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Chiefs vs. Chargers: Kelce, Butker earn high player grades

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Let’s hand out some player grades and our MVP award from the Chiefs win in Week 2.

Wow, where to begin here? The Kansas City Chiefs were absolutely dominated for almost the entire game in Week 2 against the L.A. Chargers yet found a way to win down the stretch. (Does this remind you of a slightly more important game?)

The game grades were not pretty for most of the Chiefs players, but one guy stepped up huge to win the game ball and take home the Week 2 MVP.

Brutal in the first half. The offensive line did him no favors, but you still expect Mahomes to make plays because he is the best quarterback in the NFL.

Talk about a tale of two halves. After only being able to get the ball to Travis Kelce, Mahomes finally connected on an absolute bomb to Tyreek Hill, which set up a two-point conversion. There he became a magician and somehow threaded a needle to Mecole Hardman to tie the game.

Not only was Mahomes instrumental throwing the ball late, but he was also able to scramble for a first on 3rd-and-20 as well as turn in a couple other good gains with his legs. Give the man credit, he’s had bad first halvers a decent amount of times in his career, but he finds a way to turn it on late.

Whether or not you believe in the “clutch gene,” he makes the plays when it matters most.

Chiefs Offensive Line – D-

My goodness was this an adventure. It seemed like every player had a penalty against them including non-starters like Nick Allegretti. Mahomes seemed to be hit more often and harder than any other time I can remember in his career. From false starts to holding penalties, they seemed to be discombobulated.

After seeing how great Harrison Butker (see below) was in this game, I am holding the blocked extra point on the o-line as well. This unit has way more discipline and talent than they showed in this game, and I consider this to be just a terrible day for a very solid unit.

Travis Kelce – A-

Travis Kelce was about the only one playing like himself for the entire game. He had 9 catches for 90 yards and was consistently getting open for nice 10-yard gains. His touchdown route was a thing of beauty, as he lulled the defender to sleep before getting wide open in the end zone. Without Kelce, the Chiefs struggled to move the ball for the first 3 quarters of the game and looked lost on offense. His consistent ability to get open was instrumental in this game and it’s the reason why he is the best tight end in football.

Chiefs Linebackers – D

Don’t let the tackle numbers fool you into thinking they were effective. This group got gouged by the Chargers running backs. Missed tackles seemingly piled up on multiple drives. Austin Ekeler had an extremely effective game both on the ground with 93 yards and through the air with 55.

While I know that Willie Gay Jr. is young and inexperienced, there is no way that dude doesn’t have more talent than what is currently out there. Gay did have a nice tipped punt that showcased his athleticism on special teams. Damien Wilson also had a very nice stop on Justin Herbert, even if he got hurt a bit from laying the wood.

We knew linebacker was probably the weakest position group going into this season and it looks like it still will be. Luckily, the Chiefs have enough talent elsewhere to mask it.

Harrison “Stones” Butker – MVP

Dude is cold. I mean ice cold. I mean Antarctica-in-the-winter cold. Not only did he hit a 58-yard kick earlier in the game, but he nailed another 58-yarder down the pipe to win it. It was made more impressive that he hit a 53-yard attempt, was backed up after a holding penalty, and then drilled one from five yards further only to have a timeout called. From there, he makes a 58-yarder like it was nothing.

I have never been so comfortable with a kick to win a game in my entire life and it was from 58 yards. Almost surprised Butker didn’t ask for a delay of game just to make it over 60. Tony Romo had the best analogy calling him Mariano Rivera, and I think that was the best way to describe it. When he took the field, you just had a feeling the game was over and the Chiefs were going home victorious. Harrison Butker, here’s to you.

Next: What we learned about the Chiefs in Week 2

NFL Football

Atlanta Falcons prediction: Can the birds get their first win of the year?

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The Atlanta Falcons are back in action for the first time since firing Dan Quinn.

At 1-4 the Minnesota Vikings aren’t much better than the 0-5 Atlanta Falcons. This has all the makings of a really bad pillow fight among two teams that had Super Bowl hopes coming into 2020.

This will be the fifth time that these two teams have met over the last seven NFL seasons, the Falcons are 0-4 in the previous four meetings. The Falcons last win against the Vikings came in 2011 when Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

Here is how the staff at Blogging Dirty thinks the game turns out.

