NFL Week 3 Review
NFL Week 3
To say week 3 produced some unexpected results would be a gross understatement. Therefore, let’s begin by saying that week 3 produced some remarkably unexpected results! (And people said I was incapable of compromise.) It all started on Thursday night’s game with Kansas City walking into Philly and dominating the Eagles. When the schedule was released, the game’s only interest was Andy Reid’s return. Instead, we saw an emphatic statement by the Chiefs who moved to 3-0. If we ever needed an example of how this has become a “what have you done lately” league, the extreme Philly fans responded by calling for Chip Kelly to be fired 3 games into the season.
I guess it isn’t just basketball fans who have lost all sense of logic and rationality.
Before we go onto Sunday’s games, the NFL really needs to abolish Thursday night games. Keep it for opening week and thanksgiving, but the 4 day turnaround on a weekly basis is just ridiculous and consistently produces bad games. It’s a failed gimmick. My solution? Have an additional Monday Night game instead of Thursday. That way, we can see another nationally (and internationally! G’day ;)) televised game. It also allows flexibility in terms of having a more time zone friendly kick off for both the East and West coasts.
Now, how about that Sunday! Let’s begin with the defending champs laying a beat down on one of the genuine super bowl contenders in the AFC in Houston. Let’s not read (or Reed. Get it? Oh hey there tumble-weed blowing right by me…) too much into this game for a few reasons: It was the emotional return of Baltimore’s favourite son in Ray Lewis. Number 52 may as well have suited up, his impact was that big. The Ravens defense was dominant, especially against the run and the Texans folded. Houston has been less than convincing so far this season with 2 come from behind victories and one blow-out loss. In all fairness to them though, they haven’t played at home yet. They will need to play much better to secure the surprisingly deep AFC South.
Both Carolina and New York came in to their clash 0-2 (which idiot said they would both win their division? Oh, that’s right. Moving right along…) and knowing that falling to 0-3 is long and almost fatal. Carolina looked like actual contenders in this game, and when we look at it, could very easily be 3-0. I don’t think they can win the division, not with the way the Saints are playing (who I actually picked to win the super bowl before the season started, so I’m a complete doofus.), but it’s entirely possible that we overrated the NFL with the 49ers, Packers and Falcons all at 1-2, so a wildcard spot might not be out of the picture. As for the Giants, they’re playing horrible. I tweeted that this might be Coughlin’s last season, but haven’t we seen this before? When everyone gives up on this team they respond and become as dangerous as anyone. They do need to trust David Wilson though. I know, I know, he has a fumbling problem. But without him, The Giants become one dimensional and that’s what’s killing them. They need balance.
Let’s also forget that I picked the Vikings to win the NFC North; I picked the Lions to win the wildcard! I don’t want to get too excited with a win over Washington, but if everyone stays healthy, this Detroit Lions team could be that team that absolutely nobody wants to play come playoff time. And Washington is just garbage at this stage of the season. I wonder if Griffin feels like he should be opening the lines of communication with Donovan McNabb now?
I talked before how Carolina could easily be 3-0 right now, but how must San Diego be feeling right now. A heartbreaking loss on Monday night football to the Texans at home, a gutsy victory over a red hot Philly team last week and another kick-in-the-balls-loss this past week, this time to the Titans. The AFC West, don’t laugh, might be the best division in the entire AFC. The AFC South isn’t too shabby either, but I wouldn’t count on the Titans keeping this play up. I’m a sceptic of them, so let’s watch them go 13-3 and win the super bowl.
Speaking of loaded divisions, how important is it that New Orleans has built a sneaky 2 game lead over both Carolina and Atlanta? Drew Brees, in my opinion, has been the MVP so far. Yes, Manning has posted obscene numbers so far. But the Saints will only go as far as Brees carries them. Denver is a much more balanced team than New Orleans. It’s all on Brees’ back, and he’s carried them to a 3-0 start.
