The other side of Peyton Manning (plus other Week 3 takeaways)

For the second time in three weeks the NFL kicked off with 10 games in the early Sunday afternoon time slot on the East coast. While it’s awesome to have 10 games going if you have the ability to view every game in its entirety (the 1% of NFL viewers) or when a team reaches the red-zone, there is still an overwhelming amount of people who rely on the three games Fox and CBS will give them each week.

Curt Menefee and James Brown’s in-game cutaways are the only time people in a given market will see a team in another area of the country while the game is actually being played. There were parts of the country who only got to watch one game at 1pm, meaning that they missed 90% of the action during the timeslot. Having that many games on at once is overwhelming, even when you have the ability to watch every game in its entirety, in high definition.

Wouldn’t it be better if say six of those games kicked at 1pm, two kicked at 1:30 and then the final two kicked off at 2pm? That way there would still be a big chunk of action that began and ended at the time we’re accustomed to, but then the staggered finish would give the 4:30-5:30 chunk of time much more action. There wouldn’t be a point in the late afternoon where the viewer would have the opportunity to tune out because the one game in their area was a slog.

With the added importance of the 4:25pm Sunday game (the featured game in that timeslot is usually the most watched game of the afternoon), it’s hard to imagine the NFL staggering the start to their Sunday slate of games. The league wants to drive a high percentage of viewers to the select late afternoon games, but it shouldn’t bury the action from 1pm in order to do so.

Now let’s recap some of the action from Week 3 including what is probably going to be an unpopular opinion of Peyton Manning.

 

Does Peyton Manning actually look….his age?

During the third quarter of the Super Bowl 48 rematch I had a thought about Peyton Manning for the first time in his career.

Is the game moving too fast for him?

The Broncos entered the game with a home victory over the Colts and a win at Arrowhead, which is always an impressive feat, except last week when Denver only beat Kansas City by a touchdown. The Chiefs were fresh off of a home shellacking at the hands of the Titans.

Manning’s numbers through the first two games of the season were what we have come to expect from Peyton. His completion percentage (69.35), TD-INT ratio (6-0) and yards per attempt (8.24) provided the statistical case that Peyton Manning was still the same old Peyton Manning.

And then he played the Seahawks for the second time in seven months. Manning once again looked like a shell-shocked rookie who was getting the first start of his career in the NFL. Manning looked like he was skating on ice in the pocket. His throws didn’t have the same zip. He missed throws that we’re not used to seeing Peyton Manning miss. When Manning needed a big play on third down to keep a drive moving, he missed Jacob Tamme by five yards on an eight yard pass. When Emmanuel Sanders got himself open on a corner route, Manning flailed the ball three yards short of him.

The comeback for the Broncos started with a shovel pass to Julius Thomas in the fourth quarter. The playcall was perfect and more impressive than Manning’s execution. E.J. Manuel could have flipped the ball to Fred Jackson against Seattle and had the same result.

If you flipped over to the game before the game-tying touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme, you might be wondering why the past couple of paragraphs exist because all you witnessed was Manning dropping a perfect ball into Tamme’s hands. It was a clutch throw in the biggest moment of the game. His next pass to Demaryius Thomas was just a clutch and just as good of a throw.

But don’t let those two throws and 303 yards erase the first 55 minutes of mediocre football Manning put on display. The Seahawks defense deserves some obvious credit, but it was hard to believe Manning could once again look like a different version of himself against relatively the same defense he saw earlier in the year.

 

Mind-blowing stat from Week 3

Eddie Lacy after three games: 25 carries, 77 yards, zero touchdowns and one fumble lost.

Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro against the Browns in Week 3: 18 carries, 91 yards and a touchdown.

 

Three’s company at the top

There are only three unbeaten teams left in the NFL. One is a total shocker, while the other two totally make sense.

The Bengals, who brought Matt Ryan back down to Earth after he went off in Week 1 against the Saints and gave the Jake Locker haters more fuel as he was picked off twice and totaled just 185 yards in the air (Locker did have 50 rushing yards on six carries.)

The Eagles, who became the first team in NFL history to win their first three games even though they were down by at least 10 points in each of them.

The Cardinals, who have been led to two straight victories by Drew Stanton.

Drew Stanton……

Stanton was efficient in his 18/33, 244 yard, two touchdown performance (both to rookie John Brown who is really, really fast) against the Niners at home. Hey, remember when the Niners defense was considered vaunted?

Me either.

Unlike the Niners defense, the Eagles offense has lived up to expectations so far. Nick Foles has looked awful, shaky, incredible, smart and fearless in the first three games of the season. Since his awful first half against the Jaguars in Week 1 (three turnovers, went into the half down 17-0, TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS), Foles has completed 61% of his passes for 839 yards with a 6-1 TD-INT ratio.

Foles made some particularly excellent throws against the Redskins including a bullet to rookie WR Jordan Matthews right before the end of the first half to put the Eagles up by one. He then hit a wide open Jeremy Maclin on a seam route to put the Eagles up by a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Is Foles a product of Chip Kelly’s system? Sure, but just because a quarterback is a product of a system doesn’t mean said quarterback’s execution of the gameplan can be ignored. While Kirk Cousins stole the show on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia with his 427 yard, three touchdown performance, Nick Foles was proving once again why he deserves some respect.

For the Bengals, Sunday was just another day at the park for their defense as they once again tortured another starting quarterback. This time it was Jake Locker crumbling under the pressure of Cincy’s defense. In their first two home games, the Bengals have only allowed one passing touchdown (a garbage time throw to Julio Jones), while collecting five interceptions. In the first half of their three games, Paul Guenther’s defense has allowed a combined three points.

Perhaps the most impressive number the Bengals’ defense has recorded so far is nine. In the 12 quarters of football Cincinnati has played this season, nine is the highest point total recorded against the defense in a quarter. With a defense this good, Andy Dalton’s job becomes A LOT easier.

 

Second mind-blowing stat from Week 3

Aaron Rodgers had his lowest non-injury passing yardage total since Week 9 of the 2008 season with his 162-yard performance against the Lions.

 

Celebratory torn ACL of the week

Lions LB Stephen Tulloch had never missed a game in his nine-year career, but he’ll miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL thanks to his celebration of an Aaron Rodgers sack.

 

Fantasy Performance of Week 3

Rashad Jennings: 34 carries, 176 yards and a touchdown

Had to show someone from the Giants some love after their blowout victory over the Texans at home. I didn’t think Big Blue would be on the positive result of a blowout at any point this season, but thanks to Jennings’ massive day, the Giants finally know what it feels like to win a game this season. Now the Bucs, Jags and Raiders are the only teams in the league with a zero in the win column

Follow me on Twitter @ScottDargis

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