NFL Games of the Week – Week 3: Ravens-Pats, Bills-Dolphins, Rams-Cardinals, Cowboys-Giants + more
Last week just proved that this NFL season is full of surprises.
We saw late comebacks from the Jets, Dolphins and Cardinals. We saw the 49ers forced to turn to Jimmy Garoppolo after Trey Lance suffered a season-ending injury. Nate Hackett almost blew it again for the Denver Broncos. The New York Giants went 2-0 on the season. The Jacksonville Jaguars won a game. We have truly entered the Twilight Zone.
Maybe we’ll return to a sense of normalcy this week? We’ve got some fun matchups in each conference’s respective Eastern divisions, a chance for the Ravens to redeem themselves after last week’s stunning collapse, and a Game of the Week featuring two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.
Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season. Here’s Dailymail.com’s pick of games to watch out for…
Game 1: Baltimore Ravens (1-1) @ New England Patriots (1-1)
- Sunday at 1:00 ET (FOX) / Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Sunday afternoon was a slow-motion train wreck for Baltimore Ravens fans.
The team was up 28–7 at the half and then 35–14 over the Miami Dolphins at the end of the third quarter. Lamar Jackson had become the first quarterback with a 75+ yard rushing touchdown and a 75+ yard pass in the same game. A victory was a foregone conclusion.
Then came one of the worst defensive collapses in a quarter in NFL history. Tua Tagovailoa finished the day with six touchdowns — tying a franchise record — with the last to Jaylen Waddle with 0:14 left. A late drive by Jackson fell short and tied the Ravens at 1-1.
In the fourth quarter, the Ravens were outscored 28-3, a score line very familiar to fans of their next opponents, the New England Patriots.
Their win over the Steelers on Sunday was ugly. Very ugly. Each quarterback had a touchdown and an interception. Neither team had over 50 percent conversion of third downs. Neither team was able to break 20 first-downs.
Mac Jones survived the game without a single sack to his name and 252 yards passing, a positive sign after the previous week’s blowout against the Dolphins.
On a positive note for the Patriots defense, they allowed under 250 yards for the first time since last year’s Week 13 win over the Bills in horrible conditions. Last Sunday is the fifth time in the past two seasons that has taken place.
They will need to produce a similar effort this weekend if they hope to win in their season opener in Foxborough.
Patriots under Mac Jones (L) pulled out a win in Pittsburgh as Baltimore collapsed
Game 2: Buffalo Bills (2-0) @ Miami Dolphins (2-0)
- Sunday at 1:00 ET (CBS) / Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
It’s a tale of two wins for the teams at the top of the AFC East.
On one hand, we have a dominant Bills team that easily toppled last year’s No. 1 seed in the AFC like they were made of paper. Josh Allen found top receiver Stefon Diggs three times for touchdowns, with another to Reggie Gilliam for good measure.
Tennessee’s best weapon — running back Derrick Henry — was neutralized by a Bills defense that allowed just 187 total yards. It has thrown the AFC South into chaos, with no clear dominant force as the Titans slipped to 0-2.
It was less an aggression than it was the Bills bending the Titans against their will, forcing them to sit there and take what they gave them. It was a truly dominant performance.
On the other hand, we have the dolphins, who must have performed some ancient ritual for a God none of us know about in order to make their wildest comeback come true. Tagovailoa didn’t just have the best performance of his career — it’s by far the best performance by any quarterback so far this season.
Let’s just look at the stats: 36 completions for 469 yards and six total touchdowns. Only two other Dolphins have thrown that many scores before, and their last names are Brian Griese and Dan Marino. In the fourth quarter alone, Tua passed for four touchdowns – one to River Cracraft, one to Jaylen Waddle for his second of the day, and two TDs to Tyreek Hill, both scores from over 40 yards.
This will be a match between two teams with different ambitions. Miami is out to prove the rest of the NFL wrong for ever doubting them. Buffalo sees this as just an annoyance to deal with on the road to what could be an inevitable Super Bowl run. Either way, it’s a great way to bring back what was once the premier rivalry in the AFC East.
After dominant efforts from both Josh Allen (L) and Tua Tagovailoa (R), the two spots are up for grabs on Sunday.
Game 3: Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
- Sunday at 4:25 ET (NBC) / State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
While one might have expected the Rams to lose terribly to the Bills in their opener, a more troubling sign came in last week’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.
After being up 28-3 at one point, the Rams let off 24 points in the second half to let the Falcons within four points. The Falcons stopped by an interception, but forced a safety to make it 31-27. After the kickoff, Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota was sacked and fumbled the football, giving the Rams the win.
The Rams gained more yards than the Falcons did, but both teams turned the ball over three times. Each quarterback had two interceptions — expected from Mariota, but shocking from Stafford.
It stands to reason that the Rams need a gut check to return to their winning ways from last season. Unfortunately, they face a Cardinals team that just loves to score points.
Even in their Week 1 loss, they put up 21 points. Last week they needed overtime to beat the Las Vegas Raiders. Thanks to a fumble return for a touchdown, they emerged victorious.
Kyler Murray threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He ran one of his own as time expired, then completed a pass rush for the second two-point conversion of the night to force OT.
If this ends up being a shootout, the Cardinals have a good chance to win, especially since the Rams’ defense has taken a massive step back from last year. But if it’s a close affair, it could benefit Los Angeles. The Cardinals have given up the fifth-most yards of any defensive unit in the league — as well as the most points in the league.
Consider that it’s only Week 3 of the season and make of that information what you will, but until Sunday’s overtime, Arizona hasn’t consistently shown the defensive resiliency needed to keep their team in the game. Maybe they will this Sunday.
After both throwing two picks Sunday, Matthew Stafford (L) and Kyler Murray (R) hope to stay clean this weekend against the other teams’ struggling defenses
Game 4: Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ New York Giants (2-0)
- Monday @ 8:15 ET (ESPN) / MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Football Giants are 2-0 for the first time since the 2016 season. It must be said how important it is. In eight of the last 10 seasons, the Giants have not won either of their first two games.
Let me put it another way. Since the 2013 season, when the Giants did not go 2-0, they went 0-2 four times, 0-3 once, 0-5 twice and 0-6 once. In other words, the Giants have been a factory of sadness and mediocrity for the past 10 seasons.
But there is hope in New York with these giants. The games they’ve won haven’t been great. Both wins came within one score. Daniel Jones hasn’t thrown for 190 yards once in either. The hope lies with running back Saquon Barkley, the main reason the Giants own the fifth-best rushing offense in the league.
The defense hasn’t been that remarkable when it comes to turnovers with a total of three. They have also allowed the opposing offense to gain 624 yards of total offense.
Perhaps the key is persistence under pressure, something they have managed to do twice. They will need to continue against the Cowboys at home this week.
Cooper Rush did well for himself in his first start since Dak Prescott went down with an injury. He completed 19 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown against a Bengals defense that struggled to give up yards all day. Top target Noah Brown hauled in five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
What Dallas lacks in offense, they make up for in defense. The Cowboys own the sixth-best defense in total yards-per-game, but where they could seriously do well this coming weekend is in the pass rush – where they have eight sacks, good for 3rd best in the league.
Expect the Cowboys to rush Daniel Jones heavily in this game, a game that could have a big impact on the NFC East race as they play catch-up for the Eagles.
The Giants rely heavily on Saquon Barkley (R) facing Micah Parsons (L) and a strong Cowboys defense that will pressure the Giants’ passing game all day
Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers (1-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
- Sunday @ 4:25 ET (FOX) / Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
At the end of it all, Brady-Rodgers pt. 5 should grab the headlines, even though both teams were 0-2.
Aaron Rodgers seemed to have a hard time adjusting to the new wide receivers he was working with in the first game of the season. Any of that concern was somewhat settled this past Sunday against Chicago.
Rodgers hit Sammy Watkins for 93 yards on just three completions. Elsewhere, Randall Cobb, Romeo Doubs, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan caught multiple passes. However, no one had five targets the entire game – with Rodgers throwing 19/25 for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Green Bay is settling into the mindset of being a run-first offense. Aaron Jones picked up 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Backup AJ Dillon saw more carries (18) but fewer yards (61).
Tampa Bay didn’t prove offensively competent for most of Sunday’s 20-10 win over the Saints, which remained either a 3-0 game or a 3-3 game until the 7:41 mark of the 4th quarter.
Tom Brady threw for 190 yards, an almost embarrassingly low mark. He hasn’t thrown for less than this since… oh would you look at that, October 18th against the Packers, where he gained just 166 yards in a 38-10 win.
The running game wasn’t much more impressive, with just 72 total yards, giving it 260 total yards.
Brady will be without his top pass catcher Mike Evans after he was suspended for tackling Marshon Lattimore in Sunday’s game. With injuries potentially keeping Chris Godwin and Julio Jones out as well, Brady and Rodgers may very well be on an even playing field — with no star wideouts for either team.
For just the fifth time in their careers, Tom Brady (L) and Aaron Rodgers (R) will meet.