In what was an absolutely hectic week, let’s go over the winners and losers from NFL Week 3.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles (Won 20-16 vs IND)
From the final score, it may seem like the Eagles’ win over the Colts at home was by too close of a margin. However, the reality is that the Eagles are without several of their key players, including running back Jay Ajayi and Alshon Jeffrey, while quarterback Carson Wentz was playing in his first game since injuring his knee in Week 14 of last year. It may have not been pretty, but Philadelphia’s ability to pull through with a victory over an understated Indianapolis team showed that they can fight through adversity and win ugly games. Wentz was impressive in his return, as he threw for 255 yards and a touchdown while completing 67.5% of his passes. Without Ajayi or Darren Sproles, the Eagles were still able to run for 152 yards behind a brilliant performance by Wendell Smallwood. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert also combined for 12 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown, as the two of them form a lethal duo. On defense, Philadelphia’s defense held Andrew Luck to just 164 passing yards, sacked him four times, and held the Colts to 68 total rushing yards, It was a team effort, and the Eagles were rewarded with a big victory and look like they still belong among the NFL’s elite teams.
Loser: New England Patriots (Lost 26-10 at DET)
In last night’s 26-10 loss against a subpar Lions team, the Patriots looked like something we haven’t seen in a very long time. They looked weak, fragile, and most importantly, beatable. They looked completely outclassed by a team that lost by 31 to the Jets in their last home game. The defense was awful, as it allowed Detroit to have its first 100-yard rusher in four and a half years, and had no answer against Matt Stafford and the passing game. The offense was arguably worse, as Tom Brady was held to 133 passing yards. It wasn’t just his fault – New England struggled to run the ball and receivers couldn’t get open- but this was one of his worst performances of recent memory. New England doesn’t look like the star-studded team it once was, and now they face a major hole; they’re already two games out of the division with the Dolphins soaring at 3-0.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams (Won 35-23 vs LAC)
Some expected the Rams super team to do what most so-called “super teams” do: fail to meet expectations and struggled early. Instead, the Rams are 3-0 and have won by double digits in each game. They faced their first test Sunday against the Chargers, and they aced it by playing a complete game. Jared Goff threw for 354 yards and completed 80.5% of his passes. Meanwhile, the Rams rushed for 171 yards and receiver Robert Woods had 10 catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The offense also controlled the time of possession and converted 72% of its third downs. On defense, the Rams weren’t perfect – they allowed the Chargers to rush for 141 yards- but they forced two turnovers. The special teams unit also excelled, blocking a punt for a touchdown. With this impressive win over the extremely talented Chargers, the Rams look like best team in the NFL, and it’s not even close.
Loser: Minnesota Vikings (Lost 27-6 vs BUF)
The Vikings were 17 point favorites coming into their Week 3 matchup against the 0-2 Bills and were supposed to blow them out. Instead, the roles were reversed, as the Bills dominated in every facet of the game and won 27-6. Had it not been for the Bills playing conservative in the second half and a garbage time Vikings touchdown, it would’ve been even more of a blowout. The Vikings offense had to be extremely one dimensional towards the pass after falling behind early, as they rushed for a whopping total of 14 yards. The pass protection was awful, as the Bills forced two strip-sack fumbles while Kirk Cousins added in an interception. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen was supposed to be terrorized by the Minnesota defense, but instead he looked like a mix of Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger, throwing for 196 yards and a touchdown (would’ve been more had it not been for it being a blow out), while also running for 39 yards and two touchdowns. They even let running back Chris Ivory have over 100 yards from scrimmage. This was a pathetic performance by the Vikings, and now they have to face the Rams on Thursday Night Football in a game that they now desperately have to win.
Winner: Cleveland Browns (Won 21-17 vs NYJ)
There you have it. After 635 long days, the Cleveland Browns have finally won a football game. It wasn’t pretty early- Cleveland fell behind 14-0 early as Tyrod Taylor completed just 4 of 14 passes for 19 yards- but as soon as Taylor left the game with a concussion, the game completely changed. Number one overall pick Baker Mayfield was magnificent in replacing Taylor, completing 74% of his passes for 201 yards. Carlos Hyde also averaged 4.3 yards a carry and two touchdowns, as the Browns rushed for 133 total yards. Receiver Jarvis Landry also broke out with 8 catches for 103 yards and built a strong connection with Mayfield. The defense was also great, holding the Jets to three second-half points, intercepting Sam Darnold twice in crunch time, while also forcing a crucial Robby Anderson fumbled that ultimately led to points. If the Browns can continue to force turnovers and Mayfield continues to be as efficient, they could make things interesting in a wide-open AFC. It probably won’t happen, but Cleveland would be 3-0 if they had a capable kicker in their first two games, so who knows what could happen.
Loser: Dallas Cowboys (Lost 24-13 at SEA)
Rather than worrying about trading for Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, the Cowboys should be focused on getting more production from the passing game in a hurry. For the third straight game, Dak Prescott struggled, throwing for 168 yards and two interceptions while completing just 55% of his passes. No receiver had over 50 yards and Prescott was sacked five times. That’s unacceptable when trying to be a playoff contender. Besides that, Dallas was fine. Ezekial Elliot ran for 127 yards and 7.9 yards per carry, while the defense held Seattle’s defense in check for the most part. However, Russell Wilson was able to make a couple huge plays for the Seahawks, and the Cowboys couldn’t overcome it. Why? Because they have the worst passing attack in the league. If something doesn’t change in a hurry, Prescott’s future with the team may be in jeopardy.