1) The Return
Tom Brady left Foxborough with a victory, but it was anything but easy for the Buccaneers QB. Coach Belichick and the Patriots constantly gave Brady different looks and mixed up their personnel groupings (70 percent Nickel, 23 percent Dime, 7 percent Dollar, per PFF). Changing personnel and forcing Brady to make post-snap decisions on where he was going with the ball were keys to New England’s impressive defensive effort. Although there were key drops by Brown and Evans, Brady completed just 51.2 percent of his passes on Sunday Night, which was by far his lowest mark of the season. Across the first 3 games, he completed 68.8 percent of his passes.
On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers secondary continues to struggle. Per Next Gen Stats, Richard Sherman allowed 9 receptions on 9 targets for 102 yards as the nearest defender. Granted it was his first game back without training camp or an offseason, but he will need to play better going forward. For the Patriots, rookie QB Mac Jones continues to impress, completing 77.5 percent of his passes on Sunday.
2) Undefeated Arizona
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals earned a statement win over their divisional rival on Sunday, as they beat the Rams for the first time since 2017. They are now the only undefeated team in the league after the Broncos, Panthers, Rams and Raiders all suffered their first loss of the year. Arizona beat the Rams by controlling the line of scrimmage; they also had 465 total yards and were 8 of 13 on 3rd Down. Murray, who is a legitimate MVP candidate, had another stellar game; he went 24 of 32 for 268 yards with 2 TD’s and another 39 yards rushing.
Looking at the defense, while Arizona didn’t sack Stafford, they forced an interception (Byron Murphy’s 3rd of the season) and held him to 63 percent. Likewise, Matthew Stafford’s yards per attempt (YPA) in this game was 6.8; in his previous 3 games, his YPA was 10 yards. Arizona ultimately held the Rams to 20 points, and the Rams had been averaging 31.67 points per game entering Sunday.
3) New York, New York
Both the Giants and Jets earn their first wins of the season with overtime victories. It’s the first time since December 22, 2019 that they both won on the same day. Let’s start with the Giants. When healthy, it’s hard to match up with all of their weapons: Barkley, Toney, Golladay, Ross, Engram, Shepard, and Slayton. Against New Orleans, Daniel Jones grew up and led them to 11 points in the 4th quarter. He continues to play extremely well and take care of the football, going 28 of 40 for 402, 2 TD and 1 INT, which came on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Saquon Barkley also had his best game of the season with 13 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD, while adding 5 rec, 74 yards and 1 receiving TD.
Switching to the Jets, Zach Wilson flashed his arm talent on Sunday with two completions over 50 air yards. According to NGS, one of these passes to Corey Davis traveled 56.8 yards in the air, which is the longest completion by a Jets quarterback over the last five seasons (since 2017). Both Wilson and Davis had their best games of the season, and the defense played well. C.J. Mosley had 13 tackles and a sack. Plus, brothers Quincy and Quinnen Williams had huge games — Quincy finished with 12 tackles and a sack, while Quinnen had 7 tackles and 2 sacks.
4) Cowboys hand Panthers first loss
With apologies to the NFC West, I’m not so sure that the first game of the season between Dallas and Tampa wasn’t the NFC Championship game preview. On Sunday against Carolina, Dallas was strong on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they racked up 433 yards against the No. 1 defense. Prescott was in complete control of the offense with 4 TDs and a 130 passer rating. On the ground, they had 34 carries for 245 yards and 1 TD, including 143 yards for Zeke.
Defensively, they continue to show marked improvement over last year. Randy Gregory and Trevon Diggs led the way with 2 sacks and 2 INTs, respectively. This brings Diggs’ INT total to 5, which leads the league; he has at least 1 pick in all 4 games.
Among others, the Cowboys are missing DeMarcus Lawrence, La’el Collins, and Michael Gallup, but they look to be a force in the NFC.
5) Quick Hitters
Chicago: Justin Fields played much better. He only had 17 attempts for 209 yards, but he looked much more comfortable out there. His 64-yard pass to Darnell Mooney was impressive. The Bears will have to get better on 3rd Down though, as they were only 1 for 8.
Kansas City: The offense exploded, but the defense is still a concern. Patrick Mahomes had a brilliant day, going 24 of 30 for 278 yards with 5 TDs, 1 INT. Three of his TDs went to Tyreek Hill, who had 11 receptions for 186 yards. However, the Chiefs allowed 30 points to the Eagles. They have now allowed at least 29 points in every game. Interestingly, there wasn’t a single punt in their game against Philadelphia.
Seattle: The Seahawks were 1-2 entering Sunday, but they earned a much needed victory over a divisional rival in San Francisco. With the win, Russell Wilson becomes the fastest QB in NFL history to win 100 games. He also still hasn’t thrown an INT this season.
Buffalo: Since losing to Pittsburgh in Week 1, the Bills have outscored opponents 118-21 in the last 3 games. During this streak, they have played excellent complimentary football. They shutout the Texans this week, holding Davis Mills to 87 yards passing and 4 INT.