Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) celebrates his touchdown catcha with running back Khari Blasingame during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Tennessee Titans tight end MyCole Pruitt (85) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard (42) celebrates after intercepting a Indianapolis Colts pass with teammates safety Daniel Thomas (20) and Chris Chaisson, right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard, left, intercepts a pass in front of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (15) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Starting 2-0 is an opportunity the Tennessee Titans simply haven't seized in a very long time.
Sure, they've won some season openers only to lose the next week. This franchise hasn't won its first two games since 2008, and that's also the most recent time it won the AFC South. The biggest lesson learned in the Titans' run to the AFC championship game was the importance of starting the postseason at home.
They can take a big, early step toward that goal Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
''Obviously, the No. 1 goal every single year is to win the division,'' Titans safety Kevin Byard said. ''So we have to start by beating our division opponent.''
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The Titans have won six straight over the Jaguars in Nashville with the past two victories coming in big routs. Tennessee is coming off a 16-14 win in Denver where this franchise hadn't won since 1987, so the Jaguars beating Indianapolis 27-20 got their attention.
''I think the Colts kind of underestimated them, and they win in a dogfight,'' Byard said of the Jaguars. ''So hopefully it won't be a dogfight for us. Hopefully we can get up and score a lot of points. But at the end of the day, it's all about trying to be 1-0 this week.''
The Jaguars also have their eye on staying undefeated, which would be only the eighth such 2-0 start in franchise history and the second time they've done that inside the division.
''I feel like (there's) always going to be that doubt when people think about us, and that's just the status quo we have to change around here,'' Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen said. ''So, yeah, I think it's a big game for us, it's a big game because it's a divisional game. It's a game we must have.''
WATCH THE KICKER
Stephen Gostkowski hit the practice field after missing two field goals and an extra point with a third field goal blocked in Denver. The four-time Pro Bowler never missed that much in a single game during 14 years with the Patriots. Special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman said all the issues are fixable.
''When he was missing a couple, he was like, 'Man I've never had this happen,''' Aukerman said. ''And it's kind of like, 'Hey we've got to refocus, talk about a few things.'''
Jacksonville started three rookies in Week 1, and each had memorable debuts. The Jaguars hope they can build on those against Tennessee.
Undrafted running back James Robinson ran 16 times for 62 yards and leapt a defender during a 28-yard reception. Cornerback CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick, broke up four passes including his first interception. He also sealed the victory knocking away a fourth-down pass. Second-rounder Laviska Shenault caught three passes for 37 yards and a score and had two carries out of the wildcat formation.
''So much more, so much more,'' Shenault said, predicting more down the road. ''I'm not the type of guy to talk. I'm a very humble guy and I'm just ready for the opportunities to come my way.''
Just about every defensive move Jacksonville made in the offseason was designed to better stop the run, specifically Derrick Henry. The Jaguars ranked 28th in the NFL against the run in 2019, and Henry managed 203 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in two games against them.
General manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone revamped their D-line, moved Myles Jack back to outside linebacker and signed in-the-box safety Josh Jones. Jack and Jones led the way Sunday as Jacksonville held Indy to 88 yards rushing - more than 50 yards under what it allowed last year.
READY TO RUN
The Titans aren't about to hold back the NFL's rushing leader in 2019, and coach Mike Vrabel said they don't have a ''pitch count'' for Henry. The 2019 NFL rushing leader carried 31 times in Tennessee's opening win, just the third time Henry has topped 30 carries in a game in his career.
Tennessee is 14-0 when Henry rushes for 100 yards or more. Henry also is averaging 104.3 yards rushing against AFC South teams since becoming the starter in 2018. His 1,251 yards rushing inside the division lead the NFL in that time, a total that includes 498 yards rushing against the Jaguars.
IMPROVED PASS RUSH
Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney played 47 snaps in his Titans' debut and had a tackle for loss. Now the Titans might have their other free agent signed to help pressure quarterbacks available for the first time on Sunday.
Linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. didn't pass his physical until Sept. 5 and was inactive against Denver. Beasley practiced fully for the first time Thursday since joining the Titans.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Todd Davis is being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive on Friday. Davis is being quarantined but the Vikings Week 8 game against the Packers remains on schedule for this Sunday. It's more bad news for a Vikings Defense that has really fallen apart in 2020. They already traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens and rank 22nd in the league with 13 sacks through seven weeks of the season. Fantasy-wise, Minnesota ranks 29th in the NFL in overall fantasy points, which means they should continue to sit on the waiver wire this weekend against the high-scoring Packers attack.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios could be headed towards a big game with the team banged up heading into their Week 8 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. Both Jamison Crowder (groin) and Breshad Perriman (head) are considered questionable for Sunday's matchup. That means, Berrios could be in line for the start and plenty of targets here. He saw seven targets against the Buffalo Bills last week, but hauled in four of them for 35 yards in the loss. Berrios could see a heavy volume of targets this week, but he still remains a desperation deep league option.
The Seattle Seahawks plan to sign running back Alex Collins to their practice squad next week, according to sources. Collins flew in to Seattle on Thursday to start his COVID-19 testing. The 26-year-old was a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2016, but he played just one season for them before landing with the Ravens for two years. He hasn't played in an NFL game since 2018 with Baltimore, however, when he was released following a car accident. Collins averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in his final season with the Ravens and lost his job at the time to Gus Edwards. Seattle is hurting at the position with Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer all banged up, so Collins will provide some much-needed depth. He can be ignored for fantasy purposes for now.
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims made his NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7. He finished with four receptions on seven targets for 42 yards in the loss. A decent outing for Mims, considering the Jets offensive unit is horrendous. It appears that the Jets want to get Mims heavily involved in the gameplan. His fantasy value is trending up with Jamison Crowder (groin) unlikely to suit up for the Week 8 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mims could make for an interesting PPR streaming option this week.
X-rays on Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (ankle) came back negative after he was knocked out of the Thursday night win over the Panthers in the second quarter, according to sources informed of the situation. Ridley will undergo an MRI exam to determine if he can return in Week 9 against the Broncos, and the good news is that Atlanta will have extra rest before that contest next Sunday. However, with a bye coming in Week 10, it's possible that the team plays it safe and holds Ridley out. He had three catches for 42 yards before leaving on Thursday and has 43 receptions for 657 yards and six touchdowns in eight games this year. Whenever Ridley is ready to play again, he needs to be in all fantasy lineups.
New York Jets wide receiver Breshad Perriman (head) entered the league's concussion protocol earlier this week. It's uncertain if Perriman will be cleared in time for the Week 8 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. He hauled in both of his targets for 27 yards last week versus the Buffalo Bills. Perriman has only finished with 30 receiving yards or more in a game once this season. The Jets offensive unit cannot be trusted besides Jamison Crowder. Fantasy owners should consider Perriman a desperation deep league option here.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee) tweaked his knee in practice on Thursday and underwent an MRI exam. His injury is considered to be minor, but his status for Week 8 against the Bills isn't clear. Losing the 30-year-old All-Pro shutdown cornerback would be a big loss this Sunday against the division-rival Bills and gunslinger quarterback Josh Allen. On the flip side, it would be a boost to the fantasy value of Bills No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs, who would carry WR1 upside. The Patriots Defense is a streaming option for fantasy managers in a bind this week, but they certainly won't have as much upside if Gilmore cannot play.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said that quarterback Andy Dalton (concussion) remains in the NFL's concussion protocol and that the team is preparing rookie Ben DiNucci to start in Week 8 against the Eagles. A final decision will be made on Saturday. "He's a confident young man. He has a lot of tools to work with," McCarthy said about DiNucci. Dalton is a long shot at this point to play against the division-rival Eagles, so DiNucci looks set to make his first career NFL start. He should be considered a desperation low-end QB2 for superflex leagues, while receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup need to be downgraded even against Philly's shaky secondary. The Eagles Defense will be a strong streaming option Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (foot) is missing practice again on Friday, making it likely that Giovani Bernard will be starting for the second straight week on Sunday against the Titans. Mixon didn't play in Week 7 and hasn't practiced at all this week, so things are looking grim for him suiting up this weekend. Bernard carried the ball a season-high 13 times for 37 yards in the Week 7 loss to the Browns, adding five catches for another 59 yards and his second touchdown of the season. He should see most of the backfield touches once again if Mixon is inactive, which will make him an RB2 against a Tennessee defense allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
The Baltimore Ravens signed All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a five-year contract extension on Friday. It comes after the team recently signed cornerback Marlon Humphrey to a long-term deal, showing that they are committed to keeping their young talent on the roster for the long haul. Stanley has been a key asset for Baltimore's offensive line ever since he was taken sixth overall in the 2016 draft. The 26-year-old earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2019. The deal is for $98.75 million and carries $70.9 million in guarantees and locks in Stanley as quarterback Lamar Jackson's blind-side protector for years to come.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (foot) had X-rays on his injured foot, which were negative. He'll have an MRI to determine his fate for the next few weeks.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley will have about 10 days to heal up before Week 9, and the team has a Week 10 bye. He has been one of the few bright spots on the struggling team and remains a WR1.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (knee) is likely headed to the Reserve/Injured list after having surgery to clean up his knee.
