Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws in the pocket against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a touchdown catch against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby (21) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson (31) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) to end the Titans' final drive in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) flips as he is hit by Indianapolis Colts defenders including Clayton Geathers (26) and Pierre Desir (35) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II understands this week's challenge each time he pops in an Atlanta Falcons tape.
He sees quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2016 league MVP, adjusting on the fly to new wrinkles posed by defensive coordinators. He sees Julio Jones , the fast, physical two-time All-Pro receiver, and the emerging Calvin Ridley, who posted his second career 100-yard game last weekend, stressing secondaries. He sees Mohamed Sanu, the perfect complementary piece to Atlanta's home-run hitters, and tight end Austin Hooper exposing the middle of the field.
It helps Moore recognize what he and his teammates must do to keep Ryan and his receivers under control Sunday.
''They're very talented, very crafty receivers,'' Moore said. ''Everybody knows what Julio brings to the table. We just have to be on point.''
For Moore and most of Indy's young defense, game tapes are all they have. Only six players have ever faced Ryan up close and personal, and safety Clayton Geathers is the only one in the Colts' back seven to experience it.
Moore recognizes it may take a few series to adapt to the Falcons' potentially high-scoring offense at game speed.
But that's only one potential problem for the Colts (1-1). They could be short-handed, too.
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard spent this week in the concussion protocol. Indy's top cornerback, Pierre Desir, was limited in practice by a bruised right knee. Starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who has played Ryan twice including in New England's fifth Super Bowl win, returned for a light practice Wednesday after missing eight weeks with a knee injury.
If the defense can't slow down Falcons receivers, there could be other options.
Indy could rely on its suddenly strong ground game to control the clock. The Colts could use a vastly improved pass rush to make Ryan uncomfortable as they did the last two weeks with Phillip Rivers and Marcus Mariota. Or, perhaps they'll take advantage of the Falcons' biggest early season bugaboo: turnovers.
After throwing seven interceptions all of last season, Ryan already has five this year, including two in the red zone.
''It's not the start you want, but it's like that sometimes,'' said Ryan, now in his 11th season. ''You've just got to weather the storm and keep making good decisions and be aggressive.''
And keep finding Jones and Ridley, Sanu and Hooper.
''It's going to be a big test,'' Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson said. ''We just have to make sure we're staying on our details, making sure our techniques are on point and don't walk past any mistakes.''
With Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning both retired, the Colts have taken advantage of a run-first philosophy that's reflected in fashionably impressive numbers.
Indy and Minnesota are tied for second this season in yards rushing, Marlon Mack ranks No. 3 among all runners and Indy's 370 yards are the franchise's highest for two games to start a season since 1971. Equally strange is the fact Indy ranks No. 32 in passing offense.
Nobody minds. All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson keeps a hat with the phrase ''Run The Damn Ball'' in his locker and quarterback Jacoby Brisset t appreciates the impact the running game has had.
''Our guys up front sense that and they like when that happens,'' Brissett said when asked about seeing defenses wearing down. "They ask for more runs, so they get more runs.''
The Falcons, in contrast, are 28th in rushing at 65 yards per game. Devonta Freeman has only 41 yards with no run longer than 9. Freeman looked quick early in last week's win over the Eagles when he had three carries for 18 yards in Atlanta's first five plays. But after he was tackled for losses twice, Atlanta changed course.
Injuries, which derailed Freeman last season, don't seem to be the problem, either.
''He showed the speed, the burst, the finish,'' coach Bob Quinn said. ''He looked stronger in a lot of ways.''
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since Aug. 24, when fans booed as Andrew Luck left the field before announcing his retirement.
Players acknowledge it will seem strange without Luck on the sideline or field.
''I hadn't really thought about that but it will be different,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I think it will be a good atmosphere, I think it will be rockin'.''
The Falcons may make a late decision on the status of punter Matt Bosher, who strained his groin in warmups before last week's game. Atlanta signed Matt Wile to the practice squad as a possible backup on punts and kickoffs.
Matt Bryant handled kickoffs last week. Wile was with Minnesota in 2018 and Atlanta briefly in 2016.
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.
New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett caught three passes for 46 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown, in the Patriots Week 7 blowout of the Jets 33-0. Dorsett came into the game questionable but was able to deliver in a game that was over from the beginning. Dorsett made a nice catch in the first quarter for the touchdown to put the Patriots up 17-0 at the time. Dorsett now has four touchdowns on the season but has struggled with nagging injuries. If he can get healthy, Dorsett could have promising stash value in deeper fantasy formats as an offensive weapon that quarterback Tom Brady trusts.
New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson made his Patriots debut in Week 7, catching three passes for 18 yards in the Patriots 33-0 win over the Jets. It has been a roller coaster ride for Watson's time with New England but he is finally in uniform and contributing. The veteran still has the moxie and speed to produce in the NFL but it will take time to work his way into the flow of the versatile Patriots offense. Watson may not have fantasy value now but could become an intriguing waiver wire option if he can make strides in the coming weeks.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris carried the ball four times for 12 yards in the Patriots 33-0 blowout win over the Jets in Week 7. It was the rookie's first real game action of the season and received his carries after the victory was already sealed for the Patriots. Harris performed well, at times, during the preseason but a wrist injury stunted his progress. Cracking the lineup as a rookie in the Patriots offense is a tall order but Harris was able to get a few game reps in. Only a series of injuries to multiple players would open up more playing time for Harris in the near future.
