The Indianapolis Colts appeared destined for a lost season back in Week 3.

Indianapolis started the year with three successive defeats and the Colts' gamble on their ability to revive Carson Wentz's career looking misjudged.

Since then, the Colts have enjoyed wins over the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans, sandwiched by a heartbreaking defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in which they let slip a 19-point lead and lost in overtime.

The performances in those last three games have led to renewed optimism around a team that has reached the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

Should Indianapolis knock off the San Francisco 49ers on the road in primetime, then the hype around the Colts will only grow.

Yet the 49ers figure to prove a difficult matchup for a quarterback whose performances in recent weeks have perhaps been slightly overrated.

Sub-par accuracy

Ninth in the league in yards per attempt (8.01) and with nine touchdowns to one interception, the numbers through six games for Wentz are impressive.

Yet his completion percentage is 64.2, 21st among 32 qualifying quarterbacks and that is reflected by his accuracy numbers.

Wentz, per Stats Perform data, has produced an accurate, well-thrown ball on 77.7 per cent of his passes, below the league average of 78.8 for quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts.

And he is set to face a Niners defense that has once again been among the league's best this season.

An intimidating defensive line

While the 49ers are themselves an underwhelming 2-3 and riding a three-game losing streak, their defense is excelling under new coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

The 49ers rank sixth in the NFL by yards per game allowed (329.8) and eighth in yards per play (5.29) and, while they are 30th in the NFL with only 76 pressures, they boast defensive linemen who can get Wentz out of rhythm.

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead and edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford have each dominated in 2021 when it comes to winning their individual matchups.

Armstead has a stunt-adjusted win percentage of 52.63 from his 49 pass rush matchups this year. Ford is next on 45 per cent while Bosa has an adjusted win percentage of 41.54 from 60 matchups. The league average for defensive linemen is 22 per cent.

They will each look to prosper against a Colts offense that has allowed the ninth-most pressures in the NFL (105) while the numbers suggest the Niners should excel at limiting the explosive plays on which Wentz has found joy in recent weeks.

Big plays not a guarantee

On passing attempts of 21 or more air yards, Wentz has the highest passer rating in the NFL (144.7).

He has completed 11 of 18 such attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns and showed off his deep-ball prowess during last week's rout of the Texans.

Wentz hooked up with Parris Campbell for a 51-yard touchdown and connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 52-yard reception; however, such plays are partially a reflection of the struggles of a Texans defense allowing 7.6 yards per pass play.

The 49ers, despite a spate of injuries to their cornerbacks, have allowed 43 pass plays of 10 yards or more, the fewest in the NFL. San Francisco's defense has conceded 16 pass plays of 20 yards or more, the seventh-fewest in the league.

Wentz, therefore, may be forced into a more conservative approach in a game expected to take place in inclement weather. Helpfully, he may be able to lean more on the running game, with San Francisco 16th in yards per rush allowed (4.26) and running back Jonathan Taylor fifth in the NFL in yards per carry (5.43) for players at his position as he enjoys a superb start to his second season.

Indianapolis' signal-caller can also afford to at least have confidence in his ability to avoid turnovers. His pickable pass percentage of 1.68 is the fourth best among quarterbacks with a minimum of 10 attempts and the 49ers have a league-low two takeaways to their name.

A closer look at the evidence from his reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich indicates Wentz might find success difficult on Sunday should the Colts need to win the game on his arm. If he contradicts the statistics and thrives against a tough defense on the road, then the optimism around Indianapolis will be more justified.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Lavonte David when they face the Chicago Bears this Sunday.

Defending champions Tampa Bay look bound for another deep playoff run, the Bucs having started the year 5-1.

However, they will have to cope without a clutch of stars against the 3-3 Bears, with tight end Gronkowski (ribs) set to miss a fourth successive game.

Brown, who leads the Bucs with four receiving touchdowns, has an ankle injury, as does linebacker David, a second-team All-Pro last year.

Cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) is out, but the Buccaneers will receive a boost with secondary Antoine Winfield Jr. available having passed through the NFL's concussion protocol.

The Bucs have started 5-1 for the fifth time in franchise history, having made the playoffs in each of the previous four seasons (2005, 2002, 1997 and 1979).

