Team Notes week 7 2022

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris<


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

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Arizona Cardinals

Compiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 18 October 2022

DeAndre Hopkins can't rejoin the Arizona Cardinals soon enough.

And even his return might not solve the problems plaguing head coach Kliff Kingsbury, quarterback Kyler Murray and the underwhelming Arizona offense.

"Probably rookie year is the last time (stuff) has felt this hard," Murray said after Sunday's loss to the Seahawks. "It's tough out there right now. That's what it feels like. And like I said, it's self-inflicted."

Murray and the Cardinals had another frustrating day filled with missed opportunities, failed conversions and some questionable decision-making as they lost 19-9 in Seattle on Sunday.

The Cardinals have lost three of four, and in each of those losses their chances have been doomed by a lack of offense.

Arizona's defense is doing its job. But the Cardinals' offense again failed to get started, this time against a Seattle team that came into the game ranked 32nd in yards allowed and 31st in scoring defense.

"No, not as a coach, just not being able to find a rhythm as an offense. New to me," Kingsbury said. "We're going to continue to work at it. Personnel-wise, see how we can move things around, scheme-wise see how we can be better. Because it's a six-game view and it hasn't been good enough."

Even with Hopkins scheduled to return, things got harder on Monday.

Receiver Marquise Brown suffered a foot injury during Sunday's loss to Seattle.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that an MRI showed Brown, who has 43 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns this season, suffered a small fracture in his foot that does not require surgery. He will go for a second opinion to confirm that diagnosis, but the current thinking is that he should miss around six weeks before being well enough to return.

Of course, the Cardinals were already short-handed.

Top running backs James Conner and Darrel Williams were inactive against Seattle with rib and knee injuries, respectively. Eno Benjamin rushed for 37 yards on 15 carries, but Murray was Arizona's top ball-carrier with 10 rushes for 100 yards.

Murray finished 23 of 37 for 222 yards passing, but was sacked six times and intercepted on a forced throw late in the fourth quarter. It was the third time in Murray's career and first since 2019 that he was sacked at least six times.

Arizona has also missed Hopkins, the standout wide receiver whose six-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs ends this week. Hopkins will be eligible to play on Thursday night when the Cardinals host New Orleans.

"He's gonna be anxious to get the ball in his hands and be super competitive. We need him to lift us up, there's no question, with how we're playing right now," Kingsbury said.

Bottom line?

As Arizona Republic staffer Kent Somers wrote: "The Cardinals offense needs solutions, and failing that, a savior who can work miracles on a short week."

Somers went on to suggest the offensive woes are why, at 2-4, the Cardinals are one of the NFL's worst teams.

It's why it's too much to expect Hopkins to be that savior.

"If Hopkins resuscitates this offense, he deserves more than the $27 million or so average he's making (minus suspended time)," Somers added. ...

Indeed, even Kingsbury acknowledged it might be too much to ask for a fully football-ready Hopkins Thursday against the New Orleans Saints.

"I hope that he can provide just a spark. Like I said, on the practice field the way he competes and his play making, his after-the-catch stuff, he's a guy you get it close to him he's going to make a play on the ball," Kingsbury said. "But a short week without practicing for however many weeks he's not practiced, it's a tall task. Just to have his ability out there will be big for us."

Hopkins had 42 receptions and eight touchdowns last season while playing in just 10 games. In 2020, his first season with the Cardinals, Hopkins had 115 receptions.

Hopkins won't be the only incoming piece for this offense.

The Panthers sent Robbie Anderson to the locker room on Sunday and they sent him to a new team on Monday.

The Panthers traded Anderson to the Cardinals in exchange for a 6th-round pick in 2024 and a 7th-round pick in 2025.

Anderson got into a shouting match with Panthers wide receivers coach Joe Dailey on the sideline in the first half of Sunday's loss to the Rams and interim head coach Steve Wilks sent Anderson to the locker room during the second half. That wasn't a good sign for his spot on a team that could be making a number of moves to add to their draft assets in the wake of Matt Rhule's firing.

The 29-year-old Anderson has been durable and productive for the Jets and Panthers over the past seven seasons. His best year came in 2020, when he caught 95 passes for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, with Conner and Williams out, Benjamin played on 87 percent of snaps against the Seahawks.

As notes, as of Monday morning, Benjamin's snap share was the second-highest of the week among running backs, behind only Saquon Barkley. It was a strong commitment to the former seventh-round pick.

So even though he didn't generate much in the way of production, if Conner and Williams are unable to play on Thursday night, Benjamin can at least be counted on to play a workhorse role.

If he's ready, that is.

The Cardinals did not practice Monday, but they had to produce an estimated practice report because they play the Saints on Thursday night.

Benjamin was listed as a limited participant due to a foot issue.

Conner (ribs) and Williams (knee) both were listed as out of practice. Kingsbury said Williams likely won't play, but Conner is considered a game-time decision against the Saints.

Brown (foot), Matt Prater (right hip) and offensive lineman Justin Pugh (knee) were given DNP designations.

Pugh will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL; Kingsbury acknowledged Brown is out "indefinitely."

The injury report was unchanged after Tuesday's practice.

I'll have more on all that -- as well as on Hopkins, Anderson and Prater as developments warrant. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for the latest in advance of Thursday night's kickoff. ...

After the game, Kingsbury wouldn't commit to his support of replacement kicker Matt Ammendola if Prater can't play again Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints.

"We'll have to discuss that," Kingsbury said.

They apparently worked their way through that discussion in short order. Ammendola, missed an extra point on Arizona's only touchdown of the game, was released on Monday.

The team signed Rodrigo Blankenship to the practice squad on Tuesday. If Prater can't go, Blankenship will be activated for the game.

Blankenship was one of the kickers the team recently brought in for a tryout along with Ammendola, who outperformed Blankenship that day and got the first chance to be Prater's replacement.

Blankenship has made 45 of 53 field goals in his career in two seasons and one game with the Colts. He played in just five games last season because of a hip injury, making 11 of 14 field goals. He was released after the opener when he missed a 42-yard field goal in overtime of a 20-20 tie with the Texans.

You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As's Michael Rothstein noted, three years ago last week, Marcus Mariota lost his job. He wasn't fired, but demoted midgame with the Titans. Ryan Tannehill replaced him at quarterback, giving Mariota's confidence a hit and sending him on a three-team, three-year journey.

Now, with a new team in the Falcons and the same playcaller as in Tennessee (coach Arthur Smith), Mariota had one of his best games as a pro.

He completed 13 of 14 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns and ran six times for 50 yards and another touchdown in the 28-14 win Sunday over the 49ers. Against one of the better defenses in the NFL -- injury-plagued or not -- he looked like the quarterback who was drafted No. 2 overall in 2015 by those same Titans that eventually benched him years later.

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

"You look back on it, right, and at that point in time in my career, you're part of a good team, part of a good organization. Thought that if you got the ball rolling, you'd be there for a long time," Mariota said. "And just one thing led to another, but at the end of the day I'm truly grateful for what happened to me, because I'm here because of it.

"I've gotten this opportunity. I'm back with Arthur. I'm back with this team. I'm able to help this young group. I'll never take any of that for granted."

After his travels -- benched in Tennessee, Derek Carr's backup in Las Vegas for two years and then another starting job in Atlanta -- he understands what it takes. Mariota has consistently said he has learned from watching Carr. Picked up nuances in preparation that have helped him now.

But those early-on days in Atlanta, for every good play he had there were also question marks. Some were mistakes. Others acclimating in a new environment after two-plus years not starting. In the NFL, at quarterback, nothing can replicate that.

As each week went, Mariota said his confidence grew. That confidence is starting to show with even more consistency.

"I think he's just now coming into his own as far as coaches believing in him, allowing him to be who he is, allowing him to be the person that he is and allowing him to thrive," said linebacker Rashaan Evans, who also played with Mariota in Tennessee. "Coaches, a lot of times they can quit on players, even if they start slow.

"But for right now, Marcus has been playing the best ball of his career and I think he's going to continue to keep doing those things."

The Falcons players believe in Mariota. Mariota believes in them. When you're trying to resurrect a career, which Mariota is attempting to do in Atlanta, that matters. Mariota came to Atlanta in part because of the chance to start, but also because he knew what he'd be getting.

He had familiarity with Smith, even though he was part of the staff that benched him three years ago. He understood what Smith was trying to do with the Falcons. He saw the chance he longed for.

When Mariota plays like he did Sunday, it causes opposing defenses issues. Gives them a lot to defend. Smith knew what the best of Mariota could be and how it could fit into his offense, something perhaps that's starting to show.

"He's genuine," Smith said. "These guys believe in him. Those are things that you can't put in the stat sheet. Just watch the way that these guys play.

"He didn't play for 2½ years, so it took a couple games and there's some things, a little rusty here and there, but every game, he's getting more comfortable."

Mariota's next chance to shine will come this weekend, when the Falcons wrap up a tough stretch of games to begin the season by traveling to Cincinnati to face the defending AFC champion Bengals Sunday. ...

For the record, Mariota threw it only 14 times but completed 13 of those for 129 yards and two touchdowns

Kyle Pitts caught his first TD pass of the season and just the second of his 22-game career, hauling in a 7-yard throw from Mariota that prompted the young tight end to break out the vintage "Dirty Bird" dance. Veteran tight end MyCole Pruitt, who was elevated from the practice squad for the game, collected the other scoring pass from Mariota, a 2-yarder to cap an 11-play, 74-yard drive on Atlanta's opening possession.

Meanwhile, the Falcons are never going to be a pass-happy team in this scheme, but they do need more contributions from their receiving corps.

Atlanta's wideouts were targeted just eight times all afternoon. Olamide Zaccheaus finished with four catches for 58 yards, while first-round pick Drake London hauled in three passes for 40 yards.

London, the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft, got off to a strong start for the Falcons, hauling in a pair of touchdown catches in his first three games. He hasn't done much since then, totaling nine catches for 92 yards.

It's not all his fault, of course, given the Falcons' focus on the ground game. But there will be times when someone has to stretch defenses vertically, and he's the most logical candidate.

Getting back to Pitts, the second-year tight end saw his second-highest route participation of the season at 84 percent despite only playing 57 percent of snaps. He finished third in the team in targets (21 percent).

As's Dwain McFarland has noted, 80 percent route participation is the gateway to elite tight end production. We'll have to watch to see if he continues to hit that number, or if this was a temporary spike.

After all, Pitts finished the game with three catches for 19 yards. The touchdown was great. But we need more to get return on investment. ...

As for the ground game. ... Even with Cordarrelle Patterson on the injured list, the running game worked to perfection against the Niners. That allowed the contest to be played at just the sort of plodding, grind-it-out style the Falcons prefer.

Atlanta ran the ball a season-high 40 times for 168 yards, with Caleb Huntley and Tyler Allgeier sharing the load in place of Patterson. Allgeier led the backfield with a 57 percent snap share with Huntley at 34 percent. But Huntley was busier, carrying the ball 16 times for 59 yards. Allgeier chipped in with 15 carries for 51 yards and Mariota contributed the aforementioned 50 yards.

As Associated Press sports writer Paul Newberry suggested, it wasn't pretty, but it was highly effective.

Give credit to the offensive line for winning the battles up front against an 49ers' defense that, while depleted by injuries, came into the game ranked No 1 in the NFL. Afterward, the linemen toasted their performance with a round of beers in the locker room.

On the injury front. ... Atlanta lost both starting cornerbacks against the Niners. Terrell pulled up with a hamstring injury early in the third quarter and Casey Hayward hurt his shoulder attempting to tackle Deebo Samuel in the final period.

Another defensive back, Isaiah Oliver, also hobbled off the field in his season debut after spending the first five weeks on IR. Oliver had the Falcons' other pick.

While Terrell and Oliver aren't expected to miss much time, Hayward was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As the team's official website noted, the frustration was clear on Lamar Jackson's face. The urgency could be heard in head coach John Harbaugh's voice.

The Ravens lost another game they could have won Sunday, dropping a 24-20 decision to the Giants that left the Ravens at 3-3, when they believe they could easily be 6-0.

"We just keep beating ourselves up," Jackson said. "Our opponents are NFL teams, they're good. But I feel we're just beating ourselves with mistakes here and there."

Jackson's fourth-quarter interception was a huge turning point in Sunday's defeat.

Holding a 20-17 lead with just over three minutes to play, the Ravens disintegrated with a series of errors. On third-and-one, a penalty for illegal formation nullified a first-down run by Jackson.

Then on the next play, Jackson said that center Tyler Linderbaum snapped the ball to Jackson before he anticipated it. The snap eluded Jackson and after he retrieved the loose ball, he rolled to his right while being chased out of the pocket.

Jackson launched an ill-advised pass intended for Patrick Ricard. But it was intercepted by Jordan Love, whose 27-yard return set up the Giants' go-ahead touchdown in their 24-20 victory.

The Ravens still had one last chance with 1:43 left to play, plenty of time for Jackson to lead a game-winning drive.

Instead, Jackson committed another turnover. Just two plays into the final drive, Jackson was stripped after dropping back to pass by Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, and the fumble was recovered by nose tackle Leonard Williams, launching the Giants into a wild celebration before they ran out the clock.

Baltimore (3-3) became the 39th team in NFL history to hold a double-digit lead in each of its first six games. It is the only one not to have a winning record.

Fortunately for Baltimore, none of its AFC North rivals have run away with the division while it figures out how to stop blowing big leads. The Ravens sit tied with Cincinnati atop the North at 3-3, while Cleveland and Pittsburgh are off to 2-4 starts. The Ravens host the Browns this Sunday.

At this point, no one in Baltimore is panicking despite the repeated collapses.

"We'll regroup, we'll go to work, and we're going to find ourselves as a football team," head coach John Harbaugh said. "That's what we have to do right now: find ourselves as a football team. We have an opportunity to be a very good football team. We can be as good as we want to be and decide to be."

Meanwhile, after J.K. Dobbins' knee tightened up, Kenyan Drake broke loose and carried the Ravens' running attack during Sunday's loss.

Dobbins had seven carries for 15 yards with about 11 minutes left in the first half but didn't see another carry after that.

"His knee tightened up. It just didn't respond, probably to the turf maybe, I don't know," Harbaugh said. "But it tightened up and he couldn't go."

Drake ripped off a 30-yard touchdown run to cap the second-quarter drive Dobbins was still involved in. After that, Drake continued to carry the load and finished with 119 rushing yards on just 10 carries.

Drake said Dobbins, who was playing in his fourth game since last year's major knee injury, was helping him from the sideline.

"Like Harbaugh said, I felt like the knee didn't really respond well to the turf or whatever," Drake said.

"It's always next man up mentality. He was in my ear being my biggest cheerleader in that sense because we're all brothers at the end of the day. Hopefully he can continue to get that knee right."

Dobbins has gotten stronger with each game, but the artificial turf at MetLife Stadium is known for being harder on players' bodies.

I'll be watching the third-year back's status closely in coming days, but this is a good point to remind you that Gus Edwards is getting close to his return from the ACL injury he suffered shortly after Dobbins hurt his last summer. ...

Speaking Monday, Harbaugh said Rashod Bateman is "close" to a return.

Harbaugh didn't specify whether or not Bateman would be active against the Browns this weekend, but the second-year wideout was on the field Wednesday. Harbaugh did suggest that several players who have been out are close to returning, possibly referring to Edwards as well as Bateman. Justice Hill has also been missing time with a hamstring injury.

Adding to the intrigue on Wednesday, Jackson was limited by a hip injury and tight end Mark Andrews missed the session with a knee injury.

Dobbins, receiver Devin Duvernay and fullback Patrick Ricard also weren’t practicing on Wednesday.

I'll obviously be following up on all involved in coming days. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses. ...

It what might or might not be a related note. ... Veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson made it clear last week that he still wants to play, and the Ravens were listening.

Jackson, a free agent who last played in 2021 with the Las Vegas Raiders, is signing with the Ravens after a workout on Tuesday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported per Jackson's agent.

Wide receiver depth has long been a concern for the Ravens and it's gotten all the more shallow recently with Bateman missing time due to a groin injury.

A big-play maven throughout his 14-year career, the 35-year-old Jackson could potentially add another wrinkle over the top for the Baltimore offense as he looks to former a Jackson-Jackson connection.

The 35-year-old played half of last season for the Rams and half for the Raiders.

He finished 2021 with 20 catches for 454 yards -- a career-high average of 22.7 yards per catch, which suggests he hasn't lost his speed.

Jackson has also played for Philadelphia, Washington and Tampa Bay in his 14-year NFL career. ...

A few final items. ... All the team's tight ends -- Andrews, Josh Oliver and Isaiah Likely -- contributed against the Giants. Andrews hauled in seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Likely was second on the team with two grabs for 30 yards and Oliver made two receptions for 21 yards. Andrews continues to have a very high workload as he took 92 percent of the snaps.

Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson saw slightly more snaps (45) than Duvernay (40). They were each targeted with five passes with Robinson catching three for 27 yards and Duvernay hauling in one for 14. ...

Last. ... Rookie fourth-round tight end Charlie Kolar has been cleared to return to practice after he had abdominal surgery in July. So his 21-day practice window is starting. He'll have work to do to move up in the rotation with Andrews, Likely and Oliver. ...

You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

Despite offensive miscues and the defense allowing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes to throw for more than 100 yards to both Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Bills came away with another regular-season win at Arrowhead Stadium.

As's Alaina Getzenberg noted, the win was far from perfect, and there were miscues on both sides of the ball.

But it was a huge victory.

And, as Associated Press sports writer John Wawrow pointed out, not lost in a much-anticipated early season showdown of the AFC's two top teams was Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane's impact on the outcome.

As each pivotal play unfolded in the closing minutes of Buffalo's 24-20 nail-biting victory, Beane's influence was apparent in having transformed a dysfunctional franchise -- seven coaches and a 17-year playoff drought spanning 2000 to '17 -- into a Super Bowl contender.

"You try to identify what you need to improve on your team, Brandon does a great job with that," head coach Sean McDermott said following the win.

"Then acquiring those players to help you factor in these games in the way they factored, it was good to see."

McDermott was specifically referencing the moves made this offseason to muscle up Buffalo's defensive front, highlighted by the free-agent addition of Von Miller.

And yet, he could just as well have been discussing Beane's entire body of work.

In five-plus seasons, the first-time GM purged the franchise of under-performing and over-paid players by rebuilding a roster that currently features 30 members drafted by Buffalo, including the most important pick of Josh Allen in 2018, and filled other needs through trades and free agency.

All of it was on display on Sunday, when Buffalo (5-1) gained the inside track to finishing first in the AFC by knocking off the Chiefs (4-2) in a setting where the Bills' past two seasons have ended with playoff losses.

When Allen, the once-maligned first-round draft pick out of Wyoming, wasn't once again hurdling opponents (safety Justin Reid, this time), he was threading a perfect pass to Dawson Knox for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 remaining.

Allen garnered AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. The Pro Bowl quarterback completed 27 of 40 passes for 329 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 117.6 rating. The dual-threat QB added 32 rushing yards to his award-winning cause. This is Allen's second AFC Offensive POTW honor this season and the ninth of his career.

There was Stefon Diggs, who arrived in Buffalo with a mercurial reputation following a trade with Minnesota in 2021, leading the way with 10 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown.

How about Taron Johnson, a fourth-round pick out of Weber State in 2018, sealing the win with his latest clutch interception. Two of Johnson's previous four interceptions were returned for touchdowns, including a 101-yarder in a 17-3 win over Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoff round in the 2020 season.

And let's not forget Miller.

The NFL's active leader in sacks provided the game-changing plays the Bills lacked in squandering a three-point lead over the final 13 seconds of a 42-36 overtime loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs in January.

Aside from two sacks, Miller's pressure of Mahomes led to the Chiefs quarterback hurrying the throw Johnson intercepted.

The 33-year-old Miller has a team-leading six of Buffalo's 19 sacks, which rank tied for fourth in the NFL entering Monday. And he's part of a defense which has allowed the second-fewest yards and fewest points overall entering Monday.

Beane's commitment to improve Buffalo's front went beyond Miller, with the Bills also adding defensive tackles Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle, DeQuan Jones and end Shaq Lawson this offseason. He did so after Buffalo was inconsistent against the run and its middling pass rush managed 42 sacks, with 14 of them coming in the final two games against the Jets and Atlanta.

