Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...
Key game-time decisions
All players questionable unless noted
Fournette sat out all week. The running back insisted this week he would play, but will likely be a game-time decision. Lee was limited in practice on Friday.
Murray returned to practice on Friday but was a limited participant. He'll likely be a game-time decision. Walker sat out Friday's session.
Winston was full-go on Friday and will start. Alexander, David, Ward, Tandy and Spence also all practiced on Friday.
Ellington sat out Thursday and Friday. The other four players were all limited.
Barron returned limited on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.
Cunningham and Kwiatkoski were full-go Friday. Grasu was limited.
Foster was limited all week.
Gordon was limited all week but should play. Allen sat out Friday after being added to the injury report.
Kelly was full-go on Friday.
Both were limited all week.
Wilkerson sat out Friday. RB Bilal Powell (calf) was full-go this week and will return to the lineup.
Bennett was full-go on Friday, as was Prosise.
Matthews was full-go on Friday, a positive sign for his potential return.
McCourty sat out Friday. Britt, Coates, and Peppers were all limited.
It's a grim injury report for Denver, with all seven players ruled out.
Cardinals at Rams (London)-- 50 degrees, mostly cloudy, winds 15 mph
Buccaneers at Bills -- 70 degrees, partly cloudy, winds 10 mph
Bengals at Steelers -- 74 degrees, partly cloudy
Ravens at Vikings (indoors) -- 57 degrees, partly cloudy
Jets at Dolphins -- 88 degrees, partly cloudy, winds 14 mph
Panthers at Bears -- 68 degrees, chance of rain (65 percent), winds 16 mph
Titans at Browns -- 71 degrees, clear, winds 11 mph
Saints at Packers -- 58 degrees, chance of light rain (28 percent), winds 12 mph
Jaguars at Colts (indoors) -- 72 degrees, mostly cloudy
Cowboys at 49ers -- 70 degrees, sunny
Seahawks at Giants -- 73 degrees, mostly cloudy
Broncos at Chargers -- 86 degrees, clear
Falcons at Patriots (SNF) -- 59 degrees, partly cloudy
Redskins at Eagles (MNF) -- 67 degrees, overcast, slight chance of rain late (10 percent)
What to Watch For
After weeks of facing stifling run defenses, LeSean McCoy is set to burst out against a Tampa D that has been gashed on the ground. In the last four games, McCoy is averaging 42.3 rushing yards per game and a measly 2.6 yards per carry. Sunday he draws a banged up Bucs team that made Adrian Peterson look 23-years-old last week. With the Bills receiving corps dealing with injuries, Shady will be the focal point on the ground and in the passing game coming off the bye week.
Jameis Winston will start versus the Bills after suffering a shoulder injury to his throwing arm. The question heading into Sunday is how much pop Winston will have on his passes, but the QB showed good velocity during Friday's practice, according to reporters on the scene. With Winston in the lineup, the matchup to watch is receiver Mike Evans versus Bills buffo rookie corner Tre'Davious White. Evan's production is down about 10 percent across the board this season, as the Bucs offense has been inconsistent through five games. White, meanwhile, has been a stud early in his career. The rookie has 11 passes defensed this season (T-most in NFL), 1 INT and allowed a 72.6 passer rating when targeted. In a big road matchup with a quarterback battling injury, Evans needs to roast the rookie and get the Bucs offense back on track before pivotal division tilts (vs. Panthers, at Saints) the following two weeks.
Christian McCaffrey leads all RBs in targets (50) and receptions (37) this season. With the Panthers run-blocking woes continuing, expect McCaffrey to see a boatload of targets out of the backfield again. Carolina hasn't given the shifty rookie much work as a between-the-tackles runner, but he's been deadly in space. Chicago's defense has been underrated up the gut and done well against pass-catching backs this season, but McCaffrey should feast nonetheless. With injury concerns for Kelvin Benjamin (knee), Cam Newton will look to his rookie in what could be a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Will the Bears be able to continue hiding Mitchell Trubisky behind a dominant running game against Carolina's stout front? Jordan Howard set career highs in carries (36) and rush yards (167) in Week 6 against Baltimore. With Trubisky in the lineup, Howard has feasted on stretch runs, getting to the edge and exploiting the second level. John Fox's run-at-all-costs mentality will be tested against the Panther's fifth-ranked rush defense (83.3 rush YPG). Carolina hasn't allowed a single running back to rush for more than 67 yards this season. With Luke Kuechly ruled out, however, the Bears rushing attack gets a slight reprieve. If Howard is stymied early, will Fox let his rookie quarterback rip it around the park?
