Tua Tagovailoa has received public backing from Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as rumours over a trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson intensify.

A report this week in the Houston Chronicle suggested the Dolphins were on the brink of completing a trade for Watson with the Texans.

Watson is rated among the elite QBs in the NFL after a fantastic 2020 season but has not been active for any games this season.

The 26-year-old requested a trade from the Texans in January and is facing 22 civil lawsuits that remain unresolved as the NFL conducts its own investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him.

Tagovailoa, meanwhile, has had a difficult second season, missing three games with fractured ribs while the Dolphins, who had playoff ambitions, collapsed to a dreadful 1-5 start.

The former Alabama standout returned to action in London last week but could not prevent the Dolphins going down to defeat against the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Their hopes of a successful season therefore look bleak ahead of Sunday's must-win home game with the 2-3 Atlanta Falcons.

A change at the QB position has been mooted, but when he was asked about the Watson reports on Friday, Flores replied: "I don't really get into rumours - Tua is our quarterback.

"We're happy with the quarterback, our quarterback situation. I'll leave it at that, which I've said multiple times."

Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Jaguars after completing 33 of his 47 pass attempts.

"I thought he played very well last week," added Flores. "His preparation, the way he practices and the way he performs has been good.  

"I think his psyche is in a good place. He's a confident kid, he's a tough kid. He's played in two games this year so he should have a lot of confidence in the way he's played. 

"We have a lot of confidence in him. He's developing, I think this kid is smart, he's talented, he's accurate, I think he definitely has the opportunity to be a very good NFL player. 

"There's always bumps in the road for anyone in any career, any profession. You have to work through those and you become better for it."

Tagovailoa started nine games in his rookie season, winning six of them as he threw 11 touchdowns to five picks with some steady but unspectacular performances.

In 2020 he was battling for snaps with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but a clear path to the starting job emerged when the veteran moved on to Washington and Miami opted not to pick a QB in the draft.

Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer celebrated the Jacksonville Jaguars' drought-ending triumph and "software engineer" Matthew Wright, who ended the team's 20-game skid.

Wright kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired to lift the embattled Jaguars to a dramatic 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday.

The Jaguars had not won since their 2020 season-opening victory against the Indianapolis Colts amid the second-longest losing streak in NFL history, second only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' run of 26 straight defeats in 1976-77.

But Wright emerged the unlikely hero in the final play of the game in the United Kingdom, where rookie Jaguars quarterback Lawrence set up the field goal after the kicker also nailed a 54-yard attempt with just under four minutes remaining.

"Obviously we've had a rough start to the year, been through a lot of adversity even in this game, just having to fight back, battle back and find a way to win," Lawrence – the number one draft pick – told reporters after completing 25 of 41 passes for 319 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

"It means a lot, and obviously, like I said, we've struggled a little bit, but to get this win, have this momentum going into the bye week, to do it here in London, it's all just special. I'll always remember this one."

Jaguars head coach Meyer added: "Someone asked me last week if we were desperate for a win, and we are desperate for a win, and we came close a few times.

"There were a lot of things to fix, but you saw a young quarterback make a big-time play at the biggest time of the game, and then a young kicker that we just signed a couple weeks ago pop two 50-plus yarders, so it was a great win."

According to Stats Perform, Wright became the fourth kicker in NFL history to make two 50-yard field goals in the fourth quarter, including the game winner as time expired, joining Greg Joseph (Week 5), Brandon McManus (2019) and Mason Crosby (2016).

"I think [Matthew Wright] was telling me he was like a software engineer like a month and a half ago, and now he snapped our 20-game losing streak and made the game winner from 52, 53, I don't know," Lawrence said. "But just crazy."

"It feels awesome. Just happy they both went in. Happy I could help the team come out with a win," added Wright.

Urban Meyer is increasingly encouraged by Trevor Lawrence's work in the NFL and hopes his rookie quarterback can lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to a much-needed first win of the year.

The Jaguars are 0-5 heading into Sunday's NFL London game, although opponents the Miami Dolphins have also struggled to 1-4.

This was always likely to be another tough season for the Jags, who went 1-15 last year to secure the first overall pick in the draft.

Jacksonville used that first-round selection on outstanding college QB Lawrence, a key step on their path to turning around a franchise with only one winning season since 2007.

Facing NFL opposition on a poor team has represented a steep learning curve for Lawrence, whose debut against the Houston Texans brought an entertaining, erratic three-touchdown, three-interception display.

Week 2 saw only 14 of 33 pass attempts completed for a passer rating of 37.2 – the fifth-lowest of the season through five weeks.

But there has been steady improvement across the past two games, in which Lawrence has thrown one TD pass, been picked once and rushed for two more scores.

