NFL Foundation contributes $1 million to hurricane relief

The NFL Foundation will contribute $1 million to Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

That contribution will be distributed to organizations that will address the immediate needs of those impacted throughout the Carolinas and other areas.

“The NFL family sends its support to the individuals, families and communities affected by Hurricane Florence,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday. “Natural disasters like this are devastating. As communities in and around the Carolinas recover and rebuild, we hope these funds will provide some measure of relief in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

NFL fans are encouraged to text FLORENCE to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Hurricane Florence relief.

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No longer strong suit? Titans defense struggling vs the run

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans aren't close to panicking over sloppy run defense, and the Jacksonville Jaguars gives them a chance to show just how much better they can be.

Leonard Fournette left the Jaguars' season opener with a tight hamstring and sat out Jacksonville's win over New England last weekend.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans aren’t close to panicking over sloppy run defense, and the Jacksonville Jaguars gives them a chance to show just how much better they can be.

Leonard Fournette left the Jaguars’ season opener with a tight hamstring and sat out Jacksonville’s win over New England last weekend. Fournette has been limited in practice this week.

Titans’ three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said Tennessee will come out with the same mindset no matter who the Jaguars (2-0) hand the ball to on Sunday.

“It’s going to be our job to stop the run,” Casey said. “We haven’t really done that in the last two weeks. We have to make sure we improve a little better. But we’re definitely prepared for it. We’ve been playing against the guy the last couple years, and we understand their scheme. So it’s going to be key for us to make sure we stay gap sound. We do that, we’ll definitely stop their run game.”

With Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator, nobody in the NFL was better than the Titans at stopping the run over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Tennessee gave up an average of 88.5 yards per game over the past two seasons and a league-low 2,833 yards rushing overall. They ranked fourth overall, first in the AFC, against the run last season.

Vrabel brought in Dean Pees as his coordinator this offseason, and the veteran coordinator brought in a few scheme changes.

Through two games, the Titans gave up 120 yards rushing in the season opening loss in Miami and 148 in a 20-17 victory over Houston last week. That has the Titans 25th in the NFL through two weeks against the run giving up an average of 134 yards a game.

While the Titans are still familiarizing themselves with the defensive changes, it’s also a bit early in the season. Linebacker Brian Orakpo said the Titans can help themselves by not trying to do too much.

“Whatever call is being made out there, we have to execute it,” Orakpo said. “We can’t have guys doing their own thing. That’s playing for your teammate, making sure you play your assignment within that call. I think that’s what’s kind of been hurting us against the call. Guys just trying to do a little too much. Do what you’re supposed to do within the defense, and everything else will take care of itself.”

The Titans swept the Jaguars last season and held Fournette to 40 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown run in Week 2 as Tennessee won 37-16 in Jacksonville. Fournette ran 19 times in the regular season finale, a 15-10 Tennessee win, and finished with 69 yards. He also caught four passes for 67 yards more.

If Fournette plays Sunday, Tennessee can’t focus solely on him. Quarterback Blake Bortles already has run for 77 yards this season, fourth among quarterbacks in the league, and he’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said the Jaguars are more balanced spreading the ball out when Fournette is out of the lineup, so the safety is hoping to face the punishing running back personally.

“One of the hardest rushers in the league, this guy runs behind his pads, a strong runner,” Byard said. “I hope he plays. I think you want to go up against some of the best guys in the league.”

Notes: Titans coach Mike Vrabel said QB Marcus Mariota was limited but did more Thursday. LT Taylor Lewan practiced fully and was meeting a doctor later Thursday hoping to be cleared from the concussion protocol. RT Jack Conklin was limited. LB Kamalei Correa did not practice because of a back injury.

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Falcons wary of defending Saints’ ‘maestro’ Drew Brees

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons may be a step ahead of the New Orleans Saints in the search for balance on offense.

That's not enough to make Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel rest easy. The Saints have Drew Brees, and the veteran quarterback's guile is enough to make any defensive coach lose

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons may be a step ahead of the New Orleans Saints in the search for balance on offense.

That’s not enough to make Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel rest easy. The Saints have Drew Brees, and the veteran quarterback’s guile is enough to make any defensive coach lose sleep.

Brees and the Saints (1-1) will try to establish more offensive balance when they visit the Falcons (1-2) on Sunday in an early test of NFC South rivals attempting to build off Week 2 wins.

The Saints have relied heavily on the one-two punch of wide receiver Michael Thomas, whose 28 catches set an NFL record for the first two games of a season, and running back Alvin Kamara, who has 15 catches. New Orleans is last in the league with only 52.5 yards rushing per game.

“That’s definitely something that we recognize and we always talk about balance,” Brees said Wednesday. “We want balance.”

Coach Sean Payton said he saw signs of an improved running attack in the second half of last week’s 21-18 win over Cleveland .

“Certainly Alvin and Mike are guys we want to get the ball to, and yet we recognize the importance of having that balance,” Payton said.

Brees, 39, has completed 81.3 percent of his passes (65 of 80) for 682 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

“He’s a maestro now,” said Manuel, who defended against Brees as a defensive back with six teams before coaching against the quarterback. “He was a magician before when he was dinking and dunking and hitting guys. Now he’s a maestro.”

Matt Ryan and the Falcons found more balance in last week’s 31-24 win over Carolina . Despite playing without running back Devonta Freeman, who could also miss Sunday’s game with a sore right knee, the Falcons ran for 170 yards. Fill-in starter Tevin Coleman ran for 107 yards.

Here are some things to know from the Saints-Falcons game:

PASS PATTERN: Payton is confident Brees will spread the ball around more and said he wants to see third-round draft choice Tre’Quan Smith more involved. “We have to find ways to get him more touches,” Payton said. “He is handling our installation. He knows what we are doing game-plan wise and I think he is ready to prove that.”

APOLOGY: Falcons safety Damontae Kazee apologized this week after his ejection for last week’s hit to the helmet of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Kazee was making only his second career start.

“I’ve got to learn to try to keep my head up when I tackle,” Kazee said. “It’s a new rule now and I’ve got to adjust to that.”

Kazee said he must learn “when to take my shot and when not to take my shot. He was sliding and I tried to lean over to the left and hit him with my facemask. I apologize for the hit.”

RECEPTIONS FOR ALL: Ryan completed passes to eight receivers last week instead of relying heavily on Julio Jones. In one possession late in the first half, he completed six straight passes to five receivers, none to Jones. “I feel like as a quarterback you’re just trying to make the right decision, go to the right spot with the football and trust whoever is in that spot to make those plays,” Ryan said Wednesday. “That’s just how it shook out in that game.”

NO RUNNING: The Saints’ running game ranked fifth during their run to the NFC South title last season. They rank 31st this year with only 2.9 yards per rush. The absence of Mark Ingram, who has served half of his four-game suspension for use of a banned substance, gets some of the blame.

Payton has said there is no evidence of a “crisis.” New Orleans has played from behind for much of its first two games, causing Payton to call more passing plays. Payton said a couple Kamara runs during fourth-quarter scoring drives last week showed potential for success on the ground.

INJURY WOES: The Falcons already have been hit hard by injuries , especially on defense where safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones are on injured reserve. Coach Dan Quinn hopes Jones, who must miss at least eight games, can return this season. Defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby missed practice this week with groin injuries. Jones also missed time with a calf injury.

Also, left guard Andy Levitre was placed on IR with a triceps injury. Wes Schweitzer, who filled in for Levitre last week, is expected to start.

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.

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Unbeaten Broncos face first road test against Ravens

BALTIMORE (AP) — Unbeaten after two games for the sixth consecutive year, Denver showed its tenacity in a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks at home.

Now it's time to see if the Broncos can win on the road.

Quarterback Case Keenum, record-setting rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, standout receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the NFL's

BALTIMORE (AP) — Unbeaten after two games for the sixth consecutive year, Denver showed its tenacity in a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks at home.

