By Rob Mason, PSO President of Sports Operations
Sep 23, 2019

Week 3 was full of exciting highlights, memorable stories, and intriguing finishes. Here’s a quick breakdown of NFL’s Sunday games and the biggest takeaway to recognize for the future. 

  • Andy Reid has the 6th most career wins by any NFL Head Coach
  • Larry Fitzgerald is now 5 receptions shy of passing Tony Gonzalez for the 2nd most of all-time
  • Zach Ertz became 2nd all-time receptions leader in Eagles franchise history
  • Patrick Mahomes surpasses Dan Marino (25 games) as fastest ever (20 GP) to throw for 60 passing TDs
  • Daniel Jones is 1-0 when down 18 points; Eli Manning is 0-44 in those same situations
  • Daniel Jones is the 1st rookie QB or Giants QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TD, and 2+ rush TD in a game

Major Takeaway: Nobody is on Mahomes level

Patrick Mahomes is the reigning MVP of the league. While some were expecting more of a Sophomore Slump, Mahomes has answered with a historic start featuring some of the best Quarterback play ever witnessed. Other than if he was an every-down threat with his legs like his Week 3 opponent, there isn’t anything Mahomes can’t do under center. 

He evades defenders in the pocket among the best of them, consistently makes accurate throws, and hits deep balls on a regular basis that changes the entire dynamic of the game. He even throws no-looks and side-arms for good measure. What Mahomes is capable of, has never been seen before, and the recently-turned 24-year-old proved it once again in a showdown of the top 2 QBs of 2019 thus far. Lamar Jackson is still having a significantly improved season (as a passer), but is still clearly not on Mahomes level. It’s okay, nobody is. 

Major Takeaway: Falcons will miss Keanu Neal 

Atlanta hasn’t had the best start to the season. They were beaten pretty badly by Minnesota in Week 1, then barely defeated a depleted Philly team at home. Week 3 was going to tell a lot about who the Falcons really are: Super Bowl contender from a couple years ago that would’ve decimated a less-talented Colts team, or the mediocre team they’re proving to be that loses to teams like the Indianapolis Colts and helps Jacoby Brissett look like Andrew Luck never left. After Keanu Neal suffered a likely torn Achilles, that defense is going to miss a Pro Bowl safety. Unless someone like Eric Berry steps in, Atlanta will be without the impact Neal has on the defensive side of the ball for another year.  

Major Takeaway: Marquez Valdes-Scantling emerging as legit threat

Besides Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay’s offense is mostly full of young talent. DeVante Adams is the only proven weapon. However, Aaron Jones has shown flashes, and after Week 3, it might be officially time to recognize Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a legitimate threat in this offense. He isn’t an elite wideout like Adams, but he’s proving to beat single coverage when defenses dial in on #17, and could be the difference in a NFC playoff matchup this postseason. 

Major Takeaway: Either DAL is really good, MIA is really bad, or both Going into the week, not many people were giving the 0-2 Dolphins a chance in Dallas against the 2-0 Cowboys (spread was -23). Yet, the Cowboys only led by 4 points at halftime, and it appeared Miami may have had an outside shot at pulling off the biggest upset of the year. However, Dak Prescott looked more like the 2019 MVP candidate in the 2nd half than the inconsistent 2017-18 Dak. As he shredded Miami’s defense in the 2nd half, it’s fair to question: Is Dallas really this good? Is Miami really this bad? It’s probably some of both. Expect Miami to be picking at the top of the draft in 2020 and Dallas to be picking near the bottom.
Major Takeaway: Buffalo’s young offense coming into its own  Buffalo Bills fans didn’t have many expectations heading into 2019 with a Sophomore QB that was terribly inconsistent as a rookie, and a lack of weapons or stout Offensive Line around him. It was assumed Buffalo’s defense would carry the Bills in 2019. While the Bills defense has shined early on, the offense has been equally as impressive. Josh Allen is already looking like a potential perennial Pro Bowler in the future, and Dawson Knox showed this game he can be force in the passing game. Devin Singletary hasn’t exactly stood out with Shady McCoy now in Kansas City, but he has time to develop before the Bills add all the pieces it takes to contend. They may be closer than some people think though, with a young offense already coming into its own.

Major Takeaway: Philly isn’t a Super Bowl contender (yet)

Week 3 is an early time to be making Super Bowl declarations and the above headline for this takeaway isn’t saying the Philadelphia Eagles are being hit with the done chain by any means. However, publications across the league believed the Eagles would be a Super Bowl threat once again as long as Carson Wentz can stay healthy this year. Thus far, Wentz has looked 100% in the health department, but the same can’t be said for his teammates, particularly his weapons. Injuries can be an excuse for now, but the 2017 Super Bowl champions overcame injuries like these en route to Philly’s 1st Super Bowl title. The 2019 Eagles can’t say the same (yet). 

Major Takeaway: Put the brakes on Stidham being the heir apparent

During Tom Brady’s illustrious career, New England’s backup QBs have often been given more credibility than they may deserve just because of their situations. Matt Cassel was traded for a 2nd Rd pick, Jacoby Brissett was exchanged for Phillip Dorsett, and most famously Jimmy Garappolo was sent to San Francisco for a 2nd Rd Pick. 

