TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-7) AT ATLANTA FALCONS (6-6)

QB BAKER MAYFIELD has 2,790 pass yards in 2023 & can reach 3,000 yards for 5th time in 6 career seasons. Passed for 275 yards & TD vs. INT in Week 7 meeting. Has 2+ TD passes & 90+ rating in 5 of 6 road starts this season. • RB RACHAAD WHITE had 106 scrimmage yards (84 rush, 22 rec.) & 5th rush TD of season last week. Has 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.) in his past 5. Has 75+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5 on road. Had 6 catches & 99 scrimmage yards (65 rec., 34 rush) in Week 9 meeting. Ranks 3rd among RBs in both receptions (46) & rec. yards (386) in 2023. • WR MIKE EVANS has 61 catches in 2023 & is 1st player ever with 60+ catches in each of 1st 10 seasons. Has 1,012 rec. yards in 2023, 1st player ever with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 10 seasons & 2nd player ever (HOFer Jerry Rice – 1986-96) with 1,000+ rec. yards in 10 straight seasons. Has 10 rec. TDs this season, 5th-career season with 10+ rec. TDs, 2nd-most among active players (Davante Adams – 6). Aims for his 5th in row with TD catch. • WR CHRIS GODWIN had 2nd-career rush TD last week. Aims for his 5th in row vs. Atl. with 6+ catches & 7th in row vs. Atl. with 50+ rec. yards. • LB LAVONTE DAVID aims for his 3rd in row vs. Atl. with TFL & has 23 TFL in 22 career games vs. Atl. Aims for his 7th in row overall with TFL in 2023. • NT VITA VEA has sack in 2 of his past 3 vs. Atl. • DL CALIJAH KANCEY ranks tied-1st among rookies with 8 TFL. • S ANTOINE WINFIELD JR. had 8 tackles, 3 PD, 2 TFL, sack & INT in Week 13, his 12th-career sack, most among DBs since 2002. Ranks tied-4th among DBs with 89 tackles in 2023.

QB DESMOND RIDDER had TD pass vs. 0 INTs in Week 13. Completed 19 of 25 atts. (76 pct.) for 250 yards & 107.1 rating & had rush TD in Week 7 meeting. Passed for 224 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 108.2 rating in last home meeting (1/8/23). • RB BIJAN ROBINSON (rookie) had 79 scrimmage yards (53 rush, 26 rec.) in Week 13. Leads all rookies in rush yards (756) & ranks 2nd in scrimmage yards (1,022). Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 11 of his 1st 12 career games. • RB TYLER ALLGEIER had season-high 112 scrimmage yards (59 rush, 53 rec.) in Week 7 meeting. Rushed for 135 yards in last home meeting. • WR DRAKE LONDON has 5+ catches in 7 of his past 8 at home. Aims for his 5th in row at home with 5+ catches & 65+ rec. yards. Had 6 catches for 120 yards in last home meeting. • TE KYLE PITTS led team with 51 rec. yards in Week 13. • DL CALAIS CAMPBELL had sack & FF in Week 7 meeting. • DL DAVID ONYEMATA has 0.5+ sacks in 3 of his past 4 vs. TB. • LB BUD DUPREE had 7 tackles, 2 sacks & 11th-career FF in Week 13, his 4th-career game with 2+ sacks. Has TFL in 6 of his past 7 & aims for his 4th in row at home with TFL. • LB NATE LANDMAN had 2nd FF of season last week. Has TFL & PD in 3 of his past 4. Had 12 tackles & FF in Week 7 meeting. • LB KADEN ELLISS has career-high 85 tackles in 2023 & aims for his 7th in row with 6+ tackles. • S JESSIE BATES had career-high 5th INT of season last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with INT. Ranks 3rd among DBs with 92 tackles in 2023 & needs 8 tackles for 4th-career 100+ tackle season. • S RICHIE GRANT had 1st-career sack & 1st-career FR last week. Had INT in Week 7 meeting. Had FF & FR in last home meeting.

ATLANTA (AP) If the Atlanta Falcons can string together their first three-game winning streak since 2019, they’d take a huge step toward breaking an even longer drought.

The first-place Falcons (6-6) lead the NFC South despite their so-so record heading into the final month of the season.

With three of their final five games within the division, starting with a contest Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Falcons are in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

“We haven’t stacked three wins in a row,” quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “We’ve got to be able to keep our head, come back home and be able to go out and get a third win.”

The Buccaneers (5-7) are coming off just their second win in the last eight games, holding off woeful Carolina 21-18 last Sunday.

Tampa Bay still has a shot at its third straight NFC South title, but this game is essentially a must-win with Atlanta holding the tiebreaker edge in head-to-head (after a 16-13 win over the Bucs in October) and divisional record (a 3-0 mark, compared to the Bucs at 2-1).

If the Falcons win Sunday, they would for all intents and purposes hold a three-game edge over Tampa Bay with four weeks to go.

“Divisional games are already important,” Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “But where we’re at, it’s extremely important for us.”

Atlanta struggled offensively in its last game, but a stout defensive performance secured an ugly 13-8 victory over the Jets.

The Falcons haven’t allowed an opposing touchdown the last two weeks, showing that all the money they spent in the offseason on that side of the line has clearly paid off.

“Each and every one of these games is a playoff game for us,” linebacker Bud Dupree said.

After five straight losing seasons, the Falcons are thrilled to have a chance to play meaningful games in December.

“We’re not doing victory laps,” coach Arthur Smith said. “But it’s another huge game, right? That’s what you want to be in.”

BIG PLAY BATES

On the Falcons’ revamped defense, no one is having a bigger impact than safety Jessie Bates.

He’s had interceptions in each of the last two games, pushing him to five on the season. Only two players in the NFL – Dallas’ DaRon Bland with eight and Baltimore’s Geno Stone with six – have more.

Bates also leads the Falcons with 92 tackles and three forced fumbles.

PROLIFIC EVANS

Even though the Bucs no longer have Tom Brady at quarterback, Mike Evans continues to be one of the league’s top receivers.

Last weekend, he joined Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history to put together a stretch of at least 10 consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus yards receiving.

Also, the 30-year-old Evans became the first player to begin a career with a streak of 10 straight years with at least 60 catches.

“I get smarter each year,” Evans said “If I’m healthy, I’m a real problem to deal with. I’ve just been blessed with health and learning how to take care of my body as I get older.”

BIJAN SHINES

The Falcons were expecting big things out of first-round pick Bijan Robinson, and the rookie running back has sure delivered.

Robinson is the second player in franchise history to compile 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first 12 games.

He leads the Falcons with 756 yards rushing, in addition to 35 receptions for 266 yards for a total of 1,022 yards. The only other Falcons player to surpass 1,000 yards in his first 12 games was William Andrews with 1,004 in 1979.

RIDDER’S STRUGGLES

Ridder has won both starts since reclaiming the No. 1 quarterback job, but he’s coming off a dismal performance against the Jets.

He completed just 12 of 27 passes for 121 yards and was sacked three times, again raising doubts about whether he’s the long-term answer at quarterback.

“We’ve got to be able to push the ball down the field,” Ridder said. “We’ve got to be able to get first downs and we’ve got to be able to get points.”

WINFIELD’S IMPACT

Fourth-year safety Antoine Winfield Jr. has emerged as one of Tampa Bay’s most consistent performers on defense.

He was one of two NFL players who had a sack and an interception last week, with his second pick of the season sealing the victory.

“The game was on the line, and I knew a play had to be made,” Winfield said.

The son of former Minnesota Vikings star Antoine Winfield Sr. is the first defensive back since Brian Dawkins and Roy Williams in 2002 with three or more forced fumbles, three or more fumble recoveries, multiple interceptions and multiple sacks in a season.

  • Younghoe Koo kicked a game-winning 51-yard field goal with time expiring in Atlanta’s Week 7 win over Tampa Bay. Koo has seven game-winning field goals since the beginning of last season, two more than any other kicker in that span (Greg Joesph — 5).
  • The Buccaneers are averaging 3.46 yards per carry, the lowest in the NFL after finishing last in the category in 2022 (3.39). They are on pace to be the first team to have the lowest rushing average in consecutive seasons since the Cardinals in 2005 and 2006.
  • Mike Evans (1012 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns) has now reached 1000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns receiving for the fifth time in 10 NFL seasons. The only other receivers to play 10+ NFL seasons and post 1000+ receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns in at least half of them are Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.
  • Each of the Falcons’ last eight games have been decided by less than 10 points, tied with the Texans for NFL’s longest active streak. It is also Atlanta’s longest such streak in team history.
  • Jessie Bates III had his fifth interception of the year last Sunday and is now the first player with five-plus interceptions, three-plus forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown in a single season since Marcus Peters in 2017.
  • Desmond Ridder has averaged 8.86 yards per attempt in the fourth quarter over his career — the highest average by any quarterback with 100+ attempts in the fourth quarter in the last 30 seasons (since 1994).

LOS ANGELES RAMS (6-6) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-3)

QB MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 279 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 110.1 rating in Week 13. Aims for his 3rd in row with 3+ TD passes & 110+ rating. Ranks 11th in NFL history in pass yards (54,850) & pass TDs (349). Passed for 309 yards & 2 TDs in last meeting. • RB KYREN WILLIAMS had 112 scrimmage yards (88 rush, 24 rec.) & 7th rush TD of season in Week 13. Is 1 of 3 (Tyreek Hill & Christian McCaffrey) with 5+ games (5) with 100+ scrimmage yards & TD in 2023. Has career highs in scrimmage yards (877) & scrimmage TDs (10) this season. • WR COOPER KUPP had 2nd rec. TD of season last week. Needs 68 rec. yards for 7th-straight 500-yard season. Had 6 catches for 95 yards & rec. TD in last meeting. • WR PUKA NACUA leads all rookies with 77 receptions, tied 2ndmost by player in 1st 12 games in NFL history. Became 6th rookie in SB era with 1,000+ rec. yards (1,029) in 1st 12 career games. Has 5 games with 100+ rec. yards & can become 3rd rookie in SB era [Odell Beckham Jr. (7 in 2014) & Justin Jefferson (7 in 2020)] with 6 games with 100+ rec. yards. • DT AARON DONALD has 3.5 sacks & 5 TFL in his past 5. Has 5.5 sacks & 8 TFL in 6 road games in 2023. Had FF in last meeting & aims for his 3rd in row at Bal. with 0.5+ sacks. • NT KOBIE TURNER (rookie) aims for his 3rd in row with 1.5+ sacks. Aims for his 4th in row on road with TFL. • LB ERNEST JONES tied his career high with 15 tackles in Week 13 & has 108 tackles in 2023, his 2nd-straight 100-tackle season. • CB AHKELLO WITHERSPOON has career-high 10 PD in 2023. Aims for his 6th in row on road with PD. • DB JOHN JOHNSON had 1st INT of season last week.

RAVENS lead NFL in rushing offense (158.6 rush yards per game). • QB LAMAR JACKSON totaled 216 yards (177 pass, 39 rush) with TD pass vs. 0 INTs in Week 12. Has 0 INTs in 4 of past 5 at home. Had 5 TD passes vs. 0 INTs & 139.4 rating with 95 rush yards in only career start vs. LAR (11/25/19). Is 18-1 with 98.1 rating in 19 career starts vs. NFC. Leads QBs with 574 rush yards in 2023 & is 1st QB ever with 500+ rush yards in each of 1st 6 seasons. • RB GUS EDWARDS has rush TD in 4 straight at home & in 5 of past 6. Has 9 rush TDs since Week 7, most in NFL. • RB KEATON MITCHELL (rookie) led team with 89 scrimmage yards (64 rush, 25 rec.) in Week 12. Has 65+ scrimmage yards in 3 of past 4. Has rush TD in 2 of past 3 at home. • WR ZAY FLOWERS (rookie) had 2nd TD catch of season in Week 12. Has 5+ catches in 2 of past 3. Ranks 3rd among rookies with 58 catches, most-ever by rookie in franchise history. • WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. has rec. TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Has 19 catches & 253 rec. yards (84.3 per game) in 3 career games vs. Rams, with 5+ catches in each game. Had 48 catches for 593 yards & 7 TDs in 12 games with LAR in 2021, incl. playoffs, & won SB LVI with team. • DT JUSTIN MADUBUIKE aims for 10th in row with 0.5+ sacks. Has sack in 5 of 6 home games this season. Has career-high 10 sacks in 2023, 1st Bal. player with 10+ sacks since 2017 (Terrell Suggs). • LB ROQUAN SMITH led team with 8 tackles & had PD & 1st FF of season in Week 12. Aims for 4th in row with 8+ tackles. • LB JADEVEON CLOWNEY had sack & 1st FF & FR of season in Week 12. Aims for 4th in row with sack. • S GENO STONE ranks 2nd in NFL with career-high 6 INTs in 2023.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) John Harbaugh insists he saw Puka Nacua’s incredible rookie season coming.

“I liked him. He was one of my highest-rated guys. You can ask anybody here. … He was way up on my board,” the Baltimore coach said with a smile this week. “He’s playing exactly how I thought he would, for the record.”

Nacua, of course, has taken much of the NFL by surprise. After being picked in the fifth round by the Rams, the 6-foot-2 receiver already has 77 catches for 1,029 yards.

This week, he goes up against Baltimore’s Zay Flowers in a matchup of two of the game’s top first-year wideouts when the Ravens host Los Angeles on Sunday.

Flowers, a first-round pick by the Ravens, has 58 catches for 613 yards. He scored two touchdowns – one receiving and one rushing – in Baltimore’s most recent game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I’ve definitely seen what he’s been doing, so it’s been so cool, especially for one of the young guys,” Nacua said. “I love watching receivers and people getting open and scoring touchdowns. That’s a fun thing I like to watch about football, so watching him play is definitely exciting.”

The Ravens (9-3) have won six of seven and lead the AFC North by two games. The Rams (6-6) are on a three-game winning streak that has pulled them into the thick of the NFC playoff race.

Nacua (shoulder) was listed as limited in practice this week, but he caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Cleveland.

Nacua would need 445 yards receiving over the next five games to break Bill Groman’s NFL rookie record, and he needs 28 catches to break the single-season rookie mark set by Jaylen Waddle.

BIG-TIME BLOWOUT

In these teams’ last meeting, the Rams edged Baltimore late in the regular season in January 2022 on their way to an eventual Super Bowl victory – but Tyler Huntley was the Ravens’ quarterback.

The last time Los Angeles faced Lamar Jackson, the soon-to-be NFL MVP winner humiliated the Rams’ defense with five touchdown passes and 95 yards rushing in a 45-6 victory at the Coliseum. The Rams’ utter helplessness against Jackson’s skills was a major factor in coach Sean McVay’s decision to drop defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and retool his defense under Brandon Staley in 2020.

“He was awesome. Oh, man,” McVay said of Jackson’s 2019 performance. “He’s been a great player. Explosive playmaker. He’s doing a lot of really good things this year. That was not a fond memory for the Rams in 2019, but he did his thing. You look at it, it was like clockwork.”

HEALTHY JACKSON

Jackson is 13-3 in December, but the Ravens haven’t had him down the stretch the past two years.

In 2021, he injured an ankle at Cleveland on Dec. 12. And in 2022, he hurt a knee against Denver on Dec. 4. He missed the rest of the season both times.

He has been available every game so far this season, although he did miss practice Thursday with an illness. Jackson is 18-1 as a starter against NFC teams in his career.

IN A RUSH

Baltimore leads the NFL with 47 sacks, but the Rams have dramatically improved their pass protection for Matthew Stafford this season.

The 15-year veteran wasn’t sacked in Los Angeles’ last two games, and Stafford has been sacked only four times in his last five games. After struggling with injuries throughout last season before getting sidelined for good at midseason with a bruised spinal cord, Stafford hasn’t even been on the Rams’ injury report this month.

He has thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games after having just nine in his first nine games.

FAMILIAR FACE

Odell Beckham Jr. played for the Rams when they won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, although he injured his knee in that title game and wasn’t able to play again until this season with the Ravens.

Beckham actually scored the winning touchdown in the final minute the last time these teams met, a 20-19 victory by Los Angeles in Baltimore.

