Don’t over­look Charg­ers’ Rivers

Ma­homes, Brady meet in prime-time show­down

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Lorenzo Reyes

Each week dur­ing the NFL sea­son, USA TO­DAY will as­sess ev­ery­one’s fa­vorite topic: quar­ter­backs. Who’s hot? Who’s not? Who has the most ex­cit­ing matchups? This week’s QB Hot Sheet.

Five to watch this week­end

1. Pa­trick Ma­homes, Chiefs: De­spite putting out his worst sta­tis­ti­cal per­for­mance of the sea­son (313 yards with 0 TDs and 2 in­ter­cep­tions) in a win, he has an­swered ev­ery ques­tion he’s en­coun­tered. Kan­sas City is 5-0, and a huge chal­lenge looms Sun­day night at New Eng­land. A big game could be a defin­ing mo­ment in his sea­son. 2. Tom Brady, Pa­tri­ots: It’s weird to think Brady will be the “other” quar­ter­back in a matchup as he seems poised to be against Ma­homes and the Chiefs. He and the Pa­tri­ots of­fense seem to have cor­rected early-sea­son is­sues af­ter scor­ing 38 in each of their last two games. But Brady’s five in­ter­cep­tions over the past three weeks (in­clud­ing four in the last two) in­di­cate he’ll have to be a lit­tle bit bet­ter with his ball se­cu­rity. 3. Andy Dal­ton, Ben­gals: The Ben­gals are fac­ing a Steel­ers team (2-2-1) that ap­pears to have solved some is­sues in the se­condary and leads the NFL with 19 sacks. But Dal­ton ranks sec­ond in the league in passer rat­ing when be­ing blitzed (139.6), so more pres­sure could bring big plays for Cincin­nati. 4. Matt Ryan, Fal­cons: The Fal­cons sput­tered to only 17 points against a Steel­ers team that had yielded sev­eral ex­plo­sive plays in pre­vi­ous weeks. Though a con­nec­tion with rookie re­ceiver Calvin Ri­d­ley (six TDs and 302 yards on 19 grabs) has been a pos­i­tive, Ryan still can’t es­tab­lish a scor­ing link with Julio Jones. Fac­ing a Buc­ca­neers team that strug­gles to gen­er­ate a pass rush could be the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to find that spark. 5. Mitchell Tru­bisky, Bears: He had the bye week to let his six-TD game from Week 4 mar­i­nate. Now Tru­bisky gets his shot to show that it wasn’t a fluke. Ex­pect coach Matt Nagy to con­tinue to be creative in schem­ing skill-po­si­tion play­ers open against the Dol­phins.

Three trend­ing up

1. Drew Brees, Saints: This isn’t a sen­ti­men­tal nod for break­ing Pey­ton Man­ning’s record for ca­reer pass­ing yards; Brees is op­er­at­ing at an elite level. On Mon­day night, he had as many touch­downs (three) as in­com­ple­tions and racked up 363 yards. And he hasn’t thrown an in­ter­cep­tion this sea­son. 2. Philip Rivers, Charg­ers: He led the NFL in Week 5 with 12.6 yards per at­tempt and is on pace for ca­reer highs in com­ple­tion rate (70.1 per­cent) and touch­downs (cur­rently 13). He’s the per­fect dis­trib­u­tor in this of­fense. 3. Kirk Cousins, Vik­ings: He ranks sec­ond in the NFL in yardage (1,688) and bounced back nicely against the Ea­gles (30 of 37 pass­ing, 301 yards, 1 TD) af­ter a tough loss in Week 4. Min­nesota’s of­fense, how­ever, mostly stalled once it got to the red zone (1-4).

Three trend­ing down

1. Blake Bor­tles, Jaguars: A four-in­ter­cep­tion day, with three com­ing in­side Kan­sas City’s 25-yard line and the other a pick-six, against a se­condary that had been ex­ploited for huge plays was the main rea­son for Jack­sonville’s dud. 2. Alex Smith, Red­skins: He missed some open tar­gets and could not feed his play­mak­ers con­sis­tently enough in a 43-19 blowout to the Saints. Smith’s sea­son yardage (1,042) and com­ple­tion rate (65.9 per­cent) are de­cent, but five TDs through four games isn’t suf­fi­cient. 3. Ma­homes: The Chiefs won and Ma­homes still played well, but his sec­ond-low­est com­ple­tion per­cent­age of the sea­son (57.9) and two picks were a dip from his ex­plo­sive pro­duc­tion from the first quar­ter of the sea­son. Still, a bit of a re­gres­sion was to be ex­pected at some point, es­pe­cially against Jack­sonville’s star-stud­ded de­fense.

Sea­son rank­ings

1. Ma­homes (last week: 1): One be­low-aver­age game won’t knock him from the top, but the mar­gin’s shrink­ing. 2. Brees (2): He leads the league in com­ple­tion rate (77.9 per­cent) and is putting up MVP-like num­bers. 3. Rivers (5): His ac­cu­racy and ball place­ment al­low re­ceivers to catch in stride and rack up yards. One of the most en­ter­tain­ing to watch to­day. 4. Jared Goff (3), Rams: He drops one spot af­ter throw­ing for 321 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks against the Sea­hawks, but he should get the ben­e­fit of the doubt given his top two re­ceivers left the game with con­cus­sions. 5. Aaron Rodgers (NR), Pack­ers: He lost two fum­bles in a dis­as­trous first half. But even with Ma­son Crosby miss­ing four of five field goal tries and an ex­tra point at­tempt, Rodgers (33 of 52 pass­ing for 442 yards and 3 TDs) led a sec­ond-half charge that fell just short. Dropped: Matt Ryan (4)


Charg­ers quar­ter­back Philip Rivers cel­e­brates af­ter a touch­down in the third quar­ter against the Raiders.


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