The Raiders have the 2nd ranked offense and four first round picks in the next two drafts to improve their defense. It’s becoming obvious that Oakland is in better shape than people realize:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Raiders had an absolutely awful start to the 2018 season by going 0-3 before finally beating the Cleveland Browns. The media was starting to turn against Jon Gruden during that time span because of the Khalil Mach trade. However there’s a few indications that Oakland might be turning the corner. The most obvious has been the fact that the Raiders have the 2nd ranked offense in the entire NFL (441 yards per game). Only the Los Angeles Rams are better and that’s this franchise’s new identity under Gruden who happens to be an offensive mastermind. Even though the silver and black are two games below .500 they at least know where they have to improve at. By loading up on defense this off-season Oakland can get back to being a winning football team. They’ll also have four first round picks in the next two drafts so it’s only a matter of time before they have some serious talent on that side of the ball. It also feels like Gruden’s ball club will continue to improve throughout these next 12 contests. The negative morale from the Mack trade is starting to blow over and now the guys in that locker room just want to compete. You can almost guarantee that the Raiders will be in several more shootouts or high scoring games along the way. The truth is this front office knew that when they traded their top defender away and the public’s outrage won’t last for much longer. Jon Gruden is going to end up fixing the Raiders and give the fans a much better product on the field. Everyone will look back and think about how much the Mack trade ended up being a good deal for Oakland. Things are definitely looking bright and the black hole will begin to realize that shortly. Until then at least they get to watch Gruden’s offense light up the scoreboard.

Charity of the day: National Kidney Foundation

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It’s becoming obvious that the Oakland Raiders are heading in the right direction. Even if their record doesn’t indicate that yet.

The Jaguars are right where they need to be but a win over the Chiefs would really uplift their confidence. Blake Bortles needs to prove his worth in that match up:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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One of the biggest in game battles to watch out for this weekend will be the Jaguars defense against Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has been the leading candidate in the MVP race up to this point and Jacksonville has the best defense in the league. While those two sides are heading for a collision course the other key factor in this game will be what does Blake Bortles do? We’ve been having this same question over and over again but this is a real test for the former 1st round selection (Bortles). Patrick Mahomes has the potential to put on a show for the Chiefs and if Bortles struggles then fans are going to see how much of gap there is between both players. Therefore Blake Bortles needs to rise to the occasion and prove he can be the guy he was last year in the playoffs. To make matters even worse Leonard Fournette will be out of the lineup with a hamstring injury and that means the passing game is even more crucial. Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Donte Moncrief will have to make plays when Bortles comes their way. Kansas City’s defense is one of the worst groups in the entire league and there’s any opportunity there to produce at least 30 points. If Bortles can get to that magic number the Jaguars are going to win this game. Really that’s going to be the bar for the Jaguars offense for the rest of the season. Obviously not having Fournette hurts those efforts but T.J Yeldon his stepped up in his absence. However Bortles has only thrown for 7 touchdowns in 4 contests and when you only average 1.75 TD passes per games that’s not enough. Mahomes on the other hand averages 3.5 touchdowns per game (14 TDs in 4 games). Which proves Bortles is still somewhat of a weak point and he’s got to shed that label in big moments like the game this weekend against the Chiefs. His reputation and future with Jacksonville could depend on it.

Charity of the day: National Kidney Foundation

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The Jaguars are right where they need to be. Their 3-1 with a chance to take down the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Aaron Rodgers has the perfect opportunity to uplift the Packers into an NFC playoff contender. Green Bay can’t afford to stumble against any doormat teams though:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Things have went fairly well for the Green Bay Packers over their first four games. Aaron Rodgers and company have improved to a 2-1-1 record and that’s set them up well for at least the next two weeks. Green Bay will take on the Lions and then the 49ers over those couple of games. Obviously those are both winnable match ups and that’s a real opportunity to get to 4-1-1. When a team has a start like that everyone starts to believe in the direction the organization is heading. Good morale always results in motivated players and that’s when the Packers will be a their best. The defense is one of the key reasons Green Bay has got back on track after a losing season in 2017. Most of the talent is on that side of the ball and they’re ranked in the top 10 in a couple of key categories (6th in yards surrendered and 7th in pass defense). Of course Aaron Rodgers has been his typical self but he’s got the job done in a different way this season. Rodgers has thrown for 1,130 yards and 7 touchdowns but the biggest thing he’s done is only thrown 1 interception. The 2x MVP knows if he eliminates turnovers he will have a serious shot at winning because the defense can get stops if opposing offenses have to go the whole field to score. So by being more conservative Rodgers is actually helping his team avoid any disasters. It’s also crucial that the highest paid player in the NFL (Rodgers) elevates his play the rest of the way and avoids stumbling in any trap games. The Packers have several opponents that fit that mold including the Jets, Cardinals, and Seahawks. After Green Bay handles business against those second-rate teams they have to at least steal a game or two away from the Rams, Patriots, or Vikings. There’s no easy wins in the NFL but we know which teams tend to struggle. A lot them seem to be on the Packers schedule and they have to like where they’re sitting at the moment because the league gave them an easy path.

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Aaron Rodgers has the perfect opportunity to get Green Bay back to the postseason. It’s still early but their schedule is very favorable.

Nick Chubb earned a bigger role by running all over the Oakland Raiders. Cleveland’s rookie running back is showing he can be a dangerous weapon:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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When the Browns drafted Nick Chubb in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft the idea was clearly solidifying the offensive backfield. Cleveland had just signed Carlos Hyde the month prior but John Dorsey wanted to make sure his team was able to run the football effectively. So far that combination has done very well and Chubb in particular was outstanding against the Oakland Raiders. Chubb rushed for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns proving that he can provide a spark for the upstart Browns. What makes Nick Chubb such a good football player is definitely his strength. The former Georgia Bulldog bench pressed 29 reps of 225 lbs at the the NFL combine and he runs with a downhill mentality. Against Oakland Chubb also showed some good burst too because he scored on runs of 63 and 41 yards. The other thing which stands out about that performance was the fact that Nick Chubb put up those big numbers on only three carries. He also showed off the ability to break tackles and power his way through defenders. Hue Jackson ultimately realized that those skills were being wasted in such a small role and that’s why we can expect to see Chubb’s workload increase. If this guy can produce such great results off just three rushing attempts imagine what he’s able to do if the Browns give him 15-20 carries a game? Carlos Hyde is still on the roster so Jackson will have to divide up the touches between those two running backs but that’s the way things have to be. Nick Chubb has overachieved despite having limited reps and that means he’s earned a higher spot on the depth chart. That might come at Duke Johnson’s expense but players get promoted and demoted everyday in the NFL. It’s a competitive sport and people have to constantly prepare to be at their best.

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Nick Chubb showed a lot of promise against Oakland Raiders. Chubb ran for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Tom Brady throws for his 500th career touchdown pass and the New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 38-24:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New England Patriots got off to a fast start against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots took a 24-3 lead by the end of the first half and that was too much ground for the Colts to make up. Tom Brady threw for 341 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in the win. One of those passes went to Josh Gordon on a deep ball throw and that was actually Brady’s 500th career TD. It’s been a long and illustrious run for the future Hall of Famer (Brady) and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Just ask Indianapolis because they struggled against the 41 year old quarterback. If there’s any positive takeaway for Frank Reich’s team it was definitely Andrew Luck. The Colts quarterback threw the ball extremely well but they couldn’t overcome a slow start. By the end of the night Luck had thrown for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions so he actually had better stats than Brady did. Eric Ebron was also very good in this contest he recorded 105 yards and caught two of Luck’s touchdowns passes. New England was led by Sony Michel, James White, and Josh Gordon. Michel set the tone with 98 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. White and Gordon both found the end zone too so it was a total group effort by the Patriots offense. Defensively New England got a huge boost from Patrick Chung’s strong performance. Chung had 8 tackles, 1 interception, and half a sack. Jonathan Jones also played well he went for 5 tackles and 1 interception. Malik Hooker was the top defender for the Colts. Hooker recorded 12 tackles in the loss. Matthias Farley also chipped in 6 tackles and 1 interception but ultimately New England came out on top. The Patriots are now 3-2 after winning straight two straight games. Which means they’ll be right in the thick of things once the end of the season gets here.

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Tom Brady throws for his 500th career touchdown and more importantly New England improves to 3-2 after beating the Colts 38-24.

DeAndre Hopkins is starting to heat up. It’s only a matter of time before he challenges Julio Jones for the most receiving yards in the league:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It seems like every year DeAndre Hopkins is one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League and this season has been no different. Hopkins is really starting to get it going and his numbers tell the true story. The 26 year old pass catcher has recorded 443 yards and 2 touchdowns through the first four contests. There’s a direct correlation between Hopkins success and the rise of Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback is starting to bounce back from the torn ACL he had and that’s helping Hopkins take his game to the next level. Those two guys have such great chemistry that it allows them to adjust on the fly during games. Some quarterbacks and receivers take years to develop that kind of rapport but Watson and Hopkins are making it happen in just their second year together. What makes that whole situation tick is Hopkins ability to catch anything that comes near him. His hands are some of the best in the league and it doesn’t matter if it’s a high pass or or a one handed grab. DeAndre Hopkins always finds a way to reel in the football and that’s resulted in so many points for the Houston Texans. Don’t expect that to stop anytime soon and now we’ll see if Hopkins can make a run at the league’s leading receiver Julio Jones? Atlanta’s offense is very productive with Matt Ryan but if Watson can recapture his top form then DeAndre Hopkins will have a chance at the receiving title. More importantly though the Texans will start winning games again if their offense is clicking. That’s every one’s goal in Houston and they’re currently 1-3 so they have some ground to make up. During times of adversity you have to lean on your best players and make sure they’re involved even more than they normally would be. Therefore Bill O’Brien will be targeting Hopkins early and often to make sure his team is at their best. This is an exciting football player and he’s proven year in and year out he’s one of the best around.

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DeAndre Hopkins is starting to heat up and that’s great news for the Texans.

Alvin Kamara is an offensive juggernaut. It’s hard to believe that Mark Ingram should be the number one running back for the Saints:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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With Mark Ingram’s return from a four game suspension everyone is waiting to see how New Orleans is going to handle their running back rotation? Ingram was the starter last year but the Saints have to seriously consider making Alvin Kamara their top guy from here on out. There’s two main reason why that should happen. The first is the obvious fact that Kamara has been too dynamic to put in a back up role. If Patrick Mahomes wasn’t leading the M.V.P race Alvin Kamara would definitely be an ideal candidate. The second year running back out of Tennessee has rushed for 275 yards and 5 touchdowns. While also adding 336 yards and 1 touchdown as a receiver out of the backfield. Those totals are insane considering there’s only been 4 games so far. The Saints should reward Kamara by making him the focal point of their offense. It would also be smart to punish Ingram for being unavailable for the first quarter of the season. Eventually Mark Ingram deserves a chance at reclaiming the number one role but that should come somewhere down the line. If Kamara is better though than that’s who the Saints have to roll with. When you have two talented ball carriers like New Orleans does then it should be a constant competition. At the moment Alvin Kamara has been so impressive he’s earned the right to carry the load. There’s no sense in diminishing his impact by making Ingram the bell cow. Kamara is one of the most electrifying players in the entire league and he should get to keep this good momentum going. Sean Payton is a smart coach and he’ll probably end up doing the right thing. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on though and we’ll see how things actually play out?

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Offensive juggernaut: Alvin Kamara is one of the most dynamic players in the entire NFL.

The Tennessee Titans are doing a great job of keeping their opponents out of the end zone and that’s why they’re able to beat top tier teams like the Philadelphia Eagles:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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When Mike Vrabel took over the Tennessee Titans is was obvious that he wanted put most of his focus on improving the defense. Vrabel completely disregarded the fact that the Titans offense needed to be revamped but that gamble is paying off for the first year head coach. Tennessee has only surrendered 73 points throughout their first four games and that’s helped them clamp down on most of their opponents. Wesley Woodyard and Jurrell Casey have been the two players who’ve led the charge for the Titans. Woodyard is the top defender with 33 tackles so far. Even though the 32 year old linebacker (Woodyard) is in his 11th season. He’s been outstanding at reading plays and locating the football. Tennessee would be in trouble without Woodyard’s instincts. Although Casey has been solid as well. The Titans best defensive lineman has recorded 19 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles up to this point. Those efforts have been disruptive and keep offenses grounded. Then there’s been a strong supporting cast that’s really made an impact as well. Malcolm Butler, Harold Landry, and Kenny Vaccaro have all contributed a little bit. With all this talent on that side of the ball Mike Vrabel can draw up some really creative schemes and takeaway team’s strengths. So far those have been winning methods for an emerging contender. It’s very possible that Tennessee is better than they were a season ago. They’re deeper than they were in 2017 and that allows the Titans to get a nice rotation going. Not only that but the secondary has improved with a couple of big acquisitions. The two quality wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles also stick out. Don’t surprised if this franchise wins a couple of playoff games this year because they have so many good things going for them right now.

Charity of the day: National Audubon Society

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The Titans have a knack for keeping their opponents out of the end zone and that’s been so key to their success.

Mitchell Trubisky is making strides at the perfect time for Chicago. The Bears will be a top 5 team if they can rely on their quarterback:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Mitchell Trubisky had struggled throughout the Chicago Bears first three games but the second year quarterback finally came alive. Trusbisky thew for 6 touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that’s a huge step for Chicago’s offense. The defense is the main reason that the Bears are 3-1 and the top team in the NFC North. Which is exactly why Trusbisky needs to keep progressing and strengthen the weakest link for this organization. If Chicago is serious about winning a Super Bowl they can’t do it with just 16 points on the offensive side of the ball. We all know how important the quarterback position is and Trusbisky is so key to the Bears hopes and dreams. When he’s throwing for over 300 yards and 6 touchdowns in one game then this ball club can compete with anyone. Chicago has some decent weapons out wide but they need Trubisky to make those throws and against the Bucs he did. Now in these next 12 games Trubisky is going to think back about the time he completely dominated Tampa Bay. Ultimately that’s going to give him the confidence to come out and do it again. An athlete’s psyche is all about taking another step and achieving your next goal. Mentally Mitchell Trubisky has to be feeling better than ever and that’s dangerous for the other 31 teams in the National Football League. Very few people anticipated that the Bears would rise so quickly. First Ryan Pace landed three offensive free agents (Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel) then he traded for Khalil Mack. Mitchell Trubisky’s growth couldn’t come at a better time because there’s already so many positive things happening for this team. The state of Illinois is going to enjoy some really good pro football for at least the next five years and they’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen. You have to go all the way back to Jim McMahon to find a Chicago quarterback that’s as talented as Mitchell Trubisky. Therefore the future is bright for the Windy City.

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Mitchell Trubisky is making strides and that is turning Chicago into a serious contender.

All around athlete. After four games it’s apparent that Derwin James can do just about anything on a football field:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It seemed like every scout and analyst was raving about Derwin James during the combine and draft. Sometimes those high expectations come crashing down but everyone was right about James. The Los Angeles Chargers hit a home run when they selected Derwin James with the 17th overall pick this past April. Usually it’s better to add a defender that’s closer to the line of scrimmage but James is truly special. It doesn’t matter if the 22 year old is playing deep or lining up as blitzer off the edge. James is one of the best all around athletes in the league right now and he excels in every phase of the game. Just having a defender on the field that is better than everyone else helps Los Angeles makes something happen when they need it the most. A good example would be the play he had against the 49ers. C.J Beathard was dropping back to pass for San Francisco when James hammered him and that allowed Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell to intercept the throw. It’s Derwin James tremendous football IQ which enables him to anticipate what the offense is trying to do. That awareness is far beyond the years of most rookie players and that’s why this guy will have a shot at being the best safety in the league someday. We’re just four weeks into the season and James has already tallied up 26 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 interception. There’s a lot of teams who are feeling very foolish for passing on the former Florida State standout and it’s only the beginning for James. LA’s opponents will fear number 33 for years to come. To be honest this story line almost feels like Sean Taylor’s when he entered the league back in 2004. Both defenders had the ability to completely takeover games and that has all the fans in Southern California upbeat.

Charity of the day: Food for the Poor

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