Sat Sep 21 11:13am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Julio Jones, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Zach Ertz, Taysom Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Melvin Gordon, Marcus Mariota, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Golladay, Mitch Trubisky, Tyler Boyd, Peyton Barber, Luke Falk, Kyle Allen, Mason Rudolph, Patrick Mahomes, Derrius Guice, Gardner Minshew II, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Eddy Pineiro
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla. Mahomes Mahomes is the reigning league MVP. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
In this Sept. 16, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett (95) sacks New York Jets' Trevor Siemian (19) during the first half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
In this Nov. 26, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Houston. Mercilus has been a stud so far, while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In this Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to pass during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Jacksons superb passing and running. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Once, the Ravens at Chiefs would have been looked at as one of those old-fashioned strong defense vs. dangerous offense matchups.
You know: ''Here's what we do, try to stop us'' against ''Here's what we do, try to move us.''
The weekend's best game has evolved quite a bit this year.
Baltimore has been among the most balanced teams, ranking second in overall defense and first in yards gained. The Ravens are leading the NFL with 21 quarterback hits, six of them sacks, and allowing only 41 yards on the ground. Of course, they played Miami and Arizona, which also were vulnerable defensively. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Lamar Jackson's superb passing and running. Jackson is tied with Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, and Dallas QB Dak Prescott with seven TD tosses.
KC is first in passing offense and third overall, but this is a major test.
''It's going to be a great experience,'' Mahomes said. ''We got to play last year once and seeing Lamar's progression and understanding the offense - I understand going from Year 1 to Year 2, there's a huge switch where you start understanding the offense at a different level. Then with his running ability, he can still do that. It's a great challenge for our whole team.''
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has 209 wins, tied with Chuck Noll for sixth in NFL history. Curly Lambeau is fifth with 229.
The weekend began with Jacksonville's 20-7 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night. Gardner Minshew had an efficient night for the Jaguars (1-2), who dominated the Titans (1-2) up front and sacked Marcus Mariota nine times.
Pittsburgh (0-2) at San Francisco (2-0)
The Steelers have lost in their last six trips to the Bay Area - four times in Oakland, twice at San Francisco. Their last win was 27-6 at the 49ers in 1999. Pittsburgh is looking to avoid only its second 0-3 start since 2000 with Mason Rudolph making his first career start in place of injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph threw for 112 yards and two touchdown vs. Seattle last week after Roethlisberger left with a season-ending elbow injury. Pittsburgh ominously is 4-19-1 with a first-time starting QB. It will have safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, acquired from the Dolphins on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the 49ers seek their first 3-0 start since 1998 and seventh since the 1970 merger. San Francisco made the playoffs following five of the previous six 3-0 starts, missing only in 1980. The Niners come off back-to-back road victories to open a season for the first time since 1989.
New Orleans (1-1) at Seattle (2-0)
Like Pittsburgh, New Orleans is without its starting quarterback, Drew Brees (thumb surgery), but at least he is expected back this season. Coach Sean Payton says he will play both of Brees' backups, Teddy Bridgewater and versatile Taysom Hill, a special teams regular and frequent offensive contributor in the wildcat and as a running back or receiver.
The Saints stayed on the West Coast and practiced in Seattle following last week's loss to the Rams. This matchup is just as difficult: The Seahawks are 15-0 in September home games under Pete Carroll. Russell Wilson is 6-0 with 12 touchdowns and two picks in his past six home contests.
Houston (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Family affair: Chargers coach Anthony Lynn's son, Danton Lynn, is the Texans' assistant secondary coach. He has helped as the Texans have forced a turnover in 15 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus has been a stud so far while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler leads the NFL with four TDs and his 287 yards from scrimmage are the most by a Chargers running back through the first two games in franchise history. Think they miss holdout Melvin Gordon?
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland (1-1)
The Rams used to live in Cleveland before moving to LA, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to LA. And no, it's not true they were the last franchise from the Ohio city to make the playoffs.
The Browns have designs on being a postseason qualifier for the first time since 2002, and this would be a major proving ground. Rams coach Sean McKay returns to the state where he played college ball at Miami. His 26-8 record is the best through 34 games for any coach hired in the 21st century, and his Rams are 8-0 vs. AFC teams, scoring nearly 35 points per game and winning by an average of 14.3 while racking up more than 400 yards of offense on average.
Cleveland plays a second straight prime-time game, and its first on Sunday night since 2008. Myles Garrett had a career-high three sacks against the Jets, but was called for five penalties, two for roughing. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games.
''I know who I am and the guys within these walls know who I am, and that's not me,'' Garrett said. ''I'm not going to do anything to try and hurt this team or take out any player outside the rule book. I'm just going to keep playing this game the way it's supposed to be played, and that's violently but passionately.''
Chicago (1-1) at Washington (0-2), Monday night
Neither team has shown much on offense, so if the Bears are going to break a seven-game slide against Washington, they'll need Mitchell Trubisky to find the range and get his receivers more involved. Comforting for Chicago is finally finding an accurate kicker: Eddy Pineiro is 4 for 4 on field goals this season after making all three last week, including the winning 53-yarder in the final second at Denver.
RB Adrian Peterson was a forgotten man in Week 1 when he was benched, but he's now the main guy with Derrius Guice injured. Peterson has averaged 111 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs in 14 games vs. the Bears, most of that while with Minnesota.
Oakland (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1)
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was the linebackers coach in Cincinnati when Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator there. Guenther took over that role when Zimmer was hired by the Vikings in 2014.
The Raiders have begun a stretch of no home games in a 48-day span, due to a ''home game'' in London and a bye week sandwiched between two straight road games on each end. Derek Carr broke Ken Stabler's Raiders record for career passing yards last week. He has 19,196. But Minnesota's defense will be a challenge. DE Danielle Hunter tied a career high with nine tackles at Green Bay. In his past seven home games, Hunter has 8+ sacks.
The Vikings seek the franchise's 500th victory, including playoffs. They are 499-427-11 in 59 seasons, but have no NFL titles, including a Super Bowl loss to the Riders.
Cincinnati (0-2) at Buffalo (2-0)
The Bengals have won four of the past five meetings, including past two on the road, dating to 2011 since snapping a 10-game skid spanning 1989-2010. Their QB, Andy Dalton, is a local hero. His final-minute 49-yard TD pass to Tyler Boyd to beat Baltimore in 2017 clinched Buffalo's first playoff berth in 17 years and led to Bills fans donating more than $450,000 to Dalton's charitable foundation.
Don't expect him to get cheers once the action begins.
The Bills have scored nine touchdowns in their past nine drives inside opponents' 20-yard line dating to last season.
Atlanta (1-1) at Indianapolis (1-1)
Indy leads this series 14-2 and has won four of the last five, but took the only home defeat in the series when the Falcons last visited in 2011. The game will be the Colts' first at Lucas Oil Stadium since Andrew Luck announced his retirement in the preseason. The Colts' defense is second in the league with eight sacks and hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive regular-season games, second-longest streak behind New Orleans (24).
But Indy might be missing top CB Pierre Desir (knee), which would be good news for Julio Jones. The Falcons' star receiver has three TDs this season and at least one in a league-high six consecutive games. QB Matt Ryan needs 10 completions to pass John Elway (4,123) for No. 9 in league history. Ryan's next TD also will break a tie with Elway (300) for No. 11 in that category.
Detroit (1-0-1) at Philadelphia (1-1)
Lions QB Matthew Stafford feasts on the Eagles' defense. Stafford has thrown eight TDs without an interception in two meetings, winning by one point in 2016 and 31 in 2015. WR Kenny Golladay matched a career high with eight receptions last week, had 117 yards receiving and scored for a second straight game.
Philly is banged up on both sides of the ball. WRs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are unlikely to play because of injuries. That puts the onus on tight end Zach Ertz and wideout Nelson Agholor and a deep running game that needs to keep the ball and clock moving.
Denver (0-2) at Green Bay (2-0)
Green Bay is 5-0-1 against the Broncos at home. And has scored 30-plus points in all five home wins against Denver.
Somehow, the clock didn't run out on the Bears on the drive to the winning field goal. Of course, the Broncos played far too conservatively on the third-down desperation pass that set up Peinero's kick.
Denver is 0-2 for the first time since 1999. The Broncos would become the 14th team to reach 500 overall wins with a victory.
Denver beat Green Bay in the 1998 Super Bowl for its first NFL championship after four defeats.
New York Jets (0-2) at New England (2-0)
Third-string QB Luke Falk vs. six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, both the 199th pick in their drafts and both getting their opportunity through injury.
The comparisons stop there, as do the chances for the three-TD underdog Jets. And we know, as seen last week in Miami, that New England's coach will show no mercy.
Miami (0-2) at Dallas (2-0)
While the fire sale continues in Miami, with DB Fitzpatrick now in Pittsburgh, there is more speculation on the Dolphins going 0-16 than there is on who will be left on the roster by the end of the schedule. Some say it doesn't much matter given the dearth of talent already.
Dallas, on the other hand, is looking like a true championship contender, even if the wins are over weaklings in the division, the Giants and Redskins. The Cowboys are seeking a first 3-0 start since 2008, when they lost their last two and missed the playoffs at 9-7.
Prescott's seven touchdown passes, tying Don Meredith (1966) for the club record through two games, are complemented by completing his last 18 passes against Washington. Eighteen in a row might be easy against Miami.
New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay (2-0)
All that positive talk about Daniel Jones' preseason performances had Giants fans salivating. Now they get to see the sixth overall draft pick behind center in place of Eli Manning in games that count, against starters, not third-stringers and camp fodder players. The Giants do lead this series 15-7.
Bucs RB Peyton Barber is coming off rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown in last week's win at Carolina. One of his two career 100-yard performances (106 yards, TD) was against the Giants last season. LB Shaquil Barrett had three sacks vs. the Panthers, the most in one game by a Tampa Bay linebacker since Broderick Thomas in 1992. .
Carolina (0-2) at Arizona (0-1-1)
While offensive star Cam Newton struggles with injuries - a foot sprain could keep him out, meaning inexperienced Kyle Allen starts - standout LB Luke Kuechly leads the Panthers' defense with 25 tackles. He had 17 in Week 2, including two tackles for loss, one that resulted in a safety.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald needs 10 catches to pass Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez for second on the NFL's all-time receptions list. Fitzgerald has 1,316, Gonzalez has 1,325. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the leader with 1,549.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard hasn't done much in 2019, with that trend expected to continue in Week 7. The veteran has rushed for just 49 yards off of 23 attempts while racking up a subpar 108 receiving yards on 14 receptions so far this season. Joe Mixon continues to retain a firm grasp as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, so Bernard likely won't produce in all aspects until that changes, even with the team down A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (shoulder). For those fantasy managers who have Bernard on their roster for some reason, keep him benched against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate will remain as the team's No. 2 option for Sunday's matchup against Jacksonville. With A.J. Green (ankle) still not ready to return, Tate will continue to receive a favorable amount of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton in Week 7. The 22-year-old was targeted 11 times against the Ravens in Week 6, and despite Dalton playing behind a horrendous offensive line, expect Boyd to produce something against a Jaguars Defense that no longer has Jalen Ramsey. The upside is there, especially in deeper formats.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has had a disappointing 2019. With just 15 receptions for 108 yards and a score, many were expecting the veteran to regain some traction this season after injuries plagued the team on the offensive end. However, Eifert remains a bust despite remaining healthy this season after spending a massive amount of time on injured reserve throughout the years. The upside is there against the Jaguars, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect much on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd will remain the No. 1 option on Sunday against the Jaguars. With A.J. Green (ankle) still not ready to return, Boyd should continue to get his looks from quarterback Andy Dalton. The 24-year-old has played relatively well, considering that the team has arguably the worst offensive line in football, and without Jalen Ramsey in the mix for Jacksonville after he was traded, the door is open for some solid production from Boyd. The upside is there for those plagued with injuries or looking to get through a bye.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will look to get on track in Week 7 against the Jaguars. The 23-year-old has been a colossal disappointment this season, rushing for only 252 yards on 74 attempts in addition to 97 yards off of 14 catches, with his only touchdown of the season coming through the air during the Week 3 matchup against Buffalo. With a weak offensive line along with limited options on the receiving end, opposing defenses continue to keep Mixon in check. Don't expect anything different on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will have his hands full against Jacksonville. After throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals in Week 5, Dalton took a few steps back against Baltimore by logging a subpar 53.8 completion percentage to go along with an interception. With the Jaguars Defense getting to the quarterback often this season, expect Dalton to feel the pressure on Sunday behind arguably the worst offensive line in the league. Keep the veteran benched on Sunday.
