NFL Week Three Thoughts and Predictions
This week has a lot going on in one area: quarterback turnover.
Not turnovers, but turnover.
Brees and Roethlisberger injured, enter Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudolph.
Eli Manning grabs some bench, rookie Daniel Jones makes his debut.
And for the Jets, it's whoever the heck is healthy this week.
On a separate note, we have not one, but two games that have a point spread of more than 20 points. That hasn't happened since 1987, according to Forbes.
For good measure, we're peppering in a matchup pitting the two hottest quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Here's what we think will happen.
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The good news is that the Titans have maybe the most underrated defense in the NFL.The unit was top ten in yards allowed and third best in the NFL for points allowed in 2018. Mix in they now have the highest paid safety in NFL history in Kevin Byard, who has quietly become an elite player.
The bad news is that their offense is wildly inconsistent, mainly because of Marcus Mariota. One week he'll have a solid game where he makes all the right decisions like he did against the Browns, and the next he'll look completely lost on the gridiron. How the Titans perform is mostly up to him.
The Jags are more and more making their 2017 season look like a complete fluke. The defense isn't fearsome anymore, and the offense is still nothing to write home about.
I'm going to say that Mariota bounces back from a sub-par game against the Colts and gets the win. Jacksonville just doesn't have any firepower right now.
Score: Titans 23, Jaguars 17
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-8)
From here, I think we'll really start to see the Packers blossom. They had to go up against two elite defenses in the Bears and Vikings the first two weeks. So yes, the defense looked like it was struggling, but those two defenses make everyone look bad.
The Broncos were a controversial roughing the passer call away from pulling off the upset against the Bears in week two, but they won't have the same success against the Packers.
The Broncos are very limited offensively, and they won't be playing a just as limited offense in the Bears. Denver's defense is very stout, but I think the Packers will start to click in this one.
Score: Packers 31, Broncos 15
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
How are the Lions not 0-2 right now? They threw away a big lead late in the game against the Cardinals of all team to come away with the tie, and then sneak by a Chargers team that simply had a stinker of a game.
Yes, the Eagles are coming off a tough loss Sunday night to the Falcons, and yes they are coming down with the injury bug, but this team is just too talented to lose this week to the Lions.
Score: Eagles 27, Lions 14
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
This is gonna be a fun one to watch.
The best arm talent of our generation and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes taking on the much-improved and man on fire Lamar Jackson. I'm salivating just thinking of it.
With Lamar, he is definitely improved as a passer, while still possessing the threat of making plays with his legs. I have to admit, despite playing two weak defenses the first few weeks, I was certainly not expecting him to be this good. You have to gameplan your defense around Lamar, and even then it may not be enough.
However, this Chiefs defense is much improved from a year ago. Lamar will still have a good game, but the Chiefs will pose a much greater challenge than the Dolphins and Cardinals did.
Pat Mahomes is going to be Pat Mahomes. He is so good at spreading the ball around and making his teammates look good, sometimes shockingly so. His top targets the first two week were not Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce, but Sammy Watkins and DeMarcus Robinson. That's what great quarterbacks do.
This will be a high-scoring game, but I'll go with the Cheifs.
Score: Chiefs 37, Ravens 31
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-6)
This is on the other hand, will not be a fun one to watch.
I'm still not sold on the Bills. They certainly aren't a bad team, but Bills fans really do need to slow their roll a little. They are 2-0 against two teams that simply don't have it at all this year.
On top of that, they face another one in the Bengals. John Ross has been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far, having some great receiving numbers through two weeks. That's where the positivity ends so far with the Bengals, though.
I will say that the Bills have sneaky good coaching. Josh Allen is very raw, but the coaching staff know what Allen can and can't do, and plan accoridngly. That alone will likely net the Bills one or two more wins this year.
The Bills will win this one and the fans will continue to claim this team has big potential. Their ceiling is as an AFC wildcard team.
Score: Bills 24, Bengals 10
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts (-2)
Falcons finally got that clutch win they've been craving for a long, long time. It was a little unconvincing, but they got it. I'm still not 100 percent sold on this team so far, though. Maybe it's just a slow start and will start clicking soon.
The Colts were somewhat lucky to get out of Tennessee with a win. That matchup was more of the Titans throwing the game away with some "meh" quarterback play and a late-game kerfuffle, featuring the Titans trying to draw the Colts offside on a crucial fourth down, getting called for delay of game, then settling for a punt.
Still, the Colts I think have exceeded most people's expectations so far being without Andrew Luck. I'll probably flip-flop multiple times on this between now and Sunday, but I'll take the Colts.
Score: Colts 24, Falcons 20
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings (-8)
The latest victim of Patrick Mahomes' brilliance (270+ passing yards, four TD's in one quarter anyone?), the it doesn't get any easier for the team's offense as they have to go to Minnesota and try to get something going against the Vikings' stout defense.
