Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) dives over on a two-point conversion during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneer Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
New York Giants kicker Graham Gano (5) kicks a field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) running downfield with the ball against the Washington Football Team during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) runs downfield with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Take a look at NFL teams losing games, and the average fan probably can come up with a half dozen quick reasons for the losses.
The quarterbacks are not playing well. The defenses are underperforming. The team can't get off the field on third downs. Turnovers. Penalties. Lack of communication. The coaching staff is bad.
Welcome to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Both teams are 0-2 heading into the third week of the season and, of course, the fans are not happy.
Talk to the players and coaches and they are not going to point fingers, other than at themselves. When they speak about losing, they talk about it being early in the season. Some will say the team improved in the second game. Their focus is always on the next game.
Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham hates to discuss the past. His focus is on coming up with a game plan to stop quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Cordarrelle Patterson.
''Those guys in the (defensive) room will probably tell you the same thing, if we don't win, it's not good enough,'' Graham said. ''I don't care what the score is. That's just how we're built. We've got a group of selfless guys that want to win. Nobody cares about their stats. Nobody cares about what the next contract is.''
Ryan feels the same way. What he wants to see from the Falcons is a sense of urgency this week, and every week.
''I think it's gotten better,'' the 14-year veteran said. ''I think we have a long way to go. ... We need to have that intensity and urgency to go out there and get the job done. That's something I'm going to try to provide all week.''
The Falcons did a good job against the Super Bowl champion Bucs last week in a 48-25 loss. They were within three points heading into the fourth quarter before two interceptions returned for touchdowns decided the outcome.
The Giants seemingly had a 29-27 win over Washington after Dustin Hopkins missed a 48-yard field goal on the final timed play. Tackle Dexter Lawrence was offside on the miss and Hopkins didn't fail the second time.
Neither team can lose focus this week.
It should be interesting to watch Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Late in the fourth quarter of the loss to Washington, he started screaming at offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
''It's not a big deal at all,'' Garrett said Thursday. ''We're excited about having Kenny Golladay here. We liked him a lot in free agency and we brought him here and he's done a really good job for us. I love the guy. I love his competitive spirit. We talk a lot about passion, emotion and enthusiasm in our players. That's line one and he's demonstrating that.''
Golladay, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract, has seven catches for 102 yards and no touchdowns. He missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. He is being listed on the injury report with a hip issue this week.
He had three catches on eight targets last week for 38 yards.
RODDY WHITE FLASHBACK
Cordarrelle Patterson has joined Mike Davis as the Falcons' new tandem at running back.
It's a bit of a surprise, given Patterson's background as a wide receiver and return specialist who sometimes took snaps at running back. Adding to the intrigue is Patterson still wears No. 84.
Roddy White, one of the Falcons' all-time great receivers, also wore No. 84.
''I still feel like it's Roddy White sometimes when I'm handing the ball off,'' Ryan said. ''It's kind of strange. ... If you produce, who cares what number you wear when you're handing the ball off to him.''
Patterson has 14 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He has seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants are going to retire the No. 10 jersey of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and add his name to the team's Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium during a halftime ceremony.
Coincidently, Manning made the first of his 234 starts for the Giants against the Falcons on Nov. 21, 2004. He completed 17 of 37 passes for 162 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in a 14-10 loss at Giants Stadium.
The Giants' defensive line has taken criticism for failing to generate a pass rush. They have eight quarterback hits and three sacks, all by former Georgia players. Rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari has two and Lorenzo Carter one.
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer said Thursday his unit is getting pressure, but not getting home because opposing quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quickly. Washington's Taylor Heinicke had an average release time of 2.4 seconds. Ryan is even faster, Spencer said.
Spencer wants the linemen to disrupt the opposing quarterback by getting their hands in the air and knocking down passes.
The Falcons signed 39-year-old Dustin Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowl punter, to their practice squad Tuesday. Smith hasn't said if Colquitt might replace Cameron Nizialek against the Giants. Nizialek had two costly shanks in the loss to Tampa Bay, but averaged a strong 46.5 yards on six punts in the opener against Philadelphia.
Smith gave rookie left guard Jalen Mayfield his second start after he struggled late in the opener. Maybe Nizialek gets another chance.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen took advantage of a suddenly generous Carolina Panthers defense as he led the team with 11 catches and 126 yards while hauling in an incredible five-yard third-quarter touchdown. His 13 targets were a season-high as he bounced back from two straight subpar performances. The entire Vikings offense rolled in this one, with Thielen once again rewarding his fantasy managers with a WR1 performance. He continues to be one of the best red-zone threats at the position, finding paydirt for the fifth time in six weeks. Thielen's managers will have to look elsewhere in Week 7 as the Vikings head into their bye.
Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard recorded 16 carries for 61 yards and a score along with one reception for four yards on three targets in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. With Christian McCaffrey now on IR due to a hamstring injury, Hubbard should have a decent role going forward. The back has now posted at least 52 rushing yards in the past four games including a Week 5 performance with 101 rushing yards. As the unquestioned workhorse back for now, Hubbard should be in the starting conversation for the next few weeks.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox caught one of three targets for a 28-yard touchdown reception during a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. The massive fourth-year tight end has seen his involvement within the passing game increase this season, meaning he is the ideal Colts tight end to roster in most PPR formats moving forward. However, the 49ers are the sixth-best team at defending the tight end position,, meaning Cox is a less than ideal start in a Week 7 Sunday Night Football game in the Bay Area.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore finished with five receptions for 73 yards on 13 targets in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. On a day where the rest of the Carolina pass-catching unit struggled, Moore shined and delivered another solid performance. The WR has double-digit targets and at least 73 yards in four of the last five games. As the unquestioned WR1 on Carolina, Moore should see great volume each week and is in the WR1 tier weekly going forward.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton caught all four of his targets for 80 yards during a 31-3 Week 6 win against the Houston Texans. After expressing to the media that he contemplated retirement during a neck rehabilitation during the last few weeks, Hilton looked impressive in his return against the Texans, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards. Moving forward, Hilton can be valued as a WR3 with WR2 upside. He will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. caught two of his three targets for 35 yards during a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. Pittman became second fiddle to T.Y. Hilton in his return from a neck injury, totaling only three targets and watching Jonathan Taylor churn out most of the Colts' offensive production. The San Francisco 49ers defense has been vulnerable against wide receivers at times, so the Week 7 road contest in San Francisco could see Pittman return some value if he is able to increase his target share.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold struggled in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, going 17-for-41 for 207 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The QB did rush for a season-high 48 yards, though. Nevertheless, Darnold has cooled off quite a bit since starting the season hot. The 24-year-old now has four touchdowns to six picks in the last three games and hasn't been as explosive either. Going forward, Darnold should be off your starting radar, given his struggles.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) is questionable to return to Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals. The veteran is dealing with a right shoulder injury, and judging by his history, it wouldn't be a surprise if he were to miss time moving forward. Nonetheless, it will be next man up, with Donovan Peoples-Jones taking advantage of Beckham's premature departure by racking up three catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns so far.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell caught his lone target for a 51-yard touchdown to open the Week 6 31-3 win over the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, during the touchdown reception, Campbell suffered a foot injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the game. Injuries have kept the speedy wideout from reaching his full potential. Still, he has been increasingly involved in his third season with the Colts. Monitor Campbell's status at practice this week heading into a Week 7 road contest against the San Francisco 49ers.
After sitting out last week and having his playing status up in the air all this week, Dalvin Cook's fantasy managers were rightfully anxious heading into the Minnesota Vikings matchup against a stout Carolina Panthers defense. Cook laid all those doubts to rest as he rumbled his way to 140 yards on 29 carries, including a third-quarter 16-yard touchdown. Cook briefly left the game after taking a hit, but he quickly returned and finished the game. In his post-game interview, he mentioned that despite a strong performance that he is still not quite 100 percent healthy. Cook will have two weeks to fully recover as the Vikings head into their Week 7 bye.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack carried five times for 12 yards in a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. Mack has seen a few carries here and there but is primarily limited in the Colts offense behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. As a result, he should remain off of fantasy radars moving forward. However, rumors of a requested trade could result in an attractive landing spot for the fifth-year running back.
Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn made one field-goal attempt in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the Colts. Fairbairn didn't get any help from a bad Texans offense, which stalled out on most of their drives while turning the ball over three times. The former Pro Bowler has been unimpressive since returning from injury last week- and he'll have almost no upside in this kind of offensive environment moving forward.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) walked to the locker room against the Arizona Cardinals. The 28-year-old has 42 yards on two catches thus far today. The Browns were already shallow at the position with Jarvis Landry out, and if Beckham's injury is serious, this could have a serious impact on the team. The former Giant hasn't put up dazzling stats this year, but with Landry out, he was undoubtedly the Browns greatest threat at the position. If this injury leads to an extended absence, fantasy managers could very well drop the former superstar if necessary.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor carried 14 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, adding one reception for 13 yards, during a 31-3 blowout win against the Houston Texans in Week 6. Taylor has been making the most of his opportunities as the lead back for the Colts, scoring two touchdowns in each of his last two games. He averaged 10.4 yards per carry against the Texans defense and will look to transfer his momentum against the San Francisco 49ers defense in Week 7. Taylor should no longer be questioned about his RB1 designation in fantasy formats, as he is increasing his snaps and touches every week.
Houston Texans wide receiver Chris Moore disappointed after his breakout performance last week. Moore was held to just 14 receiving yards on four receptions in a blowout loss to the Colts. The 28-year-old operated as the fourth option in the passing game with Nico Collins back in the picture, certainly not a good sign for Moore's value when Danny Amendola (thigh) eventually returns. Moore's 109-yard effort against the Patriots was a good story, but there likely won't be too many performances like that down the road, at least not until Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) returns.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines carried four times for 13 yards and caught one of two targets for an additional nine-yard reception during a 31-3 Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. Hines has seen his opportunity dwindle in the last couple of weeks, as Jonathan Taylor has proved explosive and much more involved in the Colts' passing attack. Hines should be treated as a low-end RB3 or even an RB4 if he continues to be held to two targets per game. A difficult matchup on the road against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7 will force most fantasy managers to sit Hines in PPR formats.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins had his best game of the season in Sunday's blowout defeat at the hands of the Colts. Akins saw six targets, tied for the second-most on the team, posting 41 yards on four receptions. The big tight end was coming off of two dud games, so it was nice to see him more involved in the offense. Still, he and Pharaoh Brown continue to eat into each other's respective fantasy values, making both players unappealing for fantasy purposes.
Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks had a great day despite his team's blowout loss to the Colts. Cooks led the team with 13 targets, nine catches, and 89 yards, operating as a short-yardage safety blanket for rookie quarterback Davis Mills. The Texans couldn't get anything going deep downfield against Indianapolis, resulting in a bevy of targets for Cooks. The veteran wideout has now seen double-digit targets in three games this year, exceeding the 75-yard receiving mark in four out of six games played. Houston has a crowded pass-catcher room, but Cooks is the best of the bunch for fantasy purposes. He'll get a tough test against an Arizona pass defense next week.
Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet had four catches for 49 yards against the Green Bay Packers. Kmet seemed like he could be poised for a breakout heading into 2021, but that has not come to fruition. Regardless, this game marked one of his best of the season. The sophomore tight end has solid hands and is extremely physical, but in his current situation, it's going to be difficult for the Bears' lackluster quarterbacks to support enough pieces to deem Kmet fantasy relevant. Nevertheless, Kmet must be rostered in any tight end premium leagues and can even be rostered as a hopeful lottery ticket in standard leagues, but fantasy managers shouldn't expect much from the youngster in 2021. In Dynasty leagues, however, Kmet is still a valuable asset as his quarterback and head coaching issues should presumably eventually be resolved.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon didn't seem bothered by the ankle injury that limited his workload over the last few weeks. He finished with 94 yards off 18 touches during the massive victory over the Lions. He also racked up a team-high five catches, totaling 59 yards and a touchdown, finding the end zone off a 40-yard pass from Joe Burrow in the third quarter. After some down weeks caused by a restricted workload, the former Oklahoma Sooner appears to be back in early season form. Fantasy managers should continue to view Mixon as a top option in all formats, especially in PPR leagues, due to his ability as a runner and pass-catcher. Keep him starting in Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens.