Week 3 Was All Kinds Of Fun

Week 3 was incredibly entertaining.  Multiple early games went down to the wire, a couple upsets were pulled, and some teams have been left searching for answers.

Let’s recap.

Patriots-36 Texans-33

See, I told you the Patriots’ issues weren’t going away.

They escaped with the win as they usually do, but New England’s holes were once again exposed, this time on both ends of the field.

Houston’s front seven showed its dominance once again Sunday, sacking Tom Brady five times.  They forced two fumbles, one by Whitney Mercillius, who strip-sacked Brady for a touchdown, which was scooped up and taken in by Jadaveon Clowney.  They reeked havoc against the Patriots offensive line; Nate Solder was consistently getting pushed back.

New England’s defense looked like its Week 1 self, allowing DeShaun Watson to escape any pressure and extend plays.  Watson was incredibly sound, besides his two interceptions, one which was a typical, no-good rookie mistake.  He’ll have those, and it could be the only determent to this Texans’ team.  But overall, it was a job well done by Watson.  That touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington in the 1st quarter was a laser.  He looked like a pro.

The problem with the Texans on Sunday was that, whatever they did, the Patriots countered.  After the Clowney touchdown, Tom Brady found Chris Hogan wide open downfield for a 42 yard touchdown.  At the end of the game, after the Texans kicked a field goal to up five points, New England when right down the field, so methodically that Houston’s defense just couldn’t catch up.  The game-winning touchdown pass Brady at his finest, and was just as good of a catch by Brandin Cooks, who just got his feet in bounds.

Yeah, Cooks was inexcusably open, but how do you even attempt to make a play on that ball?

Houston lost because Tom Brady is… well… Tom Brady.

Bills-26  Broncos-16

Man, that Broncos bandwagon fell off a cliff this week, didn’t it?

In reality, this was a defensive grudge-match.

Sure, Trevor Siemian has looked like a capable starter this year, but last week’s matchup against Dallas has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Anyone can throw on the Cowboys defense.  Look what Carson Palmer did last night!  The Bills defense is sneakily underrated, and it gave Siemian all sorts of problems Sunday.  The interceptions were no excuse though; those were two of the worst passes of the weekend.  Bad quarterbacks make those throws.  Siemian made them, and they cost his team dearly.

The Broncos defense played surprisingly well considering the score.  The Bills kicked four field goals, accounting for almost half their points.  Denver got it together on 3rd downs, but gave up crucial yardage on prior downs.  That’s usually good defense, but when you have an offense that preformed at the level Denver’s did Sunday, the defense had to do more.

It didn’t.  Tyrod Taylor made a couple awesome throws, including a flukey touchdown pass that bobbled off Zay Jones’ hands into Andre Holmes.  Charles Clay caught a touchdown pass, essentially sealing the game for Buffalo.

I think we all need to chill on Denver.  Siemian isn’t the quarterback he played like against Buffalo, but the Broncos also aren’t the team that dominated Dallas.  They lie somewhere in the middle, and look more like the team I projected them to be before the season.

Bears-23 Steelers-17 (OT)

There’s two more teams I’m seriously concerned about after Week 3 (You can add them to this list.): Seattle and Pittsburgh.

I can’t figure out what’s wrong with Pittsburgh.  They started slow against Cleveland in Week 1, but then beat up on a tired Vikings defense in Week 2.  Sunday was weird.  Bears cornerbacks were routinely breaking up passes.  Ben Rothlisberger wasn’t exactly fantastic.  Chicago ran all over the Steelers front, one that’s been sub-par this season, ranking 22nd in rushing yards allowed.

Pittsburgh over the years has had their funky stretches; last season they lost four in a row in, and they had a bye week in the middle of that.  But this year there’s no excuses; everyone is healthy and not suspended.  Losing to the Bears is not acceptable.

Pittsburgh’s two lost fumbles cost them dearly; losing possessions in a close game can be the turning point.  Chances are it was a bad day for the Steelers, and we shouldn’t overreact until the schedule gets harder later in the year.

As for the Bears, this team is fun!  They aren’t good, but Chicago is frisky.  The potential for Mike Glennon to throw a terrible interception is there at all times, bailing out a good team that gets stuck in a close game with them.  But Chicago can do things not all defenses can defend.  Tarik Cohen is a lightning bolt, and a healthy Jordan Howard produces a dominant running game.  They’re never gonna win close games, but can at least be a pain in the butt for contenders who take them too lightly.

Falcons-30 Lions-26

Are the Lions for real?  Should the ten second run-off rule be changed?  What happened to Atlanta’s passing game?  There were a lot of questions after this game.

Matt Ryan threw three picks, two of which weren’t his fault as they bounced off receiver’s hands.  One went all the way for a touchdown, which was the only thing keeping Detroit in the game for awhile.  The turnovers might not have been the result of good plays by the Lions’ defense, but that end of the field seems much better than last year.  Detroit was 22nd in total defense last season.  That stat is a little wonky right now due to small sample size, but Football Reference’s Expected Points stat has the Lions ranked 4th so far this year.  They’ve played like it.

It wasn’t enough Sunday though.  They gave up 106 yards to Devonta Freeman on the ground.  Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel torched them.  The offense was the only thing that kept them in the game, and even in the end, it still wasn’t enough.

You saw what happened by now.  Detroit ran a beautiful pick play at the one yard line with 12 seconds to score a game-winning touchdown.  The problem? Golden Tate’s knee was down.  The bigger problem?  Due to the review, there was a ten second run-off, and the game was over.

It was a brutal way to end the game, and it’s one of those events that I know will be reviewed in the offseason.

If the clock stops as a result of something, it shouldn’t start until the next snap.  Simple as that.  Detroit didn’t get hosed, the rulebook says that a runoff occurs after that situation.  But the rule isn’t a great one, and really presents no positives.

Atlanta won a tight game, but that might have more to do with Detroit than it being Falcons’ fault.  The first Lions-Vikings matchup shall be interesting.  That could be for a wild-card spot.

Eagles-27 Giants-24

The whole Giants offense is built around Odell catching crazy passes, guys breaking slant routes, and Eli Manning not screwing up.

Practically all of those things happened Sunday and New York still lost, dropping to 0-3 on the season.

The slow start was what really plagued New York.  The offense just could not get going against a stout Eagles front, with Philly taking a 14-0 lead at halftime.  The game flipped in the fourth quarter.  Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks left with injuries, taking away two of Philly’s best defensive players.  That helped out New York greatly.  Odell Beckham Jr. caught a touchdown pass, the first of the day for him, and celebrated in a very, very Odell way.  Say what you want, but I thought it was hilarious.

The next Giants possession, Odell made his presence felt again, and this time in a ridiculous way.

There’s just nothing you can do there if you’re a defender.  I don’t know how Odell manages to control the ball like that with one hand.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

The Eagles collapse felt inevitable.  Then it actually happened.

This could have been preventable.  First of all, four Eagles defenders could have easily tackled Sterling Shepard right after he caught the ball.  Secondly, if the Eagles  hadn’t almost been coached out of the game, that touchdown is much less important.

This was the ultimate “Can you coach worse than me?” bowl.  Doug Pederson went for it on 4th & 8 with 2:36 left in the first half on the 43 yard line, a situation where you either send it deep or TRUST YOUR KICKER, WHO HIT A 61 (!!!!) YARD FIELD GOAL TO WIN YOU THE GAME.  MAYBE THAT WAS THE SMART CHOICE.

The Giants have been just as bad on the sidelines.  As I mentioned above, the Giants offense is based solely on slants, Odell, and pure luck.  Ben McAdoo has had no creativity, which is odd considering his absolutely massive play-call sheet.  The front office has failed to put solid secondary options around Eli, develop a running game, or put together a competent offensive line.  Oh, and all of this has happened as Eli turned 36 years old.

As good as the Giants moved the ball in the 4th quarter, they couldn’t come up in the clutch.  It wasn’t a choke, it was just regressing to normal at an unfortunate time.

Quick hits on the rest of the games:

  • The 49ers defense is gonna be good at some point, but they got throttled last Thursday night by Jared Goff, displaying a lot of shows and exposing their inexperience.
  • I went to bed with nine minutes left in that game.  The Rams were up two possessions, and anyone with a decent football mind didn’t expect San Francisco to come back.  I guess anything can really happen on Thursday night.
  • San Francisco has some fun running backs.  Those dudes can make plays.
  • Kareem Hunt is for real man.
  • I mean, the Chargers have a great defensive front.  He gashed them.
  • They should be 2-1.  It seems like the bad luck has just carried over.
  • I don’t think the Ravens suck and don’t think the Jaguars are good.  First of all, that was a London game.  Like Thursday nights, anything can happen.  The travel + weird stadium + the Jags in London can turn into a complete anomaly.
  • What that game proved: The Jags defense is incredibly good.  It’s not super hard to stop the Ravens offense, but Jacksonville’s D was off the field in blazing amount of time.  This made the Ravens stout front tired, leading to 44 points by the Jags.
  • I hope the Jags don’t steal Tony Romo from the announcing booth.
  • I didn’t watch much of Browns-Colts, mostly for my general welfare.
  • DeShone Kizer’s had low lows and high highs.  That’s whats expected for a rookie.
  • I wanna know how Minnesota’s offense got worse, or better, with Case Keenum at quarterback.  There’s literally no difference!
  • Minnesota might have the best defense in the league.  They shut down the high flying attack of Tampa Bay, as Jameis Winston threw three picks.
  • It was against a good defense, but Jameis has to get better at limiting those.
  • I wouldn’t freak out about Tampa.  Like Baltimore, their defense was on the field way too much since the offense couldn’t get anything going.  Plus, they had six guys injured during the game, including Kwon Alexander, Chris Baker, and Lavonte David.
  • Congrats to the Jets on their win.
  • I told you before the season: The Jets defensive line is good enough to keep them in certain games.  Jay Ajayi rushed for 16 yards on 11 carries Sunday. Miami’s offense was stagnant.
  • I can’t figure out what’s wrong with Cam Newton and the Panthers.  I haven’t watched them closely yet, but two things have stuck out from my limited observations.  1) The offensive line can’t only not protect Cam, but it’s also a complete disaster run blocking too.  Christian McCaffrey has been a non-factor running the ball, and Jonathan Stewart’s been average.  2) Cam just looks… off.  I don’t know if he’s secretly hurt, or if his receivers suck again, or if it’s play-calling.  It needs closer inspection, but a big part of their struggles have been tied to him.
  • I wrote last week that their 2-0 record was unimpressive.  Understand why now?
  • Seattle’s another team that’s had those type of issues.  The offensive line has killed them so far this year.  It wasn’t the reason they lost Sunday, but a competent group might have helped them against Green Bay Week 1.
  • 11 penalties is not winning games, and it’s perhaps the biggest reason Seattle fell to Tennessee Sunday.  The Seahawks led in practically every stat category, yet couldn’t stay disciplined.
  • Richard Sherman should have been thrown out of that game.  That was a clear late hit, and even if the penalty offset, it didn’t change his actions.
  • You can’t be feeling too good if you’re a Packers fan right now, but you can also hinge your hopes on injury luck.  In Sunday’s overtime win against Cincy, the Packers were without Davon House, their best corner, David Bakhtiari, one of the best tackles in football, and Mike Daniels, their chaos-creating defensive tackle.
  • Geno Atkins and the Bengals front reeked havoc, causing discourse for the Packers offensively (What else is new?).  Green Bay just needs to get healthy and they’ll be alright.  Aaron Rodgers never lets anything get too out of hand.
  • I thought Oakland just had a rough night on Sunday Night Football.  We know Derek Carr isn’t that bad.  Their offensive line was consistently beat, and Washington’s secondary did a really job on Raiders’ receivers.  That was impressive from the Redskins.
  • The defense is a reason for concern, though.  It’s a group that prides itself on being pass rushers, and there was not a whole lot of that against Washington.  The secondary was a mess too.
  • Usually the offense will be there to bail them out.  Sunday night just wasn’t that night.
  • I didn’t have high hopes for the Cardinals against Dallas, but once we started dominating the ball in the first half, my hopes got way too high.  It turned into ones of those where you were pissed you lost, even though you never really had a chance.
  • Phil Dawson’s missed field goal really was the difference.  If he makes that, the final possession is us trying to score a touchdown to tie with a two-point conversion.  Instead, it turned into a controversy when Bruce Arians’ decided to not kick the field goal right away.
  • I don’t care about whether Arians was right or wrong.  It was improbable that we’d score a touchdown with such little time left, and it’s not like you trust Phil Dawson anywhere outside of extra point range after the miss earlier.
  • It was disappointing.  Arizona’s defense played extremely well for most of the game, though it got a little too good as Ezekiel Elliot broke away and Justin Bethel blew coverages.  It was prone to happen at some point.
  • Also, Fitzgerald’s catch was completely insane.  I love that man.