Now it’s time to see if the Broncos can win on the road.

Quarterback Case Keenum, record-setting rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, standout receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the NFL’s second-ranked offense will be tested Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens, who are 60-21 on their own turf since coach John Harbaugh arrived in 2008.

“They have great crowd noise. It’s like playing at a college stadium,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said. “It’s going to be a tough out for our guys as far as traveling and playing our best game.”

Keenum orchestrated a late drive for the game-winning field goal last week against Oakland after throwing for 329 yards and three touchdowns in his Denver debut versus Seattle. Lindsay is the first undrafted rookie in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two games, and Sanders has 14 catches for 231 yards and a score.

“They play really well together,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “They have a quarterback at the helm that they believe in. In this game, confidence is 95 percent of it.”

All that aside, the Ravens (1-1) know the outcome could depend on how well they handle Denver linebacker Von Miller, who’s already got four sacks as the focal point of an aggressive defense.

“He’s the straw that stirs the drink, no doubt, one of the very best in the league at what he does,” Harbaugh said. “We will have to have him accounted for at all times, on every play. If we don’t do that, he’ll wreck the game.”

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Miller is vastly quicker than he looks.

“He’s a physical freak. That’s his major trait,” Joseph said. “He’s built like an outside linebacker, but he’s got defensive back movement.”

Some things to know about the Denver-Baltimore matchup:

FLACCO FACTOR

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco struggled in the first half of a 34-23 loss to Cincinnati last week, but he finished with 376 yards passing and has a 15-5 touchdown-to-interception differential in his past nine games.

His success on Sunday could very well depend on how Baltimore handles Miller, who has three sacks in two career regular-season games against the Ravens — both of them victories. In a 2013 playoff game, Miller had a half-sack and seven tackles in a 38-35 double-overtime defeat.

“He’s very disruptive, but that’s going to be taken care of by the guys up front, our backs, everybody,” Flacco said. “It’s all hands on deck, and we’ll have a plan for it.”

ROOKIE SENSATION

Lindsay had his first 100-yard game rushing last week to go with a 71-yard effort on the ground against Seattle.

The 5-8 rookie out of Colorado and 2018 third-round draft pick Royce Freeman (99 yards rushing) have developed into an effective 1-2 punch.

Baltimore looked at Lindsay before the draft, and now they’ve got to stop him.

“The offensive line has done a good job,” Harbaugh said, “but this kid is running and he’s making plays with his speed and his fearlessness.”

BROWN DELIVERS

Free agent receiver John Brown has scored a touchdown in each of his first two games with Baltimore.

“It feels great,” Brown said. “Most people had doubts about what I could do because of injuries, but I just want to keep rolling.”

Brown rang up 1,003 yards and seven TDs with Arizona in 2015 before being slowed by injuries the following two years.

“He’s a humble guy, but he’s very confident,” Flacco said. “He’s a lot of fun to be around.”

COURAGEOUS KEENUM

Keenum starred with Minnesota last year, and his sizzling start with Denver lifted his record as a starter to 13-3.

Keenum missed practice Wednesday with a sore knee, the result of a few hits he took while scrambling out of the pocket against Oakland.

“Yeah, I guess I need to slide a few more times instead trying to go run and bounce around off of defenders,” he said with a grin. “But I want to get a first down, I want to score. I’m competitive in that way.”

Keenum has played against Baltimore three times with three different teams.

LEWIS HONORED

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a 2018 Hall of Fame inductee, will be honored by the team over the weekend.

There will be a parade in Baltimore on Saturday. On Sunday, Lewis will make an on-field appearance just before the kickoff and will be presented his Hall of Fame ring at halftime.

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LA LA Land: Chargers, Rams meet for 1st time since moving

LOS ANGELES (AP) — During the NFL's 21-year absence from Los Angeles, the area's professional football fans survived just fine. They watched the best game of each week on television, and they rooted for their favorite teams from afar.

Or more likely, they just went to the beach.

Now that the Rams have

LOS ANGELES (AP) — During the NFL’s 21-year absence from Los Angeles, the area’s professional football fans survived just fine. They watched the best game of each week on television, and they rooted for their favorite teams from afar.

Or more likely, they just went to the beach.

Now that the Rams have returned and the Chargers have arrived to saturate the nation’s second-largest market with a home game nearly every weekend, Los Angeles fans have a wealth of football at their doors.

What LA doesn’t have is a true local rivalry — not yet, and maybe not ever.

The Chargers (1-1) and the Rams (2-0) will meet on the Coliseum field Sunday for the first time since their relocations. The players and coaches on both sides agree that any attempt to portray this Week 3 schedule quirk as a fight for the city’s heart would be a cheesy ploy of marketing or motivation.

“I’m glad LA has got two teams, but it doesn’t matter,” Rams cornerback Marcus Peters said. “Come on. They’re in the AFC. We’re in the NFC.”

Although they’ll be roommates in a multi-billion-dollar Inglewood stadium complex in 2020, Los Angeles’ two franchises are divided by conference alignment, a lack of history — even the 94 miles of freeway traffic between their training bases in Thousand Oaks and Costa Mesa.

They’re unlikely to meet much more often than once every four seasons under NFL scheduling policies. As the 49ers and Raiders can attest, that’s not a recipe for a rivalry, even if the teams also schedule an annual preseason meeting.

“It’s hard to have a true rivalry (with) a team once every four years,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I think as players in the locker room, we see it as a fight for game No. 3. You know, find a way to get to 2-1. So it’s something I guess both teams are obviously getting used to, with both being in the same area. But I don’t sense that they’re becoming a huge rival, because you’re not going to see them twice a year. You’re not going to see them every year.”

So don’t expect a crackling derby atmosphere at the Coliseum. Instead, expect a high-level game between two potential Super Bowl contenders.

LA might not have a rivalry, but it has two solid teams coming off winning seasons in 2017. Both clubs’ offenses and defenses are ranked in the league’s top 10, and both rosters are fairly stacked with stars and compelling matchups.

Rivers isn’t afraid to throw at former Chiefs cornerback Peters, who has intercepted passes from the veteran quarterback four times in their six matchups. On the other side, Chargers’ pass-rushing phenom Melvin Ingram will be in pursuit of Jared Goff, who will attempt to get his throws past cornerback Casey Hayward.

Add up the two-team collection of Pro Bowl talent from Aaron Donald to Keenan Allen, and this inaugural crosstown showdown has the potential for high excitement — even if the raw emotions of a true rivalry just aren’t there.

“It’s definitely a rivalry, but just because it’s kind of a battle for home turf, so to speak,” Rams right guard Jamon Brown said. “We’ve got to approach it just the same as we do any other game. The next one is the most important, and it happens to be the Chargers.”

Here are more things to watch in these teams’ first meeting since 2014, when San Diego beat St. Louis 27-24:

STRENGTH ON STRENGTH

The Rams’ defense hasn’t allowed a point in six quarters after shutting out Arizona last week, while the Chargers have racked up 890 yards of offense in just two games. Coordinators Wade Phillips and Ken Whisenhunt should have a high-level duel as the Rams attempt to slow down a Bolts offense that has put up extraordinary numbers since the middle of last season.

BIG NUMBERS

The Rams have scored 67 points in two games, propelled by an offense that keeps adding new wrinkles in its first season since its total transformation under coach Sean McVay in 2017. The Chargers’ defense remains solid, and it has received a boost from playmaking rookie safety Derwin James, who already has two sacks.

PHILIP TALKS

Several Rams defensive players talked about their competitive respect for Rivers, whose impressive arm and genial trash-talking skills are widely admired. He will test the Rams’ revamped defensive secondary while avoiding the rushes of Donald and Ndamukong Suh, who has a warm friendship with Rivers. “I love playing against Philip,” Suh said. “He’s a character on the field. Off the field, I’ve spent some time with him, Pro Bowls and whatnot. I can see a great competitor. … I talk with my pads. I’m not much of a talker, but every now and then, Philip has gotten me out of character and we’ve exchanged words now and then.”

