Cooper, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal to remain with the Cowboys in March, had a career-high 1,189 receiving yards in 2019. Michael Gallup had 1,107 yards as they became the first pair of Dallas wide receivers to post 1,000-yard seasons in the same year since 2006.
Lamb fell to the Cowboys’ pick at No. 17 overall after he posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Oklahoma and was viewed by many as the top receiver in the draft.
“I think it was a great pickup,” Cooper said. “You have to draft the best player on the board. Everybody understands that. He’s a great receiver. I think with me and Michael Gallup going for 1,000 yards last year, the expectation is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year.”
There have been only five instances in which an NFL team has had three 1,000-yard pass-catchers in a season, with the last coming in 2008 when Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston each went for more than 1,000 yards with the Arizona Cardinals.
Cooper spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since deciding to remain with the Cowboys despite a larger offer from Washington. His deal with the Cowboys included a $10 million signing bonus and a fully guaranteed $40 million. His $20 million base salary in 2022 will become fully guaranteed if he is on the roster the fifth day of the 2022 league year.
“I just liked everything about being a Dallas Cowboy. Just the atmosphere both in the building and outside the building in terms of the city of Dallas and surrounding areas,” said Cooper, who was acquired in a 2018 trade from the Raiders. “I guess that would be the same reason why I was willing to take less money to stay here. That coupled with the fact that I’ve been privileged to play on different teams, so I understand the culture isn’t the same in every city. Every team isn’t the same … Me being able to see that on another team and having the opportunity to be on a team I really love, I wouldn’t trade that for a little bit more money.”
Despite no official offseason program, Cooper said he does not feel behind in his preparation for the 2020 season. The Cowboys are only on the second day of on-field conditioning since players reported to The Star last week. The first padded practice is not until Aug. 17.
Cooper said he has some “machines” at his house that helped keep him in shape, and he bought a gym membership.
He also said he and quarterback Dak Prescott with other receivers, tight ends and running backs worked out together, including some at a football field Prescott built in his backyard.
“We’ve all been getting together pretty consistently for months now,” Cooper said. “Working on route-running, working on the offense and everything like that. We’ve been getting a lot of work in, getting that timing right as if we were in minicamp or OTAs.”
In the workouts, Lamb impressed Cooper.
“I think he’s a quick learner,” Cooper said. “He already has a good foundation. He’s fundamentally sound in his route-running. It’s very small, nitpicky things that I help him with that I may see with him being a rookie, but I think he has a really good foundation.”
NFL Week 3 game picks, schedule guide, fantasy football tips, odds, injuries and more
The Week 3 NFL schedule is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score picks.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy‘s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk‘s Dave Bearman hand out helpful nuggets as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 3 slate, including a huge AFC showdown between the reigning MVP and Super Bowl MVP on Monday night.
Thursday: MIA 31, JAX 13
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 74.9 | Spread: BUF -2 (47)
What to watch for: Bills quarterback Josh Allen leads the NFL in scramble yards since entering the league in 2018, but Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ranks second in the league in sacks since 2014. It’s unstoppable force meets immovable object, and something’s got to give. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Bold prediction: Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. rushes for 100-plus yards. Yes, the Bills’ defense ranks third in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing an average of 75.5 rushing yards per game, but Henderson gained 121 all-purpose yards in a Week 2 win, and he says he wasn’t even 100 percent with a lingering hamstring injury. Watch for him to find another gear in a breakout performance. — Lindsey Thiry
Stat to know: Stefon Diggs has 239 receiving yards this season, tied for the most in the NFL. The most receiving yards through the first three games of a season in Bills history is 352, by Peerless Price in 2002.
What to know for fantasy: Two of Allen’s top five fantasy games of his career have come this season, and he’s averaging 65% more points per pass attempt than he did last season. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Rams are 13-5 against the spread (ATS) since the start of last season (2-0 this season). Read more.
Thiry’s pick: Rams 28, Bills 26
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Bills 24, Rams 21
FPI prediction: BUF, 52.9% (by an average of 1.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: Sports psychologist Carrie Hastings has become essential resource for Rams players … Playmaking WRs led by Diggs have Bills’ passing attack flying high … Henderson Jr. emerges as ‘closer’ in Rams’ running back committee
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 63 | Spread: NE -5.5 (47.5)
What to watch for: How the Patriots plan to cover Raiders tight end Darren Waller (18 receptions) is the game within the game. In Week 1, second-year defensive back Joejuan Williams was primarily assigned to cover Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, but that’s because the Patriots viewed Gesicki as more of a wide receiver. Waller has a more complete skill set that makes him a true tight end, and the Raiders move him around a lot, even putting him in the backfield at times. So finding and locating Waller is the first challenge. — Mike Reiss
Bold prediction: Patriots quarterback Cam Newton will rush for at least two touchdowns. At an athletic 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, he is bigger than any linebacker or defensive back the Raiders have on their active roster. So you know Newton, called a “power forward” by Raiders coach Jon Gruden, is champing at the bit to run the read-option. — Paul Gutierrez
Stat to know: The Raiders have the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (90.6) in the NFL through Week 2 (Packers, 94.0). They have scored 30-plus points in their first two games but have not done so in three straight games since 2016 (Weeks 7-9), the last season they made the playoffs.
