New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton fears quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a "significant" knee injury in the team's shock 36-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Saints stunned Tom Brady and the reigning NFL Super Bowl champions in New Orleans, however, the win was overshadowed by Winston's injury.

Facing his former team, Winston was carted off the field in the second quarter after sustaining a knee injury during a horse-collar tackle by Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.

Winston had completed six of 10 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown while scrambling for 40 yards before exiting the game with the score tied 7-7.

Afterwards, Payton told reporters of the two-time Pro Bowler: "I think it's significant.

"He felt something and he's on crutches right now. I don't want to say until I have a chance to talk with the doctors."

Payton added: "I cried when I saw him coming in. It's hard."

Veteran backup Trevor Siemian replaced Winston and helped the Saints (5-2) top the Buccaneers (6-2).

Siemian threw a touchdown, finishing 16-of-29 passing for 159 yards.

P.J. Williams sealed the win after picking off seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady for a late 40-yard interception return.

"First I want to say how gutted I am for Jameis. This win was for him," said Siemian. "I just feel for the guy, I love him so much. Just being around him, you can't help it, he's got this infectious personality.

"And you're just frickin' gutted when you see anybody hurt. But watching him get hurt was tough."

Tampa Bay's White, who played alongside Winston before the QB joined the Saints in April last year, added: "He's a great guy. I'm gonna put an emphasis on that. All last year when they was playing and we was playing, he was texting -- I don't know if he was texting everybody, but me and him was close.

"When I came in, he kinda showed me around -- and just telling me how proud he was of me. Even when we won a Super Bowl, he was one of the first texts, like, 'Congratulations, man. I wish I could be a part of that, but y'all deserve it. You put a lot of work in, and we always talked about how special you all could be.'

"He's a great guy. You hate to see that happen. I hope it's not serious, man. I'm just praying for him. But it's a long season. [I] hope he can come back and fight with his team."

Hall of Famer and Denver Broncos great Peyton Manning said he is not involved with any potential new ownership groups and the Super Bowl-winning quarterback is unsure if he would like to be.

Manning joined the Broncos from the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and led the NFL franchise to Super Bowl 50 glory before retiring at the end of the 2015 season.

The Broncos could reportedly be sold next year if the children of late Pat Bowlen, who died in 2019, cannot agree who should be the majority owner.

Manning, however, is currently not interested in returning to the Broncos in an ownership capacity.

"I haven't had any serious conversations with anyone,'' two-time Super Bowl champion Manning said on Sunday. "Certainly, there's some people who have called me and said 'Hey, what do you think is going to happen with the Broncos? Are you going to try to own the team? I keep looking for that $3billion in my pocket, I can't find it, I think it's in a hidden account somewhere. That's not really on my radar.

"People are obviously interested, they're curious,'' Manning added. "I care because I live here and I go to the games, and I want to know what's going to happen like everyone else. But I have no relationship or agreement with anybody."

Manning – who was honoured before Sunday's 17-10 win over the Washington Football Team – added: "Even if I'm offered an opportunity, I haven't decided if I would even do it. I actually like what I'm doing now. I get to stay close to the game ... I get to coach [son] Marshall's flag football team, I went to a doubleheader softball game to see [daughter] Mosley play.

"I'm just taking everything on a one-year-at-a-time basis, next year who knows how I'll feel ... But I'll always be a part of the Broncos, I'll say that."

Tom Brady threw a costly pick-six to ice a 36-27 win for the New Orleans Saints over NFL Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All eyes were on Saints quarterback Jameis Winston in his reunion with the Buccaneers, having moved to New Orleans in April last year following five mixed seasons with Tampa Bay.

But Winston was carted off the field in the second quarter against his former team, suffering a knee injury during a horse-collar tackle by Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.

Winston had completed six of 10 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown while scrambling for 40 yards before exiting the game with the score tied 7-7.

Led by veteran backup Trevor Siemian, the Saints (5-2) still held on to sink Brady's Buccaneers (6-2) on home turf, despite the latter becoming the all-time leader for most three-plus passing TD games in NFL history (98).

Four touchdown passes from seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady helped the Buccaneers overturn a 23-7 deficit – Tampa Bay moving ahead 27-26 following a 50-yard throw to Cyril Grayson just over five minutes from the end.

But Brian Johnson's field goal with less than two minutes remaining restored New Orleans' lead, albeit by two points, before P.J. Williams picked off Brady – his second interception of the contest – for a 40-yard interception return to seal the win.

 

Broncos block two field goals

The Denver Broncos and their defence held firm to see off the lowly Washington Football Team 17-10.

Denver blocked two field goals en route to their fourth win of the season, snapping a four-game skid.

Dre'Mont Jones (in the fourth quarter) and Shelby Harris (in the second period) each blocked field-goal attempts from Chris Blewitt as the Broncos avoided going winless in October for the first time since 1967.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has been ruled out of Sunday's showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Cowboys listed star Prescott as inactive prior to kick-off due to a calf strain, with Cooper Rush to make his first NFL career start.

Prescott had been determined to face the Vikings but the two-time Pro Bowler was always facing an uphill battle to be fit after suffering the injury in the overtime win against the New England Patriots on October 17.

The 28-year-old has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of his last four games. According to Stats Perform, it is the longest such streak in Cowboys history – Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes is the only other NFL player with a streak of four consecutive games throwing at least three TD passes this season.

Dallas' Prescott boasts a 73.1 completion percentage, which is only second to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (73.5), while his passer rating (115.0) is fourth in the league.

Overall, Prescott has completed 158 passes for 1,813 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions for the 5-1 Cowboys in 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame the loss of kicker Chris Boswell for the whole second half as they beat the Cleveland Browns 15-10 on Sunday.

D'Ernest Johnson rushed 10 yards for the game's first touchdown in the third quarter to put Cleveland seemingly in control at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Steelers' chances were already damaged by the loss of Boswell to a concussion following a huge hit from Browns tackle Jordan Elliot, but Najee Harris' touchdown closed the gap to a point.

Ben Roethlisberger threw two yards on fourth down for Pat Freiermuth to earn the decisive score with a little over 11 minutes on the clock.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett came in costume as the Grim Reaper to mark October 31, his cape inscribed with the names of his sacked quarterbacks, but it was the Steelers' trick play that proved far from a treat in the first half: Boswell took a direct snap from 28 yards and, after rolling right and throwing for the end zone, he took a powerful hit from Elliot.

After rookie Harris had dragged Pittsburgh back into contention following Johnson's score, Roethlisberger, who is now 24-3-1 in career starts against the Browns, made his mark.

The 38-year-old, who finished 22 of 34 for 266 yards, almost saw his two-yard pass fumbled by Freiermuth but the tight end recovered to land both feet in the end zone.

By contrast, Jarvis Landry's handling let him down as he was stripped by Joe Schobert with a little over six minutes left.

The 4-4 Browns will hope for better next time out against the 5-3 Bengals, who were stunned by a New York Jets 34-31 comeback win in which Mike White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns on his first NFL start.

Rams rout Texans, Lions looking toothless

The Philadelphia Eagles ran in four touchdowns as they snapped a two-game losing streak to crush the Detroit Lions.

As coach of the NFL's only winless team after eight straight defeats, Dan Campbell will head into a bye week to try to arrest a terrible run of results that culminated in Sunday's 44-6 loss, in which the Lions only got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

The Houston Texans (1-7) are faring little better, their 38-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (7-1) looking only a little more respectable after they ran in 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, Davis Mills throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

49ers down Bears through sensational Samuel

The San Francisco 49ers improved to 3-4 after a 33-22 defeat of the Chicago Bears in which Deebo Samuel set pulses racing with a spectacular 83-yard catch-and-run.

After being denied an apparent touchdown for being ruled out of bounds, Samuel's run still allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to score from two yards out just a handful of plays later to cut the Bears' advantage.

