Mike Pritchard and Shaun King sound off on NFL news and the Nick Chubb injury
A lot has happened through two weeks of the NFL season and the rash of significant injuries is the biggest storyline. A week after we saw the end of the season for Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football, we gasped in horror at the way Nick Chubb’s knee bent after a low hit from Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Injuries are inevitable, but some major ones have altered the landscape of two divisions. For this week’s “Player Perspectives” article, I talked about the AFC North with retired NFL wide receiver Mike Pritchard and Super Bowl-winning QB Shaun King, and Pritch also shared some thoughts on who is the best team in the pillow fight that is the NFC South and what is going on with the Patriots.
Mike can be heard on Friday editions of The Lombardi Line (1-3 p.m. ET / 10 a.m.-Noon PT), along with bouncing around the network doing guest spots as our lead NFL analyst. Shaun can be heard Monday-Friday with Tim Murray on VSiN Primetime (6-9 p.m. ET / 3-6 p.m. PT)
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Let’s talk AFC North. Where do the Browns go from here?
Mike Pritchard: We knew the AFC North division was going to be highly competitive. I call it the 'culture' division because culture is what drives all for teams. The Browns have taken a big hit with two key injuries. RT Jack Conklin was injured and now Chubb is out for the year with a devastating knee injury. Those two players will be hard to replace. I also think it's still too soon to lean on the passing ability of Deshaun Watson. The Browns defense will have to continue to play at a high level in order for the Browns to keep up with the division.
Shaun King: First off, wishing a speedy and full recovery to Chubb, one of the truly good guys in the league. As a coach at USF, I recruited Jerome Ford out of high school, so I'm well aware of his abilities and they are immense. Ford brings a home run threat to a Browns offense that can get stagnant at times. The addition of Kareem Hunt will also help immensely, if even from just a workload standpoint. You can never truly replace a Nick Chubb, but the combo of Hunt and Ford doesn't change the Browns’ ceiling in my opinion.
How much of a concern is Joe Burrow’s injury?
Mike Pritchard: Burrow will deal with this injury the entire year. I believe Burrow can manage the injury throughout the season, but he might miss a game or two, which is the concern. It is imperative that the Bengals find a consistent running game to help out. Teams have honed in on tendencies and the details of the Bengals offense. The concern grows more if the Bengals fall to 0-3.
Shaun King: What is wrong with the Bengals? To be frank, EVERYTHING. For context, the Bengals started 0-2 last year, but it had a different feel to me. So far in 2023, I don't think there is one area of the Bengals that you can say has played at a winning level. Most alarming for me is Ja’marr Chase stating the Bengals should have been more patient with burrow. As much as I LOVE “Cigar Joe”, the Bengals are a fade for me moving forward until I see change.
Have the Ravens won the division already?
Mike Pritchard: The Ravens are a work in progress, which actually bodes well for the rest of the season. Nobody wants to be playing their best football in the month of September, but you also don't want to stink up the joint. Offensively, it looks like Lamar Jackson is becoming more comfortable with this new offense. Defensively, the Ravens are off to a great start allowing just 16 points per game. The name of the game is to improve each week in the NFL. If the Ravens keep improving they will be a hard out come playoff time.
Shaun King: The AFC North was thought to be the most competitive division in the NFL coming into the season, but after two weeks, the Ravens seem a step above. They are currently +100 to win the division. I know that seems chalky but Lamar Jackson looks as good as ever and he has the weapons, even without JK Dobbins, to sustain his current level of play.
Moving away from the AFC North… Who is the best team in the NFC South right now?
Mike Pritchard: Atlanta is the best team in the NFC South right now. They have a solid defense and have developed a young offensive core that shows signs of improvement with each game. This division is not all about the QB. Atlanta's entire roster is better than other rosters within this division.
What is your current outlook for the Patriots?
Mike Pritchard: I'm still baffled by the fact that the Patriots did not play Mac Jones in the preseason. They are experiencing a lack of identity offensively. The offensive line is too banged up to run the ball and Mac Jones is still too erratic to scare you defensively. The Patriots defense must once again finish in the top 10.