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 Jaguars Defense has been absolutely atrocious this year. They have allowed 30-plus points in each of their past five games. This week, the Jaguars face the Los Angeles Chargers, who are only averaging 22 points per game on the season. However, the Chargers are well-rested as they are coming off a bye and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has helped pick the offense up in recent weeks. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) has been ruled out for the game, which will make things even tougher for the Jaguars Defense. Stay away from the Jaguars Defense for fantasy this week. There should be a more promising defense option somewhere on the waiver wire.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. has continued to have a steady role in the offense, but the results of late haven't been especially inspiring. Last week, Shenault had 10 targets, but managed to catch only three passes for 10 yards. At the start of the year, Shenault was seeing a heavy amount of carries out of the backfield. He had seven carries over the team's first two games. Unfortunately, he has a total of just three carries over his past four games. Shenault could certainly break a few big plays in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Chargers, but it's risky to rely on. DJ Chark Jr. and Keelan Cole are seeing the bulk of the targets right now, making it tough for Shenault to contribute consistently for fantasy owners.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole exploded for a season-high 143 receiving yards in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. It was a bit of an anomaly for Cole, who hadn't topped 60 yards in a game before last week, but he has been regularly involved in the passing game all year. He has three touchdowns on the year and has earned at least five targets in every game. DJ Chark Jr. is the team's No. 1 receiver, but he's been struggling throughout most of the season. Chark had 14 targets in Week 6, but caught just seven of them for 45 yards. Expect to see Cole play a prominent role in Week 7 when the Jaguars face the Los Angeles Chargers, who have had one of the league's worst pass defenses this season. Cole is worth consideration as either a WR3 or flex this week.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith is not on the team's injury report for their Week 7 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Smith suffered an ankle injury in Week 6 and there was speculation that his status for Week 7 was in jeopardy. Luckily, he's been able to recover quickly. Smith caught five passes four 40 yards and two touchdowns in the last game he completed, Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills. He's a fantastic TE1 option in Week 7 as an integral part to an offense that's been clicking all year.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. has had an extremely strange season so far. In Week 6, he had a team-high and season-high 14 targets, but managed to compile just 45 yards on seven receptions. He's yet to top 100 yards in a game this year. In Week 7, the Jaguars face the Los Angeles Chargers, who are allowing 273 passing yards per game, the fourth-most in the league. Chark should see around 10 targets in the game and if that's the case, he's much more likely to flirt with 100 receiving yards than he is to post another 45-yard dud. Start him as a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3 as he looks to start turning his season around.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (hamstring) has officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. He will miss his fifth straight game. He is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that developed this past week. Emmanuel Sanders (COVID) was placed on the Reserve-COVID list on Friday and will miss the game as well, making the Saints extremely short-handed at receiver. Receiver Tre'Quan Smith and tight end Jared Cook get a boost in value in the game and running back Alvin Kamara should get all the work he can handle.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (shoulder) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku likely will be the starting tight end for the Browns this week with Austin Hooper sidelined. He has been recorded only five receptions and 63 yards in three games this season. Fantasy players probably can find better options, but Njoku could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in deeper leagues.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip, ribs) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, but is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Landry will continue to play despite a broken rib and will see a handful of targets in the passing game. He will have a favorable matchup and can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson has struggled a bit in his past two games. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry against the Houston Texans in Week 5 and 2.4 yards per carry against the Detroit Lions in Week 6. Regardless, his workload has been significant enough to make up for the low efficiency. He's continued to be extremely active in the passing game. He has nine catches on 11 targets over the past two games. Plus, no other Jaguars running back is seeing much action at all. The team's No. 2 back Chris Thompson didn't have a single carry in Week 6. Start Robinson as a solid RB2 in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He should be able to gain around 80 total yards from scrimmage with a good chance to score a touchdown in the game.
New York Jets wide receiver Jeff Smith saw 20 total targets over a two week period, but was only able to haul in 10 of them. He saw an increased workload with Breshad Perriman (ankle) sidelined. However, last week Perriman returned, which means Smith saw his workload decrease heavily. Smith saw four targets and he only hauled in one of them for eight yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. It's unlikely that Smith carries much value against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios put together two strong weeks in the beginning of the season, but hasn't done much since then. Last week, Berrios caught one of his three targets for 18 yards in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. At this point, Berrios isn't going to have much fantasy value with the Jets getting their receivers healthy again. He'll be avoidable in just about every format against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Thompson has caught 16 of his 19 targets for 111 yards and a touchdown on the year. He's been regularly seeing about five targets per game this year, but he isn't doing a ton with them, averaging 6.9 yards per reception. He's also barely getting any work in the running game with just six carries for 17 yards on the year. James Robinson is getting all the work he can handle right now as the team's No. 1 back and until something changes, Thompson isn't worth considering as a starting option in any fantasy leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Green posted 96 yards in the last game and has been targeted at least nine times in three of the six games this season. He should see a decent amount of targets against the Cleveland Browns and can be at least a flex option in leagues.
Las Vegas Raiders WR Bryan Edwards (foot, ankle) and CB Keisean Nixon (groin) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DT Maliek Collins (shoulder) and DE Carl Nassib (toe) were limited in practice all week and are listed as questionable. S Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) was also limited in practice all week but has been removed from the injury report. WR Rico Gafford (hamstring), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) and OT Sam Young (knee) practiced in full all week and also no longer appear on the injury report.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield (chest) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mayfield threw for a season-low 119 yards last week and has four interceptions in the last two games. He will have a more favorable matchup this week but may only be a starting option in two-quarterback leagues.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt (ribs) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hunt has played well since taking over the starting job and will see plenty of touches this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. He should be considered a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (hamstring) could actually suit up for his NFL debut this week against the Buffalo Bills. The young wideout has been battling a hamstring issue all season, but appears close to getting back on the field. It's unclear what kind of role he'll have in this offense. Mims is worth a stash in 14/16 team leagues or deep leagues because the Jets are desperate for playmakers. It's unknown if Mims could be a spark to this horrendous offensive unit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Andrew Adams (hamstring) was limited in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7 versus the Las Vegas Raiders. LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and DL Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday but have been removed from the injury report. WR Chris Godwin (hamstring), WR Scott Miller (hip, groin) and S Antoine Winfield Jr. (shoulder) were limited in practice all week but also no longer appear on the injury report. CB Carlton Davis (knee) was limited in practice for a second straight day Friday but is also expected to play. QB Tom Brady (non-injury) LB Lavonte David (knee), WR Mike Evans (ankle), RB Leonard Fournette (ankle), DL William Gholston (bicep) and TE Rob Gronkowski (shoulder) practiced in full Friday and have also been removed from the injury report.
Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) is meeting with the Detroit Lions Friday, Oct. 23, according to a source.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen (shoulder) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has seen a dip in his production over the last few weeks but will have a favorable matchup this week. He should be a No. 1 quarterback in all fantasy leagues.