5 Lessons Learned – NFL Week 3

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Five teams remain unbeaten after three weeks of NFL action and there was plenty of drama across the board.

Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker gave his position a rare moment of glory, nailing an NFL record 66 yard field goal on the last play of the game to beat the Lions.

It would not have been good from 66.5 yards.

The Rams claimed the battle of NFC heavyweights, beating Tampa Bay in Los Angeles and Aaron Rodgers did what he does so well, making seemingly impossible throws and snatching victory against the 49ers in another primetime classic.

We’ve read the box scores, dissected the highlights and come up with our five big takeaways from Week 3 of the NFL.

1 – It Was An Underwhelming Week

Not so much in terms of results, but unders bettors enjoyed another winning week with 11 of the 16 games going under their respective totals.

Overall this week, the games averaged 45 points which was boosted by the 62 point explosion in Dallas in the final game of the weekend.

There were a few bad beats in the early window of games with a couple of close calls.

Arizona and Jacksonville finished with 50 total points, just below its total of 52.5 and that number would have cleared the number in 11 of the 16 games.

Chargers fans were going off when Justin Herbert connected with Mike Williams for the go-ahead touchdown in Kansas City.

Overs bettors were left to lament a missed extra point straight after that play however that saw the total finish just short of its number as well.

But perhaps the worst loss came in New England, where the Patriots-Saints game had the lowest pregame total of the week at 41.5.

New Orleans amassed an unassailable 28-13 lead with 2:33 on the clock, leaving the Patriots to drive down for a garbage time touchdown.

Instead of putting the ball in the end zone, rookie Mac Jones threw his worst pass of the game, which was intercepted at the two yard line, his third of the day.

Seven teams are yet to hit the over this season, somewhat surprisingly including New Orleans, who used to be one of the highest scoring teams in the league and are now starting Jameis Winston who has consistently displayed a remarkable ability to throw touchdowns to both his team and the opposition.

2 – There’s Still Questions Over Carolina

Taking nothing away from what Matt Rhule and his staff have done in the opening three weeks of the season, but there’s no need to book them in for a trip to the Super Bowl just yet.

You can be impressed with their 3-0 start, but they have defeated a Jets team that we know is not that good, a Saints side that at the very least had a bad day at the office and a Texans side that began the season as favourites to hold the first pick in next year’s draft.

It is indisputable that this team has improved, but their depth will be massively tested over the next few weeks with star offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey likely missing some time with a hamstring injury.

Rookie corner Jaycee Horn also “broke some bones in his foot” according to Rhule postgame but with that front seven they could probably afford to throw Haloti Ngata a few snaps at corner.

Carolina might just be a playoff team at this rate however, they have Sam Darnold coming off the best three game stretch of his career and looking revitalised after getting out of New York.

Oh and he’s a decent running threat inside the 10 too.

Then there’s the aforementioned front seven that is dialling up plenty of pressure as well and as we know, a quarterback’s life gets a lot more difficult when he is running away from a big guy trying to take his head off.

With Dallas on the schedule next week, followed by Philadelphia, Minnesota, the Giants and Atlanta, it would not be at all surprising to see them get through their first eight games at 6-2.

Whether or not it is sustainable is another question but there are worse teams to follow over the next month.

3 – It’s Time to Bench Big Ben

Ben Roethlisberger has had one of the more impressive NFL careers since his arrival in 2004, but it’s time to accept it, he is done.

Throughout his career he has battled numerous injuries due to his style of play (and he has never been shy about letting everyone know he was injured), but his ability to play through them in the last few seasons has waned.

Sure he can still direct a drive here and there and make the throws like this one.

But plays like this where the defence baits him into a throw that he can’t make anymore are becoming more and more common.

Or he hangs in the pocket for too long and takes a big hit.

He’s clearly beaten up already and at 1-2, the Steelers have to make a decision about the best interests of their team not only in 2021 but long term.

As you would expect, the internet has been especially brutal towards Big Ben’s performance.

With Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph on the bench waiting for an opportunity, the Steelers should cut their losses on Roethlisberger sooner rather than later and tell him that it’s time to take a seat.

4 – Buffalo Woke Up

There was not a lot to get excited about in the first two weeks of the NFL season if you were a Buffalo fan.

Any concerns about a slump were quashed as Josh Allen torched Washington’s secondary to the tune of 358 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another score.

It was much more like the Bills side that dominated the AFC East last season and went to the AFC Championship.

It would not be a surprise if they replicate those offensive numbers next week against Houston.

After all, the Bills are the shortest priced favourites of Week 4.

5 – Welcome to the NFL Rookie

Since the 2008 class of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, rookie quarterbacks have enjoyed relatively strong introductions to the NFL.

2021’s rookies were supposed to be the best in a long time but after an entire offseason talking up their prowess, the kids are finding out just how tough the National Football League can be.

Trevor Lawrence landed on a dreadful Jaguars team that is giving him no help and he has thrown seven interceptions already this season.

Whatever they try at the moment, it just doesn’t look right.

We covered second overall pick Zach Wilson last week, but you can add another two picks to his total which came in a 19/35 for 160 yard effort where the Jets got shut out.

Bears rookie Justin Fields made his first start in place of the injured Andy Dalton and could only direct two field goal drives against Cleveland.

He threw for just 68 yards but lost 67 on nine sacks at the hands of a rampant Browns defence, half of which were credited to Myles Garrett who didn’t need to swing a helmet at Fields.

Trey Lance went third in the draft but only took one carry in the Sunday night game against Green Bay and didn’t get the opportunity to throw a pass.

Despite calls for Lance to take over from Jimmy Garoppolo as the 49ers blew their home opener, perhaps 49ers fans should be careful what they wish for considering the struggles his cohort are going through.

15th overall pick Mac Jones was harassed and harangued by the Saints defence as the Patriots offence had no answers.

Admittedly he was not helped by some absolutely horrendous play from his pass catchers.

But there was no one else to blame for this throw.

Remarkably, the only rookie to start and not throw an interception was Texans third round pick Davis Mills, although he was rather underwhelming in Houston’s defeat at the hands of Carolina.

BONUS – Tom Brady is Going to Have a Field Day in New England

We have all seen Tom Brady rip apart a defence at Gillette Stadium several times but this time, those in attendance won’t be enjoying the show.

Fresh off a tough loss in Los Angeles, Brady and his Buccaneers head to the opposite corner of the country to take on the team where he made his name during a two decade run, winning six titles.

This is never a sight Brady’s next opponent wants to see.

Add in the fact that New England has been surprisingly poor through the opening three weeks, making many mistakes that you would not expect from a Bill Belichick coached team.

Not to mention the incredibly thinly veiled sniping from Brady’s camp regarding his final days in New England that has abandoned all pretence and subtlety in the last week regarding their true feelings towards Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft.

Not that Belichick is going to say anything of note the other way.

But all of this is pointing towards Brady putting up at least 40 on an incredibly overmatched opponent while probably throwing for over 400 yards.