“Two years ago, I was over there, and I scored a touchdown to win the game,” he said. “Now, I’m over here. Hopefully, I can do the same thing and return the favor to them.”

INJURIES

Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf) missed the past two games, but was able to practice this week and appears ready to return. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (concussion) was limited in practice.

  • The Ravens hold a 5-3 advantage over the Rams all-time, though Los Angeles won the most recent meeting in 2021 Week 17, 20-19 in Baltimore. Three of the eight matchups between these teams have been decided by six points or fewer while the other five have been decided by 23.2 points on average.
  • Los Angeles is coming off three straight wins with at least 36 points in each of the last two. The only times in franchise history the Rams have scored at least 36 points in three straight games were in 1999 (3 straight) and 2000 (6 straight).
  • Puka Nacua had a 70-yard touchdown reception last week in addition to a 31-yard rush. He is the fourth Rams player in the last 30 years to have a 70+ yard catch and a 30+ yard rush in the same game, joining Todd Gurley II, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce. No other team has had more than one player with such a game in that span.
  • Baltimore has rushed for at least 100 yards in 28 straight games dating back to last season — the next-longest active streak is five games (by four different teams). In the last 40 years, the only teams with more consecutive 100-yard rushing games are the Ravens themselves (43 between 2018 and 2021) and the Panthers (30 between 2014 and 2016).
  • The Ravens are coming off a bye week after defeating the Chargers in Week 12, 20-10. The Ravens are 5-0 following their bye week with Lamar Jackson starting, as he has put up 396 rushing yards (79.2 per game) and three rushing touchdowns in those five wins.
  • The Rams have just five total fumbles this season, tied for fewest in the NFL (SEA), and have lost only two of them, also tied for fewest in the league (CIN, GB). The Ravens’ defense has recovered seven fumbles since Week 5, tied for second most in the NFL (Denver — 11).

DETROIT LIONS (9-3) AT CHICAGO BEARS (4-8)

QB JARED GOFF passed for 213 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 117.6 rating in Week 13. Aims for his 5th in row with 2+ TD passes. Has 12 TD passes vs. 3 INTs for 107.3 rating in his past 6 vs. Chi. Has 3,288 pass yards in 2023, his 7th-consecutive 3,000-yard season, longest active streak in NFL. • RB JAHMYR GIBBS (rookie) has 50+ scrimmage yards in each of his 1st 10 career games. Had rush TD in Week 11 meeting. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY had career-high 10th rush TD of season last week & has rush TD in 8 of his 9 games this season. Had 4,849 scrimmage yards (3,609 rush, 1,240 rec.) & 30 TDs (26 rush, 4 rec.) in 4 seasons (2019-22) with Chi., incl. 1,000+ scrimmage yards & 6+ TDs in each season. • WR AMON-RA ST. BROWN had 6th TD catch of season last week & has rec. TD in 5 of 6 road games this season. Had 10 catches for 119 yards in last road meeting (11/13/22). Ranks 5th in NFL with 84 catches & 6th with 1,042 rec. yards in 2023 & can become 3rd player ever with 90+ catches & 900+ rec. yards in each of his 1st 3 career seasons. • TE SAM LAPORTA in Week 13 became 4th rookie TE ever with 9 catches, 140 rec. yards & TD catch in single game. Ranks 4th among TEs with 64 catches & can become 3rd rookie TE ever with 70+ receptions. • DL AIDAN HUTCHINSON aims for his 3rd in row with TFL. Has 2.5 sacks, FF, FR & INT in 3 career games vs. Chi. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Chi. with 0.5+ sacks. • LB ALEX ANZALONE has 5+ tackles in 28 straight games, tied 2nd-longest active streak in NFL. • DB BRIAN BRANCH (rookie) had 2nd INT of season last week. Had 3 TFL in Week 11 meeting.

QB JUSTIN FIELDS totaled 276 yards (217 pass, 59 rush) in Week 12, his 4th game with 50+ rush yards in 2023. 3 of his 5 career games with 100+ rush yards have come vs. Det. & aims for his 4th in row vs. Det. with TD pass & 100+ rush yards. • RB D’ONTA FOREMAN had rush TD in Week 11 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home & 3rd in row overall with rush TD. • RB KHALIL HERBERT needs 66 scrimmage yards for 3rdstraight 500+ yard season. • WR DJ MOORE had career-high 11 catches for 114 yards in Week 12 & has 1,003 rec. yards in 2023, his 4th-career 1,000-yard season. Had 7 catches for 96 yards in Week 11 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row with 95+ rec. yards & 4th in row with 5+ catches. • TE COLE KMET had 7 catches in Week 12 & has 5+ catches in 4 of his past 5. Is 1 of 4 TEs (T.J. Hockenson, Travis Kelce & George Kittle) with 50+ catches in each of past 3 seasons. Had 74 rec. yards & 2 rec. TDs in last home meeting. • LB T.J. EDWARDS had 2nd INT of season in Week 12. Had 9 tackles & INT in Week 11 meeting & can become 2nd LB (Matt Milano – Weeks 1-3) with INT in 3 straight games this season. Ranks 2nd in NFC with 125 tackles in 2023 & is 1 of 4 (Foye Oluokun, Roquan Smith & Bobby Wagner) with 125+ tackles in each of past 3 seasons. • LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS had 3rd-career FF & 1st-career FR in Week 12. Had INT in Week 11 meeting. • DE MONTEZ SWEAT had 1.5 sacks in Week 12 & has careerhigh tying 9 sacks this season. Aims for his 3rd in row with sack • CB JAYLON JOHNSON had 3 PD & career-high 3rd INT of season in Week 12. • DB JAQUAN BRISKER had 1st INT of season in Week 12.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Detroit Lions aren’t too worried about the Chicago Bears looking for payback. Something else concerns them, though.

“Look man, they’re playing pretty good football right now and they want to win,” coach Dan Campbell said. “I’m not worried about revenge. I’m worried about what this team presents.”

The Lions (9-3) look to beat the Bears (4-8) for the second time in four weeks when they visit Soldier Field on Sunday.

Detroit comes in having won four of five, including a wild comeback against Chicago at Ford Field on Nov. 19. The NFC North leaders scored 17 points in the final 2 minutes, 59 seconds to rally from 12 down in a 31-26 victory.

The Lions followed that with a loss to Green Bay before winning 33-28 at New Orleans last week behind a huge effort by tight end Sam LaPorta. The rookie from Iowa set career highs with nine receptions and 140 yards, including an early touchdown and a key first-down grab late in the game.

The Bears, meanwhile, bounced back from the loss at Detroit by winning the following week at Minnesota. They squeezed past the Vikings 12-10 when Cairo Santos nailed his fourth field goal in the closing seconds and Chicago stopped a 12-game losing streak against NFC North opponents.

Now, after a bye, they have a chance to post back-to-back wins for the first time since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season. And they would love nothing more than to do it at Detroit’s expense.

“I think if we can just kind of carry what we did the first 56 minutes of the game against Detroit the first time and finish it out like we did against the Vikings this last week, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” tight end Cole Kmet said.

WHAT A RUSH

Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson-led pass rush has been dominant at times, racking up 18 sacks in wins over Atlanta, Las Vegas and Green Bay. In the other eight games, the Lions have just seven.

Detroit ranks 27th with 25 sacks. Chicago has a league-low 17.

Getting to the quarterback might be even more of a challenge for the Lions because defensive tackle Alim McNeill went on injured reserve with a knee injury. McNeill had a career-high five sacks, ranking second on the team by just a half-sack behind Hutchinson.

In his last three games against Chicago, Hutchinson has at least a half-sack and his latest against Justin Fields forced a fumble and helped Detroit in its comeback win last month.

TAKE IT AWAY, BEARS

The Bears have seven interceptions and eight takeaways over the past two games. But they’ve had some trouble turning the turnovers into points.

In the loss at Detroit, they had a touchdown and a field goal following turnovers. The following week at Minnesota, they had just one field goal to show for their four takeaways.

“We’ve just got to capitalize on it,” Fields said. “When they do take the ball away, we’ve gotta be able to score touchdowns and get points off of that. I think the biggest thing is when you do have a defense that’s creating turnovers and doing all that great stuff is taking care of the ball.”

ON GUARD

Lions general manager Brad Holmes made a lot of major moves in the offseason to bolster both sides of the ball. A subtle one has paid dividends – signing veteran offensive lineman Graham Glasgow to a one-year, $4.5 million deal in March.

He was a backup in the first two games before starting in 10 straight filling in for injured guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai and banged-up center Frank Ragnow, who went down with a knee injury in last week’s win at New Orleans.

“It’s exactly why we got him,” Campbell said.

Glasgow, who grew up about 45 miles from Soldier Field in Aurora, played at Michigan and was drafted by Detroit in 2016. He started 58 games over four seasons before leaving for Denver on a four-year, $44 million contract.

Glasgow will likely start at center against the Bears.

WELCOME BACK

Running back David Montgomery returns to Soldier Field for the first time since signing with the Lions in the offseason.

He delivered a solid performance three weeks ago, rushing for 76 yards on 12 attempts and a go-ahead touchdown in the closing minute. Montgomery played his first four seasons in Chicago.

FIELDS’ FUTURE

If the final five games are an audition for Fields, it starts against Detroit.

Fields comes in with 1,587 yards passing with 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 92.3 passer rating that ranks 14th in the NFL. He has also run for 400 yards and a score.

The Bears have to decide if they’ll pick up a fifth-year option for 2025 on Fields’ rookie contract. They could be in position to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with two high picks – their own and the one they got from Carolina when they acquired DJ Moore last spring.

  • The Bears lost, 31-26, in their Thanksgiving matchup against Detroit despite posting a time of possession of 40:24. It was Chicago’s highest time of possession in any of the 261 games they lost in the last 30 seasons (since 1994).
  • The Lions are 9-3 or better through 12 games for the first time since they started 10-2 in 1962. Detroit finished 11-3 in 1962, tied for its best winning percentage in any season the team played at least 14 games in franchise history.
  • David Montgomery’s 10 rushing touchdowns through nine career games with the Lions are the most by any Detroit player in team history.
  • The Bears won, 12-10, off the back of four field goals in their most recent game in Week 12. It was the first time in Bears history that they won a game where they had scored double-digit points without scoring a touchdown.
  • Justin Fields will be playing in his 36th career game on Sunday and is just 37 rushing yards away from hitting 2000. The only quarterback who’s reached 2000 rushing yards in fewer than 36 career games is Lamar Jackson (33).
  • T.J Edwards has two interceptions and 125 total tackles through 12 games this season for the Bears. He’s the first player with 125+ tackles and multiple interceptions through 12 games in a season since Kiko Alonso and Paul Posluszny in 2013.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-5) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-6)

COLTS have won 4 straight games for 1st time since 2018, tied longest active win streak in NFL. • QB GARDNER MINSHEW completed 26 of 42 atts. (61.9 pct.) for 312 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 100.5 rating last week, 3rd game this season with 300+ pass yards. Passed for 351 yards & 2 TDs with 101.1 rating in his last start vs. Cin. (10/4/20 w/ Jax.). • RB ZACK MOSS aims for 3rd in row with 50+ rush yards. Is 1 of 6 AFC RBs with 700+ rush yards (723) & 5+ rush TDs (5) in 2023. • WR MICHAEL PITTMAN had season-high 11 catches for 105 yards & 4th TD of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 10+ catches & 100+ rec. yards. Has 8+ catches & 55+ rec. yards in each of 6 road games this season. Needs 111 rec. yards for 2ndcareer 1,000-yard season (2021). • WR ALEC PIERCE had career-high 100 rec. yards & TD catch in Week 13. • WR JOSH DOWNS is 1st Ind. rookie WR with 50+ catches (51) since Austin Collie in 2009. • TE KYLEN GRANSON had career-high 72 rec. yards last week. • LB ZAIRE FRANKLIN has 6+ tackles in all 11 games this season & ranks 2nd in NFL with 130 tackles. • LB E.J. SPEED had 8 tackles & career-high 3 TFL in Week 13. • DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had 6 tackles, PD & half sack last week. Aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles & 3rd in row with PD. Has TFL in 3 of past 4. Has sack in each of 2 career games vs. Cin. • DE SAMSON EBUKAM has 2 sacks & FF in each of past 2. Has 5 sacks in 6 road games this season. Had half sack & FF in only career game at Cin. (12/12/21 w/ SF). • DE KWITY PAYE had season-high 2 sacks & career-high 2 FFs last week. Aims for 5th in row with 0.5+ sacks.

QB JAKE BROWNING completed 32 of 37 atts. (86.5 pct.) for 354 yards & had 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 115.5 rating last week, becoming 10th different player in NFL history with 350+ pass yards & 85+ comp. pct. in a game. Has 225+ pass yards, TD pass & 95+ rating in each of 2 career starts. Can join Chad Pennington as only QBs since 1950 with 70+ comp. pct. & 95+ rating in each of 1st 3 career starts. • RB JOE MIXON set season-highs in scrimmage yards (117 – 68 rush, 49 rec.), rush TDs (2) & catches (6) last week, 9th-career game with 100+ scrimmage yards & 2+ rush TDs. Has 100+ scrimmage yards & TD in 2 of past 3. Has 327 scrimmage yards (109 per game) & 2 rush TDs in 3 career games vs. Ind. Needs 30 scrimmage yards for 5th-career 1,000-yard season. • WR JA’MARR CHASE led team with 11 catches for 149 yards & TD last week, 4th game this season with 10+ catches & 100+ rec. yards, tied 2nd-most in NFL. Has rec. TD in 3 of past 4. Has 86 catches in 2023 & needs 2 for new career-high. Is 4th player ever with 80+ catches & 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 3 seasons. • WR TEE HIGGINS has 5+ catches & 65+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. Had 6 catches for 125 yards in last meeting. • WR TYLER BOYD had 5 catches in Week 13, 6th game this season with 5+ catches. Had 5 catches for 54 yards in last meeting. • DE TREY HENDRICKSON aims for 5th in row with 0.5+ sacks & 4th in row with full sack. Has 3rd-career season with 11+ sacks (11.5). • LB LOGAN WILSON had 8 tackles & FF last week. Aims for 4th in row with 8+ tackles & has FF in 3 of past 4. • LB GERMAINE PRATT led team with season-high 12 tackles & had TFL in Week 13. Has 6+ tackles in 4 of past 5. • S JORDAN BATTLE (rookie) had 1st-career sack & PD last week.

CINCINNATI (AP) When quarterback Joe Burrow was lost for the season because of a wrist injury amid a three-game skid, the Bengals playoff hopes seemed to be fading fast.

But Jake Browning had something to say about that.

The backup quarterback, in just his second NFL start, had a game to remember Monday night. Browning, who’d spent most of his pro career on practice squads, was 32 for 37 for 354 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score in the 34-31 win over Jacksonville.

Not only did it even the Bengals’ record at 6-6, it gave them a huge shot of confidence. Browning showed he could win in the NFL. And with AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland losing last week, the playoff window stayed open for Cincinnati with five games left.

“There’s still plenty on the line for us,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said. “We’re in a position, just the way things are shaking out around the league, that we keep preaching about controlling our own destiny.”

The Bengals will find out if Browning can perform consistently when they host Indianapolis (7-5) on Sunday. The Colts have won four straight and are one game behind the first-place Jaguars in the AFC South. They’re also winning with a backup quarterback, Gardner Minshew, who stepped in and played well after Anthony Richardson was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury in October.

The Colts are also coming off an overtime win, 31-28 over Tennessee last week.

“I think the biggest thing is just confidence right now,” Minshew said. “Everybody is feeling it, everybody is playing together, trusting each other. I think you saw all the phases coming to life at different times last week. Just starting to feel like we’re starting to put our best ball together and that’s how it should be this time of year.”

STEWART IS BACK

The Colts will get their best run stopper, defensive tackle Grover Stewart, back Sunday. He was suspended the past six games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

How critical is Stewart to Indy’s defense?

With Stewart, the Colts held four of their first six opponents to 105 yards rushing or fewer. Without him, they gave up 125 yards in all six games and 138 or more in five of six. He’s eager to get back.

