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Questions For Week 3

Week Three kicks off with the battle of the beard vs. the mustache (sounds like something you’d expect in Florida). We start with the Jaguars and the Dolphins but the third week of action is packed with great matchups and great games. With that in mind, here is a question, a matchup, and a stat for every Week Three game.

Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Question: The Jaguars are the king of Thursday Night Football, is that why they are favored?

Well, yes. That and the confidence in Garner Minshew. Both teams weren’t expected to be good teams this season but the Jaguars already beat the Colts in the first game and played a close game against the Titans. The Dolphins didn’t lose by much to the Patriots (21-11) or Bills (31-28) but they haven’t looked good in either game and now are starting to have to combat injuries (Byron Jones is doubtful to play Thursday). It’s a cliche that the Jaguars play on Thursday Night, let’s see if they can win and start the season 2-1.

Matchup: Mike Gesicki vs. Myles Jack & the Jaguars linebackers.

I believed that Mike Gesicki was going to be a sleeper great tight end this season and finish the season as one of the top tight ends in receiving yards. Last week, Gesicki had 130 receiving yards and a touchdown and proved that he can be tough to guard from any part of the field. The Jaguars will have to eliminate Gesicki if they want to slow the Dolphins offense down. I see Myles Jack being the primary defender on Gesicki in what will be a matchup of two incredible athletes.

Stat: Speaking of the Jaguars being the kings of Thursday night, the Jaguars are 2-3 in their last 5 games on Thursday night. Conversely, the Dolphins lost their last four Thursday night games with their last victory coming in 2014.

Washington Football Team vs. Cleveland Browns

Question: Can the Washington offense continue to struggle and win?

Clearly not. We’ve seen their defense keep them in games but last week was clear that the offense needs to contribute if the Football Team is going to continue to win games this year. This game is going to be the true determinant to see if the Washington Football Team can develop some type of offense. The defense will likely keep them in the game, but the offense has to win it for them and will have to do so for most of the season.

Matchup: Browns running game vs. Washington front-seven

This matchup can’t credit one player but it will likely determine who wins on Sunday. The Browns need to effectively run the ball the entire game and can’t afford to enter obvious passing downs. The Football Team has proven they have a great defensive line, one that sets the tone for the rest of the defense, but the line is best in obvious passing downs. The Browns offensive line is built to run the ball, especially since rookie Jedrick Wills is a run-blocker first, pass-blocker second and would likely be in trouble if he has to block Chase Young in his path to Baker Mayfield. Moreover, Nick Chubb is the Browns most reliable and efficient offensive player, if the O-line does it’s job, Nick Chubb will have to break away from the linebackers of Washington if the Browns are to turn good runs into big plays.

Stat: The Browns are 8-4 when Nick Chubb rushes for over 100 yards. They are 6-15-1 when Nick Chubb rushes for less than 100 yards. Run the rock Cleveland!!

Las Vegas Raiders vs. New England Patriots

Question: Will the Raiders great offense or a terrible defense show up on Sunday?

The past two weeks, the Raiders offense has looked great but their defense hasn’t seen the same success. The problem the Raiders have is that they now face Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense. The Raiders were able to score on a rebuilding Panthers defense and a Saints team that surrendered 100 yards in penalties but now they face a tough task. The Patriots are likely to run often and effectively against the Raiders defense, this would result in less time for the Raiders offense to heat up and a lower scoring game.

Matchup: Josh Jacobs vs. Patriots front-seven

Like the Cleveland Browns, the Raiders best offensive player is Josh Jacobs. The Raiders would ideally like to see the ball in his hands as many times as possible, whether as a carry or as a checkdown. This means that the Patriots have to eliminate Jacobs from the game. It’s hard to say if the Patriots have one linebacker that can shadow Jacobs if he becomes a target for Derek Carr, this would likely mean the Patriots would play a zone where they allow Jacobs to catch the ball but are immediately there to tackle him, or they try to have two linebackers constantly watching out for Jacobs. Jacobs running the ball should appear as such a threat since the Patriots can trap off rushing lanes with the three or four down lineman (that wouldn’t be a surprise) but the plays that allow Jacobs to catch a pass in open space can be the ones that hurt New England.

Stat: Cam Newton has 4 rushing touchdowns this season. That ties Newton for first in the league with Christian McCafrey.

San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants

Question: How will the 49ers replace the key players that are out for the season with injuries?

This is going to be difficult, Richard Sherman and George Kittle went down the opening week and Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert got hurt last week. For the backup quarterback (Nick Mullens), I see Kyle Shannahan trying to leave the game out of his hands, meaning the 49ers should run the ball more than they usually would. The 49ers still have viable options at running back, including Jerick McKinnon and the reliable fullback Kyle Juszczyk. On defense, I see them preparing for this week by constantly rushing four defenders (whether linebackers or d-lineman) and dropping 7. They won’t try to play heavy against the run considering the Giants lost Saquon Barkley for the year, the primary worry should be Daniel Jones scrambling and the 49ers having healthy linebackers at the moment to combat the QB runs.

Matchup: 49ers vs. the Metlife Turf… Ok Andrew Thomas vs. Arik Armstead

The Giants first-round pick Andrew Thomas has been thrown into the fire this season and has been given the tall task of blocking Daniel Jones’s blindside. The first few weeks have not been good for the rookie and the rest of the Giants offensive line as they have given Daniel Jones unrelenting pressure. This week, the 49ers will likely line Arik Armstead against the rookie and it could be the time for Andrew Thomas to have his breakout performance or it could be another disaster for the rookie and Daniel Jones.

Stat: Daniel Jones has started 15 games so far in his young career. In these games, he has thrown 15 interceptions and fumbled the ball 12 times for a loss. That averages to one turnover both in the air and on the ground in each game.

Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Question: Is this game going to prove that the Steelers are legit or is it another free win?

The Steelers are 2-0 and look like a complete team that can compete for the AFC North. Yet, it’s hard to buy into the hype when they beat up on an 0-2 Giants team and an 0-2 Broncos. They play the 0-2 Houston Texans but a victory here would be different. The Texans have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Deshaun Watson and appear to be a better team than their record says. A win here would cement the Steelers status as one of the best teams in the AFC and would have the Ravens concerned for supremacy in the division.

Matchup: Chukwuma Okorafor vs. JJ Watt

Anyone that has to block JJ Watt is going to have their hands full. David DeCastro is questionable for the game for Okorafor might be on his own for most of the snaps. The Texans might try to line Watt up across the line but this appears to be the best matchup for the Texans defense. The Steelers have to prepare to stop JJ Watt and if they can do so without doubling him, the offense is at an incredible advantage.

Stat: The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers started a season 3-0 was 2010. The Steelers ultimately appeared in the Super Bowl that season.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills

Question: Which team is the contender and which team is the pretender?

This game will help us as fans find out. Both teams look like they can make deep runs this season but both teams also are hard to buy into. The Bills just handled two of their division foes that not many believe are going to be good this season. The Rams beat an unprepared Cowboys team and a corroding Eagles team. Sunday will give a hint one which of these two teams are legitimate SUper Bowl contenders.

Matchup: Stephon Diggs vs. Jalen Ramsey

This one is going to be fun. One of the best corners in the game is likely going to shadow one of the best jump ball receivers in the league. Diggs emerged last week as Josh Allen’s number one target and it’s likely Allen will continue to target the great receiver. With Jalen Ramsey on an island with Diggs throughout the game, it will be interesting to see if Diggs will be able to get open or be able to create space with the one on one coverage. Likewise, it’s possible that Allen never targets Stephon Diggs as there can be other favorable matchups in the passing game, John Brown can be open on an occasional deep ball, Cole Beasley can be open for a reliable checkdown, and of course Josh Allen can scramble.

Stat: In games where Jared Goff throws the ball 40 or more times, the Rams are 4-10. In games where Goff throws the ball 39 or fewer times, the Rams are 32-11. This might be selective but the Rams need to run the ball to win.

Tennessee Titans vs. Minnesota Vikings

Question: Is the Vikings season essentially over with a loss on Sunday?

Not only will the season be over, but there will be little job security. Mike Zimmer will be on the hot seat (he has been a great coach but a bad season might raise some eyebrows). Kirk Cousins will be deemed a terrible signing. Many players will suddenly be on the trade block. Needless to say, the Vikings might have their best performance yet.

Matchup: Titans run blocking line + Derrick Henry vs. Vikings run defense.

The Vikings have not done well against the run this season, allowing 158 rushing yards to the Packers, and 151 to the Colts. The Vikings now face last season’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry. To avoid this becoming a route, the Vikings need to load the box and force the Titans to beat them in the air. Expect the Vikings to play extra defensive linemen and replace defensive backs with linebackers for Sunday's game to stop Henry.

Stat: The last time Kirk Cousins lost three games in a row was in 2014, when he was filling in for the injured Robert Griffin III.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Question: Are the Bengals the ideal opponent for a bounce back game?

Pretty much. The Bengals are an ideal morale booster as they have a rather depleted defense and an offense that has the skill players but lack the offensive line to help out those players. If the Eagles don’t have a bounceback game against Cincinnati, we have to think that they are in trouble.

Matchup: Eagles O-line vs. Bengals D-line

This is a battle between two struggling units that in all likelihood, will determine who wins this game. Carson Wentz has been under pressure throughout the season, while his lack of mobility is hurting his cause, the lack of protection has made matters worse. Likewise, the Bengals defense hasn’t been playing well since last season and the defensive line hasn’t been getting pressure on quarterbacks. Somethings gotta give, let’s see which struggling unit breaks out.

Stat: On Thursday night, Joe Burrow set the record for most completions by a rookie in a game with 37. Keep in mind, he threw 61 passes.

Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons

Question: Why is Atlanta favored to win this game when they are 0-2?

Simply, the Bears are perceived as overrated while the Falcons were on the bad end of two games against two good teams. It’s also reasonable to say that the Bears are riding a hot streak now but with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, we are expecting a decline at some point. Expect the Falcons to return this week and the Bears to regress to the mean.

Matchup: Calvin Ridley vs. Kyle Fuller

With Julio Jones as a question mark this Sunday, expect Calvin Ridley to get most of the targets. Calvin Ridley has emerged as one of the best receivers in the game despite being the secondary receiver on his own team. Kyle Fuller will likely be the one shadowing Ridley throughout the game and it should be exciting to see these two juggernauts go at it.

Stat: The Bears are 2-0 this season and won both games by one score. The last time the Bears lost a one score game (7 points or fewer), was week 8 last year.

Carolina Panthers vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Question: Herbert looked good in his first start vs. Kansas City, will he carve up the Panthers?

You can bet on it. Justin Herbert played well considering it was his first start and now is facing one of the worst defenses in the league. If there is any week to see Justin Herbert burst on to the scene (before the league starts to catch on to his style of quarterbacking) and gives the five Chargers fans hope for a bright future.

Matchup: Teddy Bridgewater mobility vs. Chargers linebackers

Christian McCafrey is sidelined and now Teddy Bridgewater is going to have to be the primary offensive player both in the air and on the ground. If the Panthers want their offense to take off they will need Teddy to be a running threat. Likewise, the Chargers are going to have to keep an eye out for Bridgewater running and while they want to pressure him, the Chargers have to pressure methodically and they need to keep the linebackers as a spy on Teddy Bridgewater.

Stat: Last season, the first week a rookie quarterback won a game was week three. We have yet to see a rookie quarterback win a game.

New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts

Question: Is the Colts defense now good or did they just have a good week vs the Vikings?

Let’s keep in mind how the Colts played against the Jaguars in Week One. The game against the Vikings gave the Colts optimism as they had three interceptions and held Minnesota to 11 points. This week doesn’t appear to be much different as they play the Jets, a team that hasn’t proven they can score in the first two weeks and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for an offensive oasis anytime soon.

Matchup: Quinton Nelson vs. Quinnen Williams

The battle of two Q’s but this is a battle of the trenches that will likely determine if the Colts can run the ball. Quinnen Williams has started to progress into the interior defensive lineman he was expected to be coming out of college. Now he will likely face the best offensive lineman in the league in Quinton Nelson and it will be interesting to see if the Jets can control the line of scrimmage in a game that they aren’t expected to win.

Stat: The Jets are the only team that haven’t led at any point this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos

Question: Are we overlooking the Buccaneers defense since the offense is led by Tom Brady?

Absolutely! The Bucs have a defense that can end up the season as a top ten scoring defense. While the offense has all the flashy skill players, the defense has some stars that are unsung. Devin White is emerging as one of the best linebackers in the NFL, Shaq Barrett is one of the best speed-rushers in the game, Lavonte David is a future Hall of Famer. The Buccaneers defense has kept the Bucs in most of Week One’s game and stomped the Panthers last week, it’s likely they will halt the Broncos as the team is reeling since many significant injuries.

Matchup: Mike Evans vs. Bryce Callahan

This looks to be a nightmare matchup for the Broncos. Whoever they choose to line up against Mike Evans makes you wonder if they can guard him. If they can’t eliminate him as a target, expect Brady to go to Evans early and often.

Stat: Tom Brady is 8-9 in his career vs. the Denver Broncos. The only team Brady has a losing record to.

Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals

Question: What will the Lions have to do to pull off an upset?

Many are anticipating a loss from the Detroit Lions and a lot will need to go right if the Lions are to pull the upset. I would first think that a balanced attack needs to be in play, they can’t get into a shootout and expect to win, rather they need to keep Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense off the field. The defense one way or another will have to force a turnover, it doesn’t look likely but if they can make a play or two, they will have a chance.

Matchup: Taylor Decker vs. Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones has been one of the best edge-rushers for a few years now. He has become a sack master. Taylor Decker hasn’t been a pro bowl left tackle but has proven he can be one of the better blindside blockers in the league. If the Lions enter obvious passing downs, it could be disastrous since the Cardinals defense is built for pass defense. Taylor Decker taking Chandler Jones out of the game would be a huge boost.

Stat: Allowing 17.5 points per game, the Cardinals currently have the second best scoring defense. Then again, it is only two games so no judgements can be made.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks

Question: How will the Cowboys defense that allowed 39 points last week stop Russell Wilson?

I would lighten the box and dare the Seahawks to run the ball. Everyone is demanding that Pete Carroll let’s Russ cook, yet if the Cowboys are playing extra defensive backs and only 6 in the box, they might have to keep the ball on the ground. This game is likely to become a shootout, with that in mind, the Cowboys must align their defense to stop the passing game.

Matchup: Ezekiel Elliott vs. Bobby Wagner

One of the little known facts about Bobby Wagner is that he played running back in high school. When you watch him play middle linebacker, you understand. Bobby Wagner is able to read where and when a runner is going to burst into a crease. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best running backs in the NFL and it should be exciting to see the two battle it out in the trenches as the Cowboy hopes to establish a run game.

Stat: Russell Wilson is 19-11 in the month of September, the worst record of any of the months. It should speak volumes to how good Wilson is when the worst month is 19-11.

Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints

Question: Have the Saints become a bad team or are they just searching for a new identity?

It was clear they missed Michael Thomas last week and the overall performance was a disappointment last week. Expect the Saints to bounce back especially since they are at home again but the Packers are entering this game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. It will be hard for the Saints to win but they should make this game close.

Matchup: Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees

It was hard to avoid this colossal matchup. This might be our last Rodgers-Brees matchup and they have given us some great battles over the years (although we might have a playoff game). The series is tied at 2 even though technically a Brett Favre led Packers team beat Drew Brees in 2005 and Rodgers had one pass attempt. The last time these two faced off was in 2014, also on Sunday Night Football.

Stat: Since 2018, Michael Thomas has accounted for 34% of the Saints targets, the most in the league. I guess you can say, the Saints miss him.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens

Question: Should the Chiefs be concerned after barely winning last week to the Chargers?

Yes but no. Anyone would be concerned over last week’s performance as they played down to the lowly Chargers. Then again, this is the Chiefs and they do have Patrick Mahomes, so there is no need to worry when they have one of the best quarterbacks in the game. There would be slight concern as the Chiefs are playing a Ravens team that looks complete in every facet of the game.

Matchup: Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes

Like Brees-Rodgers, it’s hard to avoid the new quarterback rivalry with the two most exciting quarterbacks in the NFL. This is the new Brady-Manning and like the Brady-Manning battles, the Patriots got the better of Peyton for many years until Peyton Manning finally got his revenge in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. The Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes games have been thrilling so far and this one looks to be no different.

Stat: John Harbaugh is part of the allustrious Andy Reid coaching tree. Andy Reid has a 4-1 record against John Harbaugh to in this case, the teacher has gotten the better of the disciple.

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