Even though it’s only Week 3 of the NFL season, this weekend could be crucial for the AFC and the New England Patriots. Are the Patriots a contender for the playoffs? The Indianapolis Colts — are they really that bad? Will the Cincinnati Bengals, who recently qualified for the Super Bowl, fall to 0-3?
After Week 3, teams can certainly turn things around, but this weekend’s games may help to distinguish the contenders from the pretenders.
The Patriots are probably not viewed as a playoff club right now by the majority of people. They’ve had trouble scoring in the first two games offensively, but in Week 2 they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.
New England’s home debut comes on Sunday. The Miami Dolphins were defeated 42-38 last week after the Baltimore Ravens lost a 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ electrifying quarterback, is anticipated to lead the team to some success this season. With a win over the Ravens, New England would go to 2-1, effectively two games ahead of the Ravens.
Coming off a strong rookie year, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones hasn’t been able to spark the offense this year. Josh McDaniels’ departure as offensive coordinator undoubtedly had an impact. People are unsure if Jones is the best person to lead the team after his recent performance. Rob Ninkovich, a former linebacker for the Patriots, stated that he still thinks Jones is the best candidate.
“I do believe he is still the guy,” Ninkovich said recently, per NBC Sports Boston. “I’m kind of taking everything that I’m watching with a grain of salt considering I don’t know if they necessarily put him in a great position this offseason.
“You have to understand when you go from Josh McDaniels to a new staff or a new style, you have Matty P (Matt Patricia), Joey Judge, Bill Belichick, those three guys are probably making the rounds trying to implement an offensive system that’s different. A new scheme, new terminology, new protections. All things that as a quarterback you have to be on every single thing that’s going on. You have to know what’s coming, you have to know what’s next. I don’t think they’re there yet.”
Week 3 could tell us a lot about the rest of the AFC
This weekend’s key AFC East matchup features the Dolphins at Buffalo Bills. The Bills were many people’s pick to win the Super Bowl and came into the season as the undisputed AFC East favorite. Both have a 2-0 record. Josh Allen, the quarterback for Buffalo, has lived up to expectations, but Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa dazzled last week with a six-touchdown performance in the team’s comeback victory over the Ravens.
The Colts, who were widely predicted to win the AFC South, have played like the worst NFL club. They tied 20-20 in their season opener against the Houston Texans despite being a clear favorite on the road.
They were blanked by the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road last week. Taking against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs in the home opener on Sunday won’t be simple.
Could the Bengals really go winless? In that case, they would have suffered defeats at the hands of the Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Jets, giving rise to the possibility that last season was an anomaly. The Tennessee Titans, the AFC West’s top seed from the previous season, host the Las Vegas Raiders, who are anticipated to be a force in the division. Both are 0-2. The loser is in very hot water.
After their dominant victory against the Colts last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the talk of the town. They will establish themselves as a contender for the South crown if they can travel to Los Angeles and defeat the Chargers.
These are the contests that can eventually make or break a season, even though it is only Week 3.