“These last six weeks have been hard for me sitting at home, watching the guys go out there each and every week, fight and do their job,” Stewart said. “It was hard just watching them, knowing I couldn’t be out there helping them.”

RUN GAME GAINING GROUND

The run game has been a problem for the Bengals all season, but in Monday’s win over the Jaguars there were positive signs. Joe Mixon rushed for 66 yards and powered in for two touchdowns. Rookie Chase Brown rushed for another 61 yards on nine carries. Coming into the game, Brown, a fifth-round pick from Illinois, had just two carries for 6 yards. Browning also ran for 22 yards and a touchdown.

HOMECOMING FOR PIERCE

Receiver Alec Pierce made the short commute from Cincinnati to Indianapolis after he was drafted by the Colts in 2022. This week, he’ll make the reverse commute.

No, it’s not the first time the Cincinnati Bearcat will be playing inside Paycor Stadium (formerly Paul Brown Stadium) – just the first time in the visiting locker room.

“I played in the Bengals stadium in college a couple times, so it’s going to be cool to go back there and play as a pro,” he said.

The timing couldn’t be better for Piece, who set up Indy’s overtime TD with a 55-yard reception last weekend and celebrated the first 100-yard game of his pro career.

TAYLOR’S STATUS

When 2021 NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor had surgery on his right thumb last week, most expected him to miss at least three weeks.

On Wednesday, though, coach Shane Steichen declined to rule out Taylor for the Bengals game.

“We’ll see,” Steichen said after first acknowledging there’s no timeline for Taylor’s return.

Steichen has run his kicking teams on and off the field several times this season, in hopes of at least forcing opponents to call timeouts. For Wednesday’s walkthrough, the Colts estimated Taylor’s practice status would have been out.

FAMILIAR FACES AT QB

Browning and Minshew are facing off for the first time since 2018. Browning was the star QB for Washington and Minshew led Washington State in the Apple Cup game won 28-15 by the Huskies.

  • The Colts came back from a 21-0 deficit to beat the Bengals, 31-27, in their most recent meeting in Week 6 of 2020. This is tied for Indianapolis’ biggest comeback win in team history; it last had a 21-point comeback in Week 5 of 2003 versus Tampa Bay.
  • The Colts are 5-1 through six road games, their best record through six road games in a season since they started 6-0 in 2009. Indianapolis went on to make the Super Bowl in that 2009 season.
  • Zaire Franklin has 130 total tackles in 11 games played for the Colts this season. In the last 30 seasons, only 1997 Ray Lewis (140), 1994 Chris Spielman (134) and 2010 Jerod Mayo (131) have had more total tackles in their first 11 games of any year.
  • The Bengals have had 16 different players record a reception this season, behind only the Texans (17) for the most in NFL. Cincinnati has only had more players with a catch in a season twice: 18 in 1987 and 17 in 2008.
  • Jake Browning has completed 81.0 percent of his passes through two career NFL starts: the highest percentage by any quarterback to debut since 1960 (min. 30 attempts).
  • The Bengals allow 4.84 yards per carry this season, second highest in the NFL (Broncos — 5.19). Indianapolis has been stuffed (rushes for negative yardage) on just 6.3% of its rush attempts this year, third lowest in the NFL.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-4) AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-5)

QB TREVOR LAWRENCE completed 22 of 29 atts. (75.9 pct.) for 258 yards & had 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with seasonbest 125.4 rating last week. Aims for 4th in row with 250+ pass yards, 90+ rating & rush TD. Has 100+ rating in 4 of 5 road starts this season. Is 1st Jax. player ever with 3,000+ pass yards in each of 1st 3 seasons. • QB C.J. BEATHARD completed 9 of 10 atts. (90 pct.) for 63 yards last week. Can make 13th-career start & 1st of season. Has 5 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 101.9 rating over past 3 career starts. • RB TRAVIS ETIENNE had 79 scrimmage yards (45 rush, 34 rec.) & career-high 8th rush TD of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 75+ scrimmage yards. Has 600 scrimmage yards (120 per game) & 6 TDs (5 rush, 1 rec.) in 5 road games this season. • WR CALVIN RIDLEY has 5+ catches, 85+ rec. yards & rec. TD in 2 of past 3. Has 80+ rec. yards in 4 of 5 road games this season. • WR CHRISTIAN KIRK has 75+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. Had 5 catches for 75 yards & TD in his last game vs. Cle. (10/17/21 w/ Ari.). Has 750+ rec. yards (787) for 3rd-straight season. • WR PARKER WASHINGTON (rookie) had career-high 6 catches for 61 yards & TD in Week 13. • TE EVAN ENGRAM had 9 catches for 82 yards & 1st TD of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 5+ catches. • LB JOSH ALLEN had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks & 1st INT of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 5+ tackles & 1.5+ sacks. Has 2+ sacks in 3 of 5 road games this season. Ranks tied-3rd in NFL with career-high 13.5 sacks, 2nd-most in single season in Jax. history. • LB FOYESADE OLUOKUN led team with 13 tackles last week & leads NFL with 131 tackles this season. • CB DARIOUS WILLIAMS ranks 2nd in NFL with 16 PD.

BROWNS lead NFL in total defense (260.5 yards allowed per game) & pass defense (153.4 pass yards allowed per game). • QB JOE FLACCO passed for 254 yards & 2 TDs vs. INT in Cle. debut last week. Has 250+ pass yards in 5 of 6 starts since 2021. Passed for 303 yards & 3 TDs in his last start vs. Jax. (9/29/19 w/ Den.). Ranks 4th among active QBs with 42,574 career pass yards. • RB JEROME FORD had 52 scrimmage yards (33 rec., 19 rush) & TD catch last week. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 4 of past 5 & TD in 2 of past 3. • RB KAREEM HUNT led team with 48 rush yards in Week 13. Has rush TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Ford (6) & Hunt (6) are 1 of 2 pairs of RB teammates each with 6+ TDs this season. • WR AMARI COOPER has 100+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3 at home. Has 50 catches in 2023, 8th-career season with 50+ catches. • WR ELIJAH MOORE had season-high 83 rec. yards last week. • TE DAVID NJOKU has 5+ catches & 55+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4. • TE HARRISON BRYANT had season-high 5 catches for 49 yards & TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. • DE MYLES GARRETT has TFL in 6 of past 7. Has 8.5 sacks in 6 home games this season, with sack in 5 of 6 games. Had FR in only career game vs. Jax. (11/19/17). Ranks 5th in NFL with 13 sacks in 2023 & is 4th player since 1982 with 13+ sacks in 4 of 1st 7 seasons. • DE ZA’DARIUS SMITH aims for 3rd in row at home with TFL. Had sack in his last game vs. Jax. (11/15/20 w/ GB). • DE OGBO OKORONKWO has 5 TFL in his past 3. Had 2 TFL & sack in his last game vs. Jax. (1/1/23 w/ Hou.). • LB JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH aims for 5th in row with 6+ tackles. Has 6 TFL in his past 4 at home. • CB MARTIN EMERSON had 7 tackles & PD in Week 13.

CLEVELAND (AP) Joe Flacco has gone from the couch to contention.

Signed three weeks ago by Cleveland as emergency protection when quarterback Deshaun Watson was lost with a season-ending shoulder injury, Flacco has a chance to get the Browns into the playoffs – a scenario not even he could have imagined.

“It’s invigorating, for sure. It’s exciting,” Flacco said. “This is what you want.”

Flacco is expected to make his second start for Cleveland on Sunday as the Browns (7-5) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4), who are dealing with their own major issue at quarterback after Trevor Lawrence suffered a high ankle sprain against Cincinnati.

Though hobbled, Lawrence managed to practice some this week, leaving open the possibility he’ll play in a game with major AFC postseason implications. If he can’t, the Jaguars will start backup C.J. Beathard, who played two series Monday night after Lawrence went out.

“Whoever’s up, whoever’s rolling, we’re looking to go full speed ahead,” Jaguars tight end Evan Engram said. “It’s a big game for us. It’s a game we got to go win. We’re on the road against a good team, and we’ve got to ready no matter who’s up.”

If this was a wild-card game, you could bet that Lawrence, who returned to play just four days after spraining his knee in Week 6, would be on the field.

And, truthfully, this game has major playoff vibes.

The Browns currently hold one of three wild-card spots, but their grip isn’t nearly as tight after dropping road games in Denver and Los Angeles the past two weeks. Another slip-up could put their playoff chances in serious peril, making the matchup with Jacksonville almost a must-win.

Same for the banged-up Jaguars, who lead the AFC South by one game over Indianapolis (7-5) and Houston (7-5).

It hasn’t helped that Jacksonville has been smashed by injuries, losing Lawrence, wide receiver Christian Kirk and left tackle Walter Little on Monday, a week after tight end Brenton Strange and left tackle Cam Robinson went down.

“It’s a violent sport we play,” Engram said. “It’s unfortunate for our guys or anybody to get hurt, but that’s the nature of this game, the nature of this league. It truly is a next-man up mentality. It’s not a slight or a jab at guys that can’t go.

“It’s just the nature of the league; you’ve got to be ready to play if somebody ahead of you goes down.”

Flacco has been down this road before with Baltimore, and he’s looking forward to playing in a stadium he knows well – as a visitor – and with so much on the line. Last season, the 38-year-old helped rally the New York Jets from a 13-point deficit in the final two minutes to shock the Browns.

That was in a September game. It’s December and the stakes are much higher.

Flacco, who passed for 254 yards last week in his first game in nearly a year, said there is something special about playing in Cleveland, where he’s 9-2 as a starter.

“You smell the grass, it just feels like football,” said Flacco. “That’s kind of always the stadiums that have kind of been attractive to myself. Smell the grass and feel like it’s football weather. And that’s the time of the year we’re in.

“We’re in December and we’re in Cleveland and it should be a lot of fun.”

PRESSURE PACKED

Myles Garrett’s injured left shoulder might be slowing him. Cleveland’s top-ranked defense has no excuses.

Garrett didn’t record a tackle last week, and the Browns failed to record a sack for the second straight game – a streak coordinator Jim Schwartz said must end.

“That’s not us,” Schwartz said. ”We’re not built that way. We have a lot of talent up front and we’re at our best when we can generate pressure with a four-man pass rush.”

It starts with Garrett, the All-Pro edge rusher who was double- and triple-teamed in last week’s loss to the Rams. While he’s not worried about Garrett, Schwartz said the rest of his defensive front has to step it up.

“We expect our D-line to be the driving force of our defense,” he said. “They’re the engine that drives us. We have to get back to clocking the quarterbacks and to building everything off of our four-man pass rush.”

PHILLY REUNION

Jaguars coach Doug Pederson and Schwartz know each other as well as any two coaches in the league. Schwartz was Pederson’s DC in Philadelphia for five seasons (2016-20). They won 46 games together, including the Super Bowl following the 2017 season.

That familiarity could be both good and bad.

“Just knowing him and how he coached and how he coached our defenses in Philly, you kind of know the structure a little bit,” Pederson said. “He’s changed some things schematically over his time, but he’s got a talented defense right now and they’re playing really good.”

ROAD WARRIORS

Jacksonville is the only NFL team with a perfect road record this season – here and abroad.

The Jaguars are 4-0 in true road games and 6-0 away from EverBank Stadium, a spotless mark that includes consecutive victories against Atlanta and Buffalo in London last month.

Jacksonville already locked up its first winning road record since 2007.

“That was a point of emphasis in training camp that we talked about, something we needed to get better at,” Lawrence said. “We’ve got to keep that going. Obviously it’s a big road game; we’re going to play in big road games to finish the year that you’re going to have to win. This is a good challenge for us this week.”

  • The Jaguars are 12-6 (.667) against the Browns all-time, their best record against any single opponent in franchise history. Jacksonville is 7-2 (.778) on the road in Cleveland, which is tied for the third-best road record by any NFL team against a single opponent all-time (minimum nine games).
  • Jacksonville’s eight-game road winning streak is the longest road winning streak by any of the three NFL franchises in Florida all-time. The only AFC South team to have a longer road win streak was the Colts from 2008 to 2009 (11).
  • Evan Engram has 146 receptions in his 29 career games with the Jaguars. The only TEs with more receptions through their first 30 games with a team in NFL history are Kellen Winslow II (159, Browns), Darren Waller (156, Raiders), Jordan Reed (153, Commanders) and Kellen Winslow (149, Chargers).
  • The Browns have lost each of their last two games by 17 points exactly, the eighth time this season an NFL team has lost back-to-back games by 17 or more points. This is Cleveland’s first time doing so since 2017. The last time they lost three straight by 17 points was 2004.
  • Joe Flacco became the fourth different starting quarterback for the Browns this season, most in the NFL and most by the Browns since 2008 (Anderson, Quinn, Dorsey, Gradkowski). Flacco was Cleveland’s 36th different starting QB this century. No other NFL team has 30.
  • The Jaguars’ defense has allowed opponents to convert only 9-of-68 (13.2 percent) attempts on third-and-long this season (six or more yards), the lowest conversion rate in the NFL. The Browns have converted 14.7 percent of third-and-longs, third lowest in the NFL.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-11) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-7)

QB BRYCE YOUNG (rookie) passed for 178 yards in Week 13. Passed for 153 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs in Week 2 meeting. Has 0 INTs in 3 of his past 4 road starts. • RB CHUBA HUBBARD had season-high 104 rush yards & 1stcareer game with 2 rush TDs in Week 13. Aims for his 3rd in row with 90+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Aims for his 3rd in row at NO with 65+ scrimmage yards. • WR ADAM THIELEN leads team with 80 receptions & 753 rec. yards. Needs 65 rec. yards to become 6th undrafted player with 7,500 career receiving yards since 1967. Needs 4 catches to surpass Danny Amendola (617) for 4th-most receptions by undrafted player since 1967. Has 39 receptions for 483 yards (96.6 per game) & 3 rec. TDs in his past 5 vs. NO & aims for his 6th in row vs. NO with 7+ catches. • WR JONATHAN MINGO (rookie) led team & set career-highs with 6 receptions for 69 yards in Week 13. Aims for his 3rd in row with 60+ rec. yards. • LB BRIAN BURNS has TFL in 6 of his past 7. Is 1 of 4 (Maxx Crosby, Myles Garrett & Micah Parsons) with 12+ TFL in each of past 3 seasons. • LB FRANKIE LUVU had TFL & career-high 5th PD of season last week. Needs 10 tackles for 2nd-straight 100+ tackle season. • LB MARQUIS HAYNES had 1st sack of season last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with TFL. • DT DERRICK BROWN has TFL in 3 of his past 4. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NO with 7+ tackles. • CB DONTE JACKSON had 2 PD last week. • S XAVIER WOODS had 1st INT of season in Week 13. Had 2 PD in Week 2 meeting. Had FR in last home meeting.

QB DEREK CARR completed 17 of 22 atts. (77.3 pct.) for 226 yards & TD vs. INT for 105.5 rating in Week 13. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 100+ rating. • QB JAMEIS WINSTON passed for 353 yards in his last start vs. Car. (9/25/22). Has 19 TDs (18 pass, 1 rush) & 93.1 rating in 10 career starts w/ NO. • RB ALVIN KAMARA had 6 catches, 109 scrimmage yards (58 rec., 51 rush) & 2 rush TDs in Week 13, his 20th-career game with 50+ rush yards & 50+ rec. yards. Leads all RBs with 60 receptions & ranks 2nd with 413 rec. yards. Needs 79 scrimmage yards for 7th-straight 1,000-yard season. Has 586 scrimmage yards (117.2 per game) & 3 TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.) in 5 career home games vs. Car., incl. 100+ scrimmage yards in each game. • WR CHRIS OLAVE had 5 catches for team-high 119 rec. yards last week, his 7th-career 100-yard game. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Car. with 5+ catches & 60+ rec. yards. Aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards & 8th in row with 5+ catches. • QB TAYSOM HILL had 4th rush TD of season last week. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 6 of his past 7. • DE CAMERON JORDAN had 3rd TFL of season last week. Has 4.5 sacks & 5 TFL in his past 5 vs. Car. • DE CARL GRANDERSON had sack & FF in Week 2 meeting. • LB DEMARIO DAVIS aims for his 4th in row vs. Car. with TFL. • CB PAULSON ADEBO ranks tied-5th in NFL with career-high 14 PD in 2023. Aims for his 5th in row at home with PD. Had FR in Week 2 meeting. • S TYRANN MATHIEU is only safety with 5+ PD in each of past 7 season & 1 of 2 (Justin Simmons) with 3+ INTs in each of past 5 seasons.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers are preparing for their second matchup this season under circumstances that have changed substantially since the last time they met.

Saints quarterback Derek Carr was relatively healthy for their Week 2 clash in Carolina and still in his honeymoon period with the same New Orleans fans who booed him repeatedly in the Superdome last weekend. He was also knocked out of a game for the third time in his first season in New Orleans.

The Panthers began the season under coach Frank Reich, who was “encouraged” by rookie QB Bryce Young’s response to his first taste of adversity in the NFL.

Carolina has since fired Reich and is preparing for its second game under interim coach Chris Tabor when the Panthers (1-11) visit the Saints (5-7) on Sunday.

New Orleans, meanwhile, is in the midst of a season-high three-game skid and in danger of seeing its season slip away. When the Saints beat the Panthers on a Monday night in September, they were 2-0 and looked like the favorite in the anemic NFC South. They’ve gone 3-7 since and have fallen a game behind Atlanta (6-6) for the division lead.

“We need a win. There’s no question about that,” said Saints second-year coach Dennis Allen, who also has been the object of heavy criticism in New Orleans. “We’re going to work extremely hard to get it figured out. … We’re going to keep chopping wood and eventually we’re going to bust through.”

For the Panthers, Tabor said, knowing they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention is “extremely hard.”

But he added, “you have two choices: character or compromise.”

“When I lay my head down at night, I like to think I know who I am,” Tabor added. “Did I do an honest day’s work? I think that is how you have to look at it. I don’t think about the record — that is way past. I’m just thinking about what are we doing to set ourselves up to win.”

The Saints spent much of this week unsure whether Carr or backup Jameis Winston would be their starting QB on Sunday. Carr, who last Sunday has his second concussions in the span of 22 days, was permitted to practice on a limited basis this week, but remained in the concussion protocol as the weekend neared.

The only uncertainty at QB for the Panthers was when their top draft choice might have his first true breakout game. Young has yet to throw for as many as 250 yards in a game and has thrown as many interceptions as touchdown passes with nine each.

“At any given moment, Bryce Young could have that spark, so I don’t think we’re necessarily looking at the record,” Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “We’re just looking at it like, ’Man, we’ve got to beat these guys.’”

PREPARING FOR 3 QBS

Tabor his team is preparing for both Carr and Winston.

“We’re not for sure which one it’s going to be,” Tabor said. “You’re talking about two seasoned veterans that have won a lot of football games, played in a lot of big games that can get streaky at any time.”

Tabor seems equally concerned with the versatile Taysom Hill. Lining up intermittently at QB, Hill ran nine times for 75 yards in New Orleans’ 20-17 win over Carolina in Week 2.

“You always talk about value on a roster,” Tabor said. “Think about this: a quarterback, a guy that returns kicks, a guy that blocks kicks, a guy that runs wildcat. You know what he is? He’s a football player, a really good football player, and he causes a lot of problems not only for us.”

YOUNG STAYING FOCUSED

Young is 1-10 as a starter and has been sacked 44 times.

But the No. 1 overall draft choice out of Alabama is trying to remain steady in his daily approach.

“Just being consistent in what you’re doing and not being results-based,” Young said. “Again, it’s hard, and it is a results-based business. So, you accept that, but you can’t let the results change your process. There are circumstances you can’t control or, if things are going bad, you can’t do less, you can’t care less, you can’t focus less, you can’t give less.”

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The Panthers are winless on the road this season and haven’t won away from home since the 2018 regular-season finale at New Orleans, when Eddy Pineiro was carried off the field after making the winning kick in a 10-7 victory.

“To win on the road, I mean, the secret is, it’s not a big secret – (if) you want to win on the road, pack a good team,” Tabor said.

WEAKNESS VS. STRENGTH

Mathieu suspects this matchup could test New Orleans’ defense, which this season ranks 24th against the run and has struggled with quarterbacks such as Young who escape the pocket with regularity.

The Panthers “do a lot of things well that we don’t necessarily (defend) well,” Mathieu said, alluding to the emergence this season of Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard.

“They run the ball well,” Mathieu added. “Obviously you have Bryce Young, who’s able to not just throw the ball but be effective with his legs. He was able to kind of break free a few times when we played them earlier.”

  • The Saints came away with a 20-17 win in Carolina when these teams met in Week 2. The Panthers won in their last visit to New Orleans in Week 18 last year but have won just two of their last seven games at the Superdome (also 2018).
  • The Panthers lost to the Buccaneers, 21-18, in Tampa last week. The 18 points were their most since a 42-21 loss in Week 6 in Miami. This is the third time the Panthers have started 1-11, also doing so in 2010 (finished 2-14) and 2001 (finished 1-15).
  • Chuba Hubbard ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns last week. It was the third time he has reached 100 yards in his career and his first time with multiple touchdowns in a game. The only other Panther in the last four seasons with 100 rushing yards and two rushing TDs is D’Onta Foreman, who had 118 yards and three TDs in Week 8 last season.
  • The Saints lost to the Lions, 33-28, at home last week, the most points they have allowed this season. New Orleans is 4-0 when allowing 17 or fewer points this year but just 1-7 when allowing 18 or more.
  • Alvin Kamara had a pair of rushing touchdowns last week, the 52nd and 53rd of his career, and the most by any Saints player all-time. Mark Ingram II had 52 rushing touchdowns during his 10-year career with New Orleans. Kamara’s 76 scrimmage touchdowns are also the most in franchise history.
  • The Saints’ opponents are just 9-for-19 (47.4%) on 3rd and 4th-and-1 attempts this season, making them the only NFL team holding opponents to a below-50 percent conversion rate. Carolina’s offense is 18-for-30 (60.0%) on such attempts, 26th in the league.

HOUSTON TEXANS (7-5) AT NEW YORK JETS (4-8)

QB C.J. STROUD passed for 274 yards with TD vs. 0 INTs & 106.1 rating last week, his 8th game this season with 250+ pass yards, tied 2nd-most ever by rookie. Aims for 3rd in row with 0 INTs & 105+ rating. Has 6 TDs (4 pass, 2 rush) vs. INT in 5 road starts this season. Ranks 1st in NFL with 3,540 pass yards in 2023, 3rd-most ever by player in 1st 12 career games. • RB DAMEON PIERCE had 2nd rush TD of season last week. Has 55+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. • RB DEVIN SINGLETARY has 391 scrimmage yards since Week 10, 3rd-most among RBs. • WR NICO COLLINS set career highs in catches (9) & rec. yards (191) & had TD catch in Week 13, most rec. yards by Hou. player since 2019 (217 by Will Fuller). Has 3 games with 140+ rec. yards this season, ranks tied-3rd most in NFL. Aims for 4th in row with 7+ catches & 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards & rec. TD. • WR NOAH BROWN has 150+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3. • WR ROBERT WOODS had 6 catches for 56 yards & TD in his last game vs. NYJ (12/20/20 w/ LAR). • TE DALTON SCHULTZ has 65+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. • TE BREVIN JORDAN had career-high 64 rec. yards last week. • DE WILL ANDERSON (rookie) had career-high 2 sacks & PD last week. Aims for 4th in row with TFL. Ranks tied-2nd among rookies with 5 sacks, most by Hou. rookie since 2012 (Whitney Mercilus). • DE JONATHAN GREENARD had team-high 8th sack of season last week. • LB BLAKE CASHMAN aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles. Has 2 TFL in 2 of past 3 on road. • CB DEREK STINGLEY had career-high 4 PD & 2 INTs in Week 13, his 3rd-straight game with 2+ PD & INT. • S JIMMIE WARD had game-sealing INT in 4th qtr. last week.

QB TREVOR SIEMIAN passed for 66 yards in season debut last week. Is 1-0 & had 157 pass yards & TD pass vs. 0 INTs in only career start vs. Hou. (10/24/16 w/ Den.). Has 39 TDs (37 pass, 2 rush) in 30 career starts. • QB ZACH WILSON aims for his 5th start in row at home with 0 INTs. • RB BREECE HALL led team with 6 catches last week, 3rdstraight game with 5+ catches. Ranks 4th among RBs with 44 catches in 2023. Has 840 scrimmage yards (84 per game) in 10 career home games. Needs 66 scrimmage yards for 1st-career 1,000-yard season. • RB DALVIN COOK had 46 scrimmage yards (35 rush, 11 rec.) last week. Rushed for 130 yards & 2 TDs in only career game vs. Hou. (10/4/20 w/ Min.). • WR GARRETT WILSON had 50 rec. yards in Week 13. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of past 5 at home. Has 67 catches in 2023 & is 3rd player in NYJ history with 60+ catches in each of 1st 2 seasons, joining Wayne Chrebet (1995-96) & Keyshawn Johnson (1996-97). • WR XAVIER GIPSON (rookie) led team with career-high 77 rec. yards last week. • TE TYLER CONKLIN has 4+ catches in 2 of past 3 at home. • DL QUINNEN WILLIAMS had 1st FF of season in Week 13.Has 6 tackles in 2 of past 3. Had sack in last meeting. • DE QUINTON JEFFERSON & LB JERMAINE JOHNSON each had 1.5 sacks last week. • LB QUINCY WILLIAMS had 8 tackles & TFL last week. Aims for 5th in row with 5+ tackles. Has TFL in 9 of past 10. Had sack in last meeting. • CB SAUCE GARDNER has PD in 2 of past 3. Has 28 career PD, tied 3rd-most in NFL since 2022.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Houston Texans are surging toward the top of the AFC South, led by a rookie quarterback who has made things look pretty easy so far.

C.J. Stroud knows the hard part is ahead of them.

“Really, these are the most meaningful games of the year after Thanksgiving and going into December and January,” Stroud said. “We’ve gotten off to a good start and we’ve just got to keep that rolling.”

The Texans (7-5) have won four of their past five and are tied with Indianapolis for second in the AFC South, one game behind Jacksonville – which could be without injured quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Sunday at Cleveland.

Houston is focused solely on the task at hand: this week’s road game against the struggling New York Jets (4-8), who are starting Zach Wilson at quarterback on Sunday.

“Proud of what they’ve done,” coach DeMeco Ryans said of his Texans. “They know we’re not where we can be. We know we can still play much better ball than we’ve shown over the past several weeks, and everybody is hungry to improve. And that’s what I love most about our team is the hunger to continue to get better.”

So far, Stroud has been mighty impressive, though.

The No. 2 overall pick in the draft last April is leading the NFL with 3,540 yards passing – the third most by a player in his first 12 games.

“He’s a very unique young quarterback,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “He’s a guy I really wish we would’ve played Weeks 1 to 4 when he was still trying to figure out this game.”

Stroud also has 20 touchdown passes with just five interceptions and hasn’t thrown an interception in his past two games.

“For me, it’s not just focused on me,” Stroud insisted. “I take full responsibility for being the leader, but the first thing I remember coming into the building, I was talking to a couple of vets, and they were like, ‘You’re not in this on your own. We’re right there with you, holding ourselves to the same standard you do. We’re right there.’”

Those conversations with defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Jonathan Greenard have helped keep Stroud even-keeled as the Texans make their run.

“That’s something that takes a lot of pressure off of my back,” Stroud said. “And even though I put that pressure right back on, like me being my hardest critic, it also helps me relax, understand I can go be aggressive.”

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

The Jets have been able to defend the pass well this season, and Stroud is their latest tough task.

New York hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer in 30 straight games, a stretch that includes having faced the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert and Josh Allen (twice) this season.

“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said. “A young guy that’s doing tremendous things, a lot of stuff well. A young guy that’s making big-time throws down the field.”

LENDING A HAND

The Jets might need to mix things up a little on defense because Ryans has some first-hand experience with the type of schemes New York coach Robert Saleh likes to run with Ulbrich.

Saleh was an assistant in Houston for most of the time Ryans played for the Texans and was one of the people who encouraged him to get into coaching.

“I learned how to coach from being under Saleh,” Ryans said. “He taught me a lot when it comes to scheme, when it came to just handling players, game-planning. So, I learned a lot from Saleh and owe a lot to him and that’s probably the reason why I’m standing here before you because of him just taking me under his wing and teaching me the ropes.”

ZACH’S BACK

After being benched for two games in favor of Tim Boyle, Wilson finds himself leading the Jets’ huddle again and looking to help end New York’s five-game losing streak.

That didn’t come without some controversy, though, with The Athletic reporting earlier in the week Wilson was reluctant about potentially starting again this season – citing potential injury concerns. Also, the 24-year-old quarterback might not be back next season after struggling through his first three NFL years.

“Everybody knows that I am going to do everything I can for the guys in the locker room,” Wilson said, “no matter the situation.”

STING AND SAUCE

Houston cornerback Derek Stingley was taken third in the 2022 draft, a spot ahead of fellow cornerback Sauce Gardner by the Jets.

Some had criticized the Texans’ decision to draft Stingley after Gardner was selected AP Defensive Rookie of the Year last season and Stingley had just one interception in nine games before missing the last eight with a hamstring injury.

He had another setback this season when another hamstring injury cost him six games. But Stingley has quieted the doubters since his return. He has four interceptions in his past three games, capped by a two-INT performance in last week’s win over Denver that earned him AFC defensive player of the week.

“Really encouraged and pleased with Stingley and the work he’s put in,” Ryans said. “Now he’s getting the attention, he’s making some plays, but he’s always had that in him. So, I’m just happy to see him make those plays and for other people to see that he is a top corner in this league.”

  • The Jets won the first five games between these teams from 2003-2010 before the Texans won three in a row from 2012-2018. The Jets won the only meeting since then, a 21-14 game in Week 12, 2021. Each of the last five games between them has been decided by seven or fewer points.
  • The Texans beat the Broncos, 22-17, at home last week, their eighth straight game decided by seven or fewer points, and their sixth straight decided by five or fewer points. Only two teams in NFL history have played seven straight games in a single season decided by five or fewer points — the 1974 Lions and the 1989 Chargers.
  • Last week was C.J. Stroud’s third game with at least 10 passing yards per attempt. In the last 25 seasons, the only rookies with at least three such games (minimum 10 attempts) are Jameis Winston (3 in 2015), Robert Griffin III (3 in 2012), Russell Wilson (3 in 2012), Cam Newton (3 in 2011), Matt Ryan (5 in 2008) and Ben Roethlisberger (5 in 2004).
  • The Jets fell to the Falcons at home last week, 13-8, and have now lost five straight games while scoring no more than 13 points in any of them. It’s the longest such streak in Jets history, and the longest by any team in a single season since the 2016 Browns had a six-game streak that ended with a 20-17 win against the Chargers, their only win that year.
  • After recording receptions on all five of his targets in Week 1, Garrett Wilson has been targeted at least seven times in all 11 Jets games since then. The only player in the NFL with more seven-target games is the Rams’ Puka Nacua (12).
  • The Texans have 59 passing plays of at least 20 yards this season, six more than any other team in the league (Detroit and San Francisco, 53). The Jets have allowed just 25 such plays this season, the fewest in the NFL.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6) AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-7)

QB JOSHUA DOBBS has 7 TDs (4 pass, 3 rush) in 4 starts with Min. in 2023. Ranks 3rd among QBs with 6 rush TDs & tied-3rd among QBs with 400 rush yards in 2023. • QB NICK MULLENS has 4,552 pass yards (267.8 per game) & 24 TD passes in 17 career starts. Can make 2023 debut. Made 1st-career start vs. Raiders (11/1/18 w/ SF) & passed for 262 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 151.9 rating. • QB JAREN HALL (rookie) can make 2nd-career start. • RB ALEXANDER MATTISON has career-high 768 scrimmage yards (career-best 594 rush, 174 rec.) in 2023. Had rush TD in last meeting. • WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON has 36 receptions for 571 yards & 3 TDs in 5 games this season. Has career 98.1 yards-per-game average, highest in NFL history (min. 50 games). • TE T.J. HOCKENSON leads all TEs with 80 receptions & is 1 of 2 TEs (Travis Kelce) with 60+ catches in each of past 4 seasons. Ranks 2nd among TEs with 786 rec. yards in 2023. Has 50+ rec. yards in 5 of 6 road games this season. • WR JORDAN ADDISON ranks tied-1st among rookies with 7 rec. TDs, 3rd with 686 rec. yards & 5th with 54 receptions. • LB DANIELLE HUNTER leads NFL with 18 TFL & ranks 3rd with 13.5 sacks in 2023. Aims for his 4th in row with sack & 5th in row with TFL. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Raiders with sack. • LB IVAN PACE (rookie) had 1st-career full sack in Week 12. • S CAMRYN BYNUM leads all DBs with career-high 99 tackles in 2023. Has PD in 2 of his past 3 on road. • CB BYRON MURPHY has career-high 13 PD in 2023. • S HARRISON SMITH had INT in last meeting. • S JOSH METELLUS had career-high 2 FFs in Week 12. Has 12 games with 5+ tackles, most among DBs in 2023.

QB AIDAN O’CONNELL (rookie) completed 23 of 33 atts. (69.7 pct.) for 248 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with career-high 101.6 rating in Week 12. Aims for 4th in row with TD pass & 3rd in row with 245+ pass yards. • RB JOSH JACOBSled team with 125 scrimmage yards (110 rush, 15 rec.) in Week 12, 3rd game this season with 125+ scrimmage yards, tied 2nd-most among RBs. Has 85+ scrimmage yards in 4 of past 5. Has 612 scrimmage yards (102 per game) & 4 rush TDs in 6 home games this season. Needs rush TD to become 7th player all-time with 7+ rush TDs in each of 1st 7 seasons. • WR DAVANTE ADAMS aims for 4th in row with 5+ catches & 70+ rec. yards. Had 11 catches for 136 yards & TD in his last game vs. Min. (1/2/22 w/ GB) & has 100+ rec. yards in 5 of his past 6 vs. Min. & TD catch in each of his past 4. Has 13 rec. TDs in 15 career games vs. Min., most vs. any opponent. Needs 86 rec. yards & rec. TD for 6th-straight season with 900+ rec. yards & 5+ rec. TDs. • WR JAKOBI MEYERS had 6 catches for 79 yards & 6th TD of season last week, 2nd-straight season with 6 rec. TDs. Had 62 rec. yards in only career game vs. Min. (11/24/22 w/ NE). • WR HUNTER RENFROW aims for 3rd in row with 4+ catches. • DE MAXX CROSBY aims for 3rd in row with sack. Has 0.5+ sacks in 5 of 6 home games this season. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 15 TFL in 2023 & tied-6th with 11.5 sacks. • LB ROBERT SPILLANE aims for 3rd in row with 11+ tackles. Has PD in 2 of past 3. Has 7+ tackles in all 6 home games in 2023. • LB DIVINE DEABLO has 7+ tackles in 2 of past 3. • CB NATE HOBBS aims for 3rd in row with 8+ tackles & TFL. Has PD in 3 of past 4. • CB JACK JONES had season-high 5 tackles in Week 12.

LAS VEGAS (AP) The paths Minnesota and Las Vegas took to get to this point in the NFL season have not been an easy one.

Both teams have had upheaval – backup quarterbacks now starting for each club, a coaching change for the Raiders – and this game will be quite telling where their seasons go from here.

More is on the line for the Vikings because at 6-6 they have a more realistic chance at a playoff spot given how the NFC standings line up.

Like the Raiders, they come off two losses and a bye, and the Vikings’ timing for the stretch run is especially fortuitous given wide receiver Justin Jefferson returns after missing the past seven games because of a hamstring injury.

But instead of catching passes from Kirk Cousins – out since tearing an Achilles tendon on Oct. 29 – Joshua Dobbs will be behind center. Coach Kevin O’Connell decided to stick with Dobbs, who threw four interceptions Nov. 27 against Chicago. Three of those passes were deflected, however, and Dobbs did win his first two starts before losing the next two by a combined three points.

Dobbs called the week off a chance to recharge for the last stretch.

“It was good to go back over my tape from my first four weeks here and the rest of the tape from the beginning of the season, see areas I’ve done well at, seeing how I can improve and, ultimately, see how I can go out and give us the best chance to win on Sunday.”

The Raiders had their postseason hopes take a major hit with losses to Miami and Kansas City before the break, dropping Las Vegas’ record to 5-7.

History, however, could be on the Raiders’ side. They were 6-7 two years ago under an interim coach before winning their final four games to make the playoffs.

“I feel like we’re leaving plays on the field,” Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce said. “We do have plays open. We’ve got guys running down the field and we’ve got some lanes to hit in the running game and defensively we’ve got some opportunities to get the quarterback on the ground or to make a play on the ball or in the special teams to take one to the house. Well, you’ve got to do it. We’ve got to stop talking about it.”

MOVING ON UP

The Vikings ought to get a big boost from the return of Jefferson. They managed to win their first five games without him, but Dobbs could sure use his presence down the field. The 2022 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year often prompts opponents to play shell coverage with two high safeties, the type of alignment that can make it easier for Dobbs to use one of his best skills by taking off and running when he doesn’t find an open man.

“Every defense is in a conflict with J.J. out on the field and having the people that we have. We’re just looking to try to attack that and do our thing,” tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “Listen, they’re going to try to double him, but he’s still going to win. He’s going to get his ops, and he’s going to go off. It’s going to be fun to watch him, and it’s a blast to have him back out in the huddle.”

SIGHTS ADJUSTED

Jefferson said he felt a sense of “helplessness” having to watch the Vikings from the sideline. He nearly returned the previous game, but all parties involved decided using the extra week of the bye was a better option.

“That was the main focus in getting back on that field, having that same explosion, having that same power, having that same speed as I did before then,” Jefferson said. “You’ve got to trust that my hamstring is back to where it was before, or even stronger.”

COMING ALONG

The Raiders have had high hopes for tight end Michael Mayer since trading up to take him high in the second round of this year’s draft.

He had a rough start when defensive end Maxx Crosby took Mayer to school on the first day of training camp. Mayer, though, is beginning to show why the Raiders believed in him initially with nine catches in his past three games for 92 yards. Not mind-blowing numbers, but he had 13 receptions for 159 yards over his first nine games.

“Here’s a guy that, let’s be honest, in training camp got baptized,” Pierce said. “He got embarrassed, humble pie, but now he’s dishing it out now too himself. You can see big Mike walking around with a shoulder shrug, got a little swag to him. It’s good to see man, especially rookies who late in the season hit that rookie wall, he’s doing opposite.”

DEFENSE DOMINATING

According to Sportradar, the Vikings’ average allowance of 17.8 points per game from Week 4-13 was fourth best in the NFL. They’ve given up only 12 touchdowns in their past nine games.

The success has naturally elevated the candidacy of defensive coordinator Brian Flores for potential head coaching positions next season, a job he had for Miami from 2019-21.

“All the other stuff, I ask them to block it out, and I’m blocking it out myself,” Flores said. “You’ve got to lead by example. I’m certainly going to do that.”

  • The Raiders hold a 10-6 edge in the all-time series between these teams, including their win at the Rose Bowl in Super Bowl XI. The Vikings have won each of the last two meetings, getting a 34-14 win at home in 2019 and a 30-14 win in Oakland in 2015.
  • The Vikings are coming off a bye week following their 12-10 loss at home to the Bears in Week 12. It was the 57th game in which the Vikings held their opponent to zero touchdowns, and just the fourth of those that they lost (twice in 2006 and once in 1992).
  • T.J. Hockenson had 50 receiving yards and one touchdown against Chicago in Week 12. It was the fourth time this season he’s reached both of those marks in a game, most of any tight end in the NFL. He has 11 such games in his career.
  • The Raiders are coming off a bye week following their 31-17 loss to the Chiefs at home in Week 12. Las Vegas finished with 358 yards of offense, its second most in a game this season (362 vs. Pittsburgh in Week 2). The Raiders have had at least 200 net passing yards in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
  • Josh Jacobs had 110 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in Week 12, his 10th career game with 100+ rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. The Raiders are 8-2 in those games, with both losses coming against Kansas City. The only Raider with more such games is Marcus Allen, who had 12.
  • These are the two least-penalized teams in the league — the Raiders are averaging 4.67 penalties per game, fewest in the league, while the Vikings are averaging 4.83 penalties per game, second fewest. Minnesota’s 37.0 penalty yards per game are the fewest in the NFL.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-6) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (9-3)

QB GENO SMITH passed for 334 yards & had 4 TDs (3 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT in Week 13, his 4th game with 300+ pass yards this season & 6th-career game with 3+ TD passes. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with 90+ rating. • RB KENNETH WALKER has 4 rush TDs in 5 road games in 2023. • RB ZACH CHARBONNET(rookie) had career-high 99 scrimmage yards (60 rush, 39 rec.) & 1st-career rush TD in Week 13. Aims for his 5th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. • WR DK METCALF had 6 catches for 134 yards & 3 rec. TDs in Week 13, his 2nd-career 3 rec. TD game. Has 812 rec. yards & 6 rec. TDs in 2023 & can become 3rd player ever (A.J. Green & HOFer Randy Moss) with 900+ rec. yards & 5+ rec. TDs in each of 1st 5 career seasons. • WR TYLER LOCKETT aims for his 3rd in row on road with 5+ receptions. Had 9 catches for 107 yards in last road meeting. • WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA (rookie) had career-high 7 receptions in Week 13. • LB BOBBY WAGNER led team with 14 tackles in Week 13 & leads NFC with 127 tackles in 2023, his 12th-straight 100+ tackle season. Has 195 tackles (8.5 per game), 15 PD & 13 TFL in 23 career games vs. SF. • LB JORDYN BROOKS had career-high 5th sack of season last week. Needs 4 tackles for 3rd-straight 100+ tackle season. Had 12 tackles & INT-TD in Week 12 meeting. • LB DARRELL TAYLOR aims for his 3rd in row with sack. • S JAMAL ADAMS had season-high 10 tackles in Week 13. Aims for his 6th in row with TFL. • CB DEVON WITHERSPOON leads all rookies with 15 PD & has PD in 10 of 11 career games.

QB BROCK PURDY passed for 314 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 148.8 rating in Week 13 & became 3rd QB ever (Tom Brady – 2007 & Aaron Rodgers – 2011) with 4 games of 3+ TD passes & 140+ rating in single season in NFL history. Leads NFL in rating (116.1) & comp. pct. (70.2) in 2023. Aims for his 7th in row with 70+ comp. pct. Has 100+ rating in 7 of 8 career home starts. • RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY had 133 scrimmage yards (93 rush, 40 rec.) & 12th rush TD of season in Week 13. Became 3rd player ever (HOFers Marshall Faulk & Lenny Moore) with 50+ rush TDs (50) & 25+ rec. TDs (27). Leads NFL in scrimmage TDs (17) & rush yards (1,032) & ranks 2nd in scrimmage yards (1,461) in 2023. Has 689 scrimmage yards (172.3 per game) & 7 TDs (6 rush, 1 rec.) in 4 career games vs. Sea., incl. 139 scrimmage yards & 2 rush TDs in Week 12 meeting. • TE GEORGE KITTLE ranks 3rd among TEs in 2023 with 735 rec. yards. Has 5,989 career rec. yards & can become 5th TE ever with 6,000+ rec. yards in 1st 7 seasons. • WR BRANDON AIYUK had 6th rec. TD of season in Week 13 & aims for his 5th in row with rec. TD. Has 927 rec. yards in 2023 & needs 73 rec. yards for 2nd-straight 1,000-yard season. • WR DEEBO SAMUEL had season-high 138 scrimmage yards (116 rec., 22 rush) & career-high 3 TDs (2 rec., 1 rush) in Week 13, his 12th-career game with 100+ rec. yards. Has 595 scrimmage yards (119 per game) & 4 TDs (2 rec., 2 rush) in 4 career games vs. Sea. • DL NICK BOSA aims for his 6th in row vs. Sea. with sack. Needs 2 sacks for 3rd-straight 10+ sack season. • LB FRED WARNER has 99 tackles & needs 1 tackle for 6th-straight 100+ tackle season. Has 4 TFL in his past 4 at home vs. Sea. • DB CHARVARIUS WARD leads NFL with career-high 19 PD & aims for his 4th in row with 2+ PD.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers find themselves in a familiar spot after posting a dominant victory against a fellow NFC powerhouse with last week’s big win at Philadelphia.

Now the hope for the Niners is they avoid falling into a familiar trap after that win and avoid the three-game losing streak they endured in October after a similar victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

San Francisco (9-3) hosts the Seattle Seahawks (6-6) on Sunday with a chance to clinch a playoff berth this week with a win and a loss by either Minnesota or Green Bay.

“When you’re a really good team, these are the types of weeks where you have to not fall into the trap of feeling good about yourself and and come out and take it to another notch,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “If we can do that, then we’re exactly where we need to be.”

The Niners looked like one of the best teams in the NFL after a 42-19 win last week against the Eagles that made them the Super Bowl favorites. That’s the spot they were in after beating Dallas in Week 5, only to lose the next three games.

That prompted coach Kyle Shanahan to deliver a message about avoiding a repeat.

“I think it’s just understood, honestly,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “I think it’s pretty simple, you either learn from your past mistakes or you’re going to let history repeat itself.”

The Seahawks have more pressing issues after losing three straight to fall out of playoff position. Seattle squandered a fourth-quarter lead in a Week 11 loss to the Rams, followed by losses to San Francisco and Dallas the past two Thursdays.

But they have a few extra days of rest to gear up for the stretch run.

“I think physically, having some time off, we played a lot of games in a short time,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Being able to have that rest is definitely going to help. Mentally, just stepping away for a moment, kind of reset and find a way to get back in the W column.”

FAMILIAR FOE

The Niners and Seahawks will face off for the fourth time in less than a year with San Francisco winning all of those meetings.

San Francisco clinched the NFC West with a Week 15 win last season at Seattle, won a wild-card game at home last season and then won again in Seattle on Thanksgiving.

The Niners have won four straight overall in the series after losing eight of the first 10 against Seattle under Shanahan.

“They have the same benefit that we have,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Nobody has an edge. We have a great deal of information already logged. Both teams are competing to figure out how to use that right.”

DK’S BIG DAY

Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf is coming off one of the most productive games of his career when he caught six passes for a season-high 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys.

It was the kind of breakout game that Seattle has been waiting for and fans have been calling for. Metcalf’s combination of size and speed is so unique, some have felt he’s not being targeted enough.

But San Francisco has been able to slow Metcalf in the past, at least in the regular season. In his last six regular-season games against the Niners, Metcalf has one TD catch. He was held to three receptions for 32 yards on Thanksgiving night as he was shadowed most of the game by Charvarius Ward.

“Any corner who can travel with me for a whole duration of a game, I have mad respect for,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf did have a huge game the last time he stepped foot in Levi’s Stadium with 10 catches for 136 yards and two TDs in the playoffs last season.

RUNNING COMMITTEE

Seattle could be without starting running back Kenneth Walker III for a third straight game depending on how he progresses at the end of the week from an oblique injury suffered in Week 11 against the Rams. Rookie Zach Charbonnet was asked to carry the load running the ball the past two weeks with mixed results.

Charbonnet had 14 carries for 47 yards in the first meeting with the Niners and followed up with 19 carries for 60 yards against the Cowboys. He also scored the first touchdown of his career against Dallas.

While Geno Smith put up big numbers in the pass game against the Cowboys, the Seahawks were able to balance it with a decent dose of running the ball. But Carroll knows they need more opportunities and a little more success with the ground game because of what it can help create while throwing the ball with play-action passes.

“It’s a part of our game that we really like,” Carroll said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to get that done.”

DOMINANT DEEBO

San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel is getting back to his dominant 2021 form.