In Weeks 1 through 3, Lawrence completed only 57.7 per cent of his passes, tossed an accurate, well-thrown ball with 71.2 per cent and offered up a pickable pass with 6.3 percent. Among QBs with 10 or more attempts, he ranked in the bottom four in all categories.

Across Weeks 4 and 5, however, with 74.1 completion percentage, 83.3 well-thrown percentage and 1.9 per cent pickable pass percentage, Lawrence has operated above the league average in each metric.

"[Quarterbacks coach] Brian Schottenheimer and [offensive coordinator] Darrell Bevell have had experience with young quarterbacks – from Andrew Luck to Russell Wilson – and they've done really a great job," Meyer said ahead of the Dolphins game.

"I love the progress, I love the chemistry between the coaches and Trevor, and you can see it on the field.

"You can see his familiarity now with the offense and the people around him. It's really exciting to watch him grow."

Coach Meyer, who is also in his first year in the NFL, is seeing "steady progress" from the entire team and said: "We have really good leadership on the team, a really good locker room on this team, and they want to win in the worst way."

Meyer needs a win as badly as Lawrence, having come in for criticism this season. He also apologised following the team's Week 4 defeat after a viral video showed him sitting on a bar stool while a woman, who was not his wife, danced close to his lap.

But Lawrence said of the Jags coach: "I think he has done a good job of handling the situation. He has had conversations with the team, one-on-one and with all of us.

"[It is] just him being the same guy and coming to work, you know, a super hard worker.

"[He] really cares about this team and no one can deny that, so we are in a good spot and we all respect him. We are just ready to go win some games."

Week 6 of the NFL season sees the first byes of the campaign, meaning fantasy managers may need to start utilising their bench.

Though the starters picked in the early rounds of the draft often lay the foundations for a championship-winning season, the players selected to fill the void when they are not available can be the difference between claiming and missing out on the title.

With that in mind, this week's edition of fantasy picks features three players who can fill the void for fantasy managers with holes in their line-up.

A second-year wide receiver primed to play an even bigger part in an underperforming offense also features in Stats Perform's look at four players and a defense worthy of fantasy selection this week. 

Quarterback: Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team vs. Kansas City Chiefs

If you have a quarterback on a bye, or you are unfortunate to be in a position where the injured Russell Wilson is your starter, then you may be in scramble mode at quarterback.

Heinicke presents a solution to fantasy owners in such a bind. Yes, Washington will be underdogs against Kansas City, but Heinicke has thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in three of his last four games and should have little difficulty moving the ball against a defense allowing 7.08 yards per play, the most in the NFL.

With a high-scoring affair likely on the horizon, Heinicke is a leading option for fantasy owners in need of a quarterback fill-in.

Running Back: Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

There isn't much reason to get excited about the Dolphins but fantasy owners of Gaskin should be extremely intrigued by this matchup in the second and final London game of the year.

Gaskin had only five carries for 25 yards last week in the Dolphins' 45-17 loss to the Buccaneers but found the endzone twice as a receiver as he hauled all 10 of his targets for 74 yards.

Against a Jacksonville defense that has been stout against the run but is allowing a league-worst 8.79 yards per pass play, there is scope for another big day for Gaskin as the Dolphins seek their second win of an underwhelming campaign.

Wide Receiver: Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Claypool has 296 receiving yards and a touchdown over his last three games playing for a Steelers offense that had struggled mightily prior to their Week 5 win over the Denver Broncos.

With Juju Smith-Schuster out for the season, Claypool should claim even more of a featured role in the offense and in Week 6 has the inviting prospect of a matchup with a Seahawks defense ranked 28th in the NFL in opposing pass yards per play (7.49). Claypool is well worthy of being in your starting lineup come Sunday.

Tight End: Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

Alie-Cox was not able to find the endzone in Week 5 after catching two touchdown passes a week earlier, however, he is averaging 13.8 yards per reception, illustrating his big-play threat.

Facing a Texans defense allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, Alie-Cox should have an opportunity to make a significant impact in Week 6. Alie-Cox could prove an astute pickup for fantasy owners struggling for options at tight end.

Defense: Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots

The Cowboys' defense was not expected to be one of the top fantasy units in the league going into the season, however, through five games they have forced 12 takeaways, the second-most in the NFL.

Facing a quarterback in Mac Jones who has thrown a pickable pass on 4.89 per cent of his attempts, well above the average of 3.16, a meeting with the Patriots presents the Cowboys with the chance to add to that total and rack up fantasy points.

The Miami Dolphins could have Tua Tagovailoa back for Sunday's NFL London game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after the quarterback returned to practice on Wednesday.

Second-year QB Tagovailoa has been out since fracturing his ribs in the Week 2 shutout loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Tagovailoa had led the Dolphins to an opening win against the New England Patriots, yet the team are now a miserable 1-4.

The imminent return of the former Alabama star represents a boost, although Brian Flores may be reluctant to throw him straight back in behind an offensive line that has given up 98 pressures this season – tied for third in the NFL.

That includes 31 QB hits, one of which from the Bills' A.J. Epenesa put Tagovailoa out in the first place.

"We're excited to get him back. I know he's excited to be out there," Flores said. "We'll take it one day at a time, still.

"We're moving enough in the right direction that he'll be out there. He'll have the opportunity to practice and hopefully play in the game."

The coach added: "This is really just let's [see] how this goes in practice. Can he make the throws? Can he roll to his left, roll to his right, step up in the pocket?

"The one thing we won't know is just taking a hit. We won't know that until the game. I think we'll try to do as much as we can to get a feel for what that'll look like or what that'll feel like without having a setback obviously.

"So I'd say this: he's a tough kid."

Tagovailoa is going to have to show improvement if he is to lift spirits on his return, though.

His rookie season ended with a painful Week 17 defeat to Buffalo, in which he threw three interceptions, and his early form this year was far from convincing.

Tagovailoa has tossed a well-thrown, accurate ball on just 63.3 per cent of his attempts – the worst rate of any player with 10 or more attempts – and his pickable pass rate of 6.67 per cent betters only this underwhelming group: Davis Mills, Geno Smith, Zach Wilson and Mike Glennon.

Miami will face winless Jacksonville at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a venue that last week hosted the Atlanta Falcons' victory over the New York Jets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady was non-committal on his playing status after suffering a hand injury in his five-touchdown performance against the Miami Dolphins.

Brady threw five TD passes to fuel Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers' 45-17 rout of the Dolphins in Week 5 of the NFL season on Sunday.

The 44-year-old was 30-of-41 passing for 411 yards without throwing an interception against the struggling Dolphins (1-4) in Tampa, where the Bucs improved to 4-1.

Among Brady's touchdown passes was a 62-yard TD throw to Antonio Brown – the longest pass TD he has completed with the Buccaneers, while it was the seven-time Super Bowl champion's 25th career pass TD of 60-plus yards, which is tied for ninth-most in NFL history.

But afterwards, Brady was seen with his right hand bandaged as the Bucs quarterback provided an update on his injury.

"Yeah in my younger days I probably [would have] never showed you guys that I wrapped it up, because I'd probably try to keep it a secret, but I think in my old age I don't care as much," Brady told reporters post-game, with the Bucs due to meet the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

"I mean it's just a kind of a football injury. So, do my best you know to get ready for this game. We'll see what happens."

In the win, Bucs wide receiver Brown became the fastest NFL player to 900 receptions in just his 143rd career game, eclipsing Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (149 games).

Brown – a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro – finished with two touchdowns from 124 yards on seven receptions against the Dolphins.

"I take so much inspiration from Tom. As a professional, as a leader, making sure that I'm doing my job, making sure that all the other 10 guys are doing their job," said Brown, who played alongside Ben Roethlisberger at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He just continues to up the standard and raise the bar."

Brown, 33, added: "I've played with some great quarterbacks. Roethlisberger. Tom Brady. It's a blessing."

Brady, who played alongside Brown briefly at the New England Patriots before reuniting in Tampa last season, said: "It's pretty amazing. Just give him a lot of credit.

"He's been through a lot and he's shown a lot of mental toughness, a lot of resilience. Everyone just wants him to succeed.

"We've got a unique group of guys. Very talented, but very selfless too. All those guys are getting opportunities to make plays, and just fun to see when everyone's involved how fun it can be."

The Green Bay Packers went 4-1 for the 2021 season after Mason Crosby's overtime field goal secured a dramatic 25-22 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Crosby missed two field goals in the final quarter as Cincinnati pegged back the visitors at 22-22, with the Packers #2 then squandering another chance early in overtime.

His third miss came sandwiched in between Bengals rookie Evan McPherson twice hitting the post with field goal attempts of his own.

Yet a brilliant pass from the superb Aaron Rodgers – who threw for two touchdowns to take him into outright fifth place in the all-time list for quarterbacks with 422 – to Randall Cobb teed up the game-winning moment.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow also threw for two touchdowns, having got Cincinnati started when he picked out Samaje Perine from close range in the first quarter. 

Burrow collected his second TD pass of the game in style, throwing 70 yards (the longest pass of his NFL career) for Ja'Marr Chase to cross.

Chase's score came after Rodgers had propelled the Packers ahead with passes to Davante Adams and AJ Dillon, and although Joe Mixon forced OT, Crosby held his nerve at the fourth time of asking.

Brady downs Dolphins

A week on from breaking Drew Brees' NFL passing record, Brady was at his imperious best again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing for five touchdowns and 411 yards in a 45-17 win over the Miami Dolphins.

His 72 touchdown passes against the Dolphins mean he is the joint-leader, alongside Dan Marino (72 v. the New York Jets) for TD passes against a single opponent in the Super Bowl era, while his 62-yard pass for Antonio Brown on Sunday was the longest he has thrown while at the Buccaneers. 

Pitts stars in London

The NFL returned to London on Sunday, with the Atlanta Falcons overcoming the New York Jets 27-20. Rookie receiver Kyle Pitts was the star of the show at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, taking nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, the first of his NFL career.

No franchise wants to rebuild. Tanking your immediate hopes of success to collect assets that can eventually propel the team back to the top can be a miserable experience. However, the Miami Dolphins attacked rebuilding with remarkable zeal and have endured relatively little pain as they have constructed their roster on a new foundation.

Brian Flores oversaw a 5-11 season not short on reasons for encouragement in 2019 even amid a fire sale that saw the likes of Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick sent off to pastures new in exchange for major draft capital. Last season, the Dolphins finished 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs, raising hopes that their project would imminently yield dividends.

As such, this season was always likely to be seen as a measuring stick for the franchise, with Flores entering his third year as head coach and the man they picked to be the quarterback of the future faced with a make-or-break campaign, the Dolphins entered 2021 with expectations with which they are unfamiliar.

And, following a 1-3 start, with a franchise quarterback at least temporarily on the shelf and the defending champions coming to town to potentially put Miami in a deeper hole, tough questions will start to be asked about the direction of the organisation.

Few teams recover from a 1-4 start to reach the postseason. There is the unlikely possibility the Dolphins could upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but the more plausible scenario is a fourth successive defeat that would beg the question: is Miami's rebuild a failure?

Defense developing, but results declining

The biggest feather in the cap of this Dolphins' regime has been the play of Miami's defense, which last season led the NFL in takeaways with 29.

Yet those turnovers masked the fact that the Dolphins' defense was one teams generally had success moving the ball against. Indeed, Miami ranked 24th in opponent yards per play allowed in 2020, giving up an average of 5.90.

The Dolphins have improved in that regard so far this season, sitting 13th with 5.51 yards per play allowed, but are 23rd in offensive points allowed despite generating six turnovers through four games.

Miami's defense is one that appears to have grown more efficient when it comes to stopping the progress of offenses on a per-play basis and still takes the ball away but is not keeping offenses from putting up points.

Why is that the case? Put simply, they are on the field too long because of the failures of an offense that is not living up to the amount the Dolphins have invested.

A lack of possession

Miami's offense ranks 30th in average time of possession, having control of the ball for just 26 minutes and eight seconds. Their defense, as a result, has been on the field for an average of 33 minutes and 52 seconds. Only the defenses of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks have had to exercise greater endurance this season.

And the offense has shown little in the way of efficiency when on the field.

The Dolphins rank last in yards per play with an average of just 4.05. The New York Jets (5) are the sole team to have scored fewer offensive touchdowns than the Dolphins' six while only 10 of Miami's 42 offensive drives have ended in points.

That level of offensive ineptitude is unacceptable for a team looking to compete, and much of the blame can be pinned on an offensive line where the Dolphins have spent a large portion of their resources.

Despite having a first-round pick and two second-rounders starting up front, the Dolphins have allowed 80 pressures through four games, the seventh-most in the NFL.

It is difficult for a quarterback to succeed when under duress that consistently but, if the Dolphins continue to struggle, an apparent misevaluation of the class of signal-callers in the 2020 draft will come under even greater scrutiny.

Tua a costly mistake?

The elephant in the room is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, whom the Dolphins selected fifth overall in the 2020 draft despite his career with Alabama being ended by a dislocated hip.

Miami backed Tagovailoa to eventually put that injury behind him and develop into the NFL star many expected him to become. Yet he failed to prove a superior option to Ryan Fitzpatrick in his rookie year and, rather than taking season-two strides, seemed to be regressing before a rib injury suffered in the Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills saw him placed on injured reserve.

In the small sample size of 30 attempts this season, Tagovailoa has delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball a league-low 63.3 per cent of the time. Only two quarterbacks, rookies Zach Wilson and Davis Mills, have a worse pickable pass rate than Tagovailoa's 6.67 per cent.

Tagovailoa was long since pencilled in as the player the Dolphins' grand rebuild was going to be constructed around. Now reduced to the role of spectator for the time being and struggling to live up to his draft status, going with him over reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert looks like a serious misstep.

It is not the only premium pick Miami made from that class whose selection is in question. Left tackle Austin Jackson's inability to make the leap to the highest level effectively is a key reason for the offensive line struggles — he has won under 70 per cent of his pass-blocking matchups in 2021 — and their third first-round choice from 2020, cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, has not played a single defensive snap in 2021.

Any judgement on this year's crop would be a premature one but, although there have been some encouraging signs from first-round picks Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips, the former is being limited by the struggles of the offense, recording a big play on an underwhelming 16 per cent of his targets, and pass rusher Phillips has won only 12 of his 43 rushes this season.

The mediocre starts of Waddle and Phillips are a long way down the list of concerns for the Dolphins, however, and they will not be the primary causes should Miami's poor start lead to a year of unmatched expectations.

Miami's rebuild rested on whom the Dolphins selected to be their quarterback and their fortunes in protecting him. The decisions they made in each of those areas have to this point largely backfired, leaving them with an offense that looks ill-equipped to compete this Sunday with a Buccaneers attack that could hardly be in a better position in the trenches and under center.

There is, of course, time for Miami to right the ship this year and the Dolphins — through their pre-2021 draft trade with the San Francisco 49ers — have more capital with which to improve weaknesses on their roster in the coming years.

But persistent talk of the Dolphins using those resources to strike a deal for quarterback Deshaun Watson is not a sign of a successful rebuild or faith in Tagovailoa to turn things around.

It's becoming increasingly clear the Dolphins bet on the wrong horse at quarterback last year and may have failed to properly evaluate prospects at several other positions. Opportunities for any regime to get the chance to select a second quarterback are rare but, regardless of how the Dolphins try to rescue their best-laid plans to return to prominence, the franchise's future gambles must be more astute.

Matthew Stafford won the battle of the quarterbacks and the Los Angeles Rams stayed unbeaten while ruining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' perfect record in a 34-24 victory.

All eyes were on Rams QB Stafford and Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady as the two undefeated teams went head-to-head in Week 3 of the NFL on Sunday.

Stafford, who was 27-of-28 for 343 yards and just one sack, stole the show in Los Angeles, where the 2014 Pro Bowler threw four touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 3-0 start to the campaign.

With his haul of four TDs, Stafford improved his season tally to nine – matching Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (1999) for the most by a Rams quarterback in the first three games of a season. Warner won the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP that season.

Brady was coming off a five-touchdown performance, his ninth career game with five-plus passing TDs (including playoffs) – the fifth player all time to throw four or more touchdowns in each of his first two games of a season.

But the 44-year-old was limited to just one TD pass against the Rams, finishing 41 of 55 for 432 yards and three sacks though he did rush for a score as Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers fell to 2-1.

After a scoreless opening period, Stafford threw touchdown passes to Tyler Higbee and Cooper Kupp as the Rams earned a 14-7 half-time lead.

The Rams never trailed despite Brady's best efforts after the Buccaneers signal-caller rushed for a TD in between Stafford's scoring passes to DeSean Jackson and Kupp in the third period.

After Matt Gay's field goal stretched the lead to 34-17 in the fourth, Brady's first touchdown pass of the game gave the Buccaneers a glimmer of hope with just over a minute remaining but it was a mere consolation.

Carlson lifts Raiders in OT

The Las Vegas Raiders won their third straight game to open the season thanks to a thrilling 31-28 overtime victory against the Miami Dolphins.

Daniel Carlson was the hero for the high-flying Raiders in OT, his 22-yard attempt seeing off the Dolphins in Las Vegas.

Derek Carr completed 26 of his 43 attempts for 386 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with three sacks as the Raiders improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will not play against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday after suffering fractured ribs.

Tagovailoa was helped off during the first quarter of the Dolphins' 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.

Initial X-rays were negative but further tests revealed the extent of his injuries, meaning Tagovailoa will have to play the role of spectator as Jacoby Brissett leads Miami's offense in Week 3.

"He's in good spirits. He's a tough kid," head coach Brian Flores said, adding that Tagovailoa had been pushing to play this week but the Dolphins have to "save him from himself".

"He's doing everything he can ... he's getting better. He wants to be out there with his team-mates, but this is the right move for him from a health standpoint."

While the door is seemingly open for Tagovailoa to return for Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts, the Dolphins have faith Brissett can be successful this week.

"I think guys have confidence in Jacoby and his ability to lead the offense," said Flores.

"But we have to prepare the right way and work throughout the week to put ourselves in position to execute."

Brissett finished the game against the Bills with 169 yards and an interception in relief of Tagovailoa, who has completed 54.8 per cent of his passes for 215 yards, one touchdown and an interception this season, the 2020 fifth overall pick having endured an underwhelming rookie year last term.

 

 

The Buffalo Bills got their 2021 NFL season up and running with a sixth straight win over the Miami Dolphins, who lost Tua Tagovailoa to a rib injury.

Tipped by many to make the Super Bowl this year, the Bills endured an underwhelming start in defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a 35-0 success in Miami got them back on track.

Buffalo benefited from Tagovailoa's departure early in the game, as he had to be carted back to the locker room after a hit from A.J. Epenesa when he attempted a short-range pass on fourth down.

By that point, the second-year Dolphins quarterback had been sacked twice on a three-and-out opening drive before seeing Devin Singletary run 46 yards for the Bills' first touchdown.

Josh Allen threw to Stefon Diggs for a second score, but Buffalo failed to add to their advantage in the remainder of a chaotic first half, epitomised by Levi Wallace's pick from back-up Miami QB Jacoby Brissett moments after receiving a penalty for taunting.

Allen found his range again at the start of the third quarter as Dawson Knox made a low catch in the end zone – this the QB's seventh consecutive start against the Dolphins with multiple TD passes. Only Philip Rivers (against the Houston Texans) had previously enjoyed such a run against a single team.

Miami were never in the game thereafter and Zack Moss added a pair of rushing scores with two bruising runs, the second after Allen was called just short.

Super Cooper rescues Rams

NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers survived scares against the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles respectively, each coming through to move to 2-0.

The Rams were grateful to Cooper Kupp for his nine catches for 163 yards and two TDs – following 108 yards and a score last week – after a botched snap for a punt had gifted the Colts their first lead early in the fourth quarter. Carson Wentz ended the game on the sideline.

Wilson woeful for Jets

Zach Wilson's home debut for the New York Jets was a miserable one as he threw four interceptions in a defeat to the New England Patriots.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals paid the price for Joe Burrow's three interceptions from three consecutive passes – including a pick six – against the Chicago Bears, who were not punished for a shaky Justin Fields display after Andy Dalton's injury.

Wilson's Jets predecessor Sam Darnold threw for 305 yards, two TDs and a pick in the Carolina Panthers' win over the New Orleans Saints.

Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season threw up more questions than answers, but there remains no doubting Patrick Mahomes' outstanding talent.

In one of the highlights of the opening round of games, Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a comeback win over the Cleveland Browns.

All eyes will be on Mahomes again in Week 2, and the Chiefs have an intriguing matchup against fellow quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

This battle between two of the past three MVPs has been one-sided in the past, though, as Stats Perform discovers in the most interesting facts from Sunday's biggest games.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

The Chiefs will have few concerns about going on the road, boasting a 5-1 record against the Ravens in Baltimore all-time. They have also won each of the teams' past four meetings.

This dominance is reflected in Mahomes' record against Jackson, winning all three head-to-heads and averaging 378.7 passing yards per game to his opponent's 170.3.

Of course, Jackson is a greater threat across the ground than through the air, leading the Ravens in rushing yards against the Las Vegas Raiders last week for the 21st game of his career (including the postseason). In that time, no other QB has led his team in rushing in more than 12 games.

But even if Jackson can guide the Ravens into a lead, that brings no guarantee of victory. They gave up a 14-point lead for the first time in 99 games against the Raiders, while the Chiefs recovered from 12 points down at home to the Browns and actually have a 10-8 record after trailing by double digits since the start of 2018.

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Chargers

Another clash between two top QBs on Sunday sees Dak Prescott take the Cowboys to the Chargers having last week continued his impressive run even in defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Due to injury, Prescott has only actually played six games since the start of last year, but he has passed for at least 400 yards in four of them – no other player has more than two such games in that span.

However, Dallas have lost a league-high three games while posting 450-plus total net yards since the beginning of 2020.

The Chargers have their own prolific passer, too, in Justin Herbert, who threw for 337 yards in a win against the Washington Football Team in Week 1, meaning he now has 4,673 passing yards through 16 career games – a tally only topped by Mahomes' 5,100 in his first 16 games.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Josh Allen is another elite passer who would hope to be in MVP contention at the end of the year, but he was less impressive in the Bills' opening defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing only 30 of 51 passes.

While that was a career high for pass attempts, NFL teams are 4-20 when having a QB throw 50 or more since the start of last season.

Allen at least has fond memories of facing Miami. In the first of the sides' two meetings last year, he threw for career bests in yards (415) and TD passes (four), while the second clash saw the Bills score 56 points – a tally they have only ever topped once, also against the Dolphins in 1966.

Buffalo have five straight wins against Miami, although the Dolphins are in form with 10 wins in 13 games after 10 victories in their prior 33.

Elsewhere...

New Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford will fancy his chances against the Indianapolis Colts. His passer rating of 156.1 in Week 1 led the league, but Russell Wilson, against the Colts, was second with 152.3. Stafford threw three TD passes, including two of more than 50 yards – a feat only previously achieved once by a player in their first game with the team in the Super Bowl era (John Stofa for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968).

Jameis Winston took a slightly less spectacular route to his five TD passes last time out, with 148 passing yards the fewest from a QB to throw five for five scores.

Meanwhile, first overall pick Trevor Lawrence threw for 332 yards, the most by a player on his debut since Cam Newton's 422 yards in 2011, but he also had three interceptions – something he never did in his 40 games at Clemson.

Each of the first-round rookie QBs will be aiming to build on feats of some manner, with 21-year-old Trey Lance the youngest player in the Super Bowl era to throw a touchdown on his first NFL pass.

Mac Jones, who this week faces Zach Wilson, threw for 281 yards – the most by a New England Patriots rookie on debut.

Each of the top three wide receivers taken in the 2021 NFL Draft entered Week 1 of the season facing pertinent questions. Could Ja'Marr Chase shake off his drop-laden preseason and revive his rapport with Joe Burrow? Can DeVonta Smith excel despite his slender frame? Will Jaylen Waddle be able to mesh with Tua Tagovailoa again amid concerns over his college quarterback's arm strength?

It is important not to be a prisoner of the Week 1 moment. With the opening slate of games notorious for enticing observers into mistaken conclusions.

However, after all three played major roles in wins for the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, respectively, the answer to each of those queries is, for now, a confident yes.

The trio all found the endzone in their NFL debuts, making league history in the process.

Indeed, the 2021 season is the first in common-draft era in which three rookie wideouts that were each selected in the first round scored on a touchdown reception in Week 1.

And their performances provided plenty of encouragement they will each vindicate their lofty draft statuses.

Chase the ace

The highlight of Chase's 101-yard showing in Cincinnati's win over the Minnesota Vikings was a 50-yard touchdown catch from college team-mate Burrow on a perfectly thrown ball on which the fifth overall pick took advantage of soft coverage from Bashaud Breeland.

But a receiver whose ability to separate was questioned prior to the draft also excelled at getting free from coverage on third down. Registering a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on four of his seven targets, Chase finished the game with 14.43 burn yards per target -- ninth among receivers who were thrown to at least five times -- with an average depth of target of 15.7 yards.

His debut effort and the numbers he produced should raise hopes he can rely more on his route-running to beat defenders rather than the physical approach that defined his success at LSU.

Crimson Tide connection returns

Separating from defenders was never an issue for Waddle at the college level, with preseason concerns aimed more at his quarterback than the former Alabama star.

As a rookie, Tagovailoa did not produce much to suggest he would gel with a speedster who won his matchup with a defender on 78.1 per cent of his 2020 targets and averaged 19.96 burn yards per target to lead the Power 5 in his final year with the Crimson Tide.

Yet this pair of college team-mates also had their connection from 2019 cooking again as the Dolphins knocked off the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

They did so largely through intelligently adapting Waddle's traits to the short passing game, giving him chances to run after the catch and using him in motion to stretch and deceive the Patriots' defense, as they did on his touchdown that eventually proved the game-winner.

There was also a play that could have been plucked straight from Waddle's Alabama tape as he got a step on a defender while running vertically and worked his way back to the ball, leaping over the covering cornerback for a 36-yard reception.

With a burn on four of his six targets and 13.09 burn yards per target, Waddle's numbers did not quite match up to those of Chase but, if he continues to stress defenses working horizontally and vertically, he will be a substantial asset to the Miami passing game. 

Smith shreds Falcons

Waddle will have hot competition for the title of best Alabama receiver from this draft, though, at least if Smith continues on his early trajectory from the Eagles' 32-6 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons.

Open on six of his eight targets, Smith's six-catch, 71-yard showing was not one in which he relied on his excellent route-running ability, instead finding holes in the Falcons' zone coverage in a game where he was a favoured receiver for Jalen Hurts, who was second among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts with a well-thrown ball percentage of 87.5.

Yet his 19-yard touchdown offered a snapshot of what he can do in that regard as he patiently released to the outside against man coverage, sending his defender into a pick play from tight end Zach Ertz. With open space now at his disposal, Smith accelerated before expertly tracking the ball into his grasp in the corner of the endzone.

For both Smith and Waddle, their early success was a continuation of how they performed in college, while Chase demonstrated encouraging progress in an area of the game considered to be a weakness.

Selecting a wide receiver in the top 10 is considered a gamble by many but the early payout from this trio suggests they may prove worth the risk.

Just when the Cleveland Browns thought they were in position to open the NFL season with a statement win, Patrick Mahomes did what Patrick Mahomes does. 

The Kansas City Chiefs star threw for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the reigning AFC champions edged the Browns 33-29 on Sunday.

