Las Vegas Raiders trying not to let off-field drama derail season

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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The Raiders are still in first place in the AFC West, where every team is either 5-3 (Vegas, Chargers) or 5-4 (KC, Denver). But there’s so much simmering on and below the surface with the Raiders, and you just wonder if it’s a matter of time before the whole thing implodes. Players don’t much care if the team president, Marc Badain, disappears without explanation in July. But when the head coach and voice of the organization, Jon Gruden, becomes a non-person in October, and then the best prospect the Raiders have drafted in a few years, wideout Henry Ruggs, causes the death of a woman and her dog (allegedly) in a fiery car wreck and wrecks his career in the process, and there are rumblings another first-round pick, Damon Arnette, could be in significant disciplinary trouble. I mean, how much more can one locker room take?

Four Raider players, after they lost to the Giants 23-16 Sunday, all said some form of what wideout Hunter Renfrow said: “Things happen in y’all’s lives, and y’all still professional and do a great job. Same thing with us. We can’t let that affect us, no matter what it is.”

“It’s all about the ball,” said an exasperated-sounding quarterback Derek Carr, who did not take care of it Sunday. “That’s why we lost. Please. Just talk about me turning the ball over.”

Carr’s probably right. In the first two games after the controversial removal of Gruden, Carr completed 80 percent of his throws and the Raiders beat Denver and Philly each by double-digits. Against the Giants, Carr badly overthrew Darren Waller twice in the end zone, threw an ugly pick-six in the third quarter, and threw an uglier interception way short of its target in the fourth quarter. So we’ll give Carr the L here, as he deserves.

Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
New York Giants defense pressures Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on Sunday. (Getty Images)

And because the Raiders agreed to terms with speedy DeSean Jackson after the game—theoretically to replace one of the fastest men in football, Ruggs—there was a sense Sunday night of Everything’s gonna be fine.

Maybe.

But this thought occurred to me after one smart official from another NFL team asked me over the weekend: “Do you think it might be Vegas? I can tell you I’m glad I’m not working with a team in Vegas.”

At first glance, it seems like a conclusion-jump. But what if the city that rarely sleeps is really a detriment for team-building, and a detriment for young players flush with cash for the first time in their lives? Are young players in Cincinnati or Minneapolis or Green Bay or Seattle driving 156 mph in the streets at 3:30 on a Tuesday morning during the season? Or being tempted in other ways in a city that is awake at all hours?

No way of knowing, of course. And it’s not nearly as important as the death of a 23-year-old woman and her Golden Retriever in the car late at night.

But if I’m the Raiders, and I’m serious about being a long-term contender in Sin City, I’m turning over every rock to make sure the franchise stops screeching from one franchise-jarring piece of news to another. Raiders GM Mike Mayock, assuming he’s now at least the medium-term caretaker of the team, has to make that priority one as he goes forward. This franchise is crying out for stability, and Mayock’s job right now is to draft and construct and manage a team that makes it happen.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season

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While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

13. Dak Prescott (DAL)

12. Kirk Cousins (MIN)

11. Daniel Jones (NYG)

10. Matthew Stafford (LAR)

9. Deshaun Watson (CLE)

8. Aaron Rodgers (NYJ)

7. Jalen Hurts (PHI)

6. Trevor Lawrence (JAX)

5. Lamar Jackson (BAL)

4. Justin Herbert (LAC)

3. Josh Allen (BUF)

2. Joe Burrow (CLE)

1. Patrick Mahomes (KC)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel

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With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!