Saints-Vikings Preview Capsule

NEW ORLEANS (5-1) at MINNESOTA (4-2-1)

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

OPENING LINE — Vikings by 2

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New Orleans 4-2, Minnesota 4-2-1

SERIES RECORD — Vikings lead 22-11

LAST MEETING — Vikings beat Saints 29-24 in NFC divisional playoff game, Jan. 14, 2018

LAST WEEK — Saints beat Ravens 24-23; Vikings beat Jets 37-17

AP PRO32 RANKING — Saints No. 4, Vikings No. 5

SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (6), RUSH (16), PASS (6).

SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (1), PASS (28).

VIKINGS OFFENSE — OVERALL (13), RUSH (27), PASS (7).

VIKINGS DEFENSE — OVERALL (11), RUSH (5), PASS (16).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Vikings have 14-3 all-time record in Minnesota against Saints, including win in playoffs last season on last-second 61-yard TD reception by Stefon Diggs. Vikings also beat Saints 29-19 in 2017 opener. … Saints QB Drew Brees became fourth player in NFL history last week in win at Baltimore with 500 career TD passes, joining Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady. … In last four games against Vikings, Brees has nine TDs, no interceptions, average of 308 passing yards and 120.7 passer rating. … Brees leads league with 77.3 completion percentage and 121.6 passer rating, with no interceptions and 13 TDs in 220 attempts. … Saints RB Alvin Kamara is one of two players in league, next to Giants RB Saquon Barkley, with at least 350 rushing and receiving yards. … Saints WR Michael Thomas, who had two TD catches against Vikings in playoffs last season, is third in league with 53 receptions. He leads NFL in catch percentage (91.4). … CB Eli Apple, acquired in trade with Giants, joins struggling pass coverage that has allowed 13 TDs with only two interceptions. … Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has seven TDs and no interceptions with average of 323 passing yards in two career games against Saints, both with Washington. … Cousins is fifth in league with 70.0 completion percentage. … Vikings WR Adam Thielen leads NFL with 67 catches, on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s all-time record, and 822 receiving yards. With 100-yard game against Saints, Thielen would tie Calvin Johnson with league record eighth straight. … Diggs has 13 catches, 230 yards and three TDs in two career games against Saints. … Vikings DE Danielle Hunter tied with Rams DT Aaron Donald for league lead with eight sacks. … Fantasy tip: Since returning from suspension, Saints RB Mark Ingram has 28 rushing attempts and five passing targets. Kamara has 23 rushing attempts and five passing targets in those two games.

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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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Chargers-Raiders Preview Capsule

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-2) at OAKLAND (1-7)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Chargers by 10

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Los Angeles 4-4, Oakland 2-6

SERIES RECORD - Raiders lead 63-53-2

LAST MEETING - Chargers beat 26-10, Oct. 7

LAST WEEK - Chargers beat Seahawks, 25-17; Raiders lost to 49ers, 34-3

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-2) at OAKLAND (1-7)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE – Chargers by 10

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Los Angeles 4-4, Oakland 2-6

SERIES RECORD – Raiders lead 63-53-2

LAST MEETING – Chargers beat 26-10, Oct. 7

LAST WEEK – Chargers beat Seahawks, 25-17; Raiders lost to 49ers, 34-3

AP PRO32 RANKING – Chargers No. 6, Raiders No. 32

CHARGERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (8), RUSH (5), PASS (12).

CHARGERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (19), RUSH (20), PASS (18).

RAIDERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (19), RUSH (24), PASS (15).

RAIDERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (27), RUSH (32), PASS (24).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Chargers have won three straight in series. … Los Angeles QB Philip Rivers completed 75 of 100 passes for 994 yards, six TDs, no INTs, 126.0 rating in last three vs. Oakland. … Chargers won five straight overall and have best record at midpoint since 2006. … Chargers activated K Michael Badgley from practice squad after Caleb Sturgis released following two missed PATs, one missed FG last week. Badgley made all three FGs and seven PATs in two games earlier this year. … Chargers averaging league-high 7.72 yards per play on first down. … Los Angeles has 14 sacks past four games; Oakland allowed 14 sacks in last three games. … Raiders allowed second most points as a franchise through eight games (252), tied for second-fewest takeaways (6). … Oakland allowing 6.76 yards per play, most for any team since merger through eight games. … Raiders lost four straight by at least 14 points for first time in franchise history. Longest single-season streak in the NFL since merger is six. … Oakland’s 31-point loss last week was most lopsided in coach Jon Gruden’s career. … Raiders have been outscored 55-3 in last five quarters. … Oakland allowing 113.9 passer rating, on pace for worst in franchise history. Worst for any team over full season is 116.2 for Saints in 2015. … Raiders QB Derek Carr sacked 24 times, tied for second most in career over full season. … Raiders stand last in NFL with seven sacks. Oakland released leading pass rusher Bruce Irvin two months after trading star LB Khalil Mack. … Fantasy tip: Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has 394 yards from scrimmage, three TDs in last three meetings with Raiders. Gordon has three 100-yard rushing games in last four overall.

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Bills-Jets Preview Capsule

BUFFALO (2-7) at NEW YORK JETS (3-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Jets by 7½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Buffalo 3-6, New York 3-6

SERIES RECORD — Bills lead 61-54

LAST MEETING — Jets beat Bills 34-21, Nov. 2, 2017

LAST WEEK — Bills lost to Bears 41-9; Jets lost

BUFFALO (2-7) at NEW YORK JETS (3-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Jets by 7½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Buffalo 3-6, New York 3-6

SERIES RECORD — Bills lead 61-54

LAST MEETING — Jets beat Bills 34-21, Nov. 2, 2017

LAST WEEK — Bills lost to Bears 41-9; Jets lost to Dolphins 13-6

AP PRO32 RANKING — Bills No. 31, Jets No. 26

BILLS OFFENSE — OVERALL (31), RUSH (23), PASS (32).

BILLS DEFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (11), PASS (3).

JETS OFFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (16t), PASS (28).

JETS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14t), RUSH (18), PASS (13).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Jets having won three of last four in AFC East rivalry. … Bills have lost four straight and five of six. Looking to avoid first five-game losing streak since 2011, when they dropped seven in row. … Bills uncertain who’ll start at quarterback. Rookie Josh Allen has missed three games with sprained right throwing elbow, but practiced on limited basis Wednesday. Veteran Derek Anderson was in concussion protocol. Nathan Peterman completed career-high 31 passes last week, but also had three interceptions and has 12 INTs in first 130 passes. … Bills have just three TD passes. According to Pro Football Reference, Buffalo is 20th team since 1940 with three or fewer TD passes through nine games, and fourth since 2000 — joining 2009 Raiders (3), 2009 Browns (3) and 2000 Bengals (2). … Bills have scored just two TDs in last four games, while opponents have returned four turnovers for TDs. Buffalo has been outscored 103-20 in last three games, and has trailed by 22 or more after first half four times this season. Bills have been outscored 147-43 in first half. … RB LeSean McCoy off to worst start of career with 267 yards rushing and has yet to score. McCoy had 10 yards on 10 carries vs. Bears. He needs 77 yards from scrimmage to reach 14,000 for career. … WR Terrelle Pryor had two catches for 17 yards in Bills debut last week after being cut by Jets two weeks before with injury settlement while dealing with groin ailment. He had two TD catches in six games with New York. … TE Logan Thomas had career-high seven catches last week. … LB Julian Stanford, with Jets from 2015-17, had career-high eight tackles and first career sack and forced fumble last week. … K Stephen Hauschka has 233 career field goals and needs one to tie Hall of Famer Lou Groza for 50th on NFL’s all-time list. … Jets on three-game losing streak, second such skid this season. Last lost four straight to close out last season. … Rookie QB Sam Darnold unlikely to start because of strained right foot that kept him out of practice. Backup Josh McCown expected to replace him. McCown hasn’t thrown pass this season, and last appeared in regular-season game in Week 14 of 2017 in Denver when he broke left hand. … RB Isaiah Crowell ranks eighth in NFL and fifth in AFC with 533 yards rushing. … RB Elijah McGuire had 30 yards on seven carries and three catches for 37 yards in season debut after spending first eight games on IR with broken foot. … WR Rishard Matthews, who replaced Pryor on Jets, has no catches in two games. He played no snaps on offense last week at Miami. … TE Chris Herndon had three-game TD streak ended vs. Dolphins, but had career-best 62 yards receiving. … LB Jordan Jenkins had two sacks last week and leads Jets with 4 1/2. … S Jamal Adams only player in NFL with seven or more passes defensed (eight) and seven tackles for loss (seven) this season. … K Jason Myers leads NFL with 20 field goals and tied for fourth in league among all players with 78 points scored. … Fantasy tip: McGuire has stepped into injured Bilal Powell’s dual-threat role out of backfield for Jets and could make for solid play in points-per-reception leagues.

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Dolphins-Packers Preview Capsule

MIAM (5-4) at GREEN BAY (3-4-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Packers by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Miami 5-4, Green Bay 3-5

SERIES RECORD - Dolphins lead 10-4

LAST MEETING - Packers beat Dolphins 27-24, Oct. 12, 2014

LAST WEEK - Dolphins beat Jets 13-6; Packers lost to Patriots

MIAM (5-4) at GREEN BAY (3-4-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Packers by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Miami 5-4, Green Bay 3-5

SERIES RECORD – Dolphins lead 10-4

LAST MEETING – Packers beat Dolphins 27-24, Oct. 12, 2014

LAST WEEK – Dolphins beat Jets 13-6; Packers lost to Patriots 31-17

AP PRO32 RANKING – Dolphins No. 19, Packers No. 16

DOLPHINS OFFENSE – OVERALL (28), RUSH (21), PASS (26).

DOLPHINS DEFENSE – OVERALL (26), RUSH (28), PASS (22).

PACKERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (6), RUSH (19), PASS (6).

PACKERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (16), RUSH (22), PASS (10).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Dolphins won last matchup at Lambeau Field, 23-20 in OT in 2010. … Dolphins have lost past three road games while being outscored 107-47. … Miami is above .500 despite being outgained by 704 yards and outscored by 38 points. … QB Brock Osweiler makes fifth start for injured Ryan Tannehill (shoulder). . Osweiler threw for 202 yards and score in last game against Packers while with Texans in 2016. … RB Kenyan Drake averaging 4.8 yards per carry, but has had six or fewer in five of Miami’s nine games. Drake’s 73 carries trail 104 for 35-year-old Frank Gore. … Miami is fourth worst in third-down conversions (34 percent). … Miami ranks first with 15 interceptions, including four last week against Jets. … Dolphins rank third in both punt return and kickoff return average, but last in kickoff return coverage. … P Matt Haack had seven punts inside 20 last week, tied for third most in NFL game since 1991. Haack’s tied for NFL lead with 26 punts inside 20 this season. … Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ 60.6 completion percentage is below career 64.8 percentage. Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdowns to one interception, leading league with 0.3 percent interception percentage. … RB Aaron Jones leads NFL at 6.03 yards per carry. … WR Davante Adams first player in franchise history with at least five catches in first eight games of season. … LB Blake Martinez, who has ankle injury, has 46 tackles and four sacks in last five games. … Rookie CB Jaire Alexander has INT and six passes defended in past three games. … Defense ranked 21st in red zone (61.5 percent). … Fantasy tip: Rookie WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling poised for more playing time with WR Geronimo Allison (groin) going on injured reserve. Valdes-Scantling has 15 catches for 317 yards and two scores in last three games. Dolphins rank 28th while allowing 8.2 yards per catch.

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Lions-Bears Preview Capsule

DETROIT (3-5) at CHICAGO (5-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Bears by 4

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Detroit 5-3, Chicago 5-3

SERIES RECORD — Bears lead 97-74-5

LAST MEETING — Lions beat Bears 20-10, Dec. 16, 2017

LAST WEEK — Lions lost to Minnesota 24-9; Bears beat Bills 41-9

AP

DETROIT (3-5) at CHICAGO (5-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Bears by 4

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Detroit 5-3, Chicago 5-3

SERIES RECORD — Bears lead 97-74-5

LAST MEETING — Lions beat Bears 20-10, Dec. 16, 2017

LAST WEEK — Lions lost to Minnesota 24-9; Bears beat Bills 41-9

AP PRO32 RANKING — Lions No. 22, Bears No. 10.

LIONS OFFENSE — OVERALL (21), RUSH (20), PASS (20).

LIONS DEFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (30), PASS (4).

BEARS OFFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (7), PASS (21).

BEARS DEFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (3), PASS (12).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Lions have won nine of 10 against Bears. … Detroit coming off back-to-back losses to Seattle, Minnesota after winning two straight. … Lions managed season-low 209 yards against Vikings, held to single digits in points for first time since 17-6 loss to New York Giants on Dec. 18, 2016. Detroit had two drives of more than 30 yards, was 4 of 15 on third downs. … Detroit fired special teams coordinator Joe Marciano on Monday night. … Lions have allowed run play of 40 or more yards in five games. … Detroit traded WR Golden Tate to Philadelphia for 2019 third-round draft pick prior to last week’s game. … QB Matthew Stafford was sacked franchise-record 10 times last week. … DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) returned from six-game absence last week with sack in closing seconds of second quarter that forced Vikings to settle for field goal. He also had one in opener against New York Jets. … RB Kerryon Johnson ranks third among NFL rookies with 503 yards rushing. … Including 2017, CB Darius Slay is tied for NFL lead with 10 interceptions. … Bears have matched win total from last season as well as their best eight-game start since 2013. … Chicago is 4-21 against NFC North since start of 2014 season. … Bears have dropped 10 straight against division since beating Minnesota on Oct. 31, 2016. … Chicago’s defense scored two TDs last week: Eddie Jackson’s 65-yard fumble recovery, Leonard Floyd’s 19-yard interception return. … Bears rank fifth in NFL in scoring. … Chicago appears to be getting healthier, with LB Khalil Mack (ankle) and WR Allen Robinson (groin) going through full practice Wednesday after missing past two games. TE Adam Shaheen could also return from preseason foot injury. … QB Mitchell Trubisky is 28 of 49 for 355 yards with three touchdowns, one interception over past two games. … RB Jordan Howard ran for two TDs last week. … Fantasy tip: Howard and running back Tarik Cohen could be in for big games for Chicago going against struggling run defense.

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Cardinals-Chiefs Preview Capsule

ARIZONA (2-6) at KANSAS CITY (8-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 15

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Arizona 4-3-1, Kansas City 8-1

SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 8-3-1

LAST MEETING — Cardinals beat Chiefs 17-14, Dec. 7, 2014

LAST WEEK — Cardinals beat 49ers 18-15; Chiefs beat Browns 37-21

ARIZONA (2-6) at KANSAS CITY (8-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 15

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Arizona 4-3-1, Kansas City 8-1

SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 8-3-1

LAST MEETING — Cardinals beat Chiefs 17-14, Dec. 7, 2014

LAST WEEK — Cardinals beat 49ers 18-15; Chiefs beat Browns 37-21

AP PRO32 RANKING — Cardinals No. 29, Chiefs No. 2 (tie)

CARDINALS OFFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (31), PASS (32)

CARDINALS DEFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (7), PASS (31)

CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (6), PASS (13)

CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (31), RUSH (28), PASS (25)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Arizona is 0-4-1 in Kansas City. Its last visit was 2010. … Cardinals rallied from 12-point fourth-quarter comeback last week vs. San Francisco. … Arizona playing second game in 24 days. … Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald needs 33 yards receiving to pass Terrell Owens (15,934) for second most in NFL history. … Fitzgerald needs 14 receptions to pass Jerry Rice (San Francisco, 1,281) for NFL record for receptions with one team. … Cardinals WR Christian Kirk has 31 catches for 410 yards, both second among NFL rookies. … Arizona DE Zach Moore has sacks in last two games. … Cardinals S Tre Boston has three INTs in last four games. … Arizona RB David Johnson has at least 100 yards rushing in 21 of 30 starts, including last week vs. 49ers. … Arizona LB Chandler Jones leads NFL with 34 1/2 sacks since joining Cardinals for 2016 season. … Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson will start 121st consecutive game, tied for fifth-longest streak in NFL. … Kansas City leads NFL in scoring at 36.3 points per game. … QB Patrick Mahomes riding Chiefs record eight straight 300-yard passing games. He needs one more to pass Andrew Luck’s single-season NFL record set in 2014. … Mahomes needs two TD passes to break Len Dawson’s franchise mark (30, 1964). … Mahomes leads NFL in yards passing (2.901), touchdown passes (29) and TD-to-INT differential (plus-22). … Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt has league-leading 496 touches without fumbling. … TE Travis Kelce has catches in 72 straight games, third-longest string in Chiefs history. … Fantasy tip: Keep riding everyone on Chiefs’ high-powered offense as they face top-to-bottom one of NFL’s worst defenses in Arizona.

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Seahawks-Rams Preview Capsule

LOS ANGELES (AP) — SEATTLE (4-4) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (8-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Rams by 8

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Seattle 4-3-1, Los Angeles 4-4-1

SERIES RECORD — Seahawks lead 23-18

LAST MEETING — Rams beat Seahawks, 33-31, Oct. 7, 2018

LAST WEEK — Chargers beat Seahawks,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — SEATTLE (4-4) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (8-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Rams by 8

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Seattle 4-3-1, Los Angeles 4-4-1

SERIES RECORD — Seahawks lead 23-18

LAST MEETING — Rams beat Seahawks, 33-31, Oct. 7, 2018

LAST WEEK — Chargers beat Seahawks, 25-17; Saints beat Rams, 45-35

AP PRO32 RANKING — Seahawks No. 13, Rams No. 4

SEAHAWKS OFFENSE — OVERALL (26), RUSH (3), PASS (27).

SEAHAWKS DEFENSE — OVERALL (7), RUSH (21), PASS (6).

RAMS OFFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (1), PASS (5).

RAMS DEFENSE — OVERALL (13), RUSH (13), PASS (14).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Rivalry game carries extra importance as Rams could take 4 ½-game lead in NFC West standings with first season sweep of Seahawks since 2015. … Seahawks have won four of six, while Rams have won eight of nine. Both teams bouncing back from losses, however. … Seahawks’ plus-9 turnover differential is third best in NFL, while Rams’ plus-7 is fifth. … Both teams boasting potent ground games. Rams are tops in NFL during another dominant season from Todd Gurley, but Seahawks are No. 1 since Week 3 with 159.8 yards per game on ground. … Rams have three receivers (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp) with more yards receiving than Seahawks leader Tyler Lockett’s 416. Gurley isn’t far behind at 362. … When Rams beat Seahawks in Seattle last month, LA QB Jared Goff passed for 321 yards, while Russell Wilson threw three TD passes. Gurley rushed for three scores. … Rivals haven’t played their two annual meetings this close together since 2011. … Seahawks have won three straight road games. They also won at Coliseum last season. … Rams have never lost back-to-back regular-season games under Sean McVay, going 4-0 last year. … Gurley has scored TD in 12 consecutive games, longest regular-season streak in team history. … Gurley’s 102 points lead NFL by large margin. Nine of next top 11 scorers in league are kickers. … Rams DT Aaron Donald is second in NFL with 10 sacks. Rams are 14-0 when Donald gets a sack over past two seasons. Donald has sacked Wilson eight times — most of any QB he has faced. … Rams have 2,828 yards passing, second most in franchise history through nine games, trailing only 2000 Greatest Show on Turf (3,466). … Fantasy tip: Rams WR Kupp is back from two significant injuries and more vital than ever to LA offense. He is tied for eighth in NFL with six TD catches despite missing most of three games, and typically comes up big at home. Washington state native was sidelined last month in Seattle by concussion, then hurt knee in Denver one week later.

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Saints-Bengals Preview Capsule

NEW ORLEANS (7-1) at CINCINNATI (5-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Saints by 3½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New Orleans 6-2, Cincinnati 4-4

SERIES RECORD — Bengals lead 7-6

LAST MEETING — Bengals beat Saints 27-10, Nov. 16, 2014

LAST WEEK — Saints beat Rams 45-35; Bengals had bye, beat

NEW ORLEANS (7-1) at CINCINNATI (5-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Saints by 3½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New Orleans 6-2, Cincinnati 4-4

SERIES RECORD — Bengals lead 7-6

LAST MEETING — Bengals beat Saints 27-10, Nov. 16, 2014

LAST WEEK — Saints beat Rams 45-35; Bengals had bye, beat Buccaneers 37-34 on Oct. 28

AP PRO32 RANKING — Saints No. 1, Bengals No. 12

SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (7), RUSH (15), PASS (7).

SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (25), RUSH (1), PASS (31).

BENGALS OFFENSE — OVERALL (24), RUSH (26), PASS (17).

BENGALS DEFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (26), PASS (32).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Saints won their seventh straight and sent Rams to first loss. … Drew Brees threw for four TDs vs. Rams, giving him 506 for career. He needs three to pass Brett Favre (508) for second on list, trailing only Peyton Manning’s 539. Tom Brady is one behind Brees with 505. … Brees leads NFL in completion percentage (76.3) and passer rating (120.6). He has 22 career games with four TDs and no INTs, tied with Brady (22) for career record. … In four games vs. Bengals, Brees has thrown for 309.5 yards per game with seven TDs, four INTs and 107.8 passer rating. … RB Alvin Kamara had 116 yards from scrimmage (82 rushing) with three TDs vs. Rams. His three games with three TDs tie Todd Gurley for most in NFL. … WR Michael Thomas had club-record 211 yards receiving, including 72-yard TD catch. He joined Wes Chandler and Torrance Small as only Saints with 200 yards receiving in single game. … Saints signed former Cowboys WR receiver Dez Bryant on Wednesday. It’s unclear how much he might play in Cincinnati. … Bengals WR A.J. Green sidelined indefinitely with toe injury on right foot. He got hurt on final catch of win over Buccaneers. … Cincinnati’s defense ranks last in league. In last three games, Bengals have allowed 481 yards (vs. Steelers), 551 (vs. Chiefs) and 576 (vs. Buccaneers). It’s first time in club history they’ve allowed 500 yards in back-to-back games. No NFL team has given up 500 yards in three straight games. … Fantasy tip: Brees is facing defense prone to yielding many yards and big plays. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards in 28-21 win culminating in 31-yard TD to Antonio Brown with 10 seconds left. Patrick Mahomes threw for 358 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick took over after Jameis Winston’s fourth INT and threw for 276 yards in little more than one quarter, including 72-yard TD.

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NFL stadiums and Kenny Chesney: magical mix of sports/music

The wave of sound builds from the bottom of the lower bowl to the very top of MetLife Stadium. Every seat is filled, and the place rocks with energy and anticipation.

Indeed, it couldn't be any louder if the Giants or Jets were playing in a Super Bowl there.

Except there's no football

The wave of sound builds from the bottom of the lower bowl to the very top of MetLife Stadium. Every seat is filled, and the place rocks with energy and anticipation.

Indeed, it couldn’t be any louder if the Giants or Jets were playing in a Super Bowl there.

Except there’s no football game about to kick off. It’s one of 14 NFL and 19 overall stadium stops for Kenny Chesney on his five-month, 42-show “Trip Around The Sun” tour earlier this year. And the musical magic about to be created rivals anything the place has ever seen.

For country music’s biggest star — Chesney is the only country act in Billboard’s Top 10 touring artists of the last quarter-century — and a nominee for a ninth Entertainer of the Year honor at next week’s CMA awards show, the marriage of music and sports is a natural.

“When I was growing up, I had two passions: sports and music,” Chesney says. “They were things that made you feel even more alive, and they lifted you up. It was almost hard to separate the way playing football made you feel from how being at a great concert was. Music is such a primal force: it’s inside us, without thinking.

“I think playing sports is the same way. How you feel when you’re on the field, that immediate rush is the ultimate high. When I started playing for tips and burritos at Quarterback’s, it was the same thing — only less intense, because there were so many variables. But as time went on, as I learned about writing songs, really dialing in on life and performing so I know I’m reaching people at the back of the room, that intensity of how it feels when it’s right became the same thing. When the drum kicks, the lights start and you can hear the crowd even before the curtain falls, it’s like that first play of the night. … It’s on, and there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be.”

Chesney spends up to three hours on the stage performing a collection of hits pretty much unequaled among contemporaries in any music genre. It’s an exhausting trip for virtually everyone: band members, stagehands, crew and, of course, the audience. And it’s worth every second.

NFL games generally last about that long and can create the same aura.

“If we do it right, hopefully we wring every spec of energy out of the fans,” Chesney explains. “Sometimes you can feel a slight ebb during the last song. But what’s more likely to happen, the energy feeds itself, so by the end, they’re hitting a whole other plateau. They may sleep til 2 the next day, but they’re bringing it hard, and they’re not quitting.

“Honestly, it’s part of how the band and I can also build our energy: No Shoes Nation feeds us. We go out to give them absolutely everything, but I always say, they give us more than we give them.”

Robert Kraft would agree. The owner of the New England Patriots is a certified member of No Shoes Nation. He has had a special relationship with Chesney since 2005, when the first of 19 concerts at Gillette Stadium took place.

“Kenny’s music is truly one of a kind. It has this unique and special quality to it that takes people to a place where they can forget the day-to-day worries of life and enjoy the moment, whether in the car listening to the radio or in stadium full of people singing along. When you see Kenny live in concert, his personal energy and charisma is like no one else,” Kraft said. “He brings you into the melody and the moment, and it takes those feelings to an entirely different level. After 14 years and 19 shows at Gillette Stadium, I continue to be blown away by the way Kenny and his music affects people. It truly is one of my favorite scenes, seeing 60,000 happy, glowing faces taking in the timeless greatness that is Kenny Chesney.”

Chesney is the biggest ticket seller for any musical genre at MetLife Stadium, where Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift have been regulars. The Trip Around The Sun show at MetLife Stadium in August was delayed by a severe thunderstorm before one of the accompanying bands, Old Dominion, took the stage. That also pushed back the set by Thomas Rhett and Chesney, who played and sang beyond midnight.

Yet, just as they would for a big game involving the Giants or Jets, the fans remained, their enthusiasm only whetted, not wetted down.

“There are two things,” says Chesney, whose most recent chart-topping album, “Songs For The Saints,” is a tribute to the Virgin Islands that were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year. Chesney had a home on St. John. “One, I think sports and music are the two things people are truly passionate about, so there’s always going to be similarities in the response. I know plenty of football fans are out there; heck, there’s a lot of players, the coaching staff, people affiliated with the teams at the shows.

“But just as importantly, there’s that sense of pride in what No Shoes Nation stands for. For the fans who are just music people, they have the same connection to how the songs we sing hold their lives as sports fans have about their team kind of representing the best of who they are. You know, there’s no thrill greater than high school football, and seeing your team rush out on the field, and I think that carries over to the NFL for adults, and just people who remember when.”

Those folks tend to remember when they witnessed a particularly memorable game. They definitely recall attending — and being such a large part of — a Chesney concert.

“I don’t think anything surpasses the excitement of seeing your favorite team play,” he says, “but I do think people who come to these stadiums really bring their most passionate selves. When they come to these places — Levi Stadium, Arrowhead Stadium, Raymond James Stadium — they come to throw everything they have at their team.

“And I think they bring that mindset when they walk in the door for our shows, too.”

Chesney has not committed to another stadium tour. In 2019, he is planning a more intimate series of concerts. But perhaps the unforgettable vibes from the previous concerts will lead to another Trip Around the Sun.

Regardless, Chesney and No Shoes Nation have proven the bond between music and sports is unbreakable.

“I love football, and the discipline that goes into playing it,” he says. “I’ve been lucky to be friends with Sean Payton, the Manning family, Drew Brees, a lot of those guys, not to mention so many people a casual fan might not know. I’ve been to practice; I’ve been to games. I still get a little amazed that I know every inch of a lot of these buildings I see on TV every week, because I stopped growing in the ninth grade, and that was the end of any dream of playing sports for a living.

“When I think about that, or when I’m onstage, and looking all the way to the top, it’s a pretty unbelievable feeling. All those games, all that energy, and we get to be part of these places in a way that’s just as passionate and intense in a whole other way. It reminds me how powerful music can be.”

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NFL on pace for record-setting scoring midway through season

It's never been easier to score in the NFL.

At the midpoint of the season, the league is on pace to set records for most points, touchdowns and touchdown passes in a single season. Teams have scored 6,440 points, 736 touchdowns and 473 TDs in the air through Week 9.

The increase in

It’s never been easier to score in the NFL.

At the midpoint of the season, the league is on pace to set records for most points, touchdowns and touchdown passes in a single season. Teams have scored 6,440 points, 736 touchdowns and 473 TDs in the air through Week 9.

The increase in offensive production follows the lowest-scoring season this decade. Teams averaged 21.7 points per game in 2017. That’s up to 24 points this season. A total of 12 teams are averaging at least 27.5 points per game led by the Chiefs (36.3), Saints (34.9) and Rams (33.2).

There are several reasons scoring has soared. A combination of new rules and rule adjustments over the past few years favor offenses. The league has banned helmet-to-helmet contact, implemented a defenseless receiver rule and a body-weight rule against players making sacks, outlawed low hits on quarterbacks and emphasized illegal contact penalties.

There’s also been an influx of innovative, offensive-minded coaches — Sean McVay, Doug Pederson, Kyle Shanahan — and talented young quarterbacks — Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, among others.

Five quarterbacks — Mahomes, Goff, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers — are on pace to throw for 5,000 yards. That only happened nine times previously in league history. Ten QBs have a passer rating over 100, double the total last season.

Games are not only featuring more scoring but there’s been plenty of close, down-to-the-wire action. Seventy-one games were decided by one score, eight points or less. That’s the fifth-most through nine weeks. Thirty-seven games have been decided by a field goal, which was fourth-most at this point. Ten games have reached overtime and 36 teams have rallied to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Close, high-scoring games are exciting for fans, especially the millions who spend billions of dollars to play fantasy football. All of it is good for the league’s television ratings, which are up after declining in 2016 and 2017.

More folks are also watching by live streaming. According to a recent study from Conviva, a real-time measurement platform, NFL live viewing was up 72 percent in plays and 83 percent in viewing hours over the same time frame last year.

Conviva’s data shows mobile NFL plays were up 95 percent and prime-time NFL saw 109 percent growth in plays and 97 percent growth in viewing hours.

Here’s a look inside the numbers from the first half:

PASSING KING: Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record for career passing yards last month. Brees has 72,781 yards passing and counting. Manning had 71,940.

KICKING KING: Adam Vinatieri broke Morten Anderson’s record for most points and most field goals. Vinatieri has 2,550 points and 573 field goals. Anderson had 2,544 points and 565 field goals.

THE 500 CLUB: Brees and Tom Brady joined Manning and Brett Favre as the only players to throw 500 TD passes. Brees has 506, one more than Brady. Manning had 539 and Favre had 508.

PATRICK THE GREAT: Mahomes has 29 TD passes and 3,185 yards passing yards, the most in both categories through the first 10 games of a player’s career. He also has thrown for at least 300 yards in eight straight games, one away from setting the record he currently shares with Andrew Luck.

THIELEN’S CHASE: Adam Thielen became the first player to have eight 100-yard receiving games to start a season, tying Calvin Johnson for the longest streak of such games. The former undrafted wide receiver has 78 catches for the Vikings. He’s on pace to challenge Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143.

GURLEY GETS IN: Todd Gurley has 16 touchdowns — 12 rushing and four receiving — for the Rams. He’s on pace for 28. The record is 31 by Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.

KIRK COMPLETIONS: Kirk Cousins became the first player to complete at least 30 passes in four consecutive games. Before the season, Cousins became the first player to sign a fully guaranteed contract when the Vikings gave him $84 million for three seasons.

FIRST MISS: Justin Tucker had made all 222 extra points in his career before he missed one at the end of Baltimore’s 24-23 loss to New Orleans in Week 7. He hadn’t missed any kick 33 yards or shorter in 300 tries his career.

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NFL notebook: Bell inches closer to return to Steelers

NFL notebook: Bell inches closer to return to Steelers

NFL notebook: Bell inches closer to return to Steelers

At least holdout running back Le’Veon Bell is in the same area code as the Pittsburgh Steelers, two days after posting a farewell message to his offseason home in Miami on social media.

Bell, however, has not yet reported to the Steelers, who play Thursday at home against the Carolina Panthers. Instead, he was spotted Wednesday playing basketball at an L.A. Fitness facility in North Pittsburgh. Opponents and onlookers shared their encounter with Bell on social media, and the facility manager confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that Bell was present.

He’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate. Reporting after the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term deal, but before Week 1, would have assured Bell the entirety of his $14.5 million franchise tender for 2018.

Bell is facing the latest deadline in the off-field-drama next week. He must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season.

–Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple reports, and he won’t have to wait long for a chance to show his old team what he has left. The Saints (7-1) play Dallas (3-5) on Nov. 29.

Bryant will sign the deal on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bryant has been a free agent since he was released by Dallas in April. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he has 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns in his career. Last season, he notched 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns in his eighth NFL year, all with the Cowboys.

–New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has a significant right foot injury and will miss Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, according to a New York Daily News report.

The report, which called the injury a sprain, added the Jets hope Darnold will return after the Week 11 bye to face the New England Patriots in Week 12, but they are not overly optimistic. Head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the injury is a strain and deemed Darnold “day-to-day.”

–Defensive end Bruce Irvin landed on his feet and reunited with his former defensive coordinator one day after clearing waivers.

Irvin signed with the Atlanta Falcons, joining head coach Dan Quinn, who coordinated the Seahawks’ defense when both were in Seattle. Irvin cleared waivers and became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.

–Buffalo Bills first-round draft picks Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds each practiced, giving both a chance to return Sunday at the New York Jets.

Allen was limited again like he was on Friday, his first practice since spraining his right (throwing) elbow in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. Head coach Sean McDermott said the rookie quarterback has had no setbacks and “has done a good job so far.”

— Dallas Cowboys standout linebacker Sean Lee reportedly will be sidelined four to six weeks after injuring his left hamstring during Monday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“We anticipate him to be out for a little bit, no question about that,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters. Lee missed three games with a pulled hamstring earlier this season. The 32-year-old has 27 tackles in five games this season.

–Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles could be back on the field for the first time since Week 1 when the Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

Sproles, who will retire after the season, had five carries for 10 yards and four catches for 22 yards in an 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 but has been sidelined by an injured hamstring since. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that Sproles should be in the lineup Sunday night.

–Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday at the Green Bay Packers, head coach Adam Gase confirmed.

With the Dolphins taking their bye in Week 11, Gase said the goal is to have Tannehill, who has battled weakness and discomfort in his right (throwing) shoulder, ready for a Week 12 trip to the Indianapolis Colts. Brock Osweiler will make his fifth consecutive start.

–Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette appears ready for a return after practicing in full for the first time in six weeks.

Fournette has not played since Week 4 because of a hamstring injury and has appeared in only two games this season, rushing for 71 yards on 20 carries.

–The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ameer Abdullah, two days after he was placed on waivers by the Detroit Lions.

Abdullah, 25, was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2015 but was active in only three games this season and carried the ball just once.

–Field Level Media

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Motivated by critics, WR Kirk off to good start in NFL

TEM PE, Ariz. (AP) — Too small, too slow. Christian Kirk is well aware of what critics said to him going into this year's NFL draft.

They're right in front of him every day as he leaves home.

"I have a blackboard at my house that has it all written up," he said.

TEM PE, Ariz. (AP) — Too small, too slow. Christian Kirk is well aware of what critics said to him going into this year’s NFL draft.

They’re right in front of him every day as he leaves home.

“I have a blackboard at my house that has it all written up,” he said. “It’s all right where I leave for the door every day.”

He hasn’t forgotten that five receivers were drafted ahead of him.

“I thought I was the best and I’m out to prove that,” Kirk said.

He is off to a good start on a not-so-good team. Halfway through the season, his 31 catches and 410 yards receiving rank second among NFL rookie wide receivers behind only Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley (33 catches, 463 yards). And Kirk has done it on a team that ranks last in the NFL in offense and next-to-last in passing offense.

“This guy is the ultimate pro,” coach Steve Wilks said. “You look at rookies coming in really trying to find their way. This guy works hard each and every day, trying to take care of his body, trying to prep himself. I think, really, the opportunities that he has been getting, he’s taking advantage of them, meaning the throws, the catches. He’s finishing those plays, which is great.”

In his previous game, a week ago Sunday, Kirk broke free in the back of the end zone and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from fellow rookie Josh Rosen with 34 seconds to play, the winning score in an 18-15 victory over San Francisco.

The Cardinals (2-6), who play at Kansas City (8-1) on Sunday, had last weekend off.

“I went back this week and actually watched the Washington game (the season opener),” Kirk said, “just seeing where I was at then until now. It’s night and day. So I feel like every week I’m progressing and I still want to do that throughout the season.”

Kirk has lots of hometown support. He grew up in suburban Phoenix before choosing Texas A&M over Arizona State in high school.

He has developed a close relationship with Rosen, who took over as starting quarterback in Week 4.

“I love Christian,” Rosen said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re on the same page about everything. We hang out off the field. Football’s a very social game, and I think sometimes we can pick each other up and get each other going whenever we might be sputtering a little bit. Football’s a game of relationships, so it’s good to have a strong one.”

Kirk, after a standout career at Texas A&M, was drafted by Arizona in the second round, the 47th player chosen overall. He stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 200 pounds and there were concerns about that and his speed among pro scouts.

Not for the Cardinals though, Wilks said.

“Not at all,” he said. “It may have been a concern with other teams, but not with us. We felt like he had speed. I know that was a question: ‘He’s just a slot receiver.’ (But) he’s shown he can take the top off.”

Rosen, who has his own thoughts about quarterbacks drafted ahead of him, said people sometimes look for the wrong things when evaluating a player.

“I think sometimes you just have to turn on tape and watch guys play,” he said. “(Kansas City’s) Tyreek Hill on the other side is one of the best receivers in football right now, and he’s tiny. He’s unbelievable. I think they’re different kinds of receivers, but just in the sense that I think a lot of guys look at the wrong things. If you turn on Christian’s tape from college, he’s ripping people up and down the field.”

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Uncertainty about Carson will test Seahawks running depth

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It's become clear through the first half of this season the Seattle Seahawks offense functions best when running back Chris Carson is getting the bulk of the carries.

Yet it's also becoming clear that Carson may be a spectator on Sunday when the Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It’s become clear through the first half of this season the Seattle Seahawks offense functions best when running back Chris Carson is getting the bulk of the carries.

Yet it’s also becoming clear that Carson may be a spectator on Sunday when the Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams as he deals with a hip injury that could keep him sidelined for the second time this season.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Carson would not practice and his status for Sunday’s NFC West matchup was uncertain. Carson started last Sunday’s 25-17 loss to the Chargers and averaged 5.0 yards per carry, but did not play the final 2½ quarters after a lingering hip issue flared up.

While there is a chance Carson could be ready by Sunday, the Seahawks (4-4) also turn around and play a Thursday night game against Green Bay next week. And playing Carson on Sunday may make him unavailable against the Packers, which could end up being a more important game for Seattle’s playoff hopes.

“The soft tissue thing is kind of hanging with him a little bit,” Carroll said of Carson. “This hip thing is still kind of there and we’ve got to wait and see how it comes out at the end of the week.”

Carson has shown he’s the best option as Seattle’s primary running back when he is healthy. In the four games Carson has carried the ball at least 14 times this season, he’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry, 95.5 yards per game and the Seahawks are 3-1 in those four games.

In the three games where Carson has carried the ball fewer than 14 times either because of injury or game plan, the Seahawks are winless.

If Carson can’t play against the Rams, Mike Davis would likely get the bulk of the work at running back with a bigger role for rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny as well.

“We’ve got plenty of guys we can go to,” Carroll said. “We don’t have to just rely on one guy right now.”

Davis has shown an ability to be the primary ball carrier for the Seahawks, running for 101 yards on 21 carries in Seattle’s Week 4 victory over Arizona when Carson was out because of an unrelated groin injury. Davis had 62 yards on 15 carries last week carrying the bulk of the running after Carson was unable to continue.

“It’s like I do every week, prepare that I’m going to be the starter so if it does come up I don’t get blindsided,” Davis said.

Davis has proven he can handle the load. The same can’t be said of Penny, who has just 42 carries for 146 yards through eight games. In the first couple of weeks, Seattle made it a priority to force Penny into the game and get him some action. After they realized that wasn’t working, Penny disappeared for a couple of weeks before slowly being reintegrated to the offense.

Last week Penny had just four carries, but may see that number increase significantly if Carson can’t play.

“We’ve just got to get him out there. He just needs more turns,” Carroll said of Penny. “Mike has been very versatile in the throwing game and all the styles of runs, really good at it and very effective. We’re just going with what looks right. It has nothing to do with where you got picked or where you came from for the opportunities to present itself for the guys to show what they can do.”

Whoever is carrying the ball, the Seahawks will want to replicate the success they had from the first meeting with the Rams. Seattle rushed for a season-high 190 yards in the 33-31 loss, the most allowed by Los Angeles this season. But Carson was a big part of that success, running for 116 yards.

Davis expects the Rams to make changes, but also believes in his offensive line.

“We know what our guys can do up front and they’re killing it. I have no doubt,” Davis said.

NOTES: G D.J. Fluker didn’t finish last week’s game with a calf injury and sat out practice on Wednesday. Carroll said Fluker was a little more sore on Wednesday than he was earlier in the week. … S Bradley McDougald also didn’t practice with a knee injury that kept him out the second half against the Chargers. Delano Hill would start if McDougald can’t play.

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Packers eager to finish strong after first-half frustrations

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Randall Cobb is out of detailed answers for now.

But the veteran receiver did have one simple solution to get the Green Bay Packers out of their first-half funk.

No rallying cries. No inspirational slogans, like the "Run the Table" phrase from Rodgers that turned into catchword of

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Randall Cobb is out of detailed answers for now.

But the veteran receiver did have one simple solution to get the Green Bay Packers out of their first-half funk.

No rallying cries. No inspirational slogans, like the “Run the Table” phrase from Rodgers that turned into catchword of the Packers’ comeback from a 4-6 start in 2016.

“Yeah, win a game. Win a game you get going,” Cobb said after practice on Wednesday when asked if there were lessons to draw from two years ago.

“We’ve just got to win one right now,” the veteran said.

The Packers aren’t quite yet in such dire straits as in 2016. But at 3-4-1, Green Bay has little margin for error if they want to avoid a second straight season without the playoffs.

Third place in the NFC North behind the division-leading Bears (5-3) and second-place Vikings (5-3-1) isn’t going to cut it. A bounce-back second half can start Sunday when the Miami Dolphins visit Lambeau Field.

“It’s always good to be at home. You have to take care of your home-field advantage,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We also know what’s coming after it, too.”

It’s a quick turnaround back on the road after the Dolphins game with a Thursday night trip to Seattle.

“It’s great to be home and I can’t remember the last time, it’s been a while since we played there,” McCarthy added.

That would be in Week 6 on Oct. 15 over the San Francisco 49ers, a closer-than-expected, 33-30 victory that required the Packers to score 10 points over the final 1:55.

Following a bye, the Packers had trouble closing out road games the next two weeks, albeit in losses to two of the league’s best teams in the Rams and Patriots.

Last week, running back Aaron Jones’ fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter in New England territory was a turning point. The Patriots went on to sandwich two touchdown drives around a three-and-out for Green Bay.

“We’ve lost games before here. But this just feels different,” Cobb said. “And it doesn’t feel good. It’s not fun. But we’ve got to figure something out.”

Asked how this felt different, Cobb didn’t have any specifics.

“I wish I could. If I could then I would try to correct that ‘how,'” he added. “At this point, we’re not where we should be and where we want to be. We’ve got to figure out how to get there.”

At least quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to be getting better each week from the left knee injury suffered in the season opener against Chicago.

He seems to be moving around much better. Last week against New England, he didn’t have to wear a sleeve or brace on the knee.

“Just grit,” Rodgers said. He was a full participant in a practice on Wednesday that was abbreviated by McCarthy in part because of the wear following two straight long road trips.

Rodgers has had a dip in his completion rate this year, at 60.6 percent through eight games, down from his career average of 64.8 percent. Rodgers said it had to do with “an unnatural amount of throwaways this year,” referring to passes thrown out of bounds or out of the defense’s reach if he can’t find an open receiver.

“We’ve got to keep finding ways to get guys into one or two spots, open on time,” Rodgers said, “and when they’re open, I’ve got to make the throws.”

The Packers lost 29-27 against the then-unbeaten Rams a couple of weeks ago. In that game, Ty Montgomery, who has since been traded , fumbled a late kickoff after being directed to stay in the end zone for a touchback. The turnover deprived Rodgers a chance to drive for a game-winning score.

Losing hasn’t been fun.

“I don’t think anybody’s happy about the position we’re in. So, yeah, I just want to have fun again,” Cobb said with a smile and slight chuckle.

NOTES: WR Trevor Davis, who has been on injured reserve since the start of the season with a hamstring injury, has returned to practice. He could be in line to be activated for the Nov. 15 game against Seattle to help replace injured wideout Geronimo Allison (groin). … Limited in practice on Tuesday were S Kentrell Brice and RT Bryan Bulaga, who have knee injuries, and LB Blake Martinez (ankle).

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NFL fines Dolphins and Gase for injury report violation

MIAMI (AP) — The NFL has fined the Miami Dolphins $30,000 and coach Adam Gase $15,000 for an injury report violation a month ago involving quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins listed Tannehill as participating fully in practice on the Thursday before the Week 6 game against Chicago. In fact, Tannehill was limited because

MIAMI (AP) — The NFL has fined the Miami Dolphins $30,000 and coach Adam Gase $15,000 for an injury report violation a month ago involving quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins listed Tannehill as participating fully in practice on the Thursday before the Week 6 game against Chicago. In fact, Tannehill was limited because of a throwing shoulder injury that forced him to miss the game, and he hasn’t played since.

“We have been fully cooperative and transparent with the NFL throughout this process,” the Dolphins said in a statement Wednesday. “We received the penalties imposed and will have no further comment.”

Tannehill will miss his fifth game in a row Sunday when Miami plays at Green Bay.

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