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.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (ankle) won't practice Wednesday, but the team wants to see where he's at by the end of the week. The team signed running backs Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris for depth, but Johnson still has a chance to play. The breakout of running back Chase Edmonds doesn't give them any urgency to run Johnson out there. Edmonds is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and he went off last week with 27 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns against a weaker opponent. The New Orleans Saints are a tougher matchup. If Johnson is able to play, he'll be a high-end RB2, and Edmonds would fall to flex status. Conversely, if Johnson is out, Edmonds is the high-end RB2.
Updating an earlier report, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) will throw the ball today at practice, and they'll see if he can make it through the individual period.
Fantasy Spin: We'll need to see more to believe he's going to play this weekend. Obviously, he should be in your lineups if he goes.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (ankle) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: The team signed Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris to shore up their depleted backfield, but Johnson has a chance to play. However, it's trending toward Chase Edmonds being an RB2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) will practice Wednesday, Oct. 23, but QB Matt Moore will take the majority of team repetitions. Head coach Andy Reid didn't rule out Mahomes playing in Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: We'd put Mahomes on the wrong side of questionable this week and look toward other options. Moore isn't worth consideration unless you play two quarterbacks.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott has made every single kick so far this season, but his fantasy value has suffered due to an all-around struggling offense. Elliott has only attempted eight field goals and 17 extra points, and while he's made all of them, he currently ranks as just the 20th best kicker in standard scoring leagues. Most waiver wires will have a kicker who, while perhaps less consistent himself, will have more consistent scoring opportunities. Elliott's fantasy owners may need to consider moving on.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a strong fantasy option for a Week 8 road matchup against the Buffalo Bills. While the 5-1 Bills have mostly been winning games thanks to their defense, they have an offensive unit with the potential to put up big numbers at times. The Eagles are coming off a rough 37-10 loss to the Cowboys, and the offense has not been able to do the defense any favors. Despite getting a bit healthier in the secondary, the Eagles defense is not even on the streaming radar this week.
Detroit Lions RB Paul Perkins was added to the 53-man roster Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Perkins is worth the deeper-league pickup with Kerryon Johnson (knee) hitting IR. Ty Johnson takes over as the lead back, and Perkins could become a factor quickly.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (ankle) is unlikely to suit up in Week 8.
Fantasy Spin: Continue to stash Green, but at 0-7, there is little reason to rush him back. Auden Tate continues to show flashes on the awful team, and he's a flex option against the Los Angeles Rams.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is looking at another tough matchup in Week 8. The Eagles will be in Buffalo to take on the Bills and their difficult defense. Ertz is coming off a disappointing two-catch, 38 yard performance in Week 7 and could put up a similar performance this week. With the Eagles offense struggling to move the ball in general and especially struggling to stretch the field, opposing defenses have been able to zone in on Ertz and remove him from a lot of plays. He's still a TE1 this week, but that speaks more to the lack of depth at the position.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert is not a good bet to put up big numbers in Week 8. The Eagles travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills and their tough defense. Goedert led the team in receiving in Week 7 and scored a touchdown, but that's unlikely to happen again this week. Goedert is a middling option in two-tight end leagues at best and should not be started in single tight end formats.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor is not a good idea in fantasy starting lineups for Week 8. The Eagles will be on the road going up against the Buffalo Bills and their stingy defense. Agholor has made just seven catches since Week 3, and appeared to completely give up on a very catchable pass last week. He's got NFL speed, but severely lacks NFL hands and is only an average route runner. Even if DeSean Jackson (abdomen) misses another game, Agholor is just a zero-floor WR5 dart throw.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins is completely off the fantasy radar for Week 8. The Eagles will be in Buffalo to take on the Bills, and Hollins has not made a catch since Week 4 despite starting in three-wide sets in place of the injured DeSean Jackson (abdomen). He's droppable in all but the deepest fantasy formats.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside came into the season with plenty of hype, but he has not even seen a pass thrown his way since Week 3. Arcega-Whiteside remains an intriguing dynasty/keeper player, but doesn't belong on a redraft league roster and shouldn't be anywhere close to a starting lineup. Almost all waiver wires will have more useful wide receivers for Week 8, even in the deepest leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders is not a particularly eye-opening option in a Week 8 fantasy lineup. With the Eagles on the road taking on a tough Buffalo Bills Defense, Sanders and the whole Eagles offense could struggle on Sunday. Last week against the Cowboys, Sanders ran for just 21 yards and caught three passes for 11 yards. He's looking at a potentially similar stat line this week, making him no better than a mid-range RB3.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will be in a rough spot in Week 8. The Eagles will be on the road in Buffalo to battle their tough defense. With DeSean Jackson (abdomen) possibly looking at another missed game, Jeffery will receive top wideout attention from the Bills secondary. He's coming off a two-catch, 38 yard performance against the Cowboys, and more of the same can be expected in this one. Jeffery is a moderate-upside, low-floor WR2/3 this week.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 23, as expected.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard might only play a fantasy relevant role in Week 8 if he is able to score a touchdown. Howard and the Eagles travel to Buffalo to take on a tough Bills Defense. While Howard has handled almost all early-down and goal line work lately, he has not put together many yards and is a complete non-factor in the passing game. He's looking at another game that could possibly be similar to his 50-yard performance in Week 7. Howard is a risky RB3 with a concerning floor this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (quadriceps) is expected to play in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Fantasy Spin: Conner is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but he has scored touchdowns in two games straight. The Chargers are a good matchup for the RB2.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could have a hard time in Week 8 on the road against the Buffalo Bills. The Eagles offense looked like a mess in Week 7 against the Cowboys, with Wentz throwing for just 191 yards on 16 completed passes. The Bills Defense poses another threat to Wentz and the whole Philly offense. With DeSean Jackson (abdomen) still not a sure thing to suit up, it looks like a week to fade every fantasy-relevant Eagle a bit. Wentz is more of a high-end QB2 this week.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) underwent a procedure on Tuesday morning and will miss at least eight weeks while on injured reserve. After many had hoped that the 22-year-old would be in store for a breakout season, Johnson disappointed by compiling just 308 yards and three total touchdowns while averaging a subpar 3.3 yards per carry throughout six games. With his season potentially over, Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic will take over, with Johnson potentially getting the bulk of the carries on the ground and McKissic being involved catching passes out of the backfield. How exactly the time will be split is unknown at the moment in addition to the team also rumored to make a deal before the trade deadline.