The running game in the NFL has become a youth revolution. Of the top 10 rushers in the league heading into Week 6, five of them are in their first or second seasons. That includes rookies Kareem Hunt of Kansas City and Leonard Fournette of Jacksonville, who rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, while pacing first-place teams. As playoff races begin to take shape, expect young running backs to continue grabbing the spotlight. (All games Sunday unless otherwise noted.)
Game of the Week: Packers (4-1) at Vikings (3-2), 11 a.m. Aaron Rodgers has made the most out of his offensive weapons, but it’s Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (787 combined yards) who quietly have become one of the league’s best receiving duos.
Eagles (4-1) at Panthers (4-1), 6:25 p.m., Thursday. Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz and Carolina counterpart Cam Newton have been at the top of their respective games while leading their teams to the top of the NFC. But expect the running game to be an X-factor for both teams.
Bears (1-4) at Ravens (3-2), 11 a.m. It wasn’t perfect, but rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky gave the Bears a spark in his NFL debut Monday night in a narrow loss to the Vikings. Now he faces a Ravens defense that appears to be finding its stride after a 30-17 road win at Oakland.
Browns (0-5) at Texans (2-3), 11 a.m. Houston is battered and bruised and without franchise stalwart J.J. Watt. But the Texans are still just one game behind Jacksonville in the AFC South race.
Lions (3-2) at Saints (2-2), 11 a.m. Look for New Orleans rookie RB Alvin Kamara to take on a much larger role now that the team has traded Adrian Peterson to the Cardinals.
Dolphins (2-2) at Falcons (3-1), 11 a.m. Miami leads the league in off-the-field distractions this season, but the most troublesome concern on the field is a feeble offense that is keeping coach Adam Gase up at night.
Patriots (3-2) at Jets (3-2), 11 a.m. Who would have thought the Jets, who will face a banged-up Tom Brady (shoulder), would be battling for first place in the AFC East in Week 6?
49ers (0-5) at Redskins (2-2), 11 a.m. It may be just a matter of time before San Francisco breaks through. Four of the 49ers’ five losses have been by three points or fewer.
Buccaneers (2-2) at Cardinals (2-3), 2:05 p.m. Matchup to watch: Tampa Bay’s third-ranked pass defense against QB Carson Palmer and Arizona’s No. 2 passing offense.
Rams (3-2) at Jaguars (3-2), 2:05 p.m. Rams QB Jared Goff turned the ball over three times in a 16-10 loss to the Seahawks. Now he faces a Jacksonville defense that picked off Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger five times last week.
Steelers (3-2) at Chiefs (5-0), 2:25 p.m. After giving up 181 rushing yards to the Jaguars’ Fournette, the Steelers are tasked with combating the NFL’s leading rusher, Kansas City’s Hunt.
Chargers (1-4) at Raiders (2-3), 2:25 p.m. The Raiders are reeling after three straight losses. The question for Oakland: How effective will Derek Carr be if he returns Sunday from a back injury he suffered in Week 4 against the Broncos?
Colts (2-3) at Titans (2-3), 6:30 p.m., Monday. For all that has gone wrong for these teams — namely injuries to their QBs — Indianapolis and Tennessee have a chance to grab a share of first place in the AFC South.