The Kansas City Chiefs have a losing record for the first time in over five years, suffering a second successive defeat as they were stunned 30-24 by AFC West rivals the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kansas City trailed 14-0 in the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium and were behind 14-3 at half-time, however, a lead is rarely safe against the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes and, when they went 17-14 ahead with fewer than four minutes left in the third quarter, the outcome seemed inevitable.

But reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert continues to polish his increasingly impressive resume and he outdueled Mahomes in a bewitching fourth quarter that could prove pivotal in their division and the AFC playoff race.

Herbert connected on the first of two touchdown passes to Mike Williams and, after Mecole Hardman found the endzone for the Chiefs, led a field goal drive to tie the game at 24-24.

Mahomes still had over two minutes to work with to potentially win it for Kansas City but threw a critical interception and the Chargers' gamble to eschew a game-winning field goal paid off as Herbert hit Williams for another touchdown and, despite a missed extra point, Los Angeles held on as a late Hail Mary from the Chiefs came up short.

That missed extra point was the second of the day for the Chargers, the first coming after Keenan Allen caught a four-yard pass from Herbert, who then found Austin Ekeler for a 16-yard score.

Harrison Butker's 34-yard field goal was all the Chiefs could muster in the first half but Jody Fortson caught a high two-yard pass from Mahomes to narrow the gap and Clyde-Edwards Helaire scampered into the endzone to give Kansas City the lead on a 10-yard reception.

Herbert and Williams responded quickly but the Chiefs were in front again after Hardman scooted in on a six-yard pop pass. Tristan Vizciano's field goal levelled matters and, after Mahomes was picked off for the second time – Alohi Gilman snatching an ill-advised throw –  the Chargers were rewarded for their aggressive approach.

A fourth down was converted via a pass interference penalty and Herbert then hit Williams on a four-yard back-shoulder throw. Vizciano's errant extra point gave Kansas City a chance but 32 seconds and a timeout was not enough for Mahomes as the Chiefs dropped to 1-2, their first losing record since Week 11 of the 2015 season.

Tucker's record kick gives Ravens remarkable win

The Baltimore Ravens, winners over the Chiefs last week, avoided a stunning loss in the most improbable fashion thanks to the leg of Justin Tucker.

Baltimore trailed the winless Detroit Lions 17-16 with 64 seconds left and faced a fourth down and 19 with 26 seconds left.

However, Lamar Jackson hit Sammy Watkins for 36 yards to keep their hopes alive and Justin Tucker's 66-yard field goal bounced off the top of the crossbar and over, his kick from an NFL-record distance sparing the Ravens in an incredible finish.

Bills roll, Steelers slump

There was no such drama in Buffalo, where the Bills routed the Washington Football Team 43-21 behind quarterback Josh Allen's 358-yard, five-touchdown performance.

The team the Bills lost to in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered a second straight defeat as they were beaten 24-10 by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Justin Fields was sacked nine times in his Chicago Bears debut, which saw them lose 26-6 to the Cleveland Browns, while Jamal Agnew tied the record for the NFL's longest play with a 109-yard return of Matt Prater's missed field goal but the Jacksonville Jaguars still lost 31-19 to the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals.

Is it Week 3 already? The advent of a 17th game means the regular season will stretch further into January, but the NFL campaign always seems to fly by at breakneck speed.

In the world of fantasy football, plenty of managers may be seeing things spiral out of control in a hurry after an 0-2 start.

Or maybe you're on the other end of things, with at least one win on the board and feeling satisfied that your draft-day decisions were the right ones.

Either way, it's important to remember that fantasy is a weekly game, and success hinges on the selection calls made each weekend.

Stats Perform is here to try to help you make the correct calls. Here's this week's look at four players and a defense in strong spots to produce matchup-winning fantasy scores.

Quarterback: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Herbert was frustrated in Week 2 as the Chargers let opportunities go begging in their defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, with two interceptions undermining an otherwise impressive display that saw him throw for 338 yards and a touchdown.

However, Herbert should be enticed by a matchup with a Chiefs defense that has produced turnovers but has proved extremely hospitable to opposing offenses.

Indeed, the Chiefs are allowing a league-worst 7.56 yards per play through two games. Only the Detroit Lions (9.44) are allowing more yards per pass play than the Chiefs (9.37).

Going against a porous defense and with Patrick Mahomes a near-certainty to deliver points on the other side, Herbert has a clear opportunity to record his third successive 300-yard game to start the season and put up a massive fantasy performance in a potential shootout.

Running Back: Ty'Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions

Despite seeing their running back depth decimated by injuries, the Ravens saw their backfield get going in a huge way in their stunning Week 2 win over the Chiefs.

Baltimore gashed Kansas City for 251 yards on the ground at an average of 6.1 yards per carry. The complexity that quarterback Lamar Jackson's running threat brings to their rushing attack played a significant role, but the Ravens will have been extremely encouraged by Williams' performance.

Williams averaged 5.9 yards per carry as he put up 77 yards on 13 carries, and he now gets the opportunity to go against a Lions defense that has been relatively stout against the run but has given up a league-high nine offensive touchdowns.

