Week 3 is when NFL fans and bettors can begin penciling teams into the postseason … or writing teams off. 3-0 is a dream beginning to the season. 0-3 is a nearly inescapable hole.
We saw several close games decided by kicking in Week 3. The Titans won 31-30 over the hapless Vikings. Tennessee kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit all 6 of his field goal attempts.
The Lions pulled one out in the desert for their first win of 2020. Detroit kicker Matt Prater was a perfect 4 for 4 – including the game winner as time expired.
The Falcons blew another lead, Dak Prescott set a record … so did Russell Wilson.
It was a fun Week 3. Catch the recap – by the numbers – here!
The number of passing yards for Week 3 passing leader Dak Prescott in the Cowboys’ 38-31 loss to Seattle.
472 is a new career-high for Dak, although any amount of yards in a win has to feel better than a monster game in a losing effort.
Dak threw for 455 in an overtime game against the Eagles in 2018. He broke that record against Green Bay in October of 2019 – throwing for 463 yards in a 34-24 loss.
Sunday marked a new career-high for Dak, but it was once again in a loss.
Dak Prescott has gone over 450 passing yards in his second consecutive game to become only the second quarterback (Jameis Winston) to accomplish that feat.
— Dallas Cowboys Public Relations (@DallasCowboysPR) September 27, 2020
The number of Week 3 NFL games within 3 points of the Vegas spread.
The Steelers were -4 against Houston and won 28-21 – a 3-point spread margin. The Bills were -1.5 against the Rams and won 35-32 – a 1.5-point spread margin. The Titans were -2 against the Vikings and won 31-30 – a 1-point spread margin. The Seahawks were -5.5 against the Cowboys and won 38-31 – a 1.5-point spread margin.
There were 5 games in Week 2 which ended within one game of the Vegas spread. There were four such games in Week 1. This is right on par with the pace set last season. In 2019, there were 74 games within three points of the Vegas spread – 4.6 per week.
The only game this season ending directly on the Vegas spread was the Week 1 matchup between the Chargers and Bengals. LA was -3 in this contest and edged Cincy out 16-13.
The odds of a team reaching the postseason after starting 0-3 in the current postseason format. Since the NFL adopted the current format in 1980, only 6 of 181 teams in history to begin 0-3 have reached the postseason. This is 3.3%.
This is cause for concern in New York (Giants and Jets), Denver, Houston, Minnesota, and Atlanta. These 6 teams have all begun the 2020 season 0-3 and now sit behind the 8-ball.
The last team to turn an 0-3 season around was the 2018 Texans. Houston dropped their first 3 games only to win their next 9 – eventually finishing the regular season 11-5. The Texans were unable to make the most of their postseason berth, dropping their Wild Card game to Indy 21-7.
The odds of a team reaching the postseason after starting 3-0 in the current postseason format. While 0-3 teams are nearly guaranteed to be out, 3-0 teams are far from guaranteed a berth after three weeks.
The Bills, Steelers, Titans, Seahawks, Packers, and Bears are all 3-0 to begin 2020. The winner of the Monday Night Football game between the Chiefs and Ravens will also be 3-0. This makes 7 3-0 teams. Statistically, we can expect 5 of these teams to qualify for postseason play.
Last season, 7 teams also began 3-0. 5 of them reached the postseason … just like the odds predict. The Cowboys and Rams could not get the job done while the Patriots, Bills, 49ers, Packers, and Chiefs cruised into January.
The number of Week 3 games that went over the Vegas point total.
After three weeks, overs are now 28-18-1 (60.9%). This is far above the 52.4% break even point for bets with (-110) odds. Putting $100 on each over this season would yield $820 in profits – a 16.2% ROI.
Last year, overs were only 43.5% through the first 3 weeks and an even 50% for the entire regular season. Each of these percentages are well below 52.4%. Overs were a -EV play last year but appear to be profitable this season. Perhaps the lack of a preseason is giving the offenses an advantage.
The number of pass attempts by 49’ers quarterback Nick Mullens last season.
The 3rd-year quarterback out of Southern Miss – Nick Mullens – was restricted to kneel down duties in 2019. Before Sunday, Mullens had not thrown a pass in the NFL since Week 16 of 2018.
With the injury to Jimmy G, Mullens was forced into starting duties in Week 3 against the Giants. Mullens was up for the task and excelled – throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown with 0 picks in a 36-9 victory over the Giants.
Mullens’ passer rating on the day is 108.9 and his 343 passing yards rank 2nd among all quarterbacks this week.
The number of combined rushing yards in the Titans 31-30 win over Minnesota in Week 3.
Week 3 rushing leader – Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook – racked up 181 yards on 22 carries for an average of 8.2. Derrick Henry – the Titans running back – was second in the league in rushing yards this week with 119. Henry totaled his 119 yards on 26 carries for an average of 4.6.
This is the first game of the 2020 season with 360+ combined rushing yards. There were 7 such games last season. The most combined rushing yards in 2019 was 434 between the Panthers and Jaguars in Week 5. Carolina bested Jacksonville 34-27. The Panthers ran for 285 yards while the Jags ran for 149. Christian McCaffrey was the leading rusher in that game with 176 yards on 19 carries for a 9.3 average.
The number of quarterbacks in NFL history with 5 touchdown passes in consecutive games. Russell Wilson became the fifth man on this list Sunday with a 315 yard, 5 TD, 0 INT performance in a 38-31 win over Dallas.
Wilson should have had 6 touchdowns but a premature celebration by his star wideout DK Metcalf turned a sure score into a blooper reel turnover.
The other 4 quarterbacks to throw 5 TDs in back-to-back games are Ben Roethlisberger (2014), Tom Brady (2007), Daunte Culpepper (2004), and Tom Flores (1963).
Russell Wilson put his name in the history books a second time this week – becoming the first quarterback in NFL history with 14 touchdown passes in his team’s first 3 games.
The numbers of seasons since an NFL team has blown leads of at least 16 points in back-to-back games.
The Atlanta Falcons blew a 20-point lead in a Week 2 loss to Dallas. The Falcons followed this collapse by allowing a 16-point lead to evaporate against Chicago this week.
This sort of buffoonery has not occurred on an NFL field since Weeks 2 and 3 of the 2011 season. Minnesota was awful that year – playing themselves to a last-place 3-13 record. In Week 2, the Vikings found themselves up 17-0 at the half against Tampa but would go on to lose the game 24-20 … 17-point lead gone.
The following week, the Vikings were in Detroit and led at the half 20-0. Detroit stormed back, forced overtime, and won 26-23 on a Jason Hansen field goal.
Atlanta was outplayed this year by Seattle in Week 1 but should have beaten both Dallas and Chicago. The Falcons should be 2-1! Instead, their playoff chances are now slim-to-none considering the strength of their division. HC Dan Quinn will almost certainly be canned.
The number of consecutive losses for the Detroit Lions before beating Arizona 26-23 on Sunday. Much like Atlanta, the Lions watched leads slip away in both Weeks 1 and 2 – losing a heartbreaker to Chicago and then getting stomped by Green Bay after holding an early double-digit lead.
Matthew Stafford came through for Detroit on their final drive in the fourth quarter – completing all 4 of his pass attempts and getting the ball into Matt Prater’s range for his 4th field goal of the night. On the day, Stafford threw for 270 yards and a couple TDs.
The Lions had lost their last 9 games of 2019 and then the first 2 of this season – 11 total. No one appreciates this win more than HC Matt Patricia whose seat was getting pretty warm after 2 disappointing seasons at the helm and a rocky start to his 3rd year.