1. Three weeks into the campaign the Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL’s best team, and rookie running back dynamo Kareem Hunt is the league’s best player. But this will be about coach Andy Reid, and January football, because with Reid it’s always been about January football.
2. Derek Carr: what was Sunday night all about, dude? You gave me Kyle Boller flashbacks.
3. Because of concussions and all of the punishing hits absorbed by his body, Carolina has called only only three designed runs for quarterback Cam Newton in three games. That part of his game — a tremendous asset in his 2015 MVP season — has all but disappeared. And because of offseason rotator cuff surgery, Newton is long longer bombing secondaries with deep passes. He’s throwing underneath, dumping the ball off, staying with the short air game … and even then his accuracy isn’t sharp. I hope he he can make a physical comeback, but this game is beating him down. And Newton is trying to compete without two prominent receivers, tight end Greg Olsen and wideout Kelvin Benjamin.
4. NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning is 36 now, and he looks every day of it. Forget the comparisons to big brother Peyton … Eli is looking more like his daddy, Archie Manning, back in the New Orleans Saints days. Those Saints were horrible, the pass protection was abysmal, and opposing defenses had their own Mardi Gras parade on Archie’s back. Archie wouldn’t stay down. He’d get up and resume slinging the football. In 11 seasons with the Saints, Archie Manning passed for 115 touchdowns and 156 interceptions. Eli is kinda playing like that now.
5. Tennessee had a growing-up kind of game last week, winning the game by winning the physical confrontation against a Seattle team known for muscle and intimidation. The Titans can be a soft team at times, but maybe this was the beginning of a newer, more rugged identity. Tennessee at Houston on Sunday: Important game.
6. Speaking of Houston, rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson went into Tom Brady’s house and nearly pulled off an upset. Brady rallied New England to a win in the final seconds. But Brady is Brady. This is what we expect. But exciting thing about this game was seeing Watson’s talent and poise and potential shine so bright in a hostile setting — and in a matchup against the greatest QB in NFL history.
7. Welcome back, offense. Nice to see you again. In Weeks 1 and 2 combined, NFL teams scored an average of 40 points per game. (That’s the average total for both teams in the game.) But in Week 3, NFL games averaged 50 points. Offenses averaged 3.87 touchdowns from scrimmage per game (combined) over the first two weeks; that jumped at an average of 5.5 offensive touchdowns in Week 3 … and 10 teams put up 30+ points in Week 3. In the first two weeks — a total of 31 games — a team reached 30 points only nine times.
8. The Miami Dolphins lost to the New York Jets? Don’t you ever change, Jay Cutler.
9. Geronimo Allison goes from playing two seasons of college football at Illinois, to becoming an undrafted free agent, to signing with Green Bay, to connecting with Aaron Rodgers for a money, 72-yard catch-and-run to set up the Pack’s winning field goal in the OT win over Cincinnati. These kind of underdog stories never get old.
10. The Pittsburgh Steelers spent so much time meeting and agonizing over the team plan for handling the national anthem protest at Soldier Field, they forgot about the football part. The distracted Steelers couldn’t beat the Chicago Bears. Might be the first time in NFL history that a team lost a game before the anthem was even played.
11. Overlooked: The Buffalo Bills are playing some kick-ass defense, allowing only 12.3 points per game, No. 1 in the league. The Bills have given up only two touchdowns in three games.
12. Look at what’s inside the Bandwagon Repair Shop: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their quarterback Jameis Winston, Denver QB Trevor Siemian, the Baltimore Ravens defense, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, and Derek Carr.
13. I don’t know who will win the NFC East. It won’t be the NY Giants. But the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are each 2-1 and looking good. But keep an eye on Philly’s rushing attack. It was missing in the first two weeks, but Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount combined for 138 yards on the ground in the narrow win over the Giants. If the Eagles can run it, and take some pressure off quarterback Carson Wentz, this would be a significant development.
14. The 2009 St. Louis Rams scored 175 points in 16 games. The 2017 Rams have scored 107 points in three games.
15. Say, didn’t you used to be The Legion of Boom?
16. Sam Bradford at quarterback. Case Keenum at quarterback. Or the Minnesota Vikings could plug in some other former Rams quarterback. It probably doesn’t matter much as long as Stefon Diggs is there to catch it, and rookie RB Dalvin Cook is in the backfield to run it.
17. Good grief, will one of my bunkies in Baltimore just call an ambulance for quarterback Joe Flacco already? In last Sunday’s horrendous 44-7 loss to Jacksonville in London, the Ravens had a franchise-low 15 yards in the first half. For the game, the sleepwalking Flacco passed for 28 yards (TOTAL!), threw two picks, and had a passer rating of 12.0.
18. Not that it’s his fault, but in his last 35 starts, Carson Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has a record of 9-26, with 18 losses combing by 7 points or less — including nine defeats of 3 points or fewer.
19. One reason for the Rams’ improvement on offense: left tackle Andrew Whitford. When you had draft bust Greg Robinson at left tackle, and finally move him out, and sign Whitford as a free agent … now, THAT is an upgrade. According to Pro Football Focus, Whitford is ranked 10th among all NFL offensive tackles so far.
20. Yeah, the NFL owners are sincere in their support of protesting players. Sure. You bet. Gotcha. But no owner will give Colin Kaepernick a job. The hypocrisy is amusing.
Thanks for reading …