Marcus Mariota played the pocket-passer role to perfection last week while dealing with an ailing hamstring. He'll likely be asked to do it again on a short week. The one thing the Browns defense has done well this season is plug the run, allowing opponents just over three yards per carry, second fewest in the NFL. With DeMarco Murray nursing a hamstring injury and the Titans yet to give Derrick Henry a heavy workload, we'd expect the passing game to lead the way this week. Eric Decker came to life last week, Taywan Taylor is more than a gimmick player, and Rishard Matthews will have an advantage downfield against Browns DBs not named Jason McCourty (who's been the lone bright spot on Cleveland's back end). Sunday is a great matchup for all the Titans' pass-catchers to go off.
DeShone Kizer returns to the starting role after a one-week benching. The rookie has struggled, ranking dead last in the NFL in completion percentage (50.9), passer rating (49.5) and interceptions (9). The one positive for Kizer this week is he faces a Titans secondary that has been torched this season, ranking 25th against the pass by Football Outsiders metrics. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau tortures young quarterbacks and will send pressure at Kizer. The rookie will need to get the ball out quick against blitzes Sunday, something he's struggled with throughout his five starts.
NFL Research stat of the week:Myles Garrett this season: Two Games; 33 Pass Rush Snaps. 3.0 Sacks; 6 Total Pressures. 18.2 QB Pressure Percentage (Highest among qualified defensive linemen).
The Saints are becoming a running back-centric offense in 2017 -- and it has little to do with the Adrian Peterson trade. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have averaged 184.15 scrimmage yards in five games this season. Last week, the duo went for 44 touches and 237 scrimmage yards. Sunday at Lambeau, Ingram and Kamara should again carry the load. The Packers got gashed by Jerick McKinnon last week, so expect Sean Payton to call Kamara's number often. The speedy rookie has been deadly in space this season, and Payton has done a masterful job with stretch pitches and flat passes to get the running back to green grass at the second level.
All eyes will be on Brett Hundley. Among the 78 players with 40-plus pass attempts in the regular season since 2015, no player has had a lower passer rating than Hundley's 28.0 -- Hundley has 44 pass attempts in the NFL. In Week 6, Hundley went 18/33 for 157 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs. I'm not down on the third-year pro who was thrust into last week's game with little preparation. The Packers have the supporting cast to buoy the strong-armed QB, if he can get protection. The Packers currently boast the NFL's No. 26 rushing offense (88.3 rush YPG), averaging 3.98 yards per carry (22nd in NFL). That will need to improve to aid Hundley. With Cameron Jordan leading the pass rush, the Saints defense has gone from allowing 32.5 PPG (first 2 games) to 17 PPG (last 3 games). If Jordan is wreaking havoc in the Packers backfield Sunday it could be a struggle for Hundley in his first start.
Leonard Fournette's status hovers over the Jaguars like a thick fog in a cemetery. The rookie running back hasn't practiced this week and was officially ruled as questionable with an ankle injury. Fournette insisted all week that he'll be ready for Sunday in Indy. Would the Jags put their best offensive player in harm's way if he's in danger of re-injury? If the bulldozing rusher can't go, it strips the Jags of their only true weapon on offense. Chris Ivory has been a solid sub this season but isn't a workhorse like Fournette. If Fournette can't play, or is on a pitch count, a lot of pressure will be put on Blake Bortles' plate. The quarterback has struggled over his last three games this season -- 57.1 completion percent ranks 31st among 32 qualifying QBs this season. On the plus side, Bortles faces a Colts secondary that has given up the third-most passing yards this season.
It seems like every week A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey are highlighted in this spot. We won't change that script. The NFL's top corner duo faces off against T.Y. Hilton, who ranks second in the NFL with two 150-plus receiving yard games this season (only Antonio Brown has more, one of which was against Jacksonville). When covered by Bouye (with Houston) and Ramsey in 2016, Hilton caught just six of 11 targets for 76 yards, zero touchdowns, and a 76.3 passer rating. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has displayed fearlessness pushing the ball down the field when given time. Facing a dominant Jags defensive front, Brissett must connect on a few strikes to Hilton to stretch the defense and open the underneath passing game.
Fun fact: Adrian Peterson will become the first person to ever play in two London games within a single NFL season.
Peterson proved last week he's far from washed up. All Day gashed through the Bucs defense for 134 rushing yards and two rush TDs on 26 carries in his Cardinals debut (snapped an 8-game streak of fewer than 100 rush yards). Sunday, Peterson faces a Rams defense that has been statistically poor against the run (139.5 yards per game) and gave up a huge early scamper to Leonard Fournette last week. After that run, however, L.A. clamped down. Can they keep Peterson in check all game? Aside from the obvious attributes, Peterson brings balance to Arizona's offense, which opens the passing game (evidenced by Carson Palmer completing his first 14 passes last week). For Palmer to pick his deep shots, however, the Cards offensive line must keep Aaron Donald from killing the quarterback.
Patrick Peterson (quad) playing is a big boost for the Arizona secondary. However, Jared Goff still has a great matchup to return to early-season form. The Rams quarterback predictably struggled against the Seahawks and Jaguars secondaries. The Cardinals provide a reprieve for the second-year signal-caller. Arizona's No. 2 corners have been torched, so look for Goff to target Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods on deep crossers and digs if Peterson travels with Sammy Watkins. If Peterson doesn't trail Watkins, the struggling wideout should see several deep shots his way in London.
NFL Research stat of the week: This game features the NFL's oldest roster (ARI) vs the 3rd-youngest (LAR). The Cardinals' average age is 28 years, 14 days. Rams' average age is 25 years, 289 days. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is 33 years, 3 months, 21 days older than Rams coach Sean McVay. Arians was the head coach of Temple when McVay was born (1986).
In the Jets' 20-6 Week 3 win over the Dolphins, Josh McCown was able to pick on the Miami secondary, completing 78.3 percent of his passes for 249 yards, a touchdown, and averaged 10.8 yards per throw. Against a Dolphins defensive front that has pummeled the run (see below), Gang Green needs similar production. A bevy of those targets should go to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Since returning from his suspension in Week 3, ASJ leads all tight ends with 23 catches. The Dolphins' defense has given up the most receptions per game to tight ends this year (7.0 per tilt, tied with the Browns).
Miami needs the good Jay Ajayi to show up Sunday. The running back currently ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing yards (393) and is one of five players receiving 20-plus carries per game. However, he's struggled for stretches this season, including being held to 16 yards on 11 carries by this very Jets defense in Week 3. Last week, Ajayi gashed through gaps, pulverizing second-level players. When Ajayi is gaining chunks on first down, it keeps Smokin' Jay Cutler out of the long down-and-distances in which he struggles. Outside of the performance against Miami, the Jets have been gashed on the ground, giving up more than 100-yards per game in the five other contests (rank 28th in the NFL, allowing 138.8 yards per game).
NFL Research stat of the week: Miami's rushing defense has been stout this season, allowing 80.4 rush YPG (4th in NFL). On pace to allow fewest rush YPG in team history. Have not allowed an RB to rush for more than 70 yards in a game. Have not allowed an RB to have 100-plus scrimmage yards in a game. RBs faced: Melvin Gordon, Matt Forte/Bilal Powell, Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara, DeMarco Murray, Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman.
On paper, this is just about the worst offense-defense matchup you could find. The Ravens haven't moved the ball on the ground or through the air consistently this season. The Vikings defense, on the other hand, boasts game-changing talent across all three levels. Joe Flacco does not have a 250-yard passing game this season, has zero games with a passer rating north of 100, and his only game with 2-plus TD passes came in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. Alex Collins and Buck Allen don't present a matchup problem for the Vikings on the ground or through the air. Injuries and inefficiency have led to little production from Baltimore's receiving corps. The best matchup for Flacco on Sunday is Benjamin Watson against a Vikings defense that has given up plays to tight ends. Expect Flacco to target the veteran often Sunday if the Ravens are to move the ball in Minnesota.
Case Keenum has thrown one INT on 159 pass attempts this season. He faces a Ravens defense that has gobbled up nine interceptions (second-most in the NFL). With Stefon Diggs still out and Keenum's up-and-down nature, expect the Vikings to ride the running game hard against a Ravens defense that has allowed 141.3 rushing yards per game, and gave up 231 yards on the ground last week. Getting Brandon Williams, one of the best run stuffers in the NFL, back will be a boost to Baltimore's interior. Jerick McKinnon, however, should see plenty of daylight at the edges (where Jordan Howard killed the Ravens last week). McKinnon is averaging 122.5 scrimmage yards per game in two tilts since Dalvin Cook went down.
Ezekiel Elliott remains on the field, but Sunday's matchup offers a better chance for the other two pieces of the Cowboys' triumvirate to dominate. Dak Prescott has increased his efficiency over the past three games, earning a 107.9 passer rating, 8-2 TD-INT ratio and 7.6 yards per attempt. Against a banged-up, struggling 49ers' secondary, Prescott should improve upon those lines. I expect a big day from Dez Bryant. The No. 1 receiver is coming off back-to-back good games and has a mismatch all over the field against a defense that has allowed receivers to go for more than 1,000 yards in six games.
C.J. Beathard takes over in San Francisco. The rookie led a comeback last week that fell just short, outscoring the Redskins 24-9 after he entered. While his accuracy comes and goes, Beathard provides much more promise the Niners offense will be able to move the ball. Facing the Cowboys defense is a good place to start. Dallas has allowed 11 touchdown passes this season and given up 35-plus points in three of five games. Fellow rookie tight end George Kittle is a player to watch Sunday. A college teammate of Beathard, Kittle boasts superior athleticism and has earned 17 targets the past two weeks. If he can negate the drops, his star is on the rise.
NFL Research stat of the week: The Cowboys have scored 30-plus points and gained 400-plus total yards in each of their last two games (both losses). The rest of the NFL is 15-3 when hitting those numbers this season.
The matchup to watch in Pittsburgh is the Steelers No. 1 ranked pass defense (allowing 153.5 points per game) versus A.J. Green. The Bengals wideout has ripped Pittsburgh in the past, owning his most career receptions (76) and receiving yards (1,046) against the Steelers (tied for most receiving TD, 7). Since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator in Week 3, Green has been much more productive, leading the NFL in receiving YPG (121.0). If Mike Tomlin's secondary continues its sticky play and slows down Green, will Andy Dalton be able to move the ball?
Every week this season has included new qualms about the Steelers' offense. First, it was Le'Veon Bell's preseason absence hurting his readiness. Then it was Ben Roethlisberger struggling. Then it was Antonio Brown flipping Gatorade jugs. Now it's Martavis Bryant not getting enough run. After Bell's big day last week, we'd expect Pittsburgh to ride the running back again. Nothing will come easy for the Steelers against one of the best defenses in the NFL versus the run and pass. Cincy's defense ranks No. 3 in Football Outsiders DVOA, and has been extra stingy since Vontaze Burfict's return. We know the history between the linebacker and the Steelers well. In a heated rivalry, will Burfict set off alarms once again?
The Broncos have struggled to put points on the board in their last three games -- 14.0 PPG, and 34.0 third-down percent. Denver heads to Los Angeles without Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, out) and Trevor Siemian nursing a shoulder issue after getting banged around last week (facing Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa makes matters worse). Given the matchup, the Broncos need to lean on the running game. The Chargers rank last in yards per game on the ground, giving up 152.5 per tilt and 5.0 yards per rush. This has the making of a C.J. Anderson-heavy game in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's #revengegame versus the Chargers. I'd also like to see Jamaal Charles get the ball more. Six touches in each of the last two games is not enough for a dynamic back who looked spry to start the season.
After struggling to start the season, Melvin Gordon has put up back-to-back 150-plus scrimmage-yard games. He'll be asked to do the same Sunday and should see 20-plus carries for the third straight game. What has made Gordon more effective the past two weeks is his usage as a receiving weapon. The third-year pro has compiled 15 catches for 125 yards and three receiving scores. The Broncos entered Week 6 with the top-ranked run defense in the NFL but were unable to contain the piddling Giants rushing attack: Weeks 1-4: 50.8 rush YPG allowed, 2.4 yards/carry allowed; Week 6: 148 rush yards allowed, 4.6 yards/carry allowed. If Orleans Darkwa can make hay on edge runs, we'd expect Gordon to find some daylight on stretch plays Sunday.
NFL Research stat of the week:Philip Rivers has more career pass TD (39), losses (12) and sacks taken (58) against the Broncos than any other opponent in his career. Rivers has made 24 career starts against the Broncos (including playoffs): 8-2 from 2006-2010; 3-11 since 2011 (when Von Miller was drafted).
Are we in for a vintage Jimmy Graham game? The Giants can't cover tight ends. Big Blue has given up 390 receiving yards to tight ends this season and an NFL-worst six touchdowns. Graham, meanwhile, has seen his targets rise this season, averaging of 8.3 passes his way in the last three contests. With Seattle's run game still a mess, and the offensive line struggling to block for long, expect Russell Wilson to look Graham's way with quick passes early and target the tight end repeatedly in the red zone Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Did the Giants offense finally find a spark with Mike Sullivan calling plays, or was the run-first approach a one-week aberration thanks to the game script? After averaging 20.0 rushes per game and 77.8 yards per game, Big Blue went for 148 rushing yards on 32 totes against the NFL's best run defense, with Orleans Darkwa ripping off 117 yards himself. The move to more two-tight end sets due to the injuries at receiver proved to be a bonus for the Giants run game. It's a package Sullivan should keep employing heavily against a Seahawks defense that has been surprisingly run on at times this season.
Did you know this was a rematch of Super Bowl LI, in which the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons? Of course you did. Everyone remembers the epic comeback. The question is whether the Super Bowl failure, coupled with the blown leads this season, will cripple the Falcons Sunday night at Foxborough. Matt Ryan has struggled under Steve Sarkisian this season. Ryan's passer rating has dropped 29.8 points from 2016 to 2017, the largest drop among 24 QBs to qualify as passers in both seasons. The deep ball and sideline throws have been particularly problematic. Ryan's passer rating has dropped 42.8 points from 2016 to 2017 on throws outside the numbers, per Next Gen Stats. Part of those struggles are due to the lack of targets to Julio Jones (something coach Dan Quinn said this week he'd like to see improve). Jones is averaging a career-low 73.4 receiving YPG this season. Ryan and Jones have a great matchup against a Patriots defense that ranks dead last in passing yards per game allowed (323.0), yards per play (6.9), and total yards per game (447.2).
In what should be a high-scoring affair, expect Rob Gronkowski to be the focal point of the Patriots attack once again this week. The Falcons have yet to give up a touchdown to a tight end this season, but there are holes in the gaps of Atlanta's zone scheme that Gronk can exploit over the middle (he did not play in the Super Bowl). The tight end has earned more than 80 yards with four touchdowns in his last four games played. When Tom Brady looks to the ground game to exploit a Falcons run defense that was trampled by Jay Ajayi last week, we expect Dion Lewis to get more run. While James White exposed the Falcons in the Super Bowl, Lewis has been the better rusher the past two weeks, averaging 6.15 yards per rush.
NFL Research stat of the week:The Falcons have been held to 17 points in back-to-back games for the first times since Weeks 6 and 7, 2014. ATL has not been held to 17-or-fewer points in three consecutive games since Weeks 8-10, 2013.
After a double-digit win in Week 1, the Eagles are looking for their first sweep of Washington since 2013.
After getting into a groove this season, Kirk Cousins has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Since Week 3, Cousins ranks first in the NFL in yards per attempt and passer rating, third in third-down conversion rate, and fourth in TD-INT ratio. And he's doing this with his top target being a pass-catching running back, Chris Thompson. The Eagles could get corner Ronald Darby back soon, but this is still a matchup for Cousins to have a big game against an Eagles secondary that has been prone to coverage breakdowns. In what could be a shootout under the lights, Terrelle Pryor needs to have the monster game we've been waiting for this season.
The Carson Wentz show has been a wonderful watch. The second-year quarterback sprinkles in wondrous deep shots and Brett Favre-like scramble drills. Yes, he's had his brain cramps, like most young quarterbacks, but Wentz's highs have been uber-high this season and his lows mitigated. Led by one of the most balanced offensive attacks, the Eagles have scored 20-plus points in 10 straight games -- 3rd-longest streak in franchise history. The Redskins have been stout against the run this season, but are susceptible to deep shots, especially if corners Josh Norman (ribs) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) can't suit up. It should be another whopper-sized day for Wentz's favorite target, tight end Zach Ertz, who ripped the Redskins in Week 1. Washington has given up the second-most yards to tight ends this season (407 total), and 81.4 yards per game to the position.
NFL Research stat of the week:Chris Thompson leads all RBs in receiving yards this season (340) -- 77.8 percent of receptions have resulted in first downs (highest-rate among RBs, minimum 5 rec).