INJURED BOLTS

The Rams got good news when Chargers pass-rushing monster Joey Bosa was ruled out for the third consecutive week. Bosa’s absence with a foot injury has allowed offenses to focus on stopping Ingram, although the Chiefs were a whole lot more successful than the Bills. The Chargers also will be without right tackle Joe Barksdale, putting Sam Tevi in the starting lineup again.

WADE’S GUYS

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn was a rookie running back with the Denver Broncos in 1993, and Phillips was his head coach. Both are looking forward to the reunion. “I just know that I liked him as a head coach and as a man,” Lynn said. “He’s been good over the years, so he hasn’t slowed down at all in that department. I know his defense will be ready to go. I think the world of him.”

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‘Sacksonville’ looks for better results against rival Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — One of the NFL's most formidable fronts is off to a slow start.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks in 2017, have four in two games — on pace for 32 this season. Players insist the issue is all about the schedule and not any

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — One of the NFL’s most formidable fronts is off to a slow start.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks in 2017, have four in two games — on pace for 32 this season. Players insist the issue is all about the schedule and not any “Sacksonville” shortcomings.

The Jaguars (2-0) have faced veteran quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady, both savvy enough to get rid of the football quickly and avoid the pressure that defines Jacksonville’s defense. The result: A relatively pedestrian nine quarterback hurries in eight quarters.

Jacksonville hopes to end the trend against AFC South rival Tennessee on Sunday. It’s hardly a given considering the Titans (1-1) have allowed a league-leading one sack. But they also could be without starting offensive tackles Taylor Lewan (concussion) and Jake Conklin (knee). Conklin missed the first two games while recovering from a knee injury sustained in the postseason.

Making matters worse for Tennessee, backup Dennis Kelly (illness) was hospitalized last weekend and could miss a second straight game.

“They do have a good O-line, but we’ll see this week,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said with a sly grin.

Jacksonville is clearly frustrated by its sack totals, but quick to point out that opponents are sliding protections, chipping defensive ends with backs and tight ends, and even sending out as few as two receivers.

“It’s kind of like, ‘OK, if you want to max protect, you’ve got five guys covering two guys,'” linebacker Myles Jack said. “Eventually, Sacksonville will return. I don’t think it’s at a standstill. I just think they’re getting so much respect right now. They’ll get their numbers.”

Jacksonville has become one of the favorites in the AFC following wins against the New York Giants and New England. A victory against the Titans would give them their first 3-0 start since 2004.

Tennessee has won four of the last five meetings, including a series sweep last season, and has more victories (27) against Jacksonville than any team in the franchise’s 24-year existence.

“It’s intense, both teams on the rise that started at the bottom of the league and now both teams have been fighting for something (in) recent years,” Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “It’s exciting. It’s exciting for football. The AFC South is becoming very competitive again, and we’re both glad to be on the winning side of the things.”

Here are some other things to know about the Titans and Jaguars:

QB QUESTIONS

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is still experiencing arm weakness along with numbness and tingling in two fingers after injuring his right elbow in the season opener. The symptoms affect the velocity and spin he gets on the football.

“The way that they explained it to me is like when you strum like a guitar string,” Mariota said. “My nerve’s kind of been strummed, and it’s going to take its time to settle down.”

GABBERT RETURNS

If Mariota doesn’t improve, backup Blaine Gabbert would make his second straight start. Either way, it will be Gabbert’s first game back in Jacksonville since the Jaguars traded the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft to San Francisco in May 2014.

“I’ve heard mixed reviews on his time here. I think the fans will kind of give him his warm welcome he deserves,” Jack said sarcastically.

Gabbert went 5-22 as Jacksonville’s starter. But he’s 1-0 against his first NFL team , notching a win last year in Arizona.

“I went out that game last year against Arizona, and Gabbert lit up the field,” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. “I ain’t forgot.”

PAYBACK TOUR

The Jaguars are playing the second of three consecutive home games against teams that beat them in 2017 . New England ended Jacksonville’s season in the AFC championship game. Tennessee swept both meetings. And next week’s opponent, the New York Jets, knocked off the Jags in overtime.

“We’re 1-0 on the Payback Tour,” Jack said.

Added cornerback A.J. Bouye: “We owe a lot of teams some whuppings.”

STREAKING

The only game Tennessee has lost to Jacksonville in the past 34 months came on Christmas Eve 2016, when Mariota was knocked out of the game with a broken right leg. The Titans have won five straight overall in the AFC South, including a 20-17 victory last week against Houston that was buoyed by a touchdown on a fake punt.

“They don’t respect us at all,” Jackson said. “We’re going to have to go out there and earn our respect.”

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Wilks seeking first win vs. Nagy, Bears

Wilks seeking first win vs. Nagy, Bears

New Chicago coach Matt Nagy recorded his first victory last week, helped by the kind of aggressive defensive the Bears anticipated with the addition of Khalil Mack.

First-year Arizona coach Steve Wilks is still waiting for his first victory... and for returns on

Wilks seeking first win vs. Nagy, Bears

New Chicago coach Matt Nagy recorded his first victory last week, helped by the kind of aggressive defensive the Bears anticipated with the addition of Khalil Mack.

First-year Arizona coach Steve Wilks is still waiting for his first victory… and for returns on either side of the ball.

The Cardinals (0-2) will look to recover from one of their worst showings since relocating to the desert 30 years ago when they play host to the Bears at newly renamed State Farm Stadium on Sunday.

The Bears (1-1) will hope to turn a short week into another long day for the Cardinals, similar to what the Los Angeles Rams did last week in posting a 34-0 shutout after playing the previous Monday. The Cardinals did not cross midfield until the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Rams.

Nagy got his first victory last Monday, a 24-17 decision over Seattle in which the Bears had six sacks and two turnovers, including a late pick-six by cornerback Prince Amukamara that clinched the game.

“We took it over the top,” Mack said.

The Cardinals have yet to mesh offensively under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and new quarterback Sam Bradford. They are last in the league with 350 total yards and have scored only six points on a rushing touchdown. They had five first downs and 137 total yards against the Rams. Their stated plan this week is to simplify the playbook and give halfback David Johnson more looks.

“David is very effective when he is out in space,” Wilks said. “We’ve got to utilize David from the standpoint of getting him out of the backfield, putting him in the slot, putting him out there to try and create that matchup that we need.”

Johnson, a Pro Bowler in a breakout 2016 before missing all but one game with a wrist injury last year, has 22 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown and six receptions for 33 yards. Bradford has completed 37 of 61 passes for 243 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald suffered a hamstring injury late in the Rams’ game and did not practice Wednesday but returned for a limited session Thursday and will play, per Wilks. Arizona could also welcome back tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Markus Golden, who both returned to a full practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering serious injuries in 2017.

Halfback Jordan Howard has 117 yards rushing and 58 yards receiving for the Bears, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has completed 48 of 69 passes for 371 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has run for 56 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears celebrated their Monday victory with a post-game locker-room dance party complete with disco ball.

“These wins are so hard to get,” Nagy said before almost immediately jumping into preparation for the Cardinals. “I want everybody to understand on that team it’s OK to enjoy them. You’re allowed to have fun and enjoy them.”

The Cardinals took quarterback Josh Rosen with the 10th pick in the 2018 draft, but Wilks said now is not the time to change starters.

“If I thought it was just that one position, I would be more than willing to say, ‘We need to make a change. We need a spark. We need something to happen.’ But it is not just Sam,” Wilks said.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers seek first win, FitzMagic spell

Steelers seek first win, FitzMagic spell

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been energized by a couple doses of "FitzMagic."

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is off a blazing start and looks to continue his scintillating performance when the Buccaneers host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium.

