The Las Vegas Raiders were supposed to be much-improved. Instead, they find themselves as one of two winless AFC teams through three weeks.
Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, added to a playoff team? Recipe for success. Or not.
On Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders lost 24-22 to a previously-winless Tennessee Titans team. Tennessee, which was hammered 41-7 by the Buffalo Bills last Monday, played on a short week without left tackle Taylor Lewan, lost for the year with a knee injury.
Instead of showing the defense could dominate with its edge rush, Las Vegas notched one sack on the stationary Ryan Tannehill. Otherwise, Tannehill went off, throwing for 264 yards on a robust 9.8 yards per attempt.
The result is the Raiders sitting at 0-3, joining the Houston Texans as the only AFC teams still searching for a win.
So far, Las Vegas’ big additions have been flops. Jones has five tackles and zero sacks through three games. Adams began the season with a monster effort against the Los Angeles Chargers — 10 catches, 141 yards and a touchdown — but since has totaled seven receptions for 48 yards and a score.
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ third notable addition, head coach Josh McDaniels, isn’t getting the job done. Last week, Las Vegas blew a 20-0 halftime lead and a 23-7 fourth-quarter advantage in its home opener to the Arizona Cardinals.
Under McDaniels, the offense has largely been disjointed, highlighted by Derek Carr’s four interceptions. The unit is yet to crack 24 points, while the defense isn’t getting critical stops. McDaniels began his head-coaching career with the Denver Broncos and a 6-0 record. Since then, he’s 5-20.
Bad coaching can often be found in situational football. The Raiders went 1-of-12 on third down against the Titans. They also had six red-zone possessions and scored two touchdowns against a porous defense.
Last week, on the cusp of field goal range in overtime, the Raiders fumbled twice on three plays. Earlier in that game, leading by 16 points in the fourth quarter, Las Vegas called three straight passing plays, leading to a quick possession.
Now, the Raiders have to climb out of an 0-3 hole with their next two games coming against the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
The good news? A pair of divisional wins will put Las Vegas back in the mix.
The bad news? Anything less might finish the Raiders for good.
Top 10 current offensive trios
1. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin
3. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins
4. Los Angeles Rams – Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson
5. Las Vegas Raiders – Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller
6. Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith
8. Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster
9. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
10. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopins, James Conner
“The game’s on the line, fourth quarter. They made a couple of plays to kind of move the ball, and it’s just a full-court, pass-rush mentality. I think I was just trying to get pressure on him, hit him, make him uncomfortable and make him throw an interception. And I think that was just a good football play. I hate to see him get hurt. That’s the worst part of this game. You never want to see guys get hurt. I hope he’s OK.”
– Baltimore Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell on New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones’ injury
It’s been a tough start for the Patriots, and it only got worse with Jones sustaining an ankle injury late against the Ravens in a 37-26 defeat. New England has been brutal offensively all year, and Jones’ poor day with three interceptions being compounded by an injury threatens the season.
If Jones has to miss any time, the Patriots might find themselves in rough position trying to fight for a playoff spot in the AFC.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969. Including interims, the Cleveland Browns have employed 21 in that same span.
Info learned this week
1. Plenty of takeaways from Dolphins-Bills matchup
The Miami Dolphins are the only undefeated team in the AFC. Have that on your bingo card?
Miami beat the Buffalo Bills, 21-19, in a wild affair on Sunday down on South Beach. The Bills ran 90 offensive plays compared to the Dolphins’ 39. Buffalo out-gained Miami 497-212, while gaining 31 first downs to the Dolphins’ 15. It was a dominating effort, and yet Miami won.
So what to make of it all?
Buffalo will be fine, and remains the best team in the AFC. It’s easy to make too much of one loss. The defense played well. The offense almost had 500 yards. The Bills lost because of poor situational play at the end of each half, a fumble deep in their own territory and a missed 38-yard field goal.
As for Miami, the Dolphins deserve credit. They’ve won low-scoring games and shootouts. Mike McDaniel has a terrific offensive mind and the defense will round into form. It’s too talented not to. The questions about Tua Tagovailoa will fairly continue, but the Dolphins are 3-0 and looking like a playoff team with serious upside.
The big questions for both going forward? For Buffalo, it’s about executing in critical moments. It cost the Bills last year, and did again on Sunday. For Miami, can Tagovailoa continue to improve, and can the defense figure things out soon?
