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.''
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 7
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton looked horrendous during the Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He completed nine of 15 passing attempts for 98 yards and zero touchdowns with three interceptions. He also rushed five times for 19 yards before being benched in the second half. To be fair, Jarrett Stidham didn't look much better since the Pats receivers can't get open. Head coach Bill Belichick confirmed that Newton is the starting quarterback going forward. He'll be a QB2 option against the Buffalo Bills next week.
The Denver Broncos Defense had a daunting matchup in Week 7 against the Super Bowl champions, and they proved they weren't up to the task in the 43-16 blowout loss on Sunday. It came a week after the defense stepped up to slow down Cam Newton and the Patriots in an upset win. But the defense was back to their old ways, only creating one turnover while sacking Patrick Mahomes four times. Through seven weeks, the Denver D ranks 22nd in the NFL in fantasy points, 10th in sacks (18) and have created just six total turnovers (three interceptions, three fumble recoveries). They allow 251.8 passing yards per game (20th in the league) and 109 rushing yards per game (24th). They won't be a particularly attractive play in Week 8 against a Chargers team that just dropped 39 points on the Jaguars.
New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham saw some reps during the second half of the Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Quarterback Cam Newton was benched after a three interception performance. Sadly, it didn't get much better once Stidham took over under center. He completed six of 10 passing attempts for 64 yards and one interception. Stidham looks awkward, uncomfortable, and confused in the pocket. The Pats confirmed that Newton is the starter going forward. There's almost no reason to own Stidham in any format whatsoever.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris has become the lead back for this offense, but hasn't been able to do much damage lately. He rushed 10 times for 58 yards in the Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He also hauled in one reception for 12 yards, but was unable to get any momentum going in this one. It didn't help that the Pats were getting blown out and couldn't move the ball on offense. Harris could be a low-end flex option against the Buffalo Bills next week.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus made his lone field-goal try from 43 yards out in the 43-16 blowout loss to the Chiefs on Sunday in the snow. The 29-year-old strong-legged booter disappointed any fantasy managers that picked up him up off the waiver wire and started him after he made all six of his field goals in the Week 6 upset over the Patriots. In a game where the Broncos were down big all day to the defending Super Bowl champions, there just weren't any opportunities to be had for McManus. He also missed one of his two extra-point tries in the loss to Kansas City. The Chargers -- the Broncos Week 8 opponent -- have been a top-10 matchup for fantasy kickers this year, but McManus still ranks 19th in the league in overall fantasy points through seven weeks. Denver's inconsistent offense continues to make McManus a shaky streaming option on a weekly basis.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had another disappointing day for his fantasy managers in the Week 7 blowout loss to the division-rival Chiefs in a game played in the snow in Denver. The conditions didn't help his cause, but Jeudy caught two of his four targets for just 20 yards on the day. Rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was tied for a team-high seven targets and has 13 targets over the last two games, while Jeudy only has nine targets over that span while going under 33 yards each of the last two contests. The first-rounder out of Alabama has just one touchdown in his rookie season and has yet to top 62 yards in a single game, making him a shaky WR4/flex, especially now that Okwuegbunam appears to be quarterback Drew Lock's go-to guy.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant missed the team's Week 5 game against the Patriots due to an ankle injury, but he returned for the 43-16 loss in Week 7 against the Chiefs. Fant drew seven targets from quarterback Drew Lock in the snowy conditions in Denver, but he was only able to haul in three of them for 38 yards in the blowout. It was his first game action since Oct. 1, but it didn't help that rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam had the same amount of targets and caught all of them for 60 yards. Okwuegbunam's emergence and chemistry with Lock dating back to their days at Missouri could be a thorn in Fant's side moving forward. Against the division-rival Chargers next Sunday, Fant will be more of a TE2.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler returned to action in Week 7 against the Chiefs after missing a month with a hamstring injury that he suffered in the Week 4 win over the Jets. Hamler caught two of his three targets for 24 yards and also had a 10-yard run in the 43-16 blowout loss to Kansas City. In four games so far in his rookie season, the 21-year-old second-rounder has eight receptions on 15 targets for 102 yards. Hamler could eventually be a weapon for Denver out of the slot, but he's too far down the receiving pecking order right now in a much too inconsistent offense. He hasn't had more than three catches in a single game in 2020 and is really only a dynasty/keeper stash for now.
