Photo via Getty Images
Here are some of Ryan Lipton’s articles from the last two weeks to get Raider Nation ready for the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots matchup this NFL Sunday in Mexico City.
Photo via Getty Images
Here are some of Ryan Lipton’s articles from the last two weeks to get Raider Nation ready for the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots matchup this NFL Sunday in Mexico City.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 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.
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.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Tomorrow will be overreaction Monday in the NFL. Fans across America will have seen their team play one game (except for Miami and Tampa Bay) and will be making assumptions about the rest of the season based upon on one 60 minute sample.
As always, many of these conclusions end up being very far from the truth.
As such, here is The JR Report’s advice on what overreactions are legit after the NFL’s Week 1 action.
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The New England Patriots were without wide receiver Julian Edelman. Wide receiver Philip Dorsett was just traded to the team and it was WR Brandin Cooks’ first game with quarterback Tom Brady.
Moreover, all-pro safety Eric Berry had the evening of his life completely taking tight end Rob Gronkowski out of the game.
Offensively, everything went against New England. Brady will be fine and the chemistry between him and the rest of the offense will only improve as the season progresses. Remember, they still put up 27 points against an elite Kansas City Chiefs defense on an off night with many injuries.
On defense, there were also many new pieces added during the offseason that included cornerback Stephon Gillmore. There was also an unfortunate injury to stud linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Coach Bill Belichick will turn around the defense and Brady will do the same with the offense. The rest of the NFL should not think this is the end of anything with New England.
The Patriots will be back and better than ever during Week 2’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
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The Arizona Cardinals lost in ugly fashion as they gave up 20 fourth quarter points and quarterback Carson Palmer threw three inceptions. However, the Cardinals will not be a below .500 team like they were last season.
Arizona still has a good defense, a stellar running back and a pretty great duo in Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals were a little unlucky on the road against a possible playoff team in the Detroit Lions. Don’t overreact. Look for Arizona to bounce back in a major fashion against the Luck-less Indianapolis Colts in Week 2.
*** Update: With Cardinals running back David Johnson injured for what could be half the season, the future is not quite as bright. Nonetheless, Arizona will still look to be an improved team in 2017 and will stay afloat in the NFC wild card race until Johnson returns. ***
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Yes, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked great today, however, it was against the Colts.
Remember, Indianapolis had what many people thought was the worst defense in the league in 2016. Even with quarterback Andrew Luck, they only won eight games. Now, they don’t have Luck so their league worst defense is now joined by a league worst offense as they have no hope without their MVP under center.
Without a doubt, Goff is an improved quarterback in 2017. But no Los Angeles fan should get ahead of themselves.
Goff will look good early, but 2016 Goff will be present shortly as their schedule becomes brutal with the Dallas Cowboys, (Jacksonville Jaguars?), Seattle Seahawks, Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans all in the next 10 weeks.
Photo via the Oakland Raiders official website
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, according to Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB), is the No. 10 best quarterback and No. 124 best player in the NFL.
Anyone in the Raider Nation knows how laughable the ranking is as Carr was ranked No. 11 in the NFL Network’s Top 100 players.
The MMQB’s list has Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert ranked one spot higher than Carr. While Carr started in 15 games and was an MVP candidate in 2016, Eifert started in just two games.
Photo via The Associated Press
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has been a major talking point of the recent NFL headlines. The discussion around Carr is not without reason as he just became the highest paid player in NFL history and led Oakland to their first postseason appearance since 2003.
Now, Carr’s impressive resume is only growing, for he was ranked as the No. 3 best quarterback in the AFC last season, per Pro Football Focus.
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The highest graded quarterbacks in the AFC in 2016. pic.twitter.com/FBdCzy4KWP
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 22, 2017
Carr is only behind arguably the greatest player of all time, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and one of the most hyped No. 1 overall picks in NFL history, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
It is great to see Carr at No. 3, however, his rating is too low. He is a full 5.4 points behind Luck despite winning four more games and showing the ineptitude of Oakland without Carr under center.
Ultimately, Raider Nation should not be afraid of seeing Carr and Brady in the same sentence. Moving forward, Brady, Luck and Carr will be the kings of the AFC and will be compared relentlessly until the day Brady retires.
Photo via Getty Images
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Photo via Sporting News
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was the No. 2 best deep-ball thrower in the AFC during 2016, per Pro Football Focus.
Raiders QB Derek Carr finished 2016 with the 2nd highest passer rating on deep passes in the AFC.
Can he improve that in 2017? pic.twitter.com/xUClvHYzaQ
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 18, 2017
Carr had an impressive passer rating of 117.6 that helped him leapfrog Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but placed him just behind New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
With the addition of Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, teams will have to load the box to stop the run. Therefore, it should open up the field for Carr to take more shots deep and improve his already great passer rating of 117.6.
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In addition, Oakland has added speedy Raiders wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson who can take the top off the defense. There is also Raiders tight end Jared Cook who will look stretch the field down the middle.
Not to mention, Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper will be entering his third season and is expected to take a giant step.
Without a doubt, Carr and the weapons around him are only going to be better in 2017.
With that being said, Carr will have a great shot to overtake Brady for the No. 1 spot next season. Maybe him jumping Brady as the best deep ball thrower will also help Oakland jump the Patriots as the No. 1 team in the AFC.
Photo via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has been the talk of the NFL this offseason. Everyone wanted to know whether or not the former pro bowler was going to return to his hometown of Oakland to play football.
Now that he has, Raider Nation has not been shy to show their love. Lynch understands that and has hosted many things for the fan base, including an Oakland block party.
The fans have apparently recognized his love for the city and have rewarded him by buying his jersey in droves placing him at the top of the list for jerseys sold in the entire NFL during the month of May, via Vice’s senior president CJ LaBoy.
— CJ LaBoy (@CJLaBoy) June 11, 2017
It is quite the impressive feat as Lynch has supplanted New England Patriots future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and possible GOAT Tom Brady as top on the list.
Photo via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is not known for his elusiveness or running ability. However, Carr was the third most elusive quarterback when it came to avoiding sacks in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.
The Pro Football Focus stats, above, mean that Carr was only sacked 11.3% of the time he was pressured last season. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the only player with a lower percentage.
This stat speaks to the ability of Carr to get rid of the ball quickly and make his offensive line look even better, for they gave up the least amount of sacks in the NFL last season.
Hopefully, Carr will stay elusive after his leg surgery because Raider Nation can not bear to see him get hit any more times and risk injury.
Overall, it is great to see Carr in the company of Brady. Oakland fans should be surprised to see their signal caller be mentioned in the same breath as Brady from here on out.
Photo via Elsa/ Getty Images
Young Stars Injured
It was a tough week 16 for many franchises who had to see their young stars go out with brutal injuries. Mariota and Carr both broke their fibula. Tyler Lockett broke his leg, Carlos Hyde hurt his knee and Bryce Petty hurt his shoulder. The only playoff-crushing injury was Carr, but Mariota’s injury was so bad that it will be at least a 5-month recovery which could really hurt Mariota getting ready for next season and the recovery period will most likely result in him missing OTA’s (offseason training activities).
All The Playoff Teams Decided in the AFC
The six playoff teams in the AFC have now been set. The big surprise, the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos are officially out. They got handled in a must-win game against division rival Kansas City. It wasn’t surprising that they lost, but it was absolutely shocking that Denver couldn’t even keep the game close in a must win situation.
The six teams that are officially in are New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Kansas City, and Miami. That would also be the current seeding if the playoffs ended today. However, there is still a lot that can change on the final Sunday in the regular season. New England has a chance to be a 1 or 2 seed. A win guarantees them the one seed, but a New England loss and an Oakland win catapults Oakland up to #1 and New England drops to 2. Oakland can also be the five seed if they lose and Kansas City wins. If that happens Kansas City would then take the two spot. The 3 and 4 seeds are set. Pittsburgh will be the 3 and Houston will be the 4. The last playoff scenario is Miami can jump Kansas City for the 5 seed if Kansas City loses and Miami wins.
Tom Savage #3, Houston Texans
Photo Credit: Ben Margot, STF
Backup Quarterback Galore
This has to be unprecedented, but there are 3 backup quarterbacks looking to start in the AFC playoffs. With recent injuries and benchings, Matt Moore, Tom Savage, and Matt McGloin all look like they will be leading their teams through the playoffs. It is still possible that Tannehill makes it back for a playoff game, but his status is very much unknown. Derek Carr seems like he will be out at least 6 weeks, which may be enough time for a Super Bowl return, but we have to be realistic, no Matt McGloin led team is going to the Super Bowl. Lastly, Tom Savage is in for the terrible Brock Osweiler. This change is probably the only backup change in the AFC that has made a team better, but nonetheless, Savage was still the backup quarterback and is looking to start in the playoffs. I can’t imagine there was another season with 3 backup quarterbacks starting playoff games in the same conference.
The road for Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger just got a whole lot easier. It is just a path of backup QB’s and Alex Smith until New England and Pittsburgh would most likely face off in Foxborough for an AFC Championship.
Derek Carr had no ligament damage in his broken fibula, so even though they are saying a minimum return time of 6 weeks, it is not impossible to return in 3-4 weeks after the plate in the fibula is put in (which it was on Tuesday during surgery). It would just be a matter of Derek having confidence in the leg and managing the pain. Charles Woodson has shown that it can be done by coming back in 3 weeks with the same injury. Just listen to the beginning of this clip when Romanowski talks about a possible 3-4 week recovery for Carr.
NFC Playoff Picture
The NFC playoff picture is mostly set. There are 7 teams still alive (not including the Bucs 1 in 100 million chance) fighting for 6 spots. The Cowboys, Giants, Falcons, and Seahawks have all clinched a playoff spot. The 3 teams left fighting for the last two spots are the Lions, Packers, and Redskins.
The Cowboys have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the 1 seed. The New York Giants have also clinched the 5 seed.
Every other seed is up for grabs. The 2 seed could go to either Atlanta or Seattle. Atlanta is in the driver seat because all they need is a win on Sunday to clinch a first round bye. However, a Falcon’s loss and a Seattle win will have Seattle jump Atlanta to the 2 spot and take the bye. Seattle also needs to win, even if Atlanta wins, to make sure they can retain at least a 3 seed. A loss for Seattle and a win by either Detroit or Green Bay, who play each other, would result in Seattle falling to the 4 spot. Luckily for Seattle, they play the Niners and should easily win.
The last division, in the NFC, that is still up for grabs is the NFC North. Green Bay and Detroit play in a winner take all game on Sunday Night Football. Winner takes the division and the loser probably misses the playoffs. The winner will most likely grab the 4 spot and the loser only gets in if Washington loses to the Giants, which is unlikely because the Giants don’t have anything to play for knowing their spot as the 5 seed can’t change.
Aaron Rodgers successful hail mary last time the Packers played in Detroit
USA TODAY Sports Images
The last seed that is up for grabs is the 6 seed. If Washington wins against New York, and the Lions and Packers don’t end up in a tie, then Washington will be the 6 seed. However, I would never expect this to happen, but Detroit and Green Bay could both guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs by tying each other. A tie would have Washington eliminated and Detroit and Green Bay would be in. However, that would never happen because that would involve Detroit giving the NFC North title to Green Bay. In the end, it is basically a win and you’re in game for Washington because the chances for Green Bay and Detroit tying are so low.
#24 Josh Norman
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post
Projected Playoff Seeding