The New York Jets Defense is getting star middle linebacker C.J. Mosley back for a tough Monday night matchup vs the Patriots. Mosley was a monster in the one game he played this season forcing two turnovers and scoring a touchdown in a Week 1 loss to Buffalo. The Jets defense hasn't looked the same without him so adding Mosley to a defense that already has safety Jamal Adams gives the Jets defense sleeper appeal in the second half against a soft schedule. Despite the good news, the Jets defense shouldn't be started this week against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has a rough matchup Monday against a Patriots Defense that allows the fewest fantasy points against to opposing wide receivers. Thomas got five targets last week, so he's been getting more involved in the offense, but is still not seeing the type of target share to warrant consideration in standard-size fantasy leagues. Thomas got five targets last week but is the clear third option behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder and won't carry much fantasy appeal as long as those other two are healthy.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder will face a tough test Monday when the Patriots No. 1 ranked pass defense comes to town. New England allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and shut down Crowder in Week 3 when they held him to only 25 yards on two catches. Third-string quarterback Luke Falk started that game, so Crowder should have more success with Sam Darnold back under center. In two games with Darnold, Crowder has 20 catches for 197 yards, so he has major fantasy upside moving forward, especially as the Jets' schedule gets softer. In Week 7, however, Crowder is only a borderline WR3 who has more appeal in PPR formats.
New York Jets Le'Veon Bell will face a tough matchup Monday night when the Patriots elite defense heads to MetLife Stadium. New England allows the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so it's a tough matchup for Bell, but he should put up RB2 numbers based on volume. Bell has played 92.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps so far and has the second-most targets on the team. Bell should see his usual 20-25 touches and fantasy owners should start him with confidence he can put up a decent day even if he doesn't score a touchdown.
Free-agent RB Samaje Perine (Bengals) passed through waivers and was re-signed by the Cincinnati Bengals and assigned to their practice squad Friday, Oct. 18.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson will look to change his fortunes against the Patriots in a tough matchup Monday. In seven career games against New England, Anderson hasn't scored a touchdown and his 39.5 percent catch rate is by far his lowest mark against any team he's faced more than once. This season, the Patriots are as daunting a matchup as there is in the NFL allowing the fewest fantasy points against to wide receivers. There is always the chance Anderson grabs a long touchdown, like the 92-yard score he had last week, so he has some appeal as a flex in deeper leagues. However, where possible, owners should look to steer clear of Anderson in this matchup.
Washington Redskins WR Wendell Smallwood has the ability to handle RB Chris Thompson's (toe) duties on passing downs against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, according to offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.
Fantasy Spin: With Thompson sidelined, Smallwood could be headed for the handful of catches and 50-plus total yards typically reserved for Thompson, but he's still just a DFS lottery ticket for fantasy purposes.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will face a tough challenge Monday night against the Patriots, the team that has given up the fewest fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks. Darnold, who missed three games with mono, had a strong showing in his return to the field Sunday when he put up 338 yards and two touchdowns. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect that type of performance Monday against arguably the best defense in the NFL, especially with two starters on the offensive line unlikely to play. Darnold is best left on the bench this week, however, the Jets schedule gets very soft after the game vs New England so Darnold is a good bench stash for those matchups.
New Orleans Saints RB Dwayne Washington will be 'invited into the offensive mix' against the Chicago Bears in Week 7 with RB Alvin Kamara (ankle) ruled out, according to Larry Holder of The Athletic.
Fantasy Spin: While Washington will likely see some touches, Latavius Murray is the back to target if you are looking for a replacement for Kamara. However, a matchup with a tough Chicago defense limits Murray to flex consideration.
Oakland Raiders WR Trevor Davis is expected to see an expanded role in the passing attack against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7 because of the injury to WR Tyrell Williams (foot), according to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Fantasy Spin: Davis caught four passes for 42 yards against Chicago in Week 5 in his second game with Oakland after being acquired from Green Bay. He could be worth a flier in DFS contests when faces off against his former team.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) were limited in practice this week and are questionable for Week 7 against the Bills. Even if Grant plays this weekend, he's nowhere close to being fantasy relevant behind Devante Parker, Preston Williams and Albert Wilson on the depth chart. Grant has only nine catches (19 targets) for 52 scoreless yards in four games this year. Howard is the team's best cornerback, but the Dolphins Defense/special teams is also well off the fantasy radar. If Howard sits, it'll be good news for Bills wideout John Brown.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring) practiced in full the last two days and isn't on the Week 7 injury report against the Bengals. Oliver has yet to play in his rookie season, but this weekend would be good timing for him to make his debut with Geoff Swaim out and James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve. There's no guarantee that Oliver is heavily involved in the offense in his first game, but he's one to watch for those that are desperate at the position.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Nick Foles (collarbone) is expected to return to practice next week. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.
Fantasy Spin: Foles probably is a few weeks away from returning to the lineup, so Gardner Minshew will continue to be the starting quarterback for now. Minshew should have a favorable matchup this week and can be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in deeper leagues.