But next week is where the big numbers might come in, and ESPN is undoubtedly excited for it. The Baltimore Ravens will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in what may very well be the marquee matchup of the season on Monday Night Football. The two best teams in the AFC squaring up. Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson. John Harbaugh vs. Andy Reid. The game that might decide home-field advantage come playoff time. There are storylines in great abundance, narratives everywhere you look. The only downside to the game is that it’s coming in Week 3, when the playoff implications are still murky. Otherwise, it’s about as perfect a regular-season game a network could hope for.
It should also result in a ratings bonanza. If Raiders-Saints resulted in a 31 percent increase from last season, how high are the numbers going to be for this game? It’s certainly going to be much higher than last year’s Week 3 MNF matchup between the Chicago Bears and the franchise now known as the Washington Football Team. We could be looking at a 35 percent plus increase year-over-year, which ESPN would obviously consider a resounding success, especially in an election year and a strange year for TV ratings in general as a global pandemic serves as backdrop.
Mahomes is familiar with Jackson’s predicament (if you can even call it that) of having to follow up an incredible first full season as a starter. Mahomes’s numbers dipped last season from his superb 2018 MVP campaign due to a knee injury that cost him two games and limited him in several others. After throwing 50 touchdowns in 2018, Mahomes threw 26 last season, in part because Kansas City ranked 20th in red zone efficiency. Improvement near the goal line has the potential to send the Chiefs’ scoring back into the stratosphere, though they have been only slightly better through the first two weeks of 2020; they rank 17th in the NFL, having converted on four of seven trips inside the red zone. They rank eighth in the league in points scored, 13th in total yards, and eighth in offensive DVOA so far this year.
The Ravens have been the better offense through two games, but no rational person would count the Chiefs out. Even though Kansas City hasn’t consistently lit up opponents so far this year, they’ve found their magic in the right moments. Even when the Chargers led the Chiefs by eight points in the fourth quarter Sunday, it still felt like they were losing. Mahomes gave Kansas City the lead with a 54-yard touchdown pass thrown on the move to Tyreek Hill, who somersaulted into the end zone. Kansas City went for two and Mahomes completed a shorter-range but possibly more impressive pass to Mecole Hardman that somehow snuck through five Chargers defenders. Notably, the Chiefs are also atop the leaderboard in these categories: Tony Romo guttural noises produced and quarterbacks named Patrick Mahomes listed on the roster.
3 - Patrick Mahomes
In terms of acrobatic throwing abilities, Mahomes is still the undisputed top dog. And if he had played two shootouts to start the year, we might be considering him at No. 2. But this shouldn’t be a slight against him. He’s great. He’s a threat to unleash a game-winning throw whenever he takes the field. Chiefs fans should be confident every week so long as he’s healthy.
Last week: 3
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
This is the game of the week, which is saying something since there are a lot of good games. This is the game we thought we’d see to decide the AFC champion last year, but the Ravens lost to the Titans and never made it. The Chiefs are playing consecutive road games. They also haven’t looked great on offense yet. They will in this one. Baltimore is aggressive on defense, which plays into what Patrick Mahomes loves to face. The champs will win a fun shootout as Mahomes gets the best of Lamar Jackson.
Pick: Chiefs 34, Ravens 31
Around the NFL
Known as the “Kansas Comet,” Sayers was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 despite playing just seven seasons, all with the Bears. At 34, he was the youngest player ever inducted.
“All those who love the game of football mourn the loss of one of the greatest to ever play this game with the passing of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “He was the very essence of a team player — quiet, unassuming and always ready to compliment a teammate for a key block. Gale was an extraordinary man who overcame a great deal of adversity during his NFL career and life.”
Will they bounce back?
In short, no. I think the Jets underestimated the totality of this rebuild and have been trying to microwave certain parts of the changeover to avoid public scrutiny (which they would have inevitably received anyway). They’ve lost good players, failed to retain others and have been ravaged by injury. The question now is how they’ll map out the near future. The general manager is early into a six-year deal. The head coach is on less secure footing. While the typical Jets move would be to make a panic change, what’s best for Sam Darnold should be taken into consideration.
Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee during Sunday’s loss. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.
“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.
Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015 and 2016) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career.
“For him to be 100 percent this Sunday is theoretically possible but does not seem likely, based on what I know about the situation,” Rapoport noted.
Taylor was taken to the hospital and discharged Sunday. The veteran QB was on Friday’s injury report with a rib injury but wasn’t given a status as he fully intended to play with a flak jacket. The faulty injection, however, sidelined him for Week 2.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
I thought Ward was given a lot of help and was not asked to perform highly difficult coverage while giving up space on throws he was targeted. Sneed was the exact opposite experience when watching this Chargers game.
Even more impressive than the stats is simply how good on each and every rep. On reps he isn’t being targeted, it’s because he’s on the receiver like glue. There aren’t very many plays of wide receivers getting open against Sneed. When receivers do get open, it is because of small technical inconsistencies that can easily be improved upon.
Keep it moving! ⏰ pic.twitter.com/bXsDtY9HDu— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) September 23, 2020