Monday NFL preview: Saints, Cowboys, Chiefs facing big questions

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Monday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills were able to squeak out a comeback win in Nashville, but there's little chance they can afford another slow start when they host the 4-1 Bengals next weekend. The Bills might not get LeSean McCoy or Karlos Williams back this week, so fixing their offense will need to be a priority in the meantime. Sammy Watkins' possible return will be a big help. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins players and coaches return to work Monday following their much-needed bye week. New interim coach Dan Campbell must figure out potential lineup and schematic changes as Miami (1-3) tries to end its three-game losing streak against the Titans. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: One of the notable scenes from the Patriots' pregame routine Sunday before the game against the Cowboys was seeing wide receiver Brandon LaFell going through a workout routine. LaFell, who was spotted with a boot on his left foot in the offseason, remains on the PUP list and can begin practicing after next Sunday's game against the Colts. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Defensive end Sheldon Richardson is expected to practice for the first time since returning from a four-game suspension. Presumably, he will address the media. Richardson was reinstated last Monday, but the Jets didn't practice during the bye week. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Running back Justin Forsett said he still needs to be evaluated for an ankle injury that kept him out of overtime. The Ravens offense can't afford to lose Forsett after watching their top two receivers (Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman) and top two tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore) go down with injuries. This has been a recurring theme for a Ravens team that is 1-4 for the first time in franchise history. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: What is going on with Jeremy Hill? Suddenly, that has become the million-dollar question in Cincinnati after the second-year rusher scuffled to another disappointing performance Sunday in the Bengals' 27-24 overtime win over the Seahawks. He had just 13 yards on eight carries while fellow back Giovani Bernard rushed 15 times for 80 yards. As they've been much of the year, Hill's fantasy owners are restless. He gave them just two points in ESPN's standard scoring system for the second time this season. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns hope Sunday's overtime win over Baltimore propels them to better things. "Sometimes you get wins that define things for you, that become a turning point, and we're hoping that this was for us," coach Mike Pettine said. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Wide receiver Martavis Bryant is expected to miss the Monday night matchup with the Chargers, according to reports, though he hasn't been ruled out officially. The team has until 4 p.m. Monday to add him to the active roster after he missed the first four games (suspension). His status is murky at best. On the road, the Steelers need Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to play like the stars they are. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans spent the weekend resting and getting healthy for a second straight divisional game, this time on the road against the Jaguars. Bill O'Brien made a pact with the team's players and coaches to not read, watch or listen to anything said or written about the Texans as they work to climb out of their 1-4 hole. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts return to practice Monday to start preparing for Sunday's game against the Patriots in a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is 0-4 against the Patriots, losing by an average of 29 points. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars got one starter back in tight end Julius Thomas, but they may have lost two more. Running back T.J. Yeldon (groin) and cornerback Davon House (hip) left the game versus the Bucs and did not return. The team will update their status Monday. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't meet with the Titans trainer before he spoke to the media following the loss to the Bills. There will be a major injury assessment Monday regarding linebackers Zach Brown and Avery Williamson. Left tackle Taylor Lewan said he will investigate ways to reduce the four or five stingers a game -- which may be something worse -- he's suffering now. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos have lauded their depth on defense all season long in their 5-0 start. It may get tested this week as DeMarcus Ware left Sunday's win over the Raiders with a back injury and cornerback Aqib Talib left, and returned, to the game with an ankle injury. Talib said after the game, "I'm good, it's was just a little roll.'' But Ware's injury is a concern and he will be evaluated more Monday morning. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: This week is all about getting Charcandrick West and Knile Davis comfortable as the featured backs. Davis has some experience in the role. He filled in when Jamaal Charles missed a game last season because of injury. It's all new to West, who would be making his first career start next week against the Vikings. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Rookie linebacker Neiron Ball played some in some sub packages Sunday, his first real defensive work of the season. The athletic Ball, a fifth-round pick, played well and I'd expect him to get more action moving forward. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers will make his 149th consecutive start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, breaking a franchise record established by Russ Washington, who made 148 starts at right tackle from 1970 to 1980. Rivers is currently second on NFL's list among active players in consecutive starts to Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who made his 173rd start against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The bye week comes at a good time for the Cowboys, who have lost three straight games, but they have plenty of questions to answer, starting with the quarterback. Jason Garrett said the position will be evaluated as to who starts Oct. 25 against the New York Giants -- Brandon Weeden or Matt Cassel. The offensive woes are not Weeden's alone, especially considering he has not had Dez Bryant or an effective running game. But the quarterback takes the brunt of the criticism, and it is easier to change that spot compared to 10 other spots. Cassel was Weeden's backup versus New England and said he feels much more comfortable in knowing the Cowboys' offense since his trade from Buffalo. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants sit at 3-2 for the second year in a row, but this time they're all alone in first place in the NFC East. They get an extra day off this week for Odell Beckham Jr., Jon Beason and others to heal up from their injuries, because their next game is a Monday Night Football game in Philadelphia on Oct. 19. With games against the Eagles and the banged-up Cowboys the next two weeks, the Giants have a chance to take control of the division race if they can take care of their head-to-head business. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles came through their 39-17 victory over New Orleans on Sunday relatively healthy. With a Monday night game against the Giants next week, the Eagles can take an extra day to recuperate before gearing up for a key NFC East game. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins want to be a run-based offense, but the ground game hasn't worked the past three weeks. In those three games, two of which were losses, the Redskins gained a combined 266 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. One of their backs, Matt Jones, sprained a toe and it's uncertain if it will result in any missed time. But regardless of who's running the ball, the Redskins must figure out what's going wrong with what should be their strength. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears return to Halas Hall on Monday with a realistic goal of being 3-3 heading into their bye week. All that's left to accomplish for that to happen is to beat Detroit at Ford Field on Sunday. The Bears hope to get some injured players back in time of the Lions game, notably receivers Eddie Royal and Alshon Jeffery. On defense, the Bears will need to account for the loss of inside linebacker Shea McClellin, who left the 18-17 victory over the Chiefs with a knee injury. The Bears felt McClellin was making solid progress at his new position before he got hurt. LaRoy Reynolds replaced McClellin in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions, who dropped to 0-5, have a multitude of issues. Safety Glover Quin said that they were beaten in all three phases Sunday versus the Cardinals. At this point, there are more questions than answers when it comes to Detroit. It now faces the division-rival Bears on Sunday. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Like most Mondays, the Packers will have to assess their injury situation after losing three players in Sunday's win over the Rams: Nose tackle B.J. Raji (groin), outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and right guard T.J. Lang (knee) all left the game and did not return. The Packers could use their bye now, but they'll have to wait one more week. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will get back to work after their bye week on Monday in preparation for what could be described as the soft part of their schedule, and their inconsistent run defense might have caught a break Sunday when Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles hurt his knee. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones, who was questionable for Sunday's game against the Redskins with hamstring and toe injuries, ended up playing the entire game and contributed to his team's 25-19 overtime win. And Jones said he has no concerns about the injuries keeping him out of action, meaning he'll be ready for the quick turnaround against the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Players will have their fifth straight day off, but coaches will be at Bank of America Stadium game-planning for Sunday's game at Seattle. Coach Ron Rivera has changed his schedule to make Monday a day off instead of Tuesday in hopes of changing his winless streak after the bye. The Panthers are 0-5 under Rivera, having been outscored 125-46. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: Depending on your perspective, the Saints (1-4) either have an incredible opportunity or a dire challenge facing them this week with the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons coming to New Orleans on Thursday night. On the plus side, there would be no better way for the Saints to bounce back from their most lopsided loss yet -- 39-17 at Philadelphia on Sunday. On the minus side, the Falcons' offense has been terrific this year, led by dynamic playmakers Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, which could present New Orleans' struggling defense with its toughest matchup yet. The Saints fell to 32nd in the NFL in defense (409 yards per game) as of Sunday evening. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs earned some needed momentum before their bye week after beating the Jaguars. At 2-3, Tampa Bay remains flawed in many areas, but there were positives to find from the team's first victory at Raymond James Stadium since Week 14 of the 2013 season. Look for the Bucs to emphasize the chance to get healthy in the coming week. On Sunday, left guard Logan Mankins saw his streak of 40 consecutive starts end when he didn't play because of a groin injury. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: Arizona will take its 42-17 win with it to West Virginia, where the Cardinals will spend the next week preparing to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. They will be without linebackers Kenny Demens and Alex Okafor and safety Chris Clemons for at least the beginning of the week because they're being sent back to Arizona for MRIs and further evaluation. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams enter their bye week at 2-3 with injury uncertainty surrounding end Chris Long (knee) and guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder). They will need the week to get healthy and figure out how to put all the pieces together for an offense that has disappointed in the first five weeks. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Heartbreak City. How will the Niners respond after taking a late lead over the Giants, only to surrender it with 21 seconds to play? It's a long flight back to Santa Clara from East Rutherford. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: The scene inside the Seahawks' locker room Sunday was grim -- quiet periods interrupted by occasional expletives. There's no doubt that the 27-24 loss to the Bengals was devastating. Players and coaches will review the film and get ready for the Panthers with hopes of making corrections before the season gets away from them. --Sheil Kapadia -- Sheil Kapadia