The NFL hit Week Three and with footballs flying all around, a fascinating tidbit came from Mike Florio, who said that increased injuries, particularly to quarterbacks and notably in the wake of injuries to Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger, may prompt the NFL to increase practice time alloted to teams, this after curtailing it to get the 2011 CBA done and also to lessen the workload for players, ostensibly to prepare them for an eventual expansion of the season to 18 games. After four seasons, the results have been mixed; what I've noticed is it seems to take three weeks or more for teams to get into proper rhythm, and increased practices can only help toughen up players and also better establish team rhythm.
With that, Week Three had some more crackerjack games. A look at what went down -
Wunna these days, Tennessee, wunna these days......! - The Titans are for real, even tough they're presently 1-2. Marcus Mariota has given them a fight they didn't have in 2014, and it showed in the 35-33 Colts win; the Titans fell behind 14-0 after a Mariota pick-six, then Mariota erased that gap with 27 unanswered points before Andrew Luck erupted with three touchdown drives. Mariota then came back from that and scored in the final minute; the two-point try failed and the ensuing onside kick also failed.
Curiously the Titans didn't try a 50-plus yard field goal after Mariota was sacked at the Colts 34 in the fourth quarter while still up 27-14; in hindsight they could have used the possible extra three points. The Titans have now lost eight straight to the Colts, and five of them were the kind of winnable one-score losses that will bug the hell out of anyone.
The Steelers win the game and may lose the season - Michael Vick is not what he once was, and without Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers may be in serious trouble, especially with a pending date with a Ravens team that's now in must-win mode, and which beat the Steelers the last time they traveled to Pittsburgh.
The Falcons may be better than we thought - Erasing a 14-point gap on three separate occasions, the Falcons posted one of the wildest wins so far this year, 39-28. Brandon Weeden was effective in the first half but the second half was beyond anyone for the Cowboys. It showed they're not as good as they (or anyone else) thought they were. The Falcons meanwhile haven't yet proven they're as good as people think they are, but at least they're showing something to that direction.
For Eagles and Jets, some things never change - The Eagles have never lost to the NY Jets, ever. That streak continued as the Eagles erupted to 24 points in the first half. Ryan Fitzpatrick did show some fight in clawing back with 17 points but three INTs are what he ultimately is.
Chargers aren't putting up enough fight anymore - Two road losses to teams that aren't as good as you show you're not a contender anymore. The Chargers have long been criticized for underachievement and they're just confirming the criticism.
The Lions have become irrelevant again - The Lions have never done well against quality opponents and Matthew Stafford didn't rise to the occasion against a transitioning Broncos team on Sunday night. Matthew Stafford, presently 3-33 (0-18 on the road) against quality opponents, may go down as the most talented quarterback who ultimately didn't do anything. He has three signature wins - 2009's comeback against the Browns, 2013's comeback against the Cowboys, and 2014's comeback against the Falcons. And those are wins anyone should be proud of. Yet he still has not done it against truly quality foes like Peyton Manning teams.
Jameis Winston's rough beginning - Rookie seasons are filled with roughness, but Winston's subpar completion percentage against a banged-up Houston team still warrants some criticism. In two of his first three games he hasn't reached 50% completion and has three picks to four touchdowns. Can he improve? I still say he can, but he has to start improving.
Colin Kaepernick in trouble - We knew the Cardinals are good now with Carson Palmer back, but to pick off Colin Kaepernick four times is a bad sign for the quarterback who has come under more intense scrutiny after his poor 2014 season and after showing real improvement in the first game of the season. He faces the Packers next week and if he struggles again the Niners need to reconsider him.
The Bengals now own the Ravens - One of the best finishes of the year erupted at M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens came back from down 14-0, the lead changed four times in the fourth quarter - and Andy Dalton still bombed the Ravens to submission in a game that featured a combined total of 122 rushing yards. The Bengals are now 19-20 all-time against the Ravens and Andy Dalton has now won five of the last six meetings - and the one loss (in 2013) saw Dalton complete a tip-drill touchdown to force overtime.
Wrecks Ryan tears up Miami - When it isn't the Patriots Rex Ryan seems invincible, and he bombed the Dolphins in Miami 41-14. Ryan Tannehill threw three picks, indicating why he'll never be anything beyond an 8-8 or 9-7 quarterback. This rivalry, though, is very tight - this was Rex Ryan's sixth win in thirteen meetings with the Dolphins to date, and five of Miami's wins over Ryan were road wins for the Dolphins.
Are the Raiders for real? - Derek Carr is starting to make believers. The win over the Ravens was huge, and with another win, this one over the Browns, the Raiders schedule takes a turn for the better with coming dates against the Bears, the Steelers (the Raiders have dominated that rivalry recently, Roethlisberger or no Roethlisberger), the Jets, two dates with the Chiefs, and two dates with a suddenly-uncertain Chargers squad.
Because they had to play this game...... - The Patriots refused to look past the Jaguars; they took them seriously and made certain to bury them. Tom Brady thus found 400 touchdowns - and has more Superbowls than the three quarterbacks (Marino, Favre, and Manning) combined.
Packers prove they're not what the hype says they are - On Monday Night Football, when up 38-14 over an obviously overmatched Chiefs team, the Packers didn't finish them off; instead the Chiefs scored two touchdowns and got the ball back in the final minute. Aaron Rodgers again showed the fourth quarter is his weakest while Alex Smith showed some fight we haven't seen out of him in awhile. It all added up to a 38-28 Packers win, a win but one that exposes some weakness in the much-hyped Packer juggernaut.
So it goes as we await Week Four.