Samuel gained 138 yards and scored three TDs last week against the Eagles, scoring on a 12-yard run and then pass plays of 48 and 46 yards that featured several broken tackles and long runs after the catch. Samuel also ran for a TD two weeks ago against the Seahawks and averages 126.7 yards from scrimmage per game against Seattle.

  • The 49ers have won four straight games against Seattle, including last year’s wild card matchup and a 31-13 victory in Week 12 on Thanksgiving night. Three out of the four games have been decided by multiple scores, and a win on Sunday would mark San Francisco’s first five-game winning streak against Seattle dating back to 1976.
  • DK Metcalf had six receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns in Week 13, his second career three-touchdown game. He’s only the fourth Seattle receiver to record more than five receptions for 130+ receiving yards and 3+ touchdowns in a game, joining Steve Largent (1983 and 1987), Doug Baldwin (2015), and Tyler Lockett (2020).
  • Despite 10 penalties for 130 penalty yards in Week 13, Seattle did not record a punt for the second time in franchise history. The 130 penalty yards are the most all-time in a single game since without punting, edging Dallas in the same game (127 penalty yards, no punts).
  • Brock Purdy (148.8 passer rating and four passing touchdowns in Week 13) now has four games this season with a passer rating of 140.0+ and 3+ touchdown passes, tying Tom Brady (2007) and Aaron Rodgers (2011) for most in a single season in NFL history.
  • In Week 13, Deebo Samuel finished with four receptions for 116 yards (on four targets) and three total touchdowns (two receiving and one rushing). He’s the only player in the last 30 years with 3+ scrimmage TDs and 100+ receiving yards on four or fewer targets.
  • Christian McCaffrey (50 rushing touchdowns and 27 receiving touchdowns in his career) is the third player in NFL history with 50+ rushing touchdowns and 25+ receiving scores (Marshall Faulk, Lenny Moore). McCaffrey has done so in 87 games, 17 fewer games than Moore and 27 fewer than Faulk.

BUFFALO BILLS (6-6) AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-4)

QB JOSH ALLEN totaled 420 yards (339 pass, 81 rush) & 4 TDs (2 pass, 2 rush) in Week 12, becoming 6th player all-time with 300+ pass yards, 50+ rush yards, 2+ TD passes & 2+ rush TDs in a game. Has 8 career games with 300+ pass yards & 50+ rush yards, tied with HOFer Steve Young for most ever. Has 8 games with pass & rush TD in 2023, tied 2nd-most in single season. Has rush TD in 5 of past 6. Has 973 pass yards (324.3 per game) & 11 TDs (10 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 129.6 rating in his past 3 starts vs. KC., incl. playoffs. • RB JAMES COOK has 100+ scrimmage yards in 3 straight games, longest streak of career. Ranks 4th among RBs with career-high 1,039 scrimmage yards (731 rush, 308 rec.) in 2023. • WR STEFON DIGGS had 6 catches for 74 yards & 8th TD of season in Week 12. Is only player in NFL with 8+ rec. TDs in each of last 4 seasons. Has 6+ catches & 55+ rec. yards in each of 5 road games this season, with rec. TD in 4 of 5 games. Had 10 catches for 148 yards & TD in last meeting. Needs 31 rec. yards for 6th-straight 1,000-yard season. • WR GABE DAVIS had 6 catches for season-high 105 yards & TD in Week 12. Has 55+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. Has 275 rec. yards (137.5 per game) & 5 rec. TDs in his past 2 vs. KC, incl. playoffs. • TE DALTON KINCAID has 5+ catches in 6 straight games, longest active streak among TEs & longest streak ever by rookie TE. • S JORDAN POYER had 6 tackles & PD in Week 12. Has 5+ tackles in 7 of past 8. • S MICAH HYDE had 6 tackles in Week 12. Had INT-TD in his last reg. season game vs. KC (10/10/21). • LB TERREL BERNARD had 3rd INT of season in Week 12, tied most among LBs this season. Has 0.5+ sacks in 2 of past 3. • DE GREG ROUSSEAU had 1st FR of season in Week 12.

QB PATRICK MAHOMES completed 21 of 33 atts. (63.6 pct.) for 210 yards & TD vs. INT last week. Has 2+ TD passes in 3 of past 4. Has 12 TDs vs. 4 INTs & 99.1 rating in 5 starts in KC this season, with 2+ TD passes in 4 of 5 games. Has 325+ pass yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. Buf., incl. playoffs, & has 2+ TD passes in each of 5 career starts vs. Buf., incl. playoffs. • RB ISIAH PACHECO led team with 123 scrimmage yards (110 rush, 13 rec.) & had rush TD last week, 3rd-career 100-yard game. Aims for 4th in row with 85+ scrimmage yards & 3rd in row with rush TD. Needs 12 yards for 1st-career 1,000-yard season. • TE TRAVIS KELCE aims for 3rd in row with 80+ rec. yards. Has 416 rec. yards (104 per game) & 3 rec. TDs in his 4 games in KC this season. Had 8 catches for 108 yards in last meeting & has TD catch in 4 of his past 5 vs. Buf., incl. playoffs. • TE NOAH GRAY had 2nd TD catch of season last week. • WR RASHEE RICE (rookie) aims for 3rd in row with 8+ catches & 60+ rec. yards. Has 55+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 in KC. Ranks 4th among rookie WRs with 52 catches & 5th with 591 rec. yards. • WR JUSTIN WATSON has rec. TD in 2 of past 3. • DT CHRIS JONES has sack in 3 of his 4 games in KC this season. Had sack & PD in last meeting. • DE GEORGE KARLAFTIS has sack in 2 of past 3. Aims for his 5th in row in KC with 0.5+ sacks. • DE MIKE DANNA had sack in Week 13. • LB JACK COCHRANE had career-highs in tackles (7) & TFL (2) last week. • CB L’JARIUS SNEED aims for his 3rd in row vs. Buf. with 8+ tackles & has PD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Buf., incl. playoffs. • S JUSTIN REID led team with season-high 10 tackles last week. Aims for 4th in row with 7+ tackles. Had PD in last meeting.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Bills and Chiefs are accustomed to playing each other with the NFL spotlight shining squarely upon them.

There was that AFC championship game a few of years ago, when Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and Kansas City counterpart Patrick Mahomes went toe-to-toe for four quarters. And the divisional playoff game the following season, when Mahomes needed a mere 13 seconds to march his team into range for a tying field goal, then led the Chiefs to victory in overtime.

Even their games the past two Octobers have been must-see TV featuring two of the league’s best teams.

Yet there is a different feel surrounding the Bills’ return to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Buffalo is muddling along at 6-6 and outside the current playoff picture, the first time since Allen’s rookie season in 2018 that the Bills were .500 or worse at this point in the season. And the Chiefs have lost three of their last five games, falling to 8-4 and suddenly looking up at Baltimore and Miami in the AFC standings.

“We understand what’s in front of us and what situation we’re in,” Allen said , “but we’ve got a lot of guys in this locker room that are very excited to be back, and we have a very good feeling in this locker room right now for what we need to do.”

The Bills are in their current predicament largely because of their inability to win close games. Each of their losses have been by six points or fewer, including four losses in the six games they played before getting last week off.

With Dallas and Miami still on the schedule, their path back to the playoffs won’t be an easy one.

“We have to have a somewhat playoff mentality going forward,” Bills center Mitch Morse said, “and that’s not going to guarantee us to win all the games. But we can’t reach our goal if we don’t play, work, practice, come together with a sense of urgency.”

The Chiefs have a similar sense of urgency coming off their loss last Sunday in Green Bay. They squandered control of their own destiny when it came to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and the AFC’s lone first-round bye, with the lackluster 27-19 defeat.

“I’ve been on a team that was 6-4 and ended up winning the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said. “We have confidence every week that we’re going to find a way to win. Obviously, these last few weeks we’ve lost a couple, but we still have that mindset.”

Unlike the Bills, though, the Chiefs do not face anyone with a winning record the rest of the regular season.

“We can’t lose three out of four, or three out of five. It’s a critical situation,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said, “especially where we’re trying to be in the next few weeks. We have to correct the errors, and we have to correct them fast.”

MILLER’S SITUATION

Bills pass rusher Von Miller is expected to play Sunday despite allegations of domestic violence made against him during their week off.

Miller turned himself in to police in a Dallas suburb after being charged in a warrant with domestic violence against the mother of his children, who is pregnant. He faces a charge of third-degree felony assault of a pregnant woman.

“No one wants their name associated with any accusation like that,” Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane said. “But things happen sometimes, and again, we have to remember people, we have to give them their fair due process.”

INJURY ITEMS

The Chiefs are unlikely to have linebacker Drue Tranquill (concussion), left tackle Donovan Smith (neck) and safety Bryan Cook (ankle), while running back Isiah Pacheco is nursing a bruised shoulder. But they are hopeful that linebacker Nick Bolton will be back soon from injured reserve, where he landed after wrist surgery, providing a big boost to a banged-up defense.

INJURY ITEMS, PART 2

The Bills aren’t going to give the Chiefs any sympathy when it comes to injuries. Tight end Dalton Knox has missed five games after his own wrist surgery and cornerback Kaiir Elam four to an ankle injury, but both resumed practicing this week, raising hopes they will soon come off IR. Meanwhile, cornerback Dane Jackson cleared the concussion protocol and safety Taylor Rapp was back at practice after missing a game with a neck injury.

QUARTERBACK CONCERNS

Allen and Mahomes have been so good for so long that it becomes a big storyline whenever things go awry. In both of their cases, turnovers have been a problem this season.

Allen has committed at least one in eight straight games – nine interceptions, two lost fumbles – while Mahomes has thrown 10 picks and is on pace to set a career high.

COACHING CONCERNS

The Bills have scored 66 points in their two games since offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was fired and quarterbacks coach Joe Brady took over; they had scored 123 in Dorsey’s final six games total. But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs are writing off everything that Buffalo did over its first 10 games this season.

“There’s some differences,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “but there’s also some of the same things. They didn’t completely can the offense there. I think we’ll have a good feel for what they do.”

  • Josh Allen has thrown for 300+ yards, three-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games against the Chiefs (including the postseason). Allen is looking to become the second QB in NFL history to have a streak of four such games against a single opponent—Drew Brees did so against the Packers between 2008-2014.
  • The Bills are 6-6 and own a +101 point differential through 12 games this year. They join the 1950 Philadelphia Eagles (6-6; +113) as the only teams in NFL history to have a +100 point differential or better through 12 games while having a .500 winning percentage or lower.
  • Terrell Bernard leads the Bills in interceptions and total tackles after securing an interception in their most recent game against Philadelphia. He is on pace to be the first Buffalo defender to lead both categories outright since London Fletcher in 2006.
  • The Chiefs are 8-4 (.667) and need to win at least four of their last five games to finish with a winning percentage of .700 or higher for the sixth straight season. The only teams with longer streaks are the Patriots in 2010-2017 (eight) and the Colts in 2003-2009 (seven).
  • Patrick Mahomes has thrown three-plus touchdowns just twice this year and has failed to throw for three in any of his last five games. Mahomes has never had fewer than five such games in a season since becoming the full-time starter for Kansas City in 2018.
  • Josh Allen will be playing his 90th career game when the Bills and Chiefs match up on Sunday and he enters the game with 210 touchdowns responsible for in his career (pass + rush + receiving TD). Only his opponent, Patrick Mahomes (223), has more touchdowns responsible for through 90 career games.

DENVER BRONCOS (6-6) AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-7)

QB RUSSELL WILSON had 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD. Has 0 INTs & 90+ rating in 5 of past 6. Passed for 283 yards & 3 TDs with 118.6 rating in last meeting. Has 2+ TD passes in 3 of 4 career starts vs. Chargers. Has 329 career TD passes & surpassed HOFer Dan Marino (328) for 2nd-most ever by QB in 1st 12 seasons. • RB JAVONTE WILLIAMS has 70+ scrimmage yards in 5 of past 6 & in each of past 2. • RB SAMAJE PERINE has 65+ scrimmage yards in 2 of past 3. • WR COURTLAND SUTTON had 77 rec. yards & career-high 9th rec. TD of season last week. Aims for 5th in row with 50+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in 6 of past 7 overall & in each of his 5 road games this season. Had rec. TD in last meeting. Can become 1st Den. player with 10+ rec. TDs in a season since 2014 (Demaryius Thomas & Julius Thomas). • WR JERRY JEUDY had 51 rec. yards in Week 13 & has 50+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. Had career-high 154 rec. yards in last meeting. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of 5 career games vs. LAC. • LB ALEX SINGLETON led team with 12 tackles & had 1st sack of season last week. Aims for 5th in row with 10+ tackles. Has 32 tackles (16 per game) in his last 2 vs. LAC. Ranks tied-6th in NFL with 120 tackles this season. • LB JOSEY JEWELL has 6+ tackles in 3 of past 4. Had 5 tackles & FR in last meeting. Has 5+ tackles in 5 of 6 career games vs. LAC. • DT JONATHAN HARRIS had 2 TFL & 1st sack of season in Week 13. • CB JA’QUAN MCMILLIAN had sack & FF last week. • S JUSTIN SIMMONS had 10 tackles & career-high 2 FFs in last meeting. Has 6+ tackles in 3 of his past 4 vs. LAC. • S P.J. LOCKE had career-high 8 tackles, 2 TFL & sack in Week 13. Aims for 3rd in row with sack.

QB JUSTIN HERBERT has 2+ TD passes in 3 of his past 4 at home. Passed for 273 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 107.2 rating in last meeting & has 2 TD passes in 3 of his past 4 starts vs. Den. Needs TD pass to surpass Patrick Mahomes (114) for 2ndmost ever by player in 1st 4 seasons. • RB AUSTIN EKELER has 528 scrimmage yards (105.6 per game) in 5 home game this season, with 115+ scrimmage yards & TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Has TD in 5 of his past 6 vs. Den. Needs 54 rush yards for 6th-straight season with 500+ rush yards. • WR KEENAN ALLEN aims for 9th in row with 55+ rec. yards & 7th in row with 5+ catches. Has 25 catches for 281 yards (140.5 per game) & 2 TDs over his past 2 at home. Had 8 catches for 102 yards & 2 TDs in last meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Den. with rec. TD. Leads NFL with 102 catches in 2023, tied 3rdmost ever by player in team’s 1st 12 games of season. Is 6th player all-time with 100+ catches in 5+ seasons. • WR QUENTIN JOHNSTON (rookie) had 5 catches for career high 52 yards in Week 13. • TE GERALD EVERETT aims for 3rd in row with 4+ catches & 40+ rec. yards. Had TD catch in last meeting. • LB KHALIL MACK has 2 sacks in 3-straight games & can become 4th player since 1982 with 2+ sacks in 4 straight. Has 2+ sacks in 5 games this season, most in NFL. Has FF in 2 of past 3. Has TFL in each of his past 9 vs. Den. with sack in 4 of past 5. Leads NFL with 15 sacks, 2nd-career 15-sack season (2015 w/ Raiders). • LB KENNETH MURRAY aims for 9th in row with 5+ tackles. • LB ERIC KENDRICKS led team with 10 tackles & had 2 TFL & 1st sack of season last week. Aims for 4th in row with TFL. • S DERWIN JAMES had 9 tackles & 1st sack of season last week.

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and Chargers counterpart Justin Herbert both have the same goal on Sunday when Denver visits Los Angeles.

Get their offenses back on track.

Denver’s five-game winning streak was snapped last Sunday at Houston. Coach Sean Payton was critical of his QB after Wilson threw three interceptions, underthrew several deep passes and bypassed a wide-open Jerry Jeudy for a walk-in touchdown in a 22-17 loss to the Texans that evened Denver’s record at 6-6.

Maybe it was an inspirational message to his teammates or perhaps a veiled retort to Payton for peppering his comments Monday with what many perceived as jabs at his quarterback, but Wilson reminded everyone at his weekly news conference that the sky wasn’t exactly falling on the Broncos.

“We’ve been 5-1 over the last six games,” Wilson said. “We can’t forget that, too.”

The Chargers (5-7) beat New England 6-0 last Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak, but the offense failed to find the end zone and has only two touchdowns in the past 10 quarters.

