LeBron James says there is a sense of urgency that the Los Angeles Lakers need to play better now after slumping to their ninth defeat of the season on Friday.

James returned from an abdominal strain after eight games out but was unable to lift the Lakers who went down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

After 17 games in an 82-game season, the Lakers have an 8-9 record, having lost their past three games and seven of their past 10.

"We damn straight need to play better, no matter who's in the line-up," James said at a post-game news conference. "We have our system and we need to fast-track it and get better with it.

"It's never that we've got 65 games and we can figure it out. There's no level of panic but there should be some sense of urgency every time we hit the floor."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said offensively his side needs to "get committed to playing as a team" while he labelled their rebounding (51-33) against the Celtics as "atrocious".

Russell Westbrook was among a host of new players added during the offseason at the Lakers and James said it was taking time for the side to develop cohesion.

The four-time NBA MVP also said patience was required having only just returned, along with starting forward Talen Horton-Tucker.

"As we continue to log more minutes, I continue to see where we're great at and not so good at," James said. "Things that we can improve on.

"Like I said, it's my first game in two and a half weeks. I believe it's Talen third or fourth game back. We're trying to figure out rotations and who to play when."

The Lakers led by eight points at quarter time and held the most slender advantage at the main break, before a 33-21 third quarter.

Vogel added: "We did not have a good third. We were stuck in mud. [But] it's about the whole game more than the third quarter.

"Our group has got to strike the balance of how we're going to play offensively. That's going to take some time. We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively.

"When we do, like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful. You see the potential of what we can be."

James added that recovery from his first game back would be key to his short-term future as he rebuilds following his abdominal strain. The 36-year-old forward finished with 23 points and six rebounds on his return.

"Physically I felt okay. I know I can trust my body and play," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I wake up. That's the tell-tale sign if I'm moving in the right direction with my injury."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says winning without Stephen Curry was "huge" but offered no update on the two-time MVP's return.

Curry missed Friday's 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons having admitted he was nursing a hip contusion after Thursday's 104-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers where he shot 40 points.

The 33-year-old point guard has been in MVP-like form this season, averaging 29.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.

Curry has shot at 41.9 percent from three-point range and averaging a career-high 5.7 three-point attempts made per game.

Curry was joined by Draymond Green on the sidelines against the Pistons, with Andre Igoudala, Otto Porter, Klay Thompson and James Wiseman already unavailable, yet Golden State claimed the win to move to 14-2.

Guard Jordan Poole top scored in Curry's absence with 32 points including four triples, while center Andrew Wiggins contributed 27 points.

"It is a huge win," Kerr said at the post-game news conference. "To win without Steph, Draymond, Andre, Otto and obviously Klay and James are out, so many guys to come in here and really get contributions from everybody.

"I think we're 6-1 now on the road, it's a great sign. I think we've got guys who know how to step up when they need to.

"Wigs and Jordan, knowing they had to score some points for us tonight and be the focal point offensively, they both stepped up."

The Warriors return home for Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors, although Kerr did not confirm if Curry or Green would play.

"We'll see. We'll see," Kerr said. "We have tomorrow off. The guys who are injured [will] come in and get treatment tomorrow and then we have a five o'clock game, so no shoot-around Sunday.

"We'll see how everyone is doing on Sunday."

LeBron James returned after a fortnight out with an abdominal strain as the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Boston Celtics on Friday.

James, 36, had not played for the Lakers since their 119-117 win over the Houston Rockets on November 1.

The four-time NBA MVP and NBA champion was averaging 24.8, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists across six games this season.

James only played 45 games across the 2020-21 season as the Lakers' title defence ended in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic was ruled out of the Denver Nuggets' side for their game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday with a wrist sprain.

The Serbian center appeared to hurt his wrist in Thursday's 103-89 shock loss to the depleted Philadelphia 76ers.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will miss his side's next two games at a minimum.

Cooper tested positive to COVID-19 and has been definitely ruled out of Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

After that, the Cowboys have a short week with a Thanksgiving Game against the Las Vegas Raiders on the following Thursday, which Cooper will miss as he is unvaccinated.

Under the NFL's COVID-19 protocol, unvaccinated players must spend a mandatory 10 days away from the team if they test positive.

As a result, the earliest Cooper can link up again with the Cowboys is November 29, three days after the Raiders game, putting him in doubt also for the Week 13 game against the New Orleans Saints on December 2 as well.

The wide receiver has caught 44 passes for 583 yards and five touchdowns in nine games this season.

The Cowboys boast a 7-2 record and have the top-ranked offense in the league, led by quarterback Dak Prescott.

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack will miss the rest of the season due to a foot injury requiring surgery next week.

The 30-year-old six-time Pro Bowler sustained the injury in the Bears' Week 3 defeat to the Cleveland Browns but played on for the next four games.

Mack had missed the Bears' past two games – defeats to the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers – and head coach Matt Nagy confirmed he will require season-ending surgery.

"With him, it's been the last several weeks just trying to get right," Nagy told reporters.

"I think we did everything as far as trying to attack it the right way with him, and I know he's put a lot of time and energy in trying to get back and see where things are at. But this is where we're at.

"I know he's frustrated because he's such a competitor. But this is the best thing for him and the best situation to be able to help him out and get it fixed."

Mack joins veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan on injured reserve for the Bears who have a 3-6 record and face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Mack recorded 19 tackles, 6.0 sacks and six tackles-for-loss across seven games this season.

Talor Gooch has returned to form at the RSM Classic and took his place at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend with another low round.

Gooch made a superb start to the new season, finishing in ties for fourth, 11th, fifth and 11th respectively across his first four events.

The American failed to build on another strong start last time out at the Houston Open, but he now has a first PGA Tour victory firmly in his sights at Sea Island Resort.

Gooch had carded an eight-under 64 when playing the Plantation course on Thursday and further improved his position with a five-under 65 at Seaside in round two.

That was enough for a one-stroke lead over John Huh and Sebastian Munoz, the latter having led after shooting 60 to start at Seaside before two bogeys capped his progress on Friday.

The day undoubtedly belonged to Gooch, who sunk the longest putt of his Tour career for an eagle from 66 feet at the seventh.

"It's just comfortable, man. I'm playing well, but I think my game has made a turn for some good stuff in some ways," he said.

"I've been working my butt off for years, but especially the last six, eight months with driving the ball and working my butt off with putting."

The majority of the big names made the cut, with slumping former world number one Jason Day one notable exception, but Louis Oosthuizen – the highest-ranked player at the tournament – is no threat to Gooch.

The South African withdrew before Friday's round due to his latest bout of back pain.

Novak Djokovic has supported the notion of tennis events being pulled from China if Peng Shuai is not found safe.

Doubles grand slam winner Peng is said to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.

The veracity of subsequent messages from Peng – both on email and posted in her name on Weibo – has been questioned.

WTA chairman Steve Simon told the BBC his organisation still had not heard from Peng directly and warned it would have no issue backing out of events in China without proof the player was safe.

WTA icons Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have spoken of their concern for Peng, and men's world number one Djokovic weighed in on Friday, offering his support to Simon's stance.

"I support the statement of WTA as an organisation and also their president absolutely," Djokovic said.

"The whole tennis community needs to back her up and her family, make sure that she's safe and sound because if you would have tournaments on Chinese soil without resolving this situation, it would be a little bit strange.

"I heard that the WTA is willing to pull out from China with all the tournaments unless this is resolved. I support it 100 per cent."

Novak Djokovic made it three wins from three at the ATP Finals as he eased past Cameron Norrie in just over an hour in Turin.

The Serbian had already won the Green Group before this dead rubber but maintained an exceptional level to beat Norrie 6-2 6-1 in the first ever meeting between the two.

It was already confirmed beforehand that Djokovic will face Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Saturday, and he began as he meant to go on here by breaking the Brit in the first game of the match, before doing so again in the fifth as he strolled to the first set in just 28 minutes.

Norrie – who was an injury-replacement for Stefanos Tsitsipas – showed some of the grit and skill that earned him a spot as second replacement for the season-ending tournament but struggled to keep up with the world number one.

Djokovic broke immediately again in the second set, though was forced to save a break point in the next game as his opponent tried to revive the match.

Norrie only managed to get 57 per cent of first serves in, and only won 52 per cent of those, compared to Djokovic who won 81 per cent of his first-serve points.

The 26-year-old was broken again in the fifth game of the second set, before a third break in the seventh secured Djokovic his third straight-sets win in a row at the Finals.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 21/16
Norrie - 9/24

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Djokovic - 5/0
Norrie - 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Djokovic - 5/10
Norrie - 0/1

The Carolina Panthers will start Cam Newton at quarterback against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

Head coach Matt Rhule said earlier in the week that the Panthers were "trending" towards starting Newton.

And he confirmed on Friday that the franchise's first overall pick in 2011, who returned for a second spell last week, would get the start under center in Week 11.

Newton will come up against a Washington team led by Ron Rivera, previously his coach in Carolina.

"He's really done a nice job learning the game plan for this week,'' Rhule said of the QB. "He's worked really hard. He's really a smart player. Really a smart quarterback.''

"The energy is awesome. I don't mean to ever diminish it. I just love the fact that he's on the practice field, he throws his last ball each period, turns and runs a lap and runs back. It's way more to me about the example being set.

"We all understand Cam is a force of nature almost in terms of the things he brings. But I don't want it to be all that people realise. What I see is a true professional that wants to win and puts the time in.''.

Newton made his second debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and had an instant impact, producing two moments that will live long in the memory.

His first touch saw him find the endzone on a two-yard run to give the Panthers the lead, and on his second he connected with Robby Anderson on a two-yard touchdown pass as Carolina cruised to a 34-10 win.

P.J. Walker was the starter at Arizona, and Rhule suggested he will still get some snaps in relief of Newton against Washington as the Panthers look to boost their playoff hopes and move to 6-5.

"We'll have both guys ready," he added. "Game plan wise, we could see a myriad of different things happen.''

 

The Golden State Warriors have ruled Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out of Friday's game at the Detroit Pistons as they rest a number of players.

The Warriors lead the NBA after a stunning 13-2 start, in which Curry and Green have been influential.

Curry is leading the early race for the scoring title with 29.5 points per game, while Green has also started all 15 games.

But that sequence will end with the final stop on a four-game road trip at the Pistons, who are struggling at 4-10 despite having the first overall draft pick in Cade Cunningham.

Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter have also been rested, meaning Golden State will be without four of their eight most-used players in terms of minutes.

Since Green came into the league in 2012-13, the Warriors are 17-27 when both he and Curry are missing.

Klay Thompson is yet to return from consecutive major injuries, and the Warriors are 7-22 when all three of their stalwarts have sat out.

Dallas Goedert has agreed a four-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles, who recently traded star tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals.

The departure of Super Bowl-winning hero Ertz last month cleared the path for Goedert to take up the number one tight end spot for Philadelphia.

And the Eagles have made sure he will be around for his prime after confirming they have reached agreement on a deal that keeps him with the team until 2025.

According to NFL.com, the pact is worth $57million including $35m guaranteed.

Those terms ensure Goedert is the tight end with the third-highest average annual salary in the NFL, behind only George Kittle and Mark Andrews, while it is ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce.

"We're really excited for him," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said on Friday. 

"He's the type of guy that we think the world of. He's a great football player, great on and off the field. 

"Just the type of guy you want to succeed and sign contracts like this and keep in the building."

Goedert, who was drafted in the second-round ahead of the 2018 season, has 29 receptions for 429 yards and two touchdowns in nine games so far this year.

He is averaging 14.8 yards per reception in 2021, which is second only to David Njoku (16.0) among NFL tight ends.

Goedert has remarkably recorded a first down with 75.9 per cent of his catches this year - which is the best rate at his position - and he ranks fourth with 6.8 yards after the catch.

The Eagles are at home against the 5-4 New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Having won two of their last three games to reach 4-6, they remain in contention for a Wild Card place in the NFC.

Kevin Durant will be absent for the first time this season when the Brooklyn Nets welcome the Orlando Magic on Friday.

The superstar forward leads the NBA with 457 points this year, albeit now just behind Stephen Curry (29.5 points per game) in the early stages of the race for the scoring title (28.6 points per game).

Durant's MVP-calibre form has helped the Nets make an 11-5 start. Only in 2020-21 has the two-time champion previously scored more points through his first 16 games of a season (495).

But Durant will be out of the lineup for Brooklyn's next game after appearing on Friday's injury report due to a shoulder sprain.

The Magic game will bring to an end a run of 36 consecutive starts for Durant across the regular season and playoffs, having put behind him the Achilles injury he had upon arriving as a free agent in 2019.

Since his signing, the Nets are 41-22 with Durant playing some part and 60-53 when he is absent.

Rory McIlroy surrendered a two-shot lead at the DP World Tour Championship, with Shane Lowry one of those to rein him in as Collin Morikawa kept himself at the top of the Race to Dubai standings.

Three-time Race to Dubai winner McIlroy carded a brilliant 65 on Thursday, but he found the water on the last and his double bogey meant he recorded a two-under par 70, giving up the lead heading into the weekend at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the process.

Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, overtook McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65, with American John Catlin left to lament a bogey on the third that ultimately cost him the lead. The duo are joined on 10 under by Sam Horsfield, who followed up Thursday's 68 by going around in 66.

Horsfield had to recover from dropping shots on the 16th and 17th, with a thumping, 369-yard drive setting him up nicely to birdie on the last and take a share of the lead.

"It's two more days left and then the end of a long year-and-a-half, I suppose, long couple of years," said Lowry. 

"I'm looking forward to giving everything and leaving it on the course this weekend and hopefully I'm there near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon."

Meanwhile, history hunting Morikawa kept himself in contention with a second straight score of 68 and sits level on eight-under with Martin Kaymer, one shot adrift of McIlroy and Alexander Bjork, whose sole victory on the European Tour came at the 2018 China Open.

The American currently holds the lead in the Race to Dubai by three shots. If he can hold onto his advantage, he will be the first American to be crowned European Tour champion.

In Morikawa's opinion, however, the best form of defence is attack, as he looks to seal his place in the record books by clinching victory in the United Arab Emirates.

"I'm aware but I've got to focus on the weekend," The Open winner said. "I want to win this tournament. That's all I care about, winning this tournament and everything else will kind of settle itself. 

"That's my focus. We've played a decent two days and we've got two more rounds to go."

Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Tour in 2017, endured a frustrating day as he went round level par, leaving him tied with six others, including Ian Poulter, on two under.

Casper Ruud revealed his approach was to "fight fire with fire" in his huge win over Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals and is already relishing getting a shot at Daniil Medvedev.

The Norwegian has enjoyed a fine 2021, winning five ATP Tour titles, and has now moved into the semi-finals in Turin on his debut appearance at the prestigious year-ending event.

Ruud appeared to be on the way out when he was trailing by a set and a break against Rublev, having lost all four of the previous meetings between the pair.

But he fought back to win 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) on Friday and extend his impressive season by at least one more match.

"The court is playing very fast and Andrey plays very fast," said Ruud, who triumphed despite only winning 98 of the 208 points played in an intense battle where his Russian opponent also impressed.

"He rips the ball harder than anyone on the tour and serves very well on his first serve. 

"We all want to play under control and with initiative, but it is not easy against Rublev because he makes you run and play defensively all the time. 

"I knew I had to fight fire with fire. 

"On the big points, I think I played quite smartly."

Aside from Ruud, the other three semi-finalists (Medvedev, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev) are all former ATP Finals winners, making this event the first since 1994 where that has happened.

US Open champion Medvedev represents a daunting challenge in the last four for Ruud, who bounced back from an opening Green Group loss to Djokovic by beating alternate Cameron Norrie before his high-quality winner-takes-all clash with Rublev.

"I am looking forward to Saturday already – it is going to be another tough battle," said the 22-year-old after firing down 14 aces in his victory.

"Medvedev is a different kind of player to Rublev. He is one of the best in the world, and he has proven himself as one of the best over the past two or three years. 

"I have played against him a couple of times and lost both, but I know a little bit about what I am going to face, and it is going to be a fun challenge.

"I am just enjoying the moment."

Two of the last three players to reach the last four on debut at the ATP Finals have gone on to win the tournament, Grigor Dimitrov (2017) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (2019).

Ruud will dream of replicating that duo, but Rublev must come to terms with a second consecutive group-stage exit in the ATP Finals.

"It is tough," Rublev said. "Hopefully I can get through it to get a good lesson, which will give me a huge improvement.

"In the moment, I got tight, which is normal. Casper played well. He has a great forehand – one of the best on tour."

Nick Chubb has been activated off the COVID-19/reserve list ahead of the Cleveland Browns' Week 11 game at home to the winless Detroit Lions.

Chubb missed the Browns' defeat to the New England Patriots last week after testing positive for coronavirus.

The two-time Pro Bowler has played just seven games this year, having also missed two weeks with a calf injury. Cleveland are 4-3 with their star running back and 1-2 without him.

Indeed, the Browns' numbers across the board without Chubb are a concern, making his a timely return.

Their points per game have fallen from 27.6 to 12.7 in his absence, while both their rushing yards per game (169.6 to 118.0) and yards per carry (5.37 to 4.92) also unsurprisingly drop.

Cleveland's 217 net yards against the Patriots were their fewest in any game since Kevin Stefanski became head coach prior to last season. 

Fellow backs Demetric Felton and John Kelly were likewise placed on the COVID list before that loss, while Kareem Hunt remains injured, going some way to explaining why the Browns have rushed on 50.6 per cent of plays with Chubb in the team but just 40.0 per cent without.

Rookie backup Felton was also activated ahead of taking on the Lions.

Chubb leads NFL RBs this year for yards per carry (6.01), trailing only Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (6.03) among all players.

Despite his various absences, Chubb is third for rushing yards in 2021 (721), behind Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor (both 937).

Chubb's six rushing touchdowns are tied for his most through seven games, while only in his career year in 2019 did he have marginally more rushing yards at this stage (738).

However, the Lions are 16-4 all-time against the Browns, and their rush defense (4.36 yards per play, ranked 18th) has been far more effective than their miserable pass defense (7.68 yards per play, ranked 32nd).

Casper Ruud came from behind to defeat Andrey Rublev and reach the last four of the ATP Finals on his debut appearance at the event.

The Norwegian will play defending champion Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals after a gruelling 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) victory over Rublev in Turin on Friday that lasted two hours and 26 minutes.

Ruud had lost all four of his previous meetings with Rublev, who promptly moved ahead by comfortably winning his ninth straight set in this head-to-head.

Rublev then looked poised for victory when he struck first in the second set but Ruud, who hit 39 winners, fought back with two breaks of his own to force the decider in a high-quality contest.

The 22-year-old again bounced back from being broken in the third set and ultimately prevailed in a tense tie-break, producing a big serve when it mattered most with his second match point.

Ruud therefore finishes second to Novak Djokovic in the Green Group, with Rublev exiting at the round-robin stage for a second straight year after narrowly losing the winner-takes-all clash.

