The Baltimore Ravens (2-1) look to be back near the top of the AFC and rookie WR Torrey Smith was one of the stars from Week 3 of the 2011 NFL Season
As the calendar changes to autumn, the NFL moves closer to the first quarter marker of the 2011 NFL season. Week 3, which I dubbed “Separation Sunday”, definitely helped continue the 12-week process of sorting out which teams are contenders and pretenders before November and December’s playoff push. T
One thing is apparent, no one in their right mind could have predicted the wacky start to this season. Week 3 had an NFL record 9 games that were decided by 3 points or less. The capricious world of the NFL was never more on display than this week as the Buffalo Bills coming off a 4-12 season impressively beat the New England Patriots 34-31 in Orchard Park, NY. The win ended the Patriots’ 15-game regular-season winning streak over their AFC East rival. The Bills also became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games after trailing by 18 points or more. Unbelievably the Bills were the last team to win in 2010, but this is a whole different season.
This week had the NFL’s usual boatload of Injuries (Eagles QB Michael Vick – hand, Titans WR Kenny Britt – knee, NY Jets CB Antonio Cromartie – Bruised Lung and others); Upsets (Bills over Patriots and Raiders over NY Jets); and Comebacks (Lions over Vikings, Saints over Texans, Bucs over Falcons, Cowboys over Redskins and Bills over Patriots);. But I have to caution a lot of fans who are starting to hit the “Panic” button and making season-long assertions about their teams, it is way too early to go jumping off a bridge.
Is it just me… or does everyone else feel like every NFL team has a record of 2-1 or 1-2 (24 teams)? After three weeks of play, “parity” is all over America’s game as shown by the current team standings. League standings show that there are three (3-0) teams (Lions, Bills, and the Super Bowl Champion Packers) – “The Have’s” ; fifteen (2-1) teams (Saints, Texans, Patriots, Ravens, Bucs, Saints, Steelers, NY Jets, Titans, Browns, Redskins, Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Raiders, and Niners) – “The Contenders’”; nine (1-2) teams (Eagles, Falcons, Bengals, Bears, Cardinals, Broncos, Panthers, Seahawks, and Jaguars) – “Still Sorting this out” teams; and five lowly (0-3) “Have Not” teams – Rams, Colts, Vikings, Chiefs, and Dolphins.
However whether your team is 3-0, 2-1, 1-2 or 0-3, it doesn’t matter as everyone still has a chance to make a playoff run — “Yes” even the hapless Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts who both were scrappy in Week 3, but lost again. The NFL’s three undefeated (3-0) teams should be feeling good as since 1990 approximately 75% of teams that reach that mark have made the playoffs. But (3-0) is no guarantee as 8 of the last 11 seasons have seen at least one (3-0) team miss the playoffs – In 2009, it was the Denver Broncos and NY GIants.
Five of the past ten Super Bowl champions began their seasons with a 1-2 record including the 2007 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Plus five of last year’s 12 NFL playoff teams started at 1-2 before righting themselves. History has shown that 1-2 teams can advance to the playoffs — since 1990, 22 teams have started 1-2 and still qualified for the postseason, including the best case scenario, the 2007 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants). Even the Colts, Rams, Vikings, Chiefs, and Dolphins – all with a record of 0-3 — have a slight pulse.
For the 0-2 teams that found a way to get a win in Week 3 (Panthers and Seahawks), good work and maybe you will be this year’s version of the 2007 Super Bowl champion Giants – one of eight teams that started 0-2 and made the playoffs in ’07. Conversely to the five teams that are now (0-3), it is now desperation time. The NFL is not kind to teams starting in this deep of a hole –in the 18 years of the salary-cap era, 78 teams started 0-3 and only two of them (Buffalo in 1998 and Detroit in 1995) made the playoffs only to lose in the first-round, so go ahead and go to the bullpen for help as your coaches are probably trying anything to stay ahead of their owner’s boot.
Everyone needs to understand that an NFL regular season is a 17-week marathon and should be taken increments. Being on top this early in the NFL season is a good thing, but teams can’t get caught up in thinking things are going to be biscuits and gravy throughout the entire season – the 2009 New York Giants started 5-0 only to limp home to a 8-8 record and missed the playoffs. Trust me every team, including almost Super Bowl winning team, has experienced some form of adversity at one time or another during their season – remember last season the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers had an NLF-high 14 players on their injured reserve list and still won it all.
The main thing right now is for teams to focus on their opponents week-in and week-out, because things can change very quickly in the topsy-turvy NFL. Teams can no longer just mail-it-in as shown by the formerly winless Detroit Lions coming back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to an unexpected 26-23 overtime victory in the Metrodome. That was the Lions first win in Minnesota since 1997.
So with Bye Weeks about to start there is much football to be played in this parity laden league -– or mess as some analysts are saying. Trust me… NFL fans and media are both scratching their collective heads when trying to predict which teams have what it takes to go the distance.
The unexpected surprises of the undefeated Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions plus the high-flying play of Rookie of the Year Candidate, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, so far show that nothing is a given in the NFL. And “Any Given Sunday” still reigns supreme.
2011 Week 3 Game Notes
Sunday, September 25
49ers (2-1) over Bengals (1-2), 13-8…..In a real stinker, the Niners found a way to get a win…Surprisingly, in trouble Bengals WR Jerome Simpson was active for the game….Didn’t cross midfield until midway through the third quarter …. Cincinnati’s smallest crowd for a home opener in 30 years…Kendall Hunter scores game-winner….Bengals only have 2 FGs
Titans (2-1) over Broncos (1-2), 17-14…. In a tough AFC battle between 2 former AFL teams, the Titans pull out a win…Titans lose WR Britt to a torn ACL and MCL….QB Matt Hasselbeck throws game-winner to TE Daniel Graham….Tennessee beats-up QB Kyle Orton
Browns (2-1) over Dolphins (0-3), 17-16…. In a “Who cares game?”, CLE gets a late win…. Colt McCoy throws a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds left to cap an 80-yard drive
Giants (2-1) over Eagles (1-2), 29-16…. In a tough NFC East battle, G-Men exploit Eagles LBs over and over… Big game for RB Ahmad Bradshaw and QB Eli Manning (4 TDs)…. WR Victor Cruz shows Asmomugha that he is not Revis…Vick leaves game with right hand contusion… Andy Reid makes bad calls on 4th down at midfield and inside the 5-yd line… Vick rips refs after the loss…Eagles turn the ball over 3 times as they lose their 2nd game in a row…backup QB Mike Kafka and struggling LB Casey Matthews struggle badly
Panthers (1-2) over Jaguars (1-2), 16-10… Played in a monsoon for a large part of the game, the Panthers get their first win of the season over the struggling Jaguars… Newton doesn’t throw for over 200 yards, but he does hit TE Greg Olsen with the game-winner and a 2-point conversion late in the 4th…..Carolina rallied from a 10-5 halftime deficit…. First win for rookie head coach Ron Rivera
Lions (3-0) over Vikings (0-3), 26-23 OT…After trailing by 20 at half (only 50 first half yards), Lions win in OT as Vikes’ defense falls apart again… Lions are 3-0 for first time since ’80….DET started 3-0 in 2011 after starting 0-3 in 2010….K Jason Hanson kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime…. McNabb better this week and give his team lead late… WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson had seven catches for 108 yards and two TDs… Stafford was awesome again… DET scored on six of their last seven drives
Bills (2-1) over Patriots (2-1), 34-31…Bills rally from 21 down to stun Pats….Bills pick Brady 4 times including a Pick-6, end Pats win streak against them… BUF started 3-0 in 2011 ater starting 0-3 in 2010… K Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired for win… 2nd straight week the Bills rallied… Bills’ overturned touchdown helps burnout clock for late FG…. Huge game for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and RB Fred Jackson
Saints (2-1) over Texans (2-1), 40-33…. What a “Pinball Machince” game as Schaub and Brees have a shootout…Brees rallies Saints twice in 4th quarter for huge home win…Texans D reverts to their old form as they can’t hold a lead…Brees was intercepted twice, but redeemed himself with 3 TD passes in the second half…Brees found big emerging TE Jimmy Graham including a 27-yard TD… Brees and Moore destroyed overmatched corner Kareem Jackson over and over
Chargers (2-1) over Chiefs (0-3), 20-17….Ugly win for the uninspiring Chargers… Big game for running back Ryan Matthews (2 TDs)…S Eric Weddle intercepted Chiefs QB Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left to preserve San Diego’s victory
Raiders (2-1) over NY Jets (2-1), 34-24….No Hotdogs this time for Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez as the Raiders show they are in the AFC West race… Raiders RB Darren McFadden was a beast…rookie WR Denarius Moore has another big game… Sanchez had his nose broekn as Oakland had four 2nd-half sacks
Ravens (2-1) over Rams (0-3), 37-7….Franchise record-setting day on offense by Baltimore… BAL destroys STL as Flacco has a career-high 389 passing yards… BAL rookie WR Torrey Smith’s first three career catches go for TDs… Ravens defense harrasses Rams QB Sam Bradford over and over (sacked 5 times)… S-Jax only 4 rushes for 23 yards
Seahawks (1-2) over Cardinals (1-2), 13-10…. In an ugly boring game, the Seahawks fueled by the 12th Man won their first game of the season… After being booed and going through “We Want Whitehurst” chants, SEA QB Tarvaris Jackson runs for the game-winner through two Cardinals at goalline…. Seattle safety Kam Chancellor sealed the win by intercepting Kolb at the Seattle 25 with 1:04 remaining.
Buccaneers (2-1) over Falcons (1-2), 16-13 …. Another comeback win for Bucs QB Josh Freeman as Tampa Bay keeps pace with the Saints at the top of the NFC South…. Josh Freeman scored the first rushing touchdown of his career… Tampa Bay’s defense forced three turnovers and sacked Matt Ryan four times (2 lost fumbles)… Bucs ended a five-game losing streak in the series… onde Barber intercepted a pass to stop an Atlanta threat just before halftime… ATL was stopped on downs inside the Bucs’ 10 early in the 4th quarter
Packers (3-0) over Bears (1-2), 27-17… Packers left Soldier Field again with a victory (last time won NFC title) … This one was not as close as the score would make it appear…. Packers TE Jermichael Finley was a beast (7 Rec, 85 yds, 3 TDs)… Rodgers has completed 72% of his passes through Week 3… Starks did not play well (14 rushes for 14 yards and 1 fumble)…. Turf problems at Soldier Field
Steelers (2-1) over Colts (0-2), 23-20…. On SNF, this was an “ugly” win for the Steelers… Beleaguered Colts fought without Manning… QB Kerry Collins left the game with a concussion… back-up Curtis Painter was awful… Steelers WR Mike Wallace was awesome (topped 100 yards for 6th consecutive game)… Game-Changing play was a Troy Polamalu fumble return for a TD off a James Harrison sack
Monday September 26
Cowboys (2-1) over Redskins (2-1), 18-16 …. In the NFL’s first ever “Field Goal Fest”, the Cowboys outlasted the scrappy Redskins on MNF… Dallas rookie kick Danny Bailey nailed 6 FGs in a game that featured an NFL record 11 FGs… Dallas QB Tony Romo showed his toughness by leading his team despite a bad rib injury…Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware was a beast… Dallas center Costa was terrrible with his snaps… Cowboys WR’s made some bad route mistakes… DAL, WAS, and NYG tied at top of NFC East at (2-1)…. Romo great throws under duress including a 40-yarder with 1:57 left to setup game-winner… LB Sean Lee played well for DAL
Some Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 3
Looks like Sparano will be the first coach in the unemployment line – Unfortunately an “I told you so” moment is coming soon in Miami as Dolphins ownership seems to be moving toward pulling the plug on the Tony Sparano era after 49 games. Since surprising the NFL and the Patriots in 2008 with the Wildcat, on their way to an 11-5 division-winning record, Sparano’s teams have not had a winning season since. With fans cheering “Tony Must Go” at games and his “buddy” former team executive Bill Parcells back in retire, Sparano doesn’t have a prayer. Watch for the Dolphins’ bye week in two weeks (Week 5) for a move. Memo to Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio after an 0-3 start, which is following last year’s 8-8 finish, you are probably next as Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has promised changes.
1972 Dolphins must be feeling good – The champagne will be flowing soon in Miami as the only team to have an undefeated Super Bowl season will be celebrating in the near future. There are only 3 undefeated teams left in the NFL this season (Lions, Bills, and Packers) and in this parity-filled league, I am certain none of them will go past Week 8 without a loss. Hard to believe in 2009, the 1972 Dolphins had to wait until Week 16 for the Colts (14-0 at the time) to finally lose a game.
Rookies making their mark at a surprisingly early rate – Following in the footsteps of several 2010 rookie stars (Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Rams QB Sam Bradford, Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount, Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez and others) many rookies this season have stepped into the spotlight. No longer “redshirting” takes place in the NFL as teams need rookies to help right away. Already several outstanding rookies have made an impact including Panthers QB Cam Newton, Ravens WR Torry Smith, Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan, Raiders WR Denarius Moore and others
The Lions are real good – I know everyone is saying show me something in the postseason (no playoffs 1999), but you have to take your hat off to the Dtroit Lions. After winning in dramatic fashion 26-23 in overtime over the host Minnesota Vikings, even I have to give it up to Detroit. . The Lions scored on six of their last seven drives, including the last drive in overtime that ended with Jason Hanson’s 32-yard field goal to overcome a 20-0 halftime deficit. Detroit is now 3-0 for the first time since 1980 and have won 7 straight regular season games going back to 2010. The Lions — NFL’s best point differential at +55 — are tied with the Super Bowl Champion Packer in first place right now, but they are playing in one of the NFL’s toughest division and a potential epic battle awaits in Week 12 against the Packers.
Injuries continue to pile up around the NFL – Every week is a battle of attrition especially with bloodbaths like the Titans 17-14 slugfest win over the Broncos this past weekend. Week Three’s injury report included Eagles QB Michael Vick (right hand contusion), Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring), Titans WR Kenny Britt (ACL, MCL), NY Jets TE Jeff Cumberland (Achilles – I/R), Bucs S Cody Grimm (ACL – I/R), Colts QB Kerry Collins (concussion), Panthers CB Chris Gamble (concussion), Chargers TE Antonio Gates (foot) and others
Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden – A lot of people wondered if Run DMC was durable enough to live-up to his former first-round selection. McFadden showed he was the real deal as he took apart one of the NFL’s best rush defenses. The former Arkansas Heisman runner-up ran for a career-high 171 yards on 19 rushes and 2 TDs – an amazing 7.7 yards per carry. His running total were the most rushing yards on a New York Jets’ Rex Ryan coached defense. BTW Raiders blocking back FB Marcel Reese needs a shoutout for helping McFadden.
Honorable Mention – Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Panthers QB Cam Newton, Saints QB Drew Brees, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Bills RB Fred Jackson, Cowboys K Danny Bailey, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Buffalo Bills Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cowboys QB Tony Romo and Texans TE James Casey
Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week
Philadelphia Eagles Linebackers — After rookie defensive coordinator Juan Castille flipped his linebackers all around — Matthews to WLB, Fokou to SLB, and Chaney to MLB — I think the unit was worse. The Eagles LB’s were fooled by misdirection, play-action, and trucked in run situations. They only had 9 tackles and 0 sacks as a group. The worst of the bunch was struggling rookie Casey Matthews who was smoked by big back Brandon Jacobs on a 40-yard Wheel Route. Bradshaw and Jacobs had 7 catches for 95 yards and 2 TDs including Jacobs 40-yarder.
