Sat Sep 21 11:13am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Julio Jones, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Zach Ertz, Taysom Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Melvin Gordon, Marcus Mariota, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Golladay, Mitch Trubisky, Tyler Boyd, Peyton Barber, Luke Falk, Kyle Allen, Mason Rudolph, Patrick Mahomes, Derrius Guice, Gardner Minshew II, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Eddy Pineiro
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla. Mahomes Mahomes is the reigning league MVP. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
In this Sept. 16, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett (95) sacks New York Jets' Trevor Siemian (19) during the first half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
In this Nov. 26, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Houston. Mercilus has been a stud so far, while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In this Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to pass during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Jacksons superb passing and running. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Once, the Ravens at Chiefs would have been looked at as one of those old-fashioned strong defense vs. dangerous offense matchups.
You know: ''Here's what we do, try to stop us'' against ''Here's what we do, try to move us.''
The weekend's best game has evolved quite a bit this year.
Baltimore has been among the most balanced teams, ranking second in overall defense and first in yards gained. The Ravens are leading the NFL with 21 quarterback hits, six of them sacks, and allowing only 41 yards on the ground. Of course, they played Miami and Arizona, which also were vulnerable defensively. Boosting the Ravens to the top in yards gained is an average of 541.5 yards, led by Lamar Jackson's superb passing and running. Jackson is tied with Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, and Dallas QB Dak Prescott with seven TD tosses.
KC is first in passing offense and third overall, but this is a major test.
''It's going to be a great experience,'' Mahomes said. ''We got to play last year once and seeing Lamar's progression and understanding the offense - I understand going from Year 1 to Year 2, there's a huge switch where you start understanding the offense at a different level. Then with his running ability, he can still do that. It's a great challenge for our whole team.''
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has 209 wins, tied with Chuck Noll for sixth in NFL history. Curly Lambeau is fifth with 229.
The weekend began with Jacksonville's 20-7 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night. Gardner Minshew had an efficient night for the Jaguars (1-2), who dominated the Titans (1-2) up front and sacked Marcus Mariota nine times.
Pittsburgh (0-2) at San Francisco (2-0)
The Steelers have lost in their last six trips to the Bay Area - four times in Oakland, twice at San Francisco. Their last win was 27-6 at the 49ers in 1999. Pittsburgh is looking to avoid only its second 0-3 start since 2000 with Mason Rudolph making his first career start in place of injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph threw for 112 yards and two touchdown vs. Seattle last week after Roethlisberger left with a season-ending elbow injury. Pittsburgh ominously is 4-19-1 with a first-time starting QB. It will have safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, acquired from the Dolphins on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the 49ers seek their first 3-0 start since 1998 and seventh since the 1970 merger. San Francisco made the playoffs following five of the previous six 3-0 starts, missing only in 1980. The Niners come off back-to-back road victories to open a season for the first time since 1989.
New Orleans (1-1) at Seattle (2-0)
Like Pittsburgh, New Orleans is without its starting quarterback, Drew Brees (thumb surgery), but at least he is expected back this season. Coach Sean Payton says he will play both of Brees' backups, Teddy Bridgewater and versatile Taysom Hill, a special teams regular and frequent offensive contributor in the wildcat and as a running back or receiver.
The Saints stayed on the West Coast and practiced in Seattle following last week's loss to the Rams. This matchup is just as difficult: The Seahawks are 15-0 in September home games under Pete Carroll. Russell Wilson is 6-0 with 12 touchdowns and two picks in his past six home contests.
Houston (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Family affair: Chargers coach Anthony Lynn's son, Danton Lynn, is the Texans' assistant secondary coach. He has helped as the Texans have forced a turnover in 15 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus has been a stud so far while edge rusher J.J Watt is off to a relatively slow start.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler leads the NFL with four TDs and his 287 yards from scrimmage are the most by a Chargers running back through the first two games in franchise history. Think they miss holdout Melvin Gordon?
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland (1-1)
The Rams used to live in Cleveland before moving to LA, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to LA. And no, it's not true they were the last franchise from the Ohio city to make the playoffs.
The Browns have designs on being a postseason qualifier for the first time since 2002, and this would be a major proving ground. Rams coach Sean McKay returns to the state where he played college ball at Miami. His 26-8 record is the best through 34 games for any coach hired in the 21st century, and his Rams are 8-0 vs. AFC teams, scoring nearly 35 points per game and winning by an average of 14.3 while racking up more than 400 yards of offense on average.
Cleveland plays a second straight prime-time game, and its first on Sunday night since 2008. Myles Garrett had a career-high three sacks against the Jets, but was called for five penalties, two for roughing. Garrett leads the league with five sacks in two games.
''I know who I am and the guys within these walls know who I am, and that's not me,'' Garrett said. ''I'm not going to do anything to try and hurt this team or take out any player outside the rule book. I'm just going to keep playing this game the way it's supposed to be played, and that's violently but passionately.''
Chicago (1-1) at Washington (0-2), Monday night
Neither team has shown much on offense, so if the Bears are going to break a seven-game slide against Washington, they'll need Mitchell Trubisky to find the range and get his receivers more involved. Comforting for Chicago is finally finding an accurate kicker: Eddy Pineiro is 4 for 4 on field goals this season after making all three last week, including the winning 53-yarder in the final second at Denver.
RB Adrian Peterson was a forgotten man in Week 1 when he was benched, but he's now the main guy with Derrius Guice injured. Peterson has averaged 111 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs in 14 games vs. the Bears, most of that while with Minnesota.
Oakland (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1)
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was the linebackers coach in Cincinnati when Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator there. Guenther took over that role when Zimmer was hired by the Vikings in 2014.
The Raiders have begun a stretch of no home games in a 48-day span, due to a ''home game'' in London and a bye week sandwiched between two straight road games on each end. Derek Carr broke Ken Stabler's Raiders record for career passing yards last week. He has 19,196. But Minnesota's defense will be a challenge. DE Danielle Hunter tied a career high with nine tackles at Green Bay. In his past seven home games, Hunter has 8+ sacks.
The Vikings seek the franchise's 500th victory, including playoffs. They are 499-427-11 in 59 seasons, but have no NFL titles, including a Super Bowl loss to the Riders.
Cincinnati (0-2) at Buffalo (2-0)
The Bengals have won four of the past five meetings, including past two on the road, dating to 2011 since snapping a 10-game skid spanning 1989-2010. Their QB, Andy Dalton, is a local hero. His final-minute 49-yard TD pass to Tyler Boyd to beat Baltimore in 2017 clinched Buffalo's first playoff berth in 17 years and led to Bills fans donating more than $450,000 to Dalton's charitable foundation.
Don't expect him to get cheers once the action begins.
The Bills have scored nine touchdowns in their past nine drives inside opponents' 20-yard line dating to last season.
Atlanta (1-1) at Indianapolis (1-1)
Indy leads this series 14-2 and has won four of the last five, but took the only home defeat in the series when the Falcons last visited in 2011. The game will be the Colts' first at Lucas Oil Stadium since Andrew Luck announced his retirement in the preseason. The Colts' defense is second in the league with eight sacks and hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive regular-season games, second-longest streak behind New Orleans (24).
But Indy might be missing top CB Pierre Desir (knee), which would be good news for Julio Jones. The Falcons' star receiver has three TDs this season and at least one in a league-high six consecutive games. QB Matt Ryan needs 10 completions to pass John Elway (4,123) for No. 9 in league history. Ryan's next TD also will break a tie with Elway (300) for No. 11 in that category.
Detroit (1-0-1) at Philadelphia (1-1)
Lions QB Matthew Stafford feasts on the Eagles' defense. Stafford has thrown eight TDs without an interception in two meetings, winning by one point in 2016 and 31 in 2015. WR Kenny Golladay matched a career high with eight receptions last week, had 117 yards receiving and scored for a second straight game.
Philly is banged up on both sides of the ball. WRs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are unlikely to play because of injuries. That puts the onus on tight end Zach Ertz and wideout Nelson Agholor and a deep running game that needs to keep the ball and clock moving.
Denver (0-2) at Green Bay (2-0)
Green Bay is 5-0-1 against the Broncos at home. And has scored 30-plus points in all five home wins against Denver.
Somehow, the clock didn't run out on the Bears on the drive to the winning field goal. Of course, the Broncos played far too conservatively on the third-down desperation pass that set up Peinero's kick.
Denver is 0-2 for the first time since 1999. The Broncos would become the 14th team to reach 500 overall wins with a victory.
Denver beat Green Bay in the 1998 Super Bowl for its first NFL championship after four defeats.
New York Jets (0-2) at New England (2-0)
Third-string QB Luke Falk vs. six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, both the 199th pick in their drafts and both getting their opportunity through injury.
The comparisons stop there, as do the chances for the three-TD underdog Jets. And we know, as seen last week in Miami, that New England's coach will show no mercy.
Miami (0-2) at Dallas (2-0)
While the fire sale continues in Miami, with DB Fitzpatrick now in Pittsburgh, there is more speculation on the Dolphins going 0-16 than there is on who will be left on the roster by the end of the schedule. Some say it doesn't much matter given the dearth of talent already.
