NEW YORK (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have been riding high since winning the Super Bowl in February.
And after their opening 34-20 win over the Houston Texans, the defending champs are off to a good start in their bid to repeat.
”What makes this offense so good,” Mahomes said on Monday, ”is that we can change within games. We can go through our game plan and find ways to score and find ways to move the ball down the field, and (against Houston) it was running the football and taking the short passes.”
The Chiefs are also No. 1 in the first AP Pro32 poll of the season. Kansas City earned 10 of 12 first-place votes for 382 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens are No. 2 in the poll. They received the remaining two first-place votes for 371 points.
The Ravens, who finished with the best record in the NFL last season at 14-2, cruised to a 38-6 win in their opener against Cleveland and travel to Houston to face the Texans on Sunday.
”It’s just hard work and dedication,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said on Monday. ”Our guys just dialed in. They helped me out a lot, made my job a lot easier.”
The New Orleans Saints are next at No. 3 after their impressive 34-23 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who despite enormous preseason buildup start out at No. 14.
”Every team is going to wish they did things better,” Brady said after his Tampa Bay debut. Brady was 23 for 36 for 239 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, including a pick-6.
The Seattle Seahawks open at No. 4 after a 38-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Seahawks will try to go 2-0 on Sunday night when they host Cam Newton and the New England Patriots, who are at No. 8 after topping the Miami Dolphins.
”I think it’s time for everybody, including myself, to realize this is what it’s like. I think it came full circle,” Newton said Monday. ”For me to just kind of realize that I’m a New England Patriot and I’m just going to embrace this whole moment.”
The Green Bay Packers are at No. 5 after outlasting the Minnesota Vikings 43-34.
The Pittsburgh Steelers begin at No. 6. Ben Roethlisberger made a successful return from elbow surgery after missing 14 games last season as he threw three TD passes in a 26-16 win over the New York Giants.
”We said afterward it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t even good some of the time offensively,” Roethlisberger said. ”But at the end of the day we found a way to win.”
The Buffalo Bills, hoping to dethrone the Patriots atop the AFC East, start out one spot ahead of New England at No. 7.
NFC West rivals round out the top 10 as the Los Angeles Rams (No. 9) and Arizona each had a successful start to 2020 after a so-so 2019.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Michigan football's new 2020 schedule: Here's the full list
Here is the new Michigan State football schedule after the Big Ten announced it will start the season on the weekend of Oct. 24:
PHT’s Stanley Cup Final predictions
It’s finally here! We’ve spent the last 49 days since the Qualifying Round began watching the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and we’ve now arrived at the Cup Final. It’s the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Dallas Stars.
Four of us had the Lightning in the Cup Final, three of which have them winning. The Avalanche and the Golden Knights were a popular pick, but none of us had the Stars here. Heck, only Jake had Dallas beating the Flames in the First Round. But Rick Bowness’ team has had quite the run through three rounds and are now four wins away from their first title since 2000. Will they do it? Or will Jon Cooper and Tampa win their first championship since 2004?
Give us your Stanley Cup predictions in the comments. Here are ours:
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Lightning in 7 (Conn Smythe: Brayden Point). Much like Brayden Point’s body, my plan to stick with my preseason picks as far as they’ll go feels pretty battered and bruised right now. Then again, it was still easier — and a more interesting thought experiment — to stick with that through thick and thin than, say, actually having to choose between the Bolts or the Bruins. I’m extremely uncomfortable with this because a) the Stars are far more rested, b) they’re quite good, and c) Point is far from 100%, but the Lightning seem willing to push through everything to finally win a Stamkos-Kucherov-era Stanley Cup. Maybe they can just have big ice packs for seats during the team plane ride out of Edmonton? (Could keep the adult beverages cold.)
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Lightning in 7 (Conn Smythe: Andrei Vasilevskiy). When Tampa got embarrassed last postseason, GM Julien BriseBois got aggressive and improved his roster over the following nine months. In came Pat Maroon, Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Zach Bogosian. They weren’t eyebrow-raising moves, but additions that solidified areas that needed a boost. Each of those players has played a vital role in this run to the Cup Final and Jon Cooper is getting Conn Smythe worthy performances from Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Those are all huge with Steven Stamkos remaining out of the lineup. The question is which Stars team will we see? The high-scoring one earlier in the postseason or the shutdown dynamos we’ve seen recently? Solving Anton Khudobin will be the first thing for Tampa to handle and, unlike what we saw from Vegas, finishing their chances will be important.
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Lightning in 6 (Conn Smythe: Brayden Point). I just think this is their year. The Capitals finally broke through and got their championship two years ago, the Blues did it last year, and the Lightning are going to do it this year. They have made it this far and been this dominant without their captain and one of their best players playing a single game in the playoffs, and that is just remarkable to me. This team is so deep, so talented, and has so many different people that can beat you that I just do not know if the Stars can match that. The Stars have absolutely earned their spot here, and I do not think this is going to be a lopsided series by any means, but I just think Tampa Bay has too much.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Lightning in 7. (Conn Smythe: Andrei Vasilevskiy). I have picked against Dallas in the three previous rounds, and while I’m going against them once again, I think that it will be a close series with Game 7 possibly going into overtime. Tampa Bay is a stronger team all-around, even with Steven Stamkos on the sidelines. Victor Hedman has been outstanding in the playoffs while Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat have been a much better first line than whatever the Stars can throw at them. Anton Khudobin has stood on his head to get the Stars to this point and Dallas has the best young defenseman in the game in Miro Heiskanen. Dallas needs Tyler Seguin to start scoring if they are to send the Stanley Cup Final to its limit. It should be a great series as the Islanders really wore down the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. It should be a doozy of a Stanley Cup!
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Lightning in 6 (Conn Smythe: Andrei Vasilevskiy). When we published our Stanley Cup picks last month at the start of the 16-team playoff tournament, I had the Lightning as my champion in 6 games with Andrei Vasilevskiy as my Conn Smythe winner. While I got the West champion wrong (Vegas), I’m sticking with my original choice for Cup champ and playoff MVP. Tampa has cleared hurdle after hurdle in these playoffs, first by exorcising their Blue Jackets demons, then by toppling the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins, and most recently by securing their spot in the final with a gritty win over the pesky Islanders. This Lightning group feels determined and ready to finally break through. And it all starts with Vasilevskiy, who has played every minute of every game this postseason.
2020 STANLEY CUP FINAL (Rogers Place – Edmonton)
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
Game 1: Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC
Game 2: Monday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Watch the Lightning-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Lightning vs. Stars: PHT’s Stanley Cup Final predictions originally appeared on NBCSports.com
George Kittle heads lengthy list of absences
It’s only Week 2, and the injury list is expansive. It could be the year of the hamstring injury. I don’t say this to be glib; obviously it’s no fun when players get hurt. But your fantasy football success this year, more than ever, will rely on your ability to grind the news, work the wire, and stay focused. Let’s take a good look around.
• George Kittle (knee) won’t play at the Jets; perhaps the Niners were encouraged to rest Kittle given the unthreatening opponent. With Deebo Samuel already on IR, Jimmy Garoppolo will be throwing to a skeleton crew. Jordan Reed becomes the stand-in at tight end.
• The Eagles expect Miles Sanders (hamstring) to play against the Rams, and would love to feature him immediately. Of course, he’s running behind a patchwork offense line. It’s also worth mentioning that Devonta Freeman met with the Eagles on Friday. Perhaps Freeman will be more amenable to signing with someone now that he’s parted ways with former agent Drew Rosenhaus; Freeman’s summer asking price may have turned off some potential suitors.
• Although the Saints have yet to rule out Michael Thomas (ankle), he didn’t practice Thursday or Friday and seems highly unlikely to play Monday at Las Vegas. This looks like a week-to-week situation. The Raiders probably won’t have Henry Ruggs (knee) available.
• Mike Evans (hamstring) had a full practice Friday and will play against Carolina. But the Buccaneers are expected to miss Chris Godwin (concussion/doubtful), setting up Scotty Miller to have another prominent role. The Panthers have the youngest defense in the league, making this a prime get-well spot for the Bucs offense.
• James Conner (ankle) had two good practices and is cleared for Sunday’s home opener against Denver. The Steelers generally view Conner as a bell cow, but it will be interesting to see how much time Benny Snell receives, after running sharply against the Giants. Pittsburgh usually has one of the league’s best offensive lines, but it wil be without three primary members (David DeCastro, Zach Banner, and Stefen Wisniewski).
• A.J. Brown (knee) won’t play against Jacksonville and is considered week-to-week. It’s an interesting moment for post-hype sleeper Corey Davis, though Davis is also battling a sore hamstring. He’s still expected to play Sunday.
• Sam Darnold looked lost in the opener at Buffalo, and now he has to make do without Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring). By default, Frank Gore appears set to start at running back. Perhaps Breshad Perriman, off an abbreviated preseason, is ready to do something.
• Kenny Golladay (hamstring) will miss his second straight game. Rookie Quintez Cephus saw 10 targets last week, though only three were complete. The Lions still have a makeshift secondary; Justin Coleman went on IR, and Desmond Trufant (hamstring) is out for Week 2. Detroit will have rookie CB Jeffrey Okuday, however.
• Phillip Lindsay (turf toe) is week-to-week, and won’t play at Pittsburgh. Melvin Gordon will get as many touches as he can handle. Courtland Sutton (shoulder) is a game-time decision.
• Amari Cooper (foot) declared himself good to go for the home opener against Atlanta.
• DeVante Parker (hamstring) was injured in Week 1 and had a limited practice week. He’s questionable for the home opener against Buffalo.
• Duke Johnson (ankle) did some work at practice this week and might be able to play against Baltimore.
• The Colts will be without Jack Doyle (ankle), and he could miss multiple games. Mo Alie-Cox steps in as the new starting tight end. Michael Pittman (toe) is questionable.
• The Falcons gave Julio Jones (hamstring) some maintenance rest this week, but he should be fine at Dallas.
• Golden Tate (hamstring) had a limited practice week, but looks on target to make his 2020 debut at Chicago. I’m still ranking him far below Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.
• The Patriots always have something cooking with their injury report — Julian Edelman (knee) and N’Keal Harry (shoulder) are both listed as questionable and had limited practice weeks. It would be surprising if either didn’t play at Seattle.
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