How every former Badger performed this weekend:
Week 4 of the 2023 NFL season is nearly complete with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants still set to square off on Monday Night Football.
It was a notable weekend for former Wisconsin Badgers both on and off the field. On the field, quarterback Russell Wilson led the Broncos to a comeback win, outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel continues his impressive start to the season and tight end Jake Ferguson continued to emerge as a top pass-catching option in Dallas.
Meanwhile, off the field, Wisconsin legend J.J. Watt was inducted into the Houston Texans Ring Of Honor at halftime of the Texans’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here is how every former Wisconsin Badger performed this weekend:
Christian McCaffrey’s consistency with the #49ers has him on the verge of some historic statistical production:
The Christian McCaffrey addition made too much sense for the 49ers. While some argued that the team’s success with late-round and undrafted RBs was evidence that they overpaid for a player at that position when they traded for McCaffrey – the most expensive RB in the NFL. Returns through an entire season’s worth of games have justified the investment though.
McCaffrey in 17 games (including the postseason) has rushed for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns on 259 carries. He’s also hauled in 75 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns. McCaffrey has also scored at least one touchdown in 12 consecutive games including the postseason.
His performance with the 49ers has him on the precipice of some pretty incredible statistical accomplishments that few in the NFL have reached, and he’ll get there with a big game Sunday vs. the Cardinals.
The 49ers communications team laid out some of those stats:
Solid start to the year for Wisconsin’s former QB
Former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz is playing some good football at his new home in the SEC.
The Florida quarterback has the team at 3-1 and ranked No. 23 in the nation through four weeks. Its Week 3 win over Tennessee featured good quarterback play, but also had Mertz at the top of the national headlines for another reason.
Now onto Week 5 the former Wisconsin QB has completed 77.8% of his passes for 951 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The sky-high completion percentage is good enough to rank No. 3 in the nation at this point in the season.
The full leaderboard: Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, Oregon QB Bo Nix, Mertz, Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel and Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders. That is terrific company for Mertz as he looks to take advantage of his final collegiate season.
FOX Sports’ top-10 rankings overlooked the NFL’s best cornerback: Marshon Lattimore. Nobody is playing at as high a level as Lattimore right now. Just check the numbers:
This is a tough look for FOX Sports NFL reporters Ben Arthur, Greg Auman, David Helman, Henry McKenna, Eric D. Williams, Ralph Vacchiano, and Carmen Vitali — the panel who voted on a top-10 ranking of the NFL’s cornerbacks, only to overlook the best player at the position: New Orleans superstar Marshon Lattimore.
An earlier version of the article included his NFC South rivals A.J. Terrell and Jaycee Horn as honorable mentions, but it was later edited to include Lattimore as an honorable mention as well. Try to be quicker on the trigger next time, guys.
Every player on their list has given up more yards and defended fewer passes than Lattimore through the first three games, and multiple players who aren’t even available right now due to injuries were given the nod ahead of him; boom-or-bust fantasy football favorites like Trevon Diggs and Jalen Ramsey who give up as many big plays as they make with their ball skills.
That can’t be said about Lattimore. He’s been remarkably consistent to start the 2023 season even if FOX Sports’ writers haven’t been paying attention to him. Lattimore currently ranks second in the league with 6 passes defensed and an interception, trailing only his teammate Alontae Taylor and ranking ahead of every player on this list.
Pro Football Focus charting has found that no player has logged as many snaps in coverage as Lattimore (136) while allowing fewer yards (54). Next-best would be Kendall Fuller, who has given up just 26 yards on 120 reps in coverage. And unlike Lattimore, Fuller has been penalized this season. The referees have yet to throw a flag on No. 23.
Nobody is playing at as high a level as Lattimore right now. He’s in for a high-profile matchup with Tampa Bay Buccaneers pugilist Mike Evans this weekend, whose frustrations with Lattimore’s tough-to-beat coverage have gotten the better of him in recent years; Evans has twice gotten himself ejected and suspended for starting fights with Lattimore after failing to get open against him. If analysts aren’t impressed by that, maybe they should stop gassing Evans up as a future Hall of Famer. Otherwise they need to start giving Lattimore the respect he’s due.
Here’s how the Bucs compare to the rest of the league after three weeks of football:
We’re a few weeks into the NFL season, and the rankings for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have changed significantly from Week 2 to Week 3.
Tampa Bay’s stout defense gave up 427 yards to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the team’s offense put up half the points it usually did over the first two weeks in its 25-11 loss. The Eagles are a tough team to beat, of course, so the team’s statistical rankings all across the league will eventually even out to the team’s true potential as the weeks go on.