The inability to pressure opposing quarterbacks was apparent in the playoff loss to the Chiefs. Former Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes was a half-step from getting to Mahomes, when the quarterback competed a 25-yard pass to Kelce to set up Harrison Butker's game-tying 49-yard field goal as time expired.

Beating the Chiefs on Sunday helps relieve some of the sting.

"Obviously, there were still some bad memories from this place last year," Knox said. "So it was nice to be able to wipe that from our minds and get a win and keep moving on."

Most notable is the team's ability to deliver in the clutch.

The Bills went from losing seven straight games decided by one score to winning their past two, including overcoming a 17-point deficit to beat Baltimore 23-20, with both games decided in the final two minutes.

Are there issues?

Yes. The Bills have lost six fumbles, the second most in the NFL behind New Orleans (seven) entering Monday. Two of those fumbles have come in the red zone after Allen and receiver Isaiah McKenzie misplayed a short pitch back at the Chiefs 13.

Aside from his share of blame for the fumble credited to Allen, the slot receiver caught just two of five passes thrown his way for 9 yards.

Whatever the case -- and whatever shortcomings you want to bring up, the Bills finally enter a bye week coming off a win.

Buffalo entered its past two bye weeks following losses decided in the final minute: a 34-31 loss at Tennessee last year, and a 32-30 loss at Arizona in 2020. Next up is a prime-time home game against Green Bay on Oct. 30.

You can access complete stats for the Bills Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

The Panthers added to their list of offensive problems in Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles, creating new layers of uncertainty at quarterback, among an ever-growing injury list.

Quarterback P.J. Walker wasn't able to finish the game with a neck injury, but indicated afterward he should be able to play this week.

And he will.

Despite all the offensive issues and shortcomings, interim coach Steve Wilks announced on Wednesday that Walker will start against the Buccaneers this Sunday.

The Panthers managed a season-low 203 yards of offense, and while they ran the ball effectively early, they continued to struggle in familiar areas. They were 2-of-10 on third-down conversions and threw for just 110 yards as a team.

Practice squad quarterback Jacob Eason finished the game after Walker was checked through the league's concussion protocol (and cleared). Eason, who was elevated from the practice squad Saturday after taking his first repetitions in team drills this week, threw an interception late.

Starter Baker Mayfield didn't practice prior to the Rams game after leaving the Week 5 loss to the 49ers with an ankle injury. He worked out Friday and showed some encouraging signs. But he was inactive and back in a walking boot Sunday, helping out on the sidelines as he could.

Wilks said an MRI taken Friday "still showed some damage," so they decided not to activate him for the game.

"We looked at the MRI, still some things there, so we wanted to protect him by putting him in a boot and give him a couple of days off his ankle," Wilks said.

Last year's starter Sam Darnold, still on injured reserve after his preseason ankle injury, was designated to return on Wednesday, adding a layer of questions for the league's lowest-ranked offense.

Mayfield had struggled even before his injuries, opening the door to speculation about his status.

The Panthers game-planned away from the quarterback position Sunday regardless, with Wilks saying they wanted to "help" Walker by reducing the number of plays downfield he needed to make.

Early on, it looked good, as Christian McCaffrey was effective as a runner and a receiver. But as the game wore on, the Panthers weren't able to connect downfield, as Walker threw mostly short check-downs and safe routes through the first half.

Walker finished the game 10-of-16 for just 60 yards (69.8 passer rating), and it was his first loss as a starter after wins against the Lions in 2020 and the Cardinals last season.

"I'm going to continue to just go out there every day and battle," Walker said. "I have a chip on my shoulder, regardless of this situation or not. It's just to go out there and be competitive and try to put together three good days of practice and show my consistency out there, and lead the team to a win."

Whatever the case, they'll need better quarterback play than they've been getting heading into this week's game against a Buccaneers team coming off an embarrassing loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. ...

Meanwhile, the Panthers got rid of a potential distraction and added some future draft capital Thursday, sending wide receiver Robbie Anderson to the Cardinals in exchange for undisclosed draft compensation, after Anderson's sideline display in Sunday's loss to the Rams.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers will receive a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 seventh-round pick for Anderson.

The move might not change a lot in the short term for the Panthers, as Anderson had just 13 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown for an offense that struggled in the first six games. Much of that came on one 75-yard scoring pass in the opener against the Browns.

But those numbers were only underscored by Sunday's events, when Anderson was kicked off the field by Wilks after multiple sideline altercations between the receiver and position coach Joe Dailey. It was the culmination of a strange day for Anderson, who took the field for pre-game warmups shirtless, and sat alone on a cooler away from teammates between the first and second spat with Dailey.

"It was a sideline-type situation, that I felt like I wanted to try to get him in at the moment," Wilks said after the game. "It's something we'll discuss as we get further into the week. . . .

"I'm going to say this; no one is bigger than the team. I don't want to focus a lot of attention on one individual."

That one individual seemed surprised that anyone would be surprised at his actions, saying it was based on his desire to be more involved in the game.

"I was honestly confused, and upset by it as I should be," Anderson said at a press conference after the game. "I don't see nobody that's a true competitor and knows the value they bring, that's a true competitor and has a true passion for the game that's OK with being told not to do something or being taken out of something when they didn't do anything wrong."

The move opens the door for more snaps for Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith across from D.J. Moore.

It also carries some symbolic weight, as it was the first non-injury-related transaction of the post-Matt Rhule era. Rhule coached Anderson at Temple.

Anderson came to the Panthers in 2020 and enjoyed his most productive season, catching a career-high 95 passes for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns. But after he got a contract extension the following offseason, his numbers dipped sharply, with just 53 catches for 519 yards and five scores in 2021.

So who's next?

According to's David Newton, McCaffrey now is the topic of possibly being traded to another team before the Nov. 1 NFL trade deadline. While a source close to the situation tells Newton that's unlikely to happen without a team giving up something substantial -- likely a first-round draft pick -- McCaffrey is the most valuable trade prospect the Panthers have.

He showed that again Sunday at SoFi Stadium, accounting for 74.5 percent of Carolina's yards from scrimmage, the highest percentage by a player in a game this season and the second highest in a game over the past 20 seasons. McCaffrey rushed 13 times for 69 yards and caught a team-high seven passes for 89 yards, the 24th time he's had at least 50 rushing and 50 receiving yards in the same game.

Only Marshall Faulk in NFL history has more with 41.

The defending Super Bowl champion Rams could use a back like McCaffrey, but they don't have a first-round pick in 2023. Neither do the San Francisco 49ers, another team in need of a star player to elevate an anemic offense to make a Super Bowl run.

That both are in California, where McCaffrey made a name for himself as a Heisman Trophy candidate at Stanford University, and have teams capable of making a title run could make him a good fit.

The Denver Broncos also could be a good landing spot for McCaffrey, who grew up in the Denver area. But they don't have a first- or second-round pick.

The Buffalo Bills, a genuine Super Bowl contender, do have a first-rounder in 2023.

"All that stuff's out of my control," McCaffrey said. "My job right now is to be the best Carolina Panther I can be and do everything I can for my teammates."

Trading McCaffrey arguably makes sense in some ways with the Panthers at 1-5 and likely looking ahead to next season. More draft picks would allow general manager Scott Fitterer to continue building the roster so it's ready to win when the team finds a franchise quarterback or possibly move up in the first round to draft a potential franchise QB.

Trading McCaffrey, however, arguably doesn't make sense from the standing that he's still young (26) and the next head coach and quarterback could use the do-it-all back to build around.

McCaffrey has five straight games with 100 yards from scrimmage, the longest active streak in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

Beyond all that, McCaffrey didn't want to talk about Anderson nor what it's like having the offense all on him.

"I just want to win," he said. ...

What about dealing Moore?

In addressing the team in the wake of the Anderson trade, Wilks told the his players "It's about acting [like] a champion, about being accountable, that great level of commitment, and really building that trust and believing in the process."

Wilks offered an example of the kind of commitment he's looking for from players: Moore caught three passes for seven yards on Sunday and Wilks noted that can be tough on receivers who want the ball, but credited Moore for "phenomenal" blocking in the run game that showed he's the kind of player the Panthers want.

One last note here. ... Laviska Shenault (hamstring) practiced Wednesday. He's missed two games with his injury but appears to be on track to contribute this week.

Stay tuned. We'll all be watching for more on McCaffrey and Moore as the week unfolds; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

According to Associated Press sports writer Andrew Seligman, Justin Fields was feeling it physically and mentally after a third straight loss.

The Chicago Bears' quarterback vented following a 12-7 loss to the struggling Washington Commanders, frustrated by missed opportunities and a little banged up to add to his misery.

Fields took a beating, absorbing five sacks and 12 quarterback hits not to mention the blows he took running a whopping 12 times. The left shoulder he hurt earlier in the year started bothering him in the first half.

"He's a little bit sore today," head coach Matt Eberflus said Friday. "But he'll be OK."

The Bears had a little extra time to heal and figure out how to get back on track before they visit New England for a Monday night matchup on Oct. 24. Eberflus said they'll be examining the scheme and the rotations. Players were also given a list of three things they're doing well and three areas they need to improve.

The Bears (2-4) have room to improve in all areas. And, of course, all eyes are on Fields.

He threw a terrific 40-yard touchdown to Dante Pettis and scrambled 39 yards to the 5 near the end of the game, putting Chicago in position to pull out the win. Pettis was unable to hang onto a third-down pass in the end zone with Darrick Forrest all over him. A leaping Darnell Mooney got knocked out of bounds by Benjamin St-Juste inches shy of the goal line as he hauled in a pass, sealing the loss.

The Bears also missed big opportunities on consecutive possessions in the first half.

Fields got picked off with Chicago on the Washington 5. He zipped a pass that hit a defensive tackle's helmet and popped into the air, leading to an interception by Jonathan Allen.

Khalil Herbert then broke off a 64-yard run to the 6. But Fields overthrew a wide-open Ryan Griffin in the end zone and Herbert got stopped on fourth down at the 1.

"Everyone is feeling this way," Fields said. "Everybody's mad. Nobody is happy about this loss."

But there are positives.

Though the Bears had trouble finishing drives, they did run for 238 yards -- their second-highest total this season. Part of that was Fields, with 88 yards, having to scramble behind a shaky offensive line. But Herbert broke off a big run, and David Montgomery carried 15 times for 67 yards.

Not so positive?

The Bears were 0 for 3 in the red zone for the second time in three games and rank 24th in the NFL in efficiency at 46.7 percent. Against the New York Giants three weeks ago, they at least converted field goals on three of those trips.

But on Thursday?

Chicago became the first team in 23 years to fail to score on at least three goal-to-go drives in a single game. Cincinnati had four such drives in a 22-0 loss to Baltimore on Dec. 26, 1999.

"There were different play calls in those situations," Eberflus said. "I don't really see a connection there. It's just individual plays; we've got to execute those."

Whatever the case, the Bears need to change their luck when they visit New England on Monday night. Chicago is 4-10 against the Patriots, with five straight losses.

So what are we playing for here?

As's Courtney Cronin suggests, the primary goal might be to see if Fields can improve in spite of what's around him.

Cronin added the Bears need to re-evaluate their offensive scheme and what's being asked of Fields. Chicago's shortcomings are hindering his development. But how can Fields improve when he's being pressured on 46 percent of his dropbacks and his receivers can't consistently make catches or create separation?

This is the position Chicago put itself in during the offseason when it did not address the talent deficiencies around Fields, and if the Bears want to get a clearer picture about Fields' development over the next 11 games, a number of adjustments need to be made.

Also of interest. ... Rookie Velus Jones Jr. muffed a punt against the Commanders -- his second in the past three games. Both played big roles in losses.

Against the Giants two weeks ago, the rookie muffed one at his own 35. Gary Brightwell recovered with 2:13 to play, and New York hung on to win 20-12. Against Washington, Jones called fair catches on balls he should have run back and muffed one at the end, leading to the go-ahead touchdown.

"I was trying to do too much," he said. "The ball went deep. It would have went in the end zone but I tried to run back and make a play on it and I should have let it roll into the end zone for a touchback. ..."

The Bears shuffled their wide receiver corps on Tuesday. They announced that they have signed Isaiah Coulter to the active roster from the practice squad.

They waived Ihmir Smith-Marsette in a corresponding move.

Coulter played in three games for the Bears last season, but only saw the field for 15 offensive snaps. He was targeted with one pass and did not catch it. Coulter also played in one game for the Texans in 2020.

Smith-Marsette joined the Bears as waiver claim from the Vikings in early September. He caught one pass for 15 yards in his six appearances with the team, but had it ripped out of his hands by former Minnesota teammate Cam Dantzler to end a Bears comeback bid in a 29-22 Week 4 loss.

You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As's Ben Baby reported, Ja'Marr Chase wanted to burn a fellow Louisiana and LSU football legend. Then, he wanted to celebrate in a way that was going to cost him.

In the type of play that has defined his run with the Cincinnati Bengals, the second-year receiver caught a short pass, ran past New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu and jaunted into the end zone to seal a game-winning 30-26 win.

Upon scoring, Chase tried to punt the ball into the stands of the Caesars Superdome. ... But he shanked it.

"I just wanted to do it, I ain't gonna lie," said Chase, who admitted he was trying to earn a fine from the NFL with the boot. "I always wanted to do that."

Instead, he'll have to settle for a dramatic homecoming win. In their first game back at the Superdome since they helped LSU win a national championship, Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow provided the spark that might have finally ignited an offense that has struggled in 2022.

"That's what this league's about," head coach Zac Taylor said. "You gotta have great players. You can give them all the playcalls you want, but in these big moments, you need your guys to step up. And our guys stepped up."

Chase had seven catches on 10 targets for two touchdowns and a season-high 132 yards. Burrow had his best game of the season, too. The third-year quarterback was 28-of-37 passing for 300 yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing score.

Cincinnati (3-3) was staring at four losses in its first six games before one of the league's most potent connections struck. Chase's catch-and-run touchdown -- which included a broken tackle -- came with less than two minutes left and the Bengals down 26-24.

"I'm never surprised with that guy anymore," Burrow said, who said the second he saw the defensive look, he knew the ball was going to Chase.

Since Chase entered the league in 2021, he and Burrow have connected for 11 touchdowns of 15 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats and Information, the most of any duo of that span.

Burrow had his best performance of the season in this one.

One of Burrow's best plays came on a third-down attempt in the fourth quarter when he slipped out of a sack, scrambled for 33.1 yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, and found wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a completion.

As Baby suggested, it embodied what Burrow, in his finest moments, has provided to the franchise since it drafted him with the first overall pick in 2020.

"Sometimes when it looks like things are really bleak and dead, Joe finds a way, kind of out of the mess," Taylor said. "You don't know how he does it. He just does it. It's special to see when that happens."

Cincinnati used a quick passing game to get Burrow in a rhythm early. Of Burrow's 31 pass attempts, 24 were delivered within 2.5 seconds or less, according to NFL Next Gen. That was also the same number of throws that were between zero and nine air yards.

With the running game still struggling, gaining only 75 yards on 14 carries, the Bengals relied on short passes that yielded big results.

Burrow connected with six different receivers for 28 completions, three touchdowns and 300 yards on 37 throws.

Through the first five games of the season, Cincinnati's offense had underperformed compared to its preseason expectations. Taylor, the team's offensive playcaller, took heat following last week's 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens as the unit ranked next to last in yards per play entering Week 6.

But once the offense found a rhythm in New Orleans, everything started rolling. A day that featured offensive progress was capped by another touchdown from Burrow to Chase, their fourth inside the Superdome.

Cornerback Eli Apple said Burrow told the team at halftime if the offense got the ball back, they weren't going to be stopped. The Bengals scored on all three of their possessions in the second half -- including the game-winning touchdown that sealed a homecoming win.

"We've been waiting for those games from Ja'Marr and Joe," Apple said. "They came through clutch. ..."

Whether Sunday's win turns around Cincinnati's season remains to be seen -- there are 11 games to go -- but the Bengals took a step in the right direction Sunday.

Next up, the Bengals face their second consecutive NFC South opponent when the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) visit on Sunday.

Some items to monitor. ... As has become the custom in recent weeks, Tee Higgins (ankle) and Hayden Hurst (groin) opened the week with limited sessions on Wednesday. In addition, Chase was limited on Wednesday by a sore hip.

I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...

You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers framed it: "For the second straight year, Bill Belichick treated Kevin Stefanski and his Browns staff to a free coaching clinic.

"It wasn't pain-free. ..."

Withers went on to explain that while moving into a tie for second with George Halas in career coaching victories, Belichick exposed all of Cleveland's weaknesses during New England's 38-15 dismantling of the Browns on Sunday. He did the same thing to his former team last year in a 45-7 drubbing.

This lopsided loss -- the Browns' three others were by a combined six points -- affirmed issues Stefanski and his assistants have been dealing with for weeks and unearthed some new concerns as the Browns (2-4) enter a stretch of tough games, beginning this week in Baltimore.

Belichick deployed a bigger defensive lineup early, knowing Cleveland would lean on its NFL-leading running game led by Nick Chubb, who finished with a season-low 12 carries.

It forced the Browns to pass and Jacoby Brissett threw the first of two interceptions on the game's second play.

It went quickly downhill from there as the offense stalled, failed to capitalize after Cleveland's defense forced a turnover and spent the afternoon playing catch-up.

On defense, the Browns' tackling problems from the previous two games improved and they held the Patriots to 98 yards rushing. However, Cleveland's line didn't put enough pressure on rookie Bailey Zappe, who threw for 309 yards and a pair of TDs in his second NFL start.

It's been like that all season for Stefanski. Fix one thing, something else breaks. Every move he made Sunday, Belichick countered.

Down 24-15, Cleveland sealed its fate by botching an onside kick and muffing a punt -- unforgivable against any team, death sentences against Belichick.

Brissett had his worst game, completing 21 of 45 passes for 266 yards with three turnovers. However, the veteran QB filling in during Deshaun Watson's suspension had a positive impact afterward, addressing his teammates in the locker room.

Brissett implored the Browns to stick together, be accountable and work hard.

But the truth is, if the Browns can't run the ball, they're in trouble.

Belichick made them fight with one hand tied. Brissett has been inaccurate and sloppy the past two weeks, and his inability to connect on deep throws takes away the quick-strike potential.

Stefanski isn't hinting at making a QB switch.

But it's fair to wonder if Cleveland's season is already on the brink.

The Browns are 2-4 after facing QBs Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, Mitchell Trubisky, Marcus Mariota and rookie Bailey Zappe, who cooked Cleveland for more than 300 yards through the air. The Browns are getting ready to face Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen and Tom Brady.

As's Jake Trotter put it, "The season might not be over, but the way the Browns have played, especially defensively, the season could definitely begin to spiral. ..."

Also of interest. ... Amari Cooper recorded four receptions on 12 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.

Cooper benefitted from game script, as he matched his season high with 12 targets -- seven of which came in the second half as the Browns tried to play catch-up. He averaged only 3.7 yards per target but salvaged his day with a 15-yard touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter.

Though Cooper's production has been inconsistent, his role in the Browns' offense is clear, as he has double-digit targets in four of six games on the campaign.

Rookie kicker Cade York shook off a pair of misses a week earlier by making field goals of 39, 48 and 51 yards.

On the injury front. ... Stefanski said CB Denzel Ward, who sat out against the Patriots, remains in the concussion protocol. ... The team is also awaiting imaging results on All-Pro right guard Wyatt Teller's injured calf. He left in the first half and didn't return.

Stefanski expects Myles Garrett to play against the Ravens. Garrett's X-rays on his shoulder, the same one he injured in the car accident, came back negative Tuesday.

OT Jack Conklin sprained his ankle Sunday, but doesn't expect it to keep him out. ...

Finally. ... NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Watson has met the requirements of his settlement with the league to this point after being accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen women.

Watson is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. On Aug. 18, the league, which had appealed a six-game ban rendered by an independent arbitrator, settled with the NFL Players Association on Watson's penalty.

Watson agreed to pay a $5 million fine and undergo mandatory counseling and treatment before he could apply for reinstatement. The three-time Pro Bowler returned to Cleveland's facility last week, but can't practice with the Browns (2-4) until Nov. 14.

At the owner's meetings in New York on Tuesday, Goodell said he was satisfied Watson was abiding by the agreement.

Last week, another woman in Texas filed a civil lawsuit against Watson, accusing him of forcing her to have sex with him following a massage therapy session. Watson previously settled 23 of 24 lawsuits with another one dropped.

Goodell was asked if the new lawsuit affects Watson's status.

"As far as any additional (allegations), we obviously will follow all of those," Goodell said. "If there's new information, we'll take that into consideration, but we'll see as time goes on."

As long as he fulfills the agreement, Watson will be able to practice on Nov. 14, re-join the roster two weeks later and play on Dec. 4 in Houston against the Texans, who traded him to Cleveland in March for three first-round draft picks.

During his suspension, Watson has been training with a private quarterback coach in suburban Cleveland. ...

You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As's Todd Archer noted, Cooper Rush did all he could do, winning four straight starts after Dak Prescott suffered a fractured right thumb. At some point, it had to come apart and it did in a 26-17 loss to the Eagles, especially in the first half.

Rush's first two interceptions of the season turned into 10 points in the second quarter when Philadelphia took a 20-0 lead.

The Cowboys made a game of it in the second half, but for all of those wondering whether there would be a quarterback controversy, Sunday answered that question.

Rush deserves credit for keeping the Cowboys' season alive, but it's up to Prescott to make sure they stay in the NFC East race the rest of the way.

Prescott said Sunday that he expects to return to the lineup in Week 7. Executive vice president Stephen Jones tempered that in his regular radio appearance Monday.

But head coach Mike McCarthy delivered good news at his press conference Monday afternoon.

"Dak is going to be cleared here officially," McCarthy said, via video from the team. "The expectation is for Dak to be cleared today or tomorrow. Then, he'll be returning to practice on Wednesday."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones added to that Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

"Let's just say this, he's determined to (start against the Lions)," Jones said. "From my perspective, from what I can know and see, I think he's gonna get there. We feel like that physically, he's at a position that the risk/reward justifies him being out there, in terms of any reoccurrence of the injury. Set that off to the side, we don't have that to think about. So, it's a question of him getting ready. And he's gonna be given every opportunity to this week to get ready to go play."

Prescott took a throwing session before Sunday's loss in Philadelphia. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that he expects Prescott to be medically cleared before Wednesday's practice, giving the QB a full week of work before returning to the lineup.

"He had a very impressive throwing session before the game in Philadelphia," Jones said of Prescott. "He just really (showed) ball placement, throw the ball with strength, spin, zip, really the whole repertoire of being able to throw that football."

Jones added: "He looks good. He looks ready to go."

Prescott underwent surgery on his right thumb Sept. 12 after fracturing it in the season opener. He practiced some last week, had a questionable designation for the game though he ultimately was inactive and threw during a pregame session Sunday night.

Despite the confidence, McCarthy isn't ready to declare Prescott the starter for this week.

"The final threshold is always you have return to play, but then there's the timing," McCarthy said. "You've got to get the timing. That's for any position. When you look at players who return to play, they're cleared medically to play, but if you don't just totally feel the timing is quite there, they may need another week. That's why if you look at the regimentation of how we've been bringing Dak back, obviously we've been following the medical process of it, but we've been trying to do as much throwing, particularly the routes on air, the individual route running, as much as we can.

"I think we've checked the boxes. He's got a [throwing] plan for [Tuesday]. Just a number of throws tomorrow, and then we'll spin that into a full throwing load on Wednesday."

McCarthy said if Prescott goes this week, the quarterback "needs to play his game."

As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon suggested, if the Cowboys can get within a game of the Eagles and stay there over the next two months, the stakes will be high in the rematch on Christmas Eve in Texas. "What I saw today was us beating ourselves," defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. "I don't feel like we should hang our hats on a game like this. We know we played tough and learned from our mistakes."

Prescott and the offense would benefit of the rushing attack remains on point.

Ezekiel Elliott has more than 75 yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time since his most recent 100-yard games in back-to-back weeks early last season.

The two-time rushing champ's season-best average of 6.2 yards per carry against the Eagles (81 yards on 13 carries) included a 14-yard touchdown. It was Elliott's longest TD run in almost three years.

Elliott should find the going easy this week against a Lions defense that's among the league's most generous.

Detroit's visit starts a run of four consecutive games against NFC North opponents. After the Bears play at the Cowboys, Dallas has its open week before going to Green Bay and Minnesota. ...

For what it's worth. ... Elliott surpassed 10,000 career scrimmage yards with 86 against the Eagles. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, as the only Dallas backs to reach that milestone. ...

Other notes of interest. ... There weren't many bright spots on Sunday night, but the tight end unit was certainly one of them. Having learned just ahead of kickoff that the team would be without starting tight end Dalton Schultz, the onus on rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot to carry the load for the second time this season.

Ferguson is showing the ability to be the primary target at the position, and the youngster made a nifty cutback move for his first career touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Rush.

Ferguson had four catches for 40 yards after coming in with three catches total in the first five games. It was the most catches for a rookie Dallas TE since Jason Witten's five against the New York Giants in 2003. ...

We'll have more on Schultz and his chances of playing this week in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Also on the injury front. ... Veteran OL Jason Peters saw limited action coming back earlier than expected from a chest/rib injury and facing his former team. As his health improves, Peters could rotate in more frequently at left guard, replacing Connor McGovern. ...

You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

One of head coach Nathaniel Hackett's biggest items on the to-do list when he took the job was to improve the Broncos' dismal performance in the AFC West, especially on the road in the division.

The Broncos stumbled into SoFi Stadium Monday night 2-11 in their past 13 division games dating back to the start of the 2020 season, 0-7 on the road with a loss in Las Vegas already on this season's docket.

So, add another on the growing pile as their offense shut it down in the second half -- again -- and rookie Montrell Washington muffed a punt at the Broncos' 28-yard line with 4 minutes, 46 seconds to play in overtime to help set up a 19-16 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

It all had a familiar ring for the Broncos, who had a 10-0 lead in the first quarter before their still-struggling offense essentially called it a night. A team that has scored all of five points in the third quarter this season -- two of those on a safety by the defense earlier this year -- was shut out in the third again as the Broncos had only 19 yards of offense.

The Chargers simply pushed back against a battered Broncos offensive line for much of the second half -- left tackle Garett Bolles will miss the rest of the season after he fractured his right fibula in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts -- to keep Russell Wilson out of sync.

The Denver defense slugged it out enough to get to overtime, but all the work the Broncos said they did on offense during the 11 days between their Thursday night loss to the Colts and Monday's to the Chargers certainly did not show.

If you're looking for further evidence the offense is the weak link, how about this: The Broncos have ended more drives with kicks than any other team in the NFL. They have attempted 17 field goals (most in the NFL) and punted 33 times (second-most in the NFL) and their combined total of 50 kicks is by far the most of any team in the league this season.

As's Michael David Smith noted, during Monday night's loss to the Chargers, Hackett punted on one fourth-and-2 when the analytics said to go for it, and later punted on a fourth down from the Chargers' 39-yard line when analytics said that was the worst possible choice: Either going for it or attempting a field goal would have given the Broncos a better chance of winning than punting.

Smith went on to acknowledge, coaches don't have to follow the analytics models on every single decision. But when the signature move of your offseason was acquiring Wilson, and you're showing more confidence in your punter and kicker than your franchise quarterback, that's an alarming situation.

After criticism early in the season about his in-game decision-making, Hackett added an assistant coach to his staff for the express purpose of helping him with those decisions. But nothing much has changed: Hackett, an offensive coach who was hired to build a great offense, is taking his offense off the field on fourth downs more than any other coach.

Meanwhile, Hackett wants to see more urgency from his team on the field.

"This is very disappointing," Hackett said, via the team's website. "We need to have a lot more urgency across the board. It starts with me as a coach, going to all the other coaches and then the players. Players need to be just more urgent. We had some opportunities there, and we've got to execute at a higher level. We've got to come up with some better plays."

It's tough to win football games if you lack urgency and execution and missing those things on a weekly basis make it tough to believe the coaching staff has the right answers for how to get them. Hackett will try to prove otherwise against the Jets this weekend. ...

Meanwhile, in his first game since undergoing shoulder surgery, Wilson is once again dealing with an injury.

Hackett told reporters that Wilson suffered a hamstring injury during Monday's loss.

It would appear the injury isn't as serious as first believed. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Wilson is considered day to day following an MRI on Tuesday.

Rapoport adds that the Broncos will continue to evaluate Wilson's hamstring as the team enters a short week.

Wilson is pushing to play despite the pain, per Rapoport, but this isn't the only discomfort he will be dealing with going forward.

Following their Week 5 loss to the Colts, Wilson had platelet rich plasma treatment to alleviate discomfort in his right shoulder related to a strained latissimus dorsi. During Monday's game, Wilson could be seen with a wrap on his shoulder under his pads.

Wilson finished the game going 15-of-28 overall for 188 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. He added 23 rushing yards on four carries.

That said, Wilson hit his first 10 pass attempts Monday night and looked far more comfortable overall. But as's Jeff Legwold notes, without the benefit of much play-action in the Broncos' offense and amid an ongoing disconnect with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy that seems to appear with regularity, Wilson completed only three of his next 11 passes.

Wilson started the game completing his first nine attempts to nine different pass-catchers, including the first touchdown for rookie tight end Greg Dulcich. According to Elias, no QB dating back to 1978 started a game 9-for-9 to nine different players.

The first-down woes, however, continue to disrupt the tempo of things, and so while Wilson was better in the first half Monday, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Prior to the start of the regular season, the Broncos gave Wilson a five-year, $245 million contract extension that included $165 million guaranteed.

Amid sky-high expectations, it would be difficult to imagine a worse start for Wilson in his new home. He threw for 1,254 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions and completed 59.4 percent of his attempts through the first five games.

The Broncos offense ranked 18th in the NFL in yards per game (343.6) and 31st in points per game (15.0) entering Monday night's game. They scored more than 20 points once during the first five games.

On the off chance Wilson misses time, former Boise State star Brett Rypien would take over at quarterback in Denver. The 26-year-old made one start during the 2020 season. He has thrown for 295 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions in four career games.

I'll be watching for more on Wilson, who was listed as a limited participant Wednesday, in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Also of interest. ... Hackett has spent plenty of time since he got the job talking about how important the run game is, and will be, in the team's offense.

And then, as the team struggles along the learning curve, when it has the ball the run game is ornamental at best. Granted, the season-ending injury Javonte Williams suffered in the loss to the Raiders will impact the Broncos' plan, but they ran the ball just seven times in the first half versus the Chargers, and one of those was a Wilson scramble.

But the big issue for fantasy managers was Melvin Gordon's disappearing act.

Gordon had three carries for eight yards in the first quarter, but was then removed from the game and didn't have another carry. Gordon, helmet off, was visibly frustrated on the Broncos sideline throughout the second half.

Gordon had entered the weekend with a questionable tag due to a neck and rib injury, but he told media afterward that he was fine to play, and said he was confused as to why he was pulled and never re-entered.

"To tell you exactly what happened? I can't tell you. Because I don't know," Gordon told NFL Network's Bridget Condon. "Na, no one mentioned anything to me."

Gordon believes he could have made a difference in a game that came down to the wire, but was left on the sideline.

"Just waiting for my number to get called so I can go out there and help my teammates. It was a close game, I felt like I could've made a difference, but apparently not," Gordon said.

The latest addition to the running back room, Latavius Murray, lead the team on the ground with 15 carries for 66 yards. Wilson's 23 yards gave him the second-most rushing yards.

At a Tuesday press conference, Hackett was asked why Gordon wasn't told about a change.

Hackett said he thought Murray ran well. He also said that the Broncos didn't run enough plays to get everyone more playing time.

"We're going to have a conversation. ... Melvin didn't do anything wrong. He didn't. We just didn't have a lot of plays," Hackett said.

The Broncos ran 55 offensive plays on Monday while the Chargers had 83, so there were limits to how often any offensive players could get on the field. That said, Gordon being so far behind Murray (27 snaps) and Boone (21 snaps) suggested something more than just a lack of opportunities was involved in the decision.

On Wednesday, Hackett and Gordon had their conversation and apparently all is well.

Hackett said Gordon will start Sunday at running back.

The coach told reporters he had his conversation with Gordon, but said the contents of the conversation will kept private.

I'll be watching for more on this as well. ...

Near the end of the first quarter, Dulcich, who was activated last week, caught the first pass of his career to move the chains for Denver on third-and-four. Just a few plays later, Wilson found Dulcich wide open, and the rookie trotted into the end zone for the aforementioned touchdown -- the Broncos' only touchdown of the game.

Dulcich almost scored again at the end of the first half, as Wilson targeted him in the end zone on third-and-nine, but the Chargers' tight coverage on the play forced an incompletion.

Regardless, after starting the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, Dulcich's impact was immediate. He added a much-needed spark to the Broncos' offense, and the young tight end hopes to continue being a major contributor throughout the season.

"I like what we do in this offense," Dulcich said. "We move the tight end around a lot, and whatever I can do to help us win, I'm ready to."

Including Dulcich, the Broncos had four tight ends active for this game. None of them was Albert Okwuegbunam. ...

Finally. ... Linebacker Aaron Patrick, who grabbed his knee after an awkward sideline collision Monday night, suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. ...

You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer David Hogg The Detroit Lions are 1-4 with one of the worst defenses in the league and Jared Goff is too mistake-prone to save them.

Hogg went on to suggest if coach Dan Campbell's team -- which is coming off the bye this week -- is going to salvage anything out of yet another poor start, it's going to be the running game that makes it happen.

The Lions have run the ball on 43 percent of their offensive plays, slightly less than the league average of 44 percent.

However, they've been successful on those carries, with a 5.4-yard average that ranks second in the league behind the Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots shut out the Lions last weekend, but Detroit still managed 101 yards on the ground without two of its top playmakers.

D'Andre Swift, who missed two of the first five games with ankle and shoulder problems, is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and more than 100 rushing and receiving yards per game. He's also one of three Lions to have scored a rushing touchdown of at least 50 yards this year.

The second is receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who saw limited duty against the Patriots while trying to play through a high ankle sprain. He's only carried the ball twice, but one of those went for 58 yards. The threat of him taking a jet sweep for another big gain limits what defenses can do to stop Swift.

"I felt like I could play, and I knew I would get a lot of rest during the bye week, so I wanted to try to help the team," St. Brown said. "I thought we moved the ball well, but the turnovers hurt us. We were playing a game where field goals weren't going to be enough, but they stopped us on fourth downs."

While Swift and St. Brown have battled injuries, Jamaal Williams has been a steady presence. He's averaging 66 yards per game at 4.3 yards per carry, and he's scored six touchdowns.

The Lions have rushed for seven touchdowns -- plus two more scoring receptions by running backs -- without a turnover from that position group.

Goff has six of the team's seven giveaways -- four interceptions and two fumbles -- while wide receiver Kalif Raymond lost a fumble.

Three of Goff's turnovers -- two interceptions and a fumble -- have been returned for touchdowns, putting Detroit's defense into an even bigger hole.

"It's always costly to turn the ball over at any time, but whenever it results in a six, it is even worse," Goff said after the Patriots scored on a fumble return in their 29-0 win on Sunday. "Obviously, as a quarterback, turnovers are a part of the business, but you have to find a way to limit them. I have to be better there."

The big mistakes leave the defense with no room for error. That's not great for a unit that's allowing a league-worst 34 points and second-worst 428 yards per game entering Week 6.

"To win in this league, we have to play complementary football in all three phases of the game," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "I feel like there are times we have, like against Washington and a few other instances throughout the season, but that's what is really hurting us. When the offense has been clicking, the defense hasn't and vice versa."

A year ago, the Lions were 0-8 going into their bye. This season, when they were being touted as a possible breakout contender, they are 1-4.

That's what led Campbell to say his team had hit "rock bottom" after losing to New England, and his players aren't inclined to argue.

"One and four going into the bye -- that's horrible. It's disgusting," safety DeShon Elliott said. "We have still not made any strides. We have to be better than this.

"If we want to be a great team, we have to bounce back, and that starts with the first game after the bye. ..."

As for the injury issues. ... According to's Benjamin Raven, St. Brown said he was at about 85 percent in the shutout loss in New England.

And while St. Brown isn't putting his lingering ankle issue in the rear-view mirror yet. He said it's feeling better than last week and that he expects to be fine moving forward.

"It was good. You know, get that week off. Get some rest. Get some treatment back on," St. Brown told Raven. "It feels better. Feels better than it did last week, so we'll see what happens this week.

"Like I said, I'm getting better. Ankle sprains, they tend to linger. As long as I'm feeling a little bit better each day, I think I'll be fine."

Detroit's offense had been cruising into the bye week.

The Lions were scoring more points than anyone in the league, with their rushing attack tops in the NFL and the passing game making use of their rebuilt receiver room. But St. Brown went down, and then fellow starting receiver D.J. Chark joined him with an ankle injury.

Chark, who wasn't expected to practice Wednesday, hasn't played since that loss in Minnesota in late September, giving his surgically-repaired ankle some additional time heading into the week away. In addition, Josh Reynolds (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

Still, the offense remains the best thing going around these parts, and the return of St. Brown and others after a week away should induce optimism. The Lions still rank near the top of the league in net passing yards per attempt (ninth), rush yards per attempt (second), offensive DVOA (ninth) and points per game (second) after the shutout loss.

I'll be watching for more on Swift, who was limited Wednesday, Chark and Reynolds as the team begins preparing in earnest for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

And finally. ... First round pick Jameson Williams is still working his way back from the torn ACL he suffered at Alabama and the team has resisted putting any kind of timeline on when he might be cleared to join the lineup.

Campbell said Wednesday that nothing about the team’s situation, including injuries to other receivers, will lead the Lions to try to speed up the process. He did say that the team believes Williams has made real strides in recent weeks.

“I would say this: We really felt like he’s turned the corner over the last month,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “We feel like he’s really coming on. And so I would say we’re pretty optimistic he’s going to play this year. Now, that being said, the injuries are not going to have any bearing on when he plays. We’re not going to let that affect us. When he’s ready, we’ll get him up and ready to go but we don’t want to press that just because we have a number of injuries in the receiver room.”

I'll have more on that as well, as developments warrant.

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 18 October 2022

According to's Rob Demovsky, it was hard to tell who was worse in Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Jets in Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers, his offensive linemen or his skill-position players' hands.

Rodgers missed what used to be routine throws, and his blocking didn't give him much of a chance to stand in the pocket. Oh, yeah, and the Packers had six dropped passes -- their most in a game since 2017.

And then there was the lost fumble on a botched exchange between Rodgers and running back A.J. Dillon.

Demovsky went on to suggest the Packers can't go more than 3½ quarters without an offensive touchdown like they did on Sunday and expect to be a contender.

But that's what happened because Rodgers was off target and his offensive line allowed him to get hit nine times.

The good news?

Rodgers thinks there's a way to fix the Green Bay Packers' offense.

"Simplify some things," Rodgers said.

At this point, Rodgers said the Packers need to try something. And it's not just because of Sunday's surprising loss. It has been six weeks' worth of offensive struggles.

The Packers have scored 107 points (or 17.8 per game) so far this season.

That's their fewest in any six-game span with Rodgers as their starting quarterback, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

Sunday's loss, which left the Packers at 3-3, marked the first time in Matt LaFleur's four seasons that the Packers have lost consecutive regular-season games.

"I'm not attacking anything," Rodgers said. "I just think that based on how we've played the last two weeks, I think it's going to be in our best interests to simplify things for everybody -- for the line, for the backs, for the receivers, especially with [Randall Cobb's] injury. Just simplify some things, and maybe that'll help us get back on track."

Cobb, last week's leading receiver, left Sunday's game with an ankle injury and was emotional after he was carted off the field. Rodgers said that was because Cobb thought it was a season-ending broken ankle, but it turned to be less severe.

Still, Cobb will likely miss the game next Sunday at Washington and perhaps more. "It's not going to be like a one-week deal or anything like that," LaFleur said Monday.

The Packers also played Sunday without Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson -- both out with hamstring injuries.

The Jets hit Rodgers nine times, including four sacks. The Packers dropped six passes, their most in a game since 2017. Rodgers was off the mark on what had been routine throws. And other than a couple of throws to Allen Lazard (who had Green Bay's only touchdown on a 25-yard catch and added a 35-yarder), Rodgers couldn't get anything going down the field.

"I don't think there's many things we're leaning on very well right now," LaFleur said.

When asked to evaluate his own performance, Rodgers said he needs to raise his game "probably a little tick." He also called the offense inconsistent.

"That's why we need to simplify things because on the couple drives that we did move the ball, it was very simple things," Rodgers said. "Very simple plays, no motion, so we need to look at everything and the guys that we've got and what we can accomplish with them and let's be smart about moving forward.

"Nobody works harder than Matt on the plan each week, and nobody comes with better ideas than him and his staff. But if it's not working, it's not because those guys aren't grinding. It's because we're not executing. If you think we have the right players, then we need to simplify things. If you don't, then that's a whole other conversation."

When it comes to personnel, life after Davante Adams has not been easy. In six games, the Packers have had six different leading receivers.

On Sunday, it was tight end Robert Tonyan with 10 catches for 90 yards.

Rodgers stopped short of making a plea for general manager Brian Gutekunst to make a move, but if he does, it will have to come soon. The NFL's trade deadline is Nov. 1.

"I trust him and his staff; if they feel like they need to add that they will," Rodgers said. "I think there's enough on this team to be a successful team. There's the possibility, if certain guys emerge, of us having a chance to make a run. I know Brian believes the same thing. But if there's an opportunity, I would expect that Brian will be in the mix."

After the previous Sunday's loss to the New York Giants in London, Rodgers expressed displeasure with the tone of some of the postgame comments in his own locker room.

He brought that up again Sunday.

"It's going to be interesting to see how we all respond to this tomorrow and this week," Rodgers said. "I feel like we had a great week of practice, so this performance today was surprising. We've got to watch our language and the kind of energy that we're manifesting, but I'm going to be steady with the guys and I expect our leadership to do the same."

Meanwhile, it's up to LaFleur to figure out why the Packers can't put together a full game on offense.

"That's a fair question," LaFleur said. "I don't know. I mean, obviously if I knew we wouldn't be in this spot, right? We're in a pretty bad predicament right now.

"We're going to have to take a good hard look at everything and really do some great evaluations from a coaching perspective in terms of what's working, what's not working and try to find a different avenue because today was not good enough."

They'll try to get better this week as they begin a three-game road swing by visiting Washington (2-4), followed by trips to Buffalo (5-1) and Detroit (1-4).

Other notes of interest. ... Dillon and Aaron Jones combined for only 60 yards on 19 carries.

For what it's worth, LaFleur agrees that Jones needs more opportunities; he says as much almost every week. But when the game gets underway, the ball rarely goes his way.

As's Freddie Boston noted, when Jones is featured on offense, the Packers tend to find more rhythm. It's hard to understand why they don't give their best offensive playmaker more opportunities, especially as Jones entered Week 6 averaging almost 6.4 yards per carry.

Unfortunately, it has been the same old story throughout the season.

On a more positive note. ... Lazard has a touchdown catch in four of the five games he's played this season. ...

According to's Dwain McFarland, Tonyan had season-high route participation today at 74 percent. Previous high was 62 percent.

McFarland isn't sure if this sticks, but the tight end led the Packers with a 27 percent target share.

Remember, Tonyan is coming back from an injury, so that might have led to a slow start. The Packers tend to rely on a committee at the position, but Rodgers clearly has a level of trust in Tonyan. ...

Mason Crosby's perfect start to the season came to an end, and by no fault of his own. Crosby had a field goal blocked, leaving the Packers scoreless early in the second quarter.

Back to the injuries. ... I'll be watching for more on Cobb and Watson, both of whom could be a candidates for IR. Meanwhile, Watkins was on the field for Wednesday's practice. His 21-day window to be activated off IR is open. LaFleur says it's not yet clear if he'll play this weekend. They have to see what kind of shape he's in.

Watkins had an encouraging performance in week 2 before going to IR, catching 3 passes for 93 yards. If he can return this week, he could have a solid role in the Packers' passing attack.

Also worth noting. ... Rodgers (thumb) did not practice Wednesday. He also missed practice last Wednesday because of the injury but returned for full sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.

You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

According to Associated sports writer Kristie Rieken, with just one win after five games, the Houston Texans appear destined for a third straight dismal season.

There is, however, some good news about this year's team that should give fans hope.

Houston (1-3-1) has a great rookie class featuring several players who have already made an impact.

"Our young players are getting better weekly, and they haven't reached their potential yet," head coach Lovie Smith said.

Leading that group is running back Dameon Pierce. The fourth-round pick from Florida has 412 yards rushing, which is the most by a rookie in franchise history through five games and ranks fifth in the NFL. It's the third most by any player in team history, trailing two years by Texans career leading rusher Arian Foster, who had 546 yards through five games in 2010 and 532 in 2012.

General manager Nick Caserio has been impressed with Pierce's early production but said what has stood out to him the most is the player's work ethic.

The Texans, who come of their bye week to host the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend, give their players every Monday off. This Monday, a day after running for 99 yards and the team's only touchdown to lead Houston to its first win, Pierce was at the stadium working. Caserio saw him in the weight room squatting 425 pounds.

"People wonder why is he successful on the field," Caserio said. "Well, he's successful because he works hard, he's got the right attitude, he's a good teammate, he trusts the people around him, he gives credit to his teammates, the offensive line, to the tight ends, doesn't make it about himself."

His performance has helped the Texans average 99.2 yards rushing per game, which is tied for 22nd in the league. That might not seem like much, but it's a major improvement for a team whose running game ranked last in the NFL in 2021 and 31st two years ago.

Smith, who's in his first season as Houston's head coach after being promoted from defensive coordinator, was asked how Pierce is stacking up in the rookie of the year race.

"I haven't seen all of the rookies out there," Smith said. "I just know that our rookie, we've loved him from the start. It's not a bandwagon-type thing. We believed in this guy and what he can do. He's letting other people kind of see it a little bit."

Worth noting. ... Smith told reporters on Wednesday that his "Lead tailback needs to get at least 20 carries."

In other words, Pierce is going to be busy, even if he's spelled on occasion or loses some third-down snaps to Rex Burkhead.

Two of Houston's other top rookies are cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and safety Jalen Pitre. Stingley, taken third overall, and Pitre, a second-round pick, have both started each game this season and made big contributions.

Pitre has two interceptions and a sack, and his 39 tackles are second-most by a rookie in the NFL and most by a rookie in franchise history through five weeks.

Stingley has 30 tackles and made his first career interception last Sunday, picking off Trevor Lawrence in the end zone in the win over Jacksonville.

Offensive lineman Kenyon Green, the 15th overall pick, has also been coming along after missing significant time in camp after sustaining a concussion. He came off the bench in the opener but has started the last four games and has improved each week.

"For Dameon Pierce to run like that, Kenyon Green needs to do something pretty good up front, which we continue to do," Smith said.

While the rookies have provided bright spots, the team has struggled overall.

Quarterback Davis Mills hasn't progressed in his second year and has failed to finish several close games. He has just five touchdown passes with four interceptions.

Caserio said Mills must improve but has also challenged each player to take it upon themselves to do more after the break to help turn things around.

"Reality is you get what you earn in this league, and we've earned 1-3-1, so it's not good enough," he said. "We've got a lot of work in front of us. I think everyone is accountable of that. In the end, all of us have to be better, we need to be better."

One last note here. ... As notes, Brandin Cooks has just 99 receiving yards combined over the past three games and the rock-solid target shares he garnered in 2021 are being eroded into by Nico Collins in 2022.

NBC went on to point out, "Cooks again had a tight-end-esque 4.5 yards per target, and he didn't make anyone miss on the few opportunities he had against the Jaguars."

We'll see if the Texans were able to address that issue over the bye as well, but it's worth noting Cooks wasn't seen during passing drills Wednesday.

Smith told reporters it was "a coach's decision" that Cooks didn't practice.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot noted, head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard spent the spring and summer insisting the Colts receiving group would be strong, deep and productive.

Yes, they expected it to take time for a young, mostly unproven group of receivers to grow into new roles and jell with another new quarterback.

In Week 6, the contingent finally demonstrated what it could do -- together.

Rookie receiver Alec Pierce and rookie tight end Jelani Woods each caught one touchdown pass. So did the oft-injured Parris Campbell. Second-year tight end Kylen Granson and Michael Pittman Jr., the most accomplished receiver, routinely turned short throws into big plays.

The combination produced Indy's best offensive game of the season, a 34-27 victory over Jacksonville.

"It definitely felt great for this offense to really come into our own, having a bunch of the young guys stepping up," Granson said Monday. "It felt really good putting that on tape."

Quarterback Matt Ryan wore down Jacksonville's defense with a flurry of short, quick throws that gave receivers a chance to make plays with their legs. The no-huddle strategy worked perfectly.

Ryan completed a career-high and franchise-record 42 passes for 389 yards, the last coming on a 32-yard score to Pierce with 17 seconds left.

"I thought if they came up and pressed like they did, he was going to throw the ball my way," Pierce said. "Knowing they were going to play the sticks, playing aggressive, just trying to get us out of field-goal range. ... I just saw the ball up in the air. I had a little bit of a step, at least he (Shaquill Griffin) was in panic mode, so he was chasing and wasn't able to react."

He wound up with three catches for 49 yards though the stats never seem to reflect Pierce's true impact. He also got Griffin twice for an additional 24 yards on pass interference calls -- calls that made Griffin more hesitant at the end.

It's not just Pierce.

While Pittman remains Ryan's most consistent target, Campbell, Granson and Woods matched Pittman's 13 receptions and combined for 163 yards. And second-year running back Deon Jackson, an undrafted free agent, was a perfect 10 for 10 on balls thrown his direction for 79 yards.

Reich and Ballard believe this group can keep it up and after Sunday's confidence-building performance so does everyone else.

"That is the key thing, taking another step, trying to keep this rolling and keep that rhythm going," Woods said. "We know what we have, and we know the things we can do. We just have to put it all together and keep going."

One thing that's working well has been the no-huddle offense. The quicker pace certainly gave Ryan and Co. a jolt of energy. Perhaps most important, it kept Ryan upright.

While he did take some big hits, Ryan was not sacked and had no fumbles for the first time all season. Indy also finished with its highest-scoring total in 13 games.

Marot went on to note the victory, and the offensive performance, were promising signs.

Now the Colts must prove it wasn't just a one-game fluke with a visit to division-leading Tennessee. A win in Nashville would put Indy atop the AFC South and even its division record at 2-2-1. ...

Meanwhile, Jonathan Taylor was ruled out on Saturday, causing him to miss a second-straight game with an ankle injury he first suffered back in Week 4. Nyheim Hines (concussion) was also ruled out.

In Taylor's absence, Jackson (67 percent) and Phillip Lindsay (33 percent) took over the backfield duties.

Jackson did sustain a quad injury in the Colts' 34-27 come-from-behind victory over the Jaguars, and his Week 7 status also needs monitoring. With Taylor practicing in a limited fashion last week, he has a shot to return to game action this weekend in Tennessee. Taylor's potential return diminishes Jackson's and Lindsay's fantasy value, while Hines still warrants a bench spot in PPR formats.

Jackson filled in nicely at Denver but made an impressive starting debut Sunday with 12 carries for 42 yards, capped by a powerful 3-yard TD run in addition to his pass-catching prowess.

Jackson left late in the game with an injured quad, so we'll be watching the status of all three -- Taylor, Hines and Jackson -- throughout the week, although it was a good sign that Taylor and Hines were on the practice field Wednesday (Jackson was as well). I'll have more on all three via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

Also on the injury front. ... Keke Coutee took a big shot on a punt return and remained down for several minutes, a scary enough sight that players from both teams took a knee. Eventually, he walked to the locker room and was diagnosed with a concussion. Reich doesn't expect him to play at Tennessee.

And finally. ... Ryan's 389 passing yards Sunday put him ahead of Dan Marino on the all-time passing yardage list.

That meant a lot to Ryan.

"I'm proud of that," Ryan said. "I've gotten to know Dan since I got into the league back in 2008 and I love him. He's a fun guy to be around. He was the ultimate guy when I was growing up, he'd sling it. And I remember the first time I met him he said, 'Hey, no matter what happens man, keep slinging it.' I was like 23 at the time, I was like, that's one of the coolest things I've ever heard. And here I am 37 and still remember him saying that to me. Any time you're mentioned in the same breath as Dan, it's pretty cool, and I'm proud of that."

Ryan now has 61,500 career passing yards, moving him into seventh place all-time and ahead of Marino, who retired with 61,361 yards.

Up next for Ryan are No. 6 Philip Rivers (63,440 yards) and No. 5 Ben Roethlisberger (64,088 yards), both of whom are within reach for Ryan this season. It's definitely possible that Ryan will move into the all-time Top 5 this season.

To get higher than that on the career yardage list, Ryan will need to play at least another couple years. Brett Favre is fourth with 71,838 yards and Peyton Manning is third with 71,940. Drew Brees is in second place with 80,358, which is probably out of reach for Ryan.

Tom Brady is in first place all-time with 85,929 yards and counting, a record that is far out of reach and that Brady will surely own for many more years, maybe many decades. ...

You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

According to John Oehser of the team's official website, Doug Pederson still believes. Absolutely and positively.

A three-game October losing streak doesn't change that. Because when the coach looks at the team lately, he sees what he has seen much of the season: A very capable team that must eliminate very avoidable mistakes.

"I'm still confident in this group," Pederson said Monday, a day after a 14-3 first-half lead became a last-minute 34-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. "When you put the tape on, it's about us; it's about what we do and sometimes about what we don't do.

"We've got a group of guys who want to get it fixed. That's the encouraging part."

The Jaguars, after winning back-to-back one-sided games over the Colts and the Los Angeles Chargers Weeks 2-3 to move into first place in the AFC South, are now 2-4. They remain in third place in the South behind the Tennessee Titans (3-2) and the Colts (3-2-1).

"October's been spooky, to say the least," wide receiver Zay Jones said. "You want to play your best football in November and December. You don't want to peak too soon. I feel as though this team is on pace to do something special down the road.

"November and December, when we start clicking at that moment, and we gain that momentum, I think that's what makes a dangerous team. Hopefully, we can put ourselves in that category."

Said Pederson, "We just take it one week at a time. Some people want it sooner than later. There's some patience involved. Everybody needs to know the importance of every play, every snap, every series -- practice, games, the whole thing. That's just the nature of what we do."

The Jaguars finished with 377 yards offense Sunday, including a season-high 243 yards and three touchdowns rushing. They went three-for-three touchdowns in the red zone, but the Colts scored four touchdowns and a field goal on their final five drives to overcome a 14-3 first-half Jaguars lead.

"We've just got to be able to get it all together," Pederson said. "That's where we're sort of a little bit out of whack right now. We haven't been able to play complementary football together. That's what needs to get fixed."

Pederson said his message to the Jaguars Monday was "at some point, we need somebody to make a play."

"We just have to be able to do that a little better," he said.

The Jaguars get a chance to end their skid when they host the New York Giants (5-1) on Sunday. Jacksonville has dropped an NFL-record 18 straight to NFC teams. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Jacksonville finished with 243 yards rushing, the fifth-most in franchise history and the team's most in a loss.

Second-year pro Travis Etienne Jr. had a career-high 88 yards rushing, highlighted by a 48-yard scamper on Jacksonville's opening drive. Etienne played more snaps than James Robinson for the third straight week, although he's still looking for his first career touchdown.

Should Etienne be the Jaguars' feature back?

He has outperformed Robinson in back-to-back weeks, rushing for a combined 157 yards on 20 carries and catching five passes for 63 yards, while Robinson rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries and caught three passes for 13 yards. Etienne had a 48-yard run against the Colts and is flashing the big-play potential he was drafted to provide.

"You guys see how hard he runs. Obviously, his speed helps us lots," Trevor Lawrence said.

Etienne started on Sunday, and's Mike DiRocco believes it may be time to make that permanent. ...

The ground game helped take some pressure off Lawrence and kept the Colts off-balance during an 18-play, 84-yard drive that took 12 minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter and gave the Jags a lead their defense ultimately squandered.

Christian Kirk caught 4-of-5 targets for 23 yards and one touchdown in this one while Evan Engram and Zay Jones led the Jags with six targets apiece.

As notes, Kirk's first three weeks of the 2022 season seemed to promise great things for the slot receiver in a passing offense predicated on getting him the ball.

That's now a distant memory: Kirk has seven receptions over his past three games while other Jacksonville pass catchers post out-of-nowhere big stat lines.

Marvin Jones Jr. missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, but could return this week. Jamal Agnew sustained a strained knee ligament Sunday and will be "day-to-day," Pederson said Monday.

I'll have more on Jones and Agnew, who has seven receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns this season with a 5.8-yard average on 11 punt returns and a 22.1-yard average on seven kickoff returns, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...

You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

Patrick Mahomes expects to score every time he touches the ball.

He expects to win every time he steps on the field.

So when the Chiefs quarterback threw an interception in the final minute Sunday, allowing the Bills to escape with a 24-20 victory over Kansas City, there was a quiet sense of shock inside Arrowhead Stadium -- as if Chiefs fans, who had grown so accustomed to winning, couldn't believe Mahomes and Co. had come up short.

"No matter what the situation is, I expect to find a way to win. That's what this whole team expects," Mahomes said later, after the Kansas City locker room began to clear out. "I always expect to win until there's literally not time."

As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta noted, Mahomes played well: 338 yards, two touchdown passes and more highlight-worthy plays. But he also threw two picks, the one that effectively ended the game and one early on, when he threw into double coverage in the Buffalo end zone.

On the opposite side, Josh Allen was busy throwing for 329 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. And when the game was on the line, he found Dawson Knox for the decisive TD with just over a minute left.

"You lose a game, especially at home, it's never a good feeling," said Mahomes, who also scrambled for 21 yards, accounting for nearly a third of the Chiefs' rushing offense. "We played some good football. We just made too many mistakes, at the end of the day. When you make mistakes against another great football team, you lose a football game."

Indeed, the margin for error for the Chiefs this season is much narrower than years past, when they could rely on Tyreek Hill's speed or the ball-hawking ability of Tyrann Mathieu.

It takes a clean game on both sides of the ball and special teams, and Kansas City has struggled to put those together.

"We made too many mistakes when it was all said and done," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's good to learn from this. It can benefit you down the road if you handle it right. And this team, I think, will definitely do that."

The Chiefs, who have leaned on tight end Travis Kelce all season, are finally getting some production from their wide receivers. JuJu Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 113 yards and a touchdown and Mecole Hardman hauled in three for 42 yards and a score. (Kelce still had eight catches for 108 yards.)

"I'm trying to get to that point where the ball's being thrown and they're trusting me," Smith-Schuster said. "Honestly, it's just time. It is only our sixth game in."

Meanwhile, Skretta points out the roller coaster known as the Kansas City ground game dipped in spectacular fashion Sunday. Clyde Edwards-Helaire managed 33 yards on nine carries, Isiah Pacheco had two carries for 9 yards and Jerick McKinnon two carries for 1 yard.

As a team, the Chiefs ran 18 times for 68 yards, or 3.8 per carry.

Next up, the Chiefs visit the 49ers in a rematch of Kansas City's Super Bowl triumph following the 2019 season.

On a positive note. ... The Chiefs came out of the game without any new injuries.

But should the Chiefs be concerned about their secondary?

As's Adam Teicher notes, Kansas City played without two of their top three cornerbacks and one of their top three safeties because of injuries. Therefore, the Chiefs were left with no choice but to play two rookies at cornerback, and the Bills successfully went after one of them, Joshua Williams, who played little until Sunday's game.

Things should improve when cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Rashad Fenton and safety Bryan Cook return. That could be as soon as Sunday against the 49ers.

One last item here. ... On Tuesday, the Chiefs restructured the contract of Kelce to create some much-needed cap space.

Much needed for what?

NBC's Chris Simms said he's heard the Chiefs are thinking about making a run at receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.

Beckham currently isn't ready to play, coming off a torn ACL, but a proactive move makes sense if the Chiefs are looking to add OBJ to a good-to-great receiving corps that will get a lot better if he's healthy and effective.

You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

According to Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow, the late-game magic that fueled a surprising playoff berth last season for the Las Vegas Raiders has been conspicuously absent early this season.

Whether by blowing big leads or failing to mount a late comeback, the Raiders have come up on the short end in four one-score games and head into their bye tied for the worst record in the NFL at 1-4.

"It's tough because we are right there," star receiver Davante Adams said. "It's not like we are getting blown out and we don't have answers or playing good football. We just aren't playing 60 minutes of it. ... It is frustrating."

Dubow went on to point out it's a role reversal from what happened a year ago, when the Raiders went 7-2 in one-score games with a record four overtime wins and six walk-off victories.

It added up to 10 wins capped by a 35-32 overtime victory in Week 18 over the Chargers for the Raiders' second playoff berth in 19 seasons.

They thought they could build off that after adding Adams on offense, proven pass rusher Chandler Jones on defense and replacing interim coach Rich Bisaccia with Josh McDaniels.

Instead, the results have been far worse. Las Vegas was one of six teams with one win through the first five weeks.

"That's what the NFL is, it's a lot of close games every week," McDaniels said. "When you start learning how to win them, and finishing them, you start to get a confidence and swagger about yourself, and then when you get in the next one, you feel good about it. So, I don't think there's any shortcut. We got to eliminate the bad stuff."

The reasons for the close losses have varied each week but the end result has been the same as the Raiders have lost four one-score games in the first five weeks for the first time in franchise history.

The Raiders fell in an early 14-point hole in the opener against the Chargers and were unable to overcome three interceptions by Derek Carr in a 24-19 loss. Despite all the mistakes, Las Vegas had a chance to drive for the go-ahead score before back-to-back sacks ended that comeback bid.

The following week, the Raiders started fast at home against Arizona, building a 20-0 halftime lead. But the offense stalled in the second half, the defense got tired and Kyler Murray and the Cardinals rallied to tie it on the final play of regulation.

Then in overtime, the defense got a stop but Carr missed an open Adams on a play that would have gotten Las Vegas into range for a game-winning field goal. On the next play, Hunter Renfrow fumbled and Byron Murphy returned it for a game-winning touchdown.

The Raiders fell behind early again the following week at Tennessee when the defense allowed three straight long TD drives to open the game. But poor red zone offense hampered Las Vegas and the Raiders fell short at the end when a 2-point conversion that would have tied the game with 1:14 to go fell incomplete.

Las Vegas put things together for a Week 4 win at home against Denver before blowing a 17-point lead Monday night to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

McDaniels' gamble to give his team the lead with 4:27 remaining backfired when a 2-point conversion attempt was stopped shy of the goal line, and the final drive ended when Adams and Renfrow collided on a fourth-and-1 pass that fell incomplete.

"It just comes down to one or two plays," defensive end Maxx Crosby said. "That's the tough part. We're getting better and better and that's inspiring for us. We know we're getting better, and we see it. We feel it on the field. It's tough, but you got to take everything with a grain of salt."

The Raiders became the fifth team in NFL history to blow two leads of at least 17 points in the first five games.

Now the question is whether the hole the Raiders have dug is too deep to escape. Nine teams since 2000 have overcome a 1-4 start to make the playoffs.

"This is a marathon," McDaniels said. "If it was a sprint, we lost the sprint but fortunately that is not what it is. Fortunately for us, it is a marathon."

Heading into this week's game against the Texans, there is much to like here -- at least for fantasy managers.

The Silver and Black are among the top offenses in the league, ranked in the top 10 in points scored, points per game and receiving touchdowns. Additionally, Carr just passed the 200 career touchdown mark against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday -- making him the first quarterback in franchise history to reach the milestone.

Adams hasn't had any problems continuing to find the end zone in a new uniform.

The All-Pro receiver has five touchdown receptions -- which is a team high and is tied for second most in the NFL. His now 75 career touchdowns since 2015 are the most of any receiver in that span.

Josh Jacobs has been a difficult man to get down on the ground this season.

He's currently third in the NFL in rushing yards (490) and fifth in carries (91). However, what's even more impressive is his league-leading 327 rushing yards after contact. After having a mild start to season, the 2020 Pro Bowler rushed for over 140 yards in Weeks 4 and 5, breaking his career-high for rushing yards in a game in both contests.

He's the third Raiders RB to have back-to-back games of 140-plus yards, joining Marcus Allen (1985) and Bo Jackson (1989).

Statistically speaking, Daniel Carlson has been perfect this season.

Carlson is one of six kickers who hasn't missed a field goal this season, as he's 15-for-15 for the year, and 4-for-4 beyond 50 yards. Dating back to Week 8 last season, he's made 38 straight field goals, which is the longest active streak and pushing toward Adam Vinatieri's all-time record for most consecutive field goals made (44).

On the injury front. ... Darren Waller (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.

As reminded readers, Waller was injured on the opening series in Week 5 against the Chiefs and then had the bye to rest up, but he's clearly still not ready for action. Foster Moreau is back, however, and would be in line for a full snap share if Waller is unable to face the Texans this week.

I'll follow up as needed in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Meanwhile, in case you missed it over the weekend. ... The NFL is weighing possible discipline against Adams for shoving a credentialed photographer on the way to the visitors tunnel after the Raiders' loss to the Chiefs last Monday, with the photographer falling on the ground afterwards.

Adams could be fined, suspended or both.

Adams' status won't be resolved in the near future, sources informed of the situation tell NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, which indicates Adams will stay on the field moving forward for Las Vegas this season, at least until his legal situation has reached its conclusion.

Because Adams was criminally charged, his case is now considered a potential personal-conduct policy violation, which warrants a league investigation.

However, if the case is resolved in any way -- legal charges are dropped, Adams pleads guilty, or any other outcome that concludes this situation -- a resolution would come quicker, sources informed of the situation tell Rapoport. A court date was set for Thursday, Nov. 10.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy, Justin Herbert didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 27 games.

For once, it didn't matter, thanks to the Los Angeles Chargers' special teams.

Dustin Hopkins kicked four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 2:38 remaining in overtime, and the Chargers rallied for a 19-16 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Hopkins, who injured a hamstring during the first half, grimaced as he kicked the ball and fell to the ground before being picked up by teammates. The ninth-year kicker was inactive for last week's game against Cleveland due to a quadriceps injury.

Hopkins' heroics were set up when Deane Leonard recovered a muffed punt at the Denver 28-yard line.

Herbert, who is still recovering from fractured rib cartilage from a hit one month ago, appreciated Hopkins being able to gut it out.

"We've got so much respect for him. For him to go out there and play and put up with some pain like that, it was great to see," said Herbert, whose 57 attempts without a TD pass is an NFL record in a win.

Head coach Brandon Staley said Hopkins' hamstring kind of cramped up early, but started to loosen up during the second half.

"You can't say enough about him hanging in there," Staley said. "At the end we had no choice. We were going to kick no matter what."

Although he'll miss an extended period with his injury (more on that below), Hopkins, who was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday, has five games with four or more field goals. It is also the first OT game-winner of his career.

"I was trying to focus on a little backswing and just get through the ball. And that was it," Hopkins said. "I wasn't thinking about the circumstance or anything like that."

The Chargers have won three straight to improve to 4-2 heading into this week's home game against the Seahawks.

They are tied with Kansas City atop the AFC West. It is the first time in franchise history they have rallied from a double-digit deficit at the end of the first quarter to win.

Other notes of interest. ... Herbert and the Bolts' offense struggled to find a rhythm against a fast and physical defense. Herbert completed 37 of 57 passes for 238 yards with an interception.

Through regulation, Herbert averaged 2.2 air yards on his completions, below his previous career low of 2.7.

Herbert had a 26-game TD pass streak snapped. It was the third-best run in franchise history and second-longest active streak in the league.

It's the second time this season a player threw at least 57 passes without a touchdown (Kyler Murray).

Cornerback Pat Surtain II effectively eliminated go-to target wide receiver Mike Williams, who finished with two catches for 17 yards -- including a clutch 9-yard reception in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

Herbert's lone touchdown drive came in the first quarter, when he put together a seven-play, 84-yard drive that resulted in Austin Ekeler rushing 6 yards for a score to put the Bolts on the board, 10-7.

In the fourth quarter, on first-and-10 from his own 17-yard line, Herbert had a pass intercepted that was intended for Gerald Everett -- his second interception of the season when targeting his new tight end.

Herbert, who was sacked twice, is continuing to play through fractured rib cartilage, about which he said earlier this week, "I think it's getting better. I think time is probably the best help."

On the injury front. ... As noted above, Hopkins was able to finish Monday night's win over the Broncos, but he's going to be out for a while.

Via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN, Staley said Tuesday that Hopkins will be out for two-to-four weeks with a hamstring strain.

The Chargers have Taylor Bertolet on their practice squad, who made all three of his field goals and all three extra points in last Sunday's victory over Cleveland.

Beyond Hopkins, receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) remains on pace to return to practice fully this week. Allen has not played since injuring his hamstring in the season opener and then aggravating it in practice before Week 4.

He told reporters last Friday he was targeting Sunday's game against the Seahawks for his return.

Running back Joshua Kelley suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Kelley will miss a few weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament, Staley said.

Tight end Donald Parham Jr. has entered concussion protocol. He played 19 snaps against the Broncos, leaving after three catches for 53 yards.

Center Corey Linsley missed Monday night's game with food poisoning. He returned to the facility Tuesday and will work back into practice this week.

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

Also of interest. ... CB J.C. Jackson isn't playing up to standard after signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract in free agency. Jackson could only watch, on an apparent blown assignment, as tight end Greg Dulcich sprinted by for a 39-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead.

A fifth-year pro, Jackson played four seasons in New England, where he led the NFL in interceptions (25) since 2018.

Jackson awaits his first pick as a Charger, and it's unclear exactly what has caused his slow start to the season, whether it's learning a new scheme or coming back from ankle surgery performed in late August.

After spending most of the 2021 season on the sideline following ankle surgery, edge rusher Khalil Mack is proving in his ninth NFL season that he has plenty remaining in the tank.

Mack acknowledged entering Monday night that it is no fun chasing around Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, yet he kept constant pressure on Wilson, sacking him once, and also batted down a pass.

Mack ranks second in the NFL, tied with six other players, with six sacks. The Chargers sacked Wilson four times.

You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham noted this week, the Rams' injury luck had been largely excellent during the first five years of coach Sean McVay's career.

His sixth season has been a prolonged test of the Rams' ability to persevere through a run of poor health at key positions.

They're meeting the challenge so far, even if they don't look like championship contenders just yet.

The defending Super Bowl champions are 3-3 heading into their bye week despite playing the season to date with a patchwork offensive line and a sketchy secondary. The loss of left tackle Joseph Noteboom to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon Sunday didn't stop Los Angeles from beating Carolina 24-10 to snap a two-game skid.

"Great job by our group finding a way to get it done," McVay said. "Another example of being able to overcome adversity, whether it was injuries, or really putting ourselves in a hole."

The Rams already were without starting left guard David Edwards (concussion), starting center Brian Allen (knee) and starting right guard Coleman Shelton (knee). They lost rookie guard Logan Bruss for the season in training camp, and they even lost backup guard Tremayne Anchrum on his first play as Shelton's replacement at right guard.

Los Angeles has a share of the NFC West lead despite all of its problems, and reinforcements are on the way.

McVay said Monday that Allen is expected to return when the Rams come back from their bye to host San Francisco on Oct. 30.

Allen won't be alone, either: The Rams expect injured defensive backs Troy Hill and Cobie Durant, injured receiver Van Jefferson and suspended defensive lineman Bobby Brown all to be available for their next game. Hill and Durant both got hurt early in the season, while Jefferson hasn't played since having knee surgery in training camp.

Not just injuries are eating into the Rams' depth: McVay confirmed the team is trying to trade running back Cam Akers, its highest draft pick in the past five years, after he apparently clashed with the coaching staff for undisclosed reasons.

McVay said the team has explored the option of finding Akers "a fresh new start with another team."

In case you missed it, McVay told reporters last Friday that Akers would not practice for the second day in a row or play in the Rams' Week 6 game because the team was "working through some different things with Cam."

He was listed on the team's injury report as out due to personal reasons.

According to's Sarah Barshop, McVay said if trading Akers "doesn't come to fruition, then we'll figure out a solution, how to best move forward with him here."

McVay also said he wouldn't take the possibility that Akers plays for the team again "off the table."

"I'd like to think I'm a very open-minded person," he said. "But I think when you look at certain situations and scenarios with the way that things have kind of unfolded, as of right now, I think ... the best option for all parties. ... Would be to explore if there's a good situation for him with another team.

"If that doesn't come to fruition, I would never say that him coming back and figuring out the best way to be able to utilize him and him be the best player he's capable of is, is off the table. I would never speak in absolutes like that."

Akers has 151 rushing yards and a touchdown on 51 carries this season. After he scored a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 -- his first since the 2020 season -- he said he was motivated because "everybody else felt like I lost a step or whatever, but I didn't."

McVay said he has thought the communication between Akers and his agent about the situation "has been pretty clear and there's been good dialogue."

"Sometimes good dialogue can lead to clarity on making a decision that isn't necessarily easy, but it's the best," McVay said. "... And I'm never going to claim to always make the right decisions, but when you weigh the different things that we're working through and trying to figure out what's best for our football team and running back room in particular, that's kind of the direction that we're leaning towards right now."

In Akers' absence Sunday against the Panthers, running back Darrell Henderson Jr. ran for 43 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and running back Malcolm Brown added 15 yards on seven carries.

Although McVay acknowledged that a fresh start for Akers may be in the best interests of the team and the player, there's a real possibility a trade doesn't get made.

"I will say a lot of these types of discussions go on and nothing comes to fruition," McVay said. "And then sometimes things happen a lot quicker based on finding someone that accommodates the things that maybe you're looking for or that suits the interest of the player and our team. And so it just takes one. But in a lot of instances, sometimes things never work out."

Generally speaking, the Rams' rushing offense remains ineffective with just 70.5 yards per game, the second-fewest in the league.

Akers wasn't performing impressively even before he fell out with the coaching staff, and Henderson hasn't been effective, either.

As Beacham pointed out, Les Snead is the boldest general manager in the league, and he's undoubtedly sizing up the possibilities for a new ball-carrier during the bye and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports the 49ers and Rams have been "implicated" in a potential trade for Christian McCaffrey. ...

In a related note. ... The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue expects fifth-round rookie running back Kyren Williams, currently on injured reserve with an ankle injury, to have a "big role" once he returns.

The Rams have yet to open Williams' 21-day practice window after he underwent ankle surgery before the season. But over the summer, it appeared Williams was ticketed for a bigger-than-expected role on offense, possibly even moving ahead of Akers on the depth chart before he got hurt. ...

A few final notes here. ... Is this performance what the Rams can expect out of WR Allen Robinson?

Through five games, Robinson's role in the offense was inconsistent, but he had his best game Sunday. Matthew Stafford spread the ball around more evenly than in previous games this season, and Robinson finished with a season-high five catches (on six targets) for 63 yards and a touchdown on a fade route.

As Barshop suggested, this is likely what McVay envisioned when adding Robinson in free agency, so expect him to continue to get these targets as the season progresses. ...

Tight end Tyler Higbee didn't factor into the Rams' game plan much, recording season lows of one catch on two targets. His blocking wasn't graded particularly well, either. It's likely no more than a blip for a key component of LA's offense.

Also on a positive note. ... All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey is having another elite season, and he even has sacks in back-to-back games after playing his entire career without a sack before that. Ramsey's hard-hitting play and his leadership are keeping the Rams' defense competitive despite untested or underachieving players all around him in the secondary.

Ramsey said the early bye week is a fortunate break for the Rams because of their injury woes. But it also gives them an extra week to think about the Niners: San Francisco has won seven consecutive regular-season meetings with LA, dominating this NFC West rivalry.

Finally. ... With Noteboom out of commission, the Rams signed tackle Ty Nsekhe off of the Colts practice squad. Nsekhe played his first two NFL games for the St. Louis Rams in 2012 and has since played 91 games and made 17 starts for the Cowboys, Bills, and Washington.

The Rams also put defensive back Grant Haley on injured reserve. He hurt his knee against Carolina. He had 12 tackles in four appearances this season.

Edge rusher Takk McKinley was released to round out the day's moves. He had one tackle while playing 18 defensive snaps and five special teams snaps this season.

You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

The Dolphins had to make an in-game change at quarterback for the third straight game on Sunday and they wound up losing for the third straight week as well.

It was Skylar Thompson who had to leave the game this time, which meant Teddy Bridgewater returned to action after being put in the concussion protocol in Week Five.

Bridgewater was playing in place of Tua Tagovailoa, who could return from his concussion to start for Miami against the Steelers next Sunday night.

That's a lot of shuffling to deal with at a key position, but head coach Mike McDaniel said on Sunday that he does not want the team using the revolving door at quarterback as an excuse for the losses.

"You can look at it as a reason for X, Y or Z -- I challenge the guys not to," McDaniel told Marcel Louis-Jacques of "We have a lot of faith in all the players that we have on this team, and the quarterbacks that we've been working with since last April, any one of them we have high expectations to go execute and succeed.

"Now, of course it's not ideal.

"You want the guys that get all the reps during the week to play, but you always know that that's a possibility. I'm going to demand that the team does not point at that to be a reason for what's happened or a reason for the loss. I think that's the easy thing to do. I think that's the path of least resistance, and generally the path of least resistance doesn't lend the results that an ambitious, convicted, all-in players' team, organization wants.

"Yeah, there's always difficulties and adversity within NFL football games. I thought we had the capability to overcome that, and we didn't."

Fortunately, Tagovailoa is back.

As Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames suggested, Tua's return will be a welcome sight for a Dolphins team that has not won a game since he suffered a concussion on Sept. 29.

Tagovailoa will go through practice this week as the Dolphins starter, and assuming all goes well, he is expected to start Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He's a captain for a reason," McDaniel said. "I think he's a very, very good player at that position. Very good players, they definitely give people a boost, not because of what other people aren't, but because he is who he is."

Tagovailoa returned to practice on a limited basis last week. He had been in the concussion protocols since getting hurt and needing to be taken off the field on a stretcher against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.

Tagovailoa was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but was listed as a full participant Friday. He, along with backup Teddy Bridgewater, was medically cleared to return on Saturday after completing all of the return-to-play steps required by the NFL.

After watching Tagovailoa throw the ball in practice, McDaniel said he doesn't expect him to have much rust from a mechanics standpoint.

"He was really the same guy. Luckily, he didn't start throwing right-handed," McDaniel joked about Tagovailoa, who is left-handed.

McDaniel added that he talked to Tagovailoa about conceding plays to protect himself on the field, which he admitted does not come naturally to the third-year quarterback because of his competitive nature.

"He wants to break every tackle, and he doesn't like when plays don't work," McDaniel said. "Well, sometimes they won't."

He added: "The guys that set forth the example of how to play the position, they do find ways to be available, and part of that is that concession."

The Dolphins were one of the hottest teams in the league through the first three weeks, but they have come down to Earth during their three-game losing streak.

Shifting their trajectory will be a big task for McDaniel as his first year as a head coach continues to unfold.

Tua's return has to help in that regard.

As Louis-Jacques wrote: "Regardless of what you feel Tagovailoa's long-term status as the Dolphins' franchise quarterback might be, it is abundantly clear that this team is quantifiably better with him on the field."

Indeed, Miami's offense hasn't moved the ball with any sort of consistency since Tagovailoa went down in Week 4.

"It's not often you can say one player would make all the difference," Louis-Jacques summed up, "but it's reasonable to think that Tagovailoa's return against the Steelers should turn things around for what's been a stagnant Dolphins offense. ..."

While Pittsburgh's defense played surprisingly well in their Week 6 upset win over the Buccaneers, the pressure they were able to put on Tom Brady in that one was not the norm. ...

Other notes of interest. ... The Dolphins might be on a three-game losing streak, but wide receiver Tyreek Hill is not slowing down.

Hill caught 12 passes for 177 yards on Sunday, giving him a league-leading 701 receiving yards through six games this season.

As's Michael David Smith notes, that puts Hill on pace to finish this season with 1,986 receiving yards. The NFL record is 1,964 receiving yards by Calvin Johnson in 2012. (Hill benefits from having a 17-game season; Johnson set the record in a 16-game season.)

As good as Hill was with the Chiefs, he's doing even more than ever in his first season with the Dolphins: Hill averages 8.3 catches and 116.8 yards per game, both career highs by a large margin.

Hill is doing all that despite the Dolphins having to start three different quarterbacks this season. As Smith summed up, "It appears that Hill is capable of putting up big numbers no matter who is throwing him the ball. ..."

Raheem Mostert rushed 14 times for 49 yards against the Vikings. Mostert was battling a knee injury coming into Week 6 and gave up a little of the passing-down work to Chase Edmonds.

But he continued to work as the Dolphins' clear-cut No. 1 back -- drawing 62 percent of the snaps, out-carrying Edmonds 14-2 in this one. ...

And finally. ... The Dolphins are "willing to listen" to trade offers for tight end Mike Gesicki, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

A deal may not materialize before the Nov. 1 deadline, though.

Fowler reported Miami "isn't quite shopping his services to other teams," and his $10.9 million salary is turning some prospective suitors away.

As Bleacher Report's Joseph Zucker notes, offering Gesicki a one-year franchise tender made sense at the time. He was coming off a 2021 season in which he set career highs in receptions (73) and receiving yards (780). The Dolphins bought themselves more time to gauge whether a long-term extension made sense.

But it didn't take long for questions to arise regarding Gesicki's suitability in McDaniels' offense.

Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed reported in August the Dolphins had "brought up" the pass-catching tight end in informal discussions with other teams. General manager Chris Grier disputed the characterization and said the team didn't initiate those conversations.

Still, Gesicki's usage has done little to quell the general discussions over his role.

Through six games, he has caught 15 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. In three of those appearances, he was on the field for fewer than 50 percent of Miami's offensive snaps, something that happened just once in 2021.

The 27-year-old may have made a breakthrough in Sunday's loss as he hauled in six catches for 69 yards and two scores. As's Dwain McFarland notes, Gesicki posted a season-high route participation (75 percent) on his way to 24 fantasy points.

His route participation over last three weeks: 57 percent, 66 percent and 75 percent.

He was No. 3 in the pecking order with a 16 percent target share. McFarland added: "Gesicki is a high-end TE2 if he can keep the routes going. ..."

On the injury front. ... McDaniel told reporters he's optimistic Jaylen Waddle (shoulder) will play against the Steelers.

Waddle is battling a lingering groin issue in addition to the shoulder. McDaniel doesn't expect him to practice much early in the week ahead, but that he should play.

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

The Dolphins put a couple of defensive players on injured reserve Wednesday. The team announced that linebacker Trey Flowers and cornerback Nik Needham have gone on the list. Both players will have to miss at least four games, although Needham will definitely be out for a much longer period of time.

Miami will update defensive back Keion Crossen's knee injury status later this week. ... Cornerback Byron Jones likely will not practice this week. He remains on the physically unable to perform list after having surgery in March on his lower left leg. ... McDaniel said it was a "step in the right direction" to hold left tackle Terron Armstead out of Sunday's game as he nurses a lingering toe injury. ... Right tackle Austin Jackson, who was placed on short-term IR last month with a right ankle injury, has not had any setbacks, but McDaniel wants to be cautious about bringing him back too soon.

You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Sam Thiel of the team's official website noted, on paper, the early part of the Vikings 2022 schedule seemed daunting.

Minnesota faced all three of its division opponents at home and road matchups in a hostile environment, another country and an extremely hot and humid climate.

Offensively, the Vikings have battled through, rallying from fourth-quarter deficits in Weeks 3-5 to help fuel the team's current four-game win streak.

While Minnesota has earned a 5-1 record through the first six weeks and a two-game lead in the NFC North Division, the Vikings still seek consistency on offense.

Minnesota has averaged 23.2 points per game so far this season, which ranks 14th in the NFL. The Vikings are also 19th in total yards per game (339.8).

Head coach Kevin O'Connell said he's proud of what his team's been able to accomplish so far, but he knows there is more that can be improved.

"Very excited to be 5-1; our team has done a lot of things over these past six games to feel like we're in a really good place as a football team with a lot of room to continue to grow. [There's] a lot of exciting times ahead, and I think our guys are up for the challenges that will be ahead, adversity that we'll hit," O'Connell said Monday. "I know I can do a lot of things to help us, especially offensively. [It's] what I look forward to doing and [I'll be] spending some time this week really taking a look at what we've done and what we hope to do moving forward."

Taking a closer look at where Minnesota's offense has shined so far, and where it needs improvement going into the second half of the season, Thiel point out that last season, the Vikings struggled in the final two minutes of each half. The ending result was Minnesota having 14 of its 17 games in 2021 decided by one score, including eight of its nine losses.

According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, during the final two minutes of each half last season, the Vikings had a point differential of minus-73, the worst mark in the NFL.

This season has been a complete turnaround in that area so far. So much so that Minnesota ranks first in the NFL at a plus-33 mark through the first six games, according to Jones.

A big reason for that sudden flip has been the emphasis O'Connell has placed on the team by holding "situational masters" meetings each week.

"We put a huge emphasis on it from day one," O'Connell said last week. "Something we talk about every single week -- different situations that not only come up for our football team but for everyone else around the league can be real learning opportunities for our team just so when those moments come up there is very little thinking that goes into it and more reacting and playing."

Offensively, those scenarios have paid off, with Minnesota scoring three touchdowns and four field goals in the final two minutes of halves this season.

The most recent example came on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. After an interception by safety Harrison Smith placed the Vikings at the Miami 41-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half, Minnesota got down to the Dolphins 15-yard line thanks to a pass interference penalty and a 5-yard Dalvin Cook run.

O'Connell used his final timeout of the half with seven seconds left. Quarterback Kirk Cousins took one last look at the end zone, but safely threw the ball out-of-bounds after not finding an open target. With two seconds remaining, kicker Greg Joseph drilled a 34-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 10-3 lead going into halftime.

While not every situational play has been executed perfectly, the Vikings have been able to capitalize when they need to the most this season.

Meanwhile, with each game, wide receiver Justin Jefferson continues to set records.

After obtaining an NFL-record 3,016 receiving yards in his first two seasons, Jefferson has had a stellar start to his 2022 campaign.

In Week 1 against Green Bay, Jefferson posted a franchise-record 158 first-half yards before ending with a personal-best 184 on nine catches and two touchdowns.

Jefferson was then limited in Weeks 2 and 3, recording only nine catches for 62 yards combined. He's bounced back strong, though, hauling in at least six receptions for 100-plus yards (147 against New Orleans, 154 against Chicago and 107 against Miami) in the past three games.

Jefferson has 18 career games with at least 100 receiving yards, tying him with Jake Reed for fifth in team history. He's netted 654 receiving yards this season, the third-most in the NFL, and 46 receptions, which ranks fourth.

While that's certainly impressive, what's more astounding is Jefferson's ability to get open by defeating coverage or benefiting from schematic efforts.

Through six games, Jefferson has averaged 3.9 yards of separation according to NFL Next Gen Stats, tied for 12th in the league.

In Week 5 against the Bears, Jefferson created nearly five yards of separation, with a catch percentage of 92.3. He recorded 12 receptions, with nine of those being on open targets (3-plus yards of separation), which is tied for the second-most by a wide receiver in a game since 2016, according to Next Gen Stats.

Jefferson credited his success over the past few weeks to O'Connell continuing to move the wide receiver around in the offensive scheme.

"I think K.O. has been doing a great job of just motioning me around, giving the defense different looks," Jefferson said. "I think it's very hard for people to key on where I'm at when I'm motioning around before the play."

Simply put, as long as Jefferson gets open, the more success the Vikings offense has.

Two areas that need work?

Third-quarter scoring and converting third downs.

Minnesota's two highest-scoring quarters so far this season have come as a result of its success at the end of halves and the game. The Vikings have scored 61 points in second quarters and 51 points in fourth quarters. The Vikings have scored 21 points in first quarters, leaving the thirds as their lowest-scoring quarters, and it's not even close.

Through six games, Minnesota has scored just six points in third quarters, ranking second-to-last in the NFL. Denver is last with five points in third quarters.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has converted 29 of its 75 third downs through six games (38.7 percent), which ranks 17th in the NFL.

That number could improve with better pass protection for Cousins must be better. He was sacked three times by the Dolphins and nearly took a safety on a third-down throw he just barely unloaded for an incompletion under pressure by Trey Flowers at the end of the second possession.

As for the special teams play, he Vikings lead the NFL with an average starting field position differential of 7.5 yards better than their opponent, as sure of a sign of stellar kick coverage and return units as there is. The next-closest team is Philadelphia (5.2).

Joseph missed an extra point that could've been costly, leaving the lead at 16-3 early in the fourth quarter.

He has missed four field goals, all from 50-plus yards, and two extra points over the last four games.

Finally. ... The Vikings entered their bye week remarkably injury-free. Wonnum was the only player not healthy enough to play in Miami. The only significant season-ending injury has been to rookie safety Lewis Cine, who was only playing on special teams.

The week off will give O'Connell and his staff more time to work on ways to try to keep the offense from stalling so frequently, ideally with more long completions for Cousins. The Vikings host Arizona on Oct. 30. ...

One last note. ... The Vikings activated receiver Blake Proehl from the reserve/physically unable to perform list Monday. On Tuesday, Minnesota announced it waived Proehl.

Minnesota recently made a similar move with linebacker Ryan Connelly before re-signing him to the practice squad. Connelly signed after clearing waivers without being claimed by another team.

Proehl has worked his way back from a torn ACL that cost him his entire rookie season. ...

You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower noted, the idea that rookie Bailey Zappe could supplant Mac Jones as the Patriots' starting quarterback was preposterous in the aftermath of his first career victory.

It still feels far-fetched following a second productive outing by Zappe during New England's 38-15 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

But there's no denying the Patriots' offense has been at its most efficient over the past two games.

Zappe spread the ball to seven different receivers, tossed two touchdown passes and finished with 309 passing yards against the Browns. He led the offense to touchdowns on three of its five trips to the red zone, an area where the team has struggled. The run-first, conservative passing attack the coaching staff has implemented with Zappe also seems to bring out many of the best attributes of the Patriots' roster.

Asked who his starting quarterback would be once Jones is healthy enough to return from his injured left ankle, head coach Bill Belichick said only that Jones continues to be evaluated.

"We'll see how that process is," Belichick said. "Mac still wasn't able to play yesterday, so we'll continue to evaluate him and see how he's doing physically."

Zappe has performed admirably in Jones and Brian Hoyer's absence.

The fourth-round pick has completed 73 percent of his passes for 596 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, good for a passer rating of 111.4.

As's Myles Simmons points out, that dwarfs the 76.2 passer rating Jones had in his three starts so far this season. But the Patriots were also playing the Dolphins, Steelers, and Ravens in the first three weeks of the season.

Zappe came in for Hoyer during the loss to the Packers and has since faced lackluster defenses from Detroit and Cleveland.

Whether a motivation tactic from Belichick or something more, the head coach has made no guarantees about the QB position -- other than saying Jones isn't currently healthy. But it's still fairly hard to see Zappe keeping Jones sidelined when last year's No. 15 overall pick is 100 percent.

For his part, Zappe continues to do what he's told while enjoying his teammates' support.

"I'm really proud of what he's done," special teams captain Matt Slater said. "You rewind a month ago, nobody's talking about him being a contributor for our football team. But that's the National Football League. You never know when your moment's going to come, but your hope is that you prepare enough and you're able to take advantage of it, and I think the young man is doing just that.

"We're very fortunate to be in a situation where our third quarterback can play the way that he's playing now. He's really keeping us alive and keeping us competitive."

The Patriots host the struggling Chicago Bears next Monday night. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Damien Harris (hamstring) practiced in a limited fashion to end the week, but he ended up landing on the team's inactive list.

In his absence, Rhamondre Stevenson was the team's bell-cow RB, toting the rock 19 times for 76 yards and two TDs.

As the Sporting News reminded readers, after sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 5, Harris was trending toward missing multiple games but has recovered a bit quicker than expected. He was truly a game-time decision in Week 6, and if he was close to returning to game action, his Week 7 prospects look even brighter.

His potential return muddies up the Patriots' backfield as Stevenson's workload will likely decrease a bit.

With a Monday night kickoff coming, the Patriots won't have to release their initial injury report until Thursday. Don't expect them to offer much on Harris, Jones, Nelson Agholor, who missed this game with a hamstring injury, or Kendrick Bourne, who left Sunday's game in the second quarter due to a toe injury.

I'll follow up as information comes to light in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

Meanwhile, with Bourne injured, Tyquan Thornton stepped into the No. 3 role for the Patriots and showed chemistry with Zappe. Thornton, who pulled in his first career touchdown catch to put the Patriots up 17-6 in the third quarter, added a 19-yard TD run in the fourth on a jet sweep. ...

In a related note. ... ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports that multiple teams have called the Patriots about Bourne, a talented run-after-catch guy with a reasonable $3.5 million salary. The Patriots have been inclined to keep him, but teams have a few weeks to change their minds.

Fowler added The Las Vegas Raiders are always one to watch with New England deals since general manager Dave Ziegler, a former Belichick lieutenant, has executed multiple trades with the Patriots since taking over Vegas in January, including one for offensive tackle Justin Herron last month.

Bourne would welcome a change in uniform due to declining opportunities. After 55 catches for 800 yards on 70 targets last season, he is on pace for 44 targets this season. Agholor is a name that comes up in discussions across the league, too.

The trade deadline is Nov. 1. ...

Nick Folk's streak ended at an NFL-best 64 consecutive made field goals inside 50 yards when his 45-yard attempt missed wide right in the fourth quarter. ...

The Patriots were whistled for 12 penalties, costing them 92 yards. It was their most since notching 14 in a 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 16, 2018. ...

And finally. ... Belichick, who is 324-159 including the playoffs, has a chance to pass Halas next Monday night at home against Chicago -- the franchise with which Halas won all his games. Don Shula tops the list with 347.

"You can't win games in this league without good players, so I've been very fortunate to coach a lot of great players and have a lot of great coaches through the years," Belichick said. "A lot of those guys have gone on to great coaching careers and the players, obviously, some are going to the Hall of Fame."

You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Brett Martel noted, Andy Dalton had an opportunity to stake a stronger claim on the New Orleans' starting quarterback job.

But the Saints offense stalled on the final two possessions against Cincinnati on Sunday, allowing the Bengals to take a late lead and hold on for a 30-26 victory over New Orleans that could clear the way for Jameis Winston's return against Arizona on Thursday night.

Winston has not played in three games while recovering from back and ankle injuries, but he was in uniform against the Bengals for the first time in that stretch.

"He's not 100 percent healthy, head coach Dennis Allen said. "We have a Thursday night game. Let's get into study on that, see where he is at, and then we will go from there."

But Dalton isn't fully healthy either.

The Saints didn't hold a practice on Monday, but they play the Cardinals on Thursday so they had to turn in an estimated practice report and it showed both of their quarterbacks would have been limited participants. They were listed as limited again Tuesday.

Winston's presence on the report was no surprise. But Dalton also being listed with a back injury is more of a surprise and the next couple of days will show whether it's a major concern for the Saints.

Allen didn't say on Sunday who will start if both quarterbacks are deemed healthy enough to play, instead telling reporters on Wednesday that the decision will go right up until game time.

Meanwhile, Dalton's record as a starter fell to 1-2 -- same as Winston's this season.

"I'm going to let (Allen) handle that whole situation," Dalton said when asked if he expected to start at Arizona. "So, we'll see how that goes."

For most of Sunday's game, Dalton was in position to beat the team for which he started from 2011 to 2019.

But with the Saints leading 26-24 and likely needing a few first downs to run out the clock after taking over with 3:41 left, he presided over their first three-and-out since their opening series of the game, getting hit as he threw a third-down pass.

One play after a short punt, the Bengals took their first lead on Ja'Marr Chase's 60-yard catch with 1:57 left.

Dalton moved the Saints to the Cincinnati 41 in the final minute before throwing three incompletions and getting sacked on third down.

His final attempt -- deep down the sideline for Marquez Calloway on fourth-and-17 -- was not close.

"We got to take pride in being at our best in those moments," Dalton said. "We weren't today."

Playing without top receivers Michael Thomas (foot), Jarvis Landry (ankle) and Chris Olave (concussion), Dalton went 17 of 32 for 162 yards. He led scoring drives on four consecutive possessions from early in the second quarter until early in the fourth, but the last three ended in field goals after the Saints got inside the Bengals 20.

Cincinnati, by contrast, had touchdowns on all three of its red zone possessions, with Joe Burrow throwing touchdown passes to running back Joe Mixon and Chase, and scrambling 19 yards for another one on the same field in which he led LSU to the national championship three seasons ago.

"We didn't score enough touchdowns in the red zone and there lies the difference in the game," Allen said. "Of all the things that go on in the game, it came down to that one statistical category."

New Orleans lost despite rushing for 228 yards and getting a 44-yard scoring run from Rashid Shaheed, who was activated from the practice squad a day before the game. It was the Saints' second consecutive 200-plus-yard game on the ground, marking only the third time it happened since 1990.

Unlike against Seattle last week, the Saints could not hold the lead. They led 17-7 in the first half and 23-14 in the third quarter after getting field goals on back-to-back 14-play drives around halftime.

"You dominate the game from the beginning and basically self-destruct in the last three minutes," said running back Mark Ingram, who had 46 yards on nine carries. "You dominate the whole game and now you have a loss. We have to go back to the drawing board and get ready on the short week."

With a win, the Saints would have pulled into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC South with Tampa Bay and Atlanta. The Saints felt it was in their grasp before the rough finish.

"Obviously, even with the red zone inefficiency, the offense has a chance to go out there and make sure they don't get the ball back," Ingram said. "They get the ball back with great field position and we let an explosive go. Everyone's hands are dirty at the end of the game."

As for the injuries beyond the quarterbacks?

Facing a short week, the Saints will not have three of their big players against the Cardinals on Thursday night.

Thomas, Landry and Marshon Lattimore have been ruled out against the Cardinals, along with guard Andrus Peat (chest) and tight end Adam Trautman (ankle).

This isn't a real shock, as preparing for a short week there's not a ton of benefit risking further injury to players who have been out of the lineup and having a mini-bye after.

Thomas is dealing with the toe injury, Landry has an ankle injury and Lattimore has an abdomen injury.

Allen revealed on his Monday press conference that the team thought about placing Thomas on injured reserve before, but opted not to. The team thought things were going well and didn't want him to be stuck on IR and not be able to play. As for Landry, he gutted things out against the Vikings, but that proved to be a bit costly as he's not been able to get back onto the field.

The good news?

Allen said during his press conference that his understanding is that Olave has passed all the steps in the concussion protocol, but had to be cleared by an independent neurologist. That chanced on Tuesday, when Olave told reporters that he's fully cleared and "100 percent" ready to take on the Cardinals.

The injury report reflected that; Olave was not listed.

I'll be following up on the quarterback decision right up to the start of Thursday night's game; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...

And finally. ... As's Dwain McFarland noted, Taysom Hill played 21 percent of the snaps and handled 15 percent of the rushing attempts for the Saints.

He also had four pass attempts with two completions for 16 yards.

He finished with four fantasy points. ... The wild swings in scoring should be expected with Hill.

You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

Don't look now, but the New York Giants have the second-best record in the NFL at 5-1, and that's not the most promising thing about this club.

While the record is unexpected after five straight losing seasons, Associated Press reporter Tom Canavan believes what's more important is the players are marching in step with new coach Brian Daboll.

The former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator has taught the Giants how to compete, to be resilient, to never give up and then to forget everything and do it again the following week.

It's one game at a time. It may not be perfect and it may even be ugly. But it's the best way to succeed and that's what the Giants are doing.

Three times this season, they have overcome deficits of 10 or more points. They trailed Baltimore 20-10 in the fourth quarter on Sunday but won 24-20. The Ravens outplayed the Giants for most of the game, amassing 406 yards to New York's 238.

The Giants found a way to prevail.

New York has won one more game than it did last season. The only team with a better mark is division rival Philadelphia (6-0). Buffalo and Minnesota are also 5-1.

Dallas (4-2), Kansas City (4-2), Green Bay (3-3) and the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (3-3) all trail the Giants.

On paper, the upcoming schedule favors New York. Its next four games are against Jacksonville (2-4), Seattle (3-3), Houston (1-3-1) and Detroit (1-4).

Does anyone have visions of 9-1 dancing in their heads?

Daboll doesn't. His focus is Sunday's road game against the Jaguars.

"It's a humbling league," Daboll said Monday. "You're one week from falling off a cliff. It takes a lot of effort and preparation and time to put into it. You have to play very well to give yourself an opportunity to win because it's such a tough, tough league."

The Giants have walked a tightrope. They have won five games by a combined margin of 21 points.

Still, the players echo Daboll's approach.

Wide receiver Darius Slayton said the team's focus is winning this week. The four-year veteran added he stopped looking at the team's record in recent years because of all the losing.

"That experience is probably going to pay off if we continue this trend later on the season," he said. "You know, just ignore it, and keep playing ball. Keep playing good ball and the results take care of itself."

It's certainly fair to say this is a team that doesn't give up. It's only the fourth club in NFL history to overcome 10-plus point deficits to win in three of its first six games. The last was the 1993 Eagles.

"We've got a lot to clean up and we're going to get better as a team each week," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "But we're going to compete, we're going to play hard and fight for 60 minutes."

With the success come some interesting numbers.

For example, Jones is 8-3 in his last 11 starts, a .727 winning percentage that is the NFL's third highest since Week 7 of the 2021 season behind the Eagles Jalen Hurts (12-3, .800) and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes (13-4, .765).

Jones is third in the NFC and fourth in the NFL with a 67.3 completion percentage.

His two touchdown passes Sunday increased his career total to 50. He is the seventh Giants player to reach that plateau. Kerry Collins is sixth on the franchise's career list with 81 touchdown passes. The victory Sunday was the 10th game in which Jones threw two touchdown passes. He has started 13 games without throwing a touchdown pass, 17 with one, two games with four and one with five.

Jones has never had a three-touchdown-pass game.

Saquon Barkley continues to be one of the NFL's most productive players this season. He leads the league with 771 yards from scrimmage, 52 more than Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Barkley has 616 rushing yards and 155 receiving yards.

Barkley's 771 scrimmage yards are the fourth-highest total through six games in Giants history.

Barkley's 616 rushing yards lead the NFC and are second in the NFL to Cleveland's Nick Chubb's 649 yards. Barkley and Chubb are not just the only runners to exceed 600 yards this season, they are the only two players with at least 500 yards on the ground.

Barkley is one of four NFL players to lead his team in both rushing yards and receptions (Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler and Leonard Fournette are the others).

Meanwhile, rookie receiver Wan'Dale Robinson returned to the lineup for the first time since hurting a knee in the season opener. He played 14 snaps, was targeted four times and had three catches for 37 yards, including the Giants' opening touchdown. The downside was the target he didn't catch was a drop.

According to's Dwain McFarland, tight end Daniel Bellinger moved into a full-time role with an 82 percent route participation in Week 6. He also delivered a solid 20 percent target share.

The rookie is moving into the high-end TE2 conversation now.

The key now has to be adding more explosive pieces to the offense.

According to's Jordan Raanan, the Giants didn't put Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Kenny Golladay (knee) on injured reserve in hopes they could return soon.

That said, neither of the two were slated to practice Wednesday.

I'll be watching for more on them in coming days; check the Late-Breaking News section for the latest as the week progresses. ...

For what it's worth, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports teams also keeping an eye on Toney, who has two catches for zero yards on the season and has struggled to stay healthy. Mostly, as the trade deadline draws near, teams want to know what's up with Toney, whose obvious talent has been overshadowed.

There's zero chance the Giants trade Golladay, whose guaranteed money bleeds into 2023. ...

And finally. ... The Giants signed receiver Marcus Johnson to the 53-player roster off the practice squad, the team announced Tuesday. He was out of standard game-day elevations after being promoted for each of the past three games.

Johnson started each of the past two games, when he caught his season total of five passes for 60 yards.

He joined the practice squad Sept. 6, one week after he was cut by the 49ers. He previously played for Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Tennessee. Johnson's career totals include 56 receptions for 899 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a 19.6-yard average on 11 kickoff returns.

The Giants also signed veteran tackle Korey Cunningham and tight end Lawrence Cager to their practice squad and released tight end Austin Allen from the practice squad.

You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As's Rich Cimini noted, the New York Jets are on their best roll in years, but they have a frustrated wide receiver in Elijah Moore.

Moore, who has only one reception in the past two games, tweeted Sunday night, "Just know I don't understand either" -- a reference to his lack of involvement in the 27-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

On Monday, head coach Robert Saleh said he spoke to Moore about the tweet. He called it a mistake but defended Moore's character.

"We're all entitled to mistakes," Saleh said during his weekly spot on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York radio. "I know where his heart is. I know how he is when he walks in the building. I know how hard he works. I know how good a teammate he's been. You know, sometimes mistakes happen, but I know where his heart is. That's the important thing."

Officially, Moore had no targets in the Jets' third straight win.

Zach Wilson threw him a deep ball in the second quarter, but the play didn't count because of a Jets penalty. Still, it was enough for Moore to express his feelings on social media.

He tweeted that he doesn't want to be perceived as selfish while the team is winning, but he said enough to make it an issue.

"If I say what I really wanna say. ... I'll be the selfish guy...we winning. Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. Butter sweet for me em but I'll be solid. So I'll just stay quiet. Just know I don't understand either," Moore wrote.

On Sunday, Wilson attempted only 18 passes in the game, as the Jets (4-2) -- off to their best start since 2015 -- relied on rookie running back Breece Hall and the rushing attack.

Hall rushed 20 times for 116 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. He also caught both his targets for five yards.

Hall's performance was highlighted by a misdirection handoff that he took 34 yards for a touchdown to begin the fourth quarter. That play not only helped New York ice an unlikely victory, it also gave Hall a touchdown for the third straight game.

After approaching 200 scrimmage yards last week, the rookie's production on the ground Sunday marked a new high and his first time in triple digits.

Just six games into his career, Hall is one of the league's hottest tailbacks ahead of Week 7's visit to Denver.

Thanks in large part to Hall's emergence, the Jets have become a more run-oriented offense in the three games since Wilson's return from a knee injury, so all the receiving numbers are down.

But Moore's numbers are way down.

He's sixth on the team with 16 receptions for 203 yards and no touchdowns -- a surprise after the promise he showed as a rookie. In the past three games, he's second in routes run (65) but fifth in targets (seven).

"I've got no problem with Elijah," Saleh told reporters Monday. "He's one of our high-character individuals. Love him to death. Eventually, the production part of it that he's hoping for will come."

Saleh said there are eight players good enough to get the ball on a regular basis. He didn't list them, but presumably he meant Moore, Braxton Berrios, Corey Davis and Garrett Wilson at receiver; Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah at tight end; and Hall and Michael Carter at running back.

"You'd love to have perfect days where everyone is getting the football and we're racking up 400, 500 yards a game," Saleh said. "But right now, we're just trying to win games by all means necessary."

Meanwhile, the Jets' defensive line was downright dominant in Green Bay.

The defensive line is arguably the Jets' best and most talented unit, setting the tone for the rest of the defense with its collective ability to rush the passer and stuff the run -- alleviating some of the pressure on the linebackers and secondary in the process.

Against the Packers, the Jets sacked Aaron Rodgers four times— and registered nine quarterback hits. Rodgers couldn't find any consistency and Green Bay finished 4 for 16 on third down.

"As a defense," Quinnen Williams said, "we're striving for perfection."

There's still a ways to go for that, of course. But the early returns certainly are positive.

In addition, New York's special teams unit made a big difference at Green Bay. A blocked field goal attempt in the second quarter kept the game scoreless at the time. In the third quarter, rookie Michael Clemons blocked a punt and Will Parks scooped up the ball and ran 20 yards for a touchdown that gave the Jets a 14-point lead. The only blemish was a missed 53-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. ...

One last item here. ... ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports the Jets have not actively looked to offload wide receiver Denzel Mims, who requested a trade before roster cuts in August. The Jets had interested teams around roster cuts, but no team was able to pull off a deal. He is a name to watch for later in the month, but there's really no trade traction as of now. ...

You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

Nick Sirianni threw his head back as he walked into Philadelphia's locker room and bellowed, " How 'bout them Eagles! " The Eagles coach took delight in echoing the old Dallas catchphrase.

Sirianni had every reason to revel in the moment: The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL.

That's right, 6-0 for only the third time in franchise history, and first since the 2004 season when Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and Co. raced all the way to the Super Bowl.

Jalen Hurts, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Darius Slay have the Eagles thinking a return trip is in order after a 26-17 win over the Cowboys on Sunday night in front of a packed house that included first lady Jill Biden, rapper Meek Mill, Joel Embiid and actor Bradley Cooper.

The Philly bandwagon is filling up.

"What's so cool about Philadelphia is it's such a great sports town that it matters here, and it matters nationally here, and it's great to be able to put that on display," Sirianni said.

For all the hype that surrounded the Eagles heading into Sunday, the reality was the Cowboys would have snagged the top spot in the NFC East with a victory. The Eagles squashed that with another dominant second quarter when they scored 20 points, increasing their second-quarter margin to 112-27 this season.

The Cowboys pulled within 20-17, but Gardner-Johnson helped seal the win with his second interception of Cooper Rush and the Eagles' third of the game.

According to Hurts, the Eagles didn't panic when the Cowboys came storming back in the second half because they channeled a message from Michael Jordan when things started to go against them.

"Most definitely," Hurts said. "I think about Michael Jordan when he said "Put them away, MJ." You want to put them away. You want to put them away. You don't want to give them an opportunity to make it a close game or get an opportunity to have the ball in their hands. And that's the mentality we have. There's different ways to do that. You can be aggressive, throw the ball, you can run the ball, whatever it is. But you have to be able to do it efficiently. And I feel like we've done that throughout games sometimes and I feel like we haven't at times. But it's always been enough.

"When the standard hasn't been met, you know, I'm not satisfied with it, you know what I mean. So it's a lot to learn from that and we will just continue to excel in that area."

The Eagles have found the right formula to get a win every week and they stand alone at the top of the NFC as a result. Staying the course will not be a simple task, but Hurts and the rest of the team have shown that they aren't going to fold when they take a punch like the Cowboys offered them on Sunday night.

Sirianni and Hurts keep repeating that they're not satisfied with a 6-0 start and there's still plenty of room for improvement. It's what they're supposed to say but the Eagles have few true weaknesses.

"I think we have a long way to go as a football team in terms of our growth and our development," Hurts said.

Maybe so. But they can at least enjoy the undefeated start as they head into an off week.

According to Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston suggests, the one serious knock on the Eagles is their second-half disappearances.

For all their scoring in the second quarter, the Eagles have scored only four second-half touchdowns. The Eagles were shut out in the second half against Minnesota, Washington, scored only two field goals against Arizona and scored one touchdown and failed on a 2-point conversion attempt against Dallas. ...

For the record. ... Hurts completed 15-of-25 passes for 155 yards against the Cowboys, adding seven carries for 29 additional yards.

As suggested, Hurts wasn't asked to do much in the second half after the Eagles jumped out to an early 20-0 lead in the second quarter, ultimately throwing for his lowest yardage total of the season in addition to being kept out of the end zone on the ground for only the second time this season.

His two touchdown passes went to his top two wide receivers, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, with each receiver seemingly getting open with ease all evening.

Notably, rising star tight end Dallas Goedert was held to only 22 yards on five targets in a game where pass volume was hard to come by due to the extremely positive game script.

The departure of OT Lane Johnson (concussion) in the first half led to increased pressure in the backfield for the remainder of the game, which made life difficult for the young signal caller.

Hurts will look to regain his elite upside after the Eagles' bye week in a Week 8 clash with the visiting Steelers.

Miles Sanders rushed 18 times for 71 yards and a touchdown, adding one reception for one additional yard.

Sanders handled 18 of the team's 29 running back carries. The insane 60.1 percent rush rate highlighted the positive game script for the Eagles, but the overall efficiency was lacking against one of the best defenses in the league.

The 291 total yards of offense fell well short of Philadelphia's year-to-date average of 420 yards, but they'll have a week to rest, heal up and get the offense back on track.

You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

Kenny Pickett is in concussion protocol following the injury he suffered Sunday but isn't expected to be limited in practice this week, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.

Tomlin noted that Pickett would start Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins if he's cleared.

"Kenny Pickett is in the concussion protocol," Tomlin said. "It's my understanding that his work won't be limited in any way in preparation. We will adhere to the protocol and will follow that and let that be our guide in terms of participation. I'll say this, if he's cleared to play, he'll play. He'll play quarterback for us. In the meanwhile, we'll ready ourselves. He'll be a full participant, it's my understanding, tomorrow, and so we'll have him and Mitch [Trubisky] working at the quarterback position."

Pickett was injured in the third quarter of the Steelers' 20-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Trubisky entered and helped guide Pittsburgh to a touchdown and the game-sealing drive after the Bucs pulled within two points.

Tomlin said the decision to stick with Pickett despite the concussion and Trubisky's play Sunday stemmed from a desire to be consistent since making the QB change ahead of Week 5.

"It's really just not a lot to talk about," Tomlin said. "We're not going to blow in the wind. We're going to be somewhat steady. I've been consistent in my messaging regarding decision-making in that position. I think it helps those that are playing. I think it helps the team in terms of who to follow. We're not going to flip the script now."

Barring a multi-week injury, the Steelers are Pickett's team moving forward.

Assuming he's cleared, Sunday in Miami is the first-round pick's first chance to shine in prime time.

Meanwhile, Tomlin wasn't kidding when he said it would take more than one good performance to cure what's ailing the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Three times in the final 15 minutes Trubisky converted third-and-longs, including a 14-yard strike to George Pickens that got the offense going and a 26-yard flick down the sideline to Chase Claypool that effectively allowed the Steelers to run out the clock.

The defense suddenly showed up for this one as well.

Three of Tampa Bay's four trips inside the Steelers 20 ended with a field goal instead of a touchdown. Tom Brady averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and didn't complete a pass longer than 28 yards. Not bad for a secondary that included two players -- Quincy Wilson and Elijah Riley -- who were on the practice squad on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the running game remains stuck in neutral.

If there was a sliver of progress in Najee Harris' 12-carry, 42-yard performance, it may be that he had runs of 8, 6 and 5 yards in the fourth quarter, including a rare direct snap on the play before Trubisky's touchdown pass to Claypool.

Wide receiver Steven Sims gave the return game a needed boost. He raced 89 yards with the opening kickoff of the second half, setting up a field goal, and added a 24-yard punt return late in the third quarter that allowed Pittsburgh to flip the field.

Better still, for a week, anyway, Pittsburgh's defense escaped a game relatively unscathed. There's hope some members of the starting secondary -- namely safety Minkah Fitzpatrick -- will be back soon.

Next up, the Steelers head to Miami for the first time since 2016 Sunday night, where one of the subplots will be Brian Flores' return to South Florida. Flores, now a senior defensive assistant with Pittsburgh, was fired by Miami at the end of last season. His dismissal kick started a process that ended with Flores suing the NFL over alleged racist hiring practices.

Other notes of interest. ... In addition to announcing Pickett will start if he is cleared from the concussion protocol, Tomlin also answered a question about what went on in the locker room before Pickett made his first appearance of the season.

Pickett took over the offense to start the second half of the Week 4 game against the Jets and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the move came after a locker room incident involving Trubisky. Per the report, wide receiver Diontae Johnson yelled at Trubisky to throw the ball to him more often and Trubisky returned fire in what's described as a "heated exchange."

Pickett was reportedly told he was taking over after that exchange and Tomlin was asked to confirm the veracity of the report.

"If it were, do you think that I would share it with you in this environment? Probably not," Tomlin said, via Brooke Pryor of "Our business is our business. ... Everyone wants to win. If it transpired, it's good. It probably means there's a couple guys that wanted to win.

"If it didn't transpire, it probably means that it should have because we are aggressively pursuing victory. Sometimes that's emotional."

Trubisky was 9-of-12 for 144 yards and a touchdown after Pickett was injured in last Sunday's 20-18 win over the Buccaneers. Only one of those passes went Johnson's way, which was likely not the volume Johnson was looking for but the overall result was a lot better for the Steelers.

Finally. ... Tomlin is trusting his medical staff and the protocols in place when it comes to making a decision regarding playing Pickett and others who are returning from concussions.

This week, that would also include tight end Pat Freiermuth and cornerback Levi Wallace, both of whom missed last Sunday's game against the Buccaneers.

"Both guys are scheduled to participate fully tomorrow and go through some procedural things that will put them on the other side of the protocol and lean them toward participation as we get ready for the weekend," Tomlin said.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Freiermuth will indeed be cleared.

Freiermuth and Wallace could be joined back on the field by a number of other players who missed last week's game, including cornerbacks Cam Sutton (hamstring) and Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) and Fitzpatrick (knee).

I'll have more on Pickett and Freiermuth, both of whom practiced fully on Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...

You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As's Nick Wagoner notes, there was never much doubt prior to the season that for the 49ers to have early success, they'd need to lean heavily on a defense they believe is among the league's best.

The hope, which multiple Niners players and coaches expressed, was that if and when the defense had some hiccups or was depleted by injury, the offense would be ready to pick up the pieces and keep the team rolling toward the postseason. Of course, San Francisco also wished that time wouldn't come as early as Week 6, if at all.

"Alas," Wagoner wrote, "the witching hour arrived Sunday in Atlanta when the Niners' defense, battered by injury attrition, finally looked vulnerable, leaving the onus to win on the shoulders of an uneven Niners offense. It was a reasonable plea considering the defense did most of the heavy lifting for the first five weeks.

"Request denied. ..."

The 49ers' offense was not up to the challenge, as the Atlanta Falcons bludgeoned San Francisco with a physical blueprint ripped straight from the Niners handbook on the way to a 28-14 victory. The loss dropped the Niners to 3-3 and left them with an increasingly long list of injuries to key players as they enter the toughest part of their schedule.

"I feel like they kind of took our game plan," receiver Brandon Aiyuk said. "They ran the ball really well. That's what we like to do on offense, and they kind of did that to us."

As Atlanta's efficient and hard-charging run game won the day against the depleted Niners defense, San Francisco's offense did next to none of the things it normally does to answer back. The Niners' run game was virtually nonexistent (16 carries for 50 yards), they turned it over three times (one was returned for a touchdown), went 3-of-8 on third down and squeezed in some costly drops and penalties at key moments.

"We knew who we were going into this game with and that's just on the offense," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "Putting up zero points in the second half, that's not us. We've just got to get back to the drawing board, get back to our style of football, and I think the rest will take care of itself. But we can't put on a performance like [we had] today."

Indeed, the Niners' offense will need to summon much more moving forward if they're going to remain in the thick of the NFC West and postseason races.

By the end of Sunday's loss, the 49ers were down to just four of their projected defensive starters -- linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, safety Talanoa Hufanga and end Samson Ebukam. Which means a whopping seven projected starters entering the season were either on injured reserve, a pregame inactive because of injury or -- in the case of cornerback Charvarius Ward -- departed the game with a new injury.

The 49ers' offense is also banged up, playing without star left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and losing right tackle Mike McGlinchey to a calf injury Sunday, but still boasts most of its primary weapons. And though the Niners moved the ball against the Falcons, they found a rhythm only in the second quarter and were unable to regain it after halftime.

According to Wagoner, what's more alarming is that the lack of second-half offensive production has been an ongoing issue.

Through the first six weeks, the Niners are averaging six offensive points scored (27th in the NFL) and 4.81 yards per play (26th) in the second half. Those numbers are down from 12 points (12th) and 6.7 yards per play (fifth) in the first half.

That lack of second-half production makes coming back from down 14 points (the Niners haven't overcome a 14-point first-quarter deficit to win a game since Oct. 13, 2014) awfully difficult.

Moving the ball wasn't necessarily the problem against the Falcons -- it was finishing drives.

Tight end Charlie Woerner and receiver Ray-Ray McCloud dropped deep balls that would have gone for big gains, if not touchdowns. And when Garoppolo finally connected with Aiyuk for a big gain in the fourth quarter, it was called back because of a holding penalty. The Niners didn't score a point in the second half for the first time since a Week 13 loss in Seattle last season.

"We had to put up more points than we did," tight end George Kittle said. "That second half got away from us, and our offense didn't produce when we had to produce. It's disappointing. We've got guys who will make plays, can make plays, and we'll continue to get better this week."

That improvement better come in a hurry, as the Niners look back at an opening six weeks chock-full of missed opportunities and an upcoming schedule where points will need to be plentiful to win.

That starts this weekend when the 49ers host Kansas City in a rematch of the Super Bowl following the 2019 season that the Chiefs won 31-20. ...

For what it's worth. ... After averaging 3.4 catches and 47.4 yards receiving in the first five games, Aiyuk had a very productive day. He caught eight passes for 83 yards and had the first two-TD catch game of his three-year career.

Also of interest here. ... Earlier last week, following the firing of head coach Matt Rhule, reports surfaced about the Panthers receiving trade calls from several NFL teams, including some about star running back Christian McCaffrey, according to CBS insider Jonathan Jones.

While Jones mentioned that the Panthers haven't engaged in serious trade talks, teams are calling about McCaffrey, and one of the interested suitors is the San Francisco 49ers.

"And while teams are calling about Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers have not engaged in any serious trade talks. Carolina isn't just going to give away one of the league's best weapons when healthy. The Broncos, 49ers, Rams and Bills are among the teams that have shown varying degrees of interest in McCaffrey."

Those reports have only gained traction as ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler reported that the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams are potential suitors for the running back in an article on Tuesday.

With the rumors gaining steam, many believe that trading for McCaffrey is unrealistic for the 49ers, due to his financial situation, as the running back signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the Panthers in 2020.

But that doesn't take into account the fact that earlier this offseason, McCaffrey agreed to a restructure with the Panthers, converting $7.365 million of his $8.4 million base salary into a signing bonus, creating $5.52 million in cap space for Carolina.

That move lowered the running back's base salary to a meager $1.035 million for 2022, which would be the cost that an acquiring team would have to pay should they move for McCaffrey, instead of the $8.78 million cap hit that he currently holds for 2022.

Currently, the 49ers have $5.3 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, meaning they'd be able to financially fit McCaffrey under the cap without an additional move, as the halfback's cost would be just $1.035 million for the entire year, with the exact figure coming at an even lower rate, depending on when the trade occurs.

So, for 2022 specifically, the 49ers actually can financially fit McCaffrey under the cap easily, contrary to many beliefs.

Following the 2022 season, McCaffrey does have three years and $35.6 million remaining on his four-year extension, which could be alarming to some for an oft-injured running back, who would be 29 at the end of the deal.

However, once again, there's a caveat in his contract that makes the situation much more flexible than people believe.

Over the three years, McCaffrey has just $1 million in guaranteed money remaining, meaning that an acquiring team could opt out of his contract at the end of the season with minimal financial loss should they choose to.

But, the likelier option would be to keep McCaffrey at his price for the next few seasons should he continue to perform, and with that, an acquiring team has flexibility.

If cap space is needed in the following years, an acquiring team could, once again, restructure McCaffrey's contract by converting his $11.8 million base salary into a signing bonus, which would spread over the remaining years of the contract.

Or, should McCaffrey look for more guaranteed money over the final years of his deal, the two sides could reach a restructure that increases the amount of guaranteed money at the expense of the overall salary, creating a win-win situation.

Regardless, the main point is that an acquiring team has several options with McCaffrey's contract, given its current structure, which is why it's realistic for the 49ers to acquire him.

Now, this doesn't mean that San Francisco is currently the favorite to trade for McCaffrey, nor does it mean that the running back will even be moved. But, it's important to note the realistic factor behind it, which starts with the financials.

It's something we'll be watching as the Nov. 1 trade deadline approaches. ...

You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

When the management of the Seattle Seahawks left the draft room in April, there was belief the class of players selected had the potential to be a special group with the opportunity to be influential from the start.

Six games into the rookie season for several of those players, the Seahawks' belief is proving to be true -- and perhaps more than head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider even expected.

That young talent was fully on display in Seattle's 19-9 win over Arizona on Sunday that kept the Seahawks even with Los Angeles and San Francisco in the NFC West with all three teams sitting at 3-3.

Cornerback Tariq Woolen grabbed an interception for the fourth consecutive game, becoming just the third rookie to have four in a row with a pick since 2000. Fellow cornerback Coby Bryant forced his fourth fumble of the season and had a season-high eight tackles.

Rookie offensive linemen Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross continued to do solid work, although Seattle's pass protection took a dip against the Cardinals.

And the skill of second-round running back Kenneth Walker III was on full display making the first start of his career with Rashaad Penny out for the season. Walker showed a slippery elusiveness as a runner, rushing for 97 yards and Seattle's only touchdown.

"The mentality of these guys, they're all kind of humble, hard-working, kind of nose-to-the-grindstone type of guys," Carroll said. "And so it's been really accessible to reach them and to get to them and make them understand what their expectations are and the standards and how you've got to go about it."

Seattle sitting at 3-3 in the post-Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner era is one of the surprises in the league early in the season. But the next four weeks will tell the reality where the Seahawks stand with road games at the Chargers and Arizona, a home game against the 5-1 New York Giants, and an overseas trip to Germany to face Tampa Bay.

Seattle has not played a road game against the Chargers since moving to Los Angeles. ...

Other notes of interest. ... The Seahawks used only two tailbacks in their first game without Penny. Walker (23 touches) played 47 of 68 offensive snaps while DeeJay Dallas (two touches) played 23 snaps.

Tony Jones Jr., recently claimed off waivers, was active but only played on special teams.

Travis Homer has to miss at least one more game before he can return off IR. Seattle also has Darwin Thompson on its practice squad.

Walker has 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in the past two games. ...

Jason Myers on hit all five attempts -- four field goals and one extra point -- crucial points in a close, low-scoring game.

You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

At one point during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 20-18 loss in Pittsburgh, Tom Brady was caught by cameras lashing out at his offensive line.

During the latest Let's Go! Podcast on SiriusXM, Jim Gray asked Brady about verbally imploring his teammates.

"I don't know if it's motivation, but I do think that it's a bad day when there's more F-bombs than touchdowns," Brady said. "So, that was not one of my better days. But F-bombs, they used to kind of keep from showing you in those moments, but now it's kind of for the world to see. So that's just the way it is."

Brady's frustration with the Bucs' offensive struggles has boiled over this season. But TB12 said his teammates know any tongue-lashing comes from the right place.

"It's all good. You know, I think I have a great rapport with all my teammates and they know that the only reason why I'm doing it is to try to motivate 'em and try to get us to a higher level," he said. "It's nothing that I don't say, you know, if I don't feel like we're living up to the expectations and playing up to the expectations that we're capable of then that's my job. I'm a quarterback? I'm not expecting the right tackle to do it. I'm not expecting the running back to do it. I'm not expecting the receiver to do it. I'm expecting myself to do it. I'm the one out there speaking in the huddle, calling the plays. That's what my job is to try to get us going and to try to rally us. And there's a lot of ways to do it. And sometimes it's some positive encouragement, which you do a lot.

"Sometimes it's, you know, getting on people and trying to raise the level, the sense of urgency, and raising my voice and trying to create a different vibration for the whole offense. And that's ultimately what you're trying to do."

Too often, there have been more F-bombs than TDs for Tampa through six weeks.

The Bucs offense has been held to 21 or fewer points in five of six games in 2022, tied for most such games with the Colts, Steelers, Dolphins and Broncos. In the previous two seasons with Brady under center, Tampa was held below 21 points five total times (two in 2020 and three in 2021).

Brady has had five games with one or fewer TD passes in 2022 after having five such games all of last season.

If the struggles continue with games against the Panthers, Ravens, Rams and Seahawks on tap, Brady will likely have more F-bombs to drop.

So what's wrong with this team? Is there internal discord?

Why are the Buccaneers, a squad known for explosive offense in years past, struggling to put points on the board?

Perhaps the loudest of all arrived Monday: What's head coach Todd Bowles' take on the outside perception Brady gets special treatment?

"He works as hard as anybody," Bowles told reporters, per The Tampa Bay Times. "Special treatment, there's been a few guys that have missed some meetings and some practices for special things that just doesn't get publicized because they're not him. It kind of comes with the territory. Don't worry about it too much."

Brady's training camp vacation, his in-season off days and his attendance at Patriots owner Robert Kraft's wedding this past Friday have indeed been very publicized because of who Brady is.

They remain an ongoing topic of conversation, though, because Tampa Bay simply hasn't found its stride as most expected the Buccaneers would have by this point in the season. A statistically strong defense gave up 41 points to Kansas City in Week 4, the Bucs fought through some complacency to hang on and beat Atlanta in Week 5, and then allowed a combination of Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky to beat them in Week 6.

This last loss was undoubtedly the worst of their three defeats, and it looked a lot like the Bucs' Week 3 loss to Green Bay.

It also came against a defense that had just allowed 38 points in Buffalo the week prior.

Tampa Bay's inconsistencies can be chalked up to a rotating cast of playmakers due to injuries and suspensions, but on Sunday, Brady had both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans available. Leonard Fournette led the way for the running backs, too, yet the Bucs barely broke 300 yards of offense, went 4 for 14 on third down and found the end zone once all afternoon.

Something isn't right, and Brady -- a notoriously obsessive worker -- will continue to be at the center of these questions. This is the attention that comes with being a seven-time Super Bowl champion. Bowles was asked Monday if Brady appears as focused as he's been known to be in years past.

Bowles' answer was understandably concise: "Yes."

Red-zone woes continue to undermine the offense, which didn't get into the end zone Sunday until Brady tossed an 11-yard TD pass to Fournette more than 10 minutes into the fourth quarter. With the offense continuing to struggle in scoring position, kicker Ryan Succop has done his job to keep the Bucs in games.

He booted four more field goals against the Steelers, extending his streak of consecutive successful attempts to 13. He's 15 of 16 on the season.

Beyond all that, Brady seems to have a good handle on the situation.

"It's a game of earning it, and it's a game of playing well, and we're just not doing a good job of that," he explained.

"We're all playing less than we're capable of," the seven-time Super Bowl champion added, "and we've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out why."

Later Monday, Brady took to Instagram and said that while the Bucs are not playing like they're capable of, the will "turn it around."

And the truth is, despite losing three of their past four games, the Bucs remain atop the NFC South and can improve to 3-0 within the division by defeating Carolina on the road this week. ...

Other notes of interest. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall, it wasn't easy to identify a bright spot in the loss to the Steelers. Fournette, however, delivered another solid -- if not spectacular -- performance with 63 yards rushing on 21 attempts and six catches on six targets for 38 yards receiving and the team's lone TD.

In addition,'s Dwain McFarland notes that Godwin registered a 91 percent route participation (per Pro Football Focus) and led Tampa Bay with a 31 percent target share.

McFarland added: "His utilization is looking great over the last two weeks, and some huge games are likely coming. ..."

TE Cameron Brate, who was carted off on a stretcher in Pittsburgh, returned home with the team after evaluation at a Pittsburgh hospital and has a sprained neck.

Brate, who was just returning from a concussion, now has a neck injury.

"He has a sprained neck," Bowles said. "He has all his extremities moving well and he's resting. That's been the extent of it. Everything else has came out negative."

Considering how scary the situation appeared after Myles Jack tackled Brate, Bowles said everything "came out great." Brate passed all neurological tests.

The Bucs have veteran Kyle Rudolph, a healthy scratch for four of the team's six games, and rookies Cade Otton and Ko Kieft at the position.

For the record, Brate and Julio Jones (knee) did not practice Wednesday; I'll have more via Late-Breaking Updates in coming days. ...

One last note here. ... The Buccaneers will be without safety Logan Ryan for an extended period of time.

Ryan, who has missed the last two games, will undergo foot surgery to repair a Jones fracture on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Ryan is eyeing a potential late-season or postseason return.

You can access complete stats for the Buccaneers Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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 18 October 2022

As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker noted over the weekend, the start to this season feels painfully familiar to both the Tennessee Titans and their fans.

Yes, it's a bad case of deja vu because of injuries.

The Titans have 11 players on injured reserve five games into this season after setting an NFL record last year by using 91 different players in a non-strike season.

Mike Vrabel was named the AP Coach of the Year for guiding Tennessee to the AFC's No. 1 seed and a 12-5 record despite his staff working with a rotating roster.

This time around, Vrabel and the Titans (3-2) face bigger challenges.

They were among the first four NFL teams to get a bye week, leaving a slog of 12 straight games with no break. Last year, their bye was the first week of December. And an NFL rule change will limit Tennessee to bringing only eight players back from injured reserve. There was no such limit last year.

Vrabel is in no mood to look back to 2021.

"I don't think we ever think just because we did something last year or last week that we are just going to roll it out there and be able to survive," Vrabel said. "That has never been our attitude here."

The injuries started right after the final roster cuts. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Harold Landry III tore an ACL in practice on Aug. 31, knocking out the guy who led Tennessee with a career-high 12 sacks last season. Left tackle Taylor Lewan's season ended Sept. 24 after he hurt the same right knee that ended his 2020 season.

The Titans started 0-2 thanks to a 47-yard field goal that missed just left in the season opener. They have won three straight by a combined 13 points to claw their way from the bottom of the AFC South back to the top of the division they've won each of the past two seasons.

An interception at the goal line secured a 21-17 win over Washington and a three-game winning streak ahead of the bye.

The Titans used a 20th different starter on defense in that game -- most in the NFL this season. Defensive back Joshua Kalu got his first start, putting Tennessee six starters from matching the 26 used on defense last season when it ranked fourth-highest in the league in that category.

Only five Titans have started every game on defense, led by two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. The changing roster has kept Tennessee from cleaning up issues like penalties and missed tackles, but Byard credits the Titans' culture with keeping everyone close with no finger-pointing.

"Nobody is going to give up, nobody is going to go on the sideline panicking, cussing at each other, imploding I would say," Byard said. "It's just what we believe in."

Vrabel is a big reason the Titans are on a three-game winning streak despite the injuries and an offense that has scored only two touchdowns after halftime this season.

He keeps Tennessee practicing situational drills repeatedly, especially in the red zone. The Titans lead the NFL in scoring inside an opponent's 20 on offense and are tied for fifth when the defense is backed up against its own goal line.

Ryan Tannehill, now 33-15 as a starter with this franchise, credits the message Vrabel sends each week and a close-knit locker room. Not one player on the active roster has been a part of a losing record with Tennessee, which has six straight winning seasons.

The Titans will host Indianapolis on Oct. 23 with a chance to sweep their division rival for a second straight season. Tannehill said it comes down to staying hungry with 12 games remaining.

"We're just scratching the surface," Tannehill said.

Against the Commanders in Week 5, his 50th game with the Titans, Tannehill passed for 181 yards and a touchdown without throwing an interception. His 95.6 passer rating gave him four games in 2022 with a passer rating of at least 95.0.

The bye could help the Titans get some starters back including right guard Nate Davis, outside linebacker Bud Dupree and safety Amani Hooker. Wide receiver Treylon Burks, the 18th pick overall, still has to miss three more games with an injured left toe that put him on injured reserve.

The Titans also know they have plenty of room left for improvement, even from two-time NFL rushing champ Derrick Henry.

Henry rushed for 102 yards and two scores on 28 carries against the Commanders, tallying his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game and his fourth straight performance with at least one touchdown.

He also became the second player in franchise history to reach 70 career rushing touchdowns. With 73 total career touchdowns, including three receiving scores, he moved into a tie with Earl Campbell for second place on the team's all-time touchdown list and now is only one touchdown shy of tying Eddie George's franchise record of 74 touchdowns.

Henry is on pace for his best season yet as a receiver and has been a big key to this winning streak.

"That's always the focus, just focusing on getting better and improving," said Henry, who missed the final nine games last year with a broken right foot. "No matter what the outcome is, we continue to do it each and every day and get ready to work when we come back."

Meanwhile, Josh Gordon's latest (and perhaps last) stint in the NFL has come to an end.

The Titans are releasing Gordon from their practice squad, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

If you didn't even know Gordon was on the Titans, you can be forgiven: He was called up to the active roster twice this season, but he didn't catch a single pass while playing 24 offensive snaps.

The 31-year-old Gordon was among the most talented wide receivers in the NFL early in his career, and he led the league with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013. But his career has been derailed by repeated substance abuse issues.

He'll now hit free agency, and perhaps some team will give him a look. But it's been a long time since he has made a significant contribution, and he may have played his last NFL game.

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 18 October 2022

The Commanders will be without quarterback Carson Wentz for the next month or so due to a fractured ring finger.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Wentz is facing a recovery time of roughly 4-6 weeks and injured reserve is a consideration, per sources informed of the situation.

Wentz underwent successful surgery on Monday in Los Angeles, according to a team statement which added he will begin rehabbing immediately and is expected to make a full recovery.

The QB fractured the ring finger on his throwing hand during Thursday night's 12-7 victory in Chicago. Wentz went 12-of-22 passing for 99 yards and a 66.3 passer rating in the win.

Through six weeks, Wentz has thrown for 1,489 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions on a 62.1 completion percentage while taking a league-high 23 sacks.

With Wentz out, a familiar face will take over at quarterback in Washington.

Head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday announced Taylor Heinicke will start against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7.

Sunday will be Heinicke's first start of the 2022 season, and rookie QB Sam Howell will be his backup against the Packers. Rivera said he did not consider starting Howell, who showed great potential in the preseason.

"We think he's on track, but Taylor right now gives us the best opportunity to be successful," Rivera said of the North Carolina product.

On Monday, the Commanders announced Wentz underwent successful surgery on his fractured ring finger in Los Angeles. Wentz is facing a 4-6 week recovery time, per NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo.

Rivera confirmed that the team will make a decision to put Wentz on injured reserve later in the week.

Heinicke last started a game in the 2021 season-finale against the Giants. The fourth-year veteran started 15 games for the Commanders last season, throwing for 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with a 85.9 QB rating.

The Commanders (2-4) aim to stay afloat in a competitive NFC East against a Packers (3-3) team that has lost two straight. ...

Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Stephen Whyno suggested, beating the Chicago Bears 12-7 last Thursday night was far from a work of art for the Commanders, and Rivera could see almost as many negatives as positives when re-watching the game.

There were missed throws, missed catches and missed tackles: plenty to fix. But after halting the losing streak at four and getting back on track at 2-4, his team can look at stout red zone defense and a solid running game as building blocks with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming to town this weekend.

"We ran the ball effectively at moments," Rivera said Friday. "To the defensive players' credit, the way they bowed their neck -- an interception and then two fourth-down stops in the red zone -- were huge, and those were obviously the difference in the game."

Stopping the Bears on all three of their trips to the red zone brought Washington to a 50 percent success rate in that department this season, among the top 10 teams in the NFL. Giving up big-yardage plays continues to be an issue, notably Chicago's Justin Fields scrambling for 39 yards.

Rodgers is very unlikely to do that when the Packers visit the Commanders on Oct. 23, but there are parts of the red-zone defense that could translate to containing one of the game's best quarterbacks. Forcing obvious throwing situations would be a start.

"We have to be stout up through the middle again and really kind of put them into a position where you do know he's going to throw the ball," Rivera said. "When there's a little bit of doubt because he's so good with his play action, you struggle with him."

Washington has also struggled on the flip side of that offensively, with Wentz getting sacked a league-most 23 times because pass-rushers have not needed to respect the run.

That changed against the Bears. The emergence of rookie Brian Robinson Jr. mixing and matching with Antonio Gibson and third-down back J.D. McKissic added up to more than 100 yards rushing and a much more balanced offense.

"All of a sudden, it's a little softer and those 2-, 3-, 4, 5-yard runs now become 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-yard runs," Rivera said. "That's what we've got to find. We've got to understand it."

For what it's worth, Whyno suggests Gibson the kick returner could soon be a thing. He ran back one kickoff for 27 yards and may soon replace Dax Milne on punt returns now that Robinson is the lead rusher on offense.

Elsewhere on the injury front. ... Tight end Logan Thomas (calf) did not practice Wednesday while Jahan Dotson (hasmtring) was limited.

Both players have missed the last two games with their respective injuries.

As noted, Thomas did stretch with the team, but he moved to a side field once practice started. Dotson was spotted going through individual drills.

John Bates, who previously filled in for Thomas, is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. Dyami Brown has filled in for Dotson.

Neither Bates nor Brown, also dealing with a hamstring, practiced Wednesday.

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

Rivera also is uncertain about the status of pass-rusher Chase Young, who is working to return from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Young, who remains on the physically unable to perform list and is approaching 11 months since the injury, still has to meet with Dr. James Andrews before being cleared to practice and play.

"I don't know if this week is a doable yet," Rivera said. "But if it is a doable, what we'll do is we'll start his (practice) clock and get him out on the field."

One last item here. ... The Commanders are reportedly adding a quarterback to their practice squad, a reasonable move given the circumstances.

John Keim of reports that they are set to sign Jake Fromm, who will give the team a third quarterback behind Heinicke and Howell.

Fromm was a 2020 fifth-round pick by the Bills and he was signed off of their practice squad by the Giants late last season. He appeared in three games and made two starts, including a Week 18 loss to Washington.

Fromm was 27-of-60 for 210 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions over all of his appearances. ...

You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 6 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.

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