photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images
By Anthony Goss
Week 3 of the NFL season carried on some of the same dramatic flair seen in Week 2 (no, this is not just the Falcons blowing two 15-point leads in the fourth quarter).
Ranging from last-second touchdowns to unfortunate mistakes, Sunday’s slew of games highlighted the success of a few great players, but also boiled the frustrations of the fanbases watching their teams continue to struggle, including the Vikings, Texans and Jets, just to name a few.
Week 3 also had a significant decrease in major injuries, which is a major plus after the notable amount of injuries sustained by big name players in Week 2. Here are three good things, three bad things and one thing to keep an eye on heading into Week 4.
THREE GOOD THINGS
Josh Allen Circles the Wagons
This take may not be new to the fans in western New York, but after Sunday’s outing against the Rams, it is time for the rest of the league to take the Bills, and specifically quarterback Josh Allen, more seriously.
Give credit to the Rams for finding their way back from a 28-3 deficit to retake the lead, but this game was about Allen. In a marquee game, he delivered big time for the Bills, throwing for 311 yards and 4 TD, and running for one more.
After the Rams took the lead with 4:30 left in the game, Allen marched down the field with a couple of huge throws to wide receiver Cole Beasley and capped off the 75-yard drive with a toss to tight end Tyler Kroft to seal the game.
Last week, the Bills found themselves down against the Miami Dolphins and Allen delivered. The Rams are a much better team than the Dolphins, but Allen’s poise has been mostly consistent against all opponents this year. If he can keep up this level of play, the Bills (3-0) can become real contenders in a loaded AFC.
Russell Wilson is leading the MVP discussion
There is not much else to say about Russell Wilson this season except that he has been stellar. Once again, Wilson showed he is operating on a different level, as he dissected and depleted a talent-lacking Cowboys defense to the tune of 315 yards, 5 TD and a passer rating of 130.7 in a 38-31 victory for the Seahawks.
Seattle’s offense has been electric this season with Wilson at the helm, posting over 30 points in each game. Somehow, Wilson has not received the MVP award in the past, despite his role in carrying the franchise successfully for many years, but that could change this season.
Wilson will need to keep posting similar numbers and playing at this level for the Seahawks to stay atop a daunting NFC West.
49ers Complete Big Apple Sweep
The 49ers arguably have been plagued the most by injuries early this season.
On Sunday, San Francisco took the field without Raheem Mostert, George Kittle or Jimmy Garoppolo, and still managed to hang 36 points on the New York Giants. The 49ers win on Sunday was an impressive response after an adverse week where several key players went down, including defensive end Joey Bosa, who may be gone for the rest of the season.
Squashing two of the worst teams back to back seems like a minor headline, but San Francisco will be glad to gather up wins like these to keep pace in the best division in pro football.
THREE BAD THINGS
Turn Up the Heat on the ATL Hot Seat
If the NFL played three quarters, the Falcons would be sitting at 2-1 and tied for the lead in the NFC South. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and head coach Dan Quinn’s team has struggled mightily the last two weeks to finish football games.
After their debacle in Dallas, the Falcons headed home for what most thought would be a game for them to get back on track. Taking a 26-10 lead into the fourth quarter, it seemed like they were in a good spot.
Then, Nick Foles came in at quarterback for Mitchell Trubisky (which may be a permanent change). Foles rallied the Bears with three scores in the fourth, sending Twitter into another frenzy and the Falcons to a record of 0-3.
Granted, the team was without Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones, but the defense struggled down the stretch and the offense could not make any winning plays to put the game out of reach.
To make matters worse, Atlanta travels to Green Bay next Monday night to play a team averaging over 40 points per game. If Quinn fails to have his team ready, Aaron Rodgers and a potent Packers offense will not hesitate to send them to 0-4.
Once again, the NFC East is the worst division in football.
Starting at the top (surprisingly), the Washington Football Team is a young group not expected to do much, but quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the offense turned the ball over five times against the Browns. Defensive lineman Chase Young also went down with a groin injury, but it should not keep him out of action for a significant amount of time.
Dallas has shown some good in the early stages of the Mike McCarthy era, but a lot more disappointment. Kellen Moore’s play calling has come into question on offense, but the defense has been nothing short of atrocious. Byron Jones’ departure has hurt the secondary, which has a myriad of injuries and inconsistent play from young players has resulted in Mike Nolan’s bunch giving up an average of 277 pass yards per game and 32.3 points per game.
Dak Prescott has played well for the most part, but a banged-up offensive line has underperformed expectations. There is time for the Cowboys to try and fix some of these issues, but this team has disappointed in the early stages of the season.
The Eagles disappointed once again, unable to beat Joe Burrow and the Bengals at home. Carson Wentz continued to struggle and turn the ball over, adding two more interceptions to his season total, but managed to run for a touchdown that ended up being the last score in a 23-23 tie.
The Eagles are a bad football team, but the Giants look even worse, sitting at 0-3. Losing running back Saquon Barkley has not helped, but their offense is extremely lacking so far, ranking near the bottom of the league in team offense and only averaging 272.3 yards on offense.
Despite this horrendous start for the division, Dallas still looks like the best team and should win the division, but whoever wins may not finish with a record over .500.
Cooldown for Kyler
The Lions shocking victory fell a little under the radar Sunday afternoon, as Matt Prater booted Detroit to its first win of the season.
More than anything, this game showed second-year quarterback Kyler Murray still has lots of room to grow. Murray threw for 270 and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions proved costly for the Cardinals.
Murray has been electric this season, and his touchdown run exemplified this explosiveness, but Sunday showed some flaws he has as a young quarterback.
Murray rushed some throws and made some poor reads, but these mistakes take very little away from him as a player. If anything, he will use this game as a lesson to grow.
The Cardinals are still a very talented group, and Murray’s connection with newly aquired wideout Deandre Hopkins continues to demonstrate the incompetence of Texans coach Bill O’Brien (who infamously traded Hopkins away).
Regardless, Kliff Kingsbury’s team is an exciting storyline early in the season and should play a role in shaping the NFC playoff picture. Sitting at 2-1, the Cardinals now head out of the desert for a three-game road trip against teams all with losing records.
Keep an Eye On: Status of Michael Thomas
The New Orleans Saints sit at 1-2 after falling to the Packers on Sunday night. While a single WR should not be the deciding factor for a Drew Brees-led offense, Thomas’ presence has certainly been missed.
Thomas, the NFL’s leading receiver a year ago, has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain.
Thomas presents a downfield threat for the Saints that other wideouts on the roster just can’t provide. The offense was better against Green Bay than it was against Vegas a week ago, but if the Saints are going to win the NFC South and an aging Drew Brees can be the best version of himself, Thomas needs to be on the field.
The Saints have other issues besides the missing Thomas-Brees connection, but having him back will elevate Brees’ game and take the pressure off of running back Alvin Kamara to provide in the passing game. The Saints head to Detroit next week and will try to get back to .500 as Thomas’ injury status remains in question.