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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

With Week 3 in the books, let’s take a look around the league

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

1. Phintastic

The Dolphins knocked off the Bills at home 21-19 in a game that had a little bit of everything. The “butt punt” looked like it could’ve been in our lives for a long time had the Bills managed to eek out a win at the end, but the Thomas Morstead boot to the derriere of his personal protector will likely fade away from our collective memory eventually – so let’s make sure we have fun with it now.

Yes, playing in Miami in September can be a real disadvantage to a team like Buffalo, but this was a win the Dolphins deserved to log and an official announcement that they are the real deal in the AFC. They made enough plays when they had to against a good football team. You don’t want to overreact to a win in September, but Dolphins fans should feel great about the start to the Mike McDaniel era.

2. Allen = Alien

I realize the Bills lost this one but what they’re asking Josh Allen to do in this offense is borderline insane. 46-63 for 400 yards, 2 TDs, with another 47 yards rushing. This is the Josh Allen show and he’s operating in a different plane of existence at this point. I think the Bills are still the favorites to win it all but they do need to figure out how to provide Allen with a counterpunch. It doesn’t seem like any of their running backs provide that burst. Many hoped it would be James Cook, but he only saw a single carry in this one after playing mop up duty a week ago. This has the makings of a first-round RB selection in the 2023 draft.

3. Lions Find a Way to Lion

The Lions were in control of this one late into the 4th quarter until a missed field goal from Austin Seibert gave the Vikings possession near midfield. Four plays later, the Vikings took the lead on a KJ Osborn pass and Jared Goff ended the game with an interception. The Lions more than held their own in this game, but came up short yet again.

Let’s examine this from a strategy perspective. The Lions kicked a 54-yard yard field goal from the 36. If the kick goes in, they go up 6 and kick off to the Vikings with a little over a minute left, needing 75ish yards and a TD to beat you. If you miss, you cling to a 3-point lead and give the ball to the Vikings at the 46, likely heading the overtime and possibly losing outright. A punt could potentially pin the Vikings deep or hand the ball over at the 20 if the ball carries too far. At 4th and 4, it was probably too much to ask to go for the win right there, but let’s at least acknowledge that’s a possibility.

Because the FG would only take your lead from 3 to 6 and the field position on a miss is so strong for the Vikings, I don’t like the field goal option. I think I’m bringing my punter on, trying to pin the Vikings back deep, and win the game with my defense.

4. Lawrence Arrives

The Jacksonville Jaguars flew across the country and beatdown what was supposed to be a good LA Chargers team 38-10. This on the heels of a dominating performance last week against the Colts and all the sudden, the Jags look like the best team in the AFC North. Trevor Lawrence controlled the game, finishing 28/39 for 262 yards and 3 TDs. He spread the ball around to his top three targets including Christian Kirk, owner of the outsized free agent contract that had everyone so up in arms over this past off-season.

What really sticks out most is just how valuable it is to have a professional coach in the room. I still cannot believe that the Jags hired Urban Meyer last year. That was such a misguided hire that it was doomed to fail from the jump – but the amount of early success that Doug Peterson is showing in 2022 should really underscore just how terrible Meyer was at his job. Peterson is an easy guy to cheer for and has seemingly landed in a great spot with a lot of good young players to build around in a wide-open division. Those of you that bought pre-season Jags divisional tickets, you might be picking up the bar tab at our end of the year banquet.

5. Paltry Primetime Points or Take the Under, Part 1

America’s Game of the Week! Puke.

The Packers offense hasn’t really impressed overall this year and against the excellent Bucs defense, this should have been a game for Tom Brady to control at home. However, Brady found his receiving options lacking, with Chris Godwin sidelined with a hamstring injury after rushing back from his torn ACL, Julio Jones nursing an injury, and Mike Evans suspended for a game. Turns out, it helps to have receivers to throw to if you want to score points. The Packers escaped with a depressing 14-12 win where the defenses for both squads were far superior to the Hall of Fame QBs they opposed. Bet the under.

6. Paltry Primetime Points or Take the Under, Part 2

I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday Night…no, I’m just going to bed.

Not to be outdone by all those points not scored in the afternoon slot, Sunday Night Football featured Russell Wilson’s Broncos and Jimmy G’s 49ers, who combined for 21 points. What’s remarkable is that the 49ers scored a TD midway through the first quarter where it looked like they were going to have their way with the Denver defense all night. They proceeded to turn the ball over 3 times and convert only 1/10 3rd downs in the contest. Still, they almost got away with it as the 9ers defense, admittedly a very good unit, continued the Russell Wilson house of horrors to start the year.

Wilson is off to a rough start in blue and orange, losing his homecoming opening weekend and barely escaping with wins against the Texans and 49ers despite bad passing numbers. However, the Broncos own a 2-1 record and continue to buy themselves time to figure it out. It doesn’t matter how pretty or ugly the W is, they all count the same at the end of the day. An interesting stretch of Raiders, Colts, and Chargers awaits them.

7. Oh, Olave

One-time Chicago Bears Twitter draft crush Chris Olave sure looks like he’s going to be very good. The rookie Saints receiver had himself a game in a losing effort, converting 13 targets into 9 catches for 147 yards. This makes back-to-back games where he’s attracted the attention of Winston with 13 targets, posting an explosive catch in both games (51 last week, 49 this week).

The dream draft scenario for the Bears was that Olave would somehow drop to reunite the talented wideout with Justin Fields. Unfortunately for the Bears, Olave played far too well his last season in college and the Saints snagged him with the 11th pick one year after Justin Fields went at that very same spot to Chicago.

8. Bengals Bounce Back

Yes, it’s the Jets, but the Bengals have looked so bad to start the year, one had to wonder whether or not they could right the ship on the road. Joe Burrow turned in a tidy 23/36 for 275 and 3 scores to get the defending AFC champions in the win column. Maybe the best number was the two sacks that Burrow took, down from the thirteen taken in the first two games combined.

The Bengals decided that they could run it back with only a few tweaks up front on their offensive line. Let’s see if they’ve shaken off the bad luck of the first two weeks and cleaned up some of the protection issues to get back on track. The Bengals were a ton of fun when they were cooking with their explosive play offense down the stretch of the 2021 season and given some of the uneven offenses out there, I look forward to watching them hit their stride.

9. Elite Eagles

The Commanders didn’t put up much of a fight as the Eagles lit up the scoreboard in the 2nd quarter with 24 points and coasted to an easy victory. The Eagles defense looked impressive in smothering the Commanders for most of this one. If their defense can play at a high-level, this team could absolutely compete deep into January. The rest of their season schedule isn’t particularly daunting with what might actually be the most difficult game left on the schedule this week when they host Jacksonville. Who would’ve put Jags at Eagles as must-watch TV in Week 4?

What most impresses me about the Eagles is their depth and the balance of their attack. The running game wasn’t working well in this one but Hurts was able to sling the ball to his dynamic pass catchers in Devonta Smith (8-169-1) and AJ Brown (5-85-1). Surrounding your third year signal caller with weapons galore has seemingly worked in Miami and in Philly. Might be a good blueprint to follow…

10. Justin Fields

There’s an old high school cheer – U – G – L – Y – you ‘aint got no alibi, you ugly, hey, hey, you ugly. That performance was ugly. A rough 8/17 for 106 and two rather gross interceptions would normally be the lead reason on why your team lost the game. But the Bears won, amazingly enough, on the strength of Khalil Herbert’s running attack (20-157-2) in relief of the injured David Montgomery and a strong defensive effort.

As difficult as it is to say about a player with 45 pass attempts and 297 yards through 3 whole entire football games in the year 2022, we all just need to be patient and wait and see how the rest of the year plays out. This team isn’t built to compete for a deep playoff run this year, it’s trying to figure out who the pieces are for a playoff run in 2023. One of those guys under evaluation is Justin Fields. It’s an extremely disappointing start. Let’s see if it can get any better in New Jersey next week.

What were your takeaways this week? Hit up the comments below or find me on Twitter @gridironborn.