Another crazy week in the NFL – what else is new? The Colts pulled off the upset of the day, defeating the Chiefs, while the Bengals finally notched their first win of the season. Elsewhere, the Jaguars’ thrashing of the Chargers secured them a spot atop the AFC South, while the Dolphins’ upset of the Bills made them the team to beat in the AFC East.
Let’s break down the week.
How I fared in my picks
Overall, I have had a great week thus far entering the Monday night matchup. I went 11-4 against the spread, with my losses stemming from the Patriots +3.5, Commanders +6.5, Chargers -3.5, and Bills -5.5. I considered switching my pick to the Jaguars since Justin Herbert was questionable to start for the Chargers, but I decided to stick with the home team when LA announced Herbert would suit up. Still, a great week.
- It was a week for the underdogs, who went 6-9 ATS.
- The Colts (+6.5) pulled off the biggest upset over the Chiefs, while the Eagles were the biggest favorite to cover (-6.5).
Three things that surprised me the most
The Eagles are the best team in the NFC
I was not high on the Eagles before the season. I believed they were overrated and would not be the Super Bowl threat many thought they would be. So far, Philadelphia has proven me wrong. As of today, there is no question the Eagles are the best team in the NFC. Yes, their wins have come against lesser competition, but 3-0 is 3-0. Their offense has been on fire, and A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are proving to be the best 1-2 tandem in the league. The Eagles are a dangerous team.
The Raiders are the only winless team left in the league
I will say I took the under on the Raiders’ win total this season, but I did not foresee an 0-3 start. Derek Carr continues to make mistakes on offense, and Davante Adams has not been a significant factor on offense since opening weekend. Despite all that, the Raiders’ three losses have all come by one score or less. Las Vegas has failed to close out victories and fallen short when coming from behind. This is a team that made the playoffs last season. They look the opposite right now.
The Chargers don’t look like a contender
A 38-10 shellacking courtesy of the Jaguars is an immediate cause for concern. Sure, some key contributors were missing – J.C Jackson, Keenan Allen – or left the game with an injury – Rashawn Slater, Joey Bosa, but that doesn’t excuse allowing Trevor Lawrence to light up the scoreboard. Ten days after blowing a lead to Kansas City, the Chargers could have serious issues going further, especially if their starters continue to miss time.
Other things that surprised me
- The Bills fell flat in the second half – After scoring 14 points in the first half, including a TD on the opening drive, the Bills could not get into the endzone in the second half. It was a sweltering humid day in Miami, but the Bills failed to control the game and had issues with time management. A drive just before halftime that could have resulted in a field goal was squandered as time ran out, just like it did as the clock expired on what could have been the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. It was a sloppy showing by an offense that appeared insurmountable in the first two weeks. Still, the Bills were playing on a short week and were missing several starters, especially on defense. One loss won’t hurt this team.
- Russell Wilson still doesn’t look comfortable – The Broncos pulled out an ugly win, but they have the 49ers to thank for allowing them to hang in the game. For the third consecutive week, Russell Wilson and the Broncos struggled to generate anything on offense. Wilson accounted for only 184 passing yards with no TDs, and the running game was nonexistent. This team believed they were a quarterback away from making a Super Bowl run. So far, the offense looks even worse than last season.
- The Chiefs allowed the Colts to hang around and win – I took the Colts to cover the spread in my pool, but I did not see Indy winning the game. Several ill-timed mistakes cost the Chiefs the game. Even with the poor decisions, the Chiefs still had plenty of opportunity to put the game away but failed to do so. It may be attributed to the ten-day layoff between games, but the Chiefs looked flat. This should have been a win.
Three things that did not surprise me
The Niners struggled on offense without Trent Williams
Even though the 49ers had difficulty putting points on the board, once LT Trent Williams suffered an injury late in the game, everything went downhill. Jimmy G. took a safety, threw an interception on a potential game-winning drive, and suffered a sack for a substantial loss on the final possession. The 49ers’ offense has always employed a run-first approach and the offensive line is a major reason for its success. With its top tackle, the 49ers could struggle to keep the pressure off Jimmy G. and create the necessary holes for the run game. The 49ers need Williams to be healthy.
Carson Wentz is not going to save Washington
Wentz played decently in his first two games with Washington, but it was a disaster against his former team yesterday. A 24-point 2nd quarter doomed the Commanders and Wentz had a day he would like to forget, taking nine sacks and fumbling twice with one lost. Many were left scratching their heads when the Commanders opted to trade for the disgruntled Colts QB, and yesterday did nothing to calm their nerves. Wentz appears immobile at times and cannot escape pressure, leading to multiple three-and-outs. With three talented receivers – Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson – there is no reason why Wentz shouldn’t put up the big numbers. His offensive line needs improvement, but Wentz is going through the same issues he received criticism for while in Indy. He might not have a starting job if he wasn’t under such a monstrous contract.
The Bengals are back
Yes, it was the Jets, but a win is a win. The Bengals showed why they were one of the top offenses in the league last season as Joe Burrow threw for three TDs and Tyler Boyd led all receivers with 105 receiving yards and a TD. Still, the running game failed to capitalize as Joe Mixon accumulated only 24 rushing yards in the contest. Fortunately, the Bengals played an overmatched Jets squad that was hindered on offense and could not keep up with Cincinnati’s potent offense. More formidable opponents will be ahead, but this win should at least provide a spark of confidence in the team moving forward.
Other non-surprises for me
- Tom Brady & the Bucs struggled to generate any offense – Yes, Tom Brady was without Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Julio Jones. Still, 12 points at home against the Packers was a disappointment, especially in a game where Green Bay only scored 14.
- The Lions continue to score – Even in a loss, the Lions cashed in 24 points and may have had more if it wasn’t for a missed FG and a poor choice to go for it on 4th-and-1 deep in Vikings territory late in the game. The Lions will be a challenge for any team to keep up with on the offensive front. They have too many weapons.
- Lamar Jackson will get the money he deserves – Another four TD day should only drive up the numbers for Jackson as he negotiates a new contract. If he keeps playing like this, Jackson can basically demand any type of number he wants.
Three overreactions I’m hearing
- Jalen Hurts will win MVP – Hurts has been good: real good. But he’s not nearly a Top 5 QB in the league after a three-game sample. Otherwise, convince me you would rather have Hurts leading your team rather than Brady, Rodgers, Allen, Mahomes, Burrow, Jackson, Herbert, Stafford, or even Russell Wilson come playoffs. I’m not trying to take anything away from Hurts because he has shined in limited play, but he did so against three terrible defenses. Remember, Hurts was 1-6 against playoff teams last season – his lone win being the Cowboys in Week 18 when all of their starters were rested. Let’s see how he fares against top competition before we declare Hurts the MVP.
- The Chiefs will struggle without having a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver – Yesterday’s loss to a desperate Colts team was an anomaly. The Chiefs had plenty of opportunities to put Indy away, but several misguided mistakes doomed them. A muffed punt, a botched fake field goal, and a bad unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a 4th-and-14 on the Colts’ eventual game-winning drive allowed Indy to remain in the game.
- Jimmy G is not the answer for the 49ers – Let’s not forget how poorly the 49ers began the season last year before clinching a Wild Card berth en route to an NFC Championship appearance. One week of work with the first team was not going to make up for a lost preseason and training camp for Jimmy G. The 49ers also watched as LT Trent Williams suffered an injury late in the game. His loss proved costly as Jimmy G stepped out of the endzone for a safety when the offense was backed up on their half-yard line, and he later took a crucial sack. Mile High is also one of the toughest stadiums to play in for opponents. Jimmy G and the 49ers will be just fine.
Three reactions that are not overreactions I’m hearing
- The Bears’ passing offense is terrible -. Despite defeating the Texans, Chicago’s offense was another long day. Justin Fields struggled again, completing just eight passes for 106 yards and two INTs. Luckily, RB Khalil Herbert, filling in for an injured David Montgomery, was the star of the game, rushing for 157 yards and two TDs. The schedule is only going to get more challenging for the Bears.
- Matt Ryan is not the answer for the Colts – I wrote how old Ryan looked last week in the Colts’ loss to the Jaguars, and this week was much better. The Colts were the beneficiaries of several crucial mistakes by the Chiefs. Otherwise, Ryan struggled again even if his numbers looked impressive – 27-for-37 passing for 222 yards and two TDs. Ryan also fumbled twice – including one lost fumble – and needed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a 4th-and-14 to continue the eventual game-winning drive. The Colts won’t be as fortunate moving forward. Ryan needs to step up and be the Super Bowl QB that Indy expected when they ditched Carson Wentz in the offseason. Calls for Nick Foles could be coming soon.
- The Patriots won’t make the playoffs – It was evident in yesterday’s loss to the Ravens that this New England team will continue to struggle on the offensive front. Mac Jones tossed multiple costly INTs, and Nelson Agholor fumbled on a critical drive late in the game. It was a winnable contest, but turnovers proved to be the Patriots’ downfall. Jones also suffered an injury late in the game, and his status is unknown. The Patriots will be occupying the bottom half in a division with Buffalo and Miami atop the division.