Do not thoughts me. I am simply sitting right here skimming by way of Sunday’s NFL scores, in search of issues to overreact and under-react to. Whoa — wild Sunday afternoon. The Dak Prescott injury is simply brutal. Is the 49ers’ score a misprint? The Browns are 4-1! One loss too many, in the end, for Dan Quinn, as the Falcons remain the only winless team outdoors of New Jersey.
I am not going to waste your time with an “Are the Chiefs in Hassle?” overreaction, as a result of clearly the Chiefs are wonderful. It is going to take a couple of bizarre upset to makes us marvel about Mahomes, Andy Reid and the remainder of the Tremendous Bowl champs.
No, I feel we maintain this one on the Raiders and begin this week’s overreactions column with …
The Raiders are reliable AFC contenders
Las Vegas is 3-2, and two of its three wins are towards Kansas Metropolis and New Orleans, which feels like lots of people’s preseason Tremendous Bowl-prediction pairing. The Raiders are one sport behind the Chiefs within the AFC West with a head-to-head victory of their pocket for potential tiebreaker functions. They’ve a stud operating again who drives their offense, and that offense can put up factors. They’re averaging 30.2 factors per sport over their first 5.
The decision: OVERREACTION. Too quickly! The Raiders additionally quit a ton of factors, to begin with, averaging 30.4 factors per sport allowed over their first 5. I do not prefer to name a workforce a contender when it has been outscored by its opponents, and the Raiders have. By one level, certain, however they’ve.
The entire Derek Carr state of affairs nonetheless feels unstable and unreliable, and perhaps I find yourself consuming these phrases. However I am taking a look at a listing of AFC contenders that features Kansas Metropolis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Tennessee, if it may ever get again on the sphere. And I am nonetheless not satisfied Invoice Belichick would not determine it out earlier than it is all stated and performed. Even with seven playoff spots per convention this season, I’ve a tough time projecting the Raiders in that subject till I see some protection and some extra wins.
A yr in the past, following the departure of Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster appeared to have ascended to the function of No. 1 vast receiver in Pittsburgh. That fell aside final season as a consequence of Ben Roethlisberger‘s harm, however with Huge Ben again in 2020, Smith-Schuster was anticipating an enormous yr within the ultimate yr of his contract.
Over the primary three video games of the season, although, he was out-targeted by second-year wideout Diontae Johnson. After which Sunday, after Johnson went out of the sport early with an harm, rookie Chase Claypool had seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns plus a speeding landing. The Steelers look like extraordinarily deep in high quality younger receivers.
Chase Claypool units a Steelers rookie franchise document with 4 whole touchdowns as Pittsburgh defeats Philadelphia 38-29.
The decision: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Look, there’s nothing mistaken with Smith-Schuster, who by the best way remains to be solely 23 years previous. But when — and I say “if,” as a result of I do not know what he needs — if he is in search of a high-end vast receiver deal, the Steelers should take an extended have a look at the remainder of their roster and determine whether or not that is price it. They are not arrange nice, salary-cap clever, going ahead. Roethlisberger’s cap quantity for 2021 is greater than $41 million — so both they’re going to should work round that, prolong him or discover a new quarterback. They’ve massive contracts developing on the defensive aspect of the ball.
No workforce within the league feels higher about its potential to draft and develop high quality vast receivers than the Steelers do. And with guys akin to Johnson and Claypool, in addition to third-year man James Washington, they may find yourself having to make a tricky alternative on the contract desk with the eminently likeable Smith-Schuster.
Nobody ever has to pay a operating again once more
The Panthers misplaced their first two video games of the season, and in that second sport, they misplaced star operating again Christian McCaffrey to harm. Backup Mike Davis entered the sport that day and caught eight passes for 74 yards. Carolina has gained all three of the video games it has performed since, and in these three video games Davis, because the beginning operating again, has 219 speeding yards on 45 carries, 132 receiving yards on 23 catches and three whole touchdowns.
Earlier this yr, the Panthers gave McCaffrey a four-year, $64 million contract extension that made him the highest-paid operating again within the league. Davis signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Bears in 2019. Chicago waived him, and Carolina claimed him final November.
The decision: NOT AN OVERREACTION. No, Davis’ numbers aren’t McCaffrey-level numbers, however they’re wonderful. And once more: The Panthers are 3-0 with him because the starter and 0-2 with McCaffrey because the starter. Once more, so no one skims this and yells at me: I’m not saying Davis is nearly as good as McCaffrey. I am saying the Carolina operating again state of affairs, together with operating again conditions in locations akin to Arizona, Jacksonville and San Francisco, all present in numerous methods you can get enough — typically wonderful — operating again manufacturing with out spending massive cash or a super-high draft decide to get it.
And sure, that stinks for backs who’re attempting to receives a commission. But it surely is not altering anytime quickly. So guys akin to McCaffrey and Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon who received their offers this summer season ought to rely themselves lucky. And guys akin to Aaron Jones and Chris Carson, who did not, are proper to wonder if they ever will.
The Cowboys’ season is toast with out Dak Prescott
All of us noticed it, the ugly Prescott ankle injury that surely ended his season. There’s and can proceed to be no scarcity of Dak protection throughout ESPN platforms. Right here on the overreaction column, we really feel compelled to acknowledge it indirectly as the most important information of the day, although the primary takeaway is what a disgrace it’s for the younger man and for all these of us who like watching the sport’s most fun stars play each week.
Hopefully, he comes again simply nearly as good as ever and by some means will get that massive free-agent deal he could not get performed with Dallas this previous summer season. In the meantime, Andy Dalton led the Cowboys again to beat the Giants on Sunday, and Dallas is alone in first place within the NFC East with a document of 2-3.
Dak Prescott suffers a leg harm and is carted off the sphere after he’s tackled making an attempt to get the primary down.
The decision: OVERREACTION. Dalton has led a workforce to the playoffs 5 occasions in his profession, and that workforce was the Bengals. Due respect to A.J. Green, however Dalton has by no means earlier than performed with an array of offensive skill-position expertise just like the one Dallas has.
There are challenges, certain. The Cowboys are down two beginning tackles and a beginning tight finish, and so they simply gave up 34 factors to a Giants workforce that had scored 47 factors over its first 4 video games. But it surely doesn’t seem these challenges embody Dallas’ division opponents. It will not take so much to win the NFC East this yr, and the rationale the Cowboys introduced in Dalton is that if one thing like this did occur to Dak, they’d have a succesful veteran able to take over.
It will not be straightforward, however you’d nonetheless somewhat be in Dallas’ place than in Philly’s or Washington’s or the Giants’.
Kevin Stefanski will win Coach of the 12 months
I need to circle again as much as the highest right here and reiterate one thing: The Browns are 4-1. The Browns! It is a workforce that gained a whole of 4 video games over three seasons from 2015 to ’17, which was not way back. It misplaced high operating again Nick Chubb to injured reserve final week and nonetheless got here up with an impressive victory over the Colts on Sunday.
Cleveland did not run the ball the best way it had over the primary 4 video games, however (A) the Colts have a stingy run protection, and (B) they did not have Chubb. The Browns gained with massive performs by the massive playmakers they’ve on protection, and with juuuuust sufficient Good Baker Mayfield to beat some Dangerous Baker Mayfield (two interceptions).
The decision: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Lengthy approach to go, after all, and Sean McDermott, Matt LaFleur, Sean McVay — to call only a few — will doubtless have one thing to say about it earlier than that is throughout. However in case you finish a 17-year Cleveland playoff drought in your first yr as a head coach, I am guessing you could have a fairly truthful declare on the trophy.
One of many many issues Cleveland favored about Stefanski once they virtually employed him in 2019 and did rent him this yr was that he has labored in so many various offensive techniques that they believed he might meld his experiences collectively and be prepared to search out alternative ways to win as circumstances dictated. Sunday made it look that means, and if the objective was to calm issues down in Cleveland in order that the celebrities might shine, mission achieved to date.