Fantasy Spin: Ian Rapoport also went as far to say that Edelman's knee was a bone-on-bone situation, which spells doom for a football player. You can stash Edelman on an IR spot for now in hopes of getting something from him in the stretch run, but this was a grim report for a gritty player.
Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel caught four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown during the team's Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons. Samuel also carried the ball three times for 23 yards and a score.
Fantasy Spin: Samuel scored both of Carolina's touchdowns on Thursday night, one on a run up the middle and the other on a flea flicker. The fourth-year pro is a valuable do-it-all option for the Panthers offense, but gadget guys are tough to count on from one week to the next. Still, Samuel should be able to offer value as a flex most weeks.
Carolina Panthers WR Robby Anderson caught five passes for 48 yards against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Oct. 29. Anderson was targeted eight times.
Fantasy Spin: Anderson led the way in targets and receptions but most of his work was underneath as, outside of a 27-yard grab, his four catches covered just 21 yards. Atlanta simply refused to let Carolina's WRs get over the top and seemed to be a step ahead of the Panthers protection schemes all night long. Nobody delivers every week at the receiver position, but Anderson remains a steady WR2 going forward.
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore caught two passes for 55 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. He was targeted six times.
Fantasy Spin: Moore hauled in a 42-yard jump ball on Carolina's final drive to salvage a little respectability from a game where he was otherwise a complete nonfactor. You can blame some of it on the elements, but the offensive line didn't help matters either as Teddy Bridgewater seemed to be constantly under pressure. Keep Moore in your lineup in Week 9 and hope for a better performance.
Carolina Panthers RB Mike Davis had 13 carries for 66 yards against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Oct. 29. Davis also caught one pass for 11 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Davis looked physical against the Falcons Thursday night in what's likely to be his last start since Christian McCaffrey is expected to return in Week 9. While that should be the end of Davis' immediate value he's proven to be a quality handcuff for all Run CMC owners. A disclaimer: don't drop Davis until it's confirmed that McCaffrey will play against the Chiefs. Setbacks happen.
Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater (neck) completed 15 of his 23 passes for 176 yards, a touchdown and an interception against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Oct. 29. He also ran five times for 30 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Even before exiting the game temporarily following a nasty hit to the head, Bridgewater wasn't getting much done, settling for a steady diet of shallow crossing routes amid surprising pressure from the Falcons. Entering the final drive he'd barely topped the century mark in passing yards and his final throw was a terrible interception that had zero chance to be completed. It'll be interesting to see if the offense adjusts significantly following the expected return of Christian McCaffrey in Week 9.
Atlanta Falcons RB Brian Hill had 11 carries for 55 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Week 8. He also caught two passes for nine yards.
Fantasy Spin: Thursday represented the second time in three games that Hill has hit double digits in carries, and he's averaging a respectable 46 total yards per game over the last month. That's not enough to give him standalone value most weeks, but given Todd Gurley's workload and injury history Hill is certainly someone you could feel good about stashing on your bench.
Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst logged five receptions (on seven targets) for 54 yards in a Week 8 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Fantasy Spin: While he hasn't quite been the second coming of Austin Hooper, Hurst has topped 50 yards receiving in five of his first eight games with the Falcons and is becoming a fairly reliable contributor at a position that's severely lacking in that department. Consider him a decent TE1.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (ankle) had three receptions for 42 yards on Thursday, Oct. 29, against the Carolina Panthers before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He was targeted four times.
Fantasy Spin: After the game, head coach Raheem Morris had no official update on Ridley's condition but indicated he's hopeful that the extra few days of rest will be enough to get Ridley back on the field for Week 9. If Ridley can heal up in time he'll deserve a spot in your lineup as a WR1/WR2. If not, Russell Gage should inherit a larger role. Given the team is off in Week 10, make sure to have a contingency plan in case the Falcons decide Ridley is better off with an extra couple weeks off to recover.