The last Sunday of September featured a number of pivotal games. Each division is slowly showing which teams will stand out as playoff favorites before Halloween. While a lot of wins and plays stood out, some were more eye-opening than others. Here are this weeks winners and losers.
Winners: Khalil Herbert
Chicago Bears runningback Khalil Herbert posted the best numbers for any runner week three. Herbert ran 20 times for 157 yards (just under eight yards a carry). He’s a big play-maker in an anemic Bears offense.
Herbert’s statistics are fabulous, but his two touchdowns gave Chicago seven of their 13 first half points and sparked a comeback in the second half.
In his sophomore year Herbert has surpassed his touchdown total after one month, averaging seven yards a carry and 80 yards per game. While quarterback Justin Fields struggles to find footing and chemistry with wide receivers, Herbert’s a cushion who can take pressure off and extend plays when needed. Chicago has a winning record after September because he’s making the most of his on-field minutes.
Remember in last week’s Winners and Losers when it was mentioned that people ridicule quarterback Jalen Hurts? Those people are more concerned with Fantasy Football than game-tape.
A lot of analysts and fans are giving a lot of praise to the Philadelphia Eagles defense and deservedly so. The Washington Commanders offense will struggle most of this season (more on them later) and the defense feasted on that matchup, but Hurts and the offense made the game one-sided by half-time.
After demolishing the Minnesota Vikings last Monday Hurts threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, posting a quarterback rating of 123.5. He’s also running the ball less (he ran it nine times for 20 yards). He’s progressing as a passer, reading options better and the offensive line is protecting him longer.
It’s way too early for MVP votes and guesses but don’t be surprised if Jalen Hurts is an MVP candidate for the next few months. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history with more than 900 passing yards and 150 rushing yards in the first three games of a season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why would anyone have a team that lost 14-12 in the Winners section? Let’s be realistic on yesterday’s loss for Tampa Bay: it doesn’t matter in the long-term because the Buccaneers will do well regardless.
Despite the win, Green Bay is second in the NFC North because of a week one loss to Minnesota. The Packers are figuring out who will be the standout receivers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will rely on the upcoming months. Tampa’s facing different problems on offense. Receiver Mike Evans will return after a one game suspension, runningback Leonard Fournette is a much better player closer to and in the postseason and injured receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones will return from injuries.
Then there’s the NFC South as a whole. Outside of one quarter, the New Orleans Saints are a terrible team. Carolina and Atlanta are two of the worst teams in the NFL. No one will challenge the Buccaneers unless it’s an AFC opponent the remainder of the season.
Last but not least Tampa almost tied the game after Russell Gage’s touchdown catch. The game would’ve gone to overtime were it not for a delay of game penalty on a two-point conversion. Don’t be surprised if they play sharper next Sunday night.
It’s almost a joke how NFL teams had no idea how to utilize Patterson until he played with the Chicago Bears. The Bears don’t like offensive playmakers so he signed with Atlanta last year. Despite being one of the worst teams in the league, he is the team’s most valuable asset.
Cordarelle Patterson was the second leading rusher on Sunday (behind only Khalil Herbert) averaging eight yards a carry. Whether he tied the game at ten in Seattle or hurdled over defenders, Patterson did everything asked of him and more on offense.
Very few first round picks get better once they’ve been in the NFL for ten years. If there’s any reason to watch an Atlanta Falcons game this season, it’s because he’s either running, catching or throwing on offense.
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Losers: Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner
The Eagles offense is red-hot. The Commanders offense might be one of the worst in the NFL.
At one point in the game, a graphic showed how lopsided the passing stats were for both teams. Philadelphia had 323 while Washington posted a -1. This was shown in the third quarter.
It was worse for anyone who watched the game. The Eagles defense had six sacks and two forced fumbles on Commanders starting quarterback Carson Wentz in the first half. Washington had 50 yards heading into half-time. Wentz was sacked a total of nine times and somehow complete 25 passes.
Many know the Commanders will go as far as the offense carries them. This was the second straight week Washington’s offense played abysmal. While many blame Wentz for both losses the offensive line cratered against defensive fronts, causing Wentz to make erratic decisions. They have one win because the defense forced turnovers and they ran the ball well. It’s been double-digit blowouts after week one.
Scott Turner runs the offense and was criticized by FOX’s color commentator Mark Schlereth, who’s as just as fun to listen to as watching paint dry on a wall. While Carson Wentz can be at the center of conversation as to why the Commanders aren’t good on offense, Schlereth made the point of saying, “Why does this offense make so many adjustments late in games? Usually they’re made after possessions or failed drives.” That’s on the offensive coordinator for not just failing to adjust but having the same garbage gameplan two straight weeks.
The AFC West
Remember when analysts and fans knew without doubt the AFC West was the most competitive division in professional football? September made that the biggest upset to start the season.
As September ends, only one team is winless: the Las Vegas Raiders. After Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, owner Mark Davis had a closed door meeting with new coach Josh McDaniels. Rumors are flying that the Raiders could fire McDaniels before Halloween. It’s insane to think a team that fired their coach around October last year would do it two straight seasons. The team regressed quickly and we’re not even four weeks into the season.
The Los Angeles Chargers are fighting through injuries. While quarterback and franchise star Justin Herbert is battling rib fractures, linebacker Joey Bosa may be out a few games and left tackle Rashawn Slater tore his pectoral muscle. He’s out the rest of the season. Center Corey Linsley was already on the injury list before Slater went down. Receiver Jalen Guyton joins Keenan Allen on the injured list. That’s another target taken away from Herbert. It also doesn’t help sophomore coach Brandon Staley isn’t adjusting gameplans and the offense is turning the ball over more.
Many people know after Sunday night the Denver Broncos play like one of the worst teams in the NFL. Despite two wins in three games, the offense is bottom three in the league and the fans were again vocal on the team’s underwhelming performance. While injuries to receivers are part of the problem, coaching and terrible communication looms large. This team wasn’t expected to look like the 2010 Tim Tebow-led Broncos.
Last but not least, Kansas City’s offense looks like it misses receiver Tyreek Hill. Even though Mecole Hardman left yesterday’s game in Indianapolis, it wouldn’t have mattered. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and quarterback Patrick Mahomes II got into a heated argument at the end of the first half. The Chiefs scored three points after that exchange. While the special teams had one of the worst performances in Andy Reid’s tenure (and could’ve won the game despite some of the turnovers), the offense is underwhelming especially running the ball. Clyde Edwards-Helaire might be the worst draft pick of the Mahomes era and free agent addition JuJu Smith-Schuster has yet to have a 100 yard game.
While it’s only three weeks into the season, there’s a lot to be concerned with in the AFC West. One has to think there will be improvement in October but all four teams have to fix their problems especially with the number of quality of teams on their schedules.
When Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim extended head coach Kliff Kingsbury five years, you’d think the team would show improvement after last season’s implosion. However, Kingsbury is in the losers section so you know how this works out.
Arizona’s first three games of the season are a warning of what’s to come. Franchise quarterback and star Kyler Murray does scramble before throws but he’s not running or becoming the playmaker the team needs when tough situations or games arise. It’s understandable with no De’Andre Hopkins due to suspension, but Murray still has tightend Zach Ertz and receivers Andy Isabella and A.J. Green as solid options.
The Cardinals’ lone win was an overtime comeback against the Las Vegas Raiders. Outside of that second half performance, they’ve been blown out by a Chiefs offense struggling to score and lost a winnable game against the Los Angeles Rams. Keep in mind that the past two seasons Arizona plays their best football the first half of their regular season schedules.
It appears Kingsbury was figured out last season by a lot of teams and he can’t adjust. It’s shown how the team can neither defend well nor utilize assets on offense. Unfortunately, you can’t fire a coach with four years left on his contract. They better improve before more NFC teams step up and get into wildcard positions.
Jimmy Garappolo’s Voluntary Safety on Sunday Night Football
Any casual fans who read the football articles on here might have asked themselves at one point how bad can one play get for any team. Well, here’s a great candidate for worst play of all time. You don’t see a quarterback step into his own endzone by accident, throw what could be an interception returned for a touchdown, and the offensive captain suffer an injury on one play, but anything can happen any given Sunday.
In the video, commentator Cris Collinsworth says the safety might’ve been a good thing (we’ve hit a new bottom), and broadcaster Mike Tirico mentions former quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky was overjoyed that he will no longer be the quarterback associated with the voluntary safety play, and tweeted how he has freedom.
At least September ended with a bang.