The NFL regular season comes to a close this week, with plenty still on the line.

Defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, need a win against the Miami Dolphins to lock up the second seed in the AFC playoffs, though they are guaranteed a spot in the postseason.

The Tennessee Titans' postseason hopes are in their own hands – a win against the Houston Texans will see them through. Meanwhile, a victory over the Seattle Seahawks for NFC West leaders the San Francisco 49ers will ensure their place in the playoffs as the top seed and give them home advantage throughout.

However, the 49ers know that if they slip up then Seattle will win the division and the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or Seahawks will take top spot in the conference.

The Philadelphia Eagles will clinch a playoff berth and the NFC East title if they win against the New York Giants. A shock defeat would give the Dallas Cowboys the opportunity to atone for last week's loss in Philadelphia and reach the postseason ahead of them by beating the Washington Redskins.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 17 fixtures.

SUNDAY (all times Eastern)

Chargers (5-10) at Chiefs (11-4) 1pm

- The Chiefs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Chargers, but the last time these teams met at Arrowhead Stadium, 2018 Week 15, the Los Angeles triumphed 29-28.

- With Keenan Allen at 1,117 receiving yards and Mike Williams (963) and Austin Ekeler (950) within striking distance of 1000 receiving yards, the Chargers have a realistic chance of becoming the sixth team in NFL history with three players with 1,000+ yards receiving.

- The Chargers have already suffered their third 10+ loss season in the last five years, after going 11 seasons (from 2004-14) without a single 10-loss season.

 

Bears (7-8) at Vikings (10-5) 1pm

- The Bears have won three successive games against the Vikings, their longest streak since winning six straight over Minnesota from 2009-12.

- Entering 2019, Kirk Cousins had four straight seasons of at least 4000 passing yards, trailing only Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers for the longest active streaks in the NFL. Cousins needs 397 passing yards for a 4000-yard season in 2019, something he's never done in a home game in his career.

- Minnesota's 139 total net yards against the Packers last week were the fourth-fewest by any team in any game this season – only the Jets (twice) and Broncos have had fewer.

 

Jets (6-9) at Bills (10-5) 1pm

- Josh Allen has accounted for 29 total touchdowns this season (20 passing, nine rushing). Jim Kelly in 1991 is the only Buffalo player ever to account for at least 30 total touchdowns in a season (33 passing, one rushing).

- The Bills are 5-2 at home versus the Jets since 2012, with a +81 point differential over these seven games.

- The Jets have the second-fewest rushing yards in the NFL and have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards. They would be the first team since the 1954 Eagles to rank bottom two and top two in rushing yards and opponent rushing yards, respectively.

 

Saints (12-3) at Panthers (5-10) 1pm

- The Saints defeated the Panthers at home in Week 12. New Orleans have also won the last two meetings in Carolina.

- New Orleans have never had back-to-back 13+ win seasons and the 25 wins over the past two seasons are already the most by the Saints in a two-season span all-time.

- Having won the division title for the third straight season, the Saints have tied the longest NFC South title streak that was set by the Panthers from 2013 to 2015.

 

Browns (6-9) at Bengals (1-14) 1pm

- The Browns' home win over the Bengals in Week 14 was a third straight win over their in-state rivals. Cleveland have not managed four consecutive wins over Cincinnati since a seven-game streak from 1992 to 1995.

- Cleveland were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Ravens. Their streak of 17 seasons without a playoff berth is tied for the fifth-longest in NFL history.

- The Bengals locked up the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft after a 38-35 overtime loss to the Dolphins in Miami last week. Cincinnati has drafted first overall three times in its history, taking defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in 1994, running back Ki-Jana Carter in 1995 and quarterback Carson Palmer in 2003.

 

Packers (12-3) at Lions (3-11-1) 1pm

- The Packers clinched the division title with their win over the Vikings in Week 16. Green Bay has won the NFC North title six times this decade, the most division titles by any NFC team.

- Davante Adams hauled in 13 receptions for 116 yards in that triumph, bringing his career receiving yards to 5,101.

- Green Bay holds a 99-72-7 advantage in the all-time series against the Lions and could become the third franchise to win 100 games against another franchise.

 

Dolphins (4-11) at Patriots (12-3) 1pm

- New England will be trying to earn a first-round bye for the 10th consecutive season. Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, no other team has earned a first-round bye in more than four straight seasons.

- Tom Brady has 3,836 passing yards this season. If he can reach 4,000 passing yards, it would be the third time he has thrown for 4,000 yards in a season at age 40 or older.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Dolphins with 228 rushing yards this season. No team has finished a 16-game season without a player having at least 300 rushing yards.

 

Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (7-8) 1pm

- Since 2015, the Falcons and Buccaneers have combined for 55.1 points per game against one another, the highest-scoring matchup between divisional opponents in the NFL.

- The Buccaneers rank third in the NFL in points (436) and third-worst in the NFL in points allowed (421).

- The Falcons have 19 touchdowns in the fourth quarter, tied with the Titans for most in the NFL.

 

Cardinals (5-9-1) at Rams (8-7) 4:25pm

- The Rams won 34-7 when these teams met in Week 13 and have outscored the Cardinals 164-32 during their five-game winning streak against Arizona.

- Tyler Higbee had his first career game with at least 100 receiving yards in Week 13 against Arizona, and has now had at least 100 yards in each of the three games since.

- Arizona beat the Seahawks 27-13 in Week 16, their second straight win following six consecutive losses. Both wins came by 14 points – the first time they have won back-to-back games by at least 14 since December 2015.

 

Raiders (7-8) at Broncos (6-9) 4:25pm

- The Broncos have won six of the last seven home games against the Raiders.

- Oakland has gone 17 straight seasons without winning the AFC West, tied for the fourth-longest streak not winning their division.

- The Broncos will finish with a losing record for the third consecutive season, the second-longest streak of losing seasons in franchise history (10 straight from 1963-1972).

 

Redskins (3-12) at Dallas Cowboys (7-8) 4:25pm

- The Cowboys have won six of their last seven over the Redskins, including three straight in Dallas.

- Last week, the Redskins became the third team in the NFL this season to allow 300+ passing yards and 200+ rushing yards in a game.

- Dallas have had at least 400 total net yards in all seven home games. No team since at least 1950 has had eight home games with 400+ total net yards in a season.

 

Titans (8-7) at Texans (10-5) 4:25pm

- Following their 24-21 win at Tennessee two weeks ago, the Texans look to secure the first season sweep by either team since 2015, and to square the all-time series at 18 wins each.

- The Texans clinched their second straight AFC South title with a 23-20 win at Tampa Bay – Houston's fifth victory this season by three points or fewer.

- Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson did not throw a touchdown pass last week; his season total sits at 26, matching the number he threw one season ago.

 

Steelers (8-7) at Ravens (13-2) 4:25pm

- Since John Harbaugh became head coach in 2008, the Ravens are 12-11 against the Steelers, and 14 of the 23 meetings have been decided by three points or fewer.

- Pittsburgh has lost back-to-back games after winning seven of its previous eight games. The Steelers have failed to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in eight straight games.

- The Ravens have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and they have tied a franchise record with 13 wins.

 

Colts (7-8) at Jaguars (5-10) 4:25pm

- Jacksonville have won four straight home games against Indianapolis, tied for its third-longest home winning streak against any opponent in the team's history.

- The Jaguars lead the NFL with a 96.8 field-goal percentage this season (30-for-31), all attempted by Josh Lambo.

