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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the New England Patriots toyed with the Atlanta Falcons — sound familiar? — 23-7 in a fog-filled Super Bowl rematch Sunday night that wasn’t particularly super.
New England scored the final 31 points to win the NFL championship in February. Placards and shirts reading 28-3 were ever-present in and around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (5-2) scored the first 23 points in this prime-time mismatch. The Falcons (3-3), who led New England by that 25-point margin in the third quarter of the Super Bowl before folding, were outplayed throughout this one.
While Atlanta looked tentative, if not intimidated, Brady and his offense clinically tore apart the Falcons. Mixing runs and passes, New England controlled the clock and field position. And its defense, ranked at the bottom of the entire league through six weeks, stymied the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense.
Brady threw a shovel pass to Bradin Cooks that traveled perhaps a foot, and the receiver used his speed to get into the left corner of the end zone. The other TD was a 2-yarder to James White, who had three touchdowns, including the winner, in the Super Bowl.
It got so bad for Atlanta that the usually reliable Matt Bryant had a field goal blocked and then put a 36-yarder off the left upright. That Super Bowl losers’ malaise folks talk about might have found a home in the ATL this year. Stephen Gostkowski had no trouble sending field goals of 29, 21 and 38 yards through the fog for New England.
STEELERS 29, BENGALS 14
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell added 192 total yards, and Pittsburgh’s defense dominated Cincinnati in the second half.
The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead, then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.
The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got offense coordinator Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.
Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.
COWBOYS 40, 49ERS 10
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold.
Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold, and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.
Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter, then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas’ first possession of the second half to put away the 49ers (0-7). Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.
That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard , who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter.
CHARGERS 21, BRONCOS 0
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Travis Benjamin returned a first-quarter punt 65 yards for a touchdown and caught a 42-yard TD pass in the fourth, and the Chargers played a dominant defensive game in the first home victory of their relocation season.
Joey Bosa had two of the Chargers’ five sacks while they sent the Broncos (3-3) to the franchise’s first shutout defeat since a 24-0 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Nov. 22, 1992.
Philip Rivers passed for 183 yards in his 100th victory, hitting Austin Ekeler for an early TD and Benjamin for the late clincher.
The Chargers (3-4) have won three straight under new coach Anthony Lynn following a winless opening month in their first season back in Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego.
Trevor Siemian passed for 207 yards, but Denver lost to the Chargers for the third time in the AFC West rivals’ past 14 meetings — and did so in historic fashion.
SEAHAWKS 24, GIANTS 7
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seahawks limited the New York Giants’ receiver-depleted offense to 177 yards.
Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession. He closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.
The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.
The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes.
TITANS 12, BROWNS 9, OT
CLEVELAND (AP) — Ryan Succop’s fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with 1:55 left in overtime, extended his NFL record for makes inside 50 yards to 55 straight and sent the Tennessee Titans to an ugly 12-9 win on Sunday over the winless Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland (0-7) lost durable Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas with an injury. A 10-time Pro Bowler, he missed his first play in 11 seasons. Thomas went out with a triceps injury that snapped his streak of 10,363 consecutive offensive plays. The No. 3 pick in 2007 has been the lone bright spot over the past decade for Cleveland’s franchise.
Succop’s clutch kick enabled the Titans (4-3) to get their second win in six days. Succop made five field goals in Monday night’s win over Indianapolis.
Browns rookie Zane Gonzalez forced overtime by kicking a season-long 54-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in regulation to tie it 9-9. Gonzalez added kicks of 31 and 47 yards.
The Browns committed 12 penalties and dropped to 1-22 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, whose future is becoming less certain.
RAMS 33, CARDINALS 0
LONDON (AP) — Jared Goff ran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain.
Arizona (3-4) heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer injured his left arm in the second quarter and did not return.
Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception, and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2). Los Angeles has won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003 — the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.
Palmer, who finished 10 for 18 for 122 yards, was hit by linebacker Alec Ogletree and intercepted with 5:48 remaining in the first half. He was replaced by longtime backup Drew Stanton, who completed 5 of 14 passes for 162 yards and an interception and was unable to close what began as a 6-0 deficit.
Gurley’s 18-yard touchdown run immediately followed Palmer’s interception, and Goff helped push the Rams’ lead to 20-0 after he took a zone-read keeper 9 yards for a touchdown.
Zuerlein, who set a franchise record by making seven field goals in a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 1, connected from 23, 33, 53 and 34 yards.
SAINTS 26, PACKERS 17
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Drew Brees threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Mark Ingram rushed for a score.
Will Lutz kicked two second-half field goals, including a 44-yarder to put New Orleans up for good 19-17 with 10:26 left in the game. Brees’ 1-yard sneak gave the Saints a two-score lead
The sloppy Saints (4-2) were fortunate to get their fourth straight victory. The Packers lost their first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for injured star Aaron Rodgers.
New Orleans’ defense gave up a 46-yard touchdown run to rookie Aaron Jones on the opening drive. Brees was picked off twice in the first quarter. Lutz had a blocked extra point and New Orleans was penalized seven times for 80 yards.
But the Saints pulled away late at overcast Lambeau Field, scoring on four second-half drives.
Trailing late, the Packers (4-3) couldn’t muster big plays late without Rodgers. He’s out indefinitely with a broken right collarbone.
BILLS 30, BUCCANEERS 27
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White forced and recovered a fumble to set up Stephen Hauschka’s 30-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
LeSean McCoy had 91 yards rushing and scored twice, including a 7-yard run to tie the score with 2:28 remaining. Tyrod Taylor went 20 of 33 for 268 yards and a touchdown, while Buffalo’s defense forced three turnovers.
Coming out of its bye week, Buffalo improved to 4-2 under rookie head coach Sean McDermott. It marks just the fourth time the Bills have won at least four of their first six games during a 17-year playoff drought.
Jameis Winston showed no signs of a sprained throwing shoulder that sidelined him during the first drive of a 38-33 loss at Arizona last weekend. Winston finished 32 of 44 for 384 yards passing and three touchdowns. He threw an interception and also lost a fumble.
Rookie tight end O.J. Howard caught two touchdown passes for the Buccaneers (2-4), who have lost three straight.
Hauschka tied an NFL record by making 12 consecutive field goals from 50 yards or longer by hitting a 52-yarder that put Buffalo up 20-13 in the fourth quarter. The record is shared by Blair Walsh, Robbie Gould, Justin Tucker and Matt Prater.
DOLPHINS 31, JETS 28
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Matt Moore replaced an injured Jay Cutler and threw two touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes, and the Dolphins pulled off another comeback win by erasing a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Josh McCown threw three touchdown passes and ran for another for the Jets, but his interception in the final minute set up the winning field goal.
Bobby McCain stepped in front of a pass intended for Jermaine Kearse to give Miami the ball at the Jets 27 with 39 seconds left. Cody Parkey kicked a 39-yard field goal with 22 seconds to go for the Dolphins’ first lead of the game.
It was the second consecutive comeback win by the Dolphins, who overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half a week ago for an upset victory at Atlanta. They’ve won 12 games in a row when the margin is seven points or less.
The Dolphins (4-2) earned their third consecutive victory and avenged a loss to the Jets (3-4) in Week 3.
Cutler left the game due to a chest injury with his team trailing 21-14. After the Jets took a two-touchdown lead, Moore threw scoring passes to Kenny Stills covering 28 and 2 yards to tie the game.
BEARS 17, PANTHERS 3
CHICAGO (AP) — Rookie safety Eddie Jackson became the first NFL player to score multiple defensive touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game. Jackson ran back a fumble recovery 75 yards on the game’s opening possession and returned an interception of Cam Newton 76 yards for a score early in the second quarter to give Chicago a 14-0 lead.
He became the first Bears player since Fred Evans in 1948 — and the first NFL player since Tennessee’s Zach Brown in 2012 — with two defensive TDs in a game.
Chicago also sacked Newton five times and intercepted him twice.
The big plays by Jackson and the defense lifted the Bears (3-4) to their second straight win even though they got dominated in just about every statistical category. Carolina (4-3) held huge advantages in yards (293-153), time of possession (38:35-21:25), offensive plays (69-37) and first downs (20-5).
Newton completed 21 of 34 passes for 211 yards and ran for a team-high 50. But the Panthers dropped their second straight game.
Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky was 4 of 7 for 107 yards in his third NFL start. The No. 2 overall pick threw a 70-yard pass to Tarik Cohen, but did little else.
VIKINGS 24, RAVENS 16
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Latavius Murray rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and Kai Forbath kicked six field goals.
Forbath made kicks of 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards to back another suffocating effort from the defense for the Vikings (5-2). Minnesota sacked Joe Flacco five times and allowed just 208 yards. Everson Griffen had two sacks and has nine for the season.
Murray averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for the Ravens (3-4), including a 57-yarder in the first half. Flacco completed 26 of 38 passes for 186 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to Chris Moore as time expired.
The nine combined field goals tied an NFL record for most in a game.
Former Vikings WR Mike Wallace left in the first quarter after a vicious hit from S Andrew Sendejo. Wallace appeared to be knocked out cold by the shoulder-to-head hit that knocked his helmet off.
Wallace was later ruled out, but appeared to be arguing with coaches on the sideline about wanting back in.
JAGUARS 27, COLTS 0
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Blake Bortles threw for a season-high 330 yards and one touchdown, and T.J. Yeldon scored on a 58-yard run. By ending a four-game losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Jaguars (4-3) remained atop the AFC South.
Indy (2-5) lost its second straight, both to division foes.
Bortles and the offense looked good on a day when they played without rookie Leonard Fournette, the NFL’s second-leading rusher. Fournette was inactive because of a sprained right ankle.
The quarterback finished 18 of 26 with a 124.7 rating, the fourth-highest rating of his career.
While Jacksonville didn’t add to its league-leading takeaway total, it matched the single-game franchise record for sacks (10), set in the season opener against Houston. And the Jags got their first shutout since a 41-0 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 8, 2006.
Indy, strangely, was shut out for the first time since a 41-0 loss to the Jets in a playoff game on Jan. 4, 2003. Its only serious scoring chance was snuffed out with a fourth-down stop at the Jaguars 6-yard line.
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Buccaneers (2-3) at Bills (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin)
The matchup: Bucs QB Jameis Winston injured his right (throwing) shoulder in the second quarter of last weekend’s loss to Arizona and left the game. But coach Dirk Koetter confirmed on Friday that Winston will start against the Bills. Journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Winston, and after a rough start he threw for 290 yards and three TDs as the Bucs scored 27 points in the fourth quarter. Bills coach Coach Sean McDermott and his staff used the bye week to find answers for their anemic offense, which ranks 27th in points and 31st in yards per game. Particular focus has been paid to the offensive line. The Bills led the league in rushing the last two seasons but have dropped to 17th this season. The lack of a legitimate passing game has hurt, but so has the O-line’s subpar play. The average number of receptions (4.8) and yards per game (63.2) by Bills WRs is the worst output by an NFL receiving corps since at least 2001. And TE Charles Clay will remain out for several weeks after having surgery on a torn meniscus.
Bengals (2-3) at Steelers (4-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
The matchup: The Bengals won two in succession before their bye week, and they’re optimistic about their chances to play themselves back into contention in the AFC North. WR A.J. Green is having arguably the best season of his career, and QB Andy Dalton has been better since a slow start that led to a change at offensive coordinator. The defense has been excellent, especially over the last two weeks, but the Bengals still have O-line issues and need more playmakers to step up and complement Green, but they have enough talent to win this weekend and post enough wins the rest of the way to be in the postseason mix. The Steelers responded from a tumultuous week with a big win at Kansas City. RB LeVeon Bell looks as if he has shaken the early-season rust he had after sitting out training camp and the preseason. With two outstanding defenses in this game, protecting the ball will be key.
Ravens (3-3) at Vikings (4-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl)
The matchup: The most consistent elements of the inconsistent Ravens are their inability to sustain anything offensively and to stop the run. They managed 24 points vs. the Bears without scoring on offense. Baltimore allowed 231 rushing yards in Week 6. Their 141.3 weekly average is up from 89.4 last season (fifth in the NFL). The Ravens must establish a deep passing game early and ride the run game. The Vikings have their own QB story: Backup Case Keenum continues to win, starter Sam Bradford’s knee could sideline him indefinitely and Bradford’s predecessor Teddy Bridgewater was cleared to resume practicing for the first time since his August 2016 knee injury. Bridgewater is beloved in Minnesota, but Keenum sports a 93.1 rating and should keep the job for now.
Jets (3-3) at Dolphins (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Dan Hellie, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager)
The matchup: The Jets’ vaunted pass rush, featuring DT Leonard Williams and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, has seven sacks in six games, with no sacks from the defensive line. With Dolphins C Mike Pouncey possibly out with a concussion, there should be opportunities to pressure QB Jay Cutler. Dolphins fans called for his benching all week before Cutler tossed two TD passes as Miami stormed back from a 17-point deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons 20-17. The Dolphins, however, have yet to score on the ground. All five offensive TDs have come through the air. The Falcons game was the first time they scored at least 20 points.
Cardinals (3-3) at Rams (4-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink) from Twickenham Stadium, London
The matchup: The addition of RB Adrian Peterson is giving the Cardinals renewed hope after his successful debut in the win against Tampa Bay, and a win in London against the Rams could go a long way toward reasserting the Cardinals as a legitimate contender. How well the team’s aging stars — Peterson, QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald — travel will be the key to Arizona’s offensive success. Sean McVay’s first season as Rams head coach has gone better than expected, and now they have an opportunity to solidify themselves as a division title contender. In his only game against the Cardinals, QB Jared Goff was sacked seven times and fumbled twice. The Rams have a better offensive line this year, but last year they averaged 175.5 total yards in two meetings with the Cardinals, scoring only 20 points in the two-game split.
Panthers (4-2) at Bears (2-4)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)
The matchup: Panthers QB Cam Newton attempted a career-high 52 passes against
the Eagles, the byproduct of RBs Jonathan Stewart losing 4 yards on eight carries and Christian McCaffrey rushing four times for 8 yards. The Panthers are 28th in rushing yards per carry. C Ryan Kalil, inactive since Week 2 (neck), should return from a five-game absence to help inject life into the struggling run game, though LB Luke Kuechly’s concussion will keep him sidelined another week. Chicago, behind RB Jordan Howard (career-high 36 carries for 167 yards), earned its first road win since Week 16 of 2015, breaking a 10-game skid with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Bears defense kept Baltimore out of the end zone and has held four of its first five opponents to two offensive TDs.
Titans (3-3) at Browns (0-6)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta)
The matchup: RB DeMarco Murray is still the guy who gets everything rolling for the Titans, though RB Derrick Henry had 131 rushing yards and a 72-yard TD run in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts. When the Titans can run, QB Marcus Mariota finds a lot more space to use his talents and throw the ball downfield. Mariota will love what he sees from a Browns defense that has been gashed by good running backs and the short passing game. He’ll see lots of openings. The Browns weren’t competitive last weekend in a blowout loss at Houston. The first start for QB Kevin Hogan was a total disaster, and coach Hue Jackson turned back to rookie QB DeShone Kizer as this weekend’s starter. The Browns must win the turnover battle to have a chance.
Saints (3-2) at Packers (4-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Kenny Albert, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver)
The matchup: After playing miserably in back-to-back losses to open the season, the Saints defense has done an about-face and played complementary football during the three-game winning streak. Thus, the Saints find themselves in the thick of the NFC South race, a half-game behind leader Carolina (4-2). Now it faces a relatively green quarterback in Brett Hundley, who takes over for Packers two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who broke his right collarbone in a 23-10 loss at Minnesota. Hundley, who threw three interceptions vs. the Vikings, makes his first NFL start. In addition to Rodgers, Green Bay also has to overcome an injury-ravaged secondary and O-line, which lost three starters against Minnesota.
Jaguars (3-3) at Colts (2-4)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker)
The matchup: Jacksonville’s defense played superbly again, but the Jaguars ultimately were done in by two costly special-teams TDs in a 27-17 loss to the Rams. To keep their hopes of making a run for the AFC South title alive, a win over the Colts is critical. The Jaguars have outgained the Colts in four consecutive meetings but have won only two of those games. Winning the turnover margin is crucial. Indianapolis limped into the season without starting QB Andrew Luck, but with Luck’s return inching closer, the Colts are still hanging around while other AFC South teams deal with devastating injuries. Speedy Colts WR T.Y. Hilton was often covered by CB A.J. Bouye when Bouye was with the Texans, and he’ll likely see plenty of him again in this matchup.
Cowboys (2-3) at 49ers (0-6)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)
The matchup: RB Ezekiel Elliott won a temporary restraining order this week, overturning his six-game suspension for now, so he will play Sunday. That’s the good news. The bad news? The team’s shaky defense ranks in the bottom five in points allowed (26.4 per game) and has allowed 328 rushing yards in its last two games, which could be a boon to 49ers RB Carlos Hyde, who scored two TDs in a loss to the Redskins. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan replaced veteran QB Brian Hoyer with third-round draft choice C.J. Beathard, and the rookie led the Niners to the brink of a comeback victory. But the Cowboys have the tools to make Beathard sweat. DE DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 8½ sacks, and he has help in DE David Irving, who sacked Aaron Rodgers twice in his season debut following a performance-enhancing drug suspension.
Seahawks (3-2) at Giants (1-5)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, Fox (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton)
The matchup: Seattle’s defensive line, already without DE Cliff Avril (neck), might be hobbled further by DE Michael Bennett’s sore foot. The good news is that the Seahawks secondary is healthy and playing at an elite level. After upsetting the Broncos in Denver for their first win, the Giants still have a long way to go for any hope of getting back to playoff contention. QB Eli Manning and a group of little-known leftovers are doing what they can to stay relevant in the absence of star WR Odell Beckham Jr., who’s out for the season. The Giants defense did its part last weekend, forcing three turnovers while holding Denver to 10 points. Seattle’s offense has had plenty of struggles, and New York has enough pieces on defense to stay close.
Broncos (3-2) at Chargers (2-4)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, Fox (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon)
The matchup: Despite outgaining the Giants 412-266, with 20 first downs to New York’s 12, the Broncos had three turnovers and no takeaways and scored one TD in four trips to the red zone in the loss. Denver has scored 42 points in its last three games. The Broncos have played four of their first five games at home, and this begins a stretch of three in a row on the road. The Chargers are suddenly winning close games after losing three by a total of seven points. Besides pressuring Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, the Chargers hope to do what the Giants did to Denver’s running game. C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker had 15 attempts for 38 yards. Siemian was sacked four times vs. the Giants and 17 times overall in five games. One of his top WRs, Emmanuel Sanders (ankle), will not play and could miss several weeks.
Falcons (3-2) at Patriots (4-2)
TV: Sunday, 8:30, NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
The matchup: Consecutive home losses to Buffalo and Miami have left the Falcons and 2016 league MVP QB Matt Ryan struggling to find a true identity. WR Julio Jones has no touchdowns yet despite leading the Falcons with 25 catches for 367 yards. A healthy WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) would limit double coverage against Jones. Patriots QB Tom Brady maintained his dominance of the Jets after rallying his team from a 14-0 deficit. He and coach Bill Belichick just seem to find a way to win. Brady entered the game with a bum left shoulder and exited with his NFL-record 187th regular-season victory. The Patriots lead the AFC East despite struggling on defense, committing self-inflicted mistakes and failing to adequately protect Brady. The Pats’ weak pass defense might revive Ryan. All six opposing quarterbacks have thrown for at least 300 yards vs. the Pats, an NFL record.
Redskins (3-2) at Eagles (5-1)
TV: Monday, 8:30, ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)
The matchup: The Redskins hung on for an ugly home victory against the 49ers to stay within striking distance of the NFC East lead. QB Kirk Cousins came up big in an 84-yard fourth-quarter TD drive. The Redskins defensive backfield is really banged up, but CBs Josh Norman (broken rib) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) could possibly return. The Eagles defense, led by DT Fletcher Cox and S Malcolm Jenkins, is dominant at times, while QB Carson Wentz is looking more like an elite quarterback. The Eagles might feel like they’ve arrived, but coach Doug Pederson is tryng to keep his players hungry, reminding them that they followed last season’s 3-0 start by losing nine of their next 11.
Bye: Lions, Texans
Compiled by Brian Allee-Walsh, Zac Jackson, Jordan Godwin, Scott Pitoniak, Arthur Arkush, Andy Friedlander, Scott Johnson, Howard Balzer. All times p.m. Eastern.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP / USA Today Sports) — The Atlanta Falcons know the cost of running out of gas against Tom Brady.
For three quarters in Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots quarterback was stymied by a relentless pass rush. But when the pressure let up as the Falcons tired, Brady threw for 246 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime to power the largest comeback ever in the NFL championship.
In Sunday’s rematch at Foxborough, there’s little question Atlanta’s defense will need to find a finishing touch to secure a win.
Brady has been sacked 16 times this year and on Monday said his accuracy has not been up to his usual standard. But the Patriots’ offense still tops the NFL with 412 yards per game, and Brady trails only Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs with a 106.9 passer rating.
Atlanta’s pass rush could once again prove troublesome for New England, but the defense has just 12 sacks in five contests. Linebacker Vic Beasley is in his second game back from a hamstring injury and could pose a problem on the edge, along with defensive ends Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn. But the X-factor could be defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who recorded three sacks in the Super Bowl yet is still looking for his first of 2017.
Running back James White could be the Patriots’ most effective answer for limiting Brady’s liability against the Falcons’ pass rush. Replicating his record-setting 14-catch Super Bowl performance seems unlikely now that Atlanta will be keyed in on him, but he should be an effective asset in keeping New England out of obvious passing situations and forcing linebackers to make plays in coverage.
Here are four other matchups that will define Week 7 in the NFL:
Green Bay Packers QB Brett Hundley vs. New Orleans Saints DE Cameron Jordan
With Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on a broken collarbone, the Packers’ season now hinges on the third-year backup keeping the offense afloat. That’s a tall order for a player with just 44 career pass attempts, yet teammates and coaches haven’t wavered in their support.
Green Bay has counted on Rodgers to deliver virtuoso performances, but the same won’t be expected of Hundley. The young quarterback has struggled at times to make quick decisions in the face of the pass rush, as exhibited by the 125 sacks he took at UCLA in three seasons. Limiting his reads and providing more short passes may be Mike McCarthy’s best bet to establish a rhythm and keep the offense flowing.
Jordan reinforced how disruptive he can be last week by recording two sacks and an interception for a touchdown en route to earning NFC defensive player of the week honors. He poses a significant obstacle for a Packers offensive line still not at full strength. With its defense on the upswing, New Orleans could dial up the blitz frequently and challenge Hundley to handle the pressure.
Arizona Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson vs. Los Angeles Rams’ front seven
Peterson will earn the odd distinction of becoming the first NFL player to play in London twice in one year after his trade from the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 10. Just three weeks after his first international trip, the running back finds himself with a far rosier outlook for the season.
Peterson’s 134-yard, two-touchdown performance in his Cardinals debut not only reinvigorated Arizona’s lifeless run game, but also illuminated what the 32-year-old can bring to an offense. He might not made a full return to the all-pro form of his earlier years, but he can be a dynamic and consistent threat for a team willing to showcase him in the ground game after he was relegated to a complementary role in New Orleans. With the NFC wide open, Peterson could be the key to Arizona making a run for the playoffs.
In order to make a similar push for the postseason, the Rams will have to shore up a run defense that ranks 29th in the NFL with 139.5 yards allowed per game. Aaron Donald has maintained an output warranting defensive player of the year consideration, but the defensive tackle needs more help up front. The defense also may be without linebacker Mark Barron, who is questionable with a thumb injury.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz vs. Washington Redskins’ secondary
While most division races have remained tight through the first six weeks, Philadelphia has the chance to gain some serious separation in the NFC East on Monday. A win would put the Eagles two and a half games ahead of the Redskins with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Wentz threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns against Washington in a 30-17 win in the season opener, and the second-year quarterback has continued to develop in the weeks since. He has committed just two turnovers in the last five games while throwing 11 touchdowns. With right tackle Lane Johnson cleared from concussion protocol, Wentz should be operating the league’s third-ranked offense with nearly a full arsenal.
The loss of rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen puts an even heavier burden on Washington’s secondary. Cornerback Josh Norman is out, while Bashaud Breeland is questionable with a knee injury. The Redskins also have to contain tight end Zach Ertz, who had eight catches for 93 yards in the first meeting.
New York Giants RB Orleans Darkwa vs. Seattle Seahawks’ front seven
Perhaps one of the most surprising performances of the season came last week, when the Giants’ traditionally pass-happy attack turned to the ground game against the Denver Broncos. Big Blue broke through, with Darkwa’s 117 rushing yards powering a 23-10 win.
With Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall out for the season, the Giants might continue to employ a more balanced approach. Darkwa has to prove he can replicate last week’s performance, but he’s a reliable, one-cut runner who has averaged 5.7 yards per carry so far this season. Even more promising for New York is the progress made by its offensive line, with the versatile Justin Pugh leading the resurgence.
