By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp celebrates after a long run with head coach Sean McVay during the second half of an NFL football game New Orleans Saints Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, right, is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams can't get a hand on a incomplete pass intended for Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (89) as Eli Apple, right, looks on during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks, left, catches a pass inform of New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) When Drew Brees went to the sideline holding his injured throwing hand, this NFC championship game rematch - and maybe this season's Super Bowl race - dramatically changed in an instant.
Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams didn't waste the opportunity created by Brees' absence to beat the Saints again. And with no help from a no-call this time.
Goff passed for 283 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score, and the Rams stopped New Orleans from scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2016 during Los Angeles' 27-9 victory Sunday.
A strong performance by the Rams' defense, an impressive second half from Goff's offense, and another officiating decision that hurt the Saints were all overshadowed by Brees' departure late in the first quarter.
''I told him I'm hoping for the best,'' Goff said of his postgame chat with Brees. ''He's a great player for this league, a face of the league, and somebody we need in the league.''
Brees' throwing hand collided with Aaron Donald's outstretched hand while he threw an incompletion on the Saints' second drive, and the NFL's career leader in yards passing spent the afternoon on the Coliseum sideline with his thumb heavily wrapped. Brees will see a hand specialist Sunday night, he said.
''There is only so much you can do here as far as a doctor seeing it on the sideline,'' Brees said. ''Hoping it is not too significant.''
Teddy Bridgewater went 17 of 30 for 165 yards in solid relief, while Alvin Kamara rushed for just 45 yards for the Saints (1-1), who seemed understandably discombobulated without their longtime quarterback - although the Rams' defense deserves plenty of credit as well.
Brees' absence ''really didn't change anything at all for us,'' Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler said. ''We were doing a good job before he got hurt. Everybody was on top of their game.''
New Orleans didn't score an offensive touchdown for only the fourth time in 13-plus seasons under coach Sean Payton, who got a lengthy contract extension before the game.
''It is going to be a hard film to watch for guys,'' Payton said. ''We got whipped up front.''
Todd Gurley rushed for 63 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season late in the third quarter of this rematch of the Rams' 26-23 overtime win in New Orleans last January. That game turned on the infamous uncalled pass interference late in regulation by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had six tackles in the rematch.
''Every win is a big win, but today was a very important win,'' Robey-Coleman said. ''It was a win that basically just closed all the chatter and the naysaying.''
This one also contained early refereeing drama that left the Saints steamed: New Orleans' Cameron Jordan had a long fumble return for a touchdown wiped out in the second quarter. The play initially was ruled an incomplete pass before video review determined Goff had fumbled, but Jordan's long return didn't count because officials had blown the play dead.
Jordan was still furious after the game, even referring to the refs as ''the Foot Locker'' and saying certain members of the officiating crew ''were maybe in their prime a decade ago.''
''If Drew is down, it's on the defense,'' Jordan added. ''I take it upon me. I don't know how many times we hit Jared Goff, but it wasn't enough. We've got to create more turnovers.''
The Saints were hampered by 11 penalties for 87 yards, while the Rams' offense recovered from a slow start to make three straight touchdown drives in the second half.
But this matchup between two of the most prolific offenses in NFL history was definitely not a fireworks show, between Brees' absence and the inconsistent performance of Los Angeles coach Sean McVay's offense. The Rams failed to score a touchdown in the first half for only the third time in McVay's tenure.
KUPP RUNNETH OVER EVERYBODY
Shortly after Brandin Cooks caught a TD pass, Cooper Kupp made the play of the game with a spectacular 67-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter. Goff scored after Kupp was ruled down at the 1 by video review.
''It was like something you only see in a football movie,'' Cooks said with a laugh.
Kupp finished with five catches for 120 yards, while Goff surpassed 10,000 career yards passing.
Both teams had far too many. Along with Brees, the Saints lost left guard Andrus Peat to an ankle injury in the second half. Linebacker A.J. Klein also went to the locker room in the second half. Backup receiver Keith Kirkwood was ruled out with a hamstring injury in pregame warmups.
The Rams lost two offensive starters: right guard Austin Blythe injured his ankle in the first half, and tight end Tyler Higbee incurred a chest injury early in the second half.
Donald missed part of the first half with a back injury, but the two-time Defensive Player of the Year returned.
The game was the Rams' final home opener at the 96-year-old Coliseum: They'll move into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next season. The Rams and Chargers unveiled the name of their multibillion-dollar complex before the game.
Saints: Staying on the West Coast this week to face the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.
Rams: At the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 34 of 54 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears 36-25 loss to the Saints in Week 7. Practically all of the third-year quarterback's stats came in the final moments after the Bears had fallen behind 36-10. The Bears offense was abysmal for three quarters and Trubisky showed plenty of rust. He was able to salvage his outing from a fantasy perspective but will not be a viable option until he can show sustained accuracy and efficiency.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida handled eight totes for 44 yards and added a one-yard grab in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Discouragingly, Breida was thoroughly out-touched 22-9 by backfield mate Tevin Coleman, who raced for 62 yards of his own. It was an all-around team effort for the Niners in sloppy conditions and they remain undefeated. Breidas become a clear second fiddle to Coleman since the latters return from injury and should be modestly downgraded for fantasy purposes. In a run-heavy offensive scheme, Breida still has the volume to be a weekly RB3/flex option. The Carolina Panthers weak rush defense awaits in Week 8.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson tallied 10 receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown in the Bears 36-25 loss to the Saints in Week 7. Robinson's final fantasy line looks a lot better thanks to two late-game garbage drives for scores. The Bears offense is really struggling right now but the veteran receiver continues to be the only consistent source of production. Despite the Bears offensive woes, Robinson will remain a solid WR2 heading into Week 8.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison carried seven times for 18 yards (2.6 yards per carry) in Week 7's 42-30 win over the Detroit Lions. Mattison took a clear back seat in this one as Dalvin Cook carried 25 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Mattison was also not targeted in the passing game. The rookie back out of Boise State has been productive this season (5.3 yards per carry) but remains more of a high-priority handcuff than a player to consider starting in re-draft formats. However, he could be worth a look as a sneaky RB3 option with higher expected volume in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins' porous run defense.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman converted 20 carries into 62 yards, also recording two catches for negative one yard in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Coleman wasnt efficient, but continued dominating touches over backfield mate Matt Breida by a 22-9 margin. Colemans been used as a workhorse since returning from an ankle injury, giving him a solid floor in a run-heavy offense. Hell be a high-end RB2 in Week 8 against a porous Carolina Panthers run defense.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in the Bears disappointing 36-25 loss to the Saints. Patterson flashed what makes him so valuable in the first quarter, taking a kick from the end zone all the way to the house. Patterson was used at times on the offensive side of the ball, racking up 23 yards on one carry and two receptions. Patterson is a threat and makes an above average fantasy defense better with his ability to produce on special teams.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson finished with a game-high eight receptions (14 targets) for 137 yards in the loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. Though Tyler Boyd received an equal amount of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton, his five catches for 55 yards opened the door for increased production from Erickson on a day where nothing was going right. With A.J. Green (ankle) expected back within the next week or so, the sell-high window is wide open for the 26-year-old as this type of performance won't happen too often moving forward, if at all.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense continued its dominant run, shutting out the Washington Redskins in Week 7. Aided by a wet field, the Niners limited the Skins to 154 meaningless yards, collecting three sacks and recovering a fumble in the process. A driving force behind the teams undefeated start, San Franciscos defensive unit continues to take care of business and serve notice to the football community. Theyve evolved into a weekly must-start fantasy squad. The Carolina Panthers await in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard finished with no yards on four attempts in addition to four yards off of two receptions against the Jaguars in Week 7. As the team's offensive woes continue, the veteran is having one of his worst seasons as a professional. As the Bengals continue to be plagued with a horrendous offensive line and a plethora of injuries, Bernard hasn't done much this season. He has little, if any, fantasy value at the moment, with that likely staying the same moving forward unless Joe Mixon loses his spot on the depth chart.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards, no scores and an interception in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The Niners leaned on their defense and wet conditions to overmatch the Redskins in the 9-0 shutout. The nondescript performance from Garoppolo has become the norm, as hes managed the team to a sparkling 6-0 start to 2019. With the continued emphasis on the run game and Jimmy G yet to push the gas, hell remain a middling QB2 in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for just two yards on 10 attempts against the Jaguars on Sunday. While he was able to bring in a two-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Andy Dalton, it was a disappointing outing overall for those who were hoping for a turnaround in Week 7. With the Bengals unable to get anything going behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Mixon's outlook moving forward doesn't look promising, especially in Week 8 against the Rams Defense.
Neither San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Dante Pettis nor Marquise Goodwin caught a pass in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The two receivers garnered three total targets in a sloppy contest dominated by the Niners defense. After a week of fantasy buzz, Pettis will fall back with Goodwin in fantasy obsolescence as zero-floor WR5s in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle recorded 38 yards on three catches in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. The Niners managed just 151 pass yards in a wet and sloppy contest, resulting in Kittles lowest production of 2019. His five targets still led the squad. The Niners return home in Week 8 to host the Carolina Panthers where Kittle will be a premium TE1 against a tough pass defense.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught 5-of-6 targets for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 7. Rudolph connected with Kirk Cousins on a 15-yard score in the fourth quarter, Rudolph's first touchdown catch of the year. Adam Thielen (hamstring) left the game early, meaning guys like Rudolph, Olabisi Johnson, and Irv Smith Jr. were asked to step up in the passing attack. To their credit, they all put up solid performances. That being said, Rudolph remains an uninspiring low-volume option at tight end and should only be played as a touchdown-dependent TE2 in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton wasn't able to get anything going against Jacksonville in Week 7. While the veteran was able to accumulate 276 yards and two total touchdowns on the day, the Jaguars Defense was relentless by recording interceptions on three-straight drives, with one of those picks being returned for a score. Dalton is having one of his worst seasons in the league, though he can't take all of the blame as the team has been plagued with injuries across the board. Things likely won't get any easier in Week 8 as the Bengals will look for their first win of the year against the newly revamped Rams Defense.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett caught four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. Everett was targeted a team-high 10 times in the game. He'll have a tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals next week. The Bengals have only allowed tight ends to grab 13 balls for 183 yards and no touchdowns in the last three weeks. Everett will be a low-end TE1 option.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense had a big day against the Atlanta Falcons with five sacks, two fumble recoveries, one that went for a touchdown, an interception and just 10 points allowed. They have upside next week against the Cincinnati Bengals and are a midrange start for Week 8.
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Dante Fowler had seven tackles (six solo), three sacks and a pass defense against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. His tackles and sacks were both team highs. Fowler is a fringe player to own in individual defensive player leagues, but this might put him over the hump and onto rosters.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught 7-of-8 targets for 142 scoreless yards in Week 7's win over the Detroit Lions. Adam Thielen (hamstring) leaving the game in the first quarter concentrated targets to Diggs, but the four receiving touchdowns went to Thielen, C.J. Ham, Kyle Rudolph, and Olabisi Johnson. Diggs got dragged down just before the goal-line on a 67-yard catch (set up by some beautiful play-action) late in the game. Diggs is back to seeing WR2-worthy targets and has exceeded 100 receiving yards in three of his last four games. Start him as a top-end WR2 in Week 8's Thursday night tilt against the Washington Redskins.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook tallied 25 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7's 42-30 win over the Detroit Lions. He also added one catch for seven yards. This was Cook's league-leading fifth 100-yard rushing game and he now has six touchdowns on the ground in what's becoming a breakout campaign for the third-year back out of Florida State. Cook has been absolutely dynamic all season and his ceiling is raised even higher with the form that Kirk Cousins and the play-action passing game is in. Cook is a surefire RB1 and will arguably be the top option at running back in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins.