There are the teams you’re born rooting for, for better or worse, and then there are the bandwagon clubs – the franchises and star players that pique your interest, draw you in and drop you off. Each week of the 2022 campaign, we’re recapping some of the most encouraging and discouraging developments from around the NFL and deciding whose bandwagon to hop on or off – even if only for a week.
Week 3 saw the Jaguars dominate the Chargers, the Colts rally to defeat the Chiefs, and the Dolphins send Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey into a very GIF-able fit after time-management issues hindered Buffalo’s efforts to capitalize on a butt-fumble safety.
Totally normal Sunday.
With so many highs, lows and statement-making plays to choose from, here’s our bandwagon report as we look ahead to what will hopefully be another eventful week in the NFL.
Hop on: Packers
Green Bay only managed 14 points against Tampa Bay yet came away with the victory thanks to the Packers’ bend-don’t-break defence. Despite being only two weeks removed from an ugly loss to the Vikings and the fact the receiving corps leaves much to be desired, on paper, the Packers have kept pace in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers had a pedestrian stat line versus the Bucs but he’s developing chemistry with rookie Romeo Doubs, and his starting left tackle, two-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari, is back after making his season debut on monitored snaps Sunday. Add to that the fact the Packers have a winnable upcoming schedule – a three-game homestand against the Patriots, Giants and Jets before a road game in Washington – and the Packers are in fine shape heading into October. (MJ)
Hop off: Bears
The Bears are off to a 2-1 start to the season and coming off a last-second field goal victory, so why hop off now? Chicago is 2-0 at home but play four of their next five on the road and the offence with Justin Fields under centre just isn’t getting it done. The passing attack, or lack thereof, has been remarkably uninspiring. The coaching staff has only trusted Fields enough to make 45 pass attempts on the season. Attempts. He’s just 23 for 45 on the year with twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. That’s fewer than eight completions per game! (MJ)
Hop on: Lamar Jackson for MVP
Three weeks into his contract season, Lamar Jackson is looking like a genius for betting on himself. Even though we’ve come to expect this level of dynamic play from the dual-threat Ravens quarterback, he’s still leaving a trail of awe-struck viewers in his wake with what he’s able to do on the football field.
Jackson’s Ravens lead the league in total touchdowns scored and Jackson himself holds the record so far this season for the longest run while ranking fifth in total rushing yards. He’s putting up MVP numbers without a lot of help on offence and with very little backup on defence. He’s simply unstoppable and – oh, look at that… he’s about to go up against the Bills this Sunday. Talk about a battle of MVPs. (ES)
Hop off: Saints
“Pain everywhere” could soon become the motto of this Saints team if they don’t start clicking soon, especially on offence. Jameis Winston, who apparently is somehow playing with fractured bones in his back, has thrown five interceptions and three fumbled balls the past two weeks. New Orleans should be 0-3. The Falcons blowing it late in Week 1 is the only reason they’re not. Now they have to fly to England off back-to-back losses to face the Vikings in their first non-NFC South matchup of the season. (MJ)
Hop on: Raiders
Las Vegas is the NFL’s lone 0-3 roster, however they are by no means the worst team in the league. In fact, if the Raiders were capable of putting together a complete game they might have a winning record. They were a failed two-point conversion away from tying Sunday’s 24-22 loss to the Titans with 74 seconds remaining in regulation. The week prior saw them lose to the Cardinals after being up 20-0 at halftime and leading by 16 in the fourth. The Chargers beat the Raiders in Week 1 but they and the Broncos are 1-2 and the Chiefs just suffered their first loss. Perhaps the AFC West isn’t quite as strong as many initially thought? A Week 4 showdown with the hapless Broncos could be exactly what the Raiders need. (MJ)
Hop off: The 49ers without Trent Williams
With all the focus on the quarterback position, I for one lost sight of the importance of the men tasked with protecting the pocket. My bad. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t exactly having his best game Sunday against Denver, but his performance took a dramatic turn for the worse after offensive lineman Trent Williams went down with an injury. In the month ahead, San Francisco has two dates with the division rival Rams, and Williams’ absence will be a major blow. (ES)
Hop on: Jaguars
Yes, Justin Herbert was hurt – and yes, we can debate whether or not he should’ve been out there at all considering he’s dealing with a pretty significant rib injury – but credit should still go to Jacksonville for the way they won this game: a stingy, hard-hitting defence that ranks second in forced turnovers and a young QB who’s actually got some real leadership steering this ship for a change. (ES)
The Jaguars’ defence has allowed just 10 points in their last two games while the offence has put up 62, including 38 against a strong Chargers core that looked really good against Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs one week earlier. Next up, Doug Pederson revisits his old team in Philadelphia where the Jaguars have another chance to prove they’re legit. Will this bandwagon ride be cut short? (ES)
Bonus Hop on: Butt punts!
Listen, football is fun and the fact the Dolphins still managed to defeat the mighty Bills even after taking a safety off the rear end of a Dolphins defender tells us just how well they (mostly) played and also allows us all to laugh about this one without stirring up a referendum on the state of their special teams.
Mark Sanchez of Butt-Fumble infamy joined the fun, as did Dan Orlovsky, who was finally freed from his own infamous safety standing when Jimmy Garoppolo backed himself right out of the end zone against the Broncos Sunday night. It really was a great day for bloopers. (ES)