Week 1 in the NFL is about excitement. Week 2 is about overreactions. Week 3 is about proving it. There’s more than ¾ of the season still left to play, but we know a lot about each team at this point. Every team got a chance a validation on Sunday, but only a few took advantage of it. Here are our Week 3 winners and losers.
Week 3 Winners
Max: Man, does Carson Wentz look like the real deal. After opening the year against the Browns and Bears, Sunday was a prove-it game for the rookie and Wentz passed that test with flying colors. The Eagles’ defense, which turned in a stunning performance holding a dynamic Steelers’ offense to just 3 points, likely deserves more of the headlines, but I’ll forgive anyone who focuses on Wentz. He’s proven capable of doing everything the Eagles have asked of him and throwing three touchdowns and beating what many thought to be the best team in the AFC was damn impressive. FCS pride, baby!
Kelly: Max called it spot on. Aaron Rodgers told all Packers fans and critics around the league to take a big ole deep breath and R-E-L-A-X. Rodgers went 15 for 24, 205 yards and four touchdowns (!). That’s basically a touchdown every fourth completed pass. That’s incredible, and while their defense let the Lions back into the game, Rodgers righted the ship for the Packers, at least for last week.
Max: A week after holding Aaron Rodgers to 14 points, the Vikings defense held reigning-MVP Cam Newton and the Panthers to just 10 points. Those are two very impressive performances. Not only did they sack Cam Newton eight times and pick him off three times, they also held Kelvin Benjamin without a catch. Given Seattle’s troubles (Sunday notwithstanding), Carolina’s hiccups and Arizona’s dreadful loss in Buffalo, the Vikings might be the favorites to win the NFC.
Kelly: Seriously, who expected Joe Flacco and the Ravens to start the year 3-0? I certainly didn’t and I don’t think anyone else in their right mind did either. This is probably the ugliest 3-0 start in NFL history with low-scoring, messy matchups like their 19-17 win over the Jaguars, a 25-20 victory over the Browns and a lovely 13-7 win over the Bills. Their schedule has been quite favorable to open the year (seriously, just look at those three teams) and gets more difficult in about 2-3 weeks, but so far, somehow they’re 3-0 and I have to give them credit.
Week 3 Losers
New York Giants
Max: You can blame Odell Beckham if you want, and I’m close to joining the chorus asking him to take it down a notch, but two brutal Eli Manning interceptions lost the Giants this game. That red zone pick was particularly crushing. Their defense, which looked spectacular just one week ago, took several steps back as well, allowing a previously rattled Kirk Cousins to make big plays and win the game. Washington came into that game reeling and the Giants squandered two great chances- both to win that game and to take big lead in the NFC East.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kelly: The darlings of many has now dropped two straight and let a team that hadn’t put up a touchdown since December put up 37. That’s quite troubling for a defense that has now allowed 24, 40 and 37 points in their three early matches. Jameis Winston rebounded to score 32, but that wasn’t enough, thanks to his defense.
Max: I do not understand this Cardinals team. They should be really good, a contender to win the NFC, and yet they’re 1-2. You can write off their Week 1 loss to a great Patriots team, but there’s no excuse for laying an egg the way they did against the Bills. They couldn’t move the ball effectively, Carson Palmer made dreadful decisions and their run defense was atrocious. The state of their division will keep them in the playoff picture, but the Cardinals need to fix more than a few things if they want to be a championship contender.
Kelly: Literally I don’t have words. WHAT WAS THAT. 20-44, 188 yards, 0 TDs, and SIX INTERCEPTIONS. Just oh my god. That was garbage, please don’t ever, ever, ever do this again. I’m begging. Especially after that prolonged offseason and the contract negotiations – Ryan this isn’t good. In fact, it was incredibly bad. Horrifically bad some might say. He better put this behind him and do it quickly.