- Chris Conley had 56 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in Jacksonville's Week 16 loss to the Falcons, his third touchdown reception in the last two games.

 

Eagles (8-7) at Giants (4-11) 4:25pm

- The Eagles got a 23-17 overtime win at home when these teams met in Week 14, their sixth straight win over the Giants and 10th in the last 11.

- Philadelphia has converted 57.1 percent of its red zone third downs this season, the highest mark in the league.

- The Eagles' six-game winning streak is tied for their second-longest all-time against New York – they won 12 straight between 1975 and 1981.


49ers (12-3) at Seahawks (11-4) 8:20pm

- Seattle got a 27-24 overtime win in San Francisco when these teams met in Week 10. Including their win in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks have won 13 of their last 15 games against the 49ers.

- Indeed, San Francisco have not won in Seattle since Week 16 in 2011.

- The 49ers beat the Rams on Saturday, reaching 12 wins for the first time since 2013. With another victory, they will clinch the NFC's top seed for the first time since 1997.

The Houston Texans can seal the AFC South title with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday before the New Orleans Saints face a huge battle with the Tennessee Titans in the penultimate week of the regular season.

Houston won a crunch clash with the Titans last weekend to give themselves the edge in the division and could get the job done this weekend, with another showdown against Tennessee to come in Week 17.

The Titans host NFC South winners the Saints on Sunday, while the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers have home advantage in the other two Saturday encounters.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 16 fixtures.

 


SATURDAY (all times Eastern)

Texans (9-5) at Buccaneers (7-7) 1pm

- The Texans have won all three meetings with the Buccaneers since losing the first one in 2003. Tampa Bay have averaged just 12.0 points in those matchups – the lowest all-time average against any opponent other than the Patriots (11.9).

- Houston need four touchdowns to tie the single-season franchise record of 46, set in 2009 and matched in 2012. 

- The Bucs are looking to match their longest winning streak of the past 15 years – a five-game run in 2016. They have scored at least 28 points in every game during the current winning sequence.

 

Bills (10-4) at Patriots (11-3) 4:30pm

- Of teams to square off at least 10 times since 2000, the Patriots-Bills series is the most lopsided in the NFL, with New England owning a 34-5 record.

- The Patriots are seeking a 13th season with a least 12 wins, which would tie Dallas and San Francisco for the most in NFL history.

- Josh Allen needs 50 passing yards to reach 5000 for his career in what would be his 27th NFL game. He would join Robert Griffin III (22) and Cam Newton (23) as the only players to reach that mark and 1000 rushing yards in fewer than 30 games.

 

Rams (8-6) at 49ers (11-3) 8:15pm

- The Rams have won their last two matches in San Francisco, totalling 80 points, after going 2-9-1 in their previous 12 visits and scoring no more than 25 points in any of them.

- The 49ers have allowed more than 20 points in five of their last seven games after not doing so once through their first seven outings of the season. 

- Jared Goff is two passing yards shy of becoming the first Rams quarterback to throw for 4000 yards in back-to-back seasons. 

 

SUNDAY

Bengals (1-13) at Dolphins (3-11) 1pm

- Miami are 15-7 all-time against Cincinnati, including 6-2 at home. Cincinnati could tie a franchise record of 14 losses, which they also suffered in 2002.

- The Dolphins have not scored a touchdown in any of their last eight red-zone drives – only the Redskins (10) have had a longer streak this season.

- Cincinnati have failed to score a touchdown in the second half of seven consecutive games. The last team to have a longer such run was also the Bengals, in eight straight spanning the 1999-00 seasons. 

 

Steelers (8-6) at Jets (5-9) 1pm

- The Steelers are 20-5 (.800) against the Jets all-time, tied for the best winning percentage between any current franchises that have played at least 20 times. 

- The Jets allowed a season-high 42 points in last week's loss at Baltimore and were undone by five touchdown passes for only the second time in the last 30 years.

- Devlin Hodges is on pace to have the highest completion percentage by a rookie all-time at 67.8 percent (minimum 100 attempts), but 28.8 per cent of his completions have been behind the line of scrimmage. 

 

Giants (3-11) at Redskins (3-11) 1pm

- The Giants are 9-4 in their last 13 games in Washington, dating back to the 2006 season. They have scored at least 17 points in all nine of their wins, and 16 or fewer in each of their four losses. 

- New York beat the Dolphins 36-20 at home last week, snapping a nine-game losing streak, which was the longest in franchise history.

- The Redskins went down 37-27 to the Eagles on Sunday, the most points they have allowed this season. 

 

Panthers (5-9) at Colts (6-8) 1pm

- The Panthers are 5-1 all-time versus the Colts and Carolina have never lost at Indianapolis (3-0). All five of Carolina's victories have come by eight points or fewer, including two in overtime.

- The Colts were 5-2 after seven games, but have lost six of their last seven. Indianapolis have lost four straight games and have allowed 31 or more points in each of the last three.

- Indianapolis have allowed an NFL-high 34.3 points per game this month, while the Panthers have conceded 33.0 points per game, third-most in the competition.

 

Ravens (12-2) at Browns (6-8) 1pm

- The Ravens' last loss came at the hands of the Browns, a 40-25 defeat in Week 4. Cleveland have not swept Baltimore in a season, or won consecutive games against the Ravens, since 2007.

- Baltimore's 10-game winning streak is the longest in the team's history; no team has won 11 straight games in a single season since the 2016 Cowboys.

- The Browns have won four consecutive home games for the first time since they won seven in succession in 2007.

 

Jaguars (5-9) at Falcons (5-9) 1pm

- This will be just the seventh meeting between the Jaguars and Falcons, with both winning three so far. The Jaguars have lost in their last two visits to Atlanta, winning in Georgia only once in 1999.

- Jacksonville snapped a five-game losing streak with a 20-16 win last week in the Raiders' final home game in Oakland. The Jaguars have scored 20 points or fewer in six consecutive games, the longest ongoing streak in the NFL.

- The Jaguars have not turned the ball over or forced a turnover in their last two games. No NFL team in the Super Bowl era have done this in three consecutive games.

 

Saints (11-3) at Titans (8-6) 1pm

- The Titans have won five of their last six games against the Saints, including a 34-28 overtime win in their most recent meeting in Week 9 of 2015.

- The Saints defeated the Colts 34-7 at home on Monday. That was New Orleans' ninth game scoring 30 or more points this season, which is tied for the third-most 30-point games in a season in team history and one short of their single-season high (2011 and 2018).

- Since Week 10, the Titans are scoring 34.2 per game, the second-highest average in the NFL. Over that same period, the Saints are averaging 30.5 points per game.

 

Raiders (6-8) at Chargers (5-9) 4:05pm

- Either the Chargers or Raiders have swept the season series between these teams in every campaign since 2014. The Raiders won the first meeting this year.

- The Chargers have scored at least 10 points in 65 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest in franchise history (98 straight from 2006-12).

- Philip Rivers has thrown a TD pass in 24 consecutive games against the Raiders, tied for the second-longest run all-time against a single opponent behind Brett Favre's 26 versus the Bears.

 

Lions (3-10) at Broncos (5-9) 4:05pm

- The Lions have lost seven in a row after starting the season 3-3-1. Detroit have had seven seven-game losing streaks since 2000.

- Danny Amendola had eight catches for 102 yards in the Lions' loss to the Bucs last time out. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season, the most he has had in a campaign since matching that feat in 2013.

