NFL Analysis: Week 3 September 25th
The recent NFL clashes between the Eagles and Buccaneers, and Bengals and Rams, brought unexpected turns to the NFL lines.
With a solid 25-11 win, the Eagles handed the Buccaneers their first real test, while an ailing Joe Burrow led the Bengals to a narrow 19-16 victory over the Rams, offering a blend of surprise and strategy that keeps the NFL Odds ever-intriguing.
Eagles 25 – Buccaneers 11
In a showdown that was predicted to test the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after their 2-0 streak against lesser opponents, the clash ended up favoring the Philadephia Eagles. The Buccaneers’ first real test showcased Mayfield’s struggle, converting only a single third-and-3 while subsequent attempts, notably an errant throw towards Mike Evans, went cold. Their inability to replicate earlier successes on third down resulted in a mere 12 first downs compared to the Eagles’ 27, losing the time-of-possession by a staggering 18 minutes. The Eagles dominated in yardage, 472-174, with the Buccaneers’ late touchdown barely masking the disparity, adjusting the final score from 25-3 to a more respectable 25-11.
Jalen Hurts displayed a commendable performance despite not utilizing his usual running flair, throwing 23-of-37 for 277 yards, netting one touchdown and two interceptions alongside 10 carries for 28 rushing yards and an additional score. A communication lapse with a receiver caused one of Hurts’ interceptions, while a deep shot to DeVonta Smith resulted in the second. Hurts primarily targeted A.J. Brown, who voiced displeasure over his prior usage, rewarding him with nine receptions on 14 targets for 131 yards. Dallas Goedert and Smith contributed with five and four receptions for 41 and 28 yards respectively.
D’Andre Swift highlighted the ground game with 130 yards on 16 carries, sharing duties with Kenneth Gainwell who added 43 yards on 14 attempts. Conversely, the Buccaneers’ ground game stuttered as Rachaad White managed only 38 yards on 14 carries, facing a safety and losing a fumble to a punch-out by Jalen Carter. Among the Buccaneers, only Mike Evans shone, snagging five of 10 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown, despite an early drop in a crucial scoring zone. Mayfield’s end numbers were 15-of-25 for 146 yards, marking one touchdown and an interception alongside a fumble, recovered by a teammate.
Bengals 19 – Rams 16
With uncertainty looming over Joe Burrow’s participation up until few hours before kickoff due to a calf injury, his inclusion was a gamble. The first half saw a cautious offense, with the score tied at 6-6. Burrow’s performance reflected his ailment, as his downfield passes lacked the usual sharpness, relegating to short throws which amounted to 26-of-49 for 259 yards with an interception.
The Cincinnati Bengals found their rhythm post-halftime, transitioning to a ground game spearheaded by Joe Mixon who pounded 12 of his 19 carries then, totaling 65 rushing yards and a touchdown, steering the Bengals clear of an 0-3 start. Unlike their opponents, the Los Angeles Rams faced a dreary 1-of-11 on third down conversions, exacerbated by a poor pass protection, especially post Joe Noteboom’s injury which saw Matthew Stafford sacked six times.
Stafford’s final attempt to rally ended with 18-of-33 for 269 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, with one pick resulting from a deflection and the other being a hasty side-armed throw. Sean McVay’s decision to under-utilize Kyren Williams against Cincinnati’s subpar ground defense appeared a missed strategy, as Williams saw only 10 runs for 38 yards. In the aerial game, Puka Nacua led with five catches for 72 yards, closely followed by Tyler Higbee and Tutu Atwell who experienced a touchdown reversal after a review, encapsulating a day filled with narrow escapes and contested calls.