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Germany looks to shore up defense ahead of Poland clash

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EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — Germany needs to focus on its defensive deficiencies weaknesses as it prepares to play Poland, top-scorers in qualifying round for the European Championship.

The world champions opened their campaign with a 2-0 win against Ukraine but were grateful to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for three outstanding saves and Jerome Boateng for a goal-line clearance.

Poland, which is led by qualifying’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski, will present a bigger challenge for Germany’s defense with both sides eyeing top spot in Group C on Thursday at Stade de France. Poland also won its first match, beating Northern Ireland 1-1.

One potential positive development for Germany is that defender Mats Hummels has declared himself fit after recovering from a calf injury he sustained in the German Cup final last month in his last game for Borussia Dortmund.

Coach Joachim Loew needs to decide whether to risk Hummels, who won’t have played for almost four weeks, or continue with his stop-gap solution of Shkodran Mustafi partnering Boateng in central defense.

Mustafi opened the scoring against Ukraine but looked vulnerable at times against speedy wingers Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka, and the Valencia defender almost gifted a late equalizer in a mix-up with Neuer.

Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich could also fill in, as could Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah, though both players are short of experience. The 20-year-old Tah was a late call up for original Hummels-replacement Antonio Ruediger, who tore a cruciate ligament in his right knee in training.

Poland’s victory over Northern Ireland in Nice on Sunday was the country’s fist victory at a European Championship. The team is unlikely to be overawed having beaten Germany in qualifying – its first win over its neighbor in 19 games.

Lewandowski says it is “the best Polish team in which I have ever played.”

Lewandowski is partnered in attack by Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik, familiar to Bundesliga fans from his time at Leverkusen and Augsburg. Though Lewandowski was kept quiet against the Northern Irish – no shots on goal and just 49 touches of the ball – he created space for Milik to score the only goal.

“The goal was important, I’m really happy about it,” the 22-year-old Milik said. “But even more important are the three points. We still have a few steps ahead of us; this is not the end of the journey.”

Falcons set to duel Packers as betting favorites on Sunday Night Football

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The Atlanta Falcons might never live down their Super Bowl LI collapse, but that was one game and Matt Ryan and cohorts are reliable when they are laying points.

The Falcons are listed as three-point favorites on the NFL Week 2 odds against the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers with a 55.5-point total in their Sunday Night Football matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Falcons are 7-0 straight-up and 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games as a favorite, as well as 7-1 both SU and ATS in their last eight games in Week 2. The Packers are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games against the NFC South division.

The teams’ last three matchups, including last season’s NFC Championship Game, have had totals of 65, 65 and 80 points.

Green Bay, which is 1-0 SU and ATS, can likely count on Rodgers continuing his success (325.6 yards/game in seven career games) against Atlanta. Having WR Jordy Nelson, who was out all last season, available this time around should help Green Bay move the ball. They will have to contend with Atlanta being deep on the defensive line, particularly in the interior where it’s added DT Dontari Poe. Getting pressure up the middle is usually about the only way to disrupt Rodgers.

Two of Rodgers’ primary protectors, LT David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and RT Bryan Bulaga (ankle/illness) have not had a full week of practice. Their health will factor in whether the Packers extend a trend of being 9-1 SU over their last 10 games.

The main concern for Atlanta, which is 1-0 SU and 0-1 ATS, is that it bogged down in the rushing phase during its Week 1 road win against the Chicago Bears, as RG Wes Schweitzer in particular struggled. However, notwithstanding disruptive DT Mike Daniels, Green Bay doesn’t appear to be as deep in the front seven at Chicago.

When Atlanta clears space for RB Devonta Freeman and RB Tevin Coleman to get going, Ryan and the passing game is that much more dangerous.

Julio Jones and fellow WRs such as Taylor Gabriel will have a tougher matchup than they did in the NFC Championship Game in January, now that CB Davon House and CB Damarious Randall have shored up the Packers’ secondary. Ultimately, Atlanta just has too many dangerous receivers to be shut down totally.

The total has gone over in seven of the Packers’ last eight games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in four of the Falcons’ last five games in September.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Best Fantasy Football waiver wire pick-ups for Week 2

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By Rotoworld.com

Welcome to the 2nd edition of Waiver Wired for the 2017 season. The opening weekend did not produce a large number of injuries, but that will not help ease the pain of David Johnson, Allen Robinson, and Danny Woodhead owners. Kevin White owners were already in pain at having Kevin White on their team, but his injury is yet another blow. Unfortunately for Robinson and White, their seasons are already over, although there is a slight chance White makes a late-season return. Johnson’s and Woodhead’s timelines are less certain, but both likely will miss significant time. All of that added to several surprise performances creates a hectic situation on the Week 2 wire.

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-owns, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list consists of players who are worthy of a roster spot if possible, and deep cuts are players owned in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

The Drop List
QB: Andy Dalton
RB:
Eddie Lacy, Darren McFadden
WR:
Allen Robinson, Kevin White
TE: 
C.J. Fiedorowicz

There were concerns about how Dalton would fare behind a bad offensive line, and at least through one week, those seem legitimate. With the Texans coming to town on Thursday night, Dalton is almost impossible to trust this week, and he is not good enough to stash on the bench. Even with Thomas Rawls out, Lacy only played seven snaps against the Packers. He looks done. McFadden was a surprise inactive Week 1, and it looks like Alfred Morris has earned the backup job behind Ezekiel Elliott. There are not any receivers owned in enough leagues I feel comfortable calling a drop, so I will take the cop out with the injured guys. After suffering a concussion Week 1, Fiedorowicz is unlikely to play on a short week, and he is not good enough to stash.

Quarterbacks
1. Alex Smith
2. Sam Bradford
3. Tyrod Taylor

Running Backs
1. Tarik Cohen
2. Buck Allen
3. Chris Carson
4. James White
5. Kerwynn Williams
6. Alvin Kamara
7. Chris Johnson
8. Darren Sproles
9. Andre Ellington

Wide Receivers
1. Corey Davis
2. Kenny Golladay
3. Cooper Kupp
4. Nelson Agholor
5. Danny Amendola
6. Paul Richardson
7. Marqise Lee
8. Zay Jones
9. Kendall Wright
10. Markus Wheaton
11. Allen Hurns

Tight Ends
1. Cameron Brate
2. Jared Cook
3. Charles Clay
4. Julius Thomas

Defense/Special Teams
1. Ravens
2. Bengals
3. Raiders
Looking Ahead: Packers

Kickers
1. Giorgio Tavecchio
2. Cairo Santos
3. Phil Dawson
Looking Ahead: Graham Gano