and should be back against the Chiefs, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

    Rookie kicker Anders Carlson has missed an extra-point attempt in his last three games. He had one blocked in a 23-19 loss at Pittsburgh, sent one wide right in a 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and pushed one wide left Thursday.

    Finally. ... The Packers returned from an extended break after their Thanksgiving win over the Lions on Monday and they announced a couple of roster moves as part of the day's activities.

    They released wide receiver Bo Melton and running back James Robinson. No corresponding additions have been made to the roster at this point.

    Melton played eight snaps in last Thursday's win, but Wicks' looming return is likely a factor here.

    Robinson signed to the active roster ahead of the Lions game with Jones battling his knee injury.

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

    Houston Texans

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    The Houston Texans missed an opportunity to move into first place in the AFC South with Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Despite the 24-21 defeat, star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is confident the Texans will bounce back and continue to exceed expectations this season.

    "It's about the mindset, though. What are we going to do? Not play anymore? (Are) we just going to tuck our tail and not play hard? No, I don't really believe in that type of mindset," he said. "I'm going out there every play, every game trying to win. So, I don't really think that our season is over at all. It's a long year. ... You can see the trajectory we're on."

    Houston (6-5) fell into a tie with the Indianapolis Colts for second place in the division behind the first-place Jaguars (8-3) with the loss.

    As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken notes, the Texans had a chance to force overtime with 34 seconds left Sunday, but Matt Ammendola's 58-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the crossbar.

    Before that, Stroud had another strong game. The second overall pick in the draft threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns to give him 3,266 yards passing to overtake Justin Herbert (3,224) for most yards passing in NFL history through a player's first 11 games.

    Stroud also became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 300 yards or more in four straight games.

    He moved effectively to avoid the rush Sunday, averaging 3.8 seconds to throw each pass, which is the longest time by anyone in a single game this season according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

    Both his touchdown passes against Jacksonville came on extended drop-backs of four or more seconds.

    "C.J did a really good job of being able to move around and extend plays," coach DeMeco Ryans said. "Made a couple of big plays for us … I thought he moved around well when he had to, took what the defense gave him."

    Stroud's stellar play continues to make Houston's passing game the strength of the team. His yards passing rank second in the NFL and Houston's 276.2 yards passing a game also come in at No. 2 in the league.

    He's done a great job of spreading the ball around, and the Texans had four receivers with at least 40 yards Sunday.

    Receiver Nico Collins led the team with seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown Sunday. It was his third 100-yard game of the season, which is a career high for the third-year player. It's the first time he's had more than 100 yards receiving since finishing with a career-best 168 yards receiving in a win over Pittsburgh Oct. 1.

    Tank Dell caught five of eight targets for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars. He added 12 yards on one rushing attempt.

    Dell scored Houston's first points with a seven-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. He had a 62-yard catch negated by an illegal shift penalty and another would-be long reception ruled an incomplete pass after a Houston challenge, so Dell came close to having an even more productive game.

    As it is, Dell still extended his touchdown streak to four games, and the rookie wide receiver has caught 25 of 43 targets for 369 yards and five touchdowns over that span.

    Dell has also provided double-digit rushing yards in four of the past seven games.

    We have not seen all four of the Texans' top wide receivers healthy since Week 1, before Dell broke out as one of the team's top receivers.

    Noah Brown was out this game due to injury, but Robert Woods' snaps decreased.

    Woods was rotated out of 11 personnel more than usual with John Metchie III playing more snaps. He caught two passes for 40 yards, which was decent, but his best two games as a Texan came in Weeks 1 and 2. This is a good indication that once Brown is healthy, he will likely take over as the clear No. 3 wide receiver over Woods.

    Meanwhile, Dalton Schultz was not on the injury report all week, but's Nathan Jahnke notes his playing time was limited early in the game. In the first quarter, he only played in four of a possible seven snaps in 11 personnel with Brevin Jordan taking the other three.

    He was back to taking every snap in 11 personnel in the second quarter but then took only three-of-five in the third quarter.

    There was no word on any injury for Schultz, but the playing time early in the game suggests Brevin Jordan may have earned more playing time.

    This will be a situation worth monitoring over the week. If we don't receive any news about this change in playing time, then it might be difficult to leave Schultz in fantasy starting lineups next week if he's only playing half of the pass plays.

    Dameon Pierce returned to Houston after missing the last three games due to an ankle injury, but he wasn't back to being a starter.

    Devin Singletary had earned the first and second 100-yard rushing performances by a Texans' running back this season over the last two weeks, so he had earned the starting job.

    Singletary started the game and played every snap on the Texans' first two drives.

    Pierce's playing time largely came in stretches at a time -- a stretch late in the first quarter, late in the third and in the middle of the fourth.

    Despite the large discrepancy in snaps, the two saw a near-even split in carries. Singletary ran six times for 18 yards and Pierce ran five times for 14 yards.

    Stroud led the team with 47 rushing yards and scored a rushing touchdown. It was his third rushing touchdown of the last five weeks and it doubled his career-high in rushing yards.

    The Texans fell behind early and spent most of the day passing the ball where Singletary remained heavily involved with six receptions for 54 yards. Some thought Pierce would at least be the short-yardage back, but that didn't appear to be true in this game.

    Jahnke believes Singletary should have more fantasy value going forward thanks to his receiving production. Chances are he will also lead the team in carries but not by much. ...

    The Jaguars are two games clear of the Texans in the AFC South and hold the edge in two tie-breakers (divisional and conference records).

    The good news for Houston?

    They're still in the mix for a wild-card spot as well as the division race, but the next game against the Denver Broncos could have playoff implications as we head down the stretch.

    The Broncos (6-5) have won five in a row after dropping five of their first six games. ...

    Finally. ... The Texans claimed defensive end Derek Barnett off waivers from the Eagles.

    According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Texans considered a trade for Barnett at the trade deadline last month.

    The Eagles restructured Barnett's contract before waiving him, converting salary into a bonus, according to Field Yates of ESPN, so the Texans will pay only $420,000 in base salary for the rest of the season along with small per-game roster bonuses.

    Barnett, 27, was a healthy scratch the final two games of his career in Philadelphia. He was on the injury report for personal reasons the past two weeks.

    To make room, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Houston waived Ammendola.

    Ka'imi Fairbairn is making "significant progress" in his recovery from a right quadriceps strain and appears on track to return from injured reserve, but he's not eligible for activation until next week.

    Houston could still re-sign Ammendola to its practice squad and elevate him for this Sunday's game against the Broncos, but the team also worked out Brett Maher on Tuesday and could potentially turn to him to handle kicking duties for Week 13.

    Regardless, Houston looks like it'll have to get by with a replacement kicker for just one more game with Fairbairn tracking toward a return.

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

    Indianapolis Colts

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Running back Jonathan Taylor is dealing with an unspecified thumb injury that could force him to miss time during the Colts' postseason push, according to multiple reports.

    Taylor went for evaluation of the injury on Tuesday and Colts owner Jim Irsay told James Boyd of The Athletic that it's been determined that Taylor will need to have surgery on his thumb.

    The hope is that Taylor will be able to return after missing two or three weeks.

    Taylor rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in the Colts' victory over the Buccaneers and played the entire game. He closed out the win with an 8-yard run with 1:24 remaining that gave the Colts a first down and allowed Indianapolis to run out the clock. Taylor played 42 snaps in the game and carried the ball 15 times.

    It has been an eventful season for Taylor, starting with his very public contract standoff and ankle injury that sidelined him for the first four games. But Taylor's performance has been impressive since he signed a three-year, $42 million extension in October and returned to the lineup.

    Taylor's workload had consistently increased in recent weeks, with the share of carries between him and backup Zack Moss tilted more toward Taylor lately. Taylor has 414 yards on 100 carries since returning.

    But following the Colts' Week 10 win over the New England Patriots -- in which Moss played nine of 57 snaps and had one carry for two yards -- general manager Chris Ballard said this in an interview on the Official Colts Podcast:

    "Moss played not good football, great football for us," Ballard said. "And I know this last game the carries got a little out of what with Jonathan getting most of them, and I know our staff will work hard because both Jonathan and Zack need to be involved for us to be successful."

    Against the Buccaneers, the Colts' split between Taylor and Moss looked like this: Taylor: 42 snaps, 15 carries, 91 yards, 2 touchdowns; Moss: 30 snaps, 8 carries, 55 yards.

    We can now say, based on reports that Taylor played the entire second half with this injury, that Moss' role was probably more robust than it otherwise would have been.

    Also, we have an idea of what Moss' role might look like going forward if Taylor isn't available.

    In case you missed it, Moss was one of the NFL's leading rushers earlier this season in Taylor's absence. Moss has a career-best 672 yards and five rushing touchdowns this season, surpassing his previous high of 481 yards as a rookie in Buffalo in 2020.

    Worth noting, Taylor and Moss combined to rush 23 times for 146 yards (6.3 yards/attempt) and the Colts as a whole averaged 5.7 yards per rush, the highest average Tampa Bay has allowed all season. Only one team -- the Philadelphia Eagles -- averaged over 4.5 yards per carry against the Buccaneers this season; Tampa Bay held three teams to under three yards per carry heading into Week 12.

    That the Colts were able to impose their will on the ground against one of the league's strongest run defenses speaks to how dynamic a duo Taylor and Moss can be.

    "The team feels it, the defense feels it," Moss said. "There's something about the run game with the physicality that shows up, big runs that show up that gets the entire defense and offense inspired -- gets everybody on the sidelines jacked up and stuff like that. So you see that, you get excited. I'm happy we were able to get that run in today and we gotta do it again next week."

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

    Meanwhile, as's JJ Stankevitz framed it: "The Colts' 27-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday was defined by gutsy playcalling and complementary football -- the sort of stuff contending teams need to put on display after Thanksgiving. ..."

    Stankevitz went on to note whether it was Mo Alie-Cox scything 30 yards on fourth-and-one, or Samson Ebukam knocking the ball out, or Taylor icing the game, the Colts made the plays they needed to make to push past the Buccaneers and cement themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

    The Colts won all three of their games in November and enter the holiday season with a 6-5 record and a legitimate chance to make noise in the AFC.

    This is a team that's weathered several challenges this season: Taylor began the season on PUP, starting quarterback Anthony Richardson sustained a season-ending injury in Week 5, both starting outside cornerbacks (JuJu Brents and Dallis Flowers) have been in and out of the starting lineup, defensive tackle Grover Stewart was suspended six games in October and linebacker Shaquille Leonard was waived just last week.

    But through all that, the Colts have kept plugging away and doing some of the things Moss -- no stranger to playoff pushes during his two and a half seasons with the Buffalo Bills -- sees contenders needing to do.

    "We do a lot of good things fundamentally, those things that show up in the playoffs -- it's who can do the fundamentals at a high level," Moss said. "As the season goes, we've shown that the biggest thing is we gotta continue to be consistent, find ways to close things out at the end of the year."

    The Colts on Sunday improved to 6-0 when winning the turnover battle -- safety-turned-linebacker Ronnie Harrison Jr. picked off Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield in the first half, then Ebukam's strip-sack was recovered by defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo in the fourth quarter (quarterback Gardner Minshew threw an interception for the Colts' lone turnover).

    Offensively, as noted above, the Colts averaged 5.7 yards per rush against a defense that entered Week 12 fifth against the run (3.7 yards/carry). Against Tampa's sixth-ranked fourth down defense (40 percent conversion rate allowed), the Colts converted three of four fourth downs -- and generated two touchdowns off those three conversions.

    And against the NFL's stingiest red zone defense (34.4 touchdown rate, lowest in the league), the Colts scored touchdowns on three of their five possessions inside the 20.

    Before the Colts hit the road to face the Titans in Week 13 and then the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14 -- the latter of which will be Stewart's first game back off suspension -- they had to take care of business at home. The Colts entered Week 12 with a 1-4 record at Lucas Oil Stadium this season, and broadly needed to reverse that trend to stay in the AFC playoff picture.

    That's where Sunday's win over the Buccaneers checked an important box. The next time the Colts play here will be in Week 15 against the currently 7-4 Pittsburgh Steelers -- a game that could carry massive playoff implications.

    But that's looking too far ahead. The Colts are in in playoff mode, and that mode means you can't get too far ahead of yourself. The Titans are next. Meaningful games in December await.

    "From here on out, we're in that playoff mentality," Minshew said. "We have everything we want in front of us but we just gotta take it one game at a time, continue to build, continue to get better. I think we're still figuring some things out. I think we like where we're at. ..."

    One concern?

    According to's Stephen Holder, it's the third-down offense.

    The Colts' 2-for-11 performance on third down is startling, especially since it came against a Tampa Bay defense that has been abysmal on third downs. Tampa Bay was 30th in the NFL in third-down defense entering Sunday (46.7 percent).

    But as noted above, the fourth-down work was strong.

    That's not unusual with Shane Steichen in charge.

    Through Week 12, only four teams have attempted to convert more fourth downs than the Colts (22).

    "He lets it hang," Minshew said of his coach. "That's what you want, a coach that trusts you and puts you in those situations. He can be aggressive, but I think that comes out of trust. It's good when you have a coach that trusts you like that. You want to do everything you can to pay him back for it."

    Minshew knows better than most Colts players after spending the two previous seasons working with Steichen in Philadelphia.

    So even if it sometimes seems Steichen embraces the mad scientist image, Minshew understands the methodology behind it.

    Looking at more neutral fourth down situations, though, the Colts have gone for it 14 times on fourth down while leading or trailing by one score, tied for the sixth-highest total in the NFL. Eight of those plays (57 percent) have turned into first downs, the 10th-highest conversion rate among 20 teams to attempt double-digit fourth down conversions in those situations.

    The point is: The Colts have not only been generally aggressive on fourth down, they've been reliable at converting those plays into first downs.

    "Any time that we're fourth and one, I'm always thinking we're going to go for it," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. said. "It's probably good that I'm not a head coach because I'd go for fourth and one on our own 20, like -- we'll probably get it. [Steichen] does a great job."