Dallas, on the other hand, is looking like a true championship contender, even if the wins are over weaklings in the division, the Giants and Redskins. The Cowboys are seeking a first 3-0 start since 2008, when they lost their last two and missed the playoffs at 9-7.
Prescott's seven touchdown passes, tying Don Meredith (1966) for the club record through two games, are complemented by completing his last 18 passes against Washington. Eighteen in a row might be easy against Miami.
New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay (2-0)
All that positive talk about Daniel Jones' preseason performances had Giants fans salivating. Now they get to see the sixth overall draft pick behind center in place of Eli Manning in games that count, against starters, not third-stringers and camp fodder players. The Giants do lead this series 15-7.
Bucs RB Peyton Barber is coming off rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown in last week's win at Carolina. One of his two career 100-yard performances (106 yards, TD) was against the Giants last season. LB Shaquil Barrett had three sacks vs. the Panthers, the most in one game by a Tampa Bay linebacker since Broderick Thomas in 1992. .
Carolina (0-2) at Arizona (0-1-1)
While offensive star Cam Newton struggles with injuries - a foot sprain could keep him out, meaning inexperienced Kyle Allen starts - standout LB Luke Kuechly leads the Panthers' defense with 25 tackles. He had 17 in Week 2, including two tackles for loss, one that resulted in a safety.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald needs 10 catches to pass Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez for second on the NFL's all-time receptions list. Fitzgerald has 1,316, Gonzalez has 1,325. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the leader with 1,549.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers are facing a stingy Titans Defense this week. In the last three weeks, the Titans have only allowed two passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, in Rivers last three games hes passed for four touchdowns and 4 interceptions, which included a juicy matchup against the Dolphins that helped pad his stats. Rivers is a usually a streaming option, but fantasy owners shouldnt count on him this week.
Melvin Gordon has been off to a shaky start this year after missing four weeks of the season due to his holdout. Hes put up a lowly 31 and 18 yards respectively in his first two games. He plays a stiff Titans run defense this week. On the season, the Titans havent allowed much fantasy production to the RB position. The highest scoring RB to date is Nick Chubb who finished with 14.50 points in half-PPR leagues. The best is yet to come for Gordon, but this is not the week that he gets rolling.
Hunter Henry is coming off the heels of a monster performance against the Steelers. He made good on eight of his nine targets where he stacked up 100 yards and a touchdown. The Titans are a middle of the pack defense against the TE position, and they've only faced one legitimate threat in Austin Hooper back in Week 4 where he blew their secondary out of the water. The TE position is paper thin, and Henry should be a shoo-in for a TE1 week.
Chris Carson is gobbling up the running downs work in Seattle. In the last three weeks, Carson has seen no less than 26 touches in a game. Carson is a true workhorse back. He's going up against a Ravens Defense that ranks 10th against opposing rushers, but don't let that number fool you. Baltimore played the Dolphins in Week 1 and the Cardinals, who had yet to put things together, in Week 2. The Ravens have been exposed on the ground in matchups versus the Chiefs and the Browns. Don't expect Carson to slow down this week. If you own Carson, start him with full confidence.
The Baltimore Ravens Defense isn't nearly as dominant as they were a year ago. They've been involved in a couple high-scoring affairs already this season. Russell Wilson is on a roll right now, he's managed to score more than 30 fantasy points in each of his last two appearances. The Ravens are currently allowing an average of 281.5 yards per game to QB's, though things might change with the addition of Marcus Peters. Still, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense should be able to put up points against Seattle's defense, forcing Wilson to throw. If Wilson can get 30 passing attempts, or anywhere near that total, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Mike Williams has been a bit of a disappointment this season to those who drafted him. He's been dealing with an injury, but in the last two weeks he saw 13 and 10 targets respectively. If he sees a similar target share this week, he just needs one broken play to post a great stat-line. He's best as a WR3 or flex, but his upside is sky-high.
Keenan Allen has pulled a Houdini in recent weeks. The last time he saw more than six targets was back in Week 3 where he received a whopping 17 targets. He faces a middle of the pack passing defense in the Titans who rank 14th against the WR position in the last four games. Philip Rivers has his full array of targets this week with Hunter Henry and Mike Williams both healthy and ready to go. While Allen is still a must-start, if he doesn't receive an uptick in opportunity, he could disappoint yet again.
Austin Ekeler started the season with a bang, but the Ekeler show ended when Melvin Gordon returned to the fold. Ekeler barely left the sidelines last week against the Steelers. Granted, the game script couldnt have been worse for the Chargers as they found themselves trying to erase a 14 point deficit early in the game. Still, the disparity in touches was alarming if you own Ekeler. The Titans dont have the fire power to put up points quickly against the Chargers, so there should be a more equal timeshare in the backfield. Regardless, weve seen what Ekelers floor is, and it isnt pretty.
Tyler Lockett's out-of-this-world touchdown per catch ratio has finally caught up with him this season. Russell Wilson is distributing the ball more, and it's been at Lockett's detriment. In weeks 2 and 3, Lockett saw double-digit targets in each game and converted those into nice fantasy outings. Now that Will Dissly is out of the picture, Lockett's target share should go up again, and we all know what one well-placed long ball from Wilson can do for Lockett's fantasy day. Lockett goes up against a Ravens Defense that hasn't been playing at a high-level this season. However, the newly acquired Marcus Peters may change things. In what looks to be a high-scoring matchup, pencil Lockett in as a WR2 with upside.
D.K. Metcalf has pieced together a couple of nice fantasy outings this season, but his outlook for the future is contingent on touchdowns. In games without a touchdown, Metcalf has yet to score more than 10 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Baltimore's secondary is exploitable, and there will be more targets to go around with Will Dissly's absence, but it's best to avoid Metcalf unless absolutely necessary.
The Chargers play a Tennessee Titans team with newly appointed Ryan Tannehill at the helm. The Chargers have to find a way to contain Derrick Henry if they expect to win, as they currently rank 24th against fantasy RB's. If they can win the battle up front, they might be able to take advantage of Ryan Tannehill who threw an interception in limited action last week. Though not ideal, there are worse defenses to stream this week.
Free-agent TE Dan Arnold (Saints) was signed to the New Orleans Saints' active roster roster Saturday, Oct. 19. TE Brian Parker was waived in a corresponding move.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews caught six passes on eight targets for 99 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals. On the season he has 34 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Andrews has been targeted at least seven times in every game this year, but hasn't gotten in the end zone since Week 4 against Cleveland. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019, two to Vance McDonald and one in Week 6 to Ricky Seals-Jones. Seattle has been somewhat stingy against tight ends, but also gave up 187 yards to the Rams tight ends in Week 5. If receiver Marquise Brown is unable to go in Week 7, Andrews has a high possibility of leading Baltimore in receiving again in Hollywood's absence. Andrews is a TE1 for Week 7.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against the Bengals. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed 557 rushing yards and given up six touchdowns to opposing backs in 2019. In Week 6 Seattle allowed the Browns to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram has rushed for at least 44 yards in every game this season, but is becoming a touchdown-dependent option. He hasn't even come close to his outlier performance against Kansas City when he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore still hosts a run-first offense so expect Ingram to get his touches, but he's in RB2 territory for Week 7.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson posted 236 passing yards, 152 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against the Bengals in Week 6. Baltimore plays a Seahawks Defense in Week 7 that's allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the league through six games (1,602). Seattle has allowed at least 15 fantasy points every week to opposing quarterbacks in 2019 and let Baker Mayfield run for a touchdown in Week 6. Receiver Marquise Brown is still questionable to play with an ankle injury. If Hollywood is unable to go on Sunday, expect tight end Mark Andrews to get the bulk of targets and for Jackson to use his legs to get the ball moving. Jackson has firmly placed himself as a top-three QB start for the rest of the way.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is questionable for Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas may not get to face his former team in the New England Patriots. He's coming off his best game of the season in Week 6, catching all four of his targets for 62 yards. He's a flex option at best as a bye-week replacement if active.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered doubtful for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon is yet to play this season following suspension and now injury. WRs Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson will remain the target hogs in New York's passing game.
New York Jets LB Albert McClellan (concussion) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is out for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle), LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) and G Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) also didn't practice and are considered doubtful. OL Alex Lewis (neck), CB Nate Hairston (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring), CB Darryl Roberts (ankle) and Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) were limited participants and are questionable. C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) didn't practice and is also questionable.
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) was limited in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday, Oct. 21's games against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Dorsett is at risk of missing a second straight game after he left the Week 5 contest against the Washington Redskins with just four snaps played. WR Josh Gordon (ankle) has already been ruled out and WR Julian Edelman (chest) is also questionable. Expect plenty of work for RBs James White and Sony Michel in the passing game.
New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (foot) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday Night Football against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Burkhead hasn't been noteworthy this season outside of a surprise Week 3 start with RBs James White and Sony Michel inactive. Expect his two teammates to see plenty of work this week.