What to know for fantasy: Waller saw a career-high 16 targets in Week 2, and his 24 targets through two weeks are the third most in the NFL. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: New England is 51-26 ATS after a loss in the Bill Belichick era, including 40-15 ATS since 2003. Read more.
Gutierrez’s pick: Patriots 35, Raiders 34
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 31, Raiders 17
FPI prediction: NE, 63.4% (by an average of 4.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bill Belichick: Raiders’ Waller going to be ‘big challenge’ for Patriots … Raiders coach Jon Gruden calls Patriots’ Cam ‘Slam’ Newton a power forward playing quarterback … Runnin’ Rebels, bitten ears and ‘Fan Man’: Top 10 moments in Las Vegas sports history … Randall Cunningham proudly watches Patriots’ Newton tie rushing mark … Patriots’ Cam Newton: Money, potential extension with Patriots not priorities
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 50.6 | Spread: TEN -3 (50)
What to watch for: Will the Vikings’ offense be able to keep up with Tennessee’s scoring pace? Minnesota’s defense has struggled to get its opponents off the field, and the lack of opportunities for its offensive playmakers not named Adam Thielen has been noticeable. Is this the week when the offense leans heavily on running back Dalvin Cook, and can quarterback Kirk Cousins finally involve rookie receiver Justin Jefferson and/or tight end Irv Smith Jr.? — Courtney Cronin
Bold prediction: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill will finish with 300-plus passing yards. That might not seem bold, but here’s something to consider: Tannehill has finished with 300 or more passing yards only three times since taking over in Week 7 last season. Defenses are focused on stopping Derrick Henry, which presents one-on-one matchups for the receivers. Tannehill and the passing game should have the advantage against a depleted Vikings secondary in those situations. — Turron Davenport
Stat to know: The Titans are seeking their first 3-0 start since 2008 (started 10-0 and finished 13-3), and the Vikings are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2013 (the last Vikings team to lose 10-plus games).
Ryan Clark is worried about the Vikings after their 0-2 start, describing his panic level as Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes on a Plane”-high.
What to know for fantasy: Since 2018, Henry is averaging 54.4% more points per game when his team is favored than when it is the underdog. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: Minnesota is 7-3 ATS as a home underdog under Mike Zimmer, including the playoffs. Read more.
Davenport’s pick: Titans 28, Vikings 14
Cronin’s pick: Titans 31, Vikings 20
FPI prediction: MIN, 51.5% (by an average of 0.6 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 48.6 | Spread: PIT -4 (45)
What to watch for: The Steelers have blitzed 64% of the time this season, the most in the NFL by a wide margin, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson has the second-worst Total QBR against the blitz. Though Watson is the best signal-caller the Steelers have faced this season, look for the defense to still get a ton of pressure on the quarterback — and from everywhere on the field. — Brooke Pryor
Bold prediction: J.J. Watt and T.J. Watt will combine for five sacks. The Watt brothers usually have to check their phones after playing in a game to see how the other pass-rusher did, but on Sunday, they’ll get to play in front of each other. In Week 2, the Watts combined for 4.5 sacks, which was the second most by a set of brothers in a single day in NFL history. They’ll top that on Sunday. — Sarah Barshop
Stat to know: The Steelers have started 2-0 for the seventh time in the Ben Roethlisberger era (since 2004). They went on to make the playoffs in each of the past six instances (2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016 and 2017). The Texans, on the other hand, are off to an 0-2 start for the third time in the past six seasons (2015 and 2018). But they recovered to make the playoffs in each of the previous two instances.
What to know for fantasy: Pittsburgh running back James Conner sure looked healthy in Week 2, as he piled up 97.2% of the Steelers’ rushing yards. He was the only running back with a rate north of 85% last week. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: Pittsburgh is 7-13-2 ATS as a favorite since 2018. Read more.
Barshop’s pick: Steelers 24, Texans 17
Pryor’s pick: Steelers 27, Texans 17
FPI prediction: PIT, 66.3% (by an average of 5.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Texans’ run defense ‘was bend but don’t break, and we broke’ … Roethlisberger to set Steelers record for career games played … Watt calls punch by Blacklock ‘stupid, selfish’ … Texans’ offensive struggles continue as unit searches for identity … Blitzburgh is back: Steelers getting after QBs at a championship rate
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 44.3 | Spread: SF -3.5 (41.5)
What to watch for: Who is playing — and where — for each team? The 49ers are without their top two running backs, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa and several others. The Giants are missing Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. Who takes their spots? And can they be capable fill-ins? Start with 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens and newly signed Giants running back Devonta Freeman. All eyes will be on those two. — Jordan Raanan
Bold prediction: 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon will have his first 100-plus-yard rushing game since 2014 and just the third in his career. With Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman out because of knee sprains, McKinnon will have an expanded role this week, and he gets it against a Giants defense that has been shoddy against the run over the first two weeks and hasn’t seen a rushing attack as dangerous as the Niners’ unit yet. McKinnon will take advantage and reach the end zone for the third time in as many weeks. — Nick Wagoner
Stat to know: Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has nine games with at least two turnovers since 2019, tied with Jameis Winston for the most in the NFL in that span — and that includes three straight dating back to last season.
What to know for fantasy: It’s been over 1,000 days since McKinnon (roughly 80% available) has had 15 carries in a game, but with Mostert and Coleman out, the path to volume has been paved. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: Since 2017, the Giants are 2-14 ATS as a home underdog of less than seven points. Read more.
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 20, Giants 17
Raanan’s pick: 49ers 22, Giants 20
FPI prediction: SF, 67.3% (by an average of 6.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: 49ers seek peace of mind before returning to turf of terror … Giants sign Pro Bowl running back Freeman … An MCL injury, a baby on the way and matching Jim Brown: Mostert’s wild week … Manning content with retirement and helping Giants QB Jones out
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 42.8 | Spread: ATL -3 (47)
What to watch for: The Falcons are 0-2 in a must-win season for coach Dan Quinn, and a home loss to a subpar Bears team would make Quinn’s hot seat even hotter. The Falcons have to stick to the formula of balance on offense and creating turnovers on defense. A rash of injuries to players such as Julio Jones and Dante Fowler Jr. might be their big obstacle this week, but the game is too critical to use injuries as a crutch. — Vaughn McClure
Bold prediction: Bears running back David Montgomery rushes for 100-plus yards for just the third time in his NFL career. Chicago had one of the worst rushing attacks in 2019, but head coach Matt Nagy entered the season with a renewed determination to run the football. Montgomery gained 82 yards on the ground in 16 carries versus the Giants last Sunday. The former third-round pick, who dealt with a groin injury over the summer, is on the verge of having a breakout performance. — Jeff Dickerson
Stat to know: After catching a pair in each of Atlanta’s first two games of the season, Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley now has 21 career receiving touchdowns, the second most by a Falcons player over his first three seasons (Andre Rison, 22).
What to know for fantasy: The Falcons have allowed the top-scoring fantasy QB in each of the first two weeks, and Mitchell Trubisky does have the third-best fantasy quarter by a QB this season (Week 1, fourth quarter). See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Falcons are 4-8 as the home favorite in the past three seasons. Read more.
Dickerson’s pick: Falcons 24, Bears 23
McClure’s pick: Falcons 35, Bears 21
FPI prediction: ATL, 54.9 (by an average of 1.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bears fans mourn loss of Gale Sayers … Special-teams coach Ben Kotwica takes blame for onside kick fail vs. Dallas Cowboys … Bears’ D suspect despite 2-0 start … Falcons must shore up red zone defense fast to avoid repeat of 2019
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 27.9 | Spread: CLE -7 (45)
What to watch for: Can Browns QB Baker Mayfield and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. build off their breakout performance Week 2? They finally connected on several big plays together, including a 43-yard touchdown. Before that, OBJ had only had four TD grabs since being traded to Cleveland last spring. — Jake Trotter
Bold prediction: Beckham will have his first 100-yard receiving day since Oct. 13 last season. He had 74 yards last week and is now facing a secondary that has allowed too many players to get behind it. Washington will be so focused on stopping running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt that Beckham will benefit off play-action. Beckham has two catches for 59 yards off play-action this season; he’ll add to that total. — John Keim
Stat to know: Washington leads the NFL with 11 sacks over its first two games. And 13.8% of opponent pass attempts have resulted in sacks, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind Indianapolis (15.2%).
What to know for fantasy: Half of Beckham’s points this season have come on a single catch, but that could work out, as only two teams have allowed more 25-plus-yard receptions than Washington this season. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Browns have failed to cover in their past five games, dating back to last season. Read more.
