NFL Week Three: The Way We See It
Don’t look now but there are some fairly accomplished teams that don’t play in Seattle or Denver.
We will get to those two teams – who put on a memorable show of their own – but the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals are all deserving of recognition for the way they have played in the first three weeks of the season.
Is any team playing better than the Bengals? They are proving to be one of the most dynamic teams in the league, with an explosive offense and butt-kicking defense. This week’s victims were the Tennessee Titans, who got pushed all over Paul Brown Field in Cincinnati’s 33-7 triumph.
Andy Dalton certainly gets his share of criticism and he didn’t do anything special in this game as he completed 15-of-23 passes for 169 yards. He did not throw a TD pass and he had one interception. However, Dalton made the play of the game when he caught an 18-yard TD pass from wideout Mohammed Sanu in the first quarter.
After that, the rout was on as the Bengals tormented the Titans with their crushing defense and they secured another victory for their backers. They easily covered the spread, as they regularly do at home. They have covered the number in their last 10 regular-season home games dating back to the start of the 2013 season.
The Eagles have fallen behind by at least 10 points in all three of their starts, and they have come back to win all of those games. They are first team in NFL history to overcome such an impost.
This week’s victim was the Washington Redskins, as they fell by a 37-34 margin even though Kirk Cousins torched the Philadelphia secondary by throwing for 427 yards.
Washington’s special teams have been an area of weakness for years, and they continue to be a thorn in the team’s side. They gave up a first-quarter 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Chris Polk, and placekicker Kai Forbath missed a field goal attempt that would have given the Redskins the lead in the fourth quarter.
As usual, the Philadelphia offense was at its best in the second half. Nick Folk was hammered repeatedly by Washington’s physical defense, but he still managed to complete 28-of-42 passes for 325 yards with three TDs and no interceptions.
The Eagles are a remarkable resilient team that always finds a way to win – even if they fail to get the cover.
The Arizona Cardinals were supposed to be the NFL’s hard-luck team at the start of the year because they were in the same division with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
The thought process was that Bruce Arians may have had a tough and nasty team, but the competition was just too tough. Three weeks into the season, the Cardinals are holding down the top spot in the NFC West with a 3-0 record, while the Seahawks are 2-1 and the Niners are 1-2.
The Cardinals handed the Niners a 23-14 defeat in the desert, as backup quarterback Drew Stanton won his duel with Colin Kaepernick. Stanton threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, and most importantly, did not throw an interception.
Kaepernick threw for 245 yards and one touchdown, and he also stayed away from throwing any interceptions. However, the San Francisco offense just disappeared in the second half, as did their backers’ cash. The homestanding Cardinals got the easy cover.
The Niners appear to be in quite a bit of trouble. In addition to failing to score in the third and fourth quarters, the team does not appear to be responding to head coach Jim Harbaugh the way it had in the past three seasons.
The Seahawks bounced back from their Week Two loss at San Diego by outlasting the Denver Broncos 26-20 at CenturyLink Field in a Super Bowl rematch.
The Seahawks used their nasty defense to pulverize Denver for three quarters, but the Broncos got it going in the fourth quarter with a safety, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
The Seahawks and their fans were stunned that Peyton Manning was able to throw a TD pass to tight end Jacob Tamme in the final seconds and then connect with Demaryius Thomas on the two-pointer, but they quickly go over that feeling. The Seahawks won the toss and marched down the field with little trouble before Marshawn Lynch pounded the ball into the endzone for the overtime touchdown.
While the Broncos lost, they certainly performed much better in a hostile environment than they did in the Super Bowl last February. Manning and his teammates now know they can play with the Seahawks, and they have no reason to feel intimidated.
The season is taking shape, and while most observers still back Seattle and Denver as the best teams in their respective conferences, there are a number of worthy challengers who are beginning to assert themselves.