NFL Roundtable: Carr has Raiders revving
Each week we sit down with TwinSpires columnists Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Scott Shapiro to discuss the latest news from around the NFL. Today they weigh in on the league's best deep ball thrower, the resurgent Raiders, and the Bucs' Super Bowl odds.
True or false: Russell Wilson is the NFL’s best deep ball thrower.
Ashley: True. Wilson’s connection with Tyler Lockett has already led to some highlight-reel worthy catches in 2021, but NFC West mate Matthew Stafford is making the competition for best deep ball passer a little tighter with his new teammates in Los Angeles. However, for his career, Wilson has proven to be the most proficient deep passer in the league, and can not only launch a bomb with accuracy, but has shown his ability to do so even after scrambling out of the pocket to extend a play.
James: True, Russell Wilson throws the best deep ball in the NFL. Along with uncanny improvisational skills, Wilson’s elusiveness buys time for receivers down the field and he has a cannon for an arm. After leading all quarterbacks with 13 deep passing touchdowns last year, Wilson has thrown three 60+ passing touchdowns in 2021.
Scott: False. There is no doubt that Wilson is in the top tier of deep ball throwers in the NFL. However, I cannot call him the best. That has to go to Patrick Mahomes who has the strongest arm in the league, possesses great touch, and gets the ball down field accurately. That being said, Wilson has done a great job of finding Tyler Lockett deep down the field to start the 2021 campaign.
The Raiders are undefeated. Has Derek Carr turned you into a believer?
Ashley: I’m not sold on Derek Carr, nor the Raiders. In 2020, they got off to a similar 2-0 start but quickly hit a skid against tougher competition. The Raiders got the benefit of playing Pittsburgh without top pass rusher T.J. Watt for most of their 26-17 win, and needed overtime to beat the Ravens in their Week 1 meeting, just days after Baltimore lost star cornerback Marcus Peters and running back Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries. Carr nearly threw the game away on an interception late in the fourth quarter and still has issues with fumbling the ball.
James: Derek Carr had Las Vegas in the playoff hunt last year, but the defense struggled to stop anybody due to their inability to rush the passer. The Raiders have made life miserable for Lamar Jackson and Ben Roethlisberger the first two weeks, generating turnovers and constant pressure, and the defense’s improvement has turned Las Vegas into legitimate playoff contenders.
Scott: Las Vegas is undefeated through two games, and quarterback Derek Carr has been very good, but I need to see it for a larger sample size in 2021 to be a true believer. It is definitely hard to knock the veteran signal caller after victories against the Ravens and Steelers, but let’s not forget that both teams were without key contributors on defense in those Las Vegas wins. If the former Fresno State star can string together a few more quality performances, I will jump onboard.
The Bucs have seen their Super bowl odds move from +650 on Sept. 1 to +575 on Sept. 20. Is it time to let it all ride on Tampa Bay?
Ashley: The Bucs look far better on defense, compared to Super Bowl favorite Kansas City, but Tampa Bay isn’t without its issues. Its run stop unit is still one of the best in the league, but against the pass, the Bucs are getting exposed. Dak Prescott threw for 403 yards and three touchdown passes in a narrow loss to Tampa Bay. The Falcons also fought back from an 18-point deficit to nearly tie Tampa Bay late in the third quarter, before Matt Ryan coughed up two pick-sixes. The NFC is dangerous, especially in the West, so I’m not ready to go all in on the Bucs just yet... even as a diehard Brady fan.
Age is just a #⃣!— TwinSpires Sportsbook 💵 (@TS_Sportsbook) September 19, 2021
44-year-old Tom Brady finds Chris Godwin for his 5th touchdown pass of the day, and the Bucs (-13) lead the Falcons, 35-25.
Brady Over 2.5 pass TD (-107) 💵
Godwin anytime TD (+110) 💵#DirtyBirds | #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/5H8aGMesIc
James: I wouldn’t be overconfident based upon the first two weeks. Dak Prescott threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns before the Buccaneers narrowly prevailed over Dallas with a last-second field goal in Week 1. On Sunday, lowly Atlanta was trailing by only six points in the fourth quarter before self-destructing with turnovers. Tampa doesn’t have the margin for error that the question implies.
Scott: I am not ready to crown Tampa yet. Not only is it extremely difficult to win back-to-back championships in the National Football League, but early on in 2021 their defense has not been nearly good enough to assume they are a lock to make it back to the Big Game in February. Even with Tom Brady at QB, swallowing less than 6-1 odds in September just does not seem like great value.