Keim’s pick: Browns 21, Washington 17
Trotter’s pick: Browns 27, Washington 19
FPI prediction: CLE, 63.4% (by an average of 4.8 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 24.9 | Spread: PHI -4.5 (47)
What to watch for: This game will be decided based on whether the Eagles can generate a pass-rush. Rookie Bengals QB Joe Burrow has been sacked six times so far this season, tied for the fifth most in the NFL, while the Eagles’ defense ranks towards the bottom of the league with four sacks generated. With defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (oblique) ailing, the pressure falls to players like Brandon Graham and Malik Jackson to turn up the heat. — Tim McManus
Bold prediction: Eagles running back Miles Sanders will rush for at least 150 yards. The Bengals’ run defense has been woeful through the first two weeks of the season. With defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels potentially out for another week, Sanders could be in for a big day. — Ben Baby
Stat to know: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled with accuracy this season. He’s completing just 58.8% of his passes, well below his expected completion percentage of 67.7%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s the second-worst completion percentage over expectation (minus-8.8%) in the NFL, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, behind Dwayne Haskins (10.6%). And after throwing multiple interceptions two times all of last season, Wentz has thrown two in each of his first two games this year. No Eagles QB has done so in three straight games since Ron Jaworski in 1985.
What to know for fantasy: Burrow’s 61 pass attempts were the highlight of Thursday Night Football, but don’t overlook his 15 rushing attempts this season (fifth most among QBs). See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Bengals are 13-0 ATS all-time against the Eagles. Read more.
Baby’s pick: Eagles 27, Bengals 21
McManus’ pick: Eagles 30, Bengals 20
FPI prediction: PHI, 60.4% (by an average of 3.7 points)
4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 36 | Spread: IND -11.5 (44)
What to watch for: What will the Colts’ defense do against a banged-up Jets offense? The Colts are coming off a game with three sacks against the Vikings, and the Jets will likely be without their starting running back, center, right tackle and top three receivers. Indianapolis should be able to keep its status as the NFL’s best defense by the end of Sunday. — Mike Wells
Bold prediction: Colts defensive end Justin Houston and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner will combine for at least three sacks against the Jets’ banged-up offensive line, which likely will be without center Connor McGovern and right tackle George Fant. Houston usually lines up over the left tackle, but he could flip sides. Rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton is the Jets’ best lineman at the moment. — Rich Cimini
Stat to know: Indianapolis receiver T.Y. Hilton now has 13 consecutive games with fewer than 100 receiving yards, dating back to 2018 — the longest streak of his career. And he has seven consecutive games without a receiving TD, tied for the second-longest such streak of his career and his longest since 2015-16 (also seven straight).
What to know for fantasy: In his first career start, Jonathan Taylor was one of two backs to carry the ball 20 times and rack up over 100 rushing yards in Week 2. Since 2015, teams playing with a lead run the ball 46.6% of the time (30.9% when trailing), and the Colts are the biggest favorite of Week 3. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Jets are one of three teams to lose both games by double digits this season. Read more.
Cimini’s pick: Colts 27, Jets 13
Wells’ pick: Colts 31, Jets 13
FPI prediction: IND, 65.8% (by an average of 5.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Darnold isn’t a bust, but Colts-Jets 2018 trade now feels one-sided … Bad handoff: Colts’ Leonard gives fan his gloves with wedding ring inside … Jets safety McDougald, LB Williamson question ‘slow’ practices amid 0-2 start … Colts put Campbell, Hooker on injured reserve … Jets need fresh legs on offense; it’s time for rookie Perine … Colts laid out blueprint for success with game plan vs. Vikings
4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 30.8 | Spread: LAC -6.5 (43.5)
What to watch for: Will Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert be even better after working all week with the starters? He drew praise from his coaches after stepping into the starting lineup in Week 2 just minutes before kickoff. Now they’ve had a week to work with him. Coach Anthony Lynn says he’s as shy on the field as off it, but he looked sharp in his debut for the most part. — Shelley Smith
Bold prediction: The Panthers will get a sack and two QB pressures. Not bold? Consider that the Panthers still have no sacks through two games and only six pressures. But with the tendency of rookie quarterbacks to hold on to the ball too long trying to make a play, this feels like the game the sack-less streak ends. — David Newton
Stat to know: The Chargers have called a designed rush on 54% of their offensive plays this season, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the Rams (55%), after being ranked 25th in the NFL in designed rush percentage last season (36%).
Betting nugget: The over is 11-4 in Carolina’s past 15 games. Read more.
Newton’s pick: Chargers 23, Panthers 17
Smith’s pick: Chargers 24, Panthers 17
FPI prediction: LAC, 63.4% (by an average of 4.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: McCaffrey injury gives Panthers’ Bridgewater an opportunity … Chargers QB Taylor’s lung punctured by team doctor before Chiefs game … Panthers believe in Davis with McCaffrey injured … McCaffrey out 4-6 weeks with high ankle sprain
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 74.7 | Spread: SEA -5 (56.5)
What to watch for: Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ passing game have a favorable matchup against Dallas’ banged-up defense. The Seahawks have leaned more on Wilson over the first two games, and he has delivered, including a five-touchdown performance last week against New England’s strong secondary. Now he faces a Cowboys defense that won’t have cornerback Chidobe Awuzie or linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. With Seattle dealing with defensive issues of its own, this game has shootout potential. — Brady Henderson
Bold prediction: Wilson will throw for more than 300 yards. Yes, he has thrown for 610 yards with nine touchdowns and just 11 incompletions in the first two games, but before you question my boldness, consider this: In five games against the Cowboys for his career, Wilson is averaging just 154.4 yards through the air. He has completed 78 of 125 passes for 772 yards in five games. — Todd Archer
Stat to know: Wilson has completed 52 of 63 passes this season (82.5%) for the highest completion percentage in NFL history by a QB with at least 50 pass attempts through two games. And now he is looking to become just the fifth player ever to throw four pass touchdowns in three consecutive games (Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees).
