Russell Wilson is playing himself out of the MVP discussion.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback, who looked like the runaway choice throughout the first seven weeks of the season, has seen his play dramatically drop off over the last month, highlighted by his worst single game performance of the season in Week 10.
Wilson was very jittery against the Los Angeles Rams, completing a season-low 59.5 percent of his passes with two interceptions and no touchdowns in the 23-13 loss and made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. He failed to jump on a loose ball on a bad snap, which resulted in a turnover, took an ill-advised intentional grounding penalty, and a delay of game penalty that took the Seahawks out of scoring range.
Even more concerning is that this is not a one-game issue. He has been turning the ball over at a much higher rate than ever before over the last month, which is counterintuitive to how Wilson tends to play. Wilson, who had just five interceptions in all of 2019, has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games, three of which were losses, and has racked up a total of 10 turnovers over that stretch. He appears to be pressing and trying to do too much, as you can see in the play below where he has 15 yards in front of him if he runs it, but instead tries to toss the ball across the field on his back foot which results in an ugly interception at a crucial stage of the game.
Wilson has had a tendency of streaky play in the past, some of which could be accounted to a poor offensive line or a prehistoric offensive system that tried to establish the running game, but that is not the case in 2020. The Seahawks are passing at a higher rate out of neutral situations than any team in the NFL, and their offensive line has graded out as one of the 10 best pass protecting units in the league, according to most advanced metrics.
Wilson, who you might have heard has never received an MVP vote in his career, has undoubtedly now been lapped by Patrick Mahomes at this stage and would likely fall behind Aaron Rodgers and potentially Kyler Murray in the MVP race.
With seven games left in the season, Wilson’s play must improve dramatically for him to be continued to be mentioned in the conversation.
Ravens no longer like a Super Bowl contender
Coming into the season, the consensus was that the Baltimore Ravens were the most likely that could dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC, but that does not appear to be the case. The Ravens have one of the most talented rosters in the league but simply aren’t playing well enough to be considered one of the contenders in the AFC.
They don’t have a consistent passing game, a critical factor in the modern NFL, and rely too heavily on a running game that isn’t nearly as productive as it was a season ago. That is not a sustainable formula, and it was pretty evident in the Ravens’ ugly loss to an underwhelming New England Patriots team in which they could not stop the running game. The Ravens are a clear second fiddle to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
What took so long for Lions to use Swift?
It is consistently hard to understand the logic behind the Detroit Lions’ decision making.
Despite their win on Sunday, the confounding usage of rookie running back D’Andre Swift by coach Matt Patricia looks even more curious after a breakout performance. The Lions had been splitting carries most of the season, giving significant work to the aging Adrian Peterson over their promising rookie, which hardly made sense for a team in a transition phase. After being incredibly stubborn for nine weeks, the Lions finally gave Swift a chance to be a featured part of the offence and he responded with his best game of the season and added a completely new element to their team. It was painfully obvious watching them. Swift received a season-high 16 carries for 81 yards (over five yards per carry) and added another 68 yards on five receptions.
Swift is clearly one of the most talented players on their offence and continuing to restrict him would be negligent. This is why Patricia’s run in Detroit will not last beyond this season.
Raiders emerging as playoff contender
There’s a lot of chatter about the Dolphins (we called that one a few weeks back), but one team that isn’t getting a lot of attention given their recent play is the Las Vegas Raiders.
Jon Gruden’s team rolled the Denver Broncos 37-12 in Week 10 and has quietly won three straight and four of their last five, including handing the Kansas City Chiefs their only defeat. The Raiders are a well-rounded team — they have a good offensive line, can run the ball, and are getting far more efficient production out of QB Derek Carr, who has struggled historically with passing efficiency. Carr has done better with more weapons in the passing game but the notable improvement came defensively on Sunday, as the Raiders picked off Broncos QB Drew Lock four times with 10 pass deflections. That was a major area of focus the team was looking to improve all offseason.
The Raiders have done a nice job assembling talent over their last two drafts under GM and former NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, and they have transformed from a middling organization going nowhere into a stable playoff team.
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