NFL Week 3 concludes tonight when the Packers and Bears meet in Chicago, providing the opportunity for plenty of more winners and losers to emerge.
Sunday’s games featured a handful of success stories, including Michael Vick’s dismantling of the woeful Jaguars in Jacksonville and Roy Williams exploding to spark Dallas to a much-needed win over the Texans.
The biggest losers Sunday came out of California.
The 49ers looked lost all afternoon while being thrashed by the Chiefs, San Diego allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns and Sebastian Janikowski missed three fields as Oakland suffered a crushing one-point defeat to the Cardinals.
Here’s a look at 10 winners and losers from Week 3 Sunday.
The Dolphins didn’t expect to have to rely on Chad Henne to move the ball this season, but it’s turning out that way.
After three games, neither Ronnie Brown nor Ricky Williams has run the ball with any consistency.
Brown gained 54 yards in Sunday night’s loss to the Jets, and Williams ran for just 28 yards while playing sparingly.
How Fortunes Could Change: The Dolphins could begin opening up the running game by throwing the ball more often early in games. Henne threw for 366 yards against the Jets and looked comfortable throwing the ball over the field.
Can you name the running back who rushed for 144 yards in Week 3 against the mighty Ravens’ front seven?
That’s right, Peyton Hillis.
The Broncos castoff flourished in Baltimore Sunday, running with toughness and helping the Browns nearly pull of a considerable upset.
How the Good Fortune Can Continue: Hillis has taken over the role of primary ball-carrier from Jerome Harrison and should continue to get plenty of carries for the Browns.
Coming off one of the worst games of his career last week in San Diego, David Garrard figured to bounce back against the Eagles.
Not so much.
Garrard completed just 13-of-30 passes for 105 yards and could be running out of time as the starter in Jacksonville.
How Fortunes Could Change: Garrard has more weapons than usual at his disposal, which makes his demise surprising. If the Jaguars can get Maurice Jones-Drew going, the passing game should have a better chance to succeed.
With defenses focusing on Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Austin Collie has produced All-Pro numbers early in the 2010 season.
Collie racked up 12 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-13 win over Denver yesterday.
How Good Fortune Could Continue: With injuries hurting the receiving corps again this year, Collie has been able to stay healthy and should keep producing.
Carolina is 0-3 and there isn’t much hope in sight.
The Panthers offense didn’t get any help from the rookie starter at quarterback, and didn’t do quite enough defensively to stop the Bengals.
How the Fortunes Could Change: The Panthers have two tremendous running backs and a All-Pro wide receiver, so Clausen should be able to show at least some improvement as the season progresses.
Orton has just about killed all the talk of Tim Tebow with his strong play early this season.
The ultimate game-manager threw for 476 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos, who managed to score just 13 points despite piling up over 500 yards of offense.
How Good Fortune Could Continue: Orton’s numbers should continue to be impressive with Denver’s defense struggling and the running game nonexistent.
Despite starting the season 2-0 and facing an offense led by 67-year old Charlie Batch, the Bucs weren’t given much of a chance heading into Sunday’s game.
After a 38-13 drilling at the hands of the Steelers, Tampa Bay finds itself reeling.
Josh Freeman had a rough day against Pittsburgh’s strong defense, and Tampa still hasn’t found anything close to resembling a reliable running game.
How the Fortunes Could Change: Freeman has improved and developed a real connection with rookie Mike Williams, which should allow the Bucs to at least be competitive moving forward.
While Brett Favre figures things out and the Vikings receivers try to get healthy, Adrian Peterson has played like a man possessed.
Peterson bailed out Favre and the struggling Minnesota passing game again Sunday, rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the 24-10 win over the Lions.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: The Vikings couldn’t have afforded a loss to the lowly Lions at home, and should see at least a little improvement from Favre in the weeks ahead.
Until San Diego starts doing the little things to win games, Philip Rivers will need to play almost perfect football.
That didn’t quite happen Sunday in Seattle.
Although he threw for 455 yards, Rivers tossed two crucial interceptions, including on a poor decision with the Chargers driving to tie the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Without rookie Ryan Mathews in the game, San Diego relied much too heavily on the passing game.
Meanwhile, the kickoff coverage unit yielded two kickoff returns for touchdowns by Leon Washington.
How the Fortunes Could Change: The Chargers have shown they can pass the ball effectively despite playing without Vincent Jackson. Now it’s time for the rest of the problems to get corrected by Norv Turner and his staff.
With the sudden demise of the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks suddenly are emerging as contenders in the NFC West.
Pete Carroll’s team was opportunistic again Sunday, taking advantage of mistakes by the Chargers and getting a huge boost from return man Leon Washington.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: Seattle still has holes on both sides of the ball, but the confident Seahawks are going to be a difficult opponent for NFL teams all season long and certainly could figure in the pitful divisional picture.
Johnson was clearly hampered by his ailing ankle Sunday in the loss to the Cowboys, and left the game in the third quarter after aggravating the injury that had him as a question mark going in.
Meanwhile, the Texans offense was sputtering and letting the Cowboys pressure Matt Schaub, who was sacked a season-high four times.
How the Fortunes Could Change: Johnson’s ankle problem isn’t serious, but it also isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. His production could suffer as a result.
The Falcons became the first team to defeat the Saints since their Super Bowl win, shocking New Orleans in overtime Sunday afternoon.
Matt Ryan played a very smart game, leaning heavily on Tony Gonzalez and getting a nice boost from Michael Turner in the win.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: The Falcons should be a fixture in the playoff race all season long, especially if Turner returns to his top form.
Mark Sanchez has certainly improved, but there is no reason he should have found such success Sunday night.
Jason Allen was the biggest culprit on the Dolphins, getting burned repeatedly by Braylon Edwards and failing to coral a diving interception in the fourth quarter.
How the Fortunes Could Change: The Dolphins defense looked uncharacteristically soft all night and will need to get better production from the secondary to continue being a factor in the AFC East, especially given the strong run defense led by Karlos Dansby.
Vick validated Andy Reid’s decision to name him the starting quarterback Sunday against the Jaguars by accounting for four touchdowns.
With Kevin Kolb cheering from the sidelines, Vick threw for 291 yards and connected with Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson for long touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defense smothered the Jaguars throughout the entire game.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: Vick looks like a different player so far this season, looking to run the offense by throwing the ball first before resorting to his skills as a runner. Few players have played better this season than Michael Vick.
Hartley’s ugly 29-yard missed field goal in overtime gave the Falcons new life and eventually cost his team the chance at a 3-0 start.
The Saints clearly let one slip away Sunday afternoon.
How the Fortunes Could Change: Hartley remains a hero in New Orleans and shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder just yet.
Much like the Vikings, the Cowboys couldn’t afford to start the season with three losses.
An unlikely hero stepped forward Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
Roy Williams produced by far his best game as a Cowboy, catching five passes for 116 yards and two big touchdowns.
Dallas still needs to find a running game, but should be able to lean on Williams, Miles Austin and rookie Dez Bryant on the outside all year long.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: Williams looks like he has finally figured things out and learned to accept his role in the Cowboys potent offense.
Eli Manning threw one of the stupidest passes in recent memory during the Giants loss to the Titans Sunday, resorting to a left-handed push pass that was intercepted in the end zone by Tennessee.
That was only the tip of the iceberg during an afternoon marred by constant mistakes.
New York committed three costly personal foul penalties and did just about everything possible to lose a second-consecutive game.
How Fortunes Could Change: After a difficult loss against the Colts in Week 2, things went from bad to worse for the Giants. Unless New York begins to run the ball better, Tom Coughlin’s head won’t stop shaking anytime soon.
Don’t look now, but Mark Sanchez has suddenly become on of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
At least, that’s what the numbers say.
Sanchez tossed three touchdowns for the second-straight week, helping the Jets move the ball when needed as the running game continued to sputter.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: Sanchez has looked like a different quarterback in the last two games, playing with poise and composure while leading Rex Ryan’s team to wins. Don’t expect Sanchez to revert back to his old habits anytime soon.
One day after falling to 0-3 to begin what was supposed to be a playoff season, the 49ers have fired embattled offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
Mike Singletary now founds himself under fire for the first real time in his head coaching career.
The motivational speeches and commitment to outworking opponents has had little impact on Michael Crabtree and the rest of San Francisco’s offense this season.
The 49ers are close to completely falling apart and could find themselves at 0-4 after a trip to Atlanta to face the Falcons next weekend.
How the Fortunes Could Change: Singletary needs to prove that there is actually some substance behind his style. If he is able to get his team to forget about the pressure, the Niners could still make a run at the postseason in the worst division in football.
Even after a 2-0 start, the Chiefs had more doubters than believers.
Matt Cassel was the biggest reason why.
Sunday, Cassel had one of his best games in a Kansas City uniform to lead the Chiefs to a 31-10 win over the 49ers and a surprising 3-0 record to open the season.
The embattled quarterback threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns and got plenty of help from his receivers in the win.
How the Good Fortunes Could Continue: Things get considerably tougher for the Chiefs over the next few weeks, but Kansas City should be in the mix all year long in the AFC West.