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Reporters give advice on Jaylen Waddle, Robert Woods and more

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After six weeks of the season, the leading scorer in ESPN fantasy leagues is Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.

No deficit is out of reach when he’s on your team; no lead is safe when you’re facing him. As much as he wrecks psyches of defenders who end up on the wrong end of his stiff-arm, he wrecks fantasy scores. If you were a fantasy manager with a 35.5-point lead going into Monday night against Henry, you lost.

Henry has 10 touchdowns through six games. No one else has more than seven. He has three three-TD games (all rushing); the REST OF THE LEAGUE has four (one each for Austin Ekeler, Tyreek Hill, Aaron Jones and Cordarrelle Patterson). The last time a player had three games with three rushing touchdowns in a season was 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson did it for the Chargers.

In short, congrats to fantasy managers who drafted Henry. Can he do even more? Well, don’t look now but it’s possible. As ESPN fantasy sports researcher Kyle Soppe, who generates the fantasy questions, inquires, the Titans are about to get a healthy A.J. Brown back in the fold. More room for the running back?

Speaking of A.J., we also have questions about A.J. Green and AJ Dillon, plus much more. Six teams have byes this week, so don’t look for anything about Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, the Chargers, Dallas or Minnesota.

AFC EAST

Three big games and three slow games for Jaylen Waddle. Do you anticipate an uptick in consistency as his rookie season wears on?

As long as Tua Tagovailoa is under center, Jaylen Waddle has fantasy value. In just two full games together, Tua has targeted Waddle 18 times — which represents 37% of his season total. There’s obvious chemistry between them dating to their time together at Alabama, so continue to start Waddle with confidence as the Dolphins attempt to right the ship. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry discuss the pros and cons of starting Jaylen Waddle.


Has Hunter Henry‘s scoring prowess allowed him to carve out a sustainable fantasy viable role, understanding that the TE position leaguewide is a bit weak after the top tier?

Yes, for sure. Henry has a TD catch in each of the past three games and that is reflective of how he has shown a knack of running precise routes that get him open. Contrast that to Jonnu Smith, who usually needs to be the beneficiary of scheme (e.g. quick pass etc.) as he transitions into the Patriots’ offense after four years in Tennessee. — Mike Reiss


Are we working toward a feature role for Michael Carter?

No, the Jets don’t believe in having a so-called feature back. They prefer the committee approach, but that doesn’t mean Carter’s carries won’t increase. He’s averaging a team-high 9.4 attempts per game. That will go up proportionately if the Jets, ranked 31st in rushing, can figure out how to sustain a ground attack. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Six targets for Rashod Bateman in his NFL debut. Can this offense support three fantasy-viable pass-catchers (Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews the others)?

Probably not, especially with the Ravens’ schedule in November. After next week’s bye, Baltimore plays the Vikings, Dolphins and Bears — all of whom rank 18th or worse in run defense. That probably means the Ravens will run the ball more and Lamar Jackson will throw the ball less. Andrews will consistently put up strong numbers because he’s Jackson’s No. 1 target. But the production for Brown and Bateman could vary week to week. — Jamison Hensley


Consecutive poor games from Tyler Boyd: blip on the radar or clearly WR3 in this offense?

It’s something fantasy managers should be concerned about. Boyd’s lack of targets with the emergence of Ja’Marr Chase is turning into more than a trend. It weakens Boyd’s viability as a starter until further notice. — Ben Baby

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry reflect on Tyler Boyd’s disappointing fantasy performance so far this season.


With a strong showing on Thursday Night Football, what sort of role do you see D’Ernest Johnson playing when Nick Chubb is active?

Chubb will obviously go back to being the lead back when he returns, which could be as soon as Cleveland’s next game against Pittsburgh. But with Kareem Hunt (calf) still expected to miss multiple weeks, Johnson should get opportunities out of this run-heavy offense over the next few games as Chubb’s backup. Given how well he ran the ball against the Broncos, that might be worth a look if you’re starved for help at running back. — Jake Trotter

AFC SOUTH

Mark Ingram II dominated the touches without dominating the snap count … safe to call him the RB1 for this offense?

Yes. Although coach David Culley has said multiple times that he thinks there is a role for all three veteran running backs in the office — Ingram, David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay — it’s clear that Ingram is RB1 right now. Unfortunately for people with Texans players on their fantasy rosters, there hasn’t been much production for the offense as a whole, especially on the road. — Sarah Barshop


Carson Wentz has been viable in deep leagues in five of six weeks. Can he continue to produce decent value with the pass-catcher limitations of this roster?

The Colts will continue to take shots down the field, especially after their success over the past two games, but they took a hit in the speed department when receiver Parris Campbell went on injured reserve with a foot injury. And now there’s a “50-50” chance that receiver T.Y. Hilton will not play against the 49ers because of a quad injury. Expect Wentz to lean more on second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. if Hilton is out against San Francisco. — Mike Wells


Was the second half of Week 6 an early indicator of a big A.J. Brown production run coming?

Yes. Brown is getting closer to being fully healthy. There hasn’t been any mention of his knees being sore, but his hamstring is still on the mend. Brown and Ryan Tannehill can continue to take advantage of the play-action passing game because defenses focus on trying to limit Derrick Henry‘s effectiveness. Brown showed his explosiveness with the ball in his hands last week. Those lanes should continue to be open so expect Brown’s receptions and yards after the catch numbers to climb over the coming weeks. — Turron Davenport

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry evaluate A.J. Brown’s performance vs. the Bills.

AFC WEST

Do you see Javonte Williams earning more touches with time, or is his current role what we should expect for the rest of his rookie campaign?

Until the Broncos commit to the run more than they have in the four-game losing streak, Williams’ touches as a runner will stay about the same. He has recently gotten more work as a receiver, however, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seems to trust him a little more each game in the patten. Overall, the Broncos had Bridgewater under center far more in their three wins than they have in their four losses; until they return play-action — with Bridgewater under center — the run game will be ornamental. Rushing attempts in their wins: 28, 30, 37. Rushing attempts in their losses: 17, 18, 23 and 14. — Jeff Legwold


Under 3 yards per carry, but two scores. Did Darrel Williams do enough to secure the feature role as long as Clyde Edwards-Helaire is sidelined?

The Chiefs like what they got from Williams. If you take away his last five carries, when the Chiefs were trying to milk the clock and he was merely trying to stay in bounds and not fumble, Williams gained almost 4 yards per carry to go along with the two TDs and 27 receiving yards. The Chiefs will gladly accept that kind of production. — Adam Teicher

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry wonder if Darrel Williams will continue as the starting running back in KC after Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns.


Two scores from Kenyan Drake in the first post-Gruden game … something or nothing when projecting the rest of the season?

How about … a lot of something. Look, hours before Gruden resigned, he was asked if it was a priority to get Drake more involved. “No,” was the answer. Gruden said he wanted to get “everyone” more involved. New playcaller Greg Olson obviously saw something he liked and results usually yield more opportunities, no? “I’ve just got a nose for the end zone,” Drake said. “If I get there, I’m hungry for it. I’m starving for it.” — Paul Gutierrez

NFC EAST


Given the injuries through six weeks, are the 11 targets for Dante Pettis something fantasy managers should take note of?

No. Pettis wasn’t even that productive with those 11 targets (5-48-0) and Darius Slayton probably returns this week against Carolina after missing two games with a hamstring injury. In addition, expect to see more of John Ross and Kadarius Toney (ankle). Kenny Golladay should also be back relatively soon. — Jordan Raanan


Dallas Goedert sat Week 6 and has been underwhelming in three of his past four games. But with the trade of Zach Ertz to Arizona, is it safe to say his best days are ahead? How many targets do you think we can count on moving forward?

His best days are ahead for sure. Goedert has never had a chance to be fully showcased as “the guy” due to Ertz’s presence. He’s eager to prove what he can do, and management wants as many reps for him as possible over the rest of the season as they contemplate signing him to a lucrative extension. He’s averaging 3.8 targets per game. I expect that to jump to around 5 or 6. — Tim McManus

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Mike Clay sees Dallas Goedert having more fantasy production now that Zach Ertz has been traded.


Over the next month, two of Washington’s three games come against strong offenses (GB and TB). Should we be valuing J.D. McKissic over Antonio Gibson in those spots (outscored him 19-4.4 in Week 6, with WFT playing from behind)?

Yeah, probably but also because of Gibson’s lingering shin injury; he had to leave Sunday’s game vs. the Chiefs twice and still looked a bit hobbled Wednesday in practice. He has carried the ball only 20 times in a game twice; and he has only one other game with more than 14 runs. That, to me, is an issue but it’s an indication of falling behind, but also the shin. They could run vs. Green Bay, which is 24th in yards per carry allowed, but they have to stay close. Tampa is terrific vs. the run, ranking second in yards per carry and first in yards per game. McKissic has not caught more than two passes in a game in consecutive weeks this season, but given their situation I think that will change in coming weeks. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

It has been an every-other-week thing for Darnell Mooney. With time, will he turn into a weekly asset this season, or will it continue to be boom/bust?

The Bears’ offense is not consistent enough for Mooney to be a weekly threat, but he can light it up certain games. I still feel Mooney is a good play for fantasy managers because of his elite speed, but keep in mind that he plays for the Bears, who have one of the NFL’s worst offenses. That disclaimer applies to every Chicago fantasy player. — Jeff Dickerson


Three straight games with at least seven targets for Amon-Ra St. Brown: Can this volume sustain?

Yes. As injuries continue to mount in Motown, opportunities continue to open for St. Brown at wide receiver, and he’s making the most of the extra targets. With each week, it seems as if Lions quarterback Jared Goff is gaining more trust in the fourth-round pick. Raised by a father who was a two-time Mr. Universe, St. Brown possesses a strong work ethic, which includes staying after practice every day to catch approximately 200 balls on the Jugs machine, so he’s prepared for the moment. — Eric Woodyard


The carry difference is narrowing between Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon: Real concern for Jones managers, or can both be productive?

If you can get both of them on your team, do it. If not, it’s anyone’s guess which guy will be the guy this week. Now that Dillon has shown he can catch, too, he could get more opportunities in the passing game. — Rob Demovsky

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry examine Aaron Jones’ productivity after the Packers’ Week 6 win.

NFC SOUTH

We finally got the Kyle Pitts breakout game … Is it a product of Calvin Ridley being inactive or the beginning of a special run?

So this has been the thing with Pitts since before the season. Most people seem to forget exactly how hard it is to transition to the NFL as a tight end — and the Falcons are using Pitts as a tight end in totality instead of just name only. That means there will be peaks and valleys. What Pitts showed against the Jets unlocks some of the possibility there and he should put up consistent numbers from here on out — but don’t begin to expect 100 yards and a touchdown weekly. He’ll be involved in the offense each week and could break 1,000 yards on the season, but understand Arthur Smith is going to look for exploitable matchups and if teams start focusing on Pitts a ton, there are other options for Atlanta to be successful. — Michael Rothstein


Sam Darnold‘s efficiency with Christian McCaffrey injured has plummeted. Should we manage expectations for DJ Moore as long as CMC is on the shelf?

Somewhat. Defenses are putting more emphasis on stopping Moore, which they can do with McCaffery out because that’s one less player they have to dedicate a defender. The more comfortable Chuba Hubbard gets with the passing game and the more Robby Anderson regains his chemistry with Darnold will open up things for Moore again. — David Newton


You wrote up the usage patterns of Alvin Kamara last week and inspired him (5 catches and 8 targets in Week 5)! Is that type of usage (he also had 16 carries) here to stay?

Yep, it was all me! I think Week 5 is closer to what we should expect from Kamara going forward than what we saw in Week 4 (zero targets for the first time in his career, thanks in part to backup RB Tony Jones Jr. getting injured early in the game and Kamara’s role changing a bit). I don’t think Kamara will approach his usual 80 catches this year since that obviously isn’t as much of Jameis Winston’s game as it was for Drew Brees. However, Winston has repeatedly insisted it’s a priority for him to develop more rhythm with Kamara, and opportunities should open up once players such as Michael Thomas return from injury. Either way, Kamara will continue to get a high volume of touches in one form or another. — Mike Triplett


Should those with Rob Gronkowski rostered be concerned about O.J. Howard /Cameron Brate eating into his role once he returns?

Gronk will always be a favorite target of Tom Brady because of their history. Brady goes to the guys he trusts in critical moments. I don’t think Gronk fantasy owners will have to worry about their chemistry taking a nosedive because Gronk misses a few games. It’s still to be determined when he comes back, but it was a positive sign seeing him out on the field Thursday doing conditioning work with speed coach Roger Kingdom. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

Fountain of youth for A.J. Green: Does it last for all of 2021, or would it be wise to move on from the veteran?

Oh, it’ll last. He’s not the No. 1 option in Arizona so he’s not working harder to get free or separate from double teams. He’s being rotated out at a good pace. He won’t be worn down in Arizona like he was in Cincinnati. It’d be wise to keep him because of his consistency and the chance he could blow up for 100 yards, like he has already once this season. He’s finding his rhythm in the Cards’ offense, having three games with more than 67 yards in his past four. — Josh Weinfuss


Robert Woods caught a TD pass early in the second quarter and was shut out the rest of the game. Can we count on him weekly, or is he simply a risk/reward type of option with a wide range of outcomes?

Expect coach Sean McVay to want to make a statement on Sunday that the Rams made the correct move in trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford and in doing that, keep an eye out for a multitude of playmakers to be involved in what’s likely to be an explosive offensive performance. How that will shake out for Woods? That’s a good guess, week to week. — Lindsey Thiry


What did you take away from Trey Lance‘s first start in Week 5?

Lance’s first start went about as expected. There was good and bad and plenty for Lance to improve. One cause for alarm was the fact he had 16 rushing attempts with more than half of those on designed runs. He suffered a sprained left knee in the process and such a workload is unsustainable in terms of carries. The 49ers seem content to continue with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter when he returns from his calf injury Sunday night against the Colts. That’s probably going to remain the case until or if Garoppolo struggles with turnovers or has another injury issue. But Lance’s first start should position him to have more success the next time he is on the field. — Nick Wagoner


What should we take away from Geno Smith‘s first start when it comes to the weekly viability of his receivers?

As predicted, it was much more of an underneath passing game against Pittsburgh, with Smith throwing lots of screens and checkdowns and not many deep shots, which is usually how Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf make hay. Pete Carroll has made it clear that he wants to run the ball like the Seahawks did in the second half of that game to help Smith. That could open up more opportunities downfield, but it’s hardly a given considering Chris Carson is still out and Alex Collins‘ status is in question. — Brady Henderson

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Mike Clay explains why he is downgrading DK Metcalf for Week 7 against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints.



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Buffalo Bills make playoff history with 7 touchdown drives in blowout win vs. New England Patriots

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills didn’t just beat the New England Patriots. They made a statement to the entire NFL.

The Bills dominated the teams’ third meeting in 41 days, winning 47-17 at home to move on to the Divisional round of the playoffs. Buffalo scored a touchdown on all seven of their possessions, becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to score a TD on each of their first seven drives of a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With the win, the Bills have beaten the Patriots twice by double-digits in a single season (33-21 in Week 16), becoming the first team to do so since Bill Belichick became head coach.

Dating back to that game in Week 16, the Bills’ last 13 drives against the Patriots have yielded 11 scores (10 touchdowns and one field goal). During that stretch, the only thing that stopped the Buffalo offense was the clock.

Not only did the offense put up an impressive performance, but the Bills continued to show improvements in areas that have caused issues throughout the season. The running game was effective and the offensive line that has had a rollercoaster year set the tempo.

But the most impressive part of the game for the Bills was the performance of quarterback Josh Allen. Coming into the game, one of the big questions was if Allen could step up in freezing temperatures. He did far more than that with temperatures below 10 degrees throughout the game, putting together one of the best performances of his career.

Allen continued his stellar performance against the Patriots from a few weeks prior, completing 21/25 passes (84%) for 308 yards and five touchdowns, in addition to six carries for 66 yards. It is the highest completion percentage in a playoff game with 25 or more attempts since Aaron Rodgers in the 2010 Divisional Playoffs (86.1%)

He became the third player in the Super Bowl era with at least 150 pass yards and 50 rush yards in a single half of a playoff game, per Elias, and joined Drew Brees (2009) and Russell Wilson (2020) as the only quarterbacks to throw for five touchdowns against a Belichick-coached team.

Allen’s performance included two touchdown passes to tight end Dawson Knox and one to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The score was Sanders’ first touchdown in the postseason, coming in his 14th career playoff game with his fifth different team.

Allen’s fifth touchdown was a one-yard throw to reserve offensive lineman Tommy Doyle. All five of his touchdown throws came in play-action, the most by any player in a regular-season or playoff game since 2006 when ESPN began tracking play-action. He has gone four straight games without being sacked.

Running back Devin Singletary ran for two touchdowns behind an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the game.

The defense limited rookie quarterback Mac Jones throughout the game, including forcing two interceptions.

The Bills will now head to the Divisional round of the playoffs for a second straight season with a perfect record in home playoff games under McDermott. With a Chiefs win on Sunday night, the Bills would head to Kansas City, the site of last year’s AFC Championship loss.

Buffalo is 0-3 in road playoff games since McDermott became head coach (0-3). With a Pittsburgh Steelers win, the Bills would host the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

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Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby want Rich Bisaccia back as Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach

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CINCINNATI — Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby both heartily endorsed Rich Bisaccia retaining the head-coaching job permanently following Las Vegas’ season-ending 26-19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday night.

Bisaccia was promoted from special teams coordinator to interim head coach following Jon Gruden’s resignation on Oct. 11.

“I think we can all think that he’s the right guy,” Carr said of Bisaccia. “He’s proven that people listen to him. Our team listens to him. And I love him so much, I’m thankful for him. All those things will be decisions that I don’t make; I don’t get to make. I just play quarterback … but with everything that went on, if you really look at what happened, all the pieces missing, everything that changed, yeah, he held it together.”

Carr referenced the Raiders losing starting guards Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good to injury in the preseason and opener, respectively. He also talked about receiver Henry Ruggs III being cut following his involvement in a high-speed car crash that left a woman dead. Carr also cited Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller missing five games down the stretch; Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs being dinged up and unavailable at times; and losing versatile running back Kenyan Drake to a knee injury in Week 13.

“You go on and on and on and on, and that’s just offense,” said Carr, who had driven the Raiders to the Bengals’ 9-yard line before being intercepted at the 2-yard line on fourth-and-goal with 12 seconds to play Saturday night. “The fact that that staff kept everything together and kept us competitive and kept us finding ways to win football games, I think that’s what our organization is about, right? So, we’ll see what happens. We know what we want to have happen. But, again, we’re Raiders. We’re going to play football, but we just hope it, obviously, we hope it’s for somebody special.”

Carr also said he would stay out of direct conversations when it came to his future with the team. He has one year remaining on the five-year, $125 million extension he signed in 2017.

He said his agent and the Raiders have a good relationship.

“Lord knows there’s been a lot of things to communicate about, right?” Carr said. “When the time comes, I never want a face-to-face. I’m going to play quarterback, but my message will be talked about.

“I’m not going to go to dinner and say, ‘We have to do something.’ I’m not that guy. I’ll let my voice be heard, but in a different way.”

Crosby, who was just named second-team All-Pro, called Bisaccia a “great leader” for the Raiders.

“If it was up to me, I think everyone in the world knows what my decision would be,” said Crosby, who had a sack among his six tackles on Saturday. “I love Rich. You know, I’m biased, obviously, but he’s, he’s a great coach … he came in and got us to 10 wins. We came on the road, on a short week, and gave Cincinnati everything they could handle.

“One of the best people I know. One of the most honest dudes I know. And I’ll go to bat for him any day of the week. I love that dude to death. He knows that. I appreciate everything he’s brought to the table. I hope we keep doing it.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis has remained silent on the team’s head-coaching search, as well as on the futures of Carr and general manager Mike Mayock.

Bisaccia, meanwhile, laughed when asked if he thought about being elevated to the full-time job.

“I’m just thinking about those guys in that locker room that played the game with their heart and soul out there like that,” he said, “and had a chance to win at the end.”

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Bengals win first playoff game in 31 years, set the table for a run at AFC title – Cincinnati Bengals Blog

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CINCINNATI — Send those text messages. The Cincinnati Bengals have finally won a playoff game.

Cincinnati defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 at Paul Brown Stadium in an AFC wild-card game on Saturday. It was Cincinnati’s first playoff victory in 31 years, since before cell phones were capable of sending texts, as memes on the internet reminded folks in the days preceding the game.

But the win wasn’t just about ending the longest playoff win drought in the NFL. It was about the first step in making a run at the AFC title.

Over the course of the season, Cincinnati went from the projected cellar dweller in the AFC North to division champs, ending a six-year stretch without a playoff appearance. That journey included an overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers, one of the top teams in the NFL, and a Week 17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC representatives in last year’s Super Bowl.

Those performances indicated Cincinnati wasn’t just a team that could win a playoff game. They showed the Bengals can hang with the best in the NFL.

For the second time this season, the Bengals needed to hang tough against the Raiders in order to pick up a win. The first came on Week 11 and set the tone for the second half of Cincinnati’s season.

The second victory was much more significant. It gave the city of Cincinnati something it hasn’t experienced in decades and set the table for the Bengals to have a truly special postseason.

“We expect to beat everybody that we play, not just hang with them,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game.

Burrow added: “I mean, it’s exciting. But this is expected. This isn’t like the icing on top of the cake or anything. This is the cake. So we’re moving on.”

Describe the game in two words: Curse ending. The Bengals ended the fabled “Curse of Bo Jackson” — the former Raiders running back’s final NFL game in January 1991 that also ended Cincinnati’s last playoff run that featured a win.

“I’m just really, really happy for the city of Cincinnati and that they get a chance to enjoy this,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “And now, just exhale and enjoy the ride we have. Because we’re not done yet.”

Pivotal play: On third-and-four at the end of the first half, Bengals quarterback Burrow scrambled and found Tyler Boyd for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give Cincinnati a 20-6 lead. Initially, it appeared Burrow was going to go out of bounds. A referee even blew an errant whistle. But the play continued and Cincinnati got a key red-zone touchdown.

QB breakdown: Burrow was efficient in his playoff debut. After throwing for 148 yards earlier in the season against the Raiders, Burrow finished Saturday’s win completing 24-of-34 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

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