Jeff Benedict – Site Expert

When these two teams met last season, I was shocked at how bad the Atlanta Falcons had looked. Minnesota jumped out 28-0 and never looked back.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook evolved into one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league and while he was able to rush for 111 yards, he didn’t embarrass the Falcons like he did other teams across the league.

He will be out Sunday, which is a big advantage for the Falcons.

This Vikings team is much different on the defensive side than they were a year ago and I think the Falcons will be able to take advantage of that.

I think Raheem Morris starts his Falcons coaching career with a win.

Joe Beasley – Contributor

I expect the Falcons to play with some type of fire. If interim head coach Raheem Morris wants a shot at this job or any other head coaching gig, he has to show he can somewhat fix this mess in Atlanta.

The offense does get Julio Jones back which is good for everyone except a young Vikings secondary. Add that to the fact that Dalvin Cook isn’t playing and you have a perfect storm for the Falcons to get their first win.

Besides, I’m bound to get one of these right.

Justin Churchill – Contributor

Last week the Vikings were close to beating the Seahawks. They have a very good offense but may struggle without Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

Their defense will give up a lot, hopefully allowing Todd Gurley to get back into a groove. However,  I think the Vikings will win this one.

Ross Terrell – Contributor

It’s officially a new era in Atlanta. Maybe just maybe Raheem Morris was gunning for this job the whole time. So he sabotaged Quinn to get his shot as head coach. Or maybe the Falcons downward spiral will continue.

Let’s hope the latter isn’t true and the Atlanta Falcons finally pull themselves off the mat.

Next: Falcons have a chance to get out of sports purgatory

Ethan Johnson – Contributor

The Atlanta Falcons will not win this game. The team may come out inspired and rejuvenated, or heartbroken because their coach is gone.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter because they haven’t beaten the Minnesota Vikings since 2011, and that streak won’t end Sunday.

 

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Buffalo Bills: 4 defensive tackles to consider trading for this season

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Buffalo Bills

Sep 22, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) jogs off the field following his sack of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (not pictured) during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

These are four defensive tackles the Buffalo Bills should consider trying to trade for before the trade deadline.

The defensive line for the Buffalo Bills went through a significant change this past offseason. They saw free agents Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson leave in free agency but the front office replaced them with Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, and Mario Addison as well as selecting A.J. Epenesa in the second round.

In addition to those offseason moves, the Bills had last year’s starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei elect to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns around the pandemic.

After six games, it is clear that the changes have caused this defense to take a step backward stopping the run and the front office may need to look outside the organization on how to correct this.

The focus for general manager Brandon Beane should be to look for someone similar to Lotulelei in terms of a zero tech defensive tackle that can eat up space and take on multiple defenders. This will help force running backs into fewer lanes but also free up Tremaine Edmunds and the rest of the second and third-level defenders clear running lanes to get to the ball carrier.

These are four defensive tackles that could be available for a trade that makes sense for the Buffalo Bills.

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4 tight ends the Carolina Panthers should target in the 2021 NFL Draft

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Carolina Panthers

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Ian Thomas

Which college prospects are emerging as early draft candidates for the Carolina Panthers at the tight end position?

The Carolina Panthers clearly have a need at the tight end spot which needs to be addressed next spring. They are getting next to no production from either Ian Thomas or Chris Manhertz through six games of the 2020 season and this is a stark contrast to what the team got from prolific veteran Greg Olsen for so many years.

It’s hard to deny that this isn’t what the Carolina Panthers expected coming into the season. They had high hopes for Thomas to step up and fill the void left by the Pro Bowler, who opted for one more shot at a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks before inevitably taking up a broadcast position next year.

Thomas hasn’t lived up to his billing this season. He has accumulated just six receptions, 39 receiving yards, and one touchdown from 11 targets, which simply isn’t good enough if the former Indiana standout wants to make a real go of things from a starting role.

Although all hope isn’t lost, he is clearly skating on thin ice.

There were fewer expectations on the shoulders of Manhertz. The veteran is seen as more of a blocking tight end and has aided the Panthers in this area. This has been of particular use to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Mike Davis, depending on what play is called by Joe Brady.

If things continue as they are then this might be priority No.1 for the Panthers once the dust has settled on the 2020 season. Whether they bring in a veteran during the free agency period is up for debate, but there are plenty of exciting tight end prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft that will also warrant consideration during the evaluation process.

Let’s take a look at four players at the position who could come into Carolina and potentially make a big impression.

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