    Sunday's fourth down call may be everyone's current favorite. But as Associated Press sports writer x suggested, whether it's using Minshew as a ball carrier or scrambling to run kicking units on or off the field, Steichen seems to have mastered the art of play-calling.

    By the way, Pittman had an impressive day, making a season-high 10 catches for 107 yards, often under tight coverage from the Tampa Bay defense. Pittman is on track to be one of the offseason's more intriguing free agents and continues to build a case for being among the more in-demand players at his position. ...

    Josh Downs left Week 9 early and played in Week 10 despite not practicing, only playing a few snaps here and there.

    Luckily, the Colts had a bye week in Week 11, giving Downs time to recover. He didn't show up on the injury report at all over the last week.

    He returned to his usual role of almost always playing in 11 personnel and not playing in other personnel groupings. He caught five-of-12 targets for 43 yards.

    Although Downs only scored 9 PPR points, Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes he had a 32.5 percent target share.

    Downs and Pittman each had 13 targets, accounting for 65 percent of Indianapolis' targets.

    Considering how well Downs played before the injury and how many targets he received in this game, Jahnke believes Downs should be picked up in any league where he was dropped in the past month. ...

    Andrew Ogletree was inactive for the second straight game due to a foot injury. Fifth-round rookie Will Mallory was much more involved than past weeks, specifically in 11 personnel, which is why he ran more routes than the other tight ends. He caught two passes for 29 yards. His playing time isn't enough for him to be fantasy-relevant in most leagues, but there is a chance he could earn more time.

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

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Only one NFL team has a perfect road record this season: the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long notes, the Jaguars are 4-0 in true road games and 6-0 away from EverBank Stadium in 2023, a spotless mark that includes consecutive victories against Atlanta and Buffalo in London last month. With a 24-21 victory at Houston on Sunday, Jacksonville locked up its first winning road record since 2007.

    That could serve Jacksonville (8-3) well if it makes the postseason for the second time in as many seasons.

    Although landing the AFC's top seed is the goal, going on the road wouldn't be a concern for the franchise.

    The Jaguars can't point to any single reason for the team's road turnaround. Maybe it's quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Maybe it's the roster that head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke have assembled. It's surely not a fluke, especially considering Jacksonville had three winless seasons and five one-win efforts on the road over the last dozen years.

    "It's a great group of guys," Pederson said. "When they're together, they enjoy being around each other and I think that goes a long way to the success of any team."

    Lawrence said playing better on the road was a goal the team discussed before the season.

    "We weren't great on the road last year, especially early in the year for whatever reason," Lawrence said. "That was something we thought we needed to get better at, and maybe it is something.

    "When you get out here a day early, you go to a hotel. It's just you. You've got time to prepare and do all your stuff, no distractions. I think there is some merit to that."

    The Jaguars would like to carry some of that success back home. They are 2-3 at EverBank, with losses to playoff contenders Kansas City, Houston and San Francisco.

    They get a chance to even their home-field record at 3-3 when they face Cincinnati (5-6) on Monday night.

    "The deeper into the season we get and the better we play as a football, it's really easier for me to kind of keep the guys focused and keep their attention to detail," Pederson said. "The minute you let up, look into the future a little bit, is when you get beat. It's my job to make sure the guys stay locked in and present."

    The best news here?

    Lawrence seems to be hitting stride. ... The third-year quarterback threw for 364 yards -- 4 shy of his career high -- and a touchdown and ran for another, giving him six TDs in his past two games.

    As's Mike DiRocco reminded his readers, Lawrence got hot in the second half of last season, helping carry the Jaguars to the AFC South title and into the divisional round. This is the seventh time in his past eight games that Lawrence has had a quarterback rating of 90 or better.

    Meanwhile, Jacksonville was 7 of 13 on third down against Houston, a 54 percent clip that's the offense's second-best showing of the season. Three of those conversations came with the Jags facing third-and-8 or longer, one of their most significant shortcomings in 2023.

    The Jaguars entered the game having moved the chains just three times in 41 tries on third-and-8 or longer.

    One issue: Jacksonville dropped four passes against the Texans, including one by Calvin Ridley on a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone. It was the fourth pass Ridley dropped in two games against Houston.

    Ridley redeemed himself, though, by finishing with five receptions for 89 yards, including a touchdown and a 2-point conversation.

    That was his third touchdown catch in the past two games, and it's no coincidence that the pass offense has had two of its most productive weeks when he has gotten more involved.

    But was he really more involved?

    As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason noted, Ridley had a big day with 21.9 PPR points scored, but his target share was only 16.2 percent. That's about five percentage points below his target share per game average this season.

    Fellow receiver Christian Kirk and tight ends Evan Engram and Luke Farrell also dropped passes Sunday.

    Also according to Zachariason, Engram now has 524 receiving yards without a touchdown this season. Tight ends across the league are averaging a touchdown on every 157 receiving yards. ...

    Travis Etienne Jr. rushed 20 times for 56 yards while catching four of six targets for 30 yards against the Texans.

    Etienne exited for a few minutes in the first half to be evaluated for a chest injury, per Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network, but he returned to the game and was stuffed from the 1-yard line on the final play before halftime.

    Etienne has at least 17 touches in nine of 11 games as the clear top option in Jacksonville's backfield; however, he has exceeded 56 rushing yards only once in his last six games heading into a Week 13 home contest against the Bengals on Monday Night Football.

    Worth noting. ... D'Ernest Johnson carried seven times for 19 yards and caught one of two targets for 42 yards in Houston. He also returned one kickoff for 20 yards.

    The 28-year-old has taken hold of the No. 2 tailback job and played 39 percent of Jacksonville's offensive snaps Sunday, while rookie Tank Bigsby received just one carry on two snaps.

    Johnson has 17 carries for 51 yards and four receptions for 104 yards over the past three games, and he should continue to have a modest workload as the Jags' primary backup to Etienne. ...

    Finally. ... Left tackle Cam Robinson went for tests on his left knee Monday and the results will require the Jags to do some shuffling on their offensive line.

    Robinson was placed on injured reserve on Monday afternoon. The team announced that they have signed Chandler Brewer off of the practice squad to fill the open spot on their active roster.

    Robinson also missed the first four weeks of the season while serving a suspension. Walker Little started in his place and moved back there from left guard in Sunday's win over the Texans. Ezra Cleveland took over at left guard and that will likely be their alignment for at least the next four games as well.

    The Jaguars also announced that they have signed offensive linemen Keaton Sutherland and Jimmy Murray to the practice squad.

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

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to's Adam Teicher, to Patrick Mahomes, the important offensive number for the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's game wasn't necessarily their point total of 31, which matched their second highest output of the season.

    Mahomes was more happy about the numbers zero (as in Chiefs turnovers) and one (as in their dropped passes).

    The Chiefs have failed most of the year to match their offensive might from previous seasons, but Mahomes said he had the sense all along that if the Chiefs cleaned up their game as they did on Sunday, good things would automatically follow.

    "We've shown that we can move the ball, but [turnovers] and drops and me not getting to the right guy at the right time [have limited the Chiefs offensively]," Mahomes said after a 31-17 win over the Las Vegas Raiders moved his team to 8-3.

    "Little things like that, they've kind of stalled some of our drives. We kind of got back to the fundamentals this week and we kept pressing and pushing. We obviously took a step in the positive direction now. Let's just continue to do that throughout the rest of the season."

    While the offense finally came online, the defense continued to do its thing. Steve Spagnuolo's bunch only allowed a field goal after those two early touchdowns, keeping intact its streak of allowing 24 points or fewer in every game.

    "We knew our defense would do a good job of maintaining and keeping us around," Mahomes said.

    Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta points out the Chiefs still have not put a complete game together since Week 3 against Chicago, but the fact that their offense ended a three-week streak of second-half shutouts was a step in the right direction.

    And making it even more impressive is the fact that Kansas City turned things around on a short week -- after an emotional Monday night loss to Philadelphia in their Super Bowl rematch -- while on the road against a divisional rival with a holiday thrown into the mix.

    That kind of focus is another hallmark of Chiefs teams the past few years.

    "We went down 14 points. It's a tough thing to come back on that, but our guys battled back and I'm proud of it," head coach Andy Reid said. "We started off a little bit slow and the guys just started making plays and really worked through their fundamentals."

    Mahomes won his 15th career game after the Chiefs have trailed by 10 or more points. His winning percentage of 58 in such games is the best in NFL history.

    But the Chiefs hadn't won after a double-digit deficit this season.

    They've tended to lose after falling behind by any significant margin, so the Chiefs seemed to already be in trouble when they went down 14-0 early in the second quarter.

    That was before Mahomes led the Chiefs on a 71-yard touchdown drive that may have been one of their most important of the season. The Chiefs up until that point had run seven plays and gained 13 yards.

    "It was big for us to get that first touchdown drive and it kind of got the momentum back in our favor," Mahomes said. "We needed to get that drive, especially after having seven plays in the first quarter."

    The Chiefs went on to score touchdowns on three of the next four possessions to take control of the game. Two of those touchdowns came in the second half, the Chiefs' first points of any kind in the final two quarters in their last four games.

    Rookie Rashee Rice had eight catches for 107 yards. He is the first Chiefs wide receiver to go over 100 yards in a regular season game since Week 7 of last year. That streak of 20 games was the longest active one in the NFL.

    Rice's biggest play was a 39-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that helped break open what at the time was a close game. Rice made the reception at the 35 and the rest of the play was him running after the catch and breaking an attempted tackle near the end zone.

    It was the breakthrough game the Chiefs had been waiting for from any of their wide receivers, and it came from the second-round draft pick.

    "I think we've only scratched the surface, honestly," Mahomes said of Rice. "I think you see us hitting him kind of around the line of scrimmage, [but] I think he can do some of the vertical threat stuff and he has speed and he has bursts.

    "He has a chance to be a great receiver in this league and we're going to continue to push him to be that receiver every single week."

    Can the Chiefs continue this offensive resurgence next this against the Packers?

    Teicher believes they can and most likely will if they play as clean of a game as they did in Las Vegas. The Chiefs can be productive when they don't cost themselves possessions and plays. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who dropped a potential winning TD pass a week ago, continued to have almost no positive impact on the Kansas City offense.

    Sure, he helped the running game with his blocking, but he had one catch for the loss of a yard against the Raiders, and he has only had more than two catches in a game once: three against the Chargers. ...

    Mecole Hardman was placed on IR with a thumb injury after playing poorly in the four games since the Jets traded him back to Kansas City. Throw in the return of WR Richie James from a knee injury, and his success in the return game, and it is difficult to see where Hardman will make an impact going forward. ...

    Isiah Pacheco rushed 15 times for 55 yards and two touchdowns while catching all five of his targets for 34 yards against Las Vegas.

    Pacheco punched in a pair of one-yard touchdowns to bolster his usual production as Kansas City's lead running back. The end result was a fantasy score that rivaled the one from his monster performance against the Jets back in Week 4, which had previously stood out as the sophomore's best output to date.

    Pacheco has now reached 20 combined touches in each of the Chiefs' two games since the team's Week 10 bye after hitting that mark just twice over the previous nine weeks. The physical runner has been able to handle the increased workload while maintaining a firm grasp on the starting job in Kansas City.

    Pacheco remains a starting option across all formats heading into next Sunday's tilt against Green Bay.

    On the injury front. ... Jerick McKinnon was inactive against the Raiders with a groin injury. WR Skyy Moore hurt his knee, LT Donovan Smith tweaked his neck and RG Trey Smith hurt his foot, but Reid said none of those injuries was serious. ...

    Reid became the career regular-season wins leader in Kansas City on Sunday, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram. Reid is also the winningest coach in Philadelphia history, and the only one to hold that title with two franchises.

    Finally. ... The Johnson County District Attorney's Office has confirmed that wide receiver Justyn Ross is no longer facing criminal charges after an application for diversion in his case was granted, Conner Hills of KMBC reports.

    The 23-year-old was facing two charges, one for felony criminal damage and another for misdemeanor domestic battery.

    On Monday, The Johnson County District Attorney's office confirmed to KMBC 9 that a judge had formally diverted the criminal case against Ross on Wednesday, Nov. 22. A diversion interrupts a case following a deal between the defendant and the prosecutor where the prosecutor either dismisses the charges entirely or does not bring any charges at all.

    The young wideout is currently on the NFL's Commissioners Exempt List, meaning he's not allowed to practice with the Chiefs or attend games.

    It's currently unclear if or when Ross will be removed from the list or what his future with the team may look like. Before his legal trouble began, Ross was a feel-good training camp story in the Chiefs receiving room.

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

    Las Vegas Raiders

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to Associated Press sports writer Mark Anderson, Antonio Pierce knows the NFL is a results-based business, and he has five games remaining to prove his case that the Raiders should remove the interim tag and name him the head coach.

    "I'm racing time now," Pierce said Monday. "Clock is ticking. It's almost over. I get it. But the best part about it, I know whenever this is over that I've gotten better."

    Las Vegas is 2-2 since he replaced the fired Josh McDaniels, with victories over both New York teams that are a combined 8-15 and losses to Miami and Kansas City, each 8-3 and leaders of their respective divisions.

    So no surprises there, and there isn't enough evidence yet that Pierce should be the Raiders coach past this season. Also no evidence that he shouldn't be that person.

    But what's to come after the bye week doesn't exactly work in Pierce's favor.

    Four of the Raiders' final five games are against teams with winning records, including a rematch with the Chiefs in Kansas City. The only team with a losing record, the 4-7 Los Angeles Chargers, already beat Las Vegas 24-17 on Oct. 1, and Justin Herbert is one of the league's most talented quarterbacks.

    The Raiders did beat one of those final five opponents, opening the season with a 17-16 victory at Denver. But the Broncos are riding a five-game winning streak at the moment, and Russell Wilson is finding his old playmaking groove.

    If Pierce can at least be competitive down the stretch and maybe even steal a victory or two, he could make a strong argument to keep the job. He also would have history working in his favor, with the memory fresh from two years ago of Davis bypassing interim coach Rich Bisaccia -- who had just taken the Raiders to the playoffs -- in favor of the big name in McDaniels.

