Jaguars promote Wilds in case Fournette doesn’t play vs Pats

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars have promoted running back Brandon Wilds from the practice squad, making a roster move in case Leonard Fournette doesn’t play against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

The Jaguars made room for Wilds on the 53-man roster by releasing receiver Rashad Greene, a fifth-round draft pick in 2015. Greene was inactive for the season opener.

Fournette strained his right hamstring in the first half against the New York Giants last week and missed practice all week.

Fournette said Thursday he expected his status to be a game-day decision. Coach Doug Marrone expressed optimism Friday that Fournette would be able to play against the Patriots.

If Fournette doesn’t play, T.J. Yeldon is expected to start in his place and get the majority of the work.

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Giants tight end Engram trying to overcome dropped passes

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Evan Engram understands that he has all the tools to be a top tight end in the NFL.

The New York Giants' second-year player, the team's first-round selection in 2017, has the size, speed and the drive to be a star.

There's only one problem. Engram has a

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Evan Engram understands that he has all the tools to be a top tight end in the NFL.

The New York Giants’ second-year player, the team’s first-round selection in 2017, has the size, speed and the drive to be a star.

There’s only one problem. Engram has a propensity of dropping passes, especially in clutch situations.

Engram caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns last season. Engram also dropped 11 passes and vowed in the offseason to work on rectifying that problem.

Now, in his second season, Engram has caught 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, but he has also dropped three passes.

“It’s pretty tough,” Engram said Thursday before the team practiced in preparation for facing the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

“It’s not where I want to be. I have to put some of these plays behind me and keep working on getting better and staying positive.”

Engram’s problems are also magnified because the Giants have a 1-7 record for the second straight season.

“We just have to go out and get a win,” Engram said. “We have to get some of the bad tastes out of our mouths. It’s going to feel good to get out there on the big stage Monday night.”

The Giants are coming off their bye week, which should make the beleaguered team feel a little better.

“I think it’s important to put the bad things behind me,” Engram said. “A couple of those drops are catches that I can make in my sleep. I just want to go out there and give us enough an opportunity to win the game Monday night.”

Engram was the first rookie tight end to lead the Giants in receptions. His six touchdown catches were a franchise record for a rookie tight end in 2017.

So the potential is there. He just has to make sure to hold on to the ball, something that coach Pat Shurmur also realizes.

“Evan is a pass-catching tight end,” Shurmur said. “I think we all realize that. But it’s important that he catches the ball. He’s had a couple of drops. But he works at it. He has worked all along at catching the ball. He does a lot of drills, a lot of extra work. He works hard at catching the ball. He always puts the drop behind him and continues to work hard at trying to catch the ball.”

Quarterback Eli Manning recognizes Engram’s passion for improving.

“Evan works hard and wants to do everything right,” said Manning, who will remain the team’s starter for the time being. “He puts in a lot of work. He’s too good of a player and an athlete to let the little things bother him.”

Manning knows that the Giants have had their difficulties scoring touchdowns this season.

“I feel like we’re moving the ball well,” Manning said. “We’re getting yards and moving the ball down the field. We just need that to translate into scoring touchdowns. It always comes down to execution. We have to avoid the negative plays. We just have to execute better in the red zone.”

Manning did not want to talk about whether Monday night’s game against the Niners might be his last as a starter this season.

“I’m worried about this week,” he said. “I have a job to do right now. We’re just going to try to go out there and get the win this time. Sure, there’s a sense of urgency. We all need to get going. We need to improve. We need to score some points. I feel like we’re close. We just have to get back on track, keep improving and play some football.”

The improvement might have to begin with the second-year tight end.

“I watch film of other tight ends,” Engram said. “There are a lot of athletic tight ends in the league, so I try to pick up plays that can make me more effective. I love watching (Kansas City TE) Travis Kelce. He’s so polished and smooth as a tight end. It’s fun watching him. I always try to steal things from him.”

So Engram took the practice field Thursday with the idea that the dropped passes, 14 over his first 1½ seasons, are a thing of the past.

“I think we all strive for perfection,” Engram said. “I just have to put it (the dropped passes) behind me. I understand that it’s part of the game and it’s something that makes you work harder.”

NOTES: Shurmur continued to hint that newly acquired OG Jamon Brown might start Monday night, just a week after being claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Rams. “We’re putting him in there and getting him ready like he’s going to start,” Shurmur said of Brown. “He’s a big man, a really big man (6-foot-4 and 340 pounds). He was a starter on a team that won more than 10 games last year. He’s a really fast learner.” … Standout safety Landon Collins did not want to comment on a report that said the Giants were either going to place the franchise tag on him for next season or work on a long-term contract. “There has been no talk about that,” Collins said. “When we get to that, we get to that. If something happens, I’ll let you know.” … Manning said that he spoke with QB Kyle Lauletta about his arrest last week for motor vehicle violations in Weehawken, N.J. “It’s a tough situation for him,” Manning said. “I’m trying to support him. This whole thing will be forgotten about and will be water under the bridge very shortly.”

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Losses, ugly offenses, QB uncertainty mark Bills-Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Even the most die-hard of Bills and Jets fans might have a tough time getting fired up about this one.

Struggling offenses, quarterback questions and losing streaks are the ugly story lines marking the latest matchup of AFC East rivals, the first of their two meetings this season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Even the most die-hard of Bills and Jets fans might have a tough time getting fired up about this one.

Struggling offenses, quarterback questions and losing streaks are the ugly story lines marking the latest matchup of AFC East rivals, the first of their two meetings this season.

“It’s the NFL and anybody can be beat in this league,” Jets safety Jamal Adams said. “You’ve definitely got to show up each and every Sunday. It doesn’t matter what the numbers are.”

Well, they aren’t very good — for either side — when it comes to offense.

The Bills (2-7) have the 31st-ranked overall unit and have been dealing with a quarterback carousel all season, and were trying to figure out late in the week where it would stop this time.

Rookie Josh Allen has missed three games with a sprained right throwing elbow , veteran Derek Anderson was in concussion protocol, and turnover-prone Nathan Peterman has been healthy but ineffective, to put it mildly. He completed a career-high 31 passes last week against Chicago, but also had three interceptions in the 41-9 rout by the Bears.

It has been a problem all season no matter who has been under center for the Bills, who have lost four straight. They have scored two touchdowns in their last four games, and been outscored 103-20 in its last three.

“Well, you know, the result, obviously, is not what we want it to be on the offensive side,” coach Sean McDermott said. “We’ve got to continue to find ways to create things, to create separation, to create wins in the 1-on-1 game, whether it’s the run game or the pass game. You always look at yourself first. I expect myself and our coaches to look at ourselves first, and I expect the players to look at themselves first.

“Collectively, though, we have to do a better job.”

The Jets (3-6) know the feeling.

Todd Bowles’ bunch has echoed those sentiments during the team’s second three-game skid of the season.

“We’re kind of realizing that it’s a time to come closer together as a team, as a family and as a brotherhood,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “When times are starting to get hard, that’s when we’ve got to face adversity arm in arm and face it as a team.”

It appears they’ll have to do it without rookie Sam Darnold, who is dealing with a foot strain that could sideline him a few weeks. Darnold leads the league with 14 interceptions, so 39-year-old Josh McCown might be what the Jets need to get things back on track for the league’s 29th-ranked offense.

“I’ll go out and expect to play to my standard and to the standard of this football team,” McCown said, “and win a football game.”

Here are other things to know about the Bills-Jets matchup at MetLife Stadium:

THE REAL McCOY?

Bills running back LeSean McCoy is off to the worst start of his career with just 267 yards rushing and has yet to score.

He had 10 yards on 10 carries against the Bears, and hasn’t been anything close to the dynamic player he has been throughout his career. McCoy was mentioned as a possible piece in a trade leading up to last week’s deadline, but remains with Buffalo.

OH, SNAP!

The struggles of Jets center Spencer Long have epitomized the New York’s problems on offense.

Long has been trying to play through an injured right middle finger on his snapping hand, and things really came to a head last week when he had several wayward snaps out of the shotgun. Bowles finally pulled him for Jonotthan Harrison late in the game, and Long could find himself on the sideline again this week.

FAMILIAR FACE

The Bills were so desperate for receiver help they thrust Terrelle Pryor on the field five days after signing him. That came two weeks after the Jets cut him with an injury settlement because of an ailing groin.

New York thought he’d be sidelined a while, but Pryor was back on the field last Sunday and had two catches for 19 yards. He’ll have a chance to show the Jets how healthy he is Sunday.

ELI RETURNS

Second-year running back Elijah McGuire had 30 yards on seven carries and three catches for 37 yards for the Jets in his season debut after spending the first eight games on injured reserve with a broken foot.

McGuire has stepped into the dual-threat role usually held Bilal Powell, who’s out for the season with a neck injury.

“Really nice,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said of McGuire’s play. “I was really fired up about him last year. A true pro, reminds me of Kevin Faulk. I thought he played very well.”

BRIGHT SPOT

Buffalo’s defense ranks third overall in the NFL, including third against the pass and 11th against the run.

The Bills were done in by offensive turnovers last week against the Bears, but they allowed only 190 yards of offense by Chicago. It was the fewest allowed since 103 in a 19-0 win vs. Miami in 2013. It was also the fewest in a Bills loss since a 20-6 defeat at Baltimore in 2004.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed.

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New Eagles wideout Golden Tate is up on Cowboys rivalry

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It didn't take Golden Tate long to learn his new team's biggest rival.

Tate, the playmaking wide receiver acquired from Detroit last week, will make his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) against the Dallas Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday night.

"I've read my social media, so our fans have expressed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It didn’t take Golden Tate long to learn his new team’s biggest rival.

Tate, the playmaking wide receiver acquired from Detroit last week, will make his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) against the Dallas Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday night.

“I’ve read my social media, so our fans have expressed the passionate dislike of the Cowboys,” Tate said. “It’s going to be a great game. I’m happy that my first game gets to be at home against such an intense opponent.”

Tate had his best game this season against the Cowboys, catching eight passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns on Sept. 30.

“I think it gives me an advantage,” Tate said. “I’ve seen those guys. They are going to run the same defense, and I’m on another team with a completely different playbook.”

The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles are coming off a bye week and trail the Washington Redskins (5-3) in the NFC East. The Cowboys are reeling following a 28-14 loss at home to Tennessee on Monday night.

“One hundred percent, it’s a must win,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “Being a division game, that makes it that much more important. Must win.”

Here are some things to know about the Cowboys-Eagles prime-time matchup:

DAK & CARSON

When Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record in 2016 while fellow rookie Carson Wentz was 7-9 with the Eagles, some thought Dallas got the better franchise quarterback — and in the fourth round. The Eagles traded a slew of draft picks to move up and select Wentz at No. 2 overall.

But Prescott is 12-12 since with 32 TDs, 18 interceptions and an 87.4 passer rating. There are even questions whether he’s going to be the long-term answer in Dallas.

Meanwhile, Wentz is 14-5 with 46 TDs, only nine picks, and a 104.5 rating in the past two seasons, though he missed last year’s playoffs after tearing his ACL. He’s undoubtedly the present and future in Philadelphia despite having to watch Nick Foles lead the team to its first NFL title since 1960.

O-LINE WOES

The difficulties continue for Dallas’ once-vaunted offensive line, which has surrendered 28 sacks of Prescott, just four shy of his career high halfway through the season. Rookie left guard Connor Williams had arthroscopic knee surgery after getting hurt in the loss to Tennessee and will miss at least one game.

The Cowboys appear set to leave Joe Looney at center. He’s been there all season in place of four-time Pro Bowler Travis Frederick, out with a nerve disorder. If Looney stays put, left guard will be filled by either Adam Redmond or Xavier Su’a-Filo.

DALLAS VS. DALLAS

Eagles rookie tight end Dallas Goedert will face the team he was named after for the first time.

Philadelphia traded up in the second round and moved ahead of the Cowboys to select Goedert, who would’ve helped replace retired Jason Witten in Dallas. Goedert has 18 receptions for 188 yards and three TDs while teammate Zach Ertz ranks first among tight ends with 61 catches.

Goedert will hear plenty of “Dallas stinks!” chants and worse. He knows fans won’t be referring to him.

PASS RUSH PUZZLE

The Cowboys are awaiting the return of defensive end Randy Gregory, who had knee surgery similar to Williams before the bye week and missed the last game. He was listed as limited in practice early in the week. Taco Charlton injured a shoulder against Tennessee and didn’t practice to start the week. Defensive tackle David Irving, out the first four games on a substance-abuse suspension, is likely to miss a second straight game with a sprained ankle.

DeMarcus Lawrence, who tied for second with 14½ sacks last season, stopped a three-game sackless streak against the Titans. Daniel Ross and Tyrone Crawford had a sack apiece, while Caraun Reid and rookie Dorance Armstrong shared one.

NEW PUNT RETURNER

The Eagles released DeAndre Carter, who was returning punts during Darren Sproles’ absence. Sproles is expected to play after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. He has seven career TDs on punt returns. Tate also could be used in that role, though he hasn’t done it much recently.

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AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this report.

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Jets’ McCown to start vs. Bills for injured Darnold

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown will start at quarterback for the New York Jets against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold.

Coach Todd Bowles says Thursday he has ruled out Darnold to start because of a strained right foot, but hasn't determined whether the rookie

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown will start at quarterback for the New York Jets against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold.

Coach Todd Bowles says Thursday he has ruled out Darnold to start because of a strained right foot, but hasn’t determined whether the rookie will be inactive for the game. If Darnold is out, Davis Webb would be promoted from the practice squad to serve as McCown’s backup.

The 39-year-old McCown has not taken a snap in a regular-season game this season as the Jets have focused on developing Darnold. The No. 3 overall pick won the job out of training camp, but was injured during New York’s 13-6 loss at Miami last Sunday.

McCown was the Jets’ starter last season and had a career year before being sidelined the last three games with a broken left hand.

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Trailblazing African-American RB Wally Triplett dies at 92

DETROIT (AP) — Wally Triplett, the trailblazing running back who was one of the first African-Americans drafted by an NFL team, has died. He was 92.

The Detroit Lions and Penn State announced Triplett's death Thursday. Triplett was the third African-American selected in the 1949 draft, but he was the first of those

DETROIT (AP) — Wally Triplett, the trailblazing running back who was one of the first African-Americans drafted by an NFL team, has died. He was 92.

The Detroit Lions and Penn State announced Triplett’s death Thursday. Triplett was the third African-American selected in the 1949 draft, but he was the first of those draftees to play in a regular-season game. He played in 24 games for the Lions and Chicago Cardinals.

Triplett was also the first African-American to start for Penn State, and in 1948, he and teammate Dennie Hoggard became the first African-Americans to play in the Cotton Bowl.

Triplett played in 18 games for the Lions from 1949-50. After serving two years during the Korean War, he returned to play for the Cardinals.

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Vrabel gets 1st crack coaching against Belichick, Patriots

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings over eight seasons with the New England Patriots. He even caught eight passes — all for touchdowns and all thrown by Tom Brady.

Then Bill Belichick traded the linebacker away to Kansas City in 2009.

"We didn't talk for a couple months,

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings over eight seasons with the New England Patriots. He even caught eight passes — all for touchdowns and all thrown by Tom Brady.

Then Bill Belichick traded the linebacker away to Kansas City in 2009.

“We didn’t talk for a couple months, maybe a year,” Vrabel said. “Then we became friends, and I used him as a resource when I started my coaching career, and still talk to him a lot now. This week we’re competitors.”

In his first season as an NFL head coach with Tennessee, Vrabel gets his first crack at both his old coach and former team Sunday when the Titans (4-4) host the Patriots (7-2).

The men share some of the same philosophies about football, though not personalities.

Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, who spent his first four seasons in New England, says Vrabel’s also younger and taller than Belichick. Vrabel may dress a bit better too during games, and Ryan sees some other similarities.

“They’re hard-nosed. They care about the fundamentals,” Ryan said.

For his part, Belichick says Vrabel will be a great coach with his passion and football knowledge as a player easily carrying over. Belichick also believes Vrabel deserves to be recognized in the Patriots Hall of Fame and yes, the Nashville native cheers for Vrabel and the Titans every game except this one.

“It will be the Patriots against the Titans,” Belichick said. “That’s what it will be.”

The Patriots have won six straight after beating Green Bay 31-17 last week. They also have won the past seven against the Titans, including playoffs, with the most recent a 35-14 romp in the divisional round last January. The Titans snapped a three-game skid Monday night with a 28-14 win in Dallas.

Some things to know about the Patriots and Titans:

LAST THREE

Only a trio remains of those who played alongside Vrabel during his tenure in New England: Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and special teams captain Matt Slater. Brady spent eight seasons with Vrabel from 2001 to 2008. Gostkowski arrived in 2006, and Slater was a rookie during Vrabel’s final season in 2008 before being traded.

“His body can do it longer than mine could at the position that he plays,” Vrabel said of Brady.

NEW ENGLAND TIES

Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty spent his first eight seasons with the Titans and now plays alongside twin brother, Devin, in New England. Trying to rebuild, Tennessee has stocked up on former Patriots including general manager Jon Robinson, Vrabel, Ryan, right guard Josh Kline. Robinson signed cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back Dion Lewis this offseason. Also, Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees was an assistant and coordinator with the Patriots. He was the linebackers coach in 2004-05 and defensive coordinator in New England from 2006-2009.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman called Lewis a fiery jitterbug.

“He meant a lot to me when he was here. Now I hate him,” Edelman said with a smile.

DEFENDING BRADY: Brady enters this game having won five straight against the Titans. His lone loss came in 2002 in a 24-7 setback during Brady’s third year in the league. That also was his only meeting with the Titans in which he didn’t have a touchdown pass and the only time he threw an interception.

In six regular-season meetings with Tennessee, Brady has thrown for 1,561 yards, 12 touchdowns and the one interception, while completing 66 percent of his passes.

“He’s seen every look in the book, and even ones that haven’t been in the book,” Vrabel said of Brady. “Anytime that somebody’s open, they get the football. Anytime you make a mistake, he’s always going to find the guy that you make a mistake on and get them ball really quickly.”

MORE BRADY

The three-time MVP will play his 300th game, including the postseason, Sunday. Brady will join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to reach that mark, and the Patriots quarterback needs four TD passes to pass Peyton Manning (579) for most TD passes in NFL history for regular season and postseason combined. The Titans, the NFL’s top scoring defense and also best in the red zone, are allowing only 17.6 points per game and have allowed three TDs in a game only twice this season.

MERRY-GO-ROUND

Tennessee has to be ready for an unconventional look in the Patriots’ backfield. With rookie Sony Michel nursing a knee injury the past two weeks, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has emerged as New England’s go-to threat at running back. Patterson led the Patriots in rushing each of the past two games, including 61 yards and a 5-yard touchdown last week.

Both Michel (knee) and Patterson (neck) started this week limited in practice. Belichick currently has just two healthy running backs: James White and Kenjon Barner.

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AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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Harbaugh, Flacco seek strong finish in 11th year with Ravens

BALTIMORE (AP) — Having worked in unison for 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are under pressure to extend their extraordinary bond to an even dozen years.

The emergence of first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson and a three-game losing streak have raised questions about the future of a

BALTIMORE (AP) — Having worked in unison for 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are under pressure to extend their extraordinary bond to an even dozen years.

The emergence of first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson and a three-game losing streak have raised questions about the future of a coach and quarterback who reached the postseason in each of their first five seasons together and capped the run with a Super Bowl victory.

Recently, however, the Ravens have stumbled. They’ve missed the postseason for three consecutive years and entered their bye week with a 4-5 record.

General manager Ozzie Newsome will step down after this season, and Baltimore’s performance over the last seven games could go a long way toward determining if the transition will extend to a change at head coach and/or quarterback.

Following a lackluster 2017 season that could be attributed in part to a slow-healing back injury, Flacco has been solid this year. He’s thrown for 2,465 yards and has 12 touchdown passes with only six interceptions.

Though Harbaugh has allowed the fleet-footed and elusive Jackson to receive several snaps each game, he’s not about to make a quarterback change at this pivotal point in the season.

“Joe has played well, so I don’t want to get into all of that,” Harbaugh said. “We’re rolling right now with what we have.”

Harbaugh took the job as Ravens coach in 2008 with Flacco as a rookie quarterback. Flacco started the opener, the first of his 163 regular-season games under Harbaugh — second-most in NFL history by a quarterback who’s spent his entire career with the same head coach. Only Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have more (260).

But the Ravens didn’t trade up to get Jackson just to keep the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner on the sideline. The former Louisville star ranks second on the team with 139 yards rushing and has completed seven of 12 passes, most of them during mop-up duty.

The challenge for Harbaugh is to determine when, and how often, to use the rookie. It’s a tricky problem, in part because the Ravens often keep Flacco in the game when Jackson enters so the defense won’t know who will take the snap when the huddle breaks. If Jackson is the quarterback, then Flacco lines up as a receiver who almost certainly won’t be a target.

“I sure hope not,” Flacco said with a grin.

Jackson ran for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns at Louisville. He’s far more of a threat with his legs than the 33-year-old Flacco, leaving the opposition to guess whether Jackson will keep the ball, hand it off or pass.

“The stats say we’re over twice as effective running the ball with Lamar on the field. That’s even with the 10-man football that people say we’re playing,” Harbaugh said. “The numbers don’t lie there. That’s probably why I say I’d like to get him on the field more, because you always want to do things that are effective more.”

Though unyieldingly loyal to Flacco, Harbaugh didn’t dismiss the possibility of using Jackson for an entire series.

“I would say that’s an option, yes,” Harbaugh said.

The strange thing about all this is that the Ravens have not made use of another quarterback who has started in 41 NFL games, including the playoffs. Retained as part of the 53-man roster in case Flacco or Jackson gets hurt, Robert Griffin III has been inactive every game this season.

Whether Griffin gets to play remains to be seen. For now, the Ravens are focused on finding the right mix between Flacco and Jackson.

Jackson enjoys contributing, though he would prefer better results.

“It’s very cool, but I feel like I need to do more,” he said. “We need to score more points. I’ve got to help my team move the ball.”

The Ravens planned to use the bye week to rest and get healthy. Starting tackles James Hurst (back) and Ronnie Stanley (ankle) missed a 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday, and it’s essential that Baltimore have a full offensive line against Cincinnati at home next week.

The defense has to get better, too. After getting 11 sacks in a 21-0 rout of Tennessee on Oct. 14, the Ravens have yielded 83 points during a skid that has put their postseason chances in jeopardy.

“We’re not eliminated yet. We’re in a hole, and now we have to dig ourselves out,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We just have to get our minds refreshed and refocused, then come back and get after it.”

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Patriots put win streak on line vs. Vrabel’s Titans

Patriots put win streak on line vs. Vrabel's Titans

Patriots put win streak on line vs. Vrabel’s Titans

The New England Patriots have won six straight games since a former team insider engineered a stunning upset on Sept. 23.

Don’t look now but another head coach intimately familiar with the Patriot Way is itching for a similar triumph on Sunday.

Former Patriots defensive star Mike Vrabel matches wits with Bill Belichick for the first time and looks to post a much-needed victory when the Tennessee Titans host the red-hot Patriots in Nashville.

New England (7-2) has won four games by two touchdowns or more since former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia coached the Detroit Lions to a convincing 26-10 win in Week 3. The latest victory was a solid 31-17 performance against the Green Bay Packers.

“I still don’t think we’ve played our best football yet,” Patriots running back James White said. “We’re still working, still trying to improve, especially as an offense. We can be better.”

New England may have to be in top form against the Titans (4-4), who lead the league in scoring defense (17.6 points per game) and rank eighth in total defense (333.5 yards per game).

Tennessee’s defensive success isn’t a surprise to Belichick, who always was impressed by Vrabel’s intelligence and tenacity during the eight seasons he coached him.

“Mike’s got a lot of great qualities — great player, tough mentally and physically, smart, had a real passion for the game, was in great condition, could go all day, loved to play, loved to practice, great leadership,” Belichick told reporters of the first-year Tennessee coach. “So I have a ton of respect for Mike and I think he’s been a great (assistant) coach. I think he’ll be a great head coach.”

Vrabel initially had hard feelings after the Patriots traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2008 season but credits Belichick for having a huge impact on why he became a coach — first at Ohio State and later with the Houston Texans.

“I used him as a resource when I started my coaching career and still talk to him a lot now,” Vrabel told reporters. “This week we are competitors — we are always competitors, as I am still coaching and so is he.

“… I think that spending time there, there are some similarities that I believe in and you grow up as a player believing in. But we have a different personality. … I respect his friendship and respect his guidance and leadership when I played there.”

The Patriots are averaging 30 points per game — fourth in the NFL — but could be without tight end Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) and impressive rookie running back Sony Michel (knee). The status of both will be determined later in the week. Gronkowski (29 receptions for 448 yards and one touchdown) missed the victory over the Packers and Michel (422 yards) has sat out the last two games. Michel is expected to play barring a setback in practice.

Quarterback Tom Brady continues to perform well no matter who is on the field. The 41-year-old has thrown for 2,494 yards and 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Titans signal caller Marcos Mariota is impressed with Brady’s continued dominance.

“He’s done an incredible job and I think he has kind of laid the blueprint out for a lot of young guys,” Mariota told reporters. “When you are playing into your 40s, I think it says a lot about how he is taking care of his body, how he has done it. Because the lifespan in the NFL is so short, so for him to exceed that and more says a lot about what he has done.”

Tennessee cornerback Malcolm Butler gets to play against his former team of four seasons for the first time. Butler was infamously benched for the Super Bowl last February when the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Belichick had no interest in fielding a question about Butler and instead discussed the Tennessee defense.

Butler didn’t have a lot to say.

“It’s just a game,” Butler said. “I know I used to play for New England and all of that. I’m not over-hyped, I’m not very pumped. It’s just another game. I’ve got to be ready to play no matter who I play.”

–Field Level Media

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Bryant joins Brees, Saints for date with Bengals

Bryant joins Brees, Saints for date with Bengals

As if Drew Brees didn't

Bryant joins Brees, Saints for date with Bengals

As if Drew Brees didn’t have enough offensive weapons in his multi-faceted arsenal, the New Orleans Saints added yet another – free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant – just before they take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

In the latest sign that the 7-1 Saints are going all-in to win a Super Bowl this season behind the leadership and veteran skills of the 39-year-old Brees, New Orleans signed Bryant to a one-year deal on Thursday. Bryant was released in the spring after playing for eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, averaging 66.4 catches per season, 14.0 yards per catch and 73 touchdowns.

“I’ve heard a lot of great things about him,” said Brees, who has led the Saints to seven consecutive victories and is averaging 292 passing yards per game with a league-best 76.3 completion percentage, 18 touchdown passes and only one interception. “I think he’ll add a good element to already a pretty good cast of skill players. I look forward to getting to work with him.”

Saints coach Sean Payton did not indicate if or how much Bryant would play against the Bengals — his first practice was Thursday and his knowledge of the playbook would be limited – but it is clear Payton wants a complement to second-year receiver Michael Thomas, who has 70 catches for 880 yards and five scores. The Saints’ next most productive wide receiver, rookie Tre’Quan Smith, has just 12 catches.

“Dez has been a really good player in this league for a very long time,” Brees said. “There’s certainly a skill set that he has that’s going to be very beneficial. I think he’ll be a great addition.”

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, whose 5-3 team is coming off a bye week, said it was hard to guess how much of an impact Bryant would have on the Saints’ game plan.

“I don’t need to speculate,” Lewis said. “I’ve not seen Dez play football this season. Dez was a good player with the Cowboys and had a lot of production. But he’s going to a new team, and we’d be wasting time speculating whether or not he’s going to be up and part of that (active gameday roster of) 46.”

The Bengals likely will be without one of their most important offensive weapons. Wide receiver A.J. Green, who has caught 45 passes for 687 yards (15.3-yard average) and scored six touchdowns, has a toe injury.

“It’s just a tough loss seeing our best player go down,” said receiver Tyler Boyd. “It’s just more opportunities for the rest of our guys to make plays.”

“It is a huge impact,” Payton said of not having to face Green. “He is someone that commands a ton of coverage respect. He is one of their better players. That is always difficult.”

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (hip), linebacker Nick Vigil (knee), cornerback Darqueze Dennard (strernoclavicular), tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) and guard Alex Redmond (hamstring) also did not practice Wednesday.

The Saints are battling injuries on their offensive line. Starting tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk and center Max Unger practiced on a limited basis because of sore knees, as did left guard Andrus Peat (hip).

–Field Level Media

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Bears expect Mack back when Lions visit

Bears expect Mack back when Lions visit

A couple of first-year head coaches will meet when the

Bears expect Mack back when Lions visit

A couple of first-year head coaches will meet when the Chicago Bears host the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

But the early results have been much different for Chicago’s Matt Nagy and Detroit’s Matt Patricia.

The Bears are 5-3 and sit in first place in the NFC North as they pursue their first playoff appearance since 2010. Alternatively, the Lions are in last place at 3-5 and hope to avoid a three-game skid this weekend.

Just don’t bring up any playoff chatter with Nagy. Not yet, at least.

“Never,” Nagy said in comments published by the Chicago Daily Herald. “You’ll never hear that from me. You’ll never hear the word ‘playoffs’ from me. Because we’re worried about (Game) 9. If we worry about playoffs, then we’re worrying about the wrong thing. We have a lot of season left.”

That includes home-and-home games against the rival Lions, who have won three straight games against the Bears and nine of the previous 10. This is the 177th all-time meeting between the clubs, with Chicago holding an all-time advantage of 97-74-5.

The Bears enter the weekend fifth in the NFL with an average of 29.4 points per game. The Lions are 20th with 22.5 points per game.

On defense, the Bears are No. 4 with an average of 19.1 points allowed. Detroit has let up 26.3 points per game, which is 23rd in the league.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has a 96.1 passer rating in his second season. He has passed for 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Trubisky’s counterpart on the opposite sideline will be Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, now in his 10th season. The Georgia alum has a nearly identical passer rating at 96.5 and has passed for 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

A sprained right ankle has sidelined Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack for the past two games, and his status is uncertain for Sunday. In a likely positive sign, Mack was available for a Wednesday practice for the first time since Week 6.

That might not be viewed as a positive for the Lions, who allowed Stafford to be hit 17 times with 10 sacks against Minnesota last week.

Chicago also expects to welcome back tight end Adam Shaheen, who has not played since injuring his right foot and ankle in the preseason.

For the Lions, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah told reporters “I feel amazing” after his first game back from a shoulder injury that kept him out for two months.

Ansah registered a sack last week against the Minnesota Vikings and has a four-game sack streak in games in which he has played. That is tied for the longest sack streak in franchise history.

This will be the first game for Detroit since it fired special-teams coordinator Joe Marciano. The team has struggled in many facets of special teams this season, including a No. 24 ranking in kick return yards allowed and a last-place No. 32 ranking in punt return yards allowed.

“It’s never really an easy decision when you have to try to make a move in the middle of the season,” Patricia said. “But just kind of taking a look at the evaluation of everything so far, from what we’ve done so far in the season and moving forward, I just thought it was the best thing right now to make that move and kind of go forward without Joe. …

“He’s a great man, a good person. Just thought the move was necessary.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Steelers WR Brown ticketed for driving over 100 mph

Report: Steelers WR Brown ticketed for driving over 100 mph

Report: Steelers WR Brown ticketed for driving over 100 mph

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was reportedly cited for driving in excess of 100 mph at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.

CBS-TV (KDKA) in Pittsburgh reported police responding to a nearby bank robbery caught Brown going over 100 mph in a 45 mph zone. Brown is not a suspect in the bank robbery.

The Steelers play Thursday night at Heinz Field.

Brown, per the report, was driving a black Porsche. Police ticketed Brown for reckless driving.

The Steelers have not commented on the report.

–Field Level Media

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Browns owner Haslam yields to GM Dorsey in coaching search

Browns owner Haslam yields to GM Dorsey in coaching search

Browns owner Haslam yields to GM Dorsey in coaching search

Owner Jimmy Haslam plans to yield to a general manager in the team’s search for a new head coach for the first time.

General manager John Dorsey, hired in December 2017, agreed to retain Hue Jackson after the Cleveland Browns went 0-16 last season. Jackson was fired Oct. 29.

ESPN reported Dorsey will lead the search for Jackson’s replacement with Haslam and his wife Dee signing off on the finalists.

Previous searches were engineered by Haslam, who hired Jackson, and teamed with Joe Banner to find the franchise’s two previous coaches: Mike Pettine and Rob Chudzinski.

Dorsey said at the press conference announcing Jackson’s firing that he appreciated the chain of command put in place by Haslam.

Haslam is expected to consider interim coach Gregg Williams if the team does well in the final seven games.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles RB Sproles injures hamstring

Eagles RB Sproles injures hamstring

Eagles running back Darren

Eagles RB Sproles injures hamstring

Eagles running back Darren Sproles, set to return from a hamstring injury for the first time since Week 1, was sidelined during Wednesday’s practice by another hamstring injury.

Philadelphia expected Sproles back in the lineup, primarily as a kick returner, for Sunday’s NFC East game with the Dallas Cowboys.

Offensive tackle Lane Johnson also returned to practice Wednesday and is expected to play Sunday.

Sproles has been idle since injuring his hamstring in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

With Sproles returning, the Eagles released DeAndre Carter, who has served as the team’s punt returner.

Newly acquired wide receiver Golden Tate could be thrust into return duty.

–Field Level Media

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Saints sign WR Bryant, place Meredith on IR

Saints sign WR Bryant, place Meredith on IR

Dez

Saints sign WR Bryant, place Meredith on IR

Dez Bryant joined the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, taking the No. 88 and a roster spot vacated by wide receiver Cam Meredith.

Meredith was placed on injured reserve and will undergo knee surgery, head coach Sean Payton said.

Bryant’s deal is for the remainder of the season and is worth $600,000.

Meredith, 26, missed the 2017 season with a knee injury and was signed away from the Chicago Bears as a restricted free agent in the offseason. Meredith signed a two-year, $10 million deal.

Bryant, 30, worked out for the team and quickly agreed to a deal after being a free agent since April.

The Saints previously placed wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on injured reserve.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins-Buccaneers Preview Capsule

WASHINGTON (5-3) at TAMPA BAY (3-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Buccaneers by 2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Washington 5-3, Tampa Bay 3-5

SERIES RECORD - Tied 11-11

LAST MEETING - Redskins beat Buccaneers 31-30, Oct. 25, 2015

LAST WEEK - Redskins lost to Falcons 38-14; Buccaneers lost to Panthers

WASHINGTON (5-3) at TAMPA BAY (3-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE – Buccaneers by 2

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Washington 5-3, Tampa Bay 3-5

SERIES RECORD – Tied 11-11

LAST MEETING – Redskins beat Buccaneers 31-30, Oct. 25, 2015

LAST WEEK – Redskins lost to Falcons 38-14; Buccaneers lost to Panthers 42-28

AP PRO32 RANKING – Redskins No. 15, Buccaneers No. 25

REDSKINS OFFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (10), PASS (25).

REDSKINS DEFENSE – OVERALL (10), RUSH (5), PASS (20).

BUCCANEERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (30), PASS (1).

BUCCANEERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (29), RUSH (15), PASS (30).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — These franchises have split 20 regular-season meetings, as well as pair of postseason matchups: Bucs won 1999 NFC divisional playoff game 14-13, and Redskins took 2005 NFC wild card game 17-10. … QBs Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick both entered NFL in 2005, Smith as No. 1 overall pick in draft and Fitzpatrick as seventh-round selection, No. 250 overall. … Smith coming off passing for season-high 306 yards and one touchdown in loss to Falcons. In two career games vs. Bucs, 14th-year pro has thrown for 431 yards with four TDs and one interception for 114.7 rating. … Redskins RB Adrian Peterson has three consecutive 100-yard games, including last year with Cardinals, against Tampa Bay. … Washington lost WR Paul Richardson (shoulder), LG Brandon Scherff (pectoral muscle) and LG Shawn Lauvao (knee) to season-ending injuries against Falcons. They signed T Austin Howards and Gs Jonathan Cooper and Luke Bowanko. … Fitzpatrick making sixth start of season for Bucs, second since Jameis Winston was benched. He threw for 243 yards, four TDs and two interceptions in last week’s 42-28 loss at Carolina. Bucs have been outscored 103-27 in first half of Fitzpatrick’s last three starts, all losses. … Fitzpatrick has three games with four or more TD passes, most in NFC this season. … Bucs WR Mike Evans has five games with 150-plus receiving yards since 2015, second most in NFC behind Julio Jones. … Bucs WR Adam Humphries and TE O.J. Howard each had two TD receptions last week. … Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul has sack in six of past seven games. He’s third in NFC with eight. … Fantasy tip: WR DeSean Jackson, who spent three seasons with Redskins before signing with Bucs as free agent in 2017, is averaging 22.4 yards per catch and has five TDs: four receiving and one rushing. Jackson stands second all-time with 29 TDs of 50-plus yards, including three this year.

___

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Giants-49ers Preview Capsule

NEW YORK GIANTS (1-7) at SAN FRANCISCO (2-7)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE - 49ers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD - New York 3-5, San Francisco 3-6

SERIES RECORD - Tied 20-20

LAST MEETING - 49ers beat Giants 31-21, Nov. 12, 2017

LAST WEEK - Giants had bye, lost to Redskins

NEW YORK GIANTS (1-7) at SAN FRANCISCO (2-7)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE – 49ers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD – New York 3-5, San Francisco 3-6

SERIES RECORD – Tied 20-20

LAST MEETING – 49ers beat Giants 31-21, Nov. 12, 2017

LAST WEEK – Giants had bye, lost to Redskins 20-13 on Oct. 28; 49ers beat Raiders 34-3

AP PRO32 RANKING – Giants No. 30, 49ers No. 28

GIANTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (20), RUSH (31), PASS (9).

GIANTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (21), RUSH (23), PASS (16).

49ERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (18), RUSH (4), PASS (25).

49ERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (14), RUSH (12), PASS (17).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Teams have second-lowest combined winning percentage (.176) for “Monday Night Football” game played Nov. 1 or later. Lowest is .167 for 3-9 Jets vs. 1-11 Chargers in 1975 that featured Hall of Fame QBs Joe Namath, Dan Fouts. … Giants started 1-7 for second straight year. New York only had two seasons that bad after eight games before last season: 0-8 in 1976, 1-7 in 1980. … Giants QB Eli Manning seeks third straight outing with at least 300 yards passing. … New York WR Odell Beckham Jr. has two straight and three of four games with at least eight catches, 130 yards receiving. … Giants rank second worst with 10 sacks. … New York has TDs on 40 percent of red-zone trips, second-worst in NFL. … QB Nick Mullens makes second start for 49ers. Mullens joined Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton as only players with at least 250 yards passing, three TDs, no INTs in first career game. … Mullens’ 151.9 rating was highest by QB in debut with at least 20 attempts since merger. … San Francisco’s George Kittle had 71-yard catch last week, becoming first TE with two 70-yard catches in same season since 1972. … Niners DE Cassius Marsh had career-high 2 1/2 sacks last week. … San Francisco had eight sacks as team vs. Raiders, most in game since 2009. … Fantasy tip: Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley has at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven of eight games, ranks third overall with 1,016 yards from scrimmage on season.

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Falcons-Browns Preview Capsule

ATLANTA (4-4) at CLEVEAND (2-6-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Falcons by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Atlanta 3-5, Cleveland 4-4

SERIES RECORD — Browns lead 11-3

LAST MEETING — Browns beat Falcons 26-24, Nov. 23, 2014

LAST WEEK — Falcons beat Redskins 38-14; Browns lost 37-21 to Chiefs

AP

ATLANTA (4-4) at CLEVEAND (2-6-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Falcons by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Atlanta 3-5, Cleveland 4-4

SERIES RECORD — Browns lead 11-3

LAST MEETING — Browns beat Falcons 26-24, Nov. 23, 2014

LAST WEEK — Falcons beat Redskins 38-14; Browns lost 37-21 to Chiefs

AP PRO32 RANKING — Falcons No. 14, Browns No. 27

FALCONS OFFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (28), PASS (2).

FALCONS DEFENSE — OVERALL (28), RUSH (17), PASS (29).

BROWNS OFFENSE — OVERALL (23), RUSH (9), PASS (23).

BROWNS DEFENSE — OVERALL (30), RUSH (29), PASS (27).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES __ Falcons have overcome numerous injures to win three straight and crawl back to contention. Atlanta has placed six players on injured reserve. … QB Matt Ryan completed 26 of 38 passes for 350 yards and four TDs last week. Ryan completing 71 percent of passes, has 19 TDs, three INTs. … WR Julio Jones had seven catches for 121 yards and one TD — his first in 12 games. With 13 yards Sunday, Jones will reach 10,000 in career and become fastest player to reach milestone, in 104 games. … Rookie WR Calvin Ridley had six catches for 71 yards and TD last week. … Falcons have converted league-high 53.3 percent on third downs. Only one other team (Indianapolis, 52.2) over 50 percent. … Falcons rushed for 154 yards at Washington. … Atlanta bolstered lackluster pass rush this week, signing free agent Bruce Irvin. Falcons have only 17 sacks. … Falcons limited Redskins to 79 yards rushing last week. … K Matt Bryant has missed past two games with hamstring injury. Giorgio Tavecchio is 11 for 11 on field goals and extra points. … Browns have dropped four straight, and are 0-1 under interim coach Gregg Williams. … Browns’ .786 winning percentage against Falcons is team’s highest against any opponent. … Rookie QB Baker Mayfield completed season-high 29 passes last week and had two TDs for third straight game. … Mayfield leads rookie QBs in average yards, completions, attempts, percentage. … Browns RB Duke Johnson had best game last week with nine receptions for 78 yards and two TDs. … Browns still lead league with 23 takeaways — 10 more than last season. … Browns DE Myles Garrett leads team with nine sacks and has 16 in first 20 NFL games. … Fantasy tip: Johnson had breakout last week and figures to get more touches under coordinator Freddie Kitchens, his running backs coach who took over when Todd Haley got fired.

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Cowboys-Eagles Preview Capsule

DALLAS (3-5) at PHILADELPHIA (4-4)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Cowboys 3-5, Eagles 3-5

SERIES RECORD — Cowboys lead 66-52

LAST MEETING — Cowboys beat Eagles 6-0, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK — Cowboys lost to Titans 28-14; Eagles had bye, beat Jaguars

DALLAS (3-5) at PHILADELPHIA (4-4)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Cowboys 3-5, Eagles 3-5

SERIES RECORD — Cowboys lead 66-52

LAST MEETING — Cowboys beat Eagles 6-0, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK — Cowboys lost to Titans 28-14; Eagles had bye, beat Jaguars 24-18 on Oct. 28

AP PRO32 RANKING — Cowboys No. 20; Eagles No. 11

COWBOYS OFFENSE — OVERALL (27), RUSH (6), PASS (29)

COWBOYS DEFENSE — OVERALL (4), RUSH (10), PASS (5)

EAGLES OFFENSE — OVERALL (15), RUSH (18), PASS (14)

EAGLES DEFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (2), PASS (25)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Teams meet on “Sunday Night Football” for 10th consecutive season and 12th time overall. … Cowboys are 0-4 on road this year. … QB Dak Prescott has eight TDs, no INTs in last five games vs. division. … RB Ezekiel Elliott has 289 scrimmage yards in two games vs. Eagles. … WR Amari Cooper scored TD in his Dallas debut last week after trade from Oakland. … WR Cole Beasley has team-high 366 yards receiving, only 64th most in NFL. … DE DeMarcus Lawrence had sack and forced fumble last week after three straight games without sacks. … LB Jaylon Smith had first career fumble recovery against Titans. … LB Sean Lee reinjured his hamstring and is out. … Cowboys have allowed 24 plays of 20-plus yards, fewest in league. … Cowboys have allowed second-fewest points in NFL. … Eagles are 17-5 at home under coach Doug Pederson. … QB Carson Wentz has thrown at least one TD with no more than one INT in 21 straight games, tied with Matt Ryan for longest streak in NFL history. … Wentz has attempted at least 30 passes and had a 115.0 passer rating in four straight games, tied with Peyton Manning for longest such streak. … WR Golden Tate makes Eagles debut after trade from Detroit. Tate had eight catches for 132 yards, two TDs vs. Cowboys on Sept. 30. … TE Zach Ertz is fourth in league with 61 catches. … WR Alshon Jeffery has 14 TDs in last 17 games. … Rookie RB Josh Adams had career-best 61 yards vs. Jaguars. … LB Jordan Hicks has 71 tackles and three sacks. … Fantasy tip: Cooper had 66 yards receiving and TD last year vs. Eagles and faces banged-up secondary.

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Patriots-Titans Preview Capsule

NEW ENGLAND (7-2) at TENNESSEE (4-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Patriots by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New England 6-3, Tennessee 5-3

SERIES RECORD — Patriots lead 25-16-1

LAST MEETING — Patriots beat Titans 35-14, Jan. 13

LAST WEEK — Patriots beat Packers 31-17; Titans beat Cowboys 28-14

AP

NEW ENGLAND (7-2) at TENNESSEE (4-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Patriots by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New England 6-3, Tennessee 5-3

SERIES RECORD — Patriots lead 25-16-1

LAST MEETING — Patriots beat Titans 35-14, Jan. 13

LAST WEEK — Patriots beat Packers 31-17; Titans beat Cowboys 28-14

AP PRO32 RANKING — Patriots No. 2, Titans No. 17

PATRIOTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (9), RUSH (14), PASS (11)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (24), RUSH (14), PASS (26)

TITANS OFFENSE — OVERALL (30), RUSH (t-16), PASS (30)

TITANS DEFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (16), PASS (8)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Patriots QB Tom Brady will play 300th career game, including postseason, and join Brett Favre (326) as only NFL QBs to appear in 300 career games. … Brady needs three TD passes to tie Peyton Manning (579) for most in NFL history, also including playoffs. … Patriots have won seven straight vs. Titans and Brady is 7-1 all-time vs. Titans, including playoffs. … Patriots need win to guarantee 18th straight season with .500 record or better, which would be second only to Dallas’ streak of 21 straight between 1965-85. … Patriots have won six straight. … Brady has 10 TD passes with no interceptions and 134.7 passer rating in past three vs. Tennessee. Brady is fifth in NFL with 221 completions. … Patriots RB James White has TD in seven games this season and is tied for fourth in NFL with 10 total TDs. … Patriots WR Josh Gordon had five catches for team-high 130 yards last week. … Patriots WR Cordarrelle Patterson had career-high 11 carries for 61 yards and TD run last week operating out of backfield. … Patriots CB Jason McCourty had 13 interceptions in eight seasons with Titans between 2009 and 2016. … Patriots have had at least one takeaway in each game this season. … This is Titans’ lone home game in November. Titans have won 12 of last 15 home games. … Titans allowing NFL-low 17.6 points per game. … Tennessee leads NFL in red-zone defense, allowing seven TDs on 22 trips (31.8 percent). … Five different Titans had sack in last game. … Titans S Kevin Byard tied for NFL lead with 10 interceptions since start of 2017 season. … Tennessee is least-penalized team in NFL. … Titans QB Marcus Mariota is 0-2 vs. Patriots. … Mariota had season-high 119.9 passer rating last week, throwing for 240 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 32 yards and TD. … Fantasy tip: Mariota. Titans QB completed passes to nine receivers in last game and is growing more comfortable with new offense each week.

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Jaguars-Colts Preview Capsule

JACKSONVILLE (3-5) at INDIANAPOLIS (3-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Colts by 1½

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Jacksonville 3-5, Indianapolis 4-4

SERIES RECORD - Colts lead 22-12

LAST MEETING - Jaguars beat Colts 30-10, Dec. 3, 2017

LAST WEEK — Jaguars had bye; Colts had bye, beat Raiders 42-28 on

JACKSONVILLE (3-5) at INDIANAPOLIS (3-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Colts by 1½

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Jacksonville 3-5, Indianapolis 4-4

SERIES RECORD – Colts lead 22-12

LAST MEETING – Jaguars beat Colts 30-10, Dec. 3, 2017

LAST WEEK — Jaguars had bye; Colts had bye, beat Raiders 42-28 on Oct. 28

AP PRO32 RANKING – Jaguars No. 21, Colts No. 23.

JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (22), RUSH (24T), PASS (26).

JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (24), PASS (1).

COLTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (10), RUSH (12), PASS (13).

COLTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (23), RUSH (19), PASS (23).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Jaguars have lost four straight overall and five of six since starting 2-0. … Jacksonville has won two straight and four of last five in series. … Sunday’s game is first of two between division rivals over next four weeks. … Jags’ defense had 14 sacks in two games vs. Colts last season. … Blake Bortles’ QB rating (95.9) against Colts is second-highest total against any team he’s faced more than once. … Bortles has started 69 consecutive games. … RB Leonard Fournette expected to return after missing six of last seven games with strained right hamstring. … RB T.J. Yeldon ran for career high 122 yards against Colts in Indy last year. … DE Calais Campbell has 11 sacks in eight games against AFC South foes. … Jags are only team in NFL with perfect mark on field goals (12 of 12), thanks to Josh Lambo. … WR Donte Moncrief makes first appearance against Colts after signing with Jaguars in free agency. … Jags are allowing league-low 190.0 yards passing per game. … Jacksonville had 14 sacks in two games vs. Colts in 2017. … Indianapolis has won two straight and hasn’t won three in row since November 2015. … Five of Colts’ final eight games are against AFC South foes. … QB Andrew Luck has not been sacked in last 154 pass attempts dating to second offensive play against New England on Oct. 4. It’s longest stretch of pro career. … RB Marlon Mack had career highs for yards rushing in last two games and is first Indy back with consecutive 100-yard games since Joseph Addai in 2007. … K Adam Vinatieri will be honored in pregame ceremony for breaking NFL’s career scoring record two weeks ago at Oakland. Vinatieri needs one win to tie George Blanda (209) for most regular-season wins in league history. … Rookie LB Darius Leonard continues to lead league in tackles (88) and solo tackles (58). Fantasy tip: Vinatieri is always good bet against usually stingy Jaguars. But TE Eric Ebron (seven TD catches) might be even better pick after making TD reception in four of last five games.

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