With Alexander Zverev also through, this is the first time since 1994 that three of the four semi-finalists are former champions – with Ruud the exception.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Rublev - 33/22
Ruud - 39/31

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Rublev - 14/3
​Ruud - 14/3

BREAK POINTS WON 

Rublev - 4/11
​Ruud - 3/5

Mercedes have failed with an appeal over an incident involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last weekend.

Verstappen forced Formula One title rival Hamilton off the track in Brazil last week in defending his position at the front of the race.

The race stewards "noted" the incident while the race was ongoing, but did not see any reason to penalise Red Bull's championship leader.

Hamilton went on to win the race, reducing the Dutchman's lead to 14 points with three races to go.

The Silver Arrows on Tuesday revealed they had asked for the stewards to take another look at the incident on the basis of "new evidence" from onboard camera footage.

It was confirmed on Friday Verstappen will not face any punishment after the stewards rejected the appeal.

The stewards explained: "There will always be some angles of video footage, because of limits in both technology and bandwidth, that are unavailable at the time.

"Whether or not stewards' decisions are considered to be right or wrong, and just as with referees' decisions in soccer, it does not seem desirable to be able to review any or all such in‐race discretionary decisions up to two weeks after the fact and the stewards therefore seriously doubt that the intent of the Right of Review in the ISC [International Sporting Code] is to enable competitors to seek a review of such discretionary decisions that do not follow on from a formal inquiry by the stewards and do not result in a published document."

Although the stewards agreed Mercedes had provided new and relevant evidence, they disagreed that it was "significant" in this case.

Their statement said: "The stewards often must make a decision quickly and on a limited set of information. At the time of the decision, the stewards felt they had sufficient information to make a decision, which subsequently broadly aligned with the immediate post‐race comments of both drivers involved.

"Had they felt that the forward‐facing camera video from Car 33 [Verstappen] was crucial in order to take a decision, they would simply have placed the incident under investigation – to be investigated after the race – and rendered a decision after this video was available. They saw no need to do so."

Both Verstappen and Hamilton were the subject of stewards' enquiries in Brazil, the latter handed his second penalty of the week due to a DRS issue.

The verdict was announced after Verstappen was fastest in the first practice session at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Will the NFL return to some form of normality this week? Maybe... or maybe not.

Even in this season of shock results without any clear Super Bowl favourite, Week 10 stood out for its sheer number of upsets.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were stunned by the Washington Football Team, the Miami Dolphins overturned the Baltimore Ravens and the short-handed league-leading Arizona Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers.

When the San Francisco 49ers then beat NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams in Monday Night Football, it became the first week in NFL history in which four teams had won by double-digits having entered the week at least four wins behind their opponents.

Week 11 looks no easier to call, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups before even considering the potential for further setbacks for some favourites.

Dallas Cowboys (7-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

With Patrick Mahomes back on form, two of the best teams in the NFL should be set for a titanic tussle at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Mahomes, setting aside his shaky displays to that point, threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have two games of 400-plus passing yards, five-plus TD passes and no picks in his career.

The 41-14 win represented the league-leading 10th time the Chiefs have scored 40 points in a game since the start of the 2018 season, yet they were topped by the Cowboys, whose 43-3 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons was their biggest since a 48-7 victory over Arizona in 2000.

The Cowboys have gone 5-2-1 all-time previously in games following a win of at least 40 points (including playoffs), but this was an unprecedented success. The team's 29 points in the second quarter in Week 10 were their most in a single quarter of any game in their history.

Indianapolis Colts (5-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Neither the Chiefs nor the Cowboys can match the Bills' average winning margin of 26.3 points this year. That is the highest mark in the NFL, having been boosted by last week's 45-17 victory over the New York Jets, their NFL-leading sixth win by 15 or more points.

The Cowboys are ahead of the Bills in points per game, but Buffalo have given up the fewest points per game. The last team to lead on both offense and defense in this regard were the 2005 Colts.

The achievements of this year's Colts team have been rather more modest. Their five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 13-34 (.261).

Still, Jonathan Taylor has excelled, scoring a rushing touchdown in seven straight games – the last NFL player to reach eight was DeAngelo Williams in 2008. In fact, there is rushing talent on both sides of the ball, with the Bills last week having four different players score rushing TDs for the first time in team history.

Arizona Cardinals (8-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

Another week, another big NFC West game. The Cardinals' form has tailed away a little since Kyler Murray's injury, but they are still unbeaten on the road and looking to start 6-0 away from home for only the second time in franchise history.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have their starting QB back, but Russell Wilson did little to help their offense against the Green Bay Packers. He was shut out for the first time in his NFL career in his 166th start (including playoffs).

Seattle's problems on that side of the ball did not end there, though. They were held to under 100 rushing yards for a third consecutive game for the first time since the end of the 2016 season, while only twice in the 21st century have they seen such a streak extended to four games.

Whether or not the Seahawks recover this week, history suggests they are likely to be able to stick with the Cardinals. Six of the past 10 meetings between the teams have been decided by three points or fewer.

Elsewhere...

Cam Newton's Panthers face Ron Rivera's Washington, their first meeting since both left Carolina (Newton returned last week). This is the third time since 2010 a former MVP QB has faced the coach he won his award with, following Peyton Manning versus Jim Caldwell in 2015 and Tom Brady against Bill Belichick earlier this season.

The 49ers are now 4-1 when Jimmy Garoppolo's passer rating is above 100.0 this year (141.7 vs. the Rams) and 0-3 when it is not. He was helped last week by a season-high 156 rushing yards, keeping San Francisco's offense on the ball for just over 39 minutes. They should expect more of the same against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have failed to force a turnover in six games this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals need both of their former LSU stars to rediscover some form at the Raiders. Joe Burrow has thrown an interception in five straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL, while Ja'Marr Chase – surely not helped by his QB's struggles – has fallen short of 50 receiving yards in consecutive games after making that mark in his first seven appearances.

The Detroit Lions will hope to learn from next opponents the Cleveland Browns, who have returned to contention since in 2018 becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to end a losing streak of 10-plus games with a tie. Last week, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions became the second.

Two weeks after scoring what may have been the NHL's goal of the season, Connor McDavid turned in a near replica on Thursday. 

Just 28 seconds after the Winnipeg Jets had taken the lead with the first goal of the game, the Edmonton Oilers' captain weaved through the Jets defence before flicking a shot past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for the game-tying goal with 5:35 to play in the third period. 

That tally was enough to send the game to overtime at 1-1, and Edmonton eventually prevailed in the shoot-out as McDavid put another shot past the man who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top net-minder two seasons ago. 

Afterward, the Oilers were left to try and describe something that even players at the highest level of the sport could not quite wrap their minds around. 

"It's surreal, right?" said centre Kyle Turris, who put home the clinching shot in the shoot-out. "It's the NHL -- everybody's a good player. I mean, you don't see that happen.

"He's just so fast and so quick in his movements and for him to pull things off like that in key, clutch times, that's what makes him the best in the world.

"It's a lot of fun to watch and you know it's always a possibility. So you're surprised but you're also not surprised because we see it everyday practice, too."

The rest of the world also saw it November 5 against the New York Rangers in an eerily similar situation, McDavid darting through the defence like a ghost to score the game-tying goal before Edmonton prevailed in overtime. 

"He scores big goals in big times in the game and takes the game into his own hands. Not many people can do that," said Oilers winger Zach Hyman. "And it's great to score crazy goals like that, but I think it's more impressive to score them in the timely manner that he's been doing it to give our team a chance to win. Special player, obviously."

Special is one word. Team-mate Cody Ceci went with "phenomenal", while Turris called it "magic".

McDavid's 11th goal this season gave him a point in all 16 games as the Oilers sit atop the Western Conference with a 12-4-0 record. 

"He can make something out of nothing," said Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett. "He's going through there and he's coming with such speed, and his agility is unbelievable. He's just hard to defend and if he can get a step on a guy he can get himself free and that's what he did today."

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