A last-second goal-line stand, a 58-yard walk-off field goal in overtime and, believe it or not, a “watermelon” onside kick to help overcome a 19-point halftime deficit? The NFL is just getting started on its 2020 script.
The Week 3 screenplay could be just as thrilling.
SUPERSTARS DOING SUPERSTAR THINGS:
MVP candidates are aplenty through two weeks. Several of those candidates will be on opposite sidelines this week.
Seattle and quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who leads the NFL in passer rating (140.0), touchdown passes (nine) and completion percentage (82.5), host the DALLAS COWBOYS (4:25 PM ET Sunday, FOX), who last week became just the third team in the last 15 regular seasons to win after overcoming a two-score deficit in the final two minutes of regulation. Cowboys quarterback DAK PRESCOTT passed for 450 yards and one touchdown while rushing for three touchdowns last week, becoming the first player with at least 400 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns in a single game in NFL history.
THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL@DangeRussWilson ➡️ @dkm14 for the 54 yard touchdown ❗️
📺: Watch live on NBC pic.twitter.com/qHYONpFo5p
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 21, 2020
Reigning NFL MVP LAMAR JACKSON and his Ravens host reigning Super Bowl MVP PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
Mahomes (81 touchdown passes in 33 games) averages 2.45 touchdown passes per game, the highest mark in NFL history (minimum 30 games), ahead of the two next-closest players, PEYTON MANNING (2.03) and AARON RODGERS (2.02).
Jackson, meanwhile, reached 2,000 career rushing yards in helping his team to a 2-0 start last week. This week, he needs 193 passing yards to reach 5,000 career and become the fastest player in NFL history (34 games) to reach 5,000 career passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. Both clubs also met with 2-0 records in Week 3 of 2019.
No one was more hype for that @markingram21 touchdown than @Lj_era8 🤣🤣🤣
📺: Next, Monday night 8:15 p.m. vs Kansas City on ESPN pic.twitter.com/qEIf6RbelJ
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2020
The Patriots and CAM NEWTON, whose four rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback through the first two weeks in NFL annals, host the undefeated LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (1:00 PM ET Sunday, CBS).
Newton, who has two rushing touchdowns in each of his first two games with New England, took sole possession of the NFL record among quarterbacks for most career games (eight) with at least two rushing touchdowns, surpassing JACK KEMP, STEVE MCNAIR and Pro Football Hall of Famers OTTO GRAHAM and STEVE YOUNG.
Cam Newton still has an absolute 🚀 of an armpic.twitter.com/ttEoVyvqV5
— PFF (@PFF) September 21, 2020
Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN, whose team welcomes the 2-0 LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday (1:00 PM, FOX).
Hw passed for 417 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 147.0 passer rating in the Bills‘ 31-28 win last week. Allen, who has passed for 729 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions in the first two weeks of the 2020 season, is the fourth quarterback with at least 700 passing yards, six touchdown passes and zero interceptions through his team’s first two games of a season in NFL history, joining TOM BRADY (2015), PATRICK MAHOMES (2019) and PEYTON MANNING (2013). On the other side, Rams quarterback JARED GOFF, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is one of four quarterbacks since 2017 to have four games of three-or-more touchdown passes and a passer rating of at least 140. The others are DREW BREES, RYAN TANNEHILL and RUSSELL WILSON).
Josh Allen with a nice checkdown
— PFF (@PFF) September 20, 2020
Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, hosts the DETROIT LIONS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX).
Murray, who has passed for 516 yards and rushed for 158 this season, is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era (1966-present) with at least 500 passing yards and 150 rushing yards through his team’s first two games of a season. His newly acquired target DEANDRE HOPKINS has a league-leading 22 receptions, the most ever by a player in his first two games with a new team.
Kyler Murray: Still ridiculous😳
— PFF (@PFF) September 20, 2020
Packers running back AARON JONES, who averages 6.9 yards per carry and has a league-leading 234 rushing yards.
He takes Green Bay into New Orleans for Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC). The Packers, who have totaled 85 points and 1,010 net yards of offense in their 2-0 start. They are the fourth team to score at least 80 points and register at least 1,000 net yards of offense through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history. Joining the 2019 BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1998 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and 1991 BUFFALO BILLS.
2-0 TEAMS ABOUND
Across the league, 11 teams have started 2-0, tied for the most in NFL history and most in 12 years. In addition to 2008, the NFL also had 11 clubs start the season 2-0 in 2006 and 1998.
Five of those 2-0 clubs – the ARIZONA CARDINALS, CHICAGO BEARS, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, LOS ANGELES RAMS and PITTSBURGH STEELERS – missed the playoffs in 2019. The Cardinals (5-10-1) finished last in the NFC West in 2019.
In 15 of the past 17 seasons, at least one NFL team won its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.
In fact, of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 25 of them have done so in the past 17 years (2003-19), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006. Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their divisions the season before.
Last season, both Green Bay (NFC North) and San Francisco (NFC West) won their divisions after missing the postseason in 2018. At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
COVERING THREE TIME ZONES
This week, three Pacific Time Zone clubs meet foes in the Eastern Time Zone on Sunday: SAN FRANCISCO at the NEW YORK GIANTS (1:00 PM ET, FOX), the LOS ANGELES RAMS at BUFFALO (1:00 PM ET, FOX) and LAS VEGAS at NEW ENGLAND (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
Teams from the West Coast traveling to play teams from the Eastern Time Zone are 5-0 this season, with one win by each of the five teams that practice, eat and sleep three hours behind the teams they defeated. Over a longer stretch, since the beginning of 2019 and including playoffs, those teams are 20-4 (.833).
Won-loss records of Pacific Time Zone teams playing road games against teams from Eastern Time Zone, since 2019:
BATTLES OF THE UNBEATENS
This weekend’s slate includes two matchups of 2-0 teams: The Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET Sunday, FOX) and Kansas City at Baltimore (8:15 PM ET Monday, ESPN). The Chiefs and Ravens actually met a year ago on Week 3 as 2-0 teams, with the Chiefs handing the Ravens one of their two regular-season losses in narrow fashion, 33-28. Mahomes passed for 374 yards and three touchdowns.
Since 2006, 17 games have featured 2-0 teams meeting in Week 3. The winners of those games have been harbingers of playoff fortunes.
And during that span, including the Chiefs last season, the winner of a matchup of 2-0 teams in Week 3 has gone on to the win the Super Bowl three times (Kansas City won Super Bowl LIV in 2019, New England won Super Bowl LI in 2016, and Indianapolis won Super Bowl XLI in 2006). Two other teams, the 2006 Chicago Bears and the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, lost the Super Bowl. And one team that lost a matchup of 2-0 teams, the 2010 Green Bay Packers, went on to win the Super Bowl.
IT’S NOT HOW YOU START, IT’S HOW YOU FINISH
While 11 teams have started 2-0, another 11 teams have opened 0-2. Every football season brings adversity. Overcoming that adversity has been a characteristic of NFL teams since first-year Packers coach VINCE LOMBARDI replaced an injured LAMAR MCHAN with a 17th-round draft choice named BART STARR. Lombardi and Starr went on to win five NFL championships and capture the first two Super Bowls en route to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Forty-two years later, TOM BRADY, the 199th overall selection in the prior year’s draft, took over for injured starter DREW BLEDSOE and led the 0-2 Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.
The NFL begins a 14-team playoff format this season, with two additional Wild Card teams, one each in AFC and NFC.
From 1990-2019, during the era of the 12-team playoff format, at least four teams every season qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Last season, five teams that missed the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo (10-6), Green Bay (13-3), Minnesota (10-6), San Francisco (13-3) and Tennessee (9-7) – earned playoff berths.
Over the last 30 seasons, since 1990, 30 teams have overcome 0-2 starts to secure playoff berths.
Three of those clubs – the 1993 DALLAS COWBOYS, the 2001 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS and the 2007 NEW YORK GIANTS – won the Super Bowl. And four of those clubs – the 1992 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, the 1995 DETROIT LIONS, the 1998 BUFFALO BILLS and the 2018 HOUSTON TEXANS – made the playoffs after an 0-3 start.
The 30 teams to advance to the playoffs after an 0-2 start, since 1990:
|1991||Atlanta||10-6||2007||*New York Giants||10-6|
|1992||+San Diego Chargers||11-5||2008||Miami||11-5|
|1993||Pittsburgh||9-7||2008||San Diego Chargers||8-8|
|1996||New England||11-5||2015||Houston Texans||9-7|
|1998||New York Jets||12-4||2017||New Orleans||11-5|
|2001||*New England||11-5||2018||+Houston Texans||11-5|
|*Won Super Bowl +Started season 0-3|
WEEK 3 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 27-28
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, September 24
Sunday, September 27 (cont’d)
|Miami at Jacksonville, 8:20 PM (NFLN)||Chicago at Atlanta, 1:00 PM (FOX)|
|Carolina at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 PM (CBS)|
Sunday, September 27
|New York Jets at Indianapolis, 4:05 PM (CBS)|
|Houston at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM (CBS)||Dallas at Seattle, 4:25 PM (FOX)|
|Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM (CBS)||Tampa Bay at Denver, 4:25 PM (FOX)|
|San Francisco at New York Giants, 1:00 PM (FOX)||Detroit at Arizona, 4:25 PM (FOX)|
|Las Vegas at New England, 1:00 PM (CBS)||Green Bay at New Orleans, 8:20 PM (NBC)|
|Tennessee at Minnesota, 1:00 PM (CBS)|
|Washington at Cleveland, 1:00 PM (FOX)||
Monday, September 28
|Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo, 1:00 PM (FOX)||Kansas City at Baltimore, 8:15 PM (ESPN)|