Week 3 Reflections: I Know Nothing About the NFL

Usually, the deeper into September we get, the proverbial glass clears up, the fog dissipates, and we can see NFL teams for who they really are. I said usually. This past weekend proved to frustrate and confound many of us who, stupidly, think we can predict NFL games or, in the very least, point to the things teams do well and not so well and use those as indicators of team success. I come away from week 3 feeling like I know nothing about this season. I need a reboot. That said, it won’t stop me from looking back at week 3 and coming to some (mostly) sensible reactions.

  1. Pat Mahomes is fun to watch. I’m not going to re-hash what I’ve been saying about waiting to see Mahomes and this KC offense in meaningful games when weather is a factor. Forget that for now. At this moment, there’s not a more exciting player in the league.
  2. I guess having a player retire in the middle of halftime can be used as a motivating factor for an NFL team. So, feel free to thank Vontae Davis, Buffalo fans. (Seriously, how’d the Bills beat the Vikings?)
  3. Here’s how. Maybe. What if Kirk Cousins isn’t the answer the Vikings need? He’s fine, but is that change from Case Keenum to Kirk Cousins really going to put Minnesota over the top? I haven’t been sold, I was never sold, and I’m not sold now.
  4. “Paging Julian Edelman!!! Tom Brady and the Patriots offense need you!!!” The Pats looked slow and inept Sunday night against the Lions. Edelman’s week 5 return should help as far as the offense goes. The defense? Well……
  5. New England’s week 4 opponent, the Dolphins are 3-0 after wins over the Titans, the Jets, and the Raiders. Not exactly the toughest 3-game stretch. But the Dolphins have team speed. That offense could have success against a slow Patriots defense.
  6. Former Patriots OC Bill O’Brien entered this season with the Houston Texans with high expectations. But Deshaun Watson still doesn’t look right and patience, you’d imagine, may be wearing thin after this 0-3 start.
  7. Has there ever been a more talented team that just can’t seem to put it all together than the Chargers? Lack of execution at critical moments on top of bizarre coaching decisions give me the impression this team is missing “it”.
  8. It was a throwback weekend — Tiger won a tournament and Eli Manning went 25-29. Eli did. Eli Manning.
  9. Every sack, interception, or tackle for a loss by Khalil Mack gives me great joy, as I wait for John Gruden to somehow explain why Mack didn’t fit in with the Raiders.
  10. The Rams are by far the most complete team in the NFL right now. Injuries to Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters will test this team’s defense, though. And they get Minnesota’s dynamic wide receiving duo on a short week.
  11. The Titans might not be great, but judging that team through 3 weeks is a mistake. The hurricane game in week 1 and then the quarterback issue shouldn’t be dismissed.
  12. The Jaguars had their come-down week after playing in their Super Bowl against the Patriots in week 2. I don’t get a ton of these right so let me just bask in the fact that I called that one.
  13. If everything isn’t perfect for Dak, he’s not very good.
  14. Why did Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks choose the final 5 minutes of the game to bench quarterback Sam Bradford in favor of the rookie Josh Rosen? That’s a page from the Hue Jackson book of bad coaching.
  15. Typical shootout between the Saints and Falcons. Great offensive outputs, but I don’t trust the Falcons coaching staff in close games.
  16. Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey have the potential to be a scary tandem in the Panthers backfield.
  17. Andy Dalton came back down to earth a bit after tossing 4 picks in Carolina. In fairness, Joe Mixon was out. I think Mixon might be the most important piece to their offense.
  18. I’m not the biggest Baker Mayfield guy. But I am excited to see what he does with the Cleveland offense.
  19. The Lions played with heart and passion and excitement on Sunday night against head coach Matt Patricia’s former employer. After their 0-2 start, they needed that one. And you’d have to believe Matty P. put a little more emphasis on this one throughout the week.
  20. After his fast start on MNF, Sam Darnold has lost some of his shine. After a few weeks, will we be saying the same thing about Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen?

Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 75 of the Sports Talk Center podcast here:

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NFL Week 3 Picks

Not a great week 2 for my picks (6-9-1 OTS, 8-7-1 straight up). Let’s see if we can right the ship this week. Love the battle of L.A. The Chargers have both the offense and the defense to play with the Rams. But now that the Rams are past the lifeless Raiders and Cardinals, will we see them throw it into another gear against a good Chargers team? Melvin Ingram and Derwin James alone will present more legit threats than the Raiders and Cards defenses did, combined.  And how about the battle of the worst offensive line in football. Is Bill O’Brien coaching for his job? Will Eli Manning leave this game in one piece? I wouldn’t watch this game, but I don’t think I’d be able to look away. It’s going to be a mess.

Let’s check out this week’s slate of games.

Don’t Miss

Chargers (+6.5) at Rams

The Rams will get their first actual test of the year after opening with lopsided wins over the Raiders and Cardinals. Is the Rams defense for real? And how will Jared Goff deal with the pressure he’s bound to feel from Melvin Ingram and Derwin James? As for the Chargers, they have the weapons on offense, but execution is always the biggest issue with this team. Rams, 27-24

New Orleans (+3) at Atlanta

Through two weeks, the Saints either have their offense running well and their defense is terrible or vice versa. If they can put it all together, they’re in great shape. The Falcons miss Deion Jones and Keanu Neal on their defense, which won’t help them defend against Drew Brees. Saints, 30-21

San Francisco (+6.5) at Kansas City

Kansas City’s offense is in some kind of a groove — it’s out of the question to ask the 49ers defense to stop Pat Mahomes. But Kyle Shanahan will scheme something up for Jimmy G as a way to answer the Chiefs crazy, efficient offensive attack. Whether it’s more running the ball or shorter passes, look for the Niners to try and control the clock on offense and limit the amount of time that their defense has to be on the field against Mahomes, Hunt, and Hill. Chiefs, 27-24

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (+2)

This could be a shootout. Neither team plays a lick of defense so expect the offenses to show off on Monday night. There’s a lot to like about Tampa Bay right now. They’ve got all the right moves while Pittsburgh can’t get out of it’s own way. Have I mentioned how happy this mess in Pittsburgh makes me? Bucs, 34-27

If It’s On, I’ll Watch

New England (-6.5) at Detroit

Where have we seen this before? Patriots lose and take out their anger on their poor next opponent. Bill Belichick out-schemes a former assistant, as the Pats win big. New England heads into a primetime game after a week of experts doubting their greatness and claiming their reign is over. We know how this ends. Patriots, 31-17

It’s On in the Background

Tennessee (+6.5) at Jacksonville

Despite a disappointing and very lackluster 1-1 start, the Titans can prove a ton with a big performance in Jacksonville. Could this be a letdown game for the Jags after the huge, emotional win over New England? Titans, 24-13

Cincinnati (+3) at Carolina

The Panthers are getting the obligatory 3 points as the home team. What Vegas is telling me is that we shouldn’t believe too much in Carolina. I like the Bengals defense up front and in the secondary; but can Andy Dalton do enough without Joe Mixon? Bengals, 20-17

Denver at Baltimore (-5)

We’re going to learn a lot about these two teams in the coming weeks. Right now the Broncos defense is great, led by Von Miller. But their offense really isn’t been worthy of the 2-0 start. Baltimore seems more balanced on both sides of the ball, despite laying an egg last week in Cincy. Ravens, 20-13

Indianapolis (+6) at Philadelphia

Carson Wentz returns against the guy many feel he’s replaced as the  face of the league for the next 10 years, Andrew Luck. The Jim Schwartz defense will dial it up against the Indy QB and keep things moving quickly. Indy doesn’t have the pass protection and Luck doesn’t completely have his sea legs back yet. Eagles, 24-20

I’m Cleaning the Garage…or Eating Glass

Jets at Cleveland (-3)

The only way I consider watching this game is if we were to get Baker v. Darnold. Expect both defenses to play well and both offenses to be sloppy. The Browns have been so so close in both weeks 1 and 2. They should be able to do enough on the short week. Browns, 16-12

Buffalo at Minnesota (-17)

Give me one reason the Bills keep this within 3 touchdowns. And I’m not exaggerating. The bigger question to place a bet on is will the Bills have more players retire at the half than touchdowns they’ll score. Again, not exaggerating. Vikings, 35-10

Green Bay (-3) at Washington

I’m not sure how healthy Aaron Rodgers is, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if reports surface later that he’s dealing with a much more severe injury than we’re being told now. That said, Andrew Luck and the Colts eased past the ‘Skins last week. The Pack will be able to score and the defense is better than anything Alex Smith has seen this season. Packers, 27-17

Giants at Houston (-6)

Neither offensive line can block to save their lives. At least Houston has a mobile quarterback. And as far as defenses go, the Texans are much more capable of getting to Eli Manning. Eli might not make it a full 4 quarters. But should the Texans be giving anyone 6 points? This line smells. Texans 23-19

Oakland (+3) at Miami

Desperation is already seeping into the water in Oakland. Jon Gruden does  not want to start 0-3, even if he thinks his roster stinks. And Miami isn’t really as good as their 2-0 start wants to indicate. Desperate teams are dangerous teams. Raiders, 23-20

Chicago (-4) at Arizona

So let’s not complicate matters. The Cardinals have scored 6 points through 2 games. The Bears have Khalil Mack and a very good defense. The Cardinals will start Sam Bradford. The Bears were up 20-0 on Aaron Rodgers and then smothered Russell Wilson. We can keep going if you like, but is it necessary? Bears, 24-13

Dallas (+3) at Seattle

The only interesting piece to this game will be if Earl Thomas switches jerseys at halftime. Seattle is a train wreck, and their offense might not be salvageable. Dallas has a front seven that can handle that porous Seattle O-line. Cowboys, 20-13


Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 74 right here:

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30 Things We Know After Sunday of Week 3 in the NFL

1. Bill Belichick can prop up a corpse under center and still win a football game. Even more impressive, we now know he can do it on a 4-day week and beat a QB who is making $20 million more than his. Save the debate of who runs this Patriot engine — Belichick or Brady — for another day. For now, let’s appreciate the head coach.

2. The champs are still the champs — with or without a quarterback who we know. If the young man keeps putting up numbers like he did Sunday (22-35, 312 yards, and 4 TDs) on the road against a pretty good defense, we will all know who Trevor Siemian is.

3. Carson Wentz may not be Hall of Fame-ready after just three games, but the rookie starter has played with confidence and moxie. His first two wins — yeah, I know against Cleveland and Chicago — came with skepticism. But putting a thorough beatdown on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’ve done nothing but run all over opponents and dominate offensively, carries some weight.

4. Maybe it doesn’t matter what injuries Minnesota runs into. The defense has made two great quarterbacks look below average the last two weeks — Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. Head coach Mike Zimmer might have something real special going on that side of the ball.

5. Can we all agree that Aaron Rodgers is ok? You want to be that guy that says, “Look, he only threw for 205 yards against a beat up Lions defense”? Yep, he did. All in the first half, basically, because the 4 touchdowns he tossed put the game out of reach before 2pm on the East Coast. “R-E-L-A-X”

6. Respect having to travel in the NFL. It’s not easy to go across the country and play on the road. Ask the Cardinals.

7. I’d like to welcome the Kansas City Chiefs defense to the 2016 season. Glad you could make it. Couple weeks late, but better late than never.

8. I’d like to welcome the Seattle Seahawks offense to the 2016 season. Glad you could make it. Couple weeks — well, you get the picture.

9. Kirk Cousins can rest easy and know his job is secure. Until the Redskins proceed to drop 2 games in a row. Seriously, though, this division could very well be Washington’s, if they just commit to running the ball.

10. Maybe they’re beneficiaries of an easy early schedule. But all the games count the same. However, let’s see where the Ravens are in a few weeks.

11. Houston’s got a good enough team to win the AFC South and maybe win a playoff game. But they’re not in the same class as the Pats or the Broncos.

12. If you’d have told me the score of the Steelers-Eagles game would be 34-3, I would have believed you. Except I’d have had the wrong team on top. Pittsburgh’s offense will be fine, but that defense will need to be more consistent.

13. If the Indianapolis defense can keep making progress — played well against the Broncos and the Chargers, then this offense will catch up and Indy will be leading this division in only a matter of time.

14. So the Rams can win 9-3 and they can also win 37-32. Interesting team Jeff Fisher has out there. Wonder which Rams team we’ll get treated to next week.

15. Tough loss by the Panthers at home against a team who’s offense should have been swallowed up by Luke Kuechly and company. Carolina’s lost both games they’ve played against teams who are expected to be playoff contenders. Something to watch moving forward.

16. This was supposed to be the year Jacksonville made a move. At 0-3 (along with some very very uninspired football the past 2 weeks), the only move may be away from head coach Gus Bradley.

17. The Jets schedule for the first 6 weeks is as tough as they come so a loss at Arrowhead isn’t surprising. But losing 24-3 to the Chiefs is tough to swallow. Ryan Fitzpatrick needs Brandon Marshall to be 100% or else he just chucks it to anyone who will catch it — his team or not.

18. Over the last 6 quarters, Miami’s offense has looked like the Dolphins’ front office hoped it would when they hired Adam Gase as their head coach. Tannehill has a plethora of weapons.

19. Without Ziggy Ansah, the Lions have no pass rush. Without a pass rush to pressure the opposing QB, the Lions secondary has no chance.

20. If Chip Kelly’s defense let the Seahawks ailing offense explode on them, there’s work to do in the Bay Area.

21. The Titans may be 1-2, but DeMarco Murray is bright spot in that Tennessee offense. He gives them much needed balance. If Marcus Mariota had a real receiving threat to go along with tight end Delanie Walker, the Titans might have something scary.

22. The Buccaneers defense has given up an average of 38.5 points the last two weeks. I don’t care how potent the offense can be at times — it’s not averaging 40 a game.

23. One win might have saved the Buffalo Bills season. And Rex Ryan’s job.

24. With all the injuries in San Diego, Melvin Gordon is having himself a very nice start to the year. This season might be what the Chargers thought they would get in 2016 from their first round pick out of Wisconsin.

25. Hopes for 0-16 are still alive for the Browns. For the second straight week, they looked victory in the eye and turned away. Magic is happening in Cleveland.

26. Oakland has a bunch of young weapons. But Michael Crabtree is the glue that holds it all together. Starting to remind me of Anquan Boldin — consistently makes catches and is providing veteran leadership.

27. Cincinnati can’t blame Any Dalton for the 1-2 start. But how long before they make the old “change for the sake of change”? Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard are the division’s best running back duo.

28. The NFC East will not be won earlier than week 17. The Giants-Redskins game Sunday is proof positive that the division is up for grabs.

29. The Cowboys are proving each week that they have staying power in the NFC East. Favorable schedule and a rookie QB who continues to impress and progress each week.

30. Is there a more uninspiring team to watch than the Chicago Bears? At least the Browns take leads and are competitive for a time before they blow it. The Bears just, flat, don’t show up.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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