The Great Zamboni’s 4 Downs: A Roundtable Discussion After Week 3 of the NFL Season

(Matt West/Boston Harold)

Welcome to The Great Zamboni’s Week 3 installment of “Four Downs.” Our writers reflect on last weekend’s set of games and what is to come for the remainder of the season.

With Week 3 officially over, here are our thoughts.

1st Down:After an exciting week 3, which game was your favorite and why?

Jonathan Counts: My favorite game this weekend was the Houston Texans Vs New England Patriots. It showcased one of, if not the best, QB in the league vs a guy, in Deshaun Watson, who has high hopes and expectations in this league. They both delivered. In what seemed like an offensive show down against 2 of the better defenses in the league (at least money per position) these QB’s kept slinging the ball throughout the whole game. Deshaun Watson threw an early pick but didn’t lose confidence ending the day 22/33 for 301 yards and 2 TD’s. Brady had a strip sack fumble returned for a TD and had a relatively rough day getting sacked 5 times and fumbling 3 times (including the strip sack fumble). At the end of the day, Houston left too much time on the clock for Brady and he did what he does best throwing a 25 yard TD to Brandin Cooks to go up and ending the day with 25/35 378 yards and 5 TD’s.

Arpan Sharma: Week 3 was the roller coaster ride we didn’t know we needed. With a mind boggling eight games decided by 6 points or fewer, week three certainly gave us the heart palpitations and sweaty palms we’ve come to expect from the postseason. It’s too hard to choose but if I had to pick one, I’d go for Thursday night’s Rams v. 49ers matchup. This match made for great neutral viewing and who wouldn’t want to watch Brian Hoyer throw for 300+ yards? I mean that was great viewing and had a CRAZY finish for the highest scoring Thursday night game in history.

Robert Sample: It was without a doubt one of the most interesting weekends of football in recent memory. With so many games coming down to the wire, it is hard to have a favorite. However, Aaron Rodgers vs. the Cincinnati Bengals was probably the most exciting to watch. I say this not because the Bengals are that good of a team and it was high powered offense vs. defense, but rather because certain events allowed Rodgers to display his prowess and claim as potential MVP this year. There is never counting that man and the Packers out of any game. Ever. Big win in overtime for the Cheeseheads.

Vijay Singh: What a great week of NFL football, all starting off with what many presumed was going to be one of the worst games this season between the Rams and 49ers. It was the clash of the NFL’s youngest coaches in Sean McVay and Kyle Shannahan on Thursday Night Football. I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but Jared Goff is really fun to watch. Sean McVay has done a great job in quieting the Jared Goff doubters and turning him into a competent NFL quarterback. Goff, Todd Gurley, and Sammy Watkins all looked great together and that was a fun offense to watch overall. This team will grow together and could very well be the next big powerhouse in the NFC West. Aaron Donald continues to show teams that he is arguably one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL, with his relentless motor and ability to constantly pressure quarterbacks. Thursday Night Football is generally known for terrible games, but this NFC West showdown proved otherwise. I look forward to seeing more games with Jared Goff and watching his development over the coming years.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Mario Kalo: It was definitely an exciting weeks for NFL fans, as two games ended in OT (Bears 23 — Steeler 17 and Packers 27 — Bengals 24). But the most exciting game for me was the New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles. It’s always interesting when two NFC East foes meet, but this was even more exciting because the Giants were fighting to keep their season alive and mounted a furious comeback to take a lead on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter. But it was Carson Wentz and the Eagles who had the last laugh, as kicker Jake Elliot drilled a game-winning 61-yard FG as time expired to give his team the vicory in thrilling fashion. It’s not everyday we see a walk off FG from that range and for that reason, this was the game of the week for me.

2nd Down: After starting with 0–3, are the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers respective seasons over?

Jonathan Counts: The seasons for the Giants and Chargers are effectively over. Since 1990, there have only been four teams to make the playoffs after starting the season 0–3. Ironically, two of those four teams were the Giants and Chargers, but the 2017 teams have little in common with those teams. The main reason that the chances for the Giants and Chargers are slim to none is due to their divisions. The Chargers have to play the Chiefs at Arrowhead along with the Raiders twice and the Broncos one more time. They might be in those games but I don’t see them winning more than one. The worst case scenario, which is very plausible for the Chargers, is they end the season with six losses from their division. Including the loss to the Dolphins in Week 2 they would have to win every other game just to go 9–7. That will not cut it.

The Giants are in the same boat. Their division looks good so far and they have four more games aganst divisional foes. Their best case scenario is ending up 9–7 as well, which likely is not enough for the playoffs in the NFC this year. They will both fall short due to their slow start and inconsistent play.

Ny Daily News

Arpan Sharma: Yes. Fewer than five teams have made it to the postseason after posting 0–3 records to begin the season. The Giants in particular have looked atrocious at times and seemingly unable to move the football in the right direction. They could turn their season around by relying heavily on Odell Beckham Jr., but a one-man offense does not make a playoff team, and I simply do not see the Giants overcoming this horrendous start and living to see the postseason.

The Chargers have seemingly bigger issues. Though they’re not that good of a football team, their inability to sell out the StubHub Center (capacity of 27,000) showcases much bigger fanbase issues that must be addressed in order to prove that the relocation was a good idea. Last year’s relocation story saw a 3–1 Rams team fall to 4–12 on the season, and the Chargers have already gotten a head start on that record with a terrible start to the season.

Robert Sample: Yes, but I don’t think it’s a matter of being 0–3 that is going to end their seasons. Instead, the struggles they have faced and continuously demonstrated will tarnish their records. Neither team is leading the league in anything (with the exception of Jatavis Brown leading in tackles). The Giants had an excellent shot of having a come-from-behind win against the Eagles this weekend, but failed to do anything defensively. The Chargers just lack any life or creativity on offense. It’s sad to watch, but neither team will finish above .500 this season.

Vijay Singh: Yes to both. But first, let’s laugh at the fact that the Jets and Rams are arguably the best teams playing in East Rutherford and Los Angeles, respectively. Ok…maybe USC or UCLA are better football teams, but I digress. The Giants have a stale offense that consists of no depth on the offensive line and no premier name at running back. Although their defense was one of the best in the NFL last season, it’s hard for the team to win any games if Eli Manning can’t find time to throw to star receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall. With this being said, their losses to division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas will haunt the Giants if they do end up coming back and winning some games, as the NFC East is getting better and younger each year.

It’s hard for me to see the Chargers bouncing back in the ultra-competitive AFC West. One of the AFC wildcards could very well come from here. It’s tough for Chargers fans as they not only moved to a city where no one will really appreciate them, but they just can’t close out games and that’s literally their Achilles heel.

CBS Sports

Mario Kalo: The Giants and Chargers are done. Both teams have been disappointing, lacking offensive firepower and showing little reason for fans and pundits to beleive either one of them will be able to turn it around. The Giants have an inept offensive line that mles it impossible for Eli Manning to be effective in any game. This is an offense predicated on the passing game, but with the lack of time Manning has to drop back and throw deep, it’s impossible for him to find open receivers.

I actually thought the Chargers could turn it around and possibly make a playoff push (how dumb do I look now?), but all they do is find ways to lose games. They also play in the AFC West, which complicates matters, as that divison is a gauntlet. Even if the prove they’ve found ways to finish games, it may be too little too late for the Chargers to make a playoff push.

3rd Down: Buy or sell: is Deshaun Watson the real deal?

Jonathan Counts: DeShaun Watson is…almost the real deal. With a little more time, I think we will see him start to become the real deal for the Texans. With the talent at skill positions around him and that stellar defense, he needs to find his comfort zone in throwing in the pocket and scrambling. Watson’s biggest roadblock will be learning when to throw the ball away and when to take a sack. He is extremely talented and I believe he will end up in the “Aaron Rodgers category” of how he plays the game. He has an incredible arm and great scrambling ability to extend plays like Rodgers. Watson can lead the next generation of great quarterbacks as long as he continues to improve within the pocket and learn to “live to play another down”.

Arpan Sharma: It’s too early to tell. If he starts regularly and puts up decent performances, then yes. He came out Sunday and threw for 301 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT. Even though it’s early, I’ll go with buy. Patriots CB Malcolm Butler was full of praise for Watson after the game, and when a rookie earns praise from top defenders, you know that he might be the real deal.

Deshaun Watson is already earning top praise after just three regular season games under center in Houston. Credit: Sports Illustrated

Robert Sample: Watson is absolutely the REAL DEAL. He is a young, motivated, and talented individual that is taking advantage of the weapons on the Texans’ offense and giving the top-notch defense something to fight for. The fact that he was able to give Tom Brady a run for his money in Week 3 is a big deal. The only reason the Texans lost that game in my opinion is because Tom Brady is the GOAT. If there’s no counting Aaron Rodgers out, then there better not be any counting Brady out either.

Vijay Singh: Better buy right now before its too late. Deshaun Watson is a competitor. I remember having the opportunity of watching him play against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Watson lit it up with a commanding 31–0 win against an elite Ohio State secondary that consisted of NFL talents Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore. All three defensive backs I just listed were all drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He shut up a stadium that consisted of 80% Ohio State fans in a matter of minutes. Fast-forward to the NFL and Watson has started the last two games this season and is beginning to show his winning roots on a professional level. If it wasn’t for self-proclaimed GOAT Tom Brady and his clutch factor, Watson would have won this game for the Texans in Foxborough, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished for Houston in almost 9 years. He’s a young quarterback and will have all the opportunities to grow this year with elite weapons, such as fellow Clemson Tiger Deandre Hopkins, along with an elite defense led by J.J. Watt.

Houston Chronicle

Mario Kalo: It’s too early to tell, but if I had to choose, I would say he aboslutely looks like the real deal. Watson took Brady and the Patriots down to the wire and although he threw two interceptions, he was able to move the Texans down the field and has actually made them an offesnive threat — something the Texans have lacked over the past few seasons. His mobility and arm strength make him a dangerous quarterback. Yes, the Patriots do not have a great defense, but Watson took advantage of all of his opportunites and that is all the Texans can ask of him at this point. It will be interesting to watch how he adjusts when opposing defenses begin to gameplan to stop him specifically.

4th Down: Since the games are often lopsided or unentertaining, should the league stop scheduling international games?

Jonathan Counts: The NFL will not retract international games because of the potential money to be made. However, as a sports fan and international advocate, we need to send a better product within these games. We may see that this year as the Oakland Raiders face off against the New England Patriots in Mexico City on Nov. 19. This game will take place in Week 11, which means the games themselves tend to mean more and the teams are more established in their play. This is the kind of product we need to send internationally. I believe that the games played in Mexico and Canada will be a better representation of the game and will continue to expand the NFL’s product internationally.

Arpan Sharma: No! These games make international fanbases. Simply stated, the NFL is a total and complete failure when it comes to an international fanbase. Outside of the disaster that was NFL Europa (RIP Amsterdam Admirals), the NFL has made little to no attempt to bring in viewers and fans from anywhere else in the world. This is changing, however. From 2018 onwards, the NFL will host a minimum of two games per year at the location of New White Hart Lane in London with a view to a permanent franchise in a ground share with current EPL club Tottenham Hotspur. This is positive news for the future of building an international fanbase abroad. However, for the time being, the NFL must continue to schedule international games as a franchise abroad could be 5–10 years away. This scheduling can be remedied by hosting more interesting games. For example, the Ravens just got wrecked 44–7 at the hands of the Jaguars. Instead, the NFL could have hosted the Lions vs Falcons game instead, a competitive match between two top quarterbacks heading undefeated teams looking to make a deep playoff run come January. Overall, the NFL must keep international games as it expands fan outreach to different countries and attempts to grow the brand as a whole.

Proposed NFL site at New White Hart Lane. Credit: Tottenham Hotspur

Robert Sample: Absolutely not. International games give the world a chance to share in the experience of professional football. Granted, the games are often blown out of proportion, but c’mon, watching the Jaguars thrash the hot-start Ravens was exciting! The Jags finally looked like the team we (meaning me) knew they could be.

Vijay Singh: It depends on who you ask this question to. The NFL would say no because this creates more revenue for their league. Having games in London also helps fans in England engage in the sport. NFL teams are most definitely against it because it jeopardizes their schedule and players have to get accustomed to a completely different time zone. Overall, I would say no because I believe its important that the NFL continues to promote its sport to an international audience. Maybe one day we can see an NFL team residing at London or Mexico City.

Mario Kalo: I hate the idea of scheudling NFL games internationally. First off, I don’t want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to watch the Jaguars vs Ravens — or any game for that matter. Aside from my own personal selfish reasons for not wanting the league to schedule international games, I don’t really think the rest of the world cares for the NFL. Make no mistake about it, soccer is what attracts the attention of international fans. I just don’t see the game growing internationally the way the NFL and its owners want it to. Maybe it would help if they scheudled more exciting matchups, but the fact of the matter is there is no appetite for the NFL outside of the United States.