Sun Sep 15 11:37am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Andrew Luck, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston, Wil Lutz, John Ross, Joe Mixon, Tyreek Hill, Deshaun Watson, Marlon Mack, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, T.J. Hockenson, Josh Jacobs
In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo, Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game in New Orleans. For those who have short memories, very short, the last time the Rams and Saints met was in the NFC championship game in the Big Easy. New Orleans was victimized by a blatant officiating non-call that led to a rules change allowing pass interference to be part of the video review system. The two teams meet on Sunday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
In this Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to league referees before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, in New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints visit Los Angeles for a rematch of the NFC championship game won by the Rams, but remembered for the no-call that created the opening for Sean McVay's team to storm through. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)
In this Jan. 20, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints' Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game in New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints visit Los Angeles for a rematch of the NFC championship game won by the Rams, but remembered for the no-call that created the opening for Sean McVay's team to storm through. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay speaks to members of the media following an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, N.C. The New Orleans Saints visit Los Angeles for a rematch of the NFC championship game won by the Rams, but remembered for the no-call that created the opening for Sean McVay's team to storm through. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)
Throw that flag.
For those who have short memories - very short - the last time the Rams and Saints met was in the NFC championship game in the Big Easy. New Orleans was victimized by a blatant officiating non-call that led to a rules change allowing pass interference to be part of the video review system.
The echoes of ''We was robbed!'' still reverberate in the Superdome.
So the Saints won't need any extra motivation when they visit Los Angeles in a stellar early season matchup. Even if they are trying to downplay the unforgettably painful memories.
''Still haven't, never will. When you say forgotten about, you have to find a way to compartmentalize it to where you can move on in a positive way, so I found a way to do that,'' Drew Brees said. ''But as far as just the events, you live and learn and sometimes things don't go your way, and you've got to find a way to come out better on the other side.''
Saints coach Sean Payton stressed these teams are not the same.
''It feels like it was a long time ago,'' he said. ''It's part of our game. These are two different teams now, a lot of roster moves from last year to this year. We're playing each other early in the season, so it doesn't feel like that many games ago relative to the distance between when we played. You're looking at two different teams.''
Both teams opened with tight victories, New Orleans rallying to beat Houston in the final seconds on Wil Lutz's 58-yard field goal, the Rams winning at Carolina.
While it's far too early to call this a game for NFC supremacy, the Saints and Rams should be among the conference elite.
''I think our players, our coaches know the level of urgency that's going to be needed for us to be at our best in order to give ourselves a chance to compete and hopefully come out of this thing 2-0,'' Rams coach Sean McVay said.
The second week began Thursday night with Tampa Bay's victory over North Carolina in a game that ended early Friday after being delayed 25 minutes in the first quarter because of lightning.
Jameis Winston threw for 208 yards and a touchdown and Tampa Bay held Cam Newton in check and came up with a late goal-line stand to give coach Bruce Arians his first victory with the team.
Tampa Bay improved to 1-1, and Carolina dropped to 0-2.
Seattle (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1)
Two retooling clubs that, for one week at least, looked as if they were headed in opposite directions.
The Seahawks struggled to beat Cincinnati, but showed the elements of being a contender, particularly their fortitude in coming back. Seattle is 2-7 in Pittsburgh, outscored 45-0 in the past two trips - in 2007 and 2011.
It's difficult to believe the Steelers won't rebound from their abysmal performance in Foxborough. Maybe they need a bit of that fortitude Seattle displayed.
''I like to think everything just flew off and everything was wrong so we can say `That's not going to happen again,''' defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. ''But we did some things right. Not every play was minus, but I'm going to treat it like every play was.''
Indianapolis (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0)
Both teams were far more impressive in their openers than predicted. The Colts took the Chargers to overtime, while the Titans manhandled the Browns in Cleveland.
Andrew Luck held a mastery over Tennessee, and Indy has won 13 of the past 15 meetings. Of course, Luck is retired, and the only two Titans wins in that span came with current quarterback Jacoby Brissett behind center. Watch for Marlon Mack, who had a career-high 174 yards rushing at LA and leads the league.
