NFL Week 3 winners, losers: Patriots facing serious problems after loss to Lions

This weekend brought several stunning outcomes, with a few undefeated teams widely considered to be Super Bowl contenders stumbling in head-scratching performances. But with plenty of season left to play, teams have the chance to regroup and get back on track.

Here are the Week 3 winners and losers.


Rams: Though no one wants to see any team benefit from another's injury, a devastating one in San Francisco (more on that later) basically gave Los Angeles a clear path to the NFC West title. There’s still obviously a ton of football to play, but the Rams won the battle for L.A — beating the Chargers, 35-23. Their offense is rolling, and coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips continue to show off creativity with their calls. Already boasting a two-game advantage on their suspect divisional competition, the Rams could cruise to their second-straight division title.

Ryan Tannehill: It’s usually not a good sign when that starting quarterback leads the team in rushing with just three carries and 26 yards, but for the Dolphins quarterback, it marked yet another efficient performance. Tannehill completed 17 of 23 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 28-20 victory against the Raiders. Not only are the Dolphins 3-0 and in first place in the AFC East (with a huge Week 4 game against the Patriots looming), but Miami has won 10 of the last 11 games in which Tannehill has started (dating back to the 2016 season). Tannehill hit eight different targets against the Raiders and his 121.8 QB rating this season is fourth among all passers, behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick (151.5) of the Buccaneers, Patrick Mahomes (137.4) of the Chiefs and Drew Brees (122.2) of the Saints.


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Calvin Ridley: After catching his first career score last week, Ridley is building a tight connection with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, as evidenced by his seven catches on eight targets for 146 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-37 loss to the Saints. His three scores in the first half were as many as Julio Jones, one of the best receivers in the entire NFL, had all of last season. The performance also marked the first time a rookie had hauled in three TDs since Odell Beckham Jr. did it for the Giants in 2014. In the middle of the third quarter, the Saints switched lockdown cornerback Marshon Lattimore from Jones to Ridley in a clear sign of respect for the rookie.

Matt Eberflus:The Eagles beat the Colts, 20-16, but what was once thought to be a weak defensive roster has started to break through under Eberflus, Indy’s defensive coordinator. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard looks like an emerging star. Sixth-year defensive end Margus Hunt (four tackles, three for a loss, one sack, and one forced fumble) struggled in multiple seasons in Cincinnati but is becoming a consistent piece. The Colts defense stifled Carson Wentz in his first game back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, forcing him into a fumble and an interception. If Indianapolis makes a serious push in the AFC South, it looks like it will be on the back of the defense. Creating fantasy football winners


Patriots: They better hope Josh Gordon can contribute. New England has lost two in a row, the latest a 26-10 thumping against the previously winless Lions. In fact, it’s the first time since December 2002 that the Patriots have dropped two consecutive contests by double digits. New England’s offense — with pass catchers who aren’t winning one-on-one matchups — has sputtered. Tom Brady targeted his wide receivers 10 times on Sunday, connecting on only four passes for 43 yards. New England’s 12 first downs were tied for third-fewest in the Brady-Bill Belichick era. It’s too early to say this is the beginning of the end of the dynasty, but the Pats (1-2) have some serious flaws to fix. And if they drop a third in a row next week against the Dolphins, they’ll be three games back in the division.

Vikings: According to Pro Football Reference, the last 17-point underdog to win a game on the road was in 1992 when the Jets beat the Bills. The Vikings entered their game against the Bills as 16.5-point favorites. By halftime, they were getting blown out by 27 points and eventually lost 27-6 after a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown. The offensive line was bullied to constant pressure on Kirk Cousins, who had three turnovers. Rookie Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen torched their defense. Minnesota looked utterly unprepared, almost as if it has looked past the Bills and at the Rams in anticipating of their Thursday night tilt in Week 4.

49ers: In an awful blow for a young team looking to take the next step, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s left knee buckled as he tried to fight for extra yards late in San Francisco’s 38-27 loss against the Chiefs. Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed after the game that the team “is fearing” it’s a torn ACL — which would end Garoppolo’s season – and said an MRI Monday would reveal the severity. With the offense likely set to take a serious hit if backup C.J. Beathard has to step in, the 49ers may now be dealing with a lost season.

John Elway: It looks like the Denver Broncos’ general manager will still have to face questions about his inability to land a franchise quarterback. Elway signed Case Keenum in March to be Denver’s short-term answer with a two-year, $36 million deal. The first impression hasn’t been positive. One year after Keenum had only seven interceptions with the Vikings, he has thrown five (with only three touchdowns) through three games, including one in a 22-of-34, 192-yard passing performance in a 27-14 loss against the Ravens. The Broncos are 2-1 and Keenum has made some nice plays, but his play just hasn’t been consistent enough to merit that kind of contract.

The state of Texas: If you’re a fan of football in the Lone Star State, times are tough. The Texans dropped to 0-3 and last place in the AFC South after losing against the previously winless Giants. Quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t getting sufficient protection (33 hits in three games) and looks to be pressing in his return to action after a torn ACL prematurely cut short a promising rookie season Then, the Cowboy offense stumbled,again in a loss to the Seahawks. Dallas is averaging a dreadful 145 passing yards a game as Dak Prescott continues to flounder with a skeleton-crew receiving corps. The Texans and the Cowboys are now a combined 1-5 on the season.

Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.

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