Freud on the NFL: Week 3 turns into upside-down week
1. Browns (1-1-1) … Honorary selection.
2. Rams (3-0) … Real No. 1.
3. Chiefs (3-0) … Mahomes red hot.
4. Jaguars (2-1) … Nobody’s perfect.
5. Dolphins (3-0) … Don’t believe in them.
1. Cardinals (0-3) … 20 points in three games?
2. Raiders (0-3) … Viva Las Vegas.
3. NFL referees … Overprotective of QBs.
4. 49ers (1-2) … Season just went poof.
5. Texans (0-3) … What happened?
So Week 3 of the NFL was one of those weeks that slaps you upside the head — unless you’re a quarterback, something that will draw a flag.
• The Browns won.
• The Bills dope-slapped the Vikings in Minnesota.
• The Titans out-kicked the Jags, 9-6.
• The Lions actually ran the ball and played defense in win over the Patriots.
• Pittsburgh won its first game of the season against previously undefeated Tampa Bay.
It was one of those weeks that makes you re-evaluate just about everything you thought you knew about the league, one of the most attractive aspects of the NFL.
The biggest talking point of Week 3 was one that was building already — roughing-the-passer penalties are out of control. With a newfound concern for the health of players, brought on by lawsuits, as well as Aaron Rodgers breaking his collarbone last year when a defender fell on him, the NFL is making it increasingly hard to hit a quarterback in any way.
How does a defender rushing the quarterback not land on said quarterback during a sack? These guys are 250-plus pounds and physics dictates that they can’t stop on a dime — see Clay Matthews.
I understand the league not wanting hits to the head. We’ve got the “Brady Rule” for not going at the knees or below. Defenders have a four-foot zone to hit the quarterback.
And you do have to hit the quarterback. With the rules of the game already slanted toward offense, the NFL is verging on becoming touch football.
ESPN is reporting that the league competition committee will be meeting soon, code speak for eventually easing up on the roughing calls.
Don’t expect the NFL to admit fault on this issue. The NFL has never been wrong in anything ever throughout its history.
Ruh-roh, as Scooby Doo would say.
We know that the Broncos don’t play well on the road in the post-Peyton Manning Era — 1-7 last year. Yet that was ugly.
Despite a quick start, the offensive line was atrocious — the Ravens had nine quarterback hits, three sacks and five tackles for loss. Case Keenum was 22-for-34 for 192 yards with no TD passes and another pick. And, to be honest, that line looks a lot better than it was after padding the yardage late.
And the Broncos did their best imitation of the Raiders with 13 flags for 120 yards.
The good news is that Broncos head home this week. That bad news is that they’re hosting the Chiefs.
AFC West watch
• The Chiefs beat the stuffing out of the 49ers last week with Pat Mahomes throwing for three more touchdowns. We keep telling ourselves that K.C. started 5-0 last year and finished 10-6, but their schedule this year is frontloaded.
In the next five weeks, the Chiefs play Denver twice, host Jacksonville and are at New England. After that, the second half looks like 6-2 at worst.
• The Chargers are 1-2 after a loss to the Rams. They should be getting well soon as the next three weeks are the Jimmy Garoppolo-less 49ers, the Raiders and the Browns.
• The Raiders stink. There’s some consolation, people.
News and notes
• Who are the AFC contenders? Even with a loss to the Lions, the Patriots start slow. New England views September as the preseason, yet they have a must-win game against Miami this week. (Not an overstatement: the Pats lose, they trail the Fins by three games.)
Jacksonville laid an egg against the Titans. The Steelers, despite winning, are still a mess. Does this bring us back to the Chiefs?
• Are the Redskins viable challengers to the Eagles? Washington’s quarterback is Alex Smith. This is a problem. The Eagles just got Carson Wentz back, so maybe not.
• The NFL clearly sweetened the deal on “Thursday Night Football,” for Fox with Minnesota at the Rams. This is too good of game for a Thursday. Given the loss to the Bills, do the Vikes knock the Rams from the ranks of the unbeaten?
On to Week 4.