It’s any given Sunday in the NFL, so every week we have our fair share of surprises. But after the first few of weeks, we start getting a feel for how good or bad teams are. Let’s break down Week 3 in the NFL and which teams surprised us.
1. Stanton stuns 49ers to lead Cardinals to 3-0 start
The Arizona Cardinals are now 3-0 after topping the 49ers 23-14, and Drew Stanton led them to two of those three wins. He is the same career backup quarterback who hadn’t started a game since 2010. The 49ers offense has struggled mightily early in the season. They were shut out in the second half by a Cardinals defense that has been sensational so far. Give credit to Stanton, who has filled in for Carson Palmer very nicely. The 3-0 Cardinals sit atop the NFC West and get a bye next week before taking on the Broncos. It doesn’t get any easier for the 1-2 49ers as they take on the 3-0 Eagles next week.
2. Lions defense dominates lifeless Packers offense
It’s only been three games, but there is plenty of reason to panic if you’re the Green Bay Packers. They haven’t looked like the Super Bowl contender that many thought they could be. They also have some major injury woes early in the season. The Lions made it look easy Sunday at home, only allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw for 162 yards in a 19-7 victory. They ran back a fumble for a touchdown and tackled Eddie Lacy in his own end zone for a safety. The Lions offense didn’t help; Matthew Stafford threw no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Packers have to be concerned, because they could be 0-3 at this point. They’ll have a big divisional battle with the Bears next week. The Lions will hit the road to take on the Jets.
3. Steelers run all over the Panthers in Carolina
If you thought the Panthers would be fine without Greg Hardy on the field, think again. The Steelers had one of the greatest rushing performances by a pair of running backs that you will ever see. Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount combined for an astounding 265 yards on 31 carries in a 37-19 Steelers victory. The Panthers offense line has struggled mightily, and Cam Newton got banged up late in this game. The running game was nonexistent Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium. Despite a 2-1 start, this Panthers team has some question marks. They’ll head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens next week. The 2-1 Steelers get the luxury of welcoming the 0-3 Bucs to town.
4. Tannehill’s job in doubt in loss to Chiefs
It’s amazing how a team can look so good to start the season and then completely flip the switch. That’s exactly what has happened to the Dolphins. After breezing past the Patriots in Week 1, they log back-to-back 19-point losses to the Bills and now the Chiefs. The defense hasn’t stopped anyone, and Ryan Tannehill has been a disaster. Tannehill’s job is reportedly now in jeopardy, at least for Week 4, after completing just 21 of 43 passes for 205 yards Sunday in South Beach. The Dolphins have questions to answer going into next week’s matchup, but luckily they get the Raiders. The Chiefs haven’t looked bad running the football, with Knile Davis taking over for Jamaal Charles. They will have the Patriots come to Arrowhead.
5. Patriots barely get by dreadful Raiders
The Patriots have not looked like the Patriots we know so far this season, but still hold a 2-1 record atop the AFC East. They were a holding penalty away from going to overtime against the dreadful Raiders. Instead, the game would end on a deflected pass that turned into a quite comical Vince Wilfork interception to seal the deal. The Pats offense leaves much to be desired through the first three weeks. It’s still very early, so you can’t worry about Bill Belichick’s crew yet, but it’s quite alarming that they almost went to OT against a Raiders team that may contend for the first pick in the draft. The Pats will take on the Chiefs next week, while the Raiders look to get in the win column at home against the Dolphins.