The Saints lost by 17 points to the Falcons. And even with Patrick Mahomes back under center, the Chiefs couldn’t outlast the Titans. The Jets got by the Giants in a Battle of New York, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson piled on offense against an overmatched Cincinnati team and the Browns held off the Bills for their third win.
In the afternoon, Miami upset Indianapolis, and Green Bay made a late stand to beat Carolina in the snow.
All that and more in Week 10’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.
The Titans rediscovered the importance of using Derrick Henry as the focal point of the offense. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s decision to stick to the run despite being down by nine points to Kansas City in the fourth quarter paid off. Henry finished with 23 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee’s win keeps it in the playoff mix and allows the team to get healthy during the bye week. — Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (4:05 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
Even with Patrick Mahomes back in the lineup and on top of his game, the Chiefs won’t be able to outscore every opponents. If they don’t clean up their sloppiness on special teams and improve on defending the run, they won’t win the AFC West title for the fourth consecutive season. The Chiefs can be get caught by the 5-4 Raiders, who are a half-game behind and come to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 13. — Adam Teicher
Next game: at L.A. Chargers (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 18)
The Falcons, who had a league-low seven sacks coming into Sunday, generated consistent pressure against Drew Brees with six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett led the way with 2.5 sacks and five QB hits. The coverage and communication from the defensive backs was solid, and the rushers up front took care of the rest. If the Falcons can rush with such consistency next week at Carolina and the rest of the season, they could be in every game, especially if the offense continues with long scoring drives. — Vaughn McClure
Next game: at Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
New Orleans needs to figure out how to start faster. The Saints’ stunning loss at home to the Falcons feels like a bit of a one-off, since they won the six previous games. But Brees agreed afterward the Saints do need to be concerned about their uncharacteristic trend of slow starts on offense this season. They have scored a total of 25 first-quarter points in nine games. They need to start setting the tone more in a critical month with three more division games coming up, starting next week at Tampa Bay. — Mike Triplett
Next game: at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Bears coach Matt Nagy refuses to change. He opened the doors to Club Dub, the Bears postgame locker room dance party, after Sunday’s victory over Detroit, even though the team had lost four straight coming in and is 4-5 on the year. “I never considered not doing it,” Nagy said. “It’s who we are.” He recalled one year in Kansas City when the Chiefs were 1-5 and found a way to make the playoffs. “I keep reminding myself of that,” Nagy said. The Bears face long odds, but there is no quit in the second-year head coach. — Jeff Dickerson
Next game: at L.A. Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Life without Matthew Stafford, as expected, was not kind to the Lions. While the stats might appear better than one would think in Jeff Driskel‘s first start with Detroit, the reality is it was a much different offense without Stafford playing for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. It will be a long season for Detroit, who is now close to needing to win out to reach the postseason, if Stafford can’t return soon. — Michael Rothstein
Next game: vs. Dallas (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Bucs finally found a way to finish. After the Buccaneers surrendered an eight-point lead to the Seahawks last week — their fifth blown lead of the season — and having their secondary called out by coach Bruce Arians for a “disappointing” year, cornerback Jamel Dean made a touchdown-saving interception late in the fourth quarter. “I’m just really elated that we finished,” said quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw two interceptions but delivered three touchdown drives. “That was a really, really ugly win. That was an ugly win. But we found a way to do it.” Arians added, “I can’t be happier for anybody than Jamel Dean. He [won] the game. Last week he [was] the goat. He’s gonna be a hell of a player.” — Jenna Laine
Next game: vs. New Orleans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Ronald Jones II, O.J. Howard and Peyton Barber all fine the end zone for the Buccaneers in a 30-27 win over the Cardinals.
