The NFL is nearing the halfway point of the regular season, and things are beginning to heat up.
Once Super Bowl favorites, the San Francisco 49ers are on a two-game skid after losing to the Minnesota Vikings in a “Monday Night Football” showdown and are trending in the wrong direction after the Cleveland Browns snapped their 15-game regular-season win streak the week before.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)
With Brock Purdy out of concussion protocol on Saturday, the Niners can at least rely on their young signal-caller to turn things around in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
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The Chiefs are red hot after continuing their streak over the Los Angeles Chargers, but some cold, cold weather in Denver could allow the Broncos to ice out Kansas City after coming off a much-needed win over the Green Bay Packers.
Read below for more about this week’s games.
New York, New York
Quincy Williams (56) of the New York Jets reacts after a defensive stop during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium Oct. 15, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Historically speaking, the New York Jets are slow off a bye week. For the last seven seasons, the Jets have lost every game played after a bye. The last time they were successful after time off in a season was in 2015 against the Washington Commanders.
Still, the Jets entered the 2023 season with a different mindset and are now hoping to make it three straight with a much-needed win over the struggling New York Giants.
The Giants will be without quarterback Daniel Jones, who was ruled out for the third straight game with a neck injury, but having backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor in his place could mean another win.
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Taylor finished last week’s win over the Commanders 18 of 29 for 279 yards and two second-quarter touchdown passes.
The biggest hurdle for the Giants will be overcoming the Jets’ defense, whose 13 takeaways are tied for third most in the NFL with a plus-5 differential.
On the line? Bragging rights, of course.
Battle of the rookies
Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell (3) and quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) celebrate a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at EverBank Stadium. (Morgan Tencza/USA Today Sports)
The top two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft will face off Sunday when Bryce Young and the winless Carolina Panthers host C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans in what will be the ultimate rookie showdown.
Even more compelling, the two young quarterbacks are longtime friends.
“They killed us terribly,” Stroud told reporters this week of a middle school game the two played against one another. “He had a really good game. I played terrible.”
But much has changed since that game nearly a decade ago, and Stroud is leading the way.
He has the 10th best quarterback rating in the league with nine touchdown passes and only one interception, while the No. 1 overall draft pick is 0-5 as a starter and 29th in league with his quarterback rating.
Not so Purdy
Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after running for a first down in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium Sept. 10, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
The season certainly isn’t on the line for the 49ers when they take on the Bengals Sunday, but Kyle Shanahan’s offense needs to turn things around to avoid a three-game losing streak.
To make matters worse, San Francisco was facing the possibility of being without Brock Purdy. He was listed as questionable and still in concussion protocol Friday. But good news came Saturday with “Mr. Irrelevant” being cleared and ready to start.
But the Bengals are on a bit of a hot streak and hoping to keep things going in that direction.
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No days off!
Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions drinks from a Gatorade bottle during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Oct. 15, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
For the first time in 12 years, every NFL team will play in Week 8 despite the start of byes.
The scheduling oddity comes after the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans all had a week of rest last week. For the 2023 season, bye weeks began in Week 5.
But for Halloween weekend, the NFL has a game scheduled for all 32 teams.
The last time this happened was in 2011 when the NFL scheduled no byes for Week 10, according to a CBS Sports report.