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Even with last week’s huge swing in fortunes
14-01-2019, 11:32 AM
Post: #1
200
Even with last week’s huge swing in fortunes
by the Bills Keke Coutee Color Rush Jersey , Giants, Seahawks, Lions and Browns, there remain lots of questions about each of them.At least they aren’t winless.Then there are the projected contenders who are struggling through three games: New England, Atlanta, Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and the Chargers.Several figure to get going: the Patriots always seem to, and get Julian Edelman back in Week 5; the Packers when Aaron Rodgers is healthier; the Steelers if things ever calm down in the locker room.Unfortunately, the injuries that have ravaged the Falcons might be too much to overcome.Still, they have a win, which is more than Houston , Oakland and Arizona can say. Man, are things getting ugly in those places.“It’s frustrating,” says Texans coach Bill O’Brien, whose team has been outscored only 74-59. “It is, but that’s the way it is. That’s the NFL. These are close games and it’s the team that doesn’t beat themselves that ends up winning, and we’ve been beating ourselves too much.”As have the Raiders , who can’t hold onto a lead. They are the second team in the past 20 seasons to start the season with three straight losses after leading the first three games at halftime.“Nobody cares right now. They want results,” returning coach Jon Gruden insists. “We want to win. I think the players see a lot of things to be confident about, but we know we got to finish football games much better.”The Cardinals need to start and finish games much better. They were blown out in their first two matches, then led Chicago for most of last Sunday’s game before folding.“The guys are disappointed, they’re down, but they understand right now it’s still early,” new coach Steve Wilks says. “We need to find a way to finish football games, as we did not do (Sunday).”Wilks is correct that it is still early, and 0-3 is not a sentence to purgatory for the remainder of the schedule. Last season, the Chargers began 0-4 and nearly made the playoffs.The difference between these three 2018 stragglers and the 2017 Chargers is Zach Cunningham Color Rush Jersey , for one, talent.Let’s start with Oakland.RAIDERSWhen Gruden and upper management opted to deal Khalil Mack, it not only was a massive hit to the linebacker position, but to the entire defense. Super defenders such as Mack are like a Tom Brady on the other side of the ball, making everyone around them better.His departure created a major void in the locker room as well. Sometimes a player is worth whatever he’s asking, or close to it. This seems to be such a case.Opponents can run on the Raiders, and there’s virtually no one to fear as a pass rusher. Oakland has a total of three sacks and one takeaway.Only Buffalo in the AFC has scored fewer than the Raiders’ 52 points. The passing game hasn’t flopped, but Derek Carr has been picked off five times already; he threw 13 last year. Marshawn Lynch, to his credit, has three rushing touchdowns, but otherwise the ground game has been mediocre.All of that enthusiasm in the Bay Area has been dampened by the Mack trade and the 0-3 record. Should the Raiders fall to the Browns on Sunday, whatever honeymoon period Gruden had would be over.CARDINALSThis is the least surprising of the early collapses. While Arizona went 8-8 last season, it lost so much offensive firepower and brain power that having scored 20 points so far 鈥?the next-worse team is Dallas with 41 鈥?isn’t shocking.Coach Bruce Arians, all three quarterbacks, including solid veteran Carson Palmer, and wideouts John Brown and Jaron Brown are all gone. The new attack installed for Wilks by Mike McCoy has been a dud despite the presence of versatile running back David Johnson, who missed all but the opener last year, and all-time receiving great Larry Fitzgerald.Only the Jets have more giveaways than Arizona’s seven, and now rookie QB Josh Rosen gets the call. He likes to gamble, which could lead to a lot more turnovers.The defense under Wilks can get to the quarterback. It hasn’t done much else, though.TEXANSThis slump is most confounding.Unlike the Cardinals, the Texans got back a ton of skill in J.J. Watt 鈥?the NFL’s best defender when he has been healthy 鈥?Whitney Mercilus and Deshaun Watson. Many prognosticators picked them to win the AFC South or contend for a wild card in an improved division.Instead, the Texans have been perhaps the biggest disappointment of September. Watson hasn’t been nearly as dynamic as in his six starts of 2017 before tearing up his knee. The offense has sputtered badly in the red zone.Watt had a big second half against the Giants last Sunday, the first time he’s looked like a star.Of the three winless teams, though, Houston would seem to be the best bet to get headed in an upward direction.“There’s no magic dust, there’s no magic wand we can just say, ‘Hey Christian Covington Color Rush Jersey , wave this magic wand and everything’s going to be OK,'” O’Brien says. “It’s hard work, it’s trying to figure out what we do best, do it better, and the things we’re not doing well, either stop doing them or figure out how to improve them.“There’s no other way out of it. There’s no choice. … You have to go to work and you have to figure it out. That’s sports, that’s life and that’s the way it is.”___ Deshaun Watson threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Houston Texans set a franchise record with their eighth straight win, 34-17 over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.Demaryius Thomas scored his first two touchdowns as a Texan and Lamar Miller ran for 162 yards, including a 97-yard TD.In the first game since founder and owner Robert “Bob” McNair died on Friday, the Texans (8-3) honored him by wearing decals on the back of their helmets in the shape of a football with white block letters bearing his initials of “RCM.”With that reminder on their helmets, they became the first team in NFL history to win eight games in a row after starting 0-3. They lead Indianapolis by two games in the AFC South.The Texans trailed by 10 early before reeling off 27 straight points. Tennessee (5-6) finally scored again on a 48-yard reception by Corey Davis late in the third quarter, but the second TD by Thomas 鈥?this one for 10 yards 鈥?made it 34-17 with just more than eight minutes left.Marcus Mariota, who missed the second half of last week’s game after suffering a stinger, was 22 of 23 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He completed his first 19 passes before an incompletion with just more than a minute remaining.Miller’s 97-yard breakaway in the second quarter made it 21-10. It was the longest run in franchise history and the longest run in the NFL since his dash of the same length for a touchdown on Dec. 28, 2014, while with the Dolphins. He’s now the only player in league history with two career rushing touchdowns of 95 yards or longer.The Titans went ahead 3-0 on their first possession, and Jonnu Smith had a career-long 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown that extended their lead less than halfway through the first quarter.Houston got going after that, cutting the lead to 10-7 when Thomas grabbed his first touchdown since being traded from Denver on Oct. 30, a 12-yard grab with about six minutes left in the quarter.Watson put the Texans on top when he scrambled 15 yards for a score on the first play of the second quarter.The Titans went for it on fourth-and-inches from the 3 later in the second, but tight end Luke Stocker was stopped for no gain.Miller’s long TD, which helped Houston set a franchise record with 281 yards rushing, came on the next play. He took the handoff in the end zone and darted through a crowd of Titans before shedding one tackle and simply outrunning the rest of the defense.The Texans kicked a field goal as time expired in the second quarter to take a 24-10 lead into halftime.MCNAIR REMEMBEREDThe Texans honored McNair in a pregame ceremony, which included a video tribute to him while the Texas A&M Singing Cadets sang “Amazing Grace.” While the video was played, one side of the video board displayed the words: “Faith, Family, Philanthropy, Football.”Painted on both 25-yard lines was a football with his initials that looked just like the decals on the players’ helmets.Television cameras panned to several fans with signs honoring the late owner with one that read: “McNair Never Forgotten.”INJURIESTitans cornerback Malcolm Butler left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return. … Houston WR Keke Coutee didn’t return after injuring his hamstring in the third quarter.UP NEXTTitans: Host the New York Jets on Sunday.Texans: Host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
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