YOUNG PASSERS IN SPOTLIGHT AS NFL ENTERS WEEK 3
Week 3 of the NFL’s 100th season gets underway on Thursday, September 19 (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network), as the Tennessee Titans travel to TIAA Bank Field to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in an early season AFC South showdown.
The Titans and Jaguars meet for the 49th time, with Tennessee holding the all-time series advantage 28-20, including wins in the past four meetings. In Week 14 of the 2018 season – another Thursday Night Football matchup – Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yard touchdown run in the Titans’ 30-9 victory over the Jaguars. His 99-yard touchdown run tied Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY DORSETT for the longest touchdown run in NFL history. Over the past 6 weeks, dating back to last season, Henry leads the NFL in rushing yards (750) and rushing touchdowns (nine).
Last week, Henry had 81 rushing yards and a touchdown in Tennessee’s Week 2 loss. He enters Thursday night with at least 80 rushing yards in six consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Quarterback MARCUS MARIOTA has five touchdowns and no interceptions over his past three road games, including throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions with a 133.3 rating in Tennessee’s 43-13 Week 1 win at Cleveland. Rookie wide receiver A.J. BROWN leads the team with 125 receiving yards through the season’s first two weeks, second-most among AFC rookies. Cornerback LOGAN RYAN has an interception in each of the first two games of the season, while safety KEVIN BYARD’s 13 interceptions since 2017 are the most in the NFL during that span. Tennessee enters Week 3 leading the league with a +5 turnover differential.
Jacksonville rookie quarterback GARDNER MINSHEW comes into Thursday night off his first career start, throwing for 213 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a team-high 56 yards in the Jaguars’ Week 2 loss. The sixth-round draft choice saw his first action in Week 1, when he completed 88 percent of his passes (22 of 25), the highest completion percentage by a quarterback in his NFL debut in league history (minimum 15 attempts). He also completed his first 13 pass attempts, the longest streak to begin a career over the past 40 seasons. Wide receiver DJ CHARK enters the game as Jacksonville’s leading receiver, registering 201 yards and two touchdowns over the season’s first two weeks. Cornerback JALEN RAMSEY leads the Jaguars in interceptions (nine) and has the fourth-most passes defensed (45) in the NFL since entering the league in 2016.
NFL quarterbacks are getting younger and more efficient, undefeated teams abound – including three clubs that missed the 2018 playoffs, and a pair of AFC powers that meet Sunday – and games are close and competitive. Those are just some of the NFL storylines as the league steams toward Week 3 of a memorable opening script. This is the last NFL week with every team in action until Thanksgiving and Week 13.
TOP PASSER RATING EVER: Through two weeks, the NFL’s 100th season is its best in terms of passing efficiency. In fact, the five most efficient marks in league annals have occurred this decade.
The highest aggregate passer ratings entering Week 3 in NFL history:
YOUTH UNDER CENTER: For a third consecutive week, a rookie quarterback is expected to make his first NFL start when the New York Giants’ DANIEL JONES, the sixth overall selection in the 2019 draft, takes the field at Tampa Bay (4:05 PM ET, FOX). Elsewhere, a pair of second-year players will make their first NFL starts: The New York Jets’ LUKE FALK at New England (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and Pittsburgh’s MASON RUDOLPH at San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
- This week, at least 18 quarterbacks age 26 or younger are expected to start. That hasn’t happened in 32 years, since Week 3 of the 1987 season (also 18).
- And if a 19th quarterback starts at age 26 or younger, that would be a first in the 100 seasons of the NFL.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PATRICK: Like the NFL, which turns 99 today, Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES also has a September 17 birthday. The NFL’s youngest Most Valuable Player since Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO in 1984, Mahomes has shattered Marino’s NFL record with 326.4 passing yards per game before his 24th birthday. And, despite starting just one game during his rookie campaign in 2017, he ranks fourth in NFL history with 57 touchdown passes prior to turning 24. Most passing yards per game and touchdown passes prior to a 24th birthday in NFL annals:
|PASSING YARDS/GAME*||TOUCHDOWN PASSES|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2017-19||326.4||Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay||2015-17||69|
|Dan MarinoHOF||Miami||1983-85||277.4||Dan MarinoHOF||Miami||1983-85||68|
|Baker Mayfield||Cleveland||2018||271.1||Matthew Stafford||Detroit||2009-11||60|
|Matthew Stafford||Detroit||2009-11||270.3||Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2017-19||57|
|*minimum 10 starts||Fran TarkentonHOF||Minnesota||1961-63||55|
3-0 REBOUNDS: Three teams that missed the playoffs last year (the BUFFALO BILLS, GREEN BAY PACKERS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS) have an opportunity to begin the season 3-0. The last time at least three teams rebounded from missing the playoffs to begin a campaign 3-0 was 2013 (Chicago, Kansas City, Miami and New Orleans).
STRONG STARTS: San Francisco, with a win on Sunday vs. Pittsburgh, would be off to its best start in 21 years. Several teams can also achieve their best starts in a significant amount of time.
|TEAM||LAST 3-0 START||SEASON RESULT|
|San Francisco||1998||NFC Divisional|
|Seattle||2013||Won Super Bowl XLVIII|
|Green Bay||2015||NFC Divisional|
|New England||2016||Won Super Bowl LII|
- Meanwhile, the LOS ANGELES RAMS and KANSAS CITY CHIEFS can each start 3-0 for a second consecutive season. The last time the same two NFL teams opened 3-0 in back-to-back years was 2015-16 (Denver and New England).
UNDEFEATED TEAMS NEARLY UNPRECEDENTED: This week, the league has a chance to tie a single-season record with eight teams having the ability to begin a season 3-0. The only year in the history of the NFL that at least eight clubs were 3-0 through three weeks was 1998 (eight). The last time seven teams started 3-0 was 2015.
- No NFL division has seen multiple teams start 3-0 since 2015, in the NFC South (Atlanta and Carolina). This week, it can happen in both the AFC East and the NFC West.
- Speaking of the NFC West, the division actually has three clubs that could be 3-0 a week from now. That hasn’t happened in an NFL division since 2002, the first year of the 32-team NFL and the current eight-division alignment. That year, AFC West teams Denver, Oakland and the San Diego Chargers each started 3-0.
- So far, nine teams are 2-0, the most 2-0 starts in the NFL since 2015 (also nine).
SHOWDOWN OF THE WEEK: In the Super Bowl era, only two players over the first two games of a season have started with at least seven TD passes, no interceptions and a completion percentage of 70 or higher. Those two players, LAMAR JACKSON and PATRICK MAHOMES, meet on Sunday (BALTIMORE at KANSAS CITY, 1:00 PM ET, CBS). A look at the last 10 matchups of 2-0 teams and how those clubs finished their seasons.
|DATE||2-0 TEAMS, RESULT||SEASON RESULT, WINNING TEAM||SEASON RESULT, LOSING TEAM|
|9/24/2017||Atlanta 30, at Detroit 26||NFC Divisional||Missed playoffs|
|9/25/2016||at Philadelphia 34, Pittsburgh 3||Missed playoffs||AFC Championship|
|9/22/2016||at New England 27, Houston 0||Won Super Bowl||AFC Divisional|
|9/27/2015||Atlanta 39, at Dallas 28||Missed playoffs||Missed playoffs|
|9/23/2012||Atlanta 27, at San Diego Chargers 3||NFC Championship||Missed playoffs|
|9/23/2012||at Arizona 27, Philadelphia 6||Missed playoffs||Missed playoffs|
|9/25/2011||at Buffalo 34, New England 31||Missed playoffs||Lost Super Bowl|
|9/27/2010||At Chicago 20, Green Bay 17||NFC Championship||Won Super Bowl XLV|
|9/26/2010||Pittsburgh 38, at Tampa Bay 13||Lost Super Bowl||Missed playoffs|
|9/27/2009||at Minnesota 27, San Francisco 24||NFC Championship||Missed playoffs|
MEANWHILE, DURING WEEK 3 IN 2001: Eighteen years ago, after losing veteran starter DREW BLEDSOE to injury, the 0-2 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS faced a difficult road trip at Indianapolis, which was 2-0 to start that season. Enter a sixth-round selection from the year prior, TOM BRADY, and the youngster in his first NFL start led the Patriots to a 44-13 upset on the road. New England would advance to its first Super Bowl championship.
NFL SCHEDULE, SEPT. 19, 22-23
(All times Eastern)
|Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars||8:20 p.m.||NFLN||Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Sunday||Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||CBS||New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||FOX||Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||FOX||New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts||1 p.m.||CBS||Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m.||CBS||Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||FOX||Monday|
|New York Jets at New England Patriots||1 p.m.||CBS||Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|