Denver Broncos rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam led the team in receiving in the 43-16 blowout loss to the Chiefs on Sunday, catching all seven of his targets for 60 yards. His seven targets were tied for the team lead with fellow tight end Noah Fant, who was returning from an ankle injury he suffered in Week 4. Okwuegbunam just made his NFL debut last week against the Patriots, and he had six targets in that one. The rookie played his college ball with quarterback Drew Lock at Missouri, so it appears that the two have some pretty good chemistry. He's worth picking up in dynasty/keeper leagues and deeper formats, but Okwuegbunam's ceiling will be limited with Fant back in the fold moving forward.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III ran the ball a team-high 17 times for 68 yards and a touchdown in the blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 7, but he also lost two fumbles. Gordon caught two of his four targets for 12 yards. If it weren't for Phillip Lindsay -- who was the more effective back in this game on nine carries -- leaving the game early with a concussion, it's very possible that Gordon wouldn't have had the numbers he ended up with, especially since he lost two fumbles. Gordon's fantasy managers could be looking at some RB2 upside if he has the backfield to himself again in Week 8 against his former team, the Chargers, if Lindsay can't clear the league's concussion protocol by next Sunday.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock attempted a season-high 40 throws in the 43-16 blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 7, completing 24 of them for 254 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. However, he somewhat salvaged his fantasy stat line by running the ball three times for eight yards and a touchdown. Lock wasn't a smart pick in this one in the snow against the defending Super Bowl champions, and it was second straight week with two picks thrown. The 23-year-old just hasn't looked comfortable the last two weeks against the Chiefs and Patriots after returning from a right shoulder sprain. The second-year signal-caller will have an easier go of it in Week 8 against the Chargers, a team that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to QBs, but Lock will still be a low-end QB2 in this below-average offense.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Virgil Green (ankle) sustained a considerable ankle injury during Sunday's win over the Jaguars, with head coach Anthony Lynn noting that Green will miss some time with the ailment. Used sparingly this season as an extra tight end, Green made his first touchdown catch of the season Sunday, giving him seven straight years with a TD secured. The team has not yet made a decision on whether or not to place him on injured reserve, but it appears that for at least next week's game against the Broncos, Hunter Henry should have considerable reign on the passes thrown to tight ends. Due to his role in the offense and recent injury, Green can remain on the waiver wire in all season-long formats.
Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass was a busy man during the Week 7 win over the New York Jets. In fact, Bass resulted in all 18 of the Bills points on offense in this game. He connected on six of his eight field goals attempts in this one. His longest field goal of the day was a 53-yarder that he connected on. This was a fluke performance by Bass, so fantasy owners searching for kickers shouldn't expect this to happen again. The Bills offense should be able to bounce back against the New England Patriots next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been a reliable option in PPR leagues all season long. However, he posted his best game of the year against the New York Jets in Week 7. Beasley hauled in 11 of his 12 targets for 112 yards in the win. Quarterback Josh Allen couldn't get anything going down the field, so often targeted Beasley with check down passes. The Bills receivers are a little banged up right now, so Beasley could be a solid WR3 against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs was surprisingly quiet against the New York Jets in Week 7. Diggs saw 11 targets, but was only able to haul in six of them for 48 yards in the victory. Quarterback Josh Allen loves targeting Diggs, so expect this trend to continue all season long. Diggs has been held under 50 yards during each of the last two games, but fantasy owners can be hopeful for a bounce back performance against the New England Patriots next week.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley missed both a field goal and extra point during Sunday's win over Jacksonville -- marking the second straight week that it occurred -- but head coach Anthony Lynn made it clear that Badgley would be the team's kicker for Sunday versus Denver. Badgley has yet to miss a kick inside of 40 yards, but has gone 4-for-8 from beyond 40 this season. Over his first two years, Badgley missed just a single extra point, but even after having reeled off misses in two straight weeks, Los Angeles seems confident in their third-year kicker. His current rough spell means that fantasy managers can look elsewhere for kicking production at the moment, even as the Chargers' offense begins to percolate.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft started during the Week 7 contest against the New York Jets with Dawson Knox (calf) sidelined. Normally, Kroft wouldn't see much action in the passing game, but the Bills struggled to throw deep in this one. Which means, they looked for check down passes quite often, which resulted in decent numbers for Kroft. He hauled in all four of his targets for 64 yards in the win. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect this type of performance to happen again anytime soon.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has been unable to get anything going on the ground lately. He rushed eight times for 29 yards in the Week 7 victory over the New York Jets. Over the last three games, Singletary has finished with 32 rushing yards or less in each of those contests. The fact he is splitting up the carries with rookie Zack Moss doesn't help his fantasy value. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect a much better performance from Singletary against the New England Patriots next week.
Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss has started off fairly slow this season, but played well against the New York Jets in Week 7. He rushed seven times for 47 yards and caught all three of his targets in the passing game for 25 yards. Moss continues to split up the carries with Devin Singletary in the backfield. However, Moss could hold flex value in PPR leagues if he continues getting involved in the passing game. Fantasy owners should watch and see what he does versus the New England Patriots next week.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) sustained a high ankle sprain during Sunday's win over Seattle, an injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for multiple weeks, making him an injured reserve candidate. The absence of Drake will pave the way for Chase Edmonds to see the lion's share of duties out of the backfield. Drake and Edmonds had settled into a competitive share of reps, with Drake being utilized primarily as a rusher, while Edmonds has excelled as a pass catcher. Drake catches a break with Arizona's bye coming this week, but upon their return, they'll play three games in 11 days. Check back for an update on Drake's official status, but fantasy managers can begin considering Edmonds as a legitimate RB2 option due to his unimpeded path to touches.