Dishonorable Mention – Patriots QB Tom Brady, Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco, St. Louis Rams entire team, Philadelphia Eagles HC Andy Reid, Colts backup QB Curtis Painter, Eagles backup QB Mike Kafka, Cowboys C Phil Costa, and Minnesota Vikings Defense
3 Teams ….3-0 — Lions, Bills, Packers
15 Teams…. 2-1 — Texans, Patriots, NY Jets, Redskins, Titans, Cowboys, Niners, Saints, Browns, Chargers, Steelers, Raiders, Ravens, Bucs, NY Giants
9 Teams …..1-2 — Eagles, Falcons, Bengals, Bears, Cardinals, Broncos, Panthers, Seahawks, Jaguars
5 Teams…..0-3 (AKA… Andrew Luck Sweepstakes) — Colts, Vikings, Chiefs, Rams, Dolphins
18 Teams with winnning records including surprises (Bills, Bucs, Lions, and Raiders)
14 Teams with losing including surprises (Eagles, Falcons, and Colts)
AFC North — Steelers, Browns, Ravens (all tied at 2-1)….Bengals in disarray below
AFC South — Texans (2-0) and Titans (2-1)… Then the very bad Colts and Jags (both at 0-2)
AFC West — OAK and SD tied at (2-1)
AFC East — Bills all alone at top at (3-0) with close behind Patriots and NY Jets (2-1)
NFC North — Lions and Packers tied at (3-0)… Up-and-Down Bears (1-2)…Bad Vikings (0-3)
NFC South — TB and NO tied at (2-1)…ATL(1-2) and the youngCARare (1-2)
NFC West — Niners (1-1)… Cardinals and Seahawks (1-2) and then hapless Rams (0-3)
NFC East — Cowboys, Giants, Redskins (2-1)… Dream Team Eagles in basement (1-2)
How 2010 NFL Playoff Teams Fared — Remember for 15 straight seasons there have been at least 5 new playoff teams
NY Jets (2-1)
Week 3 Leaders
1. J. Flacco BAL 389 yds (W)
2. T. Brady NE 387 yds (L)
3. M. Stafford DET 378 yds – OT (W)
4. M. Schaub HOU 373 yds (L)
5. D. Brees NO 370 yds (W)
1. D. McFadden OAK 171 yds (W)
2. L. McCoy PHI 128 yds (L)
3. M. Jones-Drew JAC 122 yds (L)
4. F. Jones DAL 115 yds (W)
5. R. Mathews SD 98 yds (W)
6. D. Thomas MIA 95 yds (L)
1. W. Welker NE 217 yds (W)
2. T. Smith BAL 152 yds (W)
3. R. White ATL 140 yds (L)
4. A. Johnson HOU 128 yds (L)
5. J. Casey HOU 126 yds (L)
1. E. Manning NYG 4 TDs (W)
1. T. Brady NE 4 TDs (L)
3. J. Flacco BAL 3 TDs (W)
3. M. Schaub HOU 3 TDs (L) (tied with 5 other players)
ARZ (1-2) — NYG, @MIN, BYE, PIT, @BAL
ATL (1-2) — @SEA, GB (SNF), CAR, @DET, BYE
CAR (1-2) — @CHI, @ NO, @ATL, WAS, @MIN, BYE
CHI (1-2) — CAR, @DET (MNF), MIN (SNF), @TB, BYE
DAL (2-1) — DET, BYE, @NE, STL, @PHI (SNF), SEA
DET (3-0) — @DAL, CHI (MNF), SF, ATL, @DEN, BYE
GB (3-0) — DEN, @ATL (SNF), STL, @MIN, BYE
MIN (0-3) — @KC, ARZ, @CHI (SNF), GB, @CAR, BYE
NO (2-1) — JAX, @CAR, @TB, IND (SNF), @STL, TB, ATL, BYE
NYG (2-1) — @ARZ, SEA, BUF, BYE, MIA, @NE
PHI (1-2) — SF, @BUF, @WAS, BYE
SF (2-1) — @PHI, , TB, @DET, BYE, CLE, @WAS, NYG
SEA (1-2) — ATL, @NYG, BYE, @CLE, CIN, @DAL
STL (0-3) — WAS, BYE, @GB, @DAL, NO
TB (2-1) — IND (MNF), @SF, NO, CHI, BYE
WAS (2-1) — @STL, BYE, PHI, @CAR
BAL (2-1) — NYJ (SNF), BYE, HOU, @JAX (MNF), ARZ, @PIT (SNF)
BUF (3-0) — @CIN, PHI, @NYG, BYE
CIN (1-2) — BUF, @JAX, IND, BYE, @SEA, @TEN
DEN (1-2) — @GB, SD, BYE, @MIA, DET, @OAK
CLE (2-1) — TEN, BYE, @OAK, SEA, @SEA, @SF, @HOU
HOU (2-1) — PIT, OAK, @BAL, @TEN, JAX, CLE, @TB, BYE
IND (0-3) — @TB (MNF), KC, @CIN, @NO, @TEN, ATL, JAX, BYE
JAX (0-3) — NO, CIN, @PIT, BAL (MNF), @HOU, BYE
KC (0-3) — MIN, @IND, BYE, @OAK, SD (MNF)
MIA (0-3) — @SD, BYE, @NYJ (MNF), DEN, @NYG
NE (2-1) — @OAK, NYJ, DAL, BYE, @PIT, NYG, @NYJ (SNF)
NYJ (1-2) — @BAL (SNF), @NE, MIA (MNF), SD, BYE
OAK (2-1) — NE, @HOU, CLE, KC, BYE
PIT (2-1) — @HOU, TEN, JAX, @ARZ, NE, BAL (SNF), @CIN, BYE
SD (2-1) — MIA, @DEN, BYE, @NYJ, @KC (MNF), GB
TEN (2-1) — @CLE, @PIT, BYE, HOU, IND, CIN, @CAR
Looking Ahead to Week 4 Games
Sun October 2
49ers (2-1) at Eagles (1-2) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Bills (3-0) at Bengals (1-2) 1:00PM ET (CBS)
Lions (3-0) at Cowboys (2-1) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Panthers (1-2) at Bears (1-2) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Redskins (2-1) at Rams (0-3) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Saints (2-1) at Jaguars (1-2) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Steelers (2-1) at Texans (2-1) 1:00PM ET (CBS)
Titans (2-1) at Browns (2-1) 1:00PM ET (CBS)
Vikings (0-3) at Chiefs (0-3) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Falcons (1-2) at Seahawks (1-2) 4:05PM ET (FOX)
Giants (2-1) at Cardinals (1-2) 4:05PM ET (FOX)
Broncos (1-2) at Packers (3-0) 4:15PM ET (CBS)
Dolphins (0-3) at Chargers (2-1) 4:15PM ET (CBS)
Patriots (2-1) at Raiders (2-1) 4:15PM ET (CBS)
Jets (2-1) at Ravens (2-1) 8:20PM ET (NBC)
Mon October 3
Colts (0-3) at Buccaneers (2-1) 8:30PM ET (ESPN)
Filed under: 2011 NFL Week 3, 2011 NFL Weekly Reviews, 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, NFL Weekly Review, Weekly Remix | Tagged: 2011 NFL Season, 2011 NFL Week 3, 2011 NFL Weekly Remix, 2011 NFL Weekly Reviews, Ahmad Bradshaw, Casey Matthews, Dallas Cowboys, Football, NFL, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sports, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu |