Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a stunning second successive defeat as they were upset by the Washington Football Team in Week 10.

Despite injury issues at wide receiver and cornerback, normal service was expected to be resumed when the Buccaneers made the trip to FedEx Field having lost to the New Orleans Saints prior to last week's bye.

But a rematch from last season's Wild Card Round instead went the way of a Washington team who entered the week with just two wins to their name.

Taylor Heinicke, whose performance in that playoff matchup catapulted him to cult hero status, led a key game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to close out a 29-19 victory for Washington, who had earlier lost star defensive end Chase Young to what is believed to be a torn ACL, after the Buccaneers had pulled within one score.

Tom Brady was intercepted twice in the Bucs' first three offensive series, with Washington turning that second turnover into a touchdown as Heinicke connected with DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the hosts 13-0 up following a pair of early field goals.

The Bucs' offense could only manage a pair of field goals, sandwiched by another for Washington from Joey Slye, in response before half-time and Tampa Bay continued to struggle to take advantage of what has been a porous defense thereafter even minus the presence of stud pass rusher Young.

They finally knocked down the door in the third quarter with a four-play, 43-yard drive that ended with Brady finding tight end Cameron Brate for the score, only for Washington to reply in kind as Antonio Gibson was pushed over the goal-line by a scrum of team-mates.

A Dax Milne fumble was followed by a 40-yard strike from Brady to Mike Evans to fray Washington nerves with over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, Ryan Succop missed the critical extra point to leave Tampa Bay four points adrift, before Heinicke led a clutch clock-killing drive that was capped with Gibson's second touchdown to drop the Bucs to 6-3 and deal their hopes of claiming the number one seed in the NFC a substantial blow.

Titans hold off Saints

The 8-2 Tennessee Titans remain the frontrunner for the top seed in the AFC, having stretched their extremely impressive winning streak to six games by edging the New Orleans Saints 23-21.

Ryan Tannehill threw for 213 yards and a touchdown while running for another, wideout Marcus Johnson emerging with a 100-yard game a day after Julio Jones was placed on injured reserve by Tennessee. The Saints pulled within two late in the fourth quarter when Trevor Siemian hit Marquez Callaway for a 15-yard touchdown, but both the two-point conversion and the subsequent onside kick came up short for New Orleans.

While the Saints lost for the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a shock loss with a 43-3 rout of the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills crushed the New York Jets 45-17 a week on from an upset in Jacksonville.

Lions finally don't lose, but don't win

The Detroit Lions' 2021 season has been one defined by gut-wrenching defeats.

They avoided such a fate on this week, but missed a golden opportunity to claim their first win since last December in a 16-16 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, missing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to coronavirus.

Ryan Santoso had a 48-yard field goal to win the game for the Lions in overtime after a Diontae Johnson fumble, but saw his kick come up short of the goalposts.

The Steelers appeared to be driving for a game-winning kick in the waning seconds of the extra period, yet Pat Freiermuth's fumble ensured a bizarre game ended level, Pittsburgh failing to take advantage of losses for AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, whose quarterback Baker Mayfield was injured in a crushing 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

The Tennessee Titans have placed wide receiver Julio Jones on injured reserve.

Jones has battled a hamstring injury this season, limiting his impact for the Titans, who acquired him in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons in June. 

The seven-time Pro Bowler, who was limited to nine games with the Falcons last year because of injury, has made 21 catches for 336 yards in six games for the Titans.

He will now have to miss at least three games before being allowed to return.

The Titans sit atop the AFC having compiled a 7-2 record through the first nine games.

Jones will miss this Sunday's clash with the New Orleans Saints as well as meetings with the Houston Texans and New England Patriots.

His absence places further pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and leading receiver A.J. Brown to carry the offense, which had already lost star running back Derrick Henry to a fractured foot.

Alvin Kamara will sit out the New Orleans Saints' game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday with a knee injury. 

Star running back Kamara did not practice on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and will be absent for the crunch Week 10 matchup against the number one team in the AFC. 

The four-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 530 yards and three touchdowns in his eight appearances for New Orleans this season. 

His absence is another significant blow for head coach Sean Payton, with starting quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas already sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

The 5-3 Saints are in with a decent shot of making the postseason but will have to bounce back from a 27-25 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons when they take on the 7-2 Titans. 

Trevor Siemian will again start at quarterback, having completed 25 of his 41 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Falcons. 

Even at the midway point of the NFL season, it is difficult to make definitive judgments about many teams in the 2021 campaign.

The AFC is a jumbled mess with no clear frontrunner, though the Tennessee Titans may feel differently after surging to the top of the conference with a 7-2 record. 

In the NFC, it is easier to discern the elite, but picking the teams who will claim the last two Wild Card spots from a crowded field is not a simple task.

What we can do, however, is look at the standings and see which teams are either over or underperforming.

Stats Perform has done just that by assessing the records of every team compared to their power rating, a model that, using X-info data, looks at seven different facets of each team: quarterback, offensive skill players, run blocking, pass blocking, pass rush, run defense and pass coverage, and the player rates associated with each.

These seven facets are weighted according to modelled importance, and then aggregated to a team-level rating.

And that process has produced some clear standouts who either have more wins than the model suggests they deserve or are failing to live up to its expectations.

Overperforming

New Orleans Saints – Power rating: 29th

If Sean Payton isn't getting Coach of the Year hype come the end of the season, something has gone severely wrong.

Payton has the Saints in position to claim an NFC Wild Card berth at 5-3 despite a quarterback situation most would struggle to overcome, with Trevor Siemian stepping in to replace the injured Jameis Winston.

The Saints' most pressing issue beyond signal-caller is at wide receiver. Their most targeted receiver, Marquez Callaway, is registering a burn – or, in other words, winning his matchup with his defender when targeted – 56.4 per cent of the time, below the average of 60.6 for wideouts (min. 10 targets).

That has led New Orleans to lean on running back Alvin Kamara and the defense.

Kamara is unsurprisingly making the most of his significant opportunities as a receiver, his big-play percentage of 23.6 fourth among backs with at least 10 targets.

The defense is allowing a league-low 3.19 yards per carry and leads the NFL in run disruption rate, but comparative struggles against the pass (6.92 yards per play) and in getting after the quarterback could spell trouble if Siemian cannot maintain a surprisingly strong start to his time under center.

Cincinnati Bengals – Power rating: 23rd

The Bengals have been brought back down to earth with a bump over the past two games, losing to the New York Jets before being blown out by the Cleveland Browns.

First in the AFC before that slump, they are now last in the AFC North but, with a 5-4 record, they can still be considered to be outperforming expectations.

The problem area for the Bengals continues to be the trenches. Joe Burrow has been sacked eight times over the past two games, Cincinnati's struggles up front reflected by a ranking of 21st in pass protection win rate.

Things have been worse up front on defense, the Bengals 30th in pass rush win rate despite the best efforts of Trey Hendrickson, who has beaten a pass blocker on 28 of his 43 pressures.

Burrow has the best percentage of well-thrown balls among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. He is delivering an accurate pass on 84.4 per cent of attempts.

His second-year leap is no mirage and has been aided by the outstanding rookie season of former LSU team-mate Ja'Marr Chase, eighth among receivers (min. 50 targets) with 3.5 burn yards per route. Yet, without improvement in other areas, elevating the Bengals back to the postseason could prove too much of a challenge for that truly dynamic duo.

Arizona Cardinals – Power rating: 16th

The Cardinals being this low down the list may be difficult to reconcile given they are 8-1 and just convincingly beat the San Francisco 49ers with their backup quarterback.

Yet holes have emerged on a defense now without J.J. Watt, whose addition had proven so critical to the interior of the D-line.

Arizona's defense is allowing 4.81 yards per rush, the second-most in the NFL, with the Cardinals in 22nd in run disruption rate.

Their pass rush win rate position of 24th belies the production of Markus Golden (nine sacks) and Chandler Jones (six), with those numbers suggesting the Cardinals' strength against the pass is more a product of the impressive play of a secondary that has surpassed expectations.

Though there is reason for doubt when it comes to the Cardinals' defense, this is a team that will go as far as Kyler Murray and the offense.

Murray is firmly in the MVP mix with a well-thrown percentage of 81.3, and receivers DeAndre Hopkins (80.9) and Christian Kirk (79.2) are each in the top five among wideouts (min. 10 targets) for burn rate.

With an offensive line ranked eighth in pass protection win rate doing an excellent job of keeping Murray clean, the Cards have an offensive recipe well suited to winning in 2021.

Yet their power rating and performance on defense indicates this team is not as complete as their record suggests.

Tennessee Titans – Power rating: 18th

Five straight wins, including victories over the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, and the Titans are only 18th?!

It may be difficult to believe, but Tennessee's position in the bottom half of the NFL by power rating is one mirrored by the Titans' spot in Stats Perform's Efficiency Versus Expected (EVE) rankings.

EVE looks at several factors to train a model to predict yardage output for any game situation and then compares the projected yards to the actual yards gained or prevented in those situations.

The Titans are a disappointing 17th in EVE, despite Ryan Tannehill enjoying a season that has seen him deliver an accurate well-thrown ball on 83.5 per cent of his passes.

But Tannehill is now without his security blanket with Derrick Henry, who was threatening Eric Dickerson's rushing record and averaging 3.05 yards per carry on disrupted runs, and is throwing to a receiving corps that has just one member, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (63.6), with a burn percentage above 60.

Their stunning primetime win in Los Angeles was largely a product of turnovers and a startling amount of pressure from the defensive front, and the latter appears unlikely to be sustainable.

In the bottom half of the league in pass rush win rate (31st) and run disruption rate (27th), the production the Titans have got from the likes of Harold Landry, Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons has not been the result of consistent dominance up front.

The story is the same for an offensive line ranked 29th in pass protection and 17th in run block win rate. Beyond Tannehill and Henry, areas where the Titans consistently excel are not obvious. The receivers will need to step up or the defense will need to prove a breakout performance against the Rams was not an anomaly for Tennessee to turn the doubters into believers.

Underperforming

Kansas City Chiefs – Power rating: 3rd

The uneven nature of the Chiefs' performances to this point makes them moving to 5-4 last week actually seem pretty impressive.

Yet, for all their issues on defense, and the doubts about an offense lacking the explosiveness of years gone by, the Chiefs should have fared even better over the first nine games, at least according to their power rating.

Though Kansas City only managed 13 points in their win over the Green Bay Packers, it is the Chiefs' offense that provides the most cause for optimism.

Patrick Mahomes' well-thrown percentage of 79 is above the league average of 78.5 for quarterbacks with a minimum of 10 attempts, and he is being well protected by the Chiefs' reworked offensive line.

The Chiefs rank fourth in pass protection win rate and first in run block win rate, with their rushing average of 4.62 yards per play the eighth-best in the NFL.

It is those game-changing downfield shots that are conspicuous by their absence for the Chiefs, with Tyreek Hill's underwhelming big-play percentage of 24.8 illustrating their struggles in that regard.

But this remains a team set up for offensive success, and if a defense that has not allowed a 300-yard passing game since Week 5 can continue making incremental improvements, Kansas City could yet enjoy the season many envisioned.

San Francisco 49ers – Power rating: 8th

A route to contention is not as easy to plot for the 3-5 49ers, who continue to beat themselves with mistakes that negate their overall efficiency.

The 49ers are eighth in EVE, with their position in offensive yards over expected (eighth) and yards allowed under expected (14th) painting the picture of a top-half team on both sides of the ball.

Yet a turnover differential of -9 that is superior to only that of the New York Jets (-12) makes a losing season a more realistic possibility for the Niners than a playoff push.

The offense is the primary source of hope. Deebo Samuel is on pace for over 1,800 receiving yards and his 4.1 burn yards per route are second for receivers with at least 50 targets, while George Kittle had a 100-yard game on his return from injury last week and ranks second among tight ends (min. 10 targets) with 3.1 burn yards per route.

With rookie Elijah Mitchell impressing at running back, Brandon Aiyuk emerging from Kyle Shanahan's doghouse and a line ranked in the top 10 in pass protection and run block win rate, the Niners theoretically have the offense to compete with anyone.

Poor execution has prevented them from doing so. If the Niners are to somehow stay in the hunt, the turnovers must stop, but change is also required on defense.

The 49ers have struggled to disrupt the run, and disappointing secondary play has limited the impact of a stellar season from Nick Bosa, whose adjusted pass rush win rate of 41.09 per cent is way above the average of 21.88 for edge rushers.

Time is running out for San Francisco to figure it out; if the Niners cannot do that, it will be another frustrating year for a team too talented to be struggling this much.

Minnesota Vikings – Power rating: 10th

It has been a typical Vikings season, with a talented and potent offense seeing their efforts go largely unrewarded as they have flirted with both triumph and disaster late in games on a near-weekly basis.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins might have an MVP case were the Vikings in a better position to contend. He has been extremely accurate, posting a well-thrown percentage of 81.8, and has generally avoided turnover-worthy plays, throwing just four pickable passes on 285 attempts.

Dalvin Cook's missed tackle per touch rate of 0.269 is the best among running backs with at least 50 carries, and Justin Jefferson is again one of the league's elite separators at receiver, as evidenced by his burn rate of 72.1 per cent.

Yet the Vikings are only 13th in offensive yards over expected, speaking to an issue that continues to hold this team back, with Minnesota again in the lower reaches of the league in pass protection win rate.

It has been a different story on the other side of the trenches, the Vikings seventh in pass rush win rate, though the absence of Danielle Hunter with a torn pectoral muscle may see them lose that position.

Soft against the run, allowing the third-highest yards per rush (4.77) in the NFL, the Vikings are a team whose lofty power rating is easily explained through a loaded passing game and a pass rush that has excelled through their first eight games.

