When the Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed contract back in 2018, they believed they were landing a quarterback who put them over the top and could help them deliver a first Super Bowl title.

What they actually acquired, however, was perhaps the league's ultimate enigma at quarterback.

Nobody could look at Cousins' raw numbers and deem him a bad quarterback. Yet throughout his career both with the Vikings and beforehand in Washington, he is a player who has continued to confound, most notably with an apparent inability to deliver in 'clutch' situations with the game on the line.

Cousins' time as a pro was arguably encapsulated by his showing in Week 12. In the most important game of a season in which he has the best touchdown to interception ratio in the NFL, Cousins came up dismally small, a series of poor throws and a turnover dooming the Vikings to defeat against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Vikings are not without their problems in other areas. However, with the weapons around Cousins, theirs is an infrastructure seemingly conducive to quarterback success.

In terms of his statistics, Cousins has largely succeeded in 2021. Yet baffling performances like the one that dropped the Vikings to 5-6 last week only serve to give rise to the debate around Cousins and whether he is holding his team back.

Cousins' San Francisco slump

Already over 3,000 yards passing with six games still to play, with 23 touchdowns and a career-low three interceptions to his name, statistically the 2021 campaign ranks among Cousins' finest seasons.

Delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 80.8 per cent of his pass attempts, above the league average of 78.4, and throwing a pickable pass on 10 out of his 385 attempts, Stats Perform's advanced metrics also reflect well on Cousins.

But it is that apparent season-long consistency that makes displays like his showing against San Francisco all the more bemusing.

Cousins has done an excellent job of taking care of the football this season, yet his third interception of the year came in the third quarter against the Niners as he somehow failed to spot linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair crowding his throwing lane on an attempted pass to Adam Thielen. As far as failures to correctly read the field go, that was as bad as it gets.

That interception set the Niners up to take a 28-14 lead, a gap the Vikings were unable to bridge in large part because of inaccurate throws by Cousins.

He led the Vikings on a touchdown drive on the next series only to then miss a wide-open Justin Jefferson on a two-point conversion try with a low throw.

Jefferson was the target on a fourth-down throw in the fourth quarter that sailed well over his head, that play coming after Minnesota burned a timeout due to Cousins lining up behind the right guard instead of the center.

Cousins is not the first quarterback to accidentally line up in the wrong spot in the heat of the moment, but such a gaffe gives the impression of a signal-caller ill-equipped to deliver when the pressure is at its highest.

And, given the performance of the surrounding weapons, it is no wonder Jefferson was left throwing his arms up in disbelief at some of Cousins' misses.

Stacked supporting cast

Any thought of Jefferson taking a step back after a historic 2020 season that saw him break the rookie record for receiving yards has been put to bed.

Jefferson is on pace to surpass his tally of 1,400 yards from last year and, among wide receivers with at least 25 targets, he ranks seventh in burn percentage, which measures the rate at which a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, while he is 11th with a big play rate of 39 per cent.

Thielen, who had a pair of touchdowns against San Francisco, has also excelled at creating big plays, doing so on 34.6 per cent of his targets.

With K.J. Osborn emerging as a legitimate third receiving option and Tyler Conklin enjoying a career year at tight end, Cousins possesses one of the best groups of pass-catchers in the NFL and is supported by a run game that has produced 37 runs of 10 yards or more, the 12th-most in the league.

The potential absence of Dalvin Cook with a shoulder injury may reduce the assistance Cousins gets from the ground attack, but he is certainly in no position to complain about a stacked supporting cast, though he may be frustrated by a lack of help from other areas.

The Vikings' fatal flaw

Cousins' sack numbers have drastically improved this season. After taking 39 sacks last year, he has suffered only 15 across 11 games in 2021, pointing to an improvement on the offensive line.

Yet a deeper assessment at the O-Line's performance suggests there may be a hint of fortune about the Vikings' success in preventing sacks.

Indeed, Cousins has attempted 136 passes under pressure, second only to Matt Ryan (145), while the Vikings rank a lowly 28th in pass protection win rate.

More often than not, the Vikings are losing the battle in the trenches, and that is the case on the defensive side of the ball, too.

Continually bullied off the ball by the 49ers' superb rushing attack, the Vikings gave up 208 yards on the ground at an average of 5.3 yards per attempt.

Though San Francisco's run game has dominated several teams this season, the Vikings' inability to stop them was in keeping with a theme of their season.

They rank 26th in opponent yards per play allowed with 5.87 and are giving up 4.83 yards per rush, the most in the NFL. In Stats Perform's rush yards under expected allowed, the Vikings are also 26th.

Minnesota's severe underperformance in containing opposing run games has a two-pronged effect. It has contributed to a defensive effort that has the Vikings giving up 25.1 points per game - with only eight teams conceding more - and allowed opponents to control the clock as the 49ers did last Sunday.

Cousins' inability to make the key throws and that dismal interception undoubtedly played a critical role in Minnesota coming up short in Week 12, but the massive disadvantage in time of possession that resulted from San Francisco's run game dominance, along with a fumble from Cook as he suffered his injury, limited opportunities for the passing game to turn things around.

That a quarterback of Cousins' experience and undoubted talents continues to throw in these sporadic head-scratching showings is a legitimate problem for the Vikings. However, they are too infrequent for him to be considered as holding Minnesota back.

The reality is that, between the amount of points they are giving up and Minnesota's ineffectiveness against the run, the Vikings - for all their strengths on offense - aren't in a position to survive Cousins' off days.

The Los Angeles Chargers approached the 2021 season viewed by most as much more likely to make the leap and become contenders in the AFC than the Cincinnati Bengals.

But as the Chargers and the Bengals prepare to do battle in a matchup that will be critical to deciding the final AFC playoff picture, Cincinnati are the team in a better position to mount a deep postseason run.

The Bengals sent a message in Week 12 with a 41-10 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers that moved Cincinnati to 7-4, giving them their first sweep of that AFC North rival since 2009 and ensuring they ended the weekend only a game behind the AFC's current number one seed the Baltimore Ravens.

Los Angeles go into Week 13 only a game out of their division lead, but with a 6-5 record and coming off a disheartening road loss to the Denver Broncos.

Last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert threw the ball 44 times against Denver, his second-highest mark of the season having attempted 47 passes versus the Washington Football Team in Week 1.

Yet the depth of those passes should encourage a Bengals defense that has greatly improved in 2021.

Herbert averaged only 7.11 air yards per attempt last week, per Stats Perform data, below the league average for Week 12 of 7.93.

External frustration is mounting at the apparent shackling of Herbert by his own offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the explosive plays that defined his superb rookie season significantly reduced this term.

Herbert was tied seventh in the NFL last season with 32 pass plays or 25 yards or more in 15 games. Through 11 games this season, he has just 16.

While the Bengals are in the top half in the NFL by yards per game allowed, ranking 13th with 348.2, they have proven susceptible to the big play.

The Bengals have given up 47 passing plays of 20 yards or more, the seventh-most in the league, and it would surely be a great relief to their defense to see the Chargers stick with a conservative passing game and miss a chance to take advantage of a weakness for Cincinnati.

After Joe Mixon gashed the Steelers for a career-high 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, the Bengals likely won't hesitate to use the ground game to capitalise on a clear defensive deficiency for the Chargers.

The Chargers have given up the most rush yards (1,598) in the NFL in 2021 while their rush average allowed of 4.69 yards per carry is the league's fourth-worst.

Should the Bengals enjoy similar success on Sunday, that will take a great amount of pressure off 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow as he bids to pick apart a defense that is not living up to Chargers head coach Brandon Staley's reputation.

Herbert looked to have surpassed Burrow as the premier quarterback from the 2020 draft class and most would argue he is still the cream of that particular crop.

Yet if the Chargers cannot minimise their struggles on run defense and find a way to open up the passing game against a Bengals defense evidently vulnerable to explosive plays, Burrow could take a significant step towards starting his playoff career before Herbert. 

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is hopeful of returning to the sideline sooner rather than later after testing positive for COVID-19.

McCarthy watched Thursday's 27-17 win over the New Orleans Saints while isolating in a hotel room in Frisco following his positive test.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn filled in to lead the side to victory over the Saints but McCarthy admitted he found it hard to watch and was eager to return.

"I’m hopeful to be in there sooner than later," McCarthy told the team website.

He added: "It was brutal just not to be a part of it. I just hope there’s no one next door, that’s for sure. That’d probably be a good story.

"But I think the emotion of it is like any true fan, I would assume. You’re rooting for your team. You’re rooting for your guys."

The Cowboys are not in action against until Sunday December 12 against the Washington Football Team, with McCarthy needing to test negative twice at least 24 hours apart to be permitted to return.

McCarthy praised Quinn and the coaching staff who filled in in his absence.

“I thought the staff did an incredible job under the leadership of Dan Quinn and [assistant head coach] Rob Davis," McCarthy said. “It’s all about the communication and the urgency of keeping your pace of operation intact.

"That’s the way we train, and that’s the way you want to ultimately play when you get to the game. I thought the dots definitely connected. Just very impressed and very thankful for the job the staff did."

The return of Kyler Murray will be a game-time decision according to Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury who reiterated they will be cautious with their quarterback.

Murray has not played since sustaining a left ankle sprain in the Week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers but is closing in on a return to full fitness and availability.

The Cardinals take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday holding a 9-2 record and top spot in the NFC West.

Arizona's winning record has enabled them to maintain a cautious approach for Murray's return, with his absence entering its sixth week.

"There's obviously some cat-and-mouse in this sport, but I mean, with a player like him, the position we're in, we were going to be overly cautious this entire time," Kingsbury told reporters on Friday.

"We still are and so we want to make sure when we get him back, he's playing at a high level, and he can't re-injure it to a point that we lose him for a substantial amount of time."

Kingsbury is also cognisant of the last season's tailspin after starting the season 5-2 before finishing 3-6 with injuries taking their toll and missing the postseason.

"I just think we want to finish the right way this season and we didn't last year," Kingsbury added. "So, we're just trying to be smart about it."

Meanwhile, Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields will miss the game despite making progress in his return from broken ribs.

"Justin's making good progress, [he's] just not there yet medically for the clearance," Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters.

Fields, who practised on a limited basis three times this week, will be absent for a second consecutive game with Andy Dalton to start again as QB for the 4-7 Bears.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay says he would be "surprised" if Odell Beckham Jr's hip issue impacts his availability for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Beckham has been listed by the Rams as "questionable" for the game, with the hip complaint impacting his ability to practice during the week.

The 29-year-old wide receiver was a limited participant at Wednesday's session while he missed Thursday's practice completely.

McVay told reporters on Friday that he would be "surprised" if Beckham did not play when pressed on the issue. Beckham added that he expected to play.

"I’ll be alright," Beckham told reporters. "I’ve been through worse."

The Rams have lost their past three games against top contenders, the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, slipping to a 7-4 record and second in the NFC West.

Beckham joined the Rams on a one-year deal last month after agreeing a release from the Cleveland Browns.

The three-time Pro Bowler has suited up twice for the Rams since his switch, with seven receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says "nothing has been decided" about the future of suspended pair Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards.

The Bucs duo were banned without pay for three games each for violating the NFL's COVID-19 protocols after misrepresenting their vaccination statuses, along with free agent John Franklin III.

Arians had said when Brown joined the franchise in October last year that if he "screws up one time, he's gone" after a dotted off-field history.

However, the Bucs have not made any decisions on his future following his latest misdemeanour.

“It pisses me off,” Arians said, via JoeBucsFan.com.

When speaking at a Friday news conference, Arians added: "Obviously we have two guys suspended. The league did their due diligence and we move on.

"I will not address those guys for the next three weeks. They'll just be working out and we'll address their future at that time. Other than that, there's really nothing to say."

Brown's former personal chef claimed last month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card during the offseason.

When pressed further on Brown and Edwards' futures, Arians said: "Nothing's been decided, no."

Wide receiver Brown had been expected to miss Tampa Bay's next two games due to an ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 7. Brown has 29 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this NFL season.

The Los Angeles Chargers' ability to challenge for the NFC West will be put to the test when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. 

Los Angeles have won three straight games since a defeat to the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals and can ill afford a slip-up against a Bengals side that are challenging in the AFC North. 

The Kansas City Chiefs have finally hit their stride but face a tough test when the Denver Broncos visit Arrowhead Stadium, while Monday sees a battle for supremacy in the AFC East between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. 

We've run down some of the standout stats from the biggest games in Week 13. 

 

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) 

The Bengals will be hopeful of avenging their 16-13 loss to the Chargers in Week 1 – their second straight defeat to Los Angeles. However, Cincinnati won their four other meetings since the 2010 season and are riding high after a resounding 41-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last time out. 

It was only the third time the Bengals beat the Steelers by 30 points or more, with the last occurrence being all the way back in September 1989. 

An early kick-off on the east coast will be tough for the Chargers to navigate, particularly after a 28-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12. They had three rushing first downs against the Broncos, making it the fourth game in which they have had that many or fewer this season – the third most in the NFL. 

They may continue to rely on quarterback Justin Herbert to help them get points on the board. His 438 passing attempts this season places him third in the NFL, behind only Tom Brady (457) and Patrick Mahomes (449). 

The Chargers defense will need to keep a close watch on Joe Mixon, though. The running back had a career-high 165 rushing yards and 11 first downs in Week 12. 

Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)  

Not only have the Chiefs won four straight after a 3-4 start, but they've also come out on top in 11 straight meetings with the Broncos – a run that stretches back to Week 10 of 2015. One more victory will make it the longest winning streak against a single opponent in the team's history. 

The game will have big implications on the playoff hopes of both sides, while the Broncos could move off the bottom of the AFC West and replace the Chiefs at the summit with a victory. 

Kansas City will hope Mahomes can restore the levels of production seen previously. He did not have a rushing or throwing touchdown in the 19-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys last time out, his second such game in his past five outings. In the 51 games before this run, he had a TD in 50 of them. 

He has still led an offense that has had 30 drives with 10 or more plays this season – the most in the NFL. Though the Chiefs' ability to get the ball out of their opponents' hands (they have allowed the fifth fewest drives with 10 or more plays this season) could be counteracted by Teddy Bridgewater's excellence under pressure. 

Bridgewater has a league-best completion percentage (77.6) to go with seven TD passes and no interceptions when facing the blitz this season. 

New England Patriots (8-4) at Buffalo Bills (7-4) 

The Bills dethroned the Pats in the AFC East in 2020 and could do with a home win to boost their chances of retaining the crown this year. 

New England fell to a 24-21 loss to the Bills on their last trip to Buffalo but are 15-2 across their previous 17 visits. They are also head into Monday's matchup on the back of a six-game winning streak. 

The game appears set to be played in frigid conditions and some stingy defenses may make for tepid action too – the Bills (182) and Patriots (190) are ranked first and second respectively for fewest points allowed this season. The Bills have allowed just 182 points while the Patriots have given up 190. 

Mac Jones threw for a career-high 310 yards in last week's win against the Tennessee Titans, but Buffalo made it 21 straight games in which they have had at least 300 yards of offense when the defeated the New Orleans Saints 31-6 on Thanksgiving. 

Stefon Diggs has been key for the Bills. He had 74 receiving yards against the Saints – his ninth game with at least 60 this season, behind only Cooper Kupp (11) and Justin Jefferson (10). 

Elsewhere... 

The Cardinals (9-2) are up against the Chicago Bears (4-7) at Soldier Field on their return from their bye week. The road team has won each of the last five meetings between these teams dating back to Chicago’s 20-point comeback on Monday Night Football in Arizona in Week 6, 2006. 

The New York Giants (4-7) will be hoping to stop the Miami Dolphins (5-7) make it five wins on the bounce. The Dolphins are the only team in the NFL this season to have had both a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak. 

Tom Brady leads the league in passing attempts (457), completions (309) and touchdowns (30) this season and will be hoping to steer the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) to victory at the Atlanta Falcons (5-6) 

The Seahawks (3-8) have lost eight games in a season for the first time since 2011, ending a franchise-record run of nine years with seven or fewer losses. However, they will no doubt be up for a grudge match against the San Francisco 49ers (6-5). 

Stand-in head coach Dan Quinn was delighted with the effort of the Dallas Cowboys as they ended their run of back-to-back defeats with a 27-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The former Atlanta Falcons head coach is now defensive coordinator at the Cowboys, but was asked to fill in for head coach Mike McCarthy after he was forced to stay at home due to COVID-19.

The victory at the Caesers Superdome follows a Week 11 defeat at the Kansas City Chiefs and an overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders last time out. 

The Cowboys now move to 8-4, comfortably ahead of the Washington Football Team (5-6) at the top of the NFC East.

"Make no mistake, we were not pleased with our last performance [against the Raiders]," Quinn told reporters after the game. "So we needed to make sure we came back and played like we were capable of and it was cool to see the guys fight and battle for it.

"We knew going in tonight was going to be a fight, and this was going to be a battle, and it certainly was.

"We were coming in ready to make sure we were ready to get it on with physicality and aggression, if it took all night or longer into overtime, we were ready to go however long it took."

Quinn praised the leadership within the team, making particular mention of quarterback Dak Prescott, who completed 26 of 40 attempts for 237 yards, including a touchdown pass to Malcolm Gallup in the opening quarter.

"We've got some excellent leaders. If you guys could hear the way Dak talks before the game to the team, it's one of the most impressive things that I've been a part of. The commitment, the leadership, these guys battling for one another, you can tell they've got a unique brotherhood that ties them together."

McCarthy watched from home, but told ESPN via phone following the win: "It was rough, I'm not going to lie. I'm proud of the guys and how it all turned out, but I don't ever want to do this again.

"Adversity win, ugly win, however, you want to define it, you have to have these wins, especially when you get to later in the year when you're playing teams that are trying to get in the playoffs or make a run.

"This is a great experience for us. Let's face it, this is today's NFL. You've got to be able to win with change."

The Dallas Cowboys ended their run of back-to-back defeats, returning to winning ways with a 27-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.

Dallas were never headed on Thursday after Dak Prescott – who completed 26 of 40 attempts for 237 yards – found Malcolm Gallup for an opening-quarter touchdown, managing four interceptions in a game for the first time in almost 11 years.

The Cowboys, who improved to 8-4 for the season, now have 16 interceptions this campaign – the equal-second most in the NFL in 2021 alongside the Buffalo Bills – after Saints quarterback Taysom Hill ended the contest with four interceptions on 19-of-41 passing for 264 yards and two TDs.

Dallas claimed the lead in the first period after CeeDee Lamb's run, star quarterback Prescott finding Gallup with a great grab in the corner.

New Orleans responded in the second period when Hill, who was troubled by an early hand niggle, found Lil'Jordan Humphrey for a 24-yard touchdown.

Dallas took a six-point lead into half-time courtesy of back-to-back Greg Zuerlein field goals and a tremendous Jayron Kearse interception.

Kicker Brett Maher closed the gap in the third quarter, before Tony Pollard's sensational 58-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown with Marcus Williams unable to close him down.

Hill's tough night was capped in the fourth period when he threw a pick-six to Cowboys defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.

Deonte Harris broke two tackles to score a spectacular late 70-yard consolation TD, but the Saints (5-7) fell to a fifth consecutive defeat – the franchise's longest single-season losing run since 2005.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers seven-time Pro Bowler Antonio Brown is one of three players suspended for three games for violating NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.

The Buccaneers wide receiver along with team-mate Mike Edwards and free agent John Franklin III, if signed by a club, have each been suspended without pay for the next three games.

The NFL said in a statement that all three players had accepted their sanctions and waived their right of appeal. All three have since been vaccinated.

The NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement: "The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic.

"The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL."

Brown's former personal chef claimed last month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card during the offseason.

The wide receiver had been expected to miss Tampa Bay's next two games due to an ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 7.

Brown has 29 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this NFL season.

Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers says the Green Bay Packers have defied expectations amid more injuries than ever, meaning their 9-3 record "feels pretty good".

The Packers are top in the NFC North ahead of their Week 13 bye where Rodgers, who has thrown 2,878 yards for 23 touchdowns this season, will get the chance to rest a niggling toe issue.

Green Bay's impressive run has come amid injury issues to cornerback Jaire Alexander, center Josh Myers, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, while star wide receiver Davante Adams tested positive to COVID-19 last month.

"I think we've been dealing with as many injuries as we've had throughout the years," Rodgers said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee show. "A lot of important players, starters on IR, no chance to return and some with a chance.

"Bakhtiari obviously had an opportunity, not sure when that will do. Jaire, hoping him. Za'Darius who knows? Josh Myers up in the air.

"There's a lot of those and then you have the weekly injuries we've had with Kevin King and Aaron Jones. [The bye] definitely comes at a good time.

"For us to be 9-3, not many people expected that looking at our schedule and what we've dealt with this year with Davante being out with COVID and all the injuries up front and on the defensive side of the ball, that feels pretty good."

Rodgers has been in the thick of the news, with his immunisation revelation before testing positive to COVID-19, along with his tongue-in-cheek remark about "COVID toe", all the while his side have claimed good wins against the likes of the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

"It hasn’t been a quiet 12 weeks," he added. "I'm very happy with where we're at. Very happy to have gotten off to the star that we've gotten off to. Happy we've faced some adversity and we're moving through it and close to the other side of it."

The Packers defeated the Rams 36-28 on Sunday, with Rodgers throwing two touchdown passes, as well as completing one rushing TD.

Adams, who has five touchdowns for the season including two in Week 11 in the 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, had eight receptions against the Rams for 104 yards but no touchdowns.

"He has a lot of freedom which he should because he has such a great release pattern and he's such a smart guy," Rodgers said about Adams. "It's not like he's going outside the schematic things but he's making decisions that might not be the expected paper decisions, when you’re looking at it on paper.

"There's paper routes and there's do-whatever-you-want routes for Davante. He did it last week against Minnesota on the second touchdown, he ad-libbed that route, that's why I was a bit late getting to him.

"Normally I have a pretty good sense. You've got to read body movements. Also our conversations are very high level when it comes to those situations."

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers has insisted that he "won't miss any time" regardless of whether or not he has surgery to fix a toe issue.

The quarterback did not practice in the days prior to the Packers' 36-28 win over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday, but played the full game.

Green Bay, who top the NFC North with a 9-3 record, now have a bye week, meaning their next fixture is not until December 13 against the Chicago Bears, giving Rodgers the chance to recover and consider his options.

NFL Media reported on Monday that the 37-year-old would not be having surgery, but Rodgers revealed that it remains a possibility, although one he would prefer to avoid.

"Comparing this Monday to last Monday I definitely feel better and same with this Tuesday to last Tuesday," Rodgers said during in an appearance on the The Pat McAfee Show.

"So, you know, I'll just keep getting treatment. We were hoping to avoid surgery, obviously, but the surgery would be such a minor one that it wouldn't be something that [would cause me] to miss time.

"That's a pre-requisite of any surgery that I have at this point, that I'm not going to miss any time. We'll kind of reassess early next week and make a decision.

Rodgers explained that, should he be forced to have an operation, it would prevent him from damaging the toe further but also immobilise it, creating a new problem that he would have to contend with for the remainder of the season.

"The surgery would immobilise the toe and that would be an issue I would be dealing with the entire season," Rodgers continued. "I would avoid any further displacement but it would immobilise the toe.

"We're hoping that, with a couple of weeks, we can get enough healing and maybe we can avoid doing that. We'll reassess, like I said, probably later this week or early next week.

"The ultimate goal is to not have to do surgery, this thing heals up a little bit better and I make it through a few more weeks."

Rodgers also hinted that members of the Packers' staff may be leaking information to the media, following the reports that suggested surgery was not an option he was considering.

"With these reports, I don't know where they're coming from," Rodgers added. 

"I don't know who's talking. It seems like there's certain coaches who may have friends in the media who they don't realise are actually just trying to report things."

Rodgers has thrown 2,878 yards for 23 touchdowns in 2021, with 247 completions and just four interceptions from 11 games played.

Amari Cooper's prospective return for the Dallas Cowboys against the New Orleans Saints is in doubt, with the wide receiver still not 100 per cent fit after his positive coronavirus test.

Cooper, who is unvaccinated, has missed the last two Cowboys games, both of which have ended in defeat.

With three losses in their last four games, the Cowboys have gone from 6-1 to 7-4 and have seen their lead in the NFC East trimmed.

Dallas will hope to get back on track against a slumping Saints team on Thursday, though they may have to do so without Cooper once more.

Asked about Cooper, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said the former first-round pick is "still not feeling the best".

"My gut would be if he doesn't practice tomorrow [Wednesday], I don't see him going to the game," said McCarthy, who himself will not be able to attend Thursday's game due to COVID-19 protocols.

Cooper has made 44 catches for 583 yards and five touchdowns this season.

He has been usurped as the top option in the Cowboys' passing game by last year's first-round pick CeeDee Lamb, who has 740 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his second season.

Lamb returned to practice this week after missing last week's overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders with a concussion and expects to play at New Orleans.

It's Week 13 in the NFL and the fantasy playoffs are on the horizon.

If you're near the bottom of your league's standings, it's probably game over, time to focus on Christmas shopping and plan for next year.

Yet if you're in the midst of a battle for a playoff spot or fighting to secure a top seed, it's never been more important to consistently nail your starting lineup selections.

Stats Perform is once again here with a helping hand, looking at four offensive players and a defense who deserve to be fantasy starters this week.

 

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

An otherwise explosive performance from Wentz, in which he threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was undermined by a pair of interceptions, though one of those picks came on a last-gasp Hail Mary attempt.

Turnovers could well be a problem again versus the lowly Texans, whose defense is fifth in the NFL with 20 takeaways, but that should not prohibit fantasy managers from slotting Wentz into their lineup against one of the league's worst teams.

The reverse fixture back in Week 6 saw Wentz average over 11 yards per attempt and, with his 20-5 touchdown to interception ratio the fourth-best in the league, the likely outcome is that the former second overall pick manages to avoid turnovers en route to a productive fantasy performance.

Running Back: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Mitchell is one half of a devastating two-headed monster leading the 49ers' running game, and he and ultra-versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel have gashed teams at will over the course of San Francisco's three-game winning streak.

The Niners are averaging 130.9 rush yards per game, the sixth-most in the NFL, and racked up 208 yards on the ground in their Week 12 win over the Minnesota Vikings, sixth-round rookie Mitchell contributing 133 of them in his fourth 100-yard performance of the season.

This week, that aforementioned monster will be minus Samuel due to a groin injury, meaning potentially greater workloads for Mitchell and fellow tailback Jeff Wilson Jr. against a Seahawks team dead last in average time of possession. All signs point to San Francisco controlling the clock against a slumping Seattle outfit and setting up Mitchell to continue his outstanding first year in the league.

Wide Receiver: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Giants

The Dolphins are surging, winning four in a row, and so is their first-round pick, whose performances over the last two weeks have made his status as the sixth overall selection look less dubious.

Having caught eight passes for 65 yards against the New York Jets in Week 11, Waddle exploded for nine catches, 137 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins thrashed the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.

Waddle has been targeted at least eight times in five of his last six games and, even against a Giants defense that has been largely stingy of late, that share of the workload makes the speedster an intriguing play, especially in points per reception leagues.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Gronkowski appears to have shaken off the injury problems that have plagued his 2021 season and has 13 catches for 194 yards over the last two weeks.

Antonio Brown could finally return from an ankle problem to eat into Gronkowski's targets but, against a Falcons team that has conceded 40 points in each of the last two matchups with the Bucs, he should still thrive when targeted by Tom Brady to an extent that makes him an obvious starter in fantasy football.

Defense: Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears

It still isn't clear whether quarterback Kyler Murray will return for the Cardinals after missing the last three games with an ankle injury, but the NFC's top seed should be able to lean on their defense to secure victory in Chicago even if Murray cannot go.

The Cardinals rank eighth in yards per play allowed with 5.27 and get to go against a Bears offense that has allowed the most sacks (37) in the NFL and could only manage 16 points against the Detroit Lions in a miserable Thanksgiving game.

Regardless of whether it is Andy Dalton or Justin Fields at quarterback for the Bears, the Cardinals' defense will be a strong fantasy play.

The Seattle Seahawks and their 2021 NFL season is fast becoming a nightmare after going down 17-15 to the Washington Football Team.

Taylor Heinicke lifted Washington past Russell Wilson and the slumping Seahawks, who suffered a third consecutive defeat to fall to 3-8 for the season, in an historic performance.

Wilson had not accounted for a single touchdown in two games since returning from a finger injury – only the second time in the star quarterback's career he had zero total TDs in at least back-to-back games after going three straight in October 2016.

While Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns on 20-of-31 passing for 247 yards and no interceptions, it was not enough against Heinicke and Washington on the road.

Heinicke was 27-of-35 passing for 223 yards, a touchdown and interception for streaking Washington (5-6), who celebrated a third successive win.

The 28-year-old found J.D. McKissic with a 10-yard TD pass in the second period before the latter – who was carted off late in the fourth quarter due to a head injury – scored on a 10-yard run to put the hosts ahead 17-9.

In his last three starts, Heinicke has beaten Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and Wilson. According to Stats Perform, he is the first undrafted quarterback in NFL history to beat three different opposing starting QBs who had previously started a Super Bowl in three consecutive starts.

Page 1 of 65
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.