NFL Week 3 is here. Week 2 was nothing short of brutal. One of the worst weeks for injuries in recent memory, star players such as New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa are now both out for the remainder of the season.
Aside from the injuries, Week 2 was especially harsh on teams around the league due to lackluster performances. The Atlanta Falcons seemingly revived their playbook from the disasters of Super Bowl LI, blowing a 19 point lead in the second half to the Dallas Cowboys. The New Orleans Saints, who have been widely considered among the top teams in the NFC looked completely flat without Michael Thomas and lost to the Las Vegas Raiders.
With Week 2 behind us, here’s what to look forward to in NFL Week 3:
Las Vegas Raiders @ New England Patriots
The Raiders will travel to Foxborough this weekend holding a 2-0 record, having upset the Saints on Monday Night, and their schedule isn’t letting up with the New England Patriots next in line. The Patriots are coming off a last-second loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but looked impressive against one of the top teams in the league, showing that Bill Belichick’s squad maintains their identity even in the post-Tom Brady era.
While there are still a lot of questions about the Raiders’ ability to pass the ball with Derek Carr under center, the certainty for this team lies in running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has placed the Raiders offense directly on his back, and a coach of Belichick’s caliber will make him the focus of their defense.
Jon Gruden is going to have his hands full this Sunday if his team is to continue their undefeated start to the season, but don’t count the Raiders out too soon.
Bill Belichick Live Press Conference 9/23: https://t.co/uE63BLA6L6
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 23, 2020
Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks
Two teams that claimed narrow victories in Week 2, both the Cowboys and Seahawks are looking to establish more dominant performances against each other this week.
The Cowboys had essentially no right to win against the Falcons last Sunday. The whole game leading up to the fourth quarter featured essentially no bright spots for Dallas as the Falcons relentlessly scored on them. Miraculously, the Cowboys clawed their way back, recovering what would be a game-sealing onside kick with time winding down, and the Falcons seemingly not knowing the procedures for retrieving an onside kick.
For the Seahawks, they battled back-and-forth with the Patriots on Sunday night, with Belichick and Pete Carrol trying to outdo each other’s strategies in a game that culminating in the Seahawks holding a goal-line stand. Seattle can’t allow themselves to fall into that position if they want to add onto their 2-0 start to the season, with the Cowboys spoiled with offensive talent when they’re on top of their game.
Neither of these teams should have several worries on the offensive end, with Russell Wilson now the leading candidate for MVP, but watch for the Cowboys defense to have a very hard time containing the explosiveness of D. K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
The Saints and the Packers matchup features two legendary names that are hard to get past: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Two former Super Bowl MVPs, and two future Hall of Famers, this matchup has the potential to be a passing masterclass, but the first two weeks leave me with some doubts.
Aaron Rodgers has looked like the far better QB through the first two weeks, and the Packers have frankly looked better as a team. Drew Brees has failed to show the sort of arm-strength and accuracy that has defined his game throughout the past two decades, and he’s missing his number-one target in Michael Thomas. Rodgers may also be without his top receiver, as Davante Adams was one of the numerous players who suffered an injury last week.
Another player to watch in this one is Aaron Jones, coming off a career game against the Detroit Lions in which he posted 236 yards and three touchdowns, but I fully expect the Saints to be the toughest opponent for the Packers so far, especially as New Orleans looks to get back into the win column.
NFL Week 3 Marquee Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs vs Baltimore Ravens
The matchup of the NFL’s two top teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens are as good of a game as you can get in professional football, and will take place in Monday night’s primetime slot. The reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Patrick Mahomes are the faces of this generation of the NFL, and if anything is certain this week, it’s that these QBs will put on a show.
With the Ravens dismantling their opponents in the first two weeks, the Chiefs have shown weakness on the defensive ends that have been mitigated by their overwhelming offensive ability, but that won’t be an advantage they’ll carry into this matchup. The Ravens can match the Chiefs drive-for-drive but I give them the clear defensive matchup. That being said, Mahomes has shown his prowess in picking apart elite defenses, and did so last week in claiming a win against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Without a doubt, this is the premier matchup of the regular season, and in all likelihood should also be the AFC Championship. If you watch one game this week, this is hands-down the one to make time for.