But their 3-5 record is reflective of an incomplete team that maintains an obvious weakness in the trenches and lacks the defensive solidity to put games to bed. The Vikings may be a top 10 team on paper, but it is tough to trust them to perform to that standard consistently.

Matthew Stafford's performance through his first eight games in a Los Angeles Rams uniform put him in the NFL MVP conversation, but Sunday felt more like the bad old days in Detroit for the veteran quarterback. 

Hounded throughout the game by the Tennessee Titans' defence, Stafford threw two critical interceptions as the Rams fell 28-16 at home.

The turning point of the game occurred early in the second quarter, when Stafford tried to throw the ball away while being pulled down by Jeffrey Simmons in the end zone. 

His blind heave landed in the arms of Titans linebacker David Long, who returned it to the two-yard line and set up a Tennessee touchdown on the next play. 

The Rams (7-2) got the ball back after the kick-off and Stafford took to the air again, trying to hit Robert Woods, but Titans defensive back Kevin Byard jumped it and went 24 yards for the Titans' second TD in 11 seconds. 

It was the 24th time Stafford had an interception returned for a touchdown, the most of any active NFL quarterback. 

"I mean, I basically spotted them 14 points," Stafford told reporters. "Can't do that in the NFL, especially against a good team like that that wants to get out in front, run the football, mix coverages, do all that kind of stuff. Just wasn't good enough early in the game.

"Turnovers really killed us and those are on me, so if I clean those up and I know I will, I've got a lot of confidence in this team to go out there and play some really good football."

Though Stafford could have made better decisions on both of those plays, Tennessee's defenders were flying around the field all game. 

The Rams had surrendered an NFL-low eight sacks through the first eight games, but the Titans (7-2) brought down Stafford five times on Sunday.

"Those guys played fantastic," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said of his defence. "It was fun to watch them play. 

"We really think that group is playing with a lot of confidence right now. They would be able to come in here and play the way they did and hold them to field goals, and we played great in red zone."

Tennessee twice forced the Rams to settle for field goals in the red zone and did not surrender a touchdown until Stafford threw a three-yard pass to Sony Michel with 24 seconds to play in the game. 

It all added up to a winning formula for the Titans even as they managed just 194 yards of total offence while playing without their injured star Derrick Henry. 

"Those guys played some great ball defensively. It made up for our lack of offence," said veteran running back Adrian Peterson, who signed with Tennessee this week and scored his 125th career touchdown.

"You hear all this talk about the Rams' defence. What about the Titans' defence? Those guys came out and played outstanding."

Half a minute made all the difference as the Tennessee Titans' defence made two huge plays in quick succession to stun the Los Angeles Rams 28-16 in the NFL on Sunday.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions in a 26-second span early in the second quarter, leading to a pair of rapid-fire Titans touchdowns. 

The first was an ill-advised attempt to throw the ball away while being dragged down in the end zone that David Long intercepted at the Rams' eight-yard line.

After Geoff Swaim scored on a two-yard TD pass from Titans QB Ryan Tannehill on the ensuing play, Stafford's next pass was picked off and returned 24 yards for a TD by Kevin Byard. 

Tannehill would run the ball in for another score prior to half-time as the Titans built a 21-3 lead before handing the game over to their ferocious defence, which sacked Stafford five times after LA entered the game with only eight sacks allowed all season. 

Titans recruit Adrian Peterson scored his 125th career TD, joining 11 other players to score 125-plus career touchdowns.

The Rams (7-2) would not find the end zone until Stafford hit Sony Michel for a short TD with 24 seconds remaining in the game as they fell behind the victorious Arizona Cardinals (8-1) in the division race. 

Tennessee (7-2) now hold the best record in the AFC despite being out-gained 347-194 as star running back Derrick Henry remains sidelined with a foot injury.

Tannehill completed 19 of 27 passes for just 143 yards with a TD and an interception but his 79.7 passer rating was still better than Stafford's 71.0 after the Rams QB finished 31-of-48 passing for 294 yards. 

The Green Bay Packers head into Week 9 with a 7-1 record, though coach Matt LaFleur will have to figure out a way past the Kansas City Chiefs without his star quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers – who has thrown for 1,894 yards and made 17 touchdown passes this season – will miss his first Packers game since 2017 after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Arizona Cardinals are also now at 7-1 after losing their unbeaten record with a defeat to the Packers last week, and will be looking to get back to winning ways against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Los Angeles Rams are the only other team in the NFL that sits at 7-1 going into Week 9, and are set for a fascinating contest with the 6-2 Tennessee Titans.

 

Green Bay Packers (7-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)

Overcoming Rodgers' absence will be no easy feat for Green Bay. Since the 37-year-old took over as the starter in 2008, the Packers are 133-64-1 with him, and 6-11-1 without.

