Question marks are already being raised about the New England Patriots after star quarterback Tom Brady and company suffered rare back-to-back defeats, losing 26-10 to the previously winless Detroit Lions.
The defeat will be even harder to take for head coach Bill Belichick as it came against one of his former proteges Matt Patricia, who is the new coach of the Lions after spending 14 years with New England – five of those regularly trying to stop Brady in practice in his role as defensive coordinator.
The Patriots have had slow starts before and opened up with 2-2 records in two of their last three Super Bowl seasons, but they’ve only suffered successive defeats six times in the past 15 years – and of more concern has been the manner of the losses.
Five-time Super Bowl winner Brady has been struggling to get anything going, with the team seriously lacking in playmaking options – and could tally just 133 yards and one touchdown in Detroit while New England had the ball for almost 20 minutes less than their opponents.
With bad mistakes also creeping into their game, the Patriots looked a shadow of their usual selves in what was one of the worst performances in the 19 years under coach Belichick.
“We’re not scoring enough points. We’re not executing well enough on a down-by-down basis, certainly at a high level that we should have our expectations set at,” Brady said after the game.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it in practice, it’s just not getting done on the field. And we’ve got to get it corrected soon.”
Brady will hope to have recently signed receiver Josh Gordon available for their next game, which is now a huge divisional clash against the Miami Dolphins – who have started the season with a perfect 3-0 record.
Round-up: Bills stun Vikings while Brees and Mahomes break records
Upset of the week was undoubtedly the previously woeful Buffalo Bills marching into the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium and handing out a complete hiding to one of the best defences, and one of the most-fancied teams in the NFL, during their 27-6 victory.
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen was making his first start on the road but faced the challenge head-on as he threw one touchdown but ran in two of his own, while the Bills defence almost shut out highly paid quarterback Kirk Cousins at the other end with his consolation score coming three minutes from the end.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has now thrown more completed passes than anyone else in NFL history as he moved beyond Brett Favre to 6,326 in his team’s thrilling 43-37 overtime win at the Atlanta Falcons.
Brees may be the most prolific passer in history but he won the game with his legs for the Saints as he ran in two scores himself – firstly to send the game to overtime and then to win it when he dived over the pile of bodies at the goalline from close range.
Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes continued his relentless start to the season with three more touchdowns as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 38-27 in what was his belated home debut.
Mahomes now has a record 13 touchdowns in the first three games of the season as he eclipsed the great Peyton Manning’s previous best. The Chiefs are arguably the most watchable team in the NFL as they are just the third team ever to score at least 38 points in their first three games – while their leaky defence means their games are always exciting at both ends.
The Rams won the battle of Los Angeles against the Chargers 35-23 to move on to 3-0 for the season, and another powerful all-round performance sees them as the new favourites to win the Super Bowl this season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are also leading contenders to go all the way but they suffered a big reality check after beating the Patriots last week as they slipped to disappointing 9-6 defeat at the Tennessee Titans in a defensive arm wrestle against their divisional foes.
Super Bowl champions Philadelphia got back to winning ways as league MVP Carson Wentz returned as quarterback after his long injury, but it was tough going as they managed to see off the Indianapolis Colts 20-16.
Osi on Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers @Tampa Bay Buccaneers 01.15 Tuesday
The troubled Steelers face the in-form Buccaneers on Monday night with all eyes on Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has gone from journeyman to superstar after two great performances in surprising wins.
Fitzpatrick must be doing something right as he’s actually made it on to the shortest of shortlists – the names of quarterbacks Osi actually likes!
“I’m rooting for this guy to succeed – he’s one of the few quarterbacks I actually do like!
“Everybody’s due a bad game and it may well be that for Fitzpatrick this week is his but I think he’s shown enough over the first two games that he should continue to be the starting quarterback for the Buccaneers even if he does have a bad game on Monday.
I know they like Jameis Winston but while Fitzpatrick is playing so well he deserves the opportunity to continue as the starter, regardless of whether Winston is available.”
Osi’s BBC colleague Jason Bell thinks Fitzpatrick has proven to be the perfect fit for the Tampa Bay offence.
“His skill set is perfect for that offence. Last season we talked about the weapons they had signed in the off-season but didn’t get the results but now they are and we realise that what they needed was a vertical passer.”
Stats of the week
The New England Patriots lost back-to-back games by double-digits for the first time since December 2002 – a run of 244 games.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson became the first player to run for more than 100 yards in a game for the team in 70 matches.
Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs both won to go 3-0 for the season. 3-0 teams have a 74 percent chance of making the play-offs under the current format.
As well as breaking Brett Favre’s record, Drew Brees became the first player in history to have over 350 yards passing, three touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns – all without an interception.
Miami Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson caught a 74-yard touchdown pass and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass – amazingly he’s the fourth player to throw and catch 50+ yard touchdown passes.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton now has 57 rushing touchdowns – that’s the most ever by an NFL quarterback.
Who should be MVP this week?
Efe Obada given game ball after dream debut
Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada’s story is a remarkable one and well worth anther read, and he enjoyed a dream debut as he was handed the game ball after an interception and sack during the win over Cincinnati.
Obada was trafficked to the UK from the Netherlands as a child and has come through incredible hardships just to get to the NFL – so when his chance came he was certain to grab it with both hands.
The image he posted on Twitter serves as a huge inspiration for anyone in his position and will become an iconic image around the globe.
Browns win, drink responsibly!
The Cleveland Browns finally won a game for the first time since Christmas Eve 2016 and there was delirium spreading across Ohio as they beat the New York Jets.
A new star was born in Baker Mayfield but more importantly to fans they were getting ready to tuck in to the free beer they had been promised by a brewing company ‘if’ they ever won a game again.
Everyone was thrilled with the win, with the possible exception of the local police who tweeted out a brilliant message to fans when realising what was about to happen…
Bills lose their way, but win the game
The Minnesota Vikings couldn’t resist trolling the Buffalo Bills Twitter account after they placed their team in Wisconsin instead of Minneapolis for their week three meeting.
After a 0-2 start and having a player retire mid-game, it was just another poor effort from the Bills who looked to be going from bad to worse as they went to play one of the best teams in the league.
However, Buffalo had the last laugh as they emerged with a totally dominant victory on Sunday – a warning to teams everywhere not to be so quick trolling the opposition.
49ers fear for Garoppolo
Big things were expected from the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after an amazing end to last season following his arrival from the New England Patriots.
He had never lost as a starter in his short career but not only is he 1-2 after the weekend but his season could already be over if his knee injury picked up against the Kansas City Chiefs is as serious as the team fear.
Star quarterbacks do not just grow on trees in the NFL and we’ve seen time and time again how a promising season can be wrecked by an injury to the star player – that may be the case again if Jimmy G can’t play again this campaign.