After a quiet first two weeks of the NFL regular season, Week 3 brought the goods with one of the most memorable slate of games in recent memory. With overtime games, referee controversies, improbable endings and more, three weeks of action was packed into just one. The parity between the teams has been the rationale for the close games we’ve seen thus far, as yet again, no teams have been able to separate themselves from the pack.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-0): Last week: 1
While the Falcons beat the Lions on a controversial call to negate Detroit’s game-winning touchdown at the game’s end, Atlanta still beat a playoff team on the road. Matt Ryan’s three picks may seem worrisome to Falcon fans, but two of those interceptions deflected off the hands of wide-open receivers.
- Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Last week: 2
At this time last year, the Chiefs’ offense was a solid but unspectacular ball control unit. Fast forward to now, the development of Tyreek Hill and the drafting of Kareem Hunt has turned Kansas City’s offense into one of the most dangerous in the NFL. Hunt posted 172 yards on the ground and a touchdown on just 17 carries, while Hill totaled 100 all-purpose yards and a score.
- New England Patriots (2-1): Last week: 4
If not for poor decision-making by Bill O’Brien and a couple of long conversions by Tom Brady, the Patriots would have suffered their first loss to a rookie quarterback at home in the Bill Belichick era. Though the defense’s problems were evident, Tom Brady appears to be himself again, as he threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns against a tough Texans pass rush.
- Oakland Raiders (2-1): Last week: 3
In an uncharacteristic game from a promising Raiders’ squad, Oakland fell apart in Washington as the Silver and Black lost 27-10. The Raiders’ offense appeared lost, as Derek Carr threw for just 118 yards with a touchdown and two picks while the team’s running backs gained only 22 yards on nine carries.
- Tennessee Titans (2-1): Last week: 10
Entering the discussion as a true contender with their 33-27 win over the Seahawks, the Titans appear to have arrived. The combination of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry allowed Tennessee to control the ball, and the offensive line didn’t concede a single hit on Marcus Mariota.
- Detroit Lions (2-1): Last week: 12
The Lions took the defending NFC champions to the brink and only lost because of a technicality. Matt Stafford had his worst statistical game of the season against a tough Atlanta defense, but completed multiple passes to seven different receivers and nearly completed another one of his trademark comebacks.
- Green Bay Packers (2-1): Last week: 6
The Pack is on the verge of a breakdown, as they needed an overtime period to come back and beat one of the league’s worst teams at home. Green Bay was outplayed for much of the game by Cincinnati, and their banged-up offensive line conceded six sacks. With injuries hampering this team, they need to get their key players back on the field before their good luck runs out.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1): Last week: 5
The Steelers finally had their facade crumble as they lost in overtime in Chicago, though the Bears should have won the game in regulation. Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense has looked off as Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell have struggled, though the defense has one of the league’s best young players in Ryan Shazier, who totaled 11 solo tackles against Chicago.
- Seattle Seahawks (1-2): Last week: 7
The Hawks’ problems continued in the scorching heat in Nashville, as Seattle was beaten by the Titans at their own game. The Seahawks rush attack has been nonexistent for much of 2017, while their defense failed to stop the Tennessee’s ground game. Russell Wilson had a big statistical effort and almost engineered a comeback, but it wasn’t enough.
- Dallas Cowboys (2-1): Last week: 13
The Cowboys got back on track in Glendale on Monday Night Football, beating the Cardinals behind an efficient performance from Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott finally put together a respectable game, totaling 94 yards and scoring his first touchdown of the season, while Dez Bryant was only able to muster two grabs for 12 yards against Patrick Peterson, though he was able to find the end zone.
- Minnesota Vikings (2-1): Last week: 18
Very few people saw Minnesota’s 34-point explosion against a good Tampa Bay defense coming, especially with Case Keenum spelling Sam Bradford once again. However, Keenum nearly had a perfect passer rating as the career backup threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over.
- Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): Last week: 9
After almost blowing an important game against their division rival Giants by allowing 24 fourth-quarter points, the Eagles hung on as shaky rookie Jake Elliott nailed a 61-yard field goal as time expired to win the game for the Birds. The Eagles’ committee of rushers appears to be working for them, as Philly gained 193 yards on the ground behind five ball carriers.
- Washington Redskins (2-1): Last week: 19
The Skins delivered under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, as they knocked off the undefeated Raiders with ease. Kirk Cousins was stellar, throwing for 365 yards and three touchdowns while completing 83.3 percent of his passes. Chris Thompson’s coming out party continued, as the former backup totaled 188 yards and a touchdown.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1): Last week: 20
The Jags are one of the most confusing teams in the league, as they have blown out the Texans on the road, got blown out by the Titans at home and then blew out the Ravens at Wembley Stadium. Their performance is often dictated by Blake Bortles, as the embattled quarterback tossed four scores and didn’t turn the ball over against the Baltimore.
- Denver Broncos (2-1): Last week: 8
Losing in Buffalo was a surprise for a Broncos team that had dominated the Cowboys the week before, as the loss could be attributed to a return to earth from Trevor Siemian. However, Jamaal Charles showed there may still be life in his legs as he took over the lion’s share of carries, and the Denver defense displayed its improvement against the run as they shut down LeSean McCoy almost entirely.
- Houston Texans (1-2): Last week: 21
In incredibly disappointing fashion, the Texans blew a chance to knock off their longtime tormentor of New England in enemy territory as Tom Brady converted some improbable plays with time running out to beat Houston. While they are likely disappointed after losing despite having a 91.7 percent chance of winning the game with 2:34 left to play, DeShaun Watson’s performance should spark hope in Houston.
- Los Angeles Rams (2-1): Last week: 24
Most football fans were not expecting the game of the year to occur on Thursday Night Football between two of the league’s worst teams. However, the Rams 41-39 win over the 49ers in San Francisco had everything one can want in a football game. The Rams look vastly improved on offense this year, as Jared Goff and Todd Gurley turned in strong performances once again.
- Buffalo Bills (2-1): Last week: 26
The Bills may be one of the most underrated teams in the league, and their win over Denver showed as much. Denver dared Buffalo to beat them in the air, and Tyrod Taylor came through for the Bills as the veteran signal-caller completed 20 of 26 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
- New Orleans Saints (1-2): Last week: 25
Drew Brees and Co. notched their first win of the season as the Saints beat up their division rival in a game that kept their playoff hopes alive. The Saints forced three turnovers and made Cam Newton’s day miserable in a turnaround from their defense’s lackluster performance in the first two weeks.
- Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Last week: 15
The Ravens took their first loss in brutal fashion to Jacksonville in London by a score of 44-7, a surprising score as Baltimore had conceded just 10 points in the first two weeks. Joe Flacco was benched for Ryan Mallett after going 8-18 for just 28 yards and two picks through three quarters, which is not a good sign for a team that had its sights set on the postseason.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1): Last week: 11
The Buccaneers were thoroughly gashed by Case Keenum and the rest of a Vikings offense that most people overlooked. Tampa Bay’s lack of a run game hurt them, as the team racked up only 26 yards on the ground, though Jameis Winston’s turnovers cost the Buccaneers heavily as well. The injuries sustained by Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David could hamper the D even further.
- Carolina Panthers (2-1): Last week: 14
The Panthers’ top-ranked defense, which had let up just six points in 2017, was rolled over by Drew Brees and the Saints as Carolina lost 34-13 at home. Cam Newton still doesn’t appear to have recovered from his offseason surgery, as he threw three picks and no touchdowns against the league’s worst defense before he was benched for Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter.
- Chicago Bears (1-2): Last week: 28
One of the league’s most underrated teams, the Bears topped the Steelers at home despite Marcus Cooper getting stripped of the ball on the one-yard line after a blocked field in the most cringe-worthy play of the year. The running back combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen could be the most dangerous duo in the league, as Howard finally came alive in 2017 to total 138 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
- Arizona Cardinals (1-2): Last week: 23
Despite a vintage game from Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals were unable to top Dallas at home. The 34-year-old wideout caught 13 passes en route to 149 yards and a touchdown, but Arizona’s offense is clearly limited by David Johnson’s injury. Without their explosive running back, the Cards gained just 49 rushing yards all game.
- Indianapolis Colts (1-2): Last week: 29
Jacoby Brissett finally got his first NFL touchdown pass and added two more on the ground en route to the Colts’ first win of the season over the Browns by a score of 31-28. T.Y. Hilton seemingly flipped the “on” switch for the 2017 season, as last year’s yardage champ caught seven passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
- New York Jets (1-2): Last week: 32
Gang Green got its first win of the season in surprisingly effective fashion by beating the Dolphins 20-6, with Miami’s lone score coming on the last play of the contest. 39-year-old quarterback Josh McCown connected on 18 of his 23 throws, and most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. Maybe there is hope for Jets’ fans that a last-place finish isn’t in the cards.
- New York Giants (0-3): Last week: 17
The Giants lost in improbable fashion in the stadium of their hated rival as their Odell Beckham, Jr.-powered comeback ultimately fell short. However, New York’s offense finally got something going with Beckham looking fully healthy, as they scored multiple touchdowns for the first time this year.
- Miami Dolphins (1-1): Last week: 16
Well, that was bad. The Dolphins were solidly beaten by a Jets team that an 0-16 record wasn’t out of the question for, as the Miami offense sputtered in New York. Jay Ajayi mustered a meager 15 yards on 11 carries, and Jay Cutler was out-dueled by Josh McCown. This loss puts the Dolphins’ playoff hopes in serious question.
- Cincinnati Bengals (0-3): Last week: 31
Taking the Packers to overtime in Green Bay was by far the best performance of the season by the Bengals, though the fact that they left without a W has got to sting. Andy Dalton outplayed Aaron Rodgers in his first decent game of the season, completing 21 of 27 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
- Los Angeles Chargers (0-3): Last week: 22
Not much is going right for the Bolts this year. Philip Rivers threw three interceptions in the first half, putting Los Angeles in an early hole. Jason Verrett’s injury has serious implications for what should be one of the league’s top secondaries, but the pass rush, led by Melvin Ingram’s three takedowns of Alex Smith, is intact.
- Cleveland Browns (0-3): Last week: 30
The Browns were upended on the road in Indy as their late-game comeback attempt wasn’t enough. DeShone Kizer is a playmaker but really needs to cut down on turnovers and sloppy play in general. On the bright side, the Browns skill players have been filling up highlight reels, as Kenny Britt and Jordan Leslie both made “Catch of the Year” type plays.
- San Francisco 49ers (0-3): Last week: 27
The 49ers remain winless after nearly topping the Rams in Thursday Night’s thriller, as Carlos Hyde was stopped short of the goal line on the potentially game-tying two-point conversion with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter and Aaron Donald’s sack of Brian Hoyer killed the 49ers’ chances after San Fran recovered the onside kick. On the bright side, the offense showed they could put points on the board after scoring a total of 12 points in the first two weeks.