New Orleans Saints 1-1 @ New England Patriots 1-1 (-3)
After having the most surprising performance in week 1, the Saints did a complete 180 and dropped what people deemed as an “easy win.” Jameis was an efficient monster going 14-20 with five touchdowns in week, then we saw him only complete 50% of his passes for two interceptions. Now I don’t believe that all of the pressure should be on Winston for this as Alvin Kamara was only able to receive 8 carries for 5 yards – Yes you read that right, Kamara actually had more carries than yards for the first time in his career. This largely has to do with the fact that the play calling and execution were at an all time low. The Saints started this game off by going: punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, turnover on downs, and punt. None of those drives even saw a gain of more than 20 yards. The Carolina defense is legit this year, though, so I’d also consider that. We also have to take into consideration the fact that the coaching staff was missing 7 members on Sunday to a small outbreak of Covid. I personally under valued the influence positional coaches have on the game, and maybe so did the Saints. So which team will show up in Foxboro on Sunday? I think that will really rely on the defense. In week one we saw them hold Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to just 229 total yards, and an impressive 1-10 on 3rd downs. Yet, on Sunday, Sam Darnold and company went for 383, and 8-15 on third downs. That third down conversation rate is huge to me because it takes the Saints best player off the field. Alvin Kamara will need to get more touches in order for this team to have any success, especially with Michael Thomas still on the sideline. Even with that said, will it even matter against the Patriots 5th ranked defense?
Now that Tom Brady has been out of New England for a second year now, we are seeing what is truly going to lead this team to the promise land – the defense. Bill Belichick moves his record to 22-6 against rookie quarterbacks after completely embarrassing Zach Wilson and company in week 2. The Patriots forced Wilson into four interceptions, and seemed to overwhelm the Jets offensive line continuously. Those efforts helped put their own rookie in plus field position, allowing him to succeed and win his first NFL game. His 73% completion percentage is very nice to see but you love to see the zero interceptions more. He was doing what he needed to do to help this team win. Damien Harris has been a great asset to Mac, ranking 5th in the league in running back touches. So essentially the Patriots have the same game plan as always – They are going to play great defense, capitalize on mistakes, and be mistake free themselves. Mac Jones is looking really comfortable in this system. He was the last QB taken in the first round this year, but I think he can contend with the title of the best in this class. The pieces around him could use some work, though. Jakobi Myers looks fine, but the tight end duo of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry will need to step up. The Patriots are trying to go back to the good-ole-days of Gronk/Hernandez. Plus, everyone always says how “the best thing for a rookie QB is a quality TE.” Both of those men have all of the natural ability to be great. Both are tremendous athletes, who come with high praise from their previous teams. Regardless, we have to remember that this team will only go as far as the defense takes them.
This Saints team will be completely different than who they just played last week. We have two of the more successful coaches of the last 10 years battling it out in what used to be a guaranteed primetime matchup back in the day. Sadly, though, we are passed the days of Brees vs Brady, and now we have Winston proving that last week was a fluke. Both of the coaches have a mutual respect for one another. Bellichick said in his press conference this week that the Saints are “one of the best coached teams in this league.” Paytons offensive genius against Bellichick’s defensive scheme should be a sight to see. It will also be interesting to see how Payton can scheme to get Kamara positive touches. Time and time again we have seen the Patriots take away their opponent’s best player out of the game. So this will be a big test for Winston. Who is Jameis this year? Everyone will always hold his 30 interception season against him, and arguably they should. He doesn’t have nearly the pieces he had in Tampa, but I think he can get it done. I will also go on record and say that I’m a Jamies guy. I believe in the talent. I believe he has progressed positively. I also believe in the fact that he can finally see his own players down the field for the first time in his life. Give me the Saints +3 and to win this game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-0 (-1) @ Los Angelas Rams 2-0
I know I share the same opinion as everyone else, but how does Tom Brady look better than he ever has in his career at his current age? We can’t overlook the talent he has around him, though. The Bucs gave him three guys who could be the number one receiver on basically every other team in this league. He also has three guys at the tight end position who could ball out in the end zone in any moment. Not to mention Tom has only been sacked three times in those two games, tying Dak for the fewest in the league. Pairing all of that together makes for what appears to be an offensive juggernaut in the passing game. Sadly this team can’t get any running game going. Ronald Jones is still in the Arians doghouse after that early fumble in week 1, but that allowed Fournette to step up and show his versatility. Fournette has unfortunately not found any consistency since being the 4th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Some due to the offense in Jacksonville and some off-the-field issues have derailed what was once a promising career. But, like most guys who play with Brady, they get their act together for a greater cause. The new mindset has allowed him to put distance between him and ROJO, and would you believe he is 3rd on the team in receptions? These efforts shouldn’t be ignored and have helped this team to be the #1 scoring offense in the NFL. The defense on the other hand hasn’t lived up to the hype they had coming into the season. Tampa was allowing less than 20 points per game in the playoffs, and that number has now jumped up an entire touchdown to 27 ppg. Going into the fourth quarter last week against Atlanta, the Falcons were able to get the game within reach by only trailing by 3 (25-28). The Falcons actually had more yards than the Bucs (348-341) and weren’t terrible on third downs, going 6-15. If there’s one weakness I see the Rams being able to take advantage, it’s going to be on 3rd down.
I try to not write about the same teams at the beginning of the season, but this Rams squad is too fun not to. Quickly becoming a favorite amongst a lot of people to contest this elite squad in Tampa, Matthew Stafford and company plan to solidify these opinions this Sunday by taking out the defending champs. Coming into this season, the Bears and Colts were regarded as a top 10 unit, but McVay was able to find the weakness and Stafford exposed them. Cooper Kupp is tied for the league lead in receptions and touchdowns, while also being 3rd in receiving yards. Thankfully, Kupp has stepped up because no other receiver even has 100 yards on the season. Darrell Henderson hasn’t really been able to find his footing sadly, and we might see him lose some carries to Sony Michel if he can’t get his game together.
Ultimately, the Rams have a very similar play style as the Bucs. They run to keep the defense honest, but it’s not really something they want to lean on. The defense was able to fix its wrong doings of week 1 and eliminate the running game of Indianapolis. I was particularly nervous about how they would respond against one of the best offensive lines in Indy, but they showed up and showed out. Holding a promising young talent in JTT to a weak 3.4 YPC. They continued to pressure Wentz the entire game, getting to him 3 times, and never allowing him to feel comfortable. Thats going to be the matchup to see – Rams D-Line vs Tampa Bays O-line. The Rams last year finished 2nd in sacks and things didn’t change this year. They average 3 sacks a game coming into this matchup. Aaron Donald will see a ton of double and triple teams, but that didn’t stop him from winning the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Award last year. Will he be able to get to Brady in under 3 seconds is the better question. Once again, Brady has found success with his quick release, and having receivers that can make separation helps too. So who will Jalen Ramsey cover? A natural man-to-man kind of corner, I imagine he will shadow Mike Evans around the field. I doubt that changes things for Brady unless they are in the redzone. Stafford should be foaming at the mouth as he is taking on the 30th ranked passing defense in Tampa. If Matt Ryan can go off for 300 and 2 touchdowns, imagine what a real offense can do? Now the guys here at RahlReviews have been excited about this matchup as soon as we started our top 5 power rankings. Throughout the last few weeks we have debated about our weekly NFL Power Rankings, but we never argued about the Buccaneers and Rams. We always thought these were two of the best teams in the league and because of that, I bugged the guys into sharing their predictions for their week 3 matchup.
- Jeff- Rams 24-Bucs 17
- Tanner- Bucs 31-Rams 27
- Vinny- Bucs 31-Rams 21
- Brock- Rams 30-Bucs 27
- Shane- Rams 24-Bucs 21
- Matthew- Rams 34-Bucs 31
Yes I said it, Rams are going to defend their home turf and beat Tom Brady and company in a very high scoring matchup. Just like what we saw on opening night, it’s going to be who ever has the ball last that will win this game. Give me the Rams to win, to cover, and I’m also taking the over.