Like the Saints, the Patriots are totally reliant on their QB to carry their entire offense. Despite the victory over Tampa and a 3-0 start, Brady has never had a WR crew as bad as what’s lining up for them right now. Because of this, their offense will be inconsistent all year long. But a 3-0 start with a hungry Miami team breathing down their neck for supremacy in the division is very impressive. Credit also has to go to overlord coach Bill Belichick.
If there has ever been a more telling reminder of how near perfect a QB has to be when a team is relying on them almost exclusively than the Packers/ Bengals game, I can’t remember it. Rodgers has been carrying this Packers team since he was handed the job from Brett Favre’s premature retirment, and has produced. But he can’t do it all forever. The Bengals got two incredible breaks to win this game, but we could be seeing the end of the Packers playoffs appearances streak this season.
I mentioned earlier not to rule out the Giants this season, despite being 0-3. A part of why I’m not convinced that they’re done is their history. But a bigger part is the repeated history of choking of Dallas. Sure, they look great so far (and no one can deny DeMarco Murray’s monster game against the upstart Rams last game), but this is Dallas! Almost like the Mavericks before 2011, they always produced great regular seasons before underachieving in the big moments. This division isn’t theirs yet. Just think back to week 1 against the Giants, and as bad as New York played, they still were in position to win. Dallas, for all their talent, just hasn’t shown me or the rest of the football world that they have the killer instinct to put a team away when they’ve got a distinct advantage.
The Browns performance when everyone gave up on their season was great, but don’t expect this to be a sign of things to come. Like I said before with the Giants, balance between pass and run (and I don’t mean read option) is required. If a team is reliant on one aspect 75% of the time, they’re screwed. The same applies for the Vikings. They can’t expect Peterson to keep carrying inept quarterbacks. Minnesota won’t go anywhere unless they address this, and Peterson’s career is running the risk of becoming the next Barry Sanders (who had a great career, but was wasted in terms of being surrounded by a garbage supporting cast)
I expected Atlanta to regress this season, but I didn’t think they would lose to Miami last week. They could be 3-0 at this stage, but they could also be 0-3. I think Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback, but I’m not sold on him being elite (ruh-roh! Watch him go on a Flacco or Eli type of run now). It’s still very early, but the Saints have a 2 game lead in the division already. They will need to play their best football the rest of the way to have any chance to get this division. Miami, on the other hand, are looking young and hungry in a weak division. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they run away with the spoon, I mean AFC East.
The Jets are somehow 2-1 as well with their victory over the Bills, but nobody is taking them seriously (and with good reason). This is a horrible division.
The biggest statement of the week was Indy walking right into the Bay Area and lighting up the 49ers. The Colts made headlines by trading for Trent Richardson and pounded the 49ers with brilliant performance on the road and look like legitimate contenders. I felt San Francisco would struggle this season, but they have looked atrocious so far. It is only early into the season, and Indianapolis are no joke (and neither are Seattle), but the like Cam Newton last year, it doesn’t take much for teams to zero in and control an explosive QB. What has me concerned is not that they lost to Seattle or the Colts, but the way they were dominated. They are missing Crabtree, but they need to find a way to survive. He won’t be back this season. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to this challenge. Teams are exposed for what they are. They are either champions or contenders, and this is determined by what happens on the field. How they handle this adversity will define them as a team. Also, Kaepernick must be feeling the pressure of Alex Smith’s good play out in Kansas City.
Seattle was dominant against the worst team in the league in Jacksonville. They did what they were expected to do. Chicago also took care of business against Pittsburgh, but at least the Steelers finally started showing signs of life. We might be seeing the last of the Big Ben/ Mike Tomlin era though.
And now we’re onto the Broncos. Yes, they look unbeatable. Yes, they look complete. Yes, Manning is on record setting pace. But, and this is a huge but, there is such a thing as peaking far too early. Manning has done this before in Indy (a few times) and then fallen flat on his face in the playoffs. I’d be willing to admit they will probably take the number 1 seed in the playoffs, but they did that last year and how did that work out for them? Sometimes it’s actually better to struggle early, have your weaknesses exposed early so they can be addressed before the unforgiving single elimination playoff system of the NFL season.