Steelers seek first win, FitzMagic spell

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been energized by a couple doses of “FitzMagic.”

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is off a blazing start and looks to continue his scintillating performance when the Buccaneers host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium.

Fitzpatrick joined Dan Marino (1984) and Billy Volek (2004) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 400 yards and four touchdowns in consecutive games. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be a three-game fill-in starter while Jameis Winston serves a suspension for inappropriately touching a female Uber driver.

Now the chatter is that Fitzpatrick may be in line to keep the job. Receiver DeSean Jackson (275 yards, three touchdowns) publicly said “you can’t take the hot man out” after the Buccaneers (2-0) averaged 37.5 points and 482.5 yards in their first two games.

“I won’t be the one getting into that because we’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said during a press conference. “Right now, right after I get out of here we’re going to (be) working on Pittsburgh, and that’s all that matters right now. Everything else is in the future because it could all change like that.”

The 35-year-old Fitzpatrick is well aware of the ups and downs of NFL life, having played for seven teams over 14 seasons while receiving the journeyman label.

So even the lava-like start of 819 yards, eight touchdowns and a 78.7 completion percentage — he has missed on just 13 throws — doesn’t make him feel guaranteed to be the Week 4 starter.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the ride,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “I’ve had so many ups and downs in my career. When it’s going good, you learn to enjoy the ride.”

The Steelers (0-1-1) aren’t feeling much enjoyment during a distraction-filled start that includes a tie against the Cleveland Browns and a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Running back Le’Veon Bell has refused to sign his $14.54 million tender and remains away from the club. And highly productive receiver Antonio Brown (18 receptions, 160 yards) has supplied more drama than touchdowns receptions (one) through the two games.

Brown engaged in a sideline argument with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner during last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, and responded with a “trade me let’s find out” tweet to social media criticism from a former club employee that suggested Brown wouldn’t be all that good if he didn’t have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball.

Then Brown missed a team meeting on Monday and was disciplined by Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin.

A highly frustrated Brown made it clear on Thursday that the sideline confrontation had nothing to do with the number of passes coming his way.

“We were losing the game,” Brown said. “We were getting beat. We haven’t won a game yet. For me as a Steeler, that is unacceptable. I am not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements as you guys make. I am pissed off. We’re losing. We suck.”

Roethlisberger said he understands Brown’s frustrations as the team still has a zero in the victory column.

“He isn’t the only guy that gets frustrated in games. We all get frustrated,” said Roethlisberger, who has passed for 787 yards and four touchdowns against three interceptions. “When you are the best in the world you might get a little more frustrated than others. A.B. is a very passionate football player. We all know that.

The fans know that. That is what makes him special, his passion for this game and the passion to be great. We’re not going to want to take that away from him.”

The Steelers hold an 8-2 edge in the series but Tampa Bay won the last meeting, 27-24 in 2014.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Brown calls Steelers losses ‘unacceptable’

NFL notebook: Brown calls Steelers losses 'unacceptable'

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that his frustration on the sideline during Sunday's game and his tweet toward a critic on Monday came from his desire to win.

Meeting with reporters for the first time since the team's 42-37 loss

NFL notebook: Brown calls Steelers losses ‘unacceptable’

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that his frustration on the sideline during Sunday’s game and his tweet toward a critic on Monday came from his desire to win.

Meeting with reporters for the first time since the team’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown made it clear he does not want a trade, but rather for his team to start performing at the level it has previously.

“We were losing the game… we haven’t won a game yet,” Brown said. “For me, as a Steeler, that’s unacceptable. I’m not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements like you guys (the media) make. I’m pissed off. We’re losing, we suck. …We ain’t winning. You’re damn right I’m pissed off.”

Brown was seen on the sideline during the second half of the Chiefs game in an apparent argument with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. On Monday, Brown replied to a critical tweet from former Steelers PR staffer Ryan Scarpino — suggesting Brown wouldn’t be as productive without Ben Roethlisberger — with the words “Trade me let’s find out.” However, Brown was clear Thursday the he doesn’t want a trade.

–Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he plans to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury last week, as the Jaguars beat the Patriots 31-20 to move to 4-0 in games without Fournette. He left the Week 1 win over the New York Giants with a strain and said he felt a pop.

“That team is talented,” Fournette said of the Titans. “We respect their D-line. It’s going to be a fistfight once again, like it always is.”

–Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley returned to practice, just a week after getting carted off the field against the Cincinnati Bengals with a left knee injury.

Mosley avoided ligament damage and was diagnosed with a bone bruise, which appears unlikely to keep him out much more than a week, if that. He appeared to practice only on a limited basis Thursday, keeping his status for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos unclear.

Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Mosley’s injury, which happened on the first series in Cincinnati, was difficult to bounce back from within the game. “That set us off balance a little bit, just like it would be if, I guess, your computers crashed or something right in the middle of a story that you’re writing,” he told reporters.

–Four key offensive pieces missed Indianapolis Colts practice for the second day in a row, raising questions about their availability for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) all sat out Wednesday and Thursday. Hilton, who has missed just eight of the team’s 143 snaps through two games, said Wednesday his injury is “nothing to worry about,” but questions will remain if he does not get in at least a limited practice Friday.

Castonzo has yet to play after sustaining a pair of setbacks — the most recent coming last week — since he initially hurt his hamstring during training camp. Mack made his season debut last season after a preseason hamstring injury, but he picked up a foot issue in the game. Doyle has missed just seven snaps through two weeks.

–Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones remained sidelined at practice with a calf injury, though he deemed the absence precautionary after the muscle tightened in Sunday’s win over the Panthers.

Running back Devonta Freeman (knee), defensive ends Takk McKinley (groin) and Derrick Shelby (groin), and linebacker Corey Nelson (calf) also missed practice for the second consecutive day.

–Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry remained out of practice with a heel injury, suggesting he will miss his third straight game.

Despite optimism he could practice this week, Berry has yet to practice this year and missed the first two games with a “doubtful” designation on the injury report. The Chiefs’ defense currently ranks last in yards allowed, 31st in yards per play allowed and 29th in points allowed.

–New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon and cornerback Eli Apple remained sidelined from practice, putting their availability for Sunday’s game against the Texans in doubt.

Vernon has been out since late August with a high-ankle sprain and has yet to return to practice. Apple picked up a groin injury Sunday night against the Cowboys before missing the team’s first two sessions of this week.

Tight end Evan Engram (ankle) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day.

–Philadelphia Eagles running backs Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi remained sidelined from practice.

Sproles hasn’t practiced in more than a week with a hamstring issue that kept him out of Sunday’s loss in Tampa Bay. Ajayi missed most of the first half of Sunday’s game with a back issue before returning. He has logged just 51 snaps (33.8 percent) through two games this season.

–Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay sat out for the second day in a row with a concussion.

With the second missed session, Slay appears unlikely to progress through the league’s concussion protocol in time to play Sunday night against the New England Patriots.

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round defensive tackle Vita Vea returned to practice for the first time since July.

Vea was carted off the field after going down in a training-camp practice with a calf issue. It is uncertain if he will be able to make his NFL debut Monday night against the Steelers, but the Bucs could use help at defensive tackle after injuries to Mitch Unrein (injured reserve, concussion) and Beau Allen (foot).

Meanwhile, cornerback Brent Grimes (groin) expects to play against the Steelers after missing the first two games of the season.

–Former NFL cornerback Vontae Davis knew walking away from the game he played since his childhood in Washington, D.C., was the right thing to do, and he told Domonique Foxworth of The Undefeated he looks back with no regrets.

“I feel great. I haven’t felt like this in … ” Davis paused, “well, in my whole life.”

At halftime of the Buffalo Bills’ 31-20 loss on Sunday, Davis announced his retirement from the NFL. A two-time Pro Bowl selection and 10-year veteran, he signed a one-year contract with the Bills in the offseason.

–The ex-girlfriend of Bills running back LeSean McCoy is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who broke into McCoy’s house and assaulted her in July, her attorneys announced.

Cordon is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday in Georgia, where the incident occurred, to discuss why she is convinced McCoy was involved in the July 10 home invasion.

“While Mr. McCoy maintains that he has been very forthcoming with his teammates and with his coaches, he has not provided any information whatsoever to the City of Milton Police, or assisted in the criminal investigation in any way, which will be discussed at [Friday’s] press conference as well,” her attorneys said, per ESPN.

–The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable NFL franchise on Forbes’ annual list for the 12th year in a row.

The team is now valued at an estimated $5 billion, up 4 percent from last year, according to the magazine. The Cowboys are the first pro sports team to reach the $5 billion mark, even though they haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1996.

The New England Patriots, winners of five Super Bowls since 2002, come in second on the list with a value of $3.8 billion. The Los Angeles Rams made the biggest jump in value — 7 percent to an estimated $3.2 billion — to reach No. 4. Rounding out the top five were the New York Giants (No. 3, $3.3 billion) and the Washington Redskins ($3.1 billiion).

–Aaron Rodgers returned from a knee injury, and now he’s back on the stump for State Farm in an agent vs. agent spot that will include multiple iterations this season.

While the Packers quarterback battled a serious knee injury Week 1, the opening spot of his new commercial series sets up Rodgers’ big-screen sports agent against his State Farm insurance agent.

Rodgers’ NFL representative is actually David Dunn, who helped the Pro Bowl passer score a contract extension worth more than $134 million, is not in the TV spot. Actor David Haydn-Jones, recently of CW series “Supernatural,” plays Rodgers’ agent, Gabe Gabriel.

–As expected, Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session with a sore left knee.

Head coach Vance Joseph told reporters Wednesday the team held Keenum out despite the signal-caller wanting to practice, and that he fully expects Keenum to play Sunday at Baltimore.

–Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald returned to a limited practice after missing Wednesday’s session.

Head coach Steve Wilks already said he expects Fitzgerald, who sustained a hamstring injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, to play against the Bears this week.

–Field Level Media

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Ex-girlfriend of Bills’ McCoy offers reward in assault case

Ex-girlfriend of Bills' McCoy offers reward in assault case

The ex-girlfriend of Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who broke into McCoy's house and assaulted her in July, her attorneys announced Thursday.

Cordon is scheduled to

Ex-girlfriend of Bills’ McCoy offers reward in assault case

The ex-girlfriend of Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who broke into McCoy’s house and assaulted her in July, her attorneys announced Thursday.

Cordon is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday in Georgia, where the incident occurred, to discuss why she is convinced McCoy was involved in the July 10 home invasion.

“While Mr. McCoy maintains that he has been very forthcoming with his teammates and with his coaches, he has not provided any information whatsoever to the City of Milton Police, or assisted in the criminal investigation in any way, which will be discussed at [Friday’s] press conference as well,” her attorneys said, per ESPN.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month that police in Milton Ga., have been investigating the armed intrusion and assault but hadn’t uncovered any information to link McCoy. The NFL was continuing its investigation, according to Schefter.

In August, Cordon filed a civil lawsuit in Fulton County, Georgia, naming McCoy and his former college teammate Tamarcus Porter in August as defendants. She claimed McCoy should be held responsible for allowing the attack to occur on his property.

McCoy’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last week, writing, “There is no alleged link between the assailant and either Mr. McCoy or Mr. Porter. The complaint is ridiculous and must be dismissed.”

Cordon also claimed in her lawsuit that McCoy abused the son he shares with another woman. The mother of that 6-year-old boy, Stephanie Maisonet, filed an affidavit in the case Tuesday in support of Cordon’s claims.

McCoy issued a statement on social media later Tuesday calling Maisonet’s affidavit “provably false” and “outrageously inaccurate.”

McCoy, 30, has played in both of the Bills’ first two games, gaining 61 yards on 16 carries. He has practiced on a limited basis this week after sustaining broken rib cartilage last week.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys remain NFL’s most valuable franchise

Cowboys remain NFL's most valuable franchise

The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable NFL franchise on Forbes' annual list for the 12th year in a row.

The team is now valued at an estimated $5 billion, up 4 percent from last year, according to the magazine, which released its list

Cowboys remain NFL’s most valuable franchise

The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable NFL franchise on Forbes’ annual list for the 12th year in a row.

The team is now valued at an estimated $5 billion, up 4 percent from last year, according to the magazine, which released its list on Thursday. The Cowboys are the first pro sports team to reach the $5 billion mark, even though they haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1996.

The New England Patriots, winners of five Super Bowls since 2002, come in second on the list with a value of $3.8 billion.

The Los Angeles Rams made the biggest jump in value — 7 percent to an estimated $3.2 billion — to reach No. 4. The Rams’ value, as well as that of the Oakland Raiders (No. 18), was based on revenue projections relating to their new stadiums, which still are under construction.

Rounding out the top five were the New York Giants (No. 3, $3.3 billion) and the Washington Redskins ($3.1 billiion).

The average value of an NFL team is an estimated $2.57 billion.

Making up the bottom five were Tampa Bay (No. 28, $2 billion), Cleveland ($1.95 billion), Cincinnati ($1.8 billion), Detroit ($1.7 billion) and Buffalo ($1.6 billion).

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Brown wants wins, not a trade

Steelers' Brown wants wins, not a trade

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that his frustration on the sideline during Sunday's game and his tweet toward a critic on Monday came from his desire to win.

Meeting with reporters for the first time since the team's 42-37 loss

Steelers’ Brown wants wins, not a trade

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that his frustration on the sideline during Sunday’s game and his tweet toward a critic on Monday came from his desire to win.

Meeting with reporters for the first time since the team’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown made it clear he does not want a trade, but rather for his team to start performing at the level it has previously.

“We were losing the game… we haven’t won a game yet,” Brown said. “For me, as a Steeler, that’s unacceptable. I’m not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements like you guys (the media) make. I’m pissed off. We’re losing, we suck.

“…We ain’t winning. You’re damn right I’m pissed off.”

Brown was seen on the sideline during the second half of the Chiefs game, which dropped the Steelers to 0-1-1, in an apparent argument with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. On Monday, Brown replied to a critical tweet from former Steelers PR staffer Ryan Scarpino — suggesting Brown wouldn’t be as productive without Ben Roethlisberger — with the words “Trade me let’s find out.”

“Obviously I don’t want a trade,” Brown said Thursday. “I’m still grateful to put on my uniform, grateful to be a part of this organization. I don’t take that for granted. Obviously it was a stupid remark.

“…I guess I can’t really respond to people that’s saying crazy stuff.”

Brown also was not at the team’s facility on Monday, an absence for which head coach Mike Tomlin said Brown was disciplined. The wideout said the absence was for a personal reason, and no further details have been provided on the subject.

Brown acknowledged that the tweet and the resulting media circus were a distraction, but he remains fully focused on winning.

“Obviously I’m in the spotlight, so you guys are always putting me under the microscope, but I’m a compassionate individual,” Brown said. “I can’t fake the way I feel. I can’t hide the way I feel. If it wasn’t important to me, then I’d just say it don’t matter, but I’m not that type of guy.

“…Our business is winning, playing football. That’s what I’m here to do.”

Pittsburgh is without a win through two games for the first time since 2013, when it started 0-4 and went on to finish 8-8.

–Field Level Media

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49ers’ defense looks to stop Mahomes’ hot hand

49ers' defense looks to stop Mahomes' hot hand

Very little can dampen the enthusiasm Kansas City Chiefs fans feel for the home opener Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

After all, the Chiefs won back-to-back road games to begin the season behind a first-year starting quarterback who quickly established himself as the

49ers’ defense looks to stop Mahomes’ hot hand

Very little can dampen the enthusiasm Kansas City Chiefs fans feel for the home opener Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

After all, the Chiefs won back-to-back road games to begin the season behind a first-year starting quarterback who quickly established himself as the NFL’s hottest threat.

