Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes answers questions during a news conference at the end of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. Kansas City won the game 28-10. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) yells before a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, celebrates with head coach John Harbaugh after an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 23-17. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, rushes past Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs have been the talk of the NFL for months, their innovation and points-a-plenty style making them one of the league's most entertaining offenses.
They might not even be the best one on the field Sunday.
That's because for all the gaudy numbers the Chiefs hung on Jacksonville and Oakland in roaring to a 2-0 start, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have been even more prolific.
They lead the league in total offense and points; Kansas City is merely third and fourth. They also lead in time of possession and rushing, they're fourth in passing and third-down percentage rate, and like the Chiefs they have yet to turn over the ball this season.
So what is making it all click for Jackson and the Ravens?
''He's does a lot of things well,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''Everyone kind of goes to his run game but he can throw the football. He's doing it with accuracy and he can do it all different levels, whether that's rolling out or in the pocket.
''He has talent around him for sure,'' Reid added, ''but the way it's slowed down for him, his reads are great and all those little things end up being big things.''
Just ask Mahomes, who mastered so many of those little things while rolling to league MVP in his first season as the Chiefs' starter. And all he's done for an encore is throw for 821 yards and seven TDs without an interception through the first two weeks of his season.
In other words, Mahomes vs Jackson should be a compelling game-within-a-game on Sunday.
Just like it was last year.
The Chiefs rallied downfield in the final minute of regulation, Mahomes converting a fourth down with an audacious throw to Tyreek Hill before finding Damien Williams for the tying touchdown. Harrison Butker added the winning field goal in overtime in a crucial December matchup.
''Of course we'll watch last year's game,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, ''but teams change so much, and they watch the game, too. So it's always a new game. ... You try to predict something and all of a sudden it gets blown up in your face. That, to me, is the beauty of this league.''
As two of the AFC's top teams prepare to meet at Arrowhead Stadium, here are things to know:
The Chiefs, already missing Hill to a broken collarbone, are without left tackle Eric Fisher after he underwent core muscle surgery earlier this week. They also could play without Williams (knee) and fellow running back LeSean McCoy (ankle), who have been hobbled by injuries.
Yet nobody on the Kansas City sideline sounds too concerned.
''We have depth everywhere,'' Mahomes said. ''We have guys that can come in and do the job.''
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews leads the team with 16 catches, has a pair of 100-yard games, has scored twice and has a knack for making a big play on third down.
''He knows how to get open,'' Harbaugh said. ''Mark has really showed up the last two weeks.''
There are times when Andrews will even alter the pattern to get open. If there was a lamppost and a car on the field, Andrews would find the seam between them - ''I tell Mark all the time, `We're going to play street ball,' and that's what the case is,'' Jackson said.
Punter Dustin Colquitt is accustomed to the old-man jokes as the 37-year-old elder-statesman in the locker room, and he's heard plenty of jokes about never having to work given the way Kansas City has piled up points the past couple seasons.
In fact, Colquitt didn't get to punt at all during a Week 1 win over the Jaguars, though the two-time Pro Bowl selection held for plenty of field goals and extra points.
You might think that would make for an easy life, but Colquitt said it's the total opposite.
''Any time you're not working so much, every kick, snap, hold is more under the microscope,'' he explained. ''It's fun watching that offense, but you can't get too caught up in it.''
After starting his NFL career with Baltimore, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee played 60 games over four seasons with the Ravens before spending three years in Chicago and another with the Redskins.
Now he's back where he started after signing as a free agent in May.
''It feels great. I'm back home in Baltimore,'' said McPhee, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2012, and who has five tackles the first two games this season. ''This is the team that raised me. I'm trying to get back to the playoffs and win it all, that's it.''
One week after Reid matched wits with good buddy Jon Gruden in Oakland, he must do the same with Harbaugh, who learned the craft while coaching under him in Philadelphia. The two have remained close friends during their years apart, and Reid was giddy when Harbaugh won a Super Bowl title.
''He's a phenomenal coach,'' Reid said. ''I love playing against him because I know they're well-coached and they have good players. We do this for the challenge, that experience on Sundays. I always look forward to playing those guys.''
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson had more snaps, carries and yards than the rest of the team's backfield in the Week 3 win over the Cardinals. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made it sound as though Peterson could wind up being the lead back for the team in the immediate future. Detroit went with a committee approach the first two weeks, but AD played 40 snaps last Sunday and carried the ball 22 times for 75 yards while also catching a pass for 10 yards. Bevell was the future Hall of Famer's coach back when he was with the Vikings, so they have some history. Peterson has outperformed rookie D'Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson, so the younger backs will continue to spell him in certain situations. Peterson doesn't have a ton of upside left towards the end of his career, but he'll be in the RB3/flex consideration because of his secure role as the leader (for now) of this backfield.
After meeting with free-agent safety Earl Thomas and conducting a physical, the Houston Texans do not plan to sign him, according to a source. The team had scheduled a workout with the All-Pro defensive back, but it did not take place. The Texans will continue to search for help at safety after placing A.J. Moore (hamstring) on Injured Reserve on Monday. ESPN's Dianna Russini said the decision not to sign Thomas wasn't related to COVID-19 concerns around the league. The 31-year-old veteran was cut by the Ravens in August after he had an on-field altercation with teammate Chuck Clark in which Thomas punched Clark. The 0-3 Texans could surely use help from a talented veteran like Thomas, though, as they are one of just three teams without an interception in 2020. They have allowed at least 28 points in all three games.
Free-agent DT Myles Adams (Panthers, DB Damarious Randall (Raiders), DT Kobe Smith (Titans) and LB Tim Williams (Packers) tried out for the Seattle Seahawks Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent WR Ryan Switzer (Steelers) visited the Cleveland Browns Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was going to enter Week 4 as a premier unit no matter the circumstances. But after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Tennessee organization where multiple players and personnel tested positive (but were asymptomatic), Pittsburgh will face an offense that likely wont be able to practice for the entire week. Derrick Henry will be difficult to tackle no matter the prevailing circumstances, but the boost of facing off against a team that may be out of sync should make the Steelers a highly valuable defensive fantasy asset. The league may opt to push the contest to Monday, which would take Pittsburghs defense out of DFS consideration come Sunday, so fantasy managers will want to check back for the latest updates.
Free-agent WR Gary Jennings (Dolphins), QB Kyle Lauletta (Falcons) and WR Damion Willis (Browns) tried out for the Detroit Lions Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent DB Nate Brooks (Dolphins), WR Trevor Davis (Bears) and QB Shea Patterson (Chiefs) worked out for the Houston Texans Tuesday, Sept. 29. Undrafted free-agent Kelly Bryant (Missouri) also tried out.
Free-agent DB Nevelle Clarke (Vikings), DB Tino Ellis (Saints) and DB Teez Tabor (49ers) tried out for the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook has hauled in just one reception for four yards this season, with the time that he has seen due primarily to DJ Chark Jr.s absence last Thursday versus Miami. After back-to-back seasons with 66 receptions, Westbrook will have an uphill battle to that level of production in 2020 due to the breakout nature of rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. Despite working his way back from an undisclosed off-season injury, there likely arent many fantasy managers still hanging on for production at this stage; Westbrook is a massive risk due to his slipping role among an offense that has a plethora of options when Chark is healthy.
Free-agent LB Kendall Donnerson (Raiders, OT John Leglue (Saints) and OT Timon Parris (Falcons) tried out for the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense may have sustained significant blows by losing Nick Bosa (knee) and Solomon Thomas (knee) for the remainder of the season in Week 2, but that didnt stop them from looking strong against the Giants in Week 3. Looking ahead, theyll face a rocky Eagles offense that has had to answer questions about Carson Wentzs starting quarterback status since Sunday, with a Dolphins squad two weeks away that is quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has tossed three interceptions this season. While their status as the preeminent defensive unit may have taken a step back, San Francisco still unquestionably has a defense worth rostering and deploying on a weekly basis until the group proves otherwise.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard benefited greatly from Davante Adams (hamstring) absence during Week 3, amassing six receptions for a career-high 146 receiving yards and a touchdown. Should Adams continue to be sidelined this Sunday against Atlanta, Lazard would track up the board as a premier WR option due to the Falcons propensity for being burned by opposing wideouts through the first three weeks. Even if Adams is cleared to return, Lazard has clearly developed a rapport with Rodgers, hauling in 13 of the 17 targets that he has seen thus far in 2020. With other potential favorable matchups against Tampa Bay and Houston on the horizon, Lazard can be added in most season-long formats as an upside play for October, and potentially beyond.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Kenjon Barner, DB Ross Cockrell, WR Cyril Grayson and PK Greg Joseph were named to the Week 4 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, WR Cameron Batson, PK Tucker McCann and QB Trevor Siemian were placed on the Week 4 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The New York Giants have inked veteran running back Alfred Morris to the teams practice squad in a continued attempt to bolster their backfield situation in light of Saquon Barkleys (knee) season-ending absence. Morris last appeared in 2019 in one game for the Cardinals, receiving just one carry for four yards. His best days came as a member of Washington, where he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 13 and 14, before joining Dallas, where current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was his head coach. Newly-signed Devonta Freeman carried the ball just five times Sunday versus San Francisco, although the score of the game likely dictated his workload more than the teams level of confidence in their new running back. Morris is a name to keep an eye on should he eventually be elevated to the active roster.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, RB Trey Edmunds, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 4 Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent safety Earl Thomas III was set to have a workout with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, but COVID-19 related protocol scuttled that meeting. Things had advanced so far between the two sides that Thomas had already taken a physical with the organization. Released by Baltimore during pre-season activities following an altercation with a teammate, the seven-time Pro Bowler would be a sound addition to the Houston secondary. With the workout cancelled Tuesday, it does throw into flux the possibility that Thomas could be available this weekend when the Texans take on Minnesota. Having allowed at least 28 points in each of their first three contests, the Texans defense is currently not a fantasy option in any-sized format.
Houston Texans C Greg Mancz, DB Jonathan Owens and WR Devin Smith were named to the Week 4 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Jacksonville Jaguars TE Ben Ellefson, OT KC McDermott, DB Doug Middleton and TE Eric Saubert were named to the Week 4 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Sept. 29.