McAfee on Cowboys' recent success: 'This just feels different' (0:56)Pat McAfee says Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' recent success gives him reason to believe in the team. (0:56)
Around the NFL on Sunday, the Houston Texans' defense had a big day and put an end to the Denver Broncos' five-game win streak, the Detroit Lions (9-3) are off to their best start since 1962, and the Indianapolis Colts won in overtime over the Tennessee Titans.
Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who -- or what -- is rising and falling for every team. Let's get to it.
Can the Colts find some running game consistency in Jonathan Taylor's absence? The Colts had one of their worst rushing performances of the season (55 yards), not coincidentally in their first game since star running back Jonathan Taylor suffered a thumb injury. Despite Zack Moss' standout showing against the Titans in the first matchup (a season-high 165 yards), Moss and the Colts struggled to get on track in running the ball on Sunday. Moss finished with 51 yards on 19 carries. Taylor could miss several games, and the Colts will need to establish a running game to offset the inconsistency of quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Stock up after the win: WR Alec Pierce. He caught three balls for 100 yards and a touchdown. Pierce scored on a 36-yarder, beating two defenders down the middle of the field on a deep shot.
Stock down after the win: CB Jaylon Jones. The rookie had a rough day in coverage, getting beat by DeAndre Hopkins on a 3-yard touchdown pass that tied the game and struggling throughout. Jones, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, gave up four catches on four targets. -- Stephen Holder
Next game: at Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What was the price for the Titans' loss? The Titans suffered their first home loss of the season, and it was costly. Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, tight end Josh Whyle and punter Ryan Stonehouse all suffered knee injuries. Derrick Henry was ruled out and is in concussion protocol. Losing four key players doesn't bode well for a tough upcoming schedule starting with a road game against the Dolphins before home games against the Texans and Seahawks.
Stock up after the loss: Red zone defense. The Colts managed to get the ball inside the 10-yard line four times and Tennessee kept them from scoring touchdowns each time.
Stock down after the loss: Special teams. Tennessee had two punts blocked, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and the Titans missed an extra point attempt that would have given them a lead with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. -- Turron Davenport
Next game: at Dolphins (Monday, Dec. 11, 8:15 p.m. ET)
Pierce's 55-yard catch sets up Pittman's game-winning OT TD for Colts
Gardner Minshew connects deep to Alec Pierce and then throws the game-winning touchdown to Michael Pittman Jr.
Can the defense continue to ascend as they make a run to the playoffs? The Texans' defense saved the day with three interceptions, capped by a Jimmie Ward's in the end zone with nine seconds left to secure the win. Though veteran Ward sealed it, some of their younger players played big roles. The 2022 No. 3 overall pick, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., finished with two interceptions, and the 2023 No. 3 pick, defensive end Will Anderson Jr., had two sacks and two tackles for loss. The youngsters are clicking at the right time, and that could be the difference between making the playoffs or not.
Stock up after the win: Stingley. He added two pass breakups to go along with his two interceptions and finally is clicking after missing half the season because of injury. Stingley now has interceptions in three straight games since returning and has four total.
Stock down after the win: Third-down offense. The Texans' offense went 4-for-16 on third downs, which allowed the Broncos to hang around. -- DJ Bien-Aime
Next game: at Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What does this loss mean for the Broncos' playoff hopes? After the comeback attempt fell short when quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception in the end zone, the Broncos' playoff hopes took a hit. They are now 3-5 against the AFC as they are in the middle of a crowded race for the wild-card spot. A win would have given the Broncos head-to-head wins over the Bills, Browns and Texans, but Sunday's loss now puts the Texans in a position to be a big hurdle. The Broncos don't necessarily need to win out, but they'll probably need some help from other teams.
Stock up after the loss: WR Courtland Sutton. Let's face it, his stock has been up all season, but with his ninth touchdown catch Sunday he has the most touchdown receptions by a Broncos wide receiver since Eric Decker had 12 in 2014.
Stock down after the loss: Pass defense. The Broncos did right the ship some in the second half when they cranked up the pass rush a bit, but Stroud had 27- and 52-yard completions in his first four pass attempts on the way to 153 yards passing (of his 274) in the opening quarter. -- Jeff Legwold
Next game: at Chargers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
C.J. Stroud connects with Nico Collins for a red zone TD
C.J. Stroud has plenty of time in the pocket as he dumps off a touchdown pass to Nico Collins, giving the Texans a 22-10 lead.