The Vikings offensive gameplan should consist of a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook. So far that's been paying dividends and it takes a lot of pressure off Kirk Cousins from having to carry the team through the air.
Score: Vikings 24, Raiders 13
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-23)
Now I wouldn't call myself a "Patriots conspiracy theorist". I fully recognize that the Patriots' nearly 20-year-dynasty is simply astounding and unheard of, especially in the NFL where parity is much more common than in other American sports.
But when the Pats get the second easiest schedule, and just so happen to sign yet another generational talent who was a dud for the Raiders, to go along with one of the most purely talented wide receivers of recent years in Josh Gordon, what am I supposed to think?
I'll keep this simple: The Patriots are amazing, the Jets are super banged up, LeVeon Bell can't carry the team on his own, and the Brady-Brown connection will tear the Jets' defense to shreds. Next.
Score: Patriots 38, Jets 13
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys (-21.5)
Have you seen the Dolhpins this year? Until they give up less than 40 points in a game, I'm going to automatically assume they will give up more.
Score: Cowboys 45, Dolphins 3
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
Eli out, enter Eli part two (that's Daniel Jones in case you didn't know).
I actually quite like Daniel Jones as a quarterback. I don't think his ceiling is that high, but he is a solid player that could be a nice stopgap quarterback for a few years until the Giants find someone who they want to be their leader for the next decade (or at least that's what I think they should do).
Well would you look at that, Jameis Winston didn't bake a nice, fresh batch of turnovers against the Panthers. That's the thing about Jameis, when he doesn't turn the ball over and make boneheaded decisions, he can play and even win games. The only issue is.... he might as well open a bakery most games. Turnovers. Get it?
I'll go with the Giants. It won't be a pretty game, but Daniel Jones will get the win in his debut.
Score: Giants 17, Buccaneers 16
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
You know what? I'm actually going with the Cardinals here, and a lot of it has to do with Cam Newton.
I remember people saying last year that Cam having a new quarterback coach was going to pay huge dividends. Well?
Kyler Murray has been impressive on a bad team. I think he will perform just good enough to get the win.
Score: Cardinals 19. Panthers 14
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-4)
No offense to Teddy Bridgewater at all, he's no slouch, but he's not Drew Brees. That's why they aren't winning.
Well, that and the Seahawks are genuinely and slightly surprisingly a good team. Russell Wilson continually makes whatever receivers around him look good, they run the ball well, and the defense, while definately not as dominant as the Legion of Boom, is pretty fearsome.
Score: Seahawks 27, Saints 17
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
Man, the Chargers just straight up sucked last game. Yes they are still without their best offensive threat and their best defensive player, but they are surely still good enough to score more than 10 points against the Lions.
I love the Texans, but every time I see DeShaun Watson get hit, I don't think he is going to get back up. That offensive line is so porous, and the Chargers front seven should be able to disrupt Watson enough to end drives and keep the Chargers offense on the field longer.
Score: Chargers 21, Texans 19
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
The Steelers have been trash so far and are now without Ben Roethlisberger for the year, but I think this one will be closer than most people think.
I'm relatively high on Mason Rudolph, he's always thrown a pretty deep ball, but he has also been able to sit and learn behind Big Ben to refine the intricacies of the game. That's and he also has his favorite target from his time at Oklahoma State in James Washington. Watch for that connection.
I still don't full know exactly what we have in Jimmy Garoppolo so far, but I'm really liking what I see. According to Pro Football Focus' Steve Palozzolo, Handsome Jimmy is the second least pressured quarterback in the league behind Dak Prescott. If Jimmy is given time to throw, I think the 49ers will improve to 3-0.
Score: 49ers 27, Steelers 24
Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Cleveland Browns
No clue why the Browns hype is back. They beat a team on their third-string quarterback, and they really weren't even very convincing in doing so.
Lets stop shoveling coal in the hype train. Will they make the playoffs? I actually think they will. However to say "the Super Bowl push is back!" after one margainally impressive win? That's absurd.
The Rams are still elite. Todd Gurley may be paid far more, but Cooper Kupp may be the most important player on this offense besides the quarterback. Kupp is on a tear, and if you take a look at the stats from last year, Kupp is so important to the success of Jared Goff:
- Weeks 1-10 (before Kupp injury): 328 passing yards/game, 9.4 yards per pass, 2.2 touchdowns/game
- Weeks 11-17 (after Kupp injury): 259 pass yards/game, 6.9 yards per pass, 1.6 touchdowns/game
Going with the Rams here.
Score: Rams 31, Browns 21
Chicago Bears (-4) at Washington Redskins
Man, that Bears defense is ruined by the offense.
This week's game is going to be similar to week two against the Broncos: low-scoring with great defense and limited offenses.
I think the Bears pull this one out, but will do it unconvincingly.
Score: Bears 17, Redskins 14