Tampa Bay will look to go 6-1 for the first time, but head coach Bruce Arians is not underestimating the Bears and rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

"Real good week of practice, and obviously this is a team that I think is on the rise," Arians said. "It's going to take our best to make sure we beat them."

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.

Kyle Shanahan needs to get the San Francisco 49ers winning again if their playoff potential is to be fulfilled, and this Sunday looks like a major opportunity.

To snap a three-game losing streak, the Niners (2-3) must get the better of an Indianapolis Colts side who, much like San Francisco themselves, have made an inconsistent start to the season.

By contrast, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are riding a three-game run of wins and have started 5-1 for just the fifth time in the history of the franchise, heading into a tussle with the Chicago Bears (3-3). Tom Brady has been a driving force so far as the Super Bowl winners carry on where they left off last season.

Patrick Mahomes has been hit and miss for the slow-starting Kansas City Chiefs, who will hope the NFL's highest-paid player can cut out throwing interceptions as they face the Tennessee Titans.


Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers

If coach Shanahan's 49ers are to turn around their season, then facing a Colts side who have begun 2-4 seems like a pretty good place to start. Yet the Colts have dominated this series of late, winning on their last four meetings, albeit most recently in 2017 when they snatched a 26-23 overtime success. It would not be stepping out of line to predict this could be tight, given the 49ers have played nine consecutive games that have been decided by eight or fewer points, going back to last season.

That is the longest active streak of such close games in the NFL and the longest streak in team history, and the Niners do not have the best recent return when games go close, posting a 3-6 record in this sequence.

San Francisco fell 17-10 to the Cardinals in their most recent game, two weeks ago, while the Colts hot-footed their way to a 31-3 trouncing of Houston last Sunday. That came despite Indianapolis earning just 15 first downs for the entire game. It was the first time the Colts had won by 28 or more points while only having 15 or fewer first downs since 1972 against New England.

In his 21st career game, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, meaning he surpassed 1,500 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and chalked up his 15th rushing touchdown in the NFL. Only four running backs in NFL history have hit all three of those milestones in fewer games than Taylor, with two of those doing so with the Colts – Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk.

San Francisco will hope to be recharged after a bye week. Deebo Samuel scored the fourth rushing touchdown of his career against the Cardinals, with Jerry Rice (10) the only wide receiver with more rushing touchdowns in 49ers history.

Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a dispiriting loss to the Green Bay Packers last time out, the Chicago Bears encounter a Tampa Bay team in sparkling recent form. Tampa Bay have started the season 5-1, doing so for the fifth time in franchise history, and on each of the previous occasions (2005, 2002, 1997 and 1979) they backed it up by reaching the playoffs. History could be made on Sunday, given the Buccaneers have never started a season with six wins through their first seven games.

Yet this is a game in which the Bears have traditionally, and recently, had the upper hand. Chicago have stacked up 40 wins in 60 all-time meetings against Tampa Bay, which is the most wins by any team against the Bucs. The Bears have also won the last two in the series, scoring victories in 2018 and 2020.

Tampa Bay can seemingly do no wrong when Brady is pulling the strings so masterfully. Brady leads the NFL with 2,064 passing yards, the second-highest total he has ever had through six games of a season – beaten only by his 2,163 passing yards at this stage in 2011. Prior to this year, no Tampa Bay quarterback had ever thrown for more than 1,800 yards through six games.

What have the Bears got to offer? Chicago are averaging 246.2 net yards per game, which is more than 20 yards per game less than any other team. The 1,477 yards is the fewest Chicago has had through six games since the 1993 season. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields needs to make something happen, but others must step up too. In his first career start, Khalil Herbert ran for 97 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay last time out.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans

"He's trying to make things happen," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, explaining away the two interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes in Week 6 against Washington. For Mahomes, that was a second straight game with at least two interceptions. He is tied with Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence in second position on the list of the most interceptions thrown this season, with his tally of eight so far only topped by Zach Wilson of the Jets.

This is only the second run that Mahomes has endured of throwing two or more interceptions in consecutive games, the previous dating back to Week 5 and 6 of the 2018 season, and Reid will hope his radar is better set for the clash with the Titans. Mahomes is still doing an awful lot right in 2021, but the fact remains he threw just six interceptions last season.

