NFL Sunday Week 3 Preview

It’s not often Thursday night football delivers a great game particularly with two teams as downtrodden as the Rams and 49ers, but we got one as the game came down to a two-point conversion stop by the Rams, a 49ers onside kick recovery, and a fourth down sack to put the 41-39 win away for the Rams.

Sunday doesn’t present the best slate, but there are some intriguing match-ups. The Bengals head to Lambeau to try to avoid an 0-3 start against the Packers. The Vikings try to find their offense with Case Keenum while Sam Bradford continues to recover as they host Jameis Winston and the Bucs. The Texans see how rookie QB Deshaun Watson handles the Patriots on the road in Foxboro. The Chargers find out if their luck can change with a home date against the Chiefs. And for the love of Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas, either the Browns or the Colts will have a win this week as they face each other in Indy.

However, there are four bigger games than those:

Ravens vs. Jaguars
This is considered a home game for the Jags in London as has been custom now for a few years, but we all know London isn’t united in backing the teal and gold. The Ravens come in as the NFL’s leader in takeaways with 10. The Jags are tied for second with the Lions and Rams. After a Week 1 blowout of the Texans in Houston, the Jags found themselves stuck against their AFC South rival Tennessee Titans. Leonard Fournette was bottled up for 40 yards by the Titans, and it doesn’t figure to get easier with the Ravens at 12th in the league in rush defense while the Titans are 17th. The Jags are the league’s fourth-worst rush defense and that will spell doom for Jacksonville in England on Sunday morning.

Falcons at Lions
Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford have both gotten off to a nice start. The Falcons took care of business with ease against the Packers while the Lions buried Eli Manning into the MetLife Stadium turf on Monday. Statistically, both teams rank in the Top 10 in points scored per game but only Atlanta ranks in the Top 15 in passing and total offensive yardage categories. This one may come down to defense, and it’s a matter of who you trust. The Falcons held the Packers to 10 points through three quarters Sunday while allowing 17 to the Bears in Week 1. The Lions kept a struggling Giants team to 10 but allowed 23 to the Cardinals in Week 1.

Seahawks at Titans
The Titans and Seahawks are two teams that have not had the success in the passing game that would be expected of two likely division winners. The Titans rank 15th in passing offense while the Seahawks rank 29th. Rushing the football is a different story as Tennessee rank 6th in rushing yards while Seattle is 13th. And while Seattle’s defense ranks above the Titans in most categories after having played the Packers and 49ers, the Seahawks are still giving up 121 yards of rushing per game on defense. This could open things up for Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray if they’re able to take advantage.

Raiders at Redskins
Derek Carr is off to a hot start for the Raiders after wins over the Titans and Jets. Carr has thrown five touchdown passes, is third in completion percentage and passer rating, and has thrown no interceptions. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has thrown just two TDs to one INT, has a completion percentage at 61.2, and is 20th in passer rating. The Raiders are coming off a 45-20 blowout of the hapless Jets in which Michael Crabtree caught three touchdown passes. After a tough Week 1 loss to the Eagles, the ‘Skins bounced back to win over the Rams in L.A., but it was close. The Redskins will have to be mindful of the Raiders ground attack with Marshawn Lynch and the speedster Jalen Richard. Oakland will need to continue to protect Carr against a team that has six sacks in two games.