The Seahawks’ defense might appear to be a mismatch for the Giants, but the unit has had its share of lapses this season. Seattle ranks an uncharacteristic 27th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (127.2). But the unit bottled up Todd Gurley two weeks ago and will try to force New York to turn to its injury-riddled passing attack.
With two teams on bye this week, you figured setting your fantasy football lineup would be easy.
Unfortunately, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, Denver wideout Emmanuel Sanders is out due to an ankle injury and Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette will try to play through his ankle injury.
Still, the matchups give several suggestions that can help you determine who to start in Week 7.
The Browns have yielded the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing QBs and have given up the most passing TDs (14). Although Mariota didn’t run the ball much, he threw for 306 yards in Week 7, and didn’t re-injure the hamstring which forced him to miss Week 6.
QBs have thrown an average of 334 passing yards per game against the 49ers over the past three weeks, and they’ve yielded the seventh most FPPG to the position. The Cowboys are executing a higher percentage of pass plays this season and Prescott has 11 TD passes, (fourth most in football). He has also averaged 25 rushing yards per game.
— Brett Hundley, Green Bay vs. New Orleans
If you’re forced to play Hundley, don’t panic. He’s studied under Aaron Rodgers since 2015, and has three very capable WRs to throw the ball to. Hundley had a 150.8 QB rating at UCLA and will have a full week of practice with the Packers’ first team. Starting Hundley is risky, but he’s playing at home against a team that normally plays under a dome.
— Adrian Peterson, Arizona at LA Rams
We’re not recommending Peterson based solely on his phenomenal Week 6 Arizona debut. The Cardinals have tweaked their offensive line, and the Rams have given up the most FPPG to RBs, 4.8 yards per carry (YPC) and 140 rushing yards per game.
The 49ers suggested Matt Breida would have a larger role in their running game in Week 6. In reality, Carlos Hyde converted the only two 49ers RB red zone carries into touchdowns. As long as he’s healthy, Hyde looks like the 49ers’ primary back.
— Cooper Kupp, LA Rams vs. Arizona
The Cardinals may face the Rams without star CB Patrick Peterson, who re-injured a quad. Arizona has allowed the second most passing TDs (13) in football, and Kupp leads the Rams in red zone targets.
The Colts have surrendered the third most receiving yards to WRs and the eighth most FPPG to the position. Despite being out-targeted by Marqise Lee, Hurns leads the Jags in red zone targets, receptions and has TDs in four of his five games versus the Colts.
Hooper has seen an uptick in targets and receptions the last two weeks (16 and 12 respectively), and the Patriots have given up the third most FPPG to TEs this season.
— Hunter Henry, LA Chargers vs. Denver
Henry has 18 targets, 10 catches and two TDs the past three weeks. He faces a Broncos team giving up the fifth most FPPG to TEs.
— Andy Dalton, Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Dalton has a passer rating of just under 70 in his last three full games against the Steelers. The Steelers give up the second fewest FPPG to QBs, and are second in the league with 20 sacks. With the poor play of the Bengals offensive line, that does not bode well for Dalton.
Winston may be medically cleared to play despite spraining the AC Joint in his throwing shoulder, however he’d be facing a Bills team that has allowed just two passing TDs to QBs while intercepting them eight times. Winston has been shaky even when healthy, ranked 20th among QBs for total fantasy points scored.
— Mike Gillislee, New England vs. Atlanta
The Falcons have allowed just two rushing TDs to RBs, and Gillislee hasn’t scored a TD since Week 2. He fumbled late in the first quarter in Week 6, and spent much of the rest of the game on the sideline. You have to wonder if that will carry over to Week 7.
The Browns allow the lowest yards per carry (3.0) and have surrendered just two rushing TDs to RBs. Murray has been hampered by a cranky hamstring since the preseason, and although he is expected to play, he’ll likely be limited.
— Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona at LA Rams
Fitzgerald has averaged just 53 yards in his last three games versus the Rams, and has one TD in their last six meetings. They have given up the fifth-fewest FPPG to WRs.
— Keenan Allen, LA Chargers vs. Denver
The Broncos have allowed the third fewest receptions to WRs (50) and the sixth fewest FPPG to the position. Allen has eight total catches, 53 receiving yards and one TD in his last two games against Denver.
The Packers haven’t allowed a TD to a TE, and give up the third fewest FPPG to the position. The Saints scored 52 points in Week 6 and Fleener had one target. That speaks volumes.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — From Week 1 through Week 17, USA TODAY Sports’ NFL staff will be handicapping the race for league MVP. A first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three, and a third-place vote is worth one.
Our MVP tracker after Week 6’s games:
1. QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (24 points): He’s been our collective choice all season, though his lead was diminished following the Chiefs’ first loss and Smith’s most pedestrian performance of the campaign. But Kansas City still owns the AFC’s best record at 5-1, and Smith continues to be among league leaders in most major passing categories while owning the best completion rate (72.9%), QB rating (119.2) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (12-0). If he can keep his career year on track, as Matt Ryan did in 2016, hard to believe Smith won’t bring home the hardware. Last week: 1
2. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (11 points): He’s baaack in the conversation. Brady, a two-time league MVP, is having his case bolstered by New England’s middling run game and league-worst defense, which are forcing him to put the ball in the air frequently. He’s on track for a career-high 408 completions and currently paces the NFL with 1,959 passing yards. The newly crowned all-time winningest quarterback with 187 regular-season victories, Brady’s also lurking behind league leaders with 13 TD passes and a 106.9 passer rating. Last week: Unranked
3. RB Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (10 points): Kansas City’s rookie sensation is coming back to earth ever so slowly, rushing for a season-low 21 yards in Sunday’s loss (Hunt did add 89 yards on five receptions). He still leads the NFL with 630 yards on the ground and 885 from scrimmage, however he hasn’t found the end zone in the last three weeks. Last week: 3
4. QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (6 points): Can he join Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson as second-year starting quarterbacks who recently won the Super Bowl? Title-starved Eagles fans certainly hope so. Wentz has made admirable strides in Year 2, particularly with his play on third down, and has Philadelphia atop the NFC standings at 5-1. Wentz already has 13 TD passes and will match his rookie total if throws three more. Last week: Unranked
T5. WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (3 points): He tops the charts with 48 catches for 700 yards and, barring injury, will exceed 100 grabs and 1,200 yards for the fifth consecutive year. Last week: Unranked
T5. QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (3 points): Before Week 6, he appeared to be nearing his 2015 MVP form with his throwing wing apparently healed. But Newton has been intercepted three times in two of his past four starts, a mini-trend that certainly hindered his momentum. Last week: 4
T5. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (3 points): His broken collarbone will prevent him from winning a third MVP this season. But if it wasn’t already apparent, Rodgers’ absence Sunday underscores what he means to the Pack and league. Last week: 2
Also receiving votes: Todd Gurley (2 points), Leonard Fournette (1)
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — Week 6 in the NFL just seemed to prove that fantasy owners can’t have nice things.
After arguably the top running back (David Johnson) and one of the top wide receivers (Odell Beckham Jr.) were hit with major injuries, the quarterback position took a critical blow when Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers suffered a broken collarbone.
The Packers offense has been one thing fantasy owners can count on — and with Rodgers facing a potential season-ending injury, things will look considerably different with backup Brett Hundley under center.
All Packers skill players get a downgrade in value with Rodgers no longer around to buy extra time in the pocket and provide those magical throws.
After Rodgers left, Hundley completed 18-of-33 passes for 157 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions. (Rodgers had just three interceptions in four-plus games.)
Defenses (and special teams) matter
There were 11 touchdowns scored by defenses and special teams during Sunday’s early afternoon games. The New Orleans Saints led the way with three — a fumble recovery and two interception return TDs — in a shootout win over the Detroit Lions. (They also sacked Detroit QB Matthew Stafford five times.)
Not to be outdone, the Lions had a punt return and an interception return for touchdowns as the two teams combined for 90 points. Surprisingly, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for only 186 yards, seven fewer than the team gained on the ground. (More on that later.)
Elsewhere, the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns traded interception returns for scores. The Baltimore Ravens returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. And the Chicago Bears took a Joe Flacco pick all the way for a TD.
Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Rams began their late-afternoon game with Pharoh Cooper taking the opening kickoff 103 yards to paydirt.
All of those seemingly random events underscore an important thing to remember when picking a defense each week: It’s not necessarily about how many points they will allow or whether or not they’ll win, the greatest impact on a fantasy defense’s value is its ability to create turnovers.
Early waiver wire
Nothing on Sunday will carry as much weight for fantasy owners than last Thursday’s reinstatement of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. The Dallas Cowboys will presumably turn to a tandem of Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden at running back. Exactly how they’ll divide the touches is hard to predict, but considering their respective skill sets, Morris figures to be more valuable in standard scoring leagues and McFadden has the upper hand in point-per-reception leagues.
Green Bay’s Hundley is worth considering, even though he didn’t light up the scoreboard after taking over for Rodgers. He still has more weapons than most quarterbacks. Owners may have to take a second look at Josh McCown of the New York Jets, who threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to New England.
In San Francisco, rookie C.J. Beathard completed 19-of-36 passes for 245 yards and a TD in relief of Hoyer. The Niners have already announced he’ll start next week against the Cowboys.
And the New England Patriots may have a new No. 1 running back with Dion Lewis getting more carries than starter Mike Gillislee — and getting the call on a 1-yard touchdown. Lewis finished with 11 rushes for 52 yards, compared to Gillislee’s 10 for 44 with a lost fumble. Lewis is worth a speculative pickup, but then again we are talking about the unpredictable Patriots.
Welcome back, All Day
When future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson was traded last week to the Arizona Cardinals, fantasy owners weren’t too thrilled to see him joining the NFL’s worst rushing offense.
Peterson rushed for a total of 81 yards on 27 carries in four games with the New Orleans Saints. But Peterson topped that in his first HALF with his new team, scoring on a 27-yard run in his first series.
A new Day may have dawned in the desert as Peterson finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, averaging 5.2 yards a tote.
Meanwhile, Peterson’s threat as a runner opened things up for Carson Palmer to complete all 13 of his pass attempts (with two touchdowns) in the first half. He finished 18-of-22 for 283 yards and three scores.
Larry Fitzgerald led the receivers with 10 catches for 138 yards and a TD.
Broad Shoulders Award
Our weekly honor for the player who single-handedly carried his fantasy owners to victory this week goes to New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram.
In that shootout game against the Lions, Ingram got the job done on the ground (25 carries, 114 yards, TD) and through the air (five catches, 36 yards).
Despite losing a fumble, Ingram’s 30 fantasy points (PPR scoring) and made the case that the Saints offense really didn’t need Peterson that much anyway.
San Diego’s Melvin Gordon did have a better overall performance (150 total yards, nine receptions, two TDs), but Ingram is most likely a No. 2 running back on most fantasy teams who played like a true No. 1 on Sunday.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota shuffled around the pocket, carefully protecting a strained left hamstring that already cost him one game this season.
So the quarterback known for his legs showed off his arm.
Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left , and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL’s longest active losing streak against one team.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota followed their instructions, doing whatever he could to lessen the risk of further injury.
“He’s as tough as I’ve been around and made some throws that were, obviously that one to Taywan was a big throw,” Mularkey said. “It was a real big throw. I mean he did. He played well.”
Mariota was 23 for 32 for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor’s tiebreaking score.
The Titans (3-3) stopped a two-game slide and moved into a tie for the AFC South lead with Jacksonville and Houston.
Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first-down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left before going toward midfield to celebrate.
Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge of the spot and said he wouldn’t blame officials.
“Disappointing to say the least,” Pagano said. “Got to play 60 minutes. It’s a recurring thing I know that.”
The Titans were pleased to put their skid against the Colts behind them.
“We feel like every game’s a must-win, but this was definitely a must-win, especially with the 11-game streak on the line,” Woodyard said. “We came in and answered the call.”
Derrick Henry clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.
The Titans looked like the NFL’s worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota’s first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.
But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.
“It’s a long season,” Mariota said. “You’re going to have to play with some sort of nick or ding. I’m just really happy for the guys. I mean they did a great job of putting protection up front.”
Tennessee kicker Ryan Succop went 5 for 5 to break the NFL record for most consecutive successful field goals inside of 50 yards. He connected from 48, 32 and 40 yards in the first half and then hit from 23 and 48 yards in the third.
Succop began the day tied with Matt Bryant, who connected on 46 straight field goals inside 50 yards between 2013 and 2015 for the Atlanta Falcons.
Adam Vinatieri, the Colts’ accomplished kicker, got three field goals himself, including a 52-yarder. But he missed an extra point off the left upright.
The Colts’ team message got a prime-time audience with outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard wearing a black T-shirt with the message “We Will” over his jersey during the coin toss. On the back were the words “Stand For: Equality Justice Unity Respect Dialogue Opportunity.”
The Colts have been wearing these T-shirts during pregame warmups for the last couple of weeks.
A handful of Titans, including defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, raised a fist into the air after the national anthem ended. Wide receiver Rishard Matthews stayed off the field during the anthem for a third straight game.
Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan strained an abdominal muscle. … Colts cornerback Rashaan Melvin went to the sideline during an injury timeout in the second quarter but returned to the game. … Colts running back Robert Turbin was escorted to the locker room after a catch and run for 9 yards with 2:30 left. Pagano said Turbin will get an MRI exam on his elbow.
The Colts’ 11-game win streak had been tied with Denver for the longest active streak in the NFL. Now Denver stands alone with its 11-game streak over Cleveland, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Colts: Host Jacksonville.
Titans: Visit winless Browns.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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Monday, Oct. 16
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:30 p.m. EDT. The Colts (2-3) have won 11 straight in the series and 16 of the past 17. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is 10-0 against the Titans (2-3). Colts RB Frank Gore ranks seventh in NFL history with 13,304 yards rushing and has four TDs rushing in his past three games at the Titans. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has 889 yards passing with six TDs and two interceptions in his past three games against the Colts, but has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Titans RB DeMarco Murray has a TD in his past three games against Colts with 264 yards from scrimmage.
— Deshaun Watson, Texans, finished 17 for 29 for 225 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in Houston’s 33-17 win over Cleveland. Watson has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games and is the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Watson has 12 passing touchdowns in the past three games, the most by a rookie in any three-game span. Watson has 15 passing touchdowns, the most by a rookie in his team’s first six games of a season.
— Carson Palmer, Cardinals, was 18 for 22 for 283 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in Arizona’s 38-33 win over Tampa Bay.
— Kirk Cousins, Redskins, was 25 for 37 for 330 yards and two touchdowns and an interception in Washington’s 26-24 win over San Francisco.
— Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, had 32 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 19-13 victory over Kansas City.
— Jordan Howard, Bears, had 36 carries for 167 yards in Chicago’s 27-24 overtime win at Baltimore.
— Adrian Peterson, Cardinals, had 26 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s 38-33 win over Tampa Bay. It was Peterson’s first game with the team after being obtained from New Orleans on Tuesday.
— Leonard Fournette, Jaguars, had 21 carries for 130 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in Jacksonville’s 27-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Fournette, who had a 90-yard touchdown run in the Jaguars’ Week 5 win at Pittsburgh, is the first rookie in NFL history with a touchdown run of at least 75 yards in consecutive games.
— Jay Ajayi, Dolphins, had 26 carries for 130 yards in Miami’s 20-17 win over Atlanta.
— Todd Gurley, Rams, had 23 carries for 116 yards in Los Angeles’ 27-17 win over Jacksonville.
— Mark Ingram, Saints, had 25 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans’ 52-38 win over Detroit.
— Antonio Brown, Steelers, had eight catches for 155 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 19-13 win over Kansas City. Brown, who has 9,077 receiving yards in 107 games, tied Randy Moss (107) for the fourth-fewest games played to reach 9,000 receiving yards in NFL history.
— Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, had 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown in Arizona’s 38-33 win over Tampa Bay.
— Chris Thompson, Redskins, had four receptions for 105 yards in Washington’s 26-24 win over San Francisco.
— Adam Thielen, Vikings, had nine carries for 97 yards in Minnesota’s 23-10 win over Green Bay.
— Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, Lions. Jones had six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown and Tate had seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 52-38 loss to New Orleans.
— Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, had six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s 24-17 win over the New York Jets.
— Pharoh Cooper and Malcolm Brown, Rams. Cooper returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and Brown returned a blocked punt 8 yards to the end zone for a touchdown in Los Angeles’ 27-17 over Jacksonville.
— Bobby Rainey and Michael Campanaro, Ravens. Rainey returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and Campanaro returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown in Baltimore’s 27-24 overtime loss to Chicago.
— Jamal Agnew, Lions, returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown in Detroit’s 52-38 loss to New Orleans.
— Kenny Vaccaro, Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan, Saints. Vaccaro recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Lattimore returned an interception 27 yards for a TD. Jordan intercepted a pass in the end zone for a score in New Orleans’ 52-38 win over Detroit. The Saints set a franchise record with three defensive touchdowns in a game.
— Johnathan Joseph, Texans, had two interceptions, returning one of them 82 yards for a touchdown in Houston’s 33-17 win over Cleveland.
— Adrian Amos, Bears, returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown in Chicago’s 27-24 overtime win over Baltimore.
— Jason McCourty, Browns, returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown in Cleveland’s 33-17 loss to Houston.
— Lavonte David, Buccaneers, returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 38-33 loss to Arizona.
— Harrison Smith, Vikings, had 1½ sacks, an interception and two pass breakups in Minnesota’s 23-10 win over Green Bay.
— A’Shawn Robinson, Lions, returned an interception 2 yards for a touchdown in Detroit’s 52-38 loss to New Orleans.
STREAKS & STATS
Carson Palmer three touchdown passes, running back Adrian Peterson rushed for two touchdowns in his Arizona debut, and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had a touchdown catch in the Cardinals’ 38-33 win against Tampa Bay. Palmer has accounted for 302 touchdowns (294 passing, eight rushing), Peterson has 104 touchdowns (99 rushing, five receiving) and Fitzgerald has 107 touchdown catches. They are the only QB-RB-WR trio of teammates in NFL history to account for at least 300, 100 and 100 total touchdowns, respectively. Fitzgerald, who has 14,854 receiving yards, surpassed Steve Smith, Sr. (14,731) for the seventh-most receiving yards in NFL history. Fitzgerald’s 14,854 receiving yards trail only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (19,247 with San Francisco) for the most receiving yards by a player with a single team. Peterson, who has 50 games with at least 100 rushing yards, is the ninth player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in 50 games. … The 49ers dropped to 0-6 with a 26-24 loss to Washington. San Francisco is the first team in NFL history to fall by three points or fewer in five consecutive games. The Browns fell to 0-6 with a 33-17 loss to Houston and they lost their 16th in a row on the road. … The Patriots have won six of the past seven meetings with the Jets and 11 of the past 13 after a 24-17 win on Sunday. They have also won 11 straight road games, the second-best streak in team history since they won 12 in a row from 2006-08.
New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 257 yards with two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 24-17 win at the New York Jets. Brady, who has 187 regular-season victories, surpassed Hall of Famer Brett Favre (186) and Peyton Manning (186) for the most regular-season victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady has 212 wins (including the postseason), the most by a starting quarterback. Brady threw two touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the win. Brady and Gronkowski have connected on 71 touchdown passes, the second most from a quarterback to a tight end in NFL history. Only Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (85) of the Los Angeles Chargers have more. … New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 186 yards with two touchdowns in the Saints’ 52-38 win over Detroit. Brees has 55,084 passing yards with the Saints and is only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to have at least 55,000 passing yards with a team. He joins Favre (61,655 with Green Bay) and Dan Marino (61,361 with Miami) and Brady (63,541 with New England) as the only quarterbacks to accomplish the feat. … Los Angeles Rams kick returner Pharoh Cooper returned the game’s opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette had a 75-yard touchdown run on the Jaguars’ first play from scrimmage in the Rams’ 27-17 win, marking the first game in the Super Bowl era with two touchdowns of at least 75 yards in the first 30 seconds of a game.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Green Bay’s 23-10 loss to Minnesota and could miss the rest of the season. Backup cornerback Quinten Rollins (ankle) was also lost during the game. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion) was knocked out of action, and left tackle David Bakhtiari’s hamstring injury flared up. Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd left the game with a calf injury. … Jameis Winston left Tampa Bay’s game at Arizona in the second quarter because of a right shoulder injury. Lions safety Glover Quin left the game against New Orleans to be evaluated for a head injury in the second half. Offensive tackle Greg Robinson limped off the field in the third quarter. … The Ravens lost another receiver when Breshad Perriman was lost to a second-quarter concussion. Tight end Maxx Williams also hurt his ankle while losing a fumble and did not return. … Pittsburgh linebacker Vince Williams had a pair of sacks in Kansas City, but left in the second half with a hip injury. The Steelers also lost right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who had missed three weeks with a hamstring injury, in the first half after he aggravated it.
“It’s tough. We experienced that feeling before in the Super Bowl.” — Atlanta linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. after the Falcons blew a 17-0 halftime lead and lost 20-17 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
“We did a lot of dumb things, but fortunately our defense did a lot of good things. I’m trying to be happy today, but it’s hard.” — Coach Sean Payton after his Saints won their third straight game, but nearly blew a huge lead before beating Detroit 52-38.
The 40 things we learned from Week 6 of the NFL season:
1. The worst sight of Sunday came early, as Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was carted to the locker room after suffering a broken clavicle against the Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers was an MVP candidate and repeatedly made up for deficiencies elsewhere on the Green Bay roster. The Packers are about to learn how good they are without him.
2. The early results weren’t great for Green Bay backup Brett Hundley, a fifth-round pick in 2015, who saw the first extended action of his career Sunday. He completed 18-of-33 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown but showed his inexperience by tossing three interceptions.
3. Rodgers’ injury changes the entire complexion of the NFC. The Vikings, even with backup QB Case Keenum supplanting Sam Bradford indefinitely, now look like the best team in the NFC North thanks to that ferocious defense. The rest of the conference is wide open.
4. Injuries happen every year, but this season feels especially brutal. After only six weeks, the league has already lost some of its biggest stars — Rodgers, Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman. Losing star power like this can’t help lagging TV ratings.
5. It was hard to argue with the Cleveland Browns’ decision to take DE Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. But Sunday provided the perfect chance to second guess their decision to trade their other first rounder to the Texans, who used the pick to take Deshaun Watson. He passed for 225 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns on Sunday, while Cleveland’s quarterback situation remains a mess after new starter Kevin Hogan threw three interceptions in a 33-17 defeat.
6. In case you’ve forgotten, since 2014, the Browns picked Johnny Manziel over Derek Carr, traded the pick the Philadelphia Eagles used on Carson Wentz and relinquished the opportunity to take Watson this year, selecting DeShone Kizer in the second round instead.
7. Watson, meanwhile, has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, more than any rookie in NFL history through his first six games. The Texans threw only 15 touchdown passes in 2016 with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
8. Tom Brady led a second-half comeback to help the New England Patriots beat the New York Jets and reclaim first place in the AFC East. But how confident should we feel about the 4-2 Patriots after another disappointing defensive performance?
9. If the Jets aren’t afraid of the New England defense, who will be this year? Jets QB Josh McCown repeatedly tested the Patriots secondary with deep passes as New York built an early 14-0 lead, the first time the Patriots had trailed by that many points in the first half since 2014.
10. The Jets have reason to feel like they got jobbed in the 24-17 loss. The officials’ ruling that TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins fumbled out of the end zone (instead of scoring a touchdown) was as bad of a call as we’ve seen all season.
11. Congrats on your first NFL win, Mitchell Trubisky. The Chicago Bears rookie quarterback completed just eight of 16 passes for 113 yards, but he also threw a touchdown in an overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens.
12. Who says height matters in the NFL? Bears rookie RB Tarik Cohen, who is 5-6, became the shortest player to throw a touchdown since 1934, when Wee Willie Smith did it for the New York Giants.
13. Cohen’s heroics cap what was a stellar weekend for short guys. Houston Astros 2B Jose Altuve, who also stands 5-6, sprinted home for a walk-off score against the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and may be the best player in this postseason.
14. What a wild day in New Orleans, where the Saints and Detroit Lions combined for 90 points in the Saints’ 52-38 win. The over-under was 50½ points, to which the Saints said, “Sure, we can do that.”
15. Eleven different players scored a touchdown in New Orleans on Sunday, including three Saints defensive players: DE Cam Jordan (interception in the end zone), S Kenny Vaccaro (fumble recovery in the end zone), and CB Marshon Lattimore (27-yard interception return). The Lions also got a defensive score, when DT A’Shawn Robinson picked off Drew Brees at the 2-yard line, and a special teams score on a 74-yard punt return by Jamal Agnew.