What's the next step for the offense? Atlanta had less than 200 yards of offense (195) and averaged 3.1 yards per play after a 396-yard outing last week. The Falcons' offense has vacillated throughout the year, but the next step needs to be consistency. The rainy conditions played a part in today's game, but for the Falcons to seal a playoff berth they'll need more offensively than they got today.
Stock up after the win: OLB Bud Dupree. The veteran had a stat-stuffing game against the Jets with seven tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble -- by far his most productive day of the season.
Stock down after the win: Inside linebacker depth. The Falcons had already placed starter Troy Andersen on injured reserve earlier this season and his replacement, Nate Landman, left Sunday's game with a knee injury, leaving starter Kaden Elliss and Andre Smith Jr., who has bounced between the practice squad and active roster this season, as the team's main linebackers. -- Michael Rothstein
Next game: vs. Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Does this loss put an end to Aaron Rodgers' comeback bid? Rodgers said it wouldn't make "a ton of sense" to return from Achilles surgery to play in a game with no playoff implications. The ugly loss to the Falcons -- the Jets' fifth straight -- didn't mathematically eliminate them, but it certainly felt like it. At 4-8, they have a microscopic chance for the postseason. The Jets are in the worst place a team can be: With no hope at quarterback. Next week they could start their fourth different quarterback, something they haven't done since 1989.
Stock up after the loss: WR Xavier Gipson. The rookie was one of the few bright spots, finishing with 5 catches for 77 yards -- both career highs. He brought some energy to the offense, not that it resulted in much on the scoreboard.
Stock down after the loss: QB Tim Boyle. The third-string journeyman was replaced by Trevor Siemian early in the fourth quarter after an ugly interception on a deep ball to Garrett Wilson. In two starts (18 drives), Boyle led the offense to only one touchdown. -- Rich Cimini
Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Are the Lions' in-game lapses a cause for concern? Detroit jumped out to a 21-0 lead but allowed the Saints to get within a score in the second half. The Lions have won three of their past four games, but also blew an early lead against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10 and haven't been able to consistently sustain leads over this four-game stretch. Their goal is to be playing their best football in December, per coach Dan Campbell, but they still have work to do.
Stock up after the win: TE Sam LaPorta. No stage appears to be too big for the rookie tight end after another standout performance. He finished with a team-high nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown and now has seven games with at least five receptions, which is tied for the second-most by a rookie tight end in NFL history.
Stock down after the win: Defense. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said he would address some of the unit's needs, which included getting more pressure off the edge and limiting explosive plays in the secondary. But on Sunday, they gave up 113 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while allowing 249 combined passing yards to three quarterbacks in Derek Carr, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. -- Eric Woodyard
Next game: at Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Will the Saints have to make a quarterback change next week? Derek Carr has now left three games because of injuries and was in the concussion protocol in addition to sustaining a shoulder injury Sunday, two issues he has faced earlier this season. (Carr was also in the concussion protocol in Week 10.) Saints coach Dennis Allen has repeated that Carr is their starting quarterback, but they might have to go with Jameis Winston next week if Carr's injuries keep him out for an extended period.
Stock up after the loss: WR Chris Olave. Olave returned just one week after leaving a game with a concussion and had an outstanding second half, hitting the 100-yard receiving mark (119 yards on five catches) for the second straight game.
Stock down after the loss: Carr. He completed 15 straight passes in the second half before leaving with an injury, but he was booed by Saints fans and had another slow start (2-of-7 with an interception) that ultimately proved too much for the team to overcome. -- Katherine Terrell
Next game: vs. Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Alvin Kamara sets Saints franchise record with rushing TD
Alvin Kamara passes Mark Ingram for the most touchdowns in Saints history with a rushing score in the fourth quarter.
Is there reason to be concerned with the offense? Defense had been the problem for the Chargers for most of this season, but in recent weeks, the paradigm has shifted. Now, scoring points has been this team's biggest issue. The Chargers scored 10 points in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens last week and 20 a week prior against the Packers before scoring six on Sunday against New England. There has been blame to go around, from shaky offensive line protection to questionable play calls by offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Stock up after the win: LB Khalil Mack. He had two sacks for the third straight game, giving him 15 on the season to tie his career high. Mack is a half-sack away from 100 for his career; he'd become the seventh active player to reach that mark.
Stock down after the win: The pass-catchers. The Chargers had five drops by five different receivers Sunday, two weeks after having six drops in a loss to the Packers in Week 11. -- Kris Rhim
Next game: vs. Broncos (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
When will the Patriots score again? This marks the first time in franchise history the Patriots were shut out in multiple home games in a season (they lost 34-0 to the Saints in Week 5). They were shut out in one home game from 1994 to 2022 (the first 29 seasons of Robert Kraft's ownership). It's also the first time since 1993 they didn't score a first-half point in back-to-back games, and the first time they've been shut out multiple times in a season since 1992 (when they were blanked three times).
Stock up after the loss: DT Davon Godchaux. Big defensive tackles don't usually garner much of the spotlight, but they are usually at the heart of the run defense, which was excellent, as the Patriots limited the Chargers to 29 yards on 24 carries.
Stock down after the loss: Trent Brown/Mike Onwenu. The offensive tackles were beaten for sacks on back-to-back plays, which reflected the Patriots' overall struggles in pass protection Sunday. -- Mike Reiss
Next game: at Steelers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What are the options at linebacker if Jerome Baker's knee injury is serious? Miami's starting middle linebacker left Sunday's game with a knee injury and was quickly taken to the locker room and ruled out. In his stead, Duke Riley played 57% of the team's defensive snaps and finished with a team-high six tackles. The veteran linebacker can cover sideline to sideline and should see an increased role If Baker misses time. Andrew Van Ginkel could also slide to middle linebacker as the Dolphins grow comfortable mixing recent signee Jason Pierre-Paul into the rotation. It's potentially another major hit to a linebacker corps that just lost Jaelan Phillips for the season last week.
Stock up after the win: WR Tyreek Hill. He had touchdown catches of 78 and 60 yards in the first half and finished with 157 yards on five receptions.
Stock down after the win: LT Terron Armstead. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was not sacked, so this has little to do with Armstead's play and more to do with the fact that he left the game with an injury for the second straight week. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: vs. Titans (Monday, Dec. 11, 8:15 p.m. ET)
Has Sam Howell taken a step back? The Commanders have faced teams with explosive offenses and good defenses in the past two games -- Dallas and Miami -- and it has impacted Howell. He has thrown a pick-six in three consecutive games and tossed one touchdown to five interceptions in that time. It's not all his fault, but the passing game has not worked. The receivers and line have struggled. But if Howell doesn't finish strong, whoever coaches here next year has a decision to make.
Stock up after the loss: WR Curtis Samuel. It's difficult to pick anyone out after another blowout loss, but Samuel caught four passes for 65 yards, including a 33-yarder on a wheel route in which he fooled the linebacker with a double move.
Stock down after the loss: Coach Ron Rivera. He took over as the defensive playcaller this week, but it didn't make a difference, as Miami scored 24 points and registered 247 yards of offense in the first half. At 4-9 and having lost nine of the past 11 games, Rivera's time in Washington is coming to a close. -- John Keim
Next game: at Rams (Sunday, Dec. 17, 4:05 p.m. ET)
De'Von Achane rushes in for 2nd TD of the game
De'Von Achane scores his second rushing touchdown of the second half against the Commanders.
Are the Cowboys ready for their rematch with the Eagles next week? They have not lost since walking out of Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 5 with a 28-23 defeat. They left that game with some confidence and have won four straight. Coach Mike McCarthy thinks beating Seattle after falling behind at home for the first time this season will be a benefit, saying: "We're where we need to be right now."
Stock up after the win: TE Jake Ferguson. The second-year player has stepped into the role previously occupied by Jason Witten and Dalton Schultz as Dak Prescott's top tight end target. He caught six passes for 77 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 4:37 to play. When Prescott needs a big play, he is not afraid to go to Ferguson.
Stock down after the win: The third-down defense. The Cowboys allowed the Seahawks to convert 9 of 14 third-down attempts, the most this season. That's after allowing seven third-down conversions on Thanksgiving against Washington. They also did not register a sack against Geno Smith. If there's a bright spot, Seattle was 0-for-3 on fourth down. -- Todd Archer
Next game: vs. Eagles (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
Is the Seahawks' offense fixed? Geno Smith & Co. got out of their funk in a big way thanks in large part to an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly. Smith's average time before throws was 2.54 seconds, considerably faster than his 2.91-second average in Weeks 1-12. He wasn't sacked and threw for 334 yards. Seattle went 9-of-14 on third down. Their run game is missing Kenneth Walker III, but quicker throws appears to be an effective template for their passing game going forward.
Stock up after the loss: WR DK Metcalf. In perhaps the best game of his career, Metcalf caught six of eight targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns, matching the number of scores he had this season entering Thursday night.
Stock down after the loss: The defense at every level. Some questionable penalties were a factor, but Seattle allowed 411 total yards and gave up scores on eight of Dallas' nine possessions before the final kneel-downs. -- Brady Henderson
Next game: at 49ers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)