Indianapolis Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes (27) intercept a pass intended for New York Jets receiver Lawrence Cager (86) in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich talks with quarterback Philip Rivers (17) in the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy watches play against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) works against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles in the offseason to push Mitchell Trubisky for their starting quarterback job.
The Super Bowl 52 MVP knocked him out of the No. 1 spot. Now, he has another chance to show he's more than just a reliable backup.
After coming in to lead a big comeback last week, Foles will make his first start for the unbeaten Bears when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
''We have a great locker room here,'' he said. ''We've had a crazy start to the season, but I've been around several locker rooms and this is a really special locker room.''
Acquired from Jacksonville in the offseason, Foles took over in the third quarter at Atlanta last week and threw three touchdowns in the fourth as Chicago wiped out a 16-point deficit to win 30-26.
He and the Bears (3-0) will be challenged by the NFL's No. 1 defense. The Colts (2-1) have won back-to-back games after beating Minnesota and the New York Jets.
Here are some things to know about the matchup:
The Bears matched their best start since 2013. They have a chance to go 4-0 for the first time since the 2006 Super Bowl team won its first seven.
As good as that sounds, they had to rally from 17 down in the fourth quarter to win the opener at Detroit. And they looked as if they were on their way to a loss at Atlanta before launching a big comeback. In between, they nearly blew a 17-point lead at home against the New York Giants.
On the plus side for the Bears, they are the first team with two wins in the same season after trailing by 16 or more in the fourth quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Then again, their opponents are a combined 1-8.
The Colts entered Week 4 with the league's top overall defense and ranked among the top five against the run, against the pass, in sacks and in interceptions.
And Indy isn't just making plays - it's cashing in.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was the AFC's defensive player of the week after picking off two passes, returning one for a touchdown in last week's win over the New York Jets.
Cornerback T.J. Carrie also scored on an interception return against the Jets, marking the first time in nearly 50 years the Colts had two pick-6s in the same game.
Not enough? Indy also had a safety in each of its past two games, the first time that's happened since late in the 1960 season. The Colts have never had a safety in three successive games.
''The quarterback gets sped up with the pressure from the front four and when you're able to do that with the front four and then able to drop seven in the coverage, you can do a lot of different things with your coverages,'' defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said.
''If you're able to do that, then you're able to - with the coverages, you're able to have the quarterback hold the ball a little bit, for an extra tick. That's really when you have good rushers on the edge and inside, that's what you're searching for.''
Coach Frank Reich goes into this week with a thin receiving group.
Parris Campbell, who was expected to play a key role in his second NFL season, had surgery on his injured left knee Wednesday and isn't expected to play. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr., Indy's top draft pick, had surgery to relieve pressure from an injury in his right calf and probably won't be available, either.
Without Campbell or Pittman, expect four-time Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Daurice Fountain to catch more passes. Rookie Dezmon Patmon, a sixth-round draft pick, could make his NFL debut after being inactive the past three weeks and the Colts have three receivers - DeMichael Harris, Krishawn Hogan and Marcus Johnson on the practice squad.
Indy did get Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle back last week, though Philip Rivers didn't throw any passes to Doyle, and tight end Trey Burton returned to practice this week after spending the first three weeks on injured reserve.
Though the two teams haven't met since October 2016, when the Colts beat the Bears in Indianapolis, they know each other well.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard worked in the Bears' scouting department from 2001-12. ... Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was Indy's head coach from 2012-17.
Nagy was an assistant coach in Kansas City when Ballard was in the Chiefs' front office, and he said their oldest sons became best friends. Nagy added his wife also taught at the high school Reich attended, and Nagy coached there.
Reich was the Eagles' offensive coordinator when Foles helped them win the Super Bowl. And Burton spent the past two seasons in Chicago.
The Bears got little from their tight ends last season. That's changing with Jimmy Graham.
The five-time Pro Bowl pick already has three touchdown catches equaling his total for all of last season with Green Bay. He caught two scores last week, the first time he had more than one in a game since 2017 with Seattle.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.