2019 NFL: Week 3
This tends to be the most annoying part of the NFL season. We’re just two weeks in and it’s difficult to really get a grip on the league. Who is for real? How can you tell?
History is littered with teams that started slow (think Patriots) only to shake off a discouraging loss to take the league by storm. We’ve also seen teams look promising in September (think Bills) only for the harsh truth to set in by Thanksgiving.
So, here we are. We have some data that looks promising, but there’s no way to know what’s to come as we progress in the 2019 season. Just for fun, let’s see if we’re drinking Kool-Aid or Fool-Aid on a few compelling storylines.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Cowboys’ fast start
I was the first person to hit the brakes on the excitement after Big D put the wood to Big Blue in Week 1. And while it’s true that the Redskins aren’t going anywhere this season, it was still impressive to see offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s system against a team that actually tried to play defense.
Dak Prescott made accurate throws, Ezekiel Elliott stretched his legs and ran for 111 yards and a touchdown and most importantly, the Cowboys offense continued to look 180 degrees different from the horse and buggy garbage of the Scott Linehan era. That’s promising.
Teams will catch up to this, as at a closer look, you can see shades of Sean McVay with the pre-snap movement and defined throws out of 11 personnel (lingo). But for now, this is fun.
Again, another person I wanted to slow with the anointing oil. And as in the Cowboys’ case, the Ravens have faced inferior competition to this point. People will rightly point out that Jackson’s stats (7 TD passes, no picks, 145.2 QB rating) are unlikely to hold up over the course of the season, but that’s not the point.
His performance proves the Ravens made the right move in moving on from Joe Flacco. The latter spent 11 seasons in Baltimore and I can’t remember the offense ever looking this potent. Going forward, it would be a mistake to play this week to week. Jackson faces the Chiefs this weekend and it would be silly if people get discouraged if he doesn’t look as sharp.
Play the long game. Jackson is the guy.
Dolphins going 0-16
Is this team that bad? Yes, they are. They are deliberately this bad, because although they refuse to use the word, they are tanking in the most blatant fashion. They’ve let players leave in free agency and just to be sure, they traded away any capable assets.
So, here is what they have to show for it: six picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft, including three in the first round. They also have two first rounders and a pair of second rounders in 2021.
There is hope for the future, but the present is a graveyard. Check the schedule. There isn’t a single winnable game on it. We’re going to witness history, folks. The Dolphins can be the first franchise with a perfect season and an 0-16 campaign under their belts. Wow.
The 49ers are rising
There is a consistent theme in this section. Kyle Shanahan’s team has beaten up on the Buccaneers and the Bengals, but again, that’s missing the point. What’s important is that the offense is clicking. Jimmy Garoppolo, he of the devastating knee injury and dates with porn stars, finally looks like he’s fitting the bill.
Again, it wasn’t the fact that they won, it was that nine different receivers caught passes against the Bengals. That’s an encouraging sign. What’s better, they haven’t played a home game yet. Expect Shanahan’s offense to erase the ugly recent history in San Francisco.
Patriots are going 16-0
This team is coming off a Super Bowl win and somehow got a schedule that doesn’t challenge them for eight weeks. Things get interesting after that. There are four potential pitfalls in New England’s schedule:
Nov. 3: at Ravens
Nov. 17: at Eagles
Nov. 24: vs. Cowboys
Dec. 8: vs. Chiefs
Of course, the two toughest matchups are at home. It seems it always works out that way for the Patriots. However, don’t sleep on that game in Baltimore, a place that has been inhospitable for Bill Belichick teams. After a bye, they get to travel to Philadelphia and face that raucous crowd. If they survive that, they get the new-and-improved Cowboys at home. Two weeks later, the Chiefs.
I’ll call it now. There’s no way they get through that stretch without a loss. They’ll still probably win the Super Bowl, but at least the ‘72 Dolphins can rest easy.
Rams are struggling
Oh, really? This team didn’t have a starter take a snap in the preseason and their growing legion of doubters had the gall to point out the offense didn’t look sharp, like that was an intelligent take.
My response: DOI!
The first two weeks have worked as a de facto preseason. Teams have learned how to attack Sean McVay’s offense, taking a cue from the Patriots. As a result, the young head coach is learning how to counterpunch, which he seemed to do in the second half against the Saints last week.
