Arthur Blank, center, owner of the Atlanta Falcons walks along the sideline before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) follows on Cowboys onside kick as Atlanta Falcons' Olamide Zaccheaus (17) looks on in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Goodwin recovered the kick. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is brought down by New York Giants nose tackle Austin Johnson (98) as defensive end B.J. Hill (95) assists during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
ATLANTA (AP) Let's see if the Atlanta Falcons can put another nightmarish loss behind them.
The team that infamously squandered a 28-3 advantage in the 2017 Super Bowl suffered an improbable defeat in Week 2 of this NFL season, blowing a 20-point lead to the Dallas Cowboys and giving up an onside kick that set up a game-winning field goal on the final play.
The 40-39 stunner turned up the heat on coach Dan Quinn, especially when owner Arthur Blank said it looked as though the Falcons (0-2) didn't know the onside kick rules.
Quinn urged his team to turn its attention to Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears (2-0), but he conceded that it wouldn't be easy to get over such a disappointing outcome.
''You have to recognize the emotion,'' Quinn said. ''Yeah, you're (ticked). We have to put it into another space, but it's important to acknowledge why you're so (ticked). That's the life of a competitor. It's hard, but you have to get past mad, you have to get past frustrated if you're going to have the season you want.''
The Bears have a shot at their first 3-0 start since 2013, though they've hardly dazzled in their first two games.
In Week 1, Chicago rallied from 17 points down to beat the Detroit Lions 27-23. Last weekend, the Bears nearly blew a 17-point lead of their own, hanging on for a 17-13 win over the New York Giants.
''You're always happy about the win, but not too happy because we haven't played a full game together,'' Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. ''We know what we're capable of if we do play four quarters, so that's gotta be the goal.''
The Falcons would like to second that sentiment.
They appeared to be cruising at Dallas, taking advantage of three early turnovers on the way to a 29-10 halftime lead.
Even after the Cowboys rallied, the Falcons were up 39-24 with 5 minutes to go. But the defense couldn't hold, giving up a pair of touchdowns that gave Dallas hope. Even then, the Cowboys had to pull off an onside kick - a real longshot given rule changes that were designed to improve player safety.
The Falcons backed away from the spinning ball, simply watching until it had carried 10 yards. That allowed the Cowboys to make the recovery and win the game, turning Atlanta into the sort of national laughingstock that brought back memories of the Super Bowl meltdown.
Quinn insisted that his players understood the rules, but were simply befuddled by the strange kick.
''Arthur and I can disagree on how we talk about it, but what we 100 percent agree on is that it shouldn't have happened,'' the coach said. ''We've got to work to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
Some things to watch for when the Falcons try to bounce back against the Bears:
Coach Matt Nagy insisted he has seen enough improvement from Trubisky to keep him in the lineup.
''There's been a lot of growth with him as well in regards to his decision-making,'' Nagy said. ''Let's keep that next-play mentality going, where if something bad happens on one play, let's make a good play the next. He's been doing that. We haven't had that domino effect.''
Trubisky threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns against Detroit and was sharp in the first half against the Giants. But the other five quarters haven't gone as well for him.
Trubisky's completion rate (59.4 percent) ranks 28th in the league. He's also 25th in yards and 17th in rating, with 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles lurking in the backup role.
Falcons star Julio Jones was clearly bothered by a hamstring injury, which seemed to get worse against the Cowboys. The receiver will be closely monitored throughout the week, in hopes of getting him back on the field Sunday.
''He's a guy who really understands his body,'' Quinn said. ''He'll work through it.''
PLENTY OF TARGETS
If Jones is limited or can't go, the Falcons at least have plenty of other potential targets.
The Falcons are the only team that has four receivers with at least 100 yards through two games. Calvin Ridley leads the league with four touchdown receptions and is tied for most receiving yards at 239. Jones has 181, Russell Gage 160 and tight end Hayden Hurst 110.
The Bears have five sacks and could be poised to significantly improve those numbers.
A big reason is the presence of outside linebacker Robert Quinn. Signed to a $70 million contract in the offseason, he had a strip sack in his Bears debut last week.
Quinn missed the opener because of an ankle injury. His presence on the outside draws attention away from Khalil Mack.
RED ZONE WOES
Atlanta ranks last in the league in red-zone defense, surrendering touchdowns on nine of 10 drives inside the 20. They might have a little easier time of it against the Bears, who have scored on three of six trips into the red zone.
''We're putting a real focus on the red zone,'' Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said. ''We're giving up too may red-zone opportunities and too many points. We kind of fell apart this past week.''
Sunday Morning Update: Week 7
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (head) will not return to Sunday's matchup against the Chiefs. On a snowy, sloppy day in the Mile-High City, the 26-year-old suffered a concussion shortly before the end of the first half. Before his departure, he had nine attempts for 79 yards. Melvin Gordon, who also has nine carries, will likely serve as the featured back for the remainder of the contest. With more news to come, possibly sometime on Monday, fantasy managers will want to monitor this situation ahead of Denver's Week 8 against the Chargers.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith was targeted just four times but caught all four, totaling 56 receiving yards in a win over the Panthers. It wasn't the volume fantasy managers were hoping for from Smith, as he took a backseat to undrafted rookie Marquez Callaway (ankle). However, Smith really could be the lone wolf in the receiving room next week, especially if Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring), Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19), and Callaway are all out for a Week 8 matchup against the Bears.
The Washington Football Team defense had another good game against a banged-up offense as they dominated the Andy Dalton-led Cowboys. Dallas was playing without several starters on the offensive line and Washington took advantage as they sacked Dalton six times with one sack leading to a safety. Cole Holcomb led the charge for Washington with an interception and a sack from the middle linebacker position. In all, Washington allowed three points, recorded six sacks, a safety, and an interception on a great day for fantasy managers. The Football Team will have a bye in Week 8 but have another juicy matchup versus the Giants in Week 9 where they will be a startable unit in fantasy.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had seven catches (13 targets) for 82 yards during the loss to the Browns on Sunday. The veteran recorded another convincing performance against Cleveland while combining for 15 receptions (24 targets) over the team's previous two contests. Although fantasy managers may not see this type of production against the Titans in Week 8, he could have some more favorable outings over Cincy's remaining nine games, especially if Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd continue to open things up for him.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway caught eight of 10 targets for 75 receiving yards in a 27-24 victory over Carolina. Callaway led the team in targets in the absences of both Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Somewhat quietly, the 22-year old rookie has compiled 16 targets over his last two contests. With Sanders definitely out and Thomas's status looking murky, Callaway makes for an interesting waiver add. He did sustain an ankle injury and had to be helped off the field to the locker room. If Callaway's ankle isn't anything serious, fantasy managers should consider him as a streaming option against Chicago.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense didn't fare well in Week 7 despite being matched up against a Washington Football Team that was allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing fantasy defenses. The Cowboys defense allowed 23 points, recording two sacks but no turnovers. The Cowboys will take on the Eagles in the battle of bad NFC East defenses next week, where they will not be a recommended fantasy option.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins caught all five of his targets to finish with 71 yards and a touchdown against the Browns on Sunday. The rookie now has three touchdowns on the year, finding the end zone for the first time since Week 3 against the Eagles. With Joe Burrow leading a pass-heavy attack for Cincy, Higgins may continue to benefit, especially with Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green drawing the attention needed to open things up for him over the remaining nine games of his inaugural season.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd caught 11 of his 13 targets to finish the Week 7 matchup against the Browns with 101 yards and a score. After fizzling out against the Colts last Sunday, the 25-year-old recorded one of his most convincing performances of the 2020 campaign. Boyd has now logged at least eight targets in five of Cincy's seven contests and should continue to benefit from the stellar play of rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow. However, things may get difficult for the former Pittsburgh Panther in Week 8 against the Titans, with Tennessee looking to rebound after suffering its first defeat of the year against the Steelers.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein attempted a field goal in Week 7, and it was good for the only three points the Cowboys scored in an ugly 25-3 loss to the Washington Football Team. Zuerlein made his kick from 45 yards out and was never on the field on offense again. The Dallas offense is in total shambles, possibly moving Zuerlein out of the top-15 fantasy kickers going forward. He should continue to be solid, but may not get enough opportunities to score significant fantasy points.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup came up empty in a rough Week 7 loss. Gallup was targeted twice but couldn't come down with either pass, ending up with a blank box score and zero fantasy points. Gallup was working as a field stretcher with Dak Prescott around, but now with Andy Dalton and possibly Ben DiNucci throwing the ball for the Cowboys, Gallup seems much more likely to hit the "bust" part of his boom-or-bust fantasy outlook.
Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas caught all four of his targets for 60 yards and a touchdown in a Week 7 win over the Cowboys. Thomas played second-fiddle to Terry McLaurin in the passing game as no other Washington player had more than two targets. Thomas made them count catching several big passes to move the chains while finding the end zone for the third time this season. Thomas has had an up-and-down season but is getting enough weekly targets to be considered a borderline starter in 12-team fantasy leagues. He'll be a touchdown-dependant starter in his next matchup in Week 9 versus the Giants.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard racked up 37 yards off 13 carries during the heartbreaking loss to the Cleveland Browns. He also added five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. The veteran filled in admirably for Joe Mixon (foot), who is considered week-to-week after being injured during the Week 6 encounter with the Colts. At this point, the 28-year-old has likely found a home on fantasy rosters. However, if he is still floating around the waiver wire, managers should pick him up before it's too late, especially if Mixon cannot suit up against the Titans in Week 8. Although Bernard isn't the most efficient runner, he should continue to benefit from the team's pass-heavy offense.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray posted 56 scrimmage yards on 12 total touches in a victory over the Panthers. Murray's 4.3 yards per carry were a bit skewed, as he picked up 25 yards on one run and just 22 yards on the other 10 carries. Still, the opportunity Murray is getting is encouraging for those who have him rostered, as the coaching staff clearly trusts him. It bears repeating, but if something were to happen to Alvin Kamara, Murray would be an easy start as an RB1.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin posted a 7-90-1 line versus the Cowboys to help lead Washington to a win over their division rival. The sophomore receiver was a huge part of the game plan against a bad Dallas secondary as McLaurin was targeted 11 times, his fourth game this season with double-digit targets. It could have been an even bigger game for McLaurin but he came up inches short of the goal line on his first catch of the game. He made up for it a couple of drives later as he torched Trevon Diggs for a 52-yard score. McLaurin doesn't operate in the NFL's most electrifying offense, but his combination of skill and target-floor make him one of the best WR options in fantasy. He'll have another solid matchup with the Giants in Week 9 after the bye.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara carried the ball 14 times for 83 rushing yards and caught all eight targets for 65 receiving yards in a 27-24 win. The 83 rushing yards tied a season-high for Kamara, as the running room was easy to find against Carolina's ground defense. Amazingly, the star halfback has exceeded 100 scrimmage yards in every game but one- and he ended up with two scores in that contest to salvage his day. There might be no better player to roster in fantasy football right now, so managers should keep riding the Kamara wave into a Week 8 contest against a Bears Defense that can be had on the ground.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) will have an MRI performed on Monday. The veteran was forced out of Sunday's matchup against the Bengals after injuring his left knee in the first quarter. Although the team fears the worst, fantasy managers should wait until official confirmation before hitting the panic button. Heading into Week 7, the 27-year-old grabbed 23 of his 42 targets for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz made two catches in Week 7, gaining 22 yards. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Schultz ended up second on the team in both catches and receiving yards. He was targeted four times in a game in which the Cowboys couldn't do much of anything on offense. Even if Andy Dalton (head) is able to play next week, Schultz may be no better than a mid-range TE2. Things are rough on both sides of the ball in Dallas right now.
Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was targeted five times in an ugly Week 7 loss, failing to catch any of those targets. He was given one carry and gained one yard. In standard scoring leagues, Lamb put up just 0.1 fantasy points. It was a bad game for pretty much everyone in a Cowboys uniform. Even if Andy Dalton (head) isn't forced to miss time, Lamb and all of the Cowboys pass catchers are getting a huge downgrade compared to when Dak Prescott (ankle) was under center.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan caught only two passes for 32 yards in the Packers 35-20 romp over the Texans in Week 7. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was generous with his offensive distribution but Tonyan was unable to enjoy the fruits of the teams prosperity. Fantasy teams that raced to pick up Tonyan after his three-touchdown performance in Week 4 have been rewarded with only five catches for 57 yards over the last two weeks. Tonyan's fantasy value will continue to sink heading into Week 8.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper had the only remotely productive offensive game for the Cowboys in Week 7. He caught seven passes for 80 yards and added a carry for five more yards on the ground. Cooper was targeted seven times and caught everything sent his way. He ended up leading the team in catches, targets, and yards all by a significant margin. It was a rough game for the Cowboys in all aspects, but in the "someone has to catch the ball" situations that the Cowboys may have going forward, Cooper is the most likely to be that "someone". Cooper will remain a volume-based WR2 option regardless of the Cowboys quarterback situation going forward.