    A move that in retrospect didn't work out.

    Davis, however, has shown a tendency to go for the shiny object, giving a 10-year contract to lure Jon Gruden from the broadcast booth in 2018. If a coach emerges after this season who will be an attention-grabber (see: Michigan's Jim Harbaugh), Davis could try to make a play for him.

    Pierce understands the business and isn't making any assumptions.

    "I've got five weeks," Pierce said. "Get right. If I don't get right, I'll have a lot more time off -- 52 weeks. I can do the math."

    If math matters to Pierce, fantasy managers would love for him to continue matriculating the ball down the field the way he has since taking over, because Josh Jacobs has gotten going under interim coach.

    He had one down game, gaining 39 yards against the Dolphins. Jacobs otherwise rushed for 98, 116 and 110 yards. This was much closer to the back who led the NFL in rushing last season, and the Raiders will need this kind of production to close the season.

    Against the Chiefs, the All-Pro running back broke off a 63-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, gaining 37 yards after contact on the run, the second-longest YAC of his career. It was also the second-longest run of his career, following the 86-yard walk-off at Seattle last season.

    Continuing to give Jacobs 20 carries a game would work out well for the Raiders and fantasy managers.

    It also would help Jacobs' argument for a new contract, though probably only so much given the financial climate for running backs.

    By the way, the NFL's reigning rushing champion also broke 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season to become the only player to reach that mark each year since 2019. He joined Hall of Famer Marcus Allen as the only Raiders backs to accomplish that in their first five seasons.

    As for the passing game, Aidan O'Connell passed for 248 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Kansas City while Jakobi Meyers put together his best game in over a month.

    Meyers was one of the bigger surprises early in the season, recording at least 50 receiving yards in five of his first six games and scoring five receiving touchdowns in that time.

    His role in the offense had declined in the previous four games. He caught nine passes for 127 yards in the four games combined.

    He bounced back in a big way this week, catching six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.

    The Chiefs have spent all season shutting down No. 1 wide receivers. Davante Adams' five receptions for 73 yards is the best a top wide receiver has played against Kansas City all season.

    The fact that both wide receivers did so well against this defense is a sign that Meyers could have brighter days ahead in this Raiders offense.

    We'll see how it all carries over when the Raiders take on the Vikings in Week 14.

    Other notes of interest. ... As Anderson suggested, Pierce has made some odd in-game decisions, playing ultra-safe two weeks in a row. He didn't attack the end zone a week ago at Miami when Las Vegas recovered a fumble at the Dolphins 32 with 58 seconds left. Then, on Sunday against Kansas City, the Raiders had a fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs 12 while up 7-0 and opted for a field goal that missed. It was as if McDaniels, not exactly known for his aggressiveness in Las Vegas, had never left the sideline. ...

    Hard to believe given how outstanding they usually are, but special teams were a letdown against the Chiefs. Daniel Carlson, who owns the top four single-season field goal percentages in team history, shanked a 30-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. It was the second-shortest missed field goal of his career and the third-shortest miss in the NFL this season.

    It also prevented the Raiders from taking an early 10-0 lead.

    In addition, AJ Cole entered the game with a 51.9-yard gross punting average and 47.1 net average, but finished with averages of 39.0 and 35.7. ...

    The Raiders for the first time in franchise history had zero accepted penalties and zero turnovers. Las Vegas became the first team to lose under that scenario since Jacksonville in 2002. ...

    A few final items. ... Not that anyone has questioned Maxx Crosby's toughness, but it was on display again Sunday. The defensive end was doubtful because of a knee injury and even spent time in a hospital Thursday night.

    Crosby said he had to go to the hospital last week for "some infections" that had him "down for the count for a few days."

    The Raiders' injury report didn't say anything about infections, listing only his knee injury as the reason he didn't practice at all last week and was doubtful to play.

    Crosby was on the field for a season-low 82 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps, but he did manage to sack Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes once.

    "I trained all year round to do this, give myself the opportunity to play 17 guaranteed games and if I can go, I'm going to go," he said. "You put everything into it. I played my ass off and everybody was out there playing their ass off. So, I just wanted to give our team a chance and. ... I didn't want come off [the field]. It's as simple as that."

    Pierce has praised Crosby as having the mentality Pierce wants every Raider to emulate, and playing through that is the kind of thing that makes coaches love Crosby. ...

    Also, the Raiders waived cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Roderic Teamer on Monday. Peters signed just before training camp. Teamer was arrested Saturday night on charges of driving under the influence and speeding.

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

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy, Justin Herbert showed during his first three years that he could deliver a clutch drive to either tie or win the game for the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Like many things gone awry in a disappointing season for the Chargers, Herbert hasn't been able to lead the offense to a late score when needed.

    That was on display again in Sunday night's 20-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

    The Chargers trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter and had a chance to possibly send it into overtime after Justin Tucker missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 2:57 remaining.

    Herbert and the offense took over at their own 34. They drove to the Ravens 46-yard line at the 2-minute warning, but Herbert had three straight incomplete passes and they turned it over on downs. On fourth-and-6, Herbert was pressured in the pocket and called for intentional grounding when he tried to throw it away.

    "I could have changed the protection. In hindsight, I would have loved to have blocked up with seven guys and get everyone in there and blocking. I thought I had time, it was a 6-yard route," Herbert said about the play. "I have to do a better job of creating space and getting the ball out."

    Baltimore took over and put it out of reach on rookie Zay Flowers' 37-yard touchdown on an end-around.

    Herbert led 10 tying or winning drives in his first three seasons when he got the ball in overtime or with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation. He had an 85.9 passer rating with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, and was sacked only four times.

    This season, Herbert is 0 for 5 in the same situation with a passer rating of 40.1. He was been picked off twice and sacked seven times.

    "It's up to us, as an offense, to go out there and execute and perform in those two-minute drills. We haven't done that, and that's on us," he said.

    The Chargers defense, which is ranked last in the league, has been maligned most of the season, but the offense had some major struggles the past two games. Receivers and running backs dropped four passes in last weekend's 23-20 loss at Green Bay, and the offense had four turnovers against the Ravens.

    Los Angeles came into the game tied for the least turnovers in the league.

    "When you don't knock them down, everyone's going to be on you. That's part of the job. But there's no one that we would rather have with the ball in their hands late in the game than Justin Herbert," head coach Brandon Staley said.

    Los Angeles (4-7) has dropped three straight games. It is the fourth time in 11 seasons with Tom Telesco as the general manager that it has had four or fewer wins through the first 11 games.

    However, the defense having one of its best games of the season against one of the AFC's top contenders does provide some glimmer of hope going into next weekend's trip to New England.

    "We're very frustrated, but I mean, it's the NFL," wide receiver Keenan Allen said. "They were the No. 1 team and we gave them a dogfight. That's not an excuse or anything that I'm proud of or anything. It just shows you how close the league is."

    Worth noting. ... The Chargers have dropped six straight and nine of their last 10 meetings against New England, including two playoff games. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... A frustrated Staley on Monday pushed back when questioned about why receiver Quentin Johnston did not return to Sunday's game despite being cleared to do so, insisting the reason had nothing to do with the rookie first-round pick's play.

    Johnston, who suffered a rib injury in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, was cleared by trainers and told's Kris Rhim in the locker room afterward that he felt good to go back in. But Staley, discussing the situation postgame, said, "We didn't feel like -- through the flow of the game, with where he was -- that it was the right thing to go back into the game."

    Johnston recorded one reception for 7 yards, while fellow rookie receiver Zay Flowers -- who was selected by the Ravens one pick after Johnston in the 2023 NFL draft -- finished with 62 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

    Staley, in a frustrated response to reporters on Monday, said that Johnston's return didn't have anything to do with his performance on the field.

    "It's not because of a lack of confidence. It's not because of any other part of your imagination," Staley said. "Quentin will be out there if he's able to be out there."

    When another reporter asked a follow-up question that began with "I don't mean to belabor the point on Quentin," Staley interrupted: "You are belaboring the point," before explaining his reasoning as to why Johnston didn't play through his injury while others on the team did.

    "It was a rib injury. OK? Your ribs affect how you breathe. OK? He plays a position where you have to reach in order to catch things," Staley said. "So it affects the position, and so he was cleared to go back in the game, but there was apprehension on my part of putting him back in there until he felt good enough, and that is the storyline."

    Rhim reminded readers that Chargers receivers have played through injuries all year.

    Allen is currently playing through a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, Josh Palmer played through a knee sprain before going on injured reserve and Jalen Guyton played through a groin injury Sunday. And then there are many players in other position groups playing through injuries suffered in the team's first 11 games.

    For that reason, Johnston not returning to a game the Chargers needed to win in order to turn their season around was all the more concerning.

    Staley also said that X-rays on Johnston's ribs were negative and that he expects him to be at practice this week. ...

    By the way, Allen has 10 or more receptions in three straight games for the third time in his 11-year career. Allen had 14 catches for 106 yards and had multiple receptions on five different routes for the second time this season.

    According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, the rest of the league has combined for two such games.

    In addition, Allen's 97 receptions are the third most by a player through a team's first 11 games in NFL history. ...

    Allen led the wideouts in snaps once again (65). Guyton returned to action after missing last week's game and played the second-most snaps with 53. Alex Erickson, who was elevated from the practice squad for Sunday night's game, played 34 snaps, while Johnston (29 snaps) and Derius Davis (four snaps) rounded out the group. ...

    Palmer (knee) is eligible to return from injured reserve this week. As Rotoworld notes, the Chargers have yet to provide any clues as to Palmer's status, but with Johnston apparently hurt, Palmer would be a significant re-addition to fantasy rosters.

    I'll be watching for more on that; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as developments warrant. ...

    Gerald Everett led the tight end group with 42 snaps, snagging multiple big passes throughout the game and scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown. Donald Parham, Jr., finished playing 28 snaps, while Stone Smartt (eight snaps) and Hunter Kampmoyer (one snap) rounded out the group. ...

    The running game struggled against Baltimore. The running game. Herbert was the team's leading rusher for the second straight week, which shows how dire things have become. Since their league-high 233 yards in the opener against Miami, the Chargers are averaging 91 yards in the past 10 games, the sixth-worst average in the league.

    As Rhim suggested, Austin Ekeler hasn't been the same player since returning from a high right ankle sprain in Week 6. Ekeler lost a fumble for the second straight game, the first time he has done so in consecutive contests in his career.

    Ekeler finished the game playing 53 snaps and led his position, while Joshua Kelley, who was the only other active running back, played 13.

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

    Los Angeles Rams

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Matthew Stafford is throwing the ball with an injured thumb. His top two targets -- Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua -- are fighting through an accumulation of injuries from a punishing NFL season.

    Yet when Kyren Williams is running wild, the Los Angeles Rams (5-6) not only look like a dangerous offense, but a possible playoff contender.

    As’s Sarah Barshop noted, Williams showed just what the offense had been missing in his return from injured reserve by delivering 204 total yards in a 37-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, rushing for 143 yards and catching two of Stafford's four touchdown passes.

    After the game, Williams was asked if he felt all the way back from his injury.

    "How many - 200 yards from scrimmage?" Williams said, via the team's website. "I want to say 200 percent this time."

    In the four games Williams missed, the Rams averaged 14.25 points per game. Having Williams back "was a big deal" for the Rams, head coach Sean McVay said.

    "He's a really good football player, and he's one of those guys -- he loves competing, and when you've got that natural just zest and enjoyment for going out there and playing the game and then oh by the way, you're really productive. I mean, he's doing a great job," McVay said. "Kyren is just so conscientious. He loves to compete. He's worked really hard, he's worked really hard just to be able to get himself back to perform at that level. It was cool to see."

    Williams is the first Rams player with 200 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in a game since Todd Gurley in 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He also is just the fourth player in Rams history with 100 rushing yards and two receiving touchdowns in a game, joining Gurley (2017), Cleveland Gary (1992) and Eric Dickerson (1983).

    On Friday, McVay said the Rams wanted to "be able to give [Williams] a good workload" in his return against Arizona but also wanted to be cognizant of the high number of snaps the running back was playing before he injured his ankle.

    Williams had 22 touches Sunday, his second-highest total of the season. Backup running back Royce Freeman also had 13 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Looking at the stat sheet after the game, McVay said it seemed like there was "a good balance" between Williams and Freeman, "kind of what we were hunting up today."

    In seven games this season, Williams has 599 rushing yards on 113 carries and 166 receiving yards on 19 catches. He has nine total touchdowns (six rushing, three receiving).

    Kupp said Williams' energy is "great" in the huddle with his "positivity between plays and play energy." Williams said that while he doesn't bring that energy specifically to lift up his teammates, he's had players come up to him and tell him to keep doing what he's doing.

    "This is who I am," Williams said. "Like I said, I love doing this and when I get out there, I'm able just to play free and be who I am."

    Of course, playing the Cardinals is good for just about anything that ails an opposing offense, but Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham suggests, the Rams have additional reasons for optimism with their first two-game win streak of the season.

    Even after a major talent exodus in the offseason, Los Angeles is just one game out of a wild-card playoff spot with six games left in a fairly favorable schedule.

    As long as they've got Stafford and a healthy Williams behind their much-improved offensive line, the Rams have a genuine chance to contend down the stretch for their fifth playoff appearance in seven seasons under McVay -- a feat that seemed highly improbable just a few weeks ago.

    "The first nine games of the season didn't go the way we wanted it to go," Stafford said of the Rams' 3-6 start, including a three-game skid before the bye.

    "We had some chances there to have a better record than we do," he added. "We didn't make those plays. We didn't finish those games. I think last week was a true testament to the grit and fight this team has. We found a way to win a game without playing our best football. A bunch of guys banged up, but found a way to get it done. I got a little healthier this week. Played a little bit better, a little bit cleaner football, and I have to continue to get better."

    Four of the Rams' final six games look eminently winnable, starting with Sunday's visit from the quarterback-deficient Cleveland Browns. A winning record seemed unlikely for LA just three weeks ago, but the last two games are kindling optimism. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Stafford's passer rating against the Cardinals was 121.1, his highest mark of the season. Despite his bum thumb, the 15-year veteran is still playing well heading into December -- and he wasn't sacked for the first time since Week 1. ...

