Starting the season 3-0 is obviously a good thing. But how good? Teams that start 3-0 have made the playoffs 76% of the time since 1990. Five teams started 3-0 this season, and they fall into three categories: Dynastic (Broncos, Patriots); Mildly Surprising, But Look at the Schedule (Ravens); Whoa, They Pulled it Off? (Vikings) and Yes, They’re Really Undefeated (Eagles).
Here are the QBs who have started for these teams:
* Trevor Siemian (Denver)
* Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett (New England)
* Joe Flacco (Baltimore)
* Sam Bradford (Minnesota)
* Carson Wentz (Philadelphia)
One has won a Super Bowl. One is a veteran (Bradford). The other four had never started an NFL game before.
Terrelle Pryor, jack of all trades: The Browns lost again, and are hurtling inexorably toward an 0-16 season. But the 30-24 overtime defeat to the Dolphins wasn’t the fault of Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State QB who was by far their best offensive threat against Miami: 3-of-5 passing for 35 yards; four carries for 21 yards and a touchdown; and eight catches for 144 yards. The last time a player completed at least 2 passes, and had at least 2 rushing attempts and receptions in the same NFL game? You have to go back to 1984, when Lions running back James Jones did it, a year after two Hall of Famers, Walter Payton and Marcus Allen, also did it in a game.
Hang in there, Browns fans – rookie Corey Coleman should be back next week, and Josh Gordon returns from suspension in two weeks. As long as someone is able to throw the ball downfield, the Browns will become backdoor cover darlings.
Kelvin Benjamin gets shut out: Benjamin is the best receiver the Panthers have. In the first two games he was targeted 21 times and caught 13 passes and three TDs. And then he was completely shut down against the Vikings. He couldn’t get open against Trae Waynes, and Benjamin wasn’t targeted until the 4th quarter. He finished with zero catches and just one target in the loss.
Buffalo Defense Circles the Wagons: Not that anyone needed proof that the NFL is a week-to-week league, but witness the Buffalo defense: Last week, the Bills secondary was torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets QB was 24-of-34 for 374 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.. He had a QBR of 92.8 and a QB rating of 116.5. It was a flawless performance.
So in comes Carson Palmer, the MVP runner-up from last year, and everyone thinks he’ll shred the Bills. Buffalo was without starting cornerback Ronald Darby, too. Here’s Palmer’s line from Sunday: 26-of-50, 287 yards, four interceptions, 36.0 passer rating.
Stephon Gilmore, the former 1st round pick who was torched by the Jets, had two interceptions.
Road Weary Teams Struggle Again: In Week 2, four teams played a second straight road game. All four lost, and none of them covered. There were four more of those games in Week 3 (with Atlanta on the road for the 2nd week in a row tonight). Here’s how they fared Sunday:
Baltimore: Won, 19-17
San Francisco: Lost, 37-18
New York Jets: Lost, 24-3
So heading into tonight, teams that have gone on the road for two weeks in a row are 1-6 in that second game. If you’re looking ahead to next week, here are the five teams on the road for the 2nd straight week:
Rams at Cardinals
Broncos at Bucs
Lions at Bears
Raiders at Ravens
Browns at Redskins
Pittsburgh’s Defense Has a Torn Curtain: The Steelers were pegged as a Super Bowl contender by many, and offensively, they’re loaded. Defensively, though, they’re very suspect. The first two wins were actually 1-score games in the 4th quarter, but Pittsburgh pulled away against Washington and held on vs Cincinnati. But against the Eagles, the defense was shredded: 25 first downs, 426 yards allowed, and 7.0 yard per play to rookie wunderkind Carson Wentz.
Eagles Dominance a Sign of Things to Come? And we’ve got to end on the Eagles, with this mind-bending stat about the best story in the NFL through three weeks (they’ve got a bye week next to read about how great they are; but Carson Wentz will probably just go hunting somewhere with no cell service). They’ve won their first three games by 14+, and that’s only been done 11 times in the current playoff format. In the last 25 seasons, all 10 of the teams made the playoffs. And four won the Super Bowl.