Until then, though, this is how Tampa Bay stacks up to the rest of the league after its Week 3 game per Team Rankings:
Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen is tough to tackle
Wisconsin enters its bye week with a 3-1 record and 1-0 mark in Big Ten play. While the team’s loss at Washington State was disappointing and entirely avoidable, the Cougars currently look like a formidable force in the Pac 12 — making that loss a lot more palatable.
One of the driving forces of Wisconsin’s wins to this point has been the run game in Phil Longo’s new offense. The team as a whole averages 201 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry, and has scored 14 rushing touchdowns thus far.
Unfortunately, the attack will be without Chez Mellusi moving forward after his season-ending injury at Purdue. But as we saw in 2021 and after Mellusi left the game, Braelon Allen can still carry the workload in the backfield.
Allen is up to 371 yards and six touchdowns after four games. He is also among the nation’s leaders in missed tackles forced with 22.
Need an example? Here it is:
Allen and the Badgers rushing offense will need to excel during Wisconsin’s big stretch of football coming up. That stretch starts next weekend when a 3-1 Rutgers team visits Madison.
Alvin Kamara returns from suspension this week, but the Saints have to make better use of his receiving skills than in recent years | @southexclusives
Alvin Kamara was cleared to return to the New Orleans Saints practice facility Monday after serving his three-game suspension, and he should bring a big boost to an offense that has struggled without him.
But he must be used correctly upon his arrival. The current state of the offensive line demands it. The unit has been terrible in pass protection, and it led to Derek Carr getting injured on a sack. Outside of the game against the Carolina Panthers, the run blocking hasn’t been great either. That’s where Kamara’s usage comes into play.
If Kamara comes in and is just a runner going up between the tackles, the Saints will be wasting his talent for another year. That was a problem last season. Kamara’s receiving ability was a focal point in training camp. He lined up at receiver and caught passes out of the backfield frequently. Running backs caught five passes this weekend after catching only two in the two previous games. It’s imperative that continues with Kamara’s return.
This attribute has the ability to mitigate poor blocking with quick passes, and Kamara will provide a quick outlet. The only obstacle is that Jameis Winston and Kamara haven’t had the best connection in the past — after catching at least 81 passes in each of his first four seasons, Kamara has totaled 47 and 57 receptions in the last two years. Those kinks need to be worked out, because the state of the offensive line may make Kamara the Saints’ most valuable weapon.
There’s still two games to play in Week 3, but as it stands, that Bucs hold a notable distinction among the league.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been impressive in numerous aspects so far across the season, but there’s one particular stat that the team leads the league in after Sunday’s action.
During their matchup with the Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw an interception to Cardinals linebacker Kyzir White while looking to score from the six-yard line. With that interception, it meant that every team who had yet to turn the ball over heading into Sunday’s matchups had now done so — except the Bucs. As it stands, Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL that hasn’t recorded a giveaway.
As it stands, there are six teams with one turnover and the Bucs, who have none. The Bucs also boast a +5 turnover differential, which is good for second in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys (+6). Of course, Tampa Bay still has a game to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, but the team will certainly try to keep the streak going and take care of the football at home.
A rare bright spot in Week 3’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Alontae Taylor is the New Orleans Saints player of the game | @DillySanders
Alontae Taylor had his best day as a member of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in their Week 3 matchup, though he was ultimately just a rare bright spot in the tough road loss.
Taylor has been solid since debut last season after being drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. After flashes here and there, he put together a complete performance to earn Player of the Game recognition.
Against the Packers on Sunday, Taylor had an absurd five passes defensed to go along with a sack and five tackles (two tackles for loss of yards). With Paulson Adebo out, Taylor was switching between the slot and covering outside when the Saints shifted from their nickel and base defenses. Jordan Love and the Packers kept trying to test him and he was not letting them have even an inch of room.
Those five pass breakups were the most in a game by a Saints defensive back since Marshon Lattimore had six against Washington’s Terry McLaurin back in 2021. It’s a shame his efforts weren’t rewarded with a win, but Taylor’s arrow is trending up.
Saints defense shuts out Packers in the first half, first time in Lambeau since 2018
The New Orleans Saints defense continues their fantastic start as they shutout the Green Bay Packers offense at Lambeau Field. This is the first time that the Packers have been shut out in the first half at home since Week 17 of the 2018 season against the Detroit Lions. The Packers have won ten straight home openers.
The Saints defense has allowed just one touchdown this season, in garbage time against the Carolina Panthers last week. It was something that really upset the Saints defense and they have come out with a vengeance in this one.
Packers quarterback Jordan Love is making his first start at Lambeau Field, as the Saints look to ruin a home debut for the second straight week after beating Bryce Young in Carolina a week ago. The Saints lead the Packers 17-0 at halftime.