There will be plenty of winners and losers after the NFL's third week of actions comes and passes. But some teams will be on further ends of that spectrum.
For struggling teams that have gotten out to a slow start, a win is almost a necessity at this point. Another loss could be a crippling blow to teams expected to be contenders in 2013.
Can the Baltimore Ravens win against a playoff-caliber Houston Texans group? Will Robert Griffin III show signs of improvement to get the Washington Redskins in the win column?
We'll look at how this weekend will shake out for those two teams and others in need of good performances this weekend.
Winners: Miami Dolphins
Upset alert: the Miami Dolphins will beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. "But, Mike, the Dolphins are home favorites by 2.5 points on Sunday," you say. That’s meaningless. Despite going undefeated in their two road games to start the year, the Dolphins and favorites does not belong in the same sentence when matching up against the Falcons.
Until this Fins team proves that it can beat top teams, they’re underdogs in my book when facing off against the league’s elite. This week, though, I do think they get that breakthrough victory at Sun Life Stadium. That will establish them as legitimate contenders in the AFC East and AFC in general. It’s a huge win for an up-and-coming organization.
Losers: Baltimore Ravens
Beating the train-wreck Cleveland Browns shouldn’t inspire a Baltimore Ravens team that was embarrassed on opening night by the Denver Broncos. Losing to the Houston Texans in Week 3, a team they have dominated over the past few years, should be another wake-up call for the defending champs.
This isn’t a poor football team. A poor team would have found a way to lose against the Browns in Week 2. But to think they’re ready to contend again this season is a little bit unrealistic, no matter how many odds they defied last season. It’s a different team, especially on defense.
The Ravens need this game badly, but won’t get it because of Houston’s emerging aerial attack. DeAndre Hopkins has added another wrinkle that the Texans will exploit against them on Sunday.
Winners: San Francisco 49ers
That really escalated quickly. Seattle laid a beatdown on their divisional rivals in Week 2, embarrassing the likely playoff-bound San Francisco 49ers in convincing fashion for the second straight time at CenturyLink Field. That’s a place the Niners will enjoy avoiding until next season, barring a rematch in the playoffs.
This week, they have another strong test in the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts. Even with new running back Trent Richardson, though, the Colts’ banged up offensive line is going to have issues getting any type of running game going. Luck can win with his arm alone, but he won’t in this one in a back-and-forth affair.
Losers: Washington Redskins
Did the Washington Redskins bring back Robert Griffin too soon? It doesn’t matter, they’re staring at 0-3 thanks to a porous defense that makes college tackling look legitimate. Think they’ve had it rough so far? Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are salivating, too, at the prospect of putting up video game-like numbers against them this weekend.
Starting 0-3 won’t be the end of the road for the Skins, especially given the surprising lack of a dominant team to this point in the NFC East, but it’s a far cry from where the team hoped to be at in RGIII’s second season after selling the farm to get him.