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Bird’s Eye View: How Atlanta’s remaining opponents played in Week 3

How have the remaining teams on the Falcons’ 2023 slate fared so far? We’re here to find out.

Welcome back to Bird’s Eye View!

The Falcons are off to London in hopes of rebounding after their first loss of the season. Jacksonville is fresh off a stinging loss as well, so the Jaguars are sure to be locked in as they return to friendly overseas confines.

But while our immediate attention is on Teal Team 6, the upcoming schedule is always shifting and evolving. How have the remaining teams on Atlanta’s 2023 slate fared so far? We’re here to find out.

A brief refresher for those who may be reading this piece for the first time: This exercise is meant to provide a quick synopsis of how each team did the previous week. I’ll highlight a standout player from each side of the ball, and for the two teams next on Atlanta’s schedule, I’ll include a potential x-factor player for the upcoming matchup.

Here’s how Week 3 went for the Falcons’ remaining opponents.

Week 4 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win at Indianapolis (31-21)

- Week 2: Loss vs Kansas City (17-9)

- Week 3: Loss vs Houston (37-17)

Tweet-length summary of Jaguars in Week 3:

Was this just an off day for Calvin Ridley or is something else going on? The star receiver had false starts, drops and just looked generally off – as does this team. Jacksonville played better than the final score indicates; they just continually hurt themselves at the worst possible time.

Best offensive player in Week 3: QB Trevor Lawrence

His stat line doesn’t really reflect it, but Lawrence played well in this one. His receivers let him down with multiple drops, and penalties negated a few big plays. For his part, Lawrence was on time with the football and fit it into some very tight windows. He also kept multiple plays alive. The former No. 1 pick hasn’t been a problem this year.

Best defensive player in Week 3: LB Foye Oluokun

The former Falcon is all over the field for Jacksonville’s defense. Oluokun is third in the NFL with 37 tackles through three games, and he had another 14 stops on Sunday against Houston. The Jags’ defensive identity hasn’t really emerged yet, but Oluokun is at least holding down the fort in the middle until it does.

X-factor for Jaguars in Week 4: WR Calvin Ridley

He’s been my pick in this spot for a bit now, and I’m not straying from that now. If Ridley vs. Terrell doesn’t get you going first thing in the morning, then I don’t know what will. The biggest wrinkle in all of this has been Ridley’s performances of late. He’s looked a bit off and has just five catches on 15 targets in the last two weeks. However, we all know what he can do when he’s on.

Team stat to know: Jacksonville has committed 16 penalties this season, tied for the fewest in the NFL.

Week 5 – Houston Texans (1-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Baltimore (25-9)

- Week 2: Loss vs Colts (31-20)

- Week 3: Win at Jacksonville (37-17)

Tweet-length summary of Texans in Week 3:

Don’t let the 1-2 record fool you, this Houston team is coming together quickly. C.J. Stroud already looks like an established NFL quarterback, and he’s got some really fun weapons around him. This was a nice early win on the road.

Best offensive player in Week 3: QB C.J. Stroud

Let’s give the kid his flowers. Stroud is emerging as an early OROY candidate, and it’s easy to see why. In his first division road start, Stroud was 20-of-30 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception this season, and Stroud’s apparent comfort in this offense so early can’t be overstated.

Best defensive player in Week 3: DE Will Anderson

Blake Cashman had an interception in this game that is worth checking out, but I’m going to double up on rookies and give the nod to Anderson here. Not only was he effective in pressuring Lawrence, but he had a great field goal block that kept Jacksonville off the board and that Houston’s offense was able to convert into a touchdown.

X-factor for Texans in Week 5: RB Dameon Pierce

While improving, Atlanta’s run defense has been a bit underwhelming to start the season. So has Pierce, who has just 100 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries. The rest of Houston’s offense is starting to click, and if Pierce – who had a breakout season as a rookie – finds his stride the Falcons’ defense will have a lot to prepare for.

Team stat to know: Houston is one of just two teams in the NFL to have a kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Week 6 – Washington Commanders (2-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Arizona (20-16)

- Week 2: Win at Denver (35-33)

- Week 3: Loss vs Buffalo (37-3)

Tweet-length summary of Commanders in Week 3:

Best offensive player in Week 3: RB Brian Robinson

Robinson has become a really good football player in Year 2, which is a testament to his resilience and work ethic. Unfortunately, the Commanders have Antonio Gibson as their preferred receiving back and he saw the bulk of the action after Washington fell behind early. For his part, Robinson gained 70 yards on 10 carries.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Kendall Fuller

The Commanders’ terrific defensive line was held in check by Buffalo, but Fuller continued his excellent play to start the season. He allowed just one catch on five targets in his coverage, and he picked off a pass intended for Gabe Davis late in the third quarter.

