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
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (calf), who did not practice on Wednesday, is itching to get back onto the field after sitting out in Week 7. Jones thinks he can play in Week 8 against the Vikings and wants to play, but the Packers medical staff continues to be very conservative, especially with Green Bay having a short turnaround in Week 9 against the 49ers on Thursday night. As of right now, it seems like the Packers will err on the side of caution and keep Jones out for the second straight week. Jamaal Williams stepped in last Sunday for a season-high 19 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Texans, and he also caught four passes for 37 yards. If Jones is inactive again, Williams will be a plug-and-play RB2 against Minnesota.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) will not be taken off Injured Reserve and activated for Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. McCaffrey returned to practice this week, but the short week probably prevented him from getting back up to speed and ready for game action. Mike Davis can be started by fantasy owners with confidence and should flourish in a great matchup against the Falcons. McCaffrey, meanwhile, should be considered likely to make his return in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In Week 8, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be looking to bounce back from his worst performance of the season. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and two touchdowns in Week 7, although the Steelers still wound up winning. He draws a tough matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. Baltimore's defense is allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position but their pass defense does rank seventh in DVOA. Fantasy gamers should treat Roethlisberger as a mid-range QB2 for Week 8.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has been a productive fantasy option for much of the season, having found the end zone four times in six games. He may struggle to reach his normal production levels in Week 8, however, against a tough Baltimore Ravens run defense. Baltimore is allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the running back position and has a run defense that is ranked third in DVOA. Conner should see enough work to finish as an RB2, just don't expect a big game out of him this weekend.
The Cleveland Browns Defense has been a solid play in fantasy for much of the 2020 season. While they are allowing opposing offenses to score frequently, Cleveland's defense has been opportunistic, leading the league with 14 takeaways through seven games. Cleveland is installed as three-point home favorites for their Week 8 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. While the Las Vegas offense has been good this season, Cleveland can still be treated as a top-12 fantasy option for Week 8.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is averaging just 5.57 targets per game through the first seven weeks of the season. He should, however, see an uptick in targets with Odell Beckham Jr. out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Now Cleveland's No. 1 WR, Landry draws an excellent Week 8 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas' pass defense ranks just 29th in the league in DVOA and is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the position. While he has been borderline unstartable most weeks this season, fantasy gamers can trust Landry as a low-end WR2 for Week 8.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins set season-highs in Week 7 with six catches for 110 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. Slated to see a larger role thanks to Odell Beckham's season-ending knee injury, Higgins is all of a sudden very fantasy viable in Week 8 against a weak Las Vegas Raiders defense. Las Vegas is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position and ranks just 29th in pass-defense DVOA. Fantasy gamers in a pinch can fire up Higgins as a solid flex option this Sunday.
Cleveland Browns tight end Harrison Bryant had a huge game in Week 7, finishing with four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie tight end took on a larger role in the game with Austin Hooper unavailable after needing an emergency appendectomy. Hooper didn't practice on Wednesday and is looking unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Provided Hooper doesn't play, fantasy gamers can use Bryant as a mid-range TE2 against a Raiders pass defense that ranks just 29th in the league in DVOA.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off an excellent five-touchdown game in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. Mayfield will look to repeat that success in Week 8 when he faces the Las Vegas Raiders at home. Las Vegas' pass defense has been shaky this season, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. While it is unlikely that Mayfield tosses five touchdowns in a game again anytime soon, he does set up as a high-end QB2 for fantasy contests this weekend in a game that could turn into a shootout. Fantasy gamers who have a quarterback on bye or facing a tough matchup can pivot to Mayfield with confidence this weekend.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt has managed to find the end zone seven times through seven games thus far in the 2020 season. He draws an excellent Week 8 matchup against a leaky Las Vegas Raiders run defense that ranks just 29th in DVOA and is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to the position this year. Hunt will continue to see the vast majority of the backfield work for the Browns with Nick Chubb sidelined, making him a no-brainer RB1 for Week 8. Fire him up as a sure-fire starter in all formats this Sunday.