Breaking Down the Surprise-Filled Sunday

Well, it looks like we can all scratch this week as an L for our weekly picks.

Sunday’s matchups were filled with surprises, but it also taught us a few things that were not necessarily true last season. Today, we’ll break down the most surprising performances, the most shocking losses and the biggest takeaways.

Surprising Individual Performances

Blake Bortles

Who would have thought Blake Bortles might actually turn out OK?

The fourth year pro has shown signs of progression and regression throughout his bumpy career, but while playing in London, he showed that he belongs in this league.

Against the Ravens, Bortles went 20/31 for 244 yards and 4 passing touchdowns, earning him a 128.2 passer rating.

Bortles has struggled a lot throughout his career, but perhaps he’s showing signs that he can at least be a game manager, which is exactly what the Jaguars need to compliment with their dominant defense.

Quarterback Blake Bortles about to throw a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Josh McCown 

The Jets won a game, ladies and gentlemen.

The Jets are still terrible, but it looks like their plan to “Scam for Sam (Darnold)” won’t work, since veteran QB Josh McCown showed that he can win some games for this football team.

McCown went 18/23 with 249 passing yards and 1 touchdown, eclipsing a 126.3 passer rating.

At age 38, McCown obviously isn’t New York’s long term option, so they will inevitably have to draft someone or finally get something out of Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty, both of which looks less than likely.

Quarterback Josh McCown throwing a pass in preseason action against the Tennessee Titans.

Jake Elliott

Not many kickers can say they’ve had a walk off 61 yard field goal, let alone as a rookie.

Elliott isn’t a perfect kicker, by any means.

He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft and was placed on the team’s practice squad after losing the kicker competition to Randy Bullock. The Eagles acquired him after their kicker Caleb Sturgis went down with a hip injury, forcing him to go to the IR.

So far, Elliott is 4/6 in field goal attempts, but his 61 yard dinger on Sunday to defeat the division rival New York Giants definitely solidifies himself a job for at least another week.

Kicker Jake Elliott celebrates walk-off field goal against the New York Giants.

Surprising Losses

Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Baltimore Ravens 44-7

Watch out–Duval is on the rise.

The Jacksonville Jaguars took the trip across the pond at Wembley Stadium, where they dominated the Baltimore Ravens 44-7.

One of the biggest surprises was Blake Bortles looking like he actually knew what he was doing, as well as Ravens QB Joe Flacco playing as poor as ever.

Maybe it was Jacksonville’s experience playing in a different timezone and at that venue, but 44-7 tells a compelling story about Jacksonville’s dominance.

It will be interesting to see what adjustments the Ravens make for their Week 4 matchup against the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers.

Joe Flacco visibly upset after a loss.

Chicago Bears defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17

Now, this margin isn’t huge, but we’re talking about the Chicago Bears.

Watching this game, I really liked the Bears’ offensive plan going into this: shove the ball down their throats.

Stud running back Jordan Howard and the emerging Tarik Cohen made life difficult for the Steelers front seven, who was without defensive playmakers Stephon Tuitt and T.J. Watt.

Quarterback Mike Glennon only threw the ball 22 times on Sunday, compared to the 45 attempts against the Buccaneers in Week 2 and the 40 attempts against the Falcons in Week 1. This is proving to be effective for Chicago, and their Week 4 game against the Green Bay Packers could be just as successful, since two of Green Bay’s starting front seven members (Mike Daniels and Jake Ryan) are likely to be sidelined with injuries. The NFC North just got that much more interesting.

Running back Jordan Howard rushing with the ball.

Washington Redskins defeat the Oakland Raiders 27-10

Marshawn isn’t dancing this week.

The Oakland Raiders were handed their first loss against the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-10.

Derek Carr was 19/31 with 118 passing yards, with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Both receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were highly limited because of stout play by cornerback Josh Norman.

This is certainly a wake up call for the so far successful Raiders, and they’ll try to bounce back next week against the rising Denver Broncos.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins attempts to complete a pass.

Biggest Takeaways

The Bears have an Excellent One-Two Running Back Punch

Exit: Jeremy Langford. Enter: Tarik Cohen.

Jordan Howard now has a suitable partner in the Bears’ backfield in running back Tarik Cohen. The rookie from small school North Carolina A&T made his presence known on Sunday, having 12 rushing attempts for 78 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

His partner, however, absolutely obliterated the Steelers. Howard had 23 rushing attempts for 138 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry, with 2 TDs added onto that.

The Howard-Cohen partnership reminds me of the Atlanta Falcons’ version of that, which features Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

The Bears may be muddy at quarterback and wide receiver, but their ground game makes them dangerous. Watch as the Bears may compete for a wild card spot.

Running back Tarik Cohen rushing with the ball.

Is the Jaguars Defense Elite?

To answer this question: they definitely made a compelling case against the Baltimore Ravens, but not quite.

However, I am comfortable in saying that the Jags are a top 10 defense in this league. The teams they’ve played thus far haven’t had strong offenses; the only exception being the Tennessee Titans, who put up 37 points against them.

The good news is that the Jags will have the chance to display their dominance in the next three weeks, as they play the Jets, Browns and Rams. By then, many may already label them elite.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey taunting someone on the offense.

The Tennessee Titans are the Best Team in the AFC South

It seems as though there’s one team who’s taking full reign of the uncertain AFC South.

Aside from their Week 1 loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Tennessee Titans have asserted their dominance as the best team in the AFC South with their 33-27 win against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Jaguars are close and so are the Texans, but since the Titans beat Jacksonville and the Texans are 1-2, I have to give it to Tennessee. The Colts aren’t that far off, either, but it’s hard to forget the 46-9 pounding they took to the Rams.

A lot can change throughout this season, but for now, the Titans have earned the right to be kings of the AFC South.

The Tennessee Titans offense.


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