16. Paying customers at the Superdome sure got their money’s worth. The game lasted three hours and 47 minutes.
17. As if San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan needed more convincing to go after Kirk Cousins in free agency next year. And it wasn’t so much that Cousins played great in the Washington Redskins’ win over Shanahan’s Niners, it was that Shanahan’s bridge quarterback, Brian Hoyer, struggled so much that Shanahan benched him for rookie C.J. Beathard in the first half.
18. Beathard led a comeback and will remain the 49ers starter going forward. But the winless 49ers are setting themselves up for an interesting decision next spring: Shell out perhaps record-setting money for Cousins, or take their pick of what promises to be a loaded quarterback draft.
19. Beathard, by the way, just might have a future in this league. After all, he’s the grandson of Bobby Beathard, who was general manager of the Redskins’ great teams of the 1980s.
20.Are the 49ers the best 0-6 team ever? Each of their last five losses have come by three or fewer points, the first time that type of unlucky streak has happened in NFL history.
21. Heck of a second half for the Miami Dolphins, who scored 20 unanswered points to rally from a 17-0 halftime deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. The Jay Cutler experiment might not be working well for Miami (just 151 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception Sunday), but the Dolphins are once again showing the resiliency that made them a playoff team last year.
22. Maybe Sunday will serve as a reminder to Dolphins head coach Adam Gase to lean more on RB Jay Ajayi and less on Cutler. Ajayi rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries, and he ripped off a pair of 18-yard runs in the fourth quarter.
23. Ajayi’s rushing total in his three previous games? Just 139 yards.
24. It might be time to worry about the Falcons offense. Atlanta has averaged just 17 points in the last two games, both losses. Aside from Sunday’s 40-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan to Marvin Hall, the reigning NFC champs are lacking explosive plays that were the hallmark of the 2016 Falcons under former offensive coordinator Shanahan.
25. Is Ryan back to being Ryan now that his 2016 MVP campaign is starting to look like a career year? He threw 38 TD passes and seven INTs last year, but currently has six and six, respectively in 2017. And after posting a 117.1 QB rating as MVP, fifth-best ever, he’s at 87.3 this year, in line with his career average of 93.4.
26. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at 2-3, are now in last place in the NFC South and have a major concern about QB Jameis Winston’s health after he left Sunday’s game with an injured throwing shoulder. The Bucs’ upcoming stretch is daunting: a road game at Buffalo (with the Bills coming off a bye) followed by a pair of division games against Carolina and New Orleans.
27. Welcome to Arizona, Adrian Peterson. The former MVP had 134 rushing yards and two TDs in his first game for the Cardinals, less than a week after he was traded by the Saints. Peterson had just 81 yards and didn’t score in four games with New Orleans.
28. What do you think the Broncos did over their bye week, besides just looking at the New York Giants growing injury report? After what was another wild day around the league, the Giants’ dominating win at Denver Sunday night might have been the most surprising result. Playing without their top three receivers, among others, the G-Men still set the tone against the Broncos. Maybe letting OC Mike Sullivan calls the plays was a good decision by Ben McAdoo.
29. And now the Broncos, who start a three-game road trip next week at the Los Angeles Chargers, have injury questions of their own. Receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie were carted off the field with injuries, and Demaryius Thomas appeared hobbled; while Siemian returned to the game in the second half after suffering a left shoulder injury.
30. Let no one question Derek Carr’s toughness. The Oakland Raiders quarterback returned Sunday after missing one game with a multiple transverse process fractures in his back. Still, he didn’t seem quite himself (171 yards, TD, 2 INTs) in an upset loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
31. Still, the biggest issue the Raiders face in the midst of a four-game losing streak isn’t Carr’s back, but their inability to be consistently effective on the ground. Oakland’s running backs combined for just 54 yards against the Bolts. Maybe the Raiders should’ve traded for Peterson.
32. FWIW, Marshawn Lynch had 63 yards Sunday, his second-best output as a Raider. But he needs help. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington somehow combined to run for minus-9 yards.
33. The Chargers, meanwhile, won their second in a row despite another slow start. Imagine what they could do if they “bolted” out of the gate. Los Angeles has been outscored 50-7 in the first quarter of games this year.
34. You can’t fault Philip Rivers for his giddy dance after the Chargers’ game-winning field goal, not after L.A. lost two games last month on missed or blocked field goals.
35. The Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars have been two of the most surprisingly entertaining teams this season, so it wasn’t that big a surprise their game featured two 75-yard touchdowns in the first 30 seconds. First, the Rams’ Pharoh Cooper returned the opening kickoff 103 yards, and then Jags rookie RB Leonard Fournette rushed for a 75-yard score on Jacksonville’s opening possession.
36. The Rams special teams later provided further evidence it’s the league’s best, returned a blocked Jacksonville punt for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
37. After struggling against the Seattle Seahawks defense last week, the Rams found an offensive formula that worked against a similarly stout Jacksonville defense: Just give the ball to Todd Gurley and let quarterback Jared Goff manage the game. Gurley had 23 carries compared to just 21 passing attempts for Goff.
38. It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to criticize Andy Reid’s game management, so here goes. What was the Kansas City Chiefs coach thinking going for it on fourth-and-goal rather than attempt a field goal, while down 12-3, early in the fourth quarter? QB Alex Smith’s pass to tight end Demetrius Lewis was incomplete, and the Chiefs almost surely left three points on the table which they could have dearly used later.
39. The answer to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive issues wasn’t that hard to find: Feed Le’Veon Bell. While the Steelers’ passing game still looks sluggish — save for a wild Antonio Brown touchdown in the fourth quarter — Bell rushed for 179 yards on 32 carries against the Chiefs. It was only his second game over 100 rushing yards this season.
40. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it was the Steelers who ended the Chiefs’ bid at a perfect season. Pittsburgh shut down the Chiefs twice last season, including a playoff victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Harrison Smith led Minnesota’s defense in a thorough dismantling of Green Bay, as the Vikings knocked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of the game on Sunday with a broken collarbone during a 23-10 victory that drastically altered the course of the NFC North.
Smith had 1½ sacks on safety blitzes, a diving interception and two pass breakups, helping the Vikings (4-2) limit the injury-depleted Packers to a season-low 227 yards.
Anthony Barr, who later left with a concussion, delivered the game-changing hit on Green Bay’s second drive when he took Rodgers hard to the turf as the two-time NFL MVP followed through on a pass.
Rodgers fell on his throwing shoulder, and the Packers (4-2) announced he could miss the remainder of the season.
Brett Hundley threw his first career touchdown pass in relief, connecting with Davante Adams in the second quarter after a 63-yard return by Clay Matthews of Jerick McKinnon’s fumble gave the Packers the ball at the 18.
Hundley was picked off three times and sacked four times. He finished 18 for 33 for 157 yards. The Packers had five first downs and 102 yards over the first three quarters.
Case Keenum, making his fourth start in place of the injured Sam Bradford, went 24 for 38 for 239 yards without top wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He threw 13 times to Adam Thielen, completing nine for 97 yards.
GIANTS 23, BRONCOS 10
DENVER (AP) – Eli Manning ignored the loss of four wide receivers, and reeling New York capped a stormy week of injuries and infighting by stunning Denver.
The Giants (1-5) pulled off one of the season’s biggest upsets by dominating Denver in every phase from start to finish. The Broncos (3-2) blew a golden opportunity to close in on Kansas City in the AFC West after the Steelers knocked off the last unbeaten team in the league earlier Sunday.
Visiting teams went 8-5 in Week 6 and are 46-44 overall this upside-down NFL season.
Jason Pierre-Paul had a trio of sacks for the Giants, who came into Denver tottering from a tumultuous week in which three wide receivers landed on injured reserve, five other starters were sidelined with injuries and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended for insubordination.
PATRIOTS 24, JETS 17
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Tom Brady set the NFL record for regular-season victories by a quarterback, getting his 187th.
The Patriots (4-2) were playing their first game in 10 days after beating Tampa Bay 19-14 on Oct. 5, and appeared a bit rusty early as they fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter against the surprising Jets (3-3).
New York had a chance to tie the game after getting the ball back with 1:53 remaining, but the Patriots’ 32nd-ranked overall defense held on – forcing Josh McCown to throw incomplete on a desperation heave on fourth-and-17 from the 50, and ending the Jets’ three-game winning streak.
Brady broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for the record.
New York appeared to make it a one-score game again on its next possession as Austin Seferian-Jenkins took a short pass from McCown and reached over the goal line for a 4-yard touchdown.
But officials reviewed the score and said the video replay showed that Seferian-Jenkins slightly lost control of the ball as he went out of bounds on the side of the end zone, resulting in a touchback – despite the ball never hitting the ground. That gave the Patriots back the ball, with the Jets’ sideline irate.
STEELERS 19, CHIEFS 13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Le’Veon Bell ran for 179 yards and a touchdown, Antonio Brown made an acrobatic touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Steelers handed the NFL’s only unbeaten team its first loss.
The Chiefs (5-1) still had a chance after Brown’s 51-yard reception made it 19-10, moving quickly downfield and getting a 33-yard field goal from Harrison Butker.
And when their defense forced a quick three-and-out, Tyreek Hill’s 32-yard punt return gave them the ball with 1:48 to go.
But after the Steelers (4-2) gave up a first down, James Harrison sacked Alex Smith on third-and-10, and the quarterback’s incomplete pass on fourth down left the NFL with no perfect teams.
Ben Roethlisberger was 17 of 25 for 252 yards for Pittsburgh, bouncing back from his abysmal five-interception performance against Jacksonville last week. His favorite target was Brown, who a few weeks ago was flipping over water coolers on the sideline but spent Sunday slinging high-fives. He finished with eight catches for 155 yards, often beating All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters.
CHARGERS 17, RAIDERS 16
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Nick Novak kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play and the Chargers took advantage of a key missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio.
The Chargers (2-4) had been done in by poor kicks this season, losing twice on misses by former kicker Younghoe Koo. Novak missed a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, but it was a missed extra point by Tavecchio – after a high snap by Jon Condo early in the fourth quarter – that was the difference in a fourth straight loss by the Raiders (2-4).
Philip Rivers took over at his 8 with 4:09 to play and used two long passes to Hunter Henry to move the Chargers into field-goal range. Five straight runs by Melvin Gordon and two kneeldowns moved the ball to the 14 and drained the clock, setting the stage for Novak’s winning kick.
The Raiders had taken the lead on a 47-yard end-around by Cordarrelle Patterson, but that and the return of quarterback Derek Carr weren’t enough to end this slide. Oakland last lost four in a row during an 0-10 start in 2014.
CARDINALS 38, BUCCANEERS 33
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Adrian Peterson rushed for two touchdowns and 134 yards in an impressive Arizona debut and the Cardinals held off a furious second-half Tampa Bay rally.
The Buccaneers (2-3) lost quarterback Jameis Winston to a right shoulder injury in the second quarter, with the Cardinals (3-3) leading 21-0. But backup Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns to bring Tampa Bay back from a 31-0, early third-quarter deficit.
Fitzpatrick’s 37-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans cut the Arizona lead to 38-32 with 2:02 to play.
Larry Fitzgerald recovered the onside kick and, with no Tampa Bay timeouts remaining, the Cardinals ran out the clock.
Carson Palmer completed his first 14 passes and finished 18 of 22 for 283 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a score.
Peterson, acquired in a trade with New Orleans on Tuesday, carried 26 times and scored on a 27-yard run to cap Arizona’s first possession. He added a 1-yard TD run after Tramon Williams’ interception near the goal line in the fourth quarter. The 32-year-old running back gained 47 more yards on Sunday than the 87 he had in four games with the Saints.
BEARS 27, RAVENS 24, OT
BALTIMORE (AP) – Connor Barth kicked a 40-yard field goal with 2:08 left in overtime, and the Bears used a 167-yard rushing effort by Jordan Howard to beat the Ravens.
The Bears (2-4) blew a 14-point lead in the second half before coming through in overtime behind Howard, whose 53-yard run put Chicago at the Baltimore 40. After rookie Mitchell Trubisky completed an 18-yard pass to Kendall Wright, Barth delivered the winner.
Making his first career start on the road, Trubisky directed a conservative game plan that leaned heavily on the run. The first-round draft pick completed 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears gained 231 yards on 54 rushing attempts.
Baltimore (3-3) trailed 17-3 in the third quarter and 24-16 late in regulation before using two long kick returns to get back in the game.
Bobby Rainey took a kickoff 96 yards for a score and Michael Campanaro brought back a punt 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:37 remaining. The 2-point conversion was successful, setting up overtime.
DOLPHINS 20, FALCONS 17
ATLANTA (AP) – Jay Cutler threw a pair of touchdown passes, Cody Parkey kicked a pair of field goals and the Dolphins rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit.
Matt Ryan had another crucial interception with the Falcons in position to at least attempt a tying field goal. Cordrea Tankersley got a hand on a pass intended for Austin Hooper and Reshad Jones swooped in to make the clinching interception with 39 seconds remaining.
Parkey put the Dolphins (3-2) ahead for the first time with 2:30 remaining, booting a 38-yard field goal after a gutsy play by receiver Jarvis Landry, who was hit by six players but still managed to power ahead for a key first down.
Cutler, who struggled in his first four games as the Dolphins’ fill-in starter after putting off retirement, completed 19 of 33 for 151 yards, including scoring passes to Landry and Kenny Stills. Jay Ajayi rushed for 130 yards.
The Falcons (3-2) appeared headed for an easy victory, building a big lead that looked even more comfortable against a team that had scored only three offensive touchdowns all season. But back came Miami.
RAMS 27, JAGUARS 17
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Pharoh Cooper returned the opening kickoff 103 yards, one of two special teams touchdowns that helped the Rams.
The Rams (4-2) also blocked a punt for a score and a 10-point lead in the first half. Malcolm Brown returned the loose ball 8 yards for the franchise’s first such touchdown since 2005.
The Jaguars (3-3) botched a decent chance to tie the game early in the fourth period when Blake Bortles fumbled on one play and then threw an interception on the next. It cost Jacksonville a shot at ending its up-and-down start to the season.
Los Angeles essentially sealed its third road victory on Greg Zuerlein’s 29-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining. The Rams hadn’t started 3-0 away from home since 2001.
The Jaguars, coming off an impressive victory at Pittsburgh, still haven’t won consecutive games in more than a year and lost for the ninth time in 10 games at EverBank Field.
SAINTS 52, LIONS 38
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 237 yards from scrimmage, the Saints’ resurgent defense forced five turnovers and scored a franchise-record three times.
New Orleans (3-2), which has a winning record for the first time since its last playoff season in 2013, built a five-touchdown lead, only to gut out a remarkable bid by Detroit to pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history.
Detroit (3-3) scored four straight TDs, including one on a punt return by Jamal Agnew and another on A’Shawn Robinson’s close-range interception near the Saints goal line, in less than 15 minutes off the game clock to pull as close as 45-38 with 6:41 to go. But after Agnew muffed a punt and barely got it out of the end zone, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan scored on virtually the same type of play as Robinson when he got his hand on Matt Stafford’s pass from the end zone.
The Saints’ defense produced its first points on Detroit’s first possession, when Alex Okafor sacked and stripped Stafford in the end zone and safety Kenny Vaccaro recovered. In the third quarter, rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans’ top draft choice last spring, made his first interception and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
Playing on a sore right ankle that visibly limited his mobility, Stafford was hit often, sacked five times and turned over the ball five times: twice on fumbles and three times on interceptions, two of which were tipped. New Orleans also batted down many of Stafford’s throws.
REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – Washington’s Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdowns, ran for a score, and also had an interception as part of an inconsistent performance against his past – and possibly – future mentor Kyle Shanahan’s winless 49ers.
The Redskins blew a 17-point lead before barely holding on.
Cousins was hardly at his most accurate in completing 25 of 37 passes for 330 yards against the team he has been linked to for next season because of his connection with Shanahan. The 49ers (0-6) remain unsettled at quarterback: Shanahan benched Brian Hoyer for rookie C.J. Beathard, who threw for 245 yards, a touchdown and an interception and nearly led an impressive comeback.
Beathard, a third-round pick out of Iowa and grandson of former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard, took over for Hoyer with about six and a half minutes left in the first half and the 49ers down 14-0. After Hoyer was 4 of 11 for 34 yards, Beathard went 19 of 36 in his first NFL action.
With the 49ers down by two in the final minute, Beathard led them toward field goal range. He was intercepted by Kendall Fuller on fourth down to seal the result.
The Redskins (3-2) weren’t helped by several injuries on defense. They benefited from playing a 49ers team that is now the first in NFL history to lose five consecutive games by three points or fewer. San Francisco’s past five losses have come by a combined 13 points.
TEXANS 33, BROWNS 17
HOUSTON (AP) – Deshaun Watson threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first rookie in NFL history with at least three TD passes in three straight games. Watson has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, the most in NFL history by a rookie in a team’s first six games. It equals the number of TD throws Brock Osweiler had in 15 games last season.
The Browns lost their 16th in a row on the road.
Cleveland made yet another change at quarterback this week, benching rookie DeShone Kizer, who had thrown a league-high nine interceptions, for Kevin Hogan to make his first NFL start. The results were much the same as Hogan threw three interceptions to keep the Browns (0-6) winless and drop coach Hue Jackson’s record in Cleveland to 1-21.
Johnathan Joseph had two interceptions, including one he returned for 82 yards to boost the Texans’ defense in their first game since J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus sustained season-ending injuries last week.
Watson threw TD passes to Will Fuller, Braxton Miller and DeAndre Hopkins as the Texans (3-3) set a franchise record by scoring at least 30 points for the fourth straight game.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) —- Ben Roethlisberger’s five-interception outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars was troubling for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but it was his postgame comments that set off an alarm.
After unraveling in a 30-9 loss, the veteran quarterback offered up a cryptic self-assessment by saying after the game, “Maybe I just don’t have it anymore.” Roethlisberger spent much of this week saying his confidence hasn’t been shaken, but there’s ample concern about his central role in the offense’s early struggles.
Facing the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on the road Sunday, Roethlisberger has the chance to sway the skeptical if he can make significant strides.
By any measure, Pittsburgh’s offense has been a massive letdown. One of the league’s most talented units has averaged just 19.8 points per game, tied for 19th in the NFL. Roethlisberger has thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 75.8 quarterback rating, leaving him behind the likes of Mike Glennon and Blake Bortles.
But few opponents have had more trouble with the Steelers than the Chiefs, who are 0-6 in games that Roethlisberger has played from start to finish. And though road games have been troublesome for the quarterback in recent years, the Steelers prevailed in an 18-16 AFC divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium last year despite settling for six field goals.
Though the Chiefs have surrendered a league-low 51.4% completion rate, the defense has been prone to giving up big plays and ranks just 25th with 248 yards allowed per game. Top cornerback Marcus Peters doesn’t shadow opposing No. 1 receivers, so the secondary must be prepared for Antonio Brown to be deployed in a number of different ways as Pittsburgh seeks to get him favorable looks.
Here are four other matchups that could define Week 6:
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff vs. Jacksonville Jaguars’ secondary
Three turnovers haunted Goff in last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and the upstart passer will have to be on watch once again. The Jaguars not only have the most sacks through five games (20) but also the most takeaways (15).
The Rams should continue to lean on Todd Gurley given Jacksonville’s 31st-ranked rush defense (146.4 yards allowed per game) and league-worst 5.4 yards allowed per carry. But Los Angeles can expect a loaded box to stop its star running back and Goff needs to make defenses pay in those scenarios. The red zone has been a particular stumbling block, as the Rams have scored touchdowns on just 47.83% of their trips.
For Jacksonville, slowing another high-powered attack could further legitimize what appears to be the league’s newest elite defense. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have locked down opposing receivers and have a favorable matchup against an underwhelming Rams receiving corps. If Calais Campbell and the defensive line can create havoc up front, Goff could be in for a long day.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones vs. Minnesota Vikings’ front seven
The fifth-round rookie from UTEP became Green Bay’s latest revelation last week in a 125-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys. With Ty Montgomery still recovering from broken ribs, Jones could again be in the spotlight for the NFC North rivalry clash.
The Vikings have fared far better against the run (ranked eighth with 80 yards allowed per game) than the pass (20th with 229 yards per game). Yet Aaron Rodgers has already been sacked a league-high 19 times, and starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga remain questionable. Facing a formidable pass rush led by Everson Griffen (six sacks) and Danielle Hunter, Green Bay might need to call on Jones to provide balance.
For Minnesota, corralling the run game is a crucial part of preventing big plays from Rodgers. The Vikings rank first in third-down defense with a conversion rate of just 25.5%. If Linval Joseph and the defensive front can force Rodgers into obvious passing situations, it could keep the Packers’ attack in check.
New England Patriots WRs Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan vs. New York Jets’ secondary
Jets defensive end Leonard Williams said his unit has “swagger” heading into its matchup with the Patriots, but it will take more than confidence to slow Tom Brady. In two wins over Gang Green last year, Brady threw for 500 yards and five touchdowns.
Yet a reshuffled secondary has given hope to a Jets team that finds itself tied with the Patriots and Buffalo Bills for a share of the AFC East lead. New York has the eighth-lowest opposing quarterback rating allowed (81.9) and ranks sixth in yards per attempt (6.4). Rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have had few lapses as starters, while Morris Claiborne has quietly re-established himself as a trusted option at cornerback.
The Patriots’ top-ranked passing offense (320 yards per game) will be the Jets’ greatest test yet, though it hasn’t been impervious to mistakes. With Rob Gronkowski dealing with a thigh injury, New England needs Cooks and Hogan to consistently establish separation against the secondary. Brady has already taken 16 sacks this year and likely will be looking to get the ball out earlier.
Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah vs. New Orleans Saints’ front seven
Matthew Stafford is listed as questionable with ankle and hamstring injuries. though the quarterback is expected to play. With their leader at less than 100%, the Lions could use a new dynamic on offense to lighten Stafford’s traditionally heavy burden.
Abdullah had a career-high 94 rushing yards against the Vikings two weeks ago, but he managed just 31 against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. If the running game is consistent, the Lions can avoid limit their liability not only against Stafford, but also a defense facing Drew Brees and a Saints attack yet to commit a turnover.
New Orleans’ rushing defense ranks in the middle of the pack, though it bottled up Jay Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins in its last game in London. The line will have to establish a consistent push. Defensive end Cameron Jordan’s matchup with right tackle Rick Wagner could set the tone for the day.
Bears (1-4) at Ravens (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink)
The matchup: The Mitchell Trubisky era got underway vs. the Vikings, and the No. 2 overall pick goes from facing one talented and dangerous defense to another — coordinator Dean Pees’ Baltimore Ravens have 12 takeaways. The Bears were near the bottom of the NFL in giveaways. Trubisky’s insertion on offense sparks optimism, but the defense lost another starter. OLB Willie Young (torn triceps) was put on injured reserve, the fifth starter in 2017 to land there. The Ravens return home tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers atop the AFC North. QB Joe Flacco completed his first game without a turnover, and his offense overcame the loss of RG Dan Skura (knee) and RB Terrance West (calf).
Browns (0-5) at Texans (2-3)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton)
The matchup: This season was supposed to be about the Browns developing rookie QB DeShone Kizer, but Kizer was benched after turning the ball over twice in the red zone in Week 5. Coach Hue Jackson announced Wednesday that Kevin Hogan would start Sunday, but the Texans aren’t scared of either. On the bright side, No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett had two sacks in his NFL debut. Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson, whom the Browns handed to the Texans during last year’s draft for a 2018 first-round pick, has nine TD passes the last two weeks, and suddenly the Texans rank among the top five in scoring and rushing. Watson has WR DeAndre Hopkins on track for a career year. The Texans lost two of their best defenders to season-ending injuries, DE J.J. Watt (leg) and OLB Whitney Mercilus (torn chest muscle).
Packers (4-1) at Vikings (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrew)
The matchup: QB Aaron Rodgers’ late-game mastery was on display again, but Green Bay unearthed a run game with rookie Aaron Jones racking up 125 rushing yards. He unlocks Green Bay’s play-action game, yet another dimension for this lethal offense. Packers S Kentrell Brice and CBs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins stepped up after injuries to SS Morgan Burnett (hamstring) and rookie CB Kevin King (concussion). Vikings QB Sam Bradford, who missed three weeks (left knee), started vs. the Bears but was replaced by Case Keenum in the first half and is out this week. With rookie phenom Dalvin Cook (torn ACL) on injured reserve, Jerick McKinnon rushed for 95 yards, including a 58-yard TD run. Vikings WR Adam Thielen had 12 catches for 202 yards and two TDs vs. the Packers last December, a few months after teammate Stefon Diggs racked up 9-182-1. Diggs is out this week.