For fantasy managers light at running back, Williams could be an intriguing option.

Wide Receiver: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans

On the surface, there is not much intrigue in Thursday's primetime clash between the Panthers and Texans.

However, with Sam Darnold showing signs of improvement in Carolina following his departure from the New York Jets, potential fantasy matchup winners can be found among their passing game options.

Aside from Christian McCaffrey, Moore is the top threat on the Panthers' offense. He had eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown last week against a New Orleans Saints defense that is superior to that of the Texans, which allowed Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to complete 90 per cent of his passes in Week 2.

Targeted 19 times across his first two games, if Moore gets a double-digit share as he did versus New Orleans, he will be set up perfectly to deliver another productive performance.

Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Ravens

While the Lions may be in a rebuilding year, Hockenson is constructing an excellent case for him to be considered among the NFL's premier players at the tight end position.

He has 163 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games and now gets to face a Ravens defense giving up the most fantasy points per game in the league to opposing tight ends.

Shredded for 109 yards and a touchdown by Travis Kelce in Week 2 and for 105 yards and a score by Darren Waller in Week 1, the odds of the Ravens preventing Hockenson from producing a similar statline appear slim.

Defense: Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Backing a defense to excel after a game in which that unit gave up 26 points in a 34-33 shootout win may seem foolhardy.

While the Cardinals' defense is certainly vulnerable, as the Minnesota Vikings proved last week, Arizona could hardly ask for a better matchup in which to bounce back on that side of the ball.

Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence is tied for the league lead in interceptions having tossed five already this season. His air yards per attempt average of 10.49 is second among quarterbacks with at least 10 passes, but he is delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball just 66.3 per cent of the time.

That combination of aggressiveness and inaccuracy is a recipe for a bounce-back performance from the Arizona defense.

Patrick Mahomes acknowledged he threw a "dumb" interception in the Kansas City Chiefs' 36-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

With just over two minutes to play in the third quarter, Tavon Young picked off Mahomes' pass to Travis Kelce – the first interception the Chiefs quarterback has thrown in September in his NFL career. 

Lamar Jackson, who starred for the Ravens by passing for 239 yards and running for 107, charged over for a two-yard touchdown, and then ran it in again from one yard out the next time Baltimore had the ball to give the Ravens the lead. 

Quarterback Jackson became the first player ever to record five games with at least 200 passing and 100 rushing yards as he also celebrated his first career win over Mahomes at the fourth attempt.

Reflecting on the interception, Mahomes told a news conference: "We were executing, they made a play and you lose games when teams make plays like that.

"I should have just thrown to D-Rob [Demarcus Robinson] in the flat. I thought I could get my leg down. He kind of spun me and it’s just a dumb interception, probably one of the worst interceptions I've ever had.

"The interception was not only dumb in the sense that it was a bad throw, not even close to the receiver, but it was dumb at that point of the game.

"Even if I throw to the flat, he doesn't get the first down, we could get a field or punt to try and pin them back, so there's just a lot of things like this in games that form to get losses in the end."

Another error cost the Chiefs late on. Clyde Edwards-Helaire made his first fumble to allow Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh to strip possession with 1:20 on the clock, allowing Jackson to seal the win.

"We'll need him the entire season. Don’t let one play define you," was Mahomes' message to Edwards-Helaire.

"It's a long season, obviously we lost, it's a good football team that we played at their place, but it's a long season – and if we want to be great, if we want to have a chance to make another run, he's going to be an important part of it."

Coach Andy Reid warned the Chiefs must learn from their mistakes.

"Turnovers, they kill you in this league," Reid told reporters.

"We had two of them down the stretch in crucial times. We have to do better, we have to learn from that. Guys played hard, it's just the other group took advantage of the turnovers."

Lamar Jackson was not pleased with the way the Baltimore Ravens' game against the Kansas City Chiefs began. 

Two of the Ravens' first three possessions Sunday ended with Jackson being picked off by Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who returned the first of those interceptions 34 yards for a touchdown. 

But Jackson's team-mates encouraged him to keep playing his game, and he turned in a vintage performance to lead Baltimore to a 36-35 victory – his first win in four encounters with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. 

"I know my team is going to look at me. If I'm out there just messing up, they're going to be like, 'Damn, what are you doing?'" Jackson told reporters. "So, I've got to do it for my guys.

"My guys have my back. The first two interceptions, they were like, 'Man, you're good; you got that out the way. Let's just play.' I was like, 'You're right, I've got to play now. That's over with.' And that's what we did."

Jackson was at his dual-threat best after those early wobbles, passing for 239 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a game-high 107 yards and two more TDs. 

Those last two scores came in the fourth quarter as the Ravens completed their comeback against the reigning AFC champions, but there was one last key play Jackson had to make. 

Mahomes had the Chiefs moving downfield in search of a game-winning field goal when Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh stripped Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovered the fumble with 1:20 remaining.

Fifteen seconds later, after Kansas City had used all three of their timeouts, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh faced a decision on fourth-and-one from the Ravens 43-yard line. 

He fully intended to go for the first down, but he thought he would ask Jackson's opinion on what they should do.

The quarterback's response was a simple "Hell, yeah," and the Ravens of course put the ball in his hands. He gained two yards to convert and the game was over. 

Asked about making that call, Harbaugh made it clear there was no hesitation. 

"It says that I have complete confidence in Lamar Jackson to make every play," he said. "I'll just never, ever, not have faith in him to make a play in any situation.

"I'm happy for him. We love each other. All of us have each other's backs."

It was a welcome recovery for the Ravens after a difficult season-opening loss at the Las Vegas Raiders last week and now they can move forward with a bit more confidence after a long-awaited defeat of the Chiefs. 

"It feels good to get that monkey off our back," Jackson said. "It just feels good. But we've gotta move on to Detroit now. We didn't win the Super Bowl yet. It's just one game. We just gotta keep staying focused."

Lamar Jackson put his all-around game on display once again, making NFL history as he led the Baltimore Ravens to a 36-35 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Jackson passed for 239 yards and ran for 107, becoming the first player ever to record four games with at least 200 passing and 100 rushing yards as the Ravens rebounded from a tough season-opening loss at the Las Vegas Raiders to defeat Patrick Mahomes and the reigning AFC champions. 

It was Jackson's first career win over fellow quarterback Mahomes, having lost the three previous head-to-head meetings in the NFL.

Sunday's game got off to a wild start as Tyrann Mathieu picked off Jackson on the third play of the game and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown, only to have the Ravens answer on their next possession with a bizarre sequence that saw Ty'Son Williams fumble at the one-yard line but team-mate Devin Duvernay picked it up and took it in for a score. 

That set the tone for a high-scoring affair in which Mahomes completed touchdown passes of 33, 40 and 46 yards, the last of which saw his favourite target Travis Kelce elude much of the vaunted Baltimore defence on the way to the end zone. 

That score put the Chiefs up 35-24 but Baltimore star Jackson led the Ravens right back with a boost from the defence. 

With just over two minutes to play in the third period, Tavon Young picked off Mahomes' pass to Kelce – the first interception the Chiefs quarterback has thrown in September in his NFL career. 

Jackson would cap the ensuing drive by running for a two-yard touchdown, and run it in again from one yard out the next time Baltimore had the ball to give the Ravens the lead. 

Mahomes got the Chiefs moving immediately, looking for the game-winning field goal, but Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh stripped Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovered the fumble with 1:20 remaining. 

Kansas City used up all three of their remaining timeouts on the next possession, but Jackson sealed the win with a two-yard run on fourth-and-one. 

After letting a Week 1 victory slip through their fingers in an overtime thriller with the Las Vegas Raiders, the Baltimore Ravens head into their second game perhaps feeling a sense of jeopardy about the direction of their season.

The Ravens have been beset by injuries on both sides of the ball and, following their 33-27 defeat to the Raiders, have the unenviable task of trying to get back to 1-1 by defeating Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is a challenge that has consistently been beyond Baltimore in recent years. The Ravens have lost their last four meetings with the Chiefs and can hardly consider themselves to be in an advantageous situation going into Sunday's primetime clash.

The Ravens lost each of their top three running backs to injury before the start of the season, with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all on the shelf. A torn ACL robbed Baltimore of cornerback Marcus Peters for the entire season, while wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin are on injured reserve and out until at least Week 4.

As if that was not enough, they will be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday, forcing Alejandro Villanueva to switch position and take his place with interior lineman Patrick Mekari filling in at right tackle.

The Chiefs defense is far from the most fearsome in the NFL and managed only 12 pressures in Kansas City's opening win over the Cleveland Browns.

However, being shorn of skill position talent and playing behind a makeshift offensive line is a long way from ideal for quarterback Lamar Jackson as he attempts to outduel Mahomes.

With their successive MVP seasons in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Mahomes and Jackson have led the new generation of dual-threat quarterbacks taking over the NFL but performed at opposite ends of the spectrum in Week 1.

According to Stats Perform data, Mahomes added 2.81 yards per attempt in expected passing situations against the Browns, third in the NFL. Jackson was 21st with minus 0.87 yards per attempt versus the Raiders.

Mahomes delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.4 per cent of his attempts, compared to 69% for Jackson.

When pressured by the Browns, Mahomes' well-thrown percentage dipped to 66.7 but with an air yards per attempt average of 18.6. By contrast, Jackson was at 63.6 while averaging 5.3 air yards.

Though not particularly accurate under pressure, Mahomes still found a way to test the Browns deep, which should be a cause for concern for the Ravens' secondary given Peters' absence and injuries to Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith, who are both questionable for the game.

Jackson was not able to do the same in defeat to the Raiders and now must somehow find a way to keep up with Mahomes despite a complete lack of continuity on offense.

With the advent of the 17-game season, going 0-2 is not the death knell it once was. The Ravens have a little extra wiggle room than they did in the 16-game era but, realistically, if they want to compete in the AFC, Jackson will need to overcome statistical evidence and the recent history of this matchup and get Baltimore off the mark against the odds.

Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season threw up more questions than answers, but there remains no doubting Patrick Mahomes' outstanding talent.