Betting nugget: Dallas has covered eight of its past 10 as an underdog. Read more.
Archer’s pick: Seahawks 35, Cowboys 31
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 34, Cowboys 28
FPI prediction: SEA, 60.6% (by an average of 3.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: With Seahawks up next, Cowboys need to find winning ways on the road … Seahawks’ Metcalf projects greatness with performance vs. Gilmore … How come-from-behind wins have altered Cowboys’ past seasons … Seahawks’ defense comes up big late against Patriots, but questions remain … Why did the Cowboys go for 2 down 9 points? It’s all about knowing the future
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 54.8 | Spread: TB -5.5 (42)
What to watch for: C’mon, it’s Tom Brady. Now that he’s moved to the NFC, this might be his last game in Denver, where Brady faces a statistical quirk in his storied career — the Broncos are the only team he does not have a winning record against. He has faced the Broncos 17 times in his career and is 8-9 overall against them (7-6 in the regular season, 1-3 in the playoffs). It will be a struggle for the injury-ravaged Broncos to keep Brady from getting back to .500, but to have any shot at stopping him, they will have to find a way to generate more of a pass rush. Denver cranked up five-man rush packages just four times against the Steelers last week and surrendered touchdowns on two of those plays. — Jeff Legwold
Bold prediction: The Buccaneers will notch five more sacks this week, with three coming from Shaquil Barrett. Champing at the bit for his first sack of 2020 and returning to Mile High as the 2019 sack champion, the former Bronco has been primarily rushing from the left side this year, and right tackle Elijah Wilkinson has had 4.0 sacks against attributed to him in two games — more than any other player in the league. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Denver tight end Noah Fant is averaging 14.3 yards per reception since entering NFL in 2019, a rate that ranks second among tight ends in that time (Jared Cook, 16.0). He could become the first Broncos player with a receiving TD in three straight games since Demaryius Thomas did it in 2017.
What to know for fantasy: The Buccaneers D/ST ranks eighth in fantasy points this season, and the Broncos are allowing pressure at the third-highest rate. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The over has hit in 14 of the past 16 Buccaneers games. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Broncos 18
Legwold’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Broncos 16
FPI prediction: TB, 57.8% (by an average of 2.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Gronkowski’s ultimate Florida road trip: A guided tour with festivals, mermaids and manatees … Broncos challenged by injuries just 19 days removed from optimism … Godwin clears concussion protocol; no RB change … Who is new Broncos starting quarterback Driskel?
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 39.1 | Spread: ARI -5.5 (55.5)
What to watch for: The Cardinals’ offense keeps getting better every week, while the Lions have given up 27 and 42 points in the first two weeks, respectively. That doesn’t bold well for Detroit taming Arizona, which should put on another offensive show and, perhaps, announce its arrival as one of the NFL’s teams to watch this season. — Josh Weinfuss
Bold prediction: Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray will have a 100-yard rushing and 250-yard passing day against the Lions. Detroit’s defense has struggled against both the run and the pass this season, a large part of the Lions’ 0-2 start. Considering Detroit’s inability to create a pass rush with its defensive line (one sack, one quarterback hit), Murray might have the option to either take off or sit back and watch. Watch for him to take advantage of it over and over again Sunday. — Michael Rothstein
Stat to know: The Lions have lost 11 straight games, the longest active losing streak in the NFL and the team’s longest since it dropped 19 in a row over the 2007-09 seasons. The Lions have also lost four straight games dating back to last season in which they led by 10-plus points at some point, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, they’re the first team in NFL history to blow a double-digit lead in four straight games.
Ryan Clark recognizes Kyler Murray’s talent, but doesn’t see him as a top-10 player in the NFL just yet.
What to know for fantasy: The list of active wide receivers with more touchdown receptions than Marvin Jones Jr. since 2017 is short: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Lions have failed to cover in their past six road games. Read more.
