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.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance returned to practice on Wednesday, though there is no immediate sign of him taking the starting job from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Lance missed the 49ers' Week 7 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts because of a knee sprain he suffered when starting in relief of the then injured Garoppolo in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Garoppolo was heavily criticised for his performance in the 30-18 loss to the Colts, which saw him complete 16 of 27 pass attempts for 181 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions as San Francisco lost a fourth straight game to drop to 2-4.

That has predictably led to calls for Lance, whom the 49ers selected after trading up to the third overall pick in this year's draft, to take the reins full-time.

He will not start against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, however, with head coach Kyle Shanahan waiting to see how Lance's knee reacts to practice before deciding how much he will be involved if at all.

"I don't think it's the right thing for him to start full-time right now, especially when I don't even know if he can get through practice today," Shanahan told a media conference. 

"So, I told you guys I understood why the questions are coming, but that's why I don't understand why that keeps coming, because I want to see if he's healthy today first. And then when he's healthy for at least more than one day, then we'll start to see when it's the best time for him."

However, Shanahan indicated he had been expecting an acceleration in Lance's development in the wake of his first start before injury curtailed his chance to build on that display, in which he went 15 for 29 for 192 yards and an interception while adding 89 yards on the ground.

"I think it was real unfortunate that, at the time he got to play, I thought he was ready to take off a little bit after that getting that experience," Shanahan added. 

"I thought that was going to be great for him to come back the next week, especially with Jimmy banged up a little bit, but he had an unfortunate injury, and it's lasting a little longer than expected.

"So, I'm excited to get him out there today. But he hasn't done anything in a couple of weeks, so we'll see where his progress is now."

With the NFL approaching the midway point of its season, time is running out to stack fantasy wins and make a run at the postseason.

Whether you're right in the mix or on the outside looking in, now is the moment to go on a run and ensure you will be playing in the championship bracket.

The best way to do that is to identify the players with the opportunity to produce a performance that can serve as the backbone of a matchup-winning effort.

Here Stats Perform looks at four offensive players and a defense who are well-positioned to do just that in Week 8.

 

Quarterback: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions

Hurts is developing a reputation as the king of garbage time stats and, though fantasy owners may not have the benefit of him playing from behind in garbage time this week, he does have an extremely favorable matchup to exploit.

Through his abilities as a dual-threat quarterback, Hurts has accounted for 2,077 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns so far this season.

He is averaging 245.1 passing yards per game and 51.5 yards on the ground. Going against a Detroit defense ranked 30th in yards per play, Hurts is a strong candidate to deliver gaudy fantasy numbers.

Running Back: Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals

On the surface, Jones' matchup with a Cardinals defense ranked eighth in opponent yards per play allowed is a tough one.

However, only the Los Angeles Chargers are allowing more yards per rush than the Cardinals (4.97), and Jones should see a heavy workload on the ground and through the air.

Indeed, with Davante Adams a doubt after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Allen Lazard out for the same reason, Jones - who is second on the Packers behind Adams with 26 receptions - could see a bump in targets from Aaron Rodgers.

Always a must-start as Green Bay's lead back, Jones' performance on Thursday could be a decisive one for fantasy owners, especially those who play in points per reception leagues.

Wide Receiver: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots

The Chargers will be out to get back on track as they return from a bye week following their Week 6 shellacking at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.

And they will be hopeful of hitting on several explosive plays against a Patriots defense that has given up its fair share.

The Patriots have conceded 77 passes of 10 yards or more, the seventh-most in the NFL.

That should be music to the ears of Williams, who has eight receptions of 20 yards or more, four games with at least seven receptions and a touchdown and two 100-yard performances. Expect this big-play threat to exploit a vulnerable New England secondary to a significant extent.

Tight End: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers

The Falcons are surging, and much of that is down to the play of rookie tight end Pitts, who is living up to the reputation that saw him picked fourth overall in this year's draft by Atlanta.

Pitts has at least eight targets in each of his last three games and goes into Week 8 on the back of successive 100-yard performances.

Having clearly earned the trust of quarterback Matt Ryan, Pitts is receiving the target share and delivering the production to make him a must-start regardless of a tough matchup against a Panthers defense allowing the third-fewest yards per play in the NFL.

Defense: San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears

The 49ers are firmly in must-win mode having dropped to 2-4, and the foundation for a winning effort in Chicago appears more likely to be laid by the defense.

San Francisco forced a pair of turnovers in the Week 7 loss to the Colts and the Niners' chances of adding to their takeaway tally seem strong with Chicago's rookie quarterback Justin Fields having thrown at least one interception in four of his seven appearances.

Fields committed five turnovers in Chicago's blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last time out and a 49ers' front led by one of the NFL's premier pass rushers in Nick Bosa should be confident of forcing him into more.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan declared Jimmy Garoppolo will start against the Chicago Bears in Week 8 as he backed his under-fire quarterback.

Garoppolo struggled in Sunday's 30-18 NFL loss to the Indianapolis Colts, completing 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards, including one touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Shanahan said it was Garoppolo's "worst game" upon his return from a calf issue which kept him out in Week 5 before San Francisco's bye, but he threw his support behind the 29-year-old.

San Francisco's Shanahan has a dilemma after the team's fourth consecutive loss left the 49ers 2-4 for the season, given Garoppolo's performance and with rookie quarterback Trey Lance hoping to recover from a knee sprain to push his case for selection.

"In terms of deciding who is going at quarterback, that has to do with Jimmy's health," Shanahan told reporters on Monday.

"Jimmy, I wanted to see how his calf was. It's good today and so he'll be starting and hopefully Trey will get back into practice and have a good enough week to where he can dress and if he ends up dressing then there's always a good chance he'll get some plays in there."

Garoppolo has completed 94 of 145 attempts for 1,106 yards this season, with six touchdowns, four interceptions and eight sackings.

His current completion percentage of 64.8 is his worst since the 2018 season (59.6).

"I thought Jimmy had his worst game yesterday [Sunday]. I thought Jimmy's done some good things in the three and a half games that he's played," Shanahan said.

"He did some pretty good things in our first game, getting us up to a 41-17 lead. I think he came back and made some unbelievable plays to give us the lead with 30 seconds left against Green Bay on Monday Night Football... And then he got hurt early in the game versus Seattle.

"He just got his first game back last night in that monsoon and it didn't go very good for any of us."

He added: "We didn't go into that game thinking that Jimmy was one bad game away from losing his job or anything like that."

Shanahan said Lance, who hurt his knee in his only start in Garoppolo's absence in the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, "is on pace" to make a limited return to practice this week.

"We know Trey is the future here, and we're trying to do what's best for him and for our team," Shanahan said.

"Trey is coming off a pretty big injury, and we're going to keep bringing him along and keep getting him prepared as good as he can be to always be ready to come in and help on the plays we ask him to, always be ready to take over if Jimmy gets hurt, and being ready to be the future for us, too."

Even after watching Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance fight for the starting quarterback job throughout training camp and the preseason, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan appears at a loss over what to do about the position. 

Shanahan side-stepped questions about the team's quarterback situation after the 49ers fell 30-18 to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday for their fourth consecutive NFL defeat. 

Garoppolo struggled in a game played in a miserable downpour, completing 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown with two fourth-quarter interceptions. 

The veteran started San Francisco's first four games before sitting out a Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals with a calf injury. 

Lance got his first NFL start in that game and suffered a sprained knee that kept him off the field through San Francisco's bye week and against the Colts. 

Asked if he plans to start Garoppolo again in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears, Shanahan said "I would guess so." 

He added: "I'm going to watch this tape and see if guys are healthy, first of all, and know where our guys are at. It was good for Jimmy to be able to get healthy enough to play in this game today."

The team originally had hoped Lance would be able to return after missing two weeks, but his timeline remains unclear after he missed practice all last week. 

If the rookie is healthy enough to face Chicago, Shanahan could be forced into a difficult decision after remaining steadfast in his support of Garoppolo throughout the offseason.

"I've got a lot of things to figure out," Shanahan said as he concluded his remarks. 

Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts shook off a slow start to win for the third time in four games, defeating the slumping San Francisco 49ers 30-18 on Sunday. 

