Tuesday Afternoon Football: Week Three
Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season brought many things, smiles, frowns, excitement, wins, losses, devastating injuries, and no ties. While the third week of the season had some good games, they were overshadowed by some moments that made us all dislike the NFL a little bit. Let’s just jump right into it.
The Buffalo Bills Pull off the Largest Upset in 23 Years:
Heading into Sunday the Buffalo Bills were an absolute laughing stock. They had lost their first two games by a combined 55 points. Their starting quarterback to open the season was Nathan Peterman, who proceeded to embarrass himself before getting benched in favor of Josh Allen.
Allen was the Bills first pick of the draft, and wasn’t perceived of being “NFL-ready” in terms of potential immediate impact. He started last week against the Chargers and looked much more respectable than Nathan Peterman, and he only lost by 11 points instead of 44.
This week the Bills played the Minnesota Vikings, one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL and a Super Bowl contender. The Vikings were favored to win the game by 17 points, but to the surprise of everyone (especially those like myself who chose to start Kirk Cousins in fantasy football) the Bills obliterated the Vikings, and pulled off the largest upset in the last 23 years in the process.
Allen was remarkable, completing 15 of 22 passes with a touchdown, and while that statline may look pretty pedestrian for an NFL starting quarterback he also ran for 39 yards and two touchdowns. He showed off his sneaky athleticism with his legs, and caught everyone by surprise when he hurdled a defender on the Vikings.
On the other side, Kirk Cousins was bad. While he did complete 40 of 55 pass attempts for 296 yards and a touchdown, he also was sacked four times, threw an interception, fumbled three times, and lost two of those fumbles. He wasn’t the only thing that spelled doom for the Vikings, but his performance certainly didn’t help.
Going back to Josh Allen though, I have been thoroughly impressed by his performance during the last two weeks. He has now proven that he should be playing for the Bills and has the potential to be the franchise quarterback that the Bills have been lacking for so long. I was in the camp of people who believed that he was not going to be very successful in the NFL, and that he needed to sit behind a veteran quarterback for at least a season.
After seeing him beat the Vikings, and seeing him beat them in the way that he did, I now have confidence that he can be a franchise quarterback. His team still won’t be great this year, they probably won’t even be good, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The team, now with their franchise quarterback, have the opportunity to draft a couple big time players to round out a young core with Allen.
Though perhaps the most impressive thing about Sunday’s Bills game was that they made it through halftime without any players retiring.
All jokes aside, I think Josh Allen made a statement in dismantling the Vikings and will be playing in this league for a long time.
Baker Mayfield, Savior of the Cleveland Browns:
The biggest story in the NFL this week came out of perhaps the most unexpected place that you could imagine, Cleveland Ohio. In the first half of a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Browns and Jets, Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion and was replaced by Baker Mayfield.
That’s when the game really happened. With Taylor at the helm in the first half the offense was unable to put together anything that resembled a good offense. When Baker Mayfield took over, the offense exploded and the whole team, stadium, and city were immediately more energized than they have been at any point in the last decade.
The Browns looked like a real time. Baker looked like the real deal. I was inexplicably excited, and I am not a fan of any sports team that resides in Northeast Ohio.
Mayfield completed 17 of his 23 passes for 201 yards in basically just the first half. He didn't throw any touchdowns or picks, but that is because his running game was incredibly effective, shoutout to former 49er Carlos Hyde who ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Baker did manage to find the end zone on his own though, as the Browns converted on a two-point try while running their own version of the “Philly Special.”
The Browns have been an exciting team so far this season, and their record reflects that. They currently sit at 1-1-1, which already is a big improvement over last year’s dreadful 0-16 campaign. They play the Oakland Raiders this week, who have gotten off to a rough start under Jon Gruden with an 0-3 record, so they have a very real possibility of being on a winning streak.
Now that Baker Mayfield is officially the starting quarterback for the Browns the team has a whole different feel to it. With Tyrod Taylor you knew what the ceiling was for their offense, but Baker is a completely different animal. He throws a harder, more accurate football so he should be able to keep the offense rolling in ways that Tyrod simply couldn’t.
I know there is hype that builds around every new Browns quarterback, but I have a feeling that Baker Mayfield is the real deal, and he will be the man to lead the Browns back to the playoffs.
The Student Becomes the Master in the Lions win over the Patriots:
Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions did not have a good first two weeks of the NFL season. In their first game they got obliterated by the New York Jets, who proceeded to lose their next two games and give the Cleveland Browns their first win in 635 days. They then lost to the San Francisco 49ers, which was their only win of the season so far.
Things looked like it was going to be bad in Detroit this season, and it still might be, but for at least one week this season the Detroit Lions are winners with some momentum.
On Sunday they knocked off the New England Patriots, who have been to two-straight Super Bowls and are the team that Matt Patricia came from. They beat them 26-10, and made them look more mortal than they have looked in a long time.
It was a nice day for the Lions and their fans, but the New England Patriots have now fallen to 1-2, and they looked really bad this week. Tom Brady, their centerpiece and the man who many consider to be the greatest quarterback of all time, threw for just 133 yards and one touchdown.
In fact, through three games his numbers haven’t been as great as we are accustomed to seeing. There are several factors that play into that, the Patriots don’t have many weapons around him right now other than Rob Gronkowski, and they played the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. The Jaguars have one of the best defenses in the NFL, so scoring on them is tough for any quarterback (other than Jimmy Garoppolo who put up 44 points against them). Brady has yet to throw for over 300 yards, and has only topped 250 yards one time.
Most of his stats are significantly lower than at any other point in his career. Through three games his yards per pass attempt is nearly down one whole yard from his career average. His quarterback rating is below 100 for the first time since 2014, and his yards per game are the lowest they have been since his rookie season. Brady isn’t the only cause for concern though, as his offensive line can’t block for him, his running backs are ineffective, and his defense has surrendered a combined 77 points through three games despite playing below-average offenses.
The Patriots are off to their worst start in a long time, they now sit in the basement of the AFC East, tied with Bills and Jets. Being tied with the Bills and Jets is not a place that any team should aspire to be.
Their next game is against the Miami Dolphins, and they are 3-0 so it won’t be an easy task, especially considering their track record of giving the Patriots trouble. I don’t think it’s time to start panicking about the Patriots yet, but if they drop their next game and fall to 1-3 then it might signify the beginning of the end for the most prolific team of the last two decades.
Update from the Jimmy G Hype Train:
The Good, the Bad, and the Odd:
The Good: A Detroit Lions running back ran for over 100 yards for the first time since 2013. Kerryon Johnson ran for 101 yards, breaking a streak of games without a 100 yard game from a running back that lasted 70 games, and the last person to do it was Reggie Bush.
The Bad: Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. He is now out for the entire season and the 49ers dreams of making the playoffs are effectively dead.
The Odd: Clay Matthews was flagged for roughing the passer for the third-straight week on what looked like a routine sack of Alex Smith. He has hit a quarterback in nearly every way imaginable and is now questioning the rules the NFL have now put in place. I do think the rules are a little much, but they are a necessary evil in order to protect the league’s most important players to keep ratings high. I am very interested in seeing if Clay Matthews will continue to be melodramatic after every flag though.
CK Collusion QB of the Week:
Our first repeat winner of the year is Sam Bradford, the $20 million man who got paid all that money to start three games only to be replaced before the fourth. He completed just 13 passes for 157 yards and two interceptions. The good news though is he did manage to throw his first two touchdowns of the season!
Breakout Player of the Week:
Pat Mahomes, and you could argue that he deserved this in week one, and he probably would have won if I had this award back then. This was the first full game I got to see from him, and oh man he was absolutely phenomenal. He can do things on a football field that I have never seen before. He threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns against my beloved 49ers. This kid is here to stay and he is for real.
Biggest Loser of the Week:
Jameis Winston. Winston is eligible to return from suspension this week, and maybe he would have re-entered the starting lineup if his team was losing due to ineffective quarterback play, but that is not the case. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 yards in his third-straight game, and that’s the first time it has happened in the history of the NFL. Sorry Jameis, this job is Fitzpatrick’s to lose.