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is unlikely to be activated from Injured Reserve to play Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: No surprise here, but he appears to be on track for next week with another 10 days to recover and prepare. Mike Davis is an RB2 against the Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers Defense has been fantastic lately, allowing a total of 22 points over the past two weeks. Unfortunately, in Week 8, they will face a Seattle Seahawks offense that has been the class of the NFL so far this year. The Seahawks lead the league in both yards per game (425.2) and points per game (33.8). Expect a high-scoring affair in the matchup between division rivals, which means that the 49ers Defense shouldn't be started in any fantasy formats.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has some key factors working in his favor going into Week 8. The 49ers will face the league's worst pass defense this week, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are allowing 368.7 passing yards per game on the year. Additionally, the 49ers will be without Deebo Samuel (hamstring), who led all 49ers receivers in targets over the past three weeks. Bourne should see at least five targets in a game that figures to be high-scoring. However, that's about what he was getting earlier this year before Samuel made his 2020 debut and the results were extremely underwhelming. Bourne is essentially a touchdown-or-bust option this week and is best left on waivers.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had his first career 100-yard game last week against the New England Patriots. This week, as the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks, the team is likely to lean on him even more with Deebo Samuel (hamstring) out. The Seahawks are allowing 368.7 passing yards per game this week, which is dead last in the league. Aiyuk saw seven targets last week while Samuel was on the field, so it's reasonable to believe he should have a floor of around seven targets this week. That alone against the Seahawks' dreadful pass defense should enable him to have a solid showing, making him a strong WR3 play in all formats.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is in position to have a monster game in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks rank dead last in the league in passing yards allowed per game with 368.7. In a game that is likely to be high-scoring, Kittle should have a number of opportunities to make plays for the team. Expect to see quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo look Kittle's way at least 10 times in this game, giving Kittle a good chance to compile over 100 yards and a score.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (knee) has a chance to make his return for the team in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. He has been out since suffering a knee sprain in Week 2. With both Raheem Mostert (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle) out for the game, the team is certainly in need of running back depth. As it stands, Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty are their only sure thing active running backs for this week's game. If Coleman is active this week, it's hard to know just how much the team will utilize him. He could see anything from just a few carries to a featured role. McKinnon's workload has been reduced lately and Hasty has just 20 carries on the year. Neither of them project to receive a massive workload, which opens up an opportunity for Coleman. Regardless, there are too many variables at play to feel comfortable starting Coleman this week. He's a fine stash to keep on your bench, but resist from inserting him into your lineup this week.
San Francisco 49ers rookie running back JaMycal Hasty is averaging 5.2 yards per carry over 20 carries on the year and is coming off a solid game where he gained 57 yards on just nine carries. The 49ers will go into their Week 8 game against the Seattle Seahawks extremely shorthanded at running back. Hasty and Jerick McKinnon are the only sure thing active running backs at this point, while Tevin Coleman (knee) looms as a potential addition to the depth chart if he can show enough at practice this week. The Seahawks rank last in the league in pass defense, but their rush defense has been slightly above league-average. They're allowing 110.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 13th in the league. If Coleman plays in Week 8, we could see something of a three-way split at running back, which would hurt Hasty's upside. Yet, with or without Coleman, Hasty is a decent flex option. He should see somewhere around 10 touches, which gives him a good chance to make at least a few big plays.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon had an extremely disappointing showing in Week 7. He only earned three carries in a game where he was assumed to be the team's primary rusher. Head coach Kyle Shanahan later said that the team had been planning to rest him due to his heavy workload to start the year. This week, the 49ers might need McKinnon more than they have in previous weeks. McKinnon and rookie JaMycal Hasty are the team's only sure thing active running backs for Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. Tevin Coleman (knee) is the wild card in the mix. He's been on Injured Reserve since before Week 3, but has a chance to return this week. McKinnon should see around 10 touches in this game, but clearly there's also a chance that Shanahan continues to rest him, leading to another disappointing fantasy day. He's a low-end flex option who is fine to start if you don't have a better option.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has an extremely favorable matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8. The Seahawks have allowed 368.7 passing yards and 28.7 points per game this year. With the 49ers hurting at running back, Garoppolo's arm will be leaned on more than usual in Week 8. Expect to see a season-high in passing attempts for Garoppolo this week. He hasn't topped 33 attempts in a game yet this year, but this week should see him with around 40 attempts, enabling him to throw for around 300 yards with a good chance for multiple scores. He's a great option as a QB2 this week and could be considered as a low-end QB1 in deep leagues as well.
New York Jets S Bradley McDougald (shoulder) is still being evaluated to determine the severity of his shoulder injury, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini, who notes that the injury 'sounds like it's serious.'