Atlanta Falcons: It was their fifth straight loss, but the Falcons were encouraged while scoring just 20 points and losing by two touchdowns to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. Atlanta coaches said the team made some positive strides by rushing for 107 yards — only its third 100-yard outing of the season — and the offensive line allowed just two sacks after quarterback Matt Ryan had been dropped a combined 12 times over the previous three games. Ryan passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns, and coach Dan Quinn made it clear the signal caller, who has seven 300-yard outings, isn’t the reason for the team’s 4-9 record. “It’s very reassuring knowing that there are some things we need to reset on, but that ain’t one,” Quinn said of his starting quarterback. “That’s a damn good feeling. Not only is he playing really good football, there are things that are not on the stat sheet like he’s a really good competitor.”
Carolina Panthers: Running back Christian McCaffrey has been thriving he is just 10 yards away from breaking the franchise record for most scrimmage yards held by DeAngelo Williams (1,636 in 2008). McCaffrey has 926 rushing yards and 701 receiving yards, and he is close to becoming the 10th player in NFL history to accumulate 1,000 rushing yards and 750 receiving yards in a single season. Also looking like a good bet is McCaffrey setting the NFL record for most receptions by a running back. He currently has 86 and needs 17 catches to surpass the mark held by Matt Forte (102 in 2014). McCaffrey is 18 catches away from Steve Smith’s franchise mark of 103, set in 2005.
New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram’s next rushing touchdown will be his franchise-record 50th, and it will snap a tie with former Saints star Deuce McAllister (2001-08). “He had such a great career here and set the standard for running backs coming through New Orleans,” Ingram told reporters of McAllister. “He’s always been supportive of me and I appreciate him, so just to be able to have a run in that fashion (against Tampa Bay on Sunday) to tie such a great record in this franchise, it’s good. It’s a good feeling.” Ingram said McAllister always has a word of advice to him whenever their paths cross. “He’ll tell me certain things that he sees. Certain things that maybe I could do better or something that maybe I could switch up. It has just been a good relationship over the years and I appreciate him. I’m thankful for his mentorship and he’s been a good asset to my career.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Learning that run-oriented rookie Lamar Jackson will be the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback on Sunday didn’t surprise veteran defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, but he did note it makes things tougher on game day. “Any time when you have a running quarterback, you’re looking at a more physical game,” Pierre-Paul told reporters. “Just to play that is difficult. I’m not going to lie, their option stuff is difficult and anybody in the NFL, D-end-wise, if they say it’s not that’s a lie. That stuff plays with your eyes but you’ve got to be disciplined with it and I think I do a pretty good job and our coaches do a pretty good job game-planning against it.” Pierre-Paul is tied for ninth in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, the third-highest total of his nine-year career.
—Field Level Media