Blame Tom Brady for this.
NFL quarterbacks are scoring like crazy this season, and it started getting historic on Oct. 10, when Brady rushed for two touchdowns in the Thursday night game that kicked off Week 6. The next Sunday, Houston’s Deshaun Watson had two touchdowns as well, with Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, Dallas’s Dak Prescott, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton each reaching the end zone.
Those 10 touchdowns, according to the NFL, topped Week 13 of the 2015 season as the most scored by quarterbacks in a single week since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. There have been 31 quarterback touchdowns this season, the most through six weeks since the merger.
Meanwhile, two guys named Ryan stand to profit on Sunday from their teams’ turmoil at the position. Ryan Tannehill will replace Marcus Mariota for Tennessee and Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for Miami, replacing Josh Rosen.
This week’s byes go to the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
All times Eastern.
|1||Dolphins at Bills||CBS|
|1||Jaguars at Bengals||CBS|
|1||Vikings at Lions||Fox|
|1||Raiders at Packers||CBS|
|1||Rams at Falcons||Fox|
|1||Texans at Colts||CBS|
|1||49ers at Redskins||Fox|
|1||Cardinals at Giants||Fox|
|4:05||Chargers at Titans||CBS|
|4:25||Saints at Bears||Fox|
|4:25||Ravens at Seahawks||Fox|
|8:20||Eagles at Cowboys||NBC|
The early shift
Dolphins (0-5) at Bills (4-1), 1, CBS
The Dolphins have been outscored by 138 points, but at least their latest loss was by only one point, albeit to the previously winless Redskins. The Josh Rosen experiment seems to be over, with Ryan Fitzpatrick set to start in Buffalo after relieving Rosen last week. “Days like today, when you have progress, that’s what makes us go, ‘Okay, there it is, we can do it,” offensive lineman Jesse Davis said after Miami’s second-half rally against the Redskins. “Just because you’re 0-5 doesn’t mean that you’re horrible.”
Well, no. But you know who might be really good? The Buffalo Bills. They return to action after last week’s bye, and are the only AFC team besides the Patriots with fewer than two losses. They’ve been succeeding with a defense that ranks third with an average of 275 yards allowed, third against the pass (giving up 187.2 yards per game) and seventh against the run (giving up 87.8 yards per game). On offense, the ageless (okay, he’s 36) Frank Gore just keeps chugging along, averaging nearly 67 yards per game (15th in the league).
Jaguars (2-4) at Bengals (0-6), 1, CBS
The Jaguars made a big splash midweek, meeting the trade demand of disgruntled defensive back Jalen Ramsey by sending him to the Rams. Gardner Minshew II and his fabulous mustache looked overmatched last week, passing for 163 yards in a loss against New Orleans, but perhaps that’s to be expected with the Saints keying on receiver D.J. Chark. Minshew might have fewer options at receiver this week, with tight end Geoff Swaim in concussion protocol. The Bengals hope to get Joe Mixon going after the team gained only 33 net yards on 14 carries in a loss to the Ravens.
Vikings (4-2) at Lions (2-2-1), 1, Fox
How on earth do the Lions rebound on a short week after the NFL admitted that an officiating error helped decide their loss to the Packers on Monday night? A win over the Packers would have left the Lions atop the NFC North. Now they’re in the cellar, despite five games decided by all of 11 points, including a season-opening tie with Arizona. The Vikings’ Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have combined for nine receptions, 326 yards and five touchdowns on the 17 of Kirk Cousins’s passes that have gone 20 or more yards through the air (he has a 137.9 passer rating of those throws). Cousins has an NFL-best 142.5 passer rating over the last two weeks.
Raiders (3-2) at Packers (5-1), 1, CBS
Smells like a trap game for Green Bay, no? Maybe. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers found a groove, passing for over 400 yards and two touchdowns in that controversial win over the Lions, and he completed three passes into tight quarters in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown throw to Allen Lazard. The schedule gets tougher after this, when the Packers play at Kansas City, at the Los Angeles Chargers and at home against Carolina before their Week 11 bye. The surprising Raiders, who are coming off their own bye, have won two games in a row and their only losses have come against Minnesota and Kansas City.
Rams (3-3) at Falcons (1-5), 1, Fox
Gulp. The Rams are in big trouble in their division, with the impressive 49ers at 5-0 and the Seahawks at 5-1, so they made a big, bold move, sending first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-rounder in 2021 to Jacksonville for Jalen Ramsey. That came after they sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick. After winning their first three games, Jared Goff has struggled and the Rams have lost three in a row. In the Falcons, they face a team looking to stop a four-game skid. Last week, Atlanta scored against Arizona with just under two minutes left, but Matt Bryant missed an extra point that would have forced overtime and Atlanta, despite rolling up 444 yards of offense, lost by a point.
Texans (4-2) at Colts (3-2), 1, CBS
The Texans’ Deshaun Watson passed for 280 yards in a victory over Kansas City and now has 7,508 yards through 29 games, tying him with Marc Bulger, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford as the second-fastest NFL quarterback to reach 7,500 yards. (Kurt Warner got there in 27 games.) Like the Texans, the Colts, who are coming off their bye week, beat the Chiefs in Kansas City by running the ball and playing tough defense. The Texans haven’t faced the Colts without Andrew Luck at quarterback since 2017 (when he was out for the season). Jacoby Brissett, who replaced Luck then and upon his retirement this summer, is 3-0 against Houston, with one game coming as a rookie in New England (when Tom Brady was serving his 2016 Deflategate suspension).
49ers (5-0) at Redskins (1-5), 1, Fox
Think Kyle Shanahan might be motivated to beat up on the Redskins, now that he has a healthy team with the best record in the NFC? He returns to the place where he was an assistant on his father’s staff. The best part about that job? “Working with my dad,” Shanahan said in the lead-up to this game. And the worst? “Everything else.” He went on to add: “I’ve moved on in my life. It’s easy not to make it personal. The guys that it would be personal with don’t play in the game.”
The 49ers, who haven’t won a division title since 2012, took apart the Rams, last year’s NFC champs, last week. It should be noted that they’re only the fourth team in 40 years to start 5-0 after winning fewer than five games the previous season. The last two teams of whom that could be said (the 1999 Rams and 1988 Bengals) went to the Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo is 13-2 as a starter, becoming the eighth QB in the Super Bowl era to win 13 of his first 15 starts. Shanahan’s impressive defense has allowed 10 points and 345 yards in victories over the Browns and Rams. Last week, the Redskins managed to eke out a one-point win in Bill Callahan’s first game as the interim coach. As a measure of how things are going for the Redskins, a fan paid $1,600 for a plane to fly a ‘Fire Bruce Allen’ banner over the stadium before the game.
Cardinals (2-3-1) at Giants (2-4), 1, Fox
The matchup of highly touted rookie quarterbacks Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones (the No. 6 pick in the NFL draft) and Kyler Murray (the No. 1 pick) makes this an intriguing game. Playing in the dismal NFC East, the Giants need to start winning games and could have Saquon Barkley (high ankle sprain) back after a three-game absence. (He was removed from the injury report earlier in the week.) The Cardinals have won two straight, edging Atlanta by a point last week, and in those games Murray has completed 47 of 69 passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns, with a 109.1 passer rating. He also has rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. The road ahead looks rough for him, though, with the Cardinals playing the 49ers on Oct. 31 and Nov. 17 and the Saints next week in New Orleans.
Chargers (2-4) at Titans (2-4), 4:05, CBS
A playoff team a year ago, the Chargers have been going nowhere, hurt in part by Philip Rivers’s unforced errors (six interceptions and two lost fumbles). Three of their losses have been by a touchdown, with the other coming by three points. The Titans have lost faith in Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and have benched him for this game. He was pulled last week, when Denver shut out Tennessee, and was replaced by veteran backup Ryan Tannehill. Mariota was sacked three times and completed seven of 18 passes for 63 yards with two interceptions before getting the hook; Tannehill completed 13 of 16 passes for 144 yards and was intercepted once.
Saints (5-1) at Bears (3-2), 4:25, Fox
Drew Brees says he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from thumb surgery, but Teddy “4-0” Bridgewater and a tenacious D give New Orleans the luxury of not rushing his return. For the second time in three games, the Saints held an opponent to 10 or fewer points in last week’s win over the Jaguars. Aside from New Orleans, only the Patriots (three), 49ers (two) and Bears (two) have held opponents to 10 or fewer points multiple times this season. The Bears are moving forward without defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and offensive lineman Kyle Long, both of whom are on injured reserve.
Ravens (4-2) at Seahawks (5-1), 4:25, Fox
Lamar Jackson last week joined Colin Kaepernick as the only NFL quarterbacks to top 200 passing yards and 150 rushing yards in a single game. (Kaepernick did it — with 263 and 181 — in a playoff game against the Packers following the 2012 season.) The Ravens made a smart trade at midweek, acquiring cornerback Marcus Peters from the Rams in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed draft pick in 2020. Russell Wilson had yet another stellar performance in a comeback win in Cleveland, staking his claim to the MVP award with 295 yards passing and two touchdowns while also rushing for one. He has had a passer rating of 102.6 or higher in every game. This game marks the return of Earl Thomas, a cornerstone of the “Legion of Boom” defense, to Seattle. He wasn’t sure how he’d be received, but hopes he’s greeted “with love.”
The night game
Eagles (3-3) at Cowboys (3-3), 8:20, NBC
Eagles Coach Doug Pederson said — but did not use the word “guarantee,” he wants you to know — that the Eagles, coming off an 18-point loss in Minneapolis, would win in Dallas. The loquacious Dallas owner, Jerry Jones, called the Cowboys’ loss to the Jets “a bloody nose” and admitted his team is not among the NFL’s best after its third straight loss. As for Coach Jason Garrett, who has been assured by Jones that his job is safe, he is offering no guarantees or promises against Philly. “My response is we’re excited about the challenge,” he said
Read more NFL coverage from The Post: