Saints, Seahawks in unfamiliar positions as they meet Monday
For Payton, it was in reference to New Orleans' passing game. The Saints are second-to-last in the NFL with 169.4 yards through the air per game, well off the standard set during the Drew Brees era.
"The good news is I don't have to bring the report card home to my mom right now," Payton said. "We've got a lot of football" still to play.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Saints (3-2) are coming off a bye week heading into Monday night's game at Seattle.
Carroll's Seahawks (2-4) are in a more dire situation, especially with quarterback Russell Wilson (finger surgery) and running back Chris Carson (neck) on injured reserve. The reigning NFC West champions are already four games behind undefeated Arizona in the division race.
Carroll was adamant in his unwillingness to write off his team just yet.
"It's going to be a long way down the schedule. There are a lot of things that will happen around the league, and we have to take care of our business," Carroll said. "As it is always the case, postponing judgment is a powerful tool if you have it, and that's what we have to do."
Geno Smith will get his second consecutive start at QB for the Seahawks. He completed 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards in a 23-20 overtime loss last Sunday night at Pittsburgh. Smith directed the Seahawks to a tying field goal late in regulation, but his fumble while being sacked in overtime led to Pittsburgh's winning score.
"I can't keep coming up short. I put that on myself," said Smith, who threw an interception when a receiver fell down as he tried to rally the Seahawks past the Los Angeles Rams the previous week after Wilson was injured. "Back-to-back weeks, our defense gives us a chance to score. Give me the ball. We don't get it done. That's solely on me. I vow to be better."
Carroll said he doesn't want his players feeling a sense of urgency against the Saints.
"I think it's really important that we don't let that disrupt the way we prepare and operate because it can turn the way you respond and react in a direction that can work against you," Carroll said. "When you over-try, you're not acting like you're capable of acting. You're acting like something else."
The bye couldn't have come at a better time for the injury-riddled Saints.
Defensive end Marcus Davenport and linebacker Kwon Alexander haven't played since the season opener and wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith and kicker Wil Lutz have been sidelined since the preseason. All four could return Monday.
Center Erik McCoy (calf) and left tackle Terron Armstead (elbow) returned to practice as limited participants, though quarterback Taysom Hill (concussion) did not.
"This bye is more unique than I can recall in the past just because of the amount of players that have been injured," Payton said. "This is a tough week because there's so much going on, and we have to see how it goes. ... There's a handful of different guys (coming back). So, keeping track of it this week is challenging for me."
Seahawks running back Alex Collins (groin), who rushed for 101 yards against the Steelers in place of Carson, has missed practice this week, as has guard Damien Lewis (shoulder). Defensive end Darrell Taylor (neck), who was carted off late in the game in Pittsburgh and taken to a hospital, has been limited in practice.
Broncos LB Von Miller leaves game with ankle injury
Miller was hurt when he collided with teammate Dre'Mont Jones while pass-rushing late in the second quarter. He was attended to on the field and then walked gingerly to the sideline.
The Broncos initially termed him questionable to return before ruling him out late in the third quarter.
Miller, 32, had two tackles before leaving. He has 19 stops and a team-best 4.5 sacks this season.
Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowler, holds the franchise record of 110.5 sacks. He also was MVP of Super Bowl 50 when the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers.
Case Keenum guides Browns past slumping Broncos
Denver's Teddy Bridgewater completed 23 of 33 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while playing on an injured foot. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams caught touchdown passes for the Broncos (3-4), who lost their fourth consecutive game.
The Browns played without Mayfield (left shoulder) and top running backs Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf).
Broncos linebacker Von Miller (ankle) was injured late in the second quarter and didn't return.
Cleveland outgained Denver 376 yards to 223 as Keenum made his first start since the final week of the 2019 season for Washington. He completed 21 of 33 passes while Myles Garrett recorded 1.5 sacks to raise his NFL-best total to 9.5.
Johnson carried 22 times and also caught two passes for 22 yards. He had three rushes this season entering the contest and 40 in his three-year career.
Denver possessed the ball for just eight minutes and 49 seconds in the first half while falling behind 10-0. However, the Broncos opened the third quarter with a 13-play, 79-yard drive and capped the excursion with Bridgewater's 8-yard scoring pass to Gordon.
The Browns responded with an equally impressive drive in which they moved 75 yards on 13 plays. Keenum ended the drive with a 1-yard toss to Stanton to make it 17-7 with 27 seconds left in the third period.
Denver later pulled within three as Bridgewater threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Williams with 5:17 remaining in the game to cap a 17-play, 80-yard excursion.
The Broncos never saw the ball again as Johnson (52 yards on seven carries on the drive) helped the Browns run out the clock.
Cleveland led by just 10 at halftime despite outgaining the Broncos 214 to 76 and having 12 first downs to Denver's two.
The Browns ripped down the field on a five-play, 75-yard drive to start the game. Johnson capped it with a 4-yard scoring run.
J.J. Watt says Texans 'not the same organization that I remember'
Watt asked for and received his release from the Texans in February after spending the first 10 seasons of his NFL career with them. By that point, it was known that quarterback Deshaun Watson wanted to be traded and the team would be starting over with a new head coach.
Asked Thursday whether he expected such a poor start (the Texans are 1-5) and high amount of roster turnover in Houston when he requested his release, Watt replied with a simple, "Yes."
"There's obviously something more to (facing Houston)," Watt said. "I don't think that it's what people may think it is because, I mean, you look at the roster and you look at the guys that are there, I mean it's been so massively turned over that there's only a handful of guys that are even there from last year that I played with.
"So, it's not like, I'm like, 'Oh, I want to go and beat my old team' or 'Oh, I can't wait to face this guy,' because it's not the same team. It's not the same organization that I remember and that I was a part of."
In 128 starts with the Texans, Watt compiled 101 sacks, 25 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns. He won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award while in Houston.
He found himself a good landing spot, at least in the short term. He joined former Texans teammate DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona, and the Cardinals are 6-0, the NFL's lone unbeaten team. Hopkins will also face his old club for the first time Sunday.
The Texans, meanwhile, have lost five straight and are dealing with the fallout of more than 20 accusations of sexual misconduct against Watson, who has not played this year.
"That's why it hurts me to see where it is now, because I believe those fans deserve to be living those high times and to be experiencing those great moments and it hurts to know that they're not and to know that they're struggling," Watt said. "So, I hope that they get back there at some point and I hope that they get to do that because I know firsthand it's an unbelievable place to play when you're rolling."
Congressional Democrats seek info from WFT
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, seeking "all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners, and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation," multiple media outlets reported.
Maloney chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The five-page letter included, "We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL's handling of this matter. ...
"The NFL's lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raise questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia -- setting troubling precedent for other workplaces."
The league was given two weeks to turn over the requested documents to Congress.
The NFL completed a thorough investigation of the Washington Football Team this summer, the league ultimately declaring, "Bullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear."
The team was fined $10 million, and Daniel Snyder was ordered to hand over day-to-day operations of the club to his wife, Tanya Snyder.
The league looked at 650,000 emails, and some of them, written by then TV analyst Jon Gruden to then-WFT president Bruce Allen, were leaked in recent weeks. Gruden resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after the publication of emails he sent that included racist, misogynistic and homophobic language.
Further email leaks showed a tight relationship between Allen and NFL legal counsel Jeff Pash, with the correspondence revealing that the pair mocked some NFL policies. To date, the league has stood behind Pash.
Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater, OBJ set to play on âTNFâ
Bridgewater has been listed as questionable all week with a foot injury he sustained in last week's game. He was seen limping at practice this week.
On the other sideline, Browns wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are both active. Landry was on short-term injured reserve and hasn't played since Week 2. Both will be essential for backup quarterback Case Keenum, getting the start in place of Baker Mayfield, out with a left shoulder injury.
Beckham injured his shoulder on a tackle last week.
