The NFL has been forced to move three games for Week 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the league and the United States.

The Cleveland Browns, who could have been without as many as 20 players, were set to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, but that clash has been rescheduled for Monday.

The Washington Football Team were preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the same day in which the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams were due to do battle, but both games will now take place on Tuesday.

The NFL announced the changes in a statement, which said: "We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league.

"We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community."

Due to the changes, all six sides involved will have shorter breaks between Week 15 and 16. The Browns head to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas, while the Raiders, Eagles, Washington, Seahawks and Rams all have two days fewer to prepare for their next games.

The fixture alterations come after the NFL announced updated coronavirus protocols on Thursday, which include fully vaccinated players being allowed to return from quarantine a day after testing positive if they produce two negative tests within 24 hours and are asymptomatic.

Indeed, 32 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday alone, after reports on Wednesday suggested around 100 NFL players recently tested positive for the virus across a three-day span.

Last season amid the ongoing global pandemic the NFL completed its season on time but had to reschedule 18 games.

In July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned the 32 teams that no games would be rescheduled under such circumstances again and, instead, forfeits could happen.

The Indianapolis Colts pinned their hopes for the 2021 season on a gamble. It was an educated bet, one made in the knowledge that the last time Frank Reich and Carson Wentz were on the same roster, the results were remarkable.

Still, their decision to trade for Wentz, coming off the worst season of his career, represented a substantial risk. He was a quarterback at his lowest ebb, sacked a league-high 50 times while his 15 interceptions also led the NFL, one viewed by many as beyond repair.

Yet the Colts backed Reich, Wentz's offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in the 2017 season when the Eagles won the Super Bowl and the 2016 second overall pick played at an MVP level prior to a serious knee injury, to successfully resurrect his career, and were willing to give up a first-round pick to make that bet.

A first-rounder in next year's draft will head the Eagles way should Wentz play 75 per cent of the offensive snaps or if he plays 70 per cent of the snaps and the Colts make the playoffs.

As of Week 14, Wentz has 97.5 per cent of the snaps and the 7-6 Colts would be in the playoffs as an AFC wild card if the season ended today. Put simply, the Eagles are getting a first-round pick back for a player they were desperate to get off the books.

So with the Colts firmly in the mix for a postseason berth and the Eagles, who themselves are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot in the NFC, set to have three first-round picks come April, it begs the question, who is winning the Wentz trade?

A substantial turnaround

The raw numbers hint at a successful renaissance for Wentz, whose 22 passing touchdowns are the 10th-most in the NFL.

Meanwhile, he has done a much better job of taking care of the football, throwing just five interceptions. Of quarterbacks to have started double-digit games this season, only Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson (4) have thrown fewer.

He has thrown 12 interceptable passes this season, according to Stats Perform data, but his pickable pass percentage of 2.99 is the sixth-best among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

While obvious improvements have been made in his ability to limit turnover-worthy players, the reality is that Wentz still struggles for accuracy.

Big moments proving too much

Wentz's completion percentage has improved to 63.3 from a dismal 57.4 last season. Yet that is still some way short of his 2018 zenith of 69.6, which is a clear outlier for a quarterback who has never at any other point sniffed the 70 per cent mark.

He is 25th among qualifying quarterbacks in that category, his disappointing numbers reflective of an inability to produce accurately thrown passes consistently.

Indeed, his well-thrown percentage of 76.1 is below the average of 78.4 for quarterbacks who meet that 200-throw threshold, with the Colts' success this season arguably more a product of a dominant run game than any career revival by Wentz.

The Colts lead the league in rush yards per attempt with 5.15 while registering the fifth most carries (383) in the NFL, with 15.1 per cent of those going for 10 yards or more. Only the Cleveland Browns (16.3 per cent) and the Eagles (15.3 per cent) have done a better job at creating explosive runs.

Indianapolis' prowess running the ball has minimised Wentz's shortcomings. Yet in the situations where the pressure is in his face or on his shoulders, those failings are magnified.

His well-thrown percentage dips to 66.2 when under pressure from the opposing pass rush (the average is 69.3), and when asked to deliver in tight games Wentz has been unable to rise to the challenge.

Wentz and the Colts are 1-4 in one-score games this season, with all five of his interceptions coming across three of those defeats. He also lost a fumble in losses to the Baltimore Ravens and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his three turnovers critical in a 38-31 reverse at the hands of Tampa.

The evidence in that sense points towards Wentz's improved 2021 being a product of his situation, rather than his own merits. When the team has needed him to elevate them to victory in tight games, he has fallen short. There are plenty of quarterbacks who fall into the same bracket, but they did not come at the cost of a first-round pick that could prove key to the Eagles turning things around.

Eagles have crucial flexibility

The Eagles could be deemed unfortunate in potentially having three first-round picks in a draft class that is not regarded as being anywhere near as strong at quarterback as the 2021 crop.

Yet the progress 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts, who took over for Wentz last year, has made in his second season gives them the flexibility to potentially use that capital to either build around him or parlay those selections into a blockbuster trade for another quarterback.

Hurts' numbers as a quarterback - 60.1 completion percentage, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions - are nowhere close to those of Wentz. Yet a 79.9 well-thrown percentage points to him having superior accuracy to that of his predecessor, while he adds significantly more as a runner.

Only Lamar Jackson (767) has more rushing yards among quarterbacks than Hurts (695), who leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns for players at the position with eight.

With a quarterback whose diverse skill set matches the direction of the modern game, the Eagles can use their premium picks to fill the holes on the roster around him to improve Hurts' situation or package him with some of that draft capital to land a quarterback who can quickly turn them into contenders again.

Indianapolis' room for manoeuvre comes in the form of close to $60million in salary cap space, yet they are in a position where they will be building around a quarterback playing well enough to deserve to be the starter in 2022 but with an obvious ceiling.

The Colts are in the better spot in the race for this year's playoffs and have the better team right now, yet the ultimate impact of the Wentz trade could be that it puts the Eagles in a position to leapfrog Indianapolis and their former franchise quarterback in the ranks of contenders.

Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints are still in the hunt for a playoff place at 6-7 but must now take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers - who are 6-0 at home and 10-3 for the season so far - without their head coach on the sideline.

The Saints released a statement on Friday confirming the length of Payton's absence due to contracting COVID-19 and revealing that the 57-year-old's vaccination status.

"Saints Head Coach Sean Payton tested positive for Covid-19 and was immediately isolated," the statement read. "He has been fully vaccinated.

"Per NFL protocols, Payton will be out for 10 days unless he meets the league requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return to the team environment.

"Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen will assume the duties of head coach for the December 19th game at Tampa Bay. Payton will return to coach the December 27th game against the Miami Dolphins."

Payton follows Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski in returning a positive test. The Browns have been hit by a major COVID outbreak and their game with the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday is reportedly in doubt.

Buccaneers quarterback Brady has not beaten the Saints in the regular season since joining Tampa Bay and will be hoping to capitalise on Payton's absence on Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers will clinch the NFC North title if they avoid defeat against the wounded Baltimore Ravens, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could win the NFC South in Week 15.

AFC North leaders Baltimore will be striving to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they face the Packers but have this week been managing quarterback Lamar Jackson's ankle sprain.

Tampa Bay can seal the division title provided they are not beaten at home by the New Orleans Saints on Monday, while the New England Patriots are among the teams looking to book a playoff spot ahead of their showdown with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

Stats Perform previews the standout games and the best of the rest.

Green Bay Packers (10-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

The Ravens have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, losing by one point against the Pittsburgh Steelers and by two at the Cleveland Browns. It is the first time in franchise history the Ravens have lost consecutive games by two points or fewer.

Green Bay scored 45 points in a win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field last week, their highest scoring output since 2014 against the Philadelphia Eagles (53-20 win). The Packers are averaging 30.7 points per game at home but 20.6 points on the road, the third-largest differential in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Bears. It was his 28th career game with at least four TD passes and no interceptions, tied with Tom Brady for the most such games in NFL history including the postseason.

Davante Adams is Rodgers' top target and has gone over 100 receiving yards in three straight games. He is now tied with James Lofton for the most 100-yard receiving games in Packers history with 33.

New England Patriots (9-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

The Patriots have conceded 13 or fewer points in each of their past five games. That is the longest such streak in Patriots history and the longest by any NFL team since 2008 (Pittsburgh, five games). 

Mac Jones and the Patriots attempted only three passes last time out in their 14-10 Week 13 win at Buffalo. Since 1950, there have been only two other instances of an NFL team attempting no more than three passes in one game: the Kansas City Chiefs (three) in a 24-10 win against the Oakland Raiders in 1968, and the Buffalo Bills (two) in a 16-12 victory over the New York Jets in 1974.

But Indianapolis know how to run the ball, too. They have gained 996 yards rushing over their previous five games, their highest total over a five-game span since gaining 1,024 in 1976. The Colts have scored 12 rushing TDs in the stretch, matching their best five-game total in the past 30 seasons. 

Through the air, Carson Wentz has had five interceptions from his 420 pass attempts this season. His interception rate (1.2 per cent) is the third-lowest among the 32 qualifying NFL quarterbacks. 

New Orleans Saints (6-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

The Bucs have won four consecutive games and are due a victory over the Saints, having lost the past six clashes between the two teams.

Brady reached yet another landmark last week, with his 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman taking his tally of touchdown passes in the NFL to 700. The only other quarterback with at least 600 is former Saint Drew Brees (608).

Taysom Hill had multiple rushing touchdowns for the fourth time in his career last week and added 73 rushing yards. The only other Saints quarterback to rush for at least 50 yards and multiple TDs is Archie Manning (52 yards, 2 TDs on October 17, 1971 against the Dallas Cowboys).

Expect a fast start from Tampa. The Bucs have outscored opponents by 70 points in the first half of games this season, behind only Indianapolis (73) for the best mark in the league.

Elsewhere...

The Los Angeles Rams (9-4) are closing in on the playoffs and will have home advantage when they face the Seattle Seahawks (9-4). The Rams have won six of the past eight matchups between these teams, including a 26-17 win in Seattle in Week 5 this year.

Heinz Field will stage a battle between the Steelers (6-6-1) and a Tennessee Titans (9-4) side scenting the AFC South title. The Titans shut out an opponent for the second time in 20 seasons with a 20-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. 

The Cowboys (9-4) travel to lock horns with the New York Giants (4-9) with the NFC title within their grasp. Dak Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016 but is 8-0 in his starts against them since then. Ron Jaworksi, from 1977 to 1981, was the last QB to win nine starts in a row against the Giants.

Darrell Bevell has stepped in to take over as the Jaguars' interim head coach after Urban Meyer was fired on Wednesday. Jacksonville start life after Meyer attempting to avoid a record-breaking eighth consecutive loss to the Houston Texans, with both sides a dismal 2-11 this season.

Patrick Mahomes says Travis Kelce proved he still has the ability to run past people after the duo combined to secure a dramatic overtime win for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Los Angeles Chargers.

It was a night to remember for Kelce, who finished with 191 receiving yards – a career high for the 32-year-old – and had tied up the game when he caught a seven-yard touchdown pass with one minute and 16 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Kelce then completed a 34-yard pass from Mahomes, collecting the ball at the 30, side-stepping two tackles and making it to the end zone where he was engulfed by team-mates as the Chiefs earned a 34-28 triumph and a seventh straight win.

Superstar quarterback Mahomes revelled in the game-winning moment and paid tribute to his team-mate.

"I don't think I've ever been part of a walk-off touchdown or anything like that, so to be in that moment, find him underneath and him making such a dynamic play where, I mean, he cut back, ran by people," said Mahomes.

"You think he's old. He can't run by people. But he's still running by people. And he got in the end zone."

Mahomes himself impressed with a season-high 410 yards off the back of 31 of 47 passing, while he had three touchdowns and an interception.

That interception left the Chiefs in a bit of a pickle as it led to the Chargers scoring for a 21-13 advantage in the fourth quarter.

"Obviously it [doesn't feel good] in the moment," he added. "I mean, I promise you I felt as bad as anyone about that throw and that situation, and knew how bad it looked. 

"But you will get another chance and you better be ready for that moment."

Five of Kelce's 10 catches for 142 yards occurred in the fourth quarter and overtime, while his 69-yard reception then resulted in Tyreek Hill's one-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion that left the teams level at 21-21.

Head coach Andy Reid said Kelce proved he still has the speed to mix it with the best in the league.

"Everybody is talking about him losing a step, he looked fast to me," Reid said. 

"His endurance down the stretch for an elder statesman — he's not over the hill — his acceleration is something."

Travis Kelce scored a stunning walk-off touchdown and Patrick Mahomes made history as the streaking Kansas City Chiefs topped the Los Angeles Chargers 34-28 in overtime on Thursday.

Kelce and star quarterback Mahomes combined for a 34-yard touchdown to lift the AFC West-leading Chiefs (10-4) past the Chargers (9-6) in the additional period for their seventh straight victory.

Mahomes – who finished 31-of-47 passing for 410 yards, three touchdowns and an interception – took his tally to 152 touchdowns in 60 NFL games, the former MVP becoming the fastest player to reach 150 combined rushing and passing TDs after eclipsing Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61 games).

The Chiefs rallied in Los Angeles, where the Chargers were fuelled by Justin Herbert – who threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to put the hosts 14-10 ahead at half-time.

After Kansas City's Harrison Butker's field-goal made it a one-point game in the third quarter, the two teams traded touchdowns in a wild fourth period.

The Chargers led 21-13 and 28-21, but the Chiefs responded on both occasions – Mahomes throwing touchdowns passes to Tyreek Hill and Kelce as Kansas City forced overtime.

That Mahomes-Kelce combination proved decisive with less than nine minutes left on the clock in OT after the latter weaved his way through the Chargers' defence to spark wild celebrations.

Hill and Kelce became the first wide receiver/tight end duo in NFL history to each have at least 10 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown in the same game, per Stats Perform.

Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott said he is healthy but admitted "I'm not playing my best ball" amid criticism regarding his form.

Prescott has thrown 24 touchdowns this season, though the Dallas quarterback has tallied 10 interceptions in 12 appearances – the most since 2019.

Since returning from a calf strain, Prescott has eight touchdown passes and six interceptions in six games.

Prescott addressed the criticism ahead of Sunday's NFL clash with the New York Giants, telling reporters: "I'm fully healthy, 100 per cent healthy. Thank you, though."

Prescott added: "I do realise I'm not playing my best ball, haven't been playing it, have made some poor decisions, you could say.

"That's kind of part of it. I wouldn't say it's slump material, but I'm definitely not up to my standards or expectations, and when you play at a high level, that's what you create. So I'm glad people have the same expectations for my game as I do for myself."

Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016, but he is 8-0 in his starts against them since then.

According to Stats Perform, Prescott is the first QB to win eight or more consecutive starts against the Giants since Ron Jaworksi won nine in a row from 1977 to 1981.

"I've been doubted my whole life, said I can't do this or can't do that, so in a sense I'm kind of glad it's actually come back," Prescott said.

"I'm glad that's the way people feel and there's a lot of that being said right now."

The Cowboys' 44-20 home win over the Giants in Week 5 was their largest margin of victory against the New York franchise since 1998, when they won 31-7 at Giants Stadium in Week 3.

Dallas had 515 net yards in that Week 5 win, their second-highest yardage total ever in a game against the Giants.

The Cowboys (9-4) have two players with 600 or more rushing yards this season – Ezekiel Elliott (810) and Tony Pollard (602). The Denver Broncos are the only other NFL team with two such players this season (Javonte Williams 743, Melvin Gordon 716).

"I think it's the right time for us to turn it on," Prescott said. "I had that talk with the skill position players in the signal-caller's meeting is we'd much rather be going through what you're through this time that we did than two weeks from now.

"Now that we've addressed it, we've held ourselves accountable for it, we can move forward and peak at the right time heading into the playoffs."

Urban Mayer has been sacked as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach after only 13 games in charge ending a tumultuous tenure.

Mayer's dismissal was confirmed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan on Wednesday with the side sitting 2-11 on a five-game skid and in bottom spot in the AFC South.

The former Ohio State head coach's brief time in charge as the Jaguars, having been hired in January, was riddled with issues, including a video surfacing showing a woman dancing close to him in Ohio in October.

Last week there were reports of tension between Mayer and the Jaguars players and coaches, including the latest on Wednesday claiming that former kicker Josh Lambo alleged the head coach had kicked him in the leg while stretching in warm-ups prior to a practice, which was the final straw for Khan.

"After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban's tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone," Khan said in a statement.

"I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen."

Darrell Bevell will serve as interim head coach, while Trent Baalke will continue as general manager.

Khan added: "In the spirit of closure and recharging our players, staff and fan base, I will not comment further until some point following the conclusion of the NFL season."

Lamar Jackson has not practiced this week due to his ongoing ankle injury, but the Baltimore Ravens are not ruling the star quarterback out of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Jackson suffered an ankle sprain in Baltimore's 24-22 NFL defeat to the Cleveland Browns last week, having been doubtful heading into the contest.

The former MVP threw only four passes for 17 yards before taking a hit in the first play of the second quarter and being replaced by Tyler Huntley.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been bullish all week about Jackson's availability to face Aaron Rodgers' high-flying Packers, despite not practicing and offered an update on Wednesday.

"It's day-to-day right now. We've just got to see how it responds," Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday. "He's not going to practice today, but we'll see going forward how that goes."

Jackson's injury is not a high ankle sprain, offering hope of a quick recovery and Harbaugh had said on Monday that "the plans are right now, in my mind, for Lamar to be out there."

Harbaugh confirmed if Jackson was declared fit, the Ravens would not rest him with a view to their crunch divisional Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I would say that factors zero percent [into the decision]," Harbaugh said. "We're trying to win this game. Every win right now is… you want every win you can get."

Jackson is enjoying a strong season for the Ravens, completing 242 of 378 passes for 2,865 yards with a 64 percent completion rate for 16 touchdowns. He has also allowed 13 interceptions, having only committed 18 across his previous three seasons.

Baltimore lead the AFC North with an 8-5 record, narrowly ahead of the Bengals (7-6) and Browns (7-6) with four regular-season games remaining.

The Ravens have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, losing by one point against the Pittsburgh Steelers and by two points against Cleveland. According to Stats Perform, it is the first time in franchise history Baltimore have lost consecutive games by two points or fewer.

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis has confirmed the Allegiant Stadium will host Super Bowl LVIII for the first time in 2024.

The Raiders moved to southern Nevada from Oakland in 2020 to play in the new Allegiant Stadium, with the expectation that the 65,000-seater venue could one day host NFL's showpiece event.

That has now come to fruition, with the 58th NFL championship game heading to Las Vegas after it was moved from Caesars Superdome in New Orleans for scheduling reasons.

New Orleans will now host the finale in 2025, after the league's move to an 18-month regular season meant the Super Bowl final would clash with Mardi Gras celebrations in the Louisiana city.

Davis announced the widely-expected news in a statement on Wednesday, as the Raiders owner said: "The Raiders are thrilled the National Football League has selected Las Vegas to host Super Bowl (58) LVIII in February 2024.

"Hosting the 2022 Pro Bowl, the 2022 NFL draft and now the 2024 Super Bowl are just some of the ancillary benefits resulting from the public-private partnership we created with the state of Nevada to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas and build Allegiant Stadium. It's only the beginning."

The Allegiant Stadium will also host the 2022 Pro Bowl and NFL Draft, which was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic enforced changes.

The next two Super Bowls are scheduled to be played in Inglewood, California, at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022, and in Glendale, Arizona, at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023.

Baker Mayfield was among five players to have been placed on the Cleveland Brown's reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.

ESPN reported that the quarterback has tested positive for the virus, making him doubtful for Saturday's home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Mayfield will have to produce two negative tests before Saturday in order to participate.

Troy Hill, John Johnson III, Malik McDowell and Ifeadi Odenigbo were also placed onto the reserve/COVID-19 list, while Nate Meadors was moved to the practice squad/COVID-19 list.

The Browns' roster moves came shortly after they had confirmed head coach Kevin Stefanski is isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

Like Mayfield, Stefanski will have to return two negative tests in order to be on the sidelines on Saturday. If he does not, then special teams co-ordinator Mike Priefer will serve as his temporary replacement.

Acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell has also tested positive for the virus.

On Tuesday, the Browns placed eight players onto the reserve/COVID-19 list, including four offensive starters – wide receiver Jarvis Landry, offensive guard Wyatt Teller, tight end Austin Hooper and left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.

The Cleveland Browns have confirmed head coach Kevin Stefanski is isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

Cleveland, who sit second in the AFC North with a 7-6 record in 2021, face the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.

However, their coach will not be able to be on the sidelines unless he tests negative twice. If he fails to do so, special teams co-ordinator Mike Priefer will serve as his temporary replacement.

The Browns confirmed the news in a statement published to their official Twitter account. Their post also stated Stefanski is fully vaccinated and has received a booster dose.

Stefanski is said to be feeling well and will take part in the preparations for the Raiders game virtually.

Acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell has also tested positive for the virus.

The Browns, who beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, face the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals following their game with Las Vegas.

Unless your league is one in which the fantasy championship hinges on the always impossible to predict Week 18, it's time for the playoffs.

And the playoffs are the time when your stars need to shine.

The bye weeks are done and, if you've managed to avoid an injury crisis, there shouldn't be much need for scouring the waiver wire for fill-ins.

For fantasy glory, the players you drafted high need to deliver. With that in mind, Stats Perform has identified an optimum lineup for Week 15 featuring four offensive players and a defense who are in a position to propel fantasy teams to the next round of the postseason.

 

Quarterback: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers

Allen was hugely impressive in defeat as the Bills' comeback effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell short. It was his first 300-yard passing game since Week 10 and also saw him throw for two touchdowns, while he added 109 yards and a further score on the ground.

With multiple passing touchdowns in four of his last five games, Allen has still served as a prolific quarterback even as the Bills' hopes of contending to be the AFC's Super Bowl representative have taken several dents.

Against a fast-fading Panthers team whose stout defense is being put in increasingly difficult spots by a rudderless offense, Allen, even with concerns over a foot injury, should get plenty of opportunities to continue his impressive scoring run and get the Bills back on track.

Running Back: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions

Only Jonathan Taylor has scored more touchdowns from scrimmage than Conner, who has found the endzone 16 times in an unexpected career year.

A featured part of the running game and the passing attack, Conner will relish the chance to play an integral role in returning the Cardinals to winning ways against a Lions defense ranked 29th in the NFL by yards per play allowed.

Wide Receiver: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers @ Baltimore Ravens

Adams has 100 receiving yards in each of his last three games, bringing in a pair of touchdown receptions in two of those performances.

The man many consider to be the best receiver in football is only polishing that reputation in 2021 and now gets to go up against a severely banged-up Ravens team extremely susceptible to the big play.

Baltimore's defense has surrendered 56 passing plays of 20 yards or more, the most in the NFL. In a marquee matchup that could instead prove a mismatch if Lamar Jackson misses out, expect Aaron Rodgers and Adams to ensure they add to that tally.

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Kittle is in monstrous form. His 13-catch day in the Niners' win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14 saw him finish with 151 yards and a touchdown. He became the first tight end in NFL history to record successive games with at least 150 yards and a touchdown, having racked up 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks a week earlier.

As a clear focal point of the 49ers' passing game, the signs point to another huge impact for Kittle versus a Falcons defense giving up the ninth-most yards per pass play in the NFL.

Defense: Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

The Dallas defense did the heavy lifting in the Cowboys' win over the Washington Football Team, wreaking havoc to cement their grip on first place in the NFC East.

Dallas registered five sacks, forced and recovered three fumbles, including one returned for a touchdown, and intercepted Taylor Heinicke in a dominant showing.

Such a turnover-laden display may prove an anomaly, yet, with the Giants having committed six giveaways in their last four games, the odds are in the favour of another productive day for a defense that excels at making game-changing plays.

Los Angeles Rams star Odell Beckham Jr. is among nine players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the NFL franchise.

Amid the growing number of cases across professional sports, Beckham was joined by team-mates Terrell Burgess, Brycen Hopkins, JuJu Hughes, Alaric Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Jordan Fuller on the list, as well as practice-squad members Jonah Williams and Tyler Hall.

It comes after the Rams (9-4) rook down NFC West rivals and leaders the Arizona Cardinals (10-3) 30-23 on Monday Night Football in the NFL.

Rams wide receiver Beckham caught a touchdown pass and had six catches for 77 yards against the Cardinals.

"We're in intensive protocols," Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters on Tuesday. "This has definitely been the most uniquely challenging situation we've dealt with with COVID over the last two years, no doubt about it, specific to our team the amount of people that are affected, both players and staff."

McVay added: "The scary thing about all this to me is every single person is vaccinated that we're talking about. That's the thing that's the most concerning about all of this is that everybody has done exactly what they could.

"I trusted these guys have taken the right precautionary measures ... Now you're adding a lot of layers to this situation that we thought we were past and that's the thing that I think is the most mind-numbing about it all for me."

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