21 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL: Week 3

  1. Thu
    Titans-Jaguars

    Sun
    Dolphins-Cowboys
    Bengals-Bills
    Lions-Eagles
    Jets-Patriots
    Falcons-Colts
    Raiders-Vikings
    Ravens-Chiefs
    Broncos-Packers
    Cardinals-Panthers
    Giants-Buccaneers
    Saints-Seahawks
    Texans-Chargers
    49ers-Steelers
    Rams-Browns

    Mon
    Bears-Redskins

    Power Rankings
    1st Tier
    Patriots
    Cowboys, Packers, Vikings, Rams
    Chiefs

    One thing to start off with: I don’t think any of these teams, right now, are truly great or dominant, with the possible exception of the Patriots. Most of the teams are very good. To use W-L record as a gauge, I would say they’re about 10-11 win teams. Let me comment about each one in order. The Patriots are hard to judge because they’ve played weak teams. However, in past years (like 2018), their defense can look vulnerable early on. That doesn’t seem to be the case this year. If they improve, they could be a dominant team. Cowboys look solid, but I have misgivings if they’re trying to build the team around Prescott. Packers defense, which may be the one that comes closest to looking great, stands out to me. If their run game takes off, I will place them on the same level as the Patriots. Vikings defense and run game have them here, and I’m assuming Cousins will take care of the ball when it really matters. Rams doesn’t look as potent, but it could be rust. Also, their defense seems significantly better than last year. I only have the Chiefs a notch below because of their defense.

    2nd Tier

    Chargers
    Texans, 49ers, Eagles, Seahawks, Browns, Falcons, Bears, Ravens
    Lions

    I feel like skipping the 2nd tier and just listing these teams as the 3rd tier. They are either teams that seem OK (a little better than .500), or maybe they just seem really good, but are in fact are not (e.g., the Ravens). (I’m using .500 as an indicator of the quality, not that the teams will literally win .500.) Many of these teams have the potential to move into the 1st tier (although I don’t think there are truly dominant/great teams in the first tier), but they will have to make some improvements, particularly in the defense or run game. (With the Ravens and Bears, I would say the QB play would also be an area to improve.) Also, if any of these teams get hot at the end of the season, they could do damage as well.

    Special note about the Seahawks. They looked better against the Steelers than they did against the Bengals (although they looked really bad against the latter). But they have young players, and they’re playing without Ansah and Reed (and without Poona Ford yesterday)—all key D-linemen. The defense could really take a big leap when all those guys come back, and if the younger guys develop, and the defensive cohesion and execution improves. Carroll is a really good defensive coach, too, so it’s within the realm of possibility that this happens. If they are a few notches below the 2013 team, the ‘Hawks could be really dangerous, especially if they can approximate last year’s running game. (They’ve been shaky in that department.)

    In a way, you could mention similar types of contingencies for many of the teams, including ones I didn’t list above.

    (Negative) Power Rankings

    Who are the worst teams in the league so far?
    Dolphins
    Cardinals
    Broncos
    Bengals

    2nd tier
    Jaguars, Redskins, Jets, Giants

    Note: In some ways, the question isn’t ranking the best teams, but how many teams are mediocre or worse. For example, the Patriots play the Jets, without Darnold and Mosley (and now without Siemian); the Seahawks play the Saints, sans Brees; the 49ers play the Steelers sans Roethlisberger, etc. These games may say more about how bad the teams are rather than how good. This is not a great situation for the league in my view.

    1. I’m pretty much in agreement except I probably won’t have the Vikings in the 1st tier (If I’m interpreting this ranking right, where teams are ranked based on their chances of winning it all.). If Green Bay’s defense turns out to be “for real”, then the Vikings could be a 1st tier team. I don’t think Vikings belong there because I heard Cousins had a terrible game against Green Bay, with some bad turnovers. Cousins wasn’t great last year too.

      Based on very little, I think I would have Seattle, Eagles and Bears slightly above the tier 2 teams. I just like their chances in playoffs games over the others.

      I’m not sure if you left the Colts out on purpose, but I would have them with the Bears, Eagles, and Seattle as well.

    2. If Green Bay’s defense turns out to be “for real”, then the Vikings could be a 1st tier team. I don’t think Vikings belong there because I heard Cousins had a terrible game against Green Bay, with some bad turnovers. Cousins wasn’t great last year too.

      If Cousins ball security is like that this year, the Vikings have very little chance of winning it all. However, I’m betting that he’ll be better at this. As for last year, the Vikings were one-dimensional; they had no run game, and their OL wasn’t very good. In that context, I thought Cousins was good, if not very good.

      Based on very little, I think I would have Seattle, Eagles and Bears slightly above the tier 2 teams. I just like their chances in playoffs games over the others.

      Seattle needs to clean up a lot of things, on defense and the OL. (Shoot, Carson fumbled three times already, but I suspect they’ll clean that up.) If this happens, then I agree.

      I’m not sure if you left the Colts out on purpose, but I would have them with the Bears, Eagles, and Seattle as well.

      To me, for the Colts to be serious playoff team, either Brissett will have to play like a top QB or the defense has to great. I don’t really see that happening. The AFC is so weak though, they could end up with a decent record (e.g., 10-6).

      1. In that context, I thought Cousins was good, if not very good.

        I’m not 100% sure what you meant. You meant Cousins did good considering who he was playing with and their style last year? But Keenum, with probably less the year before, seem to do much better than Cousins last year. Mitchell, and others too, were saying Minnesota had the best receiving duo in the league when Keenum was there. Those two weren’t quite as productive last year and Minnesota was terrible overall. I’m not saying that’s all on Cousins (and it’s not even close), but at this point based on his performances thus far this year, I’m not confident in his ability to turn this around.

        I heard that only two teams in the league currently have more rushing yards than passing yards, Indy and the Vikes. That could say a lot about the team and style on one hand, but it could also say a lot about the QBs.

      2. I’m not 100% sure what you meant. You meant Cousins did good considering who he was playing with and their style last year?

        Yes–more specifically, the team was one-dimensional, not having much of a run game or an OL. I feel like both were better, or weren’t as bad, when Keenum was there. (I’m not really sure, though.) Part of this could have been play calling, too. Defilippo was more of a pass-centric guy, and eventually Zimmer fired him (during the season) because of it.

        That could say a lot about the team and style on one hand, but it could also say a lot about the QBs.

        You mean, Zimmer thinks Cousins is limited so he wants to run more? My guess is that Zimmer prefers a run-based offense, regardless of the QB. I also think a run-based offense is best suited for Cousins, and that’s partly because he is limited. (I feel the same about Flacco.)

        1. You mean, Zimmer thinks Cousins is limited so he wants to run more?

          I wasn’t thinking that, but that could be part of the reason Indy has more run yards than passing yards. I was thinking of the QB’s futility, that would make passing yards so low, that the running game would have more yards. Cousins threw for like 80 yards in week one. I’m going to guess a decent QB in the NFL has never had less passing yards than their them has rushing yards.

    3. You mean, Cousins is not really effective? I don’t get the impression that Cousins was playing badly in week 1. 80 yards is low, though. I wonder if I would change my impression if I re-watched the game. To me, the main thing is his turnovers. Against Green Bay, he tried to force a ball into a tight window (displaying a gunslinger’s mentality without a gunslinger’s arm). I don’t recall seeing him do that as much last year. And then he forced a deep ball at a crucial time. Both really bad decisions and throws. If he cuts that down, and the Vikings keep running the way they do, I predict they’ll be strong contenders.

      (By the way, I don’t know why there aren’t more OCs that can replicate the Shanahans’ and Kubiak’s ability to build a run game. Tom Cable, Jeremy Bates and Rick Dennison, all ZBS guys, could not. It’s a thing of beauty to watch.)

  2. Uncertain: Josh Allen
    And I’ve become uncertain about Carr, and Wentz is creeping up there.

    I’m still really skeptical about Goff and Lamar Jackson. About Jackson, I might re-watch his games because my impression is that the accuracy was pretty bad. The thing is, he did make good throws, and if the errant passes were few and not egregious then he the hype is more understandable. But my recollection is that the number and egregiousness of the errant passes were too high.

    If this is correct, this is a huge flaw. Here’s what I foresee: The Ravens will play a really good team, particularly on defense, in a really important game. The game might be close. Every completion is critical. And if the windows get tighter, these errant passes could become turnovers. (The good thing about Jackson so far is that these errant passes haven’t seemed likely to be intercepted.)

    By the way, if the Ravens stick with their offense, they should get college running QBs, maybe even go to a rotation. Tebow would have been a good–but celebrity backups are anathema to NFL teams.

  3. Saints-Seahawks

    The Seahawks played poorly–but this time the OL wasn’t to blame. Instead, here’s why they lost: ST (gave up a TD; penalty on a Saints FG that lead to a first down), Carson fumble lead to a TD, and Kamara–namely, he did damage in key moments. BS performance by the ‘Hawks.

    Steelers-49ers

    Niners won, but they were very sloppy. I think the first four possessions they had ended in a turnover. I think they ended with five on the day. The Steelers offense was completely ineffective for most of the game.

    Texans-Chargers

    Chargers looked like the better team, in control of the game for the first half. And then that flipped for much of the second half, although the Chargers made a run at the end, but came up short.

    Lions-Eagles

    Lions attempt at FG near the end, with a 3 point lead, and get it blocked. Luckily, the defense clamps down to seal the victory. I like the Lions offense. Wentz doesn’t look that great, in my opinion, although he’s still missing Jeffery and D-Jax. The Eagles run game looked a little better.

    Ravens-Chiefs

    Still not that impressed with Lamar Jackson. I’m not less impressed with Mahomes than others as well. To fair, he’s missing Tyreek Hill.

    Falcons-Colts

    Colts offense was in a good groove for most of the game–running and dinking-and-dunking. Falcons offense made it a game, but it wasn’t enough. Overall, it was a well-played game by the Colts. (Ryan did have a bad INT.)

    Rams-Browns

    Pretty good game. Browns looked solid, especially since they had many injuries in their secondary. Goff had two INTs.

    McVay is like a reincarnation of Bill Walsh. One reason I say this: I feel like no one else relies on these timed throws–whether the ball is thrown before the WRs makes his break. The Browns sometimes got themselves in good position though, either smothering WRs or jumping on the ball. But the Rams still had quite a bit of open targets.

    Another reason I mention Walsh is that the offense looks so old school in many ways. They used a reverse and a end around. (The bunch/close formations remind me more of the late 90s, early 2000s.) It’s a solid offense. The Rams are not gashing opponents on the ground or moving the ball through the air as effectively as they did in the past, though. (The Rams had quite a few dropped passes.)

  4. I only watched the Rams-Browns game and I agree it was a pretty good game. When the Rams ran that double reverse I was positively gleeful. I thought I also saw an old-fashioned sweep too, but I was only half paying attention and it was most likely the rocket sweep.

    Agree that the Rams don’t look as impressive as a year ago, but they also look like they’re trending upward, like if they keep going the way they are they’re going to peak at a good time. It’s weird seeing Clay Matthews in their defense but it’s also kind of cool. He looks great in a Rams uni and he got to be in Cleveland’s stadium the night they added his dad to the Browns ring of honor. Super cool.

  5. Chiefs-Ravens:
    I’ll be surprised if these are not two of the better teams in the AFC. Yes Lamar wasn’t great for the entire game, but the Ravens’ offense was pretty good overall. I think if the Ravens weren’t getting gashed on defense early on (and most other teams probably couldn’t), the Ravens offense would have played a lot more consistently. That being said though, I’m not sure how good the Chiefs defense is.

    I feel the opposite of Reid in terms of Mahommes. He really looks like the real deal to me. If the knock on him if he can be inconsistent at times, I’ll buy that, but his ability to make plays is unbelievable. I also think he can be good in any system, but he is definitely great in Reid’s system.

    Seahawks-Saints,
    That missed pass by Wilson on fourth down in the third quarter was super surprising and was a killer. I don’t always feel like Wilson is great throughout the game (well not as great as Reid does for sure), and yes that could be due to many factors, but in the more crucial or important moments, Wilson is always great. Wilson makes that pass and the game’s narrative changes completely, even though the Seahawks wwas still down two scores.

    Seahawks down by 19 and scores a TD. They kick the extra point. Really it doesn’t matter, but that was an strategic error. They make the two pointer and could have cut the lead to a TD, another two point conversion, and a field goal.

    Rams-Browns:
    The Browns’ o-line is awful. The Browns did a decent job early getting the ball out early and mitigating that bad o-line play. But with the Brown’s down late, and having the pass, the o-line was a sieve. That being said though, Mayfield should have at least tried to get the ball to Landry or Odell even if they may not have appeared open. These guys can make plays.

      1. Stats-wise, I’m pretty sure Myles Garrett is in the Demarcus Lawrence range, whereas Donald is probably closer to JJ Watt (but not for as many years – yet). That being said, what I heard about Donald is, it’s ridiculous for an inside guy to put up stats like an outside guy (ie: Watt).

    1. I think the Chiefs are a solid team, although their defense looks shaky (like last year). The Ravens might be one of the better teams, but that isn’t saying much . The best AFC teams so far, besides those two, seem to be the Colts, Chargers, Browns, Texans, maybe even the Bills, and of course there’s the Patriots as well. It’s still early but most of these teams don’t look great; they’re not consistent.

      With the Ravens, besides Jackson’s accuracy, the Ravens defenses doesn’t look as good as I thought they would. It’s early, though, so they could look better.

      If the knock on him if he can be inconsistent at times, I’ll buy that, but his ability to make plays is unbelievable. I also think he can be good in any system, but he is definitely great in Reid’s system.

      He makes unbelievable plays, but the reason I’m hesitant, besides some inconsistency, is that some of these throws are made with really wide open targets, often for explosive plays. Would he be as effective if the pass pro wasn’t as good and targets weren’t as open consistently? I’m not entirely sure.

      Wilson makes that pass and the game’s narrative changes completely, even though the Seahawks wwas still down two scores.

      Yeah, that was a big play–but there were so many big plays that hurt the Seahawks. Also, there was a stretch (about 3-4 passes) were Wilson was throwing short. Overall, though, I thought he played well. I also thought the OL was solid, or good enough.

      But with the Brown’s down late, and having the pass, the o-line was a sieve.

      The last drive this was definitely the case. You can see the talent on this team, though. I think if they can get more balance on offense, especially better running, they could be really good.

      1. The best AFC teams so far, besides those two, seem to be the Colts, Chargers, Browns, Texans, maybe even the Bills, and of course there’s the Patriots as well.

        If your list is right, you are right these teams are great, especially the Browns and Chargers who both are 1-2 I believe.

        The last drive this was definitely the case.

        I’m pretty sure it was the last two drives, which the o-line was getting killed. I wouldn’t doubt if it was bad in spots the entire fourth quarter, but it didn’t stand out like the last two drives to me.

    2. If your list is right, you are right these teams are great, especially the Browns and Chargers who both are 1-2 I believe.

      I think the Chiefs and Patriots are a cut above the rest. Right now I’d lump the Ravens in with the others. Also, are you putting a lot of weight on the W/L record when evaluating the teams? I think I put more weight on the way the team plays then their record. For example, if Seattle came back and won on Sunday, I would say their 3-0 record would be very misleading.

      I’m pretty sure it was the last two drives, which the o-line was getting killed. I wouldn’t doubt if it was bad in spots the entire fourth quarter, but it didn’t stand out like the last two drives to me.

      You’re probably right–that the second to the last drive was problematic. I just wasn’t sure. In any event, at some point near the end, the OL looked significantly worse. (Overall, I wouldn’t say the Browns OL is really bad. I’d say it’s about average, or maybe a little better or worse depending on who you compare them to.)

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