    Kupp was clearly not fully healthy even before he tweaked his injured ankle on the first drive. The Super Bowl 56 MVP has failed to crack 50 yards receiving in five consecutive games for the first time in his seven-year career. He's still a vital component of the Rams' offense, and he intends to push through the knocks. ...

    Tight end Tyler Higbee had gone 12 straight games without a receiving touchdown but had his biggest game of the season with five catches for 29 yards and two touchdowns. The eight-year veteran caught every ball thrown his way by Stafford, and he was a strong blocker.

    Rookie tight end Davis Allen also made his first NFL reception in impressive fashion, snagging a low throw for a key first down. ...

    Kicker Lucas Havrisik endangered his job security by missing a 50-yard field goal attempt and an extra point. He's 2 for 4 on field goals beyond 40 yards since taking over for Brett Maher late last month. The Rams' special teams also got fooled by a fake punt and committed a penalty on an extra-point attempt.

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

    Miami Dolphins

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Tua Tagovailoa keeps reiterating that the Miami Dolphins aren't satisfied yet.

    As Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames noted, Miami improved to 8-3 with a dominant 34-13 win over the struggling New York Jets on Black Friday. The Dolphins are looking to win the AFC East for the first time since 2008, and then make a deep playoff push.

    "The sky's the limit for us," Tagovailoa told Thames. "Whatever we want to accomplish, everything's right there in front of us and we basically turn it on fate here in this league. So, we just have to continue stacking those wins."

    The Dolphins have the benefit of a favorable schedule to close out the season: Four of their final five games are at home, where they are undefeated. Miami's next three opponents have losing records, and the Dolphins have not lost to a team under .500 this season.

    Against the Jets, Miami put up 395 yards of total offense despite turning the ball over three times for the second straight game. Tagovailoa was 21 of 30 for 243 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

    "I feel good about my game. I'm not satisfied whatsoever about what I'm doing right now," Tagovailoa said. "I know I have to continue to get better with that. Throughout these late stretches of having these games, we're going to need better ball from me."

    The Dolphins also got another standout performance from their defense, which limited the Jets to just 159 total yards. Miami has held its opponent under 300 yards in four straight games.

    Head coach Mike McDaniel credited Miami's recent defensive surge to players taking ownership of their responsibilities.

    "As a result, we're starting to have a team that's complementing each other in all three phases," McDaniel said. "You can't just show up and say 'We're going to stop this' or 'We're going to beat this' to beat the Miami Dolphins. You have to deal with all sides of the ball."

    There are concerns moving forward.

    The Dolphins have turned the ball over six times in their past two games and haven't gone a game without a turnover since Week 3 against Denver. Tagovailoa was intercepted twice, and another giveaway came on a botched handoff to running back Darrynton Evans.

    After throwing two interceptions against the Jets, one of which was returned for a touchdown, Tagovailoa is responsible for multiple turnovers in three of Miami's past four games. His 10 interceptions also tie a career high. Although the turnovers ultimately didn't cost the Dolphins against a woeful Jets team, those could prove costly against a tougher opponent later in the season.

    "I think it's doing much more than what is asked," Tagovailoa said. "Trying to be a little too aggressive on certain things. You just can't do that."

    They'll work to clean those items up as they prepare to visit the Washington Commanders Sunday in one of Miami's final two road games of the season. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... Raheem Mostert ran for two more TDs to give him an NFL-best 13 on the season. That's also a career high for Mostert and the fourth-most rushing TDs in a single season in franchise history. Mostert also has two receiving TDs, bringing his total to 15, which is second in the NFL behind San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey.

    He also ran for 94 yards on 20 carries against the Jets and has eclipsed 80 yards in each of his past three games. ...

    On the injury front. ... The Dolphins held running back De'Von Achane out last Friday. McDaniel said Monday that a number of factors went into the decision, including the short week, the opponent and faith in Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.

    Achane is considered day to day.

    "I want to be fair to him, and he knows how to play one way," McDaniel said, via video from Omar Kelly of "So, as he goes he'll tell me he can play I already know that, but he'll just be closely evaluated, making sure we have the confident version of him."

    Achane injured a knee in an Oct. 8 game against the Giants. After a stint on injured reserve, Achane returned to play against the Raiders but aggravated the injury early in the game.

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

    In addition, left tackle Terron Armstead tweaked a quadriceps injury Friday, and McDaniel sounded as if Armstead will miss some time.

    "He has had his fill of watching football," McDaniel said of Armstead, who has played only five games. "He is going to be pressing me hard to play football. . . .To me it's a week to week injury."

    Jaelan Phillips will miss the rest of the season after tearing an Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter. Phillips was having a standout season after battling oblique and back injuries early on. He recorded 6 1/2 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits and an interception in eight games.

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

    Minnesota Vikings

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to's Kevin Seifert, "The most unique story of the NFL's 2023 season might soon be coming to an end. ..."

    After watching quarterback Josh Dobbs throw four interceptions Monday night in a 12-10 loss to the Chicago Bears, head coach Kevin O'Connell said he will spend the team's upcoming bye reviewing the best path forward at the position.

    Dobbs was forced into emergency duty in Week 9, five days after the Vikings acquired him in an Oct. 31 trade with the Arizona Cardinals, when rookie Jaren Hall suffered a concussion. Veteran Nick Mullens, who entered the season as the team's No. 2 quarterback, was on injured reserve at the time because of a back injury.

    But Mullens is back on the active roster, and Hall cleared concussion protocol last week.

    "We're going to take a look and really evaluate the inventory of plays we have of Josh," O'Connell said. "We got healthy. We got Jaren back available to us, and then Nick Mullens is available as well."

    Dobbs almost didn't make it out of Monday night's game, as O'Connell said, "We definitely had started to get to the point where I was just trying to think, almost, what would give us a spark."

    But ultimately, according to O'Connell, Dobbs "battled, no flinch, and just kept playing and competing to try to help us win."

    Dobbs has committed a total of eight turnovers -- five interceptions and three lost fumbles -- in his four games with Minnesota. The Vikings have been plagued by turnovers all season; they rank No. 31 in the NFL in turnovers per game (2.0) and No. 30 in turnover margin per game (-0.67). As O'Connell put it Monday night, they "absolutely cripple you."

    Dobbs was the third quarterback to start a game for the Vikings this season, following Kirk Cousins, who tore his right Achilles tendon in Week 8, and Hall.

    Hall was the No. 3 quarterback against the Bears and by rule couldn't play unless both Dobbs and Mullens were injured.

    "I acknowledge [the interceptions], man," Dobbs said. "I'm frustrated with myself because it starts with me. I'll be better from it. I'll learn from every single one of them tonight, and we'll use it to build momentum into the next opportunity."

    Whether he gets another opportunity, however, remains to be seen.

    "Honestly, I think that's a coaching decision," Dobbs said. "I just focus on myself. Focus on how I can help this team win. Focus on how I can be a better teammate, a better quarterback and focus on how I can make sure the offense is in the right play based on the scenario to go out and execute."

    Of course, it would be fair to point a finger at O'Connell.

    The Vikings' offense couldn't get in rhythm against the Bears, and as Dobbs continued to struggle, O'Connell declined to turn forcefully to his running game. Despite never trailing by more than three points, the Vikings finished the game with 36 dropbacks and only 15 designed running plays. ...

    The Vikings won't play this week, but the stage is set for them to have wide receiver Justin Jefferson back in the lineup when they return from their bye week.

    Jefferson hurt his hamstring in October and has missed the last seven games while on injured reserve. He returned to practice on November 8 and has been listed as questionable to play the last couple of weeks without being put back on the active roster.

    That changed Tuesday.

    The Vikings announced that they will be activating Jefferson, which is no surprise because they need to do so before his 21-day practice window closes and he becomes ineligible to return to the field at any point this season.

    The Vikings will return to action on December 10 against the Raiders and getting Jefferson back would boost their chances of getting a win in that contest.

    For what it's worth, O’Connell added that Jefferson's return is "definitely part" of that process in choosing the starter at quarterback because the Vikings have to determine who will be able to "make sure he has a critical, critical impact on the football game."

    "We're going to make sure that whoever is playing quarterback is aware and understands the intent behind plays where either Justin is the primary, or -- based upon coverage, based upon the defensive look -- how to quickly and efficiently get to the right place to go with the football," O'Connell said. "In the end that's what the NFL passing game is about: rhythm, timing, understanding that the defense can and will take some things away, but progressing in rhythm."

    O'Connell was careful to point out the contributions of T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison and others during Jefferson's absence, but he left little doubt that he thinks the Vikings' hopes for future offensive success will flow through having "the best receiver in football" as part of the passing attack. ...

    Finally. ... O'Connell said that there is no "particular timeline" to choose between Dobbs, Mullens, and Hall -- the Vikings released quarterback Sean Mannion from the practice squad and wide receiver N'Keal Harry from the active roster Tuesday -- because all the players need to be "evaluated to see what gives us the best chance to win."

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

    New England Patriots

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Mac Jones was given the start in Sunday's road game against the New York Giants -- coming off a game in which he was benched following a late fourth-quarter interception -- but head coach Bill Belichick turned to backup Bailey Zappe to begin the second half of their 10-7 loss.

    Jones threw two interceptions in the first half as the Patriots trailed 7-0 when Belichick made the switch.

    Jones was 12-of-21 for 89 yards in the half, with the Giants ultimately turning his second interception into the lone touchdown.

    Zappe helped the Patriots right away, with the team driving 60 yards over 11 plays for a touchdown to tie the game at 7. Mostly operating with a shorter passing game, he was 6-of-6 for 38 yards.

    He finished the game 9-of-14 for 54 yards and an interception. He helped to engineer a potential game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, but rookie kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining.

    "I thought both guys deserved to play," Belichick said of the quarterbacks, while declining to name a starter for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Of the loss to the Giants, Belichick said: "Too much poor ball security on offense, turned the ball over too many times and it got away from us. ... Not good enough. Too sloppy on the ball security."

    Jones relayed that offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien told him at halftime that he was out of the game.

    "I wasn't moving the ball and scoring points, I understand why that happened," Jones said. "Bad quarterback play. It wasn't good enough by me. If the quarterback doesn't play well, you got no chance."

    As for starting the game, Belichick hadn't told Jones and Zappe of his plans throughout the week of practice.

    His message was that everybody, at every position, needed to be ready.

    Sources told's Mike Reiss that practice repetitions during the week had been split about 50-50 between Jones and Zappe, with Jones usually getting the initial nod. The complexity of the Giants' blitz schemes under coordinator Wink Martindale, and Jones' aptitude at sorting through them, led some in the locker room to believe that he had the edge during the week.

    The Patriots entered Sunday at 2-8, the worst record in the AFC, and shaky quarterback play is among the myriad issues that have contributed to them averaging 14.1 points per game.

    Jones was pulled from three games earlier this season, beginning with blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints in the fourth and fifth weeks. Then, in a Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany, with the Patriots on the cusp of a go-ahead touchdown with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jones badly underthrew tight end Mike Gesicki in the end zone for a backbreaking interception.

    Belichick benched him in favor of Zappe with the Patriots trailing 10-6 in that game and a chance for a potential touchdown drive when they got the ball back with 1:52 remaining at their own 14-yard line. After gaining 26 yards over the first seven plays of the drive, Zappe threw an interception into heavy traffic over the middle to extinguish those hopes.

    Jones was 212-of-324 for 2,031 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season entering Sunday. He had been sacked 21 times.

    Zappe was 10-of-25 for 104 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in 2023.

    Asked Monday if he would consider bringing another quarterback in, Belichick said: "I don't really see that right now."

    "I wouldn't rule anything out, anything that would help our team," he said. "You never know what's going to happen. If I think there's somebody, if our pro scouting department thinks there is somebody that would help us, we'll certainly listen to it and take a look at it, at any position. ... Nobody that comes to mind, but we'll see. ..."

    In fact, the Patriots worked out five players Monday, including former Purdue quarterback Austin Burton. On Tuesday, the team re-signed Will Grier to the practice squad, according to multiple reports.

    The Patriots released Grier from their active roster Saturday, and he was expected to explore his options before returning. ...

    As the starter for the bulk of the season, Jones has predictably drawn the most criticism for what's gone wrong.

    But O'Brien points a finger at himself.

    "Things haven't gone great for him this year," O'Brien said, via Michael Hurley of WBZ. "I don't think that he's the No. 1 guy to blame. If you want to blame anyone, blame me. I'm the one who designs it, and it's not going very well."

    All that said, while O'Brien is calling the plays and Jones has been the one executing them, any blame for how things have gone in New England has to start with Belichick. He's been the head coach and de facto general manager for decades, so there isn't anywhere else for the buck has to stop when it comes to working on cleaning up the mess that is their current state.

    Worth noting. ... Belichick already has passed Don Shula on one career list -- just not the one the Patriots coach was hoping for. With Sunday's loss to the New York Giants, Belichick overtook the longtime Miami mentor on the NFL's coaching losses list. Belichick's 174 losses, including playoffs, now trails only Tom Landry's 178.

    As Associated Press sports writer Jimmy Golen noted, a six-time Super Bowl champion who had once been considered the consensus best coach in NFL history, Belichick's reputation has plummeted since Tom Brady left. Without Belichick, Brady won another Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers; without Brady, Belichick is 27-35 in the past four years (82-99 in his career).

    And his once-certain coronation as the winningest coach in NFL history has stalled.

    The Patriots lost their fourth straight game on Sunday.

    What's worse: Two of the losses have come against other last-place teams, the Commanders and Giants.

    Belichick, 71, remains stuck on 331 wins, including the postseason, trailing Shula's 347.

    It once looked like he would get there as soon as next season.

    Now, he might never make it. And the chances of him getting there in New England are vanishing. ...

    Looking for positives?