New England Patriots running back James White caught seven passes for 59 yards in the team's 33-0 demolishing of the Jets in Week 7. White tallied zero yards on five rushes in the game but was his usual active self in the passing attack. The veteran is now averaging 7.5 receptions over his last four games, propping up his value in PPR leagues only moving forward. The bad news is that White is far behind his touchdown production from last season, heading into Week 8 with only one touchdown after posting 12 scores in 2018.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 47 yards in the Patriots 33-0 rout of the Jets in Week 7. Edelman saw a team-high 12 targets in the game and racked up 20 rushing yards on three carries. The Patriots built a huge lead and the need for explosive plays in the passing game was deemed inconsequential. The veteran receiver now has at least seven catches in each of his last three games and will head into Week 8 with 45 receptions, 496 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught five passes for 47 yards in the Patriots 33-0 win over the Jets on Monday Night Football. With Josh Gordon held out with an injury, Meyers stepped in admirably by catching all five of his targets. The rookie now has 101 receiving yards over his last two games and has delivered when his number has been called upon in the offense. Meyers still has to compete for targets with established receivers Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman but has proven he can step in and produce off the bench.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 31 of 45 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Patriots 33-0 romp over the Jets in Week 7. It was a workmanlike performance for the future Hall of Famer as the Patriots offense cashed in on several touchdowns via Sony Michel. The Patriots are now 7-0 but Brady has only four passing touchdowns over his last four games to show for it. Two rushing touchdowns in Week 6 help prop up his fantasy numbers but the Patriots don't need an explosive passing attack to win games. Despite the team's success, Brady is a mediocre fantasy play in 12-team formats heading into Week 8.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel carried the ball 19 times for 42 yards with three touchdowns in the Patriots 33-0 win over the Jets. Michel again struggled with consistency in the running game but found himself back in the mix in the Patriots red zone offense. Michel is averaging only 3.3 yards per carry this season but now has six rushing touchdowns. The second-year back was losing out in the red zone the past few games but cashed in big-time in Week 7. Michel's arrow is pointing up moving forward.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas registered three receptions for a team-high 42 yards on nine targets in Week 7 against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas was the best of the lot in the pass game, but that's not saying much. He remains nothing more than a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams heading into Week 8 in Jacksonville.
New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder hauled in four receptions for 26 yards on five targets in Week 7 against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Crowder remains a solid fantasy option in PPR leagues of 12 or more teams, but his yardage totals continue to be rather marginal. The Jets travel to meet the Jaguars in Week 8.
New York Jets WR Robby Anderson managed just one catch for 10 yards on eight targets in the Week 7 game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: There was so much hope for Anderson after his big performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, but he and the Jets pass offense was unable to carry over the momentum. They'll look to rebound in Week 8 at Jacksonville.
The New York Jets Defense was dominated by the Patriots in a 33-0 loss to the Patriots Monday night. The Jets allowed a 16-play touchdown drive to open the game and things went downhill from there as Tom Brady and the Patriots did anything they wanted in the game. Brady had clean pockets to throw out of all night as the Jets didn't record a sack and running back Sony Michel scored three touchdowns. The lone bright spot for the Jets defense was an interception by Trumaine Johnson on a tipped ball, but overall it was a night to forget for New York. The Jets will try and bounce back next week at Jacksonville but are nothing more than a low end streaming defense in the deepest of leagues.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell rushed 15 times for 70 yards while hauling in one of four targets for an additional six yards vs the Patriots Monday. Bell's 16 touches aren't ideal for fantasy, especially after getting only 15 touches last week, but he still dominated the backfield touches with the lower workload this week likely because New England dominated time of position and put the Jets in a passing game script early. No other Jet had more than two carries so fantasy owners can still insert Bell in their lineups expecting 15-20 touches weekly. The Jets offense has looked brutal at times this season but Bell is a borderline RB1 on volume alone, and with the schedule for New York softening a bit, Bell is a great buy-low running back.
New England Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy registered five total tackles with a fumble recovery in the Week 7 game against the New York Jets. It appeared he had a scoop and score, but it was ruled his leg was grazed by a Jets player when he was down on the ground, so the touchdown was taken off of the board.
New England Patriots FS Devin McCourty and CB Stephon Gilmore each had interceptions in the Week 7 game against the New York Jets, as did FS Terrence Brooks and CB Duron Harmon. Special teams maven WR Matthew Slater and LB Kyle Van Noy also had fumble recoveries, as the Patriots won the turnover battle 6-0.
New York Jets CB Darryl Roberts posted eight solo tackles in the Week 7 game against the New England Patriots.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold completed just 11-of-32 passes for 86 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions with a fumble lost in the Week 7 shutout loss against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Darnold and the Jets upended the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, entering MNF with a ton of promise. But they proved they weren't quite ready for primetime. It's back to the drawing board heading into Week 8 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
New England Patriots TE Benjamin Watson posted three grabs for 18 yards on five targets in Week 7 against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Watson was re-signed by the team this week and he knows the system. While he is a bit long in the tooth, he could help out fantasy owners in deeper leagues at a position that is a wasteland for fantasy purposes behind the top handful of studs. The Patriots host one of Watson's former teams, the Browns, in Week 8.