Photo: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Week 3 of the NFL is in the books, and it might have been the best week yet. We had some upsets, some blowouts, and some overtime. The Jets won a game!!! I repeat the Jets won. The Jaguars play like Super Bowl Champs when they play in London, and Thursday Night Football was actually a good game for once. Now that week 3 is behind of let’s take a look at some of the top games this week.
Sunday @ 1:00pm ET, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings:
With both teams coming out of week 3 with a 2-1 record, one is coming off a win, the Vikings, and the other is coming off a heartbreaking loss. Both have defenses that are above average, and offenses that can get it done. The Vikings rookie running back is making some noise with 288 yards on the season and a 97 yard game last week. Stafford is just doing his thing, with 678 yards and 7 TDs. Both of these teams will be looking to get a big division win this week and it should be a great game.
How the Lions can win:
The Lions need to get the run game going. They have not had a rusher go over 100 yards yet this season, and while a lot of teams haven’t and the Lions do have two wins so it’s not a big deal. Stafford is there second leading rusher though and that says more about the offensive line than it does the running backs. The O-line has not been the strong suit of this team in the past, and it doesn’t look to great this season. Stafford has been sacked 6 times this season, which isn’t too bad but it could be more if Stafford hadn’t made some plays with his legs. The offensive line needs to hold up in both the running and passing game in order for the offense to compete. If the line holds up the skilled offense will do the rest.
The defense is above average but not great. They have already forced 8 turnovers, including 7 interceptions, and 3 fumbles with only one recovered. The key on defense is don’t make huge mistakes, and keep the other offense on the field long enough to force a turnover or short enough to have to punt. If they can slow down Dalvin Cook, then the rest of the Vikings offense will sputter.
How the Vikings can win:
With Bradford day-to-day with a knee injury he suffered during week 1 vs the Saints, the Vikings offense still played great last weekend against a solid Bucs defense. Case Keenum played the game of his life throwing for 369 yards and 3 TDs while completing 25-33 attempts and zero interceptions. The Vikings have two of the top three receiving yards leaders in Adam Thielen (299 yards) and Stefan Diggs (293 yards), they are number two and three respectively. They have been tremendous this year, picking up the slack for injured Sam Bradford and helping Keenum play better.
The #Vikings are the only team with multiple players ranking in the top 10 for scrimmage yards.
They have three (Cook, Diggs and Thielen). pic.twitter.com/jVHbwstqJm
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 27, 2017
They also have the second leading rusher in rookie Dalvin Cook. He has 288 yards this season but only one touchdown. Cook struggled with fumbles in college but has yet to fumble in his short NFL career which is a good sign. If he can get it going early and often, then the passing game will blow up.
On the other side of the ball, this Vikings defense is one of the best, if not the best in the league. They only have 3 turnovers on the year, but they have only given up 62 points on the year. They have not been at their best this season, but they haven’t had to because the offense finally has played well, unlike last year. If they can play like they did last year, or even like last week, when they had three interceptions, then the offense will have the ball more and get more scoring opportunities.
Prediction: Vikings win 27-17
Sunday @ 4:25pm ET, Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos:
Another division rival game! Both of these teams are coming off embarrassing losses though, with Denver losing at Buffalo by 10, and the Raiders getting completely shut down by the Redskins on primetime. Both teams will be looking to bounce back and hopefully gain ground on the Chiefs.
How the Raiders can win:
They need to gain more than 128 total yards. Derek Carr had maybe his worst game of his career, going 19-31 with 119 yards, 1 TD, and 2 interceptions. He will look to rebound and play better, although it will be tough against this top-notch Denver defense. In his career, Carr has not played very well against the Broncos. Having never thrown for more than 249 yards in a game, or more than 2 touchdowns. He has thrown 4 interceptions and has a 58% completion percentage against them. He has also been sacked 12 time by them. All of this in just 5 games. If the Raiders want to win then they need Carr to play well, but not necessarily great against the Broncos.
They also need more than 6 rushes for 18 yards from Marshawn Lynch. The run game was almost non-existent last week and they cannot happen again if they want to win. They mustered just 7 first downs against the Redskins, and they just weren’t moving the ball. The offense will have a much tougher job against this Denver defense than they did against the Redskins, but the offense hasn’t showed that it is bad all year. Maybe they just had bad week, and will bounce this week.
The defense will have a little bit of an easier time slowing down this Denver offense, which isn’t very good. Trevor Siemian is not a great QB, and in some opinions he’s not even a good QB. He has performed decently this year though with 709 yards and 6 TDs on 63% completion rate. But his last game was not so good as he threw 2 interceptions with zero TDs. So the Raiders must force the Broncos to throw and pounce on Siemian’s mistakes. Shut down the run game as much as possible. If they can do that then they should definitely win.
How the Broncos can win:
Do exactly what they did both week 1 and week 2. Dominate on the defensive side of the ball, and move the rock enough on offense to score some points. They gave up 249 total yards in week 1 and 268 total yards in week 2. They won both of those games because along with playing great defense their offense was playing well. Siemian had 3 TDs in each of the first two games and zero in the last one. He turned the ball over only twice in the first two weeks but had 2 interceptions in week 3.
The offense has a whole only mustered one touchdown against the Bills, while still out-gaining them in yards 366-272. But the Bills took advantage of the three turnovers the Broncos had and scored on all 3 possessions. Do not turn the ball over and get into the ball into the end zone. If they do that then the defense will most certainly do the rest.
Prediction: Raiders win 20-10
Monday @ 8;30pm ET, Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs:
Two teams looking to keep pace in their divisions, The Chiefs are 3-0 and first in their division, while the Redskins are 2-1 and tied for first in the division with everyone but the Giants. Both are coming off tough opponents. The Redskins dominated the Raiders, and the Chiefs beat a division rival in the Chargers. Will the Chiefs stay undefeated or will the Redskins end their win streak?
How the Chiefs can win:
Feed the beast. Kareem Hunt has yet to have a game this season with less than 100 all-purpose yards. The Chiefs should try to keep it that way. The rookie is having a tremendous start to his career with 401 yard rushing and 4 TDs to go along with 137 receiving yards and 2 TDs. Feeding him the rock with open up the passing lanes for Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. The offense has gained 1,192 yards on the season and has won them games at times.
Kareem Hunt: 100 scrimmage yards for the 3rd straight game. Last rookie to do that in each of his first 3 team games was Matt Forte in 2008. pic.twitter.com/nM2fhEcKY0
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 24, 2017
The defense has been so-so this year. The loss of captain Eric Berry has not been kind to the Chiefs, as they have been out-gained in yards in the last two games but have still managed to win. They do however have 11 sacks and 5 turnovers on the year, which has helped them stall or stop opponents drives. If they can continue to score points at the rate they are this game should be a win for the Chiefs.
How the Redskins can win:
If the defense plays the way they did last week then this will be an easy win. The Raiders gained a total of 128 total yards against this defense, and they aren’t a bad offense by any means. Josh Norman needs to lock down Tyreek Hill and force the Chiefs to run the ball. The Redskins have only given up 187 rushing yards on the season, so that may not work for the Chiefs either. The less the defense is on the field the better.
Kirk Cousins will make plays with the weapons he has and the offense will put up points, but to help the defense they need to get the run game going. As a team they have 409 rushing yards, which is good. With rookie Samaje Perine getting majority of the touches he hasn’t necessarily impressed as thought, only averaging 2.9 yard per carry. While fellow running back Chris Thompson has 3 more yards than Perine, while having 46 less carries than Perine. The offense has flourished in their wins, but in their lone loss the team only had 64 yards rushing, with Cousins being their leading rusher. That is not ideal for a team trying to win football games. To win the Redskins need to run the ball and keep the defense off the field as much as possible.
Prediction: Chiefs win 34-21
Other notable games around the NFL:
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore, Tennessee @ Houston, and Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas