It appears that civil war is all the rage these days. Whether on social media, the college football stage or battling out for supremacy of the city, the fight for bragging rights has been a common theme all week. It’s no different when it comes to previewing the action of week three in the NFL. A few ProCanes take the spotlight in the battle for L.A. Frank Gore and the Dolphins lead the pack in the AFC East, and a trio of ProCanes in New York hope to earn their first win of the season.
Green Bay Packers (1-0-1) vs. Washington Redskins 1PM EDT
For the Seahawks, TE Jimmy Graham’s value was limited to the redzone. It was a role where Graham thrived. He scored 10 touchdowns on 57 receptions for 520 receiving yards. Although he has yet to take part in a Lambeau Leap, Graham has became an integral part of the Packers’ passing game. With new quarterback Aaron Rodgers slinging the ball in his direction, Graham could be in store to replicate his production from his days with the New Orleans Saints, even at the ripe age of 31.
In just two games this season, Washington has given up eight receptions, 65 receiving yards and one touchdown to tight ends. Last year as a member of the Seahawks, the former ProCane TE caught five passes for for 59 yards. With the Packers defense struggling to slow down opposing offense to date, Graham could be the beneficiary of a shootout in the nation’s capital.
Oakland Raiders (0-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (2-0) 1PM EDT
It must have been a good feeling for Frank Gore after last week’s game against the New York Jets. Not only did Gore surpass Curtis Martin for fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list — ironically against Martin’s former team — but it was an important divisional win for the now first place team in the AFC East, Miami Dolphins. Marked as one of the best backs in a long lineage of runners to come from UM, Gore sits behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders on the all-time rushing list. For those curious, Gore is 1,157 yards behind Barry Sanders for third on the list.
This week, Gore and the Phins square up against Jon Gruden and a struggling Raiders team that has fallen apart late in games this season. Only the Detroit Lions have allowed more yardage on the ground than Oakland’s 154 rushing yard average. Gruden’s Raiders have allowed at least one rusher to go over the century mark in each game. The odds are Drake will receive the bulk of the carries this afternoon, yet Gore has been reliable carrying up the gut of defenses so far. A tough Jets’ defense limited Gore to 25 yards on nine carries last weekend. Week three should see Gore running in space often against a maligned Oakland defensive unit.
New York Giants (0-2) vs. Houston Texans (0-2) 1PM EDT
DE Olivier Vernon has been working to get his way back onto the field after suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason. Vernon worked with trainers on the sideline during practices and has been seen riding a stationary bike. The Giants could certainly use him, as they desperately need a win to avoid going 0-3 in consecutive years. Vernon will miss his third straight game after being ruled out earlier this week.
For former ProCane safety, now linebacker, Ray Ray Armstrong, the transition to the Big Apple has been a mixed bag. Giants’ coach Pat Shumer has praised Armstrong’s length and abilities in coverage. After impressing the coaching staff throughout spring, Armstrong made the 53-man roster and has been a knight on the chess board for the defense. So far, Armstrong has not been able to translate that good coverage to the regular season, as the LB has been targeted three times with all three resulting in a reception. According to PFF, Armstrong’s best attribute has been rushing the passer or in run defense. Essentially, the numbers say that Armstrong should attack moving forward as opposed to dropping back into coverage.
RB Lamar Miller likely won’t be having anyone get in his way from the Giants’ side of things. The Texans back averaged 4.9 and 4.8 yards-per-carry in the first two games of the season. Unfortunately, his performance has yet to translate to a win for a Houston team that was supposed to be a challenger for the AFC South crown. Miller looks more explosive at the start of games, but his production dips as the game moves into the second half. The Texans try to take over through the air,. Granted, in both games Houston was down on the scoreboard and had to abandon the run game sooner than they would have liked. Keep in mind, the last time that Miller rushed for over 100 yards in game was back in week 13 of the 2016 season.
The winner of this match can use the victory as motivational building block moving forward. The loser might want to start putting more resources into scouting next year’s prospects, since the odds of a 0-3 team making the playoffs being very slim.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0) 1PM EDT
The Kings of Duval County now find themselves the face of the AFC division. The Jaguars dispatched Tom Brady and the Patriots fairly easily, and are now the favorites to represent the conference in Atlanta early next year. Let’s give some credit to the men protecting the improved QB Blake Bortles up front, particularly ProCane C Brandon Linder. The former Canes’ guard grades out as the Jaguars’ best offensive linemen, with a heavy emphasis on pass blocking efficiency. Against the Giants and Patriots, Linder has not allowed a sack, hit or any QB pressure. It’s reassuring to have one of the best centers in the game protecting Bortles so efficiently. Against a Titans’ defense that has tallied five sacks and three interceptions, Jacksonville will be in for another tough test — especially with left tackle Cam Robinson out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
Last week was filled with twists and turns for DL Calais Campbell. After unexpectedly showing up on the team’s injury report as questionable with a knee injury, Campbell improved enough throughout the day to suit up. Campbell registered a tackle last week after leaving the game due to getting poked in the eye. In his four previous games against the Titans, Campbell registered 12 tackles and 0.5 sacks.
If Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota is unable to start for a second week, it could be long day in the office for Blaine Gabbert. That said, Mariota’s replacement was able to get the best of a talented Houston defense in week two.
However, it should be intriguing to see the Jags’ defensive line go up against the Titans’ offensive line. We have Calais Campbell lining up opposite Taylor Lewan as one of our matchups to watch on the day.
Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) vs. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) 4:05 EDT
The NFL has now entered Battle for Los Angeles. The Chargers and Rams are set to do battle in the city of angels this weekend and, of course, it only makes sense that a few ProCanes will have a say as to who emerges victorious. Speedster WR Travis Benjamin remains a potent weapon for Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers. After missing last week’s beatdown of the Buffalo Bills, it’s believed that Benjamin should be cleared to play in the west coast showdown.
The Turnover Chain was not even a concept when Rams’ cornerback Sam Shields attended the University of Miami. If the Rams had their own version of the Turnover Chain Shields’ interception last Sunday surely would have warranted praise.
Shields’ remarkable comeback continues to be one of the good stories that the game needs. Shields was set to serve a two-game suspension for misconduct away from the field; however, he played late in the 34-0 blowout over the Cardinals last week. “It felt good. Those are the things that we need. We need turnovers for our defense. Like I said, it’s a long season, things like that can happen. Guys go down, so guys behind them have got to pick it up and go make plays, too. That was the definition, that’s how it’s supposed to go.” Shields is currently the fourth corner on the Rams roster, coming in on sub-packages and in relief for CB Marcus Peters or CB Aqib Talib.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers MONDAY 8:15 PM EDT
Aside from fans, last weekend’s game between the Steelers and Chiefs was an offensive showcase featuring minimal defensive highlights. Monday night’s game against a surging Buccaneers squad could favor a similar outcome for a Pittsburgh team trying to discover their team identity. Will high-flying offense be able to carry an average defense to a playoff berth? Will the return of CB Joe Haden solve the issues in the secondary? MNF serves as the stage in a contest separating contender from pretender.
LB Anthony Chickillo, who serves as reserve LB, made a great play to recover a loose fumble last week. With the Buccaneers being so proficient passing the ball, it will certainly mean plenty of attention directed towards CB Artie Burns. Burns will likely see either WR Mike Evans, WR Desean Jackson or WR Chris Godwin, based on formation. Bucs’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to have the magic touch, leading the league with 819 passing yards. No DB is safe from TB’s blistering offense that takes vertical shots down the field.
"I don't always start games, but when I do, I throw for 400+ yards and 4 TDs.”— The Checkdown Presented by Baker Mayfield (@thecheckdown) September 17, 2018
He is the most interesting QB in the world. pic.twitter.com/A3J6ApvZrk
This will be the final game of Tampa QB Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension for conduct away from the field. Fitzpatrick and the Bucs’ offense could unleash a full on aerial assault, and in the final game before Winston returns from his hiatus, it will be the last chance to prove that Fitz magic is not simply a fad.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
I fully expect the battle of L.A. to be a shootout — one that features short, intermediate and, of course, deep shots down field. If Benjamin (questionable) is healed from the foot injury that kept him out last weekend, then expect to see the Belle Glade, Florida, native put the jets into overdrive.
Notes From Around the League
The Kansas City Chiefs brought in TE Clive Walford for a workout. Walford was released by the NY Jets in the final round of cuts this year.
Calais Campbell breaks down the components of getting a sack via Uninterrupted.com
If Panthers CB Donte Jackson is unable to go today, CB Corn Elder will be in line to receive his first career start.
With their win on Thursday, TE David Njoku celebrated his first win in the NFL.
Great TEAM win!— Chief David Njoku (@David_Njoku80) September 21, 2018
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!