The NFL had a banner weekend in Week 3 of the season. Now as I write this on Sunday evening, the Monday Night game has yet to be played, which is set to be an equally interesting bout between the Bucs and the Steelers. Week 3 was a weekend full of surprising upsets and close interesting games. That being said, it’s hard to say week 3 has drastic long-term effects on the season. It is one of only 17 weeks, and thus about 6% of the season and much of the late year is far more valuable as teams begin to discover themselves self-correct.
That all being said, let me list the winners of Week 3:
- Cleveland Browns
- Buffalo Bills
- New York Giants
- Washington Redskins
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Miami Dolphins
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Tennessee Titans
- Carolina Panthers
- Baltimore Ravens
- New Orleans
- LA Rams
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
Let me just mention a few of those again, THE CLEVELAND BROWNS, BUFFALO BILLS, TENNESSE TITANS AND DETROIT LIONS ALL WON UPSET GAMES.
The Bills blew out he HEAVILY favoured Vikings, the Titans beat the supremely talented Jacksonville Jaguars, the Detroit Lions beat the perennially powerful New England Patriots by two scores, and the Browns won a football game thanks to a heroic effort by their number 1 pick. To which you may say “but Carter, they beat the Jets” I’d respond with, yea but they haven’t won a game in over 2 full years, so any win, is a good win.
Additionally, to those games, the Saints and Falcons took a game to overtime, and four other games played to a one score difference. That’s five tight as can be games, and 4 other upset finishes, to make 9 of 15 games (so far) being extraordinarily competitive.
Why is this important? Why does the NFL care that in week 3 games were close? Competitive Balance and parody. That’s why. Let me elaborate.
The early regular season is hard. Games mean very little, the good teams with Super Bowl hopes are looking for past week three, and the terrible teams are trying to forget they are terrible, and the fan bases will likely tune out and wait for the draft to get excited again. Football has lived on the adage that “on any given Sunday” any team can win. But that hasn’t been entirely true for the last couple of teams. The Browns had to wait 2 seasons to find a win, the Bills and Lions fans were on the wrong half of drinking the Kool-Aid after looking dreadful in week 1 losses. Yet, here they are, winning games by double-digit scores over teams who are expected to be Super Bowl contenders.
The NFL is eating this up. Every game is competitive, there are no throwaway games. No matter what game you turn on every weekend, you’re going to watch a down to the wire, or surprisingly upsetting game. Sure, it’s week three, but that’s the most important time to have these games. Everyone is going to tune in and watch in week 15, 16, and 17 when playoff hopes and tensions are highest, they need viewership in the weeks that don’t have stakes. The massively lucrative TV deals are built on the big games, but if they can continue to sell these games and make every week a must watch, they can build even larger and more lucrative TV deals.
Other major leagues would kill for that kind of competition, and balance for their early season matches. The MLB’s marathon of a season, the NBA and their inevitable champions of either Golden State or whoever Lebron plays for, the NHL dying for market share before Christmas, despite hearing every playoff how “fun and exciting” hockey is.
The NFL realistically has as many as 18 teams who could have a shot at winning the Super Bowl, the NHL before the year even starts has maybe 8, MLB has about 5, and the NBA has MAYBE 4.
The NFL just had an awesome weekend, and it may be only getting better. The early Vegas lines for Week 4 have only 2 games where the spread is more than 1 score, and the largest spread is the Bills v Packers with the Packers a 10.5 point favourite, which, as we’ve seen this week, the Bills are more than capable of covering. Sports Fans and NFL owners could be in for an amazing week 4.
Or every favourite wins and covers twice over, because in sports “nobody knows a damn thing”