Mahomes completed 27 of his 36 passes for 337 yards and three interceptions as the former MVP made more NFL history.

The 25-year-old broke the record for most passing yards in NFL history through first 50 games, while he also boasts the most passing touchdowns ever through the same amount of appearances.

Cleveland had built a 22-10 half-time lead, with Baker Mayfield directing three scoring drives that led to Nick Chubb finding the end zone twice and Jarvis Landry running in another touchdown before the break. 

Mayfield finished 21 of 28 passing for 321 yards, but had one critical mistake late. With the Browns near midfield and just over a minute to play, the Chicago quarterback scrambled to avoid pressure before throwing a pass up for grabs to the left sideline. Mike Hughes leaped to intercept the ball and the Chiefs ran out the clock from there. 

Mahomes, meanwhile, was poised as ever as he led the Chiefs to their ninth win in the last 11 games in which they trailed by double digits. 

It started with a 14-play drive to open the second half, capped by an 11-yard TD pass to his favourite target Travis Kelce. 

The signature moment, though, was a stunning 75-yard deep strike to Tyreek Hill that brought the Chiefs within two early in the fourth quarter. 

The Browns botched a punt deep in their own territory on the ensuing drive and Mahomes hit Kelce for the go-ahead touchdown three plays later. 

It was the kind of turnaround Cleveland fans have grown all too accustomed to over the years, particularly in season openers. 

The Browns have not won in Week 1 since 2004 and are now 0-16-1 since. 

Winston, Saints crush Packers

Aaron Rodgers dominated the headlines throughout the NFL offseason but he was upstaged in a big way as the season began. 

Jameis Winston threw for five touchdowns as Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were kept from the end zone altogether in a 38-3 New Orleans Saints rout. 

Rodgers completed just 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards and threw two interceptions. He had only five interceptions all of last season on the way to being named NFL MVP for the third time.

Winston took over the starting role in New Orleans from another future Hall of Famer, the retired Drew Brees, and was brilliant at the Superdome. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 148 yards without an interception or a sack. 

In a matchup of two young quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa got the better of his former Alabama team-mate Mac Jones as the Miami Dolphins edged the New England Patriots 17-16 on the road.

While the rookie Jones had the better numbers of the two with 29 of 39 passing, 281 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, the Patriots repeatedly had to settle for field goals. 

Tagovailoa, meanwhile, ran one touchdown in himself and threw for another in the third quarter that provided the eventual winning margin.

The Miami Dolphins have long been tipped as a potential landing spot for Deshaun Watson, but head coach Brian Flores seemingly called into question the viability of a deal for the Houston Texans quarterback after insisting he wants "high character" people around the team.  

Watson is the subject of investigations by Houston police and the NFL and faces 22 civil lawsuits after a series of women accused him of assault or sexual misconduct. Watson has strenuously denied the accusations, and no charges have been filed against him.

The 25-year-old QB made it clear following last season that he wanted out of Houston, but the emergence of the allegations against him beginning in March threw his future into doubt mere months after he signed a four-year, $156million contract extension. 

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Flores did not directly address speculation about Watson, but he was asked about acquiring players who might bring off-the-field concerns. 

"There are a lot of things we weigh when we're making decisions – fit on the team, overall talent, salary cap," Flores said. "When we're talking about a player or players, we're always trying to do what is best for the Miami Dolphins.

"There are a lot of variables. We want a group that is tough, smart, competitive, loves to play and is team-first. Those are the types of guys we're looking for.

"We have a high standard for the people we have in the organisation. We want people with high character throughout the building."

Watson has mostly practiced on his own throughout Texans camp and has not appeared in any preseason games, but Tuesday's NFL deadline to reduce rosters from 80 to 53 players could spur action. 

That could mean allowing him to keep a precious roster spot and pay him his $10.5m salary even while he remains on the sidelines in hopes his legal issues are resolved, or Houston could trade him and let another team figure it out.

The Texans reportedly have sought a package that includes three first-round picks in any deal for Watson but are seen as unlikely to net a huge return given the questions surrounding his status. 

Watson is coming off a dominant season for a team that finished 4-12, as he led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards while compiling a career-best 70.2 completion percentage and 33 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. 

He also ran for 444 yards and three more touchdowns as he made the Pro Bowl for the third successive season. 

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggressiveness with smart decision-making.

Indeed, he threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

Considering the opener against the New England Patriots looms less than two weeks away, Tua Tagovailoa figures to begin the season as Miami's starting quarterback regardless of any other moves the Dolphins might make. 

Flores is trying to keep his team's focus on the task at hand in the meantime. 

"There are always rumours, there's always speculation, there's always some form of distraction," he said. "As a team we've got to block that stuff out and play."

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