Rothstein’s pick: Cardinals 31, Lions 23
Weinfuss’ pick: Cardinals 38, Lions 21
FPI prediction: ARI, 67.7% (by an average of 6.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Can Sheila Ford Hamp’s lifetime of experience turn around the Detroit Lions? … Vacuum the floor? Workout at 5 a.m.? Cardinals’ bolder Murray stays humble … Lions keep losing double-digit leads … Cardinals laud Murray’s mobility through 2-0 start
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 78.5 | Spread: NO -3 (53)
What to watch for: This one features two of the greatest QBs in NFL history, and both are still on a quest for that elusive second Super Bowl. This could be Drew Brees’ last season at age 41, and he should be extra motivated to silence those predicting his demise after a slow start to the season. On the flip side, Aaron Rodgers is off to a great start, so we haven’t heard any hot takes about rookie Jordan Love waiting in the wings to replace him. “It’s like when Peyton [Manning] and Tom [Brady] used to play,” says NBC analyst Tony Dungy. “It’s a team game, but they understood they were gonna have to be on top of their game for their team to win.” — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: I’ve got this one soaring past the over with 60-plus points. This is the fifth meeting between Rodgers and Brees, and the average combined point total in those games was 69.5, the highest-scoring quarterback matchup in the Super Bowl era, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Packers have scored 40-plus in each of their first two games, and even though Brees & Co. have struggled, it’s not like they’re facing a defensive juggernaut in Green Bay’s unit. — Rob Demovsky
Stat to know: The Packers lead the NFL in offensive efficiency rating (94.0) and are one of four teams to record 500-plus passing yards and 400-plus rushing yards through their first two games of a season since the merger in 1970. The previous three — 2019 Ravens, 1998 49ers, and 1978 Cowboys — all went on to make the playoffs.
What to know for fantasy: Brees has scored under 15 fantasy points in consecutive games, something he didn’t do in 2019. His upside is limited, given that he is averaging 4.8 air yards per throw this season. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: New Orleans is playing its second straight prime-time game. Teams playing their second straight prime-time game are 16-26-1 ATS in the past three seasons, and 106-126-3 ATS in the past 20 seasons. Read more.
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 37, Saints 33
Triplett’s pick: Packers 27, Saints 26
FPI prediction: NO, 53.2% (by an average of 1.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Who says Packers don’t need Adams? He does (jokingly) … Brees remains confident, feels ‘borderline great’ … Come for Rodgers-Brees, but stay for Jones-Kamara … Brees laughs off talk of decline, says out-of-sync Saints ‘not even close’ to full capability
What to watch for: Can the Ravens jump out to another early lead? Since Lamar Jackson took over as Baltimore’s starter midway through the 2018 season, the Ravens are an NFL-best 19-0 when leading at halftime and 0-5 (including the playoffs) when trailing after two quarters. The Ravens haven’t trailed at any point in the second half in their past 12 games, which is the third-best streak in league history. — Jamison Hensley
Bold prediction: The Chiefs and Ravens will combine for 900-plus yards and at least 60 points. Both teams are in the top 10 in points allowed, but don’t look for a defensive battle. This game will be similar to the one from Week 3 last season, when the meeting produced 955 yards and 61 points. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: The Ravens have won 14 straight regular-season games, and the Chiefs have won eight straight — the two longest active win streaks in the NFL. The last time two teams on 8-plus-game win streaks met was 1969, when the Rams (11 straight) hosted the Vikings (10 straight). This also marks the fifth QB matchup between the reigning MVP (Jackson) and Super Bowl MVP (Patrick Mahomes). The Super Bowl MVP won the previous four matchups.
What to know for fantasy: The quarterbacks will get the headlines, but when these two teams met in Week 3 last season, there were three running backs who reached double-figure point totals. See Week 3 rankings.
Betting nugget: In the past 20 seasons, reigning Super Bowl champions are 11-1 ATS as underdogs within the first three weeks of the season. And Mahomes is 10-2 ATS in September games with 28 passing TDs and zero interceptions. Read more.
Teicher’s pick: Ravens 34, Chiefs 31
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 31, Chiefs 30
FPI prediction: BAL, 59.6% (by an average of 3.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Ravens’ Jackson downplays matchup vs. Chiefs … Former Ravens OL Urschel left NFL for MIT … Chiefs’ Watkins placed in concussion protocol … Ravens karate kick away doubts they can’t win without Lamar
Best available 2020 NFL free agents at every position
Every week — and this week especially — the fantasy football sites go through a rundown of what to do if your team lost a key player to injury. It’s a list of who might be available on the league’s waiver wire with players who can fill the void. Sometimes, you find some league-winning gems in there. Sometimes, as the season goes along, the lists start to look a little thin.
In the real-word NFL, those lists are already thin, and Week 2’s rash of high-profile injuries only underlined that fact. Fans wondering whether there are free agents still available who can help their teams replace injured stars such as Nick Bosa, Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey are probably going to end up disappointed.
Is it possible the Giants catch lightning in a bottle with 28-year-old Devonta Freeman, whom they signed this week after losing Barkley for the season? Absolutely it is. But there’s a reason Freeman was still unsigned into the third week of September, and it’s not because he was swatting away high-end offers left and right all spring and summer.
