NFL Week 9 takeaways – Lessons, big questions for every game

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It’s Week 9 of the 2022 NFL season — and as we reach the halfway point, we should start seeing whether some contenders are in it for the long haul.

To start the week off, the Philadelphia Eagles remained undefeated with a 29-17 win over the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

Of eight games in the early Sunday window, six came down to the fourth quarter. The Detroit Lions held on to a one-score lead to hand the Green Bay Packers their fifth straight loss, the Minnesota Vikings came back from 10 down to beat the Washington Commanders and the Los Angeles Chargers secured a win over the Atlanta Falcons with a last-minute field goal. The New York Jets’ defense stood tall in a critical AFC East matchup against the Buffalo Bills, handing the Bills their second loss of the season. Tua Tagovailoa led the Miami Dolphins to a close win over Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears, while the Jacksonville Jaguars came back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Las Vegas Raiders.

The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals won convincingly over the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers, respectively. The late afternoon slate saw Tom Brady surpass the 100,000-yard career passing mark (including playoffs) and lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a last-second win over the Los Angeles Rams in a battle of struggling NFC powers from a year ago. The Seattle Seahawks stayed hot, winning their fourth straight by defeating the Arizona Cardinals. In the Sunday night game, the Kansas City Chiefs overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to take care of the Tennessee Titans, 20-17, in overtime.

The Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers are on a bye and will return to action in Week 10.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions off this week’s matchups and look ahead to what’s next. Games are Sunday unless noted. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:

PHI-HOU | BUF-NYJ | GB-DET
IND-NE | MIA-CHI | MIN-WSH
CAR-CIN | LAC-ATL | LV-JAX
SEA-ARI | LAR-TB | TEN-KC

Chiefs

What to know: The Chiefs must find a way to move the ball and score points when opponents decline to blitz against Patrick Mahomes. Tennessee proved, perhaps conclusively, that the way to slow Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense is not to blitz. The Chiefs found a way to beat the Titans, but Tennessee was the third opponent to blitz Mahomes less than 20% of the time and the Chiefs struggled offensively all three times. They lost the first two games. The Titans were still able to get pressure on Mahomes without sending extra defenders, sacking him four times.

Is there reason to be concerned about kicker Harrison Butker? He made a 28-yard field goal in overtime, but otherwise Butker hasn’t been himself since returning from an ankle injury in the season opener. He missed four games and since his return had missed three of six field goal attempts before his overtime winner, though he did make a Chiefs record 62-yard kick in Week 6 against the Bills. Butker also missed a PAT attempt against the Titans. The Chiefs are going to need Butker’s help if they continue to struggle on offense as they did against Tennessee.– Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Titans

What to know: The Titans continued their second-half struggles, this time only scoring three points after halftime against Kansas City. Tennessee entered the second half with a 17-9 lead over the Chiefs but failed to come away with the win. The biggest difference was a lack of carries for Derrick Henry. Henry only got seven carries in the second half despite finishing the first half with nine carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Will the Titans wide receivers ever make an impact? The Titans finished without a single receiver having a reception. They continue to rely on Henry but do not have a complementary piece to the rushing attack. Defenses play one-on-one coverage on the outside with no safety help over the top and the Titans aren’t taking advantage of it. There likely aren’t any answers on the way until rookie Treylon Burks eventually returns from a turf toe injury that has kept him out for three weeks. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Broncos (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Buccaneers

What to know: The offense continues to underachieve, although it managed to engineer a touchdown drive in the final minute with rookie tight end Cade Otton catching the winner. Still, this doesn’t take away from playcalling that has been ill-suited to fit the Bucs’ strengths and poor execution, including wide receiver Julio Jones running the wrong way in motion. They continue to be plagued by drops, too (six in this game, their most since 2016).