In one of the highlights of the opening round of games, Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a comeback win over the Cleveland Browns.

All eyes will be on Mahomes again in Week 2, and the Chiefs have an intriguing matchup against fellow quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

This battle between two of the past three MVPs has been one-sided in the past, though, as Stats Perform discovers in the most interesting facts from Sunday's biggest games.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

The Chiefs will have few concerns about going on the road, boasting a 5-1 record against the Ravens in Baltimore all-time. They have also won each of the teams' past four meetings.

This dominance is reflected in Mahomes' record against Jackson, winning all three head-to-heads and averaging 378.7 passing yards per game to his opponent's 170.3.

Of course, Jackson is a greater threat across the ground than through the air, leading the Ravens in rushing yards against the Las Vegas Raiders last week for the 21st game of his career (including the postseason). In that time, no other QB has led his team in rushing in more than 12 games.

But even if Jackson can guide the Ravens into a lead, that brings no guarantee of victory. They gave up a 14-point lead for the first time in 99 games against the Raiders, while the Chiefs recovered from 12 points down at home to the Browns and actually have a 10-8 record after trailing by double digits since the start of 2018.

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Chargers

Another clash between two top QBs on Sunday sees Dak Prescott take the Cowboys to the Chargers having last week continued his impressive run even in defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Due to injury, Prescott has only actually played six games since the start of last year, but he has passed for at least 400 yards in four of them – no other player has more than two such games in that span.

However, Dallas have lost a league-high three games while posting 450-plus total net yards since the beginning of 2020.

The Chargers have their own prolific passer, too, in Justin Herbert, who threw for 337 yards in a win against the Washington Football Team in Week 1, meaning he now has 4,673 passing yards through 16 career games – a tally only topped by Mahomes' 5,100 in his first 16 games.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Josh Allen is another elite passer who would hope to be in MVP contention at the end of the year, but he was less impressive in the Bills' opening defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing only 30 of 51 passes.

While that was a career high for pass attempts, NFL teams are 4-20 when having a QB throw 50 or more since the start of last season.

Allen at least has fond memories of facing Miami. In the first of the sides' two meetings last year, he threw for career bests in yards (415) and TD passes (four), while the second clash saw the Bills score 56 points – a tally they have only ever topped once, also against the Dolphins in 1966.

Buffalo have five straight wins against Miami, although the Dolphins are in form with 10 wins in 13 games after 10 victories in their prior 33.

Elsewhere...

New Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford will fancy his chances against the Indianapolis Colts. His passer rating of 156.1 in Week 1 led the league, but Russell Wilson, against the Colts, was second with 152.3. Stafford threw three TD passes, including two of more than 50 yards – a feat only previously achieved once by a player in their first game with the team in the Super Bowl era (John Stofa for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968).

Jameis Winston took a slightly less spectacular route to his five TD passes last time out, with 148 passing yards the fewest from a QB to throw five for five scores.

Meanwhile, first overall pick Trevor Lawrence threw for 332 yards, the most by a player on his debut since Cam Newton's 422 yards in 2011, but he also had three interceptions – something he never did in his 40 games at Clemson.

Each of the first-round rookie QBs will be aiming to build on feats of some manner, with 21-year-old Trey Lance the youngest player in the Super Bowl era to throw a touchdown on his first NFL pass.

Mac Jones, who this week faces Zach Wilson, threw for 281 yards – the most by a New England Patriots rookie on debut.

The Las Vegas Raiders sounded like a team that got away with something Monday night. 

From quarterback Derek Carr to head coach Jon Gruden, they acknowledged there were any number of flaws in their season-opening performance against the Baltimore Ravens. 

But all that mattered in the end was that they found a path to victory, prevailing 33-27 in overtime before a raucous home crowd. 

"All I keep saying is I just want to win, so who cares if it's ugly or pretty?" Carr told reporters after the game. "I do not care, we won the game. I'm celebrating, that's the only thing that matters."

Carr completed 34 of 56 passes for 435 yards, saving the biggest completion for the final play of the game – a looping 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones when everyone in the stadium figured the Raiders would run the ball to set up a field goal try. 

Gruden indicated that was exactly what he had planned but kicker Daniel Carlson was not immediately available on the sidelines, forcing a delay of game penalty that prompted him to send Carr and the offence back out on the field. 

"But things worked out," Gruden said with a wry smile. 

They did indeed, as the Raiders stunned a favoured Ravens team that felt in control for much of the game before falling apart late. 

"I'm glad coach trusted us and put it in our hands at the end," said Carr, "because it always feels good to win that way – especially when you almost gave it away."

After rallying to level the game in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Raiders thought they had the game won on the opening possession of overtime as Carr hit Bryan Edwards for an apparent 33-yard touchdown. 

But video replay determined Edwards was down just before the goal line, and after a run for no gain by Carr, a critical false start penalty and an incompletion, Anthony Averett intercepted Carr in the end zone following a deflection on a pass intended for Willie Snead. 