Not only did Samuel produce the Niners' longest play of the season, he passed Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards for the franchise across the first seven games of an NFL season.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is taking a break from his NFL career to give attention to his "mental wellbeing", the 26-year-old announced on Sunday.

Ridley missed the 19-13 defeat to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, with his team declaring Ridley inactive earlier in the day.

In a message posted on Twitter, Ridley said: "These past few weeks have been very challenging and as much as I'd like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing.

"This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future. I want to thank my teammates, the entire Atlanta Falcons organisation, our great fans, my friends, and my family for all of their support during this time."

Ridley missed the recent trip to London to face the New York Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with a personal matter also being cited by the team on that occasion.

The circumstances behind his off-field struggles have not been disclosed.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was asked after the Panthers game about Ridley's situation and said: "I'll let Calvin speak for himself. It's a personal issue.

"Calvin's dealing with something personal and it's going to remain personal my end."

Ridley was the 26th pick in the 2018 draft and has had 31 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns so far in the 2021 season, playing five games to date.

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy will miss Sunday's game with the San Francisco 49ers as he remains in coronavirus quarantine.

Nagy tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, leaving special teams coordinator Chris Tabor to take charge of practice this week.

And it is Tabor who will take the reins on Sunday as the Bears look to improve to 4-4 in a meeting with the 2-4 Niners.

Tabor is in his 14th season as an NFL assistant and must use that experience to lead the Bears to victory in a game between two teams fighting to stay alive in the NFC playoff picture.

The Bears follow the Arizona Cardinals in being without their head coach for a game because of COVID issues.

Arizona defeated the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 in a game coach Kliff Kingsbury missed after testing positive.

The Bears won their most recent meeting with the 49ers in 2018 but have lost two of their previous three home games against San Francisco.

SoFi Stadium will play host to Super Bowl LVI in February and, as the NFL season enters its eighth week, both teams that call it home have a chance of competing on the grandest stage in North American sport for the chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

However, it would be fair to still have doubts around the Chargers after they slumped to a 34-6 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6.

The Chargers have had a bye week to stew and try to wash off the stink of a performance they will be all too eager to forget; however, getting back on track may not be straightforward.

Indeed, the Chargers on Sunday host a 3-4 New England Patriots team who have lost three of their games by one score.

The Patriots rank 11th in Stats Perform's efficiency versus expected (EVE) metric, which looks at down, distance, yards from goal, quarter, time remaining, and score difference and uses those six factors to train a model to predict yardage output for any game situation. From there, the projected yards are compared to the actual yards gained or prevented in those situations.

That is eight spots higher than the Chargers, indicating that the Patriots have performed at a more efficient level than Los Angeles this season and should provide a stern test of their Super Bowl credentials.

It is easy to pin this game as a battle between last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert and arguably the best first-year quarterback from this year's crop, Mac Jones.

But to do so ignores the several other factors that may decide this intriguing AFC clash.

Harris to make hay on the ground

In part reflective of the Patriots having played an extra game and having claimed two blowout wins over the New York Jets, who entered the week 31st in EVE, the difference between the Chargers and New England in offensive yards per play is negligible.

The Chargers are 16th in yards per play with 5.71 while the Patriots are 18th with 5.70.

Success for the Patriots on offense has often come as a result of the play of running back Damien Harris.

Harris is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, rushing for three touchdowns across their overtime defeat to the Dallas Cowboys and a second win over the Jets.

Among running backs with at least 25 carries, Harris is 10th with an average of 2.26 yards after contact per attempt, running behind an offensive line that, per Stats Perform data, is 27th in run block win percentage. 

In other words, he is overcoming disappointing blocking and performing very efficiently, and this week he gets to face defense that is 29th in the NFL in run disruption rank. 

The Chargers are giving up 5.45 yards per rush, the most in the NFL, and if the Patriots are to keep up with an explosive Los Angeles offense, Harris will likely play a key role.

The Patriots' secondary struggles

Having conceded to being undone by the Ravens' defense and their use of disguise two weeks ago, Herbert faces another vaunted defensive schemer in Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

New England's defense entered Week 8 ranked eighth in yards allowed under expectation; however, their depleted secondary is vulnerable.

The Patriots are 15th in pass yards allowed under expectation and have given up 77 passes of 10 yards or more, the seventh most in the league.

Herbert's passer rating on throws of 21 or more air yards of 114.8 is eighth among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts of such distance.

And, with Mike Williams having already racked up eight receptions of 20 yards or more, the Chargers have a receiver who can consistently deliver the explosive plays that can tilt the contest firmly in the Chargers' favour.

Should he do so against the Patriots, Jones may find it difficult to put up the points stay in the game versus a Chargers defense featuring a name with which Belichick is extremely familiar.

Can Jones make right reads?

"It makes me feel old," Belichick replied when asked about Asante Samuel Jr, the son of the cornerback by the same name who played five seasons with the Patriots, winning the Super Bowl in 2003 and 2004 in a career that saw him twice lead the league in interceptions.

Belichick and the Patriots will surely be wary of Samuel, who has inherited his father's ball-hawking tendencies and already has two interceptions to his name since being taken in the second round of this year's draft by the Chargers.

Samuel is giving up a big play on only 21.1 per cent of his targets, comfortably the right side of the league average of 26 and has allowed a receiver to get open on just 13 of his 56 coverage matchups so far.

His efforts are a big part of why a Chargers defense that has struggled against the run came into the week sixth in pass yards allowed under expectation.

However, Belichick also had great praise for Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and his defensive system, which relies heavily on defenders matching the routes of their receivers but from a zone coverage look.

"Coach Staley does a really good job of keeping you off balance, and, again, we're going to have to make some good post-snap decisions on a lot of things, whether it's movement, rotations, how the coverage plays out," said Belichick. 

"They do a good job of matching routes. What looks like zone or what looks like some space closes very quickly in the passing game, and, again, they're very well-coached. They do a good job of, as the pattern develops, they just pounce on it. It really plays like man-to-man, but it's not man-to-man, but it turns out to be man-to-man. Those are challenging for the receivers and the quarterback because the match zones are tough."

That means Jones, who has done an excellent job of reading the field and getting the ball out quickly and is delivering a well-thrown ball on 82.8 per cent of his passes – tied second among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts entering Week 8 – will have a lot to decipher on Sunday.

It may be billed as Herbert versus Jones, but in reality, this clash is Harris against a struggling Chargers run defense, Herbert vs. Belichick and Jones and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels vs. Staley. Those subplots should make for a fascinating matchup that will be critical in the AFC playoff race.

Even in the wake of their Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2021 NFL season viewed by many as favourites to get back to the grandest stage and regain the Lombardi Trophy.

A banged-up offensive line that was dramatically overmatched against the Buccaneers' defensive front in their chastening February defeat in Tampa had been seemingly fixed by what looked an astute investment in both youth and experience in the trenches. Kansas City appeared poised to reassert themselves as a dominant power.

Yet the issue with using your resources primarily on one area is that other concerns can be swept under the rug, only to rear their head when attention turns back to competitive action.

That has proven the case for the Chiefs, who at 3-4 look anything but Super Bowl contenders, with a disappointing pass rush and the consistently poor play of an extremely vulnerable secondary resulting in a defensive performance that has seen them give up a league-high 6.57 yards per play.

Their defensive struggles have come combined with turnover problems for Patrick Mahomes and Co, meaning the Chiefs are some way short of the team that reached three successive AFC Championship Games.

Indeed, Kansas City entered Week 8 ranked 27th in Stats Perform's efficiency versus expected (EVE) model, which looks at down, distance, yards from goal, quarter, time remaining, and score difference and uses those six factors to train a model to predict yardage output for any game situation. From there, the projected yards are compared to the actual yards gained or prevented in those situations.

