Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury makes a call during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia watches during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has an intriguing personality, mixing introverted tendencies with supreme confidence that has helped Arizona push to a 2-0 start for the first time in five years.
Teammates love that the soft-spoken Murray works hard and is humble. They also love his unique swagger.
''It's not my first time dealing with success in my lifetime,'' Murray said. ''This is part of the game. We work hard in the offseason, we work hard to practice to win. We expect to win.''
Now the impressive Cardinals host the struggling Lions on Sunday at State Farm Stadium. Detroit has lost its first two games and given up the most yards rushing in the NFL.
That doesn't bode well for stopping Murray, who is the first quarterback in NFL history to run for at least 150 yards and three touchdowns in the season's first two games. He ran for scores of 14 yards and 21 yards in a 30-15 win over Washington last week, darting and dancing around defenders on the way to the end zone.
''He's like a punt returner back there,'' Lions defensive end Trey Flowers said. ''Any type of space he has, he takes advantage of it. He makes the most athletic guys miss.''
Arizona's success isn't just because of Murray and new receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has 22 catches through two games. The rebuilt defense is giving up just 17.5 points per game, which ranks second in the NFL.
Detroit gave up 42 points in a loss to the Green Bay Packers last week. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is once again putting up big numbers, but it's not been enough to overcome the mediocre defense.
Embattled coach Matt Patricia is 9-24-1 in two-plus seasons as a first-time NFL head coach. The Lions have lost 11 times after leading in the fourth quarter under Patricia. That doesn't even count last year's 27-27 tie against the Cardinals, which came after Detroit blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Losing three in a row to start the season would make a return to the playoffs unlikely. But that's not even a concern at the moment.
''We're not focused on the playoffs,'' Lions receiver Danny Amendola said. ''We're focused on the Cardinals.''
KENNARD SWITCHES SIDES
Arizona gave up the most total yards in the NFL last season, so it rebuilt that side of the ball by adding a handful of free agents in the offseason, including linebackers Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips. The Cardinals also drafted linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the No. 8 overall pick.
Kennard played the past two seasons with the Lions, starting 15 games in both 2018 and 2019. He had one of his best games with Detroit against Arizona in 2019 with three sacks of Murray, who was playing his first NFL game.
Now Kennard will be going after Stafford. The linebacker got his first sack with the Cardinals in last week's win over Washington.
Arizona's second-year coach Kliff Kingsbury is like most in the NFL when he says it's strange playing in front of empty stadiums. It's not an ideal situation, but it does make for better communication.
If Kingsbury wants to convey a message to someone on the field in 2020, all he has to do is raise his voice.
''I can literally yell at the receivers or running back or quarterback and get his attention,'' Kingsbury said. ''He can look over, and we can have some communication or dialogue from the sideline, which hasn't been possible in the past.''
LARRY FROM STATE FARM
Arizona's veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs just two catches in Sunday's game to set the NFL record for most career receptions at one stadium. He has 645 at State Farm Stadium. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had 646 during his career at Candlestick Park.
Matthew Stafford, drafted No. 1 overall by Detroit in 2009, seems to keep his emotions in check no matter how long the team's losing streak is or when the team has had success during his career.
''It doesn't mean that inside I'm not pissed at times or pumped at times,'' said Stafford, whose career record is 69-81-1 in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs. ''All of that is in there, but I have to make sure I move on to the next play. It does me no good to get lost in my emotions.''
Detroit is off to such a tough start that its punter has been one of its best players so far. Jack Fox, an undrafted rookie last year, has helped the Lions rank second in the NFL with a net average of 51.3 yards on punts over the first two games of his NFL career.
''I'd love for him to have a really calm day and only hold for extra points and field goals,'' Stafford said.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 7
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella wasn't able to contribute much in the team's 37-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Isabella caught just one pass for seven yards on three targets in the game. It's been a rough stretch for Isabella lately. He has just five receptions over his last four games. Christian Kirk has been coming on strong lately, which has led to far fewer opportunities for Isabella to contribute. Isabella should remain on waivers in all leagues at this point.
The Cardinals Defense was the latest victim of the scorching hot Seattle Seahawks offense. The Seahawks compiled 572 yards from scrimmage and put 34 points on the board against the Cardinals in Week 7. Luckily, the Cardinals offense kept pace and managed to lead the team to a win. The Cardinals defense did come up with some key turnovers as they forced three Russell Wilson interceptions and also recorded two sacks. Safety Budda Baker almost scored a defensive touchdown, but was tackled by DK Metcalf inside the 10-yard line after a long interception return.
Arizona Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold had his best game of the season so far in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. He caught two of his three targets for 57 yards. His 41-yard reception was the team's longest passing play in the game. No other Cardinals tight end recorded a catch in the game. Arnold is the clear top pass-catching tight end on the Cardinals, but just hasn't been involved enough to warrant any fantasy consideration. He had four receptions in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers, then failed to record a catch in his next two games. He should remain on waivers in all leagues for now.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk came up with some big plays for the team in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. Kirk caught five passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns on eight targets. Kirk has now posted back-to-back two-touchdown games. He tied with Larry Fitzgerald for second on the team in targets in this week's game. DeAndre Hopkins led the way with 12 targets. Kirk has been delivering great production lately. While he may be a bit inconsistent going forward, he's a solid WR3 or flex option most weeks.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had his most productive game of the season so far in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. Fitzgerald caught all eight of his targets for 62 yards. He was second on the team in receiving yards in the game, behind DeAndre Hopkins, and he tied with Christian Kirk for second on the team in targets. It was the first time this year that Fitzgerald had topped 50 receiving yards in a game and only the second time he'd compiled over four receptions in a game. This week's performance puts Fitzgerald back on the PPR map, though the Cardinals have a bye next week, so he should remain on waivers in all leagues for now.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 of his 12 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night in Week 7. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and he now has three touchdowns on the year. Hopkins benefitted from a fantastic performance from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Murray and Hopkins have been clicking all year long as Hopkins has dominated targets for the team. Hopkins leads the NFL with 704 receiving yards on the year. He is a no doubt, high-end WR1 going forward.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds gave the offense a solid boost in the team's 37-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Edmonds carried the ball five times for 58 yards and caught all seven of his targets for 87 yards. He severely outplayed the team's No. 1 back Kenyan Drake (ankle), who managed just 34 yards on 14 carries before leaving the game late with an ankle injury. Drake was carted off to the locker room, which suggests his injury could be significant. Edmonds is going to be a hot waiver wire add this week as he could potentially be the team's new No. 1 back. Keep in mind that the Cardinals have a bye next week, but Edmonds could be a great Week 9 start against the Miami Dolphins.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) couldn't get anything going on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Drake received 14 carries in the game, but managed to gain just 34 yards. He was targeted twice in the passing game and came down with one catch for seven yards. On his last run of the game, Drake injured his ankle and he had to be carted to the locker room. We don't know much about the injury at this point, but Drake could be forced to miss some time, which would make Chase Edmonds the team's new No. 1 back. The Cardinals have a bye next week, so Drake will have extra time to recover before the team's Week 9 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray took advantage of a fantastic matchup against a weak Seattle Seahawks secondary in Week 7. Murray completed 34 of 48 passes for 360 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown. Murray has now through for over 350 yards in two of his past three games. However, he's been held under 200 passing yards in two of his past four. This week's game was Murray's best fantasy output of the year. It was the first time he scored four touchdowns in a game this year. He's a no doubt QB1 going forward and this week's performance was clear evidence that he can be a high-end QB1 when he is at his best.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was forced from the Sunday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals with a foot injury. Coach Pete Carroll described it as a mid-foot sprain, and Carson will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Carlos Hyde took over as the lead running back after Carson exited the game, after missing the last two games with his own injury, and is now looking like one of the top waiver wire adds for Week 8. Hyde racked up 15 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown, and also added three receptions for eight yards. Stay tuned for further updates on Carson's injury and how long he may be sidelined for.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake injured his ankle against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. This did not look like a minor injury as he had to be carted to the locker room and even had a towel over his head. Drake was ruled out for the game and we should know more about the extent of the injury in the coming days. This is a tough break for Drake, the Cardinals and fantasy football managers. Chase Edmonds is now the lead running back for the Cardinals, and had a strong showing against the Seahawks. Edmonds is currently rostered in 62% of fantasy football leagues, and is the top waiver wire pickup for Week 8 if he's somehow still available.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense had another quiet statistical day in a 23-22 loss to the Detroit Lions. Not only did they record just two sacks and no interceptions, but they also gave up the game-winning score to tight end T.J. Hockenson. This unit is definitely one to avoid for fantasy purposes, especially considering they offer no upside. Leave them on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo had just two opportunities- a pair of extra-points- and he made both of them in a 23-22 loss to the Detroit Lions. It was Koo's first game this year without at least one field-goal made. Otherwise, he's been an excellent fantasy kicker playing on a team whose offense constantly finds itself in or near the red zone. That alone gives Koo upside in most weeks. He should be in lineups for next week's divisional clash against the Panthers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was quiet in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Pittsburgh was unable to force a turnover and was credited with just two sacks in the game. While it wasn't a fantasy-scoring bonanza for the Steelers, they held their own against a Tennessee offense that had been one of the highest-scoring in the league coming into Week 7. T.J. Watt and Vince Williams both led the way in the win with one sack apiece. Pittsburgh's defense draws another tough matchup in Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst caught six of seven targets for 68 receiving yards against the Lions. Hurst and Matt Ryan had a rhythm all game, as the former worked the intermediate routes to perfection. That's two games in a row for the 27-year-old with at least 50 yards receiving, as the coaching staff seems to be finding more ways to get him the ball. A tough matchup with the Panthers awaits- they held him to just eight yards- though Hurst is playing too well to bench right now.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage hauled in six of seven targets for 54 receiving yards in a loss to the Lions. Gage tied with Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst for second on the team in targets. The 24-year-old did injure his knee in the first quarter but was able to return to the action. He has seen at least seven targets in two of the three games that fellow wideout Julio Jones has been healthy for, indicating that Jones' presence does wonders for Gage in terms of opening up opportunities on the outside. As long as Matt Ryan continues to play well, Gage should be in the conversation as a WR3/4.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron caught six of his eight targets for 50 yards in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Ebron finished third on the team in receiving, behind Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and surprisingly ahead of rookie Chase Claypool. It continues a strong stretch of play for Ebron, who has caught at least five passes in three of his past four games. While he only has one touchdown on the year, Ebron is turning out to be a high-end TE2 for fantasy purposes in his first season with the Steelers. He will face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool lost two yards on his lone reception in a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. It goes down as a disappointing outing for the rookie, who had scored five total touchdowns in the previous two games. The return of Diontae Johnson certainly played into Claypool's slow outing, as did the resurgence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who drew 14 targets. Claypool's fantasy value going forward appears to be tied to the availability of Johnson, who is the clear alpha wide receiver in Pittsburgh. That being said, Johnson injured his ankle late in the game. The injury doesn't appear to be serious but neither did the back injury that held him out of almost all of the past two games. After looking like a must-start heading into Week 7, Claypool is all of a sudden a shaky flex play for Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught five of seven targets for 69 receiving yards and a touchdown in a narrow 23-22 loss to Detroit. Ridley corralled Matt Ryan's lone touchdown throw of the day and made a couple of highlight-reel grabs, including a nifty sideline catch where he got both feet in-bounds. Ridley has produced at least seven targets in all but one game and has eclipsed 100 yards four times already, after doing it twice all of last year. The breakout is in full effect and should continue into Week 8 against the Panthers, who Ridley torched for 136 receiving yards back in Week 6.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski had another terrific performance in Week 7, getting five receptions for 62 yards and a score on eight targets. Gronk is starting to look like himself and that's encouraging for fantasy managers. The big tight end has now scored a touchdown in two straight games. He has also seen at least six targets in the past three games and has gotten over 52 yards in those games as well. Gronk is definitely in the starting conversation going forward.