The Raiders were granted a reprieve, though, as Carl Nassib forced a fumble on a sack of Lamar Jackson with 4:31 to play in overtime to set up Carr's game-winning pass. 

"Our defence made a signature play at the end of that game and I thought Derek Carr was awesome playing under some really tough circumstances today against a very good defence," Gruden said.

He added: "I'm really proud of the character they showed. We were down 14-0 to the Ravens and it didn't look pretty, it didn't look good. But when you can come back and find a way to win against a team like that, that's saying something. 

"That's an impressive, impressive victory and like they say here, just win baby."

The Las Vegas Raiders welcomed fans to their new home a year later than expected, but it was worth the wait. 

Derek Carr's 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones in overtime gave the Raiders a stunning season-opening 33-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday. 

It was a thrilling conclusion to the opening weekend of the NFL season after Lamar Jackson and the Ravens appeared in control for most of the game. 

Injury-wracked Baltimore took a 14-0 lead on a 35-yard touchdown run from Ty'Son Williams and a signature 10-yard Jackson TD pass to Marquise Brown.

Las Vegas ultimately would level the game at 17-17 on Josh Jacobs' second touchdown run of the game with 9:18 to play in the fourth quarter, a drive set up by Jackson fumbling after a scramble for the first turnover of the night. 

That set up a wild finish in the first regular-season game at $1.9billion Allegiant Stadium, as newly signed Ravens running back Latavius Murray gave the visitors a 24-17 lead with 6:04 to play before Carr equalised just over two minutes later with a 10-yard scoring pass to Darren Waller. 

Jackson got loose again on the ensuing possession to set up a 47-yard Justin Tucker field goal that gave the Ravens a lead with 37 seconds remaining, but the Raiders were not done. 

Carr zipped a pair of completions to get Las Vegas down the field and set Daneil Carlson up for a 55-yard field goal with two seconds remaining that sent the game to overtime. 

The Raiders thought they had the game won on the opening possession of the extra session, as Carr hit Bryan Edwards for an apparent 33-yard touchdown. 

But video replay determined Edwards was down just before the goal line, and after a run for no gain by Carr, a critical false start penalty an an incompletion, Anthony Averett ntercepted Carr in the end zone after a deflection on a pass intended for Willie Snead. 

The Las Vegas defence would bail out the home side once again, though, as Carl Nassib forced a fumble on a sack of Jackson with 4:31 to play in overtime. 

After a Raiders penalty moved the ball back five yards, the Ravens assumed the next play would be a run to set up a winning field-goal try, but Carr saw Jones get free in the secondary and looped a pass over everyone's head for an uncontested touchdown to win the game.

Carr completed 34 of 56 passes for 435 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Jackson was 19 of 30 for 235 yards and a TD. The Ravens quarterback also rushed for a game-high 86 yards. 

The Baltimore Ravens are set to be without a key cog in their running game after J.K. Dobbins was lost to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Dobbins was taken off on a cart during the Ravens' win over the Washington Football Team in their preseason finale last Saturday, meaning he will miss his second year in the league after an extremely encouraging rookie season.

The Ravens have enjoyed the benefit of the most efficient running game in the NFL in each of the past two seasons.

However, their position as the league's best in that regard could be under threat without the services of a running back who looked primed for a breakout year in 2021.

Dobbins' dynamic rookie year

Baltimore's second-round pick last year, Dobbins finished his rookie season with 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 134 attempts.

His rushing average of 6.01 yards per carry was the best in the NFL among running backs, with his team-mate Lamar Jackson (6.32) and Kyler Murray (6.16) the only two players to rack up yardage on the ground at a more efficient rate.

Running with a combination of burst, elusiveness and balance, Dobbins excelled at staying on his feet after contact from a defender.

He led running backs with an average of 2.68 yards after contact per attempt and was also third in yards before contact per rush with 3.43.

In other words, Dobbins' short-area speed allowed him to quickly advance to the second level of the defense, where his ability to evade defenders enabled the former Ohio State star to consistently gain critical additional yardage.

And, following his injury, it is debatable whether the Ravens have the players in their running back room to effectively replace his skill set.

Can Edwards step up?

Gus Edwards will likely take the bulk of the workload in Dobbins' absence and there are numbers that suggest the drop off may not be that steep.

Edwards was eighth with an average of 2.27 yards after contact per attempt last season, while his 3.06 yards per carry on rush attempts where there was a run disruption – which is where a defender wins his matchup against a blocker – was superior to Dobbins' 2.51.

However, Edwards averaged 2.78 yards before contact per attempt, speaking to his lack of burst compared to Dobbins. His missed tackle rate per touch of 0.144 was also vastly inferior to Dobbins' 0.237.

Edwards has proven himself an elusive runner, but not to the same extent that Dobbins was last year. Lacking the acceleration to get the second level as quickly as Dobbins can, Edwards does not have the upside of his less experienced team-mate.

Limited seasoning is an issue for the man with whom Edwards is set to share the ball-carrying burden.

Justice Hill has only 70 carries to his name in his NFL career. Of those, 58 came in his rookie year in 2019, and Hill was below the average for backs with at least 50 rushing attempts in yards before contact per attempt (2.41), yards after contact (1.55) and yards per carry on runs with a disruption (1.97).

With little experience and underwhelming production, there is not much to suggest Hill can help fill the void left by Dobbins and, if Edwards is unable to rise to the challenge, the pressure will be firmly on quarterback Jackson through the air and on the ground.

Jackson looks to take flight

Jackson's position as the top runner by yards per carry last season could hardly be considered a surprise, the 2019 MVP having consistently confounded defenses on the ground since entering the league in 2018, with his upside as a runner in the open field enabling the Ravens to operate one of the most diverse rushing attacks in the NFL.

The threat of Jackson continually forces defenses to hesitate at the mesh point when he either hands the ball to the back or keeps it himself. As long as Jackson is on the field, the Ravens running backs should have the opportunity to capitalise on the doubt he puts in the minds of defenses.

Yet if defenses manage to do a better job of mitigating Jackson's impact as a runner than they did last year or in his MVP season, then he will need to take another leap throwing the ball after a somewhat underwhelming 2020 in that regard.

Jackson delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 78.3 per cent of his passes last year, just above the average for quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts of 78 per cent. He was also disappointing as a downfield thrower, posting a passer rating of 89.1 on throws of 21 or more air yards that was 17th among quarterbacks with at least 25 such passes.

More consistency from wide receiver Marquise Brown, who won his matchup with a defender on plays where he was targeted only 58 per cent of the time in 2020, would greatly aid Jackson's cause. The Ravens star will also hope rookie first-round pick Rashod Bateman can return from groin surgery in time for Week 1 and quickly display the form that saw him finish fourth among Power 5 receivers with 25 targets or more in big play percentage (50.4) in his last full college season in 2019.

Dobbins' injury is far from a death knell for a Ravens running game that will always be a concern for opposing defenses with Jackson at quarterback, and Edwards' previous numbers indicate he can keep it operating at an efficient rate. There is now a distinct lack of depth in the backfield, though, and – minus the dynamism Dobbins provides – it would greatly aid Baltimore's quest to be the AFC's Super Bowl representative if the Ravens can win games on the back of Jackson's rapport with his receivers.

The Baltimore Ravens will not rush into an extension on quarterback Lamar Jackson's contract says coach John Harbaugh, in light of Josh Allen's bumper Buffalo Bills deal.

The Ravens already exercised their fifth-year option on Jackson's contract, which will see the 24-year-old paid just over $23 million in 2022, and have since been in talks about an extension.

Jackson had indicated he wants to remain with the Ravens long-term, saying in May he "would love to be here forever".

The situation has now been complicated after the Buffalo Bills handed quarterback Josh Allen one of the richest deals in NFL history, with a six-year extension worth $258m.

"There’s really not a hurry for us," Harbaugh said about how Allen's deal may impact talks with Jackson on an extension.

"He’s going to be our quarterback for years to come."

Jackson, who was a unanimous choice as the NFL's Most Valuable Player two years ago, has won more games (30) than any other quarterback since taking over as Baltimore's starter midway through the 2018 season and became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 30 regular-season victories (37 games).

The Ravens have reached the NFL postseason for the past three seasons with Jackson, although they have only won one playoff during that span, failing to progress to any Championship games.

Jackson's output slipped in 2020 but he remains the NFL's premier dual-threat quarterback, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on the ground in each of the past two seasons in addition to his work in the passing game.

The 24-year-old is also the first in league history to produce 5,000 passing yard and 2,500 rushing yards in his first three NFL seasons. He had 242 completions for 2,757 yards – at 64.4 per cent – 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 appearances for Baltimore in 2020.

In total, Jackson has tallied 606 completions, 7,085 yards, 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions since entering the league.

Lamar Jackson has tested positive for coronavirus, disrupting the Baltimore Ravens' preparations for the new NFL season.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh revealed on Wednesday his quarterback was missing the team's first practice of training camp.

Former NFL MVP Jackson reported to camp last Thursday but only returned a positive result on Tuesday, with running back Gus Edwards also confirmed as a case.

Harbaugh, who would not reveal how long the pair would be sidelined for, said: "It's just part of the deal. It's just the way the world is right now.

"It's no different than if somebody gets an injury – you tweak an ankle and you're out for some number of days. It's just part of football.

"To me, whenever you have a problem or whenever something comes up like that, you embrace it and you almost kind of rejoice in it because it's an opportunity to improve somewhere else."

Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley took the majority of snaps in Wednesday's practice, with Robert Griffin III waived by Baltimore in January.

Griffin started for the Ravens on both occasions Jackson was missing over the past two seasons, including when he previously tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Week 12 trip to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020.

In a 19-14 defeat, Griffin completed seven of 12 passes for 33 yards and an interception.

McSorley came off the bench to supply their sole touchdown pass, connecting with Marquise Brown for a 70-yard score from one of only two successful throws.

Across the other 15 games, Jackson regressed from his MVP year, his passer rating falling from 113.3 to 99.3 as 36 touchdowns and six interceptions became 26 TDs and nine picks.