With the Chiefs performing at the level of a bottom-half team and arguably facing a make-or-break game against the New York Giants on Monday to even stay in the mix, who are the lead contenders for the Super Bowl? Stats Perform looked at the EVE rankings to identify the two AFC and NFC favourites.

AFC

1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills entered Week 8 ranked second by overall EVE, their drop from the top spot a result of them having a bye in Week 7.

At 4-2, the Bills have work to do to secure the top seed in the conference, but they have a compelling case for being the most complete team in the AFC.

Eighth in yards over expected on offensive plays, their average of 0.593 yards over the projected was bettered by only three AFC teams ahead of Week 8.

Meanwhile, on defense, the Bills are allowing 0.788 yards under expected, which put them second in the league behind the New Orleans Saints prior to Thursday Night Football.

Their ranking and their performances have served as a reflection of quarterback Josh Allen's ability to prove his gargantuan year-three leap was no fluke and the significant strides made by the defense through six games.

Six of the Bills' final 11 games are against teams ranked in the bottom half of the league via EVE, giving them a clear opportunity to recover from early slip-ups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans and establish themselves as the cream of the AFC crop.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

However, the gold standard of the AFC and - according to EVE - of the league as a whole are the Cincinnati Bengals.

That is not a sentence many will have expected to read after Cincinnati's first seven games but, in a tightly packed conference, they are worthy of consideration as genuine contenders to go all the way.

Their position atop the league by EVE is built on an offense that is fifth overall with a yards-over-expected average of 0.699, the best in the AFC, and a defense ascending earlier than anticipated.

The Bengals are third in the NFL in yards allowed under expected, though they figure to be sternly tested on both sides of the ball down the stretch.

Indeed, the Bengals have two games against a Browns team ranked third overall as well as meetings with another top-10 team in the Las Vegas Raiders and a 2-4 San Francisco 49ers team whose ranking of 13th is not reflected by their record.

A rematch with the Baltimore Ravens and an offense that entered the week seventh in yards over expected looms in Week 16 and that slightly more difficult road compared to the Bills makes it tough to install the Bengals as AFC favourites.

There can ill-afford to be any let-up from Joe Burrow - fifth among quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts with a well-thrown ball percentage of 82.4 - and dominant rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase if the Bengals are to emerge as a legitimate threat to win it all, but their Week 7 win thrashing of the Ravens suggests they will be undaunted by the challenge.

NFC

1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams' bet that Matthew Stafford's arrival would take them to the next level is proving a successful one to this point, with Los Angeles 6-1 and looking every bit a team ready to make a concerted push to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Sean McVay's team went into Week 8 fourth in EVE and as the class of the NFC, despite their heavy home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals back in Week 4.

After the malaise of Jared Goff's final year as quarterback, Stafford has elevated the offense to one that trailed only the Dallas Cowboys in yards over expected with an average of 0.965 pre Week 8.

That lift has been crucial in a year where the defense has, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken something of a downturn following offseason losses in the secondary and the departure of coordinator Brandon Staley.

Yet the Rams remain a top-half team on that side of the ball (11th in yards allowed under expected) and face a schedule that sees them take on just two top-10 teams by EVE the rest of the way.

They do have two games with a 49ers team the Rams have not beaten since 2018 but, analysing what they have produced so far and the tests to come for the Rams, it is difficult to envision an NFC Championship Game in which they do not feature.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Cardinals are the second-highest ranked NFC team after the Rams by EVE, occupying fifth spot overall prior to their defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.

Despite their 7-1 record, it is tough to make a case for the Cardinals over the defending champion Buccaneers, who approached Week 8 only just behind Arizona in sixth and have the benefit of an easier run-in.

In addition to facing those strange but potentially dangerous – if they ever put it together – 49ers in Week 9, the Cardinals must face the Rams again and have a meeting with a Cowboys team whose league-leading offensive effort had them ninth in EVE following the last slate of games.

While the Buccaneers have the significant challenge of facing the Bills in Week 14, a New Orleans Saints team 24th in offensive yards over expected are the only other remaining opponent on Tampa Bay's schedule in the EVE top 10.

The Bucs are 20 places higher than New Orleans on that side of the ball, with Tom Brady in the MVP conversation having thrown a league-leading 21 touchdowns through seven games.

Trust in the 44-year-old Brady and this Bucs offense continues to grow. By contrast, there are likely to be plenty of questions about the Cardinals after they fell short against a Packers team missing their three top wide receivers on Thursday.

The Rams and the Bucs are the best the NFC has to offer at this stage and, come the end of Week 8, the EVE rankings will likely reflect that.

Baker Mayfield will return from a shoulder injury for the Cleveland Browns in Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed the news on Friday after the quarterback missed their 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Mayfield's absence broke his streak of 51 consecutive starts for the Browns, but he will return after a one-week layoff.

"Medically, he’s ready to go," Stefanski told reporters on Friday, confirming Mayfield will start. "Our doctors, our trainers, the second opinions felt very comfortable about that.

"Baker's feels that he's ready. He feels he's ready to help this team win."

The 2018 NFL Draft top pick has been able to participate in three days of practice this week.

Case Keenum started in Mayfield's absence against the Broncos, completing 21 of 33 attempts for 199 yards and one touchdown.

Mayfield, who is in the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal, has thrown at 67.1 per cent this season for 1,474 yards, including six touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Week 8 with a 6-1 record, though their form will be tested against the New Orleans Saints.

Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 211 yards in the Bucs' 38-3 thrashing of the Chicago Bears last week, though Tampa Bay's recent record against the Saints is poor.

The Los Angeles Rams are also 6-1, and are looking to extend their strong start when they take on the Houston Texans, who are out to avoid a franchise first.

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, meanwhile, have been linking up to superb effect for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are at the New York Jets on Sunday. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Tampa Bay may have picked up from where they left off last season, but their recent run against New Orleans has not been at all profitable.

New Orleans have won five straight games against NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, which is the longest active losing streak for the Buccaneers against any single opponent.

However, the Bucs did set franchise records for points in a first quarter with 21, and points in a first half with 35, in their 38-3 win over the Bears. The 21 first-quarter and 35 first-half points are also the most scored by any NFL team this season.

Mike Evans caught three touchdowns against the Bears with all of them coming in the first half. He joined Marvin Harrison, Marvin Jones Jr, Jerry Rice, and Sterling Sharpe as the only players since the merger to have multiple games with three first-half touchdown catches.

The Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks in their last outing, and had 35 passing attempts in that win. Both teams have combined to win 76.9 per cent of their games this season, the highest combined winning percentage that the teams have ever had when facing each other.

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) @ Houston Texans (1-6)

This will be only the fifth all-time meeting between the Texans and the Rams, and just the second game since the latter moved back to Los Angeles.

The Rams have outscored the Texans by an aggregate of 71-20 over the last two meetings, and, at 6-1, Los Angeles are enjoying their equal second-best start to a season this century, behind the 7-0 run in 2018.

They are also looking to win each of their first four road games of a season for the fourth time since 2000, having also done this in 2001, 2017 and 2018.

Matthew Stafford has thrown for 2,172 yards this season, the most by any Rams player in the team's first seven games of the season since Kurt Warner threw for 2,445 yards in the first seven games of 2000.

Houston, meanwhile, have lost six straight, with each of the last two losses coming by over 25 points. The Texans have not lost three straight games by at least 25 points in franchise history – the only team to do so in a single season in the last 25 years were the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)

The Bengals have won each of the last three meetings between these teams, matching their longest-ever win streak over the Jets (1973-81). Cincinnati's 23-22 win in New York in 2016 snapped a nine-game losing streak when visiting the Jets.

Cincinnati only managed four wins in 2020, but they surpassed that figure with a brilliant 41-17 victory in Baltimore last week, with quarterback Burrow and wide receiver Chase turning in stellar performances.

Burrow passed for a career-high 416 yards and tied a previous career high with three touchdown passes. It was his seventh consecutive game with multiple TD passes, tying a franchise record set twice before by Carson Palmer (2004-05 and 2010).

Chase, meanwhile, had 201 receiving yards, the most all-time by a Bengals rookie and the most by any rookie since Mike Evans had 209 in 2014. Chase's 754 receiving yards in 2021 ranks are the most by any player through seven career games in NFL history.

The Jets' 54-13 loss to the Patriots last week was their largest defeat since a 45-3 loss in Week 13 of the 2010 season, which also happened in New England. The 54 points are the fourth-most that New York have allowed in a single game and the most since 1980.

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions are still winless, going 0-7 so far, but could snap the losing streak against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions have won three straight against Philadelphia, with each of the last two games being decided by three points or fewer. 

Strugglers the Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo. With two receiving yards on Sunday, Stefon Diggs will reach 2,000 as a Bill in just his 23rd game with the team. That would be tied for the second fewest games needed by any player with any single team in the Super Bowl era (Odell Beckham Jr. – 21 with the Giants, Vincent Jackson – 23 with Tampa Bay, Brandon Marshall – 23 with Chicago).

Fresh from their win over the Jets, the Patriots will aim to maintain the momentum against the Los Angeles Chargers, against whom they have five straight wins and are 16-3 in the last 19 meetings.

An AFC North clash sees the Browns (4-3) host the 3-3 Steelers. Pittsburgh have not won in Cleveland since 2017, as the teams tied in 2018 before the Browns won in 2019 and 2020.

The Arizona Cardinals acknowledged the impact of DeAndre Hopkins' injury-affected outing against the Green Bay Packers in their first defeat of the year, but Kyler Murray said his team should still have played better.

The Cardinals came into Thursday night's huge game against the Packers looking to stretch their unbeaten start to 8-0 – a new franchise record.

Instead, Arizona went down 24-21 to Green Bay, who also improved to 7-1.

A last-gasp Murray interception – his second of the night – decided the game, but the earlier absence of wide receiver Hopkins had restricted the Cards to that point.

Having been dealing with a hamstring injury heading into the Packers game, Hopkins went out for more than two quarters due to the same issue.

Hopkins caught both of his targets for two first downs and 66 yards, but he had averaged 6.7 targets and 4.7 receptions per game throughout the Cardinals' winning run.

The former Houston Texans wideout failed to add to his seven season touchdowns, with Arizona's three scores all coming across the ground.

Unable to look to Hopkins as often as he would like, quarterback Murray threw multiple picks and no TDs in a game for the first time in his career.

But the Packers were also without their elite WR Davante Adams, along with number two option Allen Lazard, and Aaron Rodgers was still able to lead Green Bay to victory.

Murray was reluctant to make excuses, saying: "Obviously, if you take the best receiver in the game out [Hopkins], it makes it a little tough, but I have confidence in everybody out there.

"I don’t want to make it about that. It wasn’t about that. We just didn't play up to our standards."

Coach Kliff Kingsbury was willing to highlight Hopkins' absence, however.

"He's pretty good," he said. "I mean, that's a big part of our offense having that guy."

Crucially, the Cardinals were also missing players on defense. Corey Peters is out with COVID-19 and Rashard Lawrence has a calf injury, while Zaven Collins went out with a shoulder injury late in the first half.

J.J. Watt was surely the team's biggest miss, though, after his own shoulder injury that is set to end his season.

"We've got to get Rashard and Corey Peters back," Kingsbury said. "Obviously, having those two guys out was not ideal with J.J. going out as well. But you can't replace a presence like that."

Aaron Rodgers declared his love for the Green Bay Packers squad after Rasul Douglas proved the unlikely hero in a stunning win over the Arizona Cardinals.

The short-handed Packers ended the Cardinals' perfect start to the season while extending their winning streak to seven games following a 24-21 victory in the NFL on Thursday.

With 12 seconds remaining, Douglas was on hand to thwart the home team as he snatched the ball in the corner of the end zone from Kyler Murray's pass.

Douglas, who was previously with the Cardinals' practice squad, was only in action in the absence of Jaire Alexander and Kevin King.

"This is why I love this squad," Rodgers told Fox.

"The guy who made the pick was with them for four weeks. He was on the street, we brought him in, he's starting for us.

"He's a great dude and he's really meshed well with our team, and to come up with a play like that with 15 seconds left is incredible."

Rodgers, without wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, was 22-of-37 passing for 184 yards as Matt LaFleur's men got the job done in gritty fashion in Arizona.

"This is a scrappy team," Rodgers said. "This is a tough, physical, gritty team.

"I'm so proud of our guys. I'm so proud of our line. I'm having so much fun with these guys.

"We ran the ball well, we knew we could. It was tough in the passing game at times, but [Randall] Cobb came up with a couple big touchdown catches."

The red-hot Green Bay Packers ended the Arizona Cardinals' perfect start to the season while extending their winning streak to seven games following a 24-21 victory in the NFL on Thursday.

Kyler Murray's Cardinals had won seven consecutive games to open the season, but Arizona finally came unstuck against Aaron Rodgers and the high-flying Packers.

Rodgers (22-of-37 passing for 184 yards without an interception) threw two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb as the Packers held on to beat the Cardinals – playing for the first time without star defensive end JJ Watt – after Murray's stunning last-gasp interception.

Chase Edmonds' 11-yard run gave the Cardinals a first-quarter lead – the Arizona star had entered Week 8 with 397 rushing yards this season, the most by any player in the NFL without a rushing TD.

Rodgers and the Packers took control from that point as Jones' second-quarter TD run and Green Bay's superstar quarterback Rodgers' pass to Cobb in the third quarter put the visitors ahead 17-7.

James Conner did strike before the end of the third to close the gap to three points, though the Rodgers-Cobb combination struck again early in the fourth to make it 24-14 in the Packers' favour.

Conner's second rushing touchdown set up a thrilling finish but as the Cardinals attempted to rally to their eighth straight victory, Murray (22-of-33 passing for 274 yards, no TDs and two interceptions) threw an interception on second-and-goal with 12 seconds remaining – Rasul Douglas on hand to snatch the ball in the corner of the end zone.

Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott wants to suit up to play the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL this week but conceded whether he does is not "fully my decision".

Prescott is battling to overcome a calf strain in time for the Cowboys' clash with the Vikings in Minnesota on Sunday.

The Cowboys quarterback and two-time Pro Bowler has been limited to two days of practice.

"Knowing this is a long journey and a long season, I don't necessarily know if this is fully my decision, but I'm just going to keep controlling the things I can to get better," Prescott told reporters on Thursday.

"I've gotten better each and every day, and that's what is most important. I'm just focused on doing that again tomorrow."

On the thresholds he will have to pass in practice in order to play according to head coach Mike McCarthy, Prescott added: "They didn't tell me which ones I've got to pass.

"Obviously I trust myself, trust my body, trust what I'm thinking, but also I trust the coaches and Britt, Jim [Maurer] and the whole training staff. We've put a lot into this. I've put a lot into my body and taking care of myself.

"But they know. They know how these things work. First time dealing with something like this, obviously on the same leg as my ankle, I want to be smart about it and cautious. But as I've said, I've gotten better each and every day. I'm doing things today I didn't do as well the day before. I think that's huge."

Prescott has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of his last four games. According to Stats Perform, it is the longest such streak in Cowboys history – Patrick Mahomes is the only other NFL player with a streak of four consecutive games throwing at least three TD passes this season.

Dallas QB Prescott boasts a 73.1 completion percentage, which is only second to Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray (73.5), while his passer rating (115.0) is fourth in the league.

Overall, Prescott has completed 158 passes for 1,813 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions for the 5-1 Cowboys in 2021.

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