Column: Jordan Reed should walk away — while he still can

September 24, 2019

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with fans after the Washington Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on October 21, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

At a time when one extremely talented pass catcher is talking retirement because he’s a headcase, one here in Washington might be forced to because of the case of his head.

There’s no debate that Jordan Reed is a supremely talented player who almost single-handedly transforms the Redskins offense whenever he’s on the field. But it’s equally indisputable that his presence on the field always comes with a huge caveat: He’s not there often. Thus, it came as very little surprise when ESPN reported on Sunday that Reed’s latest concussion leaves his career in jeopardy.

Reed hasn’t played since taking a hellacious hit from Keanu Neal in the third preseason game in Atlanta, and given his extensive injury history — which includes at least seven concussions dating back to his college days at Florida — and his age (29), the time has come to shift focus from getting him ready to withstand another hit to favoring his long-term health, by ensuring he doesn’t absorb them ever again.

This would be the perfect time for an NFL team to do the right thing regarding a player with concussion history. Last week, Calvin Johnson revealed in a Sports Illustrated interview that the Detroit Lions straight up told him to participate in a cover-up of his own concussion.

“I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight. And they wanted me to change my story,” Johnson told SI.

Much like Johnson, Reed is playing for a completely lost and irrelevant NFL franchise. But even if the Lions and Redskins were dueling for NFC supremacy, it’s morally corrupt to ask players to risk their long-term mental and physical well-being when both are so clearly at stake. Mangling limbs for the sake of gridiron glory is one thing (did you see Johnson’s hands in the SI story? And my god the infamous Ronnie Lott pinkie tale) but risking further damage to the most vitally important part of one’s body is a foolish move.

Just to put this in perspective, here’s a key excerpt from a Brainline post detailing facts about concussions:

People who have had repeated concussions may have serious long-term problems, including chronic difficulty with concentration, memory, headache, and occasionally, physical skills, such as keeping one’s balance.

That doesn’t even touch on more extreme factors like depression and suicidal ideation. Does that sound like something you’d be willing to live with in your 50s and 60s? Will you even live to be in your 50s and 60s having suffered so many concussions? Junior Seau, Justin Strzelczyk and so many more didn’t.

I don’t know if this even registers with Reed, or if he’s so dedicated to playing the game he loves that he’s willing to assume any risk associated with living his dream. But the Redskins should take the immediate decision out of Reed’s hands by placing him on injured reserve and releasing him at the end of the season. That way he gets his $7.6 million salary for this season as thanks for all he’s done for the team, and they can move on from him in 2020 with only a $1.8 million dead cap hit.

If he wants to roll the dice on his long-term health, that’s up to him — but at least the ‘Skins can do the right thing by granting him the ability walk away with his health. There’s always the chance the New England Patriots would come calling to get Reed to come back and risk it all for a championship, but hopefully he can say “thanks, but no thanks.”

But that would be too easy. We’re talking about the Redskins, so count on this being a season-long storyline.

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<p><em><strong>Bears 31</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Redskins 15</strong></em></p>
<p>The one and only thing the &#8216;Skins can feel good about is Terry McLaurin, the first player in NFL history to notch at least five catches and a receiving touchdown in each of his first three games. With apologies to Gardner Minshew (and his mustache), Scary Terry&#8217;s the steal of the 2019 NFL Draft.</p>
<p>But HaHa got the last laugh. Clinton-Dix got a Pick 6 in his return to FedEx Field to help Chicago snap a 7-game losing streak against a Redskins team that has now lost eight straight on Monday Night Football and 24 of the 30 they&#8217;ve played on MNF since 1997. Oof.</p>
Chicago Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) and Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine (24) cannot stop a touchdown catch by Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
<p><b><i>Rams 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>Browns 13</i></b></p>
<p>In a battle of former No. 1 picks at QB and Cleveland&#8217;s first Sunday night game in 11 years, neither Jared Goff nor Baker Mayfield looked particularly good and the Browns certainly didn&#8217;t look ready for primetime — in more ways than one. While I&#8217;m not ready to say the Dawg Pound&#8217;s playoff hopes are a case of barking up the wrong tree, Baker&#8217;s slow start should remind us a trip to the postseason is not the foregone conclusion <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/21/baker-mayfield-browns-players-expect-a-playoff-berth/">he thinks it is</a>.</p>
CLEVELAND, OH — SEPTEMBER 22: Clay Matthews #52 of the Los Angeles Rams sacks Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Los Angeles defeated Cleveland 20-13. (Getty Images/Kirk Irwin)
<p><b><i>Saints 33</i></b><br />
<b><i>Seahawks 27</i></b></p>
<p>Unless you&#8217;re a Seattle fan, it&#8217;s hard not to feel good for Teddy Bridgewater. The backup to Drew Brees won his first start since Week 17 … in 2015, well before his career-altering knee injury. If he can keep playing like this, the Saints can hang with anybody.</p>
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Seattle. (AP/Scott Eklund)
<p><b><i>Steelers 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>49ers 24</i></b></p>
<p>It&#8217;s not often a team&#8217;s turnovers (5) outnumbers its margin of victory but San Fran survived the sloppiest game of the season yet to lock up their first 3-0 start in 21 years, while Pittsburgh continued its <a href="https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGT8oENKOVqBaSe-M9CVSLPn3Iz1Q">awful history on the West Coast</a>. If the Steelers can&#8217;t beat the Bengals at home in next Monday&#8217;s primetime battle of winless teams, it could be the low point of a really long season in the Steel City.</p>
San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, left, breaks a tackle attempt by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (AP/Tony Avelar)
<p><b><i>Texans 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Chargers 20</i></b></p>
<p>Philip Rivers — the literal <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/philip-rivers-set-for-211th-straight-start-with-other-2004-first-round-qbs-out-of-action/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/philip-rivers-set-for-211th-straight-start-with-other-2004-first-round-qbs-out-of-action/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG1y09AxLVbEMCfAEIR3UYwZhvqqw">last man standing</a> from the QB Class of 2004 — couldn&#8217;t avoid a second straight late-game letdown but the Chargers can take solace in their virtual bye week in Miami next week.</p>
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, left, and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, right, force Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to fumble during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
<p><b><i>Giants 32</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bucs 31</i></b></p>
<p>Daniel Jones told us <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/daniel-jones-i-feel-ready/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/daniel-jones-i-feel-ready/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEAYl4FuCN7z3mcRFb6wS4ItCIlLg">he&#8217;s ready</a>, and boy was he. Jones engineered an 18-point comeback — the second largest since 1970 for a QB starting his first game — and became the first Giant with two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in a single game. If he can keep this up against stiffer competition and without the <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27678892/sources-giants-rb-barkley-high-ankle-sprain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">injured Saquon Barkley</a>, Dave Gettleman might actually know what he&#8217;s doing after all.</p>
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) scores on a 7-yard touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP/Mark LoMoglio)
<p><b><i>Panthers 38</i></b><br />
<b><i>Cardinals 20</i></b></p>
<p>Raise your hand if you knew before Cam Newton was ruled out of this game that his backup was some dude named Kyle Allen. (If you raised your hand, you&#8217;re a liar.) Four touchdowns and a road win later, everyone knows his name because he might have just given Carolina the confidence to keep Cam on the bench until he&#8217;s truly 100%.</p>
GLENDALE, ARIZONA — SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback Kyle Allen #7 of the Carolina Panthers throws a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen #88 of the Panthers (not pictured) during the first half of the NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Getty Images/Ralph Freso)
<p><b><i>Ravens 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Chiefs 33</i></b></p>
<p>If Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson is <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27659993/dc-floats-lamar-mahomes-next-peyton-brady" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27659993/dc-floats-lamar-mahomes-next-peyton-brady&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFzDQxUoQE-fmL0410QAarcgu4glA">the next Payton Manning vs. Tom Brady</a>, it sure wasn&#8217;t on Sunday. Jackson was held in check, while Mahomes is the first player to throw for 300 yards in 13 of his first 20 career games and joins Brady as the only players with 300-yard, 3-TD and 0-INT stat lines in three straight games. Baltimore still has a ways to go before they&#8217;re on KC&#8217;s level — especially if John Harbaugh is going to undermine his own best efforts with <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27679227/ravens-harbaugh-defends-bold-approach-loss" target="_blank" rel="noopener">goofy point-after strategies</a>.</p>
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scores a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (AP/Ed Zurga)
<p><b><i>Jets 14</i></b><br />
<b><i>Patriots 30</i></b></p>
<p>Including the Super Bowl, New England&#8217;s defense hasn&#8217;t allowed a touchdown in its last four games and even though they didn&#8217;t quite cover <a href="https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/27636598/jets-fins-historic-underdogs-vs-pats-cowboys" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/27636598/jets-fins-historic-underdogs-vs-pats-cowboys&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEqlhiYryxtqSMEJ4sr2kYpr1_fyQ">their historic spread</a>, the Patriots look virtually unbeatable.</p>
FOXBOROUGH, MA — SEPTEMBER 22: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets is tackled by multiple New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Getty Images/Adam Glanzman)
<p><b><i>Lions 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Eagles 24</i></b></p>
<p>For just the fourth time in the Super Bowl era, Detroit is undefeated through a season&#8217;s first three games and pulled the upset of the week by stunning punchless Philadelphia in their own building. The Eagles have four tough road games (at Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo) in their next five weeks so they&#8217;d better figure out how to <a href="https://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/28211/with-eagles-injuries-piling-up-they-find-themselves-in-trouble-with-the-packers-next" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/28211/with-eagles-injuries-piling-up-they-find-themselves-in-trouble-with-the-packers-next&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE9K7UeHI2T-u7lWJ14owhq0_UpPQ">play with injuries</a> before their promising season falls apart early.</p>
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — SEPTEMBER 22: Marvin Jones #11 of the Detroit Lions celebrates his touchdown with teammates Frank Ragnow #77 and Kerryon Johnson #33 in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Detroit Lions defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24. (Getty Images/Elsa)
<p><b><i>Dolphins 6</i></b><br />
<b><i>Cowboys 31</i></b></p>
<p>Calm down, Dallas fans. The Cowboys beat the two worst teams in their division and needed almost three full quarters to dispatch of <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175883607669379073?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175883607669379073?s%3D20&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF4tqQIHfOXZVRv1dBn01p_BpErmg">a historically bad team</a> that&#8217;s obviously tanking. Win in New Orleans and beat an improved Packers team in successive weeks and <i>then</i> you can talk.</p>
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) gets past Miami Dolphins defensive back Walt Aikens (35) and into the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (AP/Ron Jenkins)
<p><b><i>Raiders 14</i></b><br />
<b><i>Vikings 34</i></b></p>
<p>Even if Kirk Cousins is, in fact, a “<a href="https://deadspin.com/kirk-cousins-isn-t-worth-a-shit-1838248498?utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://deadspin.com/kirk-cousins-isn-t-worth-a-shit-1838248498?utm_source%3Ddeadspin_facebook%26utm_campaign%3Dsocialflow_deadspin_facebook%26utm_medium%3Dsocialflow&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG0GGrMbPkF-m4V7MOA8DWZQ5Rvng">dumb man&#8217;s idea of a poor man’s Matt Ryan</a>” he&#8217;s got a good enough team around him — most notably a clearly-healthy and <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175853963742257153?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175853963742257153?s%3D20&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHmyl1hpTl5GYaeNFADk4t9JH0iPA">extremely productive Dalvin Cook</a> — to make some noise in an unexpectedly good division. Beating a <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/19/jon-gruden-schedule-will-test-our-mental-toughness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/19/jon-gruden-schedule-will-test-our-mental-toughness/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF4lPXUhCf7kHDttfD-6-XdlIcr3A">screwed-by-the-schedule</a> squad is nice, but stealing a win in Chicago next week would go a long way toward changing the narrative surrounding Cousins and the Vikings.</p>
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — SEPTEMBER 22: Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates with teammates Dalvin Cook #33 and Brian O’Neill #75 after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images/Stephen Maturen)
<p><b><i>Falcons 24</i></b><br />
<b><i>Colts 27</i></b></p>
<p>Adam Vinatieri <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2019/09/17/adam-vinatieri-talks-decision-not-retire-indianapolis-colts/2334206001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2019/09/17/adam-vinatieri-talks-decision-not-retire-indianapolis-colts/2334206001/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEYB6KdMNYVUj5vyTNxCox2wtqQMg">got the demons out</a>, Jacoby Brissett looked more like an MVP than Matt Ryan, and Indianapolis is off to its best start since 2013. Andrew who?</p>
<p>And though it&#8217;s still mathematically possible for Atlanta to live up to <a href="https://wtop.com/gallery/nfl/2019-nfl-playoff-predictions/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">my lofty expectations</a>, Ryan&#8217;s uninspiring start to the season and Keanu Neal&#8217;s injury (and the ensuing <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/22/falcons-safety-keanu-neal-penalized-as-hes-being-carted-off/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/22/falcons-safety-keanu-neal-penalized-as-hes-being-carted-off/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHc0j0k1VM_0Xl3YuMJEaQ-Vct28A">insult to the injury</a>) have me rethinking my <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2019/09/2019-nfc-south-preview/">second-boldest prediction of 2019</a>.</p>
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) runs out of the tackle of Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jack Crawford (95) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP/Michael Conroy)
<p><b><i>Broncos 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Packers 27</i></b></p>
<p>Denver, who hired a head coach because of his defensive prowess, has a defense without a take-away or a sack through three games this season. If only they had a player on their team capable of generating both …</p>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shaquil Barrett in five seasons with the Broncos: 14 sacks.<br />
Shaquil Barrett in not even 3 full games with the Buccaneers: 8 sacks.</p>
<p>— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelDavSmith/status/1175907117355753473?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 22, 2019</a></p></blockquote>
<p><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, right, runs with the ball after catching a pass as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP/Mike Roemer)
<p><b><i>Bengals 17</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bills 21</i></b></p>
<p>Buffalo is 3-0 and has <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/team/_/name/buf/buffalo-bills">a schedule</a> that implies the Bills could steal the Browns&#8217; thunder and be the team that crashes the playoff party this year.</p>
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK — SEPTEMBER 22: Tommy Sweeney #89 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after Frank Gore #20 of the Buffalo Bills scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at New Era Field on September 22, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. (Getty Images/Bryan M. Bennett)
<p><b><i>Titans 7</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jaguars 20</i></b></p>
<p>Right at the point when Jacksonville was <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/17/jaguars-have-fallen-apart-since-last-years-win-over-patriots/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/17/jaguars-have-fallen-apart-since-last-years-win-over-patriots/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569267828649000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGnReY7tlDUUHGAkIsn3qWvRQZFbg">trending in the wrong direction</a>, Gardner Minshew showed up out of nowhere to join D.C.-native Byron Leftwich as the only Jaguars QBs to throw for a touchdown in each of his first three games. If the Jags win the AFC South with the mustached (and <a href="https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1175603494469824512?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">leggy</a>) Minshew at QB, Nick Foles may have just been <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Pipp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Pipp&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569267828649000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG1IIn1fc4DkteoLMJ8BItYuajBQw">Wally Pipp</a>&#8216;d two years after nearly doing the same to Carson Wentz.</p>
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, left, scrambles away from Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP/Stephen B. Morton)
(1/16)
<p><em><strong>Bears 31</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Redskins 15</strong></em></p>
<p>The one and only thing the &#8216;Skins can feel good about is Terry McLaurin, the first player in NFL history to notch at least five catches and a receiving touchdown in each of his first three games. With apologies to Gardner Minshew (and his mustache), Scary Terry&#8217;s the steal of the 2019 NFL Draft.</p>
<p>But HaHa got the last laugh. Clinton-Dix got a Pick 6 in his return to FedEx Field to help Chicago snap a 7-game losing streak against a Redskins team that has now lost eight straight on Monday Night Football and 24 of the 30 they&#8217;ve played on MNF since 1997. Oof.</p>
<p><b><i>Rams 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>Browns 13</i></b></p>
<p>In a battle of former No. 1 picks at QB and Cleveland&#8217;s first Sunday night game in 11 years, neither Jared Goff nor Baker Mayfield looked particularly good and the Browns certainly didn&#8217;t look ready for primetime — in more ways than one. While I&#8217;m not ready to say the Dawg Pound&#8217;s playoff hopes are a case of barking up the wrong tree, Baker&#8217;s slow start should remind us a trip to the postseason is not the foregone conclusion <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/21/baker-mayfield-browns-players-expect-a-playoff-berth/">he thinks it is</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Saints 33</i></b><br />
<b><i>Seahawks 27</i></b></p>
<p>Unless you&#8217;re a Seattle fan, it&#8217;s hard not to feel good for Teddy Bridgewater. The backup to Drew Brees won his first start since Week 17 … in 2015, well before his career-altering knee injury. If he can keep playing like this, the Saints can hang with anybody.</p>
<p><b><i>Steelers 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>49ers 24</i></b></p>
<p>It&#8217;s not often a team&#8217;s turnovers (5) outnumbers its margin of victory but San Fran survived the sloppiest game of the season yet to lock up their first 3-0 start in 21 years, while Pittsburgh continued its <a href="https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGT8oENKOVqBaSe-M9CVSLPn3Iz1Q">awful history on the West Coast</a>. If the Steelers can&#8217;t beat the Bengals at home in next Monday&#8217;s primetime battle of winless teams, it could be the low point of a really long season in the Steel City.</p>
<p><b><i>Texans 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Chargers 20</i></b></p>
<p>Philip Rivers — the literal <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/philip-rivers-set-for-211th-straight-start-with-other-2004-first-round-qbs-out-of-action/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/philip-rivers-set-for-211th-straight-start-with-other-2004-first-round-qbs-out-of-action/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG1y09AxLVbEMCfAEIR3UYwZhvqqw">last man standing</a> from the QB Class of 2004 — couldn&#8217;t avoid a second straight late-game letdown but the Chargers can take solace in their virtual bye week in Miami next week.</p>
<p><b><i>Giants 32</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bucs 31</i></b></p>
<p>Daniel Jones told us <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/daniel-jones-i-feel-ready/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/18/daniel-jones-i-feel-ready/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEAYl4FuCN7z3mcRFb6wS4ItCIlLg">he&#8217;s ready</a>, and boy was he. Jones engineered an 18-point comeback — the second largest since 1970 for a QB starting his first game — and became the first Giant with two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in a single game. If he can keep this up against stiffer competition and without the <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27678892/sources-giants-rb-barkley-high-ankle-sprain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">injured Saquon Barkley</a>, Dave Gettleman might actually know what he&#8217;s doing after all.</p>
<p><b><i>Panthers 38</i></b><br />
<b><i>Cardinals 20</i></b></p>
<p>Raise your hand if you knew before Cam Newton was ruled out of this game that his backup was some dude named Kyle Allen. (If you raised your hand, you&#8217;re a liar.) Four touchdowns and a road win later, everyone knows his name because he might have just given Carolina the confidence to keep Cam on the bench until he&#8217;s truly 100%.</p>
<p><b><i>Ravens 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Chiefs 33</i></b></p>
<p>If Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson is <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27659993/dc-floats-lamar-mahomes-next-peyton-brady" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27659993/dc-floats-lamar-mahomes-next-peyton-brady&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743340000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFzDQxUoQE-fmL0410QAarcgu4glA">the next Payton Manning vs. Tom Brady</a>, it sure wasn&#8217;t on Sunday. Jackson was held in check, while Mahomes is the first player to throw for 300 yards in 13 of his first 20 career games and joins Brady as the only players with 300-yard, 3-TD and 0-INT stat lines in three straight games. Baltimore still has a ways to go before they&#8217;re on KC&#8217;s level — especially if John Harbaugh is going to undermine his own best efforts with <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27679227/ravens-harbaugh-defends-bold-approach-loss" target="_blank" rel="noopener">goofy point-after strategies</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Jets 14</i></b><br />
<b><i>Patriots 30</i></b></p>
<p>Including the Super Bowl, New England&#8217;s defense hasn&#8217;t allowed a touchdown in its last four games and even though they didn&#8217;t quite cover <a href="https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/27636598/jets-fins-historic-underdogs-vs-pats-cowboys" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/27636598/jets-fins-historic-underdogs-vs-pats-cowboys&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEqlhiYryxtqSMEJ4sr2kYpr1_fyQ">their historic spread</a>, the Patriots look virtually unbeatable.</p>
<p><b><i>Lions 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Eagles 24</i></b></p>
<p>For just the fourth time in the Super Bowl era, Detroit is undefeated through a season&#8217;s first three games and pulled the upset of the week by stunning punchless Philadelphia in their own building. The Eagles have four tough road games (at Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo) in their next five weeks so they&#8217;d better figure out how to <a href="https://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/28211/with-eagles-injuries-piling-up-they-find-themselves-in-trouble-with-the-packers-next" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/28211/with-eagles-injuries-piling-up-they-find-themselves-in-trouble-with-the-packers-next&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE9K7UeHI2T-u7lWJ14owhq0_UpPQ">play with injuries</a> before their promising season falls apart early.</p>
<p><b><i>Dolphins 6</i></b><br />
<b><i>Cowboys 31</i></b></p>
<p>Calm down, Dallas fans. The Cowboys beat the two worst teams in their division and needed almost three full quarters to dispatch of <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175883607669379073?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175883607669379073?s%3D20&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF4tqQIHfOXZVRv1dBn01p_BpErmg">a historically bad team</a> that&#8217;s obviously tanking. Win in New Orleans and beat an improved Packers team in successive weeks and <i>then</i> you can talk.</p>
<p><b><i>Raiders 14</i></b><br />
<b><i>Vikings 34</i></b></p>
<p>Even if Kirk Cousins is, in fact, a “<a href="https://deadspin.com/kirk-cousins-isn-t-worth-a-shit-1838248498?utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://deadspin.com/kirk-cousins-isn-t-worth-a-shit-1838248498?utm_source%3Ddeadspin_facebook%26utm_campaign%3Dsocialflow_deadspin_facebook%26utm_medium%3Dsocialflow&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG0GGrMbPkF-m4V7MOA8DWZQ5Rvng">dumb man&#8217;s idea of a poor man’s Matt Ryan</a>” he&#8217;s got a good enough team around him — most notably a clearly-healthy and <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175853963742257153?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1175853963742257153?s%3D20&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHmyl1hpTl5GYaeNFADk4t9JH0iPA">extremely productive Dalvin Cook</a> — to make some noise in an unexpectedly good division. Beating a <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/19/jon-gruden-schedule-will-test-our-mental-toughness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/19/jon-gruden-schedule-will-test-our-mental-toughness/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF4lPXUhCf7kHDttfD-6-XdlIcr3A">screwed-by-the-schedule</a> squad is nice, but stealing a win in Chicago next week would go a long way toward changing the narrative surrounding Cousins and the Vikings.</p>
<p><b><i>Falcons 24</i></b><br />
<b><i>Colts 27</i></b></p>
<p>Adam Vinatieri <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2019/09/17/adam-vinatieri-talks-decision-not-retire-indianapolis-colts/2334206001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2019/09/17/adam-vinatieri-talks-decision-not-retire-indianapolis-colts/2334206001/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEYB6KdMNYVUj5vyTNxCox2wtqQMg">got the demons out</a>, Jacoby Brissett looked more like an MVP than Matt Ryan, and Indianapolis is