By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.
Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 3:
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles
(Sun) Noon – Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings (NewsTalk 98.7)
WEEK 3 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 27-28
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, September 24
Miami at Jacksonville, 8:20 PM (NFLN)
Sunday, September 27
Chicago at Atlanta, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Houston at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM (CBS)
San Francisco at New York Giants, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Las Vegas at New England, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Tennessee at Minnesota, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Washington at Cleveland, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Carolina at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 PM (CBS)
New York Jets at Indianapolis, 4:05 PM (CBS)
Dallas at Seattle, 4:25 PM (FOX)
Tampa Bay at Denver, 4:25 PM (FOX)
Detroit at Arizona, 4:25 PM (FOX)
Green Bay at New Orleans, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Monday, September 28
Kansas City at Baltimore, 8:15 PM (ESPN)
Vince’s View on Week 3: The Monday night matchup is the must-watch marquee main dish on the table of football food in Week 3 of the NFL season. The resurgent LA Rams at Josh Allen and the tough Buffalo Bills is right there, along with Green Bay at New Orleans and Dallas at Seattle as the next best games. The Titans need to expect a better Vikings team than has been shown in the first two weeks.
Week 2 Prediction Record: 12-4
Season Record: 21-11
WEEK 2 THRILLERS BOOST ANTICIPATION:
PRIMETIME MATCHUPS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 3 SCHEDULE
A last-second goal-line stand, a 58-yard walk-off field goal in overtime and, believe it or not, a “watermelon” onside kick to help overcome a 19-point halftime deficit? The NFL is just getting started on its 2020 script.
The Week 3 screenplay could be just as thrilling.
SUPERSTARS DOING SUPERSTAR THINGS: MVP candidates are aplenty through two weeks. Several of those candidates will be on opposite sidelines this week.
- Seattle and quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who leads the NFL in passer rating (140.0), touchdown passes (nine) and completion percentage (82.5), host the DALLAS COWBOYS (4:25 PM ET Sunday, FOX), who last week became just the third team in the last 15 regular seasons to win after overcoming a two-score deficit in the final two minutes of regulation. Cowboys quarterback DAK PRESCOTT passed for 450 yards and one touchdown while rushing for three touchdowns last week, becoming the first player with at least 400 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns in a single game in NFL history.
- Reigning NFL MVP LAMAR JACKSON and his Ravens host reigning Super Bowl MVP PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). Mahomes (81 touchdown passes in 33 games) averages 2.45 touchdown passes per game, the highest mark in NFL history (minimum 30 games), ahead of the two next-closest players, PEYTON MANNING (2.03) and AARON RODGERS (2.02). Jackson, meanwhile, reached 2,000 career rushing yards in helping his team to a 2-0 start last week. This week, he needs 193 passing yards to reach 5,000 career and become the fastest player in NFL history (34 games) to reach 5,000 career passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. Both clubs also met with 2-0 records in Week 3 of 2019.
- The Patriots and CAM NEWTON, whose four rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback through the first two weeks in NFL annals, host the undefeated LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (1:00 PM ET Sunday, CBS). Newton, who has two rushing touchdowns in each of his first two games with New England, took sole possession of the NFL record among quarterbacks for most career games (eight) with at least two rushing touchdowns, surpassing JACK KEMP, STEVE MCNAIR and Pro Football Hall of Famers OTTO GRAHAM and STEVE YOUNG.
- Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN, whose team welcomes the 2-0 LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday (1:00 PM, FOX), passed for 417 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 147.0 passer rating in the Bills’ 31-28 win last week. Allen, who has passed for 729 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions in the first two weeks of the 2020 season, is the fourth quarterback with at least 700 passing yards, six touchdown passes and zero interceptions through his team’s first two games of a season in NFL history, joining TOM BRADY (2015), PATRICK MAHOMES (2019) and PEYTON MANNING (2013). On the other side, Rams quarterback JARED GOFF, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is one of four quarterbacks since 2017 to have four games of three-or-more touchdown passes and a passer rating of at least 140. The others are DREW BREES, RYAN TANNEHILL and RUSSELL WILSON).
- Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, hosts the DETROIT LIONS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Murray, who has passed for 516 yards and rushed for 158 this season, is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era (1966-present) with at least 500 passing yards and 150 rushing yards through his team’s first two games of a season. His newly acquired target DEANDRE HOPKINS has a league-leading 22 receptions, the most ever by a player in his first two games with a new team.
