The injury bug bit hard in the third week of the preseason across a bunch of assumed playoff contenders. There is now a good amount of worry for fans of a few teams about whether or not these so-called "meaningless games" have put a huge dent in their playoff hopes.
We'll see if it turns out that way. In either case, the 2008 preseason will probably ignite the debate about Goodell's proposal to expand the season to 18 games.
The 49ers have announced that J.T. O'Sullivan will be the starter for the regular season, which is probably just as good as starting anyone else.
The real question that emerges from this contest is whether or not the Bears' defense is ready for the prime time. They've given up more points than any team other than Washington, and the first-team defense played a decent amount of the game.
San Francisco is not expected to be a powerhouse team this year, so Bears fans have something to worry about...SAN FRANCISCO 37, CHICAGO 30.
It has been pretty hard to evaluate the Patriots', offensively, since Brady has been held out of all of the preseason games, but the defense is simply atrocious. The first team played the first half, and in that first half, the Patriots allowed three drives of 76, 73, and 71 yards—and two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Some would argue that the defense helped keep New England's unbeaten regular-season mark intact, with stunning stops against Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Does anyone believe, from what we've seen so far, that they'll be doing the same this season?
McNabb had a good game, so did the rest of the Eagles team...PHILADELPHIA 27, NEW ENGLAND 17.
Matt Ryan was named the Falcons' starting quarterback, which is good news for Atlanta fans since he's going to be a Pro Bowler one day. He played very well. Vince Young, on the other hand, struggled.
Both defenses played well. It is hard to pin down, from the preseason games, Atlanta's season prospects, since they've jumbled their starting offense and defense a lot...ATLANTA 17, TENNESSEE 3.
Tony Romo and the Dallas offense got off to a good start against Houston, and with an easy schedule throughout the regular season, we can expect Dallas to match last season's success. But regular season success has never been a problem for Romo, it's the playoffs.
Kyle Kosier is out for a couple of weeks. Houston is still as bad as everyone expects them to be...DALLAS 23, HOUSTON 22.
Opinions about Green Bay's prospects, post-Favre, have either been that they are playoff-bound or doomed to the bottom of the division. To be honest, their preseason performance makes it hard to nail anything down definitively.
Aaron Rodgers was good, but the Packers defense wasn't. Denver is probably not going anywhere this season with Cutler at the helm, if preseason performance is any indication...GREEN BAY 27, DENVER 24.
Someone should tell Cleveland that they're supposed to be playoff contenders, because their preseason performance certainly does not allude to that fact. Derek Anderson got a concussion, Jamal Lewis pulled a hamstring against the Giants, and Brady Quinn was simply terrible in the former's absence. Detroit didn't play that well either...DETRIOT 26, CLEVELAND 6.
The Giants are the biggest victims of the injury bug this week. They lost Osi Umenyiora for the entire season, probably the most valuable played on their defense. The pass rush that made the Giants' defense so fearsome last year is pretty much lost.
There is talk of getting Strahan out of retirement, but even if they do, Tuck and Strahan are not as powerful as Tuck and Umenyiora.
There was a lot of hype about the Jets' performance in the game, but ignore it, it was the Giants' offense that really fell down. You certainly have to wonder about the defending Super Bowl champs...NEW YORK (AFC) 10, NEW YORK (NFC) 7.
Jason Taylor is down and probably won't play in the opener against the Giants. Washington's defense has been the reason that they're often mentioned as eventual playoff contenders, but that perception is rapidly evaporating.
I'll reserve judgment because they've played well in their first three games. I don't believe Carolina is as good as they were in this game, so I'll reserve judgement on them too...CAROLINA 47, WASHINGTON 3.
Miami showed some signs that they could be a franchise in recovery, with Ted Ginn Jr. finally exposing some of his potential, but there is simply no chance they'll be a team of any significance this season. And against Kansas City, a team equally as unimportant, who really cares about the outcome of this game...MIAMI 24, KANSAS CITY 0.
Jacksonville isn't anyone's sleeper pick, but they've been solid the whole preseason. Tampa Bay has not been solid. Neither one of these teams are convincing anyone that they'll be in the playoffs, but the former has a fairly easy schedule, so they could reasonably get to 10 wins.
Garrard wasn't bad and neither was Garcia, otherwise, a fairly unremarkable game...JACKSONVILLE 23, TAMPA BAY 17.
Carson Palmer is hurt. Chad Johnson is hurt. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is hurt. The offensive line is straight-up terrible. The secondary is talented, but untested. Cincinnati is headed for a collapse, and their preseason performance, particularly in this game against New Orleans, proves it.
Things could get ugly. New Orleans wasn't spectacular, but they got the job done...NEW ORLEANS 17, CINCINNATI 0.
Minnesota is my sleeper pick for the NFC. I think they can go toe-to-toe with every other team in the conference and win. We'll get a chance to see that during the season, but in the preseason, it's not clear that is panning out.
Jackson needs to stay healthy and so does Peterson. Pittsburgh's defense played brilliantly. Otherwise, no big stories...PITTSBURGH 12, MINNEOSTA 10.
Arizona will be good this season. Their preseason games kinda give that away, if you can judge teams by the preseason. Oakland will be bad this season. Note to Ken Whisenhut: Matt Leinart is not ready for the NFL...ARIZONA 24, OAKLAND 0.
St. Louis and Baltimore. What did I write about Miami and Kansas City again?...ST. LOUIS 24, BALTIMORE 10.
I really don't know what to think of Buffalo, and the Indianapolis game didn't help. They should have won, because Manning didn't play, and they did, but what does that tell us?
J.P. Losman looked good, but his stats were padded when Indianapolis pulled some of their first-team defense at the end of the first quarter. On the other hand, I think Indianapolis fans have a founded worry about Peyton Manning. He can't play at all?...BUFFALO 20, INDIANAPOLIS 7.
San Diego and Seattle were both lukewarm in their prime-time game. Neither first teams stayed in the game very long. Both are supposed to be playoff contenders, but they certainly have not appeared as such so far this pre-season. By the way, how good is the San Diego defense without Shawn Merriman?...SAN DIEGO 18, SEATTLE 17.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The winning teams of preseason Week Three scored a total 374 points, the lowest aggregate total for a preseason week since Week Two of 2004.