Herbert’s only reliable receiving target has been Keenan Allen, who leads the NFL with 102 catches. The offense has also become more one-dimensional due to the lack of a running game. The Chargers are running the ball only 39.5% of the time, the eighth-lowest rate in the league.

Herbert said the main focus going into Sunday’s game is preventing turnovers. The Chargers did not have any last week in harsh weather at New England, but had four two weeks ago against Baltimore. Denver’s defense has a league-leading 22 takeaways.

“They’re going out and getting them – picks, fumbles. Getting after the ball. That’s the good part about a defense, is if they’re playing around and flying like that, they’re going to be a good defense,” Herbert said. “Causing and forcing turnovers like that, it just reminds you that you have to be smart with the ball. Play smart, winning football.”

FAMILIAR FACE

The Chargers got their first shutout since 2017 last week and their defense has shown improvement over the last two weeks. However, Los Angeles has only one win this season when facing an opponent’s primary starting quarterback.

Besides facing a division opponent, Los Angeles will go up against a Denver offense that has Joe Lombardi as its coordinator. Lombardi held that job with the Chargers the past two seasons before being fired.

“Yeah, definitely,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said when asked if he sees similarities in Denver’s scheme to what Lombardi did with the Chargers.

The Chargers’ defense is ranked 29th, allowing 379.5 yards per game, while the Broncos’ offense is 24th (299 yards per game).

Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack leads the league with 15 sacks, tying a career high, and has 99 1/2 for his career.

RUNNING GAME

This should be a good opportunity for Los Angeles to turn its running game around.

The Broncos are last in the league in stopping the run, allowing an average of 149.7 yards per game. The Chargers had a season-low 29 yards rushing last week.

“I think what’s frustrating is that we’ve done it, we just haven’t done it consistently,” Staley said. “It would be one thing if I haven’t seen it at all, then I think you’d be frustrated and upset and feeling a little bit differently, but we’ve shown that we’ve been able to run the football.”

TIGHT END TROUBLE

The Broncos have sorely missed field-stretching tight end Greg Dulcich this season. He’s played in just parts of two games because of recurring hamstring issues that also plagued the UCLA alum as a rookie last year.

The lack of a consistent pass-catching threat at tight end has hampered Payton’s play-calling, although he believes he might have an answer in a player who’s never caught an NFL pass.

“Lucas (Krull) is one of those guys that we feel is a candidate to be that type of player,” Payton said of the second-year undrafted pro from Pitt who was elevated from the practice squad last week and targeted by Wilson on the final play. Jimmie Ward leapt in front Krull and intercepted the pass with 9 seconds left.

JUST LIKE HOME

Although the Broncos are seeking their first win at SoFi Stadium, the venue can feel like home for Denver because Broncos fans are known for packing the stands at road games. Payton got to see that last year when he was working for Fox and attended the Broncos-Chargers game in Week 6.

“I was surprised – I don’t want to say it’s a newer fan base because it’s not, but they haven’t had a team in a while,” Payton said. “It’s nice when you have fans who travel like we do. That’s something. Even last week in Houston. When we’ve gone on the road this year you’ve always felt a presence with our fan base. And certainly that’ll matter again Sunday. That’s nice to have.”

  • The Broncos are 9-6 over the last 15 games against the Chargers, with 11 of the 15 games being decided by one score. In the most recent meeting (Week 18 of last season), the Broncos ran for 205 yards in a 31-28 win, their highest total over the last five seasons.
  • Russell Wilson threw three interceptions in Denver’s Week 13 loss to Houston, only his sixth game with 3+ interceptions in his career (185 games played). Wilson’s 1.9% career interception rate is third lowest behind Aaron Rodgers (1.4%) and Tom Brady (1.8%) among quarterbacks with at least 5000 pass attempts.
  • Courtland Sutton has nine games with one touchdown reception this season. With another touchdown catch, he’ll tie Anthony Miller (1995) and Julius Thomas (2013) for the most games with a TD reception in a single Broncos season.
  • The Chargers rushed for only 29 yards in their Week 13 win over the Patriots. This marked their fourth game with fewer than 30 yards rushing since the start of the 2020 season, the most in the NFL. They are 2-2 in such games.
  • Keenan Allen (five catches for 58 yards in Week 13) has 102 total receptions this season, tied for third most in NFL history in a team’s first 12 games of a season. Only Michael Thomas (110 in 2019) and Marvin Harrison (109 in 2002) had more.
  • Last week, for the second time in team history, the Chargers totaled fewer than 250 total yards and no touchdowns in a win. Their other such victory came in 1986 Week 10, a 9-3 win over Denver. Their last shutout prior to Week 13 also came against Denver (2017 Week 7).

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-2) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (9-3)

QB JALEN HURTS had 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs in Week 13, his 16th-career game with both pass TD & rush TD, tied 3rd-most by QB in 1st 4 seasons ever. Hurts (8 games) & Buf. QB Josh Allen (8) can join Kyler Murray (2020) as only QBs ever with 9 games with both pass TD & rush TD in same season. Has 38 career rush TDs; only 4 QBs have more in NFL history. Had 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 130.2 rating in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at Dal. with 325+ pass yards. • RB D’ANDRE SWIFT ranks 4th in NFL with career-high 783 rush yards & needs 9 scrimmage yards for 2nd-career 1,000-yard season (1,069 scrimmage yards in 2021 w/ Det.). Aims for his 4th in row on road with TD. • WR A.J. BROWN had 8 catches for 114 yards in Week 13, his 7th game with 100+ rec. yards in 2023, 2nd-most in NFL. Ranks 4th in NFL with 1,164 rec. yards this season. Had rec. TD in Week 9 meeting & 103 rec. yards in last road meeting (12/24/22). Aims for his 4th in row on SNF with rec. TD. • WR DEVONTA SMITH had season-high 9 catches for 96 yards & 6th rec. TD of season in Week 13. Has TD catch in 4 of his past 5. Aims for his 4th in row with 95+ rec. yards. Had 8 catches for 113 yards & 2 rec. TDs in last road meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Dal. with TD catch. • LB HAASON REDDICK has sack in 4 of his past 5, incl. sack in Week 9 meeting. Had 2 sacks & FF in last road meeting. • DE JOSH SWEAT had 1.5 sacks & INT-TD in last road meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Dal. with sack. • DE BRANDON GRAHAM has 4 sacks in his past 5 vs. Dal. • CB JAMES BRADBERRY is only player with 10+ PD in each of past 8 seasons. Aims for his 7th in row vs. Dal. with PD. • CB DARIUS SLAY has 8 PD in his past 6. • S KEVIN BYARD ranks tied-4th among DBs with 89 tackles in 2023.

DALLAS has won past 14 home games, longest active streak in NFL. Leads NFL in scoring offense (32.3 points per game). • QB DAK PRESCOTT passed for 299 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 115.8 rating in Week 13, his 8th game with 100+ rating in 2023, most in NFL. Has 1,854 pass yards (309 per game) & 19 TDs (18 pass, 1 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 126.8 rating in 6 home games this season. Leads NFL with 26 TD passes & ranks 2nd with 108.3 rating this season. Passed for 374 yards & 3 TDs in Week 9 meeting & has 1,254 pass yards (313.5 per game) & 14 TDs vs. INT for 135.7 rating in his past 4 vs. Phi. Aims for his 5th in row vs. Phi. with 3+ TD passes & 115+ rating. • RB TONY POLLARD aims for his 4th in row with rush TD. Needs 15 scrimmage yards for 3rd-straight 1,000-yard season & is 1 of 2 (Christian McCaffrey) with 12 games of 50+ scrimmage yards in 2023. Has 5 rush TDs in his past 5 primetime games. • WR CEEDEE LAMB had 12 catches, 146 scrimmage yards (116 rec., 30 rush) & 7th rec. TD of season in Week 13. Leads NFL with 5 games of 10+ games in 2023. Aims for his 5th in row with rec. TD. Had 11 catches for career-high 191 yards in Week 9 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Phi. with 10+ catches & 100+ rec. yards. Ranks 2nd in NFL in rec. yards (1,182) & 3rd in catches (90) this season. • WR BRANDIN COOKS aims for his 5th in row at home with TD catch. • TE JAKE FERGUSON ranks tied-3rd among TEs with career-high 5 rec. TDs in 2023. Had career-high 91 rec. yards & TD catch in Week 9 meeting. • LB MICAH PARSONS has 38 career sacks & can become 5th player since 1982 with 40+ sacks in 1st 3 seasons. Needs 1.5 sacks to join HOFer Reggie White as only players with 13+ sacks in each of 1st 3 NFL seasons since 1982. • CB DARON BLAND has NFL-record 5 INT-TDs this season & leads NFL with 8 INTs in 2023. Aims for his 5th in row with INT

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have done everything they were supposed to by winning four lower-stakes games since losing to Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The rematch Sunday night is for first place in the NFC East, which carries the guarantee of starting the playoffs at home. Dallas has a 14-game home winning streak, the club’s longest since 1981.

It’s also a December meeting of star quarterbacks in Prescott and Hurts, which means the stakes can’t be much higher in the regular season.

The Cowboys have to find the same focus and execution from the past month, after coach Mike McCarthy was away from the team midweek for an emergency appendectomy after falling ill Wednesday morning. He expects to be on the sideline on game day.

“These are the moments we’ve prepared for, to be honest with you,” Prescott said. “It’s not that we didn’t for all of those past games, but we understood that this is the stretch in the season when you look at the schedule that you have to be excited about.”

In the first game of November, the Eagles (10-2) took a two-game division lead with their 28-23 victory over the Cowboys (9-3).

That lead is back to one game after San Francisco essentially matched its Week 5 rout of the Cowboys at home with a 42-19 victory last weekend in Philadelphia.

“You have to drag yourself through the mud in order to grow,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s not comfortable, but it’s necessary. But then it’s about understanding why you’re here in the first place and having that confidence going into the next game.”

A win by the Eagles, defending NFC champs, is a huge step toward a second consecutive NFC East title, something that hasn’t happened in the division since Philadelphia won four in a row from 2001-04.

A Dallas victory would have the teams all but even on the way to the sixth time in seven seasons that one of the two takes the division crown.

“In the sense of trying to get home field, understanding our success through the past couple of years and how great it would be to play the postseason here at home, it’s huge,” Prescott said. “It’s definitely a big game.”

MCCARTHY’S MEDICAL

The 60-year-old was feeling abdominal pain when he went to the Dallas medical staff. It didn’t take long for them to send him to the hospital, where he had the appendectomy a few hours later.

McCarthy spent Thursday at home, but was in touch with players and coaches and planning his usual Thursday night call sheet meeting with Prescott and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

It’s McCarthy’s fourth season as coach of the Cowboys, but first as the play-caller since Kellen Moore didn’t return. Schottenheimer took Moore’s title after a year as a consultant on the Dallas staff.

Schottenheimer assured reporters, in the Thursday meeting usually handled by McCarthy, that he was talking football with the head coach in the phone calls.

“Hey, you can’t have a conversation with Mike without … He’s going to talk about two things, football or Pittsburgh,” Schottenheimer said of the Pittsburgh native. “I don’t know if Pittsburgh came up, but football definitely came up.”

As to whether Schottenheimer was “warming up in the bullpen” preparing to call plays, as he has done with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Seattle, the 50-year-old son of late NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer said no.

“We’ve both called it and installed it enough,” Schottenheimer said. “He’s gonna be ready to roll.”

QUICK TURN FOR LEONARD

Linebacker Shaq Leonard is planning to make his Eagles debut six days after signing following what he said was a stunning release of the three-time All-Pro by Indianapolis.

The Philadelphia defense has been strong against the run, but is 29th against the pass and in red zone efficiency.

“I’m not going to say they need me,” said the 28-year-old Leonard, who had back issues with the Colts and played for them when Sirianni was on the staff. “I wanted to go somewhere that would fit me, that a coach knew who I was as a person and a player. That’s why it fit me. It wasn’t so much a need.”

MVP CALIBER SHOWDOWN

Prescott and Hurts are among the top three along with Niners QB Brock Purdy to win AP NFL MVP, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

The Dallas QB leads the NFL with 26 touchdown passes and eight games with a passer rating of at least 100, including six of seven since one of the worst showings of his career in the 42-10 loss to the Niners.

With a touchdown passing and another rushing, Hurts can join Arizona’s Kyler Murray (2020) as the only QBs with at least one passing TD and rushing TD in nine games in the same season. Buffalo’s Josh Allen has the same chance this week.

“I haven’t been in any game like this where it’s been this close and two of the MVP front-runners,” Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse said. “Hurts has the name, but the film these last couple of weeks, it’s all pointing toward Dak. We have the good guy on our side.”

In the loss to the Niners, Hurts had a season-low 57.8% completion rate and a fourth-quarter concussion check. He hasn’t shown up on the injury report this week.

“We’ve definitely been challenged and stretched out in a ton of different ways,” Hurts said. “It’s about remaining resilient through it and always responding the right way, whether it’s a win or a loss.”

  • The Cowboys hold a 70-55 all-time edge in regular-season games against the Eagles dating back to 1960. Dallas has won five consecutive games at home with a point differential of +79 dating back to Week 14 of the 2018 season.
  • Jalen Hurts (298 yards passing, one passing touchdown, and one rushing touchdown in Week 13) now has 100 total touchdowns in his career (101). Eight other quarterbacks in NFL history have reached 100+ total touchdowns in 46 career starts or fewer. Of the eight, Hurts is the only player with 30+ rushing scores (38).
  • A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith combined for 17 receptions for 210 yards in Week 13. Since Brown joined the Eagles in 2022, they are tied for the most games in which each player has 5+ receptions and 90+ yards (Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, five games).
  • Dak Prescott has thrown for 20 touchdowns over his last six games, the most in franchise history over a six-game single-season span. His 123.1 combined passer rating ranks as the highest in his career over a six-game stretch.
  • CeeDee Lamb (12 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 13) has generated six games of 10+ catches and 100+ receiving yards since last season (five this season), the most in the NFL and the most in franchise history (Jason Witten had five such games).
  • In Dallas’ 41-35 win over Seattle, the teams produced the most points in any of the six total games with zero punts (regular and postseason) in NFL history. The Cowboys have 31 total punts this season, the fewest in the NFL and the fewest in franchise history through Week 13.

TENNESSEE TITANS (4-8) AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-3)

DOLPHINS lead NFL in total offense (428.4 yards per game) & rank 2nd in scoring offense (32.0 points per game). • QB TUA TAGOVAILOA completed 18 of 24 atts. (75 pct.) for 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 141 rating last week, 3rd-straight game with 70+ comp. pct. & 8th this season, tied-most in NFL. Has 7 games this season with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating, most in NFL. Has 1,528 pass yards (305.6 per game) & 14 TDs vs. 4 INTs with 117.3 rating in 5 home starts in 2023. Needs 92 pass yards & 2 TD passes to set single-season career highs in both categories. • RB RAHEEM MOSTERT rushed for TD last week. Has rush TD in 4 of past 5 & in each of past 2. Has 85+ scrimmage yards in 3 of past 4. Leads NFL with 14 rush TDs in 2023 & can become 3rd Mia. player ever with 15+ rush TDs, joining Ricky Williams (16 in 2002) & Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar (15 in 1997). • RB DE’VON ACHANE (rookie) had 103 scrimmage yards (73 rush, 30 rec.) & 2 rush TDs last week. Has 9 TDs (7 rush, 2 rec.), tied 2nd-most ever by player in 1st 6 career games. • WR TYREEK HILL had 5 catches for 157 yards & 2 TDs in Week 13, 5th game this season with 150+ rec. yards, tied-most in a season in NFL history. Aims for 4th in row with 5+ catches, 100+ rec. yards & rec. TD. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 on MNF. Leads NFL with 1,481 rec. yards, most by player in team’s 1st 12 games of a season in SB era. • WR JAYLEN WADDLE has 50+ rec. yards in 6 of past 7 & in each of past 3. Aims for 4th in row in primetime with 60+ rec. yards. • CB XAVIEN HOWARD aims for 5th in row with PD. • CB JALEN RAMSEY had INT & TFL in his last game vs. Ten. (11/7/21 w/ LAR). Has INT in each of his 2 home games this season. • LB ANDREW VAN GINKEL had 33-yard INT-TD last week.

QB WILL LEVIS (rookie) passed for 224 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs last week. Aims for 4th in row with 0 INTs. • RB DERRICK HENRY rushed for 102 yards & 2 TDs last week, 18th-career game with 100+ rush yards & 2+ rush TDs, tied for 4th-most ever by player in 1st 8 seasons. Aims for 3rd in row with 75+ rush yards & 2+ rush TDs. Has 4 rush TDs in his past 2 on MNF. Has 125+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3 on MNF. Has 8 rush TDs in 2023 & is 6th player in NFL history with 8+ rush TDs in 6-straight seasons. • RB TYJAE SPEARS (rookie) had career-high 88 scrimmage yards (career-high 75 rush, 13 rec.) last week. • WR DEANDRE HOPKINS had 5 catches for 75 yards & 5th TD of season in Week 13. Has 55+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of past 3. Has 50+ rec. yards in 2 of 3 career games vs. Mia. Has 50+ rec. yards in each of his past 8 on MNF. Has 12,072 career rec. yards & became 4th-youngest player ever (31 years, 180 days old) to reach 12,000 rec. yards. • TE CHIGOZIEM OKONKWO had season-high 62 rec. yards last week, 3rd-career game with 50+ rec. yards. • DE DENICO AUTRY had sack, FF & PD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. Has 5 TFL in his past 4. Had sack in last meeting. Has TFL in 4 of 5 career games on MNF. • LB HAROLD LANDRY had 8 tackles & half sack last week. Has 6+ tackles in 3 of past 4. Had sack in last meeting. • LB AZEEZ AL-SHAAIR had 12 tackles & 2nd sack of season in Week 13. Has 5+ tackles in all 12 games this season. • LB JACK GIBBENS led team with career-high 13 tackles & had PD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with PD. • LB ARDEN KEY aims for his 3rd in row with 0.5+ sacks.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Coach Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins have done a lot of winning this season: They’re 9-3 for the first time in 22 years and are tied for the best record in the AFC. They’ve outscored opponents 384-266 with an offense that leads the NFL in passing, yards per play, yards per rush and red-zone efficiency.

What does McDaniel think of that?

“Call me when it’s a 13-game season,” he said. “That’s all nice, but we have a job to do today. If we shortchange and are worried about anything other than the Tennessee Titans when we’re game planning … then all those conversations and stories literally don’t matter at all.”

Hosting a playoff game is the Dolphins’ long-term goal as they try to close in on their first division title since 2008. This week’s only focus is beating the Tennessee Titans (4-8) on Monday night.

The Titans have just one victory since Oct. 29 and are winless on the road.

Coach Mike Vrabel has insisted his team will not coast to the season’s finish line, despite performing well below expectations.

“You put a lot into it every week,” Vrabel said Wednesday, “and sometimes you put a lot into it and you lose a close game and that’s disappointing. But you’ve got to pick yourself back up. You’ve got to answer the bell. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, especially the Dolphins. And it’s a very good football team. We have to get ready and prepare. A lot of different looks, so there’s a lot to cover.”

The Dolphins have won three straight games and have yet to lose at home, where they are averaging 38.8 points.

Tua Tagovailoa has passed for 3,457 yards and 24 touchdowns. For his career, he’s 18-4 as a starter at Hard Rock Stadium. That .818 winning percentage is the best among active quarterbacks with at least 20 starts at home.

Will Levis, Tennessee’s rookie starter, has 1,266 yards passing with seven touchdowns and two interceptions, and he has caught McDaniel’s attention.

“You watch how guys play with him on the field and you can tell he’s earned the respect of veteran players,” McDaniel said. “And you either have that or you don’t. As a quarterback, there’s nowhere to hide. So it’s cool to watch him progress and I think he is capable of making, I think pretty much every throw.”

LIMITING HILL

Tyreek Hill is coming off a game in which he caught five passes for 157 yards, with touchdowns of 78 and 60 yards. His 1,481 yards receiving are the most by a player through 12 games in the Super Bowl era.

“He’s having an MVP-caliber season,” Titans defensive back Elijah Molden said. “I feel like we have to simplify our defense and make Tua check it down and be great tacklers on the perimeter.”

Vrabel said the Titans won’t be able to replicate Miami’s speed in practices leading up to the game, but they’ll need to work on being sound in their tackling and being in the right spots to limit Hill’s production.

“We’re going to need some extra people to help,” Vrabel said, “and to take great angles, and use your leverage and your help, and all those different things that we talk about when tackling.”

LONGEST GAME IN NFL HISTORY

Tennessee and Miami last played at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 1 of the 2018 season in what became the longest game in NFL history at 7 hours, 8 minutes because of two lightning delays. The Titans had someone getting miniature pizzas from a concession stand to help keep players fed during the delays.

The Dolphins won, 27-20, helped by two kickoffs returned for touchdowns in Vrabel’s head coaching debut.

“Certainly interesting and unique way to start my NFL coaching career,” Vrabel said.

SPECIAL CONCERNS

Vrabel fired special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman on Monday after the Titans had two punts essentially blocked last week against Indianapolis. The first was returned for a touchdown, while the second – on Tennessee’s next attempt – was knocked away before the rusher crashed into punter Ryan Stonehouse’s left leg. Stonehouse will have season-ending surgery, and the Titans signed undrafted rookie Ty Zentner to the practice squad Wednesday.

New special teams coach Tom Quinn, who will oversee the group the rest of this season after joining the Titans as a special teams assistant this offseason, said Zentner will be the team’s holder Monday night.

PROTECT LEVIS

The 33rd pick overall out of Kentucky now has as many starts as Ryan Tannehill this season, and Levis has been sacked just as many times as his predecessor. The Titans gave up six sacks last week, and Miami comes in tied with Buffalo and the Chargers for the third-most sacks this season. The Titans are hoping to protect Levis better with an offensive line that has used eight starting combinations through the first 11 games. This will be the third straight game for a unit anchored by a pair of rookies in left tackle Jaelyn Duncan and left guard Peter Skoronski, the 11th overall pick.

  • The Titans defeated the Dolphins last season, 34-3, tied for the fewest points they have held Miami to in a single game in franchise history (37-3 in 2012). Tennessee has forced multiple turnovers in its last six games against the Dolphins, its longest such streak against a single opponent since doing so in seven straight against the Jets (2003-2013).
  • Tennessee recorded 12 passing first downs and 12 rushing first downs in its last game against the Colts, the second time it has reached those numbers in a game this century. The Titans did this in Week 8 of 2020 against the Bengals (13 pass, 12 rush).
  • Last week against Indianapolis, Derrick Henry recorded his 18th career game with at least 100 rushing yards and multiple rushing touchdowns. The next-closest career total by an active player is Nick Chubb with eight such games.
  • The Titans have had 15 games since the beginning of last season with at least one forced turnover and three defensive sacks, tied for the second most in the NFL over that span (Chiefs) behind the Ravens (17).
  • The Dolphins defeated the Commanders, 45-15, and recorded zero turnovers, their second game this season with at least a 30-point margin of victory and zero turnovers. The only other season that Miami had at least two such games was 1971 (also two).
  • In his last game against Washington, Tyreek Hill recorded his eighth career game with at least 150 receiving yards and multiple receiving touchdowns. That is tied with Don Maynard for the second-most such games in NFL history behind Jerry Rice (17).

GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-6) AT NEW YORK GIANTS (4-8)

QB JORDAN LOVE completed 25 of 36 atts. (69.4 pct.) for 267 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 118.6 rating in Week 13, his 4th game with 3+ TD passes & 100+ rating this season, tied-most in NFL in 2023. Ranks tied-5th in NFL with 22 TD passes this season. Aims for his 4th in row with 100+ rating & 5th in row with 2+ TD passes. • RB AARON JONES had 80 scrimmage yards (63 rush, 17 rec.) in last meeting. Has 512 scrimmage yards (128 per game) & 8 TDs (5 rec., 3 rush) in his past 4 Monday games & aims for his 5th in row on Monday with 110+ scrimmage yards & TD. • RB AJ DILLON had 87 scrimmage yards (73 rush, 14 rec.) in Week 13. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 7 of his past 8 & aims for his 5th in row with 60+ scrimmage yards. • WR CHRISTIAN WATSON had career-high 7 catches for 71 yards & 2 rec. TDs in Week 13, his 3rd-career game with 2+ TD catches & 4th-career multi-TD game. Aims for his 4th in row with rec. TD. • WR ROMEO DOUBS had 4 catches for team-high 72 rec. yards in Week 13. Has career highs in catches (45), rec. yards (505) & rec. TDs (7) in 2023. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 on road. • LB RASHAN GARY has 9 sacks & can set career high in 2023 (9.5 sacks in 2021). Aims for his 4th in row with 0.5+ sacks. • LB PRESTON SMITH had sack in last meeting. • LB QUAY WALKER led team with 13 tackles in Week 13, his 7thcareer game with 10+ tackles. Needs 8 tackles for 2nd-straight 100+ tackle season. • LB LUKAS VAN NESS (rookie) had 2nd-career sack in Week 13. • CB COREY BALLENTINE had career-high 10 tackles last week. • CB KEISEAN NIXON had 1st INT of season last week. • S JONATHAN OWENS aims for his 6th in row with 5+ tackles.

QB TOMMY DEVITO (rookie) completed 17 of 25 atts. (68 pct.) for 191 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 103.9 rating in Week 12. Became 1st undrafted rookie QB since 1967 with 100+ rating in consecutive starts & 5th undrafted rookie QB since 1967 to win 2 of his 1st 3 career starts. • RB SAQUON BARKLEY aims for his 6th in row at home with 50+ scrimmage yards. Has 221 scrimmage yards (110.5 per game) & rush TD in 2 career games vs. GB & aims for his 3rd in row vs. GB with 100+ scrimmage yards. Has 604 scrimmage yards (86.3 per game) & 2 rush TDs in 6 career Monday games & aims for his 7th in row on Monday with 50+ scrimmage yards. • WR JALIN HYATT (rookie) led team and set career highs with 5 catches for 109 yards in Week 12. • WR ISAIAH HODGINS had 2nd rec. TD of season in Week 12. • LB KAYVON THIBODEAUX had half sack, 2 TFL & 4th-career FF in Week 12. Aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ TFL. Has 7 sacks & 8 TFL in 5 home games this season. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with FF & his 5th in row at home with 0.5+ sacks. Had 2 PD in last meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row on Monday with PD. • LB BOBBY OKEREKE had 2nd INT of season in Week 12. Has 113 tackles in 2023, his 3rd-straight 100+ tackle season. Is only player this season with 9+ TFL (career-high 9) & 8+ PD (career-high 8). • LB MICAH MCFADDEN had career-high 11 TFL in 2023 & aims for his 5th in row with TFL. Has career-high 71 tackles this season. • S XAVIER MCKINNEY led team with 10 tackles & had 2 PD & 1st INT of season in Week 12. Can become 1st DB since 2000 with 10+ tackles in 5 straight games. • CB DEONTE BANKS (rookie) had 2nd INT in Week 12. Ranks tied-2nd among rookies with 10 PD.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Green Bay Packers got back in the playoff race over the last month. And all they have to do to nail down a postseason spot is take advantage of a weak schedule during the final five weeks.

The Packers (6-6) will look for a fourth straight win and fifth in six games when they face the Tommy DeVito-led New York Giants (4-8) at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

The game kicks off a stretch for the Packers that will feature games against Tampa Bay (5-7), Carolina (1-11), Minnesota (6-6) and Chicago (4-8).

Not only does the schedule appear fairly easy, playing in December has been the best of times for the Packers since Matt LaFleur took over as coach in 2019. The team is 16-0 in the month, with those December performances helping the Packers make the postseason in three of the last four years. They missed last season with an 8-9 record.

The only team to win more consecutive December games was the San Diego Chargers with 18 straight from 2006-09, before their move to Los Angeles.

LaFleur isn’t taking anything for granted and he has told his team to stay focused, especially with the Giants riding a two-game winning streak.

“As soon as you start feeling yourself and you feel like you’ve arrived, this league has a way of knocking you off,” LaFleur said. “And the bottom line is, we’re a .500 football team. We’re 6-6 right now. We’ve clawed out of a tough spot, but every week, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game.”

The Packers have done that in overcoming a 2-5 start to the season.

The Giants started 1-5 in a season marred by injuries, particularly on the offensive line and at quarterback. DeVito has progressed from an undrafted rookie free agent who made from the practice squad to a starter with injuries to Daniel Jones (ACL) and Tyrod Taylor (ribs).

New York has not been eliminated, but it cannot afford another loss.

“Everything that we want is in front of us, but at the same time, we just take it one week at a time and try to focus on this week,” said DeVito, who got the starting nod from coach Brian Daboll despite Taylor being ready to play.

“If we start looking ahead and we miss one,” DeVito added, “there’s nothing going forward.”

STARTING FASTER

One of the biggest differences with the Packers during their recent surge is the way the offense performs at the start of games.

The Packers have scored touchdowns in their first two series in each of their last two games – a 29-22 Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit and a 27-19 home triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.

That’s quite the turnaround for an offense that failed to score a single first-half touchdown in five straight games earlier this season.

THE TAKEAWAY

In posting their first winning streak, much of the focus and kudos have been showered on DeVito. He has thrown four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the past two games while becoming a feel-good story in a bad season in which the Giants have have been held to 159 points.

The defense has actually done more than DeVito.

It has six interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the past two games. New York’s special teams recovered another fumble. That’s nine takeaways. The Giants’ plus-5 turnover differential is tied for sixth in the league.

POWER OF LOVE

After struggling through some growing pains earlier this season, Green Bay’s Jordan Love has emerged as one of the NFL’s hottest quarterbacks over the last few weeks.

The first-year starter has completed 68.5% of his passes for eight touchdowns without an interception over his last three games. The only other quarterback this season to have three straight games in which they completed at least 65% of their passes for multiple touchdowns and no interceptions is Dallas’ Dak Prescott.

HOT HYATT

Giants rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is coming off his best game with five catches against New England for 109 yards, a 21.8 yard average. He has yet to catch a touchdown pass.

A third-round draft pick, Hyatt is not expecting the Packers to double team him much this week.

“Just looking at the Packers and looking at what they do, I’ll be surprised if they do that,” Hyatt said. “They’re a big, big zone team. So it’s going to be a little different compared to the Patriots. It’s going to be a good game. We can’t wait.”

24 OR FEWER

The Packers haven’t allowed more than 24 points in any of their last eight games. That’s the Packers’ longest such streak within a single season since 2010, when they gave up 24 points or fewer in nine straight games.

The Giants average 13.3 points, second worst in the league. The Patriots ranked No. 32 at 12.3 points.

  • The Packers are 16-16-2 on the road against the Giants all-time with a chance to go above .500 for the first time since 1982. Green Bay is above .500 on the road all-time against three teams: the Bears (53-52-2), the Cardinals (18-14-4), and the Browns (7-4, min. 10 games).
  • The Packers have converted 13 of their 45 third-and-10+ situations this season — their 28.9 percent rate is the best in the league. The only team with more third-and-10+ conversions is the Texans with 14 on 49 attempts (28.6 percent) — the second-highest rate in the league.
  • Jordan Love added his 14th passing touchdown in the second half or overtime this season against the Chiefs on Monday and now has the most in the NFL. The last Packers quarterback to lead the league in second half or overtime passing touchdowns was Brett Favre with 22 in 1996.
  • The Giants have lost 489 yards on 118 negative plays on offense this season, the most in both categories in the NFL. The last time the Giants lost that many yards via negative plays in a full season was in 2018, when the team lost 518 yards.
  • Tommy DeVito has a passer rating of 102.7 through the first three starts in his career. The last player to have a higher passer rating through his first three starts as a Giant was Norm Snead (105.2 in 1972) in the 12th season of his career.
  • Green Bay has three players with at least five receiving touchdowns this season — Romeo Doubs (seven), Jayden Reed (five) and Christian Watson (five) — each starting the season at 24 or younger. The only team to have more such players all-time is the 2020 Steelers (four).