Tennessee Titans (3-0) 31, Minnesota Vikings (0-3) 30
The Vikings showed life, and it wasn’t enough
Minnesota came into Week 3 dealing with a plethora of issues. The Vikings were never going to be able to fix them all in a week’s span. However, the passing game found a stride and that’s a positive to take from the loss against the Titans.
First-round rookie Justin Jefferson finally had his breakout game. Seven receptions for 175 yards and a score adds the element of a second weapon the Vikings hoped he’d be. Jefferson’s emergence opens up things for Adam Thielen again after the departure of Stefon Diggs.
Once again, the turnovers plagued the offense’s solid day. Dalvin Cook, who played well on Sunday, fumbled, leading to a Tennessee field goal. Kirk Cousins and Jefferson had a clear miscommunication on a timing route. Luckily the pick six that occurred on the play was reversed on an illegal block penalty. Nevertheless, Minnesota’s offense had its best performance of the season and yet there were still faults.
The Vikings should be able to keep up this level of play on offense next week versus Houston, but if they can’t, the alarm bell needs to start ringing.
Chicago Bears (3-0) 30, Atlanta Falcons (0-3) 26
Matt Nagy pulled the trigger on the correct decision
Matt Nagy is coaching for his job this season. On Sunday, he made a decision to pull Mitch Trubisky after falling behind against the Falcons. The Bears weren’t in a must win to keep their season alive, but it didn’t matter, and Nagy made the correct choice. Too many times a coach might wait for the following week when having quarterbacks of similar caliber. Nagy didn’t and it paid off.
The Falcons defense has stopped nobody this season. Yet, Trubisky struggled to sustain drives. His best play was a 45-yard run that had a hole big enough for a Los Angeles highway. As soon as Nick Foles entered, the Bears started rolling through the air.
Foles wasn’t just targeting Allen Robinson, despite his 37-yard touchdown. Jimmy Graham, Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney all were involved in the comeback. The Bears don’t come back to win this game with Trubisky, and Nagy’s decision can be the difference between a playoff spot or not.
Detroit Lions (1-2) 26, Arizona Cardinals (2-1) 23
Matt Patricia’s defense shows up for him
The Lions’ defensive efforts weren’t perfect, but it helped Detroit secure its first win. Matt Patrica’s group had the best success of anyone thus far in making Kyler Murray uncomfortable. The Lions picked off Murray three times, and that led to 10 points in the win.
Jamie Collins received a 92.1 PFF grade for his performance on Sunday. He was all over the place and had his hand in affecting Murray’s interceptions. Collins picked off Murray in the second quarter, the turnover that led to a touchdown. The linebacker dropped into the zone coverage, read Murray’s eyes from the start, and undercut Larry Fitzgerald’s route. On the first Murray interception, Collins came through the A gap as a blitzer. Murray’s throw ended up high and off the hands of his intended receiver for the pick.
First-round cornerback Jeff Okudah grabbed his first of hopefully many interceptions as well. The defense’s performance was certainly a step in the right direction for another coach trying to save his job.
Green Bay Packers (3-0) 37, New Orleans Saints (1-2) 30
Aaron Rodgers leads the way
The Packers didn’t have Davante Adams, Aaron Jones didn’t have his best game, and Green Bay still scored 37 points on a solid defense. Aaron Rodgers has become so much more comfortable in year two of Matt LaFleur’s offense. Despite finishing the year 13-3 and making the NFC Championship game, Green Bay’s offense looks more fluid than it did last season.
Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders attacked the Saints with tight end Darren Waller, but Green Bay doesn’t have anyone like Waller. Instead they used a combination of Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis. The Packers drew up play action to attack the short, intermediate field and then used the same look to get a big play to Allen Lazard, who had a career night on Sunday.
Rodgers’ production thus far matches up to Matt Ryan’s 2016 season. Ryan was in the second year of Kyle Shanahan’s offense — a similar style to LeFleur’s — when he won MVP and got the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Rodgers and the Packers look on a similar track to that.