Lions (3-2) at Saints (2-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Dan Hellie, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager)
The matchup: Lions QB Matthew Stafford played much of the second half last weekend with thigh and ankle injuries. The Lions have given up 12 sacks over the last two games, suggesting the line needs to plug leaky pass protection. Stafford has been sacked a league-high 18 times. After producing a league-best 11 takeaways and 47 points off turnovers through four games, the Lions defense came up empty vs. Carolina. Injuries are wreaking havoc along the Saints offensive front as RT Zach Strief (knee) was placed on IR. LT Terron Armstead is expected to make his 2017 debut after offseason shoulder surgery, enabling versatile rookie Ryan Ramczyk to replace Strief. Despite the moving parts, the Saints are only the third NFL team since 1933 to be turnover-free through its first four games.
Dolphins (2-2) at Falcons (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl)
The matchup: Although the Dolphins beat the Titans, QB Jay Cutler and the offense continued to struggle. Miami fans chanted for Matt Moore, but coach Adam Gase cited poor blocking as well as dropped passes and ragged route running as contributing factors. Miami has the NFL-worst points-per-game average (10.25) and ranks at the bottom in passing yards and second-to-last in rushing yards per game. Some Falcons said the loss to the Bills before the bye week made it more difficult to relax. QB Matt Ryan has already has thrown five interceptions, two fewer than all of last season. He also has had a hand in six turnovers the last two weeks, including a pick-six and a fumble returned for a TD. Coach Dan Quinn is hopeful to have several injured starters back, including WR Julio Jones (hip), RT Ryan Schraeder (concussion) and LB Vic Beasley (hamstring), the NFL’s reigning sack champion. Beasley and Jones were limited in practice.
Patriots (3-2) at Jets (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)
The matchup: New England’s defense redeemed itself by limiting Tampa Bay to 14 points and made a last-minute stand to preserve the victory, but the Patriots still struggled to score. TE Rob Gronkowski (thigh) is expected back. For the first time in his 15-year NFL career, Jets QB Josh McCown has guided a team to three wins in a row. A week after RBs Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire combined for 256 yards on 31 carries, the Jets were limited to 25 yards on 13 carries. The Patriots are yielding 124 rushing yards per game and gave up 140 vs. Tampa Bay, so there might be opportunities, but Powell is questionable (calf). The Pats have won both road games this season, following their 8-0 road mark in 2016. But QB Tom Brady, 40, is on pace to be hit 102 times and sacked 51 times. The Pats offensive line has to better protect him.
49ers (0-5) at Redskins (2-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin)
The matchup: This might be San Francisco’s most important game of the season, if only because the 49ers could be getting an up-close look at their future quarterback, Kirk Cousins. First-year coach Kyle Shanahan, a former Washington assistant, has to be scratching his head about what he needs to do to earn his first NFL victory. San Francisco’s last four losses have come by a combined 11 points. To make matters worse, LB NaVorro Bowman was grumbling about his playing time and was released on Friday. RB Carlos Hyde basically got benched during the Colts loss. Playing in what might be the NFL’s best division, the Redskins can’t afford to come out of their bye with a drop-off. With games at Philadelphia and Seattle coming up sandwiched around a home date with the Cowboys, this franchise can’t lose this week. The loss of CB Josh Norman could be a problem against an underrated group of Niners receivers.
Buccaneers (2-2) at Cardinals (2-3)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Kenny Albert, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver)
The matchup: Anyone ready to start designing Jameis Winston’s Hall of Fame bust might want to put those plans on hold. The third-year quarterback has stumbled recently. Getting RB Doug Martin back should give Tampa Bay’s offense another dimension. The Bucs defense, which looked shaky earlier in the season, showed some good things vs. New England. Arizona’s aging squad is centered on QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald, well into their 30s. Other than S Tyrann Mathieu and injured RB David Johnson, there aren’t a lot of pieces to build upon. Injuries continue to pile up. T Jared Veldheer, one of the only remaining starters on a patchwork offensive line, went down (knee) last week. The Cardinals acquired RB Adrian Peterson this week and cut RB Chris Johnson.
L.A. Rams (3-2) at Jaguars (3-2)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake)
The matchup: The Rams came within a catch of beating rival Seattle, which would have made them 4-1 and firmly in the driver’s seat in the NFC West. Five turnovers played a part in the loss, which coach Sean McVay said has him “extremely concerned.” This week QB Jared Goff faces a menacing secondary that picked off five Ben Roethlisberger passes last week. Tom Coughlin, hired as executive VP of football operations, didn’t need long to make an impression in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are looking like the New York Giants of the Super Bowl years, with an effective running game and a menacing defense that pressures quarterbacks and forces turnovers. The offense rode rookie RB Leonard Fournette heavily and needed QB Blake Bortles for just 14 pass attempts. The Rams are 3-0 when RB Todd Gurley gets 20 or more touches, 0-2 when he doesn’t.
Steelers (3-2) at Chiefs (5-0)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
The matchup: Frustrated QB Ben Roethlisberger said after being intercepted five times in Jacksonville, including two returned for TDs, “You just find a way to move on and play better.” Will he? RB Le’Veon Bell rushed for only 47 yards and the defense allowed 231 yards rushing, though 90 came on a Leonard Fournette TD with 1:47 left in the game. Many players had a hand in Kansas City’s ninth consecutive road victory, but none more than QB Alex Smith. He improved on his league-leading numbers with a 130.2 rating vs. Houston. He has 11 TD passes and no INTs and has thrown 168 consecutive passes without a pick.
Chargers (1-4) at Raiders (2-3)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, CBS (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon)
The matchup: The Chargers had lost nine consecutive games, including the final five of the 2016 season, before giving Anthony Lynn his first win as the team’s coach against the New York Giants. Chargers QB Philip Rivers will be facing a Raiders pass defense that has allowed a completion percentage of 68.7 this season. After winning their first two games by a combined 71-36, the Raiders have lost three games in a row by a combined 73-37. Their 30-17 loss at home to Baltimore came with EJ Manuel at quarterback as Derek Carr was sidelined by a back injury. But head coach Jack Del Rio says Carr will be ready to play vs. the Chargers. This is the second of three in a row in Oakland, with Kansas City coming four days after this one. The Raiders already have lost to Denver, so they have to snap out of it or things could get ugly with future relocation on the minds of fans.
Giants (0-5) at Broncos (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 8:30, NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya)
The matchup: The Giants’ heartbreaking loss to the Chargers dropped them to 0-5 for the fourth time in franchise history. They blew a fourth-quarter lead for the third week in a row as the defense crumbled in crunch time. Their poor pass blocking allowed QB Eli Manning to be sacked five times. And worst of all, their receiving corps was wiped out by injuries, topped by WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s broken ankle, ending his season. Denver comes out of its bye week at 3-1 and the Broncos’ average of 260.8 yards allowed per game is the NFL’s lowest. Combined with the league’s No. 3 rushing offense at 143.0 yards a game, all that has allowed the Broncos to control the ball.
Colts (2-3) at Titans (2-3)
TV: Monday, 8:30, ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)
The matchup: As bad as the Colts have been, they could be atop the AFC South by Halloween. With key divisional matchups against the Titans and Jacksonville next, Indianapolis can wipe away its horrendous 1-3 start with a Week 6 win. Injured QB Andrew Luck is hoping for a Week 8 return. With Titans QB Marcus Mariota inactive (hamstring), backup QB Matt Cassel was 21-for-32 for 141 yards in a loss to Miami. Mariota hopes to return for this game. A matchup to watch is Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Titans CB Adoree’ Jackson. Last week vs. the 49ers, Hilton caught seven of nine targets for 177 yards. Last year vs. Tennessee, he had 230 yards and two TDs on 12 catches in two games. If he draws the rookie corner Jackson, expect him to have an active day.
Bye: Bengals, Bills, Cowboys, Seahawks
Compiled by Brian Allee-Walsh, Zac Jackson, Jordan Godwin, Scott Pitoniak, Arthur Arkush, Andy Friedlander, Scott Johnson, Howard Balzer. All times p.m. Eastern.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carson Wentz said he saw some things from the Carolina Panthers he hadn’t seen on film leading to three first-half sacks and plenty of pressure.
It didn’t bother the Philadelphia Eagles’ second-year quarterback.
Wentz came up big in a huge game, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against one of the NFL’s top defenses, and the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 on Thursday night to improve to an NFC-best 5-1.
“We kept backs in to handle their linebackers and we did a better job cleaning it up in the second half,” said Wentz, who wasn’t sacked in the second half.
The Eagles turned two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points. Wentz teamed with Zach Ertz on two touchdown passes, and LaGarrette Blount scored on a 2-point conversion run for an 18-10 lead in the third quarter. Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a great leader of this football team, even in his second year,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz. “Guys really respect the way he plays. It’s exciting to see that.”
Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina (4-2).
The first two interceptions came inside Carolina’s 20, but weren’t Newton’s fault. He was hit by Fletcher Cox as he released one pass, and running back Jonathan Stewart bobbled another pass resulting in a pick. Newton’s third interception — by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left — ended a chance for the go-ahead score.
Carolina had one last shot to win, but turned it over on downs at midfield.
“We gave them layups, giving them the ball inside our 20,” Newton said. “Against a good team like that, well that’s not good ingredients to win. We can’t put our defense in that type of position.”
Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks. Kuechly missed nine games over the past two seasons with two concussions. All of the Eagles’ touchdowns came after Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter.
Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said it won’t be easy to replace Keuchly, adding “Luke is a big part of what we do.”
Added defensive tackle Kawann Short: “You saw a quick prayer, but then the game has to go on.”
Newton gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead on his 51st career touchdown rushing in the second quarter. He kept the ball on a read option and juked cornerback Rasul Douglas on the 16-yard run.
Douglas get revenge on Carolina’s next possession, intercepting Newton’s pass after Cox crashed into Newton as he was throwing, causing the ball to float high into the air.
EAGLES’ COX RETURNS: After a two-game absence due to a calf injury, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned and was a dominant force. Along with the tipped pass on Newton’s interception, he also had a sack and two quarterback hurries. “There’s no way I could sit him tonight,” Pederson said. “It was too important to him.”
NO RUNNING GAME: If it hadn’t been for Newton , the Panthers would not have had any running game to speak of against the Eagles. Newton ran for 71 yards and the touchdown, but running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to 1 yard on 13 carries.
“We have a lot of things to look at. We really do,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of the running game.”
BLOUNT POUNDS AWAY: The bruising Blount didn’t find the end zone for a touchdown, although he did score on a 2-point conversion after the Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei jumped early on an extra point attempt. That prompted coach Doug Pederson to go for two. Blount finished with 67 yards on 14 carries.
PEPPERS’ MILESTONE: Julius Peppers needed one sack to become the fifth player to reach 150 since they became an official statistic in 1982. The 37-year-old Peppers didn’t waste any time reaching it, sacking Wentz on the first drive of the game and forcing a fumble.
LINEUP CHANGE: Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley was benched in the first half for Kevin Seymour.
Eagles: Linebacker Jordan Hicks left the game early with an ankle injury. Defensive end Brandon Graham briefly left with a shoulder injury.
Panthers: Aside from Kuechly’s injury, Whittaker was carted to the locker room in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.
Eagles: Host the Washington Redskins on “Monday Night Football” on Oct. 23
Panthers: At the Chicago Bears on Oct. 22.
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — From Week 1 through Week 17, USA TODAY Sports’ NFL staff will be handicapping the race for league MVP. A first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three, and a third-place vote is worth one.
Our MVP tracker after Week 5’s games:
1. QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (30 points): He’s been our front runner all season. Now in his 13th campaign, Smith’s sublime performance begs the question, can every player crash through his “ceiling” and shed long-held labels like “game manager”? Matt Ryan had an MVP breakthrough last year, his ninth NFL season, when the stars aligned for a showing that far outstripped his historic resume (and, it’s worth noting, Ryan seems to be reverting to his previous levels in 2017). Smith appears to be enjoying his own “career year” now, surrounded by playmakers (breakout rookie RB Kareem Hunt, TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill) and fueled by the knowledge that his successor, first-round pick Patrick Mahomes, is in the building and likely to force him into job-search mode in 2018. At least Smith should be armed with a strong dossier. He continues to lead the league in completion percentage (76.6%), passer rating (125.8) — both figures are on record pace — and yards per attempt (8.8). He’s thrown 11 TD passes and not a single pick among his 158 attempts. Last week: 1
2. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (14 points): The man infamously selected after Smith in the 2005 draft is once again trying to overtake him. If Rodgers got to play the Dallas Cowboys every week, that might be a real possibility. After another stellar comeback in JerryWorld on Sunday, Rodgers now has a league-high 13 TD passes and two fourth-quarter comebacks despite operating an injury-riddled offense that has contributed to the 19 sacks he’s absorbed, most in the NFL. If his protection improves and the running game flourishes with rookie Aaron Jones’ inclusion, Rodgers might really take off in the coming weeks. Last week: 4
3. RB Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (9 points): One could certainly argue he’s every bit as important to Kansas City, the NFL’s lone unbeaten squad, as Smith. Hunt’s performance has slowed from historic levels to merely excellent the past two weeks, when he’s averaged “just” 118.5 scrimmage yards and hasn’t reached the end zone. But his NFL-high 609 rushing yards are 143 more than second-place Leonard Fournette, and his 775 yards from scrimmage are 129 more than Todd Gurley. If Hunt keeps it up, which won’t be easy given he’s averaging 6.3 yards per rush, he could threaten 2,000 rushing yards and Eric Dickerson’s rookie record of 1,808. Last week: 2
4. QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (1 point): The league’s 2015 MVP seems to be recapturing that form after a disappointing 2016 season and slow start to this one after reconstructive surgery to his throwing shoulder. Newton has thrown for 671 yards and six TDs the past two weeks, helping the Panthers again emerge as a legitimate Super Bowl threat. He isn’t running like he once did but is completing a career-high 68.3% of his passes in an evolving offense. Last week: Unranked
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(Phatzradio Sports / AP) —- Four teams are on byes this week, and injuries have reshaped the entire New York Giants receiving corps. Those are some of the obstacles you’ll face when setting up your lineups this week.
Don’t despair because there are options. Here are several suggestions that could help you determine who to start in Week 6 of your fantasy football league.
— Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis at Tennessee
Brissett has taken advantage of favorable matchups this season, using both his arm and abilities to run the ball to his advantage. The Titans have given up the third most fantasy points per game (FPPG), as well as 13 total TDs to opposing QBs.
— Deshaun Watson, Houston vs. Cleveland
Watson led QBs in fantasy points scored in each of the past two weeks. He’s scored 10 total TDs and thrown one interception during that span. Watson is a mobile QB who’s averaged just under 36 rushing yards per game and faces a Browns defense that’s yielded the fourth most FPPG to opposing QBs.
— Kirk Cousins, Washington vs. San Francisco
In his last two games before his Week 5 bye, Cousins threw five TDs and no interceptions. The week off should benefit Cousins’ receiving targets like Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed, who had been nursing injuries. The 49ers have given up an average of 321 passing yards to QBs over the past three weeks.
— Elijah McGuire, NY Jets vs. New England
With both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell possibly out this week, McGuire will be the Jets’ primary back against a Patriots team giving up the most FPPG to RBs. McGuire can catch the ball out of the backfield, and the Pats have given up the most receiving TDs to RBs.
— Marshawn Lynch, Oakland vs. LA Chargers
While Lynch’s declining snaps played percentage is concerning, he still leads Raiders RBs in carries by a wide margin. The Chargers give up 5 yards per rushing attempt as well as the most total rushing yards to RBs, who have averaged 151 yards per game.
— Marvin Jones, Detroit at New Orleans
Jones led Lions receivers with eight targets, five catches and 64 receiving yards in Week 5. The Saints have given up the fifth highest average overall passing yards per game, and the highest average receiving yards per game to WR2s.
— Adam Thielen, Minnesota vs. Green Bay
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs injured his groin in Week 5. Monitor his progress. If he’s limited, Thielen may see the most targets among Vikings receivers in Week 6 against the Packers, who surrendered three TDs to WRs in Week 5.
— John Brown, Arizona vs. Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers have given up the most FPPG to WRs. When healthy, John Brown is the Cardinals’ most explosive receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald. Tampa Bay’s defense has been riddled with injuries, yielding 309 passing yards per game, second most in football.
— A.J. Derby, Denver vs. NY Giants
Derby was targeted six times, caught four passes for 75 yards, and made a one handed grab for a TD in his last game before his Week 5 bye. The Giants have given up at least one TD to a tight end in each game this season.
— Ryan Griffin, Houston vs. Cleveland
Griffin has averaged five targets per game over the past three weeks. The Browns have given up the most receptions and second most FPPG to tight ends.
— Eli Manning, NY Giants at Denver
The Giants lost four WRs in Week 5, (two of them for the season). They limp into Denver against the Broncos’ shutdown defense that’s allowing the 10th lowest average passing yards per game.
— Jared Goff, LA Rams at Jacksonville
Goff faces a Jaguars defense that forced Ben Roethlisberger to throw five interceptions in Week 5, and has given up the fewest FPPG to QBs.
— Jonathan Stewart, Carolina vs. Philadelphia
Stewart is coming off of a brutal 18 carry, 21 yard Week 5 performance and is up against an Eagles defense that allows just 63 rushing yards per game, and the sixth fewest FPPG to RBs.
— NY Giants Running Backs, vs. Denver
Whether Orleans Darkwa is healthy enough to play, or if it’s Wayne Gallman carrying the ball for the Giants, anyone trying to run against the Broncos defense will have a hard time. They’re allowing just 2.4 yards per carry and 51 rushing yards per game.
— DeVante Parker, Miami at Atlanta
The Dolphins are hinting that Parker, who injured his ankle in Week 5, may play in Week 6, however their overall offense looks terrible. They weren’t able to move the ball in a favorable matchup against the Titans in Week 5, and all Dolphins receivers should be downgraded this week against an improved Falcons defense.
— Tyreek Hill, Kansas City vs. Pittsburgh
Although he returned a punt for a TD, Hill had a pedestrian four catches for 68 yards in Week 5. This week, he faces a Steelers team that has yielded the lowest average passing yards per game and the fewest FPPG to WRs. He still has big play potential, but will be severely challenged in Week 6.
— Eric Ebron, Detroit at New Orleans
Tight ends have just 13 receptions against the Saints. Ebron has caught just five passes on 15 targets over the past three weeks, and is droppable in most leagues.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com
NEW YORK (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL’s only unbeaten team this season.
And the Green Bay Packers have been almost as good.
So it’s little surprise that they held onto the top two spots in the latest AP Pro32 poll .
Kansas City remained the unanimous No. 1 team, receiving all 12 first-place votes for 384 points Tuesday in balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
The Chiefs beat Houston on Sunday night and will look to stay unbeaten when they host Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“The only question they’ve left is whether (quarterback) Alex Smith or (running back) Kareem Hunt is the MVP so far,” said Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams.
And the Packers are still No. 2 after Aaron Rodgers rallied them past the Cowboys 35-31.
“Tom Brady may be the most accomplished quarterback ever, but is there anyone better to watch than Aaron Rodgers? He was at his magical best — again — in a spectacular 35-31 win over the Cowboys,” said Newsday’s Bob Glauber.
The Philadelphia Eagles jumped four spots to No. 3 after routing Arizona. The Eagles get a quick start on Week 6 when they face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
“(Eagles QB Carson) Wentz is the real deal,” said Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki.
The Panthers also moved up four spots to No. 5. The two 4-1 teams meet in Charlotte in one of the top matchups of the week.
“Led by a rejuvenated Cam Newton, Carolina has climbed to the top of the NFL’s toughest division with a 3-0 road mark and a knack for pulling out close wins,” said SB Nation Radio’s Ira Kaufman.
Atlanta remained at No. 4 after its bye week and Denver slipped a spot to No. 6 after its week off.
New England inched up one to No. 7 and plays the rival Jets on Sunday in an unexpected matchup of first-place teams in the AFC East.
Seattle moved up six spots to No. 8 after holding off the Los Angeles Rams, who fell one spot to No. 11.
Detroit dropped three places to No. 9 after its comeback attempt fell short in a loss to the Panthers.
The Steelers plummeted seven places to No. 10 after Ben Roethlisberger’s career-high five interceptions in a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars, alone atop the AFC South at 3-2, jumped 10 places to No. 13.
Minnesota moved six places to No. 12 and will host the Packers on Sunday.
Five weeks into the NFL season, there are still three winless teams, so hot seats seem more plentiful than freezing ones. And Kyle Shanahan, who heads the 0-5 San Francisco 49ers, need not be worried given he’s a rookie coach armed with a six-year contract. But it’s not difficult to find other coaches who should already be sweating as those temperatures underneath them swell.
Here’s the latest installment of our weekly hot seat rankings:
1. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns: It’s getting (remaining?) ugly in Cleveland, even with the Indians still alive and Cavs returning soon. But in The Dawg Pound, rookie QB DeShone Kizer seems to already be regressing despite Jackson’s guidance. The club has lost at home to the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets in successive weeks. There are rumblings of discontent in the front office. And Jackson’s game management has to be scrutinized after he opted against a 25-yard field goal that would have tied Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter, a contest the Browns eventually lost 17-14. Last week: 1
2. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants: He lost his best player, WR Odell Beckham Jr., and another game Sunday, this time at home to the previously winless Los Angeles Chargers. The Giants’ decimated wideout corps is a ready-made excuse for McAdoo apologists, but this team’s season was already effectively over prior to the carnage of Week 5. And with the Broncos, Seahawks and Rams up next, 0-8 seems like a distinct possibility by midseason. Last week: 2
3. John Fox, Chicago Bears: Monday night’s version of the Bears, with rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky in the lineup, might be indicative of what Fox will see the rest of the way — a fun, competitive, promising team, but one that’s probably a year away from making much noise. That may be too late for Fox, who’s now 10-27 in Chicago. Last week: 4
4. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: After a horrific September, he’s getting a reprieve. Lewis’ club is playing much better, and a modest two-game winning streak leaves the Bengals just a game off the lead in a largely unimpressive AFC North. Hope springs eternal, even in Cincinnati. Last week: 3
5. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: Another win has Indy tied for second in the AFC South, though given how much Pagano’s team struggled against the winless 49ers, false hope may spring eternal, too. The Andrew Luck tease seems perpetual, and if Cam Newton is any indicator, Luck won’t be himself for a while even if he does suit up in 2017. Last week: 5
6. Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals: Given his relationship with GM Steve Keim and owner Michael Bidwill, Arians is probably safe. However Keim’s shot Monday about the team’s lacking Football IQ certainly wasn’t complimentary, and his acquisition Tuesday of RB Adrian Peterson certainly suggests the organization remains in a win-now mode despite its 2-3 record. If Arians doesn’t figure out how to get the run game in gear or protect inconsistent QB Carson Palmer, he might decide himself that he doesn’t need this headache and would rather chill full time at his lake house. Last week: Unranked
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
Kansas City Chiefs (12)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Case Keenum gave the Vikings the lift they needed, and that was just enough to spoil Mitchell Trubisky’s highly anticipated debut.
Keenum led three second-half scoring drives after Sam Bradford’s troublesome left knee flared up again, and the Minnesota Vikings beat Trubisky and the Chicago Bears 20-17 on Monday night.
Kai Forbath kicked a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds after Harrison Smith intercepted Trubisky , and the Vikings (3-2) came away with the win after dropping two of three.
“I didn’t know (if I would play),” Keenum said. “That’s something I’ve tried not to think about. I tried to approach the week like I was starting. I did the same thing I did the previous four weeks. I did the same thing I’ve done every week I’ve been in the NFL. I’ve tried to prepare like I’ve been the starter.”
Called on after Mike Glennon struggled in the first four games, Trubisky played like he belonged . The No. 2 overall pick was 12 of 25 for 128 yards with a touchdown.
The interception came after the Bears (1-4) took over on their 10 with 2:32 left in the game. Smith picked off a pass intended for Zach Miller on the right sideline at the 22.
The Vikings got the ball at the 28, and Forbath booted the winner with 16 seconds left.
Sidelined the previous three games because of swelling and soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, Bradford aggravated the joint when he was tackled in the first half.
With limited mobility, he completed just 5 of 11 passes for 36 yards and was sacked four times — including a safety by Leonard Floyd. Bradford was listed as limited in practice during the week, though coach Mike Zimmer said there was “no doubt” he would play.
He wasn’t sure how much more time Bradford will miss.
“We wouldn’t put him on the field if he wasn’t healthy enough to play,” Zimmer said. “He was very confident about it. He felt good about it. The medical people felt good about it. Everybody. We practiced on turf for two days this week, too, so that’s even a little bit harder on the legs. But I don’t think there was any doubt whatsoever he was ready to go.”
Keenum replaced him with 25 seconds left in the first half and went 17 of 21 for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Jerick McKinnon had a 58-yard touchdown run. Everson Griffen contributed a strip-sack against Trubisky that led to a field goal, and the Vikings beat Chicago on the road for just the third time in 17 games.
The Bears simplified their offense for Trubisky, with fewer receivers and extra blockers at times. But he still showed the mobility and arm strength that convinced general manager Ryan Pace to trade up a spot with San Francisco to grab him on draft night.
