Before we dive into a recap of this weeks games, here is some food for thought to keep in mind while reading… The Chiefs and Dolphins are undefeated, while Minnesota and Washington are still winless. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, the Jets have a better record than the 49ers. We made, what we thought were, some pretty safe predictions last week, so lets take a look at some of the games that we totally missed the mark on.
Things started on Thursday night when the Chiefs took their undefeated record and new coach, Andy Reid, back to his old stomping grounds in Philadelphia, where he coached for 13-years. After their performance in week one, many people thought the new college offense of the Eagles would be one of the biggest threats in the NFL this season. However after that big win in week one, the Eagles have looked mediocre in the previous games and their offense was lackluster in the 26-16 defeat on Thursday. On the other hand, the Chiefs won yet again with Alex Smith and Andy Reid. So as the Eagles and 49ers both fell to 1-2 this weekend, they both may be wishing they had kept their respective assets before letting them go to an undefeated Chiefs team. We don’t’ want to get too excited (remember when Buffalo started 6-0 a few years ago, and failed to reach the playoffs?), but as KC continues to win in impressive fashion, they are proving that the Broncos aren’t the only team to watch out for in the AFC West.
The first game that we will have to eat crow on for our prediction last weekend was the one involving the Ravens as they went into Houston. We certainly didn’t expect the Ravens defense to carry their team the way that they did and the poor performance that the Texans offense would have. Nonetheless, the Ravens, who started the season with their only loss and are now at 2-1, looked impressive in a 30-9 win. Even without Ray Lewis and Ed Reid, the Baltimore defense looks reminiscent of previous years when those two great players were on the team. And if they can keep it up, the pressure will be off Joe Flacco and he’ll be required to only keep the Ravens in the games, rather than throw them out of it. For Ravens fans out there, we apologize for not giving you a fighting chance this weekend and we will be sure to watch ourselves before making another bold prediction discrediting your skills.
If you took a look at scoreboards of games that you weren’t able to watch, you might’ve thought there was an error as the Panthers started racking up points against New York. But the only error in this game was the fact that the Giants offense line looks horrendous and its too easy for defenses to get to Eli Manning (insert a hardly mediocre Panthers D-line). It also doesn’t hurt that Cam Newton showed up for the first time in quite a while. He threw for 223 and had 45 rushing, and looked like the brilliant Cam Newton that people were used to seeing in his rookie season. We mentioned last week that this game would finally put a game in the ‘W’ column for whatever team won and that could get them out of the slump they were in. If that’s the case, look for the Panthers to keep playing strong, and eyes will all be on the entire Giants team who went from having an understanding loss against the Broncos, to now being embarrassed by the Panthers.
Apparently the talks of the Bengals being legit this year are real. Entering the weekend at 1-1, they looked great in their 34-30 win over a Green Bay team that was dominate in their game last weekend. If you haven’t heard of Giovanni Bernard yet, it’s time to open a newspaper because this kid gets the ball when it counts and he knows what to do with it. His touchdown was one which he leaped from 3-yards out and sprawled to just barely reach the end zone. Not only is he extremely athletic, but he appears to have the heart that it takes to make it in the league. This is probably greatly appreciated by Andy Dalton, who racked up a win against Aaron Rodgers and proved that he can lead his squad against a tough defense like Green Bay’s. Aaron Rodgers played well, but Dalton only missed the mark on 8 of his 28 passes and had a pair of touchdowns to add to his stat line. As Baltimore continues to build confidence against great teams like Green Bay, watch out for them as the season goes on.
With the pour performances being put in by the Eagles, Redskins and Giants, this could be the year for the Cowboys. At least for them to make the playoffs by default. That said, we have to be far that the Cowboys looked good in their 31-7 win over the Rams on Sunday. Things looked rough at first for the Cowboys in the first quarter after they muffed a punt, but they pulled things together nicely and kept putting up points throughout the game. Dez Bryant looked decent again, getting the ball in the end zone one time, as did Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris. Tony Romo had 210-yards passing and was only sacked one time. The Rams didn’t look to get it together on Sunday and a bit of panic may be beginning to spread in St. Louis. Sure, this could’ve been a matchup between two decent teams and we should give the Rams a few more weeks before making an assumption of the rest of their season. But we wanted to see a statement game against a team like the Cowboys, and the Rams still don’t have that going for them.
