Sean McVay accepted he made "some bad play calls" and declared the Los Angeles Rams brought defeat upon themselves as they fell to the San Francisco 49ers.

Monday night's 24-9 loss saw the Rams fail to capitalise on several touchdown opportunities, with McVay pointing to "self-inflicted wounds".

San Francisco's Deebo Manuel caught six passes for 115 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown, and when the Rams were still in the game, at 17-9 in arrears, quarterback Matthew Stafford was intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga. That pick-six summed up the Rams' night.

"I liked the way our guys battled, they competed and got it to a one-possession game," said McVay.

"But the story of the night from an offensive perspective was self-inflicted wounds, above-the-neck errors where we're not doing things we're capable of, and I expect us to be better than that.

"Defensively, I know we continue to battle, we gave ourselves a chance. We can tackle better, you credit them for making the plays, and I thought special teams hung tough, but overall we didn't do enough to win the football game.

"I'm not going to make any excuses. We've got to play better. A lot of it was just things where guys we were counting on didn't do what they were supposed to do."

McVay took his share of the blame, saying: "I put us in some bad spots.

"However you want to cut it, we have to be better collectively, coaches and players.  There's no other way around it and no way I know how to fix it other than go back to work."

The Rams will face the Dallas Cowboys, who are on a three-game winning streak, in Week 5.

"Everybody needs to be able to look inward," said McVay. "In the red area, to have three good drives and only come away with nine points in a game that was a back-and-forth battle like that, that ended up being the difference.

"And when you do make it a one-possession game and you've got some momentum, a couple of game first downs and we throw an interception for a touchdown on a screen, those are the things that don't help you win games."

Deebo Samuel described his tackle-breaking abilities as "second nature" after his outstanding 57-yard catch-and-run touchdown helped the San Francisco 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams.

Samuel provided the standout moment of an accomplished 49ers performance on Monday, as they prevented the Rams from scoring a single touchdown in a dominant 24-9 home win.

Jimmy Garoppolo looked destined to throw an interception late in the second quarter, only for Samuel to turn a fine catch into a touchdown as he skipped past several Rams challenges.  

The wide receiver caught six passes for 115 yards as the 49ers moved to 2-2 for the season.

"My mentality, it's just me and the ball out there. What happened after that is something that I work on all the time and I got in the box," Samuel said.

"Every time I get the chance to get the ball in my hands, it's just my mentality of trying to make it a big play, but it's just second nature to me right now.

"When I go out there it's just me and the ball. Breaking tackles is just something I do all the time."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Samuel's run: "It was impressive. 

"At first it looked like a pick. It was close, that corner was teeing off on it. 

"We had to wait a little bit because the guy inside, they ran into each other. We had to hesitate just a hair for Deebo to come down with that throw, then he did the rest. 

"When you get the ball in his hands, I think he's shown he does some pretty cool things."

The San Francisco 49ers kept the Los Angeles Rams from scoring a single touchdown as they secured a convincing 24-9 home win on Monday night.

Deebo Samuel was the star on the offensive side of the ball for the 49ers, catching six passes for 115 yards and one highlight-reel touchdown.

After Jeff Wilson Jr scored the first touchdown of the game for the 49ers, Samuel caught a short pass on third-down and ended up breaking three tackles, gaining 50 of the 57 yards on the play after the catch to put his side up 14-6 heading into halftime.

A missed field goal in the fourth quarter at 17-9 meant the Rams would get a chance to tie the game, but a poor showing from quarterback Matthew Stafford was punctuated with a 52-yard pick-six as he was intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga.

Fittingly, the 49ers forced another turnover on the next drive as well, capping off a spectacular performance from their defense in a game where quarterback Jimmy Garropolo only needed to complete 16 passes.

Samson Ebukam and Nick Bosa both collected a pair of sacks each as the 49ers brought down Stafford seven times, and Bosa was credited with five hits on the quarterback in total, while the Rams had one as a team.

Despite the poor offensive game from the Rams, top receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee had big days, with Kupp catching 14 of 18 targets for 122 yards while Higbee caught 10 of 14 targets for 73 yards.

Week 4 of the NFL season could well have a substantial bearing on how the playoff race shakes out.

Through three weeks, the 2022 campaign has delivered excitement at almost every turn, and there are plenty of high-stakes matchups to whet the appetite this weekend.

There are conference championship and Super Bowl rematches on the docket, as well as extremely intriguing matchups between some of the season's early pacesetters.

But which of the games on the schedule are likely to deliver the best contests? Stats Perform can provide some insight in that regard, using its SmartRatings as a guide.

SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game), 85-100 (Great Game).

