A few teams continue winless after Sunday's Week 3 games and history shows chances of missing the playoffs are almost certain. Let's take a look at what we believe should be considered the biggest lesson learned ahead of week 4.
Underdogs Have Their Day
If you leaned heavy on the underdogs in Week 3, it was most likely very profitable. A total of eight underdogs covered on Sunday with these six winning outright: Minnesota (+6) over Carolina, Buffalo (+5) over Arizona, Denver (+3.5) against Cincinnati, Washington (+3.5) vs. the New York Giants, Los Angeles (+3.5) over Tampa Bay and Philadelphia (+3.5) over Pittsburgh.
That last game was the most surprising to me as the Steelers had looked as good as anyone the first two weeks. Go ahead and give the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, September version, to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The No. 2 overall pick vastly outplayed future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday, going 23 of 31 for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Wentz is the first rookie since the merger to start and win his team’s first three games to begin a season without throwing an interception. He is the first player in NFL history overall with at least 100 attempts (102), 60 completions (66) and five touchdown passes (five) without a pick in his first three career games. It was Pittsburgh's worst loss since Week 2 of 1989.
Who Needs Big-Name QB To Win?
Outside of the likes of guys like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, history has shown that you need a big-name quarterback to win a Super Bowl. But that's not the case to be a good regular-season team. Take Wentz, for one. He was supposed to redshirt this entire season. How about Denver's Trevor Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round pick out of Northwestern? In Sunday's win at Cincinnati, he threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns in his first road start. Peyton Manning who? No NFL quarterback had thrown for 300 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in their road debut ever.
Cowboys fourth-round rookie quarterback Dak Prescott carved up the Chicago Bears on Sunday night as Dallas ended an eight-game home losing streak with a 31-17 win. Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards with a TD and also rushed for a score. Prescott hasn't been picked off yet, either. The Cowboys already have twice as many wins as they did last year when playing without Tony Romo.
The best quarterback on the field in Charlotte on Sunday wasn't reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton, who was 21-for-35 for 262 yards and three interceptions in Carolina's shockingly one-sided 22-10 loss to the Vikings. Nope, it was Sam Bradford, who was a perfect game manager in going 18 of 28 for 171 yards, a TD no turnovers.
In Tampa, Rams journeyman Case Keenum beat former No. 1 overall pick, Jameis Winston, as the Rams put up 37 points after not scoring a touchdown the first two weeks. Los Angeles, folks, is tied for first place in the NFC West. The team had not won a Week 3 game under Jeff Fisher previously and is 2-1 for the first time since 2006. Los Angeles is +700 on NFL week 4 predictions to win the division.
If all else is equal, I generally bet on the team with the bigger-name QB but that was proven wrong in Week 3.
West Coast Team Playing Early In East: Danger!
You can always count on at least one West Coast team per season totally laying an egg when playing in the East with one of those 1 p.m. kickoffs. And the Arizona Cardinals fell right into that early start-time trap on Sunday in losing 33-18 at previously winless Buffalo. Carson Palmer was terrible, throwing four interceptions with no touchdowns. It was the first game in his career with four INTs and zero passing touchdowns.
Arizona turned it over five times overall, its most even in a regular-season game under Bruce Arians. The Bills basically rammed the ball down the Cardinals' throats with 208 yards rushing. And Buffalo didn't even have its best receiver, Sammy Watkins, active for the game.
There are two West Coast teams in 1 p.m. ET games this week: Seattle (line TBA due to Russell Wilson's status following a knee injury) at the NY Jets and Oakland (+3.5) in Baltimore. Be wary.