- Courtland Sutton surpassed 1000 receiving yards for the season in a Week 15 loss to the Chiefs. He is the first Broncos player with 1000-plus receiving yards in a season since 2016.

 

Cardinals (4-9) at Seahawks (11-3) 4:25pm

- Seattle have won three in a row versus Arizona. The Seahawks have only won four on the bounce against the Cardinals once, a streak that spanned from 2004 to 2006.

- The Cardinals beat the Browns 38-24 last week, snapping a six-game losing streak. It was their first victory by more than six points this season.

- Kenyan Drake ran for 137 yards on 22 carries against Cleveland, scoring four rushing touchdowns in Arizona's win. He became the fourth player in franchise history to score at least four rushing touchdowns in a game and the first since Ronald Moore in 1993.

 

Cowboys (7-7) at Eagles (7-7) 4:25pm

- Dallas have won four straight games against Philadelphia, its longest streak versus the Eagles since a six-game winning run that stretched from November 1992 to November 1995. 

- Carson Wentz was 11-for-11 in the fourth quarter in a defeat of the Redskins last week, just the second time in his career he's had a perfect quarter with at least 10 attempts.

- The Cowboys defense have allowed just 10 broken tackles this season, tied with Tennessee for second fewest in the league behind Washington (nine).

 

Chiefs (10-4) at Bears (7-7) 8:20pm

- These teams last met in Week 5, 2015, when the Bears trailed 17-6 late in the game but scored two touchdowns in the final 3:05 to win 18-17.

- The Chiefs beat the Broncos 23-3 at home last week, their fourth consecutive win. They have conceded 17 or fewer points in each of those four games.

- Kansas City are averaging 6.4 yards per first down this season, third most in the league – only San Francisco and New Orleans (6.5 each) have averaged more. 

 

MONDAY

Packers (11-3) at Vikings (10-4) 8:15pm

- The Vikings have won the last three contests played in Minneapolis and hold a 29-28 lead in home contests against Green Bay.

- The Packers were 21-13 winners at home to the Bears last week, improving their record against NFC North teams to 4-0 this season. Green Bay have not gone undefeated against all division rivals since 2011.

- Aaron Jones had two more rushing touchdowns against the Bears, giving him 17 scrimmage TDs this season. That is the third-most scrimmage touchdowns in a single season by a Packers running back behind Ahman Green in 2003 (20) and Jim Taylor in 1962 (19).

Russell Wilson led the way as the high-flying Seattle Seahawks rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-34 in overtime, while the Miami Dolphins ended their NFL drought.

Seattle quarterback Wilson continued his MVP-calibre season by tying a career high with five touchdown passes for the Seahawks on Sunday.

The Seahawks star hit Jacob Hollister on a 10-yard touchdown on the opening possession of overtime in Seattle, where the home side trailed 21-7 midway through the second quarter.

Seattle also overcame Jason Myers' missed 40-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation as the Seahawks improved to 7-2.

Wilson – who posted his third career game with five TD passes – was 29 of 43 for 378 yards, while Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston finished 29 of 44 passing.

After seven consecutive defeats, the Dolphins finally opened their 2019 account with a 26-18 victory against fellow strugglers the New York Jets.

Ryan Fitzpatrick inspired the Dolphins by throwing three touchdown passes as the Jets suffered their fourth successive loss to Miami.

 

Allen impresses in first start

Brandon Allen was the star of the show for the Denver Broncos. Allen – a fourth-year quarterback – capped his maiden NFL start by leading the Broncos to a 24-19 win over the Cleveland Browns. The 27-year-old, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams two months ago, threw for 193 yards on 12-of-20 passing.

Melvin Gordon had a pair of touchdowns as the Los Angeles Chargers snapped a three-game losing streak courtesy of a 26-11 win against the Green Bay Packers. Michael Badgley also kicked four field goals.

 

Bears lack bite against Eagles

It was a forgettable outing for the Chicago Bears, who went down 22-14 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Chicago had just nine yards in the first half and trailed 19-0 before the Bears got on the board in the third quarter. Mitchell Trubisky was 10 of 21 for 125 yards and was sacked three times as the Bears crashed to a fourth straight loss.

Sunday's results

Houston Texans 26-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Buffalo Bills 24-9 Washington Redskins
Carolina Panthers 30-20 Tennessee Titans
Kansas City Chiefs 26-23 Minnesota Vikings
Miami Dolphins 26-18 New York Jets
Philadelphia Eagles 22-14 Chicago Bears
Pittsburgh Steelers 26-24 Indianapolis Colts
Oakland Raiders 31-24 Detroit Lions
Denver Broncos 24-19 Cleveland Browns
Los Angeles Chargers 26-11 Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks 40-34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (OT)

Cowboys at Giants

The New York Giants (2-6) welcome the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) to MetLife Stadium on Monday. Dallas will be looking to post back-to-back wins after last month's victory over rivals the Eagles ended a three-game losing run.

From post-game news conferences to next-day media availabilities, here are the 10 best Week 6 quotes from players and coaches around the NFL:

 

— Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn stressed the importance of his team taking advantage of their next two home games to get back on track: "I'd say more than anything, we get a chance to fight in front of our home fans. There's no moral victories, there's no things of that such other than finding our ways to fight to get our football team the wins that we need to get. That's really all we’ll think about and all we'll focus our time on."

— Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson on next week's NFC East showdown with the Dallas Cowboys: "Anytime Dallas loses it helps, because here's the thing — I know the sky is falling outside. … Has it been perfect or beautiful or all of that? No. But all we need to do is try to be 1-0 this week, beat the Dallas Cowboys, we're in first place."

— Not only were the Los Angeles Chargers embarrassed on "Sunday Night Football," Pittsburgh Steelers fans also took over their stadium, and the team were not happy: "I don't know what that was. Don't do that at our own stadium," Melvin Gordon said after the game. "It already felt like it was their stadium … I don't understand that."

— Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker had some harsh words for the officiating crew after the team's Monday loss to the Green Bay Packers: "Extremely pissed off right now," Walker said. "It is what it is. Disappointed. Hurt. We had that game."

— Packers kicker Mason Crosby on his first Lambeau Leap after sealing his team's win: "That was special. It's something I've always wanted to do."

— Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke candidly about coach Jason Garrett on 105.3 The Fan radio: "If I totally disagreed with [Jason] Garrett's philosophy, he wouldn't be the head coach."

— Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera gave a sincere injury update on quarterback Cam Newton: "I think people need to understand that the young man has done everything we've asked. I'm trying to stay true to what I told him. We're not going to put that kind of pressure on him. So, until we have it confirmed with our doctors and stuff like that, we're going to continue to do what we're doing."

— Jay Gruden on life after being fired by Washington Redskins: "Pretty quiet ... Bored out of my mind."

— NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay declined to discuss whether pass interference replay is really working this season:  "I don't think we would give a summation of whether a rule that's been in place for six weeks is working or not working," McKay told reporters. "We want to get the egregious ones, and we want to get them overturned."

— Less than a week after leaving the door open for a potential NFL return, Rob Gronkowski appears to have shut it again: "I'll give an answer. When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away," Gronkowski said. "So it would be a no. There it is."

The Washington Redskins cannot commit to Dwayne Haskins just yet, and the New York Giants are not willing to roll the dice on Saquon Barkley.

But will former Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown find a way to slither his way back into the league?

We take a look at the latest news around the league in this edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Rudolph back at practice after knockout hit

Three days after being knocked unconscious by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback resumed workouts in pads and a helmet.