So, let's take a look at the three games rated among the most exciting on the Week 4 slate and break down the key matchups that could decide them.

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

SmartRating: 67

Win probability: Buffalo Bills (55.3%)

Key Matchup: Lamar Jackson vs. Bills linebackers

The Bills only need to look to their AFC East rivals the New England Patriots for a reminder of what can happen when a defense fails to defend 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson effectively.

Last week, Jackson threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns with one interception while rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. He became the first player in Ravens history to throw at least three touchdown passes in each of the team's first three games of a season.

Limiting his efficiency on the ground will be critical for the Bills' hopes of outscoring a potent Ravens offense. On designed runs, Jackson is averaging a remarkable 13.47 yards per carry, with his threat as a runner naturally helping fuel the Ravens' play-action game. Baltimore's average of 10.85 yards per play on play-action is well above the league average of 9.15.

In Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills possess two athletic and intelligent linebackers. They will need to display their physical gifts and their awareness to help limit Jackson's impact with ball in hand and ensure they do not bite too hard against play-action and open large throwing windows for him to attack. An evenly matched clash between two AFC heavyweights promises to be a classic, and Milano and Edmunds may have a crucial say in it tilting in the favour of Buffalo.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SmartRating: 75

Win Probability: Kansas City Chiefs (54.7%)

Key Matchup: Travis Kelce vs. Antoine Winfield Jr.

The Chiefs are unlikely to find much joy targeting the Buccaneers outside corners, Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis, who have each enjoyed excellent starts to the season as they look to gain a measure of revenge for their blowout loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV.

Instead, Patrick Mahomes will probably look to his most trusted weapon, All-Pro tight end Kelce, to help him get the Chiefs back on track following their shock loss to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

Kelce has run 24 routes from the slot this season compared to nine from his in-line tight end spot. Having consistently thrived in the 'power slot' role throughout his career, Kelce will hope to do significant damage from that position while going against one the premier young safeties in the league.

Winfield has spent 63 percent of his snaps this season in the slot but has conceded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on seven of his 11 targets. He has given up a big play on four of those targets.

With Kelce registering a burn on 18 of his 24 targets, the matchup looks to be in his favour. Winfield must find a way to ensure it isn't if the Bucs' defense is to provide yet more critical support to an offense that continues to struggle.

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

SmartRating: 85

Win Probability: Los Angeles Rams 53.0%

Key Matchup: Aaron Donald vs. 49ers' Offensive Line

Even after losing their starting quarterback and All-Pro left tackle to injury, the 49ers are still only seen as slight underdogs in Monday's rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game.

But it is how the 49ers perform up front in the absence of Trent Williams that will likely determine if the Niners can continue their regular-season hoodoo over the Rams.

The Niners have won the last six regular-season meetings with Los Angeles, but the Rams – who finally knocked off their rivals in the game that mattered most – will be confident of ending that streak if Donald and Co. can take advantage of San Francisco sliding Colton McKivitz in at left tackle as Williams' replacement.

Much of that confidence will be based on how Jimmy Garoppolo performs when he is pressured. Among quarterbacks with at least 10 throws under pressure, Garoppolo's well-thrown percentage of 54.5 is the second worst in the NFL.

Donald has already racked up 13 pressures on 40 pass rush snaps and is known for his ability to create pressure from anywhere on the defensive line. McKivitz, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and an extremely inexperienced interior offensive line must deliver their best for San Francisco to avoid falling to 1-3.

Nathaniel Hackett hopes Russell Wilson's game-winning drive against the San Francisco 49ers will be the start of his success with the Denver Broncos.

Wilson piloted a struggling Denver offense through the first two games of the season, an underwhelming start to his Broncos career coming after they traded five draft picks, including two first-rounders, and three players to acquire him from the Seattle Seahawks.

Then handed a five-year, $245million extension by the Broncos, Wilson lost in Week 1 on an emotional return to Seattle, before the Denver offense was jeered and mocked by its own home fans in Week 2 in an unconvincing win over the Houston Texans.

Wilson and the Broncos struggled for most of their win over the 49ers against a ferocious San Francisco defense that held the quarterback to 184 yards passing and Denver to just 3.7 yards per play. 

But the 49ers' ineptitude on offense in Jimmy Garoppolo's first start since Trey Lance's season-ending injury saw San Francisco waste a host of opportunities to take command, the Niners going one for 10 on third down. 

And Wilson finally capitalised on their profligacy in the fourth quarter, showing some of his trademark elusiveness that some believed may be waning to lead a 12-play, 80-yard drive and give the Broncos a decisive 11-10 lead.

Garoppolo was intercepted on the subsequent drive, and a Jeff Wilson Jr. fumble then sealed the game for Denver.

