Three-and-out: NFL’s best matchups of Week 3

The early Sunday games provide the best matchups for in-conference battles that should have playoff implications down the road.


Perhaps no team has gone through the grinder of the early season as hard as the Minnesota Vikings. After losing QB Teddy Bridgewater before the season ever began, they now are facing months, if not the whole season, without star RB Adrian Peterson and LT Matt Kalil.

Still, the Vikings have managed to get to 2-0 behind the push of a strong defense and some renewed hope with QB Sam Bradford’s initial game in Minnesota. But without Peterson, the offense could undergo a transition to more of a passing attack with Stefon Diggs leading the league with 285 receiving yards.

However, the Vikings will go on the road to face the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, who put a 46-27 beatdown on the San Francisco 49ers last week.

While the Vikings will be without Peterson, the Panthers are expected to be without RB Jonathan Stewart, putting more pressure on QB Cam Newton (tied for second in the NFL with five touchdown passes), Kelvin Benjamin (tied for first with three touchdowns) and TE Greg Olsen in the passing game.

While both teams will be without their star running backs, this one could come down to a defensive slugging match and put the winner in the driver’s seat in the NFC.

STREAKS 4 of past 6  
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Zimmer: 1-0 Ron Rivera: 1-2
LAST WEEK W 17-14 vs. Green Bay W 46-27 vs. San Francisco
LAST GAME 11/30/14: Panthers 13 at Vikings 31. Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater throws 2 TD passes. Vikings return 2 blocked punts for TDs.
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/30/11: Vikings 24, Panthers 21. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson rushes for 83 yards with TD & adds 76 rec. yards with TD. Vikings DE Jared Allen has FF & sack.
REFEREE Jerome Boger
BROADCAST FOX (1:00 PM ET): Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 136 (Min), 83 (Car). XM: 384 (Min), 226 (Car).
Sam Bradford: 22-31-286-2-0-121.2 (2L) Cam Newton: 42-73-547-5 (T2L)-2-92.7
RUSHING Adrian Peterson: 31-50-1.6-0 Fozzy Whittaker: 19-113-5.9-0
RECEIVING Stefon Diggs: 16 (2L)-285 (1L)-17.8-1 Kelvin Benjamin: 13-199-15.3-3 (T1L)
OFFENSE 292.5 431.0 (2L)
TAKE/GIVE +5 (2L) 1
DEFENSE 289.5 (3L) 304.5
SACKS Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph: 2 4 tied: 1
INTs Eric Kendricks, Trae Waynes: 1 4 tied: 1
PUNTING Jeff Locke: 38.6 Andy Lee: 53.6 (1L)
KICKING Blair Walsh: 18 (3/4 PAT; 5/7 FG) Graham Gano: 24 (1L) (6/7 PAT; 6/7 FG)


QB SAM BRADFORD passed for 286 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 121.2 rating in 1st Min start in Week 2…RB ADRIAN PETERSON has 3 TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.) in 2 career games at Car…WR STEFON DIGGS had 9 receptions for 182 yards & TD last week. Has 285 rec. yards in 2016, 2nd-most through 1st 2 games of season in Min history (GENE WASHINGTON, 324 yards in 1969). TE KYLE RUDOLPH has TD catch in past 2 vs. Car. Had TD in Week 2…DE EVERSON GRIFFEN had 2 sacks in last meeting. Had sack & FF last week. DE DANIELLE HUNTER had sack & FF in Week 2. Has 5.5 sacks in past 6. CB TRAE WAYNES had 1st career INT in Week 2. S ANDREW SENDEJO led team with 11 tackles last week. Has 10+ tackles in 2 of past 3. S HARRISON SMITH had 8 tackles & sack in last meeting.


QB CAM NEWTON passed for 353 yards & 4 TDs last week. Has 32 career games with both pass TD & rush TD, most in NFL history. Has 20 TDs (17 pass, 3 rush) in past 5 at home...RB FOZZY WHITTAKER had career-high 100 rush yards in Week 2...WR KELVIN BENJAMIN had 7 catches for 108 yards & 2 TDs last week. Has 100+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 at home. WR COREY BROWN had rec. TD in last meeting. WR DEVIN FUNCHESS has 4 rec. TDs in past 5 at home. Had TD Catch in Week 2. TE GREG OLSEN had 5 receptions for 122 yards last week, incl. 78-yard TD. Has 6 rec. TDs in past 8 at home…DE CHARLES JOHNSON had FF & sack in last meeting. Had FF in Week 2. LB LUKE KUECHLY had seven tackles & 2 sacks in last meeting. Since entering league in 2012, leads NFL in tackles (612). Had 11 tackles & INT last week. LB SHAQ THOMPSON had 9-yard FR-TD last week, 1st career TD. CB BENE BENWIKERE had FF in last meeting. CB JAMES BRADBERRY had 1st career INT last week.



The Denver Broncos are off to a strong start without Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler at quarterback. With Manning retired and Osweiler in Houston, QB Trevor Siemian has helped guide the Broncos to a 2-0 start the same way they won the Super Bowl – with a strong defense and other complementary parts.

Denver is tied for 10th in points per game allowed and sixth in yards, but will be facing a regular playoff participant in the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals are ranked 10th in offensive yards, they are 20th in points scored. That comes despite QB Andy Dalton leading the NFL with 732 yards passing, but A.J. Green has a touchdown catch in three of the last four meetings between the two AFC rivals.

The Bengals are second in passing yards, but 30th in third-down efficiency with a rushing attack that is 31st.

STREAKS 5 of past 6  
COACHES VS. OPP. Gary Kubiak: 4-0 Marvin Lewis: 2-6
LAST WEEK W 34-20 vs. Indianapolis L 24-16 at Pittsburgh
LAST GAME 12/28/15: Bengals 17 at Broncos 20 (OT). Denver QB Brock Osweiler passes for 299 yards & TD. Broncos K Brandon McManus kicks GW 37-yard FG in OT.  
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/22/14: Bengals 37, Broncos 28. Cincinnati RB Jeremy Hill rushes for 147 yards & TD. Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham has 9 catches for 62 yards & TD.
REFEREE John Parry
BROADCAST CBS (1:00 PM ET): Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 112 (Den), 82 (Cin). XM: 382 (Den), 82 (Cin).

Trevor Siemian: 40-59-444-1-3-74.4 Andy Dalton: 54-84-732 (1L)-2-1-94.9
RUSHING C.J. Anderson: 40-166-4.2-2 Jeremy Hill: 20-53-2.7-1
RECEIVING Demaryius Thomas: 9-138-15.3-0 A.J. Green: 14 (T3L)-218 (3L)-15.6-1
OFFENSE 353.5 396.5
DEFENSE 293 357
SACKS Von Miller: 4 (1L) Geno Atkins, Will Clarke: 1
INTs Aqib Talib, Chris Harris: 1 3 tied: 1
PUNTING Riley Dixon (R): 47.6 Kevin Huber: 45.9
KICKING Brandon McManus: 17 (5/5 PAT; 4/5 FG) Mike Nugent: 21 (3/3 PAT; 6/7 FG)


QB TREVOR SIEMIAN has won 1st 2 career starts…RB C.J. ANDERSON aims for 5th in row with rush TD. Has 219 scrimmage yards (109.5 per game) & 2 rush TDs in 2 career meetings…Since 2012, WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS ranks 2nd in NFL with 5,925 rec. yards. Only NFL player with 5,500+ rec. yards (5,925) & 40+ rec. TDs (41) since 2012. In last game at Cin., had 7 catches for 115 yards. WR EMMANUEL SANDERS has 3 TDs in past 2 meetings…LB VON MILLER had 3 sacks & FF last week, incl. sack & FF which led to LB SHANE RAY’s 15-yard FR-TD. Has 9 sacks, 3 FFs & INT in past 4 (incl. playoffs). Since 2011, ranks 2nd in NFL with 64 sacks. Has 4 sacks, FF & FR in 4 career meetings. CB AQIB TALIB had 46-yard INT-TD last week. Has 9 career INT-TDs, tied for 4th most in NFL history & most by active player. Had 33-yard INT-TD in last game at Cin. CB CHRIS HARRIS, JR. leads team with 4 PD & Talib ranks 2nd with 3 PD. DE DEREK WOLFE had sack in last meeting


QB ANDY DALTON leads NFL with 732 pass yards. Has 51-27-1 (.652) record, best by Cin. QB (min. 20 starts). Has 16 TDs vs. 5 INTs for 106.8 rating in past 9 at home. Has 29 games with 100+ rating & Cin. is 26-3 (.897)…RB JEREMY HILL rushed for 147 yards & 85-yard TD in last home meeting. Has 8 rush TDs in past 10 (incl. playoffs). RB GIOVANI BERNARD had career-high 9 catches for 100 yards & TD last week, his 2nd career 100-yard rec. game. Had TD catch in last home game vs. Den…WR A.J. GREEN has TD catch in 3 of 4 career meetings. Incl. playoffs, has 5 TDs in past 4 at home & aims for 5th home game in row with TD…CB ADAM JONES had INT last week. Is only active player with 2+ INT-TDs (2) & 5+ PR-TDs (5) in career. DT GENO ATKINS has 41 sacks since 2011, most by NFL DT. In last meeting at home, CB DRE KIRKPATRICK had 2 INTs, incl. 30-yard INT-TD. DE CARLOS DUNLAP had 3 sacks in last meeting & has 4 sacks in past 2 vs. Den.



Despite 364 yards and a touchdown toss from Kirk Cousins last week, the winless Washington Redskins are in danger of losing too much ground to the undefeated New York Giants, making this NFC East matchup critical despite the early-season pairing.

The Redskins have shown they can put up yards (ranked seventh), but they are 28th in red zone percentage. Perhaps TE Jordan Reed, who has at least 95 yards in his last three games against the Giants, can turn that around for Washington.

The Giants have a very strong receiving corps with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard, but they have been getting it done on defense. Their defense ranks in the top 10 in yards per game, yards per play, rushing yards per game, rushing yards per play and passing yards per play.

Their trio of receivers has shown they can get it done. Beckham had 142 yards and a touchdown the last time they played the Redskins, Cruz has 100 yards receiving or more in three of the last four meetings, and Shepard had eight catches for 117 yards last week.

STREAKS   5 of past 6
COACHES VS. OPP. Jay Gruden: 1-3 Ben McAdoo: 0-0
LAST WEEK L 27-23 vs. Dallas W 16-13 vs. New Orleans
LAST GAME 11/29/15: Giants 14 at Redskins 20. Washington QB Kirk Cousins passes for 302 yards & TD for 114.4 rating. Redskins TE Jordan Reed has 8 catches for 98 yards.
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/24/15: Giants 32, Redskins 21. New York QB Eli Manning throws for 279 yards & 2 TDs. Giants WR Rueben Randle has 7 catches for 116 yards & TD.
REFEREE John Hussey
BROADCAST FOX (1:00 PM ET): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 134 (Was), 81 (NYG). XM: 383 (Was), 225 (NYG).


Kirk Cousins: 58-89-693 (3L)-1-3-78.5 Eli Manning: 51-69-575-3-1-106.9
RUSHING Matt Jones: 20-85-4.3-1 Rashad Jennings: 31-102-3.3-0
RECEIVING Jordan Reed (TE): 12-134-11.2-0 Odell Beckham: 12-159-13.3-0
OFFENSE 408 366.5
DEFENSE 408.5 308
SACKS Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy: 1.5 Landon Collins, Leon Hall: 1
INTs Bashaud Breeland: 1 ---
PUNTING Tress Way: 34.0 Brad Wing: 53.3 (2L)
KICKING Dustin Hopkins: 21 (3/3 PAT; 6/6 FG) Josh Brown: 10 (1/1 PAT; 3/4 FG)


QB KIRK COUSINS passed for 364 yards & TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 300+ pass yards. Has 1,124 pass yards (281 per game) & 9 TDs for 100.9 rating in past 4 vs. NFC East…RB MATT JONES had rush TD in Week 2…WR JAMISON CROWDER had rec. TD last week. WR PIERRE GARCON has TD catch in 2 of past 3 vs. NFC East. WR DE SEAN JACKSON had 63-yard TD in last meeting. TE JORDAN REED aims for 3rd in row vs. Giants with 95+ rec. yards…DE CHRIS BAKER had sack in last meeting. LB RYAN KERRIGAN had 2 sacks in last meeting. Since entering NFL in 2011, is 1 of 2 with 45+ sacks (49) & 2+ INT-TDs (2). LB TRENY MURPHY had 1.5 sacks & FF last week. CB BASHAUD BREELAND has 8 PD in past 3 vs. NYG. CB JOSH NORMAN had FF in last meeting (12/20/15 with Car). Had FF last week.


QB ELI MANNING passed for 368 yards last week & has the 10th-most pass yards in NFL history (44,762). Has 100+ rating in 3 of past 4 vs. Was. Aims for 3rd in row at home with 300+ pass yards…RB RASHAD JENNINGS has 100+ rush yards & TD in 2 of past 3 at home…WR ODELL BECKHAM had 142 rec. yards & TD in last matchup. Averaging 121.3 yards per game with 5 TDs in 3 career games vs. Was. WR VICTOR CRUZ has 100+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4 vs. Was. Rookie WR STERLING SHEPARD had 8 catches for 117 yards last week, 1st career 100-yard game...DT JOHNATHAN HANKINS had 2.5 sacks & FF in 12/14/14 meeting. Had blocked FG last week. DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL has 6.5 sacks in 4 career home games vs. Was. LB JONATHAN CASILLAS had 7 tackles & sack in last home meeting. CB LEON HALL had sack last week in NYG debut. CB JANORIS JENKINS had 65-yard blocked FG-TD in Week 2. S LANDON COLLINS recorded 1st career sack in Week 2. 




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