NFL Week 3: Big questions, risers, fallers and takeaways

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Week 3 of the NFL season started Thursday night with a San Francisco 49ersvictory over the New York Giants.

On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins posted a 50-point blowout, the Green Bay Packers came back from down 17-0 in the fourth quarter to win, the Buffalo Bills' defense crushed theWashington Commanders,and theIndianapolis Coltskicked a late field goal to force overtime and then booted another to beat the Baltimore Ravens.

Later,Travis Kelceand the Kansas City Chiefs rolled over the Chicago Bearswith Taylor Swift in attendance, the Steelers held off a Raiders rally and the Dallas Cowboys lost to... the Arizona Cardinals?

On Monday night, the Philadelphia Eagles kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at arm's length and the Cincinnati Bengals held off the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive struggle.

Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who -- or what -- is rising and falling for every team. Let's get to it.

Jump to a matchup:






Cincinnati 19, Los Angeles Rams 16


Can the Bengals win with a hobbled Joe Burrow?Yes. If Burrow can operate at this level, he gives the Bengals a chance to win. But what's more important is the defense must be incredibly effective in order to help Burrow while he recovers from his calf injury. Against the Rams, the Bengals didn't allow a third-down conversion until garbage time and held Los Angeles to field goals on two early red zone drives.

Stock up after the win: Bengals' pass rush. Cincinnati brought the heat as Bengals defensive ends Trey Hendricksonand Sam Hubbardcombined for three sacks, 13 QB pressures and nine QB hits, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

Stock down after the win: Tee Higgins. Higgins had just two catches on eight targets for 21 yards and said in a social media post that he needs to be better next week. -- Ben Baby

Next game:at Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Can the Rams' offense right the ship before WR Cooper Kupp returns? The Rams have at least one more game before Kupp (hamstring) is eligible to return from his IR stint. The offense stalled Monday night in Cincinnati, going 1-for-4 in the red zone. Both Rams head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford talked about the missed opportunities the team had against the Bengals, including consistently failing to execute on third down. If the Rams can turn it around against the Colts, they'll likely do it by relying on receivers Puka Nacua(5 receptions, 72 yards)and Tutu Atwell(4 receptions,50 yards).

Stock up after the loss: The Rams' defense. Defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon had the Rams' first takeaway of the season, intercepting a pass from Burrow in the fourth quarter, and they held the Bengals to one touchdown, which came on Cincinnati's only trip to the red zone.

Stock down after the loss:Third-down offense. The Rams went 1-11 on third down, with their lone conversion coming on their final offensive play of the game. Several of those third-down attempts were third-and-longs after LA got behind the sticks due to a sack or a penalty.

Next game: at Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Philadelphia 25, Tampa Bay 11


Who's going to slow down RB D'Andre Swift? The only ones to do it so far have been the Eagles, who gave him just two touches in the opener against the Patriots. Since then? He rushed for a career-high 175 yards versus the Vikings in Week 2 and followed that up by averaging 8.1 yards per carry in a 130-yard rushing effort against the Bucs. Behind this offensive line, Swift has a chance to lead the league in rushing if he stays healthy.

Stock up after the win: The defense. It entered Monday's game vulnerable against the pass but put the clamps on quarterback Baker Mayfield, forcing him into his first interception of the season and limiting him to 146 yards on 15-of-25 passing.

Stock down after the win: The passing game. Credit quarterback Jalen Hurts for playing through flu-like symptoms, but he threw a pair of interceptions, and consistency has been lacking through three games. -- Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Will the offense be able to get it going? The Bucs have to be better with a top-10 defense in the New Orleans Saints up next. Wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cade Otton had costly drops, running back Rachaad White fumbled the ball after being hit from behind by Jalen Carter and Mayfield threw his first interception of the season. This game could have actually been much worse considering the Bucs were outgained 472 yards to 174.

Stock up after the loss: Evans. With three touchdowns in three games, are the Bucs sure they want to let him test free agency in the offseason?

Stock down after the loss: The run game. The deficiencies were even more obvious against the Eagles' defense. White and Sean Tucker rushed for a combined 41 yards, and White got clobbered in the backfield, resulting in a safety. -- Jenna Laine

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Pittsburgh 23, Las Vegas 18


Can the offense keep this up?Offensive coordinator Matt Canada got a bit of redemption in the Sunday night win against the Raiders. En route to Kenny Pickett's second touchdown throw of the night, the Steelers ran several well-executed plays, including a 16-yard screen. And on Pickett's touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth, the offense utilized play-action and misdirection to get the tight end wide open in the end zone. The Steelers racked up 362 yards, their first 300-yard game of the season, but continuing the momentum will be crucial.

Stock up after the win: Run defense. The Steelers came into the game with one of the worst run defenses in the league but they held 2022 rushing leader Josh Jacobsto 62 yards and 3.6 yards per carry.

Stock down after the win:Offensive tackles. The Steelers largely neutralized premiere pass-rushers Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa in the first two weeks, but right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr. struggled to contain Maxx Crosby, who finished with a sack and two quarterback hits. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Can the offense last with this offensive line? The Raiders have yet to control the line of scrimmage through three games this season and it has shown, especially in the running game, or lack thereof. A year after clearing enough holes for Josh Jacobs to lead the league in rushing, the O-line, which has a new right guard in Greg Van Roten, is getting bullied and Jacobs is getting hit before reaching the line of scrimmage. It's also allowing defenders to get in QB Jimmy Garoppolo's lap before he can get set to throw downfield.

Stock up after the loss: Davante Adams. The All-Pro receiver is still the best in the game and largely uncoverable, as evidenced by his 13 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns -- his third game with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a receiving TD for the Raiders.

Stock down after the loss: Garoppolo. To be fair, the Raiders QB had little time to dissect the Steelers' defense -- he had 2.5 seconds or less to throw on 14 attempts -- but a pick is a pick, and he threw three interceptions against Pittsburgh and has thrown a league-high six INTs in three games. -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Chargers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Seattle 37, Carolina 27


Can the Seahawks withstand this wave of injuries? They went into the game missing seven starters and then lost two more, with cornerback Tre Brown (concussion) and defensive end Dre'Mont Jones (hip) both suffering injuries that kept them from returning. Another regular, outside linebacker Darrell Taylor (leg), couldn't finish the game. They still had more than enough to pull away from a rebuilding Panthers team that was also banged up, but that's a long list of injuries to key players -- and it's not even October. Cornerback Riq Woolen should be back for Week 4, and safety Jamal Adams has a good chance of making his 2023 debut next Monday night against the New York Giants as well. Then comes a much-needed bye in Week 5.

Stock up after the win: KJason Myers. After a rough start to the season, Myers hit fall five of his field goal attempts Sunday to tie a team record for a single game.He connected from 43, 35, 33, 37 and 39, and made a pair of PATs.

Stock down after the win:Third-down offense. This is a bit nitpicky because the Seahawks scored 37 points and racked up 428 yards of offense (before kneeling out the win), but they did that despite converting only three of 12 third-down opportunities (they also converted their lone fourth-down try). That won't get it done against better teams. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: at Giants (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Did coach Frank Reich and GM Scott Fitterer overestimate the potential of the offensive line? The thought was the line with four returning starters minus RG Austin Corbett, who began the season on the physically unable to perform list, was good enough to drop a quarterback in and win. In this case the top pick of the draft, Bryce Young. Losing LG Brady Christensen for the season didn't help. But this group has been a disaster, and eight false starts Sunday magnified the weaknesses. Six of the false starts came from the line's most experienced players, tackles Ikem Ekwonu (four) and Taylor Moton (two). Run blocking was abysmal, too (44 yards on 14 carries). This line has been a total failure, and it should make management nervous putting Young (ankle) behind it when healthy.

Stock up after the loss: QBAndy Dalton. He breathed a bit of life into an anemic offense, although to be fair Seattle's defense isn't very good. Dalton passed for more than 300 yards for an offense that hadn't produced more than 153 yards passing the first two games. He had four passes of 20-plus yards; Carolina had ranked last in the NFL in that category entering the day with one.

Stock down after the loss: The defense. A group that had high hopes of being a top-10 unit preseason has been decimated by injuries -- LB Shaq Thompson (IR), CB Jaycee Horn (IR). And after losing a couple more players Sunday it became average at best against a Seattle offense that should have been exploited with both starting tackles out. -- David Newton

Next game: vs. Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Arizona 28, Dallas 16


Now that they have a win, can the Cardinals keep this up? In short, yes. It might not happen every week, but the Cardinals have shown they are capable of putting together productive first halves, outscoring opponents by 34 points in the first two quarters. On Sunday, they put together their first complete game of the season. With games against the 49ers, Bengals, Rams and Seahawks coming, if Arizona can repeat what it showed against Dallas, it could pull out a few more unexpected wins.

Stock up after the win: QB Joshua Dobbs. Sunday was the first time he started three games in a season, and he proved why he's capable of being an NFL starter. He was efficient, completing 80.9% of his passes for 189 yards and one touchdown against Dallas. But it was the types of plays he made that were impressive. He had a 44-yard run on the game's second play that set the tone, and hit Michael Wilson for 17-yard and 69-yard completions on big-time plays.

Stock down after the win: Second-half rush offense. Arizona was dominant in the first half, rushing for 182 yards -- the most in a half in the NFL this season. But after halftime, the Cardinals managed just 41 more yards despite holding a lead for the entire second half -- which they should've spent burning the clock on the ground. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


What the heck was that? The Cowboys were dominant in their first two games. Then they put together an outing that was poor in all three phases, and did something the Commanders and Giants didn't: lose to the Cardinals. Dallas was without three starting offensive linemen, but it was a defensive collapse that was unforeseen even with the loss of cornerback Trevon Diggs to a torn ACL. After Sunday, people are free to wonder: Are these the same old Cowboys?

Stock up after the loss: WR Michael Gallup. Gallup finished with six catches for 92 yards in his best game since Thanksgiving 2021, when he had 105 yards. He also drew a pass interference penalty. In a game in which little went right, there was not much else to choose from.

Stock down after the loss: Run defense. The Cowboys gave up carries of 26, 44 and 45 yards in the first half alone. The second half was better, but with Ezekiel Elliott and the Patriots visiting AT&T Stadium in Week 4, the Cowboys will need to show they can stop the run. -- Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Patriots (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Kansas City 41, Chicago 10


Is it all good for the Chiefs on offense now? It's tempting to say it is, with the Chiefs scoring on seven straight possessions. But as impressive as it was against the Bears, let's wait until they do it against an opponent that isn't in such disarray. The Bears entered the game next to last in the league in scoring defense. Playing well against the Jets defense next week would be a better barometer.

Stock up after the win: The run game.There are a lot of candidates here, including Travis Kelce, who caught a touchdown pass in front of his new bestie, Taylor Swift. But we'll go with the running backs, who scored four touchdowns, including two by Jerick McKinnon. The backs didn't score a touchdown in either of the first two games.

Stock down after the win:OTJawaan Taylor. He was again pulled from the game after being penalized twice for lining up in the backfield. The Bears declined the first penalty but the second one cost the Chiefs a long touchdown pass. Andy Reid said during the week the Chiefs could "fix'' Taylor, but it looks like the process might take longer than they hoped. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at Jets (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


When will Chicago's early-season skid end? Not even at the midway point of the third quarter, with the Bears trailing by 34, Fox decided to cut away from its national broadcast featuring Chicago and Kansas City. That felt like a fitting end to a chaotic week inside the Bears organization. This version of the Bears is tied for the second-worst point differential through three games in franchise history (minus-59). Quarterback Justin Fields went 11-of-22 with an interception and a late touchdown after the Chiefs pulled their starters. Chicago hosts Denver -- which is also 0-3 -- in Week 4. But after one of the worst losses in franchise history, it's hard to see things getting back on track any time soon.

Stock up after the loss:Projected 2024 NFL draft position. Before the loss, the Bears were projected to pick No. 2 overall by ESPN Analytics' Football Power Index. But with the Cardinals win, the Bears are suddenly in the driver's seat heading into Week 4.

Stock down after the loss: The "T" in "HITS" principle (hustle, intensity, takeaways and playing smart). For a defense predicated on takeaways, it took the Bears three weeks to generate their first -- an interception by linebacker Jack Sanborn in the third quarter with the game already decided by six scores and Blaine Gabbert in at quarterback. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Indianapolis 22, Baltimore 19 (OT)


Should the Colts rethink their season goals? The Colts expected this would be a rebuilding year with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson learning to be a franchise quarterback. In this game, without Richardson, the defense continued to establish itself as a force and should continue to keep the Colts in games with a manageable schedule the rest of the way. The running game has performed solidly and should be improved when Richardson returns, but the defense has risen to the occasion and put the rest of the NFL on notice.

Stock up after the win: RB Zack Moss.Despite coping with a lower-body injury throughout the second half, Moss finished with 122 yards on 30 carries for just the second 100-yard game of his career.

Stock down after the win: The Colts' secondary. There were way too many wide-open receivers in this game, allowing Lamar Jackson at one point to complete his first 10 attempts of the game -- the most consecutive completions to start a game in Ravens history. -- Stephen Holder

Next game: vs. Rams (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


What happened to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' offense? The Ravens' offense was missing four injured starters in left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Justice Hill. It showed. The Ravens produced as many turnovers (fumbles by Jackson and running back Kenyan Drake) as touchdowns. Baltimore couldn't push the ball downfield and relied on the legs of Jackson, who ran for over 100 yards for the first time since Week 3 of last season.

Stock up after the loss: Safety Kyle Hamilton. His three sacks were the most in the first half by a defensive back in NFL history. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hamilton sacked Gardner Minshew in under four seconds each time.

Stock down after the loss: Ravens' run defense. Baltimore gave up 122 yards to Zack Moss, who became the second 100-yard rusher against the Ravens over the past 29 games. -- Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Miami 70, Denver 20


Are the Dolphins the best team in the NFL right now? Miami's offense just put up 726 yards with one of the best playmakers in the league, Jaylen Waddle, on the sideline while in the concussion protocol. Through three games, the Dolphins rank first in offensive expected points added, yards per play and per game and points per drive. Miami's defense also forced multiple turnovers for the second straight game. Next week's showdown with the Buffalo Bills will provide some answers about league superiority.

Stock up after the win: RB De'Von Achane. In his first prominent role, the rookie compiled 233 total yards and four total touchdowns. It doesn't matter who's healthy next week, Achane needs to be featured in this offense moving forward.

Stock down after the win: C Connor Williams. The Dolphins' starting center didn't botch any snaps after doing so multiple times in each of the team's first two games, but he did commit two holding penalties on the same drive and eventually left with a groin injury. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


How badly do the Broncos need a win in Chicago next week? As badly as they've needed one over the past eight years, because the schedule won't be doing Denver any favors after next week. After yielding over 700 yards to the Dolphins, the Broncos will travel to a Bears team that has had issues on and off the field. If Denver can't beat the Bears, wins will be hard to come by with two games against the Chiefs and one vs. the Bills in the ensuing five weeks. It could be one of the worst starts in franchise history.

Stock up after the loss: Rookie WR Marvin Mims Jr. The Broncos have still offered little to explain why Mims' snap count remains so low on a team that so obviously needs his explosiveness. He had 113 yards on two receptions against the Commanders, and Sunday he had 73 yards on three receptions -- and five targets -- and was repeatedly standing on the sideline when the Broncos were in a three-wide look.

Stock down after the loss: Rushing defense: The Dolphins gained 350 yards rushing. It was the most Denver has allowed since 2000, and the third most in franchise history. Miami entered the game 15th in rushing yards per game (107.5) through the first two weeks. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Green Bay 18, New Orleans 17


What kind of lift could this give the young Packers? Down 17-0 through three quarters and without their best running back, most explosive receiver, top-two offensive linemen and best cornerback, the Packers had nothing going for them. Now, they have every reason to believe they can do something special even if they're still going to be without Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Jaire Alexander a little while longer. A week after Jordan Love couldn't muster a single completion on a potential game-winning drive, he masterfully led three fourth-quarter scoring drives.

Stock up after the win: LB Rashan Gary. So far, it doesn't look like last year's torn ACL has impacted him at all. With his first career three-sack game Sunday, the Packers might want to lock up Gary with an extension sooner rather than later. He is playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal worth $10.892 million this season.

Stock down after the win:Offensive discipline. They had seven offensive penalties in the first three quarters, and they were of all varieties. They had three false starts, two holds, an illegal formation and a pass interference. -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Lions (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


How will the offense function if Derek Carr misses time? The Saints gave Carr a four-year deal to try to fix some of the offensive problems from last year, and the offense couldn't do anything once he left the game with an injured right shoulder, with a comeback attempt ending in a missed field goal attempt. If Carr misses time, can the Saints' offense work without him or will it look similar to the offense that struggled in 2022? So far, not so good.

Stock up after the loss: CB Alontae Taylor. The Saints' defense had a big drop-off in the second half, but it's hard to deny that Taylor played one of the best games of his career. He got his first career sack and set a career high with five pass breakups.

Stock down after the loss: The offensive line. The OL wasn't responsible for the play that injured Carr, but the group hasn't jelled the way the team had hoped. The unit posted a 33.3% pass block win rate and a 38.5% pass rush win rate against the Packers. Guard Cesar Ruiz left the game early with a concussion, leading to another bad day for the unit. -- Katherine Terrell

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

L.A. Chargers 28, Minnesota 24


What's wrong with the Chargers' secondary? The Chargers' pass defense has been among the worst in the NFL. Whenever opposing teams needed an explosive play, they have gotten them. There was a 70-yard strike in the Chargers' Week 2 loss to the Titans, a 47-yard pass against the Dolphins in Week 1, and a 53-yard one to Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson on Sunday. The Chargers won thanks to an offense near the top of the league in yards and points scored per game, but this team will struggle to win consistently as long as it allows passing-yard totals like the Vikings' 345 from Sunday.

Stock up after the win: WR Keenan Allen. The receiver had 18 catches for 215 yards, setting the team record for single-game receiving yards -- and he also threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams.

Stock down after the win:CBJ.C. Jackson. The Chargers signed Jackson last offseason to a five-year, $82.5 million deal to be a corner who could shadow No. 1 receivers. But against Jefferson, perhaps the league's best receiver, Jackson was a healthy inactive. -- Kris Rhim

Next game: vs. Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)


Did the Vikings just kiss their season goodbye? An unexpected 0-3 start, including two at home and with some tough opponents ahead on the schedule, will leave the Vikings in a struggle to make the playoffs. In the Super Bowl era, only 2.4% of 0-3 teams have overcome such a start to make the postseason. Yes, that statistic spans 14-game, 16-game and 17-game seasons. But it hasn't happened since the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games. The last 0-3 team to make the playoffs was the 2018 Houston Texans.

Stock up after the loss: RB Alexander Mattison. A week after a tough game in Philadelphia, and four days after the Vikings acquired Cam Akers from the Rams, Mattison rushed for a season-high 93 yards on 20 carries.

Stock down after the loss: Pass defense. The Chargers threw at will against the Vikings, who allowed a stunning 445 total passing yards (on 41 completions) and will have to go back to the drawing board after a scheme that was largely unable to pressure quarterback Justin Herbert. -- Kevin Seifert

Next game: at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Houston 37, Jacksonville 17


Can rookie QB Stroud keep up his hot start? C.J. Stroud threw for 280 yards in his third start and became the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for 900 yards through their first three career games. Stroud finished with a passer rating of 118 and threw two touchdowns -- and he's yet to throw an interception. Whenever Stroud needed to make throws, he made them -- as he had two passes longer than 40 yards to rookie receiver Tank Dell. If the No. 2 overall pick can keep this up, Rookie of the Year honors might be on the table.

Stock up after the win:WR Tank Dell. The rookie keeps getting better. He caught five passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, which included a 68-yard catch to help put the game out of reach.

Stock down after the win: WR Nico Collins. He had only 34 yards on two catches with a drop after a career-high 146 yards last week. -- DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: vs. Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Did the Jaguars' run last year give them false hope? It's starting to look like it. The Jaguars won five in a row at the end of the season to win the division, but two of the last three QBs they beat -- Zach WilsonandDavis Mills-- haven't recorded a win as a starter this season. They rallied from 27-0 to beat the Chargers in the first round of the playoffs but are just 1-3 since. The offense that was supposed to be one of the best came into Sunday's game ranked 31st in third downs and 17th in yards per game. The Jaguars just got routed at home by a winless team down eight starters and led by a rookie QB.

Stock up after the loss:TE Evan Engram.Not much to pick from, but Engram set a season high with seven catches for 67 yards and now leads the team with 18 catches this season. He's been the most consistent pass-catcher through three games and has outperformed WR Calvin Ridley, who had two end-zone drops and two penalties against the Texans.

Stock down after the loss: Special teams. K Brandon McManus had a field goal attempt blocked and missed another, but the most embarrassing thing was allowing Texans FB Andrew Beck to return a kickoff 85 yards for a TD -- the first time a fullback has done that since Jacksonville's Derrick Wimbush in 2005. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Falcons in London (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

New England 15, N.Y. Jets 10


Did Ezekiel Elliott show he can be a bigger part of the offense? One of the top questions when the Patriots signed Elliott in the preseason was how much he had left in the tank. The eight-year veteran, who said last week that he felt fresh because he hadn't played much through two weeks (50 snaps), had his best game as a Patriot by finishing with 80 yards on 16 carries -- at one point turning to his trademark post-carry celebration to keep feeding him. The Patriots visit the Cowboys, where Elliott spent the first seven years of his career, next Sunday.

Stock up after the win:TEPharaoh Brown. In the first two games, Brown played a total of 14 offensive snaps. He was a bigger part of the plan Sunday, with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien calling on the 3-TE package more regularly, and he delivered a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a blown coverage by the Jets.

Stock down after the win: Roster depth. Starting DT Davon Godchaux (ankle) and reserve DT Daniel Ekuale (elbow) were knocked out of the game in the first half, and starting LG Cole Strange (knee) left in the second half and didn't return. -- Mike Reiss

Next game: at Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Should the Jets stick with Zach Wilson or turn to Tim Boyle? It would be a desperation move after only three games, but the offense has produced only two touchdowns in Wilson's two starts. He was dreadful for 3 1/2 quarters, looking tentative in the pocket. All three sacks, including a safety, were on him. He wasn't helped by a predictable game plan that failed to use their top weapons, Garrett Wilson (5 catches for 48 yards) and Breece Hall (12 carries for 18 yards). The backup is journeyman Boyle, who has only three career starts. Wilson showed some life with a late scoring drive, probably giving the coaching staff enough reason to stay with him, but his job security will be an issue if he continues to sputter.

Stock up after the loss: P Thomas Morstead. He had eight punts, with a gross average of 51 yards per punt. A solid game, but it's bad when the punter is the star of the game.

Stock down after the loss: The offensive line. With LT Duane Brown on injured reserve, the Jets shuffled the line, moving Mekhi Becton to left tackle, sliding Alijah Vera-Tucker to right tackle and inserting rookie Joe Tippmann to right guard. The pass protection (three sacks) was spotty, and the running game (38 yards) was weak. -- Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Chiefs (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Detroit 20, Atlanta 6


Are we finally seeing the Lions' pass-rushing power? The pass rush posted a single sack in the first two weeks but looked much sharper versus Atlanta. In the first quarter, Detroit wasted little time, as linebacker Derrick Barnes and defensive lineman Benito Jones registered back-to-back sacks. The Lions would end with seven total sacks on Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder, with two by Aidan Hutchinson in addition to Charles Harris, Alim McNeill and rookie Jack Campbell registering hits. They'll need another big lift from the defense when they head to Lambeau Field for a Thursday night game in Green Bay.

Stock up after the win: TE Sam LaPorta. The rookie became the first tight end to catch five or more receptions in each of his first three career games since the NFL-AFL merger, totaling a season-high eight receptions for 84 yards. He also scored his first career touchdown off a 45-yard pass from Jared Goff.

Stock down after the win: OL Penei Sewell. The Lions racked up 10 penalties for 119 yards, including two offensive holding flags by the former Pro Bowler Sewell. Against better teams, those mistakes could prove costly. -- Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Packers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Should there be concern with Atlanta's offense? Reasonable concern, yes, especially on the road. Unlike the season's first two weeks, the offense never found a rhythm. QuarterbackDesmond Ridder was under duress Sunday and had clear accuracy problems -- including missing WR Drake London on a key fourth-down conversation attempt, completing 21 of 37 passes for 201 yards and a sack-fumble lost. Playcalling accentuated the Falcons' offensive woes, and the run game averaged 2.2 yards per carry. Atlanta's most recent touchdown on the road came from Cordarrelle Patterson on Dec. 18, 2022 -- almost nine quarters ago.

Stock up after the loss: LB Kaden Elliss. Making a return to where his father, Luther, starred for the Lions in the 1990s, Elliss was all over the field with 10 tackles and a tackle for loss.

Stock down after the loss: Offensive line. Ridder was sacked seven times and the run game was essentially unable to get going because the blocking could not hold up. -- Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Jaguars in London (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Buffalo 37, Washington 3


Can the Bills' defense keep this level of pressure going? Buffalo's defense made sure that Sam Howell's day was anything but easy, pressuring him on 67.6% of plays while blitzing on just 16.2%. The pressure helped result in seven sacks, four interceptions (including anAJ Epenesapick-six) and just three points for Washington. The Commanders' offense came into the day scoring the second-most points per game (27.5) but tied for the second-most sacks allowed (10), so the Bills' ability to continue this success against better lines and other quarterbacks will be significant.

Stock up after the win: LB Terrel Bernard. In just his third start at middle linebacker for the Bills, Bernard continues to star. He helped the defense get off to a strong start against the Commanders with two sacks -- the first two of his career -- and an interception in the first quarter in addition to a fumble recovery.

Stock down after the win: Red zone offense. There's not much to nitpick in a performance that saw backup quarterbackKyle Allenenter the game with over eight minutes to play, but the Bills started the game 0-for-2 in red zone offense and could have pulled away even sooner had they scored touchdowns. Instead, they settled for 36- and 32-yard field goals on those possessions. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: vs. Dolphins (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


How does Sam Howell respond to his worst game? Howell made one bad decision after another -- often while attempting to make a big play -- leading to four picks. He must manage situations better. At times he took sacks he shouldn't and was sacked seven times overall. Howell's strength has been responding to bad situations. Part of being a young quarterback is bouncing back. It won't be easy, though: Washington plays at Philadelphia on Sunday. But this will be a pivotal week and game for Howell.

Stock up after the loss: RB Brian Robinson Jr. It's really hard to single out a positive aspect of this loss, but Robinson has rushed for a combined 157 yards the past two games, including 70 on 10 carries Sunday. Robinson has been running with vision and power. The Commanders just need to keep games close so he can be more effective. His running ability can help limit the pressure on Howell.

Stock down after the loss:Offensive line. Washington allowed nine sacks, its most in a game since last season vs. the Eagles. While Sam Howell did not help himself, the protection also failed. Howell has now been sacked 19 times in two games. There's enough quick pressure to prevent Howell from finding lanes; sometimes it's the tackles, and other times the backs fail picking up pressure. Regardless, it continues to plague the offense. -- John Keim

Next game: at Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Cleveland 27, Tennessee 3


Just how elite is this Browns defense? Cleveland showed that stopping the run is no longer the Achilles' heel it was last season. Tennessee's Derrick Henry had minus-7 yards rushing in the first half, the fewest in any half of his All-Pro career. Through three games, the Browns have now allowed just a single field goal from the red zone. This is looking like a complete, top-five defense with no apparent weakness.

Stock up after the win:DEMyles Garrett. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate (front-runner?) had 2.5 sacks in the first half alone, including a takedown of quarterbackRyan Tannehill on the final play of the second quarter, eliminating a potential Titans field goal.

Stock down after the win: Running game. The Titans have a stout front, and Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt both made plays, but it's clear Cleveland's rushing attack won't have the same devastating effect minus injured All-Pro running back Nick Chubb. They rushed for a total of 78 yards on Sunday.-- Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Can the Titans' offense get any worse? The offense was so bad, it got the ball on the Browns' 17-yard line off a Sean Murphy-Bunting forced fumble and recovery, then went backward 9 yards in three plays before Nick Folk's 44-yard field goal. Tennessee finished with a pitiful 94 yards of offense. Fortunately for the Titans, they won't face a pass-rusher like Garrett until Week 9 when they play T.J. Watt and the Steelers. In the meantime, Tennessee has to find a way to not get dominated up front and put together drives to score points.

Stock up after the loss:CBSean Murphy-Bunting. The cornerback got flagged for a couple of questionable defensive holding calls, but he tackled well on the perimeter and turned in the play of the day for the Titans when he stripped the ball from Browns receiver Elijah Moore and recovered the ball to put Tennessee in scoring position.

Stock down after the loss:OTAndre Dillard. The tackle was outmatched by Garrett to the point where he gave up 2.5 sacks, and was called for holding and a false start, reducing the number of plays offensive coordinator Tim Kelly could call. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


San Francisco 30, N.Y. Giants 12


After scoring 30 points in each of their three wins, how much can the 49ers improve? Here's something the rest of the league might not want to hear: The 49ers believe they can be a lot better. Aside from their opening week blowout against Pittsburgh, San Francisco has showed some warts, whether it was the first-half defensive struggles against the Rams or the first-half offensive problems against the Giants. Even after throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants, quarterbackBrock Purdy said he will have a "bad taste" in his mouth from the plays he missed. That's exactly the type of never-satisfied response coach Kyle Shanahan wants from his players and what they hope can push them over the top after only their second 3-0 start in the past 25 years.

Stock up after the win: WR Ronnie Bell. The seventh-round rookie out of Michigan helped fill in for injured starter Brandon Aiyuk by catching his first NFL touchdown in the first half and contributing on special teams.

Stock down after the win: Penalty discipline. The Niners continue to rack up penalties with nine infractions for 71 yards against the Giants and are now averaging 9.3 penalties and 71 penalty yards per game, a number they need to bring down sooner rather than later. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Who will be back for next Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks? This isn't a deep Giants team. It can't afford to be down four crucial starters (including perhaps their two best players in LT Andrew Thomas and RB Saquon Barkley) like they were against the 49ers. Fortunately for the Giants, Thomas said he has made progress with his hamstring and there is a good chance he returns soon. Left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion) will benefit from the additional off days as he hopes to return in Week 4, and the left side of the O-line should be back intact. Barkley and OLBAzeez Ojulari are still the question marks. It's not an especially encouraging sign that Barkley told Amazon's Taylor Rooks that he's dealing with a high ankle sprain. Given his history, it might be prudent to wait a few more weeks before getting him back in the fold.

Stock up after the loss: LB Micah McFadden.He had 10 tackles, including four for a loss in San Francisco. This is the second time in three games that McFadden has played a strong game. The second-year linebacker is proving he's a capable starter.

Stock down after the loss: OC Mike Kafka/coach Brian Daboll. The Giants have to find a way to get the ball into rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt's hands. There is no way in a game like that he should be on the field to run just 13 routes and not get a touch. Hyatt was the key to the Giants' victory the prior week in Arizona. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Seahawks (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

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