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Overreaction Tuesday - The Dolphins Are Changing the NFL

From House Enterprise, and inspired by Rich Eisen, I’m introducing “Overreaction Tuesday.” Every Tuesday throughout the NFL season, I will overreact to what I deem the biggest storyline to come from the prior weekend’s games across the league, that includes Thursday, Sunday, and Monday.

In the NFL, the stories and narratives change every single week. The bottom line is that it’s a long season (five months from Week 1 to the Super Bowl to be exact) and we don’t know how it’s going to end. All we can do is overreact to the most recent data, so let’s do that.


Week 3 - September 21-25, 2023

New York Giants 12 (1-2) @ San Francisco 49ers 30 (3-0)

Overreaction: The 49ers are the NFL’s best team and it might not be as close as we think. Quarterback Brock Purdy is 12-0 in his career in games that he has started and finished. In the latest game, on Thursday Night against the Giants, Purdy threw for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns, without receiver Brandon Aiyuk in the lineup. The 49ers have RB Christian McCaffrey, who is on his way to winning Offensive Player of the Year, and a defense that has been dominant through the opening three weeks. Surely, Purdy’s unbeaten record will not last the season, but his 49ers are on their way to owning the league’s best record in 2023.


Tennessee Titans 3 (1-2) @ Cleveland Browns 27 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Cleveland Browns defense will carry them to the postseason. In both of Cleveland’s wins this year, they’ve allowed just 3 points. Through the opening three weeks, the Browns defense has given up 18 points, they are the only team that is giving up less than 200 yards per game (163.7 YPG - 2nd is 253 YPG). And they’re doing this while forcing just 2 turnovers and having a turnover differential of -7, which is 4th worst in the league. They’re constantly being put in tough situations and continuing to rise to the occasion. Over the next two weeks, they get the Ravens followed by the 49ers. We should have a much better idea of how far this defense can carry this team in a couple weeks time.


Atlanta Falcons 6 (2-1) @ Detroit Lions 20 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Falcons have too low of a ceiling as long as Desmond Ridder is playing quarterback. Through three games, the second-year QB out of Cincinnati is third-to-last in passing yards, ahead of just Josh Dobbs of the Cardinals and Ryan Tannehill of the Titans. He’s completing just 62% of his passes and has just 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Atlanta has a stable of offensive weapons, including Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Rookie Bijan Robinson. The Falcons have the pieces to not only win the NFC South, but also make a significant playoff run. They won’t do either of those, however, without better quarterback play.


New Orleans Saints 17 (2-1) @ Green Bay Packers 18 (2-1)

Overreaction: Turns out, Derek Carr is much more important to the Saints than originally thought. In the 18-17 loss to Green Bay, Carr suffered an AC joint sprain that sidelined him for the majority of the second half. At the time, New Orleans led 17-0. Following the injury, Quarterback Jameis Winston took over, producing four straight drives that ended in a punt followed by the final Saints offensive drive which resulted in a missed 46-yard field goal, which would have won the game. Carr threw for 103 yards on 13 completions and a touchdown. Winston threw for 101 yards on 10 completions. If Carr is sidelined for significant time, even more of the Saints’ success will be reliant on the play of the defense.


Denver Broncos 20 (0-3) @ Miami Dolphins 70 (3-0)

Overreaction: The Miami Dolphins are changing the way NFL teams will play on offense. On Sunday, Mike McDaniel’s team put up the most points in a game since 1966, scoring ten touchdowns on Sean Payton’s Denver Broncos. The Dolphins had two running backs score 4 touchdowns each and were unstoppable on offense despite being without arguably their second best offensive weapon in Jaylen Waddle. “We’re going to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing,” McDaniel said after the game. “That’s the only way to innovate.” Well, think of Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense, or the 1985 Bears defense, or countless other NFL innovations. That is what is happening in Miami. They’ll be unstoppable…for now, but teams will eventually catch on and that’s when you have to adapt again. The Dolphins have an innovative offense that’s changing the game, how long until the rest of the league catches up?


Los Angeles Chargers 28 (1-2) @ Minnesota Vikings 24 (0-3)

Overreaction: It’s time for Minnesota to seriously consider trading Kirk Cousins. Out of nowhere, a Vikings team that won the NFC North and went 13-4 last season has started 2023 0-3. They have a 35-year old quarterback in the final year of his overly expensive contract and are now on the way to getting a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. If the Vikings wanted, they could trade Kirk Cousins to a team that has all the pieces except a good QB in the New York Jets. In return, I wouldn’t expect much. Cousins would be the Jets QB for just the remainder of this season before likely having to find a new home elsewhere once Aaron Rodgers returns healthy, not to mention Cousins is very expensive. If it goes through, the Vikings can move their attention to getting the best pick possible and drafting the quarterback of the future to pair with all of their offensive starpower. The more Minnesota loses, the more this rumor could become reality.


New England Patriots 15 (1-2) @ New York Jets 10 (1-2)

Overreaction: The Zach Wilson era in New York is never going to work. In Sunday’s loss, Wilson threw for 157 yards on 18 completions with 0 touchdowns. The Jets generated just 171 yards of offense and are the worst offense in the NFL with Wilson at QB. Granted, the Jets have played against some top defenses, Buffalo, Dallas, and New England, but things have gone from bad to worse in very quick succession. Whether Aaron Rodgers comes back or not and regardless of how the rest of the season goes, I can’t imagine the Jets ever willingly plugging in Wilson as its starting QB ever again. For now, as Head Coach Robert Saleh says, he gives them the best chance to win.


Buffalo Bills 37 (2-1) @ Washington Commanders 3 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Buffalo Bills are legit Super Bowl contenders. In an offseason where everyone was talking about the Chiefs, Jets, Bengals, and seemingly everyone except the Buffalo, Josh Allen and his Bills look like a force in the opening three weeks. The defense hasn’t given up more than 16 points in regulation this year, which has been more than enough for the offense to take over when Allen isn’t turning the ball over 4 times in one game (Week 1 vs. NYJ). As long as Allen is taking care of the ball and the defense stays healthy, I don’t see a weakness in the Bills. A week from now, however, we're going to know a lot more about the Bills and the AFC playoff picture. Miami heads to Buffalo for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff in a pivotal division matchup.


Houston Texans 37 (1-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (1-2)

Overreaction: The AFC South is wide open. Through three weeks, the Colts are 2-1 while the Jaguars, Texans, and Titans are all 1-2. On Sunday, rookie QB CJ Stroud and the Texans went to Jacksonville and dominated Trevor Lawrence and the Jags. Houston jumped on Jacksonville 17-0 in the opening half and added 20 more points in the second half. For the second week in a row, Stroud had the offense humming, putting up 280 passing yards and 2 touchdowns without committing a turnover. In a division we thought would be a landslide to the defending AFC South Champs, Jacksonville, we could have a wire-to-wire battle to determine the 2023 winner.


Indianapolis Colts 22 (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens 19 (2-1) OT

Overreaction: The Indianapolis Colts will be the most improbable playoff team in recent memory. In each of Indy’s first two games, its starting QB, rookie Anthony Richardson, suffered an injury that caused him to miss the remainder of the game. Backup QB Gardner Minshew steadied the ship in a win over Houston, but winning on the road against Baltimore with Richardson in concussion protocol? Nobody saw that coming. On a day of a rare Justin Tucker missed field goal, the Colts took advantage, winning the game after scoring just one touchdown and suffering a safety. Kicker Matt Gay was the MVP for Indianapolis, connecting on THREE 53 yard field goals (including the game-winner in overtime) another from 54, and another from 31. Oh and by the way, the Colts are 2-1 without star Running Back Jonathan Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing just two years ago. If Taylor comes back from the PUP list and Richardson can stay healthy, the Colts should only get better from here.


Carolina Panthers 27 (0-3) @ Seattle Seahawks 37 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Panthers are in trouble of quietly being the worst NFL team in 2023. After an 0-3 preseason, Carolina is 0-3 to start the regular season. They’ve been hit hard by the early season injury bug, which seems to claim at least one team in a significant way each season. Star Cornerback Jaycee Horn and Linebacker Shaq Thompson have both been placed on Injured Reserve and Rookie Quarterback Bryce Young missed Sunday’s game in Seattle with an injured ankle that may sideline him for his Week 4 game as well. There are just four winless teams remaining in the NFL and they all go head-to-head in Week 4 with Denver playing at Chicago and Carolina hosting Minnesota. What would Carolina do if it wound up with the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?


Chicago Bears 10 (0-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs 41 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Chiefs are even better than last year. In a similar point to what I said last week, Patrick Mahomes has never had an elite defense. Well, through three weeks, the Chiefs have been elite, surrendering the 4th fewest points in the NFL and giving up just 13.3 PPG. On offense, they’re averaging 26 PPG. In Sunday’s win over Chicago, the offense got right in what was a ‘get right game,’ putting up 41 points and generating 456 yards of offense. Mahomes completed passes to 11 different receivers and all three running backs on the active roster scored a touchdown while going 5-5 in red zone opportunities. Despite those numbers on offense, the story remains the defense. If KC stays healthy with Chris Jones, Trent McDuffie, L’Jarius Sneed, and Nick Bolton at the core of the defense, the Chiefs are going to be a very tough team to beat…as long as the receivers are catching passes that hit them in the hands.


Dallas Cowboys 16 (2-1) @ Arizona Cardinals 28 (1-2)

Overreaction: The Arizona Cardinals will most assuredly NOT be the worst team in the NFL this year. Sure, Dallas was coming off the loss of stud corner Travon Diggs, who suffered a season-ending injury on Friday, but Arizona has been much better than expected through the opening three weeks. In Week 1, the defense turned over the Commanders offense three times and scored a touchdown, but didn’t get much help offensively in a 20-16 loss. In Week 2, the Cardinals led the Giants 20-0 at the half and 28-7 late in the 3rd quarter before losing a heartbreaker 31-28. In Week 3, it all came together against perhaps the most dominant team through the first two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys. Arizona generated 400 yards of offense, with James Conner at the center of it all, running up and down the field on a defense which had given up just 10 pointes through the first two games. Defensively, Arizona stopped Dak Prescott time and time again, giving up yards to the Cowboys while limiting points. If Arizona can keep up their level of effort, they’ll likely continue to surprise in 2023.


Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (2-1) @ Las Vegas Raiders 18 (1-2)

Overreaction: Add Josh McDaniels to the list of inept AFC West coaches not named Andy Reid. We’ve seen defensive-minded coach Brandon Staley’s Chargers have the worst defense in the league through two weeks and we’ve seen Sean Payton’s Broncos give up the most points in an NFL game in 57 years and it hasn’t even been a month. Now, Josh McDaniels has joined the party, with one of the more baffling decisions you’ll likely see this season. With 2:22 remaining and the Raiders trailing by 8 and with the ball at the Pittsburgh 8 yard line, McDaniels elected to kick a field goal. He needed a touchdown, so they kicked a field goal and still needed a touchdown. The Raiders had two timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the clock, but the Steelers were able to get one first down and punt it back to the Raiders with less than 20 seconds left. Would you rather need to go 8 yards, needing a touchdown and two-point conversion or would you rather go 85 yards in 12 seconds, needing a touchdown? Apparently, McDaniels has his opinion and QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw his third interception of the night to seal a Steelers victory. At least Las Vegas has Davante Adams…who knows where they’d be without him.


Philadelphia Eagles 25 (3-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 (2-1)

Overreaction: The Eagles have the scariest rushing attack in the league. It’s rare to see teams control the game like Philadelphia controlled the Monday Night game against Tampa Bay. The Eagles put up 472 yards of offense, including 201 rushing yards, averaging the second most yards on the ground in the league (185.7 YPG). They also had the ball for nearly 39 minutes of gametime, trailing just Cleveland in average time of possession. On the game-clinching possession, Philadelphia put together a 15 play drive that took the remaining 9 minutes and 22 seconds and they ended the game, converting four third downs along the way. The emergence of Running Back D’Andre Swift, who came over from Detroit in the offseason, has been a revelation. Swift is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards, trailing only Christian McCaffrey. When you play these Eagles, you better take your chances when you get the ball. If you don’t, they might just run the clock out on you.


Los Angeles Rams 16 (1-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals 19 (1-2)

Overreaction: The Bengals are alive, but only just. Cincinnati’s defense saved the day on Monday Night, stopping the Rams in the red zone twice in the first half to keep the Bengals in the game. Joe Burrow and the offense didn’t really get going until the second half, putting together their lone touchdown drive on the Bengals opening possession to take a 13-9 lead. A couple more Evan McPherson field goals put the game out of reach for an LA team that went 1-11 on third down and could not convert in the red zone, allowing Cincinnati to escape with a badly-needed win. It’s clear that Burrow’s calf injury is significant, but for now he is playing through it. If Burrow can continue to nurture the injury and get healthier, the Bengals can get on track, but they have to keep winning ugly like this in the meantime if they want to stay alive.


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