The NFL is wrapping up its third week of the season after a fun-filled day of helmets clashing, interceptions and some pretty awesome moves. Most of the games were exactly what everyone had expected (unless you’re the Cleveland Browns fan who lost $506,000 thinking your team would beat the LA Rams. Really?), but there were also a few surprises.
Who would have thought that the Carolina Panthers would be able to win without quarterback Cam Newton? Most likely, everybody.
The Rams were expected to win and didn’t disappoint, even if they didn’t exactly give the best performance of the season. It was hit-and-miss for a while, including two touchdown passes and two interceptions, but sacking Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield three times is a good way to get your point across. The Rams are now 3-0 after their 20-13 victory against the Browns.
The Panthers were 0-2 going into their game against the Arizona Cardinals. They haven’t been impressive on either offense or defense so far this season and Newton has had a very tough time. Swapping him for Kyle Allen was the smartest move the team has probably made in five years and, hopefully, Coach Ron Rivera is going to give Newton some extra time (maybe a few months) to let his injured foot heal. Allen threw for four touchdowns and the defense was also on fire as the Panthers destroyed the Cards, 38-20.
The Kansas City Chiefs improved to 3-0 when they handed the Baltimore Ravens their first loss on the season. Throwing, running, zipping through the smallest of holes gave the Chiefs an offensive edge from start to finish. The Ravens had to put up with an uncoordinated defense and more than a few penalties, which only hurt their chances even more. The Chiefs showed why they’re one of this year’s leading contenders, taking out the Ravens, 33-28.
The Indianapolis Colts put quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the test and he passed with flying colors – and flying spirals. He recorded 310 passing yards as his team looked to put down the Atlanta Falcons and showed flexibility in constantly mixing things up with nine different teammates. The Falcons were a little haphazard, acting more like they spent Saturday night in a local pub. Sixteen penalties were called against them for a total of 128 yards and there was virtually no discipline on the field. However, they were actually close at one point to winning the contest before one of those penalties put the Colts in perfect scoring position. The Falcons are now 1-2 after the Colts (2-1) claimed the victory, 27-24.
These aren’t your granddaddy’s Lions. The Detroit Lions are 2-0-1 after beating the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday, and there’s a good chance they’ll make it to the NFC North playoffs. It didn’t help that the Eagles have suffered several key injuries and made a few blunders, and the Lions will have their true test next week when they take on the Chiefs. For now, they’ll have to bask in the glory of beating the Super Bowl hopefuls yesterday, 27-24.
The good news for the Miami Dolphins is that they at least put six points on the scoreboard. The bad news is that, after just three games, they’ve only put 16 points on the scoreboard. They started strong against the Dallas Cowboys, but emerged from halftime with no real motivation and it cost them. They lost 31-6, while the Cowboys are 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2008. They still need to make some adjustments as the schedule gets progressively more difficult, but the Cowboys are beginning to look like a real team again.
The New Orleans Saints got the victory they were hoping for when they took on the Seattle Seahawks. Even without quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints was able to pull off a stellar performance, getting a few assists from a Seahawks offense that has had to deal with fumbles in each of its first three games of the season. Taking down the Seahawks 33-27 will give the Saints a boost of confidence that should last for a couple of weeks.
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t exactly show their fangs against the Tennessee Titans, but they still managed to pull off a 20-7 victory. The team only ran for 89 yards – 69 of which was on one single play – and the Titans offense could only be described as not even reaching the lackluster performance level of the Jags.
Other wins – the New York Giants over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Buffalo Bills over the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers over the Pittsburgh Steelers – didn’t offer any surprises, with results that were precisely what had been expected. There’s still a lot of action left in the season, but it is already starting to become apparent which teams are in it to win it this year.