Why does the offense continue to struggle after nine weeks? A lot of the success had to do with the Bucs’ reliance on the quick-passing game. This Bucs team doesn’t have the receivers for that. They’re built for a downfield attack. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich’s insistence on running on first down with this offensive line is leading to them being behind the chains, and they barely attempted any play-action passes this week. Brady did manage to become the first quarterback to reach 100,000 passing yards in the come-from-behind win, though. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Seahawks in Munich, Germany (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Rams

What to know: The Rams’ offense runs through Cooper Kupp, and as they saw Sunday, it won’t be enough against most teams. Even with wide receiver Van Jefferson back, quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to rely on his No. 1 receiver, who had eight catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. But it was not enough, and the Rams’ offense has demonstrated this season that relying solely on Kupp has not been a consistent winning formula. Stafford and wide receiver Allen Robinson II connected on an impressive 15-yard catch in the third quarter, but he finished with three catches for 24 yards. Jefferson, in his second game back, didn’t have a catch on five targets.

What did Cam Akers’ return mean for the Rams’ running backs? Akers’ return was a storyline heading into Sunday’s game since he had not played since Week 5 because the Rams were trying to trade him. But the 2020 second-round pick ran for 3 yards on five carries. Instead, it was Darrell Henderson Jr. who led the Rams’ running backs with 56 yards on 12 carries. Henderson’s 23-yard rush in the third quarter was the team’s longest run of the season. The Rams will also likely have rookie running back Kyren Williams return next week, which could mean an even smaller role for Akers going forward. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Seahawks

What to know: General manager John Schneider hit home runs with some veteran acquisitions over the offseason. Two of them — outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and defensive end Shelby Harris — were part of another dominant defensive effort that carried Seattle to a win over Arizona. Nwosu had two sacks and now has seven this season — a career high with eight games to go. Nwosu looks like the Seahawks’ best free-agent signing since Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in 2013, while Harris (one sack Sunday) has been the most productive of the three players Seattle got back from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade. Tight end Noah Fant, also acquired in the Wilson trade, had his best game of the season, with five catches for 96 yards.

Where do the Seahawks rank in the NFC pecking order? The Eagles are clearly the class of the conference at 8-0. The Vikings are 7-1, as unspectacular as they’ve looked at times. The 6-2 Cowboys might be the only other NFC team that can argue it’s better than Seattle, especially after the Seahawks handled the Giants last week. Either way, the Seahawks are 6-3 with a 1½-game lead in the NFC West and a chance to get to 7-3 heading into their bye if they beat the Buccaneers next week in Munich. — Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Buccaneers in Munich, Germany (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Cardinals

What to know: The Cardinals continue to be their own worst enemy. Self-inflicted wounds have been their undoing under coach Kliff Kingsbury and are threatening to derail another season. Penalties were again a big problem on Sunday, as they committed 11 for 72 yards. That included back-to-back false starts, a rarity for a home team. They also fumbled three times, losing one when Kyler Murray was stripped while carelessly handling the ball on a scramble late in the first half. That likely cost Arizona at least three points, if not more.

Have the Cardinals dug themselves too big of a hole? They’re in last place in the NFC West at 3-6, three games behind the Seahawks with a pair of losses to Seattle. So any chance of staying alive in the division race is circling the drain. Competing for a wild-card spot isn’t out of the question with some of their toughest opponents already out of the way and a manageable remaining schedule. But the sun is setting fast on Arizona’s season. — Henderson

Next game: at Rams (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Bengals

What to know: Yes, the Bengals completely dominated the Panthers in a rout. But it didn’t reveal anything new about a Cincinnati team that has plenty of work to do to reach the postseason. The Bengals have looked exceptional in three wins against NFC South opponents. But in the AFC North, Cincinnati is 0-3. Finding a balance between the extremes will likely decide the Bengals’ postseason fate.

Is Joe Mixon back on track? Potentially. Going into the game, Mixon had minus-54 rushing yards above expectation, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He went plus-74 on Sunday, which is a great sign for someone who was under scrutiny in the week leading up to this game. — Ben Baby

Next game: at Steelers (Sunday, Nov. 20, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Panthers

What to know: It will be difficult for interim coach Steve Wilks to keep PJ Walker as the starting quarterback against the Falcons on Thursday. Walker had two interceptions and nine yards passing before Wilks turned to Baker Mayfield for the second half. The Panthers are expected to activate Sam Darnold from injured reserve Tuesday. They want to see what Darnold can do but likely won’t have time to get him ready on a short week. Before Sunday, one option after next week was to release Mayfield and go with Walker and Darnold the rest of the season. Walker’s poor performance and the professionalism Mayfield has shown as the backup puts all options back on the table.

Has the defense reached its limit? Carolina’s one constant all season has been the defense that played reasonably well in all but one game. That went out the window in the first half when Bengals running back Joe Mixon became the first player to record 150 yards and four rushing touchdowns in a half since Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in 2002. Carolina had given up seven rushing touchdowns all season. So has this unit given up? Bad gap control is not a good sign. On top of the porous run defense, there were four penalties called for lining up offside. None of this is a good sign for Wilks, a defensive coach, who is fighting for a shot at the full-time job. — David Newton

Next game: Falcons (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Patriots

What to know: Defense and special teams lead the way. Matthew Judon and Josh Uche had three sacks apiece — marking the second time in franchise history that multiple players totaled three or more sacks in a game (Andre Tippett, Don Blackmon in 1985) — and a blocked punt by Jonathan Jones set up a short touchdown for the offense. After totaling nine sacks, the Patriots head into their bye week at 5-4. It’s hard to imagine them having the offensive firepower to keep up with Buffalo (and maybe even Miami), but they’ve at least kept themselves in the hunt.

How much hope is there for the Mac Jones-led passing offense? Jones finished 20-of-30 for 147 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions as the offense struggled to find a rhythm. While the Colts have given opposing QBs some problems this year, it’s also fair to wonder why Jones & Co. haven’t sustained more momentum. Shaky play along the offensive line has been hard to miss in recent weeks, and perhaps the return of starting center David Andrews — who missed two games with a concussion — after the bye will solidify some things, as first-round pick Cole Strange has struggled at left guard in his absence. — Mike Reiss

Next game: vs. Jets (Sunday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. ET)

Colts

What to know: The Colts had the worst single-game offensive production in coach Frank Reich’s five seasons, finishing with 121 total yards, and are now 0-2 with quarterback Sam Ehlinger under center. The Colts made the change to Ehlinger entering their Week 8 game against Washington, but through two weeks, they do not have a passing touchdown. Sunday in Foxborough, the bottom fell out. The Colts’ offensive line was in shambles, with the Patriots racking up nine sacks — the most allowed by the Colts in a game since 2017. The quarterback change and the firing of offensive coordinator Marcus Brady haven’t changed a thing in Indy.

What should we make of the Colts’ defense? The unit is playing extremely well, but it doesn’t matter. The Patriots had a season low in offensive yardage Sunday, but the defense cannot account for the lack of production by the Indianapolis offense. The Colts’ defense entered the game ranking in the top 10 in scoring defense and total yards, but that has been consistently overshadowed by the offense’s inability to score. The Colts’ offensive struggles are a difficult reality to accept for defensive veterans such as DeForest Buckner and Stephon Gilmore, who are having good seasons but have nothing to show for it. — Stephen Holder

Next game: at Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Lions

What to know: The Lions traded tight end T.J. Hockenson on Tuesday to divisional rival Minnesota, but in his absence quarterback Jared Goff threw two touchdown passes to his replacements, Shane Zylstra and James Mitchell, in the second and fourth quarters. Detroit’s offense had been shut out in the second half of every game since Week 4 vs. Seattle, but that changed in Sunday’s victory against Green Bay.

Did defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant’s firing motivate the defense? Yes. Entering the Green Bay game, Detroit’s defense was allowing the most points per game, which led to Pleasant’s dismissal earlier in the week. Members of the secondary shouldered the blame for the Lions’ decision and then responded with a strong performance, which included two interceptions from rookie safety Kerby Joseph. Entering the day, the Lions had two picks all season. They had three against the Packers. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Packers

What to know: Aaron Rodgers looked a lot like Brett Favre, throwing willy-nilly and getting picked off three times as a result, and the rest of the Packers looked unrecognizable — at least when using the past three seasons as the baseline. Two of Rodgers’ interceptions came from inside the red zone and a third from just outside the 20, and it marked his first game with three picks since 2017. He’s had five three-interception games in his career, and none of the first four had come against an NFC North team. This time it came against a Lions team that had two interceptions all season going into the game and had been allowing 32.1 points per game. As bad as things had been for the Packers in their four-game losing streak, losing a fifth in a row — to the one-win Lions — raises things to a whole other level.

How many more games can you realistically expect the Packers to win? Their next three opponents — the Cowboys, Titans and Eagles — entered Sunday with a combined record of 19-4. They don’t play a team currently with a losing record until Dec. 4 at Chicago, which is 3-5. And they still have games against the Rams, Dolphins and Vikings (who already beat the Packers in Week 1) before they wrap up the regular season with the Lions at home. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Dolphins

What to know: The Dolphins were not a pass-rusher away from fixing their defense, at least Sunday, and Bradley Chubb, while promising in his first start after being acquired in a trade, is not a one-man savior. Bears quarterback Justin Fields did essentially anything he wanted to, running for 178 yards and scoring four total touchdowns. While Fields’ skill set makes this defensive performance seem like an outlier, the poor tackling has been there all season.

How sustainable is this shootout model? It worked against the Lions. It worked against the Ravens. But the Bears pushed the Dolphins to the brink in a shootout few people saw coming. Miami’s defense has forced its offense to play nearly perfectly to make up for its shortcomings, and that doesn’t feel like a Super Bowl-winning formula. If the Dolphins’ offense isn’t clicking, there’s little reason to believe their defense could stop an elite team. Their defense came up with a pair of big stops late in the fourth quarter Sunday (with the aid of a questionable no-call on Chicago’s final drive), but how many more times can the Dolphins get away with this? — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Bears

What to know: The Bears’ offense has evolved into a high-powered unit over the past three weeks, and a big reason is Justin Fields’ running. His 178 rushing yards Sunday, including a 61-yard touchdown scramble, were the most by a quarterback in a regular-season game in NFL history. Fields is also the first player in NFL history to throw three touchdown passes and rush for at least 150 yards in the same game. Creative playcalling resulted in Darnell Mooney’s first touchdown of the season and two TDs for Cole Kmet, who’s developing into a red zone threat.

What adjustments will the Bears make to aid their pass rush? Chicago’s biggest problem with its pass rush is not a personnel issue. The Bears’ defensive philosophy is rooted in getting pressure with a standard pass rush — they rank 16th with a 24.3% pressure rate when rushing four — and it has become predictable for opponents to attack. Chicago allowed Tua Tagovailoa to complete 70% of his passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns against standard pressure. His other passing touchdown came when the Bears rushed three. The Bears inexplicably did not blitz Tagovailoa in the first half and sent extra rushers on four of 30 dropbacks. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Vikings

What to know: The Vikings might have won the NFC North on Sunday. Not literally, of course, but in improving their record to 7-1 on a day the Packers and Bears lost, the Vikings have built a five-game lead in the loss column in the division. Sunday’s victory over the Commanders was the fourth game in which the Vikings have overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to win. They have been walking a tightrope all season, but that tightrope is leading them straight to a division title.

Is there anything more the Vikings could have asked from tight end T.J. Hockenson? Nope! After three days of practice with the team, Hockenson had by far the best game for a Vikings tight end this season. He was targeted a game-high nine times, catching all nine for 70 yards. He wasn’t always elusive in the tight end screen game, but his first catch — a 19-yard pass over the middle — was the longest by a Vikings tight end this season. If nothing else, this game proved how much the Vikings needed a tight end with Hockenson’s skill set. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Commanders

What to know: Washington’s win streak ended because it continued to hurt itself at the worst moments. Doing so has cost the Commanders in multiple losses this season. The defense, which played well for three quarters, gave up crucial third-down conversions on a field goal drive — a pass interference and a 47-yard gain — and then Taylor Heinicke floated a high pass over the middle that was intercepted and led to the tying score. There also was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by John Ridgeway on a go-ahead field goal that allowed Minnesota to keep the ball and run 100 more seconds. Penalties and opponents’ big plays have led to too many losses, and on Sunday they led to Washington losing a winnable home game.

How long will they stick with Heinicke? The players and coaches all say the same thing: There’s something about Heinicke. He has that “it” factor. But when it goes bad, it doesn’t look good — he was 15-for-28 for 149 yards on Sunday — and leads to questions about how long they can stick with him once Carson Wentz returns (in two weeks, at the earliest). Although Heinicke authors some magical and fun moments, he also flirts with disaster. This time, it led to a fourth-quarter interception that set up the tying touchdown. Still, if the Commanders win at Philadelphia next week, there’s a good chance they’d keep rolling with Heinicke. — John Keim

Next game: at Eagles (Monday, Nov. 14, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Chargers

What to know: The Chargers needed a game-winning 37-yard field goal from rookie Cameron Dicker to improve to 5-3. With the win, the Bolts remain in the hunt for their second playoff berth in nine seasons, but their schedule becomes much more difficult in the second half. The Chargers’ strength of schedule in games played so far ranks 30th in the NFL, according to ESPN analytics, and their strength of schedule remaining ranks 10th.

When will the Chargers’ plethora of injured players return? The Chargers have continued to pin their playoff run hopes on the return of several injured players, including wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, edge rusher Joey Bosa and kicker Dustin Hopkins. However, more names were added to the list Sunday, as defensive lineman Austin Johnson left the game because of a right knee injury and right tackle Trey Pipkins III was sidelined because of a left knee injury. There is no clear timeline for their returns. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: at 49ers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Falcons

What to know: It’s the barrier the Atlanta Falcons can’t seem to break. Thirteen times since the start of the 2018 season, the Falcons have been at .500. Thirteen times, Atlanta has lost its next game — including on Sunday — continuing the longest stretch at .500 or below (74 games) in the NFL. The last time the Falcons were over .500 was also their most recent playoff appearance: 2017. In a season in which there has been a lot of progress and surprising success, a winning record eludes Atlanta.

Is this what to expect from the Falcons’ running game going forward? Cordarrelle Patterson’s return to the starting role was going to result in alterations to Atlanta’s top-five running game, all for the better. And that showed as the Falcons once again rushed for over 200 yards. But the breakdown of carries — almost a 50-50 split for Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, with some work for Caleb Huntley — makes it hard to predict how the rest of the season will go. The Falcons are clearly going to be smart with Patterson and will continue to move him around the formation, which could keep him from taking on a massive workload similar to what he saw before his knee injury. The emergence of Allgeier — who looked very good Sunday with 99 yards — and Huntley in Patterson’s absence probably means Patterson will still get a good amount of work in typical game situations, with Allgeier and Huntley playing more in four-minute scenarios. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Panthers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Jets

What to know: The biggest win of the Robert Saleh era was highlighted by quarterback Zach Wilson’s best performance of the season. Under intense pressure after last week’s three-interception disaster, Wilson set a career high for completion percentage (72%), eliminated the careless decisions that caused so much harm last week and orchestrated a long field goal drive to win it. He had one turnover (strip sack) but managed the game nicely. This was exactly what he and the Jets needed. It showed the Jets can be a playoff team if they stick to their formula — run the ball (174 yards vs. Bills), play great defense and play virtually mistake-free at quarterback.

Do the Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL? Absolutely. The Jets, ranked sixth in yards allowed at the start of the day, outplayed the vaunted Buffalo defense. They intercepted Josh Allen twice and sacked him five times in a season-defining performance. They did it with a four-man rush, rarely blitzing. Their deep coverage was excellent. Receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught a 42-yard pass on the game’s first play, was held without a reception in the second half. Rookie Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed were outstanding at cornerback. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Patriots (Sunday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. ET)

Bills

What to know: Josh Allen played his worst game of the season, finishing 18-of-34 for 205 yards with two interceptions — and it could have been three interceptions, but the Jets missed an opportunity in the fourth quarter. The quarterback looked out of sync with his receivers, and the offense was unable to consistently put together drives or capitalize on most of the longer drives it did have. Allen’s two rushing touchdowns established an early lead, but the offense couldn’t build on them. One sign of the Bills’ offensive woes? Receiver Stefon Diggs didn’t have a second-half reception — only the second time he has gone without a catch in a half in the past two years.

Is the Bills’ run defense a major concern now? Yes. The Bills were missing key players on defense — linebacker Matt Milano and safety Jordan Poyer — but that’s not an excuse for how the run defense has struggled for a second straight game. Even when it was clear the Jets would run the football on the final drive of the fourth quarter, they continued to pick up significant gains. The Bills have allowed the two highest rushing totals of the season in the past two games (208 yards vs. Packers; 175 vs. Jets). — Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: vs. Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Jaguars

What to know: This come-from-behind victory could be a turning point for a team trying to figure out how to play a complete game. The Jaguars were either tied or had a lead in the fourth quarter in five of their six losses but couldn’t close the deal. Rallying from a 17-0 first-half deficit and making a defensive stand in the fourth quarter — after missing a field goal that would have given them a seven-point lead — will be a huge confidence boost for the Jaguars in their next two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.

When is QB Trevor Lawrence going to play consistent football? Lawrence played one of his best games of the season one week after playing one of his worst, which included throwing another interception in the end zone. Coach Doug Pederson has said he’s going to make Lawrence work through the ups and downs of his struggles. Giving Lawrence quick throws to get him in a rhythm helps, but Pederson said Year 2 in his system will make a big difference. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Chiefs (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Raiders

What to know: Good things happen for the Raiders’ offense when wide receiver Davante Adams is targeted early and often. Adams, who had one catch for 3 yards in a shutout loss at New Orleans last week, announced his presence with authority early in Jacksonville. Adams, who was dealing with an illness the previous week, made the Jaguars’ secondary pay with a season-high 143 receiving yards — on nine catches — and two touchdowns before halftime. No wonder the Raiders jumped to a 17-0 lead with 10:51 to play in the second quarter.

So why didn’t the Raiders ride Adams in the second half? Between taking that 17-0 lead and trailing 27-20, Adams had one catch, on eight targets, for three yards. It’s mystifying how fast the Raiders went away from the hot hand, no matter what kind of exotic defenses were thrown at Adams. Because if he’s doubled, tripled and/or bracketed, someone else is open. Plus, the inevitable defensive collapse didn’t help, as it was the third time the Raiders, who fell to 2-6, blew such a lead (20-0 to Arizona and 17-0 at Kansas City). Yet all six Raiders losses are by one possession. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Colts (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Thursday

Eagles

What to know: Jalen Hurts’ return home proved to be an historic night, as he helped guide the Eagles to their first 8-0 start with an ugly-early, good-enough-late win over the Texans. Hurts referred to this as a “business trip,” but those close to him knew the return to Houston held special meaning. It wasn’t always pretty, but he rose to the moment, tossing a pair of touchdown passes — including a go-ahead 17-yard strike to A.J. Brown in the third quarter — to keep the undefeated train rolling.

How much will DT Jordan Davis’ absence hurt them? The Eagles’ first game without Davis, who was just placed on injured reserve with a right high ankle sprain, proved problematic for the rush defense. Houston’s Dameon Pierce went off for over 100 yards on 27 carries despite being the defense’s primary focus all week. Davis has been a difference-maker. Entering the game, the Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per rush with him on the field (70 rushes) versus 6 yards per rush with him off the field (112 rushes). — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Commanders (Monday, Nov. 14, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Texans

What to know: Welcome back, Dameon Pierce. Last week, the rookie running back struggled against the Titans and finished with 35 yards, his second-lowest total of the season. But against the undefeated Eagles, he bounced back with a huge performance that gave the Texans a chance to win. He finished with 139 yards rushing and produced a highlight run of 36 yards that featured defenders bouncing off of him in the second quarter. The Texans’ offense goes as Pierce goes, if he’s rolling, they have a chance.

What’s up with receiver Brandin Cooks? Cooks didn’t play Thursday night because of personal reasons after not being traded at the deadline. Cooks was unhappy with the fact that he wasn’t traded. The Texans couldn’t find a deal that worked for them, as teams didn’t want to take on his guaranteed $18 million salary for 2023. Cooks is the Texans’ leading receiver with 354 yards and 32 receptions. But he’s in the middle of a subpar season by his standards, averaging 50.6 yards per game, the second-lowest per-game average of his career. — DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: at Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



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