The Packers knocked off the last unbeaten team in Week 8 with a 24-21 win at Arizona and are now on a seven-game winning streak, their longest within a single season since going 13-0 in 2011 on their way to a 15-1 record. Their only loss that season came in Kansas City.

The Chiefs hold a 7-4-1 record over Green Bay, but the Packers have won three of the last four meetings. They most recently played in Week 8 in 2019, with the Packers triumphing 31-24 at Arrowhead. Kansas City went 10-1 following that game on their way to winning the Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to that championship and since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2018, Kansas City have had just six games with 20 or fewer points, including the postseason. Three of those games have come this season (Weeks 5, 7 and 8).

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 12 receptions in the Chiefs' 20-17 win against the Giants on Monday, one shy of tying a career high (set in Week 12, 2020 at Tampa Bay). The Chiefs are 15-2 (regular and postseason) when Hill has at least eight receptions.

Arizona Cardinals (7-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-4)

This will be the second meeting in the NFC West for these two teams this season, with Arizona already enjoying a 17-10 home win over San Francisco in Week 5. It is, though, the only game in which the Cardinals have not scored at least 21 points this year. The Cardinals have won five of their last six road games against the Niners, with three of those wins coming by at least 10 points.

The 24 points scored against the Cardinals by the Packers in Week 8 in their first loss of the campaign was the second most allowed by Arizona this season (33 against Minnesota in Week 2). Their average of 17.3 points allowed per game ranks third in the NFL.

San Francisco beat the Chicago Bears 33-22 last week, breaking a four-game losing streak and scoring their most points since a 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 1. Since the start of last season, the Niners are 1-10 at home and 8-4 on the road.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and ran for two touchdowns in Chicago. The only 49ers player with more passing yards in a game while also rushing for multiple scores is Steve Young, who had games with 355 yards (1994), 348 (1991) and 331 (1998).

Tennessee Titans (6-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-1)

Including their win in Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams have an all-time record of 8-5 against the Titans/Oilers franchise. The Titans' last game at the Rams in southern California came in Week 9, 1990, which saw a 17-13 Rams win over the then-Oilers in Anaheim.

Tennessee beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-31 in overtime last Sunday. It was their third overtime game this year, tying the franchise record for most overtime games in a single season (1983).

The Rams, meanwhile, defeated the Houston Texans 38-22 after leading 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter. They are one of two teams (along with the Dallas Cowboys) to score at least 20 points in every game this season.

Cooper Kupp had 115 receiving yards and a touchdown in that win in Houston, his third straight 100-yard game. Kupp has 10 touchdown catches from the first eight games of the season, second in Rams history only to Elroy Hirsch (12 TDs in 1951).

Elsewhere...

The New England Patriots travel to Carolina to face the Panthers on Sunday, where Mac Jones is set to make history. The rookie quarterback has 1,997 passing yards in his eight games in the NFL so far. Drew Bledsoe currently holds the record for fewest games needed to reach 2,000 passing yards with the Patriots (11). Butch Songin and Tom Brady managed it in 12 games.

The Minnesota Vikings will be hoping to end Lamar Jackson's impressive record against NFC teams. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is 11-0 all-time as a starter in those meets, throwing for 1,901 yards and 17 touchdowns while running for 995 yards with six scores. 

Despite differing seasons, it could be a close contest in Jacksonville. Including the playoffs, the Bills (5-2) and Jaguars (1-6) have split eight all-time encounters when the Jags are the home team, with both teams scoring exactly 161 points. 

A clash in the AFC North sees the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) host the Cleveland Browns (4-4), where Joe Burrow will be trying to become the first quarterback in Bengals history to throw three or more touchdown passes in four straight games. Andy Dalton also had three straight games of three or more TD passes in October 2013.

Von Miller may have to wait to make his Los Angeles Rams debut, with head coach Sean McVay wanting to "ease him back in" after an ankle injury.

Miller, 32, joined the Rams from the Denver Broncos in a blockbuster trade on Monday, which significantly boosts McVay's 7-1 side and their NFL Super Bowl prospects.

A Super Bowl winner and MVP, Miller arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday and underwent a physical and onboarding but sat out practice on Wednesday, ahead of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

Miller missed the Broncos' Week 8 game due to an ankle injury suffered against the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, putting his availability to face the Titans in doubt.

"He'll do some limited work off to the side, just getting a feel for where his ankle is at. He hasn't been with us," McVay told reporters about Miller on Wednesday.

"Want to be smart, want to be able to ease him back in. We'll see what that looks like a day at a time."

McVay said the eight-time Pro Bowler was eager to play for his new team.

"Oh yeah, he's going to do everything in his power to try to play," McVay said. "But I think there's an element of let's take it a day at a time and let's be smart, let's get a feel for how he's doing, but this guy is an elite competitor and he definitely wants to be able to do that."

Miller has a pressure rate of 24.8 per cent, which was well above the pre-Week 8 average of 17.2 per cent for edge rushers.

McVay also revealed quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Robert Woods should both face the Titans, despite not practicing on Wednesday.

"We're fairly banged up so we're going to take a little bit more modified approach to practice this week," McVay said, adding later, "it's more about just being smart, being safe."

The Rams beat the Houston Texans 38-22 on the road last week after leading 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter. They are one of two teams (also the Dallas Cowboys) to score at least 20 points in every game this season, according to Stats Perform.

Meanwhile, the Rams have scored points in every half dating back to Week 13 in 2019 – their streak of 58 consecutive halves is the second-longest active streak (Baltimore, 135), per Stats Perform.

The Titans (6-2) will be without running back Derrick Henry, who underwent foot surgery on Tuesday.

Derrick Henry faces foot surgery on Tuesday after suffering what could prove a season-ending injury in the Tennessee Titans' win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The star running back is reported to have suffered a broken bone, with Titans coach Mike Vrabel saying Henry will "work extremely hard to get back".

The Titans have leaned on Henry as the focal point of their offense for the last three seasons and his absence will come as a major setback.

Tennessee improved to 6-2 with their 34-31 overtime victory in Indianapolis on Sunday, but Henry was placed on injured reserve a day later.

"Derrick is going to have surgery in the morning [on Tuesday]," Vrabel said, quoted on the Titans' official website. "We are not going to put a timeline on when he may return.

"I know that he'll do everything that he can to work himself back, to be able to help this football team. And whenever that is, that's when it will be."

This year, Henry has produced consistency that was putting put him in position to threaten Eric Dickerson's 1984 record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season.

He leads the NFL with 937 yards, 288 more than his nearest challenger, the Colts' Jonathan Taylor.

Henry carried the ball a league-leading 303 times in 2019 and increased that number to 379 last season, winning the rushing title in back-to-back years.

The former Alabama star had already tallied 219 rush attempts this season, putting him way out ahead in the NFL, with backup Jeremy McNichols used predominantly as a pass-catcher.

Vrabel said: "We'll have to move on unfortunately without him in the short term, and not look back. I hate to speak for our players, but Derrick is disappointed, everybody is.

"We spent a lot of time together with the coaching staff and with the players, so you never want to see any of them injured in any capacity. So I know that Derrick is going to work extremely hard to get back to do everything he can to help this football team."

Dickerson's record no longer appears to be in any danger, and the AFC South-leading Titans are likely to put an increased burden on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Henry's absence.

A lot has gone right for the Tennessee Titans in 2021. With three straight wins, two against the supposed class of the AFC in the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, and a 6-2 record, they can afford to feel extremely positive about the season to date.

But if anyone in Tennessee was plotting a deep playoff run akin to the Titans' unlikely charge to the AFC Championship Game back in the 2019 season, a huge wrench has just been thrown in those plans.

Indeed, the Titans must now deal with a significant piece of adversity following the news Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury in their Week 8 victory over the Indianapolis Colts that could keep him out for the rest of the season.

There is some hope Henry could return this campaign but the reality is they will be without the clear focal point of their offense for the majority of a run that will determine their playoff seeding, the Titans appearing destined for the postseason having taken a commanding three-game lead in the AFC South.

Gone are Henry's hopes of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, though his absence does not necessarily mean the end of the Titans' hopes of seriously contending in the AFC.

While the Titans have piled much of the offensive burden on a running back who has 288 more rushing yards than any other in the NFL, there has been enough evidence from Ryan Tannehill to suggest he can handle the increased pressure not having Henry will bring, and his connection with a third-year receiver living up to his burgeoning reputation may help him do that.

Tannehill on target

His performance in Sunday's dramatic 34-31 overtime win over the Colts was not Tannehill's finest.

Tannehill was intercepted twice in the first half, his first setting up Indianapolis' second touchdown to put the Colts 14-0.

The second pick was fumbled back to the Titans on the return, Tannehill taking advantage of that reprieve to lead the Titans down the field and tie the game at 14-14.

From that point on, Tannehill was largely in rhythm, displaying timing and accuracy that was reflected by his well-thrown percentage from Week 8.

Per Stats Perform data, Tannehill delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 84.4 per cent of his 33 pass attempts.

Tannehill's ratio in that regard being so high is not a surprise, given he has excelled throughout the season at producing on-target throws.

Among quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts, only Joe Burrow (84) has a superior percentage of well-thrown balls than Tannehill (82.9).

With his 7.95 air yards per attempt below the league-wide average of 8.19, Tannehill may need to get more aggressive to help Tennessee record more explosive plays minus the services of a back in Henry who leads the NFL with 20 rushes of 10 yards or more in 2021.

Yet when he is in a groove, Tannehill can be a difficult quarterback to slow down, especially when his top receiver is performing at his highest standard.

Brown at this best

The Titans did not have Julio Jones against the Colts, but his absence was ultimately immaterial as A.J. Brown emphatically rose to the challenge of replacing his production in a monstrous showing.

Brown finished with season highs in catches (10) and receiving yards (155) and galloped in for a 57-yard catch and run that tied matters in the second quarter, demonstrating his upside with ball in hand by shrugging off a weak tackle attempt from Xavier Rhodes and surging down the sideline and into the endzone.

His chemistry with Tannehill evident throughout an undulating contest, Brown proved near-impossible to stop on the slant route, getting open on 90.9 per cent of his targets according to Stats Perform data.

While Brown appears to be coming into form, the Titans will need more from Jones having traded for the former Atlanta Falcons star in the offseason.

Jones is producing a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on 59.3 per cent of his targets, below the average of 60.8 for receivers (min. five targets) this season.

With the safety net of Henry gone, the Titans will likely need to lean on the passing game more to allow them to set up running opportunities against two-high safety defenses with lighter boxes designed to stop the aerial attack.

The Titans do not require Jones to separate to the extent Brown did against Indianapolis, but more consistency in beating defenders from the seven-time Pro Bowler is a must if Tennessee's offense is to excel without Henry against defenses of the standard they will face in Week 9.

Huge test out west

The credentials of the Henry-less Titans will be tested sternly right off the bat, as they travel to take on a Los Angeles Rams team that just received a huge boost to their defense.

On Monday it was reported the Rams had struck a deal for three-time first-team All-Pro Von Miller, who leads the league in sacks since 2011 with 110.5 and is still performing at an elite level at the age of 32. 

Miller's arrival sees him join Aaron Donald on the Rams' defensive front, giving Los Angeles two players who feature in the top four in Stats Perform's adjusted pass rush win percentage.

Prior to Week 8, Donald led the way with a stunt-adjusted win percentage of 60.2, while Miller was fourth on 47.1. That duo now gets to face a Titans offensive line that went into the week ranked 30th in pass protection win percentage.

Tannehill, therefore, should expect to come under plenty of fire in this primetime road game, meaning he will need to get the ball out quickly to negate the pass rush.

His snap to release time of 2.59 seconds is quicker than the average of 2.65 seconds, but a significant part of his potential success in maintaining that will be receivers expediently gaining the separation to give him the confidence to let rip with those quick-game throws that can keep him in rhythm.

That may be a tough ask against a secondary featuring an All-Pro corner in Jalen Ramsey who, prior to Week 8, had lost just six of his 70 coverage matchups.

But when Brown and Jones are both are healthy, the Titans have the receiving weapons to lean on the pass-catchers who do not draw Ramsey's coverage.

Tennessee's success in exploiting the matchups where the Titans have the advantage will play a critical role in deciding who wins the meeting with the Rams. The trip to Los Angeles figures to serve as an excellent barometer of where the Titans are without Henry, and it is the play of Tannehill, Brown and Jones that will determine how much of a threat they can be without their most feared weapon.

Derrick Henry reportedly suffered a potential season-ending foot injury in the Tennessee Titans' win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Titans improved to 6-2 with their 34-31 overtime victory in Indianapolis on Sunday.

However, it may have come at a massive cost, with ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting Henry could now miss the remainder of the campaign.

Subsequent reports have revealed Henry is believed to have broken a bone in his foot and is set to undergo an MRI scan.

It is tough to oversell Henry's importance to the Titans, who have leaned on the running back as the undisputed focal point of their offense for the last three seasons.

This season, Henry has produced consistency to put him in position to threaten Eric Dickerson's record for rushing yards in a single season.

He leads the NFL with 947 yards, 288 more than his nearest challenger, the Colts' Jonathan Taylor.

Averaging 117.1 yards per game, he is on pace for 1,990, though several more performances of 100 yards or more could put him within striking distance of the 2,105 Dickerson racked up in 1984.

Now that record seems set to stand, with the AFC South-leading Titans likely to put more of the burden on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Henry's absence.

Henry had continued to deliver despite a workload that would see lesser running backs break down under the strain.

He carried the ball a league-leading 303 times in 2019 and increased that number to 379 last season, winning the rushing title in back-to-back years.

The former Alabama star had already tallied 219 rush attempts this season, with backup Jeremy McNichols used predominantly as a pass-catcher.

