Eight teams are off to strong starts at 2-0: Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland and Pittsburgh. Two others – Miami (1-0) and Tampa Bay (1-0) – will attempt to join them this week.
Among the undefeated teams are the Ravens, Panthers, Broncos and Buccaneers, who each missed the playoffs last season and are candidates to be turnaround teams in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 138 of the 220 teams (62.7 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason.
However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, 60 percent of the playoff teams (108 of 180) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight of 12 last year.
Week 3 gets underway on Thursday night (8:25 PM ET, NFL Network) when the San Francisco 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams in an NFC West showdown between two teams with rookie head coaches – San Francisco’s KYLE SHANAHAN and Los Angeles’ SEAN MC VAY.
Also this week, the NFL returns to London for the first of a record four games in the UK this season. On Sunday(9:30 AM ET), the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in a contest that will be streamed globally on Yahoo (https://nflstream.yahoo.com) and also shown on CBS in both the Jacksonville and Baltimore markets. The Jaguars are returning to London for the fifth consecutive year while the Ravens are making their first trip to the UK for the franchise’s first international game.
The week concludes on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Arizona Cardinals. Here’s a look at some of the key contests in Week 3:
ATLANTA FALCONS (2-0) at DETROIT LIONS (2-0) (Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
- The Falcons improved to 2-0 with a 34-23 win over Green Bay in Week 2 in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Atlanta running back DEVONTA FREEMAN rushed for two touchdowns and cornerback DESMOND TRUFANT had a 15-yard fumble-return touchdown along with an interception.
- Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN, who was named the 2016 NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year, currently ranks fourth in the NFL with a 112.2 passer rating (minimum 50 attempts).
- The Lions knocked off the New York Giants 24-10 on Monday night to improve to 2-0. Rookie JAMAL AGNEW returned a punt 88 yards for his first career touchdown to extend Detroit’s lead in the fourth quarter.
- Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD ranks third in the NFL with a 114.6 passer rating (minimum 50 attempts) this season. He leads the league with a 158.3 fourth-quarter passer rating which is the highest attainable mark.
HOUSTON TEXANS (1-1) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-1) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
- The Texans limited the Bengals to 295 yards and did not allow a touchdown in Houston’s 13-9 win at Cincinnati on Thursday night. Linebacker BENARDRICK MC KINNEY led the way on defense for the Texans with two sacks while cornerback KAREEM JACKSON added a sack and a forced fumble.
- Making his first career start, Houston rookie quarterback DESHAUN WATSON scored the game’s only touchdown on a 49-yard run, the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in his first career start in NFL history.
- The Patriots racked up 555 total yards in New England’s 36-20 win at New Orleans last week. Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY completed 30 of 39 passes (76.9 percent) for 447 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.6 passer rating in the victory over the Saints.
- Brady has 52 career games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, passing PEYTON MANNING (51) for the most such games in NFL history. Brady’s 447 passing yards are the most by a player age 40 and older in league annals.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-1) at TENNESSEE TITANS (1-1) (Sunday, FOX, 4:05 PM ET)
- The Seahawks recorded their first win of the season with a 12-9 victory over San Francisco in Week 2. Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON connected with wide receiver PAUL RICHARDSON on a nine-yard touchdown pass with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Seahawks ahead for good.
- Seattle’s defense limited the 49ers to 248 total yards and did not allow a touchdown. Linebacker BOBBYWAGNER had seven tackles with an interception while defensive ends MICHAEL BENNETT and FRANK CLARK each recorded a sack for the Seahawks.
- Tennessee knocked off Jacksonville 37-16 last week to earn the team’s first win of the season. The Titans rushed for three touchdowns as running back DERRICK HENRY, tight end DELANIE WALKER and fullback JALSTON FOWLER each reached the end zone. Henry led the ground attack with 92 yards.
- Tennessee quarterback MARCUS MARIOTA has thrown 33 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone during his career. That is the best TD/INT ratio in the league since he entered the NFL in 2015.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-0) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-2) (Sunday, CBS, 4:25 PM ET)
- The Chiefs defeated Philadelphia 27-20 to improve to 2-0. Kansas City rookie running back KAREEM HUNT rushed for two touchdowns while defensive end CHRIS JONES racked up three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
- Hunt, who had two receiving touchdowns and a rushing TD in his NFL debut in Week 1, is the only player in league history to have at least three rushing touchdowns and two receiving TDs in a player’s first two career games. Hunt has scored five touchdowns and only DUTCH STERNAMAN (six) of the 1920 Decatur Staleys has scored more TDs in a player’s first two career games.
- The Chargers are seeking their first win of the season after dropping a 19-17 decision to Miami last week. Both of the team’s losses this year have been by three points or fewer.
- Los Angeles tight end ANTONIO GATES recorded his 112th career touchdown reception in last week’s contest and passed TONY GONZALEZ (111) for the most TD catches by a tight end in NFL history.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-0) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (1-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:30 PM ET)
- The Raiders improved to 2-0 with a 45-20 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. Oakland quarterback DEREK CARR threw three touchdown passes – all to wide receiver MICHAEL CRABTREE – and the Raiders added three TDs on the ground from running backs MARSHAWN LYNCH and JALEN RICHARDand wide receiver CORDARRELLE PATTERSON.
- Carr has 15 career games with at least two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Since entering the NFL in 2014, only New England’s TOM BRADY (23) has more such games among AFC quarterbacks.
- The Redskins notched their first win of the year with a 27-20 road victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Washington quarterback KIRK COUSINS threw the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver RYAN GRANT with 1:49 remaining in the contest to break a 20-20 tie. Redskins linebacker MASON FOSTER sealed the win with an interception on the Rams’ final drive.
- Washington running back CHRIS THOMPSON rushed for two touchdowns (seven and 61 yards) in the second quarter against the Rams and finished the game averaging 25.7 yards per carry.
DALLAS COWBOYS (1-1) at ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-1) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)
- The Cowboys have 45 wins on Monday Night Football and trail only San Francisco (48) for the most since 1970.
- Dallas defensive end DEMARCUS LAWRENCE is tied for the NFL lead with four sacks and aims for his third consecutive game with multiple sacks. Last week at Denver, Lawrence had two sacks and forced a fumble that was recovered by MALIEK COLLINS and set up a Cowboys touchdown.
- Arizona safety TYRANN MATHIEU’s interception on the first play of overtime set up PHIL DAWSON’s game-winning field goal as the Cardinals recorded their first win of the season with a 16-13 victory at Indianapolis.
- Arizona wide receiver J.J. NELSON had five catches for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. His 45-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter helped the Cardinals overcome a 10-point deficit.
NFL WEEK 3 SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 24-25
(All times local)
|Thursday, September 21||Sunday, September 24 (cont’d)|
|Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco, 5:25 PM (NFLN)||Houston at New England, 1:00 PM|
|Miami at New York Jets, 1:00 PM|
|Sunday, September 24||New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM|
|Baltimore at Jacksonville (London), 2:30 PM (Yahoo)||Seattle at Tennessee, 3:05 PM|
|Denver at Buffalo, 1:00 PM||Cincinnati at Green Bay, 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans at Carolina, 1:00 PM||Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 1:25 PM|
|Pittsburgh at Chicago, 12:00 PM||Oakland at Washington, 8:30 PM (NBC)|
|Atlanta at Detroit, 1:00 PM|
|Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM||Monday, September 25|
|Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 12:00 PM||Dallas at Arizona, 5:30 PM (ESPN)|