NFL Week 3 Recap

NFL Week 3 Recap

NFC News and Notes from Week 3
By Teddy Covers
Sportsmemo.com

Welcome to Teddy’s unique look at the NFL. Teddy watches games all day on Sunday, typing furiously on his laptop while giving you the key info that the box scores and game recaps don’t necessarily have. This week, Teddy took a long, hard look at five NFC teams that have been major disappointments to start the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Doug Martin had 144 yards on the ground last week and the Bucs still only scored a single offensive touchdown and lost the game. Today, with Martin largely contained (longest carry 11 yards), the offense only managed a single field goal and lost the game. After leading the league in penalties through the first two games, the Bucs were only flagged four times here, but that’s about the only bright spot from this performance.

Injuries are becoming a huge story with this team. They came into this game missing three starters from opening day in their secondary, forced to start a safety who was on their practice squad last week. Their lone playmaker, WR Vincent Jackson left the game with bruised ribs. His counterpart on the other side, Mike Williams had a clear limp all afternoon. Pro bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy limped off the field too.

The final score shows a blowout, but the game itself hinged on four plays – the Bucs fourth down conversion tries. Tampa’s offensive line looked solid with a healthy Carl Nicks, but on those fourth down plays, they got beat every time, and went 0-4 on those conversions. With Rian Lindell missing field goals for the second straight week, I thought coach Schiano made the right decision to go for it on all four occasions. But their execution was miserable.

Josh Freeman is very comfortable throwing the ball into traffic, letting his receivers make plays on the ball. But there’s lots of miscommunications between Freeman and his WR's, lots of wrong routes, passes off fingertips, etc. A ‘chuck it up there’ QB combined with a receiving corps that isn’t making plays on the football leads to the lowest completion percentage for any QB in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season.

Atlanta Falcons - The scary thing about this loss for the Falcons was that they basically did everything they were trying to do. They scored on each of their first three series, at one point enjoying a 127-3 total yardage advantage. Atlanta’s pass rush had been problematic in their first two games, but not today. Osi Umenyiora was in the backfield repeatedly, notching two of the Falcons five sacks.

The other biggest weakness for Atlanta in their first two games – an inability to run the football – was also solved this week, with Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers combining for 139 yards at just shy of five yards per carry; filling in capably for the injured Stephen Jackson. That was more than twice as many rushing yards as they had in the first two games combined, and the first time all year that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter showed a legitimate commitment to the running game.

So how did they lose? The Falcons dominated the time of possession, won the yardage battle, ran the ball and got pressure on the opposing QB. But they didn’t finish, and they settled for field goals. In fact, the Falcons have now outscored their opponents 51-0 in the first quarter of their last five games (including playoffs); but they’ve been outscored 52-17 in the fourth quarter of those same five games. This defense simply hasn’t been able to get the key stop during crunch time when it matters most; unable to get off the field on third down. And the offense is settling for field goals in the red zone. Put those two factors together and you’ll get losses like this one.

New York Giants - This game turned on two plays – a Giants touchdown following a Cam Newton interception that was wiped out on a holding penalty, turning a 10-7 game back to a 10-0 game, and then the subsequent missed 38 yard field goal at the close of that drive. To say that this team quit following that modest level of adversity is something of an understatement. It reminded me a lot of their 34-0 loss in Atlanta last December; a loss that eventually was the difference between an NFC East title and missing the playoffs. This team has not responded well to adversity, and clearly lacks leadership.

It’s hard to find positives from this performance, especially on the heels of their mistake-filled blowout loss at home last week. Why all the turnovers (an NFL worst 13 giveaways through the first three weeks)? Simple -- lots of bad down and distance situations because their running game is non-existent. Lots of Manning throws under pressure because he's not getting enough time to throw. Their average third down distance on their first six conversion tries was 3rd and 22! Manning was sacked six times in the first 20 minutes of the game.

This offensive line got absolutely destroyed in every way an OL can be destroyed, a clear unit of weakness right now. When 15 of your 24 first half plays finish with either zero or negative yardage and you’ve got a two time Super Bowl winner at QB, the OL is the clear culprit.

But the Giants defense isn’t doing their offense any favors. For the second straight week, this defense allowed touchdowns – not field goals, but touchdowns – on four consecutive drives. When things start to go south, the defense is hanging their heads and failing to show leadership every bit as much as the offense. It's time to call the Giants what they are: a winless football team with some major fundamental flaws.

St. Louis Rams - The Rams went 11-3 ATS as an underdog under Steve Fisher last year, pulling seven outright upsets in that role. But in 2013, this team has looked completely outclassed on both sides of the football in every game they’ve played. After not getting sacked in his first two games (and still struggling, looking jumpy and skittish in the pocket), Sam Bradford was under constant pressure here, a woeful performance from this rebuilt offensive line.

There was no running game to speak of, once again – for the third straight week, this team trailed by double digits early. That helps to explain the 55-12 pass-to-run ratio – that, and the fact that St Louis doesn’t have an NFL caliber starting running back on the roster and their offensive line can’t run block.

The Rams had the most penalties in the NFL last year, and while they only committed five in this game, those penalties seemed to come at the most inopportune times. Tavon Austin’s 84 yard punt return TD – the only positive momentum St Louis had all day – got wiped out on a penalty; one of several on special teams that killed their field position.

I don’t usually use any post-game quotes in these team notes, but I thought these two quotes were worthy of inclusion. Jeff Fisher: “We didn't run it, we didn't stop the run, we didn't throw it, we didn't stop their passing game. I did not see this coming.” Sam Bradford: “You like to think that this shouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen. You know, maybe this is a good reality check for us.”

San Francisco 49ers - San Francisco is developing a reputation as a 'dirty' team and the refs are noticing. Five of their six penalties here resulted in first downs for the Colts. This was not an elite defense down the stretch last year, even though their full season numbers were excellent. And they haven't been an elite defense at any point this season, torched in each of their first three games. Make no mistake about it – this D got absolutely gashed here. 
Indy had 100 rushing yards by their first drive of the 3rd quarter. The pass rush got to

Andrew Luck only once, and Luck had open receivers downfield to throw to all afternoon long. Alden Smith was clearly distracted following his Friday morning DUI; a complete non-factor here. Patrick Willis limped off the field and did not return, a potential impact injury. San Fran had numerous big 'decleater' type hits from the stop unit, but just as many fundamental mistakes to go with it.

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is clearly going through a sophomore slump, but it’s not all his fault. Without a healthy Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin was the only receiver getting open downfield. The rest of the wide receivers on the roster combined to catch a grand total of three passes for 16 yards; a major concern for offensive coordinator Greg Roman moving forward.

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Re: NFL Week 3 Recap

Week 3 Betting Recap
VegasInsider.com

Betting Notes

Home teams went 11-5 straight up in Week 3
Home teams are 32-16 SU through three weeks
Favorites went 11-5 straight up in Week 3
Favorites are 35-13 SU through three weeks
Favorites went 9-5-2 against the spread in Week 3
Favorites are 23-22-3 ATS through three weeks

Kansas City (+3), Cleveland (+7), Cincinnati (+3), Carolina (+2 ½), Indianapolis (+10 ½) were the five underdogs that won outright
The Colts’ 27-7 win at San Francisco in Week 3 was the biggest upset of the season. Indianapolis had money-line odds as high as 4/1 (Bet $100 to $400)

There were two pushes in Week 3
Tennessee (-3) defeated San Diego 20-17 and Denver (-16) defeated Oakland 37-21
   
Total Notes

The ‘under’ went 9-7 in Week 3
Through three weeks, the ‘under’ is 25-23
Chicago, Denver, Minnesota and Green Bay have all seen the ‘over’ go 3-0
Kansas City, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and New England have all seen the ‘under’ go 3-0

League Notes

Miami and Seattle are the only teams to start the season 3-0 both SU and ATS
There are four teams that have failed to win or cover a game this season – Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh, Washington
The AFC has gone 12-3 against the NFC this season. The three wins earned by the NFC came from Seattle against Jacksonville in Week 3 and two victories from Chicago, who beat Cincinnati in Week 1 and Pittsburgh in Week 3.

Power Rankings and Projections

Every Tuesday, Tony Mejia offers up his NFL Power Poll and Predictions. After watching the AFC continue its dominance in Week 3, it’s no surprise which group he’s high on.

He explained, "Given San Francisco's early issues and a 1-3 week from the division as a whole, there's a new No. 1 here. Similarly, the NFC East continued to disappoint, going 1-3 as well. Is it true that the Cowboys are the most consistent, dependable team among the league's most visible foursome? That's a scary thought. With three teams in the Top 15, the AFC South suddenly looks formidable in spite of being home to Jacksonville. The Colts made the NFL's biggest statement in Week 3, so with three 2-1 teams, the division gets bumped to No. 1 in spite of Houston's disastrous performance in Baltimore. The AFC East also has three teams with winning records, so despite being rightfully dubious, there's no choice but to move them up substantially."

Tony’s Division Rankings and Playoff Projections listed below:

Division Rankings

1) AFC South
2) AFC North
3) NFC West
4) AFC East
5) NFC South
6) NFC North
7) AFC West
8) NFC East

Playoff Projections

NFC
1) Seattle
2) Atlanta
3) Chicago
4) Dallas
5) San Francisco
6) New Orleans

AFC
1) Denver
2) New England
3) Houston
4) Baltimore
5) Cincinnati
6) Indianapolis

LVH adjusts Futures

Despite owning the early bragging rights, Jay Kornegay and his staff of oddsmakers at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino SuperBook believe the NFC has more depth and the conference would be a favorite in this year’s finale.

Super Bowl XLVIII Early Game Line (2/2/14)
NFC -1
AFC 49½

Last week, the LVH had this line at a pick ‘em. Along with the NFC getting a slight push, the total also dropped from 50½ to 49  points.

