NFL Preseason Week 3 is usually when the starters play the most minutes, and team’s get an indication of how there season is going to shake out. There were several squads that saw how 2019 might go, and some were happy, while others are concerned.
The biggest loser of last week was obviously the Indianapolis Colts. Having their starting quarterback Andrew Luck suddenly announce his retirement two weeks before the regular season begins was devastating.
There were some other losers as well, in addition to some winners. We take a look at some of them below.
Carolina’s Brian Burns
The outside linebacker, who was Carolina’s first pick in the draft, is proving he belongs in this league. He recorded two sacks against the Patriots, and now has four sacks in three games.
“He’s seizing the moment. That boy has got a bright future,” defensive tackle Kawann Short said. “Four sacks in three games? That’s impressive.”
Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera said the rookie has even more upside.
“There’s a couple things that he has to understand and he may have made a few more plays,” Rivera said. “I think he can be an even more effective player for us.”
He is 22/1 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and while Joey Bosa and Devin Bush are favorites, Burns might make a great second bet.
One of the biggest question marks this year was if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to bounce back after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. If there game against Tennessee was any indicator, this could be a really good year for the team.
Gone are the distractions of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. James Conner and James Washington are filling in nicely at running back. JuJu Smith-Schuster is making people forget Antonio Brown pretty quickly as well.
The team is 8/5 to win the AFC North, 9/1 to win the AFC Championship, and 20/1 to win the SuperBowl. All are starting to look like extremely good value bets.
While Baker Mayfield and the offense is getting most of the attention, the Cleveland defense will be the true measure of the team’s success this season. They certainly looked dominant against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The defense recorded five sacks in the first half against Jameis Winston. Now the offensive line for Tampa Bay is bad, but the Browns made it look a whole lot worse.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson wasn’t surprised by the their performance.
“That’s expected for us,” Richardson said. “That might not be everybody else’s expectations but that’s definitely ours.”
Coach Freddie Kitchens has said as far back as mini camp that the defense was going to be good. His squad is proving him right.
Houston Texans offense
Houston had serious questions on offense even before running back Lamar Miller tore his ACL against Dallas. The team didn’t address its depth at that position, and it may come back to haunt them this season.
A bigger concern, however has to be the offensive line. Quarterback DeShaun Watson was sacked a league high 62 times last season, and there has been nothing in the preseason or training camp that shows it won’t happen again.
Left tackle Matt Kalil was slated to start, but an ineffective preseason marred by injury and inconsistency has that position in limbo. The team signed Christian DiLauro on Sunday, but an undrafted free agent who has been cut by two different teams in as many years isn’t the answer.
If the game against Arizona was a preview for the season, it’s going to be a long year for Minnesota Vikings fans. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who signed big money to be the team’s signal caller, looked awful against a mediocre defense.
Cousins finished the game 3-13 for 35 yards.
“Really disappointing performance,’’ Cousins said. “Put it on me. It wasn’t good enough. If we play that way during the season, it’s going to be a very tough year. We have to be much better than we were. And I really should say I have to be much better than I was. It’s about as simple as that.”
There aren’t many options if Cousins is ineffective during the season. Sean Mannion and Kyle Sloter are listed as second and third string on the depth chart.
NFL in Canada
Oh sweet mother of maple leafs was football night in Canada a disaster. The field in Winnipeg wasn’t ready, and the home of the CFL’s Blue Bombers got a mountain of criticism.
Putting up pylons to indicate the end zone, and shortening the field from 100 yards to 80, made it look like a Pop Warner game. The league is trying to reach out internationally to grow the game, but this was definitely a setback.