The NFL season is coming to Week Three already, and predictions thus far haven’t always sided with usually dominate teams such as the New England Patriots. Even the defending Super Bowl champs lost last week, making the journey to this week seem all the more intriguing from a match-up standpoint. Among the winners this week, New England looks to be on track for a monster victory over Oakland, as this Raiders team seems to be stuck in the same perpetual rebuilding mode that took hold when Rich Gannon retired.
Weeks One and Two of this football season have washed away, but brought a few surprises already. From a pure standings perspective, the New Orleans Saints are the biggest shock of the year with no wins yet and the worst passing defense so far. the Saints face the new drama center of the NFL, Minnesota, this week, which may put them in the win column. Hot on their disappointing heels are the Indianapolis Colts, who gave the Eagles a win on Monday Night Football after several blunders in the second half. They too face an extremely beatable team this week in Jacksonville and will probably join the Saints in their first win.
The New England Patriots, coming off one of the biggest wins in the NFL last week, are predicted to roll over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The factors stacked against the Raiders seem overwhelming by themselves; Oakland will be in Foxboro with a rookie quarterback against a Patriots team that won with its defense almost exclusively last week. That starting quarterback for the team, Derek Carr, is actually a bit ahead of thrice-champion Tom Brady in Total Q.B.R. and just behind him in third-down conversion rates, where both are near the bottom of eligible passers in those categories.
Bill Belichick proposed the answer to the offensive questions lies in balance. “We could stand to get a lot more balance into our attack overall, period,” the head coach said on a call. Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator, said that not everyone on offense has been on the same page as of late. That starts with the coaching staff, both agreed, and comes through Tom Brady and company.
As far as winners for Week Three, the predicted upsets are few and far between. The Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens looks to be the surprise of the week, as Joe Flacco loves to keep expectations tabled by often losing after a win. Elsewhere, Cincinnati will keep rolling along, Kansas City will grab their first win at Miami, Carolina will stamp their claim to the N.F.C. South by beating Pittsburgh, and the Seattle Seahawks will correct their course against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
Standing tallest with the winners in Week Three of the NFL season will be the New England Patriots with the largest margin of victory. This is not strictly because the Raiders seem hapless, but rather, a collection of reasons, such as the Patriots offense joining their defense in this up-swing, coupled with Revis-led hardships for Carr in the passing game. At the end of the NFL day, Foxboro citizens will go home happy with a 42-to-10 victory as all three facets of this Patriots team get involved in the flurry.
Commentary by Myles Gann