Plan Your Weekend Around This Game
What to watch: Two MVP candidates leading two of the league’s most fun offenses in a duel
We will see whether Mahomes has met his match in Jackson as well as whether the Ravens are ready to join the Chiefs in the top tier of AFC contenders. Both teams are in the top four in points, yards, yards per play, and first downs through the first two weeks, which explains why this matchup has the highest over/under point total of the week. Neither team has had serious competition so far, with the Chiefs playing the Jaguars and Raiders and the Ravens beating the Dolphins and Cardinals, so this is the first true test for both teams.
C Matt Skura vs DT Chris Jones
Chris Jones has developed into a game wrecker. With 23 sacks, 46 quarterback hits, 13 pass deflections, six forced fumbles and two interceptions over his last 34 games, the Mississippi State product has a history of disruption.
Jones bullied past Skura for a rare takedown of Lamar Jackson last December. Skura has worked to strengthen his anchor this season, and will receive assistance from guards Bradley Bozeman or Marshal Yanda on most plays. Kansas City led the NFL in sacks last season, including a Justin Houston strip-sack against the Ravens, but Houston and Dee Ford have departed.
The lineman will have to account for recently acquired defensive end Frank Clark. Nonetheless, preventing Jones from causing havoc in the backfield should be the blockers top priority
“(We’ll be) waking up Sunday morning to some pretty heavy downpours of rain that will likely through mid-morning, right on up to kickoff for our Chiefs out at Arrowhead,” Bogowith said.
Most of the region will receive several inches of rain. Some areas will get at least an inch, while other areas could see as much as four or more inches of rain.
“Take the red ponchos, the rain gear with you. You will need that,” she said. “As we clear this out, finally, heading into the start of early next week — first day of fall on Monday — we’re looking much drier.”
Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
After the Kansas City Chiefs traded Carlos Hyde to the Houston Texans but before they brought in LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson had some fantasy buzz as Damien Williams’ backup. Once McCoy signed, the buzz was gone and Thompson’s role appeared to be minimal.
Through two games, Thompson has a catch for three yards and a single carry for one yard over a total of six snaps. By comparison, Williams logged 84 snaps (42 percent) with 22 carries for 34 yards and a score in addition to nine receptions for 87 yards on 11 targets. McCoy rushed 21 times for 104 yards and caught all four of his targets for 12 yards while playing 51 snaps (25.5 percent).
Thompson’s role could be on the rise this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens if Williams or McCoy is unavailable. Williams has yet to practice this week because of a knee injury, while McCoy (ankle) went from no practice to limited practice.
If one of them can’t go, Thompson would have some flex appeal. If both players sit, Thompson could be a top-15 option by default even in a tough matchup. Keep an eye on the health of this backfield.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he believes Jackson “has one of the prettiest deep balls for a quarterback in the league.” But defensive the Chiefs would rather let the Ravens beat them deep rather than allow Jackson and his playmakers to operate in space.
“I think defensively we’ve got to challenge him, challenge his wide receivers,” Mathieu said. “They’re not a really big group. They can run, but they’re not really big. I think it’s important for us to challenge them at the line of scrimmage and just force him to throw the ball over our heads.”
It’s a nod to the very beginnings of Chiefs’ football, so it was only fitting that the grounds crew asked Toma – now 90 years old – to come back and do what he does best, albeit things have changed a bit since this design was last implemented.
“All I had back then was a small truck of equipment and a two-gallon garden sprayer, and now we have two 60-foot long trailers full of equipment,” Toma said. “I’m so happy to see that some of that nostalgia from 1963 will be here on the field this Sunday.”
Kansas City Chiefs: Say what you want about Andy Reid, but he is not afraid to take on talented players with big attitudes. He made things work with DeSean Jackson and Terrell Owens in Philadelphia, and also helped Marcus Peters play at an All-Pro level with the Chiefs. Ramsey would provide this Kansas City defense with a dominant CB1 to match up with the premier pass catchers dotting the AFC -- no small thing, given this team’s Super Bowl aspirations. Moreover, Ramsey would give the Chiefs a little edge and grit -- stuff this team needs to take the next step as a title contender.
Like a young Michael Jordan, Mahomes focused on improving a specific part of his game this offseason. His ability to create extra time to throw with his movement inside and outside the pocket has helped the 24-year-old MVP look better than a year ago. Jackson is more obviously improved, although folks are a little too surprised that a wildly talented 22-year-old quarterback took big strides when the signs were all there. Lamar’s run to the edge on a read-option remains the easiest 8-yard gain in football, and the types of dimes he threw against Arizona were eye-opening -- to the boundary into tight coverage and delicately over the top of zone defenses. The overtime matchup between these two teams last year was an instant classic and provided Mahomes’ MVP moment. Expect more of the same Sunday -- and for the rest of the 2020s -- while pitying the viewers stuck with local game coverage of mere mortals.
Around the league
Let’s take a closer look at the plan. Since Flores was hired in early February, the Dolphins have traded six starters, including four first-round picks (DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, LT Laremy Tunsil, QB Ryan Tannehill and DE Robert Quinn, who was originally drafted by the Rams). They also cut five players, including DT Akeem Spence and WR Danny Amendola, and allowed Cameron Wake, Ju’Wuan James and Frank Gore to leave in free agency. Miami did sign journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and traded for 2018 Cardinals first-round pick Josh Rosen, but no one expected them to be anything more than a speed bump on the runaway tractor trailer headed down the Tank Mountain.
That’s the grim truth. The silver lining is that the Dolphins have three first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft -- their own, which will almost certainly be the No. 1 overall selection, the Texans’ (as part of the Laremy Tunsil trade) and the Steelers’ (as part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade). They also have two 2020 second-rounders (their own and the Saints’, as part of the trade that allowed New Orleans to move up and draft Eric McCoy this spring). They could also add an extra third-rounder (a compensatory pick for Ju’Wuan James).
The NFL is also investigating those allegations and the text messages sent by Brown, the league confirmed Friday evening.
”Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation,” an NFL spokesman said in a statement. “We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.
”As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.”
Barron Hilton, the heir to a hotel fortune who was one of the founders of the American Football League, died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Hilton was the original owner of the Los Angeles Chargers and went on to become president of the AFL. In 1965, he helped negotiate the merger of the AFL and NFL and the inception of the Super Bowl.
”The happiest days of my life were the days I was involved with the Chargers,” Hilton told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.
The AFL was the brainchild of Texas oilmen Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams, who had been spurned in their attempts to get NFL expansion franchises. They decided to start a rival league, contacted other wealthy entrepreneurs and asked them to join in. Hilton was invited to join the “Foolish Club,” as the owners called themselves, and put his Chargers in Los Angeles in 1959 before moving them to San Diego in 1961.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
However, the major story for the receiving corps is first-round rookie Marquise Brown — also known by his nickname “Hollywood.”
Brown has rocketed onto the scene with 233 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his first two games. That’s very good, but his average of 19.4 yards per catch is eye-popping. The Ravens will try to get him into space as often as they can. He’s going to be a problem in downfield coverage.
The Ravens are no stranger to multiple-tight end sets, so expect to see plenty of Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst. Andrews has been the star of the group, hauling in 16 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns on the season. On some of Spagnuolo’s trademark safety blitzes, Andrews could be a matchup problem for the Chiefs linebacker corps.
Other observations this week:
Injuries are starting to hit this team. Fisher and Hill are both out. LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams are banged up. So there will be opportunities for others to make moves on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. We aren’t downgrading players for injuries — but if a backup player steps up, they could easily move themselves up.
We’re starting to be a little concerned about the Chiefs’ interior offensive line. While they are doing enough to get by, we have guys like Austin Reiter and Andrew Wylie in the Role Player category until we see them elevate to Starter status. Given the struggles in the run game, it could be that the Chiefs are banking on Mahomes to overcome subpar offensive line play.
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