- Packers running back AARON JONES, who averages 6.9 yards per carry and has a league-leading 234 rushing yards, takes Green Bay into New Orleans for Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC). The Packers, who have totaled 85 points and 1,010 net yards of offense in their 2-0 start, are the fourth team to score at least 80 points and register at least 1,000 net yards of offense through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history, joining the 2019 BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1998 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and 1991 BUFFALO BILLS.
2-0 TEAMS ABOUND: Across the league, 11 teams have started 2-0, tied for the most in NFL history and most in 12 years. In addition to 2008, the NFL also had 11 clubs start the season 2-0 in 2006 and 1998.
Five of those 2-0 clubs – the ARIZONA CARDINALS, CHICAGO BEARS, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, LOS ANGELES RAMS and PITTSBURGH STEELERS – missed the playoffs in 2019. The Cardinals (5-10-1) finished last in the NFC West in 2019.
In 15 of the past 17 seasons, at least one NFL team won its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 25 of them have done so in the past 17 years (2003-19), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006. Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their divisions the season before.
Last season, both Green Bay (NFC North) and San Francisco (NFC West) won their divisions after missing the postseason in 2018. At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
COVERING THREE TIME ZONES: This week, three Pacific Time Zone clubs meet foes in the Eastern Time Zone on Sunday: SAN FRANCISCO at the NEW YORK GIANTS (1:00 PM ET, FOX), the LOS ANGELES RAMS at BUFFALO (1:00 PM ET, FOX) and LAS VEGAS at NEW ENGLAND (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
Teams from the West Coast traveling to play teams from the Eastern Time Zone are 5-0 this season, with one win by each of the five teams that practice, eat and sleep three hours behind the teams they defeated. Over a longer stretch, since the beginning of 2019 and including playoffs, those teams are 20-4 (.833).
Won-loss records of Pacific Time Zone teams playing road games against teams from Eastern Time Zone, since 2019:
BATTLES OF THE UNBEATENS: This weekend’s slate includes two matchups of 2-0 teams: The Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET Sunday, FOX) and Kansas City at Baltimore (8:15 PM ET Monday, ESPN). The Chiefs and Ravens actually met a year ago on Week 3 as 2-0 teams, with the Chiefs handing the Ravens one of their two regular-season losses in narrow fashion, 33-28. Mahomes passed for 374 yards and three touchdowns.
Since 2006, 17 games have featured 2-0 teams meeting in Week 3. The winners of those games have been harbingers of playoff fortunes.
And during that span, including the Chiefs last season, the winner of a matchup of 2-0 teams in Week 3 has gone on to the win the Super Bowl three times (Kansas City won Super Bowl LIV in 2019, New England won Super Bowl LI in 2016, and Indianapolis won Super Bowl XLI in 2006). Two other teams, the 2006 Chicago Bears and the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, lost the Super Bowl. And one team that lost a matchup of 2-0 teams, the 2010 Green Bay Packers, went on to win the Super Bowl.
IT’S NOT HOW YOU START, IT’S HOW YOU FINISH: While 11 teams have started 2-0, another 11 teams have opened 0-2. Every football season brings adversity. Overcoming that adversity has been a characteristic of NFL teams since first-year Packers coach VINCE LOMBARDI replaced an injured LAMAR MCHAN with a 17th-round draft choice named BART STARR. Lombardi and Starr went on to win five NFL championships and capture the first two Super Bowls en route to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Forty-two years later, TOM BRADY, the 199th overall selection in the prior year’s draft, took over for injured starter DREW BLEDSOE and led the 0-2 Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.
The NFL begins a 14-team playoff format this season, with two additional Wild Card teams, one each in AFC and NFC. From 1990-2019, during the era of the 12-team playoff format, at least four teams every season qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Last season, five teams that missed the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo (10-6), Green Bay (13-3), Minnesota (10-6), San Francisco (13-3) and Tennessee (9-7) – earned playoff berths.
Over the last 30 seasons, since 1990, 30 teams have overcome 0-2 starts to secure playoff berths. Three of those clubs – the 1993 DALLAS COWBOYS, the 2001 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS and the 2007 NEW YORK GIANTS – won the Super Bowl. And four of those clubs – the 1992 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, the 1995 DETROIT LIONS, the 1998 BUFFALO BILLS and the 2018 HOUSTON TEXANS – made the playoffs after an 0-3 start.
The 30 teams to advance to the playoffs after an 0-2 start, since 1990:
|1991||Atlanta||10-6||2007||*New York Giants||10-6|
|1992||+San Diego Chargers||11-5||2008||Miami||11-5|
|1993||Pittsburgh||9-7||2008||San Diego Chargers||8-8|
|1996||New England||11-5||2015||Houston Texans||9-7|
|1998||New York Jets||12-4||2017||New Orleans||11-5|
|2001||*New England||11-5||2018||+Houston Texans||11-5|
|*Won Super Bowl +Started season 0-3|
OFFENSE IS KING: Through the first two weeks of the 2020 NFL season, there have been 186 total touchdowns and 1,611 total points scored, both the most in NFL history through Week 2.
|MOST TOUCHDOWNS IN FIRST
TWO WEEKS, NFL HISTORY
|MOST TOTAL POINTS IN FIRST TWO WEEKS, NFL HISTORY|
Quarterback play has also been at an unprecedented level, as 13 quarterbacks have a passer rating of 100 or higher (minimum 20 attempts) through two weeks, the most in NFL history through Week 2. Five of those quarterbacks are under the age of 26 – Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN (122.9 rating), the Los Angeles Rams’ JARED GOFF (108.5), Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON (134.6), Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (104.0) and Jacksonville’s GARDNER MINSHEW (115.7). Overall, the league has a 96.2 passer rating, the highest in league annals through Week 2.
Last season, 11 quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher through the first three weeks, the most in league annals. This season has a chance to surpass that mark.
The seasons with the most quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher through the first three weeks in NFL history:
|*Through two weeks|
— NFL —
MVP MATCHUP: Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON, the 2019 NFL MVP, and Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, the 2018 NFL MVP, will meet for the third time in their careers when the Ravens host the Chiefs on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN) in a battle of unbeatens. It will mark the first game in NFL history featuring two former league MVPs under the age of 26.
Monday’s showdown will be the fifth game in the last six years featuring the two most recent MVPs. The more recent winner has been victorious in the past two such meetings.
The past five meetings featuring the two most recent NFL MVPs:
|Lamar Jackson (2019) vs. Patrick Mahomes (2018)||Sept. 28, 2020||???|
|Patrick Mahomes (2018) vs. Tom Brady (2017)||Dec. 8, 2019||KC 23, NE 16|
|Matt Ryan (2016) vs. Cam Newton (2015)||Dec. 31, 2017||ATL 22, CAR 10|
|Matt Ryan (2016) vs. Cam Newton (2015)||Nov. 5, 2017||CAR 20, ATL 17|
|Aaron Rodgers (2014) vs. Peyton Manning (2013)||Nov. 1, 2015||DEN 29, GB 10|
— NFL —
WILSON WOWS: Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON enters Week 3 as the league’s leader in touchdown passes (nine) and passer rating (140.0). He is the fourth quarterback with at least nine touchdown passes through the first two weeks of a season in league annals, joining DREW BREES (2009), PATRICK MAHOMES (2018) and PEYTON MANNING (2013). Both Mahomes and Manning would go on to win league MVP that season.
If Wilson, who had five touchdown passes in Week 2 and four touchdown passes in Week 1, has at least four touchdown passes on Sunday against Dallas (4:25 PM ET, FOX), he would become the first player with at least four touchdown passes in each of his team’s three games of a season in NFL history.
Additionally, Wilson would tie PATRICK MAHOMES (13 in 2018) for the most touchdown passes by a player through his team’s first three games of a season in league history.
The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes through their team’s first three games of a season in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM||SEASON||TOUCHDOWN PASSES IN TEAM’S FIRST THREE GAMES|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2018||13|
|Tom Brady||New England||2011||11|
|*Through first two games|
— NFL —
DAK DASHES FOR SIX: Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT passed for 450 yards with one touchdown and rushed for three touchdowns last week, becoming the first player with at least 400 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns in a single game in NFL history.
Prescott now has 24 career rushing touchdowns, the most among quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2016. With a rushing touchdown on Sunday at Seattle (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Prescott will become the fourth quarterback to rush for at least 25 touchdowns in his first five seasons in NFL history.
The quarterbacks with at least 25 rushing touchdowns in their first five seasons in NFL history:
|*In fifth season|
— NFL —
CARSON TD CATCHER: Seattle running back CHRIS CARSON had 108 scrimmage yards (72 rushing, 26 receiving) and a touchdown catch last week after recording two touchdown receptions in Week 1. Entering Week 3, Carson leads all NFL running backs with three touchdown receptions this season.
With a touchdown reception on Sunday against Dallas (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Carson would become the fourth running back with a touchdown reception in each of their team’s first three games of a season in the Super Bowl era, joining GARY ANDERSON (1986), CURTIS MCCLINTON (1966) and BRIAN WESTBROOK (2005). McClinton had a touchdown reception in each of his team’s first four games of that season.
The running backs with touchdown reception in each of their team’s first three games of a season in the Super Bowl era:
|Gary Anderson||San Diego||1986|
|Curtis McClinton||Kansas City||1966|
|*Through first two games|
— NFL —
TOP BILLING: Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN passed for a career-high 417 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 147.0 passer rating in the Bills’ Week 2 victory. Allen, who has passed for 729 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions through the first two weeks, is the fourth quarterback with at least 700 passing yards, six touchdown passes and zero interceptions through his team’s first two games of a season in NFL history.
With at least 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Allen will become the third player with at least 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in each of his team’s first three games of a season in NFL history, joining PATRICK MAHOMES (2019) and PEYTON MANNING (2013). Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP and Manning won league MVP in those respective seasons.
The players with at least 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in each of their team’s first three games of a season in NFL history:
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2019|
|*Through first two games|
— NFL —
TANNEHILL CONTINUES TO THRILL: Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL passed for four touchdowns and zero interceptions last week in the Titans’ victory and now has six touchdowns and zero interceptions on the season.
Since Week 10 of the 2019 season, Tannehill has passed for at least two touchdowns with one or fewer interceptions in all nine games.
With at least two touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions on Sunday at Minnesota (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Tannehill will become the fourth player in NFL history with at least two touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions in at least 10 consecutive regular season games, joining AARON RODGERS (13 consecutive games), TOM BRADY (11) and PHILIP RIVERS (10).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions in NFL history:
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||2011||13|
|Tom Brady||New England||2010-11||11|
|Philip Rivers||L.A. Chargers||2017-18||10|
— NFL —
RIDLEY ME THIS: Atlanta wide receiver CALVIN RIDLEY leads the NFL with four touchdown receptions through two weeks and ties for the league lead with 239 receiving yards.
After recording 130 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in Week 1 and 109 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in Week 2, Ridley became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (1999) to record at least 100 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in each of his team’s first two games of a season.
With at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception on Sunday against Chicago (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Ridley will become the fifth player with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in each of his team’s first three games of a season in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers MARVIN HARRISON (1999), RANDY MOSS (2007) and JERRY RICE (1989) and DWIGHT CLARK (1982),
The players with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in each of their team’s first three games of a season in NFL history:
|Randy MossHOF||New England||2007|
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco||1989|
|Dwight Clark||San Francisco||1982|
|*Through first two games|
— NFL –
NOT DRAFTED? NOT A PROBLEM: Jacksonville running back JAMES ROBINSON, who went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 210 scrimmage yards through the first two weeks of the season.
With at least 90 scrimmage yards on Thursday Night Football against Miami (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network), a mark he has hit in each of the first two games of the season, Robinson will become the second undrafted player with at least 300 scrimmage yards through his first three career games in the common draft era, joining JAMES BRIM (318 scrimmage yards in 1987).
The undrafted players with the most scrimmage yards through their first three career games in the common draft era:
|Kevin Willhite||Green Bay||1987||288|
|Bobby Johnson||N.Y. Giants||1984||281|
|*Through first two weeks|
— NFL —
WATT FAMIILY REUINION: Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. WATT ties for the NFL lead with 2.5 sacks through the first two weeks of the season, while Houston defensive end J.J. WATT ties for third in the league with 2 sacks.
The two brothers will be meeting for the first time in their NFL careers when the Steelers host the Texans on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Pittsburgh fullback DEREK WATT, who faced each of his brothers in 2019 with the Chargers, will also be on the field on Sunday.
J.J. enters the game with 98 career sacks in 10 seasons, while T.J. has 37 career sacks in four seasons. Their 135 combined sacks are the fourth-most among pairs of brothers or father-son duos since 1982, counting instances in which each player recorded at least one sack.
The pairs of brothers or father-son duos with the most combined sacks since 1982, counting players in which each player recorded at least one sack:
With at least two sacks on Sunday, J.J., playing in his 115th career game, will become the fourth-fastest player to reach 100 career sacks since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
The fastest players to reach 100 career sacks since 1982:
|Jared Allen||Kansas City, Minnesota||122|
|Lawrence TaylorHOF||N.Y. Giants||122|
|*Has 98 sacks in 114 games|
— NFL —