And despite their “struggles,” the team still put up 30 points against the Panthers and 27 at home vs. New Orleans. How many teams in this league would kill to “struggle” and still sit at 2-0? Watch Bill Belichick at a press conference. One thing he loves to say after every game is to learn and get better.
That’s what the Rams are doing. They’re learning to adjust and will continue to get better. There will be bumps along the way, in fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose in Cleveland on Sunday night. However, when the season ends, they’ll be right there and probably playing their best football.
Cam Newton is done
He’s not done, he’s injured. As this website’s resident Newton apologist, let me explain something: He’s an easy target. People love to point to his celebrations and his flashy postgame attire and call him a me-first diva.
That makes my blood boil. Sure, he’s an entertainer, but when he’s healthy, there isn’t a fiercer competitor. He almost single-handedly carried the Panthers to an MVP season and a Super Bowl appearance. Since then, he’s been a crash test dummy. The team hasn’t protected him and he’s racked up injuries at an alarming rate.
It’s time for Panthers ownership to look in the mirror. Do they want to seriously compete. Then, dammit, invest in the offensive line. Guard your most valuable asset. It’s not that hard.
Eli Manning is a guaranteed Hall of Famer
He has two Super Bowl wins over Tom Brady. He’s also been a dumpster fire for the past few years. I’m not saying he WON’T get in, because he seems like someone who will slide in after five or six years on the ballot. But there will be debate.
Lots of debate.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Thrown to the wolves: The Dolphins announced that Josh Rosen will start against the Cowboys this week. This poor guy. He gets drafted by the bottom-feeding Cardinals, who gave up on him after one season once Kyler Murray became available. Then, he gets traded to the one team that’s worse. If things keep going at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosen retires soon. He has other options. He doesn’t need this garbage.
Jalen Ramsey: Please let the Rams trade for him, please let the Rams trade for him, please let the Rams trade for him.
Nike does the smart thing: The company parted ways with Antonio Brown. I imagine nobody has a problem with that. If they do, they’re stupid.
We’re waiting: We’re going into Week 3 and Von Miller and Aaron Donald don’t have a sack yet. What’s going on?! What happened?! Have they regressed?! Good lord, settle down. If you remember, Donald didn’t get his first sack until Week 4 last season and he finished with 20.5. There’s no reason to get all hot and bothered, the stats will come.
Broken wings: The Eagles have been without receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery during practice this week as both are dealing with injuries. If they fall short at home against the Lions (they won’t) without their best two options at the positions, guarantee Carson Wentz somehow gets the blame.
The man’s got a point: Ex-NFLPA president and Paul Finebaum slayer Domonique Foxworth calls the Dolphins’ blatant tank job “morally reprehensible.” Couldn’t agree more. They should be embarrassed to charge fans for tickets. And this is coming from a man who had season tickets during their 1-15 season.
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK 3
Broncos at Packers: The Matt LaFleur-Aaron Rodgers marriage is still working the kinks out. My advice? Lean on the running game until things get settled since they have a solid option in Aaron Jones. Meanwhile, Denver’s season already looks shaky, it might get pushed into a grave if the Broncos get blown out here.
Falcons at Colts: I can’t wrap my head around Atlanta. I want to root for them, I want to believe they are serious contenders, but something is holding me back. It’s odd. The Colts did enough to get past Tennessee last week and now have two games in a row at home before heading to Kansas City. Most Indy fans would be happy with a 3-1 start. Let’s see if they get there.
Ravens at Chiefs: This game is so sexy, I want to … err, nevermind. Seriously though, this is the game I’m most excited to see. It’s what makes being a football fan great.
Giants at Buccaneers: Daniel Jones’ first game! It would be awesome if he came out hot and shut up all the people who laughed when he was taken No. 6 overall in the draft.
Texans at Chargers: One of these teams will be 1-2 after this game, but won’t have any reason to panic. This game should be high scoring from the start. Last one with the ball wins.
Rams at Browns: Los Angeles hasn’t been great on Sunday nights. Let’s see if the Rams can break that streak in front of what is sure to be a pumped Cleveland crowd. Baker Mayfield hasn’t looked great over the first two weeks. Something tells me he’ll break out big in this one. Should be exciting.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.