The Titans are retiring Nos. 27 and 9 for Eddie George and the late Steve McNair at halftime, the first 9 and 27 retired by any NFL team.
San Francisco (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1)
Two more clubs that had solid debuts beyond expectations. San Francisco used two pick-6s to beat Tampa Bay, and the Bengals gave Seattle all it could handle before a one-point road loss.
The 49ers have the highest winning percentage vs. Cincinnati of any NFL team, and last opened a season with two road wins in 1989. They worked out at Youngstown State to avoid a second straight cross-country flight.
The Bengals' Andy Dalton had career highs with 35 completions and 418 yards passing, his first 400-yard game. Eight receivers caught passes, led by John Ross, who had careers highs with seven catches, 158 yards and two TDs. But running back Joe Mixon hurt his left ankle.
Kansas City (1-0) at Oakland (1-0)
One of the great rivalries in sports, dating to the AFL days. KC leads the series 65-53-2 and has won eight of the past nine.
But the Chiefs will be without injured star wideout Tyreek Hill, though Sammy Watkins was spectacular against Jacksonville with nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
The Raiders had an offensive standout in their win over Denver, too. First-round draft pick Josh Jacobs ran 23 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns, also caught a 28-yard pass that set up a touchdown.
''This man wasn't really the feature back at Alabama. He's not drawing from a lot of experience,'' coach Jon Gruden said. ''I'm anxious to see how he feels ... after 24 touches because we'd like to get him 24 more next week.''
Dallas (1-0) at Washington (0-1)
Another terrific rivalry that has become one-sided: Dallas has won seven of nine.
Washington got off to a nice start in Philly, then phlopped in the second half. It also lost its top running back, Darrius Guice, to a right knee injury, meaning Adrian Peterson - a healthy scratch last weekend - figures to get some action.
No such worries for the Cowboys now that Zeke Elliott is in the fold. He should be in better form on Sunday, too. And the Dallas passing game ranks first in the league after toying with the Giants.
Cleveland (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1), Monday night
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...
Well, it actually was 1970 and the Jets had Joe Namath and a recent Super Bowl crown, while the Browns were one of the league's elite franchises with an enviable history.
Now? Gang Green hasn't been back to the big game since and blew a 16-0 lead at home to Buffalo last week. Those Browns of yesteryear now reside in Baltimore as the Ravens, and this group has made the postseason once in its reincarnation in Cleveland.
Still, the NFL wanted a redux of the first ''Monday Night Football'' telecast, so here we are, with a pair of clubs that basically faltered in their openers.
New England (1-0) at Miami (0-1)
Shield your eyes.
The Patriots have had issues in South Florida, losing five of their past six visits. Considering how rarely Tom Brady loses anywhere, that's striking.
There's a catch this year: Miami has its sights on the first overall draft pick, not on-field achievements; did somebody mention tanking? The Dolphins were humiliated by Baltimore 59-10 in the opener.
Meanwhile, Brady & Co. picked apart Pittsburgh last Sunday night, an ominous sign for the rest of the AFC, because the Steelers supposedly are a contender in the conference.
Arizona (0-0-1) at Baltimore (1-0)
Lamar Jackson, Heisman Trophy owner (2016), meet Kyler Murray, who took that award last season.
Both exciting and versatile QBs had impressive debuts. Jackson had a career day in only his eighth pro start, completing 17 of 20 passes for five touchdowns. Yes, it was against Miami, but those numbers stand out against anybody.
Murray rallied the Cardinals from a 24-6 deficit in the fourth quarter vs. Detroit, overcoming some early mistakes to produce tons of clutch plays.
''Once you kind of get in that rhythm, we're going quick, everything kind of just opened up,'' Murray said. ''We just got into a rhythm and we started playing better.''
Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit (0-0-1)
The Chargers and Lions both worked overtime last week. At least LA got the win over Indianapolis.
Austin Ekeler had the winning, 7-yard TD run and finished with a career-high 154 yards from scrimmage. Ekeler became first non-drafted player to have more than 150 scrimmage yards, two receiving and a rushing TD in the same game in 43 years.
Detroit has lost seven of the past eight in the series. Its best hope Sunday might be T.J. Hockenson who had 131 yards receiving, breaking the record for a tight end in his NFL debut set 59 years ago by Monty Stickles.
Philadelphia (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)
DeSean Jackson's return to Philly couldn't have gone much better. He made eight receptions for 154 yards and a pair of 50-plus-yard TD catches in sparking the Eagles' rally from a 17-0 hole vs. the Redskins.
''DeSean will tell you he's got practice speed and he's got game speed,'' coach Doug Pederson said. ''Practice speed is around 16 miles per hour and game speed is up to 22. He's a gamer. He's dynamic, he's electric, and he loves when the lights come on. That speed is real, and we saw it Sunday.''
What's real with the Falcons is hard to tell after an ugly loss at Minnesota, losing first-round pick guard Chris Lindstrom (broken foot).
Minnesota (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0)
Twenty-two of the past 33 regular-season meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer, including both games last season.
Aaron Rodgers has seven career games with a passer rating of 130-plus against Minnesota, the most by a quarterback against one team in NFL history. But this one very much could be decided by the defenses.
Green Bay's was staunch in its win at Chicago, with five sacks and lots of physicality. The Vikings has two picks, four sacks, and kept Matt Ryan and the Falcons off balance in an easy win.
Chicago (0-1) at Denver (0-1)
Vic Fangio designed the stingy and aggressive defense the Bears used last season to win the NFC North. He's now, at age 61, at last a head coach, and his Broncos D, aside from linebacker Josey Jewell's career-best 14 tackles, was anything but dominant at Oakland.
Chicago's defense once more was very strong, this time with Chuck Pagano as the coordinator. Edge rusher Khalil Mack had 10 sacks, three forced fumbles, 14 tackles for loss in eight career games against Denver while with Oakland. Mack had a career-best five sacks at Denver in with Oakland.
Jacksonville (0-1) at Houston (0-1)
If there's one team that should be encouraged by an opening loss, it's the Texans. Yes, their prevent defense prevented victory at New Orleans, but it was Drew Brees, after all, performing magic on the other side.
Most encouraging for Houston was the spectacular combination of Deshaun Watson throwing to DeAndre Hopkins, and expect to see plenty more of that Sunday. Star edge rusher J.J. Watt didn't play much of a role against the Saints, so expect to see him do so this time.
Pity the Jags, who felt they cured their longstanding QB troubles by signing Nick Foles, only to lose him early in falling to Kansas City. Just as bad, the ballyhooed D was hooey.
Buffalo (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
Despite the names, the Jets and Giants are New Jersey teams. The Bills are the only real representative of New York state, and they woke up in the fourth quarter at the Meadowlands last Sunday to down the Jets. They return in a rare bit of scheduling to play the Giants while thinking of a Big Apple sweep.
The Giants need to upgrade the pass defense that was torn apart by Dallas and ranks dead last. Yes, worse than Miami.
Benched to start the fourth quarter after throwing two interceptions and completing 15-of-25 passes for just 85 yards in a 17-16 Week 6 loss to the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen will ride the pine again in Week 7. Claiming on Monday that he believed Rosen would still remain the starting quarterback going forward, head coach Brian Flores proved once again that the words of NFL coaches can rarely be trusted, announcing on Wednesday that Ryan Fitzpatrick would instead start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. A first-round pick in 2018, Rosen has since been traded from the team that drafted him and been benched by league's worst team. If Rosen is still on your roster for some reason, now it the time to correct the mistake.
Following his first career start in a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins in Week 6, Miami Dolphins running back Mark Walton (thumb) has been limited in practice this week, but he should be good to go for Week 7. Even with the start, Walton is still clearly behind Kenyan Drake on the depth chart heading into a Week 7 matchup on the road against a tough Buffalo defense. While there is no reason to start Walton this week in any league, he would certainly become more interesting if Drake were to be dealt before the October 29 trade deadline. Until then Walton remains only a speculative stash.
The subject of trade rumors that have recently heated up, Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake continues to be a fantasy non-entity heading into a Week 7 matchup with the Buffalo Bills. Drake has only 290 total yards on the season, with 19 receptions and zero touchdowns, giving him just 25 points on the year in standard leagues and making him a poor option for a majority of fantasy teams. Things won't get any easier in Week 7 with Miami facing one of the league's stingiest defenses in regards to allowing fantasy points. While the Bills are not as effective at stopping the run as they are the pass, the 18 points per game they've allowed to running backs is still good for 12th-best in the NFL. Facing a tough defense on the road and with teammate Mark Walton continuing to see more action, Drake's owners can only hope that he's traded to a better situation. Until that happens, he remains a low-end RB3/flex in deep leagues only.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams was briefly trending up in the fantasy community after receiving 12 targets in a Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but his arrow has since pointed right back down. Blanketed by cornerback Josh Norman for much of last week's 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins, Williams finished with just 31 yards receiving, catching two of his six targets. Williams and the Dolphins travel to Buffalo on Sunday to face a Bills Defense that has allowed a league-low 71 points to opposing wide receivers in 2019. That mark is almost 20 points better than the 90 points allowed by the Chicago Bears, who sit in second place in the category. Like most of his Dolphin teammates, Williams is nothing but a desperate flex play and should remain on the waiver wire until Miami's offense proves it can be anything but awful.
He may have scored touchdowns in his past two games but Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker still isn't trending up and still doesn't belong on your fantasy roster. Even in a favorable matchup last week against the previously winless Washington Redskins, and with teammate Preston Wilson drawing most of cornerback Josh Norman's attention, Parker still only finished with 28 yards on three receptions, with his touchdown not coming until Miami's final drive. Heading into a Week 7 matchup with a Buffalo defense that's allowing the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers on the season, Parker should only be a dart thrown at the flex position by desperate owners in deep leagues.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense should continue their dominant run in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Entering the contest as the second-best defense by DVOA, the Niners should wreak havoc against quarterback Case Keenum and the woeful Skins. Operating as heavy favorites, the defense should steer Washington away from its stagnant run game and put constant pressure on an offensive line thats allowed 15 sacks. Facing one of the sloppier teams in the NFL, the 49ers make for a premium defensive unit this Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo enters Week 7 against the Washington Redskins with seven turnovers through five games (five picks, two fumbles). While he draws a cake matchup against the one-win Skins, Garoppolo is just an upside QB2 facing a weak pass defense. To climb the ranks of fantasy relevance, Garoppolo needs to stop committing mistakes and opposing teams must force the Niners away from their dominant rushing attack. That probably wont happen in Week 7 with the 49ers heavy favorites. While the run-heavy game plan partially offsets the juicy matchup, Garoppolo could finish the week a top-15 quarterback.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was able to haul in a few receptions after a dud last week. Robinson didn't catch anything in the loss to the Colts during Week 6, but got back on the board in this one. He caught three of his five targets for 31 yards in the Week 7 victory over the Broncos. However, losing quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) is a big concern for the Chiefs offense. Robinson would only be a desperation flex option with veteran Matt Moore at quarterback in Week 8. Fantasy owners will have to wait and see what happens with Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce continues to remain a strong and reliable fantasy option each and every week. He caught six of his eight targets for 44 yards in the Week 7 win over Denver. Kelce only has one touchdown this season, but continues to see a high volume of targets. It's unclear if quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) will suit up in Week 8 versus the Packers. However, Kelce is probably the only player on the Chiefs' offense that shouldn't lose value with Matt Moore at quarterback. Fantasy owners should continue to trust Kelce as a top five tight end.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was having a slow game in the Thursday night matchup versus the Broncos, until one play changed it all. Hill caught a 57-yard touchdown from quarterback Matt Moore late in the third quarter. He finished with three receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown in the Week 7 victory. Patrick Mahomes (knee) going down will hurt the Chiefs offense, assuming he misses time. Hill would be downgraded to a high-end WR2 for Week 8, assuming Mahomes sits out at least one week.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was able to save his fantasy value with a touchdown in the Week 7 victory over the Denver Broncos. He caught two of his three targets for 28 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) going down did hurt the Chiefs offense a bit in this one. However, losing Mahomes for multiple games could kill Hardman's fantasy value. Veteran Matt Moore didn't look his way often after he replaced Mahomes in the second quarter. Hardman would have some shaky flex value, assuming Mahomes misses Week 8 versus the Packers.
Kansas City Chiefs running game Damien Williams has been basically a ghost on the field since Week 2. He finished with six total rushing yards during Week 6, but manages to have a worse fantasy game the following week. Williams rushed nine times for seven yards in the Week 7 victory over the Broncos. Williams got negative yards in the passing game, so he can't even be trusted there. Fantasy owners in standard leagues should probably be benching Williams at this point. He'll have low-end flex appeal versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. LeSean McCoy is looking like the better running back in KC right now.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Moore played surprisingly well after being thrown into the fire during Thursday's Week 7 matchup versus the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) exited in the second quarter after suffering a right knee injury. The veteran Moore was asked to take over and run the offense for the rest of the game. Moore completed 10 of 19 passing attempts for 117 yards and one touchdown in the victory. It's unclear if Mahomes is going to miss time yet, but Moore could carry some fantasy value, assuming Mahomes is out at least one week. Moore might have limited fantasy value for QB needy fantasy teams since he's surrounded by such a great offense. Don't expect him to light it up like Mahomes, but Moore looked decent on Thursday.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was strong in the running game for the team during their Week 7 victory over the Denver Broncos. McCoy rushed 12 times for 64 yards and caught two passes through the air for 12 extra yards on Thursday. McCoy has been clearly rushing better than lead back Damien Williams over the last few weeks. The Chiefs seem to be leaning more on McCoy than Williams at this point in the season. However, losing quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) could hurt the offense, assuming he misses time. McCoy is on the radar as a flex option for Week 8 versus the Packers.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) was playing well in Thursday's Week 7 matchup against the Denver Broncos. He completed 10 of 11 passing attempts for 76 yards and a touchdown. However, Mahomes was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after suffering a right knee injury. Mahomes was able to walk into the locker room under his own power, so that's a good sign. He reportedly avoided a fracture, but it's unclear if there is any ligament damage. More information should be known in a day or two. Fantasy owners will just have to wait and hope for the best.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (groin) was limited in practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Kittle is perfectly fine to play in Week 7 against the Redskins. Against one of the weaker defenses in the NFL in Washington, Kittle is an easy top-three fantasy tight end this weekend, although the Niners probably won't have to throw a ton to win this game easily.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) and running back Raheem Mostert (knee) both missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Samuel and Mostert are on the wrong side of questionable to play in Week 7 against the Redskins. On a run-first team, Samuel just hasn't seen enough targets to be fantasy relevant in most redraft leagues in his rookie season. If he sits, it's good news for Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Mostert's fantasy value took a huge hit once Tevin Coleman came back from his injury two weeks ago. He belongs on the waiver wire unless you own one of Coleman or Matt Breida.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was limited in practice on Thursday. Thomas should be fine to play on Monday night against the Patriots. The 31-year-old is a little bit more attractive to fantasy owners with quarterback Sam Darnold back under center. Thomas has eight catches for 109 scoreless yards the last two weeks, but he's still third on the receiving depth chart behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. The Jets have a tough matchup in the Patriots on Monday night, making Thomas more of a WR5 in fantasy.
The New Orleans Saints are doing their due diligence in making phone calls to see what's available on the trade market. Wide receiver and tight end seem to be the most likely options for them on the trade market, and they could be targeting Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert now that he is fully healthy. The Saints already have Jared Cook at tight end, but they could utilize more two-tight end sets if they were to acquire Eifert, especially since they don't have a ton of receiver depth behind Michael Thomas. In a bad Cincy offense this year, Eifert has just 15 receptions (22 targets) for 108 yards and one touchdown. He'd be more attractive in New Orleans in the second half of the season, but he wouldn't be guaranteed to be a TE1 with Cook also in the fold.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron (illness) and rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (abdomen) both missed practice on Thursday. Campbell also missed practice on Wednesday and is on pace to miss his second straight game. He's well off the fantasy radar for now in redraft leagues. Ebron should be fine to play in Week 7 against the Texans, although he's a low-upside, touchdown-dependent TE2 against a Houston defense that has shut down the tight end position in 2019.