NFL

Vikings look to remain stingy at Highmark Stadium, Bucs aiming for first overseas win

By Sports Desk November 11, 2022

We are somehow already at Week 10 in the NFL season, all wondering where the time actually does go.

Two of the shining lights of the campaign face off in Buffalo as the Bills host the Minnesota Vikings.

History will be made in Munich as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Seattle Seahawks in the first-ever regular season NFL game played in Germany, while the San Francisco 49ers will look to continue their return to winning ways against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Stats Perform takes a closer look at the numbers behind some of Sunday's NFL clashes.

Minnesota Vikings (7-1) @ Buffalo Bills (6-2)

The Vikings have played eight games at Highmark Stadium and have held the Bills to 23 points or fewer in each one, which is the longest streak of allowing 23 points or fewer by a visiting team in the stadium's history.

Minnesota have won six straight games, all by eight points or fewer, tied for the second-longest streak of one-possession wins in NFL history, behind a seven-game streak by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.

T.J. Hockenson boasted nine catches on his Vikings debut last week, tying the Bills' Keith McKeller (October 18, 1987) for the most receptions by a tight end on debut with a team in the Super Bowl era.

The Bills have allowed 21 points or fewer in 12 straight regular-season games, the longest streak in franchise history and the second longest by any NFL team over the last 15 seasons (Baltimore Ravens, 13 straight from 2019-20).

Buffalo are allowing just 4.6 points per game in the second half this year. No NFL team has allowed fewer than 5.0 points per game in the second half over a full season since the Carolina Panthers in 1996 (3.5).

Seattle Seahawks (6-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)

It should be a great experience in Bavaria, but the Bucs are 0-3 in games played outside the United States (all in London), having been outscored 96-51 in those games. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are 2-0 outside the U.S. (one in Toronto, one in London), outscoring their opponents, 77-20.

Pete Carroll is in his 17th season as an NFL head coach and has had at least six wins in each campaign. The only other coach to have six or more wins in each of his first 17 seasons was Don Shula, who did so in all 33 seasons of his career.

Kenneth Walker III is the first NFL rookie to rush for a touchdown and have his team win in each of his first four career starts since Robert Edwards for the New England Patriots in 1998.

Tom Brady has thrown at least 40 passes with no interceptions in seven consecutive starts. No other QB in NFL history has done that in more than four straight starts.

The Bucs have rushed for 75 or fewer yards in eight straight games, the second-longest streak in the Super Bowl wera behind a nine-game streak by the Cardinals from 1991-92.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

The Chargers are looking to win their sixth-straight game against the 49ers, which would make them the first team to do so since the Seahawks (nine games from 2014 to 2018).

Justin Herbert was not sacked in the Chargers' recent win against the Atlanta Falcons. The Chargers have allowed the fewest sacks in the league this season (10), and have not allowed 10 or fewer sacks through eight games since the 2008 season (also 10).

Through 40 career starts, Herbert has played a part in 90 touchdowns (82 passing, eight rushing). Only Patrick Mahomes (107), Dan Marino (95) and Kurt Warner (91) accounted for more scores in their first 40 starts.

San Francisco's last five games have all been decided by at least 14 points (3-2 record). They have not had six consecutive such games since an eight-game streak in 1999.

Christian McCaffrey threw for, rushed for and caught a touchdown in San Francisco's win over the Rams. He was the first player to do so since the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson completed the feat in Week 6 of the 2005 season.

Elsewhere...

The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) will need a plan to deal with Chiefs (6-2) QB Mahomes, who attempted 68 passes (completing 43) in last week's win over the Tennessee Titans, both of which set single-game team records. The only player to attempt more passes in a win in the NFL since 1950 was Drew Bledsoe with 70 in Week 11 of the 1994 season.

Former Chief Tyreek Hill has 1104 receiving yards this season for the Miami Dolphins (6-3), the most by any player through his team's first nine games in the Super Bowl era. Prior to this year, there had only been 11 times a Dolphins receiver recorded 1100 yards in an entire season, and Hill will look to add to those against the Cleveland Browns (3-5).

Last week was Cooper Kupp's 20th career game with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2017. The only other players with more than 15 such games in that span are Davante Adams (19) and Hill (18), and the Los Angeles Rams (3-5) will need their star to step up again against the Arizona Cardinals (3-6).

Aaron Rodgers' passer rating is at 89.0 this season after posting 111.9 in 2021. The decrease of 22.9 is the largest by a Green Bay Packers quarterback (min. five games played) since Bart Starr from 1966 to 1967 (105.0 to 64.4). With a record of 3-6, the Packers will hope he can improve that against the Dallas Cowboys (6-2).

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  • Young guns and old heads form the perfect blend as Germany get off to a flyer Young guns and old heads form the perfect blend as Germany get off to a flyer

    Florian Wirtz needed only 10 minutes to spark Euro 2024 into life.

    After a brilliant season for Bayer Leverkusen, in which he was named the Bundesliga's Player of the Season, Wirtz came into Euro 2024 as one of the standout youngsters.

    His first-time finish to put Germany ahead in Munich on Friday, a cute side-footed effort that Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn could only help in off the post, proved why everyone is so excited to see how Julian Nagelsmann gets the best out of a player who scored 18 goals and set up 19 more in all competitions in 2023-24.

    Wirtz's goal set Germany on their way to a 5-1 rout – the biggest win for a host in the opening match of a Euros in the tournament's history.

    He was not the superstar of Germany's performance, though. His fellow youngster, Jamal Musiala, was spellbinding.

    Having lashed in a wonderful second goal for the hosts, Musiala ran the show in the final third, and played a key role with a wonderful pass when super-sub Niclas Fullkrug made it 4-0 midway through the second half.

    Musiala, who was the one bright spark from Germany's dismal performance under Hansi Flick at the 2022 World Cup, teased and toyed with Scotland. He attempted eight dribbles, completing five, had a game-high six touches in the opposition box and came out on top in nine of his 15 duels before he was replaced, fittingly perhaps, by the vastly experienced Thomas Muller.

    The intriguing question ahead of kick-off was how Nagelsmann, the youngest-ever coach in the history of the Euros, would manage to get those two fantastic number 10s into the same team.

    His answer was to dovetail the duo with an experienced midfield – Ilkay Gundogan (33) played ahead of Robert Andrich (29) and the imperious Toni Kroos (34) – and it worked a treat.

    Wirtz is the youngest player to score the opening goal at a Euros, and the youngest player to net for Germany at the tournament. 

    Once Musiala drilled home, Germany became the first team to have two players aged 21 or younger score for them in the same Euros match.

    But it was not all about the flair of youth at the Allianz Arena, where the only blemish on Germany's copybook was an Antonio Rudiger own goal as Scotland mustered a meagre 0.01 xG and failed to have a shot on target.

    Kroos, in the first game of his swansong, led the game for touches (108), and completed 101 (99 per cent) of his 102 passes. It was his crossfield pass that opened up the pitch for Joshua Kimmich to cut inside from the right and lay on Wirtz's opener.

    Gundogan nipped around, linking the play; the Barcelona midfielder won the penalty from which Kai Havertz made it 3-0 – and which led to Scotland defender Ryan Porteous becoming the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco. 

    At the back, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his 35th appearance at a major tournament. It saw the 38-year-old surpass Philipp Lahm as Germany's all-time appearance maker in the Euros and World Cup combined.

    Indeed, for all the talk that Nagelsmann had gone with a relatively inexperienced squad for this home tournament, and that it could act as a way to build towards the 2026 World Cup, Germany's starting XI on Friday had an average age of 29 years and 22 days. 

    That makes it Germany's oldest starting XI at a World Cup or Euros since 2000.

    There was a healthy balance all around the pitch for Germany, as Nagelsmann became only the second manager to win by four goals in his first game at the European Championship, along with Lars Lagerback in 2004 (Sweden 5-0 Bulgaria).

    And the men in the middle are worth a mention.

    Havertz is no longer the bright new hope for German football, but the 25-year-old was hugely impressive as he led the line, providing the assist for Musiala and coolly converting his penalty.

    Niclas Fullkrug, fresh from helping Borussia Dortmund reach the Champions League final, replaced Havertz around the hour mark. Soon after, he fired in a wonderful strike.

    He will be playing a back-up role in this tournament, but he should not mind that. Three of Fullkrug's major tournament goals have been as a sub, a joint-record for a European nation, along with Hungary's Laszlo Kiss, Portugal's Rui Costa, and Germany's Andre Schurrle.

    Fullkrug's club-mate Emre Can, a late call-up, rounded matters off late on. 

    Germany have not always clicked under Nagelsmann, but they are clearly the best team in Group A and have the weight of a nation behind them.

    Hungary and Switzerland will likely provide sterner tests than Scotland, though with a perfect blend of youth and experience, the hosts laid down a marker.

  • Afghanistan advance to Super 8s and seal New Zealand elimination Afghanistan advance to Super 8s and seal New Zealand elimination

    Afghanistan booked their place in the T20 World Cup Super 8s with a seven-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea, while eliminating New Zealand from the competition.

    Rashid Khan's side claimed a third successive win to maintain their perfect start in Group C, which they top ahead of co-hosts West Indies with a superior net run-rate.

    Afghanistan chose to bowl and made a fast start in San Fernando, dismissing captain Assad Vala, Lega Siaka and Sese Bau within four balls to leave the Barramundis at 12-3 early in the third over.

    Wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga top-scored with 27, before they were bowled out for 95.

    Their opponents were also steady out of the blocks, having been reduced to 22-2 inside the third over.

    However, Gulbadin Naib's unbeaten 49 from 36 balls - featuring four fours and two sixes - steadied the ship, while his unbroken stand of 46 with Mohammed Nabi helped get Afghanistan comfortably over the line.

    Data Debrief: Farooqi leads the charge to condemn Black Caps to early exit

    Fazalhaq Farooqi (3-16) led from Afghanistan's field again, with the tournament's leading wicket taker increasing his tally to 12 from three innings.

    The side note to their victory was the sealing of New Zealand's fate with a match to spare.

    Runners-up in 2021 and semi-finalists in the last three tournaments, it is the first time the Black Caps have failed to advance beyond the first group stage at the T20 World Cup.

  • Jaguars, QB Lawrence agree to 5-year, $275 million extension Jaguars, QB Lawrence agree to 5-year, $275 million extension

    Quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to a five-year, $275 million extension that includes $200 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

    With a $55 million average salary, Lawrence ties Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow for the most in NFL history.

    Detroit’s Jared Goff, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers are the other quarterbacks making at least $50 million per year.

    Lawrence’s deal is surpassed in total guaranteed and fully guaranteed money only by Burrow and Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson.

    The 24-year-old Lawrence is entering the fourth season of his rookie deal and the Jaguars exercised his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.

    The first overall pick in the 2021 draft, Lawrence has completed 63.8 percent of his passes in 50 regular season starts for 11,770 yards with 58 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He has compiled a 21-31 record as a starter in three seasons, including 1-1 in the playoffs. He led the Jaguars to an AFC South title and a playoff win in 2022, earning a Pro Bowl selection.

    Jacksonville and Lawrence got off to an 8-3 start last season and appeared to be legitimate contenders in the AFC, but the Jaguars lost five of their final six games and failed to reach the playoffs after spending three months atop the AFC South.

    Lawrence missed the first game of his career against Carolina on December 31 due to a shoulder injury, a 26-0 victory for the Jaguars.

    He also missed significant practice time because of other injuries: a sprained left knee in Week 6, a sprained right ankle in Week 13 and a concussion in Week 15.

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