Landry suffered an MCL sprain in the first quarter of a Week 2 win against the Houston Texans. The injury snapped his streak of 111 consecutive games with at least two receptions.
Browns starting right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) has been ruled out. Blake Hance gets the start at RT. With Nick Chubb ruled out and backup running back Kareem Hunt on IR, both with calf injuries, D'Ernest Johnson gets the start behind Keenum.
Bridgewater has started every game this season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 1,514 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (knee) was listed as questionable but is active. Safety Caden Sterns (illness) was also questionable against Cleveland but is active.
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (quadriceps) misses practice
Hill is battling a quadriceps injury sustained in last week's win over the Washington Football Team. Kelce is managing a neck injury but expects to play on Sunday when the Chiefs (3-3) visit the Tennessee Titans (4-2) in Nashville, Tenn.
Good news did come in the form of defensive end Chris Jones practicing for the first time since Week 4. He has missed the past two games with a wrist injury.
Hill played just 57 percent of the team's offensive snaps against Washington. He had nine catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro missed practice last week with a knee injury. He has 46 receptions for 592 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
Cornerback Charvarius Ward (quadriceps) practiced again Thursday, albeit limited. He hasn't played since Week 2.
Left guard Joe Thuney (hand) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (triceps contusion) missed practice.
However, defensive tackle Jarran Reed (back) and offensive lineman Trey Smith (ankle) were full participants after being limited Wednesday.
Jets S Marcus Maye claims he doesnât want to be traded
Except that Maye insisted Thursday that he isn't interested in a trade.
"They know I want to be here," Maye said of the Jets. "They know I'm 100 percent with my guys."
Maye is playing on the franchise tag in 2021 after he and the Jets failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension by the league deadline. New York is 1-4 and starting a rebuild under new coach Robert Saleh.
Maye suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 and hasn't played since. Late last month, Maye's agent quote-tweeted a report about the player's injury and wrote, "Should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline," needling Jets fans.
But Maye told reporters Thursday that he has not requested a trade and doesn't plan to do so.
"They know me," Maye said. "Once I'm in the building, I'm all go. I don't think there's a trust issue from my end and stuff like that. They know I'm 100 percent with these guys every time I step on the field and walk in the building."
Maye's situation is complicated by the fact that he has a DUI charge pending in Florida. The 28-year-old was arrested there in February, but hid the incident from New York for months in defiance of NFL protocols.
Maye added that he was sorry for hiding his arrest from the team and he "learned from it."
Chosen in the second round of the 2017 draft -- one round after New York spent its first pick on Adams -- Maye is now in his fifth season and has made 57 career starts. He's recorded 289 tackles, six interceptions, four forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks primarily playing as a free safety.
Unvaccinated Bears RB Damien Williams (COVID) remains out
Williams, who tested positive, needs two negative tests 24 hours apart. He can't be cleared until he finishes a mandatory 10-day waiting period, which is up on Saturday.
Williams missed the Bears' game last week against Green Bay.
Rookie Khalil Herbert earned the start and played well, rushing for 97 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown against the Packers. He also caught two passes for 15 yards. Herbert would figure to get the start again Sunday against Tampa Bay.
The Bears are already missing running back David Montgomery, who is on injured reserve with a sprained knee.
Williams, 29, is in his first season with the Bears after opting out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic. In 90 games with the Miami Dolphins (2014-17), Kansas City Chiefs (2018-19) and Chicago, he's amassed 1,368 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns while catching 148 passes for 1,167 yards and another 10 touchdowns.
Giants' Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard added to injury report
A calf injury prevented Engram from participating in Thursday's practice, one day after he logged a full session. He missed the Giants' first two games of the season with a calf injury as well.
Engram, 27, has 14 receptions for 127 yards and no touchdowns in four games this season. He has 230 catches for 2,547 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns since being selected by New York with the 23rd overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Shepard was limited on Thursday while dealing with a hamstring issue. He returned to action last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams after missing the two previous games with a hamstring injury.
Shepard, 28, leads the team with 28 catches to go along with 299 receiving yards and one touchdown in four games this season.
The two players joined an injured list that includes star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receivers Kadarius Toney (ankle) and Kenny Golladay (knee). Those three players did not practice for the second straight day on Thursday.
On the relatively bright side, wideouts Darius Slayton (hamstring) and John Ross (hamstring) were limited on Thursday after failing to participate in practice the previous day.
The injury-riddled Giants (1-5) host the Carolina Panthers (3-3) on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
Browns favored without Baker Mayfield but action split vs. Broncos
The Cleveland Browns apparently disagreed.
It will be Case Keenum at quarterback for the Browns Thursday night when the Denver Broncos come to Cleveland for a battle of 3-3 teams.
The Browns opened as 3.0-point favorites at most sportsbooks, with oddsmakers shifting the line to 2.0 points after Mayfield was ruled out. The Broncos remain the slightly more popular option with 51 percent of the bets and 58 percent of the spread-line handle backing Denver at DraftKings.
The moneyline action has been split, with 59 percent of the bets backing Cleveland (-130) while 69 percent of the money has been placed on Denver (+110).
AI-driven predictive sports analytics provider Quarter4 has the Broncos with a 55 percent win probability.
Mayfield aggravated the labrum injury in his non-throwing shoulder Sunday during the Browns' 37-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Due to the short week, there were no shortage of observers expressing Mayfield might be better off letting the shoulder heal, despite Mayfield saying Tuesday it was his decision to make whether to play because only he knew how his felt.
However the decision was made to start Keenum. Coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear Wednesday morning that Mayfield would be a no-go.
"Case Keenum will be our starter tomorrow night and we have full confidence in him to lead us and do the things necessary to put us in position to win," Stefanski said. "Baker fought really hard to play, he's a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn't make it on a short week. We know he will continue to do everything in his power to return as quickly as possible."
Keenum, who will be making his first start since he started eight games for Washington in 2019, won't have star running back Nick Chubb (523 rushing yards) or sidekick Kareem Hunt (361) in the backfield with him.
Chubb will miss his second straight game due to a calf injury. Hunt was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with his own calf injury sustained against the Cardinals.
D'Ernest Johnson will be Cleveland's starting running back. The third-year pro has carried three times for 11 yards this season and 40 times for 198 yards in 38 career games.
"It's a next-man-up mentality," Johnson said. "We just have to go out there and just execute. The mentality stays the same, and the standard is still high in the room."
The Browns have dropped their past two games. Despite having NFL sack leader Myles Garrett (8.0 sacks) on the defense, Cleveland allowed a total of 84 points in the setbacks to the Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers.
Denver has dropped three straight games, including a 34-24 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
The Broncos also have their own banged-up quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who is dealing with a foot injury. Bridgewater said the foot was stepped on during Sunday's game.
Bridgewater was listed as questionable Wednesday after his third straight limited practice. He is dealing with injuries to his left foot and quadriceps, but coach Vic Fangio said he expects Bridgewater to play Thursday night.
"Teddy is a veteran, and he's a good guy to talk to as to how he's feeling," Fangio said. "He'll give you a straight and honest answer."
Bridgewater, who has passed for 1,514 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, said playing hurt is part of the terrain during a short week.
"Just like the Cleveland Browns -- I'm pretty sure they have guys banged up and they're playing on a short week," Bridgewater said. "We have guys banged up and we're playing on a short week. We've got to make sure that we just lock in mentally and try to do the best that we can to execute the game plan."
The Denver defense, led by star Von Miller (4.5 sacks), took another blow Sunday when fellow linebacker Alexander Johnson (32 tackles) sustained a season-ending pectoral injury. The Broncos were already without two linebackers -- Josey Jewell (season-ending pectoral) and Bradley Chubb (ankle surgery). Bradley Chubb is on injured reserve but projected to return later in the season.
The Broncos are weighing whether to activate wideout Jerry Jeudy (ankle) off IR. He has been sidelined since being hurt in Week 1 against the New York Giants, and Fangio said Jeudy has less than a 50 percent chance of playing Thursday.
Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) was listed as questionable on Thursday, while Jarvis Landry was activated from injured reserve.
Denver has dominated the series with 12 wins in the past 13 meetings, including six straight triumphs in Cleveland.
Bengals RB Samaje Perine activated off COVID list
Perine, 26, was put on the list Oct. 11 and missed last week's contest against the Detroit Lions.
Perine played 61 percent of Cincinnati's offensive snaps in its Week 5 loss to Green Bay while starter Joe Mixon battled an ankle injury. Perine rushed for 59 yards in that contest and caught a touchdown pass out of the backfield. He has 87 rushing yards on the season to go with 54 yards receiving on seven catches.
Perine and offensive lineman Jackson Carman were put on the COVID list on the same day, but the latter returned to play against the Lions. However, Carman left the game in the third quarter from an apparent bout of food poisoning and did not return.
The Bengals (4-2) visit the Baltimore Ravens (5-1) on Sunday.
Giants' Joe Judge takes blame: âFish stinks from head downâ
The Giants have dropped two straight and Judge is 7-15 overall since taking over as the front man for the once proud franchise. The Giants are 0-3 at home with a fourth game coming this Sunday, playing host to the Carolina Panthers (3-3). They've been outscored 82-38 in their home games.
So in a variation of the "buck stops here," Judge made it clear who's at fault.
"I'm the head coach. It's my responsibility, point blank," Judge said Thursday. "Every player on this field, every position group, the execution, it all comes down to me. The fish stinks from the head down.
"I've been taught that from great guys who I worked for, played for. There are no excuses, no exceptions. But it starts with me and ends with me."
The Giants have been besieged by injuries. Star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) missed practice Thursday. Starting left tackle Andrew Thomas was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week.
Browns activate WR Jarvis Landry for Thursday night
The five-time Pro Bowl selection landed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Sept. 21 and was designated for return on Oct. 15.
Landry suffered an MCL sprain in the first quarter of a Week 2 win against the Houston Texans. The injury snapped his streak of 111 consecutive games with at least two receptions.
Landry, 28, has six receptions for 80 yards and no touchdowns this season. He has 642 catches for 7,108 yards and 35 scores in 113 games (103 starts) with the Miami Dolphins (2014-17) and Browns.
Cleveland also elevated quarterback Nick Mullens and cornerback Herb Miller from the practice squad.
Mullens will back up Case Keenum, who is starting in place of the injured Baker Mayfield.
Eagles activate TE Dallas Goedert from COVID list
Goedert landed on the list on Oct. 12 and missed last Thursday's 28-22 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Goedert, 26, is expected to start Sunday when the Eagles (2-4) visit the Las Vegas Raiders (4-2).
He has 15 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season, raising his four-year career totals with Philadelphia to 152 receptions for 1,681 yards and 14 scores in 47 games.
Philadelphia drafted Goedert in the second round (49th overall) in 2018 out of South Dakota State.
The Eagles' tight end depth chart continues to evolve in the wake of last week's trade of veteran Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia signed Richard Rodgers to the practice squad and activated the 21-day practice window for Tyree Jackson, who had been on injured reserve since fracturing a bone in his back in August.
Report: Baker Mayfield (shoulder) needs surgery but hopes to delay it
Veteran Case Keenum will start in place of Mayfield.
By playing on Thursday this week, the Browns (3-3) have 10 days off until their next game on Oct. 31 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving Mayfield time for rest and rehabilitation.
Mayfield, 26, played all but four snaps of Sunday's 37-14 loss to the Cardinals. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
On the season, he has completed 116 of 173 passes (67.1 percent) for 1,474 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Colts S Julian Blackmon lands on IR with torn Achilles
Indianapolis has put 20 players on IR this season, including those designated to return.
The 2020 third-round pick stepped into a starting role when Malik Hooker injured his Achilles last season.
Until the injury report listed Blackmon on Wednesday as a limited participant, there was no previous sign of the injury.
Injuries have hit the Colts hard since training camp when guard Quenton Nelson, quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and cornerback Xavier Rhodes all had limited availability.
Blackmon's injury leaves the Colts with just three safeties on the roster: Andrew Sendejo, Khari Willis and George Odum.
Blackmon has 34 tackles (two for loss), one pass defended and one forced fumble in six games in 2021.
Tom Brady takes aim at 600th TD pass as Bucs face Bears
The 44-year-old quarterback has 598 career touchdown passes, and he could be the first quarterback in NFL history to reach 600. The only others to even reach 500 were Drew Brees (571), Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508).
Yet Brady is focused more on his team's success than his individual accolades. Tampa Bay (5-1) has surged to the top of the NFC South standings and will be favored to win again as Chicago (3-3) comes to town.
The Bears' goal is to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. A feisty defense led by Khalil Mack (six sacks) and Robert Quinn (5 1/2 sacks) could give Chicago a chance in a difficult road environment.
"When you get an opportunity to get back there, you have to be able to get back there hopefully fast enough to get him down because obviously he's known for getting the ball out of his hand quickly," Bears linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "He doesn't take too many sacks.
"They have a good O-line that's blocking really well for him. If you give him a chance to stand back there and throw the ball, that's where he lives. He's comfortable like that."
Brady's top receiving option this season is Mike Evans, who has 31 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns. Leonard Fournette leads the ground attack with 332 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians praised Fournette for a strong start.
"He's fit in, he's found his niche," Arians said. "When 'RoJo' (Ronald Jones II) got hurt, he took over and he's not looking back. It's hard for 'RoJo' to get back out there unless (Fournette) gets hurt. It's nice to have both of them, that's for sure, but (Fournette) is playing really, really well."
Meanwhile, the Bears will look to bounce back from a 24-14 home loss against the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers passed for two touchdowns and rushed for one more, and his taunts toward Chicago fans in the back of the end zone drew national attention this week.
Brady is the second straight future Hall of Famer for the Bears' defense to focus on -- and for the Chicago offense to try to keep up with.
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields is set to make his fifth start. He has thrown for 632 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions this season while posting a 67.4 passer rating. He also has rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears' top receiving targets are Darnell Mooney (25 catches, 306 yards, 1 TD) and Allen Robinson (21 catches, 234 yards, 1 TD). Rookie running back Khalil Herbert will try to stay hot after rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown while adding 15 receiving yards last week against Green Bay.
This is the second season in a row in which the teams will play each other. Chicago edged Tampa Bay for a 20-19 home victory last October, a Thursday night affair in which Brady forgot the number of downs late in the contest.
Jared Goff returns to L.A. to face Matt Stafford-led Rams
The Cal product will face his former team for the first time since the Rams engineered a trade last offseason for strong-armed quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said the handling of Goff's departure wasn't exactly a smooth process.
"I wish there was better, clearer communication," McVay said. "To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn't be totally accurate in that. I'll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt."
For the Rams, the move to securing Stafford's services has gone well, as L.A. sits at 5-1, just below the 6-0 Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
The same cannot be said for the Lions. At 0-6, Detroit is still looking for its first win under first-year head coach Dan Campbell.
But two of Detroit's six losses came on last-second field goals, including an NFL-record 66-yarder by Justin Tucker in a 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.
"They all count the same, but we've got to find a way to win a game," Goff said. "I've got to be better. We've got to be better. ... It starts in practice. We can say all we want -- that we want to start fast and do things on game day. But until we change habits and do things the right way consistently, we can't really expect anything else."
Through six games, Goff has thrown for 1,505 passing yards, completing 66.8 percent of passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Goff will be playing at SoFi Stadium with fans in attendance for the first time.
"There was some disrespect felt towards the end, there was some sourness toward the end, and you still feel that you have a chip on your shoulder," Goff said about facing the Rams. "But at the same time, when the game starts, if I let any of that come into how I'm going to play the game, that would be selfish."
As NFL observers expected, Stafford has thrived in McVay's offense. Through six games, Stafford is fourth in the NFL in passing yards (1,838), third in passing touchdowns (16) and second in passer rating (116.6).
Like Goff, Stafford will face his former team for the first time after spending 12 years in Detroit.
"It's an NFL opponent coming into our building," Stafford said. "Do I have a ton of history with them? Absolutely. In pregame am I going to be saying âhey' to some old teammates, friends and the Ford family if they hopefully make the trip? Absolutely.
"I've got nothing but great relationships with the people over there and I have a lot of respect for the team and the organization. But it will be just another football game once the ball is snapped."
Running back Sony Michel (shoulder) did not practice for the Rams on Wednesday, making his availability for Sunday's game a question mark.
For the Lions, tight end TJ Hockenson (knee), defensive end Nick Williams (knee) and fullback Jason Cabinda (hip) did not practice.
Campbell also told reporters that left tackle Taylor Decker could miss the entire season due to a finger injury he suffered in September before the regular season started. Decker returned to practice this week, but reportedly still has discomfort.
Falcons eye .500 against beleaguered Dolphins
That trend will continue Sunday when the Dolphins (1-5) play host to the Falcons (2-3). Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has never faced Atlanta.
Ryan, though, is 1-2 against the Dolphins, beating them in 2009 and losing in 2013 and 2017. Miami's quarterbacks during that span were Chad Pennington (2009), Ryan Tannehill (2013) and Jay Cutler (2017).
Fast forward to 2021, and both the Falcons and Dolphins are coming off games in London. But there are two differences. For starters, the Falcons won in London while the Dolphins had a demoralizing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars had lost 20 consecutive games before beating Miami.
The next difference is that Atlanta had a bye week following their trip to London. The Dolphins did not.
Meanwhile, Ryan, earlier this month, became just the seventh NFL quarterback to complete 5,000 passes.
Ryan, 36, is completing 69.1 percent of his passes this season. He is averaging 266.4 passing yards per game and has 10 touchdown throws and just three interceptions.
Despite his advanced age, Ryan's completion percentage is better than his career number (65.5). In addition, his interception rate is down while his TD rate is up.
Ryan's emerging top target is tight end Kyle Pitts, the fourth player selected in this year's draft. Pitts, 21, is coming off a nine-catch, 119-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Jets. In the past 20 years, only two NFL rookie tight ends have had more yards in a game.
"I think there's going to be a lot more of those games for him," Ryan said of Pitts. "He's done a great job focusing on growth and development."
The Dolphins -- after winning 10 games last season -- are off to a rough start amid a five-game losing streak.
According to computer projections, the Dolphins have just a 7 percent chance at making the playoffs -- and that may be generous. The Dolphins rank 29th in the league in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
After missing three games due to fractured ribs, Tagovailoa returned against the Jaguars and did some good things, completing 33 of 47 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. His Dolphins converted on 9 of 17 third-down plays.
However, there were some hiccups for Miami, including one interception and a key failure on a fourth-down play.
"I think we're very close as a team," Tagovailoa said. "It's just little things we can look at in the film room."
For the season, Tagovailoa is completing 64.1 percent of his passes for three touchdowns, three interceptions and an average of 181.3 yards per game.
Miami's top playmakers are tight end Mike Gesicki and rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Gesicki has 30 catches for a team-high 342 yards and one TD. Waddle has a team-high 37 catches for 301 yards and three TDs.
The Falcons are relatively healthy with zero offensive players and no defensive starters showing up on this week's injury report.
Miami, though, is banged up, with both starting cornerbacks, Xavien Howard (shoulder/groin) and Byron Jones (Achilles/groin), limited in practice this week after missing last Sunday's game. The same goes for wide receivers DeVante Parker (shoulder/hamstring) and Preston Williams (groin).
In addition, Dolphins rookie pass-rusher Jaelan Phillips was limited this week due to an ankle injury.