"Russell has come to a new state, a new organisation, with 10 brand new guys in the huddle," Hackett told NBC Sports' Peter King for his Football Morning in America column.

"It's a completely new look, new team. He's jumped in here and tried to make it as familiar as he could. On that winning drive, he said, 'I'm comfortable, I'm gonna use my legs here, I've got to make this happen'. He did. Hopefully that's the start of it for him."

Hackett's game management came under severe scrutiny in the opening two weeks of his tenure as Denver head coach, his struggles in that regard encapsulated by the home crowd counting down the play clock in Week 2 after his offense had struggled to get the ball snapped in time on several plays.

Ahead of Week 3, Hackett brought in veteran assistant coach Jerry Rosburg to help with gameday decisions.

Asked if doing so felt embarrassing, Hackett said: "No. For me, I felt empowered that I was able to make a decision. Hey, let's fix it. I'm the leader of the team. Let’s do it.

"This was the first time, the past two games, that I felt I was hurting my team. Did I have enough info? I don't know. But I knew the setup wasn't right. I needed help to make the tough decision."

Mike McGlinchey says it will be "impossible" for the San Francisco 49ers to replace Trent Williams after he suffered an ankle injury during an 11-10 defeat to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Left tackle Williams did the damage when he was blocking Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb during the third quarter and Denver defensive lineman D.J. Jones fell across his right leg.

On the same play, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stepped out of the end zone for an ultimately costly safety.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed after the game nine-time Pro Bowler Williams, who was replaced by Jaylon Moore, was likely to have sustained a high right ankle sprain.

Right tackle McGlinchey said: "[Trent is] as important to our football team as anybody is. Colton [McKivitz] stepped up, and he's had an unbelievable last year and some change, and he's ready for that.

"Jaylon Moore is capable of playing in that role. We have guys to fill the spot, which is a good thing; but obviously, it's impossible to replace a Trent Williams, and that hurts our football team, for sure."

Garoppolo said: "It's tough. Trent's a warrior. Hopefully, he bounces back fast, but it's always tough when you lose a guy like that, especially the leadership that he brings to this team.

"The poise and everything that he brings, it will be tough to replace that. But we've got to."

Shanahan felt the 49ers could have no complaints after a loss at Empower Field at Mile High that left them at 1-2 early in the season.

"We had our opportunities, but we definitely didn't do enough offensively in the second half," he said.

"I thought we made way too many mistakes. We had our opportunities in the first half, where I thought we should have been a lot more than we were.

"We missed those. Came back in the second half and I thought the defense kept it going, offense had a chance early and started out with a fumbled snap, then we never got it going after that."

Russell Wilson was central to the game-winning drive as Melvin Gordon III went from zero to hero with a late touchdown as the Denver Broncos edged the San Francisco 49ers 11-10 in Sunday Night Football.

Gordon atoned for two fumbles with a one-yard touchdown run with 4:10 remaining, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive for the Broncos' only TD of the game.

Denver QB Russell Wilson completed 20 of 33 attempts for 184 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, with a dart to Kendall Hilton in the game-winning drive. The Broncos went three-and-out nine times, yet still won to improve to 2-1.

Kareem Jackson recovered Jeff Wilson Jr's fumble with 1:05 to secure the victory as 49ers stand-in QB Jimmy Garoppolo tried to drive his side within field-goal range.

Garoppolo, making his first start of the season with Trey Lance out with a season-ending ankle injury, had one touchdown pass on 18-for-29 passing for 211 yards, with one interception. He also gave away a self-inflicted safety in the third quarter, helping the Broncos cut the deficit to 7-5.

The 49ers, who lost left tackle Trent Williams to an ankle injury, had gone ahead in the first quarter when Garoppolo found Brandon Aiyuk with a three-yard strike.

Robbie Gould's fourth-quarter field goal padded the 49ers lead out to 10-5, but Wilson was clutch late, leading to Gordon's TD.

Is two games enough of a sample size to glean pertinent information about an NFL team's prospects? Probably not.

Has that ever stopped anyone from making definitive statements about teams and the potential outcome of their season? You already know the answer to that one.

But one thing nobody -- not even the loudest talking head -- can say for certain is that they know who the frontrunner is in the NFC.

In the AFC, plenty are already falling over themselves to crown the Buffalo Bills. An extremely compelling case can be made for the Chiefs and maybe even the Los Angeles Chargers if they can keep Justin Herbert from further injury.

The NFC, though? That's an extremely tough conference to decipher at this early stage.

That is not to say there aren't standout teams. To the contrary, there are six that look to have an excellent shot of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl as they all reside in the top 10 of Stats Perform's power rankings.

Two of them will face off at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Green Bay Packers in what could be the final meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who met in the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago. The Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams will visit the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year's title game in Week 4.

But which of that group has the best shot? Stats Perform has used its advanced data to examine the case for each of the six.
 

Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 2-0

Power ranking: 1

The Eagles have firmly lived up to their offseason hype so far, with Jalen Hurts piloting an efficient offense that is the most explosive in the NFL through two weeks.

Indeed, the Eagles are fourth in yards per play on offense while, prior to Thursday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, no team in the NFL had produced more plays of 10 yards or more than Philadelphia's 39.

A.J. Brown, their blockbuster draft-day trade acquisition, has quickly built a superb rapport with Hurts. The former Tennessee Titans wide receiver has registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on 14 of his 21 targets and is averaging 8.2 burn yards per route (the league average is 3.6).

The threat Hurts provides in the run game has helped Philadelphia rack up 189.5 yards per game on the ground, second only to the Browns. While a small sample size, the Eagles' early success on the ground is illustrative of just how difficult they are to stop with the diversity of their attack.

There's more reason for doubt on defense, with a three-interception effort against the Minnesota Vikings in which the Eagles allowed only seven points following a 38-35 shootout with the Detroit Lions. Yet a very favourable schedule may not see any defensive failings properly tested until Week 12 against the Packers and allow Philadelphia to move into prime position to compete for the NFC's top seed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 2-0

Power ranking: 4

Tampa Bay's average margin of victory across two games is 13 points. The Bucs eased past the Dallas Cowboys 19-3 and eventually emerged from a fist fight with the New Orleans Saints as 20-10 victors.

Yet it's tough to declare their start to the season as overly impressive, at least by Brady's lofty standards.

The Bucs have scored only two offensive touchdowns as they have battled injuries at the wide receiver position and struggles on the much-changed interior of the offensive line.

Rather than Brady making a hot start to the season he initially decided against playing, it is the Bucs' defense that has led the way.

There were 182 seconds left in their game with the Saints by the time they surrendered a touchdown for the first time this season, with the Bucs conceding only 4.25 yards per play, the third-fewest in the NFL.

Rodgers and Green Bay will provide an early and stern test of their credentials, but there is evidence to suggest the Bucs will eventually have a recipe for a potential second championship run in three seasons.

For all the protection issues in front of him, Brady has delivered a well-thrown ball on 81.7 per cent of his pass attempts and has thrown just one pickable pass in 60 throws. Given the defense's level of play and the weapons the Bucs still have to return, it stands to reason they will soon be delivering much more complete performances that will greatly enhance their reputation as contenders.

Los Angeles Rams

Record 1-1

Power ranking: 3

Thrashed by Buffalo on the night they raised their Super Bowl banner before having to survive a remarkable late scare against the lowly Atlanta Falcons, the Rams do not look like a team ready to repeat.

They still sit third in the power rankings, but there are plenty of red flags surrounding the Rams in this embryonic season.

It is the pass protection that stands as the most pressing concern, Matthew Stafford was under constant duress in the opener and injuries up front have hurt the Rams' cause further, hindering Stafford to the point where he is averaging almost half a yard under expectation in expected passing situations.

With 58 total points allowed, there are clearly vast improvements to be made on defense, too.

However, Aaron Donald already has a league-leading 17 pressures and Jalen Ramsey came up with the game-clinching interception in the endzone against Atlanta, and that often decisive star power makes the Rams a tough team to count out, especially with a game against an Arizona Cardinals team they have consistently dominated on the horizon in Week 3.

San Francisco 49ers

Record 1-1

Power ranking: 5

The greatest threat to the Rams from inside their own division comes from the team who suffered an injury that would have ended the hopes of most teams in the league.

San Francisco lost quarterback Trey Lance in just his second game of his first season as starter in the 49ers' 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Yet, by keeping Jimmy Garoppolo around on a restructured contract, the 49ers gave themselves an insurance policy, one that can keep them firmly in the mix even without Lance.

Garoppolo has helped the 49ers to the brink of Super Bowl glory in the 2019 season and the NFC Championship Game last term and, while the Niners' ceiling without Lance is perhaps lowered, the floor of Super Bowl-calibre roster has been raised by the former New England Patriot's return to the line-up.

Though they suffered an upset at the hands of a Chicago Bears in Week 1, the 49ers have one of the most complete rosters in the league and their defense is off to a magnificent start, allowing the second-fewest yards per play (4.08) in the NFL.

It was anticipated the safety position may be a weakness. Instead, it has so far been an unexpected strength, as has an inexperienced and remodelled offensive line that has won 81.6 per cent of its pass-blocking matchups. It will be tough to identify an obvious flaw on this team if the pass protection continues to excel, with the play in the trenches made even more critical because of Garoppolo's long injury history.

Minnesota Vikings

Record: 1-1

Power ranking: 8

Hopes the Vikings could become one of the most dynamic offensive teams in football under Kevin O'Connell were damaged by Monday's 24-7 defeat to the Eagles.

Despite another vintage primetime meltdown from Kirk Cousins, the Vikings have the makeup of a team that could contend to go deep in the NFC playoffs if things break right.

They demonstrated how dangerous O'Connell's offense can be in their opening win over the Packers, with Justin Jefferson weaponised by the former Rams assistant's complex attack.

Even though he was kept in check by Philadelphia, Jefferson's 8.5 burn yards per target are the fifth-most among receivers with at least 10 targets in the first two games.

The offensive line remains a problem, but the early signs are that the Vikings' defensive front will be one that tilts games in their favour, having already registered six sacks for negative yardage.

Cousins is delivering the ball accurately, posting a well-thrown rate of 86.5 per cent and, though there are questions about his ability to perform under the brightest spotlight, a schedule that features 10 games against 2021 non-playoff teams could give the Vikings the edge of their division rivals in the fight to get to the NFL's postseason pressure cooker.

Green Bay Packers

Record: 1-1

Power ranking: 9

The Packers got the poor start out of the way in a Week 1 loss in Minnesota that left Aaron Rodgers visibly exasperated. Normal service was resumed, however, in the routine Week 2 win over the Bears.

Green Bay's problem is that the Packers have a roster in which several holes can be picked. The offensive line has struggled amid left tackle David Bakhtiari's prolonged absence, while the Packers' hopes of fixing their continually porous run defense have not come to pass as yet. They have surrendered 5.56 yards per play on the ground, the fourth-most in the NFL.

Rodgers has yet to build a rapport with a young receiver corps as the Packers look to put the Davante Adams saga and eventual trade to the Las Vegas Raiders behind them. Though the lack of a connection may be more down to a paucity of faith in his inexperienced wideouts' ability to catch the ball, rather than any worries about their success in creating separation.

Second-round pick Christian Watson has recorded an impressive 14.4 burn yards per target on the small sample size of seven targets. With Rodgers delivering a well-thrown ball on 89.3 per cent of his attempts, it might not be too long before Watson becomes a more integral part of the passing game, though the diversity the Packers gain through having running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on the field at the same time can keep the offense performing efficiently regardless of how the wideouts progress.

Jones, unquestionably one of the most complete backs in the NFL, has produced a big play on three of his eight targets this season, with defenses forced to respect both the run and the pass when he and Dillon line up in two-running back personnel groupings.

The Packers' secondary, despite being shredded by Jefferson in Week 1, is in the top 12 in open percentage allowed while the strength of their defensive line has Green Bay in the top 12 in pass rush win percentage.

Both the front and the back of the Green Bay defense have the talent to rise much higher on those lists and, if such strides are accompanied by Rodgers developing an understanding with his new weapons, the Packers will likely soon have a compelling case for being the conference's elite.

"Anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment."

That refrain from The Arctic Monkeys song 'The View From The Afternoon' applies perfectly to the world of fantasy football, where high expectations are often not reflected by the end result.

While it is too early in the NFL season to be writing off teams and players who have not lived up to their hype as yet, there will already be fantasy owners getting impatient with certain players they drafted to help their team to glory.

Fans of the Las Vegas Raiders will certainly be irritated by their winless start while two offensive stars in the NFC West have yet to deliver much for differing reasons.

Keep that theme and that division in mind as Stats Perform dives into this week's edition of fantasy picks.

Quarterback: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders @ Tennessee Titans

Is it time to panic in Vegas after an 0-2 start? It certainly will be if the Raiders do not get it done against the also winless Titans.

Recent evidence quite clearly points to the Raiders' quarterback putting Las Vegas in a position to finally get up and running against a Tennessee defense that was shredded by the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.

The Titans are giving up seven yards per pass play, the seventh-most in the NFL, while the six passing touchdowns they have conceded are the third most.

Las Vegas' offense may not be on the same level as that of Buffalo, but the Raiders should have more than enough to consistently take advantage of a Titans defense that has been hit by injuries and reward fantasy players willing to give Carr a shot.

Running Back: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Commanders

The Eagles' offense is built around quarterback Jalen Hurts, with his ability to thrive running the ball a critical component of their early success this year.

But Sanders' 20 touches in the win over the Minnesota Vikings illustrated that he too is a key part of the attack.

Through two weeks, he is averaging 88 yards per game on the ground and this week gets to face a Commanders defense allowing 7.48 yards per rush, the highest average in the NFL.

Sanders should, therefore, be a high-floor fantasy play at running back this week, though Hurts' involvement in the ground game somewhat limits his ceiling.

Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson, Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

The highly anticipated return to form for Robinson following his move to Los Angeles has yet to come to fruition, though he did find the endzone last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

In Week 3, he has a clear opportunity to build on that showing against a Cardinals team whose failures should not be masked by their incredible comeback win over the Raiders.

The Cardinals have allowed 7.65 yards per pass play in the first two games and seven passing touchdowns, the most in the NFL.

In other words, the Rams should have little problem moving the ball on Arizona, putting Robinson in position to have a big day as a mismatch in the red zone.

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers @ Denver Broncos

The Niners should get Kittle back from a groin injury this week, and the fact the Jimmy Garoppolo has had to step in for the injured Trey Lance is unlikely to have any negative impact on his production.

Kittle's chemistry with Garoppolo is well-established and, though theoretically he has a tough matchup against a stingy Broncos defense, there is room for optimism he will immediately hit the ground running in his season debut.

That optimism stems from the Broncos' performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, when Denver allowed eight catches for 102 yards and a touchdown to tight ends, an average of 12.75 yards per reception.

If Kittle is allowed to do similar damage, then arguably the best yards after catch threat at his position could make it a long night for Denver and a great one for fantasy players with him on their roster.

Defense/Special Teams: Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints

OK. Listing the 0-2 Panthers here might elicit a double take, but there's logic behind this pick, believe it or not.

The Panthers may be heading to a complete teardown come the end of the year, but the defense is not the reason behind their struggles.

They have given up just 4.31 yards per play, the fourth-best average in the NFL, and just three offensive touchdowns.

Yes, the Saints are the better team, but they are also starting a quarterback in Jameis Winston who has four fractures in his back.

A low-scoring struggle is the most likely outcome in this NFC South matchup and, for that reason, the Panthers are a defense worthy of streaming for fantasy players in a bind at that spot.

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance underwent successful surgery on his broken ankle on Monday and is expected to make a full recovery.

The 49ers revealed in a statement that Lance had a fibula fracture and a ligament disruption in his right ankle.

Lance's first season as San Francisco's starter is over only two games in after the 2021 No. 3 overall pick suffered the injury in Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Lance's right leg bent awkwardly when tackled by two Seattle defenders on a designed run on just the 49ers' second drive of the game. He was carted off after having his leg placed in an air cast and quickly ruled out of the contest.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the fracture following his team's 27-7 victory.

"It's always tough, especially when it's a big one like that," Shanahan stated. "It's a very sad moment, but you don't have time to sit there and think about it.

"We were real happy about the win, but it was a little sombre once you got in the locker room and you see him."

Lance spent his rookie season as the backup to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, but was declared the team's starter this offseason.

The 22-year-old did struggle in last week's 19-10 road loss to the Chicago Bears, completing just 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception in a game played in rain-soaked conditions.

Lance took to Twitter to post a message to thank fans for their support on Monday, writing: "Truly appreciate all of the messages and prayers. Surgery was a success and I am ready to attack this rehab process.

"We will never understand why, but I trust that it's all a part of His plan. I will be back better than ever. This chapter is going to make the story even greater!"

Garoppolo replaced Lance in Sunday's win and threw for 154 yards and a touchdown, with no turnovers on 13-of-21 passing.

"I thought he did a real good job coming off the bench, made some real key throws," Shanahan said. "I'm real proud of Jimmy and how he came in and was ready for the moment and helped us get a win."

Garoppolo did not practice at all during training camp as he recovered from shoulder surgery and spent the summer the subject of trade rumours.

The nine-year veteran ultimately remained with the 49ers on a reworked contract that slashed his 2022 salary from $24.2million to a $6.5m base, though he can earn close to an additional $9m in incentives.

The 49ers have had considerable past success with Garoppolo at the helm, as he owns a 31-14 record in 45 regular-season starts since joining the team in a trade with the New England Patriots during the 2017 season.

Garoppolo helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl during the 2019 season and led them to last season's NFC Championship Game. The 30-year-old threw for 3,810 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in 15 starts in 2021.

Jimmy Garoppolo is back as the San Francisco 49ers' starter but only after an awful injury to his successor Trey Lance.

Garoppolo looked to be on the way out of the Niners in the offseason as Lance, selected with the third overall pick in last year's draft, was installed as the starter in San Francisco.

Eventually, however, the team agreed to a reworked contract with Garoppolo that would see him stay on as Lance's backup.

