By HCR Staff | Sept. 24, 2018
Here are five key observations from Week 3 in the NFL:
1. The Patriots need help
Sure, New England’s offense will benefit when Josh Gordon gets on the field and Julian Edelman returns from suspension. But the fact of the matter is that the Patriots currently lack explosive personnel on both sides of the ball. That was clear in their 26-10 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday night. Lions rookie head coach Matt Patricia took a page out of his former team’s playbook: neutralize the opponent’s best weapon. The Lions held Rob Gronkowski to four catches for 51 yards, and the Patriots had no other big-play threats.
To make matters worse, Bill Belichick’s defense doesn’t have much game-changing talent either. The Patriots may well turn things around and start winning, but they do not appear to have a roster that is talented enough to dominate games.
2. The Rams look awfully tough
The Los Angeles Rams are excelling in all three phases of the game. They are well coached and well disciplined. Sean McVay’s offense is so efficient that he doesn’t need to run a wide variety of plays. They have become so good at executing a small handful of plays from different formations, and they will be difficult to stop all season.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips does a great job with his unit. Like McVay, Phillips can be aggressive with his play calls when he sees an opportunity to close out games.
And if it wasn’t enough to be dangerous on offense and defense, the Rams also have an elite special teams unit coached by special teams coordinator John Fassel. In Sunday’s 35-23 win over the Chargers, they blocked a punt for a TD by using an effective line stunt that freed a Rams special teamer for a decisive block.
3. Saints-Falcons always entertaining
While the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both off to good starts, those teams might not be as compelling as the other two NFC South squads. The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons played one of the most entertaining games of Week 3, with the Saints coming away with a 43-37 overtime win at Atlanta.
These are two very evenly matched teams, in what is now one of the best rivalries in football. Four of the last six meetings have been decided by six points or fewer.
Mark your calendars: These teams meet again on the Thursday night of Week 12.
4. Don’t get overconfident, Cleveland
While last Thursday’s come-from-behind win was a terrific victory for the Cleveland Browns, keep in mind the Jets were a tired team playing its third game in 11 days. On top of that, they had a rookie quarterback playing on the road in what was a raucous Thursday night crowd.
Frankly, we felt the Browns should have won this game with or without Baker Mayfield leading the way. The Jets played with heavy legs in the second half and it showed. Good for the Browns for taking advantage. Let’s see what they can do for an encore.
5. Dolphins remain unbeaten
There are only three teams sitting at 3-0 after three weeks (with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trying to become the fourth on Monday night). The Dolphins, thanks to a slow start from the aforementioned Patriots, already have a two-game lead in the AFC East. The next two weeks, however, will be a much truer test to see how improved Adam Gase’s squad really is. After opening the season against the Titans, Jets and Raiders, Miami now faces back-to-back road games against the Patriots and Bengals.