10 things you need to know from NFL Week 3

AP is back, the Bengals are legit, and Suh isn't to blame in Miami. Here's everything you need to know about Week 3.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

(AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

10 things you need to know from NFL Week 3


Here are the 10 things you need to know coming out of Week 3 of the NFL season:

1. The Niners should be concerned about Colin Kaepernick’s play.

It’d be easy to chalk up Kaepernick’s atrocious game grade in the Niners’ 47-7 loss to Arizona, the second-worst of any QB in Week 3, to an off day, especially coming off his surprisingly strong performance in a Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh. But the fact is, there is a concerning trend in Kaepernick’s performance, dating back to his debut in 2012 (his highest career grade of +6.0 came in Week 17), as he has experienced a drop-off in performance every year, based on his grades.

As Sam Monson explained in an article on Monday, Kaepernick is still a very talented quarterback capable of high-level play—but his bad performances can be downright awful, to the point that they bring into question his long-term future with the team.

It’s fair to wonder how much longer the Niners will stick with Kaepernick as their starting QB. There are still occasional positive elements to his game, but he is settling in near the bottom of our QB grades overall, without much indication that he’ll rebound any time soon.

2. That looked a lot like the old Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings running back ranked near the bottom of our grades at the position through two weeks, but after a very strong performance in a Week 3 win over the Chargers during which he broke a ridiculous 10 tackles and earned the highest game grade of the week for any running back, it appears as though Peterson is back to (or at least close to) his old self.

That’s very good news for a 2-1 Vikings team entering a big Week 4 showdown at undefeated Denver, owner of the highest-graded defense in the NFL. There are a lot of good pieces on this Vikings team, including our No. 8-ranked QB in Teddy Bridgewater, our top-ranked safety in Harrison Smith, and a lot of productive players on the defensive side of the ball. We’re going to get a sense of just how good they are, and whether its questionable offensive line can hold up against the Broncos’ best-in-the-NFL pass rush next week.

3. The Bengals might actually be different this season.

The AFC North obviously sets up very well for Cincinnati, given the Ravens’ 0-3 start and the MCL injury to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger that’s going to keep him out 4-6 weeks. But beyond that, there are a lot of reasons to like this Bengals team as an AFC title contender.

Among them:

1.) QB Andy Dalton is off to the highest-graded start to his career, by a high margin.

2.) His receiving options behind A.J. Green are a lot better this year in WR Marvin Jones and TE Tyler Eifert.

3.) Starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth has allowed just one pressure through three games and is the most underrated OT in the NFL right now.

4.) Adam Jones is the highest-graded cornerback in the NFL through three games.

5.) Geno Atkins looks like he is fully recovered from his 2013 ACL tear, ranking as our No. 2 defensive tackle.

4. Larry Fitzgerald is remaking himself as a stud slot receiver.

Sam Monson explained this in excellent detail on Monday, but the short version is this: After playing some at the slot and tight end positions last season, and largely looking out of place, Fitzgerald has lined up in the slot for 58.9 percent of his snaps and caught every pass thrown to him from that position so far. He’s also having a great year overall, ranking third in our WR grades after earning the highest marks at his position in the NFL for Week 3.

His reemergence has certainly helped Carson Palmer, our No. 3-graded QB through three weeks. It’s one of many reasons Arizona has to be taken seriously as an NFC contender.

5. But, don’t concede the NFC West to the Cardinals just yet.

This is for a few reasons, starting with the fact that the Cardinals’ three wins have come against the Saints, Bears, and 49ers—which might constitute the easiest three-game stretch Arizona will see all season.

But more importantly, the Seahawks’ defense looked really good after Kam Chancellor’s return, as they didn’t have a single defender earn a negative grade this week. Seattle’s defense missed just one tackle after a combined 17 missed tackles in Weeks 1 and 2. Their pass rush has been a strong suit, with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett ranking as our No. 1 and No. 3 4-3 defensive ends, respectively, and if the Seahawks can overcome their poor offensive line play and any further injury issues for star RB Marshawn Lynch, they’ll be right in the mix for the NFC West title.

6. It’s not Ndamukong Suh’s fault the Dolphins are off to a bad start.

While Miami’s big-money free agent has been an easy target during the team’s 1-2 start—including a blowout loss to Buffalo in Week 3—he’s actually our No. 6-graded defensive tackle through three weeks, and the top-performing player on the team.

The bigger issues are the play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offensive line. While it’s hard to defend Tannehill’s lack of production (he’s off to the worst three-game start of his career, ranking in the bottom 10 of our QB grades), he has been under a ton of interior pressure, with Jamil Douglas and Dallas Thomas grading out as the two worst guards in the NFL in pass protection through three games.

7. There’s still cause for concern in Philadelphia.

A Week 3 win over the Jets, combined with a Week 4 matchup with the Redskins, certainly provides the Eagles with a more positive outlook than they had last week. However, Philadelphia fans shouldn’t get too excited just yet. Sam Bradford still ranks as the fourth-worst QB in our grading system, and the running game produced an abysmal 0.15 yards before contact per carry average against the Jets—not exactly a positive sign that the offense is fixed.

8. Andrew Luck is the third-worst quarterback in our grades.

Similar to the Eagles note, Colts fans shouldn’t view the team’s win over the Titans as a cure-all, even with a soft Week 4 opponent (the Jaguars) on the schedule. Luck again earned a negative grade, his seventh negative grade in his last 10 games. Pass protection continues to be an issue, with the Colts ranking No. 27 out of 32 in our pass-block grades.

9. The Packers are going to be just fine without Jordy Nelson.

Jordy Nelson finished last season ranked No. 2 in our wide receiver grades, so when he was lost for the season with an offseason injury, it certainly appeared to be a huge gap to fill for Green Bay. The Packers have been fine so far, however, due to excellent play from Randall Cobb and James Jones. Cobb and Jones earned our 2nd- and 12th-highest game grades for Week 3, respectively, and through three games rank No. 5 and No. 10, respectively, at the position. Even with Davante Adams possibly out for a few weeks with an ankle injury, the Packers’ passing offense hasn’t missed a beat.

10. The Lions might be the 0-3 team in the worst shape.

For starters, Detroit gets the Seahawks in Week 4, a team that appears to be returning to its elite defensive form following the aforementioned addition of Kam Chancellor in Week 3. Lions QB Matthew Stafford has the lowest grade of any quarterback through three games, the running game ranks No. 30, and his pass protection is No. 31.

 

| Editor-in-Chief

Jeff is the Editor-in-Chief of PFF, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post's NFL coverage. He previously worked as the editor for ESPN Insider's NFL, Fantasy, and College Football coverage.

  • chickenhed

    Great article. As a side note, you have two number 6’s and no number 3.

  • Paul

    Jeff, your point in #5 doesn’t quite make sense given the logic you employ. One of the teams you identify as being an “easy win” for the Cardinals was the Bears, who they blew out in Chicago. But then you say that the Seahawks D looked really against… the Bears. So if the team is inept enough to not really demonstrate much for the Cardinals (who played them on the road), surely they’re also inept enough to not really demonstrate much for the Seahawks (who played them with home field advantage against Jimmy Clausen).

    • Paul

      I’m not saying your point is completely invalid, but there’s also a difference between the Cardinals eking out 3-7 point wins over these teams and blowing them out by large margins. I think the Cardinals still have a lot to prove (and Bruce Arians would be the first person to tell you that).

      • John Cho

        48-23 isn’t ‘eeking by’nor is 7-47 or 31-19. I’m not a cards fan, but it’s obvious you haven’t even glanced at their games with your comment

        • Paul

          John, you completely misunderstood my point and jumped to the wrong conclusion. Did you even read my first comment, where I said they blew out the Bears? Or were you just waiting to try and troll someone who made an insightful comment on the article? Obviously I did more than glance at the games (I’ve watched all of them entirely). In the first comment, I made the point that the Cardinals blew out the Bears, which is why it’s not accurate to dismiss it as an “easy win over bad competition” *(which is why it was wrong to glorify the Seahawks D). What I said was that Jeff was partially correct, in that the wins were over bad teams. However, the quality of the wins (blowing out instead of eking out wins) makes the Cardinals deserving of more credit. Seriously, work on your reading comprehension skills, or more likely keep on trolling.

      • John Cho

        48-23 isn’t ‘eeking by’nor is 7-47 or 31-19. I’m not a cards fan, but it’s obvious you haven’t even glanced at their games with your comment

  • Aaron Hernandez

    Larry Fitzgerald’s re-emergence is similar to Reggie Wayne’s in 2012 when Wayne played a lot from the slot after being almost exclusively on the outside in years prior to that.

    Not coincidentally, Wayne’s offensive coordinator that season was Bruce Arians.

    • crosseyedlemon

      I’m a huge fan of Larry Fitzgerald and he can be murder on opposing defenses….(no pun intended Aaron).

      • John C

        Remember his Super Bowl year.. He was taking names and kicking butt the whole year, and during the playoffs he was simply spectacular ..Some of his receptions during the playoffs were unbelievable in the playoffs..Glad he’s back …

  • Bob

    Why is Arizona’s 3 win winning streak duly noted that it came against bad teams but Seattle’s is on there heels and is “looking really good and all posted positive numbers” and all these other empty stats against the same Bears team the Cardinals destroyed?

    • osoviejo

      Just to piss you off.

      • Bob

        Makes sense

    • Steve

      To further your point, it was a Bears team with Jimmy Clausen at QB and without Alshon Jeffery.

    • Sippin’ on

      I think it has more to do with the dominance Seattle has displayed for three straight seasons than anything else… Cards are still in “show me” mode until they go to the playoffs and make some noise.

  • enai D

    The only people who are surprised by Adrian Peterson’s work this season are the one’s not especially familiar with his career so far. Anyone paying attention had no doubts AP would still be his dominant self.

    • Arodtwelve

      …and his team will be anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7.

      • enai D

        9-7 is a pretty reasonable expectation. Projecting them to go 7-9 once again, not so much… not only because of their last two dominating wins to reach 2-1, but also since its implausible that a 7-9 team with a first year head coach, rookie QB, and so many young impact players (Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Sharif Floyd, etc.) wouldn’t improve AT ALL with an additional year under their belts.

  • Damo9000

    Interesting that the bottom 5 rated quarterbacks so far this season are all overall #1 picks int he draft.

  • Brit

    The Dolphins front office should be ashamed of the guards they put on the field. The two worst pass protecting guards in the entire NFL? That sounds about right. Tannehill doesn’t have a chance. Not signing Evan Mathis cost the Dolphins their season.