For those of you out there who were lucky enough to draft Adrian Peterson in your fantasy leagues, be thankful that the overall performance of a team has little effect on your own score. In reality, Minnesota doesn’t make any sense. They have arguably the best player in the NFL with AP, and Christian Ponder isn’t necessarily terrible. Furthermore, they played a horrific Browns team that just came off a surprising trade this week that still doesn’t seem to make sense. Even with that said, Minnesota played to their competition on Sunday and it bit them late in the game. After a 31-27 loss, we might have to move the Browns slightly ahead of the Vikings in terms of the worst teams in the NFL, which both seem to be in the conversation about.
Last week we mentioned that the last time the Patriots went 3-0 to start a season was the same year that their only loss was in the Super Bowl. Well fans, the Patriots are once again at 3-0 after their 23-3 against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Sure, the Bucs aren’t a great team and Josh Freeman looked horrible on Sunday, but keep in mind that Tom Brady doesn’t have the most options to go to right now either. Another bright spot for the Patriots was the play of LeGarrette Blount. Playing his old team for the first time, Blount had 65-yards on the ground, which led the Patriots. Before people starting buying ‘undefeated season’ shirts for the Pat’s, we still want to see a few more games. But with Tom Brady on your team, you are able to be in the conversation in every game, and the Patriots are proving that this year with limited options to go around.
The Saints train continues to roll after their 31-7 win against the Cardinals. Despite their initial drive that went 80-yards and took up over 5-minutes of clock, Arizona wouldn’t make it to the end zone for the rest of the game and the Saints were able to put together a an air attack on one of the most feared defenses in the league. Despite going against Patrick Peterson all day long, Brees aired the ball out and did so often. The Saints only ran the ball three-times in the first half, but the Cardinals still couldn’t stop the offense from jamming the ball in the end zone. The Saints are fun to watch this year and it’ll be interesting to see how much their momentum train can get going as the season progresses.
We expected the Chargers and Titans game to be a good one, and it certainly might’ve been one of the top games of the weekend. The end result was a 20-17 win for the Titans, that was sealed with a two-minute drill that was run by Jake Locker without any timeouts in his favor. Another good note for the Titans was that Chris Johnson had 90-yards and looked good the majority of the game. The Chargers on the other hand looked good as well, but this is their second 4th quarter loss of the season, and we are only three games deep into the season. The Chargers will need to be better at closing games this year if they expect to keep up with the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC West.
Another great game to have watched was the Lions and Redskins. Some thought that another poor performance by Robert Griffin would call for a quarterback change in Washington. However, despite the loss, RGIII played decent and may have bought himself more time under center for the ‘Skins. The problem remains that it wont matter how good RGIII looks on offense, if their defense keeps playing as horrendously as they have been. Detroit looks good, but Washington had a chance to win this game and if their defense would’ve been a bit more stout, the end result would’ve been a completely different result. Nonetheless, Washington could finally be getting closer to their first win of the season that could turn things around, while Detroit got another win that puts them at 2-1 and right in the thick of things in the NFC North. As expected, Matthew Stafford went for 385-yards and had a pair of touchdowns, one of which was to Mr. Reliable, Megatron. Keep an eye on Detroit to see if they can keep this pace up all year long, and keep your fingers crossed if you’re a Redskins fan, as your team may finally be getting into form.
We’ll wrap today’s reviews up with the game that went down in Atlanta in another eye-opening shocker for both teams involved. Last week we mentioned that Miami was undefeated at 2-0 and certainly looked like an emerging team. That said, we definitely didn’t expect them to beat Atlanta, IN Atlanta, especially the way that Matt Ryan has been playing as of late. Nonetheless, Miami continued to look good with the combination of second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and second year coach Joe Philbin. Just a year ago, this team was on HBO’s Hard Knocks, had no idea who their quarterback would be and were fully invested in Reggie Bush. Fast forward one full season and things are looking mighty special in Miami. Tannehill should get the credit for this win as he went 8-of-11 for 67-yards on the final drive of the game that was caped with a 1-yard pass to Dion Sims. This is what being a clutch quarterback is about; being able to win the game with everything on the line and everyone staring at you. But the fact that it was in Atlanta against a hot Flacons team, its even more impressive. We don’t want to give the Dolphins too much credit (see: Buffalo: 6-0 again), but they look special. And, like the Chiefs, they deserve to be mentioned in the top-10 after this week is all said in done.
In a very long (nearly four-hour) game between the Jets and Bills, New York found a way to come out on top of a penalty-ridden game to beat their upstate rivals. Despite being called for 20 penalties, the Jets and Geno Smith were able to overcome a Bills team that failed to put everything together in a way that was necessary to win this game. We mentioned last week that this game would highlight Smith and EJ Manuel, the two talented rookie quarterbacks for their respective teams. Smith went 16-for-29 in this game, racking up 331 yards and 3 total touchdowns (two passing and one rushing). Aside from a pair of bad interceptions, Smith looked great throughout most of the game and there has to be something said for his ability to beat out a quarterback that was drafted before him in last April’s draft. That quarterback, EJ Manuel, didn’t play terrible, but his 45% completion rate and single touchdown on Sunday just wasn’t enough to get a ‘W’. The other downside for the Bills in this game was the lack of presence form C.J. Spiller. After Spiller hit the locker room with what looked to an apparent injury just after halftime, Fred Jackson came in and rushed for 72 yards. Nonetheless, the Bills needed a much more impressive running performance, in attempts to open things up for Manuel. As we mentioned earlier, this game gives the Jets a better record than teams like the 49ers and Packers. And who would’ve ever guessed that three weeks ago? We’ll keep an eye out to see if this New York team is finally one that can do what they are meant to do, win games. And with all the pressure off them to be the best team in New York (with the Giants 0-3 start), they can keep things focused on themselves and just play football.
Sunday is a day that upsets can and will happen. But the 20-point victory by the Colts against the 49ers was almost unimaginable by anyone. And after two losses in consecutive weeks, the once highly favored 49ers are looking around to see where their lack of success can be attributed. A lot of stories went into this game. Andrew Luck was playing the coach that abruptly left Stanford, after Luck said he would stay for his senior season. The 49ers Aldon Smith was arrested for a DUI and drug possession before the game. Trent Richardson was joining the Colts for the first time. And the 49ers were coming off a loss on primetime last week. Nonetheless, 20-points just seems unimaginable for a team that was flying as high as the 49ers. Something has to change for San Francisco if they plan to remain among the favorites in the NFC. Just last week people were suggesting that Colin Kaepernick had the worst game of his career, but it didn’t get much better against the Colts. He went 13-for-27 and only had 150 yards in the air. Frank Gore did have his best game of the season so far, but once the Colts started making adjustments, there just wasn’t anywhere for the 9ers to go and they looked stifled all game long. Andrew Luck wasn’t necessarily fantastic in his own regard, going 18-of-27 for 164 yards passing a 24-yards rushing touchdown, but he did enough to manage the game and keep his team ahead early and throughout. Colts fans are probably hoping that despite a loss last weekend to Miami (who look even more impressive with their win over the Flacons), a victory over the 49ers will do a lot for the confidence of this young team. Andrew Luck is only getting better with each week and it’s showing as he has his team tied with Houston and Tennessee atop the AFC South.
Good thing some of our predictions last week didn’t spread to the Seattle and Jacksonville game. While we may have been surprised by the 49ers and Flacons games, the Seahawks came through as expected and put a pounding on Jacksonville. All around the Seahawks beat up on Jacksonville and showed why this may have been a competition between the best (sorry Broncos fans) and worst (your welcome Vikings fans) teams in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch ran for 69-yards on only 19 attempts and Russell Wilson was able to call it an early night as he head to the bench during the third quarter. After another embarrassing loss, Jacksonville has said they will give the ball back to Blaine Gabbert from here on out. But don’t be surprised if those calls for the Jags to sign Tim Tebow begin to get louder as this team gets worse. After all, what do they have to lose? As for the Seahawks, they just proved to everyone that they deserved to leapfrog the Broncos after their week 2 win against the 49ers and justified why they were a 19-point favorite going into this contest.
Sunday nights primetime game between the Bears and Steelers was an interesting one to say the least. Keep in mind that Pittsburgh has yet to win a game this season, while the Bears have yet to lose. Chicago came in and beat up on Ben Roethlisberger and company real early. The defense scored 23-points alone and Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall looked impressive as well. But despite leading big at halftime, the Steelers tried their best to make it a game and those who turned the game off will probably be disappointed they didn’t keep watching for a few more possessions. Those that question the maturity and leadership of Jay Cutler are seeing a new quarterback this year. Even as the Steelers made a comeback, Cutler regained his offense and marched down the field to continually put the game out of reach, no matter how close the Steelers got. Even with the Steelers late push in Sunday’s game, things don’t get much easier from here on out. This week they’ll travel to London to play Minnesota, and despite Minnesota not being a powerhouse by any means, they still have the same record as the Steelers. Furthermore, the game will be in London and you never know how teams adjust to the time difference and travel. After that they’ll play the Jets before having a bye-week followed by the Ravens. We could legitimately be looking at a season where the Steelers have only one (if any) win after six weeks. As for the Bears, fans in Chicago are probably as excited as they have been in years. Not only is the record 3-0, but also the Bears look complete and well rounded. We’ll see if Brandon Marshal and Jay Cutler can keep their wits about them, but as long as all is good in Chi-Town, we don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t.
The Broncos and Raiders rivalry has lost some luster in previous years due to the lack of success that Oakland has had. Nonetheless, any time these teams match up, especially on a Monday night, you can expect it to be a fun game; that is if you are a fan of the winning team. This game was never close and the Broncos lead the entire time as the cruised to a 37-21 victory. This game really proved that Payton Manning is healthy and prepared to take this Broncos team far during his second year in Denver. If you’ve watched the first three games for the Broncos, none of the matchups have been close and they look to be among the most dominate teams in the league. Eric Decker had a big game for the Broncos, having over 100-yards receiving in the first half alone. On the defensive end, Champ Bailey was a game time decision and ended up deciding to wait at least one more week before making his first start of the season; luckily the Broncos didn’t need him on Monday night. As for the Raiders, Tyrelle Pryor looked average and had a big 73-yard pass that was more of impressive effort by receiver Denarius Moore. At the end of Monday night, the Broncos joined the top of the AFC West with KC with impressive 3-0 records, while the Raiders fell to 1-2 to match the Chargers. These teams will meet again later this year, and we’ll have to wait and see if the Raiders can put up a more impressive effort on their own turf.
You can’t argue the entertainment that the NFL provides on a weekly basis. This weekend we saw a lot of surprises that made us raise our eyebrows about the quality of teams out there. Teams like KC and Miami will continue to interest us as we pay close attention to see how long they can ride their undefeated streak. The Broncos and Seahawks seem to be on a collision course to meet in February, that is unless the Patriots or Saints have something to say about it. The Ravens and Jets are doing their best of keeping quiet this year and letting their performance on the field do their talking. And the Steelers and Giants look curiously unimpressive consider the success that both teams have had over the last decade. We’ll be excited to see what happens in week-4 starting on Thursday with the 49ers and Rams on Thursday night.