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 Sleepers: Week 8
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (hamstring) missed practice all week but is considered questionable for Week 8 against the Chargers. Patrick has been the team's most reliable fantasy receiver so far in 2020 in what has been an inconsistent offense, seeing at least four targets in each game while going over 100 yards receiving in both Weeks 4 and 6. But a full week of missed practices doesn't bode well for his availability in this divisional matchup. As of right now, you should have other options in place. If Patrick is inactive, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and DaeSean Hamilton would likely be the team's top three receivers. Check back on Sunday for the official inactives to see if Patrick is suiting up.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion) is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Chargers. Lindsay did not practice on Wednesday, but he got in limited action both Thursday and Friday, at least giving him a chance to be cleared before Sunday's game. The 26-year-old was more effective than Melvin Gordon in Week 7 against the Chiefs before suffering a head injury, toting the rock nine times for 79 yards (8.78 yards per attempt). He's sporting a 5.2 yard-per-carry average in 2020, but Lindsay can't shake the injury bug, playing in just one full game to this point. If he's active against the Bolts, he'll once again be sharing touches with Gordon, making him a risky RB3/flex for this weekend.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon II could see the lion's share of the backfield work in Week 8 against his former team, the Chargers, if backfield mate Phillip Lindsay (concussion) misses another game. Because of the volume he'd see in a revenge game if Lindsay is inactive, Gordon would have RB2 upside. The first-year Bronco ran the ball 17 times for 68 yards and a touchdown in the blowout loss to the Chiefs last week, but he also lost two costly fumbles. Gordon has a potential suspension still hanging over his head after a DUI arrest several weeks ago, but he should be available for this Sunday against L.A. If Lindsay plays, Gordon will be more of a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 for fantasy managers.
Buffalo Bills TE Lee Smith was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Oct. 30.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock just hasn't looked good since returning from a shoulder injury two weeks ago. In a 43-16 blowout loss to the division-rival Chiefs last weekend, Lock went 24-for-40 for only 254 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for the second straight week. He salvaged his stat line by rushing for a score. He'll face a Chargers Defense this Sunday that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to signal-callers, but Lock just cannot be trusted to perform for fantasy managers in Denver's inconsistent offense. The second-year QB has yet to surpass 254 passing yards in a game this year and threw for just 189 yards in the Week 6 win over New England. He's a low-end QB2 for those in superflex leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell will look to have a revenge game against the Jets in Week 8. Bell made his Chiefs debut in Week 7 and saw 33% of the backfield snaps behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Bell saw six carries in that span and picked up 39 yards, but was not targeted in the pass game. The Jets have allowed 105 yards per game and 45 yards receiving to opposing backs and Bell would certainly like to remind the Jets of what they've missed out on. Edwards-Helaire will continue to be the lead back for the Chiefs, but Bell could see increased action this action and beyond. Bell should be considered at RB3/flex option in Week 8 and beyond for now.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is in a prime spot to put up big numbers in Week 8 against the Jets. The Jets Defense has struggled against wide receivers and is allowing 176 yards per game to pass catchers. Hill started a new touchdown streak in Week 7 and has now scored six of his first seven games this season. This game could wild with the Chief overpowering offense versus a winless Jets team, and the speedy receiver should be a big part of the game plan. Hill should be fired up as a WR1 Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Thompson was activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Oct. 30.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut FB Bruce Miller Friday, Oct. 30.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry will look to get back on track in Week 8 versus the Denver Broncos. Henry only had 23 yards on three catches in Week 7 and hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 3. Henry has been targeted seven or more times by quarterback Justin Herbert in all but one game this season, but he hasn't done much with those opportunities recently. Henry will look to turn that around in Week 8 in a favorable matchup versus the Broncos, a defense that has been allowing 52 yards per game to tight ends. Henry has an opportunity to put together a strong game, but Denver hasn't allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Week 1 and that will limit Henry's upside. Henry should be treated as a low-end TE1 in Week 8.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will look to get back on track with a Week 8 matchup against the New York Jets. Kelce was held to just three catches for 31 yards in Week 7, but managers shouldn't worry. The Jets are currently allowing 47 yards a game against tight ends. The Chiefs are expected to score a lot on Sunday versus the winless Jets and that puts Kelce in a prime position to help managers. Kelce can safely be plugged in lineups every week as a TE1.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is gearing up for a feast against the 0-7 New York Jets in week 8. Mahomes had a quiet Week 7 by his standards, but also sat out part of the fourth quarter due to the Chiefs large lead and that could again happen on Sunday. The Jets Defense is allowing 29 points per game and 268 yards passing per game and has allowed two or more touchdowns in every game besides two. The Chiefs clearly outmatch the Jets and it's scary to envision what this matchup will like. Managers should be aware that if the score gets out of control, Mahomes will likely be rested, but he should be fired up as a QB1.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will look to keep his strong season alive in a favorable matchup against the New York Jets in Week 8 that is allowing opposing runners to gains 105 yards per contest and 45 yards per catch, both which bode well for the rookie. Managers should be aware that veteran Le'Veon Bell should see some run in a revenge and moving forward. The Chiefs have a clear edge of talent in this contest and that means that in addition to giving up snaps to Bell, CEH could have a shorter day than normal if the score goes as expected. Either way, Edwards-Helaire should be fired up as a RB1 in Week 8.
The New York Jets waived DE Daeshon Hall with a failed-physical designation Friday, Oct. 30.
Free-agent LB Elijah Lee (Lions) was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Friday, Oct. 30.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson will have a tough task in Week 8 versus a tough Denver Broncos run defense. Jackson has been the starter with Austin Ekeler (hamstring) sidelined, but he has been splitting the backfield work with rookie Joshua Kelley. Jackson only picked up five carries for 12 yards in Week 7, but he did secure five catches for 43 yards. The Broncos Defense has only allowed 90 yards per game to opposing runners, but running backs are averaging close to seven catches a game against them, and that works to Jackson's benefit. Between a tough matchup and splitting work with Kelley, though, Jackson shouldn't be viewed as more than a flex option in deeper leagues this Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley will look to get his season back on track in Week 8 versus a stingy Denver Broncos Defense that has allowed just 90 yards per game to opposing runners. Kelley has really struggled over his last three games and has been splitting work with Justin Jackson in the backfield while Austin Ekeler (hamstring) has been sidelined. Neither Jackson or Kelley has run away as the top back for the Chargers, but Jackson has been operating as the starter in a close to 50-50 timeshare and seems to be preferred the option for coach Anthony Lynn. Kelley is best served as a bench option in Week 8.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams will look to get back on track in Week 8 against the Broncos. Williams is fully healthy after dealing some injuries earlier in the season, but he has been inconsistent on the season. The big receiver only had one catch for four yards in Week 7, but has a chance to put together a good performance against a Broncos Defense allowing 164 yards per game versus wide receivers. Due to his inconsistency, managers shouldn't count on Williams to be more than a WR4/WR5 with upside on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen will look to keep producing against the Denver Broncos in Week 8. Allen has been a target machine for quarterback Justin Herbert and enters Sunday with 44 receptions, 481 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the first six games of the season. Allen has been heavily featured and remains the top option for a Chargers offense that has become more pass friendly with the arrival of Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler (hamstring) sidelined. The Broncos are allowing 164 yards per game to opposing pass catchers and Allen should be very involved in a game that is expected to go back and forth on Sunday. Allen should be considered a WR2 in Week 8.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert will look to keep his strong debut season going against the Denver Broncos in a Week 8 battle on Sunday. Herbert picked up his first victory versus the Jaguars in Week 7 and looked brilliant in doing so. The Broncos Defense has been playing very of late and has only allowed one touchdown over their last three games, but Herbert has been challenged early in his career and has come through. The rookie will come into Sunday's game with 1542 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and has also rushed 25 times for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns over his first five games. It should be a close matchup between the Broncos and Chargers in Week 8 and Herbert should be considered a QB2 with the potential to put up QB1 numbers.