Brock Osweiler made a winning start in relief of quarterback Peyton Manning as the Denver Broncos moved to an 8-2 win-loss record and resumed their path towards the NFL playoffs.
Osweiler made his first career start having replaced the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader during last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
That was Manning and Denver's second straight loss but they disposed of the Chicago Bears 17-15 as Osweiler threw touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas and Cody Latimer and the hosts failed on a late two-point conversion attempt.
Denver's AFC West rivals the Oakland Raiders faltered against the Detroit Lions' improved defence, Detroit wrapping up an 18-13 win with quarterback Matt Stafford's touchdown run followed by a safety after Oakland's Donald Penn was penalised in the end zone.
The Baltimore Ravens beat the St Louis Rams 16-13 but it came at a cost as they lost quarterback Joe Flacco for the year.
The NFC South showed its mettle, led by the Carolina Panthers who extended their perfect record to a 10th game with a 44-16 hammering of the Washington Redskins.
Cam Newton slung a career-best five touchdown passes, a tally matched by Jameis Winston who equalled the NFL rookie record in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 45-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Atlanta Falcons, though, went down 24-21 to the Indianapolis Colts, whose win was sealed when tight end Coby Fleener stepped in on defence to intercept Matt Ryan's last-ditch Hail Mary pass.
Tony Romo returned from injury to lead the Dallas Cowboys over the Miami Dolphins, 24-14, throwing touchdowns to Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant and at one stage completing a pass left-handed. The Houston Texans beat the New York Jets 24-17.
The Green Bay Packers had a 30-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers threw for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Packers climbed above their opponents to the top of NFC North.
Kansas City's 346-pound defensive lineman Dontari Poe was sent in at full-back for a one-yard touchdown run, his first, in the match against San Diego, which finished in a 33-3 success for the Chiefs.
Rookie Thomas Rawls rushed for 209 yards and had two total touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks, who got back to 5-5 in NFL West with a 29-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers, while the Arizona Cardinals also saw off the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31.
Atlanta Falcons 21 Indianapolis Colts 24, Baltimore Ravens 16 St Louis Rams 13, Carolina Panthers 44 Washington Redskins 16, Chicago Bears 15 Denver Broncos 17, Detroit Lions 18 Oakland Raiders 13, Houston Texans 24 New York Jets 17, Miami Dolphins 14 Dallas Cowboys 24, Philadelphia Eagles 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45, Arizona Cardinals 34 Cincinnati Bengals 31, Minnesota Vikings 13 Green Bay Packers 30, San Diego Chargers 3 Kansas City Chiefs 33, Seattle Seahawks 29 San Francisco 49ers 13