He still passed 1,000 rushing yards, however, and scored seven times with the ball in his hands.

With offseason programs in the books, NFL teams will next month turn their attention to training camp as preparations for the 2021 season ramp up.

Every coaching staff in the league knows that having a reliable offensive line will be crucial to their hopes of success in the coming campaign.

Too many holes in the trenches can doom a team's chances in a hurry regardless of the talent at quarterback and the offensive skill positions.

Reflecting the importance of strong play up front, five offensive linemen were taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

And, using combined run block and pass protection data over the past three seasons, Stats Perform has produced projected offensive line rankings to see how each team stacks up in the trenches.

Here we look at which teams are in the best shape, which O-Lines could cause problems for their quarterback and which appear to ready to make the leap to the league's best in 2021.


THE ELITE

1. Dallas Cowboys

LT – Tyron Smith, LG – Connor Williams, C – Tyler Biadasz, RG – Zack Martin, RT – La'el Collins

Injuries decimated the Dallas O-Line in 2020 but, when healthy, it is tough to see another unit in the league that can match this group for overall talent.

That may be a substantial caveat but, should the Cowboys keep their starters in the line-up in 2021, Dak Prescott will have the benefit of excellent protection from several spots up front.

Tyron Smith missed all but two games last season but remains the top pass protecting left tackle in our projected ranks. Zack Martin is second in pass protection among right guards and, if he can return to his best after missing six games in 2020 and right tackle La'el Collins can stay on the field and play at a high level, a stacked Cowboys offense will be in an excellent spot to produce at an historic pace as they did last year before Prescott went down.

2. New England Patriots

LT – Isaiah Wynn, LG – Mike Onwenu, C – David Andrews, RG – Shaq Mason, RT – Trent Brown

The Patriots lost Joe Thuney in free agency but, despite the departure of one of the most dependable guards in football, New England heads into 2021 with an elite group hoping to help the offense bounce back from a dismal 2020.

Trent Brown's return should fortify the right side of the line while left tackle Isaiah Wynn shouldn't have to worry much about his inside shoulder with Mike Onwenu ranking as the second-best pass protecting left guard in the NFL after an excellent rookie season.

David Andrews grades out as the top run-blocking center in football -- he allowed a run disruption on only 5.3 per cent of his snaps in 2020, with Corey Linsley well adrift in second on 6.2 per cent -- while Shaq Mason is in the top three in that area at right guard.

Regardless of whether it's Cam Newton or Mac Jones under center in 2021, the O-Line is constructed in a way where the quarterback and a replenished set of skill-position players should have every chance to succeed.

3. Baltimore Ravens

LT – Ronnie Stanley, LG – Bradley Bozeman, C – Patrick Mekari, RG – Kevin Zeitler, RT – Alejandro Villanueva

Baltimore's presence in the top three may raise a few eyebrows given they traded right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, their lofty position is largely a testament to the play of Ronnie Stanley, the left tackle who will be looking to bounce back after seeing his 2020 season ended by an ankle injury.

Stanley ranks tied-fourth among left tackles and was stellar in pass protection prior to getting hurt, with his pressure rate allowed of 4.4 per cent bettered only by David Bakhtiari and Andrew Whitworth at his position.

Having given up a pressure rate of 11.9 per cent at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, Alejandro Villanueva will have a challenge replacing Brown, who allowed pressures on just 5.8 per cent of his right tackle snaps in 2020.

But the interior was the main issue for the Ravens last season and, with fourth-ranked right guard Kevin Zeitler arriving from the New York Giants, Baltimore should be confident of a noticeable improvement in the middle of their line.

THE STRUGGLERS

30. Chicago Bears

LT – Teven Jenkins, LG – Cody Whitehair, C – Sam Mustipher, RG – Germain Ifedi, RT – Elijah Wilkinson

After surprisingly allowing Charles Leno to leave, the Bears are banking on Teven Jenkins successfully making the switch from college right tackle to NFL left tackle as a rookie. That he will do so successfully is a dubious presumption to make and there is little to rely on at any spot on the trenches for Chicago.

Cody Whitehair at least provided a solid presence at left guard but the interior protection for Andy Dalton, or rookie first-round pick Justin Fields, will be suspect if Sam Mustipher cannot make strides at center.

Tied as the third-worst center in the NFL in the projected rankings, only Hroniss Grasu (2.8%) fared worse than Mustipher (2.3%) in terms of adjusted sack rate allowed in 2020.

31. Carolina Panthers

LT – Greg Little, LG – Dennis Daley, C – Matt Paradis, RG – John Miller, RT – Taylor Moton

Carolina looks set at right tackle, with Taylor Moton ranking as the fifth-best player at the position, but they have little in the way of solutions elsewhere up front.

The left side looms as a massive issue for the Panthers. Greg Little grades out as the worst left tackle in football and Dennis Daley is 30th among left guards in the projected rankings.

It is far from an ideal scenario for Sam Darnold to step into as quarterback, and he will hope center Matt Paradis can do a significantly better job snapping the football. Paradis' bad snap percentage of 3.49 was fourth-worst in the NFL in 2020.

