1. Maybe it was just to keep the confidence of the rest of the team in a tough spot, but the Raiders didn’t really even think much about bringing in a stopgap quarterback in the wake of Derek Carr’s injury. I’m told the Raiders like what they’ve seen from EJ Manuel and Connor Cook. They are expecting Carr back soon, too. He tried to talk the team into giving him a shot this week, which was unrealistic but shows that he’s not very far off.
2. The Raiders have worked hard with Manuel on his lower-body mechanics, with the idea that would lead to improved accuracy from the pocket. It’s something the coaches were able to see as soon as he got into the lineup in Denver, and the hope is he can keep that going .
3. While we’re there, and we can include the Titans in this, the question of Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment keeps coming up, so I’ll point everyone to the work I did on this in the spring and at the beginning of the season. It’s pretty simple: In the minds of these teams, Kaepernick’s ability as a player doesn’t measure up to justify what would go along signing him. So he remains unsigned.
4. The Bucs secondary needs to be better than it has been and will go into Thursday night’s showdown with the Patriots under the microscope. In particular, they need more from 2016 first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves.
5. What a bizarre circumstance in Cleveland. If the Jets win, that could legitimately take them out of the running for the first pick for good. A win would put them three games ahead of the Browns in the overall standings and give them the tiebreaker to boot.
6. Andrew Luck didn’t just start throwing. Everything has been part of a carefully planned rollout. And making sure he takes his time and gets fully healthy prior to going in a real game will prove to be the right call for a transitioning franchise.
7. Very interesting to see Ben Roethlisberger call out Antonio Brown, a player the Steelers have defended in the past based on his reputation as a competitor. Roethliberger knows that a star of Brown’s magnitude has no choice on being a team leader. His incredible play means that younger players will emulate him.
8. Here’s a coaching name to watch: Matt LaFleur. He was Matt Ryan’s position coach for the QB’s MVP season last year, and this year has a hand in the renaissance of Jared Goff. Rams coach Sean McVay mentioned LaFleur as a key there, and LaFluer’s relationships with both McVay and Kyle Shanahan won’t hurt his advancement down the line, that’s for sure.
9. While the Ravens have been uneven the past couple weeks, it should be noted that linebacker C.J. Mosley has taken another step forward in 2017. And this is a player who’s already made two Pro Bowl teams.
10. These are valuable reps the Colts are getting Jacoby Brissett. When Andrew Luck gets back, Brissett will keep all that experience and is on the books for just under $1.7 million for the next two years. That is bargain basement for a backup quarterback.