Mike Vrabel declared "we're not dead yet" after the Tennessee Titans fought back to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 on Thursday.

The Titans were 10-0 down at half-time, but touchdowns from D'Onta Freeman and the returning A.J. Brown put them in front.

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 322 yards, threw his only TD pass for Brandon Aiyuk to level the game in the fourth quarter.

Randy Bullock had the final say, though, making no mistake with a field goal with four seconds left, ensuring Tennessee (10-5) can win the AFC South if the Arizona Cardinals beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Titans head coach Vrabel said: "The funeral for the Titans was supposed to be yesterday or today. We're not dead yet."

Brown was making his first appearance since Week 11 after recovering from a chest injury and certainly made his presence felt.

The wide receiver took a career-high 11 catches for 145 yards and was able to celebrate a long-awaited touchdown.

Vrabel said of Brown: "We understand how important he is to our football team. Love him as a person. Glad to have him back."

He added: "A.J''s fantastic. We expect those things from A.J."

Ryan Tannehill threw 22 of 29 passes for 209 yards while Brown finished with 11 receptions for 145 yards.

Defeat for the 49ers (8-7) ensured the Dallas Cowboys (10-4) will feature in the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Dallas (10-4) clinched its first playoff berth in three years Thursday, thanks to the Tennessee Titans' 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Randy Bullock's last-gasp 44-yard field goal has completed the Tennessee Titans' brilliant come-from-behind 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.

The Titans trailed 10-0 at half-time but fought back with two second-half touchdowns from D'Onta Freeman and A.J. Brown, on his return from a chest injury, to take the lead.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 322 yards, threw his only TD pass for Brandon Aiyuk to square the game in the fourth quarter before Bullock's late field goal with four seconds left after the Titans expertly managed the clock.

The result means the Titans can clinch the AFC South division if the Arizona Cardinals beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The 49ers were left to rue costly Garoppolo errors, having thrown two interceptions as well as over-throwing a golden opportunity for a TD.

Ryan Tannehill managed the clock brilliantly after Aiyuk squared the game up with 2:20 left, with the Titans quarterback going on a 23-yard run in the decisive drive.

Tannehill threw 22 of 29 passes for 209 yards while Brown finished with 11 receptions for 145 yards.

The result leaves the 49ers with an 8-7 record to sit third in the NFC West.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense showed up in bravura fashion to pave the way for a 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

Despite the offense struggling, Pittsburgh forced four turnovers against a Titans side who continue to lead the AFC South but slip to 9-5 with this setback.

Linebacker T.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks to reach 17.5 for the season, establishing a new Steelers record as the home team improved to 7-6-1, getting the better of a side that blanked the Jaguars 20-0 last week.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hailed the effort from his team to overcome their shortcomings and capitalise on their strengths, with Chris Boswell kicking four field goals and Ben Roethlisberger snatching a rare touchdown.

Roethlisberger (16-of-25 for 148 yards) also went fifth on the all-time NFL passing yards list in this game, jumping ahead of Philip Rivers with a three-yard pass to Najee Harris and boosting his career total to 63,562 yards by the end.

Tomlin said: "It's an exciting victory for us, a very necessary one. They won the battle of field position, their special teams were better than ours, but in spite of all those things I thought the guys continued to fight.

"The turnovers levelled the playing field in the second half. That was the catalyst for us to go ahead and secure victory. I like the way the guys collectively smiled in the face of adversity.

"We'll be thankful for this win. That's a really good football team we played and were able to beat today. Hopefully there's some growth associated with conquering challenges like that, and we are going to need that as we go on the road next week."

The Steelers tackle the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on December 26, while the Titans are back in action against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

Lions chew up Cardinals

Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes and kept the Arizona Cardinals waiting to nail down a playoff place as the Detroit Lions sprang a huge shock with their 30-12 win.

With just one win, Detroit headed into the game against the Cardinals, who were 10-3 for the season, as heavy underdogs, despite Arizona losing last week to the Los Angeles Rams.

Goff found Amon-Ra St Brown and Josh Reynolds for touchdowns in the first half as the Lions surge to a 17-0 lead at halfway – at that point their biggest advantage at any stage of any game all season and the Cardinals' biggest half-time deficit for three years.

The lead was even wider come the end of the game, with Goff finding Jason Cabinda for another touchdown, meaning Arizona's once-firm grip on first place in the NFC West is now far from that, as the Rams (9-4) lurk.

The NFL said the result marked only the third time since 1970 that a team with the worst record in the NFL had beaten a team with the best or joint-best record, taking into account only games when the sides had already played at least eight times in the season.

It was also the third-largest win all-time by a team with nine-plus fewer wins than an opponent, per Stats Perform.

Cowboys almost there

The Dallas Cowboys moved to the brink of a first playoff appearance since 2018 thanks to a 21-6 win over the New York Giants, improving to 10-4 as they continue to lead the NFC East.

Behind the arm of Dak Prescott (28-of-37 for 217 yards and one touchdown), the Cowboys had just enough to avoid any undue worries, with the scoring all wrapped up by the end of the third quarter.

While Prescott was far from perfect, he was streets ahead of Giants starting QB Mike Glennon (13-of-24 for 99 yards) who was picked off three times by the Cowboys. Trevon Diggs had the third of those interceptions to reach 10 for the season. Glennon was eventually benched to allow Jake Fromm (6-of-12 for 82 yards) a chance to impress.

Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016 but has now gone 9-0 in subsequent starts against New York.

The New England Patriots are ignoring the noise surrounding their six-game winning streak after maintaining that run by brushing aside the Tennessee Titans.

A dominant second-half showing propelled the Patriots to a 36-13 win over a banged-up Titans team that had previously been the top seed in the AFC.

It is now the Patriots who have their eye on the number one seed after displacing the Titans, with only the Baltimore Ravens (8-3) above the 8-4 Patriots in that race.

But head coach Bill Belichick and his players are giving little regard to talk of their playoff positioning with five games still to play in the regular season.

"Eight games – look, eight games isn't enough to clinch anything or win anything," said Belichick. "We have a long way to go."

Edge rusher Matthew Judon, who registered another sack to take his tally to 11.5, insists the Patriots are in the same place mentally as they were prior to the winning streak and rejected claims of this being a statement victory for New England.

"It is the same confidence. We didn't change, we won't waver and it is the same confidence we had when we were 2-4," Judon replied when asked about their confidence level.

"It doesn't matter if it is a tight game or a blowout, our confidence won't change and we won't waver as a team, as a unit and as players. We come in this building to work every day and we are only going to continue to get better."

"I think someone asked me that a couple weeks ago and the statement or whatever you want to call it, is we have to come out here and win every single game.

"One week at a time so if we don't give up any points and no yards, that game is a statement and every week we have to strive for a statement win.

"If you want to call this a statement or if you just want to call it the next game, we just have to take it week by week and go out there. The statement for us is on to the next week."

The Patriots face the Buffalo Bills, whom they have leapfrogged for the AFC East lead, in Week 13.

And wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who scored two touchdowns against the Titans, believes that could be the game to give a clear picture of where the Patriots stand.

"I don't think there is a ceiling at all. We try to emphasise that. [Matthew] Slater just talked to us after about not getting overzealous about ourselves," said Bourne. "Just being in the moment and playing each game, each week, and thinking about that game.

"We're onto Buffalo now and that's the focus. That'll be good for us to just certify ourselves."

The New England Patriots struck another blow in the race for the one seed in the AFC, defeating the banged-up Tennessee Titans to leapfrog them with a 36-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.

New England went into Sunday's heavyweight clash having won five successive games, and their ability to produce turnovers proved key in extending that streak to six.

Tennessee, minus their top offensive playmakers in injured running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown, committed four giveaways while the Patriots produced a flawless game in that regard, rookie quarterback Mac Jones recording his second 300-yard passing game of a stellar first season.

Both teams now stand at 8-4, with the Patriots' victory giving them the tiebreaker over the Titans, with another test of New England's Super Bowl credentials to come a week on Monday when they face AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills (7-4) on the road.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's touchdown reception and a 68-yard rushing score from Dontrell Hilliard meant the Titans only trailed 16-13 at half-time.

But their first two drives of the second half, sandwiched by a field goal for New England, ended in a fumble and a punt and Tennessee's slow start to the third quarter was exacerbated when Kendrick Bourne's 41-yard catch and run for his second touchdown of the day gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.

The Titans drove to New England's two-yard line in response, only for Ryan Tannehill to see a fourth-down pass to Cody Hollister tipped and intercepted by J.C. Jackson.

That allowed the Patriots to stretch the lead with Nick Folk's fifth field goal and, after another failed fourth-down attempt from Tannehill, Damien Harris capped things off for New England with a 14-yard run as they sent an emphatic message to the rest of the AFC.

FOURnette stars as Bucs win Colts thriller

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by 10 points at the end of the half in a see-saw battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

But five Colts turnovers tipped the balance in the favour of the Bucs, Leonard Fournette's fourth touchdown securing a 38-31 victory and a 51st game-winning drive for Tom Brady, putting him three shy of Peyton Manning's all-time record, despite a late 71-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Rodgers that almost forced overtime.

The Bucs (8-3) have a commanding lead atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers' defeat to the Miami Dolphins dropping them to 5-7. The 6-6 Colts remain firmly in the Wild Card picture in the AFC.

Bengals sweep Steelers

The Cincinnati Bengals moved within half a game of the AFC North lead as they completed their first season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season.

It was a feat they achieved in style with a 41-10 rout, running back Joe Mixon the star of the show with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with Joe Burrow's lone touchdown throw to Tee Higgins his 10th of 30 or more yards this season.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger endured a miserable day, throwing two interceptions and suffering three sacks to drop Pittsburgh to 5-5-1. The 7-4 Bengals will end the day atop the division if the Baltimore Ravens, who own the top seed with Titans' defeat, lose to the Cleveland Browns later on Sunday.

The New England Patriots moved into the one seed in the AFC, defeating the banged-up Tennessee Titans to leapfrog them into top spot with a 36-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.

New England went into Sunday's heavyweight clash having won five successive games, and their ability to produce turnovers proved key in extending that streak to six.

Tennessee, minus their top offensive playmakers in injured running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown, committed four giveaways while the Patriots produced a flawless game in that regard, rookie quarterback Mac Jones recording his second 300-yard passing game of a stellar first season.

Both teams now stand at 8-4, with the Patriots' victory giving them the tiebreaker, with another test of New England's Super Bowl credentials to come a week on Monday when they face AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills (7-4) on the road.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's touchdown reception and a 68-yard rushing score from Dontrell Hilliard meant the Titans only trailed 16-13 at half-time.

But their first two drives of the second half, sandwiched by a field goal for New England, ended in a fumble and a punt and Tennessee's slow start to the third quarter was exacerbated when Kendrick Bourne's 41-yard catch and run for his second touchdown of the day gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.

The Titans drove to New England's two-yard line in response, only for Ryan Tannehill to see a fourth-down pass to Cody Hollister tipped and intercepted by J.C. Jackson.

That allowed the Patriots to stretch the lead with Nick Folk's fifth field goal and, after another failed fourth-down attempt from Tannehill, Damien Harris capped things off for New England with a 14-yard run as they sent an emphatic message to the rest of the AFC.

FOURnette stars as Bucs win Colts thriller

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by 10 points at the end of the half in a see-saw battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

But five Colts turnovers tipped the balance in the favour of the Bucs, Leonard Fournette's fourth touchdown securing a 38-31 victory and a 51st game-winning drive for Tom Brady, putting him three shy of Peyton Manning's all-time record, despite a late 71-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Rodgers that almost forced overtime.

The Bucs (8-3) have a commanding lead atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers' defeat to the Miami Dolphins dropping them to 5-7. The 6-6 Colts remain firmly in the Wild Card picture in the AFC.

Bengals sweep Steelers

The Cincinnati Bengals moved within half a game of the AFC North lead as they completed their first season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season.

It was a feat they achieved in style with a 41-10 rout, running back Joe Mixon the star of the show with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with Joe Burrow's lone touchdown throw to Tee Higgins his 10th of 30 or more yards this season.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger endured a miserable day, throwing two interceptions and suffering three sacks to drop Pittsburgh to 5-5-1. The 7-4 Bengals will end the day atop the division if the Baltimore Ravens lose to the Cleveland Browns later on Sunday.

The Tennessee Titans' 2021 hopes took a further hit on Saturday when the team placed wide receiver A.J. Brown on injured reserve.

The Titans are the top seeds in the AFC heading into Sunday's big game against the New England Patriots, but they are missing a host of key men on offense.

Superstar running back Derrick Henry suffered a Jones fracture in Week 8, having tallied 937 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns to that point – the best start to a season in his career.

Julio Jones then followed Henry onto the IR less than two weeks later due to the hamstring problem that had hampered both the start of his Titans career and his last year with the Atlanta Falcons.

Tennessee still managed to extend their winning run to six games until it was halted in dismal fashion against the struggling Houston Texans last time out.

And Brown, who had 11 receiving TDs in 2020 in his second straight 1,000-yard season, suffered a chest injury in that game that will now keep him out of at least the next three.

This development represents a further blow to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was erratic against the Texans, throwing for 323 passing yards and a touchdown after tying his career-high 35 completions but also tossing four interceptions from five pickable passes.

Rookie Dez Fitzpatrick is likely to get his chance against the Patriots, although Golden Tate is on the practice squad and could earn a promotion after Tennessee's Week 13 bye.

The 8-3 Titans have already failed to replace a key piece with one big-name veteran, however, with Adrian Peterson lasting just three games after Henry's designation before he was waived.

The New England Patriots are the form team in the NFL right now after winning five-in-a-row, but will have the AFC-leading Tennessee Titans to contend with on Sunday.

The last time the two teams met was in the wild card round of the 2019 playoffs, where Tennessee beat New England 20-13 in Tom Brady's last game as a Patriot.

Brady of course now leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the 2021 Super Bowl champions also have a tricky contest in week 12 as they travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts.

The Green Bay Packers will be looking to shake off their heartbreakingly narrow loss to the Minnesota Vikings last time out as they host the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field.

 

Tennessee Titans (8-3) @ New England Patriots (7-4)

The Patriots beat Atlanta in week 11, 25-0, for their fifth consecutive win, and the longest active streak in the NFL. Bill Belichick's team are the only one this season to win five straight games by a total of more than 100 points (+125, 175 points for and 50 points against during the streak).

Tennessee lost to Houston in week 11 (22-13), snapping a six-game winning streak for the Titans. Their 103 rushing yards were the most since they lost Derrick Henry to knee surgery in week 8.

Ryan Tannehill threw 52 passes for 35 completions against Houston, the second most attempts of his career (58 in week 12 of 2015) and tied for his career high in completions (also 35 in week 16 of 2014).

Including the playoffs, New England are 7-3 against Tennessee over the last 20 years.

Nick Folk went a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals in the Patriots victory over the Falcons. It was his fourth game this season kicking at least four field goals and making them all, the most in the NFL (Zane Gonzalez of the Carolina Panthers is second most with two such games).  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

The Buccaneers and Colts have met just seven times when playing in Indianapolis, with Tampa Bay winning only twice. Tampa's last win there came during week 10 of the 1997 season.

Tampa Bay beat the Giants 30-10 in week 11, breaking a two-game losing streak. They have lost back-to-back games just twice in the last two seasons and have not lost three in a row since Tom Brady arrived. Their 10 points allowed were the second fewest allowed all season after holding Chicago to three points in week seven.

Brady found Mike Evans for a five-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of last week's victory. Their 10 combined touchdowns are tied for the most between any passer and receiver this season with LA Rams' duo Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp.

The Colts beat the Bills last week (41-25) for their third-straight-win and longest win streak of the season. Their 26-point differential was the second-largest victory of the season for the Colts, only behind their 31-3 victory over the Texans in week six.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was 11-for-20 with 106 passing yards in their victory over the Bills. That is the lowest number of passing yards he has ever thrown for in a game when having at least 20 pass attempts.

Los Angeles Rams (7-3) @ Green Bay Packers (8-3)

These two last faced off in the divisional round of the playoffs in January, with the Packers winning 32-18 at Lambeau Field. After 96 games in the all-time series (including the playoffs), the teams are separated by just six points, with the Rams having scored 2204 points to Green Bay's 2198.

The Rams have lost two straight after a 31-10 defeat to San Francisco in week 10, having lost to Tennessee 28-16 the week prior. It is the first time the team has lost consecutive games with both being by double digits since Sean McVay became head coach in 2017.

Matthew Stafford has thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns in consecutive games after not doing so in any of his first eight games with the Rams. Stafford had 31 such games in his 12 seasons with Detroit.

Green Bay fell to Minnesota in a dramatic 34-31 loss last week, despite converting seven of 11 third-down attempts (63.6 per cent). It was the highest third-down conversion percentage for the Packers in a loss since week two of the 2005 season when they lost 26-24 to Cleveland while converting 10-of-14 third downs.

Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-high 385 yards to go with four touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Vikings. It was the fourth time Rodgers has thrown for 375 or more yards, four or more touchdowns and no interceptions in the same game, which is three more times than any other Packer QB.

Elsewhere...

The number one pick of the 2021 draft Trevor Lawrence will be hoping to fare better against the Atlanta Falcons (4-6) after going three straight starts without throwing a touchdown for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8). He is one of two quarterbacks to go three-straight-starts without a passing TD this year, along with the Carolina Panthers' Sam Darnold.

The Minnesota Vikings (5-5) are the only NFL team that has had every game decided by fewer than 14 points this season. Minnesota will tie a single-season team record for most consecutive games (11) decided by 13 or fewer points with another such game on Sunday when they travel to the San Francisco 49ers (5-5).

The Denver Broncos (5-5) will be looking to keep a lid on LA Chargers (6-4) QB Austin Ekeler, who scored four touchdowns against Pittsburgh last week, two on the ground and two in the air. He is the only active player with multiple rushing and receiving TDs in a game and the first player to do so since Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011 against Tampa Bay. 

The Cleveland Browns (6-5) head into their clash against the Baltimore Ravens (7-3) coming off a 13-10 win over Detroit, their fourth win in the last two seasons when scoring 17 or fewer points. No other NFL team has more than two wins while scoring so few points since the beginning of last season. 

The neutral has plenty to be thankful for in this thrilling 2021 NFL season.

But all that drama, driven by a series of stunning against-the-odds upsets, can make life miserable for fantasy players, even at this celebratory time of year.

Want to maintain your cheer through another seemingly unpredictable slate of games this Thanksgiving week? Turn to Stats Perform for the below data-powered picks.

Quarterback: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants

The Eagles head into Week 12 rejuvenated, having won three of their past four games to improve to 5-6 ahead of a big NFC East matchup. Those three wins have all had one thing in common: Philadelphia have exceeded 200 yards rushing.

This run-heavy approach – with a league-high 49.6 rush percentage – wisely plays to the strengths of quarterback Hurts, who had three rushing scores last week against the New Orleans Saints as he surpassed 50 yards on the ground for the fifth straight game.

That was Hurts' 15th QB start. He ranks second through 15 QB starts since 1950 for rushing touchdowns (11 – behind Cam Newton, 14) and second through 15 QB starts since 1960 for rushing yards (890 – behind Lamar Jackson, 1,193).

The Giants – reeling from a bad defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – have given up 4.38 yards per rush play, ranking a mediocre 19th, and have not yet played any of the six best offenses in that regard. The Eagles' offense (4.99 yards per rush), led by Hurts, sits third and will be eyeing further big gains.

Running back: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Mixon is already enjoying a career year with nine rushing TDs, and the 2021 season might be about to get a whole lot better for the running back – and any fantasy players who can count on him – as the Bengals face an injury-ravaged Steelers defense.

Pittsburgh have now given up the most yards per rush play (4.76) after a tough two weeks in which their roster was hit by absences and it showed on the field. The winless Detroit Lions tallied 229 rushing yards and two TDs in their Week 10 tie, before the Los Angeles Chargers averaged 6.12 yards per rush as Austin Ekeler's two scores headlined a Week 11 win.

Mixon, who has rushing TDs in four straight games and last week ran for over 100 yards for the first time since Week 1, should get free rein against a Steelers defense that successfully disrupts the run on just 24.62 per cent of attempts.

Even if Pittsburgh can fix a problem that has persisted throughout the season and got worse of late, Mixon ranks 12th among running backs (min. 10 carries) with 3.74 yards per carry on disrupted runs.

Wide receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

A significant shift towards a run-heavy approach – the 49ers averaged 25.6 rushes per game through Week 9 but 43.0 per game since – would be an issue for most wide receivers, but Samuel is not most wide receivers.

It is his versatility that has helped accommodate a change that has potentially brought San Francisco back into contention.

Samuel caught only one pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week but rushed for 79 yards and a TD in the absence of injured rookie Elijah Mitchell. The previous week, with Mitchell involved against the Los Angeles Rams, Samuel had rushing and receiving scores in the same game for the first time in his career.

With the Vikings' rush defense matching the Steelers' in giving up 4.76 yards per rush, expect Samuel and the Niners to run the ball again and do it well.

Tight end: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Pitts is the sixth-most targeted tight end this season (69) but has the third-most receiving yards (635), boosted massively by 100-yard games against the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins either side of the Falcons' Week 6 bye.

The schedule slowed that momentum somewhat – Atlanta were held to three points across defeats to the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots – but a trip to Jacksonville gives Pitts the opportunity to put his name up in lights once again.

The Jaguars have given up 7.20 yards per pass play in 2021, meaning this is unlikely to be the defense to keep Pitts in check. He has got open on 34.41 per cent of his 93 matchups, up on the tight end average of 18.10 per cent.

Defense: New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans

The Titans head into this week as the top seed in the AFC, but the Patriots may well take that spot from them over the next two weeks, hosting Tennessee before going to the Buffalo Bills in Monday Night Football.

While Mac Jones is enjoying a fine rookie year at QB, it will be New England's defense that puts them in contention, having given up only 5.07 yards per play while securing 21 total takeaways – ranking third in both regards.

And the Pats will expect to dominate the Titans, whose injury list has only grown since Derrick Henry went down. A.J. Brown is the latest offensive weapon to be unhealthy, while Julio Jones is not expected back for another two weeks.

These problems contributed to a woeful defeat to the Houston Texans last time out, when Ryan Tannehill threw four picks. Elsewhere in Week 10, New England caught four interceptions against the Falcons.

The Tennessee Titans waived veteran running back and seven-time NFL Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson, the franchise announced on Tuesday.

Peterson was signed to the Titans' 53-man roster earlier this month after star running back Derrick Henry's season-ending foot injury.

However, the Titans waived the 36-year-old and 2012 NFL MVP after only three games.

Peterson debuted for the Titans in the 28-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9 – he scored with a one-yard touchdown.

The veteran rushed for 82 yards across 27 carries as well as four receptions for eight yards in his three games for the Titans, who are 8-3 for the season and top of the AFC South.

The decision on Peterson was one of 13 roster moves made by the Titans on Tuesday, including adding defensive back Buster Skrine, running back Dontrell Hilliard and outside linebacker John Simo to their active roster.

Mike Vrabel described the Tennessee Titans' offense as its own worst enemy after the top seed in the AFC slumped to a shocking loss to the lowly Houston Texans.

The Titans went into Sunday's encounter on a six-game winning streak, including victories over the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.

But that was remarkably ended by the Texans, who claimed only their second win of the season with a 22-13 triumph in sodden conditions.

Ryan Tannehill was intercepted four times, with a Titans attack missing Derrick Henry and Julio Jones scoring just 13 points against a Texans team that has given up the fourth-most (264) in the NFL.

The Titans also lost top receiver A.J. Brown to a chest injury, but neither Vrabel nor Tannehill made any excuses for a dismal offensive showing.

"I think we've seen Ryan perform at a high level," Vrabel said. "Offensive football at any level takes 11 guys.

"There was a lot of good football out there, unfortunately we turned the football over too many times. Our defense battled. Our offense was its own worst enemy."

Tannehill added: "We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot you know?

"Turnovers, turnover on downs, penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot all day. And we got to get better and it starts with me."

The Titans remain in top spot in the AFC with an 8-3 record, but could be unseated by the New England Patriots (7-4) should they lose in Foxborough in Week 12. 

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a stunning second successive defeat as they were upset by the Washington Football Team in Week 10.

Despite injury issues at wide receiver and cornerback, normal service was expected to be resumed when the Buccaneers made the trip to FedEx Field having lost to the New Orleans Saints prior to last week's bye.

But a rematch from last season's Wild Card Round instead went the way of a Washington team who entered the week with just two wins to their name.

Taylor Heinicke, whose performance in that playoff matchup catapulted him to cult hero status, led a key game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to close out a 29-19 victory for Washington, who had earlier lost star defensive end Chase Young to what is believed to be a torn ACL, after the Buccaneers had pulled within one score.

Tom Brady was intercepted twice in the Bucs' first three offensive series, with Washington turning that second turnover into a touchdown as Heinicke connected with DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the hosts 13-0 up following a pair of early field goals.

The Bucs' offense could only manage a pair of field goals, sandwiched by another for Washington from Joey Slye, in response before half-time and Tampa Bay continued to struggle to take advantage of what has been a porous defense thereafter even minus the presence of stud pass rusher Young.

They finally knocked down the door in the third quarter with a four-play, 43-yard drive that ended with Brady finding tight end Cameron Brate for the score, only for Washington to reply in kind as Antonio Gibson was pushed over the goal-line by a scrum of team-mates.

A Dax Milne fumble was followed by a 40-yard strike from Brady to Mike Evans to fray Washington nerves with over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, Ryan Succop missed the critical extra point to leave Tampa Bay four points adrift, before Heinicke led a clutch clock-killing drive that was capped with Gibson's second touchdown to drop the Bucs to 6-3 and deal their hopes of claiming the number one seed in the NFC a substantial blow.

Titans hold off Saints

The 8-2 Tennessee Titans remain the frontrunner for the top seed in the AFC, having stretched their extremely impressive winning streak to six games by edging the New Orleans Saints 23-21.

Ryan Tannehill threw for 213 yards and a touchdown while running for another, wideout Marcus Johnson emerging with a 100-yard game a day after Julio Jones was placed on injured reserve by Tennessee. The Saints pulled within two late in the fourth quarter when Trevor Siemian hit Marquez Callaway for a 15-yard touchdown, but both the two-point conversion and the subsequent onside kick came up short for New Orleans.

While the Saints lost for the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a shock loss with a 43-3 rout of the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills crushed the New York Jets 45-17 a week on from an upset in Jacksonville.

Lions finally don't lose, but don't win

The Detroit Lions' 2021 season has been one defined by gut-wrenching defeats.

They avoided such a fate on this week, but missed a golden opportunity to claim their first win since last December in a 16-16 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, missing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to coronavirus.

Ryan Santoso had a 48-yard field goal to win the game for the Lions in overtime after a Diontae Johnson fumble, but saw his kick come up short of the goalposts.

The Steelers appeared to be driving for a game-winning kick in the waning seconds of the extra period, yet Pat Freiermuth's fumble ensured a bizarre game ended level, Pittsburgh failing to take advantage of losses for AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, whose quarterback Baker Mayfield was injured in a crushing 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

The Tennessee Titans have placed wide receiver Julio Jones on injured reserve.

Jones has battled a hamstring injury this season, limiting his impact for the Titans, who acquired him in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons in June. 

The seven-time Pro Bowler, who was limited to nine games with the Falcons last year because of injury, has made 21 catches for 336 yards in six games for the Titans.

He will now have to miss at least three games before being allowed to return.

The Titans sit atop the AFC having compiled a 7-2 record through the first nine games.

Jones will miss this Sunday's clash with the New Orleans Saints as well as meetings with the Houston Texans and New England Patriots.

His absence places further pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and leading receiver A.J. Brown to carry the offense, which had already lost star running back Derrick Henry to a fractured foot.

Alvin Kamara will sit out the New Orleans Saints' game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday with a knee injury. 

Star running back Kamara did not practice on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and will be absent for the crunch Week 10 matchup against the number one team in the AFC. 

The four-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 530 yards and three touchdowns in his eight appearances for New Orleans this season. 

His absence is another significant blow for head coach Sean Payton, with starting quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas already sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

The 5-3 Saints are in with a decent shot of making the postseason but will have to bounce back from a 27-25 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons when they take on the 7-2 Titans. 

Trevor Siemian will again start at quarterback, having completed 25 of his 41 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Falcons. 

Even at the midway point of the NFL season, it is difficult to make definitive judgments about many teams in the 2021 campaign.

The AFC is a jumbled mess with no clear frontrunner, though the Tennessee Titans may feel differently after surging to the top of the conference with a 7-2 record. 

In the NFC, it is easier to discern the elite, but picking the teams who will claim the last two Wild Card spots from a crowded field is not a simple task.

What we can do, however, is look at the standings and see which teams are either over or underperforming.

Stats Perform has done just that by assessing the records of every team compared to their power rating, a model that, using X-info data, looks at seven different facets of each team: quarterback, offensive skill players, run blocking, pass blocking, pass rush, run defense and pass coverage, and the player rates associated with each.

These seven facets are weighted according to modelled importance, and then aggregated to a team-level rating.

And that process has produced some clear standouts who either have more wins than the model suggests they deserve or are failing to live up to its expectations.

Overperforming

New Orleans Saints – Power rating: 29th

If Sean Payton isn't getting Coach of the Year hype come the end of the season, something has gone severely wrong.

Payton has the Saints in position to claim an NFC Wild Card berth at 5-3 despite a quarterback situation most would struggle to overcome, with Trevor Siemian stepping in to replace the injured Jameis Winston.

The Saints' most pressing issue beyond signal-caller is at wide receiver. Their most targeted receiver, Marquez Callaway, is registering a burn – or, in other words, winning his matchup with his defender when targeted – 56.4 per cent of the time, below the average of 60.6 for wideouts (min. 10 targets).

That has led New Orleans to lean on running back Alvin Kamara and the defense.

Kamara is unsurprisingly making the most of his significant opportunities as a receiver, his big-play percentage of 23.6 fourth among backs with at least 10 targets.

The defense is allowing a league-low 3.19 yards per carry and leads the NFL in run disruption rate, but comparative struggles against the pass (6.92 yards per play) and in getting after the quarterback could spell trouble if Siemian cannot maintain a surprisingly strong start to his time under center.

Cincinnati Bengals – Power rating: 23rd

The Bengals have been brought back down to earth with a bump over the past two games, losing to the New York Jets before being blown out by the Cleveland Browns.

First in the AFC before that slump, they are now last in the AFC North but, with a 5-4 record, they can still be considered to be outperforming expectations.

The problem area for the Bengals continues to be the trenches. Joe Burrow has been sacked eight times over the past two games, Cincinnati's struggles up front reflected by a ranking of 21st in pass protection win rate.

Things have been worse up front on defense, the Bengals 30th in pass rush win rate despite the best efforts of Trey Hendrickson, who has beaten a pass blocker on 28 of his 43 pressures.

Burrow has the best percentage of well-thrown balls among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. He is delivering an accurate pass on 84.4 per cent of attempts.

His second-year leap is no mirage and has been aided by the outstanding rookie season of former LSU team-mate Ja'Marr Chase, eighth among receivers (min. 50 targets) with 3.5 burn yards per route. Yet, without improvement in other areas, elevating the Bengals back to the postseason could prove too much of a challenge for that truly dynamic duo.

Arizona Cardinals – Power rating: 16th

The Cardinals being this low down the list may be difficult to reconcile given they are 8-1 and just convincingly beat the San Francisco 49ers with their backup quarterback.

Yet holes have emerged on a defense now without J.J. Watt, whose addition had proven so critical to the interior of the D-line.

Arizona's defense is allowing 4.81 yards per rush, the second-most in the NFL, with the Cardinals in 22nd in run disruption rate.

Their pass rush win rate position of 24th belies the production of Markus Golden (nine sacks) and Chandler Jones (six), with those numbers suggesting the Cardinals' strength against the pass is more a product of the impressive play of a secondary that has surpassed expectations.

Though there is reason for doubt when it comes to the Cardinals' defense, this is a team that will go as far as Kyler Murray and the offense.

Murray is firmly in the MVP mix with a well-thrown percentage of 81.3, and receivers DeAndre Hopkins (80.9) and Christian Kirk (79.2) are each in the top five among wideouts (min. 10 targets) for burn rate.

With an offensive line ranked eighth in pass protection win rate doing an excellent job of keeping Murray clean, the Cards have an offensive recipe well suited to winning in 2021.

Yet their power rating and performance on defense indicates this team is not as complete as their record suggests.

Tennessee Titans – Power rating: 18th

Five straight wins, including victories over the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, and the Titans are only 18th?!

It may be difficult to believe, but Tennessee's position in the bottom half of the NFL by power rating is one mirrored by the Titans' spot in Stats Perform's Efficiency Versus Expected (EVE) rankings.

EVE looks at several factors to train a model to predict yardage output for any game situation and then compares the projected yards to the actual yards gained or prevented in those situations.

The Titans are a disappointing 17th in EVE, despite Ryan Tannehill enjoying a season that has seen him deliver an accurate well-thrown ball on 83.5 per cent of his passes.

But Tannehill is now without his security blanket with Derrick Henry, who was threatening Eric Dickerson's rushing record and averaging 3.05 yards per carry on disrupted runs, and is throwing to a receiving corps that has just one member, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (63.6), with a burn percentage above 60.

Their stunning primetime win in Los Angeles was largely a product of turnovers and a startling amount of pressure from the defensive front, and the latter appears unlikely to be sustainable.

In the bottom half of the league in pass rush win rate (31st) and run disruption rate (27th), the production the Titans have got from the likes of Harold Landry, Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons has not been the result of consistent dominance up front.

The story is the same for an offensive line ranked 29th in pass protection and 17th in run block win rate. Beyond Tannehill and Henry, areas where the Titans consistently excel are not obvious. The receivers will need to step up or the defense will need to prove a breakout performance against the Rams was not an anomaly for Tennessee to turn the doubters into believers.

Underperforming

Kansas City Chiefs – Power rating: 3rd

The uneven nature of the Chiefs' performances to this point makes them moving to 5-4 last week actually seem pretty impressive.

Yet, for all their issues on defense, and the doubts about an offense lacking the explosiveness of years gone by, the Chiefs should have fared even better over the first nine games, at least according to their power rating.

Though Kansas City only managed 13 points in their win over the Green Bay Packers, it is the Chiefs' offense that provides the most cause for optimism.

Patrick Mahomes' well-thrown percentage of 79 is above the league average of 78.5 for quarterbacks with a minimum of 10 attempts, and he is being well protected by the Chiefs' reworked offensive line.

The Chiefs rank fourth in pass protection win rate and first in run block win rate, with their rushing average of 4.62 yards per play the eighth-best in the NFL.

It is those game-changing downfield shots that are conspicuous by their absence for the Chiefs, with Tyreek Hill's underwhelming big-play percentage of 24.8 illustrating their struggles in that regard.

But this remains a team set up for offensive success, and if a defense that has not allowed a 300-yard passing game since Week 5 can continue making incremental improvements, Kansas City could yet enjoy the season many envisioned.

San Francisco 49ers – Power rating: 8th

A route to contention is not as easy to plot for the 3-5 49ers, who continue to beat themselves with mistakes that negate their overall efficiency.

The 49ers are eighth in EVE, with their position in offensive yards over expected (eighth) and yards allowed under expected (14th) painting the picture of a top-half team on both sides of the ball.

Yet a turnover differential of -9 that is superior to only that of the New York Jets (-12) makes a losing season a more realistic possibility for the Niners than a playoff push.

The offense is the primary source of hope. Deebo Samuel is on pace for over 1,800 receiving yards and his 4.1 burn yards per route are second for receivers with at least 50 targets, while George Kittle had a 100-yard game on his return from injury last week and ranks second among tight ends (min. 10 targets) with 3.1 burn yards per route.

With rookie Elijah Mitchell impressing at running back, Brandon Aiyuk emerging from Kyle Shanahan's doghouse and a line ranked in the top 10 in pass protection and run block win rate, the Niners theoretically have the offense to compete with anyone.

Poor execution has prevented them from doing so. If the Niners are to somehow stay in the hunt, the turnovers must stop, but change is also required on defense.

The 49ers have struggled to disrupt the run, and disappointing secondary play has limited the impact of a stellar season from Nick Bosa, whose adjusted pass rush win rate of 41.09 per cent is way above the average of 21.88 for edge rushers.

Time is running out for San Francisco to figure it out; if the Niners cannot do that, it will be another frustrating year for a team too talented to be struggling this much.

Minnesota Vikings – Power rating: 10th

It has been a typical Vikings season, with a talented and potent offense seeing their efforts go largely unrewarded as they have flirted with both triumph and disaster late in games on a near-weekly basis.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins might have an MVP case were the Vikings in a better position to contend. He has been extremely accurate, posting a well-thrown percentage of 81.8, and has generally avoided turnover-worthy plays, throwing just four pickable passes on 285 attempts.

Dalvin Cook's missed tackle per touch rate of 0.269 is the best among running backs with at least 50 carries, and Justin Jefferson is again one of the league's elite separators at receiver, as evidenced by his burn rate of 72.1 per cent.

Yet the Vikings are only 13th in offensive yards over expected, speaking to an issue that continues to hold this team back, with Minnesota again in the lower reaches of the league in pass protection win rate.

It has been a different story on the other side of the trenches, the Vikings seventh in pass rush win rate, though the absence of Danielle Hunter with a torn pectoral muscle may see them lose that position.

Soft against the run, allowing the third-highest yards per rush (4.77) in the NFL, the Vikings are a team whose lofty power rating is easily explained through a loaded passing game and a pass rush that has excelled through their first eight games.

But their 3-5 record is reflective of an incomplete team that maintains an obvious weakness in the trenches and lacks the defensive solidity to put games to bed. The Vikings may be a top 10 team on paper, but it is tough to trust them to perform to that standard consistently.

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