NFL Media researcher Brandon Mendoza identifies several of the biggest overreactions from each week’s set of games. The storylines below are bound to play out because, after all, numbers never lie. Right?
Russell Wilson will have the greatest season by a QB of all time!
With 14 passing touchdowns in three games, Russell Wilson is on pace for 74 scoring strikes (Peyton Manning’s 55 in 2013 is the current NFL record) by season’s end. League trends and common sense tell us he’s probably not going to reach that mark. But let’s not totally rule it out! Check out where Wilson stands through three weeks:
- He became the first player with at least four passing TDs in each of his team’s first three games in NFL history.
- With 14 TD passes through his team’s first three games, he’s eclipsed Patrick Mahomes’ mark of 13 (2018) for the most in NFL history.
- He leads the league in passer rating with 139.0. If it held, this would shatter the NFL’s single-season record (Aaron Rodgers’ 122.5 in 2011).
- He ranks fourth or better in completion percentage (76.7%, third) and passing yards (925, fourth) heading into Monday night’s game.
So, yeah, 74 seems outlandish. But is it that outlandish?
Nick Foles is the greatest replacement QB of all time!
Nick Foles may have already locked up this title in 2017, when he replaced an injured Carson Wentz in Week 15 then led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history by beating the Patriots (373 passing yards, four total touchdowns, one statue).
In his career coming off the bench, Foles holds an impressive 8-3 record, and his 105.6 passer rating is the highest of any substitute since 1970 (minimum 125-plus attempts).
However, let’s talk about Sunday, when Foles replaced Bears starting QB Mitchell Trubisky with Chicago trailing Atlanta 26-10 in the second half. Foles became the just second quarterback in NFL history to complete a comeback by throwing three fourth-quarter touchdown passes with under 7 minutes remaining in the game. The other to do so? Tommy Kramer, who led the Vikings over the Browns in the “Miracle at the Met” in 1980.
The Texans are absolutely, completely cooked
Let’s pull back a bit on this one. Yes, the Texans are 0-3 — but Houston, we actually do NOT have a problem. Since Bill O’Brien took over as head coach in 2014, the Texans have been .500 or worse through their first three games three different times. And yet, they won the AFC South in two of those three instances. In 2015, the Texans started 1-2 and finished 9-7. In 2018, they started 0-3 and finished 11-5 (not a typo). In fact, those Texans became one of just four teams since 1990 to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start. (The others: the 1992 Chargers, ’95 Lions and ’98 Bills.)
Plus, can we cut this group some slack? They are the first team in NFL history to face the two most recent NFL MVPs (Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson) and a Super Bowl-winning QB (Ben Roethlisberger) in their first three games of a season.
Tuck Rule ghosts will haunt the Raiders … forever!
We all remember the 2001 Divisional Round matchup between the Raiders and Patriots, when Tom Brady’s fourth-quarter fumble was overturned by the (in)famous “Tuck Rule.” The Patriots retained possession on the Raiders’ 42-yard line, went on to kick the game-tying field goal, then won in overtime.
Fast-forward to Week 3 of the 2020 season, when Raiders QB Derek Carr fumbled while attempting to pass in the second quarter, and the Patriots took over at the Raiders’ 42-yard line. Here’s where it gets fun. Both fumbles were forced by players from the University of Michigan (Charles Woodson in 2001 and Chase Winovich on Sunday).
The Carr fumble was the turning point for the Patriots, who scored on all of their next five drives following that play after going 1-for-4 to start the game, and went on to secure the win. The Raiders are now just 1-7 vs the Patriots since 2001 (including the postseason) — from 1966 to 2000, they went 10-6.
These Browns are definitely not the same old Browns
Hear me out. On Sunday, the Browns entered their 85th consecutive game with a .500-or-worse record, which was the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. No more! Beating Washington pushed the Browns to 2-1, marking the first time they are above .500 through three games since 2011.
And there’s reason to think things are really different in Cleveland. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has a 100-plus passer rating in consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 10 and 12 of the 2018 season. He even snapped his NFL-worst streak of throwing an INT in eight straight games.
The Browns’ running game, meanwhile, is as dominant an attack as there is in the league, as they’re currently the only team with two players who have 200-plus rushing yards (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt). Speaking of Chubb (108 yards, two TDs in Week 3), he just became the third player in team history with consecutive games of 100-plus rushing yards and two or more rushing touchdowns, joining Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958, 1958, 1963, 1968) and Leroy Kelly (1967).
Playing offense is just TOO easy!
Maybe NFL defenses are still in quarantine. Entering Monday Night Football in Week 3, there have been a combined 50.9 points scored per game in 2020, which would be the highest per-game mark in a season in NFL history. For perspective, consider that the record for a full season is 46.8, set in 2013.
There have been 30-plus points scored in a game 38 times in 2020, the most in the first three weeks of a season since the 1970 merger.
The Seahawks and Packers are both undefeated despite allowing over 28.0 points per game. That’s been accomplished just four previous times through the first three games of a season, by the 1991 Bills, 2000 Rams, 2008 Broncos and 2018 Chiefs.
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