3 Week 3 Storylines: Peyton Manning Seeks Revenge
Week 3 has some juicy games to watch and a handful of great storylines to follow. Let's dig in and see what's in store.
The biggest must-watch game of Week 3 is between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. As we know, these teams met in the Superbowl last season, with Seattle drubbing Denver 43-8. The Broncos have been firing on all cylinders to start the year, and are 2-0 so far in this young season. The Seahawks looked like the best team in the league in Week 1, but suffered a shocking defeat last week against the San Diego Chargers. Although San Diego won the box score battle (and the game), Seattle's been a solid team in terms of Net Expected Points, ranking second offensively. After their Week 2 loss though, they're now listed as a middle-of-the-pack defense.
The Seahawks and Broncos are the top two offenses in the league after two weeks, making this matchup even more intriguing.
Get your popcorn ready. This Super Bowl rematch should be good, especially when you consider how stingy the Seahawks defense is at home - no opposing quarterback has thrown three touchdown passes in Seattle since 2010.
A Clash in the Desert
Another great battle to watch out west will be between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Last week, the Cardinals were able to get just enough from backup quarterback Drew Stanton to beat the New York Giants and move to 2-0. The 49ers had the opposite effect, to the tune of four turnovers from Colin Kaepernick, as the wheels came off for San Francisco in a loss against the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
With Seattle and San Francisco both losing in Week 2, the Cardinals find themselves at the top of the division and a win in Week 3 against a division foe would do wonders for this team early on in 2014. It will be anything but easy for the Cardinals as they are 1-9 in their last 10 meetings against the 49ers, with their last victory coming in 2011. The bread and butter of the 49ers under Coach Jim Harbaugh has been the rushing attack, but in two games this season the 49ers have finished with negative Rushing Net Expected Points. That trend may continue as the Cardinals, who finished last season as the number one rush defense in the NFL, have dominated against the run so far this season.
Will San Francisco shake off their early season struggles, or will Arizona be able to reverse their recent fortunes against the 49ers? This should be another fantastic, hard fought game to watch in Week 3.
Is Kirk Cousins the Answer?
Last week, Robert Griffin III suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and backup Kirk Cousins got his chance to showcase his talents. Cousins played great after taking over, completing 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Cousins's performance was good enough to now rank sixth in Passing Net Expected Points out of all quarterbacks through Week 2, and he now has the third best Passing Net Expected Points per play behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick and Peyton Manning.
Granted, it was against the Jaguars, but Cousins's performance is not to be overlooked. Many fans have been calling for him to take over as the starter in Washington for some time, as RGIII has not been the same player he was before injuring his knee in the 2012 playoffs.
Now Cousins will have his chance to start, as Griffin is expected to be out six to eight weeks with a dislocated ankle. In just his fifth start of his young career, Cousins will face off against division rival, and 2013 NFC East Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have started off the season 2-0, including a huge come from behind victory on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. Even though the Eagles got down early, they finished with the third most Total Net Expected Points in Week 2. Their good performance was not a fluke either, as they finished Week 1 with the fifth most Total Net Expected Points.
It will be an extremely tough challenge for Cousins to lead his team to victory in Week 3. Playing on the road in Philadelphia against an Eagles defense that has played eighth-best in the league according to our metrics so far will be tough. Will Cousins be able to conquer the home crowd and pick up a huge win for the Redskins in Week 3? Or will his performance lead the fans in Washington to be recanting calling for RGIII's job?