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Around the NFL: Chubb Powers Browns Past Texans, Ravens Washed by Pats

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Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective. 

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Cleveland Browns 10 Houston Texans 7

In a sloppy, low-scoring contest, the long-awaited return of running back Nick Chubb proved to be the elixir Cleveland’s offense needed in their win over Houston on Sunday.

After missing the previous four games with a knee injury, Chubb reemerged for the Browns, rushing for 126 yards and a score. Not to be out done, his backfield partner Kareem Hunt also eclipsed the century mark on the ground with 104 yards. Cleveland’s 231 yards rushing are their second-most this season, and their highest total since they ran for 307 on Dallas in Week 4.

Chubb could have scored a second touchdown on a 59-yard scamper, but puzzlingly stepped out of bounds at the one-yard line. Pour one out for whoever owns Chubb in your fantasy league.

As for Houston, quarterback Deshaun Watson tried and failed to once again will his hodge-podge supporting cast to victory, unable to produce one of his trademark Herculean performances. Watson went 20 of 30 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 36 yards.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was similarly lackluster Sunday, but he did enough to lead his team to victory. The former top pick went 12 of 20 for 132 yards, but more importantly committed no turnovers for the second-straight game, the second time he has done so this year.

Cleveland will complete their three-game home stand with Philadelphia on Nov. 22. Houston hosts New England.

Green Bay Packers 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Jacksonville had no answers for the Green Bay passing attack, as the Jaguars lost their eighth-straight game.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was surgical again Sunday, carving the Jaguars up for 325 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yard bomb to wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He did throw one interception, but also rushed for a score.

Rodgers has eight games with at least two touchdown passes and a rating of 100-or-higher this season, marking the fourth time that a quarterback has done so in eight of his first nine games of a season in NFL history. He already accomplished the feat once in 2011.

Valdes-Scantling ended with four catches for a career-high 149 yards and the score, while fellow receiver Davante Adams continued his recent streak of tremendous play, catching eight passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. He now has 55 catches, 568 yards and eight scores over his last six games.

Still replacing the injured Gardnew Minshew, Jaguars rookie Jake Luton took a step back in his second-career start, passing for 169 yards and a touchdown with a pick. He got some help from a fellow rookie in running back James Robinson, who carried the rock 23 times for 109 yards. Jacksonville also got a 91-yard punt return touchdown from wide receiver Keelan Cole Sr.

It will not get any easier for the Jaguars next week, as they welcome the undefeated Steelers to TIAA Bank Field. The Packers will face the Colts and their stingy defense next Sunday.

Detroit Lions 30 Washington 27

Starting his first game in 728 days, Washington quarterback Alex Smith played well, but his performance all for naught after a costly roughing the passer call on rookie defensive end Chase Young in the waning moments gifted Detroit a game-winning field goal.

Smith completed 38 of 55 passes for a career-high 390 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Young phenom Terry McLaurin was the primary beneficiary Sunday, catching seven passes for 95 yards. It was his seventh game this season with at least seven catches and 70 yards. Washington did most of its damage on the ground with three rushing scores, two from rookie running back Antonio Gibson and one from J.D. McKissic.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was tremendous for Detroit, surgically working Washington’s top-ranked pass defense for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Running back D’Andre Swift also posted his finest performance as a pro, accounting for 149 total yards and a receiving touchdown.

Amazingly, Washington was able to secure the win by overcoming nine penalties, going four of ten on third down, being out gained by 92 yards and possessing the ball for more than ten-fewer minutes.

Detroit heads south to battle quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers next Sunday. Washington will look to snap their two-game losing skid against the reeling Bengals.

New England Patriots 23 Baltimore Ravens 17

With their backs against the wall and season on the brink, quarterback Cam Newton and the Patriots pulled off an upset over the Ravens amid a torrential downpour in Foxborough.

Newton was steady Sunday night, and looked totally comfortable for the first time since returning from his COVID-19 diagnosis. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the deluge, while also rushing for a score. Still, Newton’s protection of the football proved most crucial for New England, committing no turnovers for the first time since Week 1 against Miami.

Turning to their backfield in response to the elements, the Patriots running backs had quite the impact as well Sunday night. Damien Harris rushed for a career-high 121 yards, while Rex Burkhead accounted for 66 total yards and two touchdowns.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to have success against the Patriots, but simply did not make enough plays to overcome New England’s defense and the weather. Jackson threw for 249 yards with two scores and rushed for another 55 yards on the ground, but did toss an interception that proved costly. New England’s has now picked off a pass in a franchise record five-straight games.

The Ravens will host the Titans before a Thanksgiving night clash with the Steelers. The Patriots visit the Texans.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Indianapolis Colts 34 Tennessee Titans 17
  • New York Giants 27 Philadelphia Eagles 17
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 46 Carolina Panthers 23
  • Las Vegas Raiders 37 Denver Broncos 12
  • Miami Dolphins 29 Los Angeles Chargers 21
  • Arizona Cardinals 32 Buffalo Bills 30
  • Los Angeles Rams 23 Seattle Seahawks 16
  • New Orleans Saints 27 San Francisco 49ers 13
  • Pittsburgh Steelers 36 Cincinnati Bengals 10
  • Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

NFL

NFL Still Considering Bubble for Playoffs

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The situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens nearly reached comical proportions on Monday, with the game being rescheduled for a third time, to be played as the NFL’s first mid-season Wednesday game in modern history, with an obscure 3:40 p.m. kickoff time.

While it appears that the Steelers and Ravens will be able get their game in, either on Wednesday, or at the worst, during an added week at the end of the season.

But what if a team were to suffer a Ravens-like outbreak during the NFL postseason, when even pushing back one game would mess with the entire schedule and create competitive imbalances for teams coming off short weeks, during a time period when that is frowned upon?

That’s led many to suggest that the NFL needs a bubble for the postseason, and the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills acknowledged that it’s under consideration.

“We’ve said throughout that all options remain on the table,” Sills said in an interview on Today last week. “We’re going to look at whatever the most appropriate decision is, based on the data and the science. We’ve been in regular communication with those other pro sports leagues.

“I’ll just say there are some pros and there are some cons. There is some risk and benefits to each model. And right now, we’re doubling down on our intensive protocols for each team. We made some additional protocol changes this week. We have a lot of confidence in those steps, and we’ll be monitoring the data very carefully over the next few weeks to see what makes the most sense come January.”

The NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLB all utilized bubbles for at least a portion of their 2020 seasons, with the NBA, WNBA and NHL putting all competitions in bubbles and MLB moving to a bubble concept for the postseason after playing its regular season in home stadiums.

As one of the top seeds in the AFC, moving to a bubble would mean the Steelers would lose their home-field advantage for the postseason, but with no fans expected at Heinz Field for the remainder of the 2020 season, that might not make much of a difference.

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Around the NFL: Mahomes, Chiefs Make Statement at Tampa Bay, Keep Pace with Steelers

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Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective. 

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Kansas City Chiefs 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

In a duel of past and present faces of the NFL, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes outclassed the Bucs’ Tom Brady through the air, leading Kansas City to their sixth-straight win and keeping pace with the unbeaten Steelers.

Mahomes was exceptional Sunday, as he continues to make the incredible look ordinary. The one-time MVP connected on 37 of 49 attempts for 462 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first player with at least 30 completions and over 300 yards in four-straight games in league history. Still, Mahomes was not satified with just one record, also joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only other quarterback with five career games with over 400 passing yards and three scores.

As he has been all season, speedy wideout Tyreek Hill could not be guarded and was the chief beneficiary against the subpar Buccaneers defense with 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs. “Cheetah” has now scored 14 touchdowns this season, and scored in every game except one. 

While Kansas City may have only won by a field goal in the end, Brady and the Bucs were thoroughly outmatched for most of the afternoon. Brady tossed for 345 yards and three scores, but also threw a pair of costly interceptions. Still, the six-time champ did record his 18th career season with at least 3,000 passing yards, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. Running back Ronald Jones was another bright spot for Tampa Bay, rushing for 66 yards on nine carries and catching a 37-yard touchdown.

Kansas City looks to keep their six-game unbeaten run alive next week against the Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Tampa Bay enters the bye week licking their wounds, and will attempt to avoid a three-game skid when they host Minnesota on Dec. 13.

Buffalo Bills 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17

Bills quarterback Josh Allen added to his dual-threat résumé Sunday, recording his 15th career game with both a passing and rushing scores in their victory over the Chargers. Allen joins Patriots quarterback Cam Newton as the only other player with at least 15 such games in league history, completing 18 of 24 passes with 189 total yards and the two scores. 

Still, Allen was not the only Bill with a touchdown pass on the ledger, as wide receiver Cole Beasley joined the fun on a trick play in the second quarter, finding fellow wideout Gabriel Davis from 20 yards out.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert added to his Rookie of the Year candidacy Sunday, albeit in a losing effort. The No. 6 pick completed 31 of 52 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Herbert now has six 300-yard passing performances this season, which tied former Colt Andrew Luck for the most by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. 

Defensive end Joey Bosa was dominant in the loss, recording a career-high three sacks and six tackles-for-loss. He is just the sixth player over the last 20 years to post six TFLs in a single contest.

Looking ahead to Week 13, Buffalo makes the cross country trek to battle San Francisco on Monday Night Football, while the Chargers face another long flight to New England. 

New York Giants 19 Cincinnati Bengals 17

Even though New York lost quarterback Daniel Jones to a what appears to be a significant hamstring injury, the Giants defense and ground game stepped up in a big way to lead them to their third-consecutive win.

The Giants tormented Cincinnati sans Joe Burrow on Sunday, holding them to just 155 total yards and recording three turnovers (two fumbles, an interception) and a pair of sacks on the afternoon. Offensively, running back Wayne Gallman gave the Giants a spark on the ground, rushing for 94 yards and a score. New York tight end Evan Engram also paced the G-Men through the air with six receptions for 129 yards.

Sunday’s loss to the Giants is likely a harbinger of life without Burrow for the foreseeable future in Cincinnati. The Bengals posted their lowest yardage total in four years with quarterback Brandon Allen making his fourth career start. The former Razorback passed for 115 yards and a touchdown with a pick and a fumble. Also without running back Joe Mixon, his counterpart Giovanni Bernard mustered just 32 rushing yards. Safety Brandon Williams was able to return a kickoff for a touchdown.

After starting the season 0-5, the Giants have quietly won four of their last six. They will look to keep the train rolling at Seattle next weekend. Cincinnati visits Miami, as they try to snap their three-game losing streak.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Houston Texans 41 Detroit Lions 25
  • Atlanta Falcons 43 Las Vegas Raiders 6
  • Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., WPGH-TV
  • Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., KDKA-TV
  • New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV
  • Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
  • Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:00 p.m., WPXI-TV
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Around the NFL: Mahomes Battles Brady, Washington on a Roll Coming to Pittsburgh

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Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective. 

THANKSGIVING FEAST

Washington 41 Dallas Cowboys 16

Winners of three of their last five, Washington took hold of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving night with their trouncing of the Cowboys in Dallas.

Rookie running back Antonio Gibson was the star for Washington, rushing for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Gibson joined elite company in the process, becoming the first rookie with three scores on Turkey Day since Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss in 1998. Gibson now has 402 yards and eight touchdowns the last five weeks.

Continuing to add to his already impressive Comeback Player of the Year candidacy, quarterback Alex Smith passed for 149 yards and a touchdown with a single interception. Adding to the tremendous story, the victory comes nearly two years to the date of the infection that almost took his life.

Not to be out done, the Washington defense feasted as well Thursday, sacking Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton three times and intercepting him once, a pick-six by defensive end Montez Sweat. Rookie defensive end Chase Young had himself a day, sacking Dalton once and posting a pair of tackles-for-loss. He leads all first-year players with 4.5 sacks this season. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen also recovered a fumble off running back Ezekiel Elliot, capping off a monster day for the Football Team’s defensive line.

Washington visits Pittsburgh next week seeking their third-straight win, while Dallas is still set to travel to Baltimore on Thursday night, but the game is likely to be postponed due to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens.

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

Two of the NFL’s brightest young passer will go head-to-head Sunday when the Chargers visit the Bills.

The front runner for Rookie of the Year, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has been exceptional in his first season out of Oregon. The No. 6 pick has already passed for 2,699 yards and 22 touchdowns, and became the first rookie in NFL history to post five games with three touchdowns passes last week against the Jets.

Facing a Bills defense that has allowed just 15 touchdowns passes and recorded 27 sacks, the pressure will be on Herbert to preform through the air with running back Kalen Ballage likely with an ankle injury.

Across the field, Buffalo’s Josh Allen has also excelled in 2020 with 2,871 yards and 22 scores, while rushing for another five. Allen has been especially strong at home, where he has score 15 touchdowns and only tossed three picks.

No. 17 should keep rolling Sunday, opposing a Charger defense that has produced the second-fewest takeaways in football, and surrendered 20 passing scores.

With all the makings of a potential shootout, this game could be decided by the offense that scores last, and the defense that musters a single stop.

New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Entering their first full game without sidelined rookie phenom Joe Burrow, the Bengals host the Giants in a “Battle of the Basement” that could have major NFL Draft implications come April.

With Burrow done for the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, Cincinnati now turns to backup passer Ryan Finley, who has thrown two touchdowns and two picks in three-career starts, but only completed 47.1% of his passes in those contests. As running back Joe Mixon remains on injured reserve, Finley will have to return to another reliable weapon in wideout Tyler Boyd. The former Pitt standout is on pace for his third-straight 1,000-yard season, while having already caught 69 passes and three scores. He should find separation easily in a Giants secondary that is 21st in the league.

As for New York, they are seeking their first three-game win streak since 2016, and will require another commendable showing from quarterback Daniel Jones to do so. Though he has been plagued by turnovers his entire career, even committing at least one in nine-consecutive games, he has none the last two weeks.

Opposing a Bengals defense with only ten takeaways and 13 sacks all year, Jones should be able to keep clean and put up another winning performance.

Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m., KDKA-TV

As undefeated Pittsburgh continues to chase the No. 1 seed, Steeler fans will be keeping a constant eye on 9-1 Kansas City over the coming weeks, who have star-studded matchup with Tampa Bay.

It will be old school versus new school Sunday, as the 43-year-old Tom Brady opposes the 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes. While they have split their two previous meetings, the youngster has had the statistical edge, passing for 635 yards and five touchdowns. The one-time MVP has been dominant in 2020, pacing the NFL with 3,035 yards and tossing 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions, which is good enough for the best ratio in the league.

Brady has been good since heading south, but has hit a wall over the last few weeks. Losing two of his last three, the six-time Super Bowl winner has five touchdowns and five interceptions. He had only tossed four picks through the first eight games. Brady faces another stiff test in a Chiefs defense that ranks eighth against the pass.

If you prefer pass catchers to the passers themselves, four of the most productive receivers over the last decade will all be on the Raymond-James Stadium turf Sunday. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Antonio Brown and Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have combined for 2,275 receptions, 31,471 yards and 218 touchdowns over their careers. At least one is guaranteed to dominate Sunday.

Even with Tampa Bay’s recent struggles, this cross-conference clash pits two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses against each other, providing all the ingredients for an all-timer.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Houston Texans 41 Detroit Lions 25
  • Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., WPGH-TV
  • Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., KDKA-TV
  • New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV
  • Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
  • Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:00 p.m., WPXI-TV
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