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Re: NFL Week 3 Recap

Close Calls - Week 3
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

NFL games often go down to the wire, especially relative to the spread. Here are close calls from Week 3 of the NFL season, recapping the spread-changing plays from the fourth quarters around the league. Each week there are several key plays late in games that can change the result or create a misleading final score, get the details in this weekly column.

Tennessee Titans (-3) 20, San Diego Chargers 17: The Chargers continued a run of dramatic endings, squandering a 17-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Tennessee got a field goal to get within four with six minutes to go and the defense held to force a punt. The Titans got the ball back with just over two minutes to go, but they started on their own six-yard line. Jake Locker ran the two-minute drill with great success and a 34-yard pass play put Tennessee on top with the extra point pushing the margin to three points, enough to save a push for many though the early week line was -3½.

Detroit Lions (-1) 27, Washington Redskins 20: The Lions and Redskins were tied 17-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Detroit took control with an early field goal following up a controversial fumble from Robert Griffin III. Washington had to punt on its next possession after having a 57-yard touchdown pass overturned on replay. With less than four minutes to go, the Lions went up by 10 after a Calvin Johnson touchdown, but Washington was quickly into Detroit territory before stalling. The Redskins ran seven more plays and valuable time off the clock, only to settle for a short field goal to trim the margin to seven. Those on the 'over' were certainly upset with the decision to kick and while the Washington defense held to get the ball back, there was not enough time for the Redskins to make a serious threat to force overtime.

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) 34, Green Bay Packers 30: The Bengals stormed out to a 14-0 lead in this game, but late in the third quarter, Green Bay had scored 30 unanswered points until the Bengals found the end zone again. Down nine entering the fourth quarter, the Bengals scored to cut the margin to just three points, right even with the spread and the score stayed there with a blocked extra-point that looked like it would loom large for most wagers. Green Bay had fourth down and short in Cincinnati territory as they looked to ice the game, but rookie running back James Franklin had a fumble that was eventually returned for a touchdown to give the Bengals a stunning win as the Packers were stopped on fourth down in Cincinnati territory on their final possession.

Miami Dolphins (-2½) 27, Atlanta Falcons 23: The Falcons led most of this game, but Miami slowly climbed back into the picture, getting within three just before halftime and then answering with 10 points in the third quarter to tie the game. Early in the fourth, Atlanta hit a short field goal to go up by three as a slight road underdog and they had the chance to add more points on the next drive but Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard kick. The Dolphins made the most of the opportunity, putting together a 13-play drive that included successful third down conversions three times to eventually get the go-ahead touchdown. The Falcons still had a bit of time left, but an interception quickly ended the threat to take the lead back.

Seattle Seahawks (-19½) 45, Jacksonville Jaguars 17: While Seattle led 31-0 early in the second half, the Jaguars would make this game interesting relative to the massive spread. With nine minutes to go in the game, the Jaguars cut the margin to 21 points and with Seattle putting reserves in the game, things did not look promising for more points. With Tavaris Jackson at quarterback, Seattle was aggressive on offense however, passing in three of five plays and connecting for a few big gains with the back-up quarterback calling his own number for the score to put Seattle back up by 28. Jacksonville drove down to the Seattle 14 before folding with an interception as the huge favorite held on.

New York Jets (-2½) 27, Buffalo Bills 20: The Jets led 20-6 early in the second half, but Buffalo chipped away with a pair of field goals to get within eight before the start of the fourth quarter. With 20 penalties in the game, the Jets did their best to hand Buffalo extra chances and Buffalo was able to tie the game with a score and a two-point conversion with about 10 minutes to go. New York answered quickly, hitting on a 69-yard pass play just over a minute later to reclaim the lead. The Bills would get the ball back four more times, but never seriously threatened to score again as the Jets held on defense to secure the win.

Chicago Bears (-2½) 40, Pittsburgh Steelers 23: The Bears seemed to be in complete control Sunday night, taking advantage of turnovers to build a 27-10 lead in the third quarter. Pittsburgh roared back and was within four points early in the final frame however. The Bears moved into Pittsburgh territory, but seemed to stall after narrowly missing a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Earl Bennett on third down. Chicago challenged the incompletion and somewhat surprisingly won the challenge, with the score being granted to put Chicago up by 11. A Pittsburgh fumble led directly to another Bears touchdown a few minutes later and while the Steelers continued to move the ball well, six total turnovers allowed the Bears to win comfortably despite being out-gained by over 200 yards.

Denver Broncos (-16½) 37, Oakland Raiders 21: The Broncos were up 30-7 late in the third quarter, but the Raiders showed some fight with a few successful drives, cutting the margin to 16 entering the fourth quarter. Denver scored early in the fourth to get past the massive spread, but the Raiders scored with just over a minute to go, getting back within 16 after a late fumble from the Broncos and with Matt Flynn in the game for a concussed Terrelle Pryor. That late score was critical relative to the spread as the line did climb to 16 or 16½ late in the day for many after being below that number at times throughout the week.

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