Every-Thing Sports

NFL Week Three: Good, bad & ugly

Brandon Todd, panthers.com

Week three of NFL action brings us to a point in which we know who's most likely to be in the playoff picture and who's not. It's still too early to tell, but history isn't on the side of those who have losing records after three games. Let's take a look at what I observed this week:

The Good

-Panthers backup QB Kyle Allen was once on top of the football world as the best QB prospect coming out of high school in the class of 2014. He bounced from Texas A&M to UH and never realized his potential ultimately leaving UH with a year of eligibility left. Allen started opposite Kyler Murray Sunday (the same guy he once competed for playing time against at A&M, but both transferred) and went 19/26 for 261 yards and four touchdowns as starter Cam Newton missed time due to an injury. He may have just Wally Pipp'd Cam.

-Ravens vs Chiefs showed us the future of the game offensively. On one hand, Pat Mahomes did Pat Mahomes type things with his generational arm talent. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson continues to show what an uber athletic QB looks like at the highest level. While Jackson barely completed more than 50% of his passes, he showed that guys with his skillset can survive and thrive at the NFL level. There were plays he made that 90.625% of QBs cannot make. The game ended with a 33-28 Chiefs win behind Mahomes' 374 yards on 73% completion with three touchdowns.

-Shout out to the unexpected undefeated teams left. The 49ers, Bills and Lions (albeit with a tie) are all amongst the league's eight undefeated teams remaining after three weeks. All three of these teams were expected to miss the playoffs, and/or be bottom feeders this year. Now, they're ahead of the rest of the pack. Buyer beware: they may be some of the best or worst bets over the next few weeks so proceed with caution.

The Bad

-The Jags beat the Titans 20-7 on Therusday Night Football this week for their first win of the season. Good right? No. Especially not when your best defensive player, CB Jalen Ramsey, is still insisting upon a trade and calls in sick. I'm all for NFL players using their leverage since they have the least amount of guaranteed money amongst pro athletes, but calling in sick as a football player is pretty weak.

-The Falcons fell to 1-2 in a 27-24 loss to the Colts.Despite outgaining the Colts by 18 total yards and losing the time of possession battle by about three minutes, the Falcon managed to out-penalty the Colts16 to four with a penalty yards differential of 89 yards. Committing only one turnover via a Matt Ryan interception, the Falcons simply beat themselves. Seems as if they still haven't recovered from 28-3.

-The Vikings beat the Raiders 34-14. On the surface, one would think the Vikes either greatly outgained the Raiders, caused a few more turnovers, and/or had a great desparity in time of possession. Truth be told, there was only +83 total yard advantage, +1 in tunrnover department, and +3:04 in time of possession. The Vikes killed the Raiders in the run game with a +123 yard advantage in rushing yards. Outgaining an opponent by that many rushing yards with only one extra turnover would normally amount to a much larger time of possession differential. However, that wasn't the case in this game.

The Ugly

-When you're facing 4th&9, down by four points with about nine minutes left in the game on your opponent's 40 yard line, you'd most likely call for a pass play if you're going for it, unless you think your kicker can make a 57/58 yarder. Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens decided a draw play was the best call. This is the early frontrunner for the WORST play call in the NFL this season! Highly doubt we'll get a contender for this title.

-The Dolphins have been outscored 133-16 in three games this season so far. That's being outscored on a per game basis by an average of 44.33 to 5.33 for the mathematically challenged. They're "on pace" to shatter the most points allowed record by week 14. This is a whole new level of tanking. Let's call it torpedoing.

-Giants' QB Daniel "Danny Dimes" Jones' made his NFL debut with a 32-31 win over the Bucs in Tampa. You'd think the team would have more to celebrate. Not the case when they lose stud running back Saquon Barkley for at least four to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. This is especially hurtful to those (myself included) who picked Barkley with the first overall pick in fantasy football instead of taking Christian McCaffrey (a PPR league no less). Jones will now have to shoulder more of a burden as a rookie than was expected on a team that was already void of talent before Barkley's injury.

Week three was pretty exciting and ho-hum at the same time. We saw results we expected, and some that came from nowhere. Over the next few weeks, water will find its level in the league and we'll better be able to determine the contenders and pretenders. Remember where you heard rushing yardage differential in relation to what team wins games. This'll be my contribution to football analytics. I'm praying I can retire early, pay off my house and trust fund my kids off the money I make. Only if you guys stay tuned and I can keep you entertained.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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