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Week 9 Cheat Sheet

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Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...

Key game-time decisions


All players questionable unless noted

T.Y. Hilton (foot) WR, Indianapolis Colts

The wideout didn't practice all week, but Chuck Pagano said Friday he liked how Hilton ran on a treadmill. Goodness is that a depressing sentence, especially considering the Colts face the No. 1 defense in the NFL. UPDATE: Hilton will test his foot before the game to see if he can play, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Sammy Watkins (ankle), WR, Cyrus Kouandjio (knee), OL -- OUT -- Buffalo Bills

Watkins expects to return after missing time with the injury. UPDATE: Rapoport reports that Watkins will play against the Dolphins. The team confirmed Watkins is in fact active.

Nelson Agholor (ankle) WR, Ryan Mathews (groin) RB -- QUESTIONABLE; Jason Peters (back) T -- OUT; DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) LB -- QUESTIONABLE, Philadelphia Eagles

Agholor insisted this week he'll play. Mathews played with the injury prior to the bye, but could see his snaps held in check again. The Eagles officially ruled Peters out. Ryans was limited on Friday and could be held out again.

Ronnie Hillman (thigh) RB, Denver Broncos

Gary Kubiak expects the running back to start. UPDATE: Rapoport reports that Hillman is good to go.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ASJ practiced in full Friday after two limited sessions this week. With Vincent Jackson out again, Jameis Winston could use all the pass-catching help he can get.

Brandon Marshall (ankle, toe) WR; Buster Skrine (shoulder, hand) CB, New York Jets

Marshall returned to practice on Thursday and Friday, which is a good indicator he should play, barring a setback. Skrine was limited all week. UPDATE: Rapoport reports that Marshall will play Sunday against the Jaguars. The team confirmed Marshall is active for the game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (left thumb), QB; Nick Mangold (neck) C -- BOTH PROBABLE, New York Jets

Fitzy will get the start. Mangold was optimistic about returning Sunday. UPDATE: Both are active for the game.

Terrance Knighton (migraine) NT -- OUT; DeSean Jackson (hamstring) WR; Bashaud Breeland (hamstring) CB; Chris Culliver (knee) CB; DeAngelo Hall (toe) CB; Ryan Kerrigan (hand) LB; Kory Lichtensteiger (neck) C; Keenan Robinson (rib, abdomen, shoulder) LB, Washington Redskins

Watch:

Jackson is expected to return, barring a setback, and the Redskins' constricted offense sorely needs the deep threat. Man alive, is that a lot of starters with question marks (only Culliver sat out Friday), especially in the secondary. UPDATE: Rapoport reports that Jackson will play, while Hall is a longshot to play. The team confirmed Jackson will in fact play, while Hall will be inactive.

Vic Beasley (foot) DE, Atlanta Falcons

The rookie did not practice on Friday. Atlanta's pass rush is already thin with Beasley on the field.

Anquan Boldin (hamstring) WR -- DOUBTFUL -- San Francisco 49ers

Blaine Gabbert's entering a bad situation likely without the team's best possession receiver.

Clay Matthews (ankle, knee) LB -- PROBABLE; Ty Montgomery (ankle) WR, Quinten Rollins (neck) CB, Sam Shields (shoulder) CB -- DOUBTFUL -- Green Bay Packers

Matthews was limited all week, but should play. Montgomery was limited all week. The two corners sat out all week. UPDATE: The team has made Montgomery, Rollins and Shields inactive for Sunday. Matthews is active.

Allen Hurns (ankle, thigh) WR; Julius Thomas (abdomen) TE -- BOTH PROBABLE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Both of Blake Bortles' pass catchers should be good to go. UPDATE: Both are active for the game.

Jordan Cameron (hamstring) TE; DeVante Parker (foot) WR -- OUT -- Miami Dolphins

Cameron was limited on Thursday and Friday. Parker reportedly didn't travel with the team to Buffalo. UPDATE: Cameron is listed as active for the game.

Rueben Randle (hamstring) WR, New York Giants

He's tentatively expected to play. At what extent his injury will hamper his snap count remains to be seen.

Tre Mason (ankle) RB; T.J. McDonald (foot) S; Robert Quinn (knee) DE, St. Louis Rams

Mason hasn't seen much action since Todd Gurley busted out, even when healthy. McDonald and Quinn both sat out Friday's practice. UPDATE: Quinn has been ruled out.

Anthony Barr (back) LB, Minnesota Vikings

Barr was full-go on Friday. With defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee, ankle) and stud linebacker Eric Kendricks (ribs) both out, the Vikes need Barr on the field to try and slow down Todd Gurley.

Marcus Mariota (knee) QB; Harry Douglas (ribs) WR -- BOTH PROBABLE; Jason McCourty (hamstring) CB -- OUT, Tennessee Titans

Mariota will get the start after missing the past two weeks. After missing the past two weeks, Douglas should return and take over the slot role for Kendall Wright (knee), who is out.

Jamie Collins (illness) LB; Julian Edelman (knee) WR; Dion Lewis (abdomen) RB -- BOTH PROBABLE; Keshawn Martin (hamstring) WR; Shaq Mason (knee) G, New England Patriots.

Edelman and Lewis should be fine. Martin and Mason were both limited all week. UPDATE: Collins and Martin are listed as inactive for the game. 

Dez Bryant (foot) WR; Matt Cassel (knee) QB -- BOTH PROBABLE; Brice Butler (hamstring) WR; Barry Church (ankle) S, Dallas Cowboys

Bryant and Cassel will play. Church returned limited on Friday, while Butler sat out.

Monday Night*


Matt Forte (knee) RB -- OUT; Hroniss Grasu (neck) C; Pernell McPhee (knee) LB; Eddie Royal (knee) WR -- OUT, Chicago Bears

All four sat out Thursday and Friday. Jeremy Langford expects to get the start for the Bears in the backfield.

King Dunlap (ankle) T; Denzel Perryman (biceps) LB; Manti Te'o (ankle) LB; Chris Watt (shoulder) C -- OUT; Orlando Franklin (knee) G; Ladarius Green (ankle) TE -- DOUBTFUL; Corey Liuget (foot) DE, Jason Verrett (groin) CB, Eric Weddle (groin) S, Patrick Robinson (concussion) CB, Darrell Stuckey (hamstring) DB -- QUESTIONABLE -- San Diego Chargers

None of the above practiced Thursday or Friday.

Weather Tracking*


We will update as prognostications drift closer to game time.

Falcons at 49ers -- 64 degrees / Chance of Rain (29 percent)
Giants at Buccaneers -- 69 degrees / Chance of Thunderstorms (73 percent)
Bears at Chargers (MNF)-- 64 degrees / Chance of Rain (24 percent)

*Forecasts courtesy of Weather Underground

Every game, all season

Three matchups that intrigue


Andrew Luck vs. Broncos pass rush

Andrew Luck has been one of the most disappointing players at the midway point of the season. A surprisingly gun-shy quarterback this season, Luck seems to hitch multiple times at the top of his dropbacks. He's completing just 54.9 percent of his passes with 12 interceptions, which leads the NFL. He'll have to get the ball out quick Sunday versus the top pass-rushing unit in the NFL, which has compiled 29 sacks. With waves of pass rushers including Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Shaquil Barrett, among others, the Broncos are relentless to the quarterback. Last week, the sticky Denver secondary made Aaron Rodgers hold the ball for-ev-er. With Luck already showing a tendency not to pull the trigger this season, the Broncos' rush could have a huge day.

Randall Cobb vs. Josh Norman

Cobb was shut down last week to the tune of 4.5 yards per reception versus the Denver Broncos. He'll face another stiff test this week in the NFL's top corner, Josh Norman. The expectation is that Norman will shadow Cobb for the most part Sunday. The Panthers corner has been spectacular, holding quarterbacks to a league-low 25.5 passer rating and NFL-best 7.6 yards per pass when targeted, per Pro Football Focus. Norman makes at least one highlight-reel play per game and has four interceptions on the season. Aaron Rodgers desperately needs Cobb to get separation Sunday to help lift the Packers offense out of its malaise. Green Bay has scored just 19.5 points per game in their last four contests. If Norman shuts down Cobb Sunday it could be another difficult day for Rodgers and the Packers' offense moving the football.

Amari Cooper vs. Steelers secondary

Cooper has been a game-changer for the Raiders' offense. He's given Derek Carr a go-to target to trust in big spots and provides yards-after-catch highlights. The rookie also has allowed Michael Crabtree to feast on No. 2 corners and single coverage. This week Cooper will face a Steelers secondary ranked 26th against the pass, giving up 269 yards per game through the air. The Steelers rank 31st in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus' ratings, and they seem to have one blown converge per game. If Cooper puts Antwon Blake, William Gay, Will Allen, et al. on skates, the Steelers defense will have trouble slowing a fast Raiders offense in a pivotal matchup for playoff positioning.

Did You Know?


General knowledge


Entering Week 9, there are four undefeated teams -- CAR (7-0), CIN (8-0), DEN (7-0) and NE (7-0). That marks the most 7-0 teams in a season in NFL history and doubles the previous high of two, which occurred most recently in 2009 (NO, IND). The most undefeated 8-0 teams in a season in NFL history is two, which occurred most recently in 2009.

In the Super Bowl era, 32 teams have started 7-0 and all 32 made the playoffs -- 15 of those 32 teams advanced to the Super Bowl, nine of those 15 teams won the Super Bowl.

Since 1990, 14 teams have started 8-0 and 50 percent of those teams have made the Super Bowl, with 35.7 percent (5) winning the Lombardi Trophy.

Since 1990, teams that start 5-3 have made the playoffs 65.5 percent of the time. Teams that start 4-4 have made the playoffs 32.0 percent of the time. Teams that start 5-4 have made the playoffs 50.0 percent of the time. Teams that start 4-5 have made the playoffs 12.2 percent of the time.

The current league-wide passer rating allowed is at 90.5. The highest league-wide passer rating mark was set last season (88.9). Since 2010, each ensuing season has set a new record for highest passer rating 2015: 90.5 (through eight weeks).
2014: 88.9
2013: 86.0
2012: 85.6
2011: 84.3
2010: 84.1

Divisions by Winning Percentage
NFC South: 20-10, .667
AFC East: 17-11, .607
AFC West: 16-14, .533
NFC West: 16-15, .516
AFC North: 15-16, .484
NFC North: 14-15, .483
NFC East: 12-17, .414
AFC South: 9-21, .300

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills


The Dolphins posted their fewest rushing yards (15) in the Week 8 loss at New England since Week 16, 2013 at Buffalo (14 yards). Week 6-7: 33.5 carries per game, 214 rushing YPG, 6.4 yards per carry. Week 8: 13 rushes, 15 yards, 1.2 yards per carry.

Ryan Tannehill: 62.7 completion percentage, 275.4 YPG, 13 TD, 9 INT, 87.1 passer rating.