After turning the ball over on two of their first three possessions, the Colts (3-4) steadied themselves and prevailed in wet, miserable conditions at Levi's Stadium in Week 7 of the NFL season.

The weather made things difficult on both teams, as both starting quarterbacks finished with fewer than 200 passing yards. 

While Jimmy Garoppolo outgained Wentz 181 to 150 through the air, he could not make the plays when the 49ers (2-4) needed them in his return from a calf injury. 

After hitting Deebo Samuel for a 14-yard touchdown that cut the Colts' lead to 20-18 early in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo threw interceptions the next two times San Francisco had the ball to seal a fourth straight defeat. 

Wentz ran for a touchdown and threw for two more, icing the game with a 28-yard lob to Michael Pittman with just under three minutes to play. 

Both teams' featured running backs for the night, Jonathan Taylor of Indianapolis and Elijah Mitchell for San Francisco, carried the ball 18 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. 

 

The Indianapolis Colts appeared destined for a lost season back in Week 3.

Indianapolis started the year with three successive defeats and the Colts' gamble on their ability to revive Carson Wentz's career looking misjudged.

Since then, the Colts have enjoyed wins over the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans, sandwiched by a heartbreaking defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in which they let slip a 19-point lead and lost in overtime.

The performances in those last three games have led to renewed optimism around a team that has reached the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

Should Indianapolis knock off the San Francisco 49ers on the road in primetime, then the hype around the Colts will only grow.

Yet the 49ers figure to prove a difficult matchup for a quarterback whose performances in recent weeks have perhaps been slightly overrated.

Sub-par accuracy

Ninth in the league in yards per attempt (8.01) and with nine touchdowns to one interception, the numbers through six games for Wentz are impressive.

Yet his completion percentage is 64.2, 21st among 32 qualifying quarterbacks and that is reflected by his accuracy numbers.

Wentz, per Stats Perform data, has produced an accurate, well-thrown ball on 77.7 per cent of his passes, below the league average of 78.8 for quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts.

And he is set to face a Niners defense that has once again been among the league's best this season.

An intimidating defensive line

While the 49ers are themselves an underwhelming 2-3 and riding a three-game losing streak, their defense is excelling under new coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

The 49ers rank sixth in the NFL by yards per game allowed (329.8) and eighth in yards per play (5.29) and, while they are 30th in the NFL with only 76 pressures, they boast defensive linemen who can get Wentz out of rhythm.

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead and edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford have each dominated in 2021 when it comes to winning their individual matchups.

Armstead has a stunt-adjusted win percentage of 52.63 from his 49 pass rush matchups this year. Ford is next on 45 per cent while Bosa has an adjusted win percentage of 41.54 from 60 matchups. The league average for defensive linemen is 22 per cent.

They will each look to prosper against a Colts offense that has allowed the ninth-most pressures in the NFL (105) while the numbers suggest the Niners should excel at limiting the explosive plays on which Wentz has found joy in recent weeks.

Big plays not a guarantee

On passing attempts of 21 or more air yards, Wentz has the highest passer rating in the NFL (144.7).

He has completed 11 of 18 such attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns and showed off his deep-ball prowess during last week's rout of the Texans.

Wentz hooked up with Parris Campbell for a 51-yard touchdown and connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 52-yard reception; however, such plays are partially a reflection of the struggles of a Texans defense allowing 7.6 yards per pass play.

The 49ers, despite a spate of injuries to their cornerbacks, have allowed 43 pass plays of 10 yards or more, the fewest in the NFL. San Francisco's defense has conceded 16 pass plays of 20 yards or more, the seventh-fewest in the league.

Wentz, therefore, may be forced into a more conservative approach in a game expected to take place in inclement weather. Helpfully, he may be able to lean more on the running game, with San Francisco 16th in yards per rush allowed (4.26) and running back Jonathan Taylor fifth in the NFL in yards per carry (5.43) for players at his position as he enjoys a superb start to his second season.

Indianapolis' signal-caller can also afford to at least have confidence in his ability to avoid turnovers. His pickable pass percentage of 1.68 is the fourth best among quarterbacks with a minimum of 10 attempts and the 49ers have a league-low two takeaways to their name.

A closer look at the evidence from his reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich indicates Wentz might find success difficult on Sunday should the Colts need to win the game on his arm. If he contradicts the statistics and thrives against a tough defense on the road, then the optimism around Indianapolis will be more justified.

Kyle Shanahan needs to get the San Francisco 49ers winning again if their playoff potential is to be fulfilled, and this Sunday looks like a major opportunity.

To snap a three-game losing streak, the Niners (2-3) must get the better of an Indianapolis Colts side who, much like San Francisco themselves, have made an inconsistent start to the season.

By contrast, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are riding a three-game run of wins and have started 5-1 for just the fifth time in the history of the franchise, heading into a tussle with the Chicago Bears (3-3). Tom Brady has been a driving force so far as the Super Bowl winners carry on where they left off last season.

Patrick Mahomes has been hit and miss for the slow-starting Kansas City Chiefs, who will hope the NFL's highest-paid player can cut out throwing interceptions as they face the Tennessee Titans.


Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers

If coach Shanahan's 49ers are to turn around their season, then facing a Colts side who have begun 2-4 seems like a pretty good place to start. Yet the Colts have dominated this series of late, winning on their last four meetings, albeit most recently in 2017 when they snatched a 26-23 overtime success. It would not be stepping out of line to predict this could be tight, given the 49ers have played nine consecutive games that have been decided by eight or fewer points, going back to last season.

That is the longest active streak of such close games in the NFL and the longest streak in team history, and the Niners do not have the best recent return when games go close, posting a 3-6 record in this sequence.

San Francisco fell 17-10 to the Cardinals in their most recent game, two weeks ago, while the Colts hot-footed their way to a 31-3 trouncing of Houston last Sunday. That came despite Indianapolis earning just 15 first downs for the entire game. It was the first time the Colts had won by 28 or more points while only having 15 or fewer first downs since 1972 against New England.

In his 21st career game, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, meaning he surpassed 1,500 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and chalked up his 15th rushing touchdown in the NFL. Only four running backs in NFL history have hit all three of those milestones in fewer games than Taylor, with two of those doing so with the Colts – Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk.

San Francisco will hope to be recharged after a bye week. Deebo Samuel scored the fourth rushing touchdown of his career against the Cardinals, with Jerry Rice (10) the only wide receiver with more rushing touchdowns in 49ers history.

Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a dispiriting loss to the Green Bay Packers last time out, the Chicago Bears encounter a Tampa Bay team in sparkling recent form. Tampa Bay have started the season 5-1, doing so for the fifth time in franchise history, and on each of the previous occasions (2005, 2002, 1997 and 1979) they backed it up by reaching the playoffs. History could be made on Sunday, given the Buccaneers have never started a season with six wins through their first seven games.

Yet this is a game in which the Bears have traditionally, and recently, had the upper hand. Chicago have stacked up 40 wins in 60 all-time meetings against Tampa Bay, which is the most wins by any team against the Bucs. The Bears have also won the last two in the series, scoring victories in 2018 and 2020.

Tampa Bay can seemingly do no wrong when Brady is pulling the strings so masterfully. Brady leads the NFL with 2,064 passing yards, the second-highest total he has ever had through six games of a season – beaten only by his 2,163 passing yards at this stage in 2011. Prior to this year, no Tampa Bay quarterback had ever thrown for more than 1,800 yards through six games.

What have the Bears got to offer? Chicago are averaging 246.2 net yards per game, which is more than 20 yards per game less than any other team. The 1,477 yards is the fewest Chicago has had through six games since the 1993 season. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields needs to make something happen, but others must step up too. In his first career start, Khalil Herbert ran for 97 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay last time out.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans

"He's trying to make things happen," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, explaining away the two interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes in Week 6 against Washington. For Mahomes, that was a second straight game with at least two interceptions. He is tied with Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence in second position on the list of the most interceptions thrown this season, with his tally of eight so far only topped by Zach Wilson of the Jets.

This is only the second run that Mahomes has endured of throwing two or more interceptions in consecutive games, the previous dating back to Week 5 and 6 of the 2018 season, and Reid will hope his radar is better set for the clash with the Titans. Mahomes is still doing an awful lot right in 2021, but the fact remains he threw just six interceptions last season.

The Chiefs' unsteady 3-3 opening is their worst of the Mahomes era, and it was 2015 when they got off to a slower start. On that occasion they followed a 1-5 opening with 10 consecutive wins, a single-season record for Kansas City that was matched last season.

Tennessee's bright start has featured some notable performances. The Titans ran for 146 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in the 34-31 win over Buffalo on Monday night, taking them to 985 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns for the season. It is the first time in franchise history that the Bills have 10 or more rushing touchdowns and at least 975 rushing yards through six games.

Running back Derrick Henry has 10 rushing touchdowns so far, beating his career best of seven through six weeks in 2020. It puts him tied for the fourth most rushing touchdowns of all time through six weeks (Jim Brown 14, Shaun Alexander 12, Emmitt Smith 11).

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions face a tall order on the road against the Los Angeles Rams (5-1). Detroit are 0-6 for the first time since their 0-16 season in 2008 and have not scored more than 17 points in any of their last five games. Former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, now with Detroit, has thrown zero touchdown passes and an interception in each of his last two games.

The 5-1 Baltimore Ravens have recent history on their side ahead of a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, having won five successive games in their head-to-head series, including the last three by a brutal average of 31.7 points.

Heading into a home game against the Houston Texans (1-5), the Arizona Cardinals are on a 6-0 roll. This has only happened twice before in franchise history, but never before in Arizona. The St Louis Cardinals in 1974 and Chicago Cardinals in 1922 are the teams who both started their seasons 6-0 as well.

Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts could match an NFL record as the Eagles (2-4) tackle the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurts has rushed for two touchdowns in each of his last two games. Billy Kilmer, for San Francisco in 1961, is the only quarterback to achieve the feat in three straight games.

The Green Bay Packers last lost at home to Washington in 1988, winning five in a row since with home-field advantage, and they put a 5-1 season record to the test when the teams meet again. Washington (2-4) are yielding an NFL-worst 31.0 points per game in 2021, matching the team's worst mark through six games of a season in the Super Bowl era (1998).

Kyle Shanahan felt Trey Lance did enough to lead the San Francisco 49ers to victory in Week 5 but indicated Jimmy Garoppolo will again be the starting quarterback when healthy.

Lance, the third overall pick in this year's draft, made his first NFL start on Sunday in the Niners' 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, with Garoppolo on the shelf due to a calf contusion.

The rookie was unable to mark his first full game with a victory, completing 15 of his 29 passes for 192 yards and one interception, which came on his first drive.

But the dual-threat upside that helped convince the Niners to trade three first-round picks to move up in the draft for Lance was on show as he ran for 89 yards on 16 carries.

Lance would have found the endzone on a key fourth down on Arizona's one-yard line in the second quarter if not for a great stop by Isaiah Simmons.

The Niners went one for five on fourth down with those struggles and poor offensive execution from Lance's surrounding cast dooming a San Francisco team that outgained the unbeaten Cardinals 338 yards to 304.

Garoppolo appears on track to return after the Niners' Week 6 bye, San Francisco set to face the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 7, with Shanahan suggesting he will get the nod under center if he is healthy.

"No, nothing's changed," head coach Shanahan said of the situation at quarterback. "It's just one game. It's one game. It's a tough loss right there, and I'll talk to our whole team tomorrow and think of how we can get our whole team better coming back off the bye."

On Lance, he added: "I thought he did some really good things. It definitely wasn't perfect, which no one ever has been.

"The first pick I thought just sailed on him. He was going to the right spot but it just got away from him on the first drive.

"I thought overall, I think we could've done better around him. I thought he did good enough to win."

"The defense kept us in it, for sure," Lance said. "I mean, the [Cardinals'] offense is very explosive. They make a lot of big plays, and our defense definitely gave us a shot. So, we've got to capitalise, got to do better, make more plays.

"I'm obviously disappointed. I really wanted to win that game. But we'll keep our heads up, learn from it, learn as much as I can, get as better as I can from it.

"I'm super proud of these guys. Defensively, offensively, we competed. How hard these guys played, they battled through a lot, some tough penalties, things like that, but we're going to learn a lot from it, and we're going to be better for it."

Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers took another step in establishing themselves as NFL Super Bowl contenders as they pulled out a wild 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The lead changed hands seven times as Herbert and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield led their teams downfield almost at will, but the Chargers (4-1) scored last and the Browns (3-2) could not respond on Sunday.

Herbert continued building his MVP case as he went 26-of-43 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and ran for another score. 

The Chargers trailed 27-13 after a spectacular 52-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb on the opening drive of the second half, but Herbert led them back to take a 28-27 lead and the teams exchanged touchdowns from there. 

Los Angeles thought they had tied the game when Herbert hit Austin Ekeler for a 19-yard touchdown with 3:15 to play but Tristan Vizcaino missed his second extra point of the game to leave the Chargers trailing by a point. 

The Browns went three and out on the next possession and Herbert led the Chargers to the three-yard line, where the Cleveland defence helped Ekeler cross the goal line on purpose with 1:31 to play so the Browns could get the ball back. 

But Mayfield could not finish the job, throwing three successive incompletions from the Cleveland 47-yard line to give the Chargers the ball and end the game. 

Murray, Cardinals remain unbeaten

The Arizona Cardinals improved to 5-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL after pulling out a 17-10 win against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Kyler Murray's explosive Arizona offence entered the game averaging 35 points per game but had to scrape out the win as they were out-gained 338 to 304 by Trey Lance and the 49ers (2-3). 

Murray completed 22 of 31 passes for 239 yards and a key nine-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 5:13 to play that effectively put the game out of reach. 

Rookie quarterback Lance made his first start for San Francisco and completed just 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards with an interception, though he led all rushers in the game with 89 yards on the ground. 

Cowboys run away from battered Giants

The Dallas Cowboys took advantage of injuries to the New York Giants' two most important players on offence, rolling to a 44-20 home victory. 

The Giants lost quarterback Daniel Jones to a concussion and running back Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury and were outscored 27-7 after Graham Gano hit a field goal on the first drive of the second half. 

Dak Prescott completed 22 of 32 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns for Dallas, while Ezekiel Elliott ran for 110 yards and a score. 

Star tight end George Kittle has been placed on injured reserve by the San Francisco 49ers.

On the same day he turned 28, the Niners confirmed their two-time All-Pro had been subject to the roster move due to an ongoing calf problem.

The decision means Kittle must miss at least three matches, including the upcoming NFC West divisional matchup at the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, a game for which he had initially been listed as doubtful.

San Francisco are already without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who also has a calf problem, against the Cardinals, meaning rookie Trey Lance will start.

The team, who are 2-2 after losing two straight games, will hope Kittle is good to go again by Week 8 when they meet the Cardinals once more.

Kittle has struggled with his nagging injury for much of the 2021 season and has made just 19 catches for 227 yards, as he waits to score his first touchdown of the year.

He was restricted to just eight regular season games last year after suffering a broken foot.

Prior to those injury problems, Kittle had been utterly dominant in 2018 and 2019, helping the Niners to the Super Bowl in that period with 2,430 yards and 10 receiving TDs across 30 regular season games.

Kittle was a fifth-round draft pick ahead of the 2017 season.

Trey Lance will make his first start for the San Francisco 49ers against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Lance would get the start after Jimmy Garoppolo again missed practice on Friday.

Garoppolo suffered a calf contusion during the first offensive series in San Francisco's 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week.

He played the rest of the first half but was replaced by rookie third overall pick Lance for the second half.

Lance completed nine of his 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 41 yards on seven carries.

San Francisco traded three first-round selections to move up from the 12th pick to the third pick in this year's draft for the right to take Lance and make him their quarterback of the future.

Sunday will provide his first opportunity to prove the 2-2 Niners were right to make that move across the course of a full game.

Inexperienced even at the college level, Lance played only one full season as a starter for North Dakota State in 2019, which saw him account for 42 total touchdowns and zero interceptions, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting him to a one-game exhibition in 2020.

But Lance is undaunted by the challenge of stepping up to start at the highest level this early in his career against an undefeated Cardinals team.

"I feel very prepared. I really do. And I think that's a credit to the coaching staff and the guys around me," Lance told a media conference. 

"Those guys have made me feel very confident this week, and I feel confident in myself, just as I did going into the Seattle game, and just as I did every other week before this."

Lance is unlikely to have one of the 49ers' top offensive weapons available, with tight end George Kittle doubtful with a calf injury. Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell is set to return from a shoulder injury, meaning the running game will be almost exclusively in the hands of three rookies in the form of Lance, Mitchell and third-round pick Trey Sermon.

The Kansas City Chiefs will be out to burst the in-form Buffalo Bills' bubble when they meet in a standout NFL Week 5 showdown.

Buffalo stretched their winning run to three matches with a 40-0 rout of the Houston Texans last Sunday.

Week 4 was also one to remember for the Chiefs and particularly Andy Reid, who became the first coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two teams thanks to a 42-30 defeat of his former employers the Philadelphia Eagles.

As the only team with a perfect record, the Arizona Cardinals will look to make it 5-0 at the expense of the San Francisco 49ers.

Stats Perform previews the pick of the action in the next round of matches and the best of the rest.

 

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Bills are sitting pretty at the top of the AFC East at 3-1, but they have lost five of their past six meetings against the Chiefs.

Buffalo will be on a revenge mission after they were beaten 38-24 by Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game last season, the largest margin of victory for the Chiefs in those five triumphs.

The Bills' thrashing of the Texans was the second time this season they have kept an opponent scoreless, having also done so against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.

Reid's side prop up the AFC West with a 2-2 record, but their 18 touchdowns is more than any in the NFL and Josh Gordon will be hoping to add to that tally if he makes his debut.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' dream start to the season continued with a 37-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4, taking them to 4-0 for only the second time since moving to Arizona nine years after they previously won their opening four games.

If recent history is anything to go by, there will not be much in their showdown this weekend, as four of the past five meetings between the two sides have been decided by only three points.

The 2-2 49ers travel to State Farm Stadium having come out on top in four of their previous four meetings, having lost their eight clashes beforehand.

Deebo Samuel caught a 76-yard touchdown pass in San Francisco's 28-21 loss to Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, making him the fourth 49ers wide receiver to have multiple receiving touchdowns of 75-plus yards in a single season – joining Torrey Smith, John Taylor, and Jerry Rice.

Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers 

The Browns and the Chargers have made promising starts to the season and both come into the game on the back of wins that took them to 3-1.

Cleveland have not beaten the Chargers on the road since back in 1991, losing five on the spin since then – a run that is tied for their third-longest active road losing streak against an opponent (lost 17 straight in Pittsburgh and six straight at New England).

The past two games mark the first time the Browns have allowed seven points or fewer back-to-back since September 10-17, 1995. They have done so in three straight games only once in franchise history (in 1976).

Nick Chubb (388) and Kareem Hunt (355) are the second pair of running backs in the last 30 years to have 350+ scrimmage yards apiece over their team's first four games of a season. The other was the Chargers' Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler in 2018. 

Elsewhere

Tom Brady broke Drew Brees' NFL passing yards record in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over his former team the New England Patriots in Week 4 and could inflict more misery on the Dolphins this weekend. The legendary quarterback has thrown 67 touchdowns against Miami the third-most by a player against any opponent in the Super Bowl era (Dan Marino – 72 v. the New York Jets, Brady – 70 v. the Bills). 

The Green Bay Packers head to Cincinnati to do battle with the Bengals, who they beat 27-24 in their last encounter in 2017. That snapped a three-game winning streak by the Bengals in the series. The Packers' last win in Cincinnati came in Week 3 of the 1998 season.

Urban Meyer has come under fire for his night out after the Jacksonville Jaguars suffered a fourth loss from four last week and he really needs a win when the Florida team host the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee are 7-1 versus the Jaguars since 2017.

NFC East leaders the Dallas Cowboys will go in search of a fifth consecutive home win over the New York Giants.

We're at the point of the season where clear opinions can be formed of NFL teams, whether they be real life or fantasy.

Much can change in the coming weeks but, with four weeks in the books, a divide between the contenders and pretenders is starting to emerge in the NFL, and that will also be the case in fantasy leagues around the globe.

But whether you're looking to maintain a strong start or recover from an underwhelming one, the need to make the right lineup decisions remains. This is no time to get complacent or to get too downhearted and take picking your starters more lightly.

With that in mind, Stats Perform has picked four offensive players and a defense who should be starting in Week 5.

 

Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

Having thrown for over 300 yards and a touchdown against a stout Denver Broncos defense last week, Jackson now gets to come home to face a Colts defense allowing 7.35 yards per pass play.

With the turnover-prone Carson Wentz quarterbacking the Colts' offense, Jackson should find plenty of opportunities to pad his stats. Always a must-start, this is a week to be especially excited about owning Jackson in fantasy.

Running Back: Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Held to 34 yards on nine carries on his return from injury last week against the Cleveland Browns, Cook gets a much more inviting matchup in Week 5.

Only two teams, the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the winless Lions. Don't hesitate if Cook is on your roster, slot him into a starting role and back him to return to the endzone.

Wide Receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

There may be some reluctance to start Samuel given the uncertain situation surrounding the 49ers at quarterback and their Week 5 opponent, the unbeaten Cardinals. However, it is not merited.

Samuel leads the NFL in receiving yards with 490, putting him on pace for over 2,000. Maintaining that is unlikely but, averaging 10.5 targets per game, Samuel stands as the clear number one target in the Niners' offense regardless of who is under center.

Each of Trey Lance's touchdowns last week in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo were thrown to Samuel. His target share and the challenge the Niners will likely face in having to keep up with an extremely potent Cardinals offense means any concerns over the quarterback and the matchup should be ignored.

Tight End: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots @ Houston Texans

Henry and Jonnu Smith have yet to deliver on the lucrative contracts they signed with New England in the offseason, but a trip to face the lowly Texans should be just the tonic they need.

Former Los Angeles Charger Henry found the endzone for the first time as a Patriot against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.

Now he gets the chance to face a Texans defense allowing the second-most fantasy points in the league to opposing tight ends. It's time for the Patriots' investment in him to start paying dividends.

Defense: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

Not much is going right for the 1-3 Steelers, but their defense, while not at its 2020 levels, is still a tough one to crack and is tied fourth with 29 opponent plays for negative yardage.

With Teddy Bridgewater in the concussion protocol, the likelihood is Drew Lock will get the start at quarterback for Denver. Lock was tied for the league lead with 15 interceptions last season and threw his first of this year in relief of Bridgewater last week versus the Ravens. 

Long story short, start the Steelers' defense.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo remains a chance to play in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals despite a calf injury according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Garoppolo suffered a bruised calf in the 49ers' 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and was unable to play the second half.

Shanahan will wait on further tests on Garoppolo's calf but was comforted on Monday knowing that the injury would not sideline his preferred quarterback long term.

"It does mean he has a chance," Shanahan said. "It wasn't as bad as what we thought it might have been. He's in a lot of pain, still sore.

"Hopefully by the time he comes in Wednesday, if it's getting better, then he'll have a good chance. If it hasn't improved at all by Wednesday, it will probably be a little bit longer."

If Garoppolo is unable to play, Shanahan will know he can turn to 2021 NFL Draft pick three Trey Lance, who made two touchdowns in Sunday's loss.

Lance played the second half against Seattle in Garoppolo's absence, completing nine from 18 attempts for 157 yards, running seven times for 41 yards.

Shanahan will also be sweating on the fitness of left tackle Trent Williams who has a right shoulder concern.

"I think Trent, we got a little bit better news than Jimmy, but Jimmy, we've got to see how he reacts here in the next two days," Shanahan said.

"But both of them were definitely better news today than the feeling we had last night."

The 49ers have a Week 6 bye, before their next game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday October 24 which may come into Shanahan's consideration.

Page 4 of 8
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.