Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season!
This is a weird place.
Tony Romo is hurt, the Redskins are watchable, and the Jaguars won a game! The only thing about this week that feels like the NFL we know and love is that the Browns continue to make terrible decisions.
If you knew one thing about RJ Ochoa you would know that Back To The Future is his favorite movie ever. Lucky for me I know that guy pretty well (he's pretty charming from what I hear) so I know what he's thinking.
Today I, like Doc and Marty, have returned from the future. I traveled out to next Tuesday morning and saw who won all of the Week 3 NFL games (Also saw that I wear the same shirt every day between now and then. I need to get it together.). Even though I traveled through time, not distance, I still managed to gain more yards than DeMarco Murray and the Eagles running backs.
Hop in my DeLorean and allow me to tell you who is winning each and every game from Week 3. No sports almanacs allowed, Biff.
Thursday Night Football: Washington Redskins (1-1) At New York Giants (0-2)
The future is a weird place. The Redskins are... above .500? That's right!
The Washington Redskins head into East Rutherford Thursday night to face off against a G-Men squad that can't get out of their own way. Crushing losses to America's Team (who are still America's Team in the future, no worries) and the new-look Atlanta Falcons have this bunch feeling blue (no pun intended).
Kirk Cousins seems to be playing well enough, or at least not like RGIII, for Washington to find ways to win. Bill Callahan has had an incredible impact on their team and it shows in just two games. Rookie running back sensation Matt Jones ran ALL OVER the defensive unit of the St. Louis Rams (like everyone else has in the history of the world) last week. Jeff Fisher went as far as to say that this Washington team is "this year's Cowboys" in terms of how much they ran the ball.
These 'Skins are going to emulate the 2014 Cowboys and run, run, run. They're going to do what they can to control the pace of the game and time of possession. A short week after the way that the Giants lost to the Falcons was welcomed in terms of not having to deal with it for too long, but I just don't think the Giants are prepared enough for this. I'll take the sneaky Redskins on TNF.
Prediction: Redskins - 23, Giants - 16
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) At Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
Fun little tidbit about this game... both teams are not only 2-0, but were fortunate enough to get both of their victories against the same two teams: the Giants and Eagles.
Unfortunately you're going to have to leave your Tony Romo and Dez Bryant jerseys in your closet for this one. #9 and #88 will be on the sidelines in sweats as Brandon Weeden squares off against Matt Ryan in a battle of undefeated teams.
The Falcons have been a nice surprise this season. Rookie Head Coach Dan Quinn (aka Captain Falcon aka Falcon Punch! aka if you got that reference then we are best friends) has this team playing some solid football. Julio Jones looks unstoppable and Matty Ice seems to be regaining the form that has put him in the discussion of elite quarterbacks in this league.
The hopes and dreams of Cowboys fans laid on the ground in Philadelphia last week when Tony Romo went down with a fractured clavicle. Fortunately this unit plays like a total team all the time and found a way to take down the division rival Eagles. Brandon Weeden will be in control Sunday, and last time that happened things did not go so well for #3.
Atlanta is not without injury as their rookie running back Tevin Coleman fractured his rib and is going to miss some time. I'm not going to lie or sugar coat it - Julio Jones is a monster. The Cowboys are going to need to devote some serious attention his way, but if they can eliminate him then there's not much else from Atlanta that terrifies me. Look for the Cowboys to lean heavily on the run and rely on guys like Lance Dunbar and Cole Beasley for those short dink-and-dunk type plays.
The Cowboy defense will come to play and will do their best to carry the team without Romo. Get ready for some shocked media members on Monday morning!
Prediction: Falcons - 6, Cowboys - 20
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) At Baltimore Ravens (0-2)
Ahhh I love the smell of division rival clashes in the morning (that and bacon - bacon over everything).
The Baltimore Ravens are in trouble. They're 0-2 after a loss to the Raiders (which should actually count for more than one loss in my opinion...) with division clashes against the Bengals and Steelers coming up. If a guy named Crockett Gilmore is your most potent offensive weapon than you need help. Justin Forsett had a solid 2014, and while he gained more than 2 yards like a certain notable 2014 running back... he really needs to get it going for the sake of the Ravens.
Andy Dalton did me a personal favor and threw a touchdown to my fantasy diamond AJ Green, so I am appreciative. The Bengals always look stout this time of year so no one is really shocked. Their roster is really impressive from top to bottom and you would think that they'd be one of the premiere AFC teams. They'll fall off in early January, but for now they're for real. I'll take the Bengals.
Prediction: Bengals - 30, Ravens - 17
Oakland Raiders (1-1) At Cleveland Browns (1-1)
The black and silver of the Oakland Raiders make up one of the most beautiful uniforms in the NFL. It is a shame that lining up across from them will be the atrocity that the Cleveland Browns put together this year.
Oakland looked, dare I say, good against the Baltimore Ravens. I really like Derek Carr and think he has a future in this league (imagine the AFC West in 5 years... no Peyton, no Rivers, it's Carr's world and we're all living in it). Amari Cooper is the perfect weapon to compliment the young quarterback and these guys are actually semi-fun to watch!
The legend of Johnny Football will have to wait at least one more week to grow even larger. For reasons that I cannot explain the Browns think that Josh McCown is a more serviceable starter this week. Poor Johnny, poor Travis Benjamin, poor everybody (especially our eyes against those uniforms).
Look for the Browns to get waxed and Cleveland to turn to Johnny as their hero for Week 4.
Prediction: Raiders - 27, Browns - 9
Indianapolis Colts (0-2) At Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Who would have thought that the Titans would have more wins entering this contest than the division rival Colts? Maybe those 28 Titans fans - MAYBE.
The Colts looked like a mess on Monday Night Football against the Jets in a Super Bowl III re-match. New York got after Luck and flustered him early and often... leaving all of us to wonder where this elite Colts offense is.
Marcus Mariota came back down to earth a little when the Cleveland Browns had their way with him last Sunday, and he suffered the first loss of his NFL career. One of the brighter spots for the Titans last week was when #8 found fellow rookie Dorial Green-Beckham for a touchdown. Look for that trend to continue as 2015 progresses.
It's hard not to believe that the Colts will finally get something together offensively, and that'll be a little much for the Titans defense to handle. I don't think Luck is going to look super impressive, but he's not about to let his team fall to 0-3.
Prediction: Colts - 16, Titans - 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) At St. Louis Rams (1-1)
I legitimately thought that San Francisco was going to ride a wave of positive momentum into Pittsburgh last week. Obviously I upset the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and DeAngelo Williams - my bad, guys. The Steelers took care of business easily last week, and unlike the Colts their offense seems to be as real as advertised.
If anyone came crashing down to earth last week it was Jeff Fisher's St. Louis Rams. After a huge win over the division rival Seahawks his team went up to DC and got embarrassed by the Redskins. That elite defensive line they're supposed to have? Yea, didn't make a difference. And they won't again this week either.
Pittsburgh is going to come out and flex their Le'Veon Bell shaped muscle during #26's first 2015 action in St. Louis. Get him in your fantasy lineups now!
Prediction: Steelers - 32, Rams - 14
San Diego Chargers (1-1) At Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Last time that the San Diego Chargers were in Minnesota (granted it was the Metrodome) there were a lot of fireworks. Antonio Cromartie tied the record for the longest play in NFL History when he returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown. Oh and Adrian Peterson ran for more yards (296... with 3 TDs to boot) in a game than anyone in the history of ever. No big deal.
The Chargers ran into some trouble against the Bengals last week, but I have a lot of faith in them. Philip Rivers is a borderline elite quarterback who is going to find ways to make plays. Keenan Allen regressed last week, but he is going to return to Week 1 form against these Vikes... oh and Melvin Gordon is going to have an impressive day, too.
Minnesota picked up their first dubayoo of the season last week against the Lions. While that's a little impressive, it's hard to forget what we saw from this team against the 49ers. Give me San Diego.
Prediction: Chargers - 24, Vikings - 13
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) At New England Patriots (2-0)
Seriously? You really need me to pick this for you?
I know, I know... the Jaguars beat the Dolphins. That'd adorable. To be perfectly honest they were actually a little impressive. They are just out of their league on this one.
New England is on a mission to beat opponents by thousands of points this season. Even if they weren't they would still beat the Jaguars by 1,000 points. They stormed into Buffalo, despite Rex Ryan's constant chirping, and snatched the heart out of Bills fans. They are going to massacre the Jags.
Prediction: Jaguars - 6, Patriots - 38
New Orleans Saints (0-2) At Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Superdome is about to be Supersad. These Saints look terrible - and that's with Drew Brees. #9 may or may not suit up on Sunday when the Saints hit the field in Carolina. Sean Payton and Co. were looked at like the kid who brings vegetables for lunch when they traded away Jimmy Graham, and they're really going to miss him this week.
The Panthers have done what you're supposed to do - they've won against bad teams. With wins against Jacksonville and Houston under their belt, the Panthers get another serving of yuck with this Saints team marching into town. Superman returns on Sunday (Cam, not the terrible movie).
Prediction: Saints - 13, Panthers - 23
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) At New York Jets (2-0)
There is a lot of green going on in this game.
There has been very little flying done by the Eagles this season as all of Chip Kelly's new toys have come with instructions that he just refuses to read. DeMarco Murray has a hamstring issue, and probably some bruised pride, so he might not suit up on Sunday. Those two yards will have to be run by someone else.
J-E-T-S YES YES YES! Holy guacamole (another green thing) did the Jets look good on Monday Night Football! This defensive unit is no joke, and the Amish Rifle looks capable of managing the game for the offense. I really like this team and think they're going to be in the discussion for a wildcard spot late in the season.
"Are we clear for takeoff? Did you get rid of those Eagles in the sky? Let's go." The Jets are taking off on Sunday.
Prediction: Eagles - 16, Jets - 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) At Houston Texans (0-2)
Famous Jameis got his first win of his young career over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Wow. The Bucs shocked the world last week when they went into the Superdome and stunned the Saints, and I think they can do it again. The real Mike Evans has to stand up at some point, and he's going to make a significant impact for this team.
Houston we have 10 million problems. This team is a mess... all over. Sure Ryan Mallett looked a little better than Brian Hoyer, but that's like saying that Sam Bradford is a little better than Tim Tebow. It's all terrible. Houston has issues everywhere and until Arian Foster returns they don't have much of a shot against anyone. I like the Bucs in this one.
Prediction: Buccaneers - 17, Texans - 10
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) At Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Train has a really great album called something like "Save Me, San Francisco." I hope that the 49ers have been listening to it because they really need someone to save them. Sure they got off to a nice start against Minnesota, but they got waxed against a real opponent... and Arizona is for real.
The Cardinals took care of the Chicago Bears quite easily thanks to Carson Palmer. This is the best version of Palmer that we have seen in quite some time, and I haven't seen any indication that things are going to slow down for him. Bruce Arians has this team going and they are going to roll over San Francisco. Book it.
Prediction: 49ers - 13, Cardinals - 30
Buffalo Bills (1-1) At Miami Dolphins (1-1)
We haven't heard that much from Rex Ryan this week, right? I wonder why... oh maybe it's because last week when he barked Bill Belichick put him in his place. Ryan seems to have learned his lesson and got back down to business this week. Look for the Bills Mafia to come out very strong after Rex was humiliated. They're good for 7-10 sacks this week, I'm feeling it.
Losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars should be automatic grounds for removal from the NFL. Seriously dude, the Jaguars?! The Dolphins had a lot of hype coming into 2015 and so far they have massively disappointed. I have a very hard time believing that a team who has to "go back to the drawing board" is going to be ready for what Rex is cooking.
Prediction: Bills - 27, Dolphins - 14
Chicago Bears (0-2) At Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
The battle of the winless.
It's hard not to feel really sorry for the Bears. They're 0-2, they've lost Jay Cutler, and now they have to go up to Seattle (for the Seahawks' home debut) and play an 0-2 team. They're in for a rough day. Good luck to Jimmy Clausen, you're gonna need it.
Seattle is angry. Very angry. They're 0-2 and out to show that they are way better than that. Kam Chancellor returned to them this week and you have to imagine that his influence is going to be felt... specifically by the Chicago ball carriers. Seattle is out to send a message on Sunday, and I wouldn't dare get in their way.
Prediction: Bears - 9, Seahawks - 31
Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos (2-0) At Detroit Lions (0-2)
Great teams win ugly games. Two weeks into the season we've seen it a few times already. Cowboy fans will never forget Tony Romo snatching victory from the jaws of defeat during Week 1, and the Broncos snatched their own victory last week on Thursday Night Football. The Broncos are coming into this game feeling good and well-rested after a 10 day break. Peyton is going to silence some critics with this performance.
As excited as I am for a Sunday Night game in Detroit, I'm equally less excited to have to watch the Lions play football. They haven't looked good at all this season, and it's hard to believe that things are going to get better against a defense like Denver's. Matthew Stafford needs to just close his eyes and throw to Megatron every play and maybe the Lions won't be totally humiliated.
Prediction: Broncos - 23, Lions - 10
Monday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) At Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field! Hot tamale I am excited!
Kansas City is anxiously waiting for another chance to hit the gridiron after the last game they played when they narrowly lost, in heartbreaking fashion, to the division rival Broncos. They're going to be out to make a statement against one of the NFL's elite teams, and Jamaal Charles is going to be out to avenge his late-game fumble from Week 2. I just don't think it'll be enough.
I don't necessarily subscribe to the theory that Aaron Rodgers can turn anyone into an All-Pro wide receiver, but he can beat teams by himself. The Packers are feeling good after venting some of 2014's frustration out on the Seahawks last week, and I just think that they're on a streak that can't be stopped by a team like the Chiefs. Give me the cheeseheads, pepper jack preferably.
Prediction: Chiefs - 13, Packers - 30
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott Primed for Big Games vs Lions
The Dallas Cowboys were brought back down to earth this past Sunday in their 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. After dominating the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys got manhandled in the trenches on both offense and defense. Running Back Dalvin Cook had 183 all-purpose yards (97 rushing, 86 receiving) due to his offensive line opening holes bigger than the state of Texas. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott, however, was held to just 47 yards on 20 carries because his offensive line got bullied from start to finish.
This coming Sunday, the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back against the Detroit Lions and maintain their position atop the NFC East. The Lions defense is one of the worst in the league vs the run and pass which sets up the Cowboys two biggest offensive stars, Dak Prescott and Elliott to have huge games.
Prescott is currently second in the NFL in passing yards, third in passing touchdowns, and first in QBR. He will get every opportunity to improve on those numbers this Sunday going up against Detroit's 28th ranked passing defense. They've allowed four quarterbacks to pass for over 300 yards, Prescott has three games with such production himself in 2019.
He will be bringing with him a very explosive receiving core. Amari Cooper is currently third in the NFL in receiving yards with 848. He's coming off a game in which he had his second-highest yardage total (147) and tied his highest reception total (11) in any game this season. Michael Gallup has already equaled his reception total and surpassed both his yardage and touchdown totals from his rookie season in 2018. Randall Cobb had his best game by far as a Cowboy with six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown vs the Vikings.
With Prescott playing at a high level, his receiving core more together than ever, and facing the leagues 30th ranked defense I smell another big game for number 4.
Elliott had his second-worst game of the season vs the Vikings after three consecutive 100-yard performances. The chances of him bouncing back in this game are very high considering the Lions rank 26th vs the run. Seven of the nine teams the Lions have faced have rushed for over 100 yards, including three individual performances over the century mark.
The two-time rushing champion is tied for the second-most games over 100 yards this season with five, trailing only Carolina's Christian McCaffrey who has six. Also, the Cowboys offensive line will be looking to bounce back themselves after the Vikings defensive front took them to the woodshed this past Sunday. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Elliott has one of his biggest performances of the season after such a pedestrian outing last week. Also, having a motivated offensive line blocking for him doesn't hurt either.
The Cowboy's best formula for success is still establishing Elliott early to set up Prescott and the play-action passing game.
With the NFC East still firmly up for grabs, the Cowboys have minimal room for error for this rest of the season. Going up against a defense this bad could be just what the doctor ordered for Prescott and Elliott to dominate on the road. If this were to come to pass, the Cowboys chances at improving to 6-4 this Sunday will be extremely high.
Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie Becoming a Red Zone Liability?
Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is arguably as talented as just about any defensive back in the NFL. He still young and has quite a bit he can do to improve his game, but there's no denying his talent. One of the things he may need to work on right now is his awareness and discipline in the red zone.
In back to back games No. 24 has been caught out of position and as a result surrendered points in the end zone. Just this last Sunday he gave up a two point conversion to Minnesota Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph. The week prior he gave up a touchdown catch to New York Giants Wide Receiver Cody Latimer.
Does this make him a liability in the red zone?
I know if I've noticed Chidobe Awuzie getting victimized in back to back weeks in the red zone opposing offensive coordinators around the league have done the same. As a result, they're going to test Awuzie to find out if they can have the same kind of success.
If I'm Kris Richard I'm personally going to be working on making sure Chidobe is fully aware he needs to be more disciplined with his play, especially in the red zone. He's been caught out of position in back to back games and that can't be something that continues from here on out.
I'm sure Awuzie would tell you himself this is something he needs to clean up. He takes pride in his abilities and knows he can still improve. Hopefully he can take it to heart and better prepare for what's to come. Whether that means just executing his assignments better or maybe studying a little more film. It's up to him to figure out what he needs to do.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, they may need to start giving him a little more help over the top if this is something that continues. And if worse comes to worse, they can always see if Jourdan Lewis or Anthony Brown can be more consistent. I doubt it would come to that, but it is an option.
I for one am hoping No. 24 will just hunker down and figure out what he needs to do in order to take his game to the next level. If he can do that the Cowboys defense will be much better for it. I don't know about you, but I will be keeping a close eye on him for the rest of the season.
Do you think CB Chidobe Awuzie has become a red zone liability?
Maliek Collins has a Breakout Opportunity Against the Minnesota Vikings
It's been a quiet 2019 for one of the Dallas Cowboys' preseason breakout candidates, Maliek Collins. Heading into training camp, and then the regular season, Collins was the healthiest he'd been at any point in his previous three seasons. That combined with another year in the NFL, led many to believe that Collins could become a dominant 3-technique defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Collins has been good, but perhaps not as productive as many might have predicted.
On the year, Maliek Collins has three sacks, which is third for the Dallas Cowboys behind Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence. Per Pro Football Focus, Collins is tied for 17th in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. Tied for 17th might not sound very good, but when the league leader in sacks among interior defensive linemen has just six, Collins isn't far off from threatening for the league lead. In fact, Maliek Collins is tied with All-Pro Defensive Tackles Fletcher Cox, Chris Jones, and Geno Atkins in sacks.
In total pressures, Collins is tied for eighth in the NFL per Pro Football Focus with 27 along with Quentin Jefferson and Vita Vea.
Though he's not racking up a ton of tackle this season, Collins has been excellent as a pass rusher. On Sunday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings, he'll have a tremendous opportunity to build on his first-half numbers.
Against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football, Collins has an enormous opportunity. Among quarterbacks with at least 196 drop backs, Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been under pressure at the fourth highest rate in the NFL. His 40.8% pressure rate is only better than Daniel Jones, Russell Wilson, and Sam Darnold.
Vikings Guard Pat Elflein has allowed five sacks on the year, which is tied for the third most in the NFL this season among interior offensive linemen and his 20 pressures allowed is tied for eighth. When Maliek Collins gets an opportunity to line up across from Elflein, he's going to have a chance to get home.
With teams having to pay so much attention to DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and newcomer Michael Bennett, Collins should be freed up to face more one-on-one blockers.
Collins hasn't had a bad season by any stretch of the imagination, but he hasn't necessarily been the dominant player we thought he could be after his strong preseason. That perception could change when the Dallas Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. The opportunity is there for Collins, he just has to seize it.
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