“I was trying to just (elevate teammates) with my presence, how much I love this game and how much I love this team,” he said. “I think they have faith in me. They believe in me when I’m in that huddle and when I’m making plays.”
Jordan Howard ran for 76 yards. Pat O’Donnell threw a 38-yard touchdown to Benny Cunningham on a fake punt. Floyd had two sacks.
Minnesota was leading 3-2 when Keenum hit Kyle Rudolph for a 13-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. The Vikings celebrated by playing duck-duck-goose in the end zone — a play Rudolph called in the huddle before the TD.
The Bears lined up to punt on a fourth down at the Minnesota 38 on the next possession. But O’Donnell passed to a wide-open Cunningham, who spun around Marcus Sherels on the way to the end zone, cutting it to 17-9.
Chicago used another trick play to tie it.
The Vikings’ Andrew Sendejo tipped a pass right to Zach Miller in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. The trickery came on the two-point conversion.
Trubisky handed the ball to Howard, who gave it to Miller. Miller then pitched it to Trubisky, who ran it in on the right side to tie it at 17-all with 12:24 left in the game.
The Vikings released running back Stevan Ridley after only five days to make room for receiver Michael Floyd, whose four-game suspension from a drunken driving arrest with Arizona last year expired.
Bears: LB John Timu left with a knee injury early in the third. He was hurt trying to tackle Latavius Murray and had to be helped off the field. … LB Willie Young (triceps) and cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) were inactive.
Vikings: Host Green Bay on Oct. 15.
Bears: Visit Baltimore on Oct. 15.
More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Monday, Sept. 9
Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. EDT. Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall draft pick this year, is set to make his NFL regular-season debut when he replaces the benched Mike Glennon for the Bears (1-3). The Vikings (2-2) will be without rookie running back Dalvin Cook, who was lost for the season last week when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last week’s 14-7 loss to Detroit. Meanwhile, quarterback Sam Bradford is nearing a return after missing three straight games with a sore knee.
— Cam Newton, Panthers, went 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards and three touchdowns to lead Carolina to a 27-24 win at Detroit.
— Deshaun Watson, Texans, tossed five touchdown passes in a losing cause as Houston fell to Kansas City 42-34.
— Carson Wentz, Eagles, had a career-best four touchdown passes and finished 21 of 30 for 304 yards in Philadelphia’s 34-7 victory over Arizona.
— Alex Smith, Chiefs, threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to help Kansas City remain undefeated with a 42-34 win over Houston.
— Aaron Rodgers, Packers, threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, finishing with three TD tosses while lifting Green Bay over Dallas 35-31.
— Philip Rivers, Chargers, had three touchdown throws in leading Los Angeles past the New York Giants 27-22.
— Brian Hoyer, 49ers, threw for 353 yards and two scores in a losing cause as San Francisco fell to Indianapolis 26-23 in overtime.
— Leonard Fournette, Jaguars, ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries in Jacksonville’s 30-9 rout of Pittsburgh.
— Aaron Jones, Packers, had 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown in his first start to help Green Bay top Dallas 35-31.
— Kareem Hunt, Chiefs, rushed for 107 yards on 29 carries and also caught two TD passes in Kansas City’s 42-34 win at Houston.
— Melvin Gordon, Chargers, ran for 105 yards on 20 attempts in Los Angeles’ 27-22 win over the New York Giants.
— Marlon Mack, Colts, had 91 yards and a TD on just nine carries in Indianapolis’ 26-23 overtime win over San Francisco.
— Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, rushed for 116 yards on 29 attempts in Dallas’ 35-31 loss to Green Bay.
— A.J. Green, Bengals, caught seven passes for 189 yards, the third-highest total of his career, including a 77-yard TD and bounced back from contributing to three turnovers to help set up the winning score as Cincinnati topped Buffalo 20-16.
— DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, had three touchdown catches in Houston’s 42-34 loss to Kansas City.
— T.Y. Hilton, Colts, had seven receptions for 177 yards in Indianapolis’ 26-23 overtime win over San Francisco.
— Antonio Brown, Steelers, caught 10 passes for 157 yards in Pittsburgh’s 30-9 loss to Jacksonville.
— Ed Dickson, Panthers, had five receptions for a career-high 175 yards — a total that surpassed his production from each of the previous three seasons with Carolina — in a 27-24 win at Detroit.
— Davante Adams, Packers, caught two touchdown passes in Green Bay’s 35-31 victory at Dallas, including the 12-yard winner with 11 seconds left.
— Adam Vinatieri, Colts, booted four field goals — including a 51-yarder to win it in overtime — and made two extra points in Indianapolis’ 26-23 victory over San Francisco.
— Chandler Catanzaro, Jets, kicked a franchise-record 57-yard field goal to end the first half of New York’s 17-14 win at Cleveland.
— Patrick Robinson, Eagles, deflected Phil Dawson’s 51-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half of Philadelphia’s 34-7 win over Arizona.
— Harrison Butker, Chiefs, kicked five goals — 35, 42, 41, 35 and 49 yards — in Kansas City’s 42-34 win at Houston.
— Tyreek Hill, Chiefs, returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to help Kansas City to a 42-34 win at Houston.
— Kenjon Barner, Eagles, had a 76-yard punt return to set up Philadelphia’s second TD in a 34-7 win over Arizona.
— Myles Garrett, Browns, had two sacks in his NFL debut — including one on the first play of his career — in Cleveland’s 17-14 loss to the New York Jets.
— Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, Chargers, each had two sacks and both also forced a fumble in Los Angeles’ 27-22 win over the New York Giants.
— Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church and Telvin Smith, Jaguars. Gipson had two interceptions in Jacksonville’s 30-9 win at Pittsburgh, while Church and Smith returned picks for touchdowns.
— Jimmy Smith, Ravens, returned a fumble 47 yards for a TD in Baltimore’s 30-17 victory at Oakland.
— Reshad Jones, Dolphins, had six tackles, a half-sack and two fumble recoveries, including one he returned 38 yards for a score in Miami’s 16-10 win over Tennessee.
— Earl Thomas, Seahawks, forced two of the Rams’ five turnovers in Seattle’s 16-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
STREAKS & STATS
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald caught a pass for the 200th consecutive game, third-longest streak in NFL history. … Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett had two sacks against the New York Jets, becoming the first player selected No. 1 overall to have multiple sacks in his NFL debut since it became an official statistic in 1982. … With its 26-23 overtime loss at Indianapolis, San Francisco became the first team since the 1994 Houston Oilers to lose four straight games by three or fewer points. … The Jets’ 17-14 victory at Cleveland marked the first time in his 15-year career that Josh McCown has won three straight starts. … Houston’s Deshaun Watson is the first rookie with four or more touchdown passes in back-to-back games since Washington’s Robert Griffin III in 2012.
At 22 years and 263 days old, Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette is the youngest player in NFL history with a touchdown run of at least 90 yards and is the fifth rookie to score at least one TD in each of his team’s first five games of a season. … Indianapolis’ Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning 51-yard field goal in overtime in the Colts’ 26-23 victory over San Francisco. He has 24 game-winning field goals in the regular season in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime and 10 game-winners in overtime — both the most in NFL history. Vinatieri became the third player to score 2,400 points and has 2,411, behind only Morten Andersen (2,544) and Gary Anderson (2,434). Vinatieri also has one more field goal made than Anderson (538) to move into second on the all-time list. … The Colts’ Frank Gore ran for 48 yards to surpass Eric Dickerson (13,259) and give him 13,304 for his career — seventh-most in NFL history.
San Francisco, Cleveland and the New York Giants are the only winless teams remaining, with all three sitting at 0-5. The 49ers fell 26-23 to Indianapolis in overtime, the Browns were edged by the Jets 17-4 and the Giants lost 27-22 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Carolina’s Cam Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter during the week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL. The 2015 NFL MVP said after a 27-24 win at Detroit that he put Rosie the Riveter, flexing her right arm, on his hat after doing homework to learn her iconic impact on World War II. “I just wanted to have a little notion, a shoutout, to all the strong women,” Newton said.
Jacksonville had five interceptions in its 30-9 victory at Pittsburgh, including returns for TDs by Telvin Smith (28 yards) and Barry Church (51). It marked the first time the Jaguars had two INTs returned for scores. Ben Roethlisberger’s career-high five interceptions were the most by a Steelers quarterback since Mark Malone threw five against Cleveland in 1987.
After a shaky first half, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer at halftime of Cleveland’s 17-14 loss to the New York Jets. Kizer, who threw a costly pick as Cleveland’s offense sputtered, was replaced by Kevin Hogan, who completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
One day after Peyton Manning’s statue was unveiled outside Lucas Oil Stadium, the only five-time league MVP in league history finally got to thank Colts fans inside the stadium he helped build. And he did it by taking a snap from long-time center Jeff Saturday and throwing a pass that Reggie Wayne caught in the end zone. “I thank God every day that I’m an Indianapolis Colt,” Manning told the crowd at halftime of the Colts’ 26-20 overtime win over San Francisco.
Josh McCown got some revenge on his former team by throwing two touchdown passes and leading the surprising New York Jets to a 17-14 win over the winless Cleveland Browns. McCown won only one game as a starter in two seasons with Cleveland, and that came in Baltimore. He went 0-7 at home for the Browns, who released him on Feb. 7 in a cost-cutting move.
Davante Adams had been in the concussion protocol but was active for Green Bay just 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan. He had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns — including the winning 12-yard score with 11 seconds left in the Packers’ 35-31 victory at Dallas.
Miami’s Reshad Jones kept playing after everyone else stopped to give the Dolphins their first touchdown in a 16-10 win over Tennessee. Titans quarterback Matt Cassel fumbled with his arm cocked when hit by Kiko Alonso, and the ball squirted forward 14 yards. Jones scooped up the ball and ran uncontested to the end zone. Referee Bill Vinovich eventually announced that the loose ball was a fumble and Miami had scored. Following a replay review, the call was upheld, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.
Houston star J.J. Watt broke his left leg Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team announced that he sustained a tibial plateau fracture. The defensive end was injured while being blocked midway through the first quarter of the Texans’ 42-34 loss. … New York Giants wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall left on the same second-quarter series with sprained left ankles in a 27-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Dwayne Harris broke a foot on a kickoff return in the third quarter. Odell Beckham Jr. was the final one to go down, breaking his left ankle in the fourth quarter. … Oakland also lost four players to injuries, with Marquel Lee (ankle), fullback Jamize Olawale (concussion), linebacker Corey James (knee) and cornerback Antonio Hamilton (knee) leaving their 30-17 defeat against Baltimore. … Ravens running back Terrance West departed on the opening drive with a left calf injury following a 13-yard run and did not return. … Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson, who scored his sixth touchdown early in the fourth quarter, wasn’t on the field during the Packers’ final drive. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was being evaluated for an undisclosed injury.
“It was a (butt) whooping, plain and simple.” — Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant after Pittsburgh was routed at home by Jacksonville, 30-9 on Sunday.
“I did a great job watching the Bruce Lee movies, and it kind of carried over to the football field.” — Seattle’s Earl Thomas on his martial arts-style chop to the arm of Rams running back Todd Gurley, knocking the ball out for a touchback in the Seahawks’ 16-10 win.
“It took me three years and two teams, but dang gummit, I got me a win at FirstEnergy Stadium.” — Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who was released by the Browns in February after two seasons and led New York to a 17-14 win at Cleveland on Sunday.
1. Welp. Might as well call it for the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, and San Francisco 49ers. All three fell to 0-5. No team in league history has ever started 0-5 and made the playoffs.
2. But for the optimists out there, there is a little hope. The 1970 Cincinnati Bengals started 1-6 but still reached postseason. More recently, so did the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs — after a 1-5 start.
3. Sunday was just brutal day for the Giants. Their top four receivers left the game with injuries. The sight of Odell Beckham Jr. being carted off in tears with a fractured left ankle, however, was most demoralizing. Before going down, Beckham kept New York in the game with a late 48-yard touchdown.
4. More bad news on the injury front: Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture on Sunday night. The team hasn’t given a timeline for his recovery, but having the three-time defensive player of the year sidelined would be a devastating blow to the Texans as well as the league, which would sorely miss one of its most universally beloved figures.
5. Is there any way to contain the Kansas City Chiefs? On a night when Kareem Hunt was mostly contained (but still finished with 107 yards on 29 carries), the offense still put up 450 total yards in a 42-34 win over the Texans. Alex Smith turned in another MVP caliber performance (29-of-37 passing, 324 yards, three TDs), and Tyreek Hill returned a punt 82 yars for a score.
6. One sign that Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz is progressing and making efficient decisions: He now has five touchdown passes on third down this season, after he threw only three such scores in his rookie year.
7. Another Wentz stat that should have the Philly faithful excited? In first quarters last year, he threw six interceptions and just one touchdown. This year? No picks, five TDs.And one more. Wentz’s previous career high for TD throws in a game was two. He had three in the first quarter Sunday and finished with four.
8. We have no idea what the Pittsburgh Steelers were thinking. The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Sunday ranked dead last in rushing defense (165.5 yards allowed per game), and first in passing defense (147). So why on earth would Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley dial up just 15 carries for Le’Veon Bell?
9. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has played 210 career games. He had never finished one with zero touchdowns and four or more interceptions — before Sunday, when Big Ben threw five interceptions and did not toss a TD.
10. Maybe Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown, who racked up 157 receiving yards Sunday, should try calling Roethlisberger out on the radio this week.
11. However Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, who grew up playing in the same Liberty City (Miami) youth league as Brown, had the better day with 177 yards and a victory.
12. Roethlisberger and the Giants’ Eli Manning, both first-round picks in 2004, have combined to win four Lombardi Trophies. But the other Round 1 QB from 2004, Philip Rivers, was the only one to notch a victory Sunday … and is now 3-0 vs. Manning, the man he was traded for on draft day.
13. The Jaguars have forced 14 turnovers this year after generating 13 all of last season.
14. Jacksonville, by the way, is sitting atop the AFC South at 3-2. This team may have turned the corner. That hamstring injury to Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota may open the door for the Jaguars and the Houston Texans in the division.
15. The Miami Dolphins defense has more touchdowns (1) than the offense (0) in first halves this season.
16. That tells us it may be time to scrap the Jay Cutler experiment. Right before halftime, he threw an interception and fans in South Florida booed. It got worse. Chants of “WE WANT MOORE” — as in backup QB Matt Moore — rained down from the stands in the Dolphins’ home opener. By halftime, Cutler had completed just five of 11 passes for 21 yards and the pick. Oh, and this was against a Titans D that allowed 283 yards and four touchdowns to rookie passer Deshaun Watson last week.
17. By the way, as Colin Kaepernick waits for the phone to ring? The two quarterbacks in that game — Cutler and Tennessee’s Matt Cassel, who was starting in place of Mariota — combined for 17 of 28 passing for 75 yards, no touchdowns and two turnovers in the first half.
18. Jags rookie RB Leonard Fournette became the fifth player since 1970 to start his career with a touchdown from scrimmage in at least five straight games. If you didn’t know already, Jacksonville’s offense runs through Fournette. Think about it this way: Two pick-sixes definitely helped, but the Jaguars beat Pittsburgh 30-9 despite Blake Bortles completing eight passes for 95 yards. (And we can’t blame Jacksonville. When you have a player who is so physical that he asks for hits, might as well give him the rock.)
19. A day of firsts for the McCaffreys. Carolina Panthers rookie RB Christian McCaffrey scored his first career touchdown — on a shovel pass from Cam Newton — almost at the same time that brother Max, a rookie receiver for the Jaguars, recorded his first career catch.
20. Last week, we suggested Newton’s surgically repaired right shoulder seemed fully recovered. If you didn’t believe us, maybe his domination of the Detroit Lions will convince you. Newton had 26 completions, seven incompletions, 355 yards, and three touchdowns. (And if that doesn’t do the trick, this perfectly-thrown, drop-in-the-bucket dime in stride to Kelvin Benjamin might.)
21. The Panthers led the Lions 27-10 after three quarters. Some deficits are too much even for Detroit QB Matthew Stafford.
22. Ugh, Browns. It took 19 quarters, but they finally took their first lead of the season Sunday. Still, though Cleveland moves the ball at times, it tends to self-destruct inside opponents’ 20-yard line. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer gave away the ball on a botched toss and an awfully thrown interception against the Jets. That marked Cleveland’s fifth red zone turnover this season, which leads the league.
23. Not incidentally, the Browns’ breakthrough touchdown came after coach Hue Jackson benched Kizer for Kevin Hogan at the start of the third quarter. Flashing big plays occasionally won’t be enough for Kizer, who has to show he can eliminate the back-breaking mistakes. Hogan played well enough (16-for-19, 194 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) to entertain the possibility of his being the starter for the foreseeable future.
24. Colts RB Frank Gore keeps moving up the NFL’s career rushing list. With his first carry Sunday, he passed Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. Gore is now seventh on the all-time list with 13,304 after a 48-yard showing. As long as he stays healthy this year, he’s likely to finish the season in fifth place. Jerome Bettis (13,662) and LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) are in the way … though so might be Colts rookie Marlon Mack, who rushed for 91 yards against the 49ers.
25. Still, Gore had a happier reunion with the 49ers than San Francisco WR Pierre Garcon did with the Colts.
26. The Buffalo Bills registered their first turnover since the first quarter of Week 1. It was only their second giveaway of the year, but it came at an awful time — a fourth-quarter INT from Tyrod Taylor that sunk his team in Cincinnati.
27. The Bills entered Sunday having sole possession of first place in the AFC East, which marked just the 11th week the team has been in that position since 2000. After their loss to the Bengals, it stays at 11.
28. The 2017 Jets, whom some picked to go 0-16, have a three-game winning streak and are in a three-way, first-place tie with the Bills and New England Patriots, all of them 3-2. Huge credit goes to coach Todd Bowles for getting a young and relatively unknown roster to play competitively. (And if you had Week 6’s showdown between the Jets and Patriots as a compelling matchup, we’d like to talk to you about buying our Powerball ticket.)
29. With the Dolphins at 2-2, just a half game separates the entire division. However even though the Pats had a sloppy victory Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s hard not to think they’ll eventually figure things out — especially after their defense showed signs of life against Jameis Winston and Co.
30. The Arizona Cardinals entered Week 5 averaging a league-worst 57 rushing yards per game. They managed just 31 at Philadelphia. Where have you gone, David Johnson?
31. The Oakland Raiders are in a precarious spot. They’ve lost three in a row, with the offense averaging just 12.3 points and 209 yards in that span. Derek Carr needs to come back — invigorated — soon.
32. Maybe Sunday’s victory will finally convince offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the Baltimore Ravens to stick to the rushing game. In its two losses this year, Baltimore averaged just 108 rushing yards. In its three victories? How about 145.3.
33. For the second week in a row, the NFL will serve up a prime matchup in the Thursday night prime-time slot: Philadelphia (4-1) at Carolina (4-1).
34. The game between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks was a good barometer of where L.A. ranks in the NFC West landscape. The Rams are a solid team that is unquestionably ascending, but they’re not quite on the level of a perennial power like Seattle, as Sunday’s 16-loss showed. That gap, though, appears to be closing.
35. It was impressive for the Rams to march out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. What wasn’t impressive? How they squandered the lead via self-inflicted errors. Los Angeles committed five turnovers in its first four games. On Sunday alone, the Seahawks doubled them up and forced them into five more.
36. With that said, should the Seahawks be worried that they won the turnover battle 5-2 but needed to fend off a late rally to win? Their offensive line woes won’t go away, and they still can’t find anyone to run the ball consistently.
37. Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s fourth interception of the season was returned for a TD by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Prescott, last season’s offensive rookie of the year, was picked off four times in the entire 2016 regular season.
38. Kudos to Prescott for bringing the Cowboys back and scoring what appeared to be the game-winning TD. But leaving Aaron Rodgers 73 seconds to win the game? We had a feeling that wouldn’t go well. With all due respect to Tom Brady, feels like there’s just no one better in the NFL right now at game-winning drives.
39. Aside from Rodgers’ heroics, the coaching job Mike McCarthy has done in Green Bay this year is what has re-established the Packers as one of the NFC’s most dangerous teams. Perhaps no other team has overcome as many injuries and relied on so much capable depth.
40. Look no further than the emergence of running back Aaron Jones, who two weeks ago was third on the Pack depth chart. Injuries to Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams thrust Jones into the starter’s role. All the rookie did was respond with 19 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown vs. the Cowboys. It wouldn’t surprise us if Jones continues to have a prominent role, even when Montgomery returns from his broken ribs.
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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, lifting Green Bay over the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 on Sunday in another thriller nine months after the Packers’ divisional playoff victory on the same field.
Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive in just 1:02, going toward the same end zone as in the playoff game.
Adams, active 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan, had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Dak Prescott had given Cowboys the lead on an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining to cap a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes. Dallas (2-3) has already matched the number of losses from the magical rookie season for Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Packers (4-1) had gone ahead earlier on Damarius Randall’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown, the third of five lead changes in the fourth quarter. Green Bay rallied from 15 points down in the first half.
Aaron Jones had 19 carries for 125 yards and a TD, becoming the first Green Bay running back with 100 yards in his first start as a rookie since Samkon Gado in 2005.
Elliott finished with 116 yards on 29 carries. Prescott was 25 of 36 for 251 yards and three first-half touchdowns, two to Cole Beasley and one to Dez Bryant.
Rodgers was 19 of 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns and set up the winning score with an 18-yard scramble.
COLTS 26, 49ERS 23, OT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After blowing a 14-point lead in the final eight minutes or regulation and surviving an interception in scoring position in overtime, Marlon Mack’s 35-yard run set up Adam Vinatieri for a 51-yard field goal as the Indianapolis Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers.
Vinatieri made four field goals to move into second on the NFL’s career list, one ahead of Gary Anderson (538). Mack and Jacoby Brissett each scored on TD runs for the Colts (2-3), who have won both games against winless teams.
San Francisco (0-5) is one of three teams that still has not won this season. The Browns and Giants are the others.
In many ways, the mistake-prone game became a sideshow for what happened around it.
While many showed up to thank Manning, who played his final home game in Indy on Jan. 8, 2011, most didn’t anticipate becoming part of another political statement.
Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, left shortly after about a dozen San Francisco players dropped to their knees for the national anthem. The Colts locked arms, but none took a knee.
Some reports indicated Pence’s walkout was planned.
President Donald Trump later tweeted: “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
And Peyton Manning was inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor.
CHIEFS 42, TEXANS 34
HOUSTON (AP) — Alex Smith threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to help Kansas City remain undefeated in a game where Houston star J.J. Watt broke his left leg.
Deshaun Watson’s 48-yard touchdown pass got the Texans within six early in the fourth quarter before Smith extended the lead for Kansas City (5-0) to 32-20 on a 10-yard pass to De’Anthony Thomas with about 9 minutes left. Tyreek Hill padded the lead when he returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.
Watson threw for 261 yards and five touchdowns, but the Texans (2-3) failed to recreate the magic they found last week when they scored a franchise-record 57 points in a victory over Tennessee.
Watt, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, was injured in the first quarter and the team announced that he sustained a tibial plateau fracture, but didn’t provide any details on how long he’ll be out. The defensive end returned this season after missing the last 13 games last year after his second back surgery.
CHARGERS 27, GIANTS 22
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Philip Rivers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon with 2:58 to play and the Chargers rallied to beat the Giants in a game worthy of two teams that started the season 0-4.
The touchdown pass was Rivers’ third of the game and came three plays after Kyle Emanuel had a sack, forced fumble and recovery against Eli Manning at the Giants 11-yard line. It also came four plays after Odell Beckham Jr. hurt an ankle and become the fourth Giants receiver knocked out of the game.
Rivers also hit Gordon on a 6-yard TD pass in the second quarter and had a 25-yarder to tight end Hunter Henry in the third as the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak dating to late November.
Manning had given the Giants a 22-17 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard TD pass to a wide-open Beckham. New York missed the 2-point conversion attempt after being hit with a delay of game penalty.
Manning, who was sacked five times, also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to backup Roger Lewis Jr. in the third quarter. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 23-yard run and the Giants got a safety in scoring their first first-quarter points this season.
JAGUARS 31, STEELERS 9
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Telvin Smith and Barry Church returned a pair of Ben Roethlisberger’s interceptions for touchdowns and Jacksonville stunned Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville (3-2) beat the Steelers for the first time in a decade by relying heavily on the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense. The Jaguars picked off Roethlisberger five times in all and sacked him twice. Rookie Leonard Fournette ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars, who are over .500 after five games for the first time since 2010 and have already matched their victory total from 2016.
Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 for 312 yards and his career-high five interceptions, the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Mark Malone threw five against Cleveland in 1987.
A week after a sideline outburst generated headlines and drew Roethlisberger’s ire, wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards for Pittsburgh (3-2).
Brown was also the intended receiver on a pair of third-quarter passes the opportunistic Jaguars turned into points. The Steelers led 9-7 when Roethlisberger looked left for Brown. Jacksonville defensive lineman Abry Jones tipped it into the hands of Smith, who chugged 28 yards to put Jacksonville in front with 6:38 left in the period.
