What an exciting and strange Week 3 it has been. We can see the NFL starting to take shape—although I think Week 4 is usually the time when we begin to truly get a grasp on the state of things in the league. Regardless, this week featured crazy upsets, a lot of points, awful officiating re: “roughing” the passer, and a whole bunch more.
Didn’t have a chance to catch all those games? Don’t worry, because The Baker is here to bring you all the biggest takeaways from Week 3’s match-ups. Read on for my best takes on everything that happened this week.
Browns got their first win in an eternity
This one is a great story. The Browns (1-1-1) appeared to be on their way to yet another loss before rookie QB Baker Mayfield entered the game to replace an injured (and ineffective) Tyrod Taylor. Mayfield looked like the real deal, getting the Browns’ offense on track against the Jets (1-2) and digging them out of a 14-point deficit to get their first win since 2016. Don’t sleep on this Browns team: the offense is improving and the defense is legit.
The Bills pulled off an incredible upset
In perhaps the most surprising outcome of the week, the Bills (1-2) pulled off an incredible upset—on the road—against the Vikings (1-1-1). Buffalo looked like the NFL’s worst team, by far, over the first two weeks. Somehow, the Bills’ defense was dominant and the offense moved the ball relatively easily against the vaunted Vikings defense. File this one away as one of the most unexpected outcomes in recent memory.
The 49ers lost QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL
In other tragic injury news (best wishes to Ricardo Allen for a speedy recovery), San Francisco (1-2) lost QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. Garoppolo tore his ACL on a scramble. That leaves the 49ers with no proven option at QB—the only one left on the roster is 2017 starter C.J. Beathard. It’s an unfortunate turn for a team that had playoff aspirations in Kyle Shanahan’s second year as head coach.
The Texans are severely disappointing
Remember when the Texans had crazy-high Super Bowl odds? Like, higher than the Falcons? Good times. Now Houston is 0-3, with two of those coming to a mediocre Giants team and a Titans team sans Marcus Mariota. The defense has been disappointing and the porous offensive line has prevented Deshaun Watson from taking full advantage of his weapons. Bill O’Brien might be the first coach fired in 2018.
Washington is once again the wild card team of the NFL
A week after laying an egg against the Colts, Washington (2-1) came out and blasted the Packers (1-1-1) on both sides of the ball. This team has enormous potential, with a talented defensive line and offense led by the steady QB Alex Smith. They just need to figure out how to play up to that potential consistently. If the past several years are any indication, they’ll do that...sometimes.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense continue to roll
While Mahomes and the Chiefs (3-0) couldn’t quite match their ridiculous offensive output from the first two weeks, they still put up 38 points on the 49ers in Week 3. Mahomes looks like the next great QB in the NFL, which might help finally bring some parity to the top-heavy AFC. That defense, however, remains a big point of concern. At some point, the Chiefs will need that unit to step up.
Carson Wentz returns to the Eagles
The Eagles (2-1) got a big boost on offense when star QB Carson Wentz returned to the lineup in Week 3. Philadelphia’s offense is still in bad shape, however, due to a lot of injuries at the skill positions. The Eagles simply lack playmakers at every spot except TE, and it showed against the Colts (1-2). Luckily, Philadelphia’s defense is still elite—and that’ll be enough to keep them afloat until Alshon Jeffery and Jay Ajayi return.
The Titans once again pulled off an improbable victory
Tennessee (2-1) has now beaten two teams with Blaine Gabbert as their starter. Last week’s victim was the Texans, who have simply started out flat this season. This week, it was the Jaguars (2-1), who had previously looked like the best team in the AFC. I don’t know how they do it, but the Titans keep finding ways to win. They won’t be able to do it forever without Mariota back healthy—but he looked solid after replacing Gabbert (who left with an injury) in this game.
Should we be concerned about the Jaguars?
Jacksonville scored only 6 points on Sunday against the Titans. That is flat out unacceptable for a team that just beat the Patriots. A week after Bortles had arguably his best game in years, he had an absolute dud against a vulnerable Tennessee secondary. The Jaguars could do absolutely nothing on offense with Leonard Fournette out. Jacksonville has to find a way to win games, especially when their defense holds an opponent to less than 10 points.
The Jon Gruden era has gotten off to the start we predicted
After predicting that Jon Gruden would preside over a dumpster fire in Oakland, we’ve been proven mostly correct. Have the Raiders (0-3) been awful? No, but they have given up three halftime leads. Then you remember that Gruden traded away Khalil Mack because...why exactly? Buckle up for at least 4 years of Gruden’s “old school” brand of football, Raiders fans.
The Dolphins are 3-0...what?
Perhaps the strangest of all the records after Week 3, the Miami Dolphins have somehow gotten off to a 3-0 start. Does that mean we should start considering them one of the AFC’s best teams? I’d say no...but winning is winning, even if it is against the Titans, Jets, and Raiders. How they perform in Week 4 against a vulnerable Patriots team will tell us a lot.
Matt Patricia handed his old team a loss
The Lions (1-2) were certainly in contention for the title of “most disappointing team in the NFL” after an 0-2 start that included an obliteration by the Jets in Week 1. That didn’t stop new head coach Matt Patricia from drawing up a gameplan on defense that pretty much shut down the Patriots (1-2). Detroit’s offense has the weapons to be an elite unit—but they’ll need the defense to play like they did this week if they want to contend in the loaded NFC North.
Baker’s Bonus Take: The Fitzmagic has ended
The Steelers (1-1-1) nearly blew their 17-point lead against the Bucs (2-1) on Monday Night Football, but managed to hold on. Unfortunately, those of us who were enjoying FITZMAGIC got a pretty big dose of reality in this game. Fitzpatrick didn’t play terribly, but his three interceptions in the first half (only one was truly his fault) and multiple interception-worthy throws ultimately doomed Tampa Bay in this one. The fearless style he’s developed this season sure is fun to watch, though.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from Week 3? Were you excited to see the Browns get their first win in a very long time? Are you sad to see the FITZMAGIC end?