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.
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who will make his debut with the team in Week 7 against the Falcons, promised the Rams that he won't hold out next season in the last year of his contract even if the two sides don't agree to a long-term deal this offseason, according to league sources. However, all bets are off if Los Angeles uses the franchise tag on the All-Pro cornerback in the winter of 2021. The Rams sent two first-round picks to Jacksonville for Ramsey, so they expect him to immediately bolster their suspect secondary. The Rams would like to sign Ramsey but aren't in a rush and could also trade him if they can't reach a long-term deal. Ramsey's presence in LA's secondary bolsters them no doubt, but they're still a weak streamer this weekend against a strong Falcons offense.
Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (hand, thigh) is inactive for Week 7 against the 49ers. You obviously shouldn't come close to trusting Washington's defense in fantasy this year, and having Norman out makes them an even weaker unit this weekend. Norman's absence is good news for San Francisco receiver Marquise Goodwin, but he'll still a shaky flex in fantasy because of a low target share this year and the fact that the 49ers probably won't need to pass all that much in this one.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (ankle) is active for Week 7 against the Giants, while wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) will miss his third straight game. Johnson was expected to play after getting in some practices this week. He should continue to be heavily involved in this improving offense in a great matchup against the Giants. Johnson is a strong RB1 choice. Chase Edmonds will remain a strong handcuff for Johnson owners, but he's a low-end flex as long as Johnson is active. With Kirk out again, Larry Fitzgerald has strong WR2 appeal. You can't really trust rookie Keesean Johnson, Damiere Byrd and Trent Sherfield behind him, though.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (ankle, knee) is officially active for the team's Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson should receive plenty of touches this week against the New York Giants and is a must-start option in all leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 7 game.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones is a healthy inactive for Week 7 against the Packers. It's a surprise considering Tyrell Williams (foot) is also out, but it appears that Jones just hasn't mastered the offense yet after being acquired from the Bills last week. Also inactive are right tackle Trent Brown (calf) and wide receiver Dwayne Harris (ankle). With both Jones and Williams inactive, the Raiders are thin at the receiver position; expect rookie Hunter Renfrow, Trevor Davis and rookie Keelan Doss to work in three-receiver sets against a solid Green Bay defense. Oakland will lean heavily on running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller.
Green Bay Packers wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) are both active for Week 7 against the Raiders after testing themselves in pre-game workouts. It's a bit of surprise that both are inactive, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't complaining since he'll be without top receiver Davante Adams (toe) for the third straight game. MVS and Allison really haven't done much with Adams out, so they make for low-ceiling flex plays again this weekend, with MVS being the better target. Both receivers being active hurts the value of tight end Jimmy Graham, although he still has TE1 potential in this game. Rodgers remains a low-end QB1 until Adams returns. Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow can now be avoided in DFS.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (thigh) is officially active for Week 7 against the Falcons after sitting out last week. He's back in the RB2 mix in a good matchup against the Falcons, especially since backup Malcolm Brown (ankle) is inactive. Gurley should have a decent workload in this one, but rookie Darrell Henderson will spell him. As a result, Henderson has some flex appeal in deeper leagues against a Falcons run defense that continues to get beat by running backs.
Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) is officially active for the team's Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Allison is a risky option since he did not practice much this week. He should still see a solid amount of targets during the game and can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is officially active for the team's Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Westbrook should have a solid role in the passing game and will have a favorable matchup. He can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) is officially active for the team's Week 7 game.
Fantasy Spin: Valdes-Scantling likely will serve as the top option in the passing game for the Packers this week despite the injuries. He can be considered a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Buffalo Bills rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is officially active for Week 7 against the Dolphins. The matchup against Miami is as good as it gets, which immediately puts Singletary on the RB3/flex map in his return to action this weekend. However, his ceiling is still somewhat low as long as he continues to play second fiddle to veteran Frank Gore in this backfield, which is expected to be the case yet again against the Dolphins. Singletary could see more run in the second half if the Bills are up big, though. With the rookie back in the fold, T.J. Yeldon is a healthy scratch.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is officially active for Week 7 against the Bengals. Westbrook tested his shoulder before the game and will give it a go in a great matchup against a Cincinnati team that will be missing their top cornerbacks. D.J. Chark and Westbrook remain quarterback Gardner Minshew's favorite targets in the passing game. Westbrook will be at risk of an in-game setback, but you can leave him in your lineups as a WR3 this weekend with some upside in this particular matchup.
Correcting a previous report, the Cincinnati Bengals have declared WR A.J. Green, DL Carlos Dunlap, OT Cordy Glenn, OG John Miller, CB William Jackson III, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and DE Carl Lawson inactive for Week 7.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) and safety Reshad Jones (chest) are both inactive for Week 7 against the Bills. In an already excellent matchup, the Bills passing game just got a boost with Miami's top cornerback being out. It'll mainly impact Buffalo's top wideout John Brown and quarterback Josh Allen, who are both in a good spot to produce big numbers this Sunday. You should obviously stay far away from the Dolphins Defense this year.
The Los Angeles Rams have declared RB Malcolm Brown, OG Jamil Demby, OG Austin Corbett, LB Bryce Hager, DL Greg Gaines, LB Kenny Young and LB Clay Matthews inactive for Week 7.
The Arizona Cardinals have declared LB Ramik Wilson, WR Christian Kirk, C Lamont Gaillard, RB D.J. Foster, DL Zach Allen, DL Michael Dogbe and DB Zeke Turner inactive for Week 7.
The New York Giants have declared CB Corey Ballentine, QB Alex Tanney, TE Garrett Dickerson, WR Sterling Shepard, OG Chad Slade, DE Chris Peace and OL Eric Smith inactive for Week 7.
The Washington Redskins have declared CB Deshazor Everett, CB Josh Norman, SS Josh Harvey-Clemons, TE Vernon Davis, RB Chris Thompson, OG Wes Martin and QB Colt McCoy inactive for Week 7.
The Minnesota Vikings have declared DL Armon Watts, CB Marcus Sherels, LB Ben Gedeon, DE Jalyn Holmes, C Brett Jones, OG Dru Samia and OL Olisaemeka Udoh inactive for Week 7.