“I understand the excitement. I got it,” conceded Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “I mean everybody is excited. The reality is he’s been out there for two games and he’s heading for Game 3 and we’re just trying to get ready to play against a good football team.”

Maybe so, but it appears no record is safe with young quarterback Patrick Mahomes slinging the football as Kansas City (2-0) prepares for a visit from the San Francisco 49ers (1-1).

Mahomes’ 10 touchdown passes represent an NFL record through two games. He is coming off a six-touchdown performance at Pittsburgh, which tied a team record held by Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson. The Kansas City club record of 30 touchdown passes in a season was set by Dawson in 1964.

After apprenticing as a rookie last season behind former Niners quarterback Alex Smith, Mahomes provides a more upbeat dimension. While Smith was good as the Chiefs starter, guiding them to back-to-back AFC West titles the past two seasons, he went just 1-4 as a playoff participant.

Of course, Mahomes has not yet had a postseason opportunity. Frankly, the playoffs are a long way off. However, Mahomes was named AFC offensive player of the week each of the first two weeks. Tom Brady was last to do that, in 2011.

“To get it one time and then get it another time, it speaks to the offense and the team that we have,” said Mahomes, who turned 23 on Monday. “I am just going out there and doing my job and I am putting in those guys’ hands and they are making plays.”

The 49ers can at least counter with a shutdown cornerback, Richard Sherman.

However, Mahomes has been adept at distributing the football to different targets and likely could look for any receiver covered by the 49ers’ other corner, Ahkello Witherspoon. The second-year pro was targeted 13 times in a victory last week over Detroit, allowing eight receptions and two touchdowns.

No matter what damage Mahomes inflicts, the possibility exists for the 49ers to engage in a shootout.

The Chiefs’ defense ranks last in the NFL in yards allowed on average (508.0) and 29th in scoring (32.5).

San Francisco attempts to balance its attack behind running back Matt Breida, who leads the NFL in rushing with 184 yards in two games.

“I always had a chip on my shoulder coming out of college,” said Breida, who went undrafted in 2017 out of Georgia Southern. “I didn’t hear my name called so for me, it gave me even more push and more grind to do better and make it in the NFL.”

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked six times by Detroit and completed 18 of 26 passes with 206 yards and two touchdowns.

“We just didn’t get enough production,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said of his team’s passing deficiencies.

Garoppolo threw three interceptions in a season-opening loss at Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

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Titans-Jaguars Capsule

TENNESSEE (1-1) at JACKSONVILLE (2-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Jaguars by 6 ½

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Tennessee 1-1, Jacksonville 2-0

SERIES RECORD - Titans lead 27-20

LAST MEETING - Titans beat Jaguars 15-10, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK - Titans beat Texans 20-17; Jaguars beat Patriots 31-20

AP

TENNESSEE (1-1) at JACKSONVILLE (2-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Jaguars by 6 ½

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Tennessee 1-1, Jacksonville 2-0

SERIES RECORD – Titans lead 27-20

LAST MEETING – Titans beat Jaguars 15-10, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK – Titans beat Texans 20-17; Jaguars beat Patriots 31-20

AP PRO32 RANKING – Titans No. 23, Jaguars No. 2

TITANS OFFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (15), PASS (25)

TITANS DEFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (25), PASS (18)

JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (9), RUSH (9), PASS (12)

JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (7), RUSH (16), PASS (9)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Titans have won four of last five in series, including sweep in 2017. … Tennessee has won five straight vs. AFC South. … Titans have allowed league-leading one sack in two games. … Tennessee has scored twice on special teams. … DT Jurrell Casey has nine multi-sack games, including last week against Texans. … QB Marcus Mariota, still dealing with an elbow injury, is 4-2 against Jaguars. He’s thrown for 1,217 yards, with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in those games. He’s also been sacked 14 times. … Backup QB Blaine Gabbert will be on sideline in Jacksonville for first time since franchise traded him to San Francisco in May 2014. Gabbert went 5-22 as starter with Jaguars. He started for Arizona last year and beat his first NFL team. … Jaguars have won seven straight at home, second-longest streak in team history. … Jags trying to get to 3-0 for fourth time in franchise history and first time since 2004. … In last four home games, QB Blake Bortles has completed 69 percent of passes for 1,280 yards, with 11 TDs and INT. … Jacksonville has scored on opening drive in both games this season. … Jags have scored nine defensive TDs, including postseason, in last 21 games (2017-18). It’s tops in NFL. … RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is expected to return after missing last week’s game. … New Jaguars LT Josh Wells makes fourth career start, replacing Cam Robinson (knee), who is out for season. … Fantasy tip: Titans RB Derrick Henry, who grew up in nearby Yulee, Florida, has three touchdowns in four career games against Jaguars.

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Patriots-Lions Capsule

NEW ENGLAND (1-1) at DETROIT (0-2)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

OPENING LINE - Patriots by 6

RECORD VS. SPREAD - New England 1-1, Detroit 1-1

SERIES RECORD - Patriots lead 7-4

LAST MEETING - Patriots beat Lions 34-9 Nov. 23, 2014.

LAST WEEK - 49ers lost to Jaguars 31-20; Lions lost to

NEW ENGLAND (1-1) at DETROIT (0-2)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

OPENING LINE – Patriots by 6

RECORD VS. SPREAD – New England 1-1, Detroit 1-1

SERIES RECORD – Patriots lead 7-4

LAST MEETING – Patriots beat Lions 34-9 Nov. 23, 2014.

LAST WEEK – 49ers lost to Jaguars 31-20; Lions lost to 49ers 30-27

AP PRO32 RANKING – Patriots No. 5, Lions No. 30

PATRIOTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (20), RUSH (18T), PASS (18).

PATRIOTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (28), RUSH (27), PASS (23).

LIONS OFFENSE – OVERALL (11), RUSH (30), PASS (6).

LIONS DEFENSE – OVERALL (16) RUSH (32), PASS (4).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Tom Brady has helped Patriots win four straight in series since making NFL debut Nov. 23, 2000, late in fourth quarter of 34-9 loss against Lions at Pontiac Silverdome. … Bill Belichick facing former assistant for second time in three weeks. Patriots opened with 27-20 win over Houston and former New England assistant Bill O’Brien. … Belichick 14-8 against former assistants. Now Matt Patricia gets his shot. … Belichick was assistant special teams coach for Lions in 1976 and wide receivers coach next season. … Patriots owner Robert Kraft one win away from becoming fastest to No. 300 in NFL history; would be in 431 games. … New England 45-6 after losing game since 2003 and didn’t lose two straight in 2016 or 2017. … Brady has won nine of last 11 Sunday night games and 19 of 29 in career. … Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy has nine tackles, tied for second on team, interception and faces franchise that drafted and traded him. … Detroit’s first-year coach Patricia was Belichick’s defensive coordinator previous six seasons and on staff for 14 years. … Lions general manager Bob Quinn worked for Patriots 2000-15. … More than dozen Lions employees worked for Patriots. … Detroit off to worst start since 0-5 in 2015. … Lions WR Golden Tate has scored each of last two home games and has seven receptions in last three games. …Detroit LB Devon Kennard has at least one sack in three straight games. … Fantasy tip: Brady should at least match two TDs thrown by last two Detroit opponents. Brady may face secondary without All-Pro CB Darius Slay, who left last game with concussion.

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Bengals-Panthers Capsule

CINCINNATI (2-0) at CAROLINA (1-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m., ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Panthers by 3

RECORD VS SPREAD — Cincinnati 2-0, Carolina 1-1

SERIES RECORD — Tied 2-2-1

LAST MEETING — Bengals and Panthers tied 37-37, Oct. 12, 2014

LAST WEEK — Bengals beat Ravens 34-23; Panthers lost to Falcons 31-24

AP

CINCINNATI (2-0) at CAROLINA (1-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m., ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Panthers by 3

RECORD VS SPREAD — Cincinnati 2-0, Carolina 1-1

SERIES RECORD — Tied 2-2-1

LAST MEETING — Bengals and Panthers tied 37-37, Oct. 12, 2014

LAST WEEK — Bengals beat Ravens 34-23; Panthers lost to Falcons 31-24

AP PRO32 RANKING — Bears No. 10, Panthers No. 12

BENGALS OFFENSE — OVERALL (19), RUSH (17), PASS (17)

BENGALS DEFENSE — OVERALL (27), RUSH (3), PASS (30)

PANTHERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (16), RUSH (5), PASS (20)

PANTHERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (12), RUSH (25), PASS (7)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Bengals trying to start 3-0 for only fifth time in coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons. Last time was 2015, when they won AFC North title. Bengals opened 0-3 last year. … Cincinnati, coming off Thursday night game, won each of first two games (over Colts and Ravens) by scores of 34-23. They’re first Bengals team to score at least 34 in each of first two games and first in NFL since 2013 Broncos, who reached Super Bowl. … WR A.J. Green has 31 career games with 100 yards receiving, tied with Chad Johnson for franchise record. … Andy Dalton has completed 64 percent of passes for 508 yards, six TDs, one INT and passer rating of 108.5. He topped AFC with 106.3 passer rating in 2015. Dalton has 22 career games with 300 yards passing, one shy of Boomer Esiason’s club record. … Dalton and Green have 21 pass connections of at least 50 yards, most by a QB-WR duo since they entered league in 2011. They have yet to team up for 50-yarder this season. … With RB Joe Mixon sidelined following knee surgery, Giovani Bernard moves into starring role. Bernard has three 100-yard rushing games in six-year career. He has 23 games with at least five catches. … K Randy Bullock got two-year extension through 2020 season this week. He has made all four of his FG attempts and all eight PATs. … Panthers have won six straight at home. … QB Cam Newton completing career-best 69 percent of passes. … Panthers receivers had five drops vs. Falcons. .. RB Christian McCaffrey tied WR Steve Smith’s franchise record with 14 receptions vs. Falcons. … Panthers rookie WR D.J. Moore expected to play more after catching 51-yard TD pass last week. .. Panthers again expected to be without three starting offensive linemen. … Panthers had no sacks against Falcons after getting six against Dallas. … Rookie Rashaan Gaulden expected to make first start with Da’Norris Searcy (concussion) out. … Fantasy tip: A.J. Green had career-high three TD catches vs Ravens. Green has 11 catches for 161 yards and four TDs in first two games

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Steelers-Buccaneers Capsule

PITTSBURGH (0-1-1) at TAMPA BAY (2-0)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE - Steelers by 2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Pittsburgh 0-2, Tampa Bay 2-0

SERIES RECORD - Steelers lead 8-2

LAST MEETING - Buccaneers beat Steelers 27-24, Sept. 28, 2014

LAST WEEK - Steelers lost to Chiefs 42-37; Buccaneers beat Eagles

PITTSBURGH (0-1-1) at TAMPA BAY (2-0)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE – Steelers by 2

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Pittsburgh 0-2, Tampa Bay 2-0

SERIES RECORD – Steelers lead 8-2

LAST MEETING – Buccaneers beat Steelers 27-24, Sept. 28, 2014

LAST WEEK – Steelers lost to Chiefs 42-37; Buccaneers beat Eagles 27-21

AP PRO32 RANKING – Steelers No. 18, Buccaneers No. 8

STEELERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (20), PASS (2).

STEELERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (30), PASS (14).

BUCCANEERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (1), RUSH (27), PASS (1).

BUCCANEERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (31), RUSH (2), PASS (31).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who won Super Bowl as player with Steelers and helped transform Bucs from laughingstock to title contenders as coach. Dungy will be inducted into Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium at halftime. … Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, No. 7 on NFL career passing list with 51,852 yards, threw for 452 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions in loss to Chiefs last week. … Steelers’ James Conner leads NFL running backs with 257 total yards from scrimmage while replacing holdout Le’Veon Bell. … Steelers LB T.J. Watt has three sacks, tied for third in NFL. … Bucs have No. 1 passing offense, looking to start 3-0 for first time since 2005. … Ryan Fitzpatrick, filling in for suspended QB Jameis Winston, threw for 819 yards and eight TDs past two weeks. Only two other QBs in league history — Dan Marino (1984), Billy Volek (2004) — have had consecutive games with 400-plus yards passing and four-plus TD passes. … WR DeSean Jackson has three TD catches, matching last season’s total. Jackson’s 75-yard TD reception vs. Eagles gave him 23 career TDs of 60-plus yards, tied with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for first on all-time list. … Fantasy tip: Fitzpatrick has four completions of 50-plus yards — all for TDs, with Jackson scoring twice and WR Mike Evans and TE O.J. Howard once each.

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49ers-Chiefs Capsule

SAN FRANCISCO (1-1) at KANSAS CITY (2-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m., ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 6 1/2

RECORD VS SPREAD — San Francisco 0-2, Kansas City 2-0

SERIES RECORD — 49ers lead 7-5

LAST MEETING — 49ers beat Chiefs 22-17, Oct. 5, 2014

LAST WEEK — 49ers beat Lions 30-27; Chiefs

SAN FRANCISCO (1-1) at KANSAS CITY (2-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m., ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 6 1/2

RECORD VS SPREAD — San Francisco 0-2, Kansas City 2-0

SERIES RECORD — 49ers lead 7-5

LAST MEETING — 49ers beat Chiefs 22-17, Oct. 5, 2014

LAST WEEK — 49ers beat Lions 30-27; Chiefs beat Steelers 42-37

AP PRO32 RANKING — 49ers No. 20, Chiefs No. 4

49ERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (21), RUSH (3), PASS (26)

49ERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (23), RUSH (19), PASS (25)

CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (6), RUSH (10), PASS (9)

CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (T6), PASS (32)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Series dates to 1971, though teams have met just 12 times. … 49ers RB Matt Breida leads NFL in yards rushing (184) and yards per carry (8.4). … San Francisco K Robbie Gould has made franchise-record 29 consecutive FGs. … 49ers DE DeForest Buckner has 3 1/2 sacks, second most in NFL. … San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo has 2,038 yards passing in first seven starts, fourth most in NFL history. … 49ers settled for three FGs in five red-zone trips last week vs. Detroit. They have three TDs on nine red-zone trips this season. … San Francisco has surrendered 214 yards rushing through two games. … Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has NFL-record 10 TD passes through first two games. He has not thrown an INT. … Mahomes has won both AFC offensive player of the week awards this season. … Mahomes had six TD passes at Pittsburgh, making him youngest player in NFL history to accomplish feat. … Kansas City TE Travis Kelce has caught passes in 65 consecutive games, third best in franchise history. … Chiefs have had three different players with 100-yard receiving games this season: Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill. … Chiefs are allowing 430 yards passing and 508 yards total per game, last in NFL. … Fantasy tip: Mahomes has been on tear and it probably won’t stop against San Francisco, which has yet to pick off pass.

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Colts-Eagles Capsule

INDIANAPOLIS (1-1) at PHILADELPHIA (1-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 6

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Colts 1-1, Eagles 1-1

SERIES RECORD — Colts lead 10-8

LAST MEETING — Eagles beat Colts 30-27, Sept. 15, 2014

LAST WEEK — Colts beat Redskins 21-9; Eagles lost to Buccaneers 27-21

PRO32

INDIANAPOLIS (1-1) at PHILADELPHIA (1-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 6

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Colts 1-1, Eagles 1-1

SERIES RECORD — Colts lead 10-8

LAST MEETING — Eagles beat Colts 30-27, Sept. 15, 2014

LAST WEEK — Colts beat Redskins 21-9; Eagles lost to Buccaneers 27-21

PRO32 RANKING — Colts No. 24, Eagles No. 7

COLTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (24), PASS (19)

COLTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (10), RUSH (9), PASS (17)

EAGLES OFFENSE — OVERALL (24), RUSH (18t), PASS (23)

EAGLES DEFENSE — OVERALL (19), RUSH (1), PASS (28)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Eagles have won past two meetings. … Colts coach Frank Reich was Eagles offensive coordinator 2016-17. … Colts are one win from 300 since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. … Colts QB Andrew Luck has thrown TD pass in 25 consecutive games, league’s longest active streak. He has 1,417 yards passing, 11 TDs, four INTs in last four games vs. NFC East. … K Adam Vinatieri needs four field goals to break Morten Andersen’s career record of 565 and five field goal attempts to tie Gary Anderson’s 672 for second-most all-time. … WR T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 83 yards and TD vs. Redskins. He has 260 yards receiving and TD in past two games vs. NFC. … TE Eric Ebron aims for TD catch in third straight game. … Rookie LB Darius Leonard had 18 tackles, sack and forced fumble last week. … Eagles are 16-3 at home since 2016. … Eagles have won six straight vs. AFC South. … QB Carson Wentz will start first game since tearing two knee ligaments Dec. 10, 2017. Wentz set franchise single-season record with 33 TD passes last year and finished third in NFL MVP voting. He’s 3-0 at home vs. AFC teams with 778 yards passing, eight TDs and no picks. … Wentz replaces Nick Foles, who led Eagles to Super Bowl title last February. … RB Jay Ajayi tied for NFL lead with three TDs rushing. … WR Nelson Agholor and TE Zach Ertz each have 16 catches. … DT Fletcher Cox has six sacks, forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in last eight games vs. AFC teams. … CB Ronald Darby has three picks in last five outings. … Fantasy tip: Ertz is Wentz’s favorite target and he had 11 catches last week at Tampa on Foles passes.

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Giants-Texans Capsule

N.Y. GIANTS (0-2) at HOUSTON (0-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Texans by 4 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - New York 0-2, Houston 0-2

SERIES RECORD - Giants lead 3-1

LAST MEETING - Giants beat Texans 30-17, Sept. 21, 2014

LAST WEEK - Giants lost to Cowboys 20-13; Texans lost

N.Y. GIANTS (0-2) at HOUSTON (0-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Texans by 4 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD – New York 0-2, Houston 0-2

SERIES RECORD – Giants lead 3-1

LAST MEETING – Giants beat Texans 30-17, Sept. 21, 2014

LAST WEEK – Giants lost to Cowboys 20-13; Texans lost to Titans 20-17

AP PRO32 RANKING – Giants No. 29, Texans No. 28

GIANTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (28), RUSH (28), PASS (24).

GIANTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (6), RUSH (29), PASS (2).

TEXANS OFFENSE – OVERALL (13), RUSH (1), PASS (21).

TEXANS DEFENSE – OVERALL (12), RUSH (21), PASS (12).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Giants have won last three meetings. … QB Eli Manning is 3-0 with 710 yards, six TDs and three interceptions against Texans. … Rookie RB Saquon Barkley had franchise-record 14 receptions last week. … WR Odell Beckham has 98 receptions for 1,556 yards and 11 TDs in 13 career games against AFC. … TE Evan Engram had seven receptions for 67 yards and TD vs. Dallas. … S Landon Collins has two interceptions and fumble recovery combined in last four outings against AFC. … LB Alec Ogletree has 17 tackles, forced fumble and 98-yard interception return for touchdown in two games against Houston while with Rams. … CB Janoris Jenkins has forced fumble and two interception returns for TDs in last four road games. … DT Damon Harrison had career-high 12 tackles in last meeting against Houston while playing for Jets. … Houston QB Deshaun Watson threw for 310 yards with two TDs and one interception last week. He’s thrown for 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in three career starts at home. … RB Lamar Miller ranks fourth in NFL with 166 yards rushing. … WR DeAndre Hopkins had 110 yards receiving and touchdown last week. He had six catches for 116 yards in last meeting with Giants. … DE J.J. Watt had two tackles for losses and forced fumble last week. Watt had seven tackles, including two for losses, and sack in last game against Giants. … CB Johnathan Joseph has 169 passes defended since 2006, most in that span among active players. … CB Kareem Jackson moved to safety in offseason and started there in Week 1, but moved back to cornerback last week after injury to Kevin Johnson. … OLB Whitney Mercilus has 4 1/2 sacks in last four games against NFC. … DE Jadeveon Clowney, who sat out last week with elbow injury, has 17 tackles for losses and six sacks in last seven games against NFC. … Fantasy tip: Houston WR Will Fuller had eight receptions for 113 yards and TD last week and has five touchdown catches in last six games at home.

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Saints expect improvement in visit to Atlanta

Saints expect improvement in visit to Atlanta

Both Atlanta and New Orleans were able avoid 0-2 starts with second-week victories, but only the Falcons could feel good about the performance.

If the Saints are going to join Atlanta as a playoff team again this season, they are going to have

Saints expect improvement in visit to Atlanta

Both Atlanta and New Orleans were able avoid 0-2 starts with second-week victories, but only the Falcons could feel good about the performance.

If the Saints are going to join Atlanta as a playoff team again this season, they are going to have to play a lot better than they did the first two weeks.

New Orleans comes into the NFC South matchup of heated long-time rivals on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after being torched defensively for 529 yards by Tampa Bay in the opener and then struggling offensively before edging Cleveland last week.

“I’m encouraged we won, but let’s not kid ourselves,” Saints coach Sean Payton said after New Orleans edged the lowly Browns 21-18 thanks to a late field goal and four missed kicks (two field goals, two PATs) by Cleveland.

After amassing 475 yards in the opening 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay, New Orleans could get nothing going until the fourth quarter against Cleveland, losing two fumbles.

“Everyone made plays when we needed to, but we also need to understand that that wasn’t good,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “That’s not our standard, the way we played the first three quarters offensively.”

After a continuation of their red-zone struggles from a season ago cost the Falcons in an opening 18-12 loss to defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, they turned all four trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns while rebounding for a 31-24 victory over Carolina.

It was a bounce-back for quarterback Matt Ryan, who was the target of criticism after a subpar performance in the loss to the Eagles.

“They’re all tough after you lose,” said Ryan, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more against Carolina. “How you process that (and) how you put it aside and work on your craft, to me, that determines the mindset of your team. Our mindset is really good. We did a good job of that.”

The Falcons were missing three Pro Bowl players against the Panthers, and their injury woes grew even worse during the game, with guard Andy Levitre and defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby going down.

Tevin Coleman rushed for 107 yards filling in for Devonta Freeman at running back, but the losses of inside linebacker Deion Jones and strong safety Keanu Neal during the opener leave the defense severely handicapped.

The Falcons joined the NFL in 1966 and the Saints a year later, making for a long and intense rivalry. Atlanta leads the series 52-46.

The teams split last season, with the Falcons winning at home 20-17 thanks to a late end-zone interception by the now-injured Jones, and the Saints bouncing back for a 23-13 victory in New Orleans that ended a three-game losing streak to Atlanta.

Brees and Ryan have played head-to-head 19 times, with the Saints quarterback coming out on top 11 times. Overall, Brees is 16-9 with 46 touchdown passes against the Falcons. Ryan has thrown 32 TD passes against New Orleans.

The Saints are playing their first road game of the season, while the Falcons are in the middle of three home games in a row.

Maybe the Saints should be glad to get away from New Orleans after nearly slipping to an 0-2 start against the Browns.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas had 12 catches — giving him an NFL record 28 through two games — and scored twice against Cleveland, but lost a fumble for the second straight game. The fumble against the Browns came on his team’s first possession.

“I like his resilience, but I like the ball, too,” Payton said.

–Field Level Media

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