Today we look at the television main games for week three. There are some interesting story-lines and two potential shootouts.
Sunday Late: Dallas @ Seattle (FOX)
These are two teams that want to get their run games going.
Seattle was 23rd in the league in 2017 in rushing yards per game with 101. They drafted running back Rashaad Penny in round one of the draft.Their 2017 seventh round pick, Chris Carson, returned in 2018 from a season ending injury in 2017. Carson has rushed for an average of 5.8 yards per carry this season which is sixth best for backs with at least 10 carries. Carson runs with power, can make a quick cut and shows good hands. Penny got off to a slow start in game one with only a 1.1 yard average on seven carries. He did have four receptions for 35 yards. He improved in week two averaging 3 yards a carry on ten attempts with a long of 10 yards. Carson is listed as running back one on the depth chart. Will Penny push to take over that slot?
The Cowboys are 29th in the league in opponent rushing first down percentage (30.6%). In passing defense the Cowboys are fifth in the league in opponent passing yards per game (183).
Ezekiel Elliot is 14th in the league in rushing average with 4.6 yards per carry for backs with a minimum 10 carries. He is 13th in rushing first down percentage at 25%. he does have two rushing touchdowns which is tie for sixth in the league. The Seahawks are one of ten teams in the NFL that have yet to give up a 20+ yard running back play. I see these two teams working hard to dominate in the run game.
Sunday Night: New England @ Detroit (NBC)
New head coach Matt Patricia squares off against his former boss Bill Belichick.
Even though the Lions were 9-7 last season and they made the playoffs twice in the last four seasons they felt a coaching change was needed. You have to go back to 1991 since the Lions moved beyond the wild card game in the playoffs. Before Patricia the coach was Jim Caldwell. Caldwell’s record as Lions coach was 36–28 (.563), making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since 1972. Caldwell’s .563 winning percentage was the best for a Lions’ head coach since the 1950s. Patricia is now at 0-2 and faces a tough game against the Super Bowl competitor New England Patriots.
Record-setting quarterback Mathew Stafford had a horrible opening game against the Jets. He had four interceptions to one touchdown, a 58.7% completion rate and a 47.9 passer rating. He came back to form in the second game in the loss to the 49ers with a 101.7 passer rating. The Lions lead the league in passing attempts per game with 52. The Lions may have the most talented three wide receiver set with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. The Patriots now have a talented receiver group with Josh Gordon and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The pass defenses of these teams are not great. The Lions have yielded n opponent passer rating of 117.7 and Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay is questionable after suffering a concussion last Sunday. The Patriots have yielded a better opponent passer rating of 90.7 but have yielded an average 267 passing yards per game (23rd). This could be a shootout.
Monday Night: Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay (ESPN)
In passing yards per game these teams are ranked number one (TB – 405) and number two (PIT – 377).
Roethlisberger gets there with a combination of number of passing attempts coupled with decent yards per completion and receiver YACs. He leads the league in passing attempts per game (50). Only Lions’ Mathew Stafford is close with 49. Roethlisberger is ninth in yards/completion (12.7 yards). However his completion percentage (61.4%) and passer rating (86.5) are not that impressive. He is aided by two receivers in the top five per receptions – Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers are fifth in passing plays of 20+ yards with 10. However most of those are due to yards-after-the catch by the receivers. Per Pro Football Focus Roethlisberger has attempted 17 passes of 20+ yards and has connected on only three of them for 75 yards. He may be affected by an elbow injury that occurred in week one.
Amazingly Fitzpatrick is 24th in the league in passing attempts per game at 30. He is efficient with a completion percentage of 78.7% which is third in the league. His yards per completion of 17.1 yards is second in the league. The Buccaneers have the second most passes of 20+ yards (12) and Pro Football Focus lists Fitzpatrick as the top quarterback in Big-Time throws with ten. The next closest is Russell Wilson with seven. The Buccaneer’s receivers are not on the level of the Steelers but they do have three good receivers in DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Ryan Fitzpatrick has the highest passer rating thru two weeks with a 151.5. A perfect rating is 158.3. The average passer rating for the first two weeks of the season going back to 2002 hovers in the range of 84 to 92.4. We’ll see Monday if these two teams continue to light it up.
Enjoy the week three games!