No, if you’re looking for free agents at this point in the season, you’re rifling through the bargain bin and hoping to find something that works out a lot better for you than anyone else thought it would work out for them. It happens, and it’s possible that someone on this list could help save your team’s season. Which is why we’re doing it.
Now that we’ve taken care of that, here’s your position-by-position list of top free agents still available at the dawn of Week 3. Proceed with caution:
Biggest name still available: Earl Thomas
Safety is actually the one position with some real depth on this list. You have the decorated veteran Thomas at the top, but teams needing defensive help on the back end also can take a look at the likes of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, Eric Reid and Tony Jefferson. All four in that group are under 29 years old. It just doesn’t seem to be a position in which many teams feel they have a glaring enough need that they have to go out and sign someone.
Thomas, 31, is the most interesting case. The Ravens cut him in late August after he punched a teammate during practice, and there was some thought that he’d be snatched up quickly, potentially by the Cowboys. But he was not, and the season opened without any significant interest in him. That interest has picked up at least a little bit lately, from what I’ve been told, and it’s possible he ends up on a team (though not the Cowboys) at some point next week. Stay tuned.
Biggest name still available: Prince Amukamara
The former first-round Giants pick, who has played for the Jaguars and Bears and spent much of this offseason with the Raiders, is an example of a guy who probably needs the situation to be right in order to return a team’s interest. He is 31, has played nine years in the NFL and has made about $46 million. He could help a team, especially at a position in which there’s no such thing as too much depth, but he might not be overly eager to sign to a practice squad, as fellow veterans Brandon Carr (Dallas) and Trumaine Johnson (Carolina) have. Remember, practice squads expanded to 16 this year, and veterans who in past years would not have been eligible for practice squads now are. Some vets might be waiting to see if better offers arise.
Biggest name still available: Damon Harrison
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that Harrison is visiting the Seahawks next week and has drawn interest from several teams. He is a very specific kind of player — a run-stuffing defensive tackle — for whom teams don’t generally like to extend their budgets. And Harrison has made his share of money in his career, as well, so he might not be looking to just take any paycheck that is offered. But if he wants to play, he is likely to find a home somewhere, as few have been better against the run since he has been in the league.
Schefter also reported that Jabaal Sheard is planning to visit the Lions and could reunite with former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. There are also a couple of edge-rusher types stick kicking around, including Clay Matthews and Kerry Wynn. But the big guys on defense are hard to replace this time of year.
Biggest name still available: Mychal Kendricks
We had Todd Davis listed here, but then he signed with the Vikings on Thursday. Wesley Woodyard and Nigel Bradham are a couple of other names of off-ball linebackers available should teams have a sudden need due to injury.
Biggest name still available: Larry Warford
Now Schefter reported back in August that Warford was opting out of the 2020 season. But since Warford wasn’t on a roster at the time, his opt-out decision was not formal and is reversible. If the three-time Pro Bowl guard decides to change his mind, he could sign with a team, and there would likely be interest.
Tackle Jared Veldheer recently had a tryout with the Cowboys but shortly thereafter decided to retire. (Another decision that’s easily reversed under the right circumstances.) The Cowboys looked at guard Ronald Leary, as well, but nothing came together there. Josh Kline, Justin Britt and Marshall Newhouse are kind of the cream of the rest of the available crop here. Offensive line help is tough to find at any time of the year.
Biggest name still available: Antonio Brown
This isn’t the easiest situation. Brown is suspended until at least Week 9, and the NFL is still looking into other off-field allegations against him and reserves the right to extend the suspension if it finds out anything new. A team could sign Brown now and wait until Week 9 to put him on the field, but the fact that no team has made a move in that direction tells you what you need to know.
Biggest name still available: Lamar Miller
With Freeman signing with the Giants, Miller moved into this spot. Teams have looked at him — and he was with the Patriots for a time this offseason — but he is coming off a year lost to a torn ACL and might not be all the way back to what he was.
After Miller … not much. Spencer Ware might be able to latch on and help someone’s committee. And there’s always Marshawn Lynch, but his returns always seem to be fairly specific. There’s no longer a team in Oakland, for example, and Seattle only went down that road last season after all of their backs got hurt.
Biggest name still available: Uhh … Paxton Lynch?
It’s rough out there. Lynch is a former first-round pick who’s still only 26, so who knows? He has as good a shot to get a look as Cody Kessler or Drew Stanton, who are two other readily available arms for a team’s quarterback room.
And let’s be honest, the biggest name still available is Colin Kaepernick, but he hasn’t played since 2016. And we all know by now there’s a lot more at work behind that situation than just, “Hey, we need a QB, let’s bring this guy in.” Or else a team would have by now.