And the 30-year-old, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019 and the NFC Championship Game last year, did not have to wait long for his chance.

Lance fractured his right ankle in a tackle on the 49ers' second drive of their Week 2 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

He left the field on a cart and was quickly ruled out of the rest of the game, with coach Kyle Shanahan later confirming the quarterback was set for season-ending surgery.

Garoppolo came in for his first snaps of the year, throwing for 154 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a further score as San Francisco eased to a 27-7 win.

After the game, he said: "It felt good to be back out there.

"I felt terrible for Trey. I've been on that side in this league. It's tough. Every person has their share of injuries, but that sucks for him and I feel bad for him.

"But he's our brother, and we'll pick him up."

Garoppolo has himself been working his way back from shoulder surgery, but he quickly settled back in.

"It was more just about getting the shoulder ready," he said. "Mentally, I knew the scheme.

"Some of the new plays took a little while to learn, there's always some new wrinkles in the offense, but for the most part it was just once my shoulder was good, I was ready to roll."

Trey Lance’s first season as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback is over after only two games after the 2021 No. 3 overall pick fractured his right ankle in Sunday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Lance’s right leg bent awkwardly when tackled by two Seattle defenders on a designed run on the 49ers’ second drive of the game. He was carted off after having his leg placed in an air cast and quickly ruled out of the contest.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the fracture following his team’s 27-7 victory and announced Lance is set to undergo surgery Monday.

“It’s always tough, especially when it’s a big one like that,” Shanahan said. “It’s a very sad moment, but you don’t have time to sit there and think about it.

“We were real happy about the win, but it was a little somber once you got in the locker room and you see him.”

Lance spent his rookie season as the backup to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo but was declared the team’s starter this offseason. The 22-year-old did struggle in last week’s 19-10 road loss to the Chicago Bears, completing just 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception in a game played in rain-soaked conditions.

Garoppolo replaced Lance in Sunday’s win and threw for 154 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers on 13-of-21 passing.

“I thought he did a real good job coming off the bench, made some real key throws,” Shanahan said. “I’m real proud of Jimmy and how he came in and was ready for the moment and helped us get a win.

Garoppolo did not practice at all during training camp as he recovered from shoulder surgery and spent the summer the subject of trade rumours. The nine-year veteran ultimately remained with the 49ers on a reworked contract that slashed his 2022 salary from $24.2 million to a $6.5 million base, though he can earn close to an additional $9 million in incentives.

The 49ers have had considerable past success with Garoppolo at the helm, as he owns a 31-14 record in 45 regular-season starts since joining the team in a trade with the New England Patriots during the 2017 season.

Garoppolo helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl during the 2019 season and led the 49ers to last season’s NFC Championship Game. The 30-year-old threw for 3,810 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in 15 starts in 2021.

George Kittle will be absent for the San Francisco 49ers for the second week in a row, having been ruled out of Sunday's division match-up against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Pro Bowl tight end missed the 49ers' shock Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears with a groin injury but returned to practice on Friday, though he carried a questionable status.

Kittle has now been officially ruled as inactive for Week 2, marking the fourth consecutive season where he has missed multiple games.

After last week's loss to the Bears, the 49ers are 6-9 in games without Kittle during his career, including losses in six of their last seven without him.

San Francisco have lost four in a row to the Seahawks, who begun their season with a surprising victory against the Denver Broncos in Russell Wilson's return to Seattle.

George Kittle's status for the San Francisco 49ers' Week 2 clash with the Seattle Seahawks is up in the air, with conflicting reports over whether he will play.

Pro Bowl tight end Kittle missed the 49ers' shock Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears with a groin injury.

Kittle returned to practice on Friday, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported he is not expected to play as the 49ers look to avoid an 0-2 start in Trey Lance's first season as the starting quarterback.

However, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport labelled Kittle as a "game-time decision". According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Kittle is pushing to play despite the 49ers preparing to once again be without him.

The highlight of the early window of games is the NFC South clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay will be without one wide receiver as Chris Godwin misses out because of a hamstring injury, but Mike Evans (calf) is expected to play. Veteran Julio Jones (knee) is questionable and the Bucs reportedly do not expect to know if he will be available until pre-game warm-ups.

Running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is set to play, but left tackle Donovan Smith is doubtful with an elbow injury.

For the Saints, running back Alvin Kamara is likely to miss out due to a rib injury, but his backup Mark Ingram (ankle) is expected to play, as is quarterback Jameis Winston (back).

In the Sunday night game, the Green Bay Packers are set to welcome back wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) for their encounter with the Bears at Lambeau Field.

What a first week of the NFL season that was.

So much drama, so many late twists, and it's almost time to do it all over again as Week 2 looms on the horizon.

Sunday sees Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to follow up their opening win against the Dallas Cowboys when they head to New Orleans, the Los Angeles Rams will aim to get on the board when they host the Atlanta Falcons, while Russell Wilson's first home game for the Denver Broncos sees them welcome the Houston Texans.

With all that and more, Stats Perform has used Opta data to preview the weekend's action in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ New Orleans Saints (1-0)

The Saints have won their last seven regular-season games against the Buccaneers, matching the longest previous winning streak by either team in this rivalry, a run of seven consecutive wins by New Orleans from 2011 to 2014. Tampa Bay did beat the Saints in a Divisional Playoff game following the 2020 season.

Tampa Bay had one interception (by Antoine Winfield Junior) in their season-opening win at Dallas. The Bucs were 11-0 last season in games in which they intercepted at least one pass. The Green Bay Packers (also 11-0) were the only other NFL team to go unbeaten last season in games in which they recorded one or more interceptions.

New Orleans won their season opener in Atlanta, 27-26, after trailing 26-10 in the fourth quarter. It was the first time in franchise history that the Saints won a game in which they trailed by 16 or more points in the fourth quarter, and only the third time they won a game in which they were behind by 16 or more points in the second half.

Tom Brady and the Bucs lost their last game against the Saints, 9-0 (Week 15 last season). That is one of only three times that Brady's team has been shut out in his 317 regular-season and 47 postseason starts in the NFL. The other shutouts were in 2003 (Patriots at Buffalo, 31-0 in Week 1) and 2014 (Patriots at Miami, 21-0 in Week 14).

Atlanta Falcons (0-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (0-1)

Including their original stint in California and time in St. Louis, the Rams are 28-8-2 (.778) at home against their former NFC West rival, Atlanta Falcons. That is the best home record of any franchise against a single opponent (minimum of 30 games) in NFL history.

Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta's season opener. At 31 years old, Patterson is the second-oldest player in team history to have 100+ rushing yards and a touchdown run in a game, behind only Warrick Dunn, who had two such games.

The Rams started the season with a 31-10 loss to the Bills, the largest home loss in a season opener ever by a defending Super Bowl champion. The team has not started a season at 0-2 since 2011 when they were in St. Louis and have not lost their first two games as the Los Angeles Rams since 1987.

Cooper Kupp tied a career high with 13 catches in the opener against Buffalo. Including playoffs, Kupp has at least five receptions in each of the Rams' last 22 games. Only Antonio Brown has a longer such streak of team games with five or more catches in the Super Bowl era (37).

Houston Texans (0-0-1) @ Denver Broncos (0-1)

The Texans opened their season with a 20-20 tie against the Indianapolis Colts, despite being outgained by 218 yards in the game. Prior to Houston on Sunday, the last team to tie a game while having 200+ yards less than their opponent was the Packers against the Broncos in 1987.

In his first game with the Texans, O.J. Howard scored touchdowns on each of his two receptions. Howard joins Jaelen Strong as the only players to ever have two TD catches in their team debut for Houston.

Denver committed 12 penalties in their 17-16 loss to the Seahawks on Monday. It was the most penalties the Broncos have ever committed in a season opener, surpassing the 11 penalties they had to kick off the 1970 season against the Bills.

Russell Wilson threw for 340 yards against the Seahawks in his Denver debut. It was the most passing yards by a Broncos QB on their debut with the team and Wilson's 12th career game with 340+ passing yards (his teams are 5-7 in those games).

Elsewhere...

The New England Patriots travel to the Pittsburgh Steelers after suffering a 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, and have not started a season with consecutive double-digit losses since losing three straight games by such a margin to begin the 1969 campaign.

Baltimore's Lamar Jackson threw for three touchdowns against the New York Jets after throwing three or more TDs just twice all of last season. Before they host the Dolphins, it is notable that, in his career, the Ravens are 13-1 when Jackson has three or more pass TDs, the second-best team record among active players behind Josh Allen at 14-1 (minimum 10 such games).

Starting with their 2013 NFC Championship game success over the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks are 15-2 in their last 17 games against San Francisco, which includes season sweeps in 2020 and 2021. The 15 wins since January 2014 are tied with the Patriots (vs. Jets) for the most by an NFL team against a single opponent in that span (including playoffs).

The Arizona Cardinals will need to watch Davante Adams, who had 10 catches for 141 yards on 17 targets in his Las Vegas Raiders debut. That is the most targets for any player in their first career game with the Raiders in the past 30 seasons. The only other with player with 15+ targets in their Raiders debut over that span is Randy Moss in 2005 (15).

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