Mason Rudolph is unlikely to play against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but it is remarkable progress from the scary scene that unfolded in Pittsburgh last week. It could even be a sign that Rudolph will be ready to return after the team's Week 7 bye. Expect his status to be monitored closely until he is deemed healthy enough to clear the concussion protocol.

Keenum expected to start for Redskins

The 31-year-old will reportedly start under center against the Miami Dolphins, as long as he is able to play on his injured foot. It is the first major move for interim head coach Bill Callahan, who replaced Jay Gruden after he was fired on Monday. 

Case Keenum has completed 68.1 per cent of his passes for 970 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions in three games this season. He opened 2019 as the team's starter but was pulled for rookie Dwayne Haskins in Washington's Week 4 loss to the Giants and later replaced by Colt McCoy in a Week 5 defeat to the Patriots.

Chargers place Pouncey on injured reserve

The Chargers suffered another major blow when the team announced the veteran center will be sidelined with a neck injury, but quickly signed offensive lineman Ryan Groy to fill the void. Mike Pouncey suffered the injury in the Chargers' loss to the Denver Broncos and was forced to leave the game.

Los Angeles are expected to move Dan Feeney into the middle and insert Forrest Lamp at left guard in Pouncey's absence over the next eight weeks. The earliest he can return is the team's Week 14 game at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Two things that don't matter

Barkley officially out of Patriots clash

The running back was able to return to practice last week but apparently was unable to get medical clearance to play this week. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 and was given an initial recovery timetable of four to eight weeks. Barkley expressed optimism he could beat it.

The Giants do not appear willing to take a chance rushing him back too soon, though, especially considering they could also be without receiver Sterling Shepard, who entered the concussion protocol for the second time this season, and tight end Evan Engram, who is dealing with a sprained medical collateral ligament.

Brown wants New England to re-sign him

Even though the Patriots have moved on since releasing the receiver last month, Brown is not giving up hope of playing in the league again and suggested the team re-sign him. 

"You guys that follow the Patriots, tell them to call me," Brown said in a live video that streamed on Instagram. "They've still got to pay me, so might as well let me earn it."

Brown filed an NFL-record nine grievances and appeals last month, which total more than $61million he believes he is owed from the Raiders and Patriots and remains without a team after accusations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape have surfaced.

"The Patriots have to pay me," Brown said. "They may as well play me."

Since Brown likened his legal situation to Robert Kraft's misdemeanour charge of soliciting a prostitute in a now-deleted tweet, the Patriots owner has reportedly vowed to never sign a check.

One video you have to see

Richard Sherman expressed regret for inciting "handshakegate" by accusing Baker Mayfield of dissing him before Monday's game.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera brought his epic t-shirt collection overseas.

All eyes were on the Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys showdown that unfolded in the first Sunday afternoon game since 2001 to be broadcast to 100 per cent of the national audience, and it did not disappoint.

Green Bay led 24-0 midway through the third quarter before Dallas put the pedal to the floor, but it was too little, too late as the Packers won 34-24.

Packers running back Aaron Jones erupted for a career-high 182 scrimmage yards – 107 rushing and 75 receiving – and four touchdowns on 26 touches, while Aaron Rodgers threw for 238 yards without an interception.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Denver Broncos spoiled Melvin Gordon's long-awaited return from his contract holdout with a 20-13 victory over the Chargers to end the team's eight-game losing streak. It was thanks to a stout defensive effort that forced three turnovers and a flawless performance by veteran quarterback Joe Flacco.

Things went from bad to worse for the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, who were routed by the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots respectively, to remain winless.

The Cincinnati Bengals were also defeated for the fifth straight game to drop to 0-5, but at least they put up a fight before falling 26-23 to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, who gave head coach Kliff Kingsbury his first NFL win.

Injury report

A scary scene unfolded in Pittsburgh as quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked out after taking a brutal hit to the chin from Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas. Rudolph laid motionless on his back for several minutes as the Steelers' medical staff attended to him on the field, and he was later carried off to be taken to a hospital after apparent problems with the cart.

Rudolph was ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion, which will be closely monitored this week after the Steelers switched to third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges. Team-mate and receiver James Washington was also ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Eagles running back Darren Sproles was questionable to return with a quad injury but moved to fifth on the NFL's all-time in all-purpose yards list first.

Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks left the team's London game against the Raiders due to an elbow injury and did not return.

Chargers center Mike Pouncey was questionable to return after suffering a neck injury.

By the numbers

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady moved to third on the NFL's all-time passing yards list during Sunday's game against the Redskins after surpassing Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre (71,838). Brady is set to pass Peyton Manning (71,940) for second in career yards in his next game.

The Bengals are 0-5 for the first time since 2008. It is the seventh time Cincinnati have started 0-5 since 1990, which is the most in the NFL in that span.

Christian McCaffrey had a historic day in Carolina, as the Panthers running back logged 237 total yards to become the first player since Jim Brown in 1963 to total 175-plus yards from scrimmage in four of a season's first five games. McCaffrey also reached a max speed of 21.95 mph on his 84-yard touchdown run Sunday, which is his fastest speed this season.

Quotables

Steve Smith Sr. was grateful to be back in Carolina as he was inducted into the Panthers' Hall of Honour: "I'd like to thank Mr. Tepper for bringing me back … I never thought I'd be back in this stadium, but I am and I'm happy to be here."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden on dropping to 0-5: "If the key works Monday I'll keep working."

Thomas was remorseful for his brutal hit on Rudolph: "I was just trying to get to the ball and make a play for my team. I hit the strike zone, I didn't go high. I didn't try to intentionally hurt him. I'm worried about him. I heard he's at the hospital and my prayers go out to him and his family."

Week 5 NFL scores

Teams on bye week

Dolphins and Lions

Thursday's game

Seahawks 30, Rams 29

Sunday's games

Eagles 31, Jets 6
Panthers 34, Jaguars 27
Vikings 28, Giants 10
Texans 53, Falcons 32
Saints 31, Buccaneers 24
Bills 14, Titans 7
Cardinals 26, Bengals 23
Patriots 33, Redskins 7
Ravens 26, Steelers 23
Raiders 24, Bears 21
Broncos 20, Chargers 13
Packers 34, Cowboys 24

Every game day in the NFL brings the potential for big surprises, but few deliver the twists and turns we saw in Week 4.

Jameis Winston threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a wild 55-40 victory, despite Jared Goff's career-high 517 passing yards on Sunday.

In Detroit, the Kansas City Chiefs scored a touchdown in the final seconds to remain undefeated and foil the Lions' upset bid via a 34-30 triumph.

In another surprising turn of events, the Cleveland Browns took control of the AFC North for the first time since 2014 as second-year rusher Nick Chubb exploded for three touchdowns in Baltimore against the league's third-ranked rushing defence – the Ravens, who fell 40-25.

Chubb was not the only running back with a huge Sunday. Jacksonville Jaguars star Leonard Fournette racked up a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries as he and quarterback Gardner Minshew rallied the team to a 26-24 win over the Denver Broncos, who have lost eight straight games dating to last season.

And on a day that saw young quarterbacks Josh Allen (concussion) and Mitch Trubisky (shoulder) lost to injury, rookie QB Daniel Jones completed 23-of-31 passes for 225 yards to become the first New York Giants quarterback to win his first two career starts since Danny Kanell in Weeks 7-8 of the 1997 season.

