The 2020 NFL season is approaching its midway point, and it is becoming ever more clear which teams are likely to be in the mix for the postseason and which will almost certainly be watching the postseason from home.

From a fantasy perspective, there is plenty of evidence to guide managers regarding what players and teams they can rely on in their quest for glory.

By the same token, it should now be obvious which defenses have significant weaknesses and can be exploited by astute fantasy managers who pay attention to matchups.

Here we pick four players and a defense who have favourable matchups in the upcoming round of games and merit starter consideration for Week 7.

QB: Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are not an easy team to watch nor do they have the players to put Burrow, the first overall pick in the draft, in a position to succeed.

However, regardless of the on-field results, Burrow and the Bengals have typically been good for passing yardage. Burrow already has four 300-yard games to his name as a pro and his best performance of his young career came in Week 2 against this week's opponents, the Cleveland Browns.

Burrow threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions in that meeting and, with last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts providing signs of a burgeoning rapport with A.J. Green, there is reason to be encouraged that he could replicate that display against a Browns team coming off a bruising blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

RB: Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones has emerged as a pivotal player for the Tampa Bay offense, helping take the pressure off Tom Brady with three successive 100-yard efforts, including a two-touchdown display in last Sunday's blowout of the Green Bay Packers.

The Las Vegas Raiders' run defense has stiffened in recent weeks but, given they began the season by giving up at least 100 yards on the ground in their first three games, fantasy players with Jones on their roster should approach this week with plenty of confidence he can have another productive outing.

WR: Christian Kirk – Arizona Cardinals

The offseason acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins bumped speedster Kirk down the wide receiver pecking order but, despite averaging only four targets a game, he has taken significant advantage of his opportunities in recent weeks.

He has 183 receiving yards and three touchdowns over the course of the last three games and showed off his abilities as a deep threat on his 80-yard score against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday.

Given Russell Wilson's devastating form throwing the ball, there is a strong chance the Cardinals may have to go downfield often to keep up with the unbeaten Seattle Seahawks in their NFC West clash. That would spell excellent news for Kirk, who can do significant damage against a Seahawks defense surrendering 370.4 passing yards a game – the worst in the NFL.

TE: Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

The days of the Jacksonville Jaguars as a competitive concern in the 2020 NFL season appear to have long since ended. Theirs is a defense that has given up over 400 yards four times this season, making them an ideal opponent for Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert as he looks to get his first win.

Henry will likely be a frequent recipient of passes from Herbert, as the tight end has been targeted at least seven times in all but one game this season. His level of opportunity and the expected lack of resistance from the fast-fading Jaguars is a recipe for an impressive statistical performance.

D/ST: Washington Football Team

While the early-season shine is very much off Washington following their loss to the New York Giants in Week 6, their defense gets the benefit of going up against an offense in shambles in Week 7.

The Cowboys committed four turnovers in Monday's 38-10 loss to the Cardinals and have given away 15 so far this season. With backup quarterback Andy Dalton playing behind a decimated offensive line, the likelihood is Dallas will continue to surrender possession. Having forced eight turnovers this season, Washington and their fearsome defensive front should make it another long game for Dalton and the Cowboys.

Pittsburgh Steelers went 4-0 for the season as rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool ran in four touchdowns to inspire a thrilling 38-29 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The other unbeaten record on the line on Sunday tumbled, though, with the Las Vegas Raiders stunning the Kansas City Chiefs with a 40-32 victory.

Elsewhere, interim head coach Romeo Crennel got off to a winning start with the Houston Texans, while there was an emotional return for Alex Smith as Washington continued to struggle.

 

CHASE RUNS AWAY WITH IT

Pittsburgh's unblemished start – the first time they have gone 4-0 since 1979 – owes much to the burgeoning relationship between veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and breakout star Claypool.

A stunning outing began when he ran into the end zone for a two-yard score after a seven-minute drive in the first quarter before Roethlisberger found Claypool for a third-down completion and a 14-7 advantage.

Claypool also scored on the Steelers' first drive of the third quarter and Roethlisberger targeted the Canadian youngster 11 times. He did so tellingly with Pittsburgh holding a slender two-point lead in the closing minutes, allowing Claypool to conclude a stellar performance that featured seven receptions, 110 receiving yards and six rushing yards.

Kansas City found themselves on the wrong end of a typically high-scoring affair against the Raiders, who had five plays of at least 40 yards and made 490 yards overall in offense.

The game was in the balance at 24-24 at half-time but Patrick Mahomes threw his first interception of 2020 in the final quarter – Josh Jacobs ultimately the beneficiary with his second touchdown.

Derek Carr threw three TDs as Las Vegas improved to 3-2.

CRENNEL GETS HOUSTON ON THE BOARD

A 0-4 start saw Houston fire Bill O'Brien and install Crennel as the oldest head coach in NFL history.

He was 73 years and 115 days old on Sunday, but perhaps felt half his age as the Texans compiled a 30-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are now similarly 1-4.

Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions but had a solid outing overall, finding eight different catchers and completing 25 of 35 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

ALLEN RETURNS BUT WASHINGTON WOES CONTINUE

Already without Dwayne Haskins, Washington's problems at quarterback were compounded when Kyle Allen took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Los Angeles Rams' Jalen Ramsey.

It meant a return for Alex Smith, making a first NFL appearance for 693 days after recovering from a career-threatening compound leg facture in 2018.

The 36-year-old was understandably rusty, getting sacked by six times as the Rams ran out 30-10 winners.

Washington have now lost four consecutive games by 14 or more points – the first such slump by a franchise since 2001.

Joe Flacco coming in for injured signal caller Sam Darnold did nothing to lift the New York Jets from their malaise as a 30-10 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium saw them drop to 0-5.

The Cardinals' Kyler Murray passed for a career-high 380 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for a TD of his own.

Murray completed 27 of his 37 passes, including one of 37 yards for a DeAndre Hopkins touchdown. Hopkins racked up a game-high 131 yards and five other Cardinals players broke 30 receiving yards.

Flacco was 18 of 33 for 195 yards and a touchdown, while he was sacked twice.

Week 5 scores:

Los Angeles Rams 30-10 Washington
Pittsburgh Steelers 38-29 Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals 30-10 New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders 40-32 Kansas City Chiefs
Carolina Panthers 23-16 Atlanta Falcons
Houston Texans 30-14 Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens​ 27-3 Cincinnati Bengals

The Philadelphia Eagles completed a dramatic comeback to upstage the San Francisco 49ers for their first win of the season on Sunday.

Philadelphia used a big fourth quarter to stun last season's Super Bowl finalists the 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Week 4.

Things got physical between Jalen Ramsey and Golden Tate as the Los Angeles Rams beat the New York Giants 17-9.

There were also wins for the in-form Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts.

 

EAGLES SHOCK NINERS

After two losses and a draw to open 2020, and with a growing injury list, Philadelphia faced an uphill battle away to the 49ers.

The Eagles (1-2-1) also trailed in the fourth quarter before back-to-back touchdowns lifted Philadelphia past San Francisco.

Carson Wentz threw a 42-yard TD pass to Travis Fulgham with less than six minutes remaining as the Eagles moved ahead 18-14.

With starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined, Nick Mullens then threw an interception that Alex Singleton returned for a TD as the 49ers (2-2) lost at home again.

Mullens, who committed three turnovers, was 18 for 26 for 200 yards and a touchdown before he was replaced by 49ers team-mate C.J. Beathard.

Eagles QB Wentz finished 18-of-28 for 193 yards, a touchdown and interception, while he rushed for 37 yards and a TD as the Eagles moved top of the NFC East.

NO LOVE LOST IN INGLEWOOD

There was not much drama between the Rams and Giants, that was until the game ended.

The Rams (3-1) claimed a hard-fought victory over the winless Giants (0-4) after Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp combined for a 55-yard TD with just under seven minutes left to play at SoFi Stadium.

After grinding out victory, things really heated up as Rams star Ramsey and Giants wide receiver Tate traded punches.

Ramsey, who has two young children with Tate's sister, and the latter were pulled apart by team-mates in chaotic scenes.

"We don't want to have happen at the end of the game what happened," Giants coach Joe Judge said afterwards. "That's not the way we want to be as a team."

 

BILLS STAY PERFECT

The Bills remain undefeated after seeing off the Las Vegas Raiders 30-23.

Josh Allen led the way, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another as the Bills improved to 4-0 for the season.

QB Derek Carr was 32 for 44 for 311 yards and a pair of TDs after the Raiders (2-2) lost their second straight game and first at the new Allegiant Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Philip Rivers and the Colts (3-1) took down the Chicago Bears (3-1) 19-11.

Rivers was 16 of 29 for 190 yards and a touchdown as he moved within four completions of joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning with 5,000.

 

Week 4 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 31-23 Miami Dolphins
Cincinnati Bengals 33-25 Jacksonville Jaguars
Minnesota Vikings 31-23 Houston Texans
Cleveland Browns 49-38 Dallas Cowboys
Baltimore Ravens 31-17 Washington Football Team
New Orleans Saints 35-29 Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers 31-21 Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-31 Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams 17-9 New York Giants
Buffalo Bills 30-23 Las Vegas Raiders
Indianapolis Colts 19-11 Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles 25-20 San Francisco 49ers

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dashed the Dallas Cowboys' comeback hopes in Week 4, while the Seattle Seahawks improved to 4-0. 

Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow claimed his first win as the Cincinnati Bengals overcame the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-25, while the Carolina Panthers caused an upset, beating the Arizona Cardinals 31-21. 

Both the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens rebounded from Week 3 reverses, but Los Angeles Chargers passer Justin Herbert came up short as he became the latest rookie QB to lose to a team led by Tom Brady. 

Elsewhere, in a battle between two previously winless teams, it was the Minnesota Vikings who triumphed, dropping the Houston Texans to 0-4.

 

BECKHAM OUTSHINES DAK WITH BIG DAY

Dallas knew all about Beckham's brilliance - it was against the Cowboys when he performed his astonishing one-handed touchdown grab as a rookie with the New York Giants - yet they failed to stop Cleveland's receiver grabbing two first-half touchdowns - one thrown by fellow wideout Jarvis Landry. 

The Browns were 41-14 up by the end of the third quarter but the Cowboys, who rallied from 29-10 down to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, came roaring back thanks to Dak Prescott, who had 502 passing yards and four touchdown throws. 

However, Beckham scored on a 50-yard end-around run to seal Cleveland's 49-38 win, with Dallas' nemesis going off for 154 yards from scrimmage and three scores.

SEAHAWKS SURVIVE MIAMI TEST

Seven teams began Week 4 with a perfect 3-0 record and Seattle became the first to go 4-0, securing a 31-23 win over the Miami Dolphins. 

Russell Wilson threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns - giving him 16 already for the season - while running back Chris Carson also found the end zone twice and the Seahawks defense picked off a couple of Ryan Fitzpatrick passes. 

Fellow preseason Super Bowl favourites New Orleans and Baltimore got back on track, the Saints triumphing 35-29 over the Lions while the Ravens defeated the Washington Football Team 31-17, during which Lamar Jackson becoming the quickest in NFL history to reach 5,000 career passing yards and 2,000 yards rushing.

BURROW GETS FIRST W, HERBERT COMES CLOSE TO UPSTAGING BRADY

First overall pick Burrow led the Bengals to their first victory of the 2020 campaign, though it was Joe Mixon's 181 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns that really made the difference against the Jaguars. 

Herbert, another opening-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, looked on course for his maiden NFL win too, the Chargers racing into a 24-7 lead thanks in part to a Brady pick-six. 

However, Brady, whose teams had won their previous 10 straight games against rookie QBs, would end the high-scoring contest with five touchdown passes, Tampa Bay triumphing 38-31. 

Week 4 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 31-23 Miami Dolphins
Cincinnati Bengals 33-25 Jacksonville Jaguars
Minnesota Vikings 31-23 Houston Texans
Cleveland Browns 49-38 Dallas Cowboys
Baltimore Ravens 31-17 Washington Football Team
New Orleans Saints 35-29 Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers 31-21 Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-31 Los Angeles Chargers

Doug Pederson will not consider succumbing to the "knee-jerk reaction" of benching quarterback Carson Wentz following a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals that extended their winless start to the season.

The Eagles are still without a victory after they were held 23-23 by the Bengals and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, with both teams seemingly happy to settle for that result at the end of an uninspiring overtime period.

Philadelphia have gone 0-2-1 in the opening three games having suffered defeats to the Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Rams.

There are clear holes on both sides of the ball for the Eagles but it is Wentz who has received the brunt of the criticism for their disappointing start.

The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Wentz has completed only 59.8 per cent of his passes and has thrown just three touchdowns compared to six interceptions, with the Bengals picking him off twice on Sunday.

So far this season, Wentz is averaging 4.59 net yards per pass attempt, his worst performance in that category since his rookie year (5.58).

The Eagles stoked talk of a potential changing of the guard at quarterback during this year's draft when they stunningly selected Jalen Hurts in the second round.

However, Pederson rejected any possibility of Hurts coming in for Wentz.

Asked what it would take to consider changing quarterbacks, Pederson said: "No. No, you don't go there. That's a knee-jerk reaction.

"That's a reaction to things that sometimes are … the aura that's out there, right? That's not what we believe internally. And we're going to continue to get better.

"Carson's our quarterback. We're going to get it fixed, he's going to get it fixed. We got a long … listen, we're only a half game out of first place for goodness sakes. The whole division isn't playing very good football. We're not that far off."

Wentz was considered a frontrunner for the MVP award in the 2017 season, when he went 11-2 as a starter and led the league in touchdown percentage (7.5), throwing 33 scores and just seven interceptions.

However, a torn ACL meant he had to watch from the sidelines as backup Nick Foles improbably led the Eagles to glory with a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

He endured an up and down season in 2018 and a back injury meant he was again sidelined for the playoffs, in which Foles guided the Eagles to a Wild Card round win over the Chicago Bears. Wentz played just nine snaps of last season's Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks before suffering a concussion.

Despite their struggles, the Eagles are in striking distance of the NFC East division lead. Both Washington and the Dallas Cowboys have started 1-2 while the New York Giants are 0-3.

The Eagles will attempt to claim their first win of the season when they visit the 2-1 San Francisco 49ers in Week 4.

The Atlanta Falcons set an unwanted NFL record on Sunday as they suffered another fourth-quarter collapse to lose to the Chicago Bears.

Under-fire Dan Quinn saw his men surrender a 16-point lead to lose 30-26 a week after a humiliating last-gasp loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

There were big wins for the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, while the Tennessee Titans once more had Stephen Gostkowski to thank for a narrow victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers also won, with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals playing out the first tie of the season.

 

FALCONS FELLED BY FOLES

Falcons coach Quinn looks to be in trouble after another fourth-quarter collapse by Atlanta, this time leading to a four-point loss to the Bears.

Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes in the final quarter, the latter connecting with Anthony Miller with two minutes remaining, as Chicago recovered from 16 points down to move to 3-0 for the season.

The Falcons are the first team in NFL history to blow a lead of 15 points or more in the fourth quarter and lose in back-to-back matches.

Matt Ryan was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson late on as a miserable day for the Falcons was compounded by the losses of Russell Gage (concussion) and Grady Jarrett (hip).

RAMS FALL SHORT IN SPECTACULAR COMEBACK, PATRIOTS SIX IN A ROW AGAINST RAIDERS

The Los Angeles Rams almost completed the third-biggest comeback ever in the regular season, only to be denied by a Tyler Kroft touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.

The Bills had squandered a 25-point advantage but were bailed out by Kroft's second of the game following good work from Josh Allen.

Elsewhere in the East, the Patriots moved to 2-0 at home as three touchdowns from Rex Burkhead led them to a 36-20 defeat of the Las Vegas Raiders.

 

TITANS BUOYED BY GOSTKOWSKI SIX APPEAL

The Titans downed the winless Minnesota Vikings 31-30 thanks to the boot of Stephen Gostkowski.

A career-high six field goals, including a 55-yarder with less than two minutes on the clock, helped to banish memories of some wayward kicking in his first two Titans outings.

Dalvin Cook rushed for a career-high 181 yards and scored for the Vikings, but they are 0-3 for the first time in seven years.

The Steelers are still perfect, though – they moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2010 by defeating the Houston Texans 28-21, Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns in a franchise-record 221st appearance.

Week 3 scores:

Atlanta Falcons 26-30 Chicago Bears
Buffalo Bills 35-32 Los Angeles Rams
Cleveland Browns 34-20 Washington Football Team
Minnesota Vikings 30-31 Tennessee Titans
New England Patriots 36-20 Las Vegas Raiders
New York Giants 9-36 San Francisco 49ers
Philadelphia Eagles 23-23 Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 Houston Texans

Joe Burrow declared "losing is unacceptable to me" as the Cincinnati Bengals went 0-2 despite another promising showing from the rookie quarterback against the Cleveland Browns.

A week on from making his NFL debut in a losing effort to the Los Angeles Chargers, the number one overall draft pick was unable to prevent the Bengals going down 35-30 at FirstEnergy Stadium on his first outing in a prime-time slot.

Burrow, according to NFL.com, became the first rookie since at least 1950 to throw 60-plus times without recording an interception, while he broke 310 yards for passing.

He also converted eight of 18 third-down attempts, while he was five on five on fourth down and displayed his never-say-die attitude by finding Tyler Boyd for a touchdown pass within the final two minutes with the Bengals looking well out of it.

Still, Burrow said it is back to the drawing board after starting his NFL career with two defeats.

"Losing isn't very fun. This might be the only time in my sporting career that I've lost two games in a row," he said. 

"It doesn't feel very good. I know guys in there are hurting and we're gonna come back to work tomorrow and try and get this thing right. 

"Losing is unacceptable to me, to everybody in there, to coach [Zac] Taylor, to everybody in this organisation. So, we're just gonna have to get it fixed.

"I have great people around me. The offensive line did a hell of a job for me. My guys are making plays for me. That's all you can ask for as a quarterback. We've been in scoring range, and that's been one positive. 

"Again, we're 0-2. That's all that matters. I'll never accept losing. That's just something that is not in my mindset."

Opposite number Baker Mayfield knows all about dealing with hype in the NFL and sees lots of potential in Burrow.

"The hype is real with Joe," the Browns QB said. "Obviously, that team loves him. They follow him and he leads them."

Mayfield was 16-of-23 passing for 219 yards, with one interception, while he found eight different receivers throughout.

"You always want to get the ball in playmakers' hands early, so those guys are in it," Mayfield said. 

"I thought we made the most of our playmakers' abilities. I'm surrounded by talent. I want to get the ball in their hands."

The Cleveland Browns recorded a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals for their first victory of the NFL season on Thursday.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the back of 16 of 23 completed passes at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Nick Chubb rushed for two TDs, while Kareem Hunt had 86 rushing yards on 10 carries and was also found by Mayfield for another score.

Joe Burrow, the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was 37 of 61 for 316 yards and three TDs, but the Bengals' defense struggled as they fell to their AFC North rivals and slipped to 0-2.

Chubb's rushing TD in the first quarter to complete a 10-play, 75-yard drive gave the Browns a lead they would not relinquish.

Mayfield connected with Odell Beckham Jr. for a 43-yard TD pass in the second quarter, although Burrow and C.J. Uzomah combined to respond for the Bengals.

The Browns took control after Mayfield's six-yard pass to Hunt and Chubb's second rushing TD, although two Randy Bullock field goals kept the Bengals in touch.

Burrow led a 14-play, 83-yard drive for the Bengals with just over six minutes remaining, completing it with a short TD pass to Mike Thomas to reduce the Browns' lead to 28-23.

However, Cincinnati were unable to stop Hunt as the Browns restored their 12-point lead and held on despite Burrow connecting with Tyler Boyd in the final minute.

Joe Burrow harshly graded his performance a "D" after the Cincinnati Bengals fell to a narrow defeat against the Los Angeles Chargers on the rookie quarterback's NFL debut.

The Bengals were just a play away from scoring a winning touchdown on the first outing since Burrow was selected as the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft as the Chargers claimed a 16-13 win at Paul Brown Stadium.

No quarterback selected first has won in week one of a rookie year since David Carr in 2002 and Burrow felt he fell short on a few plays, including overthrows for receivers John Ross and A.J. Green for what would have been touchdowns.

Even still, Burrow led the Bengals to within striking distance late in the game, only for Green to be called for pushing off in the end zone, before Randy Bullock missed a field goal to take the game into overtime.

"[I would give myself a] 'D'," Burrow responded when asked to grade his performance.

"I can't miss that throw to A.J.. A high schooler can make that throw. And I can't throw the ball right to Melvin Ingram when we're in scoring range, so it was a tough way to lose.

"I made too many mistakes to win the game. I missed A.J. on a deep ball and John on a deep ball and then I threw the interception – that just can't happen."

On the dramatic finale, Burrow added: "I'm obviously upset we didn't score a touchdown.

"I thought we played well enough on that particular drive to put it in the end zone and then they [the officials] made the call.

"I'm not sure what happened on the kick, but it doesn't matter what happened on the kick. We should have put them away a lot of times before that.

"I shouldn't have missed the throw to A.J. and thrown the interception. A lot of different plays affected the game."

Burrow finished with 23-of-36 passing for 193 yards, one rushing touchdown and one interception, and head coach Zac Taylor felt there were plenty of positives to take.

"Some good and some things we have to improve on," Taylor replied when asked to sum up Burrow's performance.

"There were some missed opportunities but overall, he kept his composure. He moved onto the next snap, which is important.

"He made some critical plays down the stretch that put us in position to tie or win the game. I thought his decision-making overall was really good – where he went with the ball.

"In the first half, he was running for his life there. We did a better job of minimising that in the second half."

Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut did not go according to plan, while last season's Super Bowl participants the San Francisco 49ers started their 2020 NFL campaign with a loss.

Legendary quarter Brady struggled as the Buccaneers went down 34-23 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 on Sunday.

As for the 49ers, they were upstaged by Kyler Murray's Arizona Cardinals 24-20 in San Francisco.

 

BRADY'S BUCS BEATEN

Brady has taken his Super Bowl-winning expertise to Tampa Bay, but the six-time NFL champion endured a tough debut against NFC South champions the Saints.

A high-profile recruit from the New England Patriots following 20 years in Foxborough, Brady threw two interceptions in the team's season opener.

The 43-year-old had a pick-six, finishing 23 of 36 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while he was sacked three times.

Brady started well, scoring a two-yard touchdown. He led a nine-play, 85-yard drive, completing his two passes for 37 yards before running the ball into the endzone for the first points of the game.

But Brady turned the ball over twice, with the second turnover resulting in a touchdown for the Saints' Janoris Jenkins.

It was a far better outing for fellow veteran quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, without turning the ball over – throwing TD passes to Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders in New Orleans.

 

CARDINALS RALLY AMID GAROPPOLO WOES

The Cardinals – led by their star QB Murray – completed a comeback to upstage the highly rated 49ers on the road.

Murray's throw to DeAndre Hopkins set up Kenyan Drake's one-yard score with just over five minutes remaining as the Cardinals topped the 49ers.

The Cardinals overcame a pair of fourth-quarter deficits thanks to Murray, who threw for 230 yards and a touchdown, while running for 91 yards and another score.

It came as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled as criticism grows.

After a disappointing display in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, further questions have been raised after Garoppolo led just one scoring drive in the second half.

Garoppolo finished 19 of 33 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and he missed two crucial throws, with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saying: "He's gotta play better. We've all gotta play better. The entire offense missed opportunities."

 

RAMS OPEN NEW STADIUM WITH WIN

In their first game at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams topped the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 behind a career-high 79 yards and two touchdowns from Malcolm Brown.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passed for 275 yards, while Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott was 25 of 39 for 266 yards and a touchdown.

Number one draft pick Joe Burrow put the Cincinnati Bengals in a position to claim a dramatic last-gasp win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

But after running 23 yards for a touchdown, Burrow watched Randy Bullock miss a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds to play as the Chargers prevailed 16-13.

 

Week 1 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 38-25 Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders 34-30 Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears 27-23 Detroit Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers 43-34 Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers
New Orleans Saints 34-23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers 16-13 Cincinnati Bengals
Los Angeles Rams 20-17 Dallas Cowboys

NFL Sundays are back with a bang this weekend as Tom Brady and Drew Brees duel in New Orleans.

The two future Hall of Famers are set to face each other twice this year following ex-New England Patriots quarterback Brady's decision to join the Saints' NFC South rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason.

Six-time Super Bowl winner Brady - the league's most decorated quarterback - will be aiming to bring the success he enjoyed in New England to a Bucs team deprived of postseason action in recent years.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at some of the most intriguing Week 1 matchups.

 

FEATURE GAME

Bucs at Saints - Sunday, 4.25pm (all times Eastern)

- Tampa Bay have gone 12 straight seasons without making the playoffs, the second-longest drought in the NFL (Cleveland Browns, 17 straight). The Buccaneers have not won a playoff game since defeating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.

- Brady has joined the Buccaneers after 20 seasons and 285 career games played with the Patriots – the most games with a franchise all-time by a player who subsequently played for another team. Brady has an all-time best .774 career win percentage as a starting QB (minimum 100 starts); the Bucs' .387 all-time win percentage is the worst among current franchises.

- The Saints have won the NFC South three straight years, posting a 13-3 record in each of the last two. They are the fourth NFC team since the merger to have back-to-back seasons of 13-plus wins, joining the 1985-86 Chicago Bears, 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers and 1996-97 Green Bay Packers; no NFL team has ever had three straight 13-win seasons.

OTHER KEY GAMES

Browns at Ravens - Sunday, 1pm

- Since the franchise returned in 1999, the Browns are 1-19-1 in season openers, with the lone win in 2004 versus Baltimore (20-3). Every other team has won at least seven season openers in that span. 

Seahawks at Falcons - Sunday, 1pm

- Ten of the Seattle Seahawks' 11 wins last year – and two of their five losses – came by eight points or fewer. They joined the 1978 Houston Oilers as the only teams in NFL history to win 10 one-score games in a season (defined as seven points when there was no two-point conversion rule, and eight points when there was).

Chargers at Bengals - Sunday, 4.05pm

- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be trying to become the first Heisman-winning QB drafted first overall to win his first start in the NFL since Jim Plunkett in 1971.

Cardinals at 49ers - Sunday, 4.25pm

- In their three-game postseason run in the 2019 campaign, the 49ers outrushed their opponents 612 yards to 212 yards, the best playoff differential for any team since Washington in 1982 and the best all-time by a non-champion.

Cowboys at Rams - 8.20pm

- The 2019 Los Angeles Rams finished third in the NFC West with a 9-7 record. Los Angeles were 7-0 when allowing fewer than 17 points last season, but just 2-7 when allowing 17 or more.

ELSEWHERE...

Dolphins at Patriots - 1pm

- When Cam Newton starts for the Patriots on Sunday, it will snap a streak of 471 consecutive games – regular season and playoffs – in which the Pats have started a QB that they drafted. This is the longest such streak in NFL history.

Bears at Lions - 1pm

- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is set to make his 150th career start on Sunday. His 41,025 career passing yards are already the most by any QB through 150 career starts, with only Aaron Rodgers (40,715) also reaching the 40,000 mark.

There has perhaps never been a tougher year to be a rookie in the NFL.

With the coronavirus pandemic decimating offseason practice schedules and preventing any preseason games from taking place, 2020's crop of first-year players will start their pro careers having had very little time to adapt.

Yet, even in exceptional circumstances, there are still plenty of players from a talented rookie class with the chance to excel in their maiden season.

Here we look at 10 rookies to watch in the 2020 campaign.

 

Joe Burrow - QB, Cincinnati Bengals

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft will look to carry arguably the greatest season by a quarterback in the history of college football into his rookie year into the pros. Should he succeed, it will likely result in a quick turnaround for a moribund Bengals franchise. The reports from training camp suggest he is a position to do just that.

KEY STAT: Burrow's 60 passing touchdowns for National Champions LSU were the most in a single season by a college football quarterback.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire - RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs used the final pick of the first round to select Burrow's former LSU team-mate. With Super Bowl hero Damien Williams opting out of the season, Edwards-Helaire has been a consensus first-round pick in fantasy drafts and - entering the league's most explosive offense - this do-it-all running back is in a situation to enjoy a monster rookie season.

KEY STAT: Of running backs selected in the 2020 draft, only Raymond Calais (7.5) - a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - had a higher yards per touch average than Edwards-Helaire (6.9) in 2019.

Chase Young - DE, Washington Football Team

Young was an easy pick for Washington with the second overall selection. Some believe his upside is greater than last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, who was taken in the same spot by the 49ers in 2019. Playing on a defensive line stacked with first-round talent, Young has the ability to replicate the impact his former Ohio State team-mate had for San Francisco with a Washington team that has few bright spots.

KEY STAT: Despite serving a two-game suspension Young's 16.5 sacks were the most in the NCAA last season.

Tua Tagovailoa - QB, Miami Dolphins

Tagovailoa will have to wait for his NFL debut after veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the 2020 starter. That is not much of a surprise given Tagovailoa has not played a game since dislocating his hip for Alabama in November. However, given the frenetic nature of Fitzpatrick's play, the fifth overall pick should eventually get a chance to prove he, and not Burrow, was the best quarterback in the class.

KEY STAT: Tagovailoa led the NCAA in touchdown percentage in 2019, with 33 (13.1 per cent) of his 252 pass attempts resulting in scores.

Brandon Aiyuk - WR, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers traded up from 31 to 25 to select wide receiver Aiyuk with their second pick of the first round. When a play-caller of Kyle Shanahan's talents makes such a move, the rest of the league needs to take notice. Aiyuk has reportedly started to vindicate that decision with impressive performances in training camp and has the skillset to make one of the league's premier offenses even more devastating in 2020.

KEY STAT: Aiyuk averaged 18.2 yards per touch in 2019 for Arizona State. Of wide receivers selected only CeeDee Lamb (19) - the first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys - averaged more.

Isaiah Simmons - LB, Arizona Cardinals

Aiming to help the Cardinals slow down the 49ers offense will be Cardinals first-round pick Simmons, who can operate as a linebacker, safety and even occasionally as a cornerback. His remarkable blend of size and athleticism gives Simmons the potential to be a true position-less player on defense and the key to him thriving as a rookie will be defensive coordinator Vance Joseph making the most of his physical attributes.

KEY STAT: Simmons showed his versatility in his final season at Clemson, recording eight sacks, three interceptions and eight pass breakups.

Antoine Winfield Jr. - S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While there has been so much focus on the Buccaneers' offense following the arrival of Tom Brady, the defense also looks championship-ready and Winfield can be a crucial contributor in his first year. The second-round pick is the son of former Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Sr. and the same playmaking ability his father had has been apparent in Tampa Bay's preparations for a season where expectations will be extremely high.

KEY STAT: Winfield's seven interceptions for Minnesota in 2019 were the fourth-most in college football.

Jalen Hurts - QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts' selection in the second round by the Eagles caused a stir, but Hurts will not be displacing Carson Wentz as starter, at least not yet anyway. It is likely, though, that the Eagles use Hurts as runner in the red zone, the former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback having the dual-threat ability to add another dimension to the Philadelphia offense.

KEY STAT: The 3,274 rushing yards Hurts gained from 2016 to the end of the 2019 season were the third-most by a quarterback in that span.

Cam Akers - RB, Los Angeles Rams

With Todd Gurley now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, second-round pick Akers will carry much of the burden of reviving the Rams' running game in 2020. Having excelled in college despite playing behind a poor offensive line at Florida State, Akers should be confident of making a successful transition to the pros for a Rams team that also had a fair share of struggles in the trenches last season.

KEY STAT: Akers averaged 93.3 scrimmage yards per game in three seasons at Florida State, with that number the third-highest among running backs in the Atlantic Coast Conference between 2017 and 2019.

Jonathan Taylor - RB, Indianapolis Colts

Second-round pick Taylor is set to step into a heavy-duty role in the Colts backfield as a rookie. He should get a larger share of the carries than team-mate Marlon Mack, who is a free agent at the end of the season, and will be the favoured back in the red zone. If he performs as he did during a stellar collegiate career at Wisconsin, Taylor will be in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation.

KEY STAT: Taylor averaged 150 rushing yards per game during in his career at Wisconsin (2017-19), the highest average of any running back in college football in that timeframe.

Joe Burrow has been tipped to lead the Cincinnati Bengals "to a lot of points" after head coach Zac Taylor confirmed the rookie quarterback would start Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In truth, there was little doubt Burrow would take the role for the Bengals once they moved on from veteran Andy Dalton during the offseason, but Taylor has been encouraged by what he has seen from the first overall pick.

Heisman winner Burrow had a record-breaking senior season with LSU – who became national champions in January – and will hope to translate that form into the professional ranks with the Bengals.

In a news conference with reporters after Sunday's scrimmage, Taylor was asked what had impressed him about the quarterback.

"His command of the offense; leadership in the huddle; understanding of what he's got to do to move this offense; his competitiveness; his urgency," he said.

"Certainly, there's areas to clean up, there's no question about that, but he's got a great grasp.

"We're in sync in terms of how we see things and how we think of things.

"We haven't had a chance to be on the field too much together, but it is important to start to see things the same way.

"I really feel like we're making a lot of progress in that direction.

"He's just been impressive. He's what we expected when we took him number one overall, hasn't disappointed one day he's been out there."

The coronavirus pandemic has shortened the NFL offseason and deprived Burrow of any preseason games to test himself against NFL opposition.

However, Taylor retains faith that a Bengals offense that includes veteran wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon will put up points with Burrow at the helm in 2020.

"Poise is his middle name – I guess that's one way to put it – not much fazes him," Taylor added of Burrow.

"Probably the thing that gets him the most is when he feels like the error is his own, to not duplicate the same mistake twice.

"But he's a competitive guy and we expect him to lead this offense to a lot of points."

Page 1 of 5
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.