Tennessee will not lean on McNichols or Darrynton Evans in the same way, meaning the onus will be on Tannehill to lead the Titans on what they hope will be a deep playoff run.

Carson Wentz conceded he was beating himself up after a pair of interceptions doomed the Indianapolis Colts to an overtime defeat to the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans took command of the AFC South with a thrilling 34-31 victory on the road in overtime, which owed to two huge errors from Colts quarterback Wentz.

With the game tied 24-24 late in the fourth quarter, Wentz tossed a wobbly throw into the air as the pass rush surrounded him inside the Colts' endzone and Titans cornerback Elijah Molden leaped to bring it down and stroll in for a two-yard interception return and hand the Titans the lead.

Wentz responded by leading the Colts down the field, with the aid of a pass interference penalty that put them at the Titans' one-yard line, for the tying score to force overtime.

But the extra period was effectively decided by another Wentz miscue, as he was intercepted by safety Kevin Byard on the Colts' second possession of overtime, putting the Titans in position for Randy Bullock's game-winning field goal.

It means the Colts are 3-4 in second place in the division behind the Titans, who at 6-2 have a three-game lead and a tiebreaker over Indianapolis.

"Beating myself up over those ones at the end of the game there, for sure," said Wentz.

On the comedic pick-six to Molden, Wentz added: "They had it covered up pretty good, obviously.

"Terrible play, terrible play. One-on-one, trying to find a way to just get rid of the ball and next thing you know I'm about to go down.

"So, yeah. One I definitely want back. That one hurts a little bit."

Head coach Frank Reich, however, put the blame for that play on his shoulders.

"That was 100 percent my fault," said Reich. "It was a bad call. It was a screen to Mo [Alie-Cox] and they were sitting right on it.

"We hadn't thrown that. Didn't think they would ever be thinking that at that point in the game. I've been around too long to know that you don't call a screen backed up in that situation.

"I told Carson right after that play, he came over to the sideline, I said, 'That's 100 percent my fault. That's a terrible play call. Now, just go make it right. Go make it right.'"

Wentz was unable to do so and accepted full responsibility for the second and ultimately decisive interception.

"Probably tried to do too much," Wentz explained. "Tried to force that one there to Pitt [Michael Pittman], he had a step on the underneath coverage but Byard came out of the sky and make a heck of a play.

"I'm sure, in hindsight, I had the checkdown – probably wide open. Thought I had Pitt, Byard made a great play. Those two definitely hurt for sure."

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.

After another disastrous outing, at least the Kansas City Chiefs can take solace in knowing Patrick Mahomes does not appear to have been seriously injured in Sunday's 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans – but all is not well, either. 

The Chiefs' star quarterback left the game midway through the fourth quarter after taking an inadvertent shot to the head from Tennessee's Jeffery Simmons while being dragged down by Denico Autry. 

Mahomes did not return to the game, as Chad Henne took the reins for Kansas City's final possession, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Mahomes cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and it was his decision not to send him back into the lopsided game. 

The most prominent indicator that Mahomes does indeed "feel fine" as he told reporters post-game was that he spoke to the media at all. If he was still in the concussion protocol he would not have been compelled to do so. 

"Y'all saw the hit," Mahomes said. "I took my time getting up, but I felt fine. I did everything I needed to do to be here."

The overriding question now is what Mahomes and the Chiefs can do to get back on track moving forward.

Since Mahomes took over as Kansas City's starting quarterback for the 2018 season, the Chiefs have never lost more than four regular-season games. Sunday's ugly defeat dropped them to 3-4. 

While Mahomes was hardly the only man at fault, he turned in one of the worst games of his career, including an all-time low 62.3 passer rating. 

He also lost a fumble and threw his ninth interception of the season, tying him for the league lead. He threw just 11 interceptions across 29 games over the last two regular seasons combined. 

"Today, it was probably me," he told reporters. "Just pressing a little bit too early in the game. And then we got down, and we were in that mode where you’re no-huddle, which you don’t want to be in the NFL. You can execute it a little bit, but it’s hard to sustain drives."

The pressure of defending their AFC title appears to have been a strain on the Chiefs in general and Mahomes in particular. Sunday was the second game in his NFL career in which he did not lead a touchdown drive, the other being the 31-9 Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February. 

"I want to win," Mahomes said. "At the end of the day, I want to win. So I try to do whatever I can to win. But you have to believe in the guys around you. You have to know you can go the long way. You can take a short pass, and guys will make guys miss. You can hang in the pocket and make throws. "

"But at the end of the day, I just want to win. Whatever that takes, I’m going to try to do. I’ll look at this film, learn from it, and try to come out better Monday night this week."

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