Lamar Miller: 79 carries, 434 rush yards, 3 rush TD; 20 rec, 172 rec yards, 1 rec TD. Miller is averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season (4th in NFL).

Jarvis Landry: 42 rec, 466 rec yards, 2 receiving TDs. Landry is on pace for 96 receptions this season, which would be a Miami franchise record -- O.J. McDuffie had 90 in 1998.

Dolphins' defensive ranks: T-18th in points per game allowed (24.7); T-22nd in sacks (13); 24th in total yards allowed (379.4); and T-26th in takeaways (8). Miami has 12 sacks in three games under Dan Campbell after just one in their first four games of the season.

Rex Ryan is 1-5 off the bye as a head coach.

Tyrod Taylor: 70.1 completion percentage, 259.2 YPG, 9 TD, 6 INT, 103.6 passer rating. If Taylor continues his pace, he'll have the highest passer rating of any Bills QB in franchise history. In two games prior to the MCL injury, Taylor struggled, completing just 64.4 percent of his passes for 191.5 yards per game, two touchdowns, one interception and just an 87.0 passer rating.

LeSean McCoy: 78 carries, 304 rush yards, 1 rush TD (5 games). McCoy has yet to post a 100-yard rushing game this season. It's the furthest into season without a 100-yard game since rookie season (Zero 100-yard games in 2009). The tailback's last 100-yard game: Week 13, 2014 at Dallas (159).

Sammy Watkins: 11 rec, 147 rec yards, 2 TD (4 games). Ranks 6th on Bills in targets (18).

The Bills' defense under Rex Ryan has slipped:
2014: 18.1 points per game allowed; 312.2 total yards per game allowed; 3.4 sacks per game
2015: 24.7 points per game allowed; 347.3 total yards per game allowed; 1.6 sacks per game

Ronald Darby (14) and Stephon Gilmore (12) lead the league in passes defensed -- Panthers CB Josh Norman also has 12.

Matchup to watch: Lamar Miller vs. Bills run D

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers


The Panthers' offense and Packers' defense have followed similar paths to success this season. Neither ranks highly in yardage, but do rank highly in points scored/allowed:
Panthers Offense Rank
Total YPG: 349.1; 19th
PPG: 27.3; 4th
Packers Defense Rank
Total YPG: 375.7; 23rd
PPG: 18.6; 6th

The Packers have failed to score 30-plus points in any of their last four games, which is their longest streak with Aaron Rodgers at QB since Weeks 11-15, 2012 (5 games). After averaging 32.0 PPG in their first three games, they're scoring just 19.5 PPG in their last four.

Aaron Rodgers threw for just 77 yards at DEN in their Week 8 loss. In his career, he has eight individual passes of longer than 77 yards.

In his last 14 games following a loss, Rodgers is 14-0 with 45 TDs and 5 INTs. Rodgers has not lost consecutive games in the same season since Weeks 5-6, 2010 at Washington and vs. Miami (Both games went to OT).

Eddie Lacy: 78 carries; 298 rushing yards; 3.8 yards per carry; 2 TD
James Starks: 68 carries; 295 rushing yards; 4.3 yards per carry; 2 TD

Randall Cobb: 36 receptions, 377 yards, 4 TD -- leads team in receptions.

The Green Bay defense has allowed 500-plus yards in back-to-back games, becoming the first team to allow 500 yards in back-to-back games since 2013 Cowboys. Only two teams have ever allowed 500 yards in three straight games -- 1950 New York Yanks, 1950 Baltimore Colts.

Julius Peppers: leads Packers with 5.5 sacks. Played from Panthers from 2002-09 and remains Carolina's all-time leader with 81.0 sacks.

Cam Newton by half in 2015:
First Half: 94.6 passing yards per game; 4 passing TDs; 58.4 passer rating.
Second Half: 123.0 passing yards per game; 7 passing TDs; 100.2 passer rating.

Newton needs three more games with at least one rush TD and passing TD to match Steve Young (31) for most in NFL history.

Jonathan Stewart: 127 rushes, 505 yards, 3 TDs. Stewart had three rush TD all of last season.

Greg Olsen: 33 receptions, 518 yards, 4 TD. Olsen has the highest percentage of his team's pass targets (28.8 percent), receptions (28.2) and receiving yards (34.0) among all tight ends this season.

Panthers defensive ranks: 2nd in yards per play allowed (4.69); 5th in takeaways (16); 10th in points per game allowed (19.4) and total yards per game (342.6).

Josh Norman: T-2nd in the NFL with 4 INTs and T-1st in INT TDs with two -- had 3 INTs in 3-year career prior to this season.

Ron Rivera started his career as Panthers head coach 2-14 in games decided by 7 or fewer points. However, he is 13-2-1 in his last 16 such games, including 4-0 this season.

Matchup to watch: Jonathan Stewart vs. Packers front seven

St. Louis Rams at Minnesota Vikings


Matchup between two of the top 10 defenses in the NFL through Week 8:
Rams ranks: 6th in opponents yards per game; 4th in opponent points per game; T-7th in takeaways; T-2nd in sacks
Vikings ranks: 7th in opponents yards per game; 2nd in opponent points per game; T-22nd in takeaways; T-14th in sacks.

Matchup of two of the worst offenses in the NFL through Week 8:
Rams ranks: 30th in total yards per game; 28th in points per game; 32nd in passing yards per game; and 32nd in 3rd down percentage
Vikings ranks: 29th in total yards per game; T-22nd in points per game; 30th in passing yards per game; and 17th in 3rd down percentage

Rams average 132.0 rushing YPG (3rd in NFL). Vikings average 131.0 rushing YPG (5th in NFL).

Todd Gurley's 575 rushing yards this season are the third-most in NFL history for a player's first five career games, behind Eric Dickerson (645), and Gurley's Week 8 opponent, Adrian Peterson (607). Gurely's first four starts, however, have been more impressive, compiling 566 yards compared to 462 in Peterson's first four starts.

Gurley is the first player with four straight games of 125-plus rush yards since Frank Gore in 2011. Gurley has a run of 48-plus yards in each of his four starts this season.

Nick Foles: 58.8 completion percentage, 187.1 YPG, 7 TD, 5 INT, 81.6 passer rating. Ranks 28th in completion percentage and passing yards, and 27th in touchdowns and passer rating. Fewer than 200 passing yards in six straight games and fewer than 20 completions in each game this season.

Teddy Bridgewater: 64.5 completion percentage, 218.0 YPG, 6 TD, 5 INT, 85.5 passer rating.

Peterson: 140 carries, 633 rush yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 3 TDs. Ranks third in NFL in carries and yards, tied for 11th in touchdowns and 17th in yards per carry.

Stefon Diggs: 25 receptions, 419 rec yards, 2 TDs. Diggs has the second-most receiving yards of any player since 1960 through his first four games (Anquan Boldin, 464 yards). Diggs became the only rookie in NFL history to record 85-plus receiving yards in each of his first four career games.

The Vikings' defense allows 6.3 receptions per game to team's No. 1 WR (T-most in NFL).

The Vikings have played the weakest strength of schedule up to this point in the season (18-36, .333), but Minnesota will now face the toughest remaining schedule from here on out (42-25, .627).

Matchup to watch: Stefon Diggs vs. Rams' underrated CBs

Washington Redskins at New England Patriots


Matchup notes:
New England: 28 offensive TDs this season (T-most in NFL); Washington: 14 offensive TDs this season (T-24th in NFL)
New England: score TD on 71.9 percent of red zone drives (2nd-best in NFL); Washington: opponents score TD on 47.4 percent of red zone drives (T-5th best in NFL)
New England: T-fewest 3-and-out drives in NFL (10); Washington: forced 12 3-and-out drives (T-3rd fewest in NFL)

Washington: allowed eight sacks this season (T-2nd fewest in NFL); New England: 26 sacks this season (T-2nd most in NFL)
Washington: Overcame 24-7 halftime deficit in last game (Week 7 vs TB); New England: 72-0 at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime

Redskins offensive ranks: 18th in passing yards (241.3); 21st in points per game (21.1); 23 in rush yards per game (99.0); and 25th in total yards per game (340.3).

DeSean Jackson-effect: Redskins have struggled to hit the big play this season -- 22 plays of 20-plus yards this season (T-29th in NFL). Had 68 plays of 20-plus yards in 2014 (T-8th in NFL).

Kirk Cousins: 68.7 completion percentage, 248.1 YPG, 9 TD, 8 INT, 85.1 passer rating - 8th in NFL in completion percentage. Cousins has three career games with three-plus passing TDs (including his last game).

Alfred Morris: 179 snaps, 91 carries, 302 rush yards, 3.3 yards per carry, 0 TDs
Matt Jones: 147 snaps, 63 carries, 249 rush yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 3 TDs

Jordan Reed: 35 receptions, 350 yards, 3 TD -- tied with Pierre Garcon for team lead in receiving yards and receiving TDs. The tight end is 149 receiving yards shy of tying career high set in rookie season -- already tied career-high in receiving TDs (also set in rookie season). Reed has compiled 5-plus receptions in every game played this season (5 games).

Redskins defensive ranks: 11th vs. pass (231.0 YPG); 30th vs rush (128.4 YPG); T-17th in total yards allowed (360.4); 16th in points per game allowed (24.0); T-19 in takeaways (10).

Unlike most teams, the Patriots throw the ball a ton because they want to not because they have to. For your consideration: New England is only running the ball on 33.4 percent of plays this season (31st in NFL), but is 7-0. The other five teams to run the ball on fewer than 37 percent of their plays this season are a combined 12-27 (HOU, SD, MIA, IND and DET). The Lowest regular-season rush percent of a team to eventually win Super Bowl is the 2011 Giants (40.0 rush percent).

Patriots offensive ranks: 1st in points per game (35.6), first downs per game (24.9) and 3rd down percentage (47.1); 2nd in passing yards per game (329.3) and red zone TD percentage (71.9); 5th in total yards per game (414.6) and 30th in rushing yards per game (85.3).

Tom Brady: 68.9 completion percentage, 344.3 YPG, 20 TD, 1 INT, 115.8 passer rating. First in the NFL in touchdowns, TD-INT ratio, passing yards and passer rating; sixth in completion percentage.

Dion Lewis: 45 carries, 220 yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 2 TDs; 32 receptions, 349 rec yards, 2 TD
LeGarrette Blount: 69 carries, 318 yards, 4.6 yards/carry, 4 TDs; 3 receptions, 27 yards 1 TD

Jamie Collins: 51 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 5 QB hits -- leads team in tackles, 3 forced fumbles are T-2nd most in the NFL.

Chandler Jones: 23 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 13 QB Hits, 1 forced fumble -- tied with J.J. Watt for most sacks this season and has the most sacks by any Patriots player in first seven games of a season -- three straight games with at least 1.0 sack.

Matchup to watch: Gronk vs. the World

Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints


Mike Mularkey is 16-32 in three seasons as NFL head coach with Buffalo (16-18 in 2004-05) and Jacksonville (2-14 in 2012). Served as assistant head coach and TE coach with Titans since 2014 -- 9-year NFL career as TE with Vikings and Steelers (1983-91).

The Titans' offense has scored 13 points or fewer in four straight games --14 points or fewer in five of its last six games. Tennessee ranks 31st in total offense (309.9 yards per game) and scoring offense (17.9 PPG); 29th in giveaways (16); 28th in passing yards per game (209.7); and 19th in rushing yards (100.1).

Marcus Mariota: 64.0 completion percentage, 247.8 YPG, 9 TD, 5 INT, 93.2 passer rating; 10 carries, 72 rushing yards.

Predictably, the Titans offense has been better with Mariota under center than Zach Mettenberger:
Mariota: 22.4 points per game, 340.4 total yards per game, 232.8 pass yards per game, 2.2 giveaways.
Mettenberger: 6.5 points per game, 233.5 total yards per game, 152.0 pass yards per game, 2.5 giveaways.

Antonio Andrews: 54 carries, 202 yards, 2 TD -- Week 8 at HOU: Career-high 16 carries, 64 yards.

Tennessee's defense has allowed 120 completions this season, fewest in NFL. The Titans rank 3rd in passing yards per game allowed (197.9), 5th in total defense (316.6), 14th in scoring defense (22.7 PPG) and 21s in rushing yards allowed (118.7).

Last week New Orleans scored 50-plus points for the third time during the Drew Brees era (since 2006). They are 0-2 in their next game, losing 23-20 in 2008 vs. TB and 31-21 at STL in 2011.

Sean Payton's offense has been more Saints-like in their three-game win streak than their 1-4 start to the season:
Weeks 1-5: 1-4 record; 20.6 PPG; 28.6 points allowed per game; 387.4 YPG; 409.0 Opp. YPG; -5 turnover differential.
Weeks 6-8: 3-0 record; 36.7 PPG; 30.3 points allowed per game; 480.7 YPG; 401.7 Opp. YPG; +4 turnover differential.

Saints offensive ranks: 2nd in YPG (423.1); 3rd in pass YPG (323.9) and first downs per game (24.4); 4th in 10-plus yard plays (126); and T-6th in points per game (26.6).

The Saints have 300-plus yards of total offense in 28 straight games -- longest streak since going 29 straight from 2008-09.

Mark Ingram: 118 carries, 530 yards, 5 TDs, 4.49 yards/carry -- 100.5 scrimmage YPG this season, 7th among running backs.

Brandin Cooks: 41 receptions, 532 yards, 3 TDs -- Leads team with 66 targets. Cooks has 80-plus receiving yards in three of his last four games -- 1-plus reception of 25-plus yards in four straight games.

New Orleans' defense has nine takeaways in its last four games after just tree takeaways in first four contests. Allowed 2-plus pass TDs in four straight games -- 13 total pass TDs.

Saints defensive ranks: 32nd in yards per play allowed (6.37); 31st in total yards per game (406.3); 30th in points per game allowed (29.3); 29th in pass yards allowed (282.4); and 24th in rush YPG (123.9).

Matchup to watch: Mark Ingram vs. Titans' D-line

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets


The Jacksonville offense has scored 20-plus points in three straight games for the fist time since Weeks 13-15, 2013 -- 29 games of 20 points or fewer since 2013 (most in NFL) and have 290-plus yards in six straight games - longest streak since going 11 straight from Week 7, 2010 to Week 1, 2011.

Allen Robinson (six) and Allen Hurns (five) have combined for 11 receiving touchdowns this season, most among any wide receiver duo in NFL -- the duo also ranks sixth in the NFL with a combined 1,099 receiving yards.

Blake Bortles: 55.7 completion percentage, 258.9 YPG, 15 TD, 8 INT, 82.5 passer rating. At least one TD pass in all seven games this season -- only the second Jaguars quarterback in franchise history with at least one TD pass in each of the team's first seven games to open a season (Byron Leftwich in 2004).

T.J. Yeldon: 101 carries, 406 yards, TD; 16 receptions, 81 yards, TD. Yeldon has 100-plus rush yards in two of his last three games -- 60-plus scrimmage yards in three straight games.

The Jags' defense has one-plus sack in each game this season -- one-plus sack in 30 of last 31 games. Defensive ranks: 31st in points per game allowed (29.6) and three-and-out percentage (14.6); 30th in third down percentage (46.9); T-29th in takeaways (7) and 10-plus play drives allowed (16); 25th in passing yards allowed; 17th in sacks; and 14th in rushing yards allowed.

The Jets have lost their past two games and the biggest difference has been on the defensive side:
First five games: 4-1 record; 25.8 PPG; 15.0 Opp. PPG; +5 turnover differential
Last two games: 0-2 record; 21.5 PPG; 32.0 Opp. PPG; -2 turnover differential

The Jets have improved dramatically in the red zone from a year ago:
2015: First in red zone offense, third in red zone defense
2014: Last in red zone offense, 25th in red zone defense.

New York ranks 11th in scoring offense (24.6 PPG) and seventh in total offense (376.7 YPG). The last season the Jets finished top 10 in both was 1998. The Jets own the seventh-ranked rushing offense (127.6 rush YPG), are tied for third in carries per game (30.4) and are 17th in yards per carry as a team (4.3).

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 61.9 completion percentage, 216.9 YPG, 11 TD, 7 INT, 86.5 passer rating -- suffered torn ligaments in left thumb in Week 8 versus the Raiders, but will start.

Chris Ivory: 115 carries, 518 yards, 4 TD; 11 receptions, 98 yards, TD -- 86.3 rush YPG this season ranks fifth in NFL.

Brandon Marshall: 50 receptions, 686 yards, 4 TD -- 100-plus receiving yards in five of last six games.

The Jets' defense leads the NFL with 78.1 rush YPG allowed -- two rush touchdowns allowed are T-fewest in NFL.

Even with the past two poor weeks the Jets still rank first in rush yards per game allowed (78.1); second in three-and-out drives (30.1 percent); third in total yards per game allowed (307.1) and first downs per game (17.4); fourth in yards per play (4.91) and sixth in takeaways (15).

The Jets utilize the blitz at a higher percentage than any other team this season at 48.3 (next highest: Cardinals -- Todd Bowles' former team -- at 43.1).

Matchup to watch: Allen Robinson vs. Darrelle Revis

Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers


The Raiders are over .500 through seven games for the first time since 2011 -- started 4-3, finished 8-8.

The Raiders have scored 27 or more points in four of seven games this season. In 2014, Oakland scored 27 or more points once. Offensive ranks: eighth in points per game (25.4) and third down percentage (44.0); ninth in total yards per game (365.3); 10th in passing yards per game (265.6); and 20th in rush YPG (99.7).

Oakland is tied with the Bills for the fifth-most offensive TDs per game (2.9) behind only the Patriots, Cardinals, Bengals and Saints. Last season, the Raiders averaged 1.6 TD per game (T-31st in NFL).

Derek Carr: 65.5 completion percentage, 256.1 YPG, 15 TD, 3 TD, 105.7 -- third in NFL in TD/INT ratio and fifth in passer rating.

Amari Cooper: 38 receptions, 565 yards, 3 TD.

Charles Woodson leads the NFL in interceptions at the age of 39 with five. The oldest player to ever lead the NFL in interceptions is Rod Woodson who was 37, when he tied the league lead in 2002 with eight picks (also for Oakland).

Raiders defensive ranks: second in rush YPG allowed; T-10 in takeaways; T-18 in PPG allowed; T-20th in sacks; 26th in total YPG; 31st in pass yards per game.

Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant have been on the field at the same time for only 16 snaps this season.

Roethlisberger: 70.9 completion percentage, 293.5 YPG, 5 TD, 5 INT, 94.6 passer rating -- second in NFL in completion percentage. In his first game returning from injury, Roethlisberger threw three interceptions on passes of 15-plus air yards, more than he had in his first three games combined (2).

DeAngelo Williams: 63 carries, 310 yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 3 TDs. Earned 22 carries for 106 yards since Bell returned from suspension (six games) after 41 carries, 204 yards and 3 TDs in first two weeks of season (Bell suspended).

Antonio Brown: 52 rec, 718 yards, 3 TDs -- T-sixth in NFL in receptions and fourth in yards. His three receiving touchdowns this season all came with Roethlisberger at quarterback.

The Steelers defense has compiled 22 sacks this season (fifth most in NFL). Allowed one or fewer pass touchdown in five of last six games -- Derek Carr: 7 TD in last two games.

Bud Dupree: 16 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 QB hits -- leads team in sacks and is tied for most sacks among rookies with Hau'oli Kikaha (Saints) and Eric Kendricks (Vikings).

Matchup to watch: DeAngelo Williams vs. Raiders' run stuffers

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers


Matchup notes:
Atlanta (11) and San Francisco (9) allowed the second and T-third most rush TD this season, respectively -- Julio Jones faces the 27th ranked 49ers pass defense.

Jones and Devonta Freeman have accounted for 57.1 percent of Atlanta's scrimmage yards this season (highest of any duo in NFL) -- 1,661 of Atlanta's 2,909 scrimmage yards.

Falcons offensive ranks: first in 10-play drives (24) and time of possession; T-third in first down per games (24.4); fourth in total yards per game (414.8); fifth in passing yards per game; T-sixth in points per game (26.6); eighth in rushing yards per game.

Matt Ryan: 67.0 completion percentage, 299.9 YPG, 11 TD, 7 INT, 92.3 passer rating. Ryan has 15 straight games of at least 250 passing yards, the longest active streak in NFL -- third longest streak since 1960.

Devonta Freeman ranks first in the NFL in carries (152), rush yards (709), rush TDs (9), total TDs (10) and scrimmage yards per game (132.8).

Falcons defensive ranks: third in rushing yards per game; 11th in total yards allowed; 13th in points per game given up; 24th in pass YPG; T-21st in 3rd down percentage -- all better than 2014. Ranks 31st in sacks.

The 49ers' offense has scored seven points or less and compiled fewer than 200 total yards in four of its last six games. Ranks last in points per game (13.6), yards per game (282.3), yards per play (4.73), passing yards per game (181.1) and is tied for last in 10-plus yards per play (76). Two straight games without a touchdown.

Blaine Gabbert: 5-22 as a starting quarterback. For his career, Gabbert has a 53.0 completion percentage, 159.4 passing yards per game, a 22-24 TD-INT ratio and a 66.1 passer rating -- the lowest rating in the NFL since 2011.

San Francisco's defense has earned zero sacks in three of its last four games. The 49ers are allowing a passer rating of 100.2 (26th in NFL). Last season, the 49ers ranked fourth in opponent passer rating (79.5).

Niners defense past two seasons:
2014: 58.8 completion percentage allowed, 220.7 passing yards per game, 29-23 TD-INT ratio, 79.5 passer rating.
2015: 69.3 completion percentage allowed, 280.0 passing yards per game, 13-7 TD-INT ratio, 100.2 passer rating (current worst in franchise history: 99.8 in 1999).

Matchup to watch: Falcons pass rush (or lack thereof) vs. Blaine Gabbert

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Odell Beckham Jr. has 19 touchdowns in his first 20 games. The only player in history to catch more TD passes in his first 20 games was Randy Moss, with 20.

The Giants lead the league with a +11 turnover differential through eight weeks. That's a huge improvement from their -17 turnover differential between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Giants are turning the ball over less than once per game this season, a big improvement from 72 giveaways between 2013 and 2014.

Big Blue's offense has gained fewer than 100 rush yards in seven of eight games this season.

Eli Manning has thrown more touchdown passes of 20-plus air yards (4) through eight games this season than he threw in 16 games last season (2). Manning has a 29.6 completion percentage on such passes (8 of 27) with zero interceptions and a 111.4 passer rating.

The Giants' defense ranks near the bottom of the league in several key categories: 32nd in total defense, pass defense and sacks; 31st in third down defense.

Jameis Winston's 86.5 passer rating is the highest through seven career starts of any QB selected No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era. Eli Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and he had a 55.3 passer rating in his first seven starts.

Winston: 58.6 completion percentage, 235.4 YPG, 10 TD, 7 INT, 85.6 passer rating. After throwing four interceptions in Week 4 versus the Panthers, Winston has gone three straight games without an interception.

Doug Martin: 132 carries, 612 yards, 4.6 yards/carry, 3 TD; 15 receptions, 136 yards, 1 TD. Martin ranks fourth in rush yards and fifth in rush YPG (87.4).

Mike Evans: 24 receptions, 386 yards, 1 TD. With the exception of a huge Week 7, Evans is averaging just 3.2 receptions per game and 44.4 receiving YPG.

The Buccaneers are 32nd in opposing passer rating (111.5). In 2014, Lovie Smith's squad earned the worst opposing passer rating in franchise history (97.4). The Bucs have the worst red zone defense in NFL (69.0 percent).

Kwon Alexander: 49 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFL, 2 QBH, 2 INT, 7 passes defensed. Week 8 at ATL: 11 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 fumble recovery. Became the first Buccaneers player with interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery in same game since John Lynch (Week 13, 1996 vs Saints). First rookie with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery in a game since DeMeco Ryans in Week 13, 2006 for the Texans at Oakland.

Matchup to watch: Mike Evans vs. Giants secondary

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts


Andrew Luck leads the NFL with 12 interceptions while Peyton Manning is T-second with 11.

Defensive matchup:
Broncos: first in points per game, first in total yards per game, first in sacks, first in yards per play, T-third in takeaways
Colts: 21st in points per game, 29th in total yards per game, T-27th in sacks, 24th in yards per play, T-19th in takeaways

Andrew Luck has never faced a defense ranked No. 1 in both YPG and PPG. He has also never faced a No. 1 scoring defense in his career -- based on defensive rank entering the game.

The Broncos are allowing just 4.1 yards per play this season. That's not only the best in the NFL this season, but dating back to 2000, only the 2008 Steelers held teams to fewer yards per play (3.9). The 2008 Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning: 62.8 completion percentage, 266.3 YPG, 7 TD, 11 INT, 75.1 passer rating. Manning has thrown at least one interception in seven straight games -- longest interception streak of his career in a single season.

Defenses that have faced Manning have better stats against the Broncos' quarterback than against all other QBs in 2015:
vs. Manning: 62.8 completion percentage, 266.3 passing yards per game, 7-11 TD-INT ratio, 75.1 passer rating
vs. all other QBs: 63.9 completion percentage, 278.7 passing yards per game, 83-30 TD-INT ratio, 96.9 passer rating

Manning completed 81.3 percent of passes under 10-plus air yards in Week 8 versus Green Bay. In his first six games, Manning completed just 68.4 percent of such passes.

C.J. Anderson: 81 carries, 281 yards, 3.5 yards per carry, 1 rushing TD
Ronnie Hillman: 85 carries, 383 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 4 rushing TD

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have combined for 96 receptions this season (most among any wide receiver duo in NFL).

Luck has only been good this season when his team is down by more than 2 TDs. When the Colts are trailing by 15 or more points, Luck has 5 TDs and 1 INT with a 112.5 passer rating. However in all other situations, Luck has 8 TDs and 11 INTs for a passer rating of 60.5. Luck has already thrown 12 INTs this season, putting him on pace for 28 this season. The Colts franchise record for most INTs in a season is 28, set by Peyton Manning in his rookie season of 1998.

Colts offensive ranks: 14th in passing yards; 16th in total yards per game (352.3); 20th in points per game (21.6); 24th in rushing yards per game (98.9) and yards per play (5.24); 31st in giveaways (19).

Frank Gore: 120 carries, 516 rush yards, 3 TD, 4.3 yards per carry.

T.Y. Hilton (questionable): 81 targets, 38 receptions, 621 yards, 3 TD. Hilton is catching 46.9 percent of his targets this season. In 2013-2014, Hilton caught 61.0 percent of his targets.

The Colts are the first team since the merger in 1970 to have a 3-5 record and be in first place in division after eight weeks.

Matchup to watch: T.Y. Hilton (questionable) vs. Broncos secondary

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys


DeMarco Murray returns to Dallas this week for the first time since leaving the team in free agency. After all the offseason debate about whether or not Dallas should keep Murray, the Cowboys have two different running backs this season with more rushing yards than Murray's 307: Darren McFadden (345 yards) and the recently-cut Joseph Randle (315 yards).

The Eagles have three games this season with 20-or-fewer points -- Philly had three games with 20-or-fewer points in entire 2014 season. In the last three games, Philadelphia has run the ball on 42.8 percent of their plays -- in Weeks 1-4, the Eagles ran the ball on 36.9 percent of plays.

DeMarco Murray: 88 carries, 307 rushing yards, 3.5 yards per carry, 3 TDs
Ryan Mathews: 56 carries, 342 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry, 3 TDs

Sam Bradford: 62.0 completion percentage, 252.3 YPG, 9 TD, 10 INT, 76.4 passer rating. Bradford has never finished a season with more interceptions than touchdowns. Bradford is the lowest-rated quarterback under Chip Kelly (since 2013) with a 76.4 passer rating -- Mike Vick (86.5), Mark Sanchez (88.4), Nick Foles (100.5). Bradford has the most red zone interceptions in the league this season (3) and the worst red zone passer rating (50.3).

The Eagles lead the NFL with 19 takeaways this season with three-plus takeaways in each of the last three games -- longest active streak in NFL.

The Cowboys have lost five straight games since Tony Romo broke his collarbone in Week 2. If they lose again in Week 9, it will be their first six-game losing streak since 2000-2001, with Anthony Wright and Quincy Carter at quarterback.

Matt Cassel: 57.7 completion percentage, 162.0 pass YPG, 1 TD, 3 INT, 58.5 passer rating

The Cowboys have played 20 games without Romo since he became the starter. With Romo: 77-48 (.616), without Romo: 6-14 (.300). Dallas quarterbacks to start in place of an injured Romo: Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee, Kyle Orton, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel.

Despite speculation that Cassel would throw downfield more often and more effectively than Brandon Weeden, that has not been the case this season. Cassel: 6.9 air yards per pass attempt; Weeden: 6.5 air yards per pass attempt.

Darren McFadden: 86 carries, 345 yards, 2 TD, 4.0 yards/carry -- one 100-yard game in his last 31 appearances -- Week 7, 2015 at NYG: 29 carries, 152 yards, 1 TD.

Dez Bryant has failed to reach 50 receiving yards or catch a TD in either of his two games played this season (missed five games with broken foot). They are the first consecutive games of Bryant's career without 50 yards or a touchdown in either contest.

Dallas ranks No. 8 total defense (337.0 YPG). Greg Hardy in first three games with the Cowboys: 12 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 QB hits, 3 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT.

Matchup to watch: Cowboys pass rush vs. Sam Bradford

Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers


Matchup notes:
Chicago: 214.3 pass YPG allowed (4th); San Diego: 336.9 pass YPG (1st)
Chicago: 128.0 rush YPG allowed (29th); San Diego: 86.4 rush YPG (29th)
Chicago: 8 giveaways (T-fifth fewest); San Diego: 13 giveaways (T-eighth most)

Jay Cutler: 61.8 completion percentage, 240.3 pass YPG, 8 TD, 4 INT, 87.5 passer rating. Cutler is tied with Hall of Famer Sid Luckman for most TD passes in franchise history. He has compiled five straight games with a passer rating over 85.0 -- longest streak in a single season in Cutler's career.

Matt Forte might not play this Monday after suffering a knee injury in Week 8. His absence could be devastating to the Bears' offense. Forte has accounted for 32.0 percent of the Bears' scrimmage yards this season, the highest percentage of any running back in the league.

Jeremy Langford: 27 carries, 80 rush yards, 3.0 yards per carry, 2 TD -- fourth-round pick out of Michigan State.

Alshon Jeffery: 23 receptions, 341 yards, 2 TD -- back-to-back 100-yard games since returning from injury.

Bears defense:
In two wins: 18.5 points per game allowed, 265.0 yards per game, 93.5 rush yards per game, 171.5 pass yards per game.
In five losses: 33.0 points per game allowed, 373.2 yards per game, 141.8 rush yards per game, 231.4 pass yards per game.

The Chargers are the first team since 1970 (as far back as we can check) to start 2-6 despite having the league's No. 1 total offense through eight games played. One of three teams to gain 350-plus yards of offense in every game this season -- other teams are a combined 13-2 this season (Patriots, Falcons).

Philip Rivers: 69.8 completion percentage, 344.1 YPG, 18 TD, 7 INT, 102.1 passer rating. Leads NFL with 2,753 passing yards this season and has five straight games with 300-plus pass yards and 2-plus TDs -- T-fourth longest streak since 1960.

Keenan Allen (IR, lacerated kidney) accounted for 725 rec yards, or 20.7 percent, of the Chargers' 3,507 scrimmage yards.

Melvin Gordon: 103 carries, 382 rush yards, 3.7 yards/carry, 0 TD. 0 TDs on 121 touches this season (most in NFL without a TD). Marcel Shipp's 258 touches without a touchdown for the Cardinals in 2003 is the single-season record for most touches without a touchdown.

San Diego defense: three straight games without a takeaway.

The Chargers have struggled without Eric Weddle -- missed Weeks 7 and 8 with groin injury:
With Weddle: 354.3 Opp. total YPG, 221.8 Opp. pass YPG, 7 takeaways
Without Weddle: 388.5 Opp. total YPG, 287.5 Opp. pass YPG, 0 takeaways

The Chargers are averaging 4.5 inches per punt return this season. That's right, inches. San Diego has a total of one punt return yard on eight returns this season, putting them on pace for the lowest season total (two yards) since 1960 (as far back as we can check).

Matchup to watch: Pernell McPhee vs. Chargers offensive line

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