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Ben Roethlisberger throws for 5 TDs, Steelers rip Panthers 52-21

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 8, 2018, 9:12 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns, James Conner ran for 65 yards and a score before leaving late with a possible concussion and the Steelers pounded the Carolina Panthers 52-21 for their fifth straight victory.

Most Improved Players playing key roles at halfway point

Established superstars such as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers grab all the attention when their teams do well. But a team’s success or failure can often be determined by which players make the biggest jump from year to year. Key players such as Patrick Mahomes and James Conner have played major roles in their respective teams being in first place through Week 9.

NFL’s running renaissance highlighted by Todd Gurley’s MVP look

Ezekiel Elliott likes to give Todd Gurley credit for the NFL’s running renaissance because the Los Angeles Rams star ended an unprecedented two-year drought of backs taken in the first round of the draft. Gurley has MVP-like numbers on a Super Bowl contender three years after he was drafted 10th overall. The former Georgia standout is the best example why it’s a good time to be a running back not many years after the position seemed undervalued in a passing league.

Chiefs becoming must-watch show with Patrick Mahomes under center

The Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes are becoming appointment viewing as they shatter records and roll up wins. Need evidence? Even coaches pressed for time are tuning in to watch Kansas City’s high-flying offense just for fun. And with several primetime games coming up, there will be plenty of more chances to watch.

Saints sign ex-Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 7, 2018, 6:20 p.m.

Dez Bryant has found a new team. He’s agreed to join the already prolific offense of the surging New Orleans Saints. The former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has been looking for an NFL home since becoming a free agent in April. Now he’ll have a chance to catch passes from one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history in New Orleans’ Drew Brees.

Surging Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers face red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spent a portion of his summer studying Ben Roethlisberger and working out with Antonio Brown. Newton and his teammates will get a close look at Roethlisberger, Brown and the rest of the Steelers when Carolina visits Pittsburgh. The Panthers have won three straight games while Pittsburgh has ripped off four wins in a row to take control of the AFC North. The Panthers are 0-3 all-time in Pittsburgh.

Falcons bolster pass rush by adding veteran Bruce Irvin

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 7, 2018, 2:38 p.m.

The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a one-year deal with defensive end Bruce Irvin. The one-year deal reunites Irvin with coach Dan Quinn. Irvin was cut by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday and became a free agent after clearing waivers with $3.8 million remaining on his contract.

Seattle Seahawks sit at .500 after step back from winning formula

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 6, 2018, 6:31 p.m.

The Seattle Seahawks successfully reset their roster and figured out a style and method for winning in the first half of the season. That made what happened in losing to the Los Angeles Chargers a major step backward. The team that found a winning formula by running the ball, avoiding costly mistakes on offense and stopping the run on defense showed how easy it is to get off track.

Injuries make impact sidelining NFL stars at halfway point

Rookie head coach Mike Vrabel has no time to imagine how much better his s Tennessee offense might be if only three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker hadn’t broken his ankle in the Titans’ season opener. Next man up is a necessity as much as a cliche in the NFL.

Larry Stone: Seahawks let one get away; now their playoff chances are bleak

On a micro level, the Seahawks’ 25-17 loss to the Chargers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field felt to them like one that got away. Or, more accurately, like one they let get away through misplays, penalties, too many chunk plays allowed, a missed field-goal attempt and a huge pick-six interception thrown by Russell Wilson.

NFL Capsules: Texans beat Denver for sixth straight victory

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 4, 2018, 9:30 p.m.

Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired, leaving Demaryius Thomas a winner in his homecoming and Houston escaped Denver with a win. The Texans (6-3) won their sixth straight and the Broncos (3-6) lost for the sixth time in seven games. Thomas finished with three receptions for 61 yards, but two of them were back-to-back for 31 and 18 yards on the Texans’ opening touchdown drive.

Long-distance call: Thomas helps Saints beat Rams 45-35

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 4, 2018, 7:35 p.m.

Michael Thomas caught a late 72-yard touchdown reception and then celebrated with a cellphone in a throwback to another famous New Orleans play, and the streaking Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season with a 45-35 win on Sunday.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon questionable for Sunday’s game against Seahawks

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 2, 2018, 4:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is questionable for Sunday’s game at Seattle. Gordon missed the Chargers’ last game on Oct. 21 in London due to a hamstring injury. The fourth-year running back was listed as a full participant during Friday’s practice after being limited earlier in the week.