Saturday marked the return of NFL play following Monday night’s unsettling events in which Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the Buffalo-Cincinnati game. postponement and eventual cancellation.
The 24-year-old’s form has improved so significantly over the past few days that he was able to address his team-mates on Friday morning. Starting with Saturday’s two games, teams around the league will show their continued support for Hamlin in a number of ways this weekend.
The day begins with the Raiders hosting the Chiefs as they aim to lock down the league’s No. 1 seed. NFL owners on Friday approved changes to the AFC playoffs that could directly affect the Chiefs depending on the outcome of Week 18 games.
Doubles in Game 2 on Saturday as the Titans and Jaguars meet in Jacksonville with the AFC South title hanging in the balance.
This is an unbelievable moment for the Jaguars, who have yet to make the playoffs in an AFC Champions League game since the 2017 season. The Titans, who have won the division title two years in a row and made the playoffs in three straight seasons, have lost six straight, including one at home to the Jaguars in Week 14.
Patrick Mahomes was also just 50 yards away from a career-high season total. If Mahomes throws for 430 yards, he could theoretically break the all-time NFL single-season record of 5,477 yards set by the Broncos’ Peyton Manning in 2013. He has surpassed that number five times in his career, including once against the Raiders in 2019.
Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas Si) Time:
4pm EST :30 | ESPN/ABC/ESPN Deportes
Jarrett Stidham is getting a surprising amount of attention.
When the Raiders opted for backup Derek Carr and turned to a rarely used fourth-year QB, it was seen as more slapped Carl rather than a chance to see what Stidham could do. After all, in 2020, when the Patriots struggled to consistently pitch, Stidham barely played off the New England bench while Josh McDaniels was calling the shots. But has that all changed after Stidham’s stunning 365-yard passing game against the 49ers last week? Maybe the lights in Stidham just came on. Or maybe the 49ers just weren’t ready for the QB, who has completed 61 NFL pass attempts (including 13 with the Raiders). Regardless, Stidham isn’t going to sneak up on the Chiefs, who actually face him for the first half of 2020 and have now seen what he’s done to the well-respected San Francisco defense. Stidham stabbed them a few times in man defense, but also succumbed to pressure a few times late in the game, so it will be interesting to see how Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo chooses to play it . Having a healthy Trent McDuffie, who missed Game 1 with the Raiders, should help, as he may be called upon to help cover Davante Adams.
Pass protection could be key for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs struggled to move the ball consistently in their first meeting with the Raiders in Week 5 and didn’t Scored the first 20-plus minutes of the game. The Raiders’ passing rush was a big reason, as defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones kept harassing Chiefs tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie, and forced Mahomes to often operate under heavy pressure. However, Jones is now on injured reserve, and the Chiefs’ tackles have improved of late; Mahomes has only been sacked eight times and has caught 291 passes in his past eight games. Either way, look for the Chiefs to dig deep into their screen game and have a couple of pass-rushing concepts ready just in case. Keep an eye on Jerick McKinnon, who has been busy receiving the ball lately, and Cadaristoni, who had four catches for 71 yards last week despite fumbles. Mecole Hardman (pelvis) was also activated recently and could get some running in this game as the Chiefs gear up for the playoffs. Josh Jacobs can hold the key to the Raiders. Jacobs was a major thorn in the Chiefs’ side in Week 5 with 21 runs for 154 yards and a touchdown , 5 receptions for 39 yards. In that game, he scored six of the Raiders’ longest nine touches and had nine second-half touches. But his production has dipped in recent games, and Jacobs is now dealing with hip and oblique injuries. He missed some time in practice this week, including during Wednesday’s drill. It’s a rather worrisome sign for his chances of playing Saturday. The Raiders had nothing but glowing things to say about Jacobs, and are now reportedly willing to re-sign him after they rejected his fifth-year option before the season. That leads us to believe that they might not want to tax further after Jacobs has amassed a career-high 374 touches and 2,003 yards from scrimmage this season. If Jacobs can’t go, it could be a Zamir White game. He has carried just 16 carries for 66 yards this season and has never had more than three carries in any one game. But White, a fourth-round pick this spring, has been a workhorse at Georgia at times, especially in the 2020 college season.
Place: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, FL)
8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ ABC/ESPN Deportes
The young Jaguars have a chance to do something special.
The Jaguars were 4-29 overall in the last two seasons. Prior to this season, they had finished bottom of the AFC South for four consecutive seasons. At one point this season they went 3-8 with five straight losses. They are among the youngest players in the NFL. Yet here they are, playing at home, with a chance to win this season against a Titans team that has beaten them in nine of their last 10 games. But the Jaguars have shown they can beat the Titans, scoring 29 straight points in a Week 14 win over Tennessee — and that was with Ryan Tannehill on the floor. The Jaguars haven’t lost since Week 13, when Trevor Lawrence sprained his body in what looked like a scary collision, but he was fine with a toe injury in that game. Since then, the offense has been cooking, and the defense has given up six points in its past two games. Look for Lawrence to shoot early and test Tennessee’s secondary, and while he struggled in the game, eight of Lawrence’s 42 pass attempts were helped in Week 14.
Joshua Dobbs is playing the biggest game of his NFL career. Dobbs was a surprise starter for the underhanded Titans last week, and he was surprisingly strong against the Cowboys It was a matter of life and death earning him yet another first start in the playoffs for the team. He did complete just 20 of 39 passes and fumbled the ball twice, but Dobbs showed a level of composure and determination that former backup starter Malik Willis lacked. Over the past two games, the Jaguars haven’t been tested defensively against players like Zach Wilson, Chris Streveler, Jeff Driskel and Davis Mills. They’ve faced a number of dual-threat quarterbacks this season, with varying degrees of success. But the Jaguars contained Jalen’s injury earlier in the season, like any defense, and that defense has gotten better since then. Despite Tannehill’s early success in Week 14, the Jaguars turned him over twice in the first half and sacked him three times and limited him to 22 passes after halftime. 9 times in . They should be able to put some pressure on him, but Dobbs will treat this game like his Super Bowl and wonder when his next game will start.
Derrick Henry has a chance to save the Titans’ season. Without Henry in the lineup last week, the Titans’ backup linebacker ran for 65 yards 20 times and 12 yards long. Yet Tennessee was able to keep the game close in the fourth quarter. Now with Henry — a longtime Jags torturer — back in the lineup on Saturday, they should have a chance. In his past two games in Jacksonville, Henry has combined for 345 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns on 55 carries. Back in Week 14, Henry also drove the Jaguars for 121 yards, a touchdown on just 17 carries and added three receptions for 34 yards. But he also suffered the only two-loss game of his career, with both turnovers coming in the Titans’ backfield. First, he coughed a reception before halftime, leading to a Jacksonville TD, and the second, early in the fourth quarter, led to a Jaguars field goal. This is unlikely to happen again. If the Jaguars are going to slow Henry down, they have to get people involved. According to PFF, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and linebackers Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun are the NFL leaders in tackles for turnover this season, so they need to get better in this crucial game.