Others have placed a lot of value on New England backup QBs in the past, and Stidham experienced the same after some preseason highlights. However, during his 1st NFL regular season action, he only threw 3 passes. Obviously, it was a small sample size, but one of his 3 passes was an inexcusable interception returned for a TD. Stidham will have to limit those rookie mistakes if he has any chance of living up to the “heir apparent” label being assigned to him. 

Major Takeaway: Dalvin Cook is a top-tier RB

This might’ve been a takeaway through the 1st 2 games as Dalvin has been cooking early, and he continued that success into Week 3 against Oakland. The final carries split was 16 for Cook and 12 for rookie Alexander Mattison, but that’s because Minnesota was leading for most of the game. The carry split isn’t a real takeaway from this game, but Cook’s continued dominance is. Cook is looking like the workhorse in the Twin cities and will look to carry this offense going forward now that he’s fully healthy. His 4 TDs through 3 weeks are as many as he had his entire 1st 2 NFL seasons. A healthy Dalvin Cook is a top-tier RB.

Major Takeaway: Cam Newton may be holding Carolina back

Carolina has lost its last 8 straight games that Cam Newton has started. In that same timeframe, the Panthers are 2-1 when Newton doesn’t start. Unlike last year’s Week 17 game where New Orleans was resting their starters while Kyle Allen was lighting it up (228 Yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 111.3 Passer rating), this time Allen was routing NFL starters.

To be fair, Arizona’s defense is among the worst in the league, but Allen is now 2-0 as a starting QB (Taylor Heiinicke started Week 16 last year during CAR’s loss), and after a spectacular performance, he may be more of a solution than a problem for Carolina in 2019. If healthy Cam comes walking back in the door, Ron Rivera’s decision is a no-brainer. However, if the 2015 NFL MVP continues to be a shell of himself affected by injuries, the 2018 UDFA Allen gives Carolina its best chance to win this year. 

Major Takeaway: The legend of Daniel Jones is born

No bigger story will be discussed from Week 3 NFL Sunday than Daniel Jones’ monumental 1st start, resulting in the New York Giants’ 1st win of the season. After the Giants benched their 2x Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, Giants fans began to anticipate the beginning of the Daniel Jones era. Jones impressed multiple times throughout the game, especially considering he was without NYG’s star RB Saquon Barkley for most of it.

When it mattered most, Daniel Jones made the right decisions, executing a game-winning drive that ended with Jones’ 2nd rush TD of the day. Tampa’s offense miraculously drove down the field in less than a minute to setup a rollercoaster evening. However, Matt Gay missed from point-blank range and the legend of Daniel Jones is born with the Giants largest comeback victory since 1970

Major Takeaway: Birdgewater doesn’t need to be ‘Teddy Ballgame’

Once Drew Brees was ruled out for 6 weeks, the attention turned to Teddy Bridgewater’s ability to step up for the Super Bowl contending Saints. Bridgewater’s $7.3M cap hit is the most of any backup QB in the NFL. He could’ve started for Miami this season, but chose to instead play for a championship-caliber team, and could fill in if a situation like this occurred.

Now that Bridgewater has taken the reigns, it’s become clear he doesn’t need to be the playmaking ‘Teddy Ballgame‘ for NOLA. As long as he manages the game well, and doesn’t turn the ball over, the rest of the Saints can do enough to stay up in the standings until Brees is back. The NFC South doesn’t look to be too difficult this season, so as long as Bridgewater keeps things afloat, New Orleans is in good shape.

Major Takeaway: Don’t count out the Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have a lot of the ingredients needed to win a Lombardi Trophy. They have a franchise QB who excels under pressure, a defense that can get to the Quarterback, and a recent history of playoff appearances, so they won’t be new to the party come January. Yet, Houston isn’t seen as a real threat in 2019. Houston was being counted out of this game after a 10-point deficit at half. Like they’ve proven time-and-time again in the Deshaun Watson era, it isn’t wise to count them out. In this game, or in the season. 

Major Takeaway: 49ers offense needs a boost

San Francisco may be 3-0 this season, but none of the wins have been pretty, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Jimmy G looked good in Week 2 (against the Bengals), but other than that, there hasn’t been much optimism surrounding this offense. McKinnon is out for the year (again), so they’re stuck with Tevin Coleman (dealing w/ a high ankle sprain), Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert. George Kittle is an All-Pro caliber TE, but the WRs lack proven experience. Many young players can step up for SF internally, but if nobody emerges, John Lynch will need to add another weapon to this offense to give it the boost it needs for real contention.

Major Takeaway: Don’t hop off the Browns bandwagon yet

Entering the season, the hype surrounding the Browns has never been seen in Cleveland before. With Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Myles Garrett (who’s a legit DPOY candidate this year), and a very talented team now wearing the Brown & Orange, hopes were high that this year would be different in the Rock and Roll capital of the world. After a 1-2 start, people hopping off the bandwagon is inevitable, if they didn’t already after a Week 1 blowout.

However, when watching the game, it was clear the Browns played the best in Week 3 than they’ve played all year. Facing the defending NFC Champs, it came down to a game of inches. While the Browns can’t put a W in the win column, they can see how close they are from being a real contender. Improvement in play-calling, pass blocking, and QB execution can turn the Browns back into the contender they were believed to be entering the season.

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