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 Hot Plays: Week 7
The Buffalo Bills Defense gets the fortune of playing what is on track to be a decimated Jets offense Sunday. Joe Flacco is likely to start under center again for Sam Darnold (shoulder), while Jamison Crowder (groin) was held out of practice Thursday. But on their side of the ball, Josh Norman (hamstring) and Tre'Davious White (back) were both limited practice participants, joining Matt Milano (pectoral) as question marks to suit up Sunday. In season-long formats, the Bills defense is a definite must-roster, irrespective of the final status on White and Norman; but in DFS, absences from either or both could make the unit a slippery slope when considering it's sky-high price tag. Check back throughout the week for updates on the corner situation specifically.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (ankle) was able to practice in full Thursday, a significant step in the right direction concerning his availability for Sunday's contest against the Chiefs. Fant has missed each of Denver's two prior contests, with his return to practice on a full-time basis marking the first time in three weeks that he has had no restrictions. With Drew Lock also recovered from injury and back under center, Fant has some legitimate TE1 appeal in season-long formats, in addition to drawing some DFS upside due to the rapport that the two established last season. Having hauled in five receptions in three of his four games this season, Fant presents a solid floor in any-sized format.
The New York Giants have declared S Adrian Colbert, DT R.J. McIntosh, TE Eric Tomlinson, LB Jabaal Sheard, WR C.J. Board, CB Darnay Holmes and OT Jackson Barton inactive for Week 7.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is a name that multiple NFL teams have reportedly asked after ahead of the Trade Deadline on Nov. 3, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB. Minnesota has already moved defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore, an indication that the organization could be open for making other shrewd moves that look beyond 2020. Rudolph's role in the passing game has diminished from where it's been over the past decade, having compiled just 14 targets (10 receptions) over his first six games this year. With essentially little season-long value currently attached, Rudolph could benefit from a change of scenery in an offense that would be hoping to highlight his red zone abilities. Keep an ear out around his name as the Deadline approaches.
For the second consecutive day Thursday, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. (ankle) and Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) were both limited practice participants. Neither appears in any immediate danger of missing Sunday's contest against the Chargers, but their status is something to keep an eye on, even as Chark compiled a season-high 14 targets last Sunday. The duo makes up much of the fantasy intrigue at WR for the Jaguars, so an absence by either would thereby enhance the other's upside. Should Chark ultimately be cleared, he'd be a must-start in the vast majority of season-long formats, while Shenault continues to make a case for being rostered in medium-sized and smaller leagues. Check back over the coming days to see if their practice status progresses.
Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage Jr. (shoulder) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Gage posted 65 yards in the last game but has been targeted only 15 times over the last four games. Fantasy players probably can find better options to use, but Gage has a chance to be a flex option in deeper leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers WR K.J. Hill (hip), OT Storm Norton (knee) and OG Trai Turner (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. WR Keenan Allen (back), OT Bryan Bulaga (back), RB Justin Jackson (knee) and DT Linval Joseph (elbow) were limited. QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) and OT Sam Tevi (thumb, ankle) practiced in full.
New England Patriots RB James White (non-injury) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. DL Adam Butler (shoulder), DB Kyle Dugger (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (knee), OL Shaq Mason (calf) and DE Derek Rivers (back) were limited. OL Jermaine Eluemunor (ankle) was not given a practice designation.
Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (knee) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Samuel was not able to play in the Week 6 game but appears to have a chance to play this week. He has not been a big part of the offense so far this season and can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
Carolina Panthers RB Mike Davis (ankle) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Davis has posted outstanding numbers since taking over for Christian McCaffrey and will continue to receive plenty of touches as long as McCaffrey is sidelined. He is a must-start option all leagues.
The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Jack Driscoll, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Quez Watkins, S K'Von Wallace, DL Malik Jackson, RB Miles Sanders and QB Nate Sudfeld inactive for Week 7.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was deemed out of Thursday's practice as he continues to work his way through a groin ailment. The only steady offensive producer that the Jets have deployed this season, Crowder has seen double-digit targets in each of the four games that he has suited up for. His fantasy stock has taken a dip across the board with Joe Flacco filling in for Sam Darnold (shoulder), but Flacco's stock would shift to essentially zilch should Crowder ultimately be held out Sunday against a stout Bills Defense. Crowder compiled seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown when he faced Buffalo back in Week 1, but the combination of injury and new signal caller may make some fantasy managers reluctant to utilize him with the same vigor.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (elbow) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley has cooled off a bit recently but still has four 100-yard games so far this season. He will be a big part of the passing game this week and should be at least a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars OG A.J. Cann (shoulder), TE Tyler Eifert (neck), DE Adam Gotsis (non-injury), LB Myles Jack (ankle), TE James O'Shaughnessy (non-injury) and S Jarrod Wilson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. LB Dakota Allen (foot), DE Joshua Allen (knee), OT Ben Bartch (foot, knee), WR DJ Chark Jr. (ankle), DT Abry Jones (ankle), PK Josh Lambo (hip), OG Andrew Norwell (ankle) and WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) were limited. RB Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) and OG Brandon Linder (non-injury) practiced in full.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (hernia) and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) have both been designated to come off of injured reserve as soon as this Sunday versus Washington. Lee has yet to suit up for the Cowboys Defense in 2020, having been sidelined due to a sports hernia. Awuzie played in two games (collecting an interception) before hitting the IR, with the eventual return of both coming as a boon for a defense that has struggled mightily this season. Even with a favorable matchup against Washington on Sunday, Dallas' talented defensive unit will have some work to do before it plays its way back into season-long consideration in most formats.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Jones (knee) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Jones has been held to under 25 yards in three of the last four games but is averaging just under five targets per game. He will have a favorable matchup this week and could be a possible flex option in deeper leagues.
Updating a previous report, Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Jones should be ready to play in Week 7 and likely will see his normal workload. He is coming off a terrific Week 6 performance and should be a No. 1 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill will look to start a new touchdown streak in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. Hill had his touchdown streak of five games snapped in Week 6, but will face a Broncos Defense that is allowing 171 yards per game and has allowed five touchdowns on the season. All five of those touchdowns came in Week 2 and Week 3, but the Chiefs passing attack is strong enough that they will do their best to get in the end zone Sunday. Hill has 25 receptions for 384 yards on the season and will be a WR1 with boom potential on Sunday. He should remain a steady option for managers on a weekly basis.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (ankle), RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) and S Jaquiski Tartt (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. OT Trent Williams (ankle) and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (calf) were limited). CB Dontae Johnson (groin) practiced in full.
Chicago Bears TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Graham has posted consistent numbers over the last three weeks and has been targeted at least five times in the last four games. He will be facing a solid Los Angeles Rams defense this week but could be a bye week replacement in some leagues.