Sep 25, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) walks off the field with Brandon Staley after suffering an injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers, bruised and battered, hope to get well vs. Texans

Beset with injuries and in a desperate search for answers on the field, the Los Angeles Chargers will try to get their season back on track Sunday when they hit the road to face the Houston Texans.

Appearing to still feel the effects from fractured rib cartilage, an injury that occurred during a Week 2 loss, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was unable to get the offense moving in a 38-10 Week 3 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As if a hobbled Herbert wasn’t enough, the Chargers (1-2) were left to deal with more key injuries. Star defensive end Joey Bosa went down on Sunday with a groin injury and is out indefinitely, but not lost for the season.

Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater, on the other hand, is done for the season after a torn biceps that also occurred last week. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley, meanwhile, missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury and might not play again this week.

That means that if Herbert is going to get on track, he may have to do it against the Texans with rookies Jamaree Salyer and Zion Johnson on the offensive line. That could be a troubling development for Herbert, who was 25 of 45 for 297 yards against the Jaguars, with one touchdown and one interception.

“I think there were a lot of first-time things going on for him,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley told reporters Wednesday. “Now, he has a much better sense of how (his ribs are) going to feel and how it’s going to feel during the game. So, he can prepare better and can go into the game and play better because he’s aware of how it’s going to feel.”

The Texans (0-2-1) remain in search of their first victory after a 20-20 tie against the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 1, followed by consecutive road defeats to the Denver Broncos (16-9) and Chicago Bears (23-20).

The Texans tied Sunday’s game late in the third quarter but ran just 12 plays and had one first down in the fourth quarter.

The last of those 12 plays was Davis Mills’ interception with 1:05 remaining that gave the Bears the ball at the Texans’ 12-yard line. Chicago kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Mills was 20 of 32 for 245 yards against the Bears with one touchdown and two interceptions. Through three games, the Texans are 29th in total offense at 287.3 yards per game and 25th in passing offense at 204.3 yards per game.

“Guys know we’re really close,” Mills said. “We’ve just got to come out and continue our efforts through the fourth quarter late in the game when it really matters and just execute at a high level and pull one out at the end.”

Aside from their struggles on offense, the Texans are giving up an NFL-worst 202.3 rushing yards per game. The next-worst rushing defenses are the Bears and the Seattle Seahawks at 157.0.

“We’ve got to keep grinding is what we have to do,” Houston coach Lovie Smith said. “We haven’t finished. We’re not looking to make things easier. Decisions we make are what we think we need to do to get over the hump. Easier doesn’t necessarily go with that.”

In addition to Herbert and Linsley being limited in practice for the Chargers on Wednesday, so was wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) and cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle).

For the Texans, defensive lineman Maliek Collins (knee), offensive lineman Austin Deculus (ankle), defensive lineman Kurt Hinish (foot), tight end Brevin Jordan (ankle) and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (back) did not practice Wednesday. Running back Dameon Pierce (hip) was among those who practiced on a limited basis.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins (10) pushes off on a tackle attempt by Tennessee Titans cornerback Terrance Mitchell (39) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Head coaches seeking redemption meet when Raiders host Broncos

The AFC West rivalry is one of the fiercest in the NFL, right up there with Green Bay-Chicago and Dallas-Washington, but Sunday adds a new wrinkle to the saga between the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.

The Broncos and Raiders have a palpable dislike for each other, down through the core of the fan bases, so it’s reasonable to expect things will be heated in Week 4 of the NFL season. But there is something more on the line than just bragging rights and divisional records.

Two head coaches, in their first year with their new teams, have something to prove when Denver visits Las Vegas on Sunday.

Nathaniel Hackett has taken heat for his game management and lack of offensive production, yet the Broncos (2-1) have survived in their last couple of games despite scoring a combined 27 points.

Josh McDaniels, meanwhile, is looking for his first win with the Raiders (0-3) and is facing plenty of criticism. McDaniels has already had a lengthy closed-door meeting with owner Mark Davis and the pressure is mounting on the former New England offensive coordinator to start winning.

Starting 0-3 is bad, but how Las Vegas has lost games has McDaniels creeping toward the hot seat. His team blew a 20-point lead — at home — to Arizona in Week 2 and suffered a two-point loss to Tennessee last week.

While Denver is 2-1 despite outscoring opponents just 43-36 — including a win over San Francisco with the rare 11-10 final last Sunday night — the Raiders have been outscored by 13 points this year. Little mistakes, including costly dropped passes and lack of execution in the overtime loss to the Cardinals, have been significant.

“I don’t think anybody in here should be happy or content with losing. Especially when you have the type of men we have in this locker room,” wide receiver Davante Adams said. “And like I’ve said from the very beginning — just because we’re good on paper doesn’t mean we’re going to be great as a team.

“Frustration is OK, as long as you do something about it.”

Playing the Broncos may be the elixir. Las Vegas has won the last four meetings between the teams and is at home this week.

However, Denver didn’t have Russell Wilson at quarterback the last two years, and despite the team’s slow start offensively the defense has been great. Wilson showed why the Broncos traded for him with a late drive in the win over the 49ers and he feels the offense is close to clicking.

“Not every game is going to be perfect, not every game is going to be just right,” Wilson said. “But I do believe we’re right there. I’ve been on a lot of teams, I’ve played a lot of sports, and there’s a special feeling in this locker room, special feeling about where we’re going, where we’re headed.”

Denver is hopeful offensive tackle Billy Turner makes his season debut soon, but it doesn’t look good for this week. Turner (knee) did not practice Wednesday, nor did guard Dalton Risner (ankle), but he is considered day-to-day.

Notable Raiders who missed Wednesday’s practice were wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and cornerback Nate Hobbs, who were listed on the injury report with concussions.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell looks on during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With slew of injuries, Lions attempt to game plan for Seahawks

The Detroit Lions have struggled to put in a game plan for Sunday’s game against the visiting Seattle Seahawks.

That’s because coach Dan Campbell and the rest of the Lions’ staff are unsure which players will be available at kickoff.

Leading rusher D’Andre Swift and top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown were among the Lions (1-2) to miss practice time this week, as well as receiver Josh Reynolds (ankle), center Frank Ragnow (foot) and guard Jonah Jackson (finger), tight end T.J. Hockenson (foot), linebacker Chris Board (knee), defensive lineman John Cominsky (wrist), cornerback Bobby Price (shin) and kicker Austin Seibert (groin).

In addition, safety Tracy Walker is out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury.

“Yeah, it’s not the easiest thing, but you just kind of play the odds, and who do we think has the best chance of playing?” Campbell said. “And you start to lean that way with your game plan early. Then you’re prepared to shift if you need to later. But I think you, for the most part, you go with what your gut tells you with the guys who are going to play. And then, how do we work them into the game plan and give them a chance to have success.”

Swift, who leads the Lions with 231 yards rushing on just 27 carries and is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, appears doubtful with Campbell saying that he might be out until after the team’s Week 6 bye. Swift sprained an ankle in the season opener and then injured a shoulder in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to Minnesota.

Jamaal Williams, who has 43 carries for 168 yards and four touchdowns, would likely get most of the touches in Swift’s absence.

“It has to be significantly better probably to play (against the Seahawks),” Campbell said of Swift. “I mean, it’d have to be the sky’s opened up and the bright light comes out and (he says) ‘I’m good to go, and it feels unbelievable and here we go.’”

St. Brown, who has a team-leading 23 catches for 253 yards and three TDs, suffered an ankle injury against the Vikings.

“It’ll be by committee and we’re confident, very confident,” Campbell said. “(We) trust those guys.”

The Seahawks (1-2) might be in better physical shape — they placed third-down back Travis Homer on injured reserve because of a rib injury this week, while cornerback Justin Coleman (calf) and defensive end Shelby Harris (glute) missed practice — but they’ve struggled in the post-Russell Wilson era.

That’s despite his replacement, Geno Smith, having a higher passer rating (100.8) than Wilson, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers this season. Smith has a league-leading 77.5 percent completion percentage, but that hasn’t translated to points — especially in the second half, in which Seattle’s offense has 10 points through three games.

“I just know that we are at a crossroads right now. We need to get it together, that’s the biggest thing,” veteran Seahawks defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson said. “Everybody needs to be accountable and go through the film and fix it. I think that’s the biggest thing, being disciplined, do your job, and trust your brothers. You have to trust that your brother is going to do their job.

“Again, we have a lot of football left, so we have to get it together.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) meets with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) following the victory at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mahomes vs. Brady takes center stage in Chiefs-Bucs showdown

Patrick Mahomes and the visiting Kansas City Chiefs are prepared to test their mettle against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a high-profile showdown on Sunday night.

As of now, the game remains scheduled for Tampa, Fla. Hurricane Ian, however, made landfall in western Florida on Wednesday, forcing the NFL to adopt the contingency plan of Minneapolis for Sunday’s contest.

While expressing sympathy for those affected by Mother Nature, Mahomes said the plan remains the same as the Chiefs (2-1) brace for the Buccaneers (2-1).

“For us, it’s an away game regardless,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “So, you’re going to be going somewhere else to play. So, you just have to focus on the gameplan, and try to prepare yourself that way.”

Mahomes and Brady are no strangers to one another, with the former holding a 2-1 edge in regular-season play while the latter has gotten the better of both postseason matchups. Brady guided the New England Patriots to a win over Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game of the 2018 season before quarterbacking the Buccaneers past the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Tampa Bay’s defense arguably was the star of the show in that game and can make that same claim this season by surrendering a league-best 9.0 points per game.

Linebacker Shaq Barrett provided some bulletin board material on Wednesday by comparing the Chiefs’ offensive line that took the field on that day to the current one.

“I really don’t think it’s too much of a difference,” Barrett said with a laugh. “I think we have a lot of favorable matchups. We have an opportunity to really dominate the game. I think we’ve got an opportunity to really impose our will as pass-rushers, as edge rushers in this game. We can really have a coming-out party.”

Brady, however, appears to be waiting for the party to start this season. The three-time NFL MVP has thrown for just 673 yards and three touchdowns in three games after setting franchise records in both categories last season (5,316, 43).

Brady, 45, threw for 271 yards and one touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 14-12 setback to Green Bay last Sunday.

Russell Gage had 12 catches for 87 yards and a score for the Buccaneers, who played without wideouts Mike Evans (suspension), Julio Jones and Chris Godwin.

While Evans will return to the fold against Kansas City, the returns of Jones (knee) and Godwin (hamstring) are not set in stone. Jones, Godwin and Gage (hamstring) joined tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) and defensive lineman Logan Hall (groin) in being limited in Wednesday’s practice, while wideout Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (foot) did not participate.

Mahomes started the season with a brilliant five-touchdown effort in a 44-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals before turning in a pair of relatively mediocre performances. The 2018 NFL MVP threw for just 235 yards in a 27-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers and completed just 57.1 percent of his passes in a 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday.

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles isn’t buying any potential offensive woes for the Chiefs, however.

“The running game has picked up. They’ve got big offensive linemen down there. They’ve got bigger receivers — as opposed to smaller, quicker receivers — that can catch the ball very well,” Bowles said. “They’ve still got (Travis) Kelce, they’ve still got (Clyde Edwards-) Helaire, they’ve still got a lot of pieces and Mahomes has only gotten better since we played them. He was great then, he’s great now, he’s gotten better.”

The Chiefs are hopeful kicker Harrison Butker is able to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury he sustained in the season opener. Kansas City waived journeyman Matt Ammendola on Monday.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Butker, who joined wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (abdomen) in being listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice.

Kansas City defensive tackle Chris Jones (rest), wide receiver Mecole Hardman (heel), running back Ronald Jones (illness) and defensive end Mike Danna (calf) didn’t practice.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA;  Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (10) throws as New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) defends during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys, Cooper Rush seek third straight win, face Commanders

When quarterback Dak Prescott broke his thumb during a Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, many presumed it was an early death knell to the Dallas Cowboys’ season.

Cooper Rush and the rest of Prescott’s teammates apparently didn’t get the memo informing them that the final 16 games were merely a formality. Rush has played impressively in wins over the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants, meaning Dallas is 2-1 and more than viable in a wide-open NFC.

Rush and the Cowboys aim to make it three straight Sunday when they host the struggling Washington Commanders in Arlington, Texas in an NFC East battle.

In Monday night’s 23-16 win over the Giants in the Meadowlands, Rush cooly went 21 of 31 for 215 yards, tossing a fourth quarter touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb to give Dallas the lead for good. Rush committed no turnovers in a hostile road environment.

About his only slip-up came immediately after the game. Rush jogged right off the field and had to be brought back by Prescott and public relations man Tad Carper to talk with the ESPN crew.

“He doesn’t get rattled,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Rush. “He is playing good football right now.”

Rush, who in his first NFL start last year led a fourth quarter comeback that gave the Cowboys a road win over Minnesota, hasn’t lit up the scoreboard. He’s thrown for 514 yards and averaged just under 11 yards per completion.

Prescott might be more than a week away as he indicated on Monday. McCarthy said Wednesday that swelling remains an issue for Prescott, and there was not yet a timetable for his return. Prescott told reporters in New York on Monday night that he hoped to play Week 5.

But the most important numbers for Rush and Dallas are these: Two and zero. Two wins that Dallas really needed and zero turnovers. With the Cowboys playing a good brand of defense, Rush doesn’t have to be Prescott. He just has to do what he’s done.

And that might be good enough again this week, considering the frightful difficulties Washington (1-2) experienced in last week’s 24-8 loss to Philadelphia when asked to protect quarterback Carson Wentz.

The Commanders allowed a whopping six sacks in the first half and seven for the day. At one point in the third quarter, the Eagles held a preposterous 323-(-1) advantage in passing yards, since the NFL counts sack yardage as part of the passing game.

Wentz was able to throw for 211 yards and lead a late touchdown drive, but none of it mattered. It added up to a second straight dispiriting loss for Washington after rallying in the fourth quarter to stop Jacksonville in Week 1.

“We just gotta execute better,” said Commanders receiver Curtis Samuel. “I feel like just attention to detail, you know. Everybody’s got to do their job and do it well. And that’ll help us score points.”

The good news for Washington is that Wentz has a history of success against Dallas. In eight career starts against the Cowboys, Wentz has 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His career passer rating against Dallas is a solid 95.7.

The bad news for the Commanders is they may have to deal with one more offensive weapon for the Cowboys. Trends indicate that wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee), a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, should be able to make his season debut.

“MG’s back. That’s exactly what I said. MG’s back,” Gallup said after practice.

Offensive tackle Charles Leno (shoulder) and guard Wes Schweitzer (concussion) missed practice for Washington.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with ball during the second half of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

QBs claim spotlight as Bills visit Baltimore

Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills are piecing together a secondary this week knowing they draw the NFL leader in touchdown passes on Sunday.

“I’m confident in our football team,” McDermott said of whether using his backups against Lamar Jackson is a mismatch, confessing injuries “Leave us in a little bit of an unknown position right now. It’s going to be a team effort.”

The host Baltimore Ravens are patching their offensive line on the fly while prepping for a run defense allowing 57.7 yards per game and a pass rush with 11 sacks.

To date, the Ravens are more than holding up, averaging 33 points and 380.3 yards per game thanks to Jackson, who last week became the first player in NFL history with three TD passes and 100 rushing yards in consecutive games.

Jackson visited the Bills and McDermott prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, when Buffalo went with Josh Allen and the Ravens landed Jackson later in the first round. McDermott said they “loved everything about” Jackson and their pick was all about how much they wanted Allen.

“It is crazy to think about,” Allen said on Wednesday. “Lamar, he’s an MVP player. He’s playing really good football right now. So, we’re going into a hostile environment, we got to find a way to put our best foot forward.”

At this point, greatness has become expected from both quarterbacks. Entering Week 4, the quarterbacks rank first and third in combined offense. Allen has accounted for 1,127 yards, Jackson 992 (Jalen Hurts of the Eagles has 1,083). Jackson has accounted for 12 touchdowns; Buffalo has 11 total TDs.

But the defensive issues are the bigger concern, especially for the Ravens.

“The biggest challenge is that fact that he does so many things so well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Allen. “His style is unique. He’s just a very athletic, big strong guy who can throw the ball really well.”

Harbaugh said he anticipates more blitzes from the Bills, for which the team’s answer has been putting Jackson under center more frequently.

“Lamar is as dynamic as it gets,” Bills defensive end Von Miller said. “He can throw the ball, he can run the ball. He can do whatever it takes to win games, to put his teammates in great situations to win. And that’s why he should be the highest-paid player in the NFL, and that’s why he should have the biggest contract out of all the quarterbacks.”

Three offensive linemen didn’t practice for the Bills on Wednesday. Ryan Bates (concussion protocol), Dion Dawkins (non-COVID illness) and Rodger Saffold (veteran rest day) were sidelined as were defensive linemen Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and Miller (rest day). Defensive lineman Ed Oliver (ankle) and tight end Dawson Knox (back/hip) were limited. Safety Jordan Poyer (foot) was also back at practice.

But Allen said he’s not worrying about the Buffalo injury report or secondary. The Bills added former All-Pro Xavier Rhodes to play cornerback — he’s experienced in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s system from his time with the Vikings — as injuries forced the team’s hand to make the move.

Tre’Davious White is on the physically unable to perform list, cornerback Christian Benford (hand) is out and Dane Jackson returned to practice only Wednesday for the first time since being taken off the field in Week 2 in an ambulance with a neck injury.

“Next man up,” Allen said. “(Last week) was one game.”

Baltimore’s pass defense has been miserable, as the Ravens are allowing 353.3 passing yards per game and a completion percentage of 67.4 percent.

Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs is looking forward to his chances against cornerback Marcus Peters. Peters had an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery last week at New England.

“He’s back healthy,” Diggs said. “But I do got a lot of family and friends in Baltimore, so it’s going to be a packed game,” Diggs said, noting he’d have 50 tickets for his crew in Baltimore.

Injuries could be a factor for the Ravens. Running back J.K. Dobbins (chest) was limited Wednesday on the heels of his first game since 2020. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) was a full participant, but nose tackle Michael Pierce (biceps), outside linebacker Justin Houston (groin), defensive end Calais Campbell (rest), Peters (rest) and offensive tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) did not participate.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings, Saints both looking for fast starts in London

The Minnesota Vikings overcame two different double-digit deficits to win their last game.

The New Orleans Saints are getting tired of having to overcome deficits.

Both teams will be looking to get off to better starts when they meet Sunday in London.

The Vikings (2-1) outscored Detroit 14-0 in the fourth quarter, scoring the winning points on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds left to produce a 28-24 victory.

“There was no flinch on our sideline,” said Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell, whose team trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and tied the score before falling into another hole. “You don’t want to have to come back from two double-digit deficits, but it’s big that we responded.”

The Saints (1-2) have played from behind for most of their first three games.

In their opener they fell behind Atlanta early in the second quarter and trailed by 16 points early in the fourth before taking the lead with 19 seconds left in a 27-26 victory.

The next week they entered the fourth quarter tied at 3-3 with Tampa Bay before the Buccaneers scored 17 points in a 3 1/2-minute stretch to win 20-10.

Last week at Carolina, they fell behind in the first quarter and never caught up, trailing by as many as 15 points in a 22-14 defeat.

“We’ve got to eliminate those mistakes that are keeping us from winning,” New Orleans coach Dennis Allen said.

The Saints have committed the most turnovers in the NFL (nine), with eight coming over the last two games, including an interception and a fumble that were returned for touchdowns. They’re also tied for the second-most penalties in the NFL with 24.

“I think our mindset is in the right place,” tackle James Hurst said. “We know we can’t have those turnovers and expect to win games, especially close games. It’s setting us behind the eight ball.”

The deficits have forced the Saints to lean almost exclusively on the passing game and a hurry-up approach in the fourth quarter, which is when they have scored 38 of their 51 points.

Injuries haven’t helped, as quarterback Jameis Winston has been playing with a back injury suffered in the opener and he sustained an ankle injury in practice last week. He didn’t practice Wednesday, but Allen said that was because of rest.

“I’m preparing to play,” Winston said after practice.

Wide receivers Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) were injured against the Panthers and didn’t practice Wednesday.

The Vikings have injury issues of their own. Running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder), fullback C.J. Ham (foot) and linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

New Orleans and Minnesota took different approaches to the long trip and time change that comes with playing in London.

The Saints flew to London straight from Carolina to get an early start on adjusting to the time change.

The Vikings, who opened the season with a late-afternoon-start and then played on Monday night before having a noon kickoff last week, won’t arrive in London until Friday.

“I think there are pros and cons to both,” Cousins said. “I can understand why they left when they did and I can understand why we’re leaving when we are.”

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs through the Indianapolis Colts defense during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 in Indianapolis, Ind.

Nas Titans Colts 020

Colts, Titans searching for consistency in matchup

The Indianapolis Colts entertain the visiting Tennessee Titans on Sunday hoping a Week 3 upset is only the beginning of their good future.

The Colts (1-1-1) have renewed life after stunning the Kansas City Chiefs 20-17 last week, and look to break a three-game skid in the series against the AFC South rival Titans (1-2).

“This showed us we can be the team that we want to be,” Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said of slaying the Chiefs. “We can be the team that we think coming into this season we were going to be. We can be that team. But we’ve got to work to get better.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also lived up to his “Matty Ice” billing by driving the Colts on a 16-play, 76-yard drive that he capped with a 12-yard scoring pass to Jelani Woods with 24 seconds left.

Ryan, in his 15th season, was obtained from the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason to give the Colts improved play at quarterback.

He knows that one good September win doesn’t make a season.

“For me, the focus has to be on improving our consistency,” Ryan said Wednesday. “Because the good is good, and the bad is really — it’s not good. We’re capable of better consistently. And we’ve done it very well at times and we’ve done it poorly at times, we just need to be more consistent with it.”

Tennessee is also coming off its first victory — 24-22 over the Las Vegas Raiders. The Titans led 24-10 at halftime and later stopped a Raiders’ 2-point conversion with 1:14 remaining to hold on.

Tennessee hasn’t settled into a groove yet this season and quarterback Ryan Tannehill knows this week would be a good time.

“It’s huge. We want to go 1-0 this week,” Tannehill said. “That’s the goal each and every week but crucial at this point of the season to get a win. We have a division opponent on the road at a tough place to play. We have our hands full but it is important for us to go out and play well.”

Two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry showed signs of breaking out by accumulating 143 yards from scrimmage against the Raiders. He had season highs of 85 rushing yards and 58 receiving.

Henry is surprisingly only tied for 14th in rushing yards, while Colts star Jonathan Taylor (286) stands fourth.

Taylor supplanted Henry last season as the NFL rushing champ when he rolled up a franchise-record 1,811 rushing yards. Taylor opened this season with 161 against the Houston Texans but has just 125 total over the past two games.

Tennessee linebacker Bud Dupree said there is no time to relax once Taylor takes a handoff.

“Any time you go against a great back, you know what comes with it,” Dupree said. “You know they’re going to run the ball, he’s going to get the ball no matter what just like Derrick gets the ball here. … Everyone has to get to the ball because he can make guys miss and he can break tackles.”

Even with Taylor’s game-breaking abilities, Indianapolis ranks last in the NFL in scoring offense at 13 points per game. The Titans are tied for 22nd at 17 per outing.

Taylor sat out Wednesday’s practice with a toe injury but isn’t in jeopardy of missing the game. Other Colts who didn’t practice were safety Julian Blackmon (ankle), defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (elbow), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hamstring), center Ryan Kelly (knee) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (back).

Linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back) practiced but it remains unknown if he will make his season debut.

For Tennessee, Dupree (hip) was a full practice participant after missing the game against the Raiders. Titans who sat out Wednesday were receiver Treylon Burks (illness), linebacker Zach Cunningham (elbow), safety Amani Hooker (concussion) and tight end Austin Hooper (neck).

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jets hope to get boost from Zach Wilson’s return, beat Steelers

After taking a 27-12 shellacking against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, the New York Jets are in need of a spark.

Luckily for them, they’ll be getting one on Sunday.

Quarterback Zach Wilson is set to make his return and will look to lead the Jets to a better result against yet another AFC North foe when New York clashes with the host Pittsburgh Steelers.

Wilson missed the Jets’ first three games with a knee injury that he sustained in the preseason. He posted lackluster numbers as a rookie in 2021, tallying 13 touchdowns (nine passing, four rushing) and 11 interceptions.

If Wilson wants to make strides in the right direction during his sophomore campaign, New York head coach Robert Saleh knows he’s not going to be able to do it alone.

“It’s really just exciting for him to get back on the football field. It’s been six weeks,” Saleh said. “There’s a lot of different things that have to go around in terms of making sure that we run an efficient offense. From us as coaches, to (offensive) line, to receivers running routes, everybody’s involved.

“But at the same time, it’s not all about Zach. It’s making sure that we’re executing on all cylinders, as we should every week.”

In addition to the pressure that comes with his debut, there might also be an added sense of urgency for Wilson. The Jets (1-2) are already falling behind in the AFC East, a division that has suddenly become one of the strongest in the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins have emerged as two of the league’s powerhouses, while the New England Patriots have seemingly always had New York’s number.

Pittsburgh (1-2) finds itself in a similar situation, and a 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 certainly didn’t help its chances of moving up in the standings.

The Steelers lead the series 18-6 though the Jets have won two of the past three encounters, including a 16-10 win in December 2019.

While all other eyes might be on Wilson, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is directing his attention to another part of the Jets’ offense.

“What is a consistent and regardless of who’s at quarterback is the running back tandem that they have in (Michael) Carter and (Breece) Hall,” Tomlin said. “They’ve been highly, highly productive. They utilize both guys in the running game, in the passing game. Increasingly significant components of what it is they do.”

Carter has 368 scrimmage yards in four career games against AFC North teams.

However, the Steelers might want to force New York to run the ball since their secondary is banged up. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was dealing with a concussion earlier in the week but is expected to play.

The Jets’ defense might also be limited on Sunday, as cornerback Brandin Echols (hamstring) and defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers (toe) were limited participants during practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Quincy Williams (ankle) did not participate.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA;  New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) reacts to an intentional grounding penalty flag during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Giants dig for help as Bears chase third win

New York Giants coach Brian Daboll lauded the play of quarterback Daniel Jones in the team’s Week 3 home loss to Dallas, contending Jones’ versatility kept the Giants in the game.

Jones accounted for 275 total yards while recording at least 75 yards on the ground for the third time in his career.

That ultimately wasn’t enough in a 23-16 defeat, but Jones showed the kind of leadership the team hopes to channel in Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears — and going forward. New York (2-1) has started the season strong despite a thin receiving corps that absorbed more bad news during the Dallas game, as No. 1 wideout Sterling Shepard suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on a non-contact play.

Contact has been a hot topic as the Giants attempt to keep Jones healthy and the offense running. He’s averaging 8.3 rushing attempts through three games and was hit 12 times with 17 pressures in the loss to the Cowboys. Jones has been sacked 13 times this season.

“You want to eliminate, or at least limit, the number of hits,” Daboll said. “You can tell a quarterback, don’t take this. That’s usually when they start thinking about things. He’s making good decisions, when to take off. Guys that can scramble, making loose plays, put pressure on the defense. I’ll never take that away from him.”

New York hopes to get a boost from struggling Kenny Golladay as well as a pair of receivers in Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) who are hoping to come untracked after navigating early-season injuries. In addition to those injuries, the Giants have mounting concerns in the secondary. Cor’Dale Flott (appendix) is a new addition to the injury list and Nick McCloud (hamstring) is unlikely to play in Week 4.

Fortunately for Daboll, running back Saquon Barkley remains a stabilizing force for the Giants’ attack. He leads the NFL with 408 yards from scrimmage, an average of 136 per game, and has a history of faring well against the Bears. Barkley rushed for 102 yards in the most recent meeting, and had 146 scrimmage yards in a home overtime win against Chicago in December 2018.

The Bears (2-1) are coming off a 23-20 home win against Houston in which their defense aided a struggling offense.

A Roquan Smith interception deep in Houston territory set up Cairo Santos’ game-ending field goal. Quarterback Justin Fields was 8-for-17 for 106 yards and a pair of interceptions. Fields was resolute about shifting his focus toward the Giants.

“Just learn from your mistakes knowing that you’re not going to be perfect and move on. … Just correct each and every mistake and try to be better in every aspect,” he said.

Smith missed practice Wednesday, as did cornerback Jaylon Johnson, with a quad injury. He’ll be needed for a repeat of last week’s good fortune.

An opportunistic defense and sterling running game helped the Bears take down Houston despite losing top rusher David Montgomery (ankle) to injury in the early going, and Chicago ran for 281 yards. Khalil Herbert enjoyed a breakout game, running for 157 yards and two scores.

Chicago boasts a three-game winning streak in the series and a 31-21-2 all-time edge against New York. The Bears rolled past the visiting Giants 29-3 in the teams’ most recent meeting in Week 17 of last season, although their leading passer (Andy Dalton) and rusher (Montgomery) from that afternoon are no longer with the organization and day-to-day, respectively. Montgomery didn’t practice Wednesday.

The Giants didn’t practice Wednesday but estimated top defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee), Toney (hamstring) and Robinson (knee) would have missed the session.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the team hopes receiver Velus Jones Jr., who has missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, will be available against the Giants. He was limited in Wednesday’s practice.

“He’s been conditioning, working in there,” Eberflus said.

The team this week placed receiver Byron Pringle (calf) on injured reserve.

–Field Level Media