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NFL Winners and Losers, Week3 :

The New York Giants were at home against the San Francisco 49ers’ junior varsity team on Sunday.

The 49ers were without Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, George Kittle, Solomon Thomas, Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. The 49ers were also on the East Coast for the second straight week. You won’t find many better spots for an NFL team than the Giants had.

And the Giants got blown out 36-9 by the 49ers.

New York had its own injury issues, most notably Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. It’s not like the 49ers are going to feel any pity for them.

If the Giants couldn’t beat that version of the 49ers or even come close, who exactly are they going to beat this season? It’s an important question for general manager Dave Gettleman, coach Joe Judge and quarterback Daniel Jones.

Gettleman is probably in the most trouble. Judge is in just his first season, and the Giants have too much invested in Jones to easily move on (unless they win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes). But Gettleman doesn’t have a lot to stand on if the Giants keep losing. Having to cut 2019 first-rounder DeAndre Baker after Baker was charged with armed robbery is another bad mark on his record.

If Jones fails, Gettleman’s draft record looks even worse. This will be a big year for Jones. He had some great games as a rookie, but was inconsistent. This season, he hasn’t been very good. Losing Barkley hurts, but if Jones is a franchise quarterback, he should be able to have some success without his best teammate. It’s too early to give up on Jones, but he got thoroughly outplayed by 49ers QB Nick Mullens on Sunday. That’s not what you want to see out of your quarterback who was the sixth pick of the 2019 draft. Jones was 17 of 32 for 179 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He had a passer rating of 56.6.

Judge would have to bottom out to be on the hot seat, but if the Giants keep losing then his oddball methods will look even weirder. You can get by with not saying your players’ names in media settings, making them run laps for mistakes or taping tennis balls to defensive backs’ hands in practice if you’re winning. If you lose double-digit games, it’s just annoying. When you get thoroughly outcoached by Kyle Shanahan, who was missing practically half of his team, it looks like you’re in over your head. More high-school drills are not going to help that.

The Giants weren’t expected to be great this season, but a big step back would be rough. There would be changes. Gettleman’s seat would likely be the hottest. Jones and Judge would likely survive, but they’d better rebound in 2021. It’s only three weeks into the season, but everyone in the Giants organization should feel they’re on notice after Sunday’s loss.

Jerick McKinnon carries the ball as Lorenzo Carter tries to tackle him.

Here are the winners and losers from Week 3 in the NFL:

WINNERS

Aaron Donald: The best player in the NFL might not be Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson.

Those two will win MVP awards because they are quarterbacks, but Donald is as good as any player in the NFL today and has a good argument as the best defensive tackle ever. He’s that good. Even in a crushing loss, Donald reminded us he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

The Rams had a brilliant comeback, and Donald was at the center of it. With the Rams trailing the Bills 28-25 in the fourth quarter, Donald sacked Josh Allen for a 12-yard loss on first down. Then on third-and-22, Donald sacked Allen again and forced a fumble. That led to a Rams touchdown and the lead.

The Bills came back to win in a dramatic way, but that’s not on Donald. He was phenomenal. There are plenty of ways to measure the NFL’s best player, but Donald needs to be in that conversation.

Rex Burkhead: The Patriots are in need of any playmakers on offense, and Sunday was Burkhead’s turn.

With James White inactive, Burkhead got a lot of time at running back and scored two acrobatic touchdowns and got a third one to help put away a 36-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. He flew over the pile on the first one and got spun in the air on the second.

Burkhead is unlikely to be a featured back for the Patriots the rest of the way because the Patriots don’t generally lean on one guy. But Burkhead will have his moments, and he came up big for the Patriots on Sunday.

Cleveland Browns and Kevin Stefanski: It’s hard to believe, but Sunday marked the first time since 2010 the Browns had scored 30 or more points in consecutive games. It’s also the first time since 2014 the Browns are above .500, which is surprising.

Actually, it’s the Browns. It’s not too tough to believe.

The Browns offense, with the dangerous running back duo of Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, looked good in a win over the Washington Football Team. Washington has its issues, but its defense isn’t bad, especially up front, and the Browns didn’t have much problem moving the ball in a 34-20 win.

Stefanski’s debut wasn’t impressive, as the Browns were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens. But the Ravens might just be that good. Since then, the Browns offense has come alive, and that’s great news for Cleveland’s long-suffering fans.

Stephen Gostkowski, again: Three games, three winning kicks for Gostkowski.

Of course, the season got off to a rough start for the former Patriots kicker. He missed three field goals and an extra point in Week 1 for the Tennessee Titans, but got redemption with the winning field goal at Denver in the final seconds. Then in Week 2, his late field goal lifted the Titans to a 33-30 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. And on Sunday, the Titans battled back from a deficit to the Minnesota Vikings and Gostkowski won it in the final two minutes.

The Titans are 3-0 for many reasons. Just don’t forget their kicker and his three winning field goals.

LOSERS

Mitchell Trubisky: The leash for Trubisky was much shorter than it seemed through two weeks.

The Chicago Bears were 2-0, but Trubisky hadn’t played great. When he threw a bad pick on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Nagy was quick to turn to Nick Foles. And now there’s probably no turning back.

After a third-quarter interception helped put the Bears in a 26-10 hole, Trubisky was benched. It was his first interception on the day, but that was enough. Foles came in, and in the fourth quarter, he led a huge comeback against the Falcons, who will face a lot of questions about whether coach Dan Quinn will be their coach in Week 4 after a second straight collapse.

The quick hook for Trubisky made it seem like Nagy was waiting for any reason to make the switch. If that was the case, it doesn’t make much sense to make Trubisky the starter to begin the season. The Bears seemingly wanted Foles. Given the way the Bears won with Foles, that might be it for the Trubisky era in Chicago. 

Carson Wentz: Here’s the upcoming Philadelphia Eagles schedule: at San Francisco, at Pittsburgh, vs. Baltimore. To say the Eagles are going to need to play better to avoid being buried by mid-October is an understatement.

The Eagles are struggling, and Wentz has not looked good. The story might be Doug Pederson’s decision to punt late in overtime and take a tie, but the Eagles shouldn’t have been in that spot. Wentz didn’t play well enough to get them the win.

Wentz isn’t getting a a lot of help. Dallas Goedert and DeSean Jackson were the latest injuries on offense. But Wentz isn’t playing well regardless of who is around him. He got the Eagles to overtime against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Eagles shouldn’t be going to overtime at home against Cincinnati if they want to be taken seriously as a playoff contender.

Two interceptions by Wentz helped the Bengals take a fourth-quarter lead. In the fourth quarter, Wentz missed Miles Sanders down the sideline on what could have been a go-ahead touchdown. In overtime, the Eagles went three-and-out on their first possession when a field goal would have won it. A holding penalty ruined a promising drive later in overtime. A false start penalty changed Pederson’s mind on trying a long field goal, and he punted instead of letting Wentz try to pick up a fourth-down conversion.

The Eagles are in trouble at 0-2-1. Wentz will need to play a lot better to dig Philadelphia out of the hole. There probably isn’t a lot of confidence right now in that happening.

Houston Texans’ early schedule: The good news is the Texans’ schedule gets a lot easier. The bad news is they have a huge hole to dig out of.

There haven’t been many tougher three-game starts to a season than Houston was given. They played at the Kansas City Chiefs, hosted the Baltimore Ravens and then played at the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Texans battled on Sunday, but lost 28-21. They’re 0-3 after having faced three of the best teams in the NFL.

Of course, nobody will feel bad for Houston. They’re going to have to rebound quick or they will be irrelevant long before Halloween. That might not be good for Bill O’Brien.

Vikings getting Justin Jefferson involved too late: The question for the Minnesota Vikings might be, why exactly was the coaching staff doing giving Olabisi Johnson more time in the first two weeks?

Jefferson was a dynamic player at LSU and a first-round pick, but had just five catches through two weeks playing about half the time. The Vikings let him play more on Sunday, and he looked like a star. Jefferson punctuated his big day with a 71-yard touchdown that he made look so easy, he was dancing at the 5-yard line on his way in. He had seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, the Vikings still lost. They’re 0-3. At least they know what they have in Jefferson, even if their season is in trouble already.

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