The Schein Nine  

 

Eagles, Vikings, Aaron Rodgers made big statements in Week 3

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The final NFL Sunday of September was chock-full o' drama and meaning.

But when it comes to the most notable games from Week 3, did the results say more about the winner or the loser?

Glad you (I) asked. Here are the answers, Schein Nine style:

1) Philadelphia Eagles 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 3

It's been pretty well-documented in this space and on the airwaves how much I love Carson Wentz. And I thought he would acquit himself quite well on Sunday, despite facing a step up in class. But it turned out to be an even bigger statement than I could have imagined, with the Eagles' thunderous blowout of the big, bad Steelers. That was the most lopsided defeated for the proud Pittsburgh franchise since 1989, when Chuck Noll was roaming the Steeler sideline.

This was all about Wentz and the rising Eagles.

The rookie quarterback shredded the Steelers, spoiling the erroneous narrative that his success in Weeks 1 and 2 was somehow tainted, as he feasted on the weak Browns and Bears. Wentz treated the Steelers' D like a high school unit, gashing them for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Wentz still hasn't thrown a pick. Through three games, he boasts a sparkling 103.8 passer rating. Where are all those so-called experts who told me this guy wouldn't be "NFL-ready" in Year 1?

The 3-0 Eagles dominated this game in all facets. The defensive line was incredible. Jim Schwartz has done a fantastic job with Philly's defense. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked four times and picked once. DeAngelo Williams led the NFL in rushing through the first two weeks of the season. On Sunday, he picked up 21 yards on eight carries. If you're still sleeping on this Philly team, you're just not watching.

2) Minnesota Vikings 22, Carolina Panthers 10

Wow.

This result says everything about Mike Zimmer's Vikings.

To think, so many teams foolishly passed on Zimmer as a head-coach candidate. His fingerprints are all over the Vikings' inspiring 3-0 start. Sunday's statement win over the reigning NFC champs is just the latest example of Zimmer's brilliance.

No Adrian Peterson? No Teddy Bridgewater? No Matt Kalil? No Sharrif Floyd? No problem. That's rather amazing. These are the kind of injuries that normally derail teams. And losing to the Panthers -- in Carolina, where the home team had won 14 straight -- would've been considered normal. Frankly, while I thought Zimmer would keep the game close, I felt it'd be offensive to the Panthers to believe Minnesota would win.

I was wrong.

Zimmer kept everyone focused after Peterson got hurt, just like he did after Bridgewater's season-ending injury. And in a game where Sam Bradford, fresh off of slicing up the Packers, was rather solid -- but not spectacular -- Zimmer's defense was incredible. The Vikes flummoxed Cam Newton, who threw three picks and was sacked eight times -- with three coming coutesy of pass-rushing terror Everson Griffen.

That's coaching. That's the Vikings.

It's early, but Mike Zimmer and Bill Belichick close September as the top candidates for Coach of the Year.

3) Green Bay Packers 34, Detroit Lions 27

Forget the final score. This game wasn't really a game following Green Bay's early offensive explosion. This result said everything about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay scored touchdowns on four of its first five drives, with Mason Crosby putting three on the board in the lone outlier. Consequently, the home team went into the Lambeau locker room at the half with a commanding 31-10 lead.

Aaron Rodgers, coming off a loss to Minnesota where the offense was stuck in the mud, looked like Aaron Rodgers. And when you look like Aaron Rodgers, that means you look like the best quarterback in the NFL, an absolute force who can carry a team deep in the postseason with MVP-caliber play. In the opening 30 minutes on Sunday, Rodgers completed 12 of his 18 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns. And two of those scoring strikes had Jordy Nelson on the receiving end, which is crucial, as the two Packers stars continue to rekindle their prolific connection following Nelson's lost season of 2015.

The Packers have been surrounded by questions in the first month of the 2016 campaign, but here they are at 2-1 with three winnable home games (vs. the Giants, Cowboys and Bears) after this week's bye. Anyone gonna be surprised if they're cruising at 5-1 a month from now?

I still believe Rodgers and the Packers will have the elite passing attack in the NFL by season's end. No. 12 is indeed that special. Sunday reminded you, if for some reason you foolishly forgot. Reports of Rodgers' demise have been greatly exaggerated.

4) Baltimore Ravens 19, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

If you were asking me to pick one of the roster's in this game -- 1 through 53 -- I'd pick the group that hails from Jacksonville. No question. Yet, last week on SiriusXM Radio and CBS Sports Network this week, I picked Baltimore to win.

Why?

Reliable coaching and strong quarterback play. The knowhow to win. A culture that permeates from the top. That's the difference between the Ravens and Jaguars.

Gus Bradley is a nice guy. He brings great energy to the gridiron. But to this point, he's a losing head coach. There's just no way around it. And thus, this game said much more about the state of the Jags, who are now 0-3, with two of those defeats coming at home.

Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell arguably put together the best offseason (free agency and draft combined) of any team in the NFL. Jacksonville was an offseason darling, a team many had pegged for a major breakout in 2016. Not so much.

Bradley is now 12-39 in Jacksonville. If the Jags lose to Indianapolis in London this week -- and fall to 0-4 for the third time in Bradley's four years at the helm -- they might just leave the head man there.

5) Washington Redskins 29, New York Giants 27

I picked the Redskins to win because I thought it was foolish to end their season after two games. And you knew they were capable of a divisional road win.

But let's pump the breaks on the Giants, as this result says more about Big Blue. The Redskins deserve credit for winning, but the Giants also beat the Giants.

Eli Manning's game-ending interception was ugly. So was Shane Vereen's fumble. ... And center Weston Richburg getting tossed for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. ... And Eli's first pick, which came in the red zone (also in the fourth quarter). ... And a personal foul negating a blocked punt. ... And Olivier Vernon getting called for roughing the passer to set up Washington's go-ahead field goal.

Let's hold off a bit on scheduling a Giants parade.

6) Dallas Cowboys 31, Chicago Bears 17

I like the Cowboys' offensive weapons and think Dallas can make a strong playoff push. But this game was about one thing: The Bears are flat-out inept. And on Sunday night, you couldn't point the finger at the injured Jay Cutler.

Dallas went up 17-0 early in the second quarter and never looked back. The Cowboys dominated time of possession and dominated Chicago in balanced fashion (248 passing yards, 199 rushing yards).

Entering this season, we heard a lot about the purported Year 2 jump for John Fox teams. Well, the Bears are jumping, all right -- right into the gutter. Through Sunday, this team ranked 30th in scoring offense and 24th in scoring defense. At 0-3, Chicago looks like an expansion team destined to have a top-two pick in next year's draft.

7) Denver Broncos 29, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Pretty jarring to see that Cincy just wasn't ready to compete with the big boys in the AFC, even in front of the home fans at Paul Brown Stadium. But the story of this game was Trevor Siemian.

In his first-ever NFL road start, the 2015 seventh-round pick was simply brilliant, leading Denver to a double-digit win. Siemian threw four touchdown passes and didn't toss a pick. And remember last week, when Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were a bit frustrated by their lack of production? Well, both receivers hit the 100-yard mark on Sunday, combining to score three touchdowns.

To be honest, I'm floored by Siemian. This was a road start against a well-coached defense, against a division winner from last season. And the second-year man posted a 132.1 passer rating.

Siemian has not only looked the part, but he has been a major upgrade over Peyton Manning from last season.

8) Kansas City Chiefs 24, New York Jets 3

I picked the Chiefs to hit 24 ... but win 24-20. I thought this was going to be a sporting event. It wasn't. And while I picked K.C. to make the playoffs in the preseason -- while figuring the Jets would go 8-8 -- I was stunned by the three-score difference.

And here's the biggest takeaway: Ryan Fitzpatrick is Ryan Fitzpatrick.

You can't win with him.

Six interceptions. SIX!!!!!! (Yes, with six exclamation points.) Anyone need more evidence as to why Fitzpatrick dangled out there for so long in free agency this past offseason?

9) Indianapolis Colts 26, San Diego Chargers 22

Andrew Luck-to-T.Y. Hilton to save the season! That's the story.

The Colts are flawed and funky. But Andrew Luck is a bona fide star. Indy should (will) beat Jacksonville in London this coming Sunday, which would bring the team's record to .500. Luck gives the Colts a chance because he's an elite quarterback -- especially in a division that isn't quite as improved as we all thought it would be this past offseason.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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