NFL: 6 main takeaways after crazy Week 3

Week 3 of the 2017 NFL regular season may have been the wildest week in NFL history. It seemed that every morning game finished within five minutes of each other and there were nine upsets on the day.

Even the teams that were favored had to win in nail-biting fashion, including the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

That afternoon and night, more of the same continued with the Cincinnati Bengals almost winning, the Tennessee Titans beating the Legion of Boom, and the Oakland Raiders getting manhandled by the Washington Redskins.

With the wild weekend in the rearview mirror, here are the main takeaways from Sunday’s action.

[irp posts=”13380″ name=”3 reasons why Raider Nation should not panic”]

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (Photo via Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Seattle’s O-Line too much to overcome

The Seattle Seahawks began the season with a 1-1 start and needed to grab a win. As such, the Legion of Boom would have been expected to come out fierce and will the Seahawks to a tough victory.

Instead, quarterback Russell Wilson was left to carry the team on his own as the running game was nonexistent and the defense gave up 33 points to the Titans, an offense that mustered just 16 in Week 1 against the Raiders.

Seattle possesses an elite quarterback entering his prime but doesn’t have an offensive line to protect him, along with zero weapons on offense, and an aging defense whose window is closing.

The addition of defensive end Sheldon Richardson should have reignited the defense, however, the front seven aside from linebacker Bobby Wagner has been subpar, shown by the Titans’ 195 yards on the ground.

The Seahawks need to overhaul their offense and build an offensive line around Wilson. Until they do, Seattle will be wasting Wilson’s best years and be out of Super Bowl contention.

[irp posts=”13348″ name=”NFL: Ryan Lipton’s top 5 Week 3 picks against spread”]

Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt scores touchdown vs. Patriots (Photo via Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Chiefs are doing the hunting

Some thought the Kansas City Chiefs’ time was running out. It seemed like quarterback Alex Smith was on his way out since they drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes and that 2017 could be a slight down year.

Instead, Smith is having one of the best seasons of his career, throwing seven touchdowns without an interception through the first three weeks.

Coach Andy Reid is also showing us why he is a future first-ballot Hall of Fame head coach after victories over the Patriots, Chargers and Eagles, three teams many thought would make a playoff push before the season started.

The Chiefs also have an unstoppable weapon out of the backfield in running back Kareem Hunt, which could create a dangerous duo for the next half-decade of him and Smith. Hunt, in just three games, has 538 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has continued improving after his impressive 2016 rookie campaign tallying 277 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns already.

Kansas City has it all. An elite head coach, good quarterback, stout defense and a plethora of offensive weapons. They might be the best and most complete team in the NFL.

[irp posts=”13337″ name=”NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 3 picks against spread”]

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

Cam isn’t Super Cam

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s start to the 2017 NFL regular season has not been pretty. The one-time MVP has thrown for 566 yards with just two touchdowns to four interceptions. Not great numbers for a franchise quarterback.

Losing top target and tight end Greg Olsen along with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin often being injured, Newton does not have much room for error. He has never been the most accurate quarterback, shown by his career completion percentage of 58.5%, and will be without elite pass catchers who can help catch a few errantly thrown balls here and there.

As such, it doesn’t look like it will get much better for the Panthers and Newton. They will need to go back to using a strong power running game, playing tough defense, and using Newton’s big arm to stretch the field when the opportunity presents itself.

Newton is a good quarterback, who can make incredible plays, but he isn’t good enough to win his team games each and every Sunday.

The next three games will be telling for Newton as they have New England (away), Detroit (away) and Philadelphia coming up.

[irp posts=”13426″ name=”The JR Report’s way too early CFB Playoff predictions”]

Photo via USA Today Sports

Brady back to being the GOAT

Midway through Week 3, the Patriots were staring a 1-2 start in the face. Was it the beginning of the end for New England if they lost to the Houston Texans and Chiefs at home?

No, it was quite the opposite. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led an amazing eight play, 75-yard drive to take the lead with just 23 seconds left in the game.

The drive might have been lucky as there were a dropped interception and a fumble recovery, yet Brady still drove down the field in incredible fashion, throwing strikes while getting blasted.

The defense might be a little weaker in 2017, but Brady, despite the Week 1 outlier, is as good as ever at 40-years of age.

Remember, Brady didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandin Cooks in 2016. Consequently, the former Wolverine will only look better as the season progresses.

[irp posts=”13361″ name=”Will non-conference marquee matchups be a thing of the past?”]

Photo via Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Falcons are Super Bowl Contenders

Admittedly, I was a major skeptic of the Atlanta Falcons coming into this season. They had an incredible 2016 season with an improving defense and one of the best offenses in NFL history.

However, I expected that the loss of coach Kyle Shanahan would hurt quarterback Matt Ryan’s performance. They would still be very good, but not historic. Moreover, I thought Ryan’s year was an arbitration.

So far in 2017, Ryan has thrown for just under 900 yards and has led this team to an impressive 29 points per game. The offensive numbers are not as astounding as last season, but their defense has improved, surrendering just 22 points per game so far, making them as good if not better than last season.

[irp posts=”13261″ name=”Why Saints QB Drew Brees should request a trade”]

Ravens QB Joe Flacco after loss to Jaguars in London (Photo via Logan Bowles/NFL)

The AFC North is not good

The AFC North has two winless teams in the Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The two teams with winning records, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, couldn’t look worse.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore lost to a Blake Bortles led Jacksonville Jaguars team by 37 points. Quarterback Joe Flacco and this offense are nowhere near playoff caliber.

After playing three poor teams, who have a combined two wins, the Ravens have mustered just 17 points per game. In addition, Flacco is only averaging 122 yards per game through the air.

The big Flacco payday is finally catching up with the team in a debilitating fashion.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite having a winning record, the Steelers have looked quite bad to this point on the road. Their home victory against the Minnesota Vikings was nice, but then again quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t play.

On the road, Pittsburgh has lost to the Chicago Bears, a flat-out bad team, and played the winless Browns close.

The Steelers are still a good team and will easily win the division, but need to fix their woes on the road and get running back LeVeon Bell and the running game in gear if they want to seriously contend for a Lombardi Trophy in February.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFC North preview: Aaron Rodgers and Packers look to reign supreme

Photo via Matt Ludtke/AP 

Ah the NFC North. This division has always reminded me of the most history in one division. Yes, the New England Patriots have more championships than every other team, but a division that has the former head coach that the Super Bowl trophy is named after? I mean come on, if that’s not history I don’t know what is.

Lambeau Field, Soldier Stadium that’s history for you. Two iconic fields where some of the best teams of all time have played. The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions both have beautiful indoor stadiums with Minnesota’s US Bank Stadium, a beautiful indoor arena, being opened for the first time in 2016.

Beautiful fields and storied franchises, those are just a few of the characteristics of the NFC North.

[irp posts=”13088″ name=”NFC West preview: Can anyone challenge the Seahawks?”]

Photo via Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Green Bay Packers

Yes, the Green Bay Packers still have who many believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. I know, not Tom Brady but Aaron Rodgers. Last year, the former-Cal standout said his team would run the table when they were 4-6 and you know what? They did just that.

Rodgers was absolutely incredible last year, but some of the Packers issues remain clear. Did the defense do enough in the offseason to get better? Will wide receiver-turned running back Ty Montgomery be able to have another productive season rushing the ball? These are questions that remain to be answered.

The Packers finished ranked No. 22 in the league in yards allowed last season and drafted former UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark and recently signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to improve their pass rush.

The offensive line will be among the best in the game since the team signed Jahri Evans and re-signed Don Barclay to ensure that Rodgers has all the protection he needs.

Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams all still create a good arsenal of receivers for Rodgers and you better believe he’ll use them all well.

[irp posts=”13013″ name=”NFL predictions: Raiders improve despite decline in 2017 win/loss record”]

Photo via Jason Miller/Getty Images

Detroit Lions

The Lions a year ago, made it into the playoffs only to lose to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field during Wild Card Weekend to extend their playoff losing streak to nine consecutive games, the longest streak in NFL history. 

Detroit has a very solid quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but he hasn’t shown he can win playoff games. While Detroit’s offense was solid in 2016, at No. 13 overall, Stafford might need more help in 2017.

Insert Ameer Abdullah. This speedster out of Nebraska has the talent to be a clear no. 1 running back, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. If he can assume the role of a three-down running back, with Theo Reddick there to help in pass-catching situations, the running game could be a key to winning in 2017.

Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are going to be relied on heavily in the passing game, but the emergence of tight end Eric Ebron will be important as Stafford looks to have three solid options.

[irp posts=”12984″ name=”3 takeaways after Raiders’ preseason loss to Cowboys”]

Photo via Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings were expected to be good ever since Teddy Bridgewater looked like he could be the franchise quarterback, but after tearing his ACL a year ago, the team hasn’t been the same.

Bridgewater has been put on the PUP list to start the season and will be out at least the first six games. Sam Bradford will take his spot as the QB1.

Stefon Diggs has what it takes to become one of the elite receivers in the game. The running back group is as deep as any team with the starting running back looking like it will be assumed by rookie Dalvin Cook, while the team also signed free agent Latavius Murray in the offseason who ran for 12 touchdowns in 2016.

The defense had a great 2016 finishing third in overall defense. With Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and Xavier Rhodes, it shouldn’t regress very much in 2017.

Watch out for Minnesota if Bradford can just be a solid game-manager until Bridgewater, hopefully, is healthy to return.

[irp posts=”13055″ name=”Celtics G Kyrie Irving has nowhere to go but up”]

Photo via Chicago Tribune

Chicago Bears

The Bears signed a very good backup quarterback in Mike Glennon to become their starter. 22 million. That’s how much they paid for a quarterback who’s never thrown for 20 touchdowns in a single season.

Also, they traded with the 49ers for the No. 2 overall pick taking quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. They gave up way too much for the pick, considering all the information pointed to San Francisco not having any interest in the former-UNC quarterback.

Jordan Howard had a phenomenal first year and is primed to have a complete season as a top-10 running back.

Unfortunately, Chicago just lost wide receiver Cameron Meredith to a torn ACL and this means they will have to rely on Kevin White, who is very talented but has been injured for much of his short career. White’s success will play a large role in the Bears trying to move the ball down the field, no matter who’s under center.

While the defense wasn’t terrible, it was just average and won’t be a big factor in the Bears taking big strides this season.

[irp posts=”1439″ name=”Cam Newton might never be the same”]

Photo via Credit Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Predictions

Division Champion: Green Bay Packers

The Packers have to be the clear favorite to win the NFC North in 2017 despite the fact that their defense still has major questions. With that being said, it is possible both the Vikings and Lions could take advantage of any struggles. 

Aaron Rodgers is the only reason Green Bay is the favorite. He and Tom Brady both have the capability to dominate games. Moreover, Rodgers is still in the middle of his prime, unlike Brady. 

Ty Montgomery will be a huge key for the Packers, with few questions in the passing game. Montgomery should be expected to have a very good year as the starting running back. 

However, questions still surround the secondary and if they will be able to improve in 2017. 

Regardless of the form the defense is in, the offensive line is one of the best in the NFL and they will help Rodgers lead the Pack to another division title.

[irp posts=”6667″ name=”ESPN choosing brand over star power will lead to inevitable decline”]

Photo via AP Photo/Bob Leverone

Dark Horse: Minnesota Vikings

This year, the Minnesota Vikings are intriguing. Bradford has never fully realized his potential but if he can help the Vikings to a winning record before Bridgewater can come back, the rest of this team has the ability to be elite.

Dalvin Cook could easily be the offensive rookie of the year. With Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon also in the mix, the Vikings don’t need star-production out of their quarterback.

The defense is ferocious and should be one of the NFL’s best in 2017. Look out for the Vikings as they could easily compete for a wild card spot if not the division.


Rob Werner is a contributing writer for The JR Report. For more news follow him on twitter @robwerner28.

3 reasons why Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr is worth every penny

Photo via Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is expected to break the bank and sign a contract worth about $25 million per year with Oakland.

The yearly average would place him as the highest paid quarterback in the NFL just ahead of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck who has a yearly average of $24.6 million.

Here is why Carr is worth every single penny that the Raiders are going to give him.

[irp posts=”11328″ name=”Raiders’ Derek Carr to ink new deal worth about $25M per year”]

 

Raiders Derek Carr throws
Photo via Getty Images

 

No. 3, Carr is the first domino

Once Carr officially signs his new deal, many pundits will be saying that he is resetting the quarterback market. They are correct with that statement as the next quarterback to sign, who is on Carr’s level, will be expected to get around $25 million.

It might take a while, but in a few years, Carr’s contract will look to be a bargain as the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will expire in 2020. Recently, we have seen salary caps skyrocket after new CBAs, like in the NBA, which could make Carr’s contract look less impressive.

In addition, Carr is the first of the eligible quarterbacks to sign a deal this offseason. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins still have deals left to sign.

They will look at Carr’s deal and expect more money from their teams.

Luckily, Oakland and Carr got their deal done first. Therefore, it won’t be Carr looking at the other deals expecting more, but it will be Stafford and Cousins who will be doing that.

[irp posts=”8799″ name=”5 reasons why Raiders’ Derek Carr is more valuable than Andrew Luck”]

 

GettyImages-637183632.jpg
Photo via Getty Images

 

No. 2, Carr is the real MVP

If one is to look around the NFL can they find a more valuable player than Carr?

The first two names people might throw out are Luck and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Luck and Carr have similar teams. They both have poor defenses and often have to carry the team offensively, yet Carr did the better job carrying his team as the Raiders won 12 games to the Colts’ eight.

In regards to Brady, the Raiders suffer far worse without their starting quarterback. When Carr went out, the team struggled to gain first downs. When Brady was suspended for the first four games, the team was still able to pull out three victories with their backup and third-string quarterback.

There is no other team in the league that hurts more when their starting quarterback goes down than Oakland. Without a doubt, Carr is amongst the league’s most valuable players and deserves to be paid like one.

[irp posts=”11313″ name=”Former Raiders OLB Woodley: ‘Raider way’ key to winning Super Bowl”]

OAKLAND RAIDERS VS. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks to pass against the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter of their NFL game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

No. 1, Carr earned his payday

Carr, over the past two seasons, has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Over that stretch, Carr has thrown for 7,924 yards and 60 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions.

He also revitalized a Raider franchise taking them to their first playoff appearance since 2003.

Carr was incredibly valuable, yet was playing on a rookie contract that only paid him $1.3 million per year, at least $20 million less than he should be valued.

Therefore, Carr deserves to cash in on a monster deal as he was being undervalued for the past two seasons and will be in 2017 until his new deal kicks in next year.

[irp posts=”11264″ name=”Raiders’ Derek Carr AFC’s No. 2 best deep ball thrower”]