The Jaguars defense struck again on Pittsburgh’s next series. Roethlisberger tried to hit Brown down the sideline. Jalen Ramsey deflected it and Church came down with it. A 51-yard sprint later and Jacksonville had turned a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead without taking an offensive snap.
EAGLES 34, CARDINALS 7
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz threw a career-best four touchdown passes and the Eagles continued their impressive start.
Wentz tossed three scoring passes in the first quarter, including 59 yards to Torrey Smith, 11 yards to Zach Ertz and 15 yards to Trey Burton. He connected with Nelson Agholor for a 72-yard TD in the third quarter that left six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson shouting on the sideline.
The Eagles (4-1) have won three straight games.
Carson Palmer and Arizona’s one-dimensional offense were held to 279 yards. The Cardinals (2-3) have alternated losses and wins since Week 1.
Wentz torched a secondary that features Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, finishing 21 of 30 for 304 yards. Peterson held Alshon Jeffery to three catches for 31 yards, but Wentz spread the ball around.
DOLPHINS 16, TITANS 10
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jay Cutler finally silenced the boobirds with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, and the Dolphins overcame another dismal offensive showing.
The jeers started in the first quarter of the Dolphins’ home debut, and soon the crowd was chanting for backup quarterback Matt Moore. But coach Adam Gase stuck with Cutler, who capped a 58-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry for the tiebreaking score.
The Titans (2-3) played without quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was inactive because of a left hamstring injury suffered a week ago. Replacement Matt Cassel went 21 for 32 for 141 yards and was sacked six times.
Miami (2-2) came in ranked last in the NFL in points and yards per game, and struggled against a Titans team that allowed 57 points against Houston a week ago.
PANTHERS 27, LIONS 24
DETROIT (AP) — Cam Newton showed he was very focused on football, throwing three touchdowns to help the Panthers build a lead big enough to hold off the Lions.
The Panthers (4-1) scored 24 straight points after trailing 10-3 early in the second quarter. Detroit rallied, but could not stop Newton on his last drive to get the ball back.
Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter this week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL.
He was 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards. On perhaps the game’s key play, he converted a third-and-19 from the Carolina 24 with a sharp, 17-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 2:00 left while clinging to a three-point lead against a team out of timeouts.
Newton threw a 6-yard TD pass to rookie Christian McCaffrey to pull the Panthers into a 10-10 tie early in the second quarter and a 10-yard pass to Devin Funchess for a tiebreaking score with 48 seconds left in the first half. With a perfectly lofted 31-yard pass to Benjamin, the 2015 NFL MVP put Carolina up 24-10 early in the third.
Detroit (3-2) struggled to move the ball in the air and on the ground until late in the game.
BENGALS 20, BILLS 16
CINCINNATI (AP) — A.J. Green had a hand in three turnovers that kept it close, but the receiver also pulled off a 77-yard touchdown and another long catch that set up a score.
After losing their first three games, the Bengals (2-3) have salvaged their season by getting the ball to their playmakers at decisive moments. Green’s 47-yard catch set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon that put Cincinnati ahead to stay in the fourth quarter.
The Bills (3-2) got off to an encouraging start by relying heavily on kicker Stephen Hauschka and a defense that led the league, allowing only 13.5 points per game in the first four. The combination wasn’t enough this time. Buffalo’s depleted offense couldn’t take advantage of Cincinnati’s three turnovers.
Tyrod Taylor’s off-target pass was picked off near midfield with 2:14 left, clinching it for Cincinnati. Taylor finished 20 of 37 for 166 yards and was sacked six times.
The Bengals changed offensive coordinators after failing to get a touchdown in their first two games. Green complained that they weren’t getting the ball to their difference makers. He made the difference Sunday, catching seven passes for 189 yards.
JETS 17, BROWNS 14
CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh McCown came back to Cleveland and beat the team that cut him, throwing two touchdown passes and leading the surprising Jets over the winless Browns, who benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and fell to 1-20 under coach Hue Jackson.
McCown went 1-10 in two seasons as a starter for the Browns, who released him on Feb. 7 in a cost-cutting move. The 38-year-old wasn’t seeking revenge, but he got it with two second-half scoring tosses.
McCown threw a 2-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the third quarter and a 24-yarder to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth to give the Jets (3-2) a 17-7 lead en route to their third straight victory.
Kearse’s TD capped a 97-yard drive after Jackson decided not to try a potential tying field goal — rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two attempts in the first half — and went for it on fourth down. However, running back Isaiah Crowell was stopped short by New York’s defense.
Jackson also decided to replace Kizer in the second half for backup Kevin Hogan, perhaps a sign the coach is worried about losing his job. Hogan threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end David Njoku.
The Browns (0-5) dropped to 2-30 in their past 32 games, but they did finally get to see No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett. Garrett, who missed Cleveland’s first four games with a high ankle sprain, got a sack on his first play and finished with two.
RAVENS 30, RAIDERS 17
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace on two deep passes to spark Baltimore’s struggling offense, and the Ravens got a fumble return for a touchdown by Jimmy Smith to beat short-handed Oakland.
Flacco had struggled to get the ball downfield in losing the past two weeks. He changed that on the opening drive of the game for the Ravens (3-2) when he connected on a 52-yard pass to Wallace that set up an early touchdown and established the tone for the day.
The Raiders (2-3), playing without injured star quarterback Derek Carr and two key cornerbacks, played from behind all game as Smith returned Jared Cook’s fumble 47 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0 just 3:50 in.
Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel , making his fourth start in the past three seasons, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and led another TD drive that ended in Marshawn Lynch’s 3-yard run . He finished 13 for 26 for 159 yards.
But that wasn’t nearly enough for the Raiders, who have dropped three straight following a 2-0 start, putting a severe dent in their hopes to challenge in the AFC West.
SEAHAWKS 16, RAMS 10
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Russell Wilson passed for 198 yards and a touchdown, and Earl Thomas forced two of the Rams’ five turnovers in Seattle’s win.
Jimmy Graham scored late in the first half in a defense-dominated win for the Seahawks (3-2), who shut out the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in the second half of their second straight win over their NFC West rivals.
Thomas made enormous defensive plays early and late for Seattle. The veteran safety stripped the ball from Todd Gurley at the goal line to kill the Rams’ opening drive, and he intercepted Jared Goff’s fluttering pass at midfield with 6:02 to play.
Sheldon Richardson also came through with two big plays, diving to intercept a deflected pass in the third quarter before scooping up Goff’s fumble near midfield with 2:45 left.
Goff moved the Rams 55 yards in the final 1:09, but Seattle’s defense made its final stop. Rams rookie Cooper Kupp barely missed a diving TD grab on third down, and Goff’s fourth-down pass to Kupp was too low.
Tavon Austin rushed for a 27-yard TD for Los Angeles (3-2), and Goff went 22 of 47 for 288 yards with three costly turnovers.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) —- Todd Gurley can finally share some of the spotlight with the rest of the Los Angeles Rams, and the running back is already reaping the rewards.
Once the focal point of every opposing defense, Gurley is enjoying a resurgence in his third year thanks in part to new coach Sean McVay’s varied attack. The offense ranks as the league’s highest-scoring at 35.5 points per game, and quarterback Jared Goff has received much of the praise for the turnaround given his 112.2 passer rating that now stands second best in the league.
But Gurley remains the centerpiece of the offense, perhaps more than ever. He has an NFL-high 106 touches, which represent 53.5% of the Rams’ plays (also a league best). His 596 total yards from scrimmage are topped only by Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt.
Facing a Seattle Seahawks defense that ranks just 27th against the rush, Gurley should again see a heavy workload and could be the determining factor in whether the Rams can prevail and prove themselves legitimate contenders in the NFC West.
The Seahawks have previously bottled up Gurley, limiting him to just 89 yards on 31 carries in two games last year. But this year’s defense hasn’t lived up to its past smothering standards, as it is allowing 134 yards per game on the ground. And though the group ranks fourth against the pass, it likely won’t be able to take Goff for granted as in past matchups by loading up the box.
Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright could prove to be the Seahawks’ best weapons for countering Gurley. The two will be called on to contain Gurley not only as a runner but also in the passing game, where he has 234 yards and three of his seven touchdowns.
Here are four other matchups that could define Week 5 in the NFL:
Green Bay Packers OTs David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga vs. Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence
Aaron Rodgers might be able to breathe easier on Sunday, as his starting offensive tackles could be playing together for the first time this season. Both Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bulaga (ankle) are listed as questionable after each played in just one game so far.
Their absence has taken a toll on Rodgers, who has already taken 15 sacks. His recourse to the pressure has been to revert to a quick-strike attack, as his 5.3 average completed air yards are the third-lowest of any starting quarterback, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Dallas, however, knows how lethal Rodgers can be when not contained in the pocket, as his late-game heroics in last season’s NFC divisional playoff game helped end the Cowboys’ run. Lawrence, who has emerged as the NFL’s sack leader with 7 1/2, will play a crucial role in corralling the quarterback and limiting the rest of the defense’s exposure to big plays. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could create problems for Green Bay by matching him up with Bulaga, who has said he likely won’t be 100% healthy even if he plays.
Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Kansas City Chiefs CB Marcus Peters
Perhaps no one has gained more from Deshaun Watson settling in as the Texans’ starting quarterback than Hopkins. After he was targeted 16 times in the opener but had just seven catches, the Texans’ top receiver has established a connection with the rookie first-round pick. In last week’s 57-14 rout of the Tennessee Titans, Hopkins had a season-high 10 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Peters, meanwhile, described his most recent performance as “hella weak” after giving up two touchdowns in a 29-20 win over the Washington Redskins. The outing was uncharacteristic for the confident cornerback and sets up an intriguing matchup against an old foe.
Hopkins and Peters have each had their share of big plays in their early-career showdowns. In three games against one another, Hopkins has twice eclipsed the 100-yard mark while Peters has four total interceptions. The two might not be locked against one another for all of Sunday night’s tilt, but the matchup would be a revealing indication of Watson’s aggressiveness and risk tolerance.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell vs. Jacksonville Jaguars’ front seven
After three weeks of substandard production, the Steelers’ offense looked closer to its old form in a 26-9 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh established its pace by leaning on Bell, who had 39 total touches for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
An even bigger breakout, however, could be waiting against the Jaguars’ defense. Jacksonville’s last-ranked rush defense is allowing as many yards per carry (5.7) as its stingy secondary is permitting for every pass attempt.
The Jaguars will need a disruptive effort from defensive tackle Calais Capbell and the rest of its front against a stellar Steelers offensive line. But coach Doug Marrone said the rest of the defense was also accountable for the woes against the run. Linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith will be counted on to keep the patient Bell from breaking past the second level.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Detroit Lions’ secondary
Newton will be under more intense scrutiny than usual after the fallout from his remark to a female reporter this week. In Detroit, he faces a defense holding its own despite several shortcomings.
Though Newton is completing a career-high 65.2% of his passes, he has thrown just five touchdowns against five interceptions with a quarterback rating (48.3) that nearly mirrors last year’s output. He will have to be judicious against a Lions defense that ranks second in the NFL with seven picks.
Detroit is in the middle of the pack for both total yards allowed (15th with 322.5 per game) and passing yards allowed (21st with 236.3), but its 17.5 points per game is tied for fourth-lowest in the league. Keeping Carolina from stringing together long drives could be a challenge, as the Panthers rank first in third-down conversion percentage at 51.9%.
Jay Cutler. It is hardly a huge surprise that Cutler – who retired, then unretired to sign out of the Fox broadcast booth during the preseason after Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season – has been an early flop for the Dolphins. Being a so-called “good fit” because he knew Adam Gase’s system has resulted in the NFL’s worst-ranked offense and a ho-hum 80.4 passer rating for Cutler. Unfortunately for Miami – shut out by a Saints defense considered among the worst in the league – Cutler has resembled the worst of himself. Maybe it gets better with more reps, timing and chemistry with his receivers. But heading into Sunday’s game against Tennessee, the optics look as horrendous as ever for Cutler, whose hands-frozen, “statue” pose while flanked wide on a Wildcat snap in London is one more example of why he’s got the worst body language in the league.
Todd Gurley. Sean McVay’s touch as the new Rams coach has brought out the best in the dynamic running back, who ranks second in the NFL to Kansas City’s wondrous rookie, Kareem Hunt, in yards from scrimmage as a major test looms on Sunday when the Seahawks visit the Coliseum. Gurley, flowing downhill behind a rebuilt O-line, looks again like the rookie runner who burst on the scene two years ago, on pace for a 1,400-yard rushing campaign. What a turnaround after floundering last season in the NFL’s worst-ranked offense. Yet even more striking is the manner in which McVay and emerging quarterback Jared Goff are utilizing Gurley in the passing game. With 20 receptions, Gurley’s on pace for an 80-catch season and 2,200 yards from scrimmage. So while the Seahawks have the secondary that can surely clamp down on Goff’s downfield targets, Sunday’s NFC West showdown could hinge on whether the Seattle linebackers, including K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, can contain Gurley in multiple ways – stuffing the run and perhaps more critically, coming out of the backfield.
Justin Houston vs. Deshaun Watson. Since Bill O’ Brien switched to his mobile, rookie quarterback, the Texans’ offensive line (still without left tackle Duane Brown) has been much less exposed. Watson not only reads defenses better than most rookies, he can bail out of trouble and buy time. Whether he can escape Houston, the Chiefs’ premier rusher, will be one of the key subplots on Sunday night for arguably the best matchup of the week. Kansas City has won two playoff games in Houston in recent years, but that was before Watson arrived. Nonetheless, it might feel like a playoff game as Kansas City (4-0) tries to remain the NFL’s only undefeated team.
E.J. Manuel. With Derek Carr nursing an ailing back that has run the gamut of expectations for healing – once considered minimal, then a fracture was revealed and a 2-to-6 week rehab announced, then he showed up at practice this week and is officially listed as questionable – it’s most likely that Manuel will get at least one start for the Raiders, on Sunday against the Ravens. Boy, does Oakland, riding a two-game losing streak, need a game from Manuel (and Marshawn Lynch, too, for that matter) while trying to keep the team afloat with Carr out. The last time they faced such a predicament, in the playoffs in January after Carr broke his ankle, it was such a disaster with then-rookie Connor Cook falling flat on his face. At least Manuel, a former first-round pick who bombed in Buffalo, has some game experience. And he wasn’t half-bad in relief at Denver last weekend.
Myles Garrett. After suffering a high ankle sprain just days before the season opener, the No. 1 pick in the draft will make long-awaited debut for the Browns on Sunday against the Jets. Browns coach Hue Jackson maintains that he will keep the defensive end on a “pitch count,” which has nothing to do with his throwing arm. It’s a matter of easing Garrett back into the rhythm. Naturally, the winless Browns need him in the worst way as the Browns D was stung for 31 points in each of the past two games. Garrett, a Texas A&M product invites so much anticipation, given his rare combination of speed and power, and the manner in which he unleashed dominance in the trenches after ramping up in training camp.
Stomach for an upset?
Arizona at Philadelphia. Bruce Arians, the one-time Temple coach, returns to the City of Brotherly Love desperate for a win against the Eagles (3-1), leading the NFC East. The swing factor could rest with protection for Carson Palmer, who has been sacked an NFL-high 17 times – including 12 in the past two weeks. With time, Palmer can go after an Eagles secondary that has been so shaky with its penchant for giving up big plays (7 passes of 35+ yards, 3 of at least 50). The Cards (2-2) surely have the receiving weapons, led by Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown. If there’s time. The last time Arizona played at The Lync, in 2015, they won a blowout to improve to 13-1. But that’s a distant memory. Since then, they are 10-13-1, including the postseason, which is exactly why they are so desperate now.
Buffalo would have ended the NFL’s longest playoff drought. The Bills have gone 17 years since last qualifying for the playoffs, which makes their AFC East-leading 3-1 start even more compelling. New coach Sean McDermott, previously Carolina’s D-coordinator, has his new defense humming as the Bills have allowed an NFL-low 54 points. Of course, before it’s settled, the Patriots will have their say in it. New England (3-2) has won the past eight division titles, 13 of 14, and 14 AFC East crowns in the past 16 years. It could come down to December football. In a serious scheduling quirk, the Bills will play both of their games against New England and both of their games against Miami this season in December. But first things first: The Bills suddenly find themselves with a “trap” game on Sunday at Cincinnati.
The Lions (3-1) are tied for the NFL lead with 11 takeaways – just three shy of their total for all of last year, when they forced the fourth-fewest turnovers in the league. All of the stripping and picking (7 INTs, 4 fumbles) has led to 47 points off takeaways, tied for the NFL lead, and when combined with ball security from Matt Stafford and Co., Detroit sits atop the turnover chart at +9. The numbers are on their side for Sunday’s game, as the Panthers rank next-to-last in the NFL with a -5 turnover margin.
Frank Gore, who played the first 10 seasons of his 13-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers and that franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is poised to reach a milestone in facing his former team on Sunday in Indianapolis. Gore, who has rushed for 13,256 career yards, is four yards shy of passing Eric Dickerson for seventh place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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Jets (2-2) at Browns (0-4)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink)
The matchup: Most experts thought the Jets would struggle to win two games all season, but they’ve won two in a row because of their defense and efficient performances by veteran QB Josh McCown. The Browns, the NFL’s worst team last season, haven’t shown much real progress. They have yet to hold a lead, and their -44 point differential over the first four weeks is last in the NFL. The Browns are getting burned by the short and intermediate passing game, and that’s all McCown and the Jets can do. If the Jets can turn some short passes into big gains, they’ll win their third in a row. The Browns expect No. 1 overall pick, DE Myles Garrett, to make his debut after a high ankle sprain kept him out of the first four games. Garrett is explosive and talented enough to make an immediate impact.
Panthers (3-1) at Lions (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Kenny Albert, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver)
The matchup: Lions coordinator Teryl Austin’s defensive unit has 11 takeaways through four games — tied for the NFL lead and only three shy of its 2016 total. Detroit’s defense held Minnesota to 30% on third-down conversions but converted only 23% on offense. Carolina, like the Vikings, has a top-10 third-down unit and the ability to take away the Lions’ playmakers. For a club that repeatedly has leaned on QB Matthew Stafford, the defense and run game complementing him is a wonderful development for coach Jim Caldwell. It’s no coincidence that Panthers QB Cam Newton’s breakout as a passer in last week’s win vs. the Patriots coincided with his most efficient, active rushing day in more than a year (8 rushes, 44 yards and a TD). Finding the right balance of runs, “layups” and deep shots is what worked last week along with improved protection.
49ers (0-4) at Colts (1-3)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager)
The matchup: The 49ers are still losing, but they’re close to being legitimate. Their last three losses have all come by three or fewer points. Their run defense has also shown some pretty good signs, led by a young defensive line made up of three first-round draft picks. There’s a lot to like about what new coach Kyle Shanahan has done, except the lack of a win. The Colts are 0-3 vs. NFC West teams this season in being outscored 108-40. But the 49ers have lost six in a row vs. AFC teams. The last time WR Pierre Garcon and Colts CB Vontae Davis squared off, Davis helped limit Garcon to three catches and nine yards in the Colts’ 2014 win vs. Washington. Garcon is now the 49ers’ go-to receiver, and they might test Davis and his hobbled groin in an effort to get the passing game going. In Andrew Luck’s absence, Colts QB Jacoby Brissett was starting to resemble a legitimate NFL starter, but the leg injury suffered late in the Seattle game could affect his performance. Luck is at least another week away.
Titans (2-2) at Dolphins (1-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton)
The matchup: Tennessee was routed 57-14 by Houston in one of the most lopsided losses in franchise history. Adding injury to insult, Titans QB Marcus Mariota left early with a hamstring injury, leaving his Week 5 status up in the air. Miami’s offense is struggling badly. After three games, the Dolphins have scored one TD and are 2-for-20 on third downs. Despite an ugly 20-0 loss to the Saints in London, coach Adam Gase is not panicking and insists Jay Cutler is still the starting QB. Miami RB Jay Ajayi and Tennessee RB DeMarco Murray are far too talented to be held to 12 and seven carries, respectively, as they were in Week 4. Both offenses need to utilize their playmakers when the pass offense is struggling. Both QBs have struggled with interceptions in recent weeks, so pressure is key.
Bills (3-1) at Bengals (1-3)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker)
The matchup: It hasn’t taken first-year Bills coach Sean McDermott long to repair a defense that sagged under his predecessor Rex Ryan. Buffalo’s defense made its biggest statement of the season with a 23-17 victory at previously unbeaten Atlanta. The Bills are allowing an NFL-best 13.5 points per game, yielding only four TDs, including one through the air. McDermott is the first Bills coach to win three of his first four games since Kay Stephenson in 1983. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has had a revival in new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s up-tempo offense, which emphasizes getting rid of the ball quickly. In the two games since Lazor replaced fired Ken Zampese, Dalton has completed 81% of his passes for six TDs and no interceptions. But he’ll face his sternest test in the Bills, who have a much better pass rush and cover men than Dalton faced the last two weeks vs. Cleveland and Green Bay.
Chargers (0-4) at Giants (0-4)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)
The matchup: Maybe the Chargers will have better success away from their small new home, where they have lost all three games. As a team, the Chargers have rushed for 270 yards and, as usual, rely on the pass – 156 pass plays vs. 75 running plays. The Giants’ last two losses, both on the road, ended on field goals as time expired, the first to the rival Eagles on a 61-yard field goal by Jake Elliott. The matchup of QBs is notable. The careers of Chargers QB Philip Rivers and Giants QB Eli Manning are forever intertwined. The Chargers had the first overall pick in the 2004 draft and the Giants fourth, but Manning let it be known he wouldn’t play for the Chargers. The Chargers picked him, then traded with the Giants, who drafted Rivers. Both are approaching 50,000 yards passing. Manning is at 49,327 with 326 TDs, while Rivers has passed for 46,940 yards and 320 TDs.
Jaguars (2-2) at Steelers (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon)
The matchup: There’s clear improvement from past seasons in Jacksonville, most notably with the defense and with rookie RB Leonard Fournette. But the Jaguars are taking a steep step up in competition this week. DE Calais Campbell, LB Myles Jack and CB Jalen Ramsey lead a remade defense that’s been tough on opposing quarterbacks and scored a TD last week to spark a rally when the offense went stagnant. The Steelers’ running game finally got rolling last week in a big win at Baltimore. The passing game will be opened up if RB Le’Veon Bell can play the way he did last week. For the Jaguars to win they need to win the turnover battle, and they come in with a plus-6 turnover ratio. They need to slow Bell first, then hope their pass rush can force QB Ben Roethlisberger into mistakes.
Cardinals (2-2) at Eagles (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin)
The matchup: Last week’s win against the winless 49ers kept Arizona only one game out of the NFC West lead, and left coach Bruce Arians gushing about his team’s guts and composure. But if the Cards want to make the playoffs, they need to start scoring more than 18.5 points a game. The Eagles are leading the NFC East and watching young QB Carson Wentz gain confidence with every snap while the defense obliterates its foes’ running game. There are flaws, notably in the secondary, but the Eagles seem to be on their way up. However they’ll again be without injured DT Fletcher Cox. This will be a QB battle of Carsons – Wentz vs. Palmer. Last week, Palmer, 37, was sacked six times and hit 16 more, raising his season totals to 17 sacks and 43 QB hits, by far the most in the league. Arizona desperately needs to plug the leaks in its O-line. Meanwhile, the Cards’ defense has allowed opponents to score TDs on 63.6% of their red-zone possessions. Eagles DT Fletcher Cox and CB Ronald Darby are injured, so backups have to step in and play solid.
Seahawks (2-2) at Rams (3-1)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, CBS (Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta)
The matchup: Another slow start in Seattle is nothing new. Also not new is a road loss to the Rams in each of the last three seasons. This time the Seahawks face a Rams team that looks like a legitimate contender, and beating Seattle this week would pretty much cement that. The Seahawks’ defense has had some uncomfortable moments, but it still has plenty of playmakers. They have one of the NFL’s most talented defensive lines but their sack total has been down, and DE Cliff Avril is out with a neck injury. QB Russell Wilson and the offense have been finding a groove recently but losing rookie RB Chris Carson is a big blow. The suddenly potent Rams offense has been enough to overcome an underachieving defense. QB Jared Goff has gone from likely draft bust to emerging star, and RB Todd Gurley has started showing signs of life as well.
Ravens (2-2) at Raiders (2-2)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, CBS (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl)
The matchup: After two season-opening wins, the Ravens were outscored by a combined 70-16 in losses to the Jaguars in London and the Steelers at home. QB Joe Flacco, who didn’t practice in training camp because of a back injury, has passer ratings of 12.0 and 64.6 in his last two games. Much of the offensive woes can be traced to a deteriorating line that lost Pro Bowl RG Marshal Yanda in Week 2. Flacco needs to play at a much higher level if the Ravens are to have better offensive production. The Raiders have lost their last two games and QB Derek Carr to a back injury for up to six weeks in their Week 4 loss to Denver. However he may try to suit up Sunday. EJ Manuel is the backup if Carr sits. Oakland’s ground game has disappeared. In the first two games, the Raiders rushed for 289 yards on 56 carries but in the last two that total fell to 56 yards on 28 carries. RB Marshawn Lynch has gone from 76 yards rushing to 45 to 18 to 12.
Packers (3-1) at Cowboys (2-2)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, Fox (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)
The matchup: After throwing four TD passes in last week’s rout of Chicago, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is tied for the NFL lead with 10 scoring passes. But he also has been sacked 15 times as injuries have decimated the offensive line. Green Bay also has cornerback issues. Rookie Kevin King has been a revelation, but an injury to starter Davon House and the benching of Damarious Randall pushed second-year CB Josh Hawkins into a key role over former starter Quinten Rollins. The Dallas defense opened the season with a strong performance against the New York Giants but has been collapsing since. Last week, the Cowboys allowed the Rams to score on nine of 11 possessions and the defense has allowed 31.3 points per game in the last three, 26th overall. The return of pass rusher David Irving from a four-game suspension for using PEDs could be a significant boost. Dallas QB Dak Prescott has been running for his life the last three weeks, not a good sign for the once-vaunted offensive line.
Chiefs (4-0) at Texans (2-2)
TV: Sunday, 8:30, NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
The matchup: Kansas City’s 29-20 win over Washington Monday was an imperfect performance as the Chiefs gave up big chunks of yardage to Kirk Cousins & Co. The Chiefs were a dropped pass in the end zone by Josh Doctson away from possibly their first loss. They had to rely on untimely Redskins penalties that kept five Kansas City drives alive. Since switching quarterbacks from Tom Savage to Deshaun Watson in Week 1, Houston quickly has gotten better. In Week 4, the Texans steamrolled the Titans 57-14, the most points in franchise history thanks to a defense that forced five turnovers and Watson, who was 25-for-34 for 283 yards with four TDs and an interception, plus a rushing TD. He became the first rookie QB to throw for four TDs and run for one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961. In the Texans’ 19-12 win vs. the Chiefs last season, a first-quarter TD pass from Brock Osweiler to DeAndre Hopkins proved to be the difference.
Vikings (2-2) at Bears (1-3)
TV: Monday, 8:30, ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)
The matchup: Two, possibly three, big offensive changes highlight this matchup. Vikings star rookie RB Dalvin Cook tore his left anterior cruciate ligament last week, and RB Latavius Murray suddenly looms large if Minnesota’s newfound offensive balance is to be preserved. The Vikings also hope QB Sam Bradford (knee), sidelined since Week 2, returns to spark the offense. For the Bears, No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky will get his first NFL start at quarterback. The decision was sealed after QB Mike Glennon committed four giveaways, including fumbling his first snap, in a blowout loss to the Packers. Minnesota was destroyed by Bears RB Jordan Howard in two meetings last season, as the Pro Bowler tallied 288 rushing yards. Now it must prepare for rookie Tarik Cohen, too. The Vikings have the speed and strength up front to meet the challenge.
Bye: Broncos, Falcons, Redskins, Saints
Compiled by Brian Allee-Walsh, Zac Jackson, Jordan Godwin, Scott Pitoniak, Arthur Arkush, Andy Friedlander, Scott Johnson, Howard Balzer. All times ET, p.m.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady tied the NFL record for regular season wins with some timely help from a porous New England defense showing signs of improvement.
Brady threw for 303 yards and one touchdown, and the Patriots held off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14 to rebound from a last-second loss that left them searching for answers to defensive woes.
The Super Bowl champions rebounded from a 33-30 loss to Carolina, despite Brady turning the ball over twice — on his first interception in eight regular-season games and a fumble on one of Tampa Bay’s three sacks.
On a night when the offense gained 402 yards but only got in the end zone once, Brady lauded the defense, which slowed the Bucs down just enough to get the victory.
“They kept us in it all night,” Brady said. “I wish we could have scored more points offensively, but defense really held their own.”
Neither of Brady’s turnovers led to points for the Bucs (2-2), who were was unable to do much offensively until the fourth quarter, when their comeback bid was hindered by two missed field goals.
“We responded,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the defense, which yielded 456 yards and 32 points per game through the first four weeks of the season, contained the NFL’s No. 3 ranked passing attack until Jameis Winston rallied his team in the final 15 minutes.
“They had 100 yards in the first half. They moved the ball some. We made some plays. They made some plays,” Belichick added. “(Giving up) a lot fewer points, you got a chance to win.”
Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan in the second quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals of 27, 23, 45 and 48 yards for the Patriots (3-2).
Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay late with an 18-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate that trimmed New England’s lead to 16-14 with 2:09 remaining.
After Gostkowski’s fourth goal put the Patriots up by five, Winston marched the Bucs from his 25 to the Patriots 19 before throwing an incompletion on the final play.
It might not have come down to a last-minute drive if not for another poor performance by Tampa Bay’s Nick Folk.
The veteran kicker missed two field goals and an extra-point before beating the New York Giants on a last-second kick last week. He missed three more field goals Thursday night, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have cut a nine-point deficit to six with just under six minutes to go.
“I left points out there,” said Folk, who also misfired from 56 yards just before halftime and 49 yards on the second play of the fourth quarter. “We should have won the game 20-19, so this one’s on me.”
With his 186th career regular-season win as a starter, Brady tied Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most by a quarterback in NFL history. He also has 25 postseason victories, including five Super Bowls.
Playing without injured star tight end Rob Gronkowski (thigh), Brady was 30 of 40 passing with one interception. Danny Amendola had eight catches for 77 yards and Hogan had eight for 74 yards.
Defensively, the Patriots entered the night on pace to yield more than yards than any team in league history.
And, Winston and a young Tampa Bay offense that’s progressively gotten better since he was selected first overall in the 2015 draft was hoping to be the latest beneficiary of New England’s struggles.
Running back Doug Martin provided a lift in his return from a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers with 74 yards rushing and one TD.
But one week after throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and overcoming a pair of fourth-quarter deficits to beat the Giants, Winston was unable to move the ball consistently until the fourth quarter.
The Bucs didn’t have a third-down conversion until late in the third quarter, and Martin’s 1-yard TD came on a drive the Patriots kept alive with a hands-to-the-face penalty on third down.
Winston threw for 225 yards in the fourth quarter, finishing 26 of 45 with 334 yards and zero interceptions. DeSean Jackson had five receptions for 106 yards.
“You can’t play them over again,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “We let this one slip away. It was a good opportunity.”
Brady opened the game with four straight completions before throwing his first interception of the season, overthrowing a wide-open Hogan in the middle of the field to end a streak of 264 pass attempts without an interception.
Since 2003, New England is 44-6 in regular-season games following a loss. The Patriots have dropped back-to-back games only six times during that time span — in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and twice in 2015. As a starter, Brady is 44-10 in games following a loss.
RING OF HONOR
The Buccaneers honored Malcolm Glazer at halftime, inducting the late owner into the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.
Glazer, whose family still runs the team, died in 2014 at the age of 85. He purchased the franchise in 1995 for a then-record $192 million.
The late owner joins Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, as well as former coach John McKay, Doug Williams, Jimmie Giles, Mike Alstott, John Lynch and Paul Gruber inductees. Former coach Jon Gruden, who led the Bucs to their only Super Bowl title after being acquired in a trade Glazer approved 15 years ago, will be inducted on Dec. 18.
Patriots: Gronkowski was added the injury report after Wednesday’s practice, listed as questionable. … The Patriots did not report any injuries during the game.
Buccaneers: Played with three defensive starters — LBs Lavonte David (ankle) and Kwon Alexander (hamstring), and S Keith Tandy (hip). Tandy’s backup T.J. Ward (hip) was inactive, too. … DB Josh Robinson left the game in the first half with a concussion. … DE Ryan Russell injured his shoulder in the second quarter and did not return.
Patriots: At New York Jets on Oct. 15
Buccaneers: Begin stretch in which they’ll play six of eight games on the road, visiting Arizona on Oct. 15.
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Monday, Oct. 2
Washington at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. EDT. The Chiefs are 8-1 against Washington. The Redskins’ only win over the Chiefs was Sept. 18, 1983. The Redskins and Cardinals are the only two teams never to win at Arrowhead Stadium. Washington (2-1) has not started 3-1 or better since 2011. Kansas City (3-0) averages a league-leading 162 yards rushing, and its 397.3 yards total offense is third best in the league. Kareem Hunt leads the league with 401 yards rushing. Hunt has six TDs through his first three games, the most by a rookie since 1981. After Atlanta’s loss, the Chiefs are the last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL.
— Cam Newton, Panthers, finished 22 for 29 for 316 yards and three touchdown passes and an interception, and added a rushing TD in Carolina’s 33-30 victory over New England. Newton is the only quarterback in NFL history with 50 rushing touchdowns.
— Deshaun Watson, Texans, was 25 for 34 for 283 yards with four touchdown passes and an interception in Houston’s 57-14 win over Tennessee.
— Andy Dalton, Bengals, finished 25 for 30 for 286 yards and four touchdown passes in Cincinnati’s 31-7 win over Cleveland.
— Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, was 22 for 38 for 332 yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 25-23 win over the New York Giants.
— Philip Rivers, Chargers, was 22 for 38 for 347 yards and two touchdowns in LA’s 26-24 loss to Philadelphia.
— Dak Prescott, Cowboys, was 20 for 36 yards for 252 yards and three touchdowns and an interception in Dallas’ 35-30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
— Tom Brady, Patriots, was 32 for 45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s 33-30 loss to Carolina.
— Drew Brees, Saints, was 29 for 41 for 268 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans’ 20-0 win over Miami at Wembley Stadium.
— Eli Manning, Giants, was 30 for 49 for 288 yards and two touchdowns in New York’s 25-23 loss to Tampa Bay.
— Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, had 35 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s 26-9 win over Baltimore.
— Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire, Jets. Powell had 21 carries for 168 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and McGuire had 10 carries for 93 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown, in New York’s 23-20 overtime victory over Jacksonville. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Jets had two touchdown runs of 60 or more yards in the same game.
— Todd Gurley, Rams, had 23 carries for 121 yards and added seven receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown in LA’s 35-30 win over Dallas.
— LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, had 16 carries for 136 yards in Philadelphia’s 26-24 win over the LA Chargers.
— Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams, Chargers. Allen had five catches for 138 yards and Williams added five receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in LA’s 26-24 loss to Philadelphia.
— DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, had 10 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s 57-14 win over Tennessee.
— Charles Clay, Bills, had five receptions for 112 yards in Buffalo’s 23-17 win over Atlanta.
— Jaron Brown, Cardinals, had eight catches for 105 yards in Arizona’s 18-15 overtime win over San Francisco.
— Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers, had four receptions for 104 yards in Carolina’s 33-30 win over New England.
— Greg Zuerlein, Rams, set a career high with seven field goals and added two extra points in Los Angeles’ 35-30 win over Dallas
— Robbie Gould, 49ers, was 5 for 5 on field goals in San Francisco’s 18-15 loss to Arizona.
— Jake Elliott, Eagles, was 4 for 4 on field goals and added two extra points in Philadelphia’s 26-24 win over San Diego.
— Phil Dawson, Cardinals, was 4 for 4 on field goals in Arizona’s 18-15 overtime win over San Francisco.
— Ka’imi Fairbairn, Texans, was 3 for 3 on field goals and 6 of 7 on extra points in Houston’s 57-14 win over Tennessee.
— Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars. Jack returned a fumble 81 yards for a touchdown and Ngakoue had two sacks and a forced fumble in Jacksonville’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets.
— Tre’Davious White, Bills, returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown in Buffalo’s 23-17 win over Atlanta.
— Dylan Cole, Texans, returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown in Houston’s 57-14 win over Tennessee.
— Anthony Zettel, Lions, had two sacks, four QB hits and a fumble recovery in Detroit’s 14-7 win over Minnesota.
— Cam Heyward, Steelers, had two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in Pittsburgh’s 26-9 win over Baltimore.
— Khalil Mack, Raiders, had two sacks in Oakland’s 16-10 loss to Denver.
— Elvis Dumervil, 49ers, had two sacks in San Francisco’s 18-15 loss to Arizona.
— Julius Peppers, Panthers, had two sacks in Carolina’s 33-30 win over New England.
— Danielle Hunter, Vikings, had two sacks in Minnesota’s 14-7 loss to Detroit.
STREAKS & STATS
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton finished 25 of 30 for 286 yards and four touchdown passes. The performance continued a stunning turnaround for Dalton, who didn’t throw a TD pass and had four interceptions in his first two games. In the past two weeks, he has six TDs and no picks. … Cincinnati has won its past four games in Cleveland by a combined 121-20. Cleveland fell to 1-19 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson. Since winning in Cincinnati on Nov. 6, 2014, to improve to 6-3, the Browns are 4-38. … Miami finished with 186 total yards — its fewest since its previous shutout, a 19-0 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2013. … The Lions beat the Vikings 14-7 and have won nine of the past 14 meetings with their NFC North rivals. … The Steelers dominated the Ravens 26-9 to earn their first win in Baltimore since 2012. The Steelers’ 26 points are the most they’ve scored in Baltimore with Ben Roethlisberger calling signals. With the win, Roethlisberger is 3-7 in Baltimore. … San Francisco’s skid against Arizona reached five with an 18-15 loss in overtime. … The Chargers, who are 0-4 after a 26-24 loss to Philadelphia, have lost nine consecutive games going back to last season in San Diego.
Houston’s Deshaun Watson became the first rookie to throw four touchdowns and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961 and tied an NFL record for most TDs by a rookie quarterback in Houston’s 57-14 victory. The 57 points were the most in franchise history. The Texans are the first NFL team to score 50 points since the Jaguars scored 51 in December 2015 and they scored the most points in the NFL since Seattle scored 58 on Dec. 9, 2012, against Arizona. … The Saints blanked the Dolphins 20-0 at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was the first time the Saints didn’t allow a point since Dec. 16, 2012, a 41-0 win against Tampa Bay. … The Bills (3-1) are in first place in the AFC East. This is the latest the Bills have been alone in first place in their division since Week 7 in 2008, when they were 5-1. The Bills set a team record for most consecutive quarters without a turnover (15). The previous team record was 12, set in 2015. … Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart rushed 14 times for 68 yards to pass DeAngelo Williams and become the franchise’s career leading rusher. … New Orleans, which has not turned the ball over this season, is only the third team in the modern era (since 1933) without a turnover in each of its first four games of a season (1995 St. Louis, 2013 Tennessee).
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was lost to what could be a torn knee ligament, which would end his rookie season. He had 13 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown before his knee buckled on a third-quarter run and he went down and fumbled. Cook was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, but he was on crutches afterward with a bulky brace on the knee. … Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota injured his hamstring and didn’t play after halftime of the Tennessee’s 57-14 loss in Houston. He will have an MRI on Monday. … The Raiders didn’t have Derek Carr to try to lead them back in Denver after he was shaken up on sack in the third quarter of their 16-10 loss. He was sacked by Shelby Harris and was hit by Adam Gotsis as he twisted awkwardly. Coach Jack Del Rio said Carr suffered from back spasms. … The Falcons lost Julio Jones in the second quarter with a hip flexor injury. Mohamed Sanu was then ruled out with a hamstring injury in the third quarter. … The Bills lost safety Colt Anderson to an arm injury in the first quarter, along with linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb), receiver Jordan Matthews (thumb), and cornerback E.J. Gaines (groin).
“I felt this was a breakthrough game for us, a statement game. We had some careless turnovers, including (my) interception. But for us to come into a hostile environment, to battle, face some adversity early on, and still hold on at the end — it was a great team win for us.” — Panthers quarterback Cam Newton after his team’s 33-30 road win over New England.
“I do not know if there is another team in the league that (practices) situational football as much as we do. It could be a situation from Mars, and chances are Coach McDermott and our team have drilled it. It was definitely just a time to just say, ‘Hey, guys, we’ve done this before. This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve drilled this a hundred times in practice to see what formation they came out in.’ Then, we had to adjust from there.” — Bills defensive end Eddie Yarbrough on being prepared for a late fourth-and-1 in the final minute against Atlanta.
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Graham Gano hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired, and the Carolina Panthers stunned the New England Patriots 33-30 on Sunday.
The winner served as redemption for Gano, who missed an extra point in the third quarter.
It was the second home loss this season for the usually unbeatable Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The defeat marked just the second time since 2012 that Tom Brady has lost two home starts within a season.
Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another . Jonathan Stewart rushed 14 times for 68 yards to pass DeAngelo Williams and become the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.
Newton finished 22 of 29 for 316 yards and an interception, picking apart a New England defense that was giving up an NFL-worst 461 yards and 31.7 points per game. The Patriots (2-2) forced a pair of turnovers, but had trouble containing Newton’s stable of targets.
Carolina (3-1) finished with 444 total yards, marking the fourth straight game the Patriots have given up at least 300 yards.
Brady finished 32 of 45 for 307 yards and two scores.
BRONCOS 16, RAIDERS 10
DENVER (AP) — The Broncos throttled running back Marshawn Lynch and sent quarterback Derek Carr to the sideline with a back injury, then sealed their win on safety Justin Simmons’ interception of EJ Manuel at the Denver 8 in the closing minutes.
Despite holding Lynch to 12 yards on nine carries, the Broncos found themselves in danger of frittering away an AFC West showdown they had dominated. Trailing by six, Manuel heaved a high toss to Amari Cooper just after the two-minute warning. Simmons, who won the job from three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward this summer, came down with the ball just shy of the goal line and took it out to 8. The Broncos ran out the clock to hit their bye week at 3-1.
Oakland (2-2) had cut its deficit to six on Giorgio Tavecchio’s 38-yard field goal with 5:23 remaining. That came after Brandon McManus hit the left upright from 29 yards out early in the fourth quarter after nailing kicks from 28, 36 and 46 yards.
SEAHAWKS 46, COLTS 18
SEATTLE (AP) — J.D. McKissic took the second carry of his career 30 yards for a touchdown and Bobby Wagner scooped up Marcus Smith’s forced fumble and rumbled 21 yards for a score in a 13-second span late in the third quarter, and Seattle beat Indianapolis.
Justin Coleman added a 28-yard interception return for a TD in the first half and Seattle overcame a sleepy first 30 minutes from its offense.
Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions, but his most important play was a 23-yard run in the third quarter to give Seattle an 18-15 lead. Adam Vinatieri pulled the Colts even at 18 as the Colts capitalized on Wilson’s second interception. Graham dropped a catchable pass and it was intercepted by Malik Hooker, his third straight game with an interception.
But Seattle answered with a 75-yard drive that was capped by McKissic’s touchdown sprint. Wilson added TD passes of 6 yards to Luke Willson and 27 yards to McKissic in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks outscored Indianapolis 36-3 in the second half.
Seattle’s win came with a big blow in the final minutes when starting running back Chris Carson sustained a left leg injury.
CARDINALS 18, 49ERS 12, OT
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer threw 19 yards to Larry Fitzgerald with 32 seconds left in overtime for the game’s only touchdown. The scoring had been limited to nine field goals on an ugly afternoon in the desert before Palmer directed a seven-play, 75-yard drive with 1:52 to play.
Fitzgerald, who had three catches for 13 yards before the winning grab, rose to catch the ball under tight coverage by Rashard Robinson.
Robbie Gould kicked his fifth field goal, a 23-yarder with 2:24 left in overtime to put the 49ers ahead 15-12.
Phil Dawson kicked four field goals for the Cardinals (2-2), whose two victories both have come in overtime.
The 49ers (0-4), losing to the Cardinals for the fifth time in a row, won the coin toss to start the overtime. They used up 7:36 of the extra session, which was shortened from 15 to 10 minutes this season.
EAGLES 26, CHARGERS 24
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Carson Wentz passed for 242 yards, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 and the Eagles extended their promising start to the season.
Rookie Jake Elliott kicked four field goals for the Eagles (3-1), who had thousands of roaring fans in the Chargers’ temporary stadium while they hung on to win on the road for the second time in 10 tries.
Playing without several injured defensive regulars, the Eagles matched last year’s 3-1 start even though they blew most of an early 13-point lead. Rookie Austin Ekeler rushed for a score and Hunter Henry made a one-handed TD catch during the Chargers’ fourth-quarter surge.
But Blount rushed for 88 yards in the fourth quarter alone, and Philadelphia ran out the clock after Henry’s TD catch with 6:44 to play.
Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and two TDs for the Chargers, who have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season in San Diego.
Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass , but the Bolts are off to their first 0-4 start since 2003 — three years before Rivers became their starting quarterback. New coach Anthony Lynn is still winless after Los Angeles’ new team wrapped up a three-game homestand.
BUCCANEERS 25, GIANTS 23
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 332 and three touchdowns without an interception, and Nick Folk kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired.
Folk redeemed himself after missing two field goals and an extra point earlier in the day, booting the winner after Winston answered Eli Manning’s second TD pass of the day with an impressive drive that began at his 25.
The Giants (0-4) lost on a last-second field goal for the second straight week. They took a 23-22 lead on Rhett Ellison’s 2-yard TD reception with 3:16 remaining. Manning threw to Odell Beckham Jr., in the rear of the end zone for a 2-point conversion that was disallowed because the receiver had stepped out of bounds before making the catch.
Winston threw TDs passes of 6 yards to Mike Evans and 58 yards to O.J. Howard in building an early 13-0 lead. His 14-yard scoring pass to Cameron Brate put the Bucs up 22-17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an exciting close.
RAMS 35, COWBOYS 30
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Todd Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-run, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high seven field goals.
Gurley finished with 215 total yards — 121 rushing and 94 receiving — as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Ezekiel Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star Dallas running back’s blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio.
The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career.
Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay’s offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season.
The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Dak Prescott was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Elliott led the league in rushing, also as a rookie.
BILLS 23, FALCONS 17
ATLANTA (AP) — Stephen Hauschka kicked a tiebreaking, 56-yard field goal with less than five minutes remaining and the Buffalo Bills made a last-minute defensive stand.
The Falcons lost star wide receiver Julio Jones to a hip injury and also saw fellow WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) leave the game.
Hauschka padded the lead with a 55-yarder with about three minutes remaining.
Buffalo’s defense stopped the Falcons at the Bills 10 with less than a minute remaining when Matt Ryan couldn’t complete a fourth-down pass to Taylor Gabriel, and Atlanta became the last NFC team to lose this season.
Tre’Davious White returned a fumble recovery 52 yards for a third-quarter touchdown as the tough Buffalo defense delivered again even when it yielded its first passing touchdown of the season. Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes hit Ryan’s arm as Ryan was trying to pass, forcing the fumble.
It was one of three turnovers by Atlanta (3-1) on a day the Bills (3-1) set a team record for consecutive quarters without a turnover. Ryan threw two interceptions, giving him five in his last two games.
STEELERS 26, RAVENS 9
BALTIMORE (AP) — Le’Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns to seize first place in the AFC North.
Though held to a touchdown over the final 30 minutes, Pittsburgh (3-1) mounted enough of an attack before halftime to earn its first win in Baltimore since 2012. Ben Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. Bell did more than his share, carrying the ball 35 times to help the Steelers amass 381 yards on offense.
The Ravens (2-2), meanwhile, looked every bit like the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown.
Joe Flacco completed 31 of 49 passes for 235 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice.
TEXANS 57, TITANS 14
HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie Deshaun Watson threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Texans scored the most points in franchise history.
Watson, the 12th pick in this year’s draft, became the first rookie to throw four touchdowns and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961, and tied an NFL record for most TDs by a rookie quarterback.
The Texans (2-2) outdid their previous highest point total of 45 set in a victory over the Titans in 2014 and are the first NFL team to score 50 points since the Jaguars scored 51 in December 2015.
Houston’s defense got things going when Andre Hal intercepted Marcus Mariota on the game’s third play. It was the first of four interceptions for Houston’s defense. Mariota, who became the first Titans quarterback with two rushing touchdowns in a game since Steve McNair in 2003, injured his hamstring and didn’t play after halftime. Matt Cassel took over for the Titans (2-2) and threw for 21 yards with two interceptions.
Watson then led Houston’s offense to touchdowns on three straight possessions for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was the first time since Oct. 19, 2008 that Houston scored a touchdown on each of its first three possessions.
LIONS 14, VIKINGS 7
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Zettel led a ferocious performance by Detroit’s defense with two sacks, four hurries and a fumble recovery, as the Lions forced three turnovers while holding Minnesota scoreless in the second half.
The Lions turned two fumbles lost by the Vikings in the third quarter into 11 points, taking the lead on Ameer Abdullah’s 1-yard touchdown run five plays after rookie Dalvin Cook fumbled at the Minnesota 29.
The Vikings (2-2) lost more than just possession when Cook limped off with an injury to his left knee and did not return.
Tahir Whitehead recovered that fumble for the Lions, plus one by Adam Thielen with 1:43 left at the Detroit 45 that ended the last-chance drive for the Vikings.
Detroit (3-1) leads the NFL in turnover margin at plus-9.
Abdullah came close to ending a four-year stretch by the Lions without a 100-yard rusher, finishing with 94 yards on 20 carries before leaving with an undisclosed injury.
Matthew Stafford was sacked six times for 55 yards, but he hung on to the ball each time and completed 19 of 31 passes for 209 yards, plus the key 2-point conversion to T.J. Jones to give the Lions a seven-point lead.
Case Keenum started in place of Sam Bradford at quarterback for the Vikings for the third straight game, going 16 for 30 for 219 yards. He was sacked by Zettel for an 11-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 3 right before the two-minute warning, and his fourth down heave into the end zone sailed over Thielen’s head.
SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0
LONDON (AP) — Drew Brees threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and the Saints scored all but three of their points in the second half.
Michael Thomas had a touchdown reception in the third quarter, Alvin Kamara added one in the fourth and Will Lutz made two of his three field-goal attempts for New Orleans (2-2), which arrived for the game on Monday and won the lowest-scoring game ever held in London.
It was expected to be a big homecoming for the Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi, who was born in the city, but the running back finished with 46 yards on 12 carries.
Lutz missed his first try, a 41-yarder, wide right on the second play of the second quarter, and the teams threatened to have the first scoreless opening half since Week 14 of the 2011 season until Lutz connected from 43 yards with no time remaining.
Brees found Thomas, who had eight catches for 89 yards, on a 4-yarder to push the score to 10-0 in the third quarter, and Kamara took a shovel pass from Brees 12 yards into the end zone with 3:57 remaining to wrap up the victory.
JETS 23, JAGUARS 20, OT
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Jets to a wacky win.
After Catanzaro split the uprights, he and his teammates celebrated wildly in the middle of the field — but then had to wait because there was a penalty flag on the field. The officials ruled there actually was no penalty on the play, giving the Jets the victory.
Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 163 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and rookie Elijah McGuire had a 69-yard score and finished with 93 yards rushing as the Jets (2-2) ran all over the Jaguars (2-2).
But New York blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead because of some big mistakes, then had to hold on in the extra period.
After Jacksonville went three-and-out, on the punt Paul Posluszny was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting as the Jets’ Dylan Donahue went down on the Jaguars sideline with an elbow injury. It put the ball on the Jacksonville 25, and after two 1-yard runs, Josh McCown spiked the ball to set up Catanzaro’s field goal.
McCown finished 22 of 31 for 224 yards with an interception and the Jets outgained the Jaguars 471-311 in total yards, including 256-175 on the ground.
BENGALS 31, BROWNS 7
CLEVELAND (AP) — Andy Dalton threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half and Cincinnati’s offense found the perfect opponent to work out some early season struggles.
Dalton only missed on one of 18 throws in the first half as the Bengals (1-3) built a 21-0 lead.
He connected with A.J. Green, Tyler Croft and Giovani Bernard while dissecting the young Browns (0-4), who were again plagued by mistakes and were down three defensive starters.
Dalton, the NFL’s 30th-ranked QB, finished 25 of 30 for 286 yards. His second TD to Croft in the third quarter made it 31-0, and sent even some of the most die-hard Browns fans toward the FirstEnergy Stadium exits.
The Browns avoided a shutout with 1:54 left.
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TodaySports) —- In one game, the Oakland Raiders saw how quickly everything can become unraveled.
Behind a floundering offensive line and one of the worst performances of Derek Carr’s career, the Raiders’ formerly fine-tuned offense went haywire last week in a 27-10 loss to the Washington Redskins. The numbers were alarming: 128 total yards, 0-11 on third down, and a 52.9 passer rating for Carr.
The harsh lessons served to the Silver and Black were all the more alarming given the need to address them before Sunday’s showdown with the Denver Broncos and one of the league’s most vaunted defenses.
Yet Oakland has proven before it has an answer for its AFC West rival, and a similar formula could get the offense back on course.
Lost in the dissection of the passing attack’s woeful outing was the Raiders’ run game, which gained just 32 yards on 13 carries. But in a season-shaping 30-20 win against Denver last season, the Raiders racked up 218 yards on 43 carries. Carr, meanwhile, took a backseat and had his second lowest passing total (184 yards) of the year.
Denver’s defense, however, has shored up its efforts against the run and is allowing a league-low 2.6 yards per carry. But the Raiders can’t afford to fall into the same trap as the one that ensnared the Dallas Cowboys, whose offense became one-dimensional and gained just 40 rushing yards in a lopsided Week 2 loss to the Broncos.
Carr, of course, will have to bounce back to keep Oakland afloat. But a steady dose of Marshawn Lynch and the run game could help keep the play-action threat alive while reining in a pass rush led by Von Miller. With Michael Crabtree listed as doubtful doubtful, wide receiver Amari Cooper also will be counted on to step up after recording only one catch last week. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., however, could force Oakland into finding other offensive threats.
Here are four more matchups that could define Week 4 in the NFL:
Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line vs. Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald
After his holdout extended through the summer and into the regular season, Donald served notice of his return to form last Thursday with a game-clinching sack against the San Francisco 49ers. Now the disruptive defender could reveal the true state of the Cowboys’ thus far disappointing front.
By almost any measure, Dallas’ offense hasn’t met the standards of last year’s incredibly efficient group. The 22nd-ranked rushing attack in particular is lagging, as Ezekiel Elliott has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. Many of the offensive shortcomings can be traced back to the line, where left guard Chaz Green and right tackle La’El Collins have been disappointments as starters next to all-pros Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick.
Donald looms as an immense challenge for Dallas, especially if matched up against Green or Jonathan Cooper. But the rest of the Rams’ defense still has to rise to the occasion. The group has given up 139 yards rushing per game (29th in the NFL) and could be in trouble if it allows Elliott to set the tone for Dak Prescott and the rest of the Cowboys’ offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Baltimore Ravens’ secondary
Patience is at a premium in Pittsburgh, where grumbles about the offense grew louder after last week’s 23-17 loss to the Chicago Bears. Faltering in any form against their AFC North rivals could kick the Steelers’ concerns into overdrive.
Though running back Le’Veon Bell has lamented his lack of big plays so far this season, Roethlisberger has also accepted blame for the slow start. His 6.2 yards per attempt is a career low, and Pittsburgh is tied for 25th in third-down conversion percentage (32.4). Roethlisberger and the rest of the attack need to find some kind of spark beyond Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL with 354 receiving yards.
The Ravens enter their matchup at their own crisis point after a 44-7 dismantling by the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Baltimore’s defense has kept opposing passers to a league-low quarterback rating of 58.5, but the unit has relied on its league-best eight turnovers to swing games. Turnovers could once again be key, but addressing the missed assignments that plagued the team last week will be essential. With their offense averaging a league-worst 263.7 yards per game, the Ravens can’t afford to get into a shootout.
Detroit Lions OT Greg Robinson vs. Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen
Griffen drew attention to this showdown on Wednesday when he said Robinson is “pretty lazy” and can beaten on the inside. Detroit’s blindside protector opted not to respond, but he’ll have to provide some kind of answer with his play.
Ranked the second-worst offensive tackle through Week 3 by Pro Football Focus, Robinson has been the weak link on an otherwise respectable line. With center Travis Swanson and guard T.J. Lang both hobbled, the group could be under fire. Matthew Stafford has been adept at evading the rush at times, but he has taken 11 hits in the last two games.
Minnesota will surely be looking to exploit Robinson’s matchup with Griffen, who has four of the team’s five sacks this season. Yet the Vikings have given up an uncharacteristic 278 passing yards per game (27th in in the NFL), and Stafford could find opportunities against a secondary susceptible to lapses.
Kansas Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill vs. Washington Redskins’ secondary
A transformation has taken place in Kansas City, where a once-plodding offense now has scored a touchdown of 50 yards or more in the last nine regular-season games. While rookie Kareem Hunt has been one of the key catalysts for the change, Hill is responsible for six of those plays in that span.
With the Chiefs facing the Redskins’ No. 2 ranked rushing defense on Monday night, Hill could play a big role in determining whether the attack can maintain its pace. A deep threat that can stretch opposing defenses, he also has thrived on generating yards after catch on short throws thanks to Andy Reid’s creative play calling.
After boasting of his shutdown performance against the Raiders’ receivers last week, Josh Norman could find himself in the spotlight yet again with an AFC West foe. Norman likely will remain on the defensive left side of the field as he has done throughout the season so far, but he’ll have to be disciplined both in coverage and as a tackler when he does line up against Hill.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
Saints (1-2) vs. Dolphins (1-1)
TV: Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Wembley Stadium, London, England (Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver)
The matchup: New Orleans turned the tables on the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers 34-13, then caught a team charter to play the Dolphins in England. The Saints much-maligned defense badly exposed Panthers QB Cam Newton (four sacks, three interceptions. … Miami is coming off an inexplicable wire-to-wire 20-6 loss at the New York Jets, who had yielded the most points (66) coming in. Dolphins QB Jay Cutler hopes to feast on a patchwork Saints secondary that overcame the loss of CBs rookie Marshon Lattimore (concussion) and Sterling Moore (chest).
Titans (2-1) at Texans (1-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS ( Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon)
The matchup: One of the big battles in this one will be along the front lines. Last season Texans DE Jadaveon Clowney had a sack in Houston’s 27-20 win over Tennessee. But dominating LT Taylor Lewan and the Titans’ offensive line has allowed only two sacks through three games. … Houston was 23 seconds away from pulling off an upset at New England, but Tom Brady’s five TD passes handed the Texans a 36-33 loss. The Patriots loss won’t sting as much if the Texans can win an AFC South battle this week. They are 8-2 against the Titans in their last 10 meetings.
Jaguars (2-1) at Jets (1-2)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton)
The matchup: The Jaguars won in London for the third year in a row, torching the Ravens 44-7 as QB Blake Bortles played one of the best games of his career, throwing four TDs and no interceptions. The last time the Jaguars were 2-1 was in 2007, their last trip to the playoffs. … If the Jets’ secondary doesn’t keep an extra eye on Jaguars’ 6-6 TE Marcedes Lewis (3 TD catches last week), expect Bortles to continue to exploit Lewis’ mismatches in the red zone.
Panthers (2-1) at Patriots (2-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)
The matchup: Newton continues to feel the rust from offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right (throwing) shoulder. He has four picks and three fumbles and has been out of sync with his receivers. Through three games, the Panthers offense has three TDs and eight FGs. Newton might be without WR Kelvin Benjamin, who injured his knee last week and didn’t return. … For a record eighth time, Pats QB Tom Brady threw a game-winning TD pass in the final minute as New England avoided a 1-2 start. But the Pats’ patched-up defense yielded 426 yards to the Texans.
Lions (2-1) at Vikings (2-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager)
The matchup: What appeared to be the 30th fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of QB Matthew Stafford’s career, a would-be TD pass to Golden Tate was overturned on replay, leaving the Lions and their fans in disbelief. The Lions have seven INTs so far, second in the NFL and three fewer than all last season. With Vikings lockdown CB Xavier Rhodes likely to stay with Tate outside, it could be a big week for WR Marvin Jones and TE Eric Ebron. … Vikings backup QB Case Keenum threw for 369 yards and three TDs in win vs. Tampa Bay and will start again with Sam Bradford (knee) out for another week. It’s been nearly a year since the Vikings have won consecutive games.
Bills (2-1) at Falcons (3-0)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl)
The matchup: After a week of listening to critics clamor for him to be replaced by rookie QB Nathan Peterman, Tyrod Taylor completed a career-best 76.9% of his passes for two TDs in a 26-16 upset of the Denver Broncos. RB LeShon McCoy has averaged 1.15 yards per carry the last two games (30 yards on 26 carries). … The showdown in this one pits Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Bills DBs. Ryan’s’s nine-game streak without an INT ended with three picks by Lions. Bills CBs E.J. Gaines and Tre’Davious White and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde have not allowed a TD pass this season. Something has to give.
Steelers (2-1) at Ravens (2-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)
The matchup: After sitting out training camp because of a contract dispute, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is running his way back into shape and the Steelers have been forcing him the ball. Two offensive linemen were injured during last week’s loss at Chicago, which complicated things for Bell and QB Ben Roethlisberger, but the offense needs to be better. … The Ravens went to London last week and were flattened by Jacksonville. QB Joe Flacco threw for a career-low 28 yards and had a passer rating of 12, also a career worst. Flacco needs some early completions and success down the field for the offense to get some confidence.
Bengals (0-3) at Browns (0-3)
TV: Sunday, 1, CBS (Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta)
The matchup: The Bengals finally scored their first TDs of the season last week, but ran out of gas and lost at Green Bay in OT. WR A.J. Green had a big game and should see the opportunity to do it again vs. a shaky Browns secondary. The Bengals turned in their best pass-rushing game of the season against Aaron Rodgers. … After two solid defensive showings, the Browns gave up a bunch of big plays in a loss last week at Indianapolis. Rookie DeShone Kizer has been impressive enough to make the Browns think he eventually can be a franchise quarterback. The Browns expect No. 1 overall pick DE Myles Garrett to make his NFL debut three weeks after a high ankle sprain. Garrett was disruptive in the preseason and can boost pass rush vs. Cincinnati’s struggling new tackles.
Rams (2-1) at Cowboys (2-1)
TV: Sunday, 1, Fox (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin)
The matchup: Los Angeles has scored more than 40 points in two of its three games. For a team that ranked last in the NFL in scoring last season at 14 points a game, that’s enormous progress. QB Jared Goff’s maturation seems to be coming along nicely, and the Rams offense has been following his lead. … The Cowboys’ secondary has been thinned by injuries to CBs Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie, which is a matter of concern as they face speedy Rams WRs Sammy Watkins and WR Robert Woods.
Eagles (2-1) at Chargers (0-3)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake)
The matchup: The challenge facing Eagles coach Doug Pederson is bringing his team back down to earth after its improbable 27-24 win vs. the New York Giants, thanks to a club-record 61-yard field goal by rookie K Jake Elliott as time expired. … The Chargers find themselves 0-3 for the first time since 2003, and only three teams that started 0-3 have reached the postseason since the league went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, including the 1992 Chargers, who opened 0-4. … Look for the matchup between Eagles LT Jason Peters and Chargers DE Melvin Ingram. Peters is a top blind-side tackle, while Ingram leads the NFL with 51/2 sacks.
Giants (0-3) at Buccaneers (1-1)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Tiki Barber and Kristina Pink)
The matchup: It could be time for the Giants to panic after last week’s last-second loss at Philadelphia. The odds of a team making the playoffs after opening 0-3 are minuscule. The good news is the Giants offense finally showed its potential with a 24-point fourth quarter, triggered by WR Odell Beckham Jr. … The Bucs put little defensive pressure on Vikings backup QB Case Keenum and were torched repeatedly, while the list of injured defenders continues to grow. After their most recent loss, LB Lavonte David was on crutches, DT Gerald McCoy was in a walking boot and DEs Noah Spence and Robert Ayers, CBs Vernon Hargreaves, Ryan Smith and Brent Grimes, LB Kwon Alexander and DT Chris Baker all were affected.
49ers (0-3) at Cardinals (1-2)
TV: Sunday, 4:05, Fox (Sam Rosen, David Diehl, Jennifer Hale)
The matchup: There are signs the Kyle Shanahan era in San Francisco is headed in a different direction than its predecessors. The 49ers followed a defensive battle in Seattle with an offensive outburst last week. One common thread was RB Carlos Hyde, who shredded the Seahawks’ run defense with two long bursts and scored two TDs vs. the Rams. But the 49ers have allowed 122 points (30.5 per game) while losing their last four meetings with Arizona. … Since RB David Johnson’s injury, the Cardinals have had myriad issues with an offense that used to be among the NFL’s best. RB Chris Johnson, 32, was re-signed to take over but was held to 17 yards on 12 carries by the Cowboys.
Raiders (2-1) at Broncos (2-1)
TV: Sunday, 4:25, CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
The matchup: This is a rebound game for both teams. On Monday, the Raiders were outclassed in a 27-10 loss at Washington. Their longest possession was 2:48, and they had five possessions of three plays and four of four plays. The Raiders had shown promise the first two weeks before the ground game was shut down by the Redskins. … The combined passer rating of Raiders QB Derek Carr and Broncos QB Trevor Siemian last week was 111.1. They combined to get sacked seven times and intercepted four times. Broncos CBs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. routinely shut down receivers, and will try to stop Raiders WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Colts (1-2) at Seahawks (1-2)
TV: Sunday, 8:30, NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
The matchup: Having held off Cleveland to prove that they’re not the NFL’s worst team, the Colts may be reminded this week that they’re far from the best. This could be the Colts’ final start before QB Andrew Luck’s return. CB Vontae Davis (groin), however, is expected back back after missing the first three games. He’ll try to slow WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s best offensive weapon. The Seahawks are prime-time warriors. They have beaten their last three prime-time foes by a combined score of 90-16.
Redskins (2-1) at Chiefs (3-0)
TV: Monday, 8:30, ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden)
The matchup: The big questions about the Redskins — QB Kirk Cousins playing his second season on a franchise tender, and the reformulated receiving corps — seem smaller after they dominated the Raiders Sunday night. The matchup to watch here is Redskins CB Josh Norman vs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, who had five receptions for 77 yards and a 30-yard TD in Kansas City’s win vs. the Chargers.. The Chiefs have struggled offensively, but one bright spot is rookie RB Kareem Hunt, whose 538 yards is the second-highest total by a first-year player in league history through three games of an NFL career.
Contributing: Brian Allee-Walsh, Zac Jackson, Jordan Godwin, Scott Pitoniak, Arthur Arkush, Andy Friedlander, Scott Johnson, Howard Balzer. Times p.m. Eastern except where noted.
Week 3 is in the books, so For The Win’s Luke Kerr-Dineen, Steven Ruiz and Charles Curtis are back with another slate of NFL picks …
Luke: 5-10-0 (20-25-1 season)
Steven: 7-8-0 (23-22-1 season)
Charles: 5-10-0 (13-32-1 season)
Steven: Compared to these two
fools guys, I had a pretty good week. Look, Week 3 was tough because so many underdogs won. But that’s kind of been the trend this season, so it might be time to adjust my strategy. Though, I have been going with dogs a lot this season.
Charles: Uh, at least I can say I wasn’t the only bad one last week?
Note: The line for the Vikings-Lions game hasn’t been set yet.
Luke: Wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers will put its rivals to shame on Thursday night, but 7.5 is a lot of points against an impressively scrappy Bears team.
Steven: The Packers’ injury report is looking awfully crowded this week and that’s a decent sized line. I’ve been doing good betting on the Bears this season, so I’ll keep riding that train.
Charles: The Bears are that team that just refuses to go away quietly. You’d think Mike Glennon and a lack of talent at wide receiver would cost them, but nope! They’ve covered twice already this season. We also know Thursdays, anything can happen, so I’ll take the points.
Luke: Still hard to gauge what Miami is about this year. Because the spread is so small, I’ll take the points.
Steven: Oof, this is a tough one. The Saints looked awfully good last week and the Dolphins did not. But the opposite was true in Week 2. I’m going to keep riding the underdog wave and go with the home dog in this one.
Charles: The Saints proved me wrong last week by putting up points on the road, so I’ll ride them in their trip over the pond in what should hopefully be a high-scoring affair.
Luke: It’s a dangerous game, swallowing eight point spreads. The Falcons are 3-0 but have shown a tendency to get sloppy late in games. I’m smelling a back door Bills cover.
Steven: The Falcons had no problem tearing up Sean McDermott’s defense when he was in Carolina last year. I don’t think they will here either. Give me the Falcons.
Charles: The Bills defense really is feisty, so I’m itching to take Buffalo here to cover … but Tyrod Taylor and Co. just won’t be able to keep up. Let’s go Dirty Birds.
Luke: Teams tend to raise their game against the Pats (see: Texans, Houston). I have no idea what’s going on with Cam at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him battle through it to keep this close.
Steven: The Panthers offense is broken and until they prove otherwise, I’m betting against them. It served me well last week, and this line isn’t all the big.
Charles: As Steven and I discussed on our recent bonus podcast, we’d rather take the Browns than bet on large Patriots spreads. But here’s where I zag after a zig: There is something wrong with Cam Newton and I fully expect the Pats to keep him from doing much of anything.
Luke: Steelers, all day. The Ravens will probably bounce back from last week’s debacle, but no amount of bounce-back can cover the fact that this just isn’t a very good football team.
Steven: These games are always close, but I think the Steelers bust out of their mini funk and put a hammering on the Ravens. I’m laying the points.
Charles: I said I was done betting on Big Ben on the road if he didn’t cover last week, so there’s that. I fully expect the Ravens D to clamp down and keep this one close.
Luke: The Rams’ biggest draw (its defense) threw everyone for a loop last week. The Cowboys are better on every phase; they should win this comfortably.
Steven: I lost a bit of faith in the Rams defense after it struggled to keep the 49ers out of the end zone last Thursday night. It won’t be able to slow down the Cowboys, who will run away with this one.
Charles: The Rams defense is good, but not good enough to contain the Cowboys’ offensive line. Dallas wins by 10.
Luke: The Browns are going to win at some point, and they’ll cover some beefy spreads before season’s end, but they’re not getting enough points here to make a pick on them worthwhile.
Steven: The Bengals looked a lot better after replacing their offensive coordinator. I think we see that trend continue against the Browns, who have struggled to get pressure on opposing passers.
Charles: Rational Charles (who’s been awful in our picks columns so far) leans to the Bengals after the offense got itself together last week. Irrational Charles (who might be making his debut next week if I stink again) thinks: Wait, the Browns have kept things close in two of their games! I’ll stay rational for one more week and take the Bengals with big days for Joe Mixon and A.J. Green.
Luke: Ah, yes, the ‘HI EVERYBODY LET’S OVERREACT TO THE PATS GAME’ line. Not taking the bait. Titans.
Steven: The Texans defense will slow down the Titans offense and DeShaun Watson will do enough to pull this one out at home.
Charles: I love what I saw out of the Texans last week and I think the defense keeps Marcus Mariota in check enough for a three-point win.
Luke: Three points just isn’t enough to make me pick the worst team in football, even at home.
Steven: Man, the Jets looked pretty good last week. Especially the defense. We may have been sleeping on Todd Bowles, who remains a fantastic defensive mind. I’m gonna go with the Jets for the first time this season.
Charles: That Jags defense is legit. I don’t see Blake Bortles repeating what he did in London, but he won’t have to. Jacksonville wins and covers.
Luke: The Chargers are masters of finding ways to lose games, but Steven’s right. They’re not going 0-4.
Steven: The Chargers are due for a win. They’re too good to fall to 0-4. I still don’t trust Carson Wentz.
Charles: I told fantasy owners to buy low on Philip Rivers and here’s why: He’ll bounce back from a rough game against the Chiefs to send the Eagles back to Philly with a loss.
Luke: I don’t know what happened with the 49ers offense last week, but I don’t Carson Palmer is on the decline and he’s taking this team with it. I’ll take the points and check out San Fran for another week.
Steven: The Cardinals offense is ready to break out. I think this is the week it happens, and Arizona will blow this one out early in the second half.
Charles: The Cards are a tough team to figure out, so I’m just going to throw in for the points.
Luke: Tough game to pick here. Giants needed a late surge to cover against a bad team last week, but Winston looked really shaky against another good defense in the Vikings. I’ll take the points, but I’m not feeling great about it.
Steven: Tampa Bay is the better team, and this isn’t a huge spread with the Bucs playing at home.
Charles: Hey, the Giants covered last week! Let’s make it two in a row and an actual win for the G-Men on the road.
Luke: Broncos defense at home — say no more. Broncos.
Steven: I think you see the Raiders try to pound this one out on the ground, as they did last year against Denver. The Broncos will be ready for it. Take the home team.
Charles: This one is too easy: The Broncos defense won’t let Derek Carr and his talented wideouts to do anything. Thanks for a less-than-3 spread, Vegas.
Luke: This may be a trip, but if it is, I’ll allow myself to fall into it. The Seahawks put up 12 points against the 49ers; what has this offense show that it can cover a 13 point spread, against anyone?
Steven: The Seahawks offense broke out a little last week in Tennessee. They’ll carry over that momentum and the defense will dominate. Seahawks cover.
Charles: Yeah, sure, Jacoby Brissett did all that … against the Browns! The Seahawks won’t let that happen at home. I’ll stomach the huge spread here.
Luke: I’m wary of bigger spreads, but I really like this Chiefs team, especially at home. They’ll cover this.
Steven: Not trusting Kirk Cousins on the road against a good defense. Chiefs will continue to look like one of the better teams in the league and cover this one.
Charles: The Chiefs are probably the best team in the NFL right now but the Skins will do just enough to cover, maybe in garbage time.