What happens when put a video game offense against a championship-caliber defense? That’s what we will find out when Patrick Mahomes and the star-studded Kansas City offense host Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars. Few teams are as equipped as Jacksonville to put pressure on Mahomes, while simultaneously blanketing the Chiefs’ skill players in coverage, but the home crowd in Arrowhead Stadium just might tip the scale in Kansas City’s favor.
It has been a fairly quiet season in terms of protesting during the national anthem, with Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson having continued to kneel to raise awareness of police brutality and societal inequity for people of color while a few other players have sat or raised a fist. The volume could be turned up considerably this week as Eric Reid, who was the first player to kneel beside Colin Kaepernick in 2016, will be back on the field. The Carolina Panthers were desperate at safety and their team’s new progressive owner, David Tepper, rolled the dice on Reid who had filed a grievance against the N.F.L. saying the league’s teams were colluding against him as a result of his protests. The outspoken Reid, with help from Kaepernick’s social media machine, could definitely bring the debate back to the forefront.
No teams have done less with more talent than Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Loaded with big-name stars, they’ve combined to go 2-5-1, with both teams so desperately flawed on offense that it is hard to take them seriously as contenders even if you look past their records. The Steelers have compounded their defensive problems by not being able to run the ball without Le’Veon Bell, but a window for them to win may have opened when it was announced that Atlanta would be without the star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who might miss several weeks with an ankle injury.
The Packers managed to have a disappointing 22-0 victory last week, with Aaron Rodgers blasting the team’s offensive execution to the point where the team’s chief executive had to come out and say the relationship with Rodgers and Coach Mike McCarthy is just fine. Lost in that drama was Rodgers moving much better on his injured left knee in the game, and his health progressing this week to the point where he was removed from Green Bay’s injury report. Keeping him safe against a Detroit team that rushes the passer well should be the Packers’ top priority.
A little of the shine wore off on Baker Mayfield last week, as he showed the explosiveness that helped him lead a comeback win over the Jets the week before, but also showed a disturbing propensity for turnovers. If the more efficient version of Mayfield shows up for a home game against the Ravens, the Browns could secure a two-win season, which would leave them only one short of their best record since 2014.