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.
Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson (knee) underwent a procedure on his injured knee Tuesday, Oct. 22, and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to head coach Matt Patricia.
Fantasy Spin: Initial reports had Johnson missing "some time," but an IR designation would pretty much knock him out for the rest of the season. Sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson should handle the majority of snaps in his absence and should be added in all leagues, while J.D. McKissic figures to take the bulk of the work in the passing game. It's also entirely possible the Lions bring back C.J. Anderson to assume at least part of the early-down workload after cutting him earlier in the season.
Arizona Cardinals LB Ramik Wilson was released Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Free-agent LB Deone Bucannon (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Houston Texans TE Logan Paulsen was released Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The San Francisco 49ers expect wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) to return in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers. Samuel missed Week 7 but appears ready to practice and play against a tough Panthers pass defense this Sunday. Despite showing exciting flashes this season, the rookie is averaging just 4.4 targets and 33.6 yards per game. His fantasy value will be further impaired with the acquisition of veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders. With the Niners leaning heavily on their running game and tight end George Kittle dominating target share, Samuel is gradually fading from redraft relevance. Hell be a desperation WR5 if he suits on in Week 8.
Minnesota Vikings CB Marcus Sherels was released on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Indianapolis Colts S Malik Hooker (knee) told reporters he expects to play in Week 8 versus the Denver Broncos. Hooker has been sidelined since Week 3 with a torn meniscus.
The San Francisco 49ers traded for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the Denver Broncos on Tuesday. Reported by ESPNs Adam Schefter, the Niners will ship 2020 third and fourth round picks to Denver for Sanders and a 2020 fifth rounder. The 10-year pro should instantly upgrade a Niners receiving corps that have been anonymous outside of stud tight end George Kittle. However, Sanders should be downgraded fantasy-wise as he enters a run-heavy offense while competing for looks against Kittle, a versatile backfield and an amalgam of wideouts. Hell be a risky WR3 in Week 8 against a tough Carolina Panthers pass defense. Other losers in the deal are receivers Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel (groin) and Marquise Goodwin who all continue to slide outside of fantasy relevance.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu will make his Patriots debut in Week 8 against a Browns Defense that is allowing the 14th fewest fantasy points to receivers. Sanu was acquired via trade from the Falcons and immediately brings size and physicality to a banged up wide receiving group in New England. Sanu caught 66 passes last season for 838 yards and four touchdowns but has been held to only 313 yards with one touchdown this season. Sanu is an excellent addition as a player that can bring the kind of size in the red zone that the Patriots have been lacking due to a banged up Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski's retirement in the preseason. Sanu should be thrown right into the mix against a Browns defense that has allowed 10-plus fantasy points to eight different receivers this season. He may lack the amount of targets, however, to garner anything higher than a WR4 play in Week 8.
Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders was traded along with a 2020 fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for 2020 third- and fourth-round picks on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: A move to San Francisco makes a ton of sense since his learning curve should not be steep; Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello was hired by Denver in the offseason in part to install the kind of offense 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan runs. Sanders should quickly become the top receiver in Shanahan's offense and serve as a high-end fantasy WR3 in short order.
Free-agent LB Malcolm Smith (49ers) was signed to an undisclosed contract by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Free-agent CB E.J. Gaines (Bills) is visiting the Houston Texans Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Kansas City Chiefs WR De'Anthony Thomas was released Tuesday, Oct. 22. QB Kyle Shurmur was signed to the 53-man roster. DT Braxton Hoyett was re-signed to the practice squad.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) is improving quickly, and he has a chance to play in Week 8 Thursday, Oct. 24, according to head coach Mike Zimmer.
Fantasy Spin: Thielen would be a WR1 against the Washington Redskins, and the entire offense would suffer if he were out. Keep tabs on him Wednesday.
Free-agent WR Braxton Miller (Browns) was signed to the Carolina Panthers' practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 22. CB Natrell Jamerson (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, and WR DeAndrew White was signed to the 53-man roster.
Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) has a Grade 1 high ankle sprain and a Grade 2 low ankle sprain.
Fantasy Spin: The Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings Thursday night, and it doesn't seem likely that Peterson will be available. Wendell Smallwood could see a larger role and be worth slotting in as a flex.
Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu was acquired by the New England Patriots Tuesday, Oct. 22, in exchange for a second-round pick. The Patriots previously tried to acquire Sanu during the NFL draft.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu has been quiet with a 33-313-1 line in seven games this season, but he is a good possession receiver whose value in PPR leagues increases a bit. He should be rostered in all formats, but give him a week or two to get acclimated before you can expect results in your flex spot.
Free-agent DT Datone Jones (Jaguars) is visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The New England Patriots Defense stifled the Jets from the opening drive as the team cruised to a 33-0 win on Monday Night Football. The Jets offense rarely stood a chance as the Patriots held Jets quarterback Sam Darnold to a 34% completion percentage, 86 passing yards and a quarterback rating of 3.6. New England also intercepted Darnold four times and the unit now has two shutouts on the season. The Patriots defense has quickly emerged as, by far, the best defense in the NFL and will be the top fantasy option at the position heading into Week 8's action.