 

Injury report

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky left the game against the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter after landing awkwardly on his left shoulder and was later ruled out.

The Los Angeles Chargers suffered a litany of injuries as defensive end Melvin Ingram hurt his hamstring against the Miami Dolphins. Los Angeles also lost receiver Dontrelle Inman (quad), linebacker Denzel Perryman (concussion) and tight end Sean Culkin (ankle).

Browns receiver Jarvis Landry went into the medical tent at the end of the third quarter against the Ravens. He was eventually ruled out as the team announced he was being evaluated for a concussion.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen entered the concussion protocol after leaving the loss against reigning Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots early in the fourth quarter. Allen was trying to run for a first down when Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones knocked him down with a helmet-to-helmet hit.

By the numbers

Allen stopped the Patriots from extending their impressive stoppage streak.

Meanwhile, another Bills player set his own record as Frank Gore became just the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 15,000 career yards, joining Emmitt Smith (18,355 yards), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269).

Tennessee Tians QB Marcus Mariota is the only quarterback who has started every game this season and has yet to turn the ball over. The Titans also found a way to keep Mariota from getting sacked against the Atlanta Falcons after giving up a league-high 17 sacks through the first three weeks.

The Buccaneers-Rams matchup became the first game in the Super Bowl era where both teams made a field goal of at least 58 yards. Tampa Bay's 55 points in the win were also the most points in a game in franchise history.

Regardless of how the Cincinnati Bengals-Pittsburgh Steelers showdown plays out on Monday night, the Browns will finish Week 4 in first place in the AFC North for the first time since Week 10 of the 2014 season.

Arizona Cardinals veteran Larry Fitzgerald reached 1,326 catches against the Seattle Seahawks and passed Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez (1,325 catches) for second all-time on the NFL receptions list. He trails only Jerry Rice with 1,549 receptions.

Quotables

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield when asked if Rex Ryan's criticism fuelled the team's win: "Absolutely not. Rex Ryan does not get any credit for this week's win. No."

Bills head coach Sean McDermott voiced his concern for Allen after the quarterback was drilled by Jones with a helmet-to-helmet hit: "There's no room in football for a play like the hit on Josh Allen."

The Carolina Panthers have bounced back since their winless start, but Christian McCaffrey still thinks the team are behind: "It's huge for us. We're 2-2, but frankly we should be 4-0. That's the way we're going look at it, it's a week-to-week league. Sixteen, one-week seasons, so we're moving on to Week 5 and learn from the tape to see what we can do better."

Week 3 NFL scores

Teams on bye week

49ers and Jets

Thursday's game

Eagles 34, Packers 27

Sunday's games

Giants 24, Redskins 3
Chiefs 34, Lions 30
Titans 24, Falcons 10
Browns 40, Ravens 25
Raiders 31, Colts 24
Patriots 16, Bills 10
Panthers 16, Texans 10
Chargers 30, Dolphins 10
Buccaneers 55, Rams 40
Seahawks 27, Cardinals 10
Bears 16, Vikings 6
Jaguars 26, Broncos 24

Avonte Maddox and Jamaal Williams provided positive updates after suffering injuries on Thursday.

From updates on scary injuries that happened in Thursday's Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers matchup to the latest talk on when Melvin Gordon will actually return to the field now that his holdout is over, we run down all of the top headlines from Friday.

Three things that matter

'Thursday Night Football' brought scary injuries

Thursday's game ended with a pair of scary injuries as Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox and Packers running back Jamaal Williams had to be taken off on stretchers and both players went to a nearby hospital for further evaluation. 

Maddox, who had a violent head-on collision with a team-mate, shared an update on Friday, saying everything is going well, adding that he appreciated "the prayers and get well wishes". The Eagles confirmed on Friday that Maddox was diagnosed as having a concussion and neck injury, but that he was cleared to return on the team flight to Philadelphia, where he will undergo further testing.

Williams, on the other hand, took a scary hit from Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett in the 34-27 loss. "Appreciate it everyone for checking on me, I'm Gucci," he wrote on Friday on Instagram. Packers coach Matt LaFleur did not give an update on Williams' injury after the game, though the team announced the running back has feeling and movement in all of his extremities.

Davante Adams also was injured, disclosing after the game that he suffered a turf toe injury. While it was not nearly as serious as Maddox's and Williams' injuries, the Packers wide receiver said he was "in a lot of pain".

Will Melvin Gordon play against the Dolphins on Sunday?

Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters on Friday there is a chance Melvin Gordon will play in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins after holding out the start of the season. When Gordon returned to the team earlier this week, there was some speculation the Chargers would ease him back in as a starter. 

"There's a chance," Lynn told reporters. "He's looked fine. He's in good shape, but he hasn't been practising football, so obviously he's not ready to go back in there and carry the load right now but you never know, he may have to."

Los Angeles are having issues with depth at running back with Justin Jackson, who was seen in a boot at practice and limited on Thursday due to a calf injury, ruled out.

"We do what we gotta do to win," Gordon said when asked if he will be ready to play. "For the most part, I think I'll be alright."

Amari Cooper 'in good shape' to play despite ankle issue

Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper is expected to play against the New Orleans Saints despite some uncertainty about his status as he deals with an ankle issue, owner Jerry Jones confirmed on Friday. 

Asked whether Cooper will be a full-go for Week 4, Jones said: "Yes, I feel very good about that," adding, "I think we're in good shape."

Cooper has been limited this week in practice and underwent a "precautionary" MRI exam on Wednesday. Coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Thursday that the receiver has been dealing with a "foot and ankle thing" from Sunday's game against the Dolphins, though the MRI came back negative.

He was sidelined for much of training camp and the preseason with a left foot strain, but he returned to practice in early September and was on the field in Week 1. 

Two things that don't matter

Jalen Ramsey's questionable against Broncos

There is still a chance Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play against the Denver Broncos. 

Ramsey's second child was born on Friday and he had stepped away from the team on Wednesday to be with his family in Nashville. The Jaguars are leaving open the possibility that he will return in time for Sunday's game by listing him as questionable for back/personal reasons. 

Ramsey did not practice this week, sitting out Monday because of an illness and Wednesday with a back injury. Marrone said Jacksonville are hopeful Ramsey will play, but he will be evaluated once he returns. Earlier this week, he reiterated his demand to be traded.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur explains odd play-calling decisions

The Packers had a chance to win Thursday's game against the Eagles when they got down to the one-yard line while trailing by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but many questioned coach LaFleur's play calls when Green Bay passed the ball four times.

When asked why the Packers did not run the ball, LaFleur said: "That's a great question," while admitting, "Unfortunately it didn't work out for us."

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game that he felt "good about all four calls" and did not have any regrets.

"We had a couple opportunities there I think to score and we just didn't quite execute," Rodgers said. "It hurts, obviously, the way they were stopping the run, we felt good about those four calls and I liked the calls and I felt like we were close on a couple of those to really scoring and tying it up."

One video you have to see

Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham called out a reporter for doubting his team, and then told his mum about it on the phone in the locker room after Thursday's game.

Friday's tweet of the day

There has been some debate over the quarterback situation in Washington as to whether rookie Dwayne Haskins should start over Case Keenum. Haskins is not sweating it, though. He said: "I want to be like Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and that's something that doesn't happen overnight. Tom didn't play at first; Aaron Rodgers didn't play at first."

While Melvin Gordon looks to possibly make his way back to the field, Jalen Ramsey appears to be dodging it for speculative reasons.

Wednesday was a busy day around the NFL as teams prepare for Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made another trade, and there is some reason for concern around one of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive stars.

From Nick Vannett's trade to Amari Cooper's injury, we look at the latest news around the league in this edition of NFL news and notes.


Three things that matter

Melvin Gordon could return this week

An initial report suggested the Los Angeles Chargers running back will end his contract holdout and report to the team on Thursday. A subsequent report said a return date has not been set, but that Gordon is considering coming back as early as this week.

Even if that happens, he is not expected to play until next week, when his team go up against the Denver Broncos.

Still, his return would be major progress and beneficial for the Chargers, as their offense struggled in successive defeats to the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans.


Jalen Ramsey sits out practice again

The Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback had every intention of working out on Wednesday after calling in sick on Monday, but was unable to participate after being listed on the team's injury report with a back issue.

It was reported Ramsey is "a little banged up" and is receiving treatment for problems related to his lower back and hamstrings.

But there is scepticism around Ramsey's absence from practice this week considering he has expressed his desire to be traded.

The Jaguars also claimed Ramsey reported back soreness during the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s win over the Tennessee Titans, but did not miss any snaps.

His availability will be closely monitored the rest of this week as the Jaguars prepare to visit the winless Broncos.


Cooper has MRI on ankle

It was rumoured to be a precautionary exam of his right ankle, but news of a potential injury to Cooper will be concerning to the Dallas Cowboys after the receiver missed almost all of training camp with a left heel problem.

Cooper has played 171 of 209 offensive snaps for Dallas through the first three games of this season, racking up 16 catches for 238 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cowboys are already thin at receiver after starter Michael Gallup underwent surgery on his knee and backup Tavon Austin missed the last two games with a concussion.

Dallas have enjoyed a superb 3-0 start to the season, but can ill afford a further blow to their offense as they look to stay unbeaten.

Two things that don't matter

Julian Edelman back at New England Patriots practice

The receiver left Sunday's win over the New York Jets in the first half with a chest injury and did not return. While Edelman was not expected to miss much time after X-rays came back negative, his return will come as a relief for New England after the team cut Antonio Brown and saw Josh Gordon battle a few minor injuries last week.

Edelman leads the Patriots with 17 receptions and 196 receiving yards this season.


Antonio Brown's agent says receiver still wants to play

Speaking on Warren Sapp's "99 Problems" podcast, Drew Rosenhaus claimed that Brown "wants to continue his career in the NFL" despite tweeting on Sunday he is done playing in the league.

"I have had discussions with a few teams that are very interested in him and want to know about his future and what's going on with the NFL," Rosenhaus said. "Hopefully, when that is all resolved, Antonio will be able to continue his Hall of Fame career."

Brown will first need to address the allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape made against him, all of which he continues to deny. 

"It's a very difficult time for him, not playing," Rosenhaus added. "It's tough for someone who loves the game not to be playing right now, and the hope is that we'll cooperate with the NFL in its investigation and get him back with a team to continue this tremendous career he's had."

One video you have to see

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew once tried to break his hand to get a redshirt. Spoiler: It did not work.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

Vannett bid farewell to Seattle before he heads to the Steelers following his trade.

The second week of the NFL season gave us what Week 1 could not – fewer injuries and more close finishes.

The fourth quarter was crucial on Sunday as several high-profile games gave us nail-biting endings. Gardner Minshew could not quite get the Jacksonville Jaguars past the Houston Texans as he made his first career start in place of injured quarterback Nick Foles, while the Indianapolis Colts' defense helped Jacoby Brissett claim his first win of the season since Andrew Luck retired.

But setbacks were not inescapable after the Pittsburgh Steelers were plagued by injuries in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers fought down to the final fourth-and-one wire of a game that had four sacks and four first downs over the first five possessions alone, but the Seahawks picked up their eight win in the team's last nine games.

Other games were not as competitive, like the New England Patriots' 43-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers' 41-17 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Then there are the Buffalo Bills, who moved to an unlikely 2-0 after they spoiled the New York Giants' home opener 28-14, while head coach Matt LaFleur recorded his first win at Green Bay as the Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings 21-16 for the first time since 2016.

Injury report

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was seen shaking his throwing arm at various points in the first half against the Seahawks and even exited to the locker room before returning to the sideline to play through the injury. He was later ruled questionable to return to start the second half but never made it back after being replaced by backup Mason Rudolph.

Meanwhile, Steelers team-mate and running back James Conner was also questionable to return with a knee injury suffered in the second half. The Steelers also lost linebacker Vince Williams and safety Sean Davis to injuries.

49ers tackle Joe Staley was carted off the field against the Bengals with a leg injury and did not return. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan revealed after the game that Staley suffered a broken fibula.

Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, starting in place of Jordan Reed as he recovers from a concussion, sustained an eye injury against the Dallas Cowboys.

Another less injury-prone quarterback went down as New Orlenas Saints veteran Drew Brees injured his throwing hand making contact with Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in their NFC title rematch. He was sidelined with his thumb taped as Teddy Bridgewater took over under centre.

By the numbers

After being a healthy scratch in Week 1, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson scored his 107th career rushing touchdown to pass Hall of Famer Jim Brown on the all-time list. He is three rushing touchdowns behind Walter Payton for fourth in NFL history.

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is back in a big way, as the veteran scored in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Weeks 12 and 13 of the 2017 season.

Antonio Brown's touchdown catch during his Patriots debut against the Dolphins made him the 72nd player to catch a regular-season touchdown pass from Tom Brady, which extends a league record for the 42-year-old New England quarterback.

Rookie sensation and Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray joined Carolina Panthers veteran Cam Newton as the only players in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in their first two starts.

Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster hit 2,500 career receiving yards against the Seahawks, becoming the youngest player in league history to accomplish the feat.

It was a good day for fantasy owners with New England's defense after the Patriots shut out the Dolphins.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes exploded in the first half against the Oakland Raiders, with his four touchdown passes and 313 yards helping him become the first signal-caller to throw for more than 278 yards in any quarter since Brees did so in 2008.

Quotables

Giants coach Pat Shurmur on replacing Eli Manning with Daniel Jones: "I think we have to look at how our team played and we have to go back and take steps to get better in all areas. I don't think that's a conversation for right now. Everybody has to play better."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick on having Brady throw deep despite being up 37 points: "We're playing 60 minutes. You've got to play 60 minutes."

Week 1 NFL scores

Thursday's game

Buccaneers 20, Panthers 14

Sunday's games

Ravens 23, Cardinals 17
Lions 13, Chargers 10
Colts 19, Titans 17
49ers 41, Bengals 17
Texans 13, Jaguars 12
Packers 21, Vikings 16
Cowboys 31, Redskins 21
Seahawks 28, Steelers 26
Bills 28, Giants 14
Patriots 43, Dolphins 0
Chiefs 28, Raiders 10
Rams 27, Saints 9
Bears 16, Broncos 14

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was in a revealing mood when talking about Antonio Brown on Wednesday.

OK, obviously he was not. He never is when he talks. That can easily be seen by his answers to questions about the wide receiver who has been accused of rape and sexual assault by his former trainer.

Q: Were you aware of the lawsuit when you signed Antonio Brown?

BB: I'm not going to be expanding on the statements that have already been given.

Q: Don't you think the fans deserve to hear a little bit more from you…

BB: When we know more, we'll say more.

Q: … on such a major development that could impact the team?

BB: Yeah, I just said that.

Q: Don't you think fans deserve to hear a little bit more?

BB: When we know more, we'll say more.

Q: Are you preparing to have Antonio Brown at practice today?

BB: Yes.

Q: And are you preparing for him to play on Sunday?

BB: We're taking it one day at a time. Just like we always do.

Q: Are you preparing for the possibility that he could be on the commissioner's exempt list?

BB: We're preparing for one day at a time.

Q: How much would the allegations against him weigh into if you play him on Sunday?

BB: Yeah, I appreciate all of the questions, and what's been said has been said.

We do not know if Brown is going to play this week, but it is a storyline to follow. Even if he plays though, the Miami Dolphins are likely in a lot of trouble.

Despite the drama that follows Brown, there is a lot of good on-the-field football stories this week, including a rematch of a very controversial game in the playoffs last year.

Here is your NFL countdown to Week 2:

 

Three must-see NFL Week 2 games

Vikings (1-0-0) at Packers (1-0-0) — This will be a decent indicator of how good the Green Bay Packers' new defense is. Green Bay looked very good against the Chicago Bears last week, but a lot of that was because Mitchell Trubisky was awful and the Bears refused to run the ball. The Minnesota Vikings have just about everything going for them offensively. They will be a stiff challenge for Green Bay.

Cardinals (0-0-1) at Ravens (1-0-0) — Lamar Jackson looked absolutely incredible last week. But, it was against the Dolphins who — in sum — played like Team Trubisky. Do not get us wrong, Jackson is good, but the Arizona Cardinals certainly present a tougher test defensively than Miami. Also, Kyler Murray looked amazing in the fourth quarter and overtime in his NFL debut. He was awful for the first three quarters, though. Can he develop more consistency — hopefully on the positive side — against a very tough Baltimore Ravens defense? We are not holding our breath. The Ravens might have the best defense in football.

Saints (1-0-0) at Rams (1-0-0) — It is a rematch of last season's NFC championship game. Do not remember what happened there? Here's a refresher:

The Los Angeles Rams went on to win and went to the Super Bowl. A controversial no-call play prompted the NFL to make pass interference reviewable. A Saints fan then filed a civil suit against the NFL for robbing his team of a shot at a championship. Yeah, you need to watch this game.

J.J. Watt, Texans DE — For the first time in Watt's career Monday, the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year was held without a tackle, quarterback hit or sack. The Houston Texans star likely will not let that happen again, and he is facing a rookie quarterback — come on down, Gardner Minshew! — against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. A three- or four-sack game might not be out of the question.

Joe Mixon, Bengals RB — Mixon suffered a sprained ankle in the Cincinnati Bengals' Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Zac Taylor's offense is very much based on the play-action game and not having Mixon will likely affect it. However, Andy Dalton threw for 418 yards in Week 1, so clearly it can work either way. It will likely work better with Mixon, listed as questionable for the San Francisco 49ers, so the Bengals will certainly want him back.

One bold NFL Week 2 prediction

Jags fans will wonder: Did they find a franchise QB by accident? Gardner Minshew started only one season at Washington State, but won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the nation's best senior quarterback. He threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and posted a 76.8 QBR in Week 1 in relief of Nick Foles, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Minshew has legitimate talent, and team-mates love to play for him. Look for him to again throw for 250 or more yards and two or three touchdowns against a good Texans defense. If he does that, the Jaguars may have found their quarterback of the future in the sixth round.

Hunter Henry is reportedly expected to miss four to six weeks after the Los Angeles Chargers tight end suffered a fracture in his knee.

Henry sustained a tibia plateau fracture  — a break in the upper portion of the tibia, or the shin bone — to his left knee during Sunday's overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts.

A timeline for his return has yet to be confirmed, though he at least appears to have avoided surgery, and ESPN reported the Chargers anticipate he will be out for four to six weeks. 

"You know, we have reliable backups," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "It's week to week sometimes in this league. You just don't know what kind of roster you're going to have because of these situations.

"You just have to figure out how to use the guys we have the best we can to get the most out of them. It's definitely not going to change our offense, but we're definitely going to miss him."

The same injury ended Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt‘s season in 2017.

Henry has dealt with a number of significant injuries in his career. He sustained a lacerated kidney late in the 2017 season and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 2018 preseason that sidelined him until the Chargers' playoff defeat to the New England Patriots in January.

He caught four passes for 60 yards in Week 1. The Chargers visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

NFL Sundays are back and there was no shortage of headlines during the first full slate of games for week one as the league continued the kick-off of its 100th season.

Le'Veon Bell bounced back in his debut with the New York Jets despite a loss to the Buffalo Bills, while Odell Beckham Jr. was less than thrilling as he and Baker Mayfield were routed by the Tennessee Titans in the Cleveland Browns' opener.

But Kyler Murray was perhaps the most interesting as his dull start turned into an exciting overtime thriller in which the rookie quarterback kept the Arizona Cardinals alive for a tie with the Detroit Lions. It was not an ideal start for first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but it was an even worse outcome for second-year coach Matt Patricia.

Elsewhere around the league, Julio Jones disappointed after getting his long-awaited contract extension, while Ezekiel Elliott was outstanding despite the holdout that kept him away from the Dallas Cowboys until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers fared just fine without Melvin Gordon as he extended his absence while he continues to wait for a new deal.

Injury report

Tempers were as high as the temperature in Jacksonville, where the Chiefs-Jaguars game turned chippy. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles was ruled out with a broken left collarbone, while Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was carted off the field with a shoulder injury and later ruled out. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes also sprained his ankle and limped off the field but was able to play through the pain.

Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle was carted off the field and evaluated for a concussion after Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey made contact with his head while leaping over him. Weddle was motionless on the field for a few minutes and visibly bloodied with a head laceration.

Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley was ruled out against the Bills after suffering a groin injury late in the game while rookie defensive tackle and 2019 third draft pick Quinnen Williams left with an ankle injury.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson was carted off due to an apparent foot injury against the Washington Redskins.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield left FirstEnergy Stadium with his right wrist wrapped, though it was reported to be just a bruise and not considered serious.

By the numbers

The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards — their most penalties in a game since 1951 — as they dropped their 15th straight regular-season opener. That winless streak is now the league's longest.

Bell, playing his first game in 602 days on Sunday, did not skip a beat as he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards. He finished his Jets debut with 17 carries for 60 yards while adding six catches for 32 yards and a score.

The Ravens set a franchise record with 42 first-half points to begin their season, and Lamar Jackson had himself a day as he helped them secure their eventual win over the Dolphins.

Baltimore racked up 640 yards of total offense against Miami, which is the most by any team in their first game of the season since the Rams in 1951. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first player in league history to start for eight different NFL teams.

Quotables

Vernon Davis, who was raised by his grandparents and coped with the death of his grandfather one day earlier, on his emotions when the tight end scored against the Eagles: "I was just grateful when I scored that touchdown. I was grateful to contribute to the team. A lot of people asked me if I was going to be able to play today. Of course, I'll be able to play. They probably didn't think I'd come out and be effective for the team as well, but it worked out.

"Just that feeling of being able to be successful, meaning contribute to the team. Not individual success, but success as a team. That whole play was everybody ... but that play is going to have to be irrelevant to me because of what went on today."

Mayfield on why it is too early for Browns fans to worry:  "Everybody is going to throw this in the trash. I think that is good. I know what type of men we have in this locker room. I know how we are going to react. I know what we are going to do. We are going to bounce back. We have a Monday Night game [against the Jets] coming up so we do not really care. We are ready to go."

Week 1 NFL scores

Thursday's game

Packers 10, Bears 3

Sunday's games

Chiefs 40, Jaguars 26
Vikings 28, Falcons 12
Titans 43, Browns 13
Bills 17, Jets 16
Ravens 59, Dolphins 10
Eagles 32, Redskins 27
Rams 30, Panthers 27
Chargers 30, Colts 24, OT
Seahawks 21, Bengals 20
Cowboys 35, Giants 17
49ers 31, Buccaneers 17
Lions 27, Cardinals 27, OT

Finally, the wait is over. No more concerns about combine performances, training camp activities or injuries in meaningless pre-season fixtures.

On Thursday, the 2019 NFL season kicked off with the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers. The long-time rivalry failed to deliver a thriller on opening night – the Packers prevailed 10-3 – but it did signal the start of Week 1.

Sundays will never be the same again (well, until the Super Bowl next February at least).

As the rest of the league wait to get started, we look at some of the key Opta facts for seven games in Week 1 - including the New England Patriots, the reigning champions no less, hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina Panthers

The Rams finished the last campaign as bridesmaids, beaten 13-3 by the Pats in Super Bowl LIII. So, can Sean McVay’s team go one better this season? Well, the schedule has thrown up a tricky start away to Carolina – the Rams have not triumphed in Charlotte since 2001.

However, while the head-to-head history favours the Panthers, the Rams have won 13 road games since the start of 2017 season, which is the most in the NFL in that span.

 

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have dominated this divisional rivalry of late, winning the last four straight. Their most recent meeting was in Week 17 last year, with the Redskins shut out in a 24-0 loss.

Philadelphia went 5-3 at home last season and will be wary of a Washington team who have won their last three road openers. However, the Redskins still have a long way to go to match the franchise record in such games, having triumphed in seven on the spin between 1937 and 1943.

 

Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are on a three-game winning streak against the Falcons, while they have also not lost a home opener since 2014.

So no hope for Atlanta this week? Actually, the Falcons finished the last campaign with back-to-back road wins, plus their only other away success in 2018 came in Minnesota. They have done a good job keeping Adam Thielen quiet in previous meetings, too. The wide receiver has recorded just four catches in three games against them.

 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City have beaten Jacksonville in four straight games, including a 30-14 result last season. Still, the Jaguars managed 502 yards of offense (and had five turnovers) in a losing cause.

The Jags will be hoping to do better at home in 2019. They went 3-5 in front of their own fans last season, one of just eight teams to post a losing record at their own stadium. They conceded the fewest and scored the second-fewest points at home in 2018, so reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs may find it tough going this weekend.

 

Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Chargers

The Colts begin life without the now-retired Andrew Luck in LA. They closed out the previous season with successive road wins but have not won three in a row away from Indianapolis since a four-game run between October and December in 2016.

As for the Chargers, quarterback Philip Rivers has just three touchdowns in five regular-season games against the Colts. He has thrown for fewer against just one NFL team (Atlanta - one in three games).

 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

The Steelers' 17-10 win last season was their first success in five over the Patriots. They have become accustomed to starting on the road, having done so for the past four seasons.

Tom Brady has certainly enjoyed coming up against Pittsburgh in the past, though. In his 11 regular season games against them, the quarterback has thrown for 26 touchdowns (his second most against a team outside of the AFC East) compared to just five interceptions.

 

Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints

These two teams have not faced each other since 2015, the Texans winning 24-6 the last time they met. The Saints have not scored six or fewer points in a game since, by the way.

New Orleans have home advantage but will be looking to end a miserable Week 1 record. They have lost their last five season openers, allowing an average of 36.0 points per game.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs took the AFC West by storm last year.

The reigning NFL MVP had a history-making season in his first year as a starter and ended 2018 near the top of almost every statistical category after transforming the Chiefs and their offense.

Mahomes' list of accomplishments is long, but what is arguably the most impressive is how many times he was connecting with his receiving corps. He threw 50 touchdown passes - five short of Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record — to lead the Chiefs to the AFC championship game.

But Mahomes was not the only player in Kansas City to have a breakout season. The Chiefs saw tight end Travis Kelce emerge as one of the best in his position. Then there are wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, leaving Kansas City poised to see off the Los Angeles Chargers, the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders for top spot in the division again.

"The sky is the limit for this offense," Kelce said in August. "The guys who have been here, that have been here the last couple years, especially last year; we're taking it up a level that we have in years past. You can just tell from the coaches’ excitement to their attention to detail, to how guys are reacting to their coaching. This team is going to be awesome and we're going to have a lot of fun on the offensive side of the ball."

However, the Chiefs potential 2019 run could be halted with some stiffer competition in the West.

The Chargers returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and are still looking to get Hall of Fame candidate Philip Rivers to a Super Bowl, the Raiders added Antonio Brown and the Broncos have another veteran on offense in Joe Flacco. There are loaded rosters throughout the division, which could make for another exciting battle.

Player to watch 

Hunter Henry, Chargers tight end

The Chargers were without Hunter Henry last year after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that ruined his third season in the NFL. Now, though, Henry is back and fully fit. 

He gives Rivers a reliable option after totalling 45 catches for 579 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 and 36 catches for 478 yards and eight scores during his rookie campaign in 2016.

"With Hunter Henry, we can stretch the field in the seams more," coach Anthony Lynn said during June's minicamp. "He's one of the better combo tight ends in the game because he blocks well. So just him back on the field, one of our biggest and better threats, it's going to open things up outside for Keenan Allen a little bit and Mike Williams."

Impact rookie 

Josh Jacobs, Raiders running back

Josh Jacobs was the highest-rated running back of the entire 2019 draft class and already has high expectations coming out of Alabama as the 24th overall pick. His size and power have been enough to impress quarterback Derek Carr.

"You know I've been able to hand the ball off to some really good running backs. I've played with some fun ones - Latavius [Murray], Marshawn [Lynch], Doug [Martin], and that's just the guys that've carried most of the footballs," Carr  said in mid-August. "I've played with a lot of good backs [and] watching [Jacobs'] vision was really impressive because I have the best seat in the house. I'm sitting back there playing 'Madden' tell him to cut back and trying to run for him. He's right up there with those guys."

Jacobs had four carries for 21 yards in his first - and only - preseason game.

Coach under pressure

Jon Gruden, Raiders

The coach turned analyst turned coach famously said, "If I can't get it done, I'm not going to take their money" last season after re-joining the Raiders on an eye-popping 10-year, $100million contract. Oakland went on to finish 4-12. 

Now, Gruden has some new talent and has regained his footing on the sideline. The Raiders are through the first of their rebuilding years and, with Las Vegas in the team's sights, Gruden has to try and put together a winning season if he wants to start a successful franchise in a new city in 2020.

Key matchup 

Chargers at Chiefs, December 29

This will not be the first time these two teams play. The Chargers and Chiefs will go head-to-head November 18 but the later matchup could have bigger playoff implications. Los Angeles punched their playoff ticket last season with a key win over Kansas City and this final regular-season game could again be crucial.

Predicted finish

It could be a close race to the top of the standings, but if Mahomes has a year close to last season it is hard to see any team in the division dethroning the Chiefs, who have won it for the past three years.

1. Chiefs

2. Chargers

3. Broncos

4. Raiders

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