By Stephen Juza
September 21st, 2023
As the third week of the NFL approaches, which are the top games that you should build your sports calendar around in the coming days?
Thursday Night: Giants at 49ers
The NFL week kicks off with one of this week’s top matchups when the New York Giants (1-1) travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers (2-0). The 49ers have looked like the best team in the league so far, winning both of their games on the road. They have the third best scoring offense and defense, and have excelled in all facets of the game.
The Giants came into this season with higher expectations after last season's Wild Card appearance, but had a very slow start, losing 40-0 against the Cowboys and starting down 20-0 against the Cardinals. They were able to come back and beat the Cardinals, giving life to their team, but can they keep the momentum with a short week of preparation? It will be difficult without their best offensive weapon after running back Saquon Barkley was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Sunday Afternoon: Saints at Packers
Both the New Orleans Saints (2-0) and the Green Bay Packers (1-1) have pleasantly surprised fans to start the NFL season. Both teams are tied for the division lead entering Week 3. For the Saints, the NFC South was expected to be wide open this season as every single team was breaking in a new starting quarterback, and that’s held true through the first two games.
Packers quarterback Jordan Love has looked strong in his first two games as the leader of the Packers, with six touchdowns (T-1 in the league) with zero interceptions. He leads the second ranked offense in the league, averaging 31 points a game. They lost a nail-biter of a game last week against the undefeated Falcons, 25-24, and look to rebound against another NFC South team this week.
Monday Night: Eagles at Buccaneers
The game of the week kicks off a Monday Night double-header when the Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0). Regarding the Eagles, their ability to dominate the running game on both sides of the ball has been instrumental in their success so far this season. They’ve rushed for the second most yards through two weeks, while their defense is ranked first in rush defense.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are also tied for their division lead behind new quarterback, Baker Mayfield. He has big shoes to fill, replacing future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. However, the Bucs key to the game lies with their rush defense. While the Eagles have the second ranked rushing offense, the Bucs have the second ranked rushing defense. It will be a battle of strengths in Tampa Monday night, with the victor continuing their undefeated season.
Coaches on the Hot Seat:
Before the season started, we announced the Game Over Report, a predictive model that scores a coach’s likelihood being fired. Each season, around five coaches decide to part ways with their head coach and search for greener pastures. So which coaches are feeling the heat early in the season?
Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
Leading the report with an 86% chance of being fired if the season were to end today, and it’s easy to see why. The team has started 0-2, went 3-14 in his first season, and the starting quarterback is now openly questioning the coaching staff. While it’s early in the season, the Bears will need to turn things around quickly for Eberflus to have a chance to come back for a third season.
Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Entering the season, the Chargers were primed for another wild card run. While they likely weren’t good enough to top the Chiefs for an AFC West title, they looked to be an easy choice for second place and another wild card appearance. While their offense has been good enough to keep them in games, ranked sixth in total points, their defense continues to be holding the team back. Entering Week 3, no team has given up more yards than the Chargers. Not a good look for a former defensive coordinator, who now has a 73% chance of being fired.
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