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Chiefs LT Fisher practices for first time since Week 2

Chiefs LT Fisher practices for first time since Week 2

Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher practiced in full on Thursday for the first time since having sports hernia surgery following Week 2.

Fisher was initially given a 4- to 6-week timetable for a return. He returned for two limited practices leading up to Week 8 but then went back to missing practice until this week.

Fisher, 28, was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and had played in 87 consecutive games prior to leaving Week 2's win at Oakland after just four snaps.

In 16 starts in 2018, he allowed 4.5 sacks and committed five penalties. Replacement Cameron Erving -- who has started the last eight games at left tackle -- has allowed 4.5 sacks and committed four penalties this season.

The Chiefs' offensive line could potentially be whole again for Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City.

In addition to Fisher, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) returned to a full practice after missing Weeks 9 and 10.

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (knee) was limited Thursday. He left Sunday's game in Tennessee -- halting a streak of 7,894 snaps, the longest active streak in the NFL at the time -- but later returned to finish it.

The Chiefs lost backup Martinas Rankin, who has started five games as a fill-in this year, for the year due to a knee injury on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Chargers have less positive news regarding injuries up front. Left tackle Russell Okung, who exited Week 10's loss in Oakland on Nov. 7 with a groin injury, sat out Thursday's practice. Sam Tevi also sat out with a knee injury, which kept him out of Week 10.

Los Angeles allowed five sacks and 10 hits of quarterback Philip Rivers in the loss to the Raiders.

Giants QB Jones seeks 'Danny Dimes' trademark

Giants QB Jones seeks 'Danny Dimes' trademark

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is looking to trademark his "Danny Dimes" nickname, ESPN said Thursday.

Jones' agents at CAA said they filed the paperwork last month due to the demand for "Danny Dimes" merchandise and to protect Jones moving forward.

Two other trademark applications were recorded soon after Jones replaced Eli Manning as the starting quarterback in mid-September. One was filed by John Messina, believed to be the nickname's creator.

Jones' application covers everything from apparel and toys to video games, helmets, trading cards and bumper stickers, per ESPN.

Jones originally gave a lukewarm endorsement to the "Danny Dimes" moniker.

"Yeah, I've heard it a little bit more recently," he told ESPN in September. "I don't know. It's all right, I guess. There could be worse nicknames."

Jones, 22, was the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Duke. Through nine games (eight starts), he has completed 63.0 percent of his passes for 1,984 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Jones and the Giants (2-8) have lost six straight entering this week's bye. They return to action Nov. 24 at the Chicago Bears (4-5).

Former coaches Jackson, Philbin to run Kaepernick workout

Former coaches Jackson, Philbin to run Kaepernick workout

Colin Kaepernick's open workout for all 32 teams in Atlanta on Saturday will be led by former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, with former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also participating, the NFL announced in a statement Thursday.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling on the sideline during the national anthem to bring attention to social injustice, has not played since the 2016 season.

The NFL scheduled a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' practice facility. The league announced that 11 teams -- Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, and Washington -- have confirmed they will attend in some capacity, with more expected to commit.

NFL Network reported teams have until Saturday to submit names of who is attending. Multiple outlets have reported the league will not provide Kaepernick with a list of names of those attending, despite the belief the NFL had agreed to do so.

A video of the workout, along with an interview, will be prepared and sent to every head coach and general manager in the league.

NFL Network reports the receivers at the workout will be provided by the National Football Scouting Service, which is putting on the event and runs the NFL Scouting Combine each year. The receivers are expected to be mostly players who were on teams during the preseason.

Kaepernick, 32, has played six seasons in the NFL and participated in six postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, when the 49ers lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens. Kaepernick passed for 302 yards and one touchdown in that game.

The Nevada product, who was a second-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2011, has passed for 12,271 yards in his career with 72 TDs and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 more TDs.

Browns waive WR Callaway, activate OL Forbes

Browns waive WR Callaway, activate OL Forbes

The Cleveland Browns waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday, five days after he was benched for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to a home game against the Buffalo Bills.

Callaway sat out the 19-16 victory on Sunday, and his replacement, Rashard Higgins, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Monday that Callaway's benching would be only for one game. The coach added, "I don't know if he got the message or not, but I'm not wavering."

Callaway, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the draft last year, after the Browns traded up to get him. Most considered him a first-round talent, but legal issues and his dismissal from the team at Florida damaged his draft status.

He totaled 43 catches for 586 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts as a rookie) but had just eight catches for 89 yards in four games (two starts) this year, being limited by injuries.

The Browns replaced Callaway on the 53-man roster with offensive lineman Drew Forbes, who was activated from injured reserve after sitting out all season thus far with a knee injury.

Forbes, a sixth-round rookie out of Southeast Missouri State, worked at several different positions during the preseason after playing offensive tackle in college.

Superdome renovations to include standing-room-only area

Superdome renovations to include standing-room-only area

Architectural renderings revealed Thursday show a number of proposed changes for the New Orleans Superdome as part of a $450 million renovation, including the addition of standing-room only viewing areas.

The Superdome Commission has already approved the first phase of renovations, which will begin after the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Jan. 13, unless the building's main tenant, the New Orleans Saints, plays host to the NFC Championship game on Jan 19.

Renovations will take place through the 2023-24 season, with the first wave expected to be in out-of-sight areas like the addition of a large kitchen and food-service area, as well as the construction of alternate building exits.

The new exits will be needed once the Superdome's ramp system that gets fans to the various seating levels is removed and replaced by a new system later in renovations.

The eventual ticketed standing-room only section will be similar to ones used for home games of the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Other major additions will be three vertical atriums with escalators to take fans to various seating levels.

All renovations are scheduled to be completed by the time the Superdome hosts Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 4, 2024.

Buccaneers launch scholarship for female players

Buccaneers launch scholarship for female players

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first NFL team to establish a college scholarship program for female high school football players.

A $250,000 commitment from the team's foundation was announced Thursday and is open to all female seniors nationwide who participate in a formally sanctioned flag or tackle football program.

"In the state of Florida alone, we have 260 sanctioned girls flag football teams, yet there are no scholarship opportunities for those female athletes after high school that help reduce the burden of their college tuition," said Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, a Buccaneers owner and president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation and Glazer Family Foundation.

"We wanted to fill that void by creating a scholarship program that would reward young women for their academic success as well as encourage them to play football."

Applicants must have plans to enroll in a full-time accredited four-year college or university and have earned a minimum 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) during their high school academic career. The inaugural round of awards will be distributed at the conclusion of the 2020 academic school year.

The scholarship program is the Buccaneers' latest initiative to increase participation by girls and young women in football.

In 2018, the team partnered with the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation department to launch the Jr. Bucs Girls Flag Football League. Last March, the Buccaneers hosted the nation's largest girls flag football event with more than 40 teams and 1,000 girls participating.

Take 5: Pressure on Eagles in Super Bowl LII rematch

Take 5: Pressure on Eagles in Super Bowl LII rematch

Sunday's meeting between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles -- the first since the Eagles triumphed in Super Bowl LII -- should look quite different from the offensive bonanza two Februaries ago.

Those teams combined for 74 points, one punt and 1,151 yards, the latter a record for any game in NFL history.

Neither offense is clicking at the same level this season, and neither has as dangerous of a set of weapons, which is likely a bigger problem for the Eagles.

1. Patriots' D must focus on Ertz, Sanders

Without DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia's offense lacks speed and vertical weapons. Alshon Jeffery got free for a few big plays downfield in the Super Bowl, but that's not much of his repertoire any longer.

The Patriots will be comfortable playing one-on-one man coverage against almost all of the Eagles' targets. That will allow Bill Belichick to put additional attention on tight end Zach Ertz and, to a lesser degree, running back Miles Sanders.

Ertz is the team's best weapon, but he's not a gamebreaker or vertical threat. Belichick could assign a cornerback to him -- J.C. Jackson is the typical choice -- and will certainly bracket Ertz with a safety at times, including the majority of third downs and high-leverage situations.

Sanders has created most of the Eagles' explosive plays without Jackson. Belichick likes to handle running backs with blitz/peel calls -- the edge defender rushes unless the back releases to his side -- and could also use a "bullseye" technique to disrupt Sanders' routes. If he's healthy, Patrick Chung would be a great man-to-man match for Sanders, but Belichick could also use Devin McCourty.

It's hard to imagine the Eagles' passing game thriving given the Patriots' resources, so the run game will be critical. New England's run defense has been exploited of late, and Philadelphia has leaned more heavily on Jordan Howard.

2. Texans run defense in the spotlight

By cumulative statistics, the Houston Texans' run defense is terrific, ranking third in rushing allowed per game (84.1). But the unit is less impressive by efficiency (4.14 yards per carry allowed, 13th in the NFL), and is trending down, with a 4.45 average allowed in six quarters since J.J. Watt sustained a season-ending torn pec.

There's no greater test for a run defense than the Baltimore Ravens' offense, which leads the league by a wide margin in total rushing (197.2 to runner-up San Francisco's 161.8) and average (5.51 to Cleveland's 5.23). With Lamar Jackson's legs, the Ravens stress defenses in all kinds of ways, usually from heavier sets.

The Ravens often feature two or three tight ends and/or fullback Patrick Ricard, drawing more base defenses and slower defenders on the field. Recall in last year's playoffs, the Chargers stopped Jackson with six- and seven-DB packages that put more speed on the field to corral him. But it's hard to play those packages against three-TE sets.

Likewise, Baltimore uses tight ends (and Ricard) to change the point of attack and gap assignments. On any given play, a tight end or fullback could be a lead blocker, a kick-out man on counter, a "slice" or "sift" blocker on split zone, a decoy on an arc release or actually running a route, all from various alignments via formation and motion. That's a lot of movement for a defense to process, even before deciphering whether Jackson is giving or keeping the ball.

3. Pass rush will decide Chiefs-Chargers on MNF

The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers both have protection problems.

With left tackle Eric Fisher out, and others banged up across the line, life has been much tougher for Patrick Mahomes than in 2018. He's mostly handled it fine, but he'll now face the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers move both players around the formation, flipping sides or putting both on the same side with one -- usually Ingram -- over a guard. That's a nightmare for most guards, especially backups or starters who have swapped sides due to injury, as the Chiefs have recently.

Meanwhile, the Chargers' offensive tackle situation flat out cost them the Week 10 game in Oakland. After left tackle Russell Okung went down early -- and with right tackle Sam Tevi already out -- Los Angeles played Trent Scott (the Week 1-7 starter at LT) at right tackle and Trey Pipkins (a rookie from Sioux Falls) on Philip Rivers' blind side. Scott was worse on the right side than he'd been on the left, and Pipkins was -- as you'd expect -- completely overmatched.

Making matters worse, the Chargers' interior was the biggest concern entering the season, before Mike Pouncey's injury. While Scott Quessenberry, a 2018 fifth-rounder, has been a pleasant surprise filling in at center, this group is marginal at best.

It will be interesting to see where the Chiefs play their best pass-rusher, Chris Jones. Normally an interior player, he's spent significant time on the edge in recent weeks, and that could continue with end Emmanuel Ogbah out for the year. Jones moves very well for a 300-pounder and has the strength to collapse the pocket from anywhere.

4. Juicy matchup for Cowboys' offense

The Dallas Cowboys have lost four of six games, averaging just 20 points in those defeats. But those results belie what is -- on paper and on tape -- one of the NFL's best offenses.

Dak Prescott is playing comfortably the best football of his career, and his pass protection has been outstanding. Dallas has weapons at every position -- including supplementary pieces in Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin -- and a sharp play designer in Kellen Moore. Despite inconsistent results on the scoreboard, Dallas ranks first in total offense (437.4), yards per play (6.65) and yards per attempt (8.42).

That should translate this week, as the Detroit Lions' defense lacks threatening pass rushers and has not held up well enough in the man coverage that Matt Patricia prefers. With the group also declining in run defense (4.61 yards per carry allowed, 23rd), all signs point to a scoring explosion from the Cowboys.

5. Things look bleak for McVay, Rams' offense

Conversely, the Los Angeles Rams' offense is in dire straits, just in time for a rematch with the defense that undressed Sean McVay's team on national television last December.

The Chicago Bears were the first to pair the 6-1 front with primarily Cover-4 against the Rams, who have since struggled to combat the approach against many other teams. Worse, L.A.'s running game has collapsed. The Steelers didn't even need a 6-1 front to shut it down last week.

The biggest issue is not the 6-1/Cover-4 blueprint, but rather an offensive line in shambles. After all five O-linemen started all 32 games from 2017-18 -- an exceedingly rare run of health -- the Rams have lost left guard Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen for the season, and right tackle Rob Havenstein will miss time, too.

Noteboom and Allen -- new starters replacing the departed Rodgers Saffold and John Sullivan -- weren't thriving to begin with and have now been replaced by inexperienced backups. Soon-to-be 38-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth is finally showing his age.

Chicago's defense has regressed some -- as expected -- and remains without Akiem Hicks, but it's still well suited to slow down L.A.

Eagles WR Jeffery (calf) misses practice

Eagles WR Jeffery (calf) misses practice

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery did not practice for the second straight day on Thursday.

Coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Wednesday that Jeffery was considered day-to-day with a calf injury for the Eagles (5-4), who host the New England Patriots (8-1) on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET).

Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside likely would draw in the lineup if Jeffery is unavailable to play against the Patriots.

Jeffery missed Philadelphia's 27-24 loss to Detroit on Sept. 22 with a calf injury before returning to play in the next six games. He reportedly aggravated the injury in the Eagles' 22-14 victory over Chicago on Nov. 3.

The 29-year-old has recorded 34 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season. Jeffery has 460 catches for 6,534 yards and 44 scores in 100 career games with the Bears (2012-16) and Eagles (2017-19).

Lions QB Stafford (back) misses practice

Lions QB Stafford (back) misses practice

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did not practice for the second straight day on Thursday, increasing doubt about his availability for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Stafford sat out last Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Chicago Bears with a back injury.

Jeff Driskel likely will make his second straight start for the Lions (3-5-1) against the Cowboys (5-4) if Stafford is unavailable to practice Friday.

Driskel completed 27 of 46 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Bears at Soldier Field.

Stafford had started every game under center for the Lions since the start of the 2011 season, a string of 136 consecutive starts. This year, he has passed for 2,499 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions in eight games.

Guerrero: Brady thinks he can play until 46 or 47

Guerrero: Brady thinks he can play until 46 or 47

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady initially said that he envisioned himself playing in the NFL until he's 45.

Brady's personal trainer Alex Guerrero, however, thinks the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player can go even longer than that.

"It all comes to commitment, really," Guerrero said Thursday on Boston-area radio station WEEI. "No one thought you could play at the elite level in your late 30s, early 40s. That is something we always felt we could do. I have really wanted to be there to help him accomplish that goal. I certainly do believe that 45 is a very realistic goal. We talk about it all the time.

"Every year he just adds another year. He goes in and he's like, 'Guys, I feel so good still. I think I am going to go 'til 45.' I am like, 'OK.' Now he's like, 'Alex, I think I can go like 46 or 47.'"

Should the 42-year-old Brady follow suit on that claim, he'd be playing in the NFL through the 2023 or 2024 seasons.

Last month, Brady sang a different tune as he acknowledged publicly for the first time that he is uncertain about his future with the franchise as he enters the final year of his contract.

"One day I'll wake up and feel like that will be enough. When that day comes, that day comes. I don't know if it will be after this year. I don't know if it will be five years from now," Brady said on his weekly appearance on sports radio WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show."

"But I don't have to determine those things right now either. That's kind of a good part where I'm at. So I think just taking advantage of the opportunity that I have this year and do the very best I can do. Those decisions come at the more appropriate times."