32. Minnesota Vikings

LT – Christian Darrisaw, LG – Dru Samia, C – Garrett Bradbury, RG – Ezra Cleveland, RT – Brian O'Neill

Offensive line issues have long since plagued the Vikings, who invested a premium pick in a new left tackle by using their first-round selection on Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech.

Darrisaw named Trent Williams and Laremy Tunsil as his favourite linemen to watch prior to the draft. If he replicates their impact, he will be a success, but there are substantial problems on the interior.

Dru Samia is the worst left guard in the NFL in the projected rankings, and center Garrett Bradbury allowed pressure on 8.1 per cent of his pass protection snaps. Only two players to take snaps center had worse pressure rates in 2020.

READY TO MAKE THE LEAP

Kansas City Chiefs

LT – Orlando Brown Jr, LG – Joe Thuney, C – Austin Blythe, RG – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT – Mike Remmers

The Chiefs completely remodelled their offensive line in the wake of giving up 33 pressures in the Super Bowl LV, and there is little doubt they head into 2021 with a much-improved group as they attempt to win back the Lombardi Trophy.

Kansas City will need an improvement from Brown following his trade from Baltimore. In his 221 pass protection snaps at left tackle after Stanley's injury, Brown gave up a pressure rate of 10.9 per cent. Having campaigned to play on the left side, Brown's performance figures to come under significant scrutiny.

He will be helped by the presence of Thuney, second among all left guards in the projected rankings after allowing pressure on just 4.3 per cent of his snaps in his final season in New England.

With Laurent Duvernay-Tardif returning to man the right guard spot, the Chiefs' line has an air of solidity about it. Eleventh in the projected ranks, the Chiefs could jump into the top 10 if not the top five should their additions perform to their potential.

Los Angeles Chargers

LT – Rashawn Slater, LG – Matt Feiler, C – Corey Linsley, RG – Oday Aboushi, RT – Bryan Bulaga

Staying in the AFC West with a Chargers team many will be backing to surge towards postseason contention after an Offensive Rookie of the Year season from Justin Herbert, for Los Angeles much hinges on the performance of rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater in his first season in the league.

That is a lot of expectation to place on a player who did not feature in the 2020 college season, but the optimism should come from Slater's 2019 performance for Northwestern, which saw him give up just six pressures on 220 pass protection snaps.

Yet the most important addition for Herbert may be that of center Corey Linsley, who arrived from the Green Bay Packers. Just three centers graded above Linsley in the projected ranks and his ability to quickly develop a rapport with Herbert will be pivotal to the Chargers realising their potential. History suggests the 2020 first-team All-Pro should succeed in doing so.

Arizona Cardinals

LT – D.J. Humphries, LG – Justin Pugh, C – Rodney Hudson, RG – Brian Winters, RT – Kelvin Beachum

The Cardinals must be strong up front if Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury are to have a chance of inspiring Arizona to a successful season in an NFC West loaded with pass-rushing talent, and they made an astute addition on the interior this offseason in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders that saw them acquire three-time Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson.

Tied for fourth with Linsley among centers in the projected rankings, Hudson's experience will be a valuable asset to Murray as he looks to take a step forward in year three, the former Kansas City Chief recording a pressure rate allowed of 1.7 per cent that was the second-best in the league at his position.

Kelvin Beachum is a substantial asset to the ground game. His run disruption percentage of 5.9 per cent was third among right tackles in 2020 and, with D.J. Humphries allowing only 28 pressures on 450 pass protection snaps last season, Murray will have three dependable players at the most important positions on the line in a year where another underwhelming campaign will not be acceptable.

Lamar Jackson said he wants to remain with the Baltimore Ravens for the long term, saying he "would love to be here forever".

The Ravens already exercised their fifth-year option on Jackson's contract, which will see the star quarterback paid just over $23million in 2022, though the two parties are in talks over a contract extension.

It remains to be seen when the former NFL MVP will sign a contract extension, but Jackson is happy in Baltimore, where he was drafted in 2018.

"I would love to be here forever," Jackson said on Wednesday. "I love Baltimore. I love the whole organisation.

"I love everybody in the building. Hopefully, we'll be making something happen pretty soon whenever."

Jackson, who will make $1.8m this season – the final year of his rookie contract – was a unanimous choice as the NFL's Most Valuable Player two years ago.

His performance slipped a bit in 2020 but he remains the NFL's premier dual-threat quarterback, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on the ground in each of the past two seasons in addition to his work in the passing game. 

Jackson has won more games (30) than any other quarterback since taking over as Baltimore's starter midway through the 2018 season and became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 30 regular-season victories (37 games).

The 24-year-old is also the first in league history to produce 5,000 passing yard and 2,500 rushing yards in his first three NFL seasons.

Jackson had 242 completions for 2,757 yards – at 64.4 per cent – 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 appearances for the Ravens last season.

In total, Jackson has tallied 606 completions, 7,085 yards, 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions since entering the league.

"I'm really focused on the season, and I'm focused on trying to win," Jackson said midweek. "I'm not really worried about if it gets done this year or next year. We're going to see. We don't know yet."

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