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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.

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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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