    Look no further than running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who had a season-high 98 yards rushing. With five catches for 9 yards, he surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage for the third straight game. He's the first Patriot to do that since Sony Michel in 2018 and only the second in the last 10 years.

    Better still, Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason points out that Stevenson played a season high 78 percent of New England's offensive snaps. He hit a 70 percent running back rush share for the first time since Week 4, and he's now seen a 14 percent target share in six straight games. ...

    Rookie Demario Douglas, who has been a positive in recent weeks, left the game after defender Cam Brown clotheslined him during a punt return. Brown's arm hit Douglas in the head, and Douglas went down, losing the ball in the process. (It went out of bounds and New England retained possession.)

    After he came off the field, Douglas was announced as doubtful to return and later downgraded to out.

    As's Nathan Jahnke notes, Douglas was the clear top target of both quarterbacks, catching six passes for 49 yards on nine targets before being sidelined.

    Beyond Douglas, DeVante Parker missed the last two games after suffering a concussion in Week 8. He was back to playing nearly every snap in three-receiver personnel and partaking in the two-tight end, two-receiver sets.

    Prior to his concussion, he was rotating some with Jalen Reagor. Since that time, Kayshon Boutte has overtaken Reagor on the depth chart. Boutte was active Sunday while Reagor was a healthy inactive.

    For most of the game, Parker was joined by Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster in 11 personnel. The three of them and Tyquan Thornton all played significant 12 personnel snaps.

    Thornton took over in three-receiver sets after Douglas was hurt.

    I'll have more on the rookie receiver via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

    Also of interest. ... The Patriots traded up in the draft to select kicker Chad Ryland in the fourth round, and it hasn't paid off. The rookie placekicker missed a 35-yard field goal that would have tied the game in the final seconds.

    "That's obviously a kick I have to knock down, I have knocked down, and I'll knock down in the future," he said. "I just have to continue to work in the right direction."

    In all, Ryland is 12 for 18 on field goals and 14 for 14 on extra points since beating out veteran Nick Folk in training camp. Folk is 39 for 40 on all kicks with Tennessee.

    Ryland also missed a 35-yarder against the Colts in Week 10.

    "Chad's a very talented player," Belichick said on his Monday radio appearance. "But this is two weeks in a row we've basically missed extra points. So, it's not good enough."

    One last note here. ... Prior to the Patriots achieving this dubious distinction the last two weeks, it's been 30 years since a team has given up 10 points in back-to-back games and lost.

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

    New Orleans Saints

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    The Saints exited Sunday's 24-15 loss to the Falcons with injuries to two of their starting receivers.

    Chris Olave was ruled out of the game after he sustained a concussion in the third quarter. Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed left with a quad injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Shaheed was initially listed as questionable, then downgraded to doubtful in the second half.

    "We ended up losing Shaheed, he got hurt earlier in the game and tried to battle through, we ended up taking him out and obviously Olave went out, he's in the concussion protocol," head coach Dennis Allen said. "When you're playing without your top three wide receivers, it presents some challenges."'s Katherine Terrell reports that center Erik McCoy went to the medical tent and exited so that tight end Juwan Johnson could enter to be evaluated for a concussion. McCoy returned to the field eventually but Johnson had to go to the locker room for a longer evaluation before returning.

    Defensive end Cameron Jordan (shin) and running back Jamaal Williams were also injured in the game.

    But the wideouts are the primary concerns for the Saints and fantasy managers this week.

    Olave, who had seven catches for 114 yards in the first half, went up in the air to try to make a catch on the Saints sideline. He stayed on the ground after coming down and was immediately attended to by athletic trainers, who took him to the medical tent to evaluate him for a concussion. Olave eventually went to the locker room and did not come back.

    "Prayers up to the phenoms 22&12," Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas posted on social media in the fourth quarter. Thomas was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week with a knee injury.

    Shaheed dove for a catch late in the second quarter and came off the field limping. He slammed his helmet down in frustration as he reached the bench. Shaheed put a towel over his head and walked to the locker room with a teammate consoling him and did not return to the game.

    He appeared to be struggling with an injury throughout the first half and went to the medical tent at one point, with Lynn Bowden Jr. temporarily replacing him in the lineup. Shaheed came back out of the tent, rode the exercise bike on the sideline and returned to the game. He did not appear on the Saints' injury report this week prior to the game.

    The Saints were already shorthanded on offense without Thomas, and Bowden appeared to be dealing with an injury as well. He went to the medical tent at one point in the first half but came back into the game. Cornerback Alontae Taylor also went into the tent and came back.

    But Olave and Shaheed are the primary concerns for the Saints and fantasy managers heading into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, a source told him Shaheed appears to have avoided major injury. Rapoport says Shaheed is "more day-to-day than anything else," but it sounds like the team is preparing to be without him for at least one week.

    Olave is in the concussion protocol.

    If both are out, the Saints could be dangerously thin at receiver, which, could lead to a busy day for Alvin Kamara and perhaps an expanded package for Taysom Hill.

    Rookie A.T. Perry, who has led Saints receivers in snaps each of the last two weeks, could also be in line for a bigger role.

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

    Meanwhile, as Associated sports writer Brett Martel reminded readers, during each of Kamara's first four NFL seasons, the Saints were a playoff team and even the NFC's top playoff seed during the dynamic running back's second year on the club.

    So Kamara knows what it feels like to be on a team of such quality, and it's not a feeling he has now.

    The Saints (5-6) missed a chance to take control of the NFC South when they lost to Atlanta on Sunday and enter Week 13 plagued by the aforementioned injuries and lingering red-zone issues that are sinking their season.

    "We don't have an identity as a team," Kamara said. "We're a team that says we want to do and we don't do -- and it shows.

    "It gets to a certain point where all the talking in the world doesn't matter," he added. "You have to find a way to do it."

    Allen on Monday disagreed with the notion that the Saints lack an identity. He sees a team that is "explosive" on offense and "opportunistic" on defense.

    Two interceptions on Sunday by veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu, for instance, gave the Saints 20 takeaways this season, tied for fourth most in the league.

    It should also be noted the Saints outgained Atlanta in total yards, 444-396.

    But Allen says that what the Saints have done well this season has been repeatedly undermined by game-changing mistakes, be it untimely penalties, botched assignments or turnovers.

    "The message to the team was that's unacceptable. We've got to be better," said Allen, who has an increasing number of fans calling for his firing on social media and local sports talk shows. "I can appreciate the fans' urgency and I can assure you that the people inside the building feel the same sense of urgency."

    In addition, the red-zone offense is in crisis. After the Saints made five trips inside the Atlanta 20 without a TD on Sunday, they are converting 42.5 percent of red zone opportunities into touchdowns this season. That ranks fourth worst in the NFL.

    "That's certainly been an issue for us. We haven't been able to get that corrected," said Allen, who wouldn't rule out seeing if there should be more opportunities for veteran tight end Jimmy Graham in the red zone. "That's going to continue to be a focus of ours."

    The Saints attempted six field goals (with kicker Blake Grupe making five) and turned the ball over twice inside the 10-yard line on Derek Carr's interception that was returned for a touchdown and on Hill's fumble.

    "We made some critical mistakes that, if we don't make critical mistakes in those situations we're probably having a different discussion here," Allen said.

    For Kamara, seeing so many opportunities squandered through 11 games is getting tiresome.

    "We already know we got to get better," Kamara said. "How are we going to get better? What are we going to do to get better?"

    With three straight home games, starting Sunday against Detroit (which lost to Green Bay on Thanksgiving and has not lost two straight all season), the good news for the Saints, schedule-wise, is that Detroit is the last team that currently has a winning record that they will play -- not that it helped against a Falcons team that was 4-6 before Sunday. ...

    For the record, Carr is becoming increasingly associated with the Saints' inability to get in the end zone. The Saints have just three TDs in their past 32 offensive possessions and Carr didn't touch the ball on any of them. Winston threw the Saints' past two TD passes after Carr got hurt in Minnesota. The touchdown before that came on a pass from Hill against Chicago in Week 9. ...

    Finally. ... The Saints added Grupe to the practice report last Friday with a groin injury.

    As noted above, Grupe played in Sunday's game, making five of six field goal tries. He made field goals of 25, 52, 41, 45 and 39, and missed short from 54 yards.

    But the Saints were working out kickers Tuesday, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports.

    Mason Crosby, Taylor Bertolet and James McCourt were among the group in New Orleans for the kick off.

    Crosby has remained a free agent since March after 16 seasons in Green Bay. He has made 81.4 percent of his field goal attempts and 97.3 percent of his PATs.

    Bertolet and McCourt have never kicked in a regular-season game.

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

    New York Giants

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    The New York Giants came out during their bye week and stated they still look at injured quarterback Daniel Jones as their starter, when he is healthy.

    Jones, 26, tore the ACL is his right knee earlier this month against the Las Vegas Raiders. He had surgery last week.

    "The expectations is that when Daniel [Jones] is healthy, he will be our starting quarterback," general manager Joe Schoen said.

    As's Jordan Raanan reminded readers, the Giants signed Jones to a four-year, $160 million deal this offseason. He's guaranteed $35.5 million next year, but they could get out of the deal fairly reasonably after the 2024 season.

    New York is going to have to address the quarterback position in some capacity given the uncertainty with Jones. His recovery from the torn knee ligament could take up until the summer or beyond.

    "We're still going to have to address the position at some point because there is no guarantee he's going to be back for Week 1," Schoen said.

    Where that quarterback will come from (or if he's already on the roster) remains an unknown.

    "That will be a position, obviously there are different avenues -- free agency or the draft -- but we'll have to address it at some point," Schoen said.

    The Giants still have undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito under contract for next season. But veteran backup Tyrod Taylor will be a free agent.

    There also remains a possibility the Giants could address the position in the draft. Declaring Jones their starter (when healthy) doesn't preclude them from going that route.

    "No, it doesn't," Schoen said. "I think we're going to have to do something with the quarterback, whether it's in free agency or the draft."

    The Giants (4-8) are currently projected to select fourth in the 2024 NFL draft, per ESPN Analytics. But they have just a 0.6 percent chance of selecting first and 97.8 percent chance of being in the Top 10.

    Schoen wouldn't rule out a quarterback in the first round. He even mentioned specifically studying the quarterbacks taken at the top of the 2018 draft, how many of them are still starting, on winning teams and out of the league.

    It at least shows the Giants' brass is contemplating a first-round QB.

    "We'll take the best player available," Schoen said. "If the best player available for our team is at a certain position, we'll take it. We won't shy away from it. That's a ways away, the draft in April."

    Jones struggled this season after a strong 2022 that saw him finish sixth in the NFL in QBR and win a playoff game. He threw two touchdown passes to six interceptions in his six starts this year.

    But the Giants still have confidence that last season was not an outlier.

    "I've seen it. You guys all saw last season. He won 10 games, he won a road playoff game for the Giants," Schoen said. "You guys saw the preseason. I just think we got punched in the nose early on and dug ourselves a hole and we weren't able to get out of it. We're still trying to right now. Still believe in Daniel the person."

    Jones is five days post-surgery. The Giants believe they will have a better idea of a timeline for his recovery early in the offseason.

    Regardless, Jones now has an extensive injury history that makes him more difficult to build around. He also missed three games this season with a neck injury. It was the second neck injury of his young career.

    With Taylor also on injured reserve, it has opened the door for DeVito, who has now won two of his three starts and shown consistent improvement. Still, the Giants wouldn't commit to DeVito being the starter when they return from their bye week for a "Monday Night Football" matchup on Dec. 11 with the Green Bay Packers.

    "Yeah, that's something we'll talk about," Daboll said. "We'll talk about it all." DeVito has impressed so far. He has thrown six touchdown passes to one interception in his three starts.

    It has opened some eyes and put him in the mix for the future.

    "Tommy's done a good job as an undrafted free agent," Schoen said. "He's come a long way since he arrived here in May as an undrafted guy. That's a testament to his work ethic and buying in to the process with what [quarterbacks coach] Shea [Tierney] and [offensive coordinator Mike] Kafka and what they're teaching to him.

    "He's taking care of the football the last couple of weeks, and he's done a good job. He's got some swagger, some presence about him that the players like. They follow him."

    Meanwhile, after a disastrous, injured-filled start to the season filled with high expectations and met with too many poor performances, the Giants have a reason to feel good as they head into their bye week.

    Consecutive wins over Washington (4-8) and New England (2-9) have the Giants at 4-8 in Brian Daboll's second season in charge.

    As Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan noted, two of New York's final five regular-season games are against the team with the NFL's best record, the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1). The defending NFC champions beat the Giants three times last season.

    "Obviously, not where we want to be right now at 4-8, but I am proud of the guys and the way they've continued to battle and compete over the last few weeks," Schoen said Monday.

    "When things are bad, they can go one of two ways, and I'm really proud of the way the guys have continued to come in and compete. We've seen some progress over the last couple weeks and the results to show. We've got five games left against NFC teams, against four different teams, and we're not out of it."

    If there has been a positive in the past few weeks, it's been the surprising play of DeVito.

    Since taking over after Jones went down with a season-ending knee injury against Las Vegas, the New Jersey native has thrown six touchdowns and one interception in his past three games. He has not thrown an interception in his past 66 passes and has posted passer ratings of 137.7 and 103.9 against the Commanders and Patriots, respectively.

    "He's got the right mindset, a lot of work to do," Daboll said. "He's a young, young player, but he's made some progress and he's done a good job for us."

    With the win, DeVito became the fifth undrafted rookie in the common draft era to win at least two of his first three starts. He is also the first undrafted rookie in the common draft era to get at least a 100 passer rating in consecutive starts.

    Still, when asked who his starter would be after the bye if Taylor is ready to come off injured reserve, Daboll was non-committal. ...

    Worth noting: DeVito's progress is even more impressive considering he's getting no help from his offensive line. It allowed the Patriots to get a season-high six sacks, seven quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss.

    While Saquon Barkley had runs of 19 and 14 yards, the other 17 rushes netted 25 yards. ...

    Also worth noting: Jalin Hyatt had a breakout game.

    The rookie wide receiver, who was a third-round pick, was targeted six times and had five catches for a career-high 109 yards. He had four plays over 10 yards, including the Giants' three biggest offensive plays, receptions of 41, 29 and 22 yards.

    The speedy rookie notched his first career 100-yard game and seems to have developed a nice chemistry with DeVito. Hyatt became the first Giants receiver to reach 100 yards this season. ...

    Like Taylor, Darren Waller (hamstring) also is eligible to come off injured reserve. Asked if the veteran tight end would return after the bye, Daboll said, "We'll see." The coach added he has not been updated by the medical staff, but it's something we'll watch next week, when they begin preparing for a Monday night game at home against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 11.

    QBs: Tommy DeVito, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones
    RBs: Devin Singletary, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray
    WRs: Darius Slayton, Wan'Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard
    TEs: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick

    New York Jets

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    Aaron Rodgers is back with the New York Jets on a full-time basis, eager to return to the field, setting up a big decision that will be made in the coming weeks.

    For now, the Jets have made a smaller decision at quarterback.

    Despite a shaky performance Friday, career backup Tim Boyle will remain the starter.

    "Yeah, we're giving Timmy another shot to roll next week," head coach Robert Saleh said Saturday morning on a conference call with reporters.

    Boyle, in his Jets' starting debut, was sacked seven times, attempted only four passes over 10 air yards and was intercepted twice -- including a Hail Mary that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by safety Jevon Holland in the Miami Dolphins' 34-13 win.

    Saleh's other options are Trevor Siemian, the No. 2 quarterback Friday, and just-benched Zach Wilson. Asked about Siemian after the game, Saleh said, "I'm not there yet."

    The Jets host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday

    As's Rich Cimini notes, the Jets (4-7), losers of four straight, are stuck in a season-long funk -- with only 10 touchdowns by the offense. Rodgers' injury, combined with an ever-changing offensive line, has resulted in a historically inept offense. The struggles were so profound against Miami that the Jets didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter.

    Rodgers watched the mess from the sideline, wearing a headset. Instead of returning to California to continue his rehab, his usual routine, he remained in New Jersey -- a key development in his bid for an unprecedented return from Achilles surgery.

    From all indications, Rodgers -- only 10 weeks removed from surgery -- wants to start practicing in early December, with the hope of playing again this season. He's said to be targeting the Dec. 24 game against the Washington Commanders.

    "He's in the building," Saleh said, adding that he had no update on a potential practice date.

    "When we get a doctor's note that says he's clear, he'll be cleared for practice then," the coach added.

    As Cimini suggested, that's a simplistic take on the situation.

    "Clearly," Cimini explained, "a risk-reward decision of this magnitude will be multilayered and will involve more than just the doctors."

    Saleh has said Rodgers will make the final call, saying the four-time MVP will play if he wants to -- if he's medically cleared.

    Rodgers, who tore the Achilles in the first game of the season, told Pat McAfee on Tuesday that whether he plays again this year will depend on whether he's medically cleared, and whether the Jets still have any chance of making the playoffs.

    "It's health first," Rodgers said. "Are we alive second."

    As to the health question, Rodgers has indicated he's making good progress on rehabbing his Achilles.

    Still, no NFL player has ever torn his Achilles tendon during the regular season and returned that same regular season. Rodgers would have to do something unprecedented to get back on the field.

    And as to whether the Jets will be alive by the time Rodgers could conceivably play again, that seems unlikely.

    Beyond all that, Rodgers, who turns 40 on Dec. 2, would be taking a chance, considering the state of the offensive line. The Jets have started eight combinations and 12 different players, a league high. They've allowed 47 sacks. Left tackles Mekhi Becton (sprained ankle) and Duane Brown (hip) could return for the next game, Saleh said. Right guard Wes Schweitzer (calf) also is a possibility.

    Boyle, who began the season on the practice squad after being released at the end of the preseason, was under duress throughout the game Friday. He completed 27 of 38 passes, but for only 179 yards.

    "For the most part, I felt like I saw it well and I got the ball out of my hands," Boyle said after the game. "I tried not to take sacks, but it's part of the game."

    The offense was so restricted that, aside from the Hail Mary at the end of the first half, Boyle didn't attempt a pass longer than 10 yards until the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach.

    "Obviously, there are things that he could've done better," Saleh said. "There are things he had no control over, and I know he battled out there, and we were able to get to certain calls that we were hoping to do. We were able to execute a lot of the different things that we wanted to execute. It just didn't come to full fruition."

    According to Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr, the coaching staff has huddled up trying to solve the team's struggles. Players are disappointed and it's on Saleh and his coaches to prevent fracturing in the locker room.

    "We have to reconnect to each individual style of play," Saleh said. "Coaches need to come up with a game plan that gets these guys in a position to showcase that style. ... The frustration that's building does nobody any good."

    Embattled offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett apparently is in no danger of losing his job. Hackett received a vote of confidence from Saleh after the game. Saleh said "there is no consideration" to removing Hackett as the playcaller.

    Hackett has a close relationship with Rodgers, which probably is a factor in his job security.

    Boyle credited Rodgers for helping him during the game, calling Rodgers "a peaceful, calming presence for me. ..."

    Stay tuned. More on Rodgers as developments warrant; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for the latest. ...

    One last item here (in case you missed it last week). ... Allen Lazard was a healthy scratch Friday, the latest turn in a disappointing first season with the Jets. Lazard, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract with New York in the offseason, has been plagued by drops (five) and has just 20 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown this year.

    QBs: Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Rodgers
    RBs: Breece Hall, Israel Abanikanda
    WRs: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Mike Williams, Charles Irvin
    TEs: Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah, Kenny Yeboah

    Philadelphia Eagles

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    As's Tim McManus put it, "Quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to have a flair for the dramatic. ..."

    This after Hurts scored four of his career-high five touchdowns after halftime in the Eagles' come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, including a 12-yard scoring run in overtime to end the game in walk-off fashion and send the Lincoln Financial Field crowd into a frenzy.

    "It's a Jalen performance. There aren't too many guys that I've played with -- probably nobody that I've played with -- that's been more clutch down the stretch," veteran center Jason Kelce said after the 37-34 victory. "He's been so good in crucial situations when things have to happen. That's a trait not to take lightly. I think if you look at most of the best players, it's a trait that they have to have."

    The 10-1 Eagles have trailed at halftime in each of their past four games and have found a way to come back and win all of them, which ties an NFL record.

    Hurts has been a guiding force. He now has four game-winning drives on the season -- doubling his career total coming into the campaign. He also has the second-best winning percentage after trailing by 10-plus points (.450) by starting quarterbacks since 1950, behind only Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs (.560).

    "That's not for me to concern or roll with. I just try to go out there and play to the standard and be the best I can be for my team," Hurts said of being so clutch. "There were times today I felt like I didn't do that, but when it mattered most, I felt like we did a good job of doing what we needed to do."

    No matter, the Eagles know they always have a chance as long as they have Hurts. The Eagles trailed Buffalo 17-7 at the half, 24-14 through three, 31-28 with 1:52 left in the fourth and 34-31 in OT.

    With those five total TDs (three passing, two rushing), Hurts became the first QB in NFL history with 10-plus rushing TDs in three consecutive seasons (10 TDs in 2021 and 13 TDs in 2022).

    "We always find a way, and that's something that you can't really take for granted," Hurts said. "It's hard to quantify. Obviously, I have had a ton to clean up and I have not executed to the level of my standard."

    It's fair to wonder what's on tap for the rest of the league once Hurts reaches the demanding -- likely unreachable -- standard he set for himself/

    "Winning is the only thing that matters, but the standard is pretty darn important, too," he said. "And so that's what it is."

    Hurts was referencing the fact he failed to play a complete game. Last season's NFL MVP runner-up, Hurts was only 4 of 11 for 33 yards and one rushing TD in the first half. In the second, 14 of 20 for 167 yards, three passing TDs, and the winning 12-yard score in OT.

    DeVonta Smith had seven catches for 106 yards and D'Andre Swift ran for 80 yards to keep the Eagles in the game, even at times when it seemed lost. Hurts' 29-yard, go-ahead TD to wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter will go on the short list of one of his top plays on the career highlight reel.

    "Just clutch in clutch moments," head coach Nick Sirianni said.

    Hurts is now 16-1 in his past 17 regular-season starts and 27-2 in his past 29.

    The front-runner for the top seed in the NFC, the Eagles are co-Super Bowl favorites at +425 with the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, per ESPN BET. Hurts is the MVP favorite at +150.

    "One-hundred percent, that dude should be [MVP]," right tackle Jordan Mailata said. "I don't know the requirements, but I know he's got the best f---ing record out of all the MVP candidates.

    "I love him, man. There's no words that can describe the love I have for this guy. He really embodies the perseverance, and he leads by example."

    Next on the agenda for Hurts?

    How about beating San Francisco at home in consecutive seasons?

    Ten months after Hurts and the Eagles thumped the 49ers 31-7 in the NFC championship game at the Linc, the rematch is set for Sunday between two of the top teams in the NFL.

    Still, the 49ers are early 2½-point favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

    Perhaps it's time for Kelce to break out the dog masks -- as in, underdogs -- he wore on the way toward Philadelphia's Super Bowl 52 title. ...

    For what it's worth. ... Sirianni was asked about the slow starts at Monday's press conference and he said to "give credit to the defense" for their work in limiting the Eagles' success. He also said the Eagles have not traditionally had an issue starting fast and that he isn't overly concerned about the last stretch of games.

    "I'm not hitting a panic button by any means. I think we've been pretty good on our first drive, pretty good starting in general, obviously the last two games, but I get it, you're judged off the last two games, not the whole body of work sometimes. So, we'll make sure we're working hard as coaches to put the guys in positions to succeed. So not just scripting. I think a lot of times what happens, because you asked scripting, so that's going to mean play calls and all that stuff.

    "It's design of plays, too, right? And so, when a play doesn't work, we put it on ourselves as coaches. It's not just about the play call, it's about the design of the play and our detail of which we go about teaching it and instructing it. So, any time I take something like, 'Hey, that's us as coaches', I'm not speaking of play calls.

    "Sometimes it's the play call, but sometimes it's the design of the play which goes into that. So, we look at all that and we'll be better."

    As's Josh Alper suggests, winning makes it easier to remain calm about things that aren't going as well as you'd like from week to week, but finding a way to thrive for all 60 minutes would be a good way to ensure that the wins keep coming the rest of the way.

    We'll see if they come up with a more productive plan for this week's date with the 49ers.

    What other areas do the Eagles need to clean up to stay on top?

    Philadelphia's defense allowed over 500 yards, and the offense was stuck in neutral for two-and-a-half quarters. The Bills converted 13 third downs and Josh Allen toyed with the Eagles. Allen threw for 339 yards and two TDs and he rushed for 81 yards and two scores. Their top-ranked unit yielded over 150 yards on the ground, including Allen's rushing scores.

    The Bills leaned on the run during their late go-ahead scoring drive in regulation. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... A.J Brown is in a slump. One of the NFL's top wide receivers, Brown had only five catches for 37 yards (and a TD) a game after he had just one catch for 8 yards against Kansas City.

    Quez Watkins returned to action in this game. He has been the Eagles' third wide receiver for most of the last three seasons. He missed time early in the season with a hamstring injury and landed on injured reserve.

    The Eagles added Zaccheaus this offseason to help with the wide receiver depth and added Julio Jones when Watkins landed on injured reserve. According to's Nathan Jahnke, Jones recently surpassed Zaccheaus on the depth chart and he remained the third wide receiver in this game even with Watkins back.

    Jones played 28 of 40 snaps in three-receiver sets, with Watkins taking 10. ...

    In a related note. ... According to Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason, Smith has ranked as a top-20 PPR wide receiver in four straight games. During this stretch, he's averaging 19.1 PPR points per game. Over his last two (without Dallas Goedert), his target share is over 33 percent. ...

    Jake Elliott kicked a 59-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation that tied the game 31-all. The distance was long, wind and rain played havoc with field conditions, yet he hit his 26th career 50-plus-yard field goal. He set a career high with six of them this season.

    Elliott has converted 8 of 9 field goals during the fourth quarter/overtime this season, including his 54-yard winner against Washington in October. ...

    Finally. ... The Eagles pulled out Sunday's win without offensive tackle Lane Johnson. It's unclear whether they'll have to be without Johnson for another tough game this week against the 49ers.

    Johnson had an MRI on his injured groin and is considered day-to-day, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. At this point, the Eagles aren't sure if Johnson will be able to go against the 49ers.

    Johnson, one of the Eagles' best players, was a full participant in practice all week and was not on the injury report, but on Sunday he experienced groin pain and was held out of the game.

    Johnson will surely push to play, although the Eagles may decide that they won't put him on the field until he's 100 percent, so that he'll be healthy at playoff time -- when they may face the 49ers again.

    QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Kenny Pickett, Tanner McKee
    RBs: Saquon Barkley, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny
    WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins
    TEs: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Albert Okwuegbunam

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to Associated Press sports writer Will Graves, Mike Tomlin isn't getting ahead of himself.

    And he probably shouldn't.

    For all the good vibes -- particularly on offense -- generated by Sunday's 16-10 win over Cincinnati, a game in which the Steelers topped 400 yards for the first time in more than three years and moved the ball at will, the reality is there was nowhere to go but up following Matt Canada's abrupt firing last Tuesday.

    "I'm not trying to paint with a broad brush and act like: 'Eureka!'" Tomlin said after Pittsburgh improved to 7-4 and vaulted to the top of the AFC wild-card race. "We did what we needed to do to win today and we'll keep pushing."

    It's not just coach-speak. Yes, Pittsburgh looked like a competent and occasionally dangerous offense for a full 60 minutes, a rarity for a half-decade.

    Yet the Steelers also faced the NFL's 30th-ranked defense and failed to deliver the knockout punch, needing an onside kick recovery at the two-minute warning to exhale.


    While the scoreboard looked an awful lot like so many during Canada's two-plus seasons calling the plays -- all seven of Pittsburgh's wins this season have come by eight points or fewer and the Steelers haven't reached 30 points in a game they've won since 2020 -- Graves reports the mood in the aftermath was different.

    "Lighter," he wrote. "And decidedly more positive."

    It's a shift that began basically the day after Canada's stunning -- if only for the timing -- dismissal. While Tomlin made a concerted effort to absorb the blows as frustration mounted, the tipping point came in the 24 hours following a 13-10 loss to Cleveland, when player after player -- running back Najee Harris and wide receiver Diontae Johnson chief among them -- said in so many words "this simply can't continue."

    And, surprisingly, it didn't.

    By Wednesday, running backs coach Eddie Faulkner was promoted to interim offensive coordinator with quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan taking over play-calling duties. By Thursday, Faulkner was cracking jokes by facetiously pointing out his (very, very, very small) resemblance to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

    By Sunday, that looseness translated into a steady stream of first downs and impressive throws -- at least when not under pressure -- by Pickett, who threw for a season-high 278 yards and avoided an interception for the seventh straight game. For once, the Steelers spent the postgame dancing instead of venting.

    Pickett made it a point to call Sullivan his "right-hand man" and praised the new leadership structure for helping the Steelers deal with the kind of "adversity" (albeit self-created) the franchise hadn't seen in 80-plus years.

    What did we learn?

    As's Brooke Pryor noted, it turns out, Pickett isn't allergic to the middle of the field.

    The second-year QB showed as much when he confidently connected with tight end Pat Freiermuth for a 24-yard gain on the very first play off a play-action pass. It was the Steelers' first of a season-high six explosive plays gaining at least 20 yards Sunday.

    Pickett (24-33 for 278 yards) was far from flawless, but Sunday's performance was a step in the right direction.

    Nobody benefited more from the offensive coordinator change than Freiermuth, who had his first career 100-yard game, finishing with a team-high nine catches for 120 yards -- doubling his season total entering Sunday's game.

    While Pickett cautioned his team still hasn't "100 percent put it together," there were tangible positives. Harris ran for 99 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers didn't have a single three-and-out. And they used all portions of the field, a sign of growth for Pickett, who has largely avoided -- to his detriment at times -- throwing over the middle.

    The Steelers offense isn't "fixed." Not by a long shot. But for a group desperately in search of something -- anything -- to build on, it's a start.

    The Steelers have now topped 150 yards on the ground in each of their past four games, and they're doing it while sometimes using personnel groups so obviously run-specific that there might as well be a flashing sign over Pickett's head that reads "We're handing it off on this play."

    Being able to run when the opponent knows it's coming is a sign of dominance. Pittsburgh is doing it at the moment, which can only lead to good things in the passing game down the road.

    This week, the Steelers will try to continue taking advantage of a soft spot in their schedule when the reeling Arizona Cardinals visit Acrisure Stadium Sunday. ...

    Other notes of interest. .... The change from Canada reportedly would mean more opportunities for Jaylen Warren and Diontae Johnson, but Warren's usage relative to Harris was the same, and George Pickens' target rate has remained between 15-18 percent each of the last four games.

    According to's Nathan Jahnke, the one slight change in player usage is Calvin Austin III cut into Allen Robinson II's playing time in three-receiver sets slightly. Austin played 15 snaps in 11 personnel this week compared to Robinson's 37. Last week, it was eight to 42. ...

    A play after a would-be Johnson touchdown grab was ruled incomplete, Johnson showed a concerning lack of effort when didn't react to a live ball when Warren's fumble bounced by him.

    Instead, Cincinnati recovered it while Johnson (had four catches on eight targets for 50 yards) watched the play unfold.

    On Tuesday, Tomlin said he'd let Johnson offer further explanation with the team and the media before making any comment of his own.

    "I think plays like that are best described and outlined by those involved and less so by guys like me," Tomlin said. "I keep my attention on challenging things, things that await us this week, schematic preparation for Arizona and the readiness of this group. It's something that he needs to answer for, so I'll give him an opportunity to do that. His teammates will give him opportunity to do that and won't provide any color until he does."

    As Graves noted, Johnson is an elite route-runner but remains a volatile presence both on and off the field. In addition to ignoring Warren's fumble on the field, there was the reported heated exchange with injured All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick a week ago in Cleveland.

    Finally. ... Tomlin offered a few injury updates on Tuesday, including one that could impact Pickett heading into Sunday.

    Tomlin said that Pickett is dealing with discomfort in his ankle and that he may be limited in practice during the week. While that's not ideal, Pickett is not thought to be at any risk of missing the Arizona game at the moment.

    Better news came on the defensive side of the ball. Tomlin said that the team expects Fitzpatrick and defensive lineman Montravius Adams back on the practice field Wednesday.

    Fitzpatrick has missed four games with a hamstring injury and Adams has missed three games with an ankle injury. Tomlin said the team is "cautiously optimistic" about the chances of both players being in the lineup this weekend.

    QBs: Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky
    RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
    WRs: George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin
    TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington

    San Francisco 49ers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    As's Nick Wagoner reported it, Christian McCaffrey had just etched his name into the franchise record books once again and his team had done the same with a landmark victory in Seattle against the rival Seahawks.

    But the thing most on McCaffrey's mind after setting the franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season and his team throttling Seattle 31-13 on Thursday night was the postgame meal he got to enjoy on Lumen Field with his teammates.

    "That was awesome," McCaffrey said. "It was actually really good turkey, too. I have no idea how they kept all of the dishes hot. ... B0ut the turkey was really good, well cooked. It wasn't dry at all and like I said, still hot, which was impressive for being 20 minutes after the game."

    For as impressive as hot turkey might have been for McCaffrey and six of his teammates, Wagoner went on to notes what they did Thursday night shined even brighter as they took control of the NFC West division.

    For starters, the Niners seem to have finally broken the spell the Seahawks have had over them for the better part of the past decade-plus. Including Thursday night's win, this is the second consecutive year the Niners beat the Seahawks in Seattle, something the team had never done in franchise history. The 18-point margin of victory was their largest in a game at Seattle since a 31-point win in 1988.

    It was also San Francisco's 10th consecutive win in the NFC West division and fourth straight (including playoffs) against a Seahawks team that had won 17 of the previous 21 meetings dating to 2012.

    For Niners fans with long memories, perhaps the most painstaking came in 2014 when the Seahawks dined on turkey at midfield of the just-opened Levi's Stadium. Although the Niners don't have many players who have suffered through those past defeats to Seattle, it's not lost on them what it means to finally exorcise some of those demons.

    "A win against that team, they play us so hard every single time we play 'em," linebacker Fred Warner said. "A win regardless of the score, I feel like is really big for us. And it's in the division, on the road in a big-time situation."

    It's no coincidence that McCaffrey's arrival in San Francisco has aligned with San Francisco's sudden dominance against the Seahawks. McCaffrey has played a key role in three of those four wins and put his stamp on Thursday's game before chowing down postgame.

    McCaffrey finished Thursday's game with 114 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns, adding another 25 yards on five receptions. It was the second touchdown that will lead the highlight reel head coach Kyle Shanahan shows his team during film review next week.

    On first-and-goal at Seattle's 8 with 5:19 left in the first half, McCaffrey took a pitch to the left and looked to cut it inside. A wall of humanity blocked his path to the end zone as McCaffrey patiently waited for a sliver of room to run. When it finally (barely) opened, he squeezed through the tiniest of holes, made a pair of tacklers miss and then carried multiple defenders into the end zone for the 8-yard score.

    It was McCaffrey's 11th rushing touchdown of the season, the most by a Niner in a season in franchise history, surpassing six others previously tied at 10. It was also McCaffrey's league-leading 16th total touchdown on the season, joining Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens as the only 49ers ever to hit that many in a year.

    "It was awesome," Shanahan said. "I didn't think it was going to be there ... They didn't look like calls that should have scored but he made it come to life."

    McCaffrey has 29 touchdowns from scrimmage since joining the Niners in October of last season. Only Chicago's Gale Sayers (31) and the Eagles' Steve Van Buren (30) have scored more in their first 25 games (including playoffs) with a new team in NFL history.

    "He's a dog," quarterback Brock Purdy said. "You just never know when he's going to keep going or get out of something. For him to do that doesn't really surprise me. But at the same time, I look up to that kind of stuff. It gives us a spark and energy to the offense when we need it most."

    The 49ers figure to need plenty more of it in the coming weeks. At 8-3, they sit two games clear of the Seahawks in the NFC West with the tiebreaker in hand. The teams meet again at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 10, and there's a scenario in which the 49ers could wrap up the division crown that day.

    But first, they prepare for a much-anticipated NFC Championship Game rematch with the Eagles in Philadelphia on Dec. 3.

    San Francisco lost the NFC title game last year in Philadelphia after Purdy injured his elbow on the opening drive and the Niners were left without a functioning quarterback for most of the second half.

    They have been eager to get another shot at the Eagles and will head into that matchup on a three-game winning streak that followed a three-game midseason skid. ...

    A few final items here. ... When Purdy made the game-sealing touchdown throw to Brandon Aiyuk on Thanksgiving night, Shanahan was shocked.

    The Seahawks' zone coverage was surrounding Aiyuk on the play, and Shanahan thought the right read was for Purdy to check down for a shorter gain. Instead, Purdy dropped the ball perfectly into Aiyuk's hands for the 28-yard touchdown.

    "I couldn't believe he was throwing it," Shanahan said. "The zone coverage guys were so deep, which usually you can check it down right underneath them and get about 12, but Brock thought he could drop it in over the guy, and it was a clear view for all of us and a hell of a throw, perfect touch, got it over him, and that was the big play that sealed it."

    Shanahan said Purdy often takes a chance downfield on a play when other quarterbacks would have made the safer checkdown.

    "He does that pretty consistently, he's always trying to get that one in. Very rarely does he check it down and you tell him he missed the deep one. He looks at it that way. He proved to us while the ball was in the air it was the right direction," Shanahan said.

    Shanahan was asked whether he thought at the moment Purdy threw the ball that he had made the wrong read.

    "Yeah, we're all holding our breath as soon as he lets it go because the guy was so deep, but Brock's got the touch and he was able to throw it over him," Shanahan said. "He made the throw and I wouldn't have known it until he threw it, but once he threw it, it obviously was there."

    It was a sensational play by Purdy in a big win for the 49ers, one that's Michael David Smith contends ought to get Purdy's name in more MVP conversations. ...

    And last. ... Deebo Samuel had a 30.0 percent target share against the Seahawks. As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason pointed out, during his five games prior, his single-game target share max was 16.0 percent.

    QBs: Brock Purdy, Josh Dobbs, Brandon Allen
    RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk
    WRs: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell, Danny Gray
    TEs: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu

    Seattle Seahawks

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to's Brady Henderson, Geno Smith says his arm is OK and his confidence in the Seahawks' offense is intact after another ineffective performance in their 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

    In their fourth straight loss to their NFC West rival, the Seahawks managed just 220 yards, went 3-of-11 on third down and failed to score an offensive touchdown. They've gone seven straight quarters without one and have just three over their past four games.

    Despite Smith's professed confidence, Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth contends the Seahawks are broken offensively in a way that could not have been anticipated during training camp or even a couple of months ago.

    Both further argues the Thanksgiving night loss was the latest example of an offense that's filled with talent but is awful on third downs, inefficient in the red zone and sometimes has game plans that don't make sense.

    Indeed, head coach Pete Carroll sounds fed up. He came as close as he ever does to calling out a member of his coaching staff with his comments about Seattle's offense on Friday.

    "We have unique talents and we got to make sure we're maximizing that and I feel like we're not," Carroll said. "I feel like we're not seeing stuff."

    Carroll was then asked if that was a criticism of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and his game plans.

    "I just want to emphasize in that direction because we're fighting to get it right. I want to emphasize the guys as much as we can, see if we can maximize the players even more so," he said.

    Seattle has scored just three offensive touchdowns in the last four games and failed to find the end zone against the 49ers, with its only touchdown coming on an interception return by Jordyn Brooks. Since DK Metcalf caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Smith on Seattle's opening drive last Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks have gone 20 consecutive offensive possessions without finding the end zone.

    They were held to 220 yards of offense against the 49ers, the third time this season they finished with fewer than 225 yards. The creativity that helped Seattle score 37 points in consecutive wins over Detroit and Carolina earlier in the season seems to have been lost.

    Injuries are clearly playing a part. But whatever solutions Waldron is trying to find don't appear to be working.

    "I'm concerned. I'm concerned about our club. I'm concerned about everything we're doing right now. That night last night will make you challenge everything, which is why you're asking all the questions. There's questions to be asked and answers to be found," Carroll said.

    Smith wasn't joining in on the criticism. In response to a question about whether he'd change anything with the game plan in retrospect, Smith backed Waldron.

    "I feel like Shane always does a great job and I've got his back 110 percent," Smith said. "He knows that. I feel like it comes down to us executing better as players. No matter what the play is called, it comes down to the players making it come to life. So Shane's called some great games for us and he's going to continue to do that. I just think overall we've got to stay confident, we've got to keep believing in what we're doing, keep believing and trusting our process and Shane's going to continue to call great plays and we've just got to execute for him."

    Smith was playing four days after suffering a triceps contusion on his throwing arm in Seattle's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, which left him with a large knot on his elbow. The Seahawks held him out of practice Monday and limited him Tuesday before he practiced in full Wednesday, though they appeared to scale back his pregame throwing routine Thursday night.

    Smith said his arm wasn't impacted Thursday night by the contusion.

    "No," he said. "Not at all."

    Carroll praised Smith for playing on the quick turnaround and also said his arm wasn't an issue.

    "That had nothing to do with it," Carroll said.

    Smith completed 18 of 27 passes for 180 yards and an interception. He was also sacked six times.

    The veteran signal caller was nearly picked on an errant throw on Seattle's opening possession. Two of his incompletions were drops by Metcalf. Another came on a throw into the end zone to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who appeared to be held by cornerback Ambry Thomas. Smith ran over to the official after the play to plead his case.

    To be fair, Smith-Njigba made one of the best catches of the season, a falling one-handed grab for 34 yards that converted a key third down in the second half. At that point, Seattle trailed only 24-10 and a touchdown could have changed the game. Seattle clearly wants to get the rookie more involved, but the tradeoff might cause more offensive issues.

    The difficult portion of Seattle's schedule continues next Thursday at Dallas, where the Cowboys are undefeated.

    Then the Seahawks have a trip to San Francisco and a home game against Philadelphia. Seattle can't expect to go 0-4 in this stretch and make the playoffs. ...

    It looks like the Seahawks will be without running back Kenneth Walker III again this week.

    Walker missed last Thursday's loss with an oblique injury and he missed his second straight practice on Tuesday. Injury designations for the matchup with the Cowboys will come on Wednesday and the lack of work would make it a surprise to see Walker listed as anything other than out.

    The Seahawks did get defensive lineman Leonard Williams and tight end Will Dissly back for limited practices. Williams sat out Monday with an ankle injury while Dissly was sidelined by a hip issue.

    Wide receiver Dee Eskridge (ribs) and guard Phil Haynes (toe) did not practice Tuesday. Safety Jamal Adams (knee) and wide receiver Dareke Young (abdomen) were limited participants.

    Worth noting. ... As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes, it wasn't a fantastic day in fantasy, but Zach Charbonnet played 87 percent of Seattle's snaps in Walker's absence on Thursday night. He's now seen target shares of 11.9 percent, 15.8 percent, and 14.8 percent over his last three games.

    QBs: Sam Howell, Geno Smith
    RBs: Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, DeeJay Dallas, Kenny McIntosh
    WRs: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jake Bobo, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young
    TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall noted, the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep wasting opportunities to take control of the woeful NFC South.

    Losing six of seven games following a 3-1 start, however, hasn't done irreparable harm to the Bucs' chances of winning a third consecutive division title.

    That's because the rival Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints haven't been able to separate themselves from the pack, either.

    "As crazy as it may sound, we're one game out of first place. But the way we're playing, it's got to be turned around," head coach Todd Bowles said after Sunday's 27-20 loss at Indianapolis left the Bucs at 4-7.

    "It feels like we're 10 games out, and we're one game out," Bowles added. "But we've got to play better. And we understand that as a unit."

    It's the second week in a row the Bucs have been unable to pick up ground in a race Tampa Bay is trying to win for the third straight season.

    At 5-6, the Falcons and Saints share the division lead. Despite falling on hard times since winning three of four to begin the season, the Bucs are in a position to control their fate because they will play four of their remaining six games within the division.

    The stretch run includes home games this week against Carolina (1-10) and New Orleans (Dec. 31), as well as road outings against Atlanta (Dec. 10) and the last-place Panthers (Jan. 7). The Bucs play outside the division at Green Bay on Dec. 17 and host AFC South-leading Jacksonville the following week.

    "We're going to try and take them one at a time and see where we are at the end," Bowles said Monday. "We've still got all our division games ahead of us, so we feel like we have a chance."

    To a man, the Bucs talk about the need to make more plays.

    One player who's consistently produced is receiver Mike Evans, who on pace for his 10th consecutive season with 1,000-plus yards receiving. He caught two more touchdown passes against the Colts, giving him nine -- second in the NFL behind Miami's Tyreek Hill, who has 10.

    "Mike is going to show up every week. ... He's one of the guys that leads us. He's been like that his whole career," Bowles said. "Can't say enough about the guy."

    Rachaad White had his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season -- second of his career.

    The 15-carry, 100-yard performance included a career-best 38-yard burst that set up a fourth-quarter field goal. The second-year pro's 6.7-yard per attempt average was White's best in a single game as a pro.

    Still, red-zone scoring woes continue to undermine the Baker Mayfield-led offense. Three trips inside the Colts 20 produced one touchdown and a pair of field goals.

    "We've got to punch it in. We've got to execute, whether it's a penalty, whether it's a missed pass, whether it's a sack. We've got to be on the same page at the same time," Bowles said. "Parts of the game we look very functional; other parts of the game we don't. We've got to tie it up together if we are going to win any more ballgames."

    Fortunately, they'll likely have their quarterback.

    Mayfield did not suffer any fractures or major structural damage to his right ankle, according to an MRI on Monday.

    Mayfield was injured in a collision on a quarterback sneak on the opening drive in Indy.

    Bowles said Mayfield is "pretty sore" but expressed optimism that the injury wasn't more severe.

    "The MRI was negative," Bowles said. He has a sore ankle. We'll see how he's feeling during the week, but it came out negative so that's a good thing."

    Mayfield left the game for four plays before returning with a heavily-taped ankle on the very next series, and he finished the game. He got extensive treatment postgame and had a significant limp in the locker room when speaking to reporters, struggling to put weight on it.

    "I know he's pretty sore right now," Bowles said. "We'll try to give him a break when he needs one during the week and see how he feels. I've got to see how he's moving."

    Mayfield said he anticipates he'll spend the early portion of the week getting treatment and taking mental reps before attempting to practice on it.

    If Mayfield cannot go at home against the Carolina Panthers, backup Kyle Trask, who competed all summer with Mayfield for the starting job, will get the nod.

    QBs: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask
    RBs: Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, Sean Tucker, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
    WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett, Russell Gage
    TEs: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham

    Tennessee Titans

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    According to Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker, the Titans have plenty to clean up with too many penalties and mistakes.

    Fortunately, their rookie quarterback has a two-time NFL rushing champ in Derrick Henry.

    Henry ran for two touchdowns and 76 yards, helping the Titans snap a three-game skid by beating the Carolina Panthers 17-10 on Sunday.

    "He wants to impact the game," head coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry. "I know that, and we want to let him. Proud of him, the career that he's had thus far (with) 9,000 yards. You know (we) need 10,000."

    Henry became the eighth running back in NFL history to run for at least 9,000 yards and at least 80 touchdowns before turning 30. He also moved past Corey Dillon and Jim Taylor for sole possession of 17th all-time with now 84 rushing TDs for his career. He is one from tying Marshawn Lynch at No. 16.

    "I grew up watching Marshawn, admired his game, the way he played," Henry said. "Just a blessing to be able to get to that list and get to where I'm at. And just thankful for the people that help me."

    This was just the fourth game in Music City this season for the Titans (4-7), who played at home only once over the past seven weeks. Tennessee improved to 4-0 when playing at Nissan Stadium this season.

    "It's huge," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "It's the NFL. Every win counts."

    Rookie Will Levis threw for 185 yards and improved to 2/3 as a starter. He was sacked only once behind an offensive line featuring a pair of rookies with left tackle Jaelyn Duncan in his first NFL start beside left guard Peter Skoronski.

    Tennessee never trailed as Henry capped a 15-play, 91-yard drive that used up 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the first quarter with a 1-yard TD run.

    The Titans hope snapping a three-game skid with a win helps get their mojo back.

    Staying at home for four of their final six games likely is their best chance at climbing back to .500.

    For now, the Titans (4-7) can simply be happy at not having to travel again. They host Indianapolis on Sunday for their first back-to-back home games this season, and Vrabel isn't looking past the Colts (6-5) with Tennessee still looking for its first victory over a team currently with a winning record.

    Vrabel said Monday he just wants his Titans to fight each week. They're closer to being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention than pushing for a postseason spot in last place in the AFC South with six teams ahead of them for the AFC's last berth.

    This is a team that started a season-high four rookies led by Levis. The Titans played nine total rookies, tying a season high.

    "We got to focus on this week," Vrabel said. "We got to focus on health here, recovery, improvement, you know, these little details, these techniques that I know that we can be better at. ..."

    Worth noting. ... Hopkins played the fewest amount of snaps since Week 4.

    As's Nathan Jahnke explained, the Titans have generally rotated wide receivers more than most teams under Vrabel, which has continued with Hopkins. He's consistently played less than last year with the Cardinals and earlier in his career.

    That continued in this game and was more extreme than usual because the Titans gained a lead early and never lost it.

    Hopkins still played in 19 of a possible 21 snaps in three-receiver sets, but only 11-of-25 snaps in two-WR personnel.

    Hopkins still caught three passes for 49 yards. He led the team in receiving yards.

    Every remaining team on the Titans' schedule has a winning record, so Jahnke believes we are unlikely to see this kind of game script again this season. ...

    Finally. ... The Titans made it through healthy. Their challenge now is getting players healthier for the stretch run.

    Receiver Treylon Burks is the biggest injury, and the second-year starter missed his third straight game. He remains in the concussion protocol after being briefly knocked unconscious in the Nov. 2 loss at Pittsburgh.

    QBs: Will Levis, Malik Willis
    RBs: Tony Pollard, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
    WRs: Calvin Ridley, DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Tyler Boyd, Kyle Philips, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore
    TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco

    Washington Commanders

    Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 28 November 2023

    As Associated Press sports writer Stephen Hawkins reminded readers, head coach Ron Rivera has a pleasant Thanksgiving memory against the Dallas Cowboys.

    So much has changed since then.

    A lopsided holiday victory at Dallas three years ago in Rivera's first season with Washington came in the midst of a four-game winning streak, with the team on the way to its first playoff berth in five seasons.

    Now, after the Commanders' 45-10 loss Thursday in their 11th Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas, the first since that 25-point victory in 2020, there will only be more questions about Rivera's future in Washington.

    The biggest is, will he even make it to their next holiday game, a Christmas Eve matchup at the New York Jets?

    "I've told you before, I'm not worried about it," Rivera said. "I'm going to just do my job and see how things go. That's the only thing I can do."

    The Commanders (4-8) have lost eight of 10 since a promising start for the club's new ownership group in September, when they won their first two games.

    And now, instead of losing his job, Rivera adds one.

    Last Friday, Rivera announced that he had relieved Jack Del Rio and Brent Vieselmeyer of their respective duties as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

    The decision had been on Rivera's mind for "a bit," but with five games left, it became apparent that something needed to change. Rivera will take over as the team's defensive play-caller with input from defensive assistant coach Richard Rodgers in an effort to show some improvement going forward.

    "Just unfortunate [with] the situation, circumstances," Rivera told reporters on Friday, "but [I] did feel that change was something that we needed to do going forward. Really to see if we can shake some things up and get some things started."

    To Rivera, watching the Cowboys game unfold was like a "snowball" effect. "We're all culpable," Rivera said, but it was clear that something needed to be done.

    "We have to be better," Rivera said. "We know that. I think shaking it up now gives us an opportunity to do some things differently and play some guys differently and see what's going on and see if we can do things to make some things happen, in a positive sense."

    "This is the league, this is this business. It's a brutal business, so whatever happens, happens," tackle Charles Leno Jr. said.

    "We're just going to roll with the punches, whatever comes our way, and just try to come back next week," receiver Terry McLaurin said. "Players don't make those decisions. Our job is to go out there and practice hard and perform better than we did. So we didn't hold up our end of the bargain on that."

    A late playoff run certainly seems unlikely for the Commanders.

    They would have to win their final five games just to avoid a seventh consecutive non-winning season -- after going 8-8-1 last year, and making the playoffs at 7-9 in Rivera's debut.

    AFC East leader Miami visits this week and Washington then gets its bye week before playing at the Los Angeles Rams and Jets. The regular season wraps up at home against NFC West leader San Francisco and then versus the Cowboys in the finale. ...

    Other notes of interest. ... There were times when the Commanders looked like they could compete against the Cowboys top 10 defense, or at least that's how it looked in the first half.

    The Commanders' first two drives ended in punts, but it's not as if they were unable to move the ball. They did what's led to them to some success throughout the season; they got the ball out quickly, got Sam Howell on the move to avoid pressure and used the running game at the right moments.

    Washington was also helped by Curtis Samuel, who had his best statistical day as a Commander with 100 yards on nine receptions. One of his best catches -- and best throws from Howell -- came on a third-and-10 that resulted in a 30-yard gain.

    When they were down 14-3 -- the Cowboys also got the ball back to start the second half -- the offense did exactly what was required of it. It methodically moved down the field on 13 plays, even overcoming a seven-yard sack in the process, and got the goal across the goal line to make the score 14-10.

    All of that promise, however small, was washed away in the second half. After that drive, the Commanders put up just 174 yards in their final seven possessions and failed to get past the Cowboys 35-yard line. That led to Washington controlling the ball for almost 14 more minutes than Dallas, but the only thing that came out of that extra time was more frustration.

    Rivera was aggressive going for it fourth downs. They weren't very successful with it.

    After forcing a punt from the Cowboys to open the third quarter, the Commanders got to the Cowboys' 39 before stalling on a fourth-and-1. They lined up in shotgun to spread out the Cowboys' defense and handed it off to Brian Robinson Jr., who was having a decent day on the ground.

    He was stuffed a yard behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.

    The situation was more dire on the second try. This time, the Commanders were down 13 points and could only get to their 34-yard line before hitting fourth down. Once again, the situation was a fourth-and-1, and once again, the Commanders lined up in shotgun to spread the out the defense.

    Howell was sacked for a 10-yard loss, and the Cowboys scored three plays later.

    Later on in the fourth quarter, the Commanders were grasping at strands of hope on a fourth-and-4 at the Cowboys' 35-yard line with the score being 31-10. They lined up in shotgun again, and Howell was able to get a pass off this time. His pass intended for Terry McLaurin was off-target, and the Cowboys scored five plays later.

    The Commanders needed to be aggressive as road underdogs against a playoff caliber team.

    They were at the end, but execution -- one of the Commanders biggest problems this year -- reared its head at the worst possible times. ...

    A few final items. ... Antonio Gibson and Robinson each played 34 offensive snaps against Dallas. As Late-Round Fantasy's JJ Zachariason notes, after Robinson saw a career high 21 percent target share in Week 11 without Gibson, it fell back to 6.8 percent in Week 12.

    Also according to Zachariason, McLaurin against Philadelphia this season: 20.0 PPR points per game; McLaurin against every other team he's faced: 10.8 PPR points per game.

    RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Austin Ekeler, Chris Rodriguez
    WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Dyami Brown, Jamison Crowder, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
    TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates