, Get ready for Week 3 of the NFL season with analysis, matchups and picks for every game.,
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The top tier of the NFL appears clearly established. The Bills are transcendent. The Chiefs have been undeterred by the loss of Patrick Mahomes‘ best receiver. The Bucs, Eagles and Dolphins have looked dominant at times.
But hey, we’ve seen only two weeks of football. A lot can change — for those teams, and 27 others.
FOX Sports’ staff of NFL writers has assembled a guide to every game that will be played in Week 3. Make sure to check the site and app throughout the season for previews and predictions each week.
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022
Overview: The Browns have to be reeling after a horrendous loss to the Jets last week, in which they blew a 13-point lead in the final 1:55 and lost 31-30 right when they were on the verge of a shocking 2-0 start. If they can get over that, though, they’ll see their offense is still clicking. They have the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL behind a great offensive line and the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They’ll also see a Steelers team that isn’t clicking offensively at all behind QB Mitch Trubisky, who hasn’t topped 200 passing yards in either of his first two games. Pittsburgh has also given up 257 rushing yards in the first two games against teams not nearly as good on the ground as the Browns.
Trubisky has enough problems already. He certainly doesn’t need Garrett forcing him to rush his throws. Garrett, with three sacks in the first two games, is still one of the premier game-wreckers in the league. He also gave Moore fits last season, particularly in their first meeting. Moore was a rookie then, so he should be better this time around. Garrett, by the way, is dealing with a neck injury, but he is still expected to play.
Key stat: The Steelers are 0-5 in the five games T.J. Watt has missed in his career. They are just a different defense without him — and a different team overall. And while they could probably live without his pass-rushing skills in this game, they sure could use his overall ability as they try to stop a Browns team averaging an NFL-best 200.5 yards per game on the ground.
Prediction: Even if he’s given all the time in the world, Trubisky has yet to show he’s capable of doing anything with it. What he needs to win this game is for the Steelers’ defense to keep the scoring in the teens, like it did against the Patriots last week.
But that’s not easy to do against a Browns teams with weapons, particularly on the ground. The Chubb-Hunt tandem is tough to stop, and they can be dangerous in the short passing game, too. They’re going to be able to move the ball and score points. Maybe the Steelers can duplicate what the Jets did in the final two minutes against the Browns last week. But the Jets’ offense actually looks a lot more dangerous than the Steelers’ offense right now.
Browns 24, Steelers 17 — Ralph Vacchiano
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022
Overview: One of these teams is trending upward, and it probably isn’t the one you’d have thought at the beginning of the season. Through two games, the Lions are tied for second in scoring offense, averaging 35.5 points per game, and they have scored at least 35 points in each of their first two games for the first time since 1952. They’re also leading the league in yards per rushing attempt with 7.2, thanks in large part to running back D’Andre Swift and one of the best offensive lines in the league.
The Vikings, on the other hand, just got handed a very high-profile loss on Monday Night Football by the Philadelphia Eagles, who look like what we thought the Vikings might be. The Vikes will try to right the ship at home as they take on their second division team in three weeks. The only thing that could make a second straight loss worse is losing to a division team.
Detroit may have just seen the blueprint for how to limit Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The question will be if Amani Oruwariye and Okudah are up to the task. Honorable mention: the flip side of that equation in Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown against cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Cam Dantzler. Don’t sleep on St. Brown.
Key stat: St. Brown has tied an NFL record with at least eight receptions in eight straight games. No player has ever done it in nine straight games.
Prediction: Fireworks! Both teams have come a long way from their conservative offensive reputations. They have plenty of weapons and trust them in nearly every situation. Detroit keeps this far more competitive than most would have expected before Hard Knocks began, but nevertheless…
Vikings 32, Lions 30 — Carmen Vitali
Overview: Baltimore really collapsed last week. There’s a lot of fanfare about the Dolphins‘ ability to overcome a 21-point deficit, but it takes two to tango, and the Ravens botched the finish to that game. They struggled with busted coverages and the Dolphins’ explosive receiving threats. And on offense, they didn’t generate enough yardage or points to fend off Miami’s comeback. So the Ravens are likely rattled after such a tough outcome in Week 2. That said, they are a uniquely talented roster with Lamar Jackson at the center. They’ll have that advantage over the Patriots.
New England’s defense has been its guiding force, but that’s not saying a ton. The Patriots don’t have much in the way of Pro Bowl talent at any spot on their roster, with the exception of Matthew Judon and special-teams ace Matthew Slater. They’re limited in top-end talent on both sides of the ball. But it shows more on offense, where they’ve put up just 24 points in two weeks. Yikes! Mac Jones might look worse than he did last year. And the rushing attack hasn’t hit its stride to compensate. Bill Belichick’s squad is off to a particularly slow start.
Matchup to watch: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson vs. Patriots CB Jalen Mills
New England isn’t likely to match up Mills on Rashod Bateman for the entire day. Mills might spend time covering a smattering of different pass-catchers. But he is the top cornerback on the depth chart. And while Jackson will also be a nightmare for linebackers Mack Wilson and Ja’Whaun Bentley, the Patriots have to worry about the pass first with Jackson. Mills may be the most important defender, but he’s not exactly an elite corner. So it will be interesting to see how New England’s secondary holds up.
Key stat: With 119 rushing yards in Week 2, Lamar Jackson set an NFL record for most 100-yard rushing games by a QB (11), passing Michael Vick (10).
Prediction: Are there two teams that are harder to get a beat on? The Ravens looked like one of the NFL’s best teams after six quarters of the season. Then they had a total meltdown. New England has simply played ugly, defensive football and scrapped its way to a 1-1 record. The Patriots haven’t instilled confidence. Then again — neither have the Ravens. But Baltimore has Jackson. He should be a problem for the Patriots. That will tip the scale in this matchup.
Ravens 21, Patriots 20 — Henry McKenna
Overview: Both teams are coming off a loss, though Chicago quarterback Justin Fields said the Bears‘ loss “hit different.” It may be because Fields himself played poorly, not aided by a gameplan that saw him attempt just 11 passes. He completed just seven and had only four attempts in the entire second half, with Chicago favoring the run and seeing yet another 100-plus-yard David Montgomery performance.
It’s hard to blame the Bears when the run was just about the only thing working. And in a game in which they only ran 41 offensive plays, period, that’s saying something. Fields has attempted only 28 passes through two games this season. Every other team in the league has more completions than that. The Bears have put up only 76.5 passing yards per game, which is less than half as many as the next-closest team (Giants, 159). There were extenuating circumstances in Week 1 with the weather. The Packers are great, and have tended to play Chicago particularly well lately.
But now, against a Houston team that is giving up the second-most yards per game and the sixth-most passing yards per game, the Bears have a real opportunity to let Fields sling it. They’re going to have to evaluate him sooner or later, and this seems like a good time to do it.
Pierce leads all rookies in rushing yards through two games, registering 102 yards on 26 carries so far. It might be time for him to get his welcome-to-the-league moment, and Smith has been less effective than usual — especially considering he’s playing for his next contract. Smith could use this game to make a statement.
Key stats: The Texans are 0-6 in their past six games against NFC opponents. Also, through the first two games, Houston has been outscored 27-0 in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: The Bears are early in a rebuild, but so are the Texans. Ultimately, I think Chicago has just a little more talent on its roster.
Bears 17, Houston 13 — Carmen Vitali
Overview: It’s a battle of two of the most disappointing teams in the NFL. The Titans were the AFC’s top seed last season, and the Raiders thought they were a Super Bowl contender after loading up in the offseason with WR Davante Adams. Yet both are 0-2. The Raiders at least lost two close games to two good teams, the Chargers and Cardinals. The Titans lost to the Giants and then were blown out by the Bills. Maybe most concerning for the Titans is that RB Derrick Henry has just 107 rushing yards through two games. If he doesn’t get going, the Titans are finished. He’s the only good thing about Tennessee’s offense now, and he hasn’t been good at all.
Matchup to watch: Titans RB Derrick Henry vs. the Raiders’ defense
It takes a village, and it’ll take the entire Raiders defense to stop Henry, even if he hasn’t looked like the “King” he used to be. The good news for the Raiders is that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s group has done a great job against opposing running backs through the first two games, holding the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler and Arizona’s James Conner to 36 and 25 rushing yards, respectively. Henry had 82 yards on 21 carries against the Giants and 25 yards on 13 carries vs. the Bills. He has to get going at some point, right?
Key stat: WR Davante Adams had two catches for 12 yards in Week 2 against Arizona – his lowest totals since Week 7 in 2017. That’s a good reason why the Raiders couldn’t hold onto their 20-point lead (their largest blown lead in franchise history) and had only 324 total yards of offense. Adams, who was targeted seven times, has to be way more involved.
Prediction: It was somewhat predictable that the Titans’ passing offense would struggle after they traded WR A.J. Brown a year after letting WR Corey Davis walk. But Derrick Henry struggling? That’s a bad sign. He is rarely made to look as human as he did the first two weeks, and the Las Vegas defense is capable of making it three in a row. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ offense has shown it can move the ball. QB Derrick Carr has thrown for 547 yards, and he even had 252 against the Cardinals without getting much from Adams. The Raiders have the weapons, and Adams is an elite one when they use him. If the Titans can’t get Henry on track, there’s just no way they can keep up.
Raiders 27, Titans 13 — Ralph Vacchiano
Overview: The Chiefs could have come away from the first two weeks under increased scrutiny for deciding to trade away their second-best player, Tyreek Hill, who is thriving with the Miami Dolphins. But Kansas City really only seems to need their best player, Patrick Mahomes, to remain Super Bowl contenders. In Week 1, the Chiefs completely blew out the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 2, Kansas City held off the Los Angeles Chargers, another truly exceptional team. So in theory, the Indianapolis Colts shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
Indy is off to an unceremonious start for 2022. They tied the lowly Texans, which left some wondering whether Houston might be better than expected. But when the Jacksonville Jaguars shut out the Colts 24-0, it was abundantly clear that the Colts are actually worse than everyone expected. Matt Ryan isn’t getting the protection he needs, with the offensive line allowing seven sacks, tied for fifth-most in the NFL. That is, in part, why Ryan suddenly looks like he and his arm have aged at an unfortunately accelerated pace. Of course, Ryan was playing without Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce in Week 2. Perhaps their return can inject some life into the offense.
Matchup to watch: Chiefs DT Chris Jones vs. Colts QB Matt Ryan
There has been a growing sentiment that sacks are a quarterback stat. I’m not in 100 percent agreement with that, but I am curious to see whether Ryan can get the ball out quickly enough to neutralize the pass-rush. So, of course, Jones will line up against the Colts’ interior offensive linemen. But rushing the passer is all about timing. And if Ryan is in rhythm — unlike he’s been in the first two weeks — he could minimize Jones’ impact on the game.
Key stat: Patrick Mahomes (19,586 career passing yards) needs 414 passing yards to become the fastest player in NFL history to reach 20,000 passing yards (would be his 66th game).
Chiefs & Bills headline Nick’s NFL Tiers heading into Week 3
Nick Wright places the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs atop the tiers, followed by the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Prediction: There’s just no predictable way for the Colts to stay competitive. They’re outmatched. The Chiefs might be right up there with the Buffalo Bills as the two best teams in the NFL. And considering how shaky Indy has looked through two weeks, there’s no way they can stop Mahomes. He’s going to light up the Colts’ defense. The Kansas City defense may have some issues with the Colts passing attack if Pittman and Pierce are back in action. But it won’t be enough.
Chiefs 30, Colts 17 — Henry McKenna
Overview: The Bills have established themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL. A case could easily be made that they’re the best team in the league. They have ripped up their two opponents; the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the AFC’s top seed in 2021, the Tennessee Titans. Josh Allen is the centerpiece around which the offense revolves. He is simply a generational talent, with unique arm talent and a knack for picking up first downs with his legs. On defense, there’s Von Miller, another generational talent with a knack for causing quarterback meltdowns. But it’s hardly about these two players. The team is impressive from top to bottom.
The Dolphins have the herculean task of knocking off the team I just raved about. Miami has looked surprisingly impressive. But their win over the Patriots wasn’t as clean as the scoreline showed, with Tua Tagovailoa getting sloppy with the football. The Ravens made him pay for that in the first half with two interceptions — and then Tagovailoa stepped into an otherworldly mode where he played at a level that we’ve never seen. He finished that game with six touchdowns, two interceptions and 469 passing yards. So will we see Tua in God Mode? Or will he regress to the mean, particularly against a staggeringly talented front from the Bills? That’s what will make Sunday so interesting.
Bills dominate Titans 41-7, Craig issues an apology
After a decisive victory over Derrick Henry’s Tennessee Titans, Craig Carton places the Bills at the top of his list of the teams to beat.
Matchup to watch: Dolphins OT Terron Armstead vs. Bills edge Von Miller
Of course, I’m interested to see if a quarterback duel materializes between Allen and Tagovailoa — but there’s no saying whether that will happen. So I’ll pick Armstead and Miller as the two players I’m watching closest. This offseason, the Dolphins signed Armstead at about the same time that the Bills signed Miller during free agency. That set up this epic matchup, which should be fascinating considering Miller has terrorized his opponents and Armstead is dealing with a toe injury.
Key stat: The Bills have won seven straight matchups against the Dolphins, their longest-ever winning streak against Miami.
Prediction: You can count me as a believer in the Dolphins. You can also count me as a believer that the hype has gone a little too far. They’re good. They’re not yet one of the best teams in the NFL. I don’t think their fiery fourth quarter against the Ravens will carry into their matchup against the Bills. Buffalo should eke out a win in Miami.
Bills 27, Dolphins 24 — Henry McKenna
Overview: What has happened to the Bengals? They can’t protect Joe Burrow, who has not looked like himself. In Week 1, he threw four interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who I think might end up being one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. Then he threw for just 199 yards and a touchdown in a blowout against Cooper Rush’s Cowboys. It has just been ugly for Cincy, which appears to be recovering from last year’s Super Bowl loss. Burrow spent the week telling the media he’s not worried, which is good. But I’m worried. The Bengals need to fix their issues quickly.
It doesn’t help that Cincy is taking on the Jets, who miraculously pulled off a 14-point comeback in the final two minutes of their game against the Cleveland Browns. Joe Flacco played out of his mind. Coach Robert Saleh handled the late-game situations to perfection. And the Jets are sitting at third in the AFC East — above the New England Patriots. New York looks like it has momentum and confidence heading into a game against a Cincinnati team that’s lacking in both departments.
Gardner, the 2022 fourth overall pick, has shifted between receivers, never getting assigned to the WR1 and shadowing him for the game. So we may only see a snap here and there where he and Chase match up against each other. But when we do, it will be fascinating to watch. Gardner has been very solid to start his NFL career. But he also hasn’t been tested in the ways Chase, one of the league’s best wideouts, will test him. I’m looking to see whether Chase can deliver a welcome-to-the-NFL moment — or whether Gardner can prove he belongs.
Key stat: Through two games, the Bengals rank 31st in first-half scoring margin (-25) and second in second-half scoring margin (+22).
Prediction: The Bengals are going to have to work hard to battle their way to a win. These Jets are pesky, and they badly want to be playoff-relevant this year. You get the sense they are truly tired of being bottom feeders and they’re just gaining confidence that they can compete. It’s just that the Bengals are a better football team. I think they win ugly in New York.
Bengals 17, Jets 10 — Henry McKenna
Overview: The Eagles and QB Jalen Hurts put on a show Monday night, hammering the Vikings and looking like true Super Bowl contenders. They have a dangerously diverse offense that, for one game, clicked everywhere, and their defense stepped up after a terrible Week 1. It’s one game, but they could really be a problem for a Washington defense that has been particularly vulnerable on the ground, allowing 314 yards in two games. The good news for the Commanders is that they also have a dangerous offense. QB Carson Wentz is second in the league in passing yards (650) and tied for first in touchdown passes (7). But his three interceptions have certainly kept things interesting for Washington.
Detroit‘s Amon-Ra St. Brown went off on the Commanders for nine catches, 116 yards and two touchdowns. A week earlier, Jacksonville’s Christian Kirk had six catches for 117 yards. It’ll help if the Commanders get S Kam Curl back, but so far Washington has given up seven pass plays of 20 yards or more, including two longer than 40. And with Brown and Smith, the Eagles have two receivers capable of racking up big plays.
Are the Eagles the team to beat in the NFC?
Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor, LeSean McCoy and David Helman debate whether the Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in the NFC.
Key stat: The Eagles rank second in the NFL in rushing (189.5 yards per game) while the Commanders are giving up an NFL-worst 7.5 yards per rushing attempt this season. There’s your uh-oh stat of the week. The Eagles may have a dangerous passing attack now, but running is their bread and butter. If the Commanders can’t stop the run, they don’t have much hope of winning.
Prediction: The Eagles (2-0) look ready to roll, while the Commanders (1-1) look like they’re still trying to find their footing. There’s no question Washington has the offensive weapons to keep up with Philadelphia. But the Commanders don’t look like they have a defense capable of slowing the Eagles down. Maybe if they had Chase Young and some semblance of a pass rush, but right now they don’t. Expect the Eagles’ offensive line to dominate this matchup, setting up another big game by Hurts. And while the Philly defense won’t have as easy a time as it did against the Vikings, the secondary should be able to cause a couple of mistakes by Wentz. That’ll be the difference in a game that will feel like more of a blowout than the final score indicates.
Eagles 31, Commanders 23 — Ralph Vacchiano
Overview: The Panthers have yet to win a game with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Though they’ll be on home turf for Week 3, the Saints come to town with as scary a defense as Carolina has become accustomed to seeing. New Orleans ranks top 10 in yards per play against and is tied for eighth in third-down conversion rate. Conversely, the Saints are giving up an average of 23 points a game, which could bode well if Mayfield is as productive as the Panthers hoped he would be when they signed him in training camp.
New Orleans’ offense was also just stifled by the Buccaneers, scoring just 10 points in their Week 2 matchup. They were notably missing running back Alvin Kamara, a focal point of the offense and quarterback Jameis Winston’s de facto safety net. Winston completed just 25 of 40 pass attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown against three interceptions in Kamara’s absence — looking like the Winston the Panthers have been accustomed to seeing in recent years. Winston also took six sacks in the game, which has to have Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns rubbing his hands together Birdman-style watching the film. Burns had two sacks last weekend against the Giants (who might be kind of good?) and will look for his third straight game with a sack when hosting the Saints.
Is Baker Mayfield to blame for Panthers 0-2 start?
The Panthers are 0-2 to start the season after losing to both the Browns in Week 1 and the Giants in Week 2. How prominently does their QB factor into that?
New Orleans could get back on track with the return of Kamara, while the Panthers will need more from their own do-it-all ball carrier in Christian McCaffrey. The now-healthy McCaffrey had 128 all-purpose yards last game, which was his 26th game with more than 125 yards from scrimmage since 2017. That’s the most in the NFL.
Jordan has been known to give rookies (and really, any offensive linemen) reality checks when lining up across the line of scrimmage from him. Ekwonu was the first tackle taken in this year’s draft and looks to have taken a couple of lumps against the Giants. Doing that again could be costly for the Panthers, especially Mayfield.
Key stat: The Panthers have lost nine straight games, which is the longest active losing streak in the NFL. The biggest statistical indicator of win/loss records? Takeaways. The Panthers are 26th in the league in turnover margin. They’re the only team that has failed to record a takeaway through the first two weeks of the season and have given up three of their own.
Prediction: I just don’t see Carolina getting past a Saints team that is still reeling from their last division loss just days ago. Their best bet is if Winston continues his regression and they finally turn that takeaway stat around.
Saints 28, Panthers 13 — Carmen Vitali
Overview: Sunday marks the 13th matchup between the Jaguars and Bolts. L.A. has won nine of the past 12 and all five home contests. The Chargers earned their first win at SoFi Stadium against Jacksonville, a 39-29 victory in Week 7 of the 2020 campaign. Also, former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, now the quarterbacks coach of the Jaguars, faces his old team.
According to Pro Football Focus, Slater allowed zero pressures on 51 pass-blocking snaps in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be critical that Slater protects a banged-up Justin Herbert, who fractured rib cartilage last weekend. Slater likely will see a good bit of Allen, who leads Jacksonville with two sacks and two forced fumbles on the year. Defensively, the Jaguars have five interceptions and six sacks. After finishing with the worst turnover differential (-20) in the league last season, the Jaguars have the best (+5) in the NFL through the first two weeks this season.
Jay Glazer answers questions about Justin Herbert, the New York Giants, and more following NFL Week 2
What’s the latest with Justin Herbert’s injury? With Dak out, what moves will Jerry Jones make? Are the Giants for real?
Key stat: The Jaguars have lost 18 straight road games, dating back to 2019.
Prediction: The Chargers could find tough sledding on the ground, with Jacksonville giving up just 69.5 rushing yards a game. L.A.’s 2.75 rushing yards per play is already second-worst in the NFL. However, the Bolts should move the ball through the air and make enough plays on defense with Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and Derwin James Jr. for a victory at SoFi Stadium.
Chargers 24, Jaguars 20 —Eric D. Williams
Overview: Sean McVay’s Rams have owned the Cardinals. Since 2017, when McVay took over the team, L.A. is 10-1 against Arizona and now leads the all-time series 47-39-2. The last time these two teams met, the Rams humbled the Cardinals 34-11 in the NFC wild-card game last season.
Matchup to watch: Rams DL Aaron Donald vs. Cardinals’ offensive line
Donald needs just one sack to reach 100 in his career. The disruptive defensive lineman has 15 sacks against the Cardinals, his most against any opponent, and has 12 in his past six games at Arizona. So far, the Cardinals have done a decent job of protecting cat-quick quarterback Kyler Murray up front, giving up four sacks through two games.
Jalen Ramsey on the Rams’ victory over Atlanta
Jalen Ramsey speaks with FOX Sports’ Laura Okmin on the Los Angeles Rams’ win over the Atlanta Falcons. “We still have a lot to correct,” he said.
Key stat: The Cardinals have lost six straight home games, tied for the team’s longest home losing streak since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988.
Prediction: Unless the Cardinals get another otherworldly performance from Murray, it’s hard to see them moving the ball against an L.A. defense that looked much better in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. At some point, look for the Rams to run the football better with the team’s one-two punch of Darrell Henderson Jr. and Cam Akers.
Rams 30, Cardinals 23 – Eric D. Williams
Overview: The Falcons are still looking for their first win, and they travel to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seahawks for the first time since 2017. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 12-6 and have won four of the past five games between these two teams. The Falcons stayed on the West Coast after their loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week and practiced at the University of Washington to get ready for Sunday’s game.
Matchup to watch: Falcons QB Marcus Mariota vs. Seahawks’ defensive line
Mariota has been so-so throwing the ball this season (411 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), but he has done a good job running the ball, with 88 rushing yards through two games. Mariota faces a Seattle defense allowing 145 rushing yards a contest, No. 25 in the NFL.
Key stat: Since Pete Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks are 18-2 in the month of September at home.
Prediction: The Falcons have started 0-2 for the third straight season and could be looking at 0-3. The Seahawks average a league-worst 56 rushing yards a contest but should get the ground game going against an Atlanta defense giving up 4.8 rushing yards per play, No. 21 in the NFL.
Seahawks 23, Falcons 21 —Eric D. Williams
Overview: Could this be the last time we see Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers face off? It will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two and Brady has a 3-1 advantage, which can’t sit well with Rodgers. If that doesn’t provide enough of a chip on his shoulder, Rodgers has more to prove coming into this game. Though the Packers beat the rival Chicago Bears in Lambeau Field last Sunday night, Rodgers was less than complimentary of his own play — especially in the second half. Green Bay leaned heavily on its run game, with Aaron Jones going off for 132 yards on 15 carries and scoring both a rushing and receiving touchdown on the night, which is exactly what the Packers said they would do as they try to find their offensive identity in the post-Davante Adams era.
Running the ball worked against the Bears, but the Packers are about to face a Buccaneers defense that is predicated on stopping the run first and foremost. Head coach Todd Bowles said that the Bucs can actually be better against the run and that would be the focus this week. Tampa Bay is uncharacteristically ranked 19th in rushing yards against per play through two games. But the Bucs have clamped down where it matters — namely, in points. The Bucs have given up a league-low 6.5 points per game and yet, they still have something to prove.
Can Rodgers’ legacy move up with win vs. Brady, Bucs in Week 3?
Aaron Rodgers will face Tom Brady this Sunday as the Green Bay Packers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
White and David are great matchups for running backs, and in order to keep Green Bay from being successful, they’ll need to stop both Jones and Dillon from doing what they did last week against the Bears.
Key stat: The Bucs’ defense leads the NFL with 10 sacks through Week 2. They’ve racked up nine sacks on Rodgers in their past two meetings with the Packers.
Prediction: If I’ve learned anything about this league, it’s to never bet against Tom Brady. In this case, the Bucs’ defense deserves inclusion. Brady is playing with a depleted offensive line and receiving corps, but this defense has been dominant through the first two games. With Bowles as head coach, the Bucs are looking to get back to their hallmark run-stopping prowess. I think they do that against the Packers, who try to force the run knowing their receivers aren’t there yet.
Buccaneers 19, Packers 17 — Carmen Vitali
Overview: After a disappointing start to their season, even drawing boos from the home crowd last week, the Broncos face one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses in the Niners. They lead the league in total defense (210 yards allowed per game), passing defense (142.5 passing yards allowed per game) and are third in points allowed per game (13). The all-time regular-season series is tied at 7-7, but San Francisco has won three of the past four matchups.
Denver would like to get the running game going, creating balance on offense and taking some pressure off Russell Wilson to carry the offense, and Williams is the team’s most explosive runner. The North Carolina product has 118 rushing yards (5.4 per carry) through two games. New starting safety Hufanga leads the Niners in total tackles with 17, including three tackles for loss, and has been a force in the run game defensively.
Is new Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett overmatched?
The Broncos were booed at home last week and had to rally to beat the Texans 16-9. Colin Cowherd explains how Hackett is in “over his head.”
Key stat: The Broncos have been penalized 25 times through two games, the most in the NFL and the most in a two-game span in team history.
Prediction: With Jimmy Garoppolo taking over for the injured Trey Lance at quarterback, expect San Francisco’s offense to get off to a fast start on the road, leaning on Deebo Samuel, Jeff Wilson and the running game. The Broncos will have to limit their mistakes and play a clean football game to have a chance in this one.
Niners 28, Broncos 23 —Eric D. Williams
Monday, Sept. 26, 2022
Overview: This is what you call a rewrite of a familiar script. The NFL loves pitting these teams against each other early in the season, as this is the eighth time in the past 11 years that the Cowboys and Giants have faced off in September.
The obvious difference lies in how this season has started for the Giants, who are 2-0 for the first time since 2016. For the past five years, it has felt like New York was already out of the running by Week 3. This week, it’s the Giants who are favored to win this division rivalry, which would be just their second win against the Cowboys since that 2016 season, when they famously swept Dallas en route to a playoff appearance.
The Cowboys were left for dead without Dak Prescott a week ago, and it’ll also be interesting to see how they follow up their upset of Cincinnati. A 2-1 start would do wonders for a team that’s still at least a few weeks away from getting Prescott back in the lineup. If backup QB Cooper Rush and the Dallas defense can put up another effort like they did last week, crazier things have happened.
Matchup to watch: Cowboys LBMicah Parsons vs. Giants’ offensive line
This is a bit of a simplification, because obviously there are more pieces to the Dallas pass rush than Micah Parsons. But if you watched the Cowboys’ 20-17 win against the Bengals last week, you surely noticed the way Parsons was able to wreck Cincinnati’s gameplan almost single-handedly.
Daniel Jones has faced pressure on a league-worst 49% of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants’ interior offensive line has looked rough through two weeks, and first-round pick Evan Neal is making just his third career start at right tackle.
Parsons and the Dallas pass rush were the catalysts for the win against Cincinnati. It’s on the Giants’ offensive line to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Steve Young suggests Dak Prescott should study Cooper Rush. How absurd is that?
Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor, LeSean McCoy and David Helman discuss Steve Young’s advice to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. “I want [Dak] to really study Cooper Rush,” the Hall of Fame QB said.
Key stat: It’s rare to see a division rivalry look this lopsided. Since the Giants swept the Cowboys in 2016, Prescott is a perfect 9-0 in starts against New York, and the Cowboys are 9-1 — with that one Giants win coming at the end of 2020 against Andy Dalton.
It’s not the Giants’ problem that Prescott is unavailable this week, and no one in New York is going to complain about a 3-0 start. It would be their first since 2009.
Prediction: My best guess here is that points will be hard to come by. The Cowboys’ ceiling on offense is likely limited with Rush running the show, while the Giants figure to have their hands full slowing the Dallas pass rush. If the Cowboys can keep Saquon Barkley in check, it’s reasonable to think they can coax some turnover-worthy plays out of Daniel Jones and the New York passing game. That sounds like just enough to boost the Cowboys.
Cowboys 16, Giants 14 — David Helman
FOX Sports’ Week 3 NFL preview was compiled by:
AFC East reporter Henry McKenna (atMcKennAnalysis)NFC West reporter Eric D. Williams (ateric_d_williams)NFC East reporter Ralph Vacchiano (atRalphVacchiano)NFC North reporter Carmen Vitali (atCarmieV)Dallas Cowboys reporter David Helman (atdavidhelman_)Researcher Daniel Gerber (@danielg90049)
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