Brady has completed 230 of 355 passes for 2,536 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions this season for the Patriots (8-1), who visit the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) on Sunday.

Vikings out to keep Cook on front burner vs. Broncos

Vikings out to keep Cook on front burner vs. Broncos

Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings made the turn into the second half of the 2019 season in position to check off a lot of goals on their preseason to-do list.

At 7-3, the Vikings have the NFL's leading rusher and are second in the NFC North with plenty of time to push the Green Bay Packers for the division crown behind a defense with as much bite as it has bark.

Cook leads the NFL in rushing with 991 yards -- including six 100-yard games -- and is second in the league with 10 rushing touchdowns behind Green Bay's Aaron Jones (11) and Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (11).

But head coach Mike Zimmer reminded players at the start of the Week 11 work week not to get high on the hog with the 3-6 Denver Broncos coming to town. While the Vikings beat Dallas 28-24 on the road last week, the Broncos got a win with newbie quarterback Brandon Allen and have a miniscule point differential of minus-21 in those six defeats.

"They've lost three games by two points (each). We're going to have our hands full and are going to have to play really well on Sunday to win," Zimmer said.

A core concern is getting ready for Allen, who is in the lineup due to a season-ending neck injury to Joe Flacco. Allen has a passer rating of 125.6, compiled entirely in his first career start Week 9 against the Cleveland Browns. The Broncos had a bye last week.

"It's difficult because he hasn't been there the entire time; you got a one-game summary of it," Zimmer said. "Really, we have to prepare for the offense, and then we have to prepare for the players, and then with him being different, just trying to re-study everything that he's done. But it is more difficult having that small of a sample size"

One pillar the Broncos know well thanks to assistant coach Gary Kubiak coming over from Denver and Zimmer's experience coaching against him is head coach Vic Fangio. Like Zimmer, Fangio played the bridesmaid role in many a coaching search before finally landing his first head-coaching gig with the Broncos. An assistant and primarily defensive coordinator -- also Zimmer's calling card -- for 19 seasons and most recently with Minnesota's NFC North rival the Chicago Bears, Fangio is widely respected by the Vikings.

"I wish he didn't now," Zimmer said, joking of Fangio landing the Broncos' job. ""He's been a good defensive coordinator for a long, long time," Zimmer said. "I'm not saying anything bad about anybody else, but a lot of these guys come in and then one year [later] they get a head coaching job and [other] guys never get an opportunity. I felt like Vic was a guy that earned that opportunity because of the body of work he had."

The Broncos did not practice during the bye week but Fangio said Allen got extra work and spent time at the team facility prepping for Minnesota's flexible and dominant defense. The Vikings didn't allow a rushing first down to Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys in last week's game. The test for Allen is much more difficult in his second career start.

Allen, 27, wants to maximize his opportunity and keep second-round rookie Drew Lock on the bench. Fangio said developing players is part of the plan down the stretch. Lock has only returned to practice Tuesday, and could be another week from being deemed ready to roll.

"Obviously I want to play well. I want to win," Allen said.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said the Vikings are not easy to prepare for thanks to two Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers complementing Cook and the grind-it-out ground game. Beyond that, a play-action game that includes a heavy dose of screen passes can baffle a defense.

"They're one of the better screen teams we play," Harris said. "They do way more zone (runs) than our offense. They do a good job of playing out the fakes, plays that look similar and playing out the screens."

This is the 15th meeting all-time between the teams and first since 2015. Each team has seven wins in the series.

Patriots stand in way of Eagles extending win streak

Patriots stand in way of Eagles extending win streak

The Philadelphia Eagles will be searching for their third consecutive victory when they host the New England Patriots on Sunday.

After falling below .500 at 3-4 after an ugly loss at Dallas, the Eagles have responded with wins over the Buffalo Bills on the road and at home against the Chicago Bears. As a result, the Eagles have pulled into a tie for first place with the Cowboys in the NFC East.

The Eagles added wide receiver Jordan Matthews this week for his third stint with the franchise since deep threat DeSean Jackson was placed on injured reserve after undergoing abdominal surgery. The offense has been inconsistent, as evidenced by rolling up a 19-0 lead over the Bears before struggling the rest of the way in a 22-14 victory.

"Obviously he's (Jackson) unique, so it isn't going to be just one guy that does that," Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "We have plenty of good players that are out there in the huddle with (quarterback) Carson (Wentz) and we have to find ways to create those explosive plays that you talk about, get guys open, and help them get open and then make the plays when the plays are there to be made."

But outside of tight end Zach Ertz (46 receptions, tied for fourth in NFL among tight ends), Wentz has been unable to move the ball downfield with his wide receiving corps consisting mostly of Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins. Agholor and Jeffery have continued to drop passes throughout the first nine games.

Head coach Doug Pederson doesn't believe it's a huge problem.

"The ball is going to find the open guy," he said matter-of-factly.

Pederson confirmed that left tackle Jason Peters had recent arthroscopic surgery on his knee, but was at practice on Wednesday.

For the first time this season, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots will be entering a game following a loss, 37-20 on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

Actually, that loss snapped a 13-game winning streak, which had included three playoff games during the team's Super Bowl run a season ago.

Since 2002, the Patriots are 44-8 following a loss.

New England was uncharacteristically sloppy against the Ravens with two costly turnovers, including a rare interception by quarterback Tom Brady. But the Patriots still stayed close late in the game until two fourth-quarter touchdowns by Baltimore.

"Hopefully, it will be a great second half of the season," said Brady, who has 14 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. "But it's really up to us to earn it, the people that are in the locker room. We've got to show up to work every day with a great sense of determination, commitment to doing our best for each other and for the team. We'll try to go get a win and it starts this week in Philly."

The Patriots' defense has 32 sacks this season (fourth in NFL), and putting pressure on Wentz will be paramount if New England is able to start a new winning streak with a road win in a difficult environment.

Conversely, the Patriots realize the importance of putting points up early and often.

"Anytime you play a defense like that, you know they're not going to beat themselves," Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "You know they're not going to make a bunch of simple mistakes and give you easy yards and opportunities."

Rising Raiders intend to keep Bengals winless

Rising Raiders intend to keep Bengals winless

Two teams that have demonstrated the impact turnovers can have on a football season go head to head Sunday afternoon when the winless Cincinnati Bengals visit the playoff-contending Oakland Raiders.

The surprising Raiders (5-4), a four-win club a year ago, have used consecutive error-free games to vault into the thick of the AFC playoff chase and onto the heels of the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) in the AFC West.

After a brutal early schedule in which they didn't see their home field for a remarkable 48 straight days, the Raiders used a 2-0 turnover advantage to edge Detroit 31-24 and a 3-0 advantage to knock off the Los Angeles Chargers to open a three-game homestand.

Now Oakland, which has the fourth-fewest giveaways in the NFL with eight, goes up against a Bengals squad that has the fourth-most turnovers in the league (18) and the fourth-worst takeaway/giveaway ratio (minus-11).

Cincinnati (0-9) is coming off a game in which it dominated Baltimore in time of possession, keeping the ball for 36:11, and accumulated more first downs than its AFC North rival (21-20). But three turnovers helped produce one of the least competitive games of the NFL season, a 49-13 Ravens runaway.

No doubt, Raiders coach Jon Gruden, whose team had last weekend off after a Thursday date with the Chargers, caught a bit of the Bengals' disaster at Baltimore while NFL channel-surfing. But he also saw what happened in New Orleans and Indianapolis, and he has used that as a warning for his guys this week.

"I just watched the (Atlanta) Falcons go to New Orleans and beat them -- and beat them bad," he told this week. "Miami goes on the road and beats Indianapolis; no one really expected that would happen ...

"I know Cincinnati. I know those players. I know those coaches -- two of them were on my staff last year. We're going to get their best shot, and we better be ready to go or else."

The Raiders know they can expect nothing less from Bengals star running back Joe Mixon, a former prep star from about 40 miles northeast of Oakland in Oakley, Calif.

The five-star recruit, who chose Oklahoma, will be making his first Oakland homecoming.

The Raiders are quite aware of his talents, however, as he ran through them for a career-high 129 yards on 27 carries in a 30-16 Bengals home win last December.

Mixon went for a season-best 114 yards last week in the loss to Baltimore, then shared the credit with his offensive line after the game.

"I'm definitely proud of how them boys fought out there," he said. "We take pride in the run game, and (the offensive linemen) did their thing."

So has Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, the leader of Oakland's ball-protecting offense. He's gone three consecutive games without an interception and has just four all season while firing 14 touchdown passes.

Sunday will mark nearly the 10th anniversary of the Raiders' last win over the Bengals, a 20-17 decision in Oakland on Nov. 22, 2009.

Cincinnati has captured the past three meetings -- and none has been close. The Bengals won 34-10 at home in 2012 and 33-13 at Oakland in 2015, leading into last year's triumph in Cincinnati.

Bears, Rams try to salvage season on Sunday night

Bears, Rams try to salvage season on Sunday night

Two teams left wondering how everything has gone wrong this season will clash Sunday night in Los Angeles, with both trying to revamp their offenses behind quarterbacks under some heavy scrutiny.

The Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams will meet in a night game for the second consecutive season, but under far different circumstances this time around.

Last season at Chicago, the Rams were the NFL's hot team in early December with just one loss and an offense that churned out points in bunches before the Bears put on the defensive show of the NFL season in a 15-6 victory.

Less than a year later, the Rams no longer are mass-producing points and the Bears aren't getting the same kind of play as a team, although it did all come together for Chicago last Sunday in a 20-13 victory over the Detroit Lions that ended a four-game losing streak.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw three touchdowns against the Lions and at least quieted the criticism of his rough season for one week. Trubisky enters Week 11 ranked 26th in the NFL with 1,390 yards passing and 21st with a 63.6 completion percentage. His eight touchdown passes are tied for 28th.

"When you go through a stretch like we did, it's tough," said Trubisky, who reportedly had televisions turned off at the Bears' practice facility the week before the Lions game to quiet criticism of the team. "... You appreciate (victories) a little bit more, just getting back to that good feeling of winning. We've got to just build off that and definitely not take it for granted."

The Rams are the team now taking the heat after a sluggish offensive performance at Pittsburgh on Sunday led to a 17-12 defeat. The offense delivered just a field goal, with the defense scoring a touchdown and getting a safety. Cooper Kupp, the Rams' leading receiver this season, did not have a reception.

That game looked similar to the Rams' 20-7 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 13.

What the 49ers and Steelers defeats had in common was a relentless pass rush from the opposing defense that forced quick decisions from quarterback Jared Goff. The results? Goff had just 78 yards passing against the 49ers with two interceptions and had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown against Pittsburgh.

Those games looked awfully familiar to what the Bears did against Rams last year when Goff threw for 180 yards and four interceptions.

Personnel changes and injuries on the line have put the Rams' chances of an offensive revival in jeopardy. Center Brian Allen joined tackle Joe Noteboom with season-ending knee injuries. Tackle Rob Havenstein (knee) will not play against the Bears.

There are issues at tight end as well with Tyler Higbee (knee) not practicing Wednesday and Gerald Everett (wrist) limited.

"When you don't have guys with game experience ... there's a lot of things you have to go over and teach and almost kind of thinking back of all the things that come up when a guy gets in for the first time and goes through certain situations," tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "You almost can't possibly go through all of them. There's going to be some growing pains there."

Bears injuries included linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow), linebacker Isaiah Irving (quadriceps) and tight end Trey Burton (calf) not practicing Wednesday. Running back David Montgomery (ankle) was limited.

After upset loss, Saints begin vital stretch vs. Bucs

After upset loss, Saints begin vital stretch vs. Bucs

The New Orleans Saints came out of their bye week with an opportunity to take command of the NFC South.

They were all alone in first place with a 7-1 record and approaching four consecutive games against division opponents.

But their six-game winning streak came to an end with a 26-9 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Now they go on the road to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"These are defining games obviously," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Because not only do you put yourself in a position to win one, but you put someone in your division in that position to lose one. Right? That is why we always say, in a lot of cases these are worth two (games). These are important games."

New Orleans still holds a two-game lead over second-place Carolina, which it hosts next week in Week 12, and a four-game lead over the Buccaneers, whom it defeated last month. The Falcons, who host the Saints on Thanksgiving night, are five games back.

"Look at this division," Brees said. "Throw the records out the door, OK. No matter who's playing, where they are playing, these games always seem to be very close and can be very hard-fought."

The Saints didn't score a touchdown against the Falcons, had a season-low in rushing yards (52) and Brees was sacked six times by a defense that had seven sacks in its previous eight games.

"You turn the page," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Quickly, you turn the page to this opponent and it's attention to detail from all of us. Coaches, making sure we put a plan in place and get ready to bounce back and play (a) good football game.

"I think we have got good leadership here. I think these guys understand the process. They understand the importance of the workweek relative to how you win in this league. They've been in big moments. They've experienced postseason play and they recognize the importance of winning in the regular season.

"You lean on your leadership and these guys will work on getting it corrected. Coaches as well. We've got to be better and then you focus on the next challenge."

When these teams last met, Brees was in the midst of a five-game absence due to thumb surgery and Teddy Bridgewater led New Orleans to a 31-24 victory on Oct. 6.

"It's the same offense," Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. "That's the beauty of having a guy like Teddy. He can do it. I think he might be a little more mobile, but I don't see them doing anything differently. They're still feeding the same three or four guys."

The Bucs defense will look different Sunday after releasing safety Vernon Hargreaves from the NFL's lowest-rated passing defense and scoring defense.

Arians didn't explain why the Bucs released Hargreaves, a former No. 1 draft choice and a key player on their defense, but he did say, "There's two things you can control. You can control your attitude and your effort."

Tampa Bay's secondary already was short-handed because of injuries to cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart.

49ers look to fix mistakes, rebound vs. Cardinals

49ers look to fix mistakes, rebound vs. Cardinals

The San Francisco 49ers will face a new challenge against a very recent challenger Sunday.

After suffering their first loss of the season to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the 49ers have a short week to prepare for this Sunday's visit by the Arizona Cardinals, who were within a field goal of hanging that first loss on San Francisco on Halloween.

San Francisco has a lot to polish up after committing three turnovers, dropping a handful of passes, giving up five sacks and missing a potential game-winning field goal in overtime of the heartbreaking 27-24 loss to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

The 49ers (8-1) could look at it as a minor blip, however. They will bring the best record, the stingiest defense and the greatest point differential in the NFC into the home game against the Cardinals (3-6-1), who are on their second three-game losing streak of the season.

"It was a little like a gut check," 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said.

Buckner scored one of the 49ers' two touchdowns against Seattle on a rare off night by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 24-of-46 passes for 248 yards, although his stat line was greatly compromised by receiver drops in key situations.

"We just didn't have the consistency," coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Garoppolo will look to bounce back against the Cardinals after posting his best game of the season in a 28-25 victory in Arizona on Oct. 31, when he completed 28 of 37 passes for a season-high 317 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes.

The 49ers had 411 total yards and a nine-minute advantage in time of possession that night, and after squandering 11 points of a 28-14 lead, ran out the final 4:59 by converting three third-down runs. The Cardinals had won the previous eight in the series.

The Cardinals continue to struggle on defense. They have given up 412.5 yards per game (31st in the NFL), and failed to hold a 27-23 lead at Tampa Bay last week when the Buccaneers went 92 yards on six plays and two pass interference penalties for a 30-27 lead with 1:43 remaining.

Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who has thrown for 2,553 yards and 12 touchdowns, threw his first interception in 212 attempts to set up the Bucs' go-ahead drive. His streak of 211 without a pick set an NFL rookie record.

The Cardinals found a weapon in wideout Christian Kirk, who had 138 yards receiving and three touchdowns, but the offense sputtered while converting only 1-of-10 third-down opportunities.

"I don't think we've hit a plateau," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "I think we have to do the little things better.

"Given ourselves a chance at the end of every game, but the margin of error is so small in this league that if you are having those penalties and having the missed opportunities ... you are not going to win those games."

San Francisco wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders suffered a rib injury in the first quarter of the Seattle game and was called "day-to-day" by Shanahan. George Kittle (ankle, knee) did not play against Seattle and, like Matt Breida (ankle), is doubtful. Offensive tackle Joe Staley will miss at least a couple of weeks with a broken finger.

Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who suffered a calf injury late against Tampa Bay and was not on the field for the Buccaneers' winning drive, is questionable. Halfback Chase Edmonds (hamstring) remains out.

Foles, Brissett to return as Jaguars battle Colts

Foles, Brissett to return as Jaguars battle Colts

Welcome back, Nick Foles. You too, Jacoby Brissett.

The return of the Jacksonville Jaguars' and Indianapolis Colts' starting quarterbacks injects extra juice into Sunday's AFC South battle at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Foles will make his first start since Week 1, when he sustained a broken clavicle while throwing a touchdown pass in the first quarter of a loss to Kansas City. Brissett is back after missing last week's 16-12 home loss to Miami with a knee injury suffered during a 28-26 defeat Nov. 3 in Pittsburgh.

Without Foles, Jacksonville (4-5) at least managed to tread water. Rookie Gardner Minshew threw 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions after Foles' injury, establishing himself as a viable option for the long run, whether that's in north Florida or somewhere else.

While the Jaguars are occupants of the division cellar, they still possess playoff hopes. And no one knows better than Foles the meaning of having a chance. After all, he did take Philadelphia on a surprise Super Bowl run after Carson Wentz's season-ending injury two years ago, and helped rally the Eagles by going 5-1 down the stretch in 2018 and won a wild-card game last year at Chicago.

"To be back in a situation where we have an opportunity to make a run, that's all we can ever ask. I'm grateful and happy to be back with those guys," Foles said.

Besides getting its veteran starter back under center, Jacksonville has had a week off to get healthy after enduring a 26-3 beating from Houston on Nov. 3 in London. The addition of Foles gives a team with a powerful running back in Leonard Fournette, as well as developing young receivers, a veteran who knows about winning big games.

"More is on the line," Foles said of playing in November and December. "Offenses and teams and cultures have been developed. Each year a team develops a culture. That's the biggest challenge of stepping back in there and just playing football."

By that standard, Brissett should have an easier time finding a rhythm. All he's missed is a game and a half. But that was enough time for the Colts to fall behind Houston in the division race.

Last week's defeat to Miami was one of the most puzzling results of the year in the NFL. Even with backup Brian Hoyer under center, Indianapolis (5-4) was a double-digit favorite. But Hoyer's first start in two years was an unmitigated disaster, as he was just 18 of 39 for 204 yards with three crushing interceptions.

Brissett, who through eight games is completing a career-best 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,649 yards with a 14-3 touchdown-interception ratio, was a full participant at Wednesday's practice. That's a threshold that second-year coach Frank Reich said he would have to pass in order to play this week.

"I know his knee feels a lot better today than it did five days ago," Reich said.

Not as certain is the status of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, the team's leading pass catcher with 32 receptions. Hilton (calf) has missed the last two games and wasn't able to practice on Wednesday.

This is the teams' first meeting of the year. They will play again in the season finale at Jacksonville.

NFL notebook: Gase's job safe for 2020

NFL notebook: Gase's job safe for 2020

New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson is sticking with Adam Gase as head coach for the 2020 season.

Johnson said Wednesday he informed the team last week that the franchise had already decided to enter next season with Gase as its head coach. The Jets are 2-7 and in last place in the AFC East.

Gase was hired as head coach prior to the season after being fired by the Miami Dolphins.

--Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett will return from a knee injury to start Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, barring a setback.

Brissett practiced in full Wednesday after being limited all three days last week and sitting out the Colts' 16-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

--The Dolphins plan to have a representative in attendance for free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick's workout this weekend, coach Brian Flores announced.

The Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons also will be represented, and the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys reportedly will have someone in attendance.

--San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that starting left tackle Joe Staley will miss at least a couple of weeks with a broken finger and that the likelihood of tight end George Kittle playing Sunday against Arizona seems slim.

In addition, running back Matt Breida will reportedly miss one to two weeks because of a sprained ankle.

--Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen sat out practice due to a hamstring injury that has hampered him for three weeks.

Thielen didn't play Oct. 24 against the Washington Redskins and last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. In between, he started against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 3 but appeared in just seven plays and didn't catch the lone ball that was thrown his way.

--Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett was scheduled to return to Seattle on Wednesday after spending two nights in a Bay Area hospital, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. Team owner Jody Allen provided a plane to fly Lockett back to Washington, Schefter said.

Lockett was taken to Stanford Medical Center on Monday night after a contusion on his shin swelled up, leading Seattle's' medical staff to fear he had sustained a more serious injury. He was injured during the Seahawks' overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers.

--Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford did not practice as the Lions began preparing for a Sunday visit from the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford was held out of last weekend's game in Chicago after tests on his ailing back revealed that his injury was more serious than previously thought.

--Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper is expected to be out "about a month" with an MCL sprain in his knee, NFL Network reported. Coach Dan Quinn told the media that Hooper is a "long shot" to play Sunday at Carolina.

--Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross was cleared to practice and designated to return from injured reserve. He has been sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained Sept. 30.

--The Houston Texans claimed former Tampa Bay cornerback Vernon Hargreaves off waivers. The former first-round pick (11th overall in 2016) was waived by the Buccaneers on Tuesday, two days after he was benched for what coach Bruce Arians deemed a lack of hustle.

--The New Orleans Saints will be without starting left guard Andrus Peat for six weeks after he had surgery on his broken arm, ESPN reported.

--Cleveland defensive end Olivier Vernon was ruled out of the Browns' Thursday game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Vernon, 29, is nursing a knee injury that also forced him to miss last week's game.

--The Browns signed defensive end Bryan Cox, the son of the former three-time Pro Bowl selection by the same name. Linebacker Malik Jefferson was waived to make room on the roster.

MVP candidates clash as Texans visit Ravens

MVP candidates clash as Texans visit Ravens

For all the razzle-dazzle that Baltimore Ravens second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson brings to the table, one factor that acolytes and critics alike tend to overlook is his ability to steward an efficient ship.

Jackson has passed and dashed his way near the top of the NFL Most Valuable Player leaderboard while helming an offense that leads the NFL in rushing (197.2 yards per game) and ranks ninth in passing efficiency (101.3 rating). The latter is aided by the former, and the Ravens' ability to run the ball with impunity is derived from their consistency in scoring touchdowns on opening possessions.

Baltimore (7-2), set to host the Houston Texans (6-3) on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, has scored on eight of nine opening possessions this season, including six touchdowns. Establishing early advantages feeds into the Ravens' ability to commit to their punishing rushing attack.

"(It is) really important," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We talk about starting sharp. We want to be on point. We want to be focused. It's both sides of the ball. Obviously, anytime you can get the lead, that's an advantage. We want to get the lead. We want to keep the lead and extend the lead, if we can. So, I really think our guys have done a good job of that.

"It kind of goes (back to) what I said before, with the guys and the preparation, being on point and coming out and being ready to play. That's really important."

The Texans, sixth in the NFL in yards per play (6.08), aim to strike a similar run-pass balance despite star quarterback Deshaun Watson at the controls. Central to the Texans' efficiency is ball security, and Watson has an interception rate (1.7) that ranks 15th among 34 qualified signal-callers.

Watson continues to advance by executing the finer points of his job. In consecutive wins over the Raiders and Jaguars, Watson passed for 480 yards and five touchdowns while completing 73.1 percent of his attempts and without tossing an interception. An offensive line beset by injuries surrendered just four sacks over 67 passing attempts, enabling Watson to establish a rhythm.

Of course, finer details aren't driving the MVP conversation for either Jackson or Watson. Both have amassed enough dynamic plays to bloat any highlight reel, and whoever performs best on Sunday could carve an advantage over the signal-caller stewarding the losing team.

"It's cool, I guess," Watson said of the MVP chatter. "The only thing I can really control is performing on the field, and then everything else is to the voters and whoever decides on that decision. I don't get too much caught up in that. My ultimate goal is trying to win as many games as I can to get to that ultimate goal.

"That MVP stuff is going to take care of itself. If it's deserving for me, then I'll do it, but if not, then best to whoever wins that award."

At this stage, Watson, like Jackson, is certainly deserving of consideration. Fans, NFL media and players recognize everything both Jackson and Watson offer as exceptional talents. The hype is real.

"He dope," Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters said of Watson. "He's an excellent quarterback. You've got to give him respect."

Both teams made mid-week additions. The Ravens added veteran D-linemen Justin Ellis and Domata Peko to reinforce an injured group up front, while the Texans claimed former first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves off waivers from Tampa Bay.

49ers likely down 3 offensive starters this weekend

49ers likely down 3 offensive starters this weekend

Suddenly, the losses just keep coming for the San Francisco 49ers.

Two days after his team suffered its first loss of the season to Seattle on Monday night, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday told reporters that starting left tackle Joe Staley will miss at least a couple of weeks with a broken finger and that the likelihood of tight end George Kittle playing Sunday against Arizona seems slim.

In addition, running back Matt Breida will reportedly miss 1-2 weeks with a sprained ankle.

Staley broke his leg in Week 2 and missed the 49ers' next six games. He returned to the field on Monday but fractured and dislocated a finger in the 27-24 overtime loss to the Seahawks. According to Shanahan, Staley underwent surgery on the finger and will "probably be out a couple weeks."

After playing in all 16 games for five consecutive seasons from 2011-15, Staley has missed at least one game in three of the last four seasons -- sitting out 10 games over that span.

As for Kittle, the knee and ankle injuries that kept him out of the Seattle game look like they will keep him off the field in Santa Clara, Calif., again this weekend. Kittle originally sustained the injuries on Halloween, against the Cardinals in Arizona.

The third-year tight end has 46 grabs for 541 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season, after setting a single-season NFL record for tight ends with 1,377 yards last season.

It was originally reported that Shanahan confirmed to Arizona media that Kittle would not play, but the 49ers later clarified Shanahan's statement to indicate there is a plan in place should the tight end miss the game, but the 49ers are not yet ruling him out.

Breida sustained his injury Monday night. In nine games this season, Breida has 542 yards on 109 carries with a touchdown both rushing and receiving. Raheem Mostert will likely see more work in Breida's absence.