Friday, June 14, 2024

NFL Week 3 Sunday Scramble: Lamar Jackson, Doug Pederson steal the show; Chargers, Patriots in trouble

Another Sunday of football is just about in the books. The Colts stunned the Chiefs. The Eagles destroyed the Commanders. The Dolphins stayed unbeaten. And that was just a taste of Week 3, with prime-time matchups still on tap.

Miss the first waves of Week 3 action? Get yourself fully caught up with our Sunday Scramble, a weekly rundown of top takeaways and tidbits. Like the best greasy breakfast plates at your local diner, this is meant to be a hodgepodge of the good stuff — from weekly MVPs and true-or-false narratives to a look ahead at next weekend’s best games and hot-seat candidates.

Now dig in, and let’s recap:

Week 3 Awards

AFC MVP: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

Tua Tagovailoa’s Week 2 breakout stole his MVP-caliber spotlight a week ago, but Jackson was back at it against the Patriots, waltzing through Bill Belichick’s defense with ease. By the end of the day, the speedster topped 100 yards on the ground and totaled five touchdowns as Baltimore approached a 40-burger in Foxborough. Elite talent, reconfirmed.

NFC MVP: Eagles DE Brandon Graham

Carson Wentz didn’t even get the chance to let it rip against his old team, because the Eagles’ D-line was in his face all day. Graham was the headliner in the assault on Washington, totaling 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and a pass deflection as Philly limited the Commanders to 240 yards in a 24-8 rout. Not bad for a 34-year-old coming off a torn Achilles.

Coach of the Week: Jaguars‘ Doug Pederson

Make that two weeks in a row for Dougie P. His fellow AFC coach, Mike McDaniel, deserves every bit of hype guiding a surprise 3-0 team, but no one had the Jags blowing out the Colts and Chargers in back-to-back weeks. Trevor Lawrence looks more comfortable by the week under his new head man, and Pederson’s handpicked DC, first-timer Mike Caldwell, is thriving.

Mr. Cool of the Week: Colts QB Matt Ryan

He didn’t necessarily have a pretty day in a defensive battle with the Chiefs, but guess what? Any time you can get body-slammed on a sack-fumble, dogpiled by an edgy Chris Jones and still stand tall to throw the go-ahead touchdown to beat Patrick Mahomes, you deserve props. Indy isn’t dead yet at 1-2, and their QB’s resilience helped a lot.

Teams of the Week

  • The Dolphins, for beating the Bills to shut up (more) critics as Tua Tagovailoa keeps firing darts from the pocket
  • The Panthers, for unlocking Laviska Shenault to win an ugly contest with the Saints
  • The Vikings, for withstanding the Lions‘ early magic to get a much-needed rebound victory in the North
  • The Jaguars, for embarrassing the banged-up Chargers to get Doug Pederson the respect he deserves

Fantasy Favorites

The CBS Fantasy team has you covered with the latest waiver recommendations, Week 4 projections and much more. In the meantime, here are the guys I’d be eyeing if I were you:

  • Seahawks QB Geno Smith: You don’t wanna be relying on him every week, but as a streaming option, you can do much worse. Smith’s now thrown 2+ TDs in two of his three starts despite Seattle’s general mediocrity.
  • Jaguars WR Zay Jones: Trevor Lawrence connected with everyone in a big win over the Chargers, but Jones has now totaled 24 targets in three games. He’s clearly cemented himself as a top-three receiving option for a growing offense.
  • Packers WR Romeo Doubs: That preseason connection is starting to translate to the games, with the rookie collecting at least five targets from Aaron Rodgers in two of his three games. His role should only grow moving forward.

True or False

Which developing narratives — popular or artificial — are actually valid?

The Chargers are in trouble: Not only did Justin Herbert take the field with injured ribs Sunday, but L.A. also lost Rashawn Slater and Joey Bosa against the Jaguars, with stars like Keenan Allen and Corey Linsley already banged up. Herbert’s presence will keep them dangerous, but this wave of medical issues could ruin his supporting cast. Verdict: TRUE

The Patriots are all but dead: After barely beating the Steelers in Week 3, New England could not keep up with the high-flying Ravens on Sunday, and Mac Jones — already recovering from a sore back — reportedly suffered a more serious ankle injury. With the Bills and Dolphins possessing the juice in the AFC East, their playoff hopes look iffy. Verdict: TRUE

The Colts are back to contender status: Beating the Chiefs is a massive “W,” right? Well, yes, to stave off an 0-2-1 start. But their offense, despite the clutch finish, was still thoroughly ugly, and K.C. didn’t help itself with some costly penalties and special teams gaffes. For now, it’s probably safer to bet on another team in the AFC South. Verdict: FALSE

On the Horizon: Week 4

We’ve still got a few games to round out Week 3, but here’s how we’d rank the best of next week’s matchups:

3. Rams at 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo gets to debut as Trey Lance’s replacement (and reprise his own QB1 role) in prime time to close Week 3, and then he’s back under the bright lights for a Monday night rematch of the 2021 NFC Championship.

2. Chiefs at Buccaneers: A rematch of Super Bowl 55, when Brady and the Bucs rolled over the Chiefs, this one will be a rebound spot for both contenders, after Kansas City stumbled over itself against the Colts.

1. Bills at Ravens: Firepower. You can’t get much better than Josh Allen versus Lamar Jackson, and the latter should be motivated to show up at home after Allen’s Bills beat the Ravens to advance to the AFC title game in 2020.

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