Team stat to know: Washington has allowed a sack on 19.2 percent of its dropbacks, which is the highest rate in the league.

Weeks 7 & 14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Minnesota (20-17)

- Week 2: Win vs Chicago (17-27)

- Week 3: Loss vs Philadelphia (25-11)

Tweet-length summary of Buccaneers in Week 3:

The Buccaneers were completely shut down on the ground by Philadelphia’s monstrous defensive line. And while Tampa Bay’s defense has looked good so far, the Eagles gained more than 200 rushing yards.

Best offensive player in Week 3: LT Tristan Wirfs

Although the Eagles dominated the Bucs’ run game, Wirfs had a very good individual outing. He didn’t allow a single pressure against a defense that has 56 this season, and Tampa’s backs did average 4 yards per carry behind left tackle. So, there’s that.

Best defensive player in Week 3: LB Lavonte David

David played all 80 defensive snaps Monday night, but what else would we expect from the longtime Pro Bowler? He had a very tough draw against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense and was certainly busy in this one, pacing the team with 13 tackles and recording their lone sack.

Team stat to know: Tampa Bay’s 2.79 yards per rush attempt are the fewest in the NFL.

Week 8 – Tennessee Titans (1-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at New Orleans (16-15)

- Week 2: Win vs Los Angeles Chargers (24-27)

- Week 3: Loss at Cleveland (3-27)

Tweet-length summary of Titans in Week 3:

Best offensive player in Week 3: P Ryan Stonehouse

Two things can be true at once: Tennessee gained 94 yards of offense and nobody deserved mention here, and Stonehouse was an absolute Leg Lord on Sunday. He took the Titans’ offensive lemons and booted them downfield to the tune of 374 punting yards. The crown jewel of his day was a staggering 74-yarder.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

Not only was Murphy-Bunting effective in coverage against the Browns on a day when his other teammates weren’t, but he also recorded the team’s only turnover on a play in which he simply took the ball from Elijah Moore.

Team stat to know: Tennessee averages 15 points per game, which is tied for 30th in the NFL.

Week 9 – Minnesota Vikings (0-3)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Tampa Bay (20-17)

- Week 2: Loss at Philadelphia (28-34)

- Week 3: Loss vs Minnesota (28-24)

Tweet-length summary of Vikings in Week 3:

A game between the Vikings and Chargers came down to the wire and ended with a bit of late-game execution that left everyone talking—Exactly as we expected! Minnesota’s offense can keep pace with anyone, but its defense leaves a lot to be desired.

Best offensive player in Week 3: WR Justin Jefferson

Stat line this week: 7/149/1. Moving on…

Best defensive player in Week 3: LB Danielle Hunter

Brian Flores’s defense looks different week to week, but Hunter remains a star no matter what. He had another sack on Sunday, bringing his total to five on the season.

Team stat to know: The Vikings were 11-0 in one-score games last season. This year, they are 0-3 in such games.

Week 10 – Arizona Cardinals (1-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Washington (20-16)

- Week 2: Loss vs New York Giants (31-28)

- Week 3: Win vs Dallas (28-16)

Tweet-length summary of Cardinals in Week 3:

The Cowboys looked unbeatable and the Cardinals looked ready to prove tanking is possible in the NFL, so what the heck happened? Arizona proved prickly in the red zone, limiting Dallas’s offense to just one touchdown in five trips.

Best offensive player in Week 3: QB Josh Dobbs

Dobbs didn’t have to carry the offense on his shoulders in this win, but he was flawless in his role. He was 17-of-21 for 189 yards with a touchdown against the league’s most all-consuming defense.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Jalen Thompson

Against a tricky group of weapons, Thompson manned the slot very well. He surrendered just one completion in his coverage, had a big pass breakup in the end zone and finished third on the team with eight tackles.

Team stat to know: The Cardinals have the league’s second-most-productive rushing offense on a per-play basis, averaging 5.58 yards per carry.

Weeks 12 & 18 – New Orleans Saints (2-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Tennessee (16-15)

- Week 2: Win at Carolina (20-17)

- Week 3: Loss at Green Bay (18-17)

Tweet-length summary of Saints in Week 3:

New Orleans’ defense is good enough to keep the Saints in a game with just about anybody. It couldn’t protect a furious 18-point flurry by Green Bay, however, and the Saints’ offense couldn’t muster a single point once Derek Carr left with a shoulder sprain.

Best offensive player in Week 3: WR Chris Olave

Rashid Shaheed has had a great start to the year, but there’s no question this is Olave’s offense. The second-year receiver is so polished and smooth that he gets open against the tightest coverage. He caught eight passes for 104 receiving yards in this one.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Alontae Taylor

Taylor stayed in the slot despite some late injuries to the secondary, and he played very well—up until he didn’t. The fourth quarter was a bit brutal for Taylor, who had a couple key missed tackles and a long penalty, but his physicality and run defense were excellent.

Team stat to know: The Saints have the fifth-best interception rate among NFL defenses.

Week 13 – New York Jets (1-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Buffalo (22-16)

- Week 2: Loss at Dallas (30-10)

- Week 3: Loss vs New England (15-10)

Tweet-length summary of Jets in Week 3:

Zach Wilson completed 50 percent of his passes. The Jets gained 2.8 yards per play on offense. That this was a 5-point difference speaks to how good New York’s defense is.

Best offensive player in Week 3: WR Garrett Wilson

Somone photoshop Wilson’s face onto that meme of Wolverine staring longingly at a picture frame while sitting in bed. And then while you’re at it, photoshop Aaron Rodgers into that picture frame. This is what Jets fans need right now.

Best defensive player in Week 3: S Adrian Amos

New York’s defense is loaded with playmakers, even on the back end. Amos is an all-around wonder at the safety position and a real asset in run defense. He had seven tackles against the Patriots and was the fourth-highest-graded defender for the Jets by PFF.

Team stat to know: The Jets are ranked last in offensive DVOA.

Week 15 – Carolina Panthers (0-3)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Atlanta (24-10)

- Week 2: Loss vs New Orleans (20-17)

- Week 3: Loss at Seattle (27-37)

Tweet-length summary of Panthers in Week 3:

Andy Dalton threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns, which surpassed the number of yards and matched the number of touchdown passes Bryce Young had through his first two games.

Best offensive player in Week 3: WR Adam Thielen

The veteran receiver has become somewhat of a punchline since he debuted with the Panthers in the preseason, but his stat line on Sunday was undeniable. As Dalton’s top target, Thielen caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Best defensive player in Week 3: DT Derrick Brown

Although the Seahawks gained nearly 150 yards on the ground, Brown had a commendable afternoon. He’s been on point all season long while playing a variety of spots along the defensive line and his PFF grade of 85.3 is a career-high through three games.

Team stat to know: Carolina’s defense allows a third-down conversion at a 30.8 percent rate, which is the fifth-best mark in the league.

Week 16 – Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Jacksonville (31-21)

- Week 2: Win at Houston (31-20)

- Week 3: Win at Baltimore (22-19)

Tweet-length summary of Colts in Week 3:

Best offensive player in Week 3: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Zack Moss had a monster game with 122 yards on 30 carries, but Pittman made some truly electric plays. He’s off to a great start in his fourth season and caught nine passes for 77 yards against the Ravens.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Kenny Moore

Moore has been a good player for a long time now, and he’s continued that level of play in 2023. He mostly stuck to his slot position, but Moore displayed his positional versatility in this game and had a nice pass breakup while generally being stingy in coverage.

Team stat to know: The Colts have 12 sacks through three games, which is tied for the second-most in the league.

Week 17 – Chicago Bears (0-3)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Green Bay (38-20)

- Week 2: Loss at Tampa Bay (27-17)

- Week 3: Loss at Kansas City (41-10)

Tweet-length summary of Bears in Week 3:

Chicago fans have bad blood towards this franchise because things are not going all too well. Oh, did you hear Taylor Swift was at the game?

Best offensive player in Week 3: RB Roschon Johnson

The rookie is quickly moving up the team depth chart and looks poised to further eat into Khalil Herbert’s workload. That the backup running back is the bright spot in a 31-point loss, though, speaks to the bigger problems with this offense.

Best defensive player in Week 3: CB Jaylon Johnson

Look at this Johnson and Johnson combo. The Chiefs usually strike fear into the hearts of opposing corners, but Johnson played really well in this one. He allowed just one completion on four targets in his coverage.

Team stat to know: Chicago has allowed 35.3 points per game, which is the second-worst mark in the league.