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Broncos face early test in Ravens and Chiefs

These next two games will say a ton about this year’s Broncos with a road trip to face the Baltimore Ravens and a prime time home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Broncos-Raiders roundup

Make that a sirloin, Todd.

Panic Alert: The Worst Teams in the NFL

Oakland Raiders– The Raiders had a terrible loss yesterday against the Broncos in a game they really should have won. Nobody in the league has taken as many steps back as the Raiders have the last two years.

Obviously the big step back was when Gruden decided to dump Khalil Mack, and it’s never a good sign for a move when people are still talking about it weeks later, but...

NFL Panic Meter: Giants, Bills, Cardinals should be concerned


Oakland Raiders: Oakland can’t rush the passer right now and goodness, what if they had an elite pass rusher who they would compensate for his level of play? It’s easy to make a joke of Jon Gruden’s Raiders, but they gave up a two-score lead in the fourth quarter to a Broncos team that began the game with three punts, an interception and another punt.

Even Von took a jab at the move.

Broncos’ Von Miller: “Good play by the Raiders” in trading Khalil Mack

“I really didn’t think about Khalil,” Miller said. “I mean, yesterday, yeah a little bit. We’re not going to be playing him today. But he’s on a whole another team in a whole another division in a whole another conference. It would’ve been, but they traded him away. Good play by the Raiders.”

Jon Gruden Gets Stuck in 2002

Jon Gruden spent the Khalil Mack money on a time machine, man

10 years, Raiders fans. 10 years.

The Baltimore Ravens

I’ll be doing a film review of the dirty birds tomorrow for GIF Horse, but here are a few things I’m keeping an eye on that Broncos Country should keep in mind:

They may be down two of their top defenders.

What we learned from Bengals' victory over Ravens -

Playing without suspended shutdown corner Jimmy Smith, the Ravens struggled to contain Green in the first half, allowing three scores in 17 minutes.

NFL - Biggest injuries of Week 2, prognosis for Week 3

C.J. Mosley, LB, Baltimore Ravens

Mosley injured his knee on the first drive of Thursday's game and didn't return. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise, and the MRI revealed no ligament damage. "It doesn't look to be long-term," coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how it responds the next couple of days. The good thing is we have a long week (10 days until next game). I don't know if that means he'll be ready for Denver or not." --Jamison Hensley

Has C.J. Mosley become Baltimore Ravens' most indispensable defender? - Baltimore Ravens Blog- ESPN

"That’s our defensive leader," defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. "It’s big. It can’t be overstated."

If Mosley can’t go, it will be a big loss. Mosley a top ten linebacker in the league.

The Ravens offense will heavily feature their tight ends.

Bengals vs. Ravens Thursday night preview, prediction |

It looks like an all new Ravens offense this year. The two-QB packages with Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson might be what viewers notice, but the real creativity is in Baltimore’s two-tight end passing game.

Refocused, NFL Week 2: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Baltimore Ravens 23 | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus

If there was positive to take away from this game, it’s the success that Flacco had targeting his tight ends. On 11 targets, he completed eight passes for 74 yards with a touchdown and six first downs. It wasn’t fancy, but they exploited matchups against the Bengals linebackers who struggled in coverage.

While the Broncos held Oakland’s Jared Cook to 4 catches for 49 yards, the stats fail to tell the whole story. The Broncos D played off coverage so much that it compromised their pass rush in spots, something they can’t afford to do against the Ravens who have had issues protecting Flacco so far this season.

Five takeaways from the Ravens’ 34-23 loss to the Bengals - Baltimore Beatdown

1. Baltimore’s offensive line needs to be remodeled

Against the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore routinely left their tight ends alone on edge rushers. I doubt they do that against Miller, Bradley Chubb or Shaquil Barrett but it’s crucial the Broncos and Woods punish them if they do.

A look ahead to Kansas City, where Patty Melt looks legit

Only two weeks in, the Chiefs new quarterback has taken the NFL by storm.

Kansas City Chiefs beat Pittsburgh Steelers: 10 winners and 6 losers - Arrowhead Pride

Mahomes finished 23 for 28 for 326 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a near-perfect passer rating of 154.8. Mahomes’ 10 touchdowns in his first two games this season set a two-game NFL record, surpassing Drew Brees (2009) and Peyton Manning (2013), who each recorded nine in their respective years. It is an unbelievable start to Mahomes’ time as a starting quarterback.

What’s more, it isn’t just one receiver on the Chiefs offense that is lighting it up.

Last week, it was the Hill show, with Kelce and Watkins combining for only 27 receiving yards. But Sunday against the Steelers was a completely different deal. Each player was involved in the win. Kelce finished with seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns, Watkins finished with six receptions for 100 yards and Hill finished with five receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Seven different players had receptions for the Chiefs on Sunday.

The stats fail to account for how crazy Mahomes’ games have been to date, though.

National media is gushing about Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes | The Kansas City Star

“Mahomes has dazzled with heaves uncommon in the modern NFL, which has increasingly shifted toward favoring high-probability short passes over riskier and longer ones. Mahomes has taken that trend and blasted it to smithereens with the bazooka attached to the right side of his torso.”

While the Steelers’ defense has been a question mark since their meltdown to the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, how Mahomes handled pressure is something every Broncos fan should keep in mind.

Patrick Mahomes grows as Chiefs beat Steelers

Time after time against the Steelers, Mahomes’ ability to keep his eyes up under pressure, scan the pocket and deliver lasers from different platforms and launch points made the difference. The Steelers even became so weary of seeing Mahomes defeat their blitz packages that by the end of the game, they’d started dialing back on the blitzing in lieu of dropping more men into coverage.

I’ve mentioned more than once that the Broncos’ D this year is overly reliant on the Orange Rush to get pressure. Derek Carr proved that to be the case in emphatic fashion Sunday as he took a trip through “The No Fly Zone” like he had a ticket with Southwest Airlines.

Do not underestimate the importance of this. It is the ultimate show of respect, one reserved almost solely for quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, guys who can use their brains and rocket arms to destroy the zone blitzes that naturally leave defenses thin on players in actual coverages.

None of this is to say Mahomes is even close to a finished product. He’s started three games in his entire NFL career, so there will almost certainly come a point this season – likely around October or so, when defensive coordinators have four-plus games of his to dissect and study his weaknesses – when he starts seeing things he never has, and he starts struggling. Depending on how quick of a study he is, that adjustment period could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

This last part is key to how the AFC West plays out this year. Calling the Chiefs defense pourous would be an understatement. They go as far as the young QB takes them, so quotes like this should keep Joe Woods up at night.

NFL Week 2: Bortles Unchained, Mahomes Unstoppable |

“As teams get more and more tape, they’re going to try different stuff,” Mahomes told me. “They’re going to try to confuse me. But at the same time, Coach Reid prepares me for every situation. We make adjustments through the whole game, and that’s something that I’m going to keep working on, keep getting better at—being able to make adjustments quick on the fly, and then get the ball into the hands of all these playmakers I have and let them make the plays.”

Lindsay is proof that early backs are a waste of draft capital

Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay sets NFL rookie record -

"He is a good football player, not only as a running back, but as a guy who covers kicks for us and as a guy who catches the football for us," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Sunday's win, via the Denver Post. "He's the total package football player. He's been really impressive."

Lindsay’s week 2 carry chart, per Next Gen Stats

Did the rich get richer?

Browns trade Josh Gordon to Patriots for fifth-rounder -

As a result, typing "six seasons with the Browns" in reference to Gordon isn't entirely accurate. Cleveland has stuck with the receiver through multiple violations of the league's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, offering support when possible through each violation, even as they resulted in extended absences. After finishing the 2017 season healthy, Gordon missed 2018's training camp to ensure his health and wellness, and the Browns again supported Gordon, welcoming him back in the final two weeks of the preseason.

There are corners of the net that have already said a fifth round pick is awfully steep for the baggage Gordon brings to the table.

Now, back to the football part of this story: Gordon has shown himself to be a rare talent, leading the NFL in receiving in 2013 with 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns despite only appearing in 14 games. He's since found the end zone just twice in the ensuing five seasons.

At the same time, to only cite 2013 is to ignore what he did last year and week 1 of 2018.

A fifth round pick seems like nothing if it prevents Belichick from acquiring this kind of weapon.

Tom Brady has to be ecstatic today. It’s early but that offense now features two lethal vertical threats in Rob Gronkowski and Gordon.

Catching up with the rest of the NFL

Keelan Cole does his best OBJ impression

Vontae Davis made bank for a game and a half

While the reaction to Davis on Sunday was a combination of “I don’t blame him, it’s the Bills” and sheer contempt, Monday was where the cooler discussion began.

I do wonder if there’s more at play than has come to light. Consider Olin Kruetz, who retired in 2011.

Does Rich know who signs his checks?

Meanwhile, the NFL doubled down because of course they did.

NFL rules penalty on Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews was correct

An NFL source reiterated Monday in regard to the controversial roughing-the-passer penalty on Clay Matthews that the "technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg or legs, scooping and pulling in an upward motion, is a foul."

Nevermind that the call has already seriously impacted playoff positioning.

Asked whether he thought instant-replay rules should be changed to allow penalties to be reviewed, McCarthy said: "Well, I think any time a play can change the game -- and that kind of covers a lot of area -- instant replay, that's a constant discussion.

How toxic is that Steelers locker room?

Wentz will start week 3

Carson Wentz cleared to return, will start Sunday -

"I think there's going to be maybe an issue or two. It's going to take some time to get back into the rhythm of the flow of game," Pederson said. "The speed of the game is different than the speed of practice. So we do everything we can to try to simulate that during the week and try to prepare him that way.

"He's going to be prepared mentally. Now it's just a matter of the physical part taking over."

The Browns are still the Browns, cut a kicker after he plays injured and struggles

Got to wonder if Zane Gonzalez cost himself a chance going forward.

Bolts need magic to beat the Bills.

What Did the Bills Say After Losing to the Bolts?

“He’s a wizard in terms of what he does before the ball is snapped, what he diagnoses. Because of that, he’ll be a Hall of Famer at some point.” – Head Coach Sean McDermott

There’s little doubt that Buffalo is in a tight race with the Cardinals for the bottom of the league standings. A wins a win, but it should concern Charger fans that this was tighter than expected.

How the Chargers Took Advantage of Mike Williams’ Mismatch

“Last night we talked about (it),” Rivers said. “It was like, ‘Hey, if we get down in there, that eight, nine, 10-yard line, we like that play against these guys.’ And Whiz (Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt) went right to it. Mike did a nice job of holding on to it in traffic.”

If there’s one big positive for the Bolts though, Melvin Gordon was huge. I lost to him in fantasy this week, so I’m a little bitter.

Melvin Gordon's nose for goal line solves Chargers red zone woes - Los Angeles Chargers Blog- ESPN

"You see it around the league -- the best backs, that's what they do. He also has embraced that 'Shoot, I don't care if you're handing it to me, I'm going to run the heck out of a route and throw it to me.' ... At Wisconsin, it was handed to him and he ran through holes like this," said Rivers holding his hands out wide. "I think he's just grown as a pro."

Lastly, a Paxton Lynch sighting