BY KALLE SORBO
Topsy Turvy Day:
Just when us fans thought we had some clarity in the NFL after a few weeks, Sunday happened. Some things made a lot of sense, but even more were incredibly puzzling as viewers. Here are some takeaways from week three of NFL action.
The Battle For LA
Both teams in LA garnered a lot of off-season praise and have stacked rosters. Many media pundits actually theorized an all LA super bowl, the ultimate battle for Los Angeles. This weekend we got a small taste of what that could be like, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as fans had hoped.
The Rams played far from flawless football and sustained significant injuries to several of their starters, namely their star cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. That still wasn’t enough for the Chargers to capitalize.
The Rams offense was explosive. Jared Goff tied his career high with 29 completions, and the team had over 500 yards of total offense. Jared Goff had a nasty pick, but outside of that played some of the best football of his life. Spreading the ball around to six different receivers on the day. The Rams have scored more than 33 points in each of their first three games, and have not allowed more than 23 points in a game, including a shutout of Arizona.
I don’t think the team is unbeatable, and they have some tough games ahead on their schedule. They face the Vikings Thursday Night. But I haven’t seen a team this stacked since the 2008 Patriots. Their division looks weak, especially with Jimmy Garoppolo tearing his ACL this weekend. The Rams should walk into a first-round bye. If Los Angeles isn’t going to buy into this team, they aren’t going to buy into football.
From the Charger’s perspective, they are doing what they always do. They are finding a way to play under their talent level. This roster is stacked with talent ranging from offense to defense, and yet they are 1-2 and are in a hole already. The Chargers missed out on the playoffs last year because of their slow start. The AFC West is looking more and more like the Chiefs to lose, and if something doesn’t change soon Philip Rivers could be looking at another statistically good year wasted in a mediocre record.
Don’t hit the panic button in New England
The last two weeks were uncharacteristic for the Patriots. They got done to them what they have done to other teams two weeks in a row. The Jags and the Lions looked like better versions of what we have come to expect from the Pats. That being said, why are people hitting the panic button? It’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The team nearly always starts slowly in September. They basically use the first four weeks as the preseason. They are still in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, and while Miami looks way better than expected, I am not going to bet against the greatest Coach- QB combo in history in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. New England will win 10 or 11 games and probably get a first-round bye like always. They might not win 12 or 13 games, but the AFC is the far weaker conference, and once they get into the playoffs the Patriots are a different animal. There is no need to hit the panic button in foxborough.
What happened in Minnesota?
The Buffalo Bills seemed to be the league’s weakest team through the first two weeks. So what happened in Minnesota this weekend when the Vikings, who are supposed to be one of the league’s best teams, got dominated at home by the struggling Bills?
To me, this is the classic “any given sunday” scenario. There is a reason all of those players are in the NFL, and the bill still has the majority of a 9-7 playoff roster from last year. Josh Allen played great. The Vikings probably went into this week expecting to win handily. As much as they said they were taking the game like any other week, I think the players exhaled a little too much and thought they could win on talent alone.
It’s no reason to worry, the Vikings are still really good, and still have stars all over their roster. I still see them as favorites in the NFC north, and they should make the playoffs no problem. The game was one of the bigger upsets we’ve seen in a long time, and maybe the Bills aren’t as bad as we thought they were. But the Vikings are still for real.
There isn’t much to say about this other than Pat Mahomes looks like the next elite level Quarterback in the NFL. He has 13 touchdowns through three weeks. Don’t get me wrong he might have the best offensive weapons in the NFL, but his talent is real. That 13 touchdown stat breaks a peak form Peyton Manning record. That’s a real stat. The Chiefs defense is an issue, but if they score 30+ points a game it most likely won’t stop them. Pat Mahomes might be the best Quarterback Andy Reid has ever had. That’s a scary thought… I know it’s still early, but the Chiefs are real this year. Pat Mahomes has put the league on notice. Watch out.
I’m not going to throw shade at Gruden again, although it would be far too easy. I mean did you hear his comments about how hard it is to find a good pass rusher? Regardless, the Raiders and the Texans are 0-3. No team has started 0-3 and made the playoffs in the last two decades. I don’t think either team is playing well enough to change that narrative. Both teams had serious playoff hopes going into this season. Deshaun Watson was back in Houston, and the Chucky era had begun for the Raiders.
Deshaun Watson has not been the issue in Houston, surprisingly it has been the defense. The pass rush that was supposed to be one of the best in the league has disappointed. They do have 7 sacks, but outside of that, opposing teams have been having moving up field at will. The games have been competitive, but they let Blaine Gabbert, and a pedestrian Eli Manning get the best of them. The defense should’ve feasted in weeks 2 and 3, and instead, they got roasted.
The Raiders are in a full-on rebuild whether they want to admit it or not. It’s just a very odd one. A team rebuilding shouldn’t have the oldest average age of any team in the league. They also shouldn’t be passing out 1-year contracts like they’re candy. The Raiders are a big ball of confusion right now. Derek Carr is playing good football. Throwing more touchdowns than incompletions in week 2 vs. Denver, but the team as a whole is falling apart in the second half every week. Don’t expect much to come out of the black hole this season.