Three mote notes from around the league this week:
The latest on the 49ers’ turf concerns at MetLife Stadium
The San Francisco 49ers complained to the league about the turf at MetLife Stadium last week after they lost several significant players to injury in their game against the Jets. The 49ers are playing the Giants at the same stadium on Sunday, and so they’re concerned. But an inspection on Wednesday by the NFL and the NFL Players Association of the MetLife Stadium field revealed no concerns. So the Niners will return to the same field on which their quarterback, two of their running backs and a pair of their star defensive linemen got injured last week.
Some background on this: MetLife Stadium installed a new FieldTurf field this year. It’s the third time the field has been replaced since the stadium opened in 2010, after replacements in 2013 and 2016. This year’s surface is identical to the turf used there since 2016, just newer. The joint investigation by the league and the players’ union, according to multiple sources, also took a look at what kinds of cleats 49ers players were using during the game, and there’s a chance the team could switch to a shorter cleat on Sunday.
What happened to the 49ers last week was wild, obviously, but nobody has been able to prove the field was the reason for all of those injuries. Giants coach Joe Judge said earlier this week that his team spent all of training camp practicing on that field and had no problems, and the Steelers raised no concerns about it after their Week 1 game there.
49ers linebacker Fred Warner said he thought the field felt “spongier” in warm-ups, and offensive tackle Trent Williams said he felt like the field “just wasn’t broken in yet.” The Niners return to New Jersey after spending a week at The Greenbrier in West Virginia hoping it was all coincidence, but you have to wonder how it will affect their decisions about how much to play guys such as George Kittle who have nagging injuries.
Justin Herbert’s second audition
The Chargers haven’t put quarterback Tyrod Taylor on injured reserve and are still hoping they won’t gave to. Taylor missed Sunday’s contest after he suffered a punctured lung as a result of a pregame pain-relieving injection by the team physician. Rookie Justin Herbert, who found out right before kickoff that he was starting, played well. Herbert was the No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft, and if he plays well again this week, you have to think the chances of Taylor ever getting the job back get slimmer.
It would be a terrible break for Taylor, who got hurt as the starter two years ago in Cleveland and lost his job to No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. The Chargers, though, are waiting to see how Herbert handles himself in Game 2 before making a decision about who starts the rest of the season.
Field Yates and Matthew Berry agree that Justin Herbert played so well in the place of the injured Tyrod Taylor, that they’d be stunned if Herbert doesn’t start the rest of the season.
As for when Taylor might be able to start again? I spoke with a couple of sources close to this situation who told me that the injection Taylor got for the pain in his rib cage isn’t uncommon and that a punctured lung is a risk because of how close the needle has to get to the lung. Apparently, the puncture heals on its own within a week or two, though doctors often recommend a longer period of inactivity just to be safe. So it’s possible, especially if Herbert struggles, that Taylor could get another chance as the Chargers’ starter before the end of the year.
Man in the middle for Chiefs?
The Super Bowl champion Chiefs head into Monday night’s mega-high-profile matchup against the Ravens with some issues in the secondary, but they’re getting reinforcements up front on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Mike Pennel is eligible to return from his two-game suspension in Week 3, and that could matter against a team that likes to run the ball more than any other in the league.
Pennel didn’t sign with the Chiefs until mid-October last season and didn’t play for them until Week 8. From Weeks 1 to 7, the Chiefs allowed an average of 148.9 rushing yards per game. From Weeks 8 to 17, that average dropped to 112.1 rushing yards per game. Not that one guy necessarily makes all the difference, but if Kansas City’s defense looks better this week, he could be part of the reason why.
Ryan Fitzpatrick enters record book in leading Miami Dolphins over Jacksonville Jaguars
Fitzpatrick on Thursday night became the first NFL player since at least 1950 to record at least one victory for six different teams against a single opponent, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was an accomplishment only Fitzpatrick could achieve. After leading the Miami Dolphins to a 31-13 victory at TIAA Stadium, the well-traveled quarterback has now defeated the Jaguars as a member of the Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and New York Jets.
Fitzpatrick, 37, entered the NFL in 2005 as a backup for the St. Louis Rams. He has played for eight NFL franchises, fully one quarter of the entire league, and has had his way with the Jaguars at nearly every stop.
He got his first start against the Jaguars in 2008, defeating them 21-19 as a member of the Bengals. Thus began an odyssey that would take him through Buffalo, which he led to a 34-18 victory of the Jaguars in 2012. The Titans welcomed Fitzpatrick in 2013, and were feted to a 20-16 victory in Week 16 of that season. He led the Texans to a 27-13 triumph in 2014 and, as a member of the Jets in 2015, produced a 28-23 victory.
All of that practice against the Jaguars paid off Thursday night. Fitzpatrick produced history on a number of levels, completing his first 12 passes of the game — the highest total to start a game in his career. When combined with the nine consecutive passes he completed to end the Dolphins’ Week 2 loss to the Bills, Fitzpatrick ticked off 21 consecutive completions over two games.
Overall, Fitzpatrick completed 18 of 20 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for a third score on a quarterback draw in the third quarter.
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