2. Buccaneers, Packers both need to find offenses, but no reason for panic
When you score 14 points against Tom Brady, you usually got pounded. In this case, you win.
Thus was Aaron Rodgers’ experience on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, with Green Bay’s defense powering a 14-12 victory. The game was a punt-fest, with a combined 13 leaving the feet of Jake Camanda and Pat O’Donnell.
Of course, both teams were missing a slew of weapons. The Packers were sans Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson. The Buccaneers didn’t have Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. None are long-term situations, save perhaps for Watkins and his hamstring. Tampa Bay might have all three of those aforementioned names back for Sunday night when the Bucs host the Chiefs.
Yet if there’s any cause for concern, it’s the Buccaneers’ inability to run the ball behind a hurting line. A week after running for 72 yards on 2.4 yards per carry against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay ran for the same average, but with only 34 yards on the ground. That can’t continue.
Ultimately, both of these teams will play deep into January … once the offenses are healthy.
3. Eagles look like league’s best through three weeks
Philadelphia is 3-0. Jalen Hurts is an MVP frontrunner. The Eagles are rolling, and there’s no end in sight.
On Sunday, Philadelphia throttled the Washington Commanders by a 24-8 count, in a game nowhere near as close as that two-possession score. Hurts threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, DaVonta Smith caught eight passes for 169 yards and a score, and the defense sacked Carson Wentz nine times in the runaway.
Through three games, what’s Philadelphia’s weakness? The Eagles are throwing the ball all over opponents, they can run at will, the pass rush is getting home and the secondary is fantastic.
There’s going to be adversity at some point, but it may not come anytime soon. Here are the Eagles’ next seven weeks:
- at Cardinals
- Steelers (off a bye)
- at Texans
- at Colts
Spot the loss in those games. Philadelphia could legitimately be 10-0 and at worse, probably have eight or nine wins.
4. Broncos beat Niners, and both quarterbacks were brutal
Jimmy Garoppolo and Russell Wilson looked like the same player on Sunday night. Bad news for both teams.
Garoppolo went 18-of-29 for 211 yards (7.3 YPA) with a touchdown and an interception in the 49ers’ 11-10 loss to the Broncos. Wilson was 20-of-33 for 184 yards (5.6 YPA). It was hideous, with each missing open receivers throughout the night. Yet Wilson won, and Denver is tied with Kansas City at 2-1 atop the AFC West.
Still, the Broncos need Wilson to be much better. He was solid in Week 1, bad in Week 2 and very underwhelming in Week 3. Denver paid $250 million for Wilson over the next seven years, and that investment is looking shakier by the hour. Yes, the Broncos have dropped some passes, but Wilson has also been nowhere near his peak form when with the Seahawks.
As for Garoppolo, this performance was no surprise. This is why the Niners traded three first-round picks to draft Trey Lance. Why they benched Garoppolo for Lance this summer and attempted to trade the veteran. San Francisco knows Garoppolo is incredibly limited, it just has no choice but to roll with him the rest of 2022.
Both the Broncos and 49ers have Super Bowl-caliber defenses, but the offenses, and their quarterbacks, are holding these teams back.
5. Giants, Cowboys trying to prove they can win around limited QBs
A world where the New York Giants are 3-0? Where Cooper Rush is 2-0? We’re 60 minutes away.
The Giants host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, and the winner is likely which coaching staff figures out how to manage the evening without their quarterback making a back-breaking mistake.
Last week, Rush threw a litany of passes into coverage, but escaped with a victory over the Bengals. For New York, Daniel Jones has largely had success when asked to be a caretaker and nothing more.
If either Rush or Jones are tasked with winning the game, they’ll almost certainly lose it.
The biggest upset of the day happened in Indianapolis, where the Colts beat the Chiefs, 20-17.
While the prevailing highlight will be Matt Ryan’s game-winning touchdown pass in the waning seconds, that belies the actual story of the day.
Kansas City’s offense is a mess at the moment.
Over the past two weeks, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been below-standard. Against the Chargers, he threw a litany of dropped interceptions, but Kansas City survived, 27-24, on the back of a 99-yard pick-six.
On Sunday, Mahomes was off-target and under duress. The Chiefs were expected to have a great offensive line. That hasn’t materialized. While Mahomes has only been sacked twice over the past two weeks, he’s been relentlessly pressured. However, even with time, Kansas City’s new-fangled passing attack is producing few open receivers and when they break open, Mahomes hasn’t always been on target.
Of course, the offense was far from the only problem in Indy, with the special teams muffing a punt inside the 5-yard line, returning a kickoff to the 11-yard line, missing a short field goal, missing an extra point and running a fake field goal that was dead on arrival.
Smart money says Mahomes and the Chiefs figure it out. But they’ve been struggling, and it’s a problem with the Buccaneers and Bills in two of the next three weeks.
Inside the league
With the NFL going to London for the first time this season — the Saints and Vikings square off — it’s a good time to talk about whether we’ll see a team anchored in Europe anytime soon.
While the league would love to expand into new markets and Europe at large, the idea is rife with issues. Talking to sources, there are concerns about travel, free agency, and the draft.
For starters, travel for a team in Europe would require large homestands and road trips. However, it’s even tougher for a west coast team having to play in London, then going back stateside. Yes, said team could get a bye afterwards, but it’s still an enormous ask, especially for a team who has to make the jaunt an annual journey.
As for free agency, what about the Euro and U.S. Dollar. When it’s inequitable, teams would be on different playing fields. This has been a problem for Canadian teams in the National Hockey League for decades.
Finally, would draft prospects tell their agents they aren’t willing to be based overseas? It’s all very complicated, and therefore, don’t expect a team based in Europe in the upcoming years.
BetSided‘s best bet
Detroit Lions / Los Angeles Chargers (2-Way Teaser)
Detroit opens at home as a 6-point favorite against a Seahawks team that was lucky to keep it close against the Atlanta Falcons at home, while the Chargers look to shake the stink off of a blowout loss at home to the surprising 2-1 Jacksonville Jaguars.
I know the Lions “Lioned” all over themselves late to the Vikings, but they covered the spread for the third consecutive game, and were in control for most of the ballgame. Their offense this season is legit, and still held their own even without D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown for an extended period.
With the line this high, oddsmakers don’t appear to be concerned over their health status.
Meanwhile, the Chargers looked dismal, but this is too talented of a team to lose back to back games to two projected doormats. Houston has hung tough in every game, but they continue to make costly mistakes late that rebuilding teams often do.
With a two-way teaser, we can move both of these lines in our favor six-points, taking both down to essentially a pick ’em.
— Ben Heisler
Perhaps no figure is more influential, and more overlooked in NFL history, than George Halas.
Halas helped form the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which became the NFL in 1921. Halas played for the Decatur Staleys — renamed the Bears in ’22 — for a decade all while serving as head coach and owner.
As an end, Halas was named to the league’s 1920s All-Decade Team and earned his No. 7 being retired by the Bears.
As a coach, Halas helmed Chicago for a quartet of separate stints, covering 40 years and winning eight NFL titles. His first season on the sideline was the inaugural campaign of 1920. His last was 1967.
Nobody has ever put together a Hall of Fame resume as a player, coach and executive/owner. Except for George Halas.
The Los Angeles Chargers have real problems.
Take nothing away from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who look like the AFC South’s best through three weeks. They pummeled the Chargers, 38-10, at SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The loss leaves Los Angeles at 1-2, trailing Denver and Kansas City by a game in the AFC West.
But it’s not the standings that are concerning. It’s the injury report.
The Chargers entered Sunday without corner J.C. Jackson (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and center Corey Linsley (knee). They left the slaughter without edge rusher Joey Bosa (groin) and left tackle Rashawn Slater (bicep). If Bosa and Slater miss extended time, the Chargers could be without their two best players in the trenches for weeks, all while quarterback Justin Herbert continuously deals with fractured rib cartilage.
The other concern in Los Angeles deals with head coach Brandon Staley. More than X’s and O’s, coaches need to manage. In a blowout loss on Sunday, Staley left Herbert in the game behind a makeshift offensive line. It was insanity. Afterwards, Staley said Herbert wanted to remain in the game. Who cares? Staley is the head coach, and he failed. Miserably. Protect your franchise quarterback from himself. That’s why you’re the head coach.
Bad football. Bad injury list. Bad coaching. The Chargers, 1-2 and in trouble.