The Chiefs' unsteady 3-3 opening is their worst of the Mahomes era, and it was 2015 when they got off to a slower start. On that occasion they followed a 1-5 opening with 10 consecutive wins, a single-season record for Kansas City that was matched last season.

Tennessee's bright start has featured some notable performances. The Titans ran for 146 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in the 34-31 win over Buffalo on Monday night, taking them to 985 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns for the season. It is the first time in franchise history that the Bills have 10 or more rushing touchdowns and at least 975 rushing yards through six games.

Running back Derrick Henry has 10 rushing touchdowns so far, beating his career best of seven through six weeks in 2020. It puts him tied for the fourth most rushing touchdowns of all time through six weeks (Jim Brown 14, Shaun Alexander 12, Emmitt Smith 11).

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions face a tall order on the road against the Los Angeles Rams (5-1). Detroit are 0-6 for the first time since their 0-16 season in 2008 and have not scored more than 17 points in any of their last five games. Former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, now with Detroit, has thrown zero touchdown passes and an interception in each of his last two games.

The 5-1 Baltimore Ravens have recent history on their side ahead of a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, having won five successive games in their head-to-head series, including the last three by a brutal average of 31.7 points.

Heading into a home game against the Houston Texans (1-5), the Arizona Cardinals are on a 6-0 roll. This has only happened twice before in franchise history, but never before in Arizona. The St Louis Cardinals in 1974 and Chicago Cardinals in 1922 are the teams who both started their seasons 6-0 as well.

Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts could match an NFL record as the Eagles (2-4) tackle the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurts has rushed for two touchdowns in each of his last two games. Billy Kilmer, for San Francisco in 1961, is the only quarterback to achieve the feat in three straight games.

The Green Bay Packers last lost at home to Washington in 1988, winning five in a row since with home-field advantage, and they put a 5-1 season record to the test when the teams meet again. Washington (2-4) are yielding an NFL-worst 31.0 points per game in 2021, matching the team's worst mark through six games of a season in the Super Bowl era (1998).

Backup quarterback Case Keenum won the praise of Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski after he led the team to a narrow and crucial victory over the Denver Broncos.

Cleveland emerged from Thursday Night Football with a 17-14 home win despite playing without injured starting QB Baker Mayfield.

Star running back duo Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were also ruled out, putting the Browns under huge pressure as they looked to rebound from consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals.

Defeat could have left the Browns – who are targeting a postseason run in 2021 – floundering, but instead they improved to 4-3, as Keenum played a clean game with 199 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers and ran for a key redzone fourth-down conversion in the second half.

"Case fought like he always does," Stefanski said after Keenum claimed his first NFL win since 2019.

"I thought he orchestrated the operation. He took care of the football and that was a huge play in the end zone there on fourth down. 

"Just to make a play, fighting for extra yardage. He did a great job fighting."

D'Ernest Johnson stepped in for Chubb and Hunt to record 146 rushing yards and his first career touchdown, while the Browns' defense was impressive with Myles Garrett getting 1.5 sacks and John Johnson intercepting Teddy Bridgewater.

"Unfortunately, some people are going to get hurt," said Keenum. "At the same time, you love other young guys getting chances.

"I felt calm and poised. It was a great first drive there. Kevin put together a great first 15 and the offensive line did a great job.

"Defense played really, really well. To hold those guys to what they did in some pretty clutch moments was big.

"It feels pretty good, it was a lot of fun. We have a great group of guys and they fought their tails off."

Mayfield has a shoulder fracture and a torn labrum but still hopes to be back for the Halloween clash against AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.

For the Broncos (3-4), pass-rusher Von Miller will undergo an MRI scan on Friday due to an ankle injury he suffered after colliding with a team-mate in the second quarter.

But head coach Vic Fangio believes Miller has just suffered a sprain while the player himself said he thinks he has "dodged a bullet".

"My pride is hurt more than anything," said the former Super Bowl MVP.

The Cleveland Browns have snapped their two-game skid without Baker Mayfield with a 17-14 victory over the Denver Broncos in Thursday Night Football.

Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson stole the show in his first career start, scoring the first touchdown after only five plays and finishing the game with 22 carries for 146 yards.

Case Keenum, making his first Browns start in place of the injured Mayfield, completed 21 from 33 attempts for 199 yards including one touchdown pass.

The result improves Cleveland to 4-3, while it means the Broncos have lost four in a row, sliding to a 3-4 record.

The Browns led 10-0 at half-time after Chase McLaughlin's 52-yard attempt, before the Broncos rallied with Melvin Gordon diving in at the corner from Teddy Bridgewater's touchdown pass to narrow the deficit.

Keenum found Johnny Stanton with a short touchdown pass to restore Cleveland's 10-point lead in the third quarter.

The Broncos scored late from a 17-play drive as Bridgewater, who completed 23 from 33 attempts for 187 yards but had one interception, found Javonte Williams for his second touchdown pass of the game.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff admitted he has a chip on his shoulder after his trade from the Los Angeles Rams ahead of his first meeting with his former franchise.

Goff was part of a blockbuster trade in March, the two-time NFL Pro Bowler sent to the Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford along with an exchange of a series of draft picks.

The number one pick in 2016, Goff conceded there was some "sourness" at how the trade was handled, citing a lack of communication from the Rams.

"Of course, you're motivated. Of course, you have the chip on your shoulder," Goff said on Wednesday following practice.

"There was some disrespect felt towards the end, there was some sourness there towards the end and you still feel that.

"You still have that chip on your shoulder, but at the same time, when the game starts, if I let any of that come into how I'm going to play the game, it'll be selfish.

"I'm going to play the game just how I would any other game and to be honest, I'm not worried about feeling some type of way, once the game starts."

Goff has started 0-6 with the Lions, completing 159 of 238 attempts for 1,505 yards since the move, while the Rams have opened with a 5-1 start to the season.

The 26-year-old has had zero touchdown passes and an interception in each of his last two games. It is the first time he has had back-to-back such games since a three-game streak in November 2019, according to Stats Perform.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes initiated the trade, while Rams head coach Sean McVay acknowledged regret about how they handled it on their side, wishing for "better, clearer communication".

"I appreciate it. It takes a man to say something like that," Goff said about McVay's comments. "It still happened the way it did, but I do appreciate him saying that and got all of the respect in the world for him over there."

On his relationship with McVay, Goff added: "I don't think it nearly eroded the way people thought and I think that was part of the confusion at the end. I don't feel like it really eroded that way."

Goff, who spent five years at the Rams, ranks second in franchise history in completion percentage (63.4 per cent) and passer rating (91.5).

Tom Brady joked about Aaron Rodgers becoming a "shareholder" of the Chicago Bears, while taking a shot at his old rival, the New York Jets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Brady sarcastically congratulated Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers on owning the Bears after the reigning MVP shouted "I still own you" at their fans after completing a fourth-quarter touchdown during Sunday's 24-14 NFL win.

The topic of ownership came up on Wednesday.

"I wanted to say congrats to Aaron Rodgers. Obviously, he's a great QB but I guess he's now a shareholder of the Bears," Brady quipped during his appearance on the Let's Go! podcast.

"I saw a clip of him really enthusiastically telling the crowd how happy he is to own Solider Field."

Podcast host Jim Gray joked that by that measure Brady owned the Jets, given his 29-7 career record against the New York franchise, but the 44-year-old and seven-time Super Bowl champion threw shade rather than be drawn it.

"Oh, no I'll just take the colour green. I don't need the Jets," the former New England Patriots quarterback said. "I'll just own the colour green, I think that's a little bit better."

Brady has thrown for 8,649 yards and 57 touchdowns against the Jets, who have not won the Super Bowl since 1968.

Time flies when you're having fun, as the old cliche goes, but you don't need to have been enjoying yourself to notice how quickly we got to Week 7 of the NFL season.

Fantasy managers who have enjoyed strong starts may already be casting their eyes towards the playoffs and a run at the title.

Meanwhile, those owners who are mired near the bottom of their league might be wondering where it all went wrong and paying a dwindling amount of attention to their line-up.

Either way, there are plenty of players with matchups this week who can help deliver a win for your squad. Stats Perform looks at four offensive players and a defense who are primed to make a significant impact in Week 7.

 

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins

The Falcons have had the bye week to rest after their win over the New York Jets in London and now get the chance to exploit another vulnerable AFC East defense.

They face a Dolphins team that will be playing only seven days removed from their game in the United Kingdom, and a defense that gave up 319 passing yards in their loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ryan has two 300-yard games to his name this year and has thrown for multiple scores in every game after drawing a blank in the season opener.

Atlanta and Miami look like two teams heading in different directions, expect Ryan and the Falcons to take advantage and the 2016 MVP to record a big fantasy day.

Running Back: Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals vs. Houston Texans

Edmonds has been something of a frustrating case so far this season.

He is averaging six yards per carry but has not consistently received the workload to be a viable fantasy option.

That looks likely to change this week when the unbeaten Cardinals face the 1-5 Texans, who are allowing 4.74 yards per rush attempt, the fifth-worst average in the NFL.

With the Cardinals widely expected to get out to a big lead in a hurry, Arizona should be able to take the pressure off Kyler Murray and lean on their backs if the game gets out of hand, meaning Edmonds could be in store for plenty of garbage time yards.

Wide Receiver: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens

Chase is a fully fledged fantasy darling having exploded out of the gates as a rookie for 553 yards and five touchdowns.

He might be expected to hit a block in the road against a Ravens defense that only gave up six points to the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

However, Chase is tied for the league lead with eight receiving plays of 25 yards or more and only six teams have allowed more passing plays of 20 yards or more than the Ravens (24).

Keep the faith and look for Joe Burrow and Chase to connect on at least one big one to vindicate his starting spot in fantasy line-ups.

Tight End: Dallas Goedert @ Las Vegas Raiders

With Zach Ertz out of the picture following his trade to the Arizona Cardinals, expect a bump in targets for Goedert, who is averaging 14.4 yards per reception this season.

That increase in his share of the workload could hardly come at a better time for Goedert fantasy owners, as he and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to visit a Raiders team allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Defense: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

This one isn't too difficult. The Jets have committed nine giveaways this season, tied for sixth-most in the NFL, and four of those came from Zach Wilson interceptions against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium in Week 2.

Wilson and Co. have got themselves in the win column since then, but there is nothing to suggest that a Jets offense still without left tackle Mekhi Becton should succeed in avoiding turnovers in this week's return fixture in Foxborough.

The Seattle Seahawks have claimed Jacob Eason to bolster their quarterback depth with star Russell Wilson sidelined due to a finger injury.

Eason was waived by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this week, despite debuting as relief for starter Carson Wentz against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2 of the NFL season.

The 23-year-old Eason was a fourth-round pick in 2020, completing two of five attempts for 25 yards in his debut against the Rams, having not played as a rookie last year.

Washington native Eason joins Geno Smith as QBs on Seattle's 53-man roster along with Jake Luton and Danny Etling on their practice squad.

Smith completed 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown in the Seahawks' 23-20 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Super Bowl champion and eight-time Pro Bowler Wilson landed on injured reserve a fortnight ago, having injured his right middle finger in the loss to the Rams on October 7 before undergoing surgery.

The 32-year-old's 10-year run of starts was the sixth longest by any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any active QB.

Wilson will sit out at least two more games before he is eligible to come off IR.

The Seahawks (2-4) host the New Orleans Saints (3-2) on Monday.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been ruled out of their clash with the Denver Broncos.

Mayfield is dealing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder but had previously insisted he would be fine for the visit of the Broncos.

However, his streak of 51 consecutive starts will come to an end as the Browns look to improve to 4-3 on the season.

Instead, Case Keenum will get the start under center.

"We have full confidence in him [Keenum] to lead us and do the things necessary to put us in position to win," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said.

"Baker fought really hard to play, he's a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn't make it on a short week.

"We know he will continue to do everything in his power to return as quickly as possible."

In addition to Mayfield, the Browns will be without both of their starting running backs.

Nick Chubb will miss his second successive game because of a calf injury, with Kareem Hunt having been placed on injured reserve with a similar issue.

The Browns could again be minus both of their starting offensive tackles, Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills, while wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sat out Tuesday's practice because of a shoulder issue.

Having dropped successive games to the Los Angeles Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals, the deck could be stacked against Keenum in his bid to help the Browns avoid another damaging defeat.

The Baltimore Ravens will be without Pro Bowler Ronnie Stanley for the remainder of the NFL season after announcing he will undergo surgery on his left ankle.

Stanley will have season-ending surgery for the second consecutive season, have missed the final 10 games of the 2020 campaign due to a broken ankle.

The high-flying Ravens (5-1) have placed Stanley on injured reserve, with the First-Team All-Pro vowing to return next season.

"At this point in time, my ankle isn't where it should be," the 27-year-old offensive tackle – who signed a five-year contract extension last October – said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This is the best decision not only for my health, but also for the team long-term. I look forward to supporting my team from the sideline this season and coming back fully healthy in 2022."

Stanley had missed five of the Ravens' six games this season, playing only in their opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.

"This is not what I wanted or expected when coming into the season," Stanley said. "Throughout the last year, I did everything I could to be 100 per cent healthy so I could be out there playing for our team and city."

The Ravens have an NFL-high 17 players on injured reserve.

Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel says Derrick Henry is "willing and able to carry us" after another barnstorming performance in a thrilling 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills in Monday Night Football.

Henry finished with 143 yards and three touchdowns as the Titans moved to 4-2 in the AFC South this season.

It marked the fifth straight game Henry surpassed 100 yards for rushing, while it is the third occasion this season he has ended with at least three touchdowns.

Henry joined Jim Brown (1958) as the only players in NFL history to rush for three-plus touchdowns in a game three times in the first six games of a season, according to Stats Perform.

Through Week 6, Henry has three games with 125 or more rushing yards and three-plus rushing touchdowns – it is tied for the most such games in a single season in the Super Bowl era.

Speaking after the game, Vrabel said of Henry: "We continue to jump on Derrick's back and he's willing and able to carry us. 

"It's something that you know you have in your back pocket, your front pocket and you can use it. He gave us a big shot right there."

For his part, Henry said he is just trying to perform his best for the team every time he takes to the field.

"I just love to come out here and try to be the best player and team-mate I can," he said. 

"Come out here and try to take advantage of my opportunities and make plays for this team. Whatever I can do to help us win, I am willing to do.

"This, today, was incredible. The whole atmosphere, it felt like a playoff game. The crowd was in it – they came and packed the stadium out. It's something that we'll always remember, especially on a big stage like this."

Derrick Henry came up big in the fourth quarter and the Tennessee Titans thwarted Josh Allen at the death in a thrilling 34-31 NFL victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Henry scored his third touchdown for the Titans (4-2) with just over three minutes remaining against the AFC East-leading Bills (4-2) on Monday.

The Titans then held up Bills signal-caller Allen on a fourth-down quarterback sneak in the final seconds to snap Buffalo's four-game winning streak.

Henry joined Jim Brown (1958) as the only players in NFL history to rush for three-plus touchdowns in a game three times in the first six games of a season, according to Stats Perform.

Through Week 6, Henry has three games with 125 or more rushing yards and three-plus rushing touchdowns – it is tied for the most such games in a single season in the Super Bowl era.

After a tense opening quarter – Tyler Bass' field goal for the Bills was the only score – Buffalo and Tennessee traded touchdowns in the second period.

Henry sparked the Titans with a memorable 76-yard TD run before Allen threw a 14-yard pass to Stefon Diggs just over three minutes later and the see-sawing battle continued – Allen's pass to Cole Beasley cancelled out Ryan Tannehill's (18-of-29 passing for 216 yards and an interception) four-yard run to give the Bills a 20-17 half-time lead.

Bass' third field goal and Allen's third TD pass (finishing 35 of 47 for 353 yards, three TDs and an interception) to Tommy Sweeney outweighed Henry's touchdown run as the Bills stretched their lead to 31-24 heading into the final period.

But Tennessee's defence came up big after Henry scored the only TD of the fourth quarter, having watched Randy Bullock convert his 38-yard field goal.

There has never been much room on the 'America's Team' bandwagon.

Each NFL season seems to begin with scores of pundits and observers scrambling to find a reason why this could be the Dallas Cowboys' year.

The difference in 2021 is they may actually be right.

Not since their Super Bowl win at the end of the 1995 season have the Cowboys reached the NFC Championship Game.

But riding a five-game winning streak after a thrilling 35-29 overtime victory over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, there is no doubt the Cowboys are legitimate contenders.

And, though there are supplementary factors behind their success on both sides of the ball, the primary reason for that status is clear: Dak Prescott is playing arguably the best football of his career.

A stellar three-quarter century

On his 75th career start, Prescott was once again imperious against the Patriots.

He passed for 445 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, posting a passer rating of 108.7.

It marked his 39th game with a passer rating of at least 100, surpassing Philip Rivers (38) for the third-most such games by a player in his first 75 starts.

The two players above him are the man he replaced in Dallas, Tony Romo (41), and Aaron Rodgers (43).

Should he continue performing at the standards he has displayed through five weeks, a Prescott vs Rodgers conference title game is not out of the question.

Accurate in every situation

Returning from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle suffered in Week 5 last year and entering the season with concerns over a shoulder injury, there were plenty wondering whether Prescott could recapture the form that saw him receive a four-year, $160million contract extension from Dallas in the offseason.

Any such doubts have been emphatically dispelled.

Helming a Dallas offense that leads the NFL with an average of 6.58 yards per play, Prescott is second in the NFL with a completion percentage of 73.1, while he and Matthew Stafford are tied for the league lead in throws that have resulted in a first down, moving the sticks on 44 per cent of attempts.

Completion percentage is not necessarily connected to a quarterback's accuracy, yet in Prescott's case, the link is clear.

Prescott has delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.9 per cent of his attempts, according to Stats Perform data. That is fourth among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts this season, trailing Kirk Cousins (84.6), Kyler Murray (84) and Patrick Mahomes (83.3).

A quarterback who has received comparisons to Peyton Manning for his work at the line of scrimmage, Prescott's poise has allowed him to maintain his accuracy almost irrespective of the situation.

His well-thrown percentage under pressure is 77.1 per cent, the average being 70, with only Murray (78.1) and the Patriots' Mac Jones (81.4) above him among quarterbacks to have come under duress on at least 20 attempts. 

Prescott has also been precise when throwing on the move, producing an accurate pass 85.7 per cent of the time in that scenario.

The former fourth-round pick's composure under pressure and ability to deliver on the move shone through in the biggest moments at Gillette Stadium.

On second-and-11 early in the fourth quarter, Prescott connected with CeeDee Lamb for 33 yards having shuffled to his right and reset his feet before delivering with late-arriving pressure in his face.

The final drive of regulation for Dallas saw Prescott put the ball where only Cedrick Wilson Jr. could go up and get it on a critical fourth-and-five with Matthew Judon bearing down on him following a spin move on right tackle Terence Steele.

His first throw of overtime was another hookup with Lamb while rolling to his right and that drive culminated in Prescott finding the same receiver after executing a play-fake left and moving the opposite direction, hitting the second-year receiver on the over route on a throw delivered with his weight falling away to give Dallas a walk-off win.

It could be argued that the Cowboys' own miscues put themselves in such a tight game, and his own coach is perhaps Prescott's most significant obstacle to him delivering long-awaited glory to Dallas this season.

McCarthy's mistakes

The Cowboys will be glad of the upcoming bye week, having seemingly survived a scare when left tackle Tyron Smith limped off with an ankle injury on Sunday, only to return after having it taped.

Smith will have the chance to rest and nurse his ankle and a troublesome neck problem, and by the time the Cowboys are back in action they should have the entirety of their starting offensive line, with right tackle La'el Collins set to return from a five-game ban.

Dallas and head coach Mike McCarthy could also use the extra week to evaluate in-game decision-making, which made life a lot harder on Prescott in Week 6.

Whether it was the decision to call four successive runs from the New England one-yard line in the second quarter, a sequence that ended with Prescott fumbling at the goal-line, or McCarthy's call to settle for a go-ahead 51-yard field goal on fourth-and-two late in the final quarter, the Cowboys' game management was a problem throughout.

McCarthy was bailed out after the latter mistake, Greg Zuerlein's missed kick followed by a pick-six of Jones from Trevon Diggs, but the Cowboys cannot expect to get away with such misjudgements every week.

The Cowboys have an offense teeming with playmakers that is the most efficient in the league by yards per play and a defense second in takeaways with 14, Diggs (seven interceptions) accounting for half of those.

A potent offense and an opportunistic defense is a formula for a Super Bowl challenge, yet it can be ruined if the head coach consistently comes up short with his decisions in situational football.

Prescott has the Cowboys firmly on the path to the title push they have long since craved. It is the man they hired to lead that charge who is the biggest threat to their dreams coming to fruition.

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