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Around the NFL: Patriots-Chiefs Postponed after Cam Newton Positive COVID-19 Test

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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

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs, Postponed

The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs won’t play on Sunday after Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Newton did not get the news until Saturday morning, which threw a wrench into the Patriots plan heading into the game in Kansas City.

Newton has the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NFL history with 62, and the Patriots coaching staff is clearly aware. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has done an excellent job maximizing the former Panther’s unique skillset, as he is tied for the league lead with four rushing scores. Newton has also put questions regarding his shoulder health to bed early on, consistently pushing the ball downfield and completing 68% of his passes.

Chiefs starter Patrick Mahomes is coming off a dominant performance against the Ravens that saw him throw for 385 yards and four scores. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has been near perfect to start the year, tossing for nine touchdowns and 898 yards with no interceptions.

Mahomes is also one of the few players Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has yet to figure out. In three career games against New England, Mahomes has thrown for eight touchdowns and an average of 310 yards per game.

Owning the league’s best rushing offense, the Patriots must control the ball and keep it away from Mahomes and a Chiefs offense that has scored points on an astonishing 55.2% of their offensive drives this season.

Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys, 1:00 p.m., WPGH-TV

With this week’s Steelers-Titans matchup postponed until Week 7, fans will be freed up to watch a battle between two of Pittsburgh’s historic rivals in the Cowboys and Browns.

Off to a great start with their first winning record since 2014, the Browns enter AT&T Stadium with one of the most potent rushing attacks in football. With 511 rushing yards through through three games, Cleveland is tied with the Rams for the third-most in football. The one-two punch of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has worked wonderfully, and the added balance has had a noticeable impact on quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has tossed five touchdowns and just two picks thus far. Mayfield had five interceptions through Week 3 in 2019.

Cleveland should have no difficulty running the ball on an injury-plagued Dallas defense, but the Browns’ defense will have a significant challenge of their own facing quarterback Dak Prescott and his retooled receiving core.

Prescott leads the league in pass attempts (143), completions (96) and yards (1,188). He has also combined for eight touchdowns, with five through the air and three on the ground. While he has no scored yet, star wideout Amari Cooper has already caught 25 passes for 267 yards. Rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has been no slouch either, with 16 receptions for 230 yards.

Defensive end Myles Garrett will have to get to Prescott early and often Sunday, providing support upfront for Denzel Ward and the Browns’ secondary.

Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

When Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert makes his third-career start Sunday in pursuit of his first win, the 22-year-old will be facing off against one his likely childhood idols in Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Herbert has looked good since being thrust into the starting lineup Week 2, completing 69.5% of his passes and tossing for over 300 yards in consecutive games. He will be tested again this week, facing a Tampa Bay defensive unit that has intercepted four passes, tied for the second-most in the league. It will be paramount for Herbert to value the football if he is to secure his first victory as a starter.

On the defensive side, Los Angeles’ formidable secondary will have their hands full attempting to slow an explosive Tampa receiving core. Even without star safety Derwin James, the Chargers have allowed just three passing touchdowns this season. Conversely, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans is tied for the league-lead with four touchdown  receptions.

If Chargers cornerbacks Desmond King II and Casey Heyward Jr. can slow down Evans and company, they will have a great opportunity to get back to .500.

Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:25 p.m., CBS Regional

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen looks to continue his impressive start to the 2020 season, as the undefeated Bills look to continue their winning ways against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.

Allen has been phenomenal through three games, completing 71.1% of his passes for 1,038 yards and ten touchdowns with just one interception. He is second in the league in both passing yards and touchdowns, trailing just Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson, respectively. Allen has eclipsed the 300-yard mark each game this season, and tossed for 415 yards against Miami on Sept. 20.

The former Wyoming Cowboy has been deadly on the ground as well, having also rushed for two scores this season. Allen’s 19 career rushing touchdowns are the second-most by a quarterback through his first three seasons in NFL history.

He will face his stiffed test yet in the Raiders’ pass defense, who have allowed just three scores through the air this season, the second-fewest in the league. John Gruden’s club has not faired as well defending the run, as they have already surrendered the six rushing touchdowns, the second-most. If the Raiders make life difficult for Allen through the air, he should still find success with his legs.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

Denver Broncos 37 New York Jets 28

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals. 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Baltimore Ravens at Washington, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV

Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

NFL

NFL, NFLPA Announce 19 New Positives From Last Testing Period

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The NFL and NFLPA have announced their latest COVID-19 results from their most recent testing period.

The league had 19 new positive cases between Oct. 18 to 24. There were eight new positive tests among players and eleven among staff members.

In total, 42,687 total tests were administered to 7,817 players and personnel over the seven-day period.

The NFL has had 55 positives from players and 82 among personnel dating back to Aug. 1. Over 500,000 total tests have been administered.

Tier 1 and 2 individuals continue to be tested daily, white Tier 3 personnel are being tested on a weekly basis.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had any coronavirus-related issues since running back Jaylen Samuels was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list back on Aug. 13.

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Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. Suffers Torn ACL

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The Cleveland Browns may have improved to 5-2 with their comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but they suffered a significant loss.

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2020 season with a torn ACL, the organization announced Monday morning.

Beckham suffered the injury in the first quarter of Cleveland’s win over Cincinnati on Sunday, attempting to make a tackle on an interception thrown by quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The star wideout was off to a strong star in his second season with the Browns, catching 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He also had rushed for a score.

While the loss of Beckham is significant, the Browns appear to have enough offensive weapons to overcome the injury. Mayfield posted one of the best performances of his career on Sunday, completing 22 of 23 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns after Beckham left the game.

Financially, Cleveland is still likely on the hook for Beckham’s $12.971 injury guarantee, which will convert to a full guarantee if he is rostered on the third day of the next league year, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. This means that Beckham is uncuttable, and a trade is very unlikely considering the injury.

Selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Beckham has caught 487 passes for 6,830 and 51 touchdowns over his career. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls, but not since 2016.

The Steelers and Browns do not face off again until Week 17 in Cleveland.

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NFL

Around the NFL: Mayfield Leads Browns to Late Win; DiNucci Fills In for Dallas

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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 37 Cincinnati Bengals 34

Following their beatdown at the hands of the Steelers last week, the Browns got back on track Sunday with another shootout win over the in-state rival Bengals, sweeping the season series.

After rough 0-5 start that included an interception, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield rebounded to produce the best game of his career, completing 22 of his final 23 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. He set a franchise record in the process by completing 21-consecutive passes. Mayfield’s remarkable day was capped off with a game-winning touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones with eleven seconds remaining.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett continued his streak of dominance Sunday, sacking Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow twice and forcing a fumble. Garrett entered Week Seven second in the league with seven sacks and three forced fumbles.

Burrow continues to show exactly why he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1-overall pick, but his stellar play has repeatedly demonstrated just how far Cincinnati’s roster is from being competitive and the amount of help he needs. With 406 yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing score Sunday afternoon, Burrow is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game.

The Bengals will continue the hunt for their second win when they host the Titans, while the Browns will welcome the Raiders to town.

Washington 25 Dallas Cowboys 3

A former WPIAL standout threw his first NFL passes, but the 2020 season went from bad to worse for the Cowboys on Sunday as they were blown out by Washington, suffering their second-straight loss.

Already without star quarterback Dak Prescott of the remainder of the season, Dallas backup Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game in the third quarter on an illegal hit by linebacker Jon Bostic, who was subsequently ejected. Dalton’s injury thrusted former Pine-Richland and Pitt quarterback Ben DiNucci into his first extended NFL action. DiNucci completed two of three passes for 39 yards, including this 32-yard dime to wide receiver Amari Cooper on his first career throw.

Meanwhile, Washington snapped a five-game losing streak yesterday behind a pair of impressive performances from their dynamic, young duo in running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Terr McLaurin. A rookie out of Memphis, Gibson rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown, while McLaurin, the second-year star out of Ohio State, caught seven passes for 90 yards and a score.

DiNucci is expected to make his first career start when Dallas travels to Philadelphia next week. Washington hits their bye week before hosting the Giants on Nov. 8.

San Francisco 49ers 33 New England Patriots 6

While Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not play as well as he probably would have liked in his return to Foxborough, San Francisco still thumped the Patriots behind a suffocating performance from their defense.

New England quarterback Cam Newton, who looks lost since returning from the Reserve/COVID-19 list a few weeks ago, was a disaster on Sunday, completing just nine of fifteen passes for 98 yards and three interceptions. Newton was a non-factor on the ground as well, carrying just five times for 19 yards. The 49ers defense recorded four interceptions total, also picking off Jarrett Stidham in relief. Cornerback Jamar Taylor had two of the four.

Garoppolo was better, but just slightly. He completed 80% of his passes for 277 yards, but tossed two interceptions of his own and no touchdowns. The ground game was what truly swung the game in San Francisco’s favor. The Niners rushed for 197 yards and four scores as a team, 112 and three of which came from running back Jeff Wilson Jr. Unfortunately, Wilson’s phenomenal day ended abruptly when he was carted off the field with a leg injury in the third quarter that appeared significant.

San Francisco will aim to win their third-straight when they visit Seattle next Sunday. New England goes back to the drawing board ahead of a key divisional matchup against the 5-2, AFC East-leading Bills.

Kansas City Chiefs 43 Denver Broncos 16

Even though the volcanic Chiefs offense was able to sustain its excellence through blizzard-like conditions Sunday, it was the Kansas City defense and special teams that dominated the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs sacked quarterback Drew Lock three times and forced four Denver turnovers, including a 50-yard pick six by safety Daniel Sorensen. Safety Tyrann Mathieu picked Lock off a second time, and the Kansas City defense forced  running back Melvin Gordon to fumble twice. Not to be out done, Chiefs wideout Byron Pringle returned a kickoff 102 yards to the house at the end of the second quarter, an impressive play put over-the-top by the legendary Kevin Harlan.

Kansas City Patrick Mahomes was uncharacteristically quiet, throwing for 200 yards and connecting with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for a single touchdown. Hill is off to a tremendous start to the year, having now scored a touchdown in six of seven games this season Former Steelers and Jets running back Le’Veon Bell was used sparingly in his Chiefs debut, carrying the ball six times for 39 yards. His compatriot in the backfield Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed eight times for 46 yards and a score.

Kansas City will host the winless New York Jets at Arrowhead next week, and just as a friendly reminder, the largest margin of victory in history is Chicago 73-0 over Washington back in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. Denver welcomes the Chargers to Mile High.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

Philadelphia Eagles 22 New York Giants 21

Detroit Lions 23 Atlanta Falcons 22

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Tennessee Titans 24

Carolina Panthers 27 New Orleans Saints 24

Buffalo Bills 18 New York Jets 10

Green Bay Packers 35 Houston Texans 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45 Las Vegas Raiders 20

Los Angeles Chargers 39 Jacksonville Jaguars 29

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

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