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5 Things We Learned from Week 3 of the 2018 NFL Season
Why bother even trying to predict what happens in the NFL anymore?
Minnesota was a 17-point favorite at home against the decrepit Buffalo Bills, and a lot of sharp minds loved the Vikings. But by the time that Mike Zimmer was giving his halftime speech, his team was already buried 27-0 and hardly showing signs of life.
While the fans in Minneapolis were dumbfounded at what was taking place, Patrick Mahomes was in Arrowhead Stadium lighting the San Francisco secondary on fire, continuing to add to his already record-breaking start.
These are just a couple of the substantial developments from around the league in Week 3, but I’ll get to the rest. In fact, I plan on highlighting 5 major storylines from over the weekend, bringing you fully up to speed with the current state of the National Football League.
But before I jump into what happened on the gridiron on Sunday, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention what Baker Mayfield accomplished on Thursday night during his NFL debut.
Baker Mayfield Electrifies the Fans in Cleveland
I might not have been one of the 67,000+ fans in FirstEnergy Stadium this past Thursday, but it sure felt like I was there with how much I could sense and feel the electricity.
After watching Tyrod Taylor look utterly incompetent in the first half against the Jets, an apparent concussion late in the second quarter was seemingly the straw the broke the camel’s back.
Now that Baker has made his first impression in Cleveland, Tyrod Taylor can kiss the starting quarterback job goodbye, because it belongs to Mayfield for the foreseeable future.
Entering the game just before halftime and trailing 14-0, Mayfield was thrown into the fire and essentially asked to be “the savior” that would bring the crowd back to life.
Not only did his energy and superb play revitalize the stadium, but his brilliance was able to surge his team back into the game and deliver a big win. The stats were there, as the number-one-overall pick completed 17/23 passes for 201 yards. But it was how good he looked in the process that truly has the fanbase amped up.
Baker was unfazed by the big moment and looked anything but afraid, as evidenced by the way he commanded the huddle. The zip coming off the ball looked like that of a young Brett Favre, and quite frankly, Mayfield appeared like he “belonged.”
We’ll see just how well Baker can manage the responsibilities this coming Sunday when the Browns travel to Oakland. Playing a desperate Raiders squad that is still searching for their first win under the Jon Gruden regime will be no walk in the park.
I imagine the folks in Oakland won’t be too kind to the Browns’ 23-year-old QB, so I’m interested to see how he handles the pressure and adversity that he is sure to face. I know I’ll be watching intently, just like millions of others will be as well.
Call it the “Baker effect,” but now people are completely hooked onto how this thing plays out in The Land.
49ers’ Worst Nightmare – Jimmy Garoppolo Done for the Year
What a devastating day for the 49ers franchise.
Not because they lost a road game at the red-hot Chiefs; that was to be expected. But because on a trivial scramble with 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in his left knee and will now miss the remainder of the season.
Not only have the ’Niners committed 137.5 million bucks to this dude, but he was supposed to be “the guy” who brought this team back to relevancy. How can San Fran be in contention for the playoffs if C.J. Beathard is the man under center?
The short answer is that they won’t, and that’s certainly frustrating for 49ers fans to hear. But imagine how Jimmy and his teammates feel.
Kyle Shanahan must be beside himself, as I’m sure he spent the entire offseason dreaming up plans for what he could accomplish offensively with Garoppolo leading the charge. Now he’ll be forced to scale back the playbook and make accommodations for his backup.
Not that there is necessarily a “silver lining” to this unfortunate set of circumstances, but perhaps general manager John Lynch will have a chance to properly assess the rest of his roster, as it clearly needs some improvement. There are some options open should the 49ers try to replace Garoppolo.
It to be a slow and arduous process ahead, and don’t expect this squad to catch fire any time soon. They’ll likely get thumped on Sunday facing the Chargers on the road, plus they have the Packers and Rams looming in Weeks 6 and 7.
San Francisco will hope that Jimmy G’s rehab goes smoothly and that he’s ready to go for the start of next year. But as much as I don’t want to burst the bubble of the folks in the Bay area, I fear the rest of this season is likely lost.
Mahomes Keeps Dealing
It started with a 4-touchdown performance against the Chargers in Week 1. Patrick Mahomes put the league on notice in Week 2 when he clobbered the Steelers at Heinz Field- to the tune of 326 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Completing 82.1% of his passes that day- that was just the cherry on top.
So what did the former Red Raider QB do for an encore in the third game of the season? Plays like this one tell you all you need to know.
After another 300+ yard performance with 3 TDs and no picks, Mahomes is now up to 896 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. And the kid has still yet to throw an interception.
Is this real life, or is someone playing Madden ’19- because these are video-game-like numbers.
If you are waiting for Patrick’s play to start tapering off, you might want to pull up a chair, grab some snacks and drinks, and start getting comfortable because Mahomes is going to start reading defenses even better as the season progresses.
When you take his remarkable arm talent and surround it with the weapons and speed that Kansas City boasts, the sky is the limit. Add in Andy Reid’s prowess and abilities as a head coach in this league, and we could be looking at a “well-oiled machine” in the making.
We’ll get to see it on primetime television this coming Monday when the Chiefs head to Denver to play the Broncos on MNF, and to tell you the truth, I can’t wait.
Bills Stun the Vikings
I hadn’t seen an NFL spread balloon to 17 points in quite a while. In a league as competitive as the NFL, it’s just uncommon to see lines that large.
But after seeing the product that Buffalo had put onto the field through the first two weeks, the bookies and football betting sites didn’t want to take any chances. After all, watching “Captain Kirk” storm the Vikings into a position to win the game (if it wasn’t for Daniel Carlson botching a 35-yard chip shot)against Green Bay surely made Vegas feel more than confident that the Vikings offense would shred Sean McDermott’s D to pieces.
Well, allow me to break the news, ladies and gentlemen.This is why the game is played on the field and not on paper.
Obviously, having a 17-point spread means one team is likely to blow the other team out. So it was no surprise that just 10 minutes into the first quarter, the game was already getting out of hand with the scoreboard reading 17-0.
What was shocking to about 99.9% of the NFL industry was which team was ahead.
Was this a case of the Bills finally playing some good football, or was this an instance of Mike Zimmer overlooking an opponent? Perhaps the Vikings HC had his eyes set on the Week 4 game against the Rams on what will be a short week, because Minnesota looked completely out of sorts in their home building on Sunday.
By the time halftime was reached, Buffalo was out in front 27-0, and those in the stands were scratching their heads in disbelief.
What did Minnesota in was committing three turnovers while forcing none on the other end.
Going to battle with the Rams tomorrow night will tell me a lot about where this team is at moving forward, but I’m not suddenly convinced that the Bills are “for real.”
I suspect when they see a restless Green Bay squad at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, they’ll go back to being the Bills from Weeks 1 and 2.
New England Looked Lost
If I would have told you that Tom Brady and the Patriots would startSunday night’s game with a trio of three and outs in their first three possessions, I bet you would have called me crazy.
Well, it happened.
Somehow and someway, the Lions defense was able to frustrate Brady and New England not just at the start- but for the entirety of the game. I guess when you have Matt Patricia on your side, the guy who led the Patriots defense for the past 6 seasons, things become a bit easier.
But still, it looked ugly from the perspective of Pats fans.
The fact that New England began the evening with just 3 active WRs meant it was always going to be tough moving the chains.
With Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson unable to create separation all night, the Lions loaded up the double-teams on Gronk, literally playing him off the line of scrimmage as if they were in punt return formation.
The Lions were able to get up 13-0 in the second quarter and never really looked back.
Detroit held onto the ball for more than 39 minutes, keeping Brady and his depleted cast off the field and unable to creep back into the football game. After seeing this fiasco, one is left wondering what the Patriots will do next.
Don’t look now, but if the undefeated Dolphins are able to defeat their archnemesis this Sunday, they’ll be 3 games up on New England before the month of September is even over!
I don’t envision it going down like that, but that’s why I’ll be glued to my sofa all afternoon, hoping to find out!
Just when you think you have a team figured out, things change in a flash.
I mean, I was certain that the Bills were going to get trounced by the Vikings, as just about everyone who follows football was. But by the time I was making a bowl of cereal and opening up the blinds, Buffalo was already smashing Minnesota!
It just goes to show you that you can never really be too sure in the National Football League, especially when we aren’t even a month into the season.
I’ll make sure to be extra careful and specifically diligent in my research and analysis this week so that I can attack Week 4’s betting sheet with the utmost confidence.
Feel free to check this page on Friday if you want some free picks and advice for this weekend’s games, because I’m already salivating as I wait for Sunday morning to get here!