The Cardinals blew an opportunity to inch closer to .500. Arizona’s offense looked impressive at times, with Kyler Murray setting a new mark for consecutive passes by rookie without an interception (211), per the Elias Sports Bureau. However, too many mistakes — including a pick by Murray late in fourth quarter — cost Arizona a win. After the demoralizing loss, the Cardinals now have to gear up to travel to San Francisco for their fourth road game in five weeks. — Josh Weinfuss
Next game: at San Francisco (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Lamar Jackson made his most complete statement that he’s the MVP in the NFL. He became the third player in the past 30 years to record at least three touchdown passes, one touchdown run and a perfect passer rating in a single game. But what everyone will talk about is his highlight-reel 47-yard touchdown run in which he faked out one defender and spun around another. Coach John Harbaugh said: “I said to offensive coaches on the headphones: ‘They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. That’s one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.'” Thanks to Jackson, the Ravens (7-2) won for the fifth consecutive time, closing to within one game of the Patriots (8-1) and the top seed in the AFC. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: vs. Houston (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Almost everything that happened during the Bengals’ blowout loss against the Ravens was part of the bottoming out that comes with the rebuilding process. Rookie quarterback Ryan Finley had some positive moments but also had a couple of costly turnovers that were returned for touchdowns (one fumble lost, one interception). The Bengals went with rookies like Drew Sample and Germaine Pratt in an effort to make progress in their development. And while all of that is necessary to build for the future, it comes at a cost. Cincinnati needed a late field goal to avoid the biggest loss in franchise history. But it was Cincinnati’s 11th straight defeat dating back to last season, which ties the longest in franchise history. The ninth consecutive loss in 2019 makes this the franchise’s worst start since 1993. — Ben Baby
Next game: at Oakland (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
After getting stuffed on goal-to-go on two previous possessions, Cleveland finally broke through in the final two minutes. Cleveland has owned one of the worst red-zone and goal-to-go offenses in the NFL, and those struggles continued Sunday. But with one final opportunity, the Browns kept their season — and faint playoff hopes — alive with a gutsy, 82-yard touchdown drive, concluding with a 7-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Rashard Higgins. Too often this year, the Browns have found ways to lose. Sunday, they found a way to win. Now, in the span of five days, they have an opportunity to double their season win total, with Pittsburgh coming to town Thursday night. Beat the Steelers, and suddenly Cleveland’s season outlook quickly could begin to change. — Jake Trotter
Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)
This loss may go down as a pivotal moment in Buffalo’s season. The Bills made things interesting for the AFC’s potential wild-card teams after Sunday’s loss to the Browns, adding fuel to the critique that this team’s record is more a result of a weak schedule than anything else. Unfortunately for Buffalo, that “weak schedule” has come to a screeching halt; its next two games against Miami and Denver can no longer be overlooked before a four-game stretch against Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England. Now 10 weeks into the season, the Bills are 1-3 against their four toughest opponents and haven’t created any sort of confidence they can beat good teams. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
There was finally a sign of life for the Jets. Quarterback Sam Darnold even said the Jets (2-7) have a chance to make the playoffs if they run the table. Easy there, young pup. The Jets are in no position to think that way, but give them credit for showing a pulse. Instead of quitting on coach Adam Gase, they rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Giants. The defense suffocated Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ run game, and Darnold played his first interception-free game since Week 1. Baby steps. — Rich Cimini
Next game: at Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
This Giants’ season keeps getting worse with their sixth consecutive loss heading into the bye week. “We lost six straight. … Don’t feel good,” said safety Jabrill Peppers. “Definitely embarrassed.” Have to wonder now if any changes will be made by ownership considering the embarrassment of this game and season. The Giants (2-8) are worse than last year after 10 games, and the Jets came in averaging 12 points per game. Asked after the games if he wanted to comment, owner John Mara didn’t break stride. He immediately exited the building, clearly upset with what is transpiring with his struggling franchise. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: at Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
The Dolphins appear to have found the right coach in Brian Flores. A two-game winning streak doesn’t mean much for 2019, but it does show positive signs for the culture Flores is building in Miami. The Dolphins might have the NFL’s least-talented roster, one that has often dealt with sudden, dramatic changes at inopportune times, and yet players and coaches have stepped up over the past month. This is a disciplined, hard-fighting team, even in a year that means little record-wise. If this is the ground-level stage of the new Dolphins, the future has some real promise behind Flores. — Cameron Wolfe
Next game: vs. Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Colts continue to ruin their chances to take control of the AFC South. They followed up a road loss to Pittsburgh in Week 9 by losing to the struggling Dolphins on Sunday. The loss kept the Colts out of first place in the division. Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, starting in place of the injured Jacoby Brissett (knee), threw three interceptions, and kicker Adam Vinatieri continued to show he’s hurting the Colts more than he’s helping them by missing an extra point attempt — bringing the total of missed kicks on the season to 11 (six extra point attempts and five field goal attempts). General manager Chris Ballard can’t sit back and be loyal to Vinatieri. He has to start looking for a replacement for the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. — Mike Wells
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Quarterback Mason Rudolph said it best in his postgame news conference: The Steelers’ defense is playing like the 1985 Bears. Pittsburgh didn’t give up a single offensive touchdown in its win against the Rams, and the defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Minkah Fitzpatrick sealed the win with a pick, his fifth since being traded from Miami after Week 2. Still in the playoff hunt at 5-4, the Steelers’ stagnant offense needs to capitalize on the momentum to make a continued push toward the postseason. — Brooke Pryor
Next game: at Cleveland (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)
The Rams continue a run in the opposite direction, now 5-4. The offense has underperformed throughout most of 2019, and did so again Sunday, as Jared Goff passed for 243 yards, threw two interceptions and also lost a fumble. The run game is a shadow of its former self, with Todd Gurley II and a rotation of backs combining for 88 yards. Now the Rams must regroup and hope for the return of two injured offensive linemen in time to play the Bears, who last season had no trouble solving the Rams’ offensive game plan. — Lindsey Thiry
Next game: vs. Chicago (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)
If the Packers keep playing the way they did Sunday for the rest of November and into December, they’ll have important games to play — perhaps even at home — in January. On a wintery Green Bay day, the Packers improved to 4-1 at home with a steady mix of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, along with a timely goal-line stop on the last play of the game to stop the Panthers in their snowy tracks. “It seems like this place is becoming what it was for so long: a very difficult place to play,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “And we’re putting ourselves in position to have an opportunity to get one of these meaningful [games] down the line.” — Rob Demovsky
Next game: at San Francisco (4:25 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
Kyle Allen gives the Panthers a chance to win. Tight end Greg Olsen said the quarterback’s performance in the fourth quarter was as good as any he has been around, considering the environment of Lambeau Field and heavy snow flurries. If you want a positive from the loss to the Packers, it’s that the second-year undrafted QB showed he can be successful against the league’s best teams, posting a career-best 307 passing yards and managing the game despite two costly turnovers (fumble, interception). As Allen said afterward, if he can play “clean football,” the Panthers can win a lot of games. — David Newton
Next game: vs. Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Raiders are legitimate playoff contenders and in the middle of their best stretch since Jon Gruden returned to the sideline last year. Beating the Chargers on national TV on Thursday night served notice, and with the Chiefs falling at Tennessee on Sunday, Oakland finds itself a half-game behind Kansas City in the AFC West. The Raiders have two winnable games up next against the winless Bengals and at the 2-7 Jets, setting up a potential first-place showdown at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 1. Buckle up. — Paul Gutierrez
Next game: vs. Cincinnati (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Stephen A. Smith can see the Raiders making a playoff push.
Philip Rivers had three costly interceptions that proved too much for the Chargers to overcome. He struggled against an improved Oakland defensive front that sacked him five times. To his credit, Rivers battled playing in front of a banged-up offensive line that included two backup offensive tackles, but the growing number of turnovers from Rivers is a critical issue for head coach Anthony Lynn, who prioritizes taking care of the football. The Chargers are 16-36 when Rivers turns the ball over at least two times. — Eric D. Williams
Next game: vs. Kansas City (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 18)
Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney questionable with sore hip
RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was away from the team Friday getting “treatment” on a sore hip that has him questionable for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.
Clowney will meet the team in Philadelphia and will be a game-time decision, according to Carroll. He didn’t specify the nature or extent of Clowney’s hip injury nor where he was receiving treatment, only saying it was off-site. The injury stems from the Seahawks’ win over the 49ers two weeks ago, which preceded Seattle’s bye.
“Something he felt in the game, came out of the game with a little something,” Carroll said. “Just checking him out, making sure he’s OK.”
Clowney missed practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Seahawks weren’t required to detail player participation in their “bonus Monday” practice.
Clowney has been the Seahawks’ best pass-rusher this season — he’s fifth in the NFL in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate at 26.6% — and arguably their most impactful defender. His dominant performance against the 49ers included a sack, five quarterback hits and his second defensive touchdown of the season.
Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver, is expected to play Sunday after being limited in practice the last three days. He spent two nights at Stanford Hospital as a precautionary measure last week after suffering a lower leg contusion against the 49ers, which sidelined him for overtime.
“At this point it’s not a dangerous injury now,” Carroll said. “He had a real contusion in his lower leg that just needed some time. There was enough time fortunately. We had the week off. I don’t know if he would have made it now if we had played last week. That would have been hard to see that happening. But he’s ready to go now. He’s fine.”
The Seahawks on Friday placed veteran tight end Ed Dickson back on injured reserve, officially ending his season two days after he was activated off IR. The Seahawks had to activate Dickson this week in order to make him eligible to play this season. They promoted Tyrone Swoops from their practice squad while putting Dickson back on IR.
Tight end Luke Willson (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for Sunday, though Carroll came up with his own designation, calling him “probable-doubtful” in reference to Willson’s history of being a quick healer. Jacob Hollister and Swoops are the only healthy tight ends on Seattle’s roster, though backup tackle George Fant also plays a de facto tight end role.
The 32-year-old Dickson will have missed 22 of 32 regular-season games over his first two years with the Seahawks. He’s set to count almost $4.3 million against the cap next season in the final year of his deal.
“Eddy, he’s just not ready and it’s unfortunate and I feel bad for him and all,” Carroll said. “It’s just the right thing to do. He’s not ready to play yet. He was ready to get back to practice. He did that. When we pushed it up, we could tell. So we had to move him back to IR. We had to activate him on Wednesday to make him available. He had a good day’s work and you could tell. I sat with him .. talked through it and he understood. He could tell he doesn’t quite feel as ready as he needs to be.”
49ers set to embark on historically difficult three-game stretch – San Francisco 49ers Blog
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — To say the San Francisco 49ers’ schedule is about to get tougher over the next three weeks would drastically understate what’s coming.
The journey the Niners are about to begin — with games against the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints — could be the most difficult stretch any team has faced this late in the season in the Super Bowl era.
Through Week 11, those teams have combined for a 24-6 record (all three are 8-2), good for a winning percentage of .800. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, no team has played three straight games against teams with an .800 or better winning percentage this late in the season in the Super Bowl era. If the Ravens and Saints can win their games before facing San Francisco, the Niners would be the first team to face such a stretch.
What’s more, only four teams in the Super Bowl era — the 2007 Detroit Lions, 1999 Cleveland Browns, 1990 Washington Redskins and 1990 Minnesota Vikings — have played three such games (not consecutively) in their 11th game or later.
None of those teams entered such a gantlet with as much on the line as these 49ers, who are 9-1 and in control of the NFC playoff picture.
“This is why you play football, for this kind of a stretch,” Niners right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “We have put ourselves in a pretty solid position here, but it means nothing if we don’t get our jobs done over these next few weeks. … We’ve got our work cut out for us but we’ve got the right coaching staff to get us in the game plan, and I believe in this locker room to execute and get the job done.”
For much of this season, the 49ers’ turnaround has been met with raised eyebrows. Even after manhandling teams like the Rams, Panthers and Browns, the Niners’ lack of top-tier victories has left skeptics questioning how good they really are. Suffice it to say, definitive answers are coming soon.
ESPN’s Football Power Index rates the 49ers’ remaining strength of schedule the most difficult in the NFL, with the next three games providing the stiffest of tests. FPI gives the 49ers a 61% chance to beat the Packers on Sunday but those numbers drop to 34% against the Ravens and 40% against the Saints. The latter two are the lowest-percentage chances for wins remaining on San Francisco’s schedule, and a Week 17 trip to Seattle offers the only one lower than the Green Bay game.
It all starts with the Packers traveling to Levi’s Stadium as the Niners look to win the one home game of the three. At a combined 17-3, the combined .850 winning percentage is the best in a game between these historic rivals in the Super Bowl era.
At stake? A spot in the driver’s seat for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. FPI gives the 49ers a 45% chance at the NFC’s top spot with a win and just a 10% shot with a loss. Green Bay would have a 44% chance at the 1 seed with a victory and 4% with a defeat.
None of that includes juicy subplots such as the first meeting between quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo and the offensive battle of Mike Shanahan coaching-tree luminaries Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur.
“It will be another unique battle,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’ll be a play style similar to what we see week in and week out with Kyle and their offense. So we’ll prepare for that. A-Rod is one of the best to ever do it. So it will be a tremendous challenge for us, and we’re excited about it.”
A win against the Packers would go a long way before heading on another weeklong stay on the other side of the country. Like they did earlier this year — when they went to Tampa Bay and Cincinnati with a week in Youngstown, Ohio, in between — the Niners will travel to Baltimore, play the Ravens, travel to Florida for the practice week and then head to New Orleans before returning to the Bay Area.
If the 49ers can pocket a victory against Green Bay, it would mean a split of the two road games would keep them in a prime position for a bye and the top seed, especially if that win came in New Orleans. It would also likely mean losing both games wouldn’t be a death knell to their hopes of advancing directly to the divisional round.
“Week in and week out, you always find out stuff about your team,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You find out about people. There’s lots of football here to play. Each game’s going to be huge, so just trying to take it one week at a time and make sure we don’t look too far down the road because everyone’s in this it seems like right now.”
Ten games into the season, the 49ers have found myriad ways to win. They’ve also shown warts that could come back to haunt them.
Could their problems defending the run cost them against Baltimore’s dynamic rushing attack? How will they hold up in raucous road environments in Baltimore and New Orleans?
Of course, those teams also have to play the Niners, who seem to have a knack for winning in new ways, with a different hero emerging every week. No matter how difficult or dramatic the game, the moment has never seemed too much, even for those 49ers in such big games for the first time.
Can they keep it up against the teams that currently stand as the NFC’s Nos. 2 and 3 seeds (the Packers and Saints, respectively) and the AFC’s No. 2 team (Baltimore)? We’re about to find out.
“I love it,” 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “Every week is a new opportunity. We’ve just got to show everybody what we’re all about.”
Los Angeles Chargers’ Michael Davis suspended 2 games for violating NFL’s substance abuse policy
The Chargers (4-7) are on their bye this week. The suspension will cover road games against Denver (Dec. 1) and Jacksonville (Dec. 8).
Davis, who is in his third season, has started nine games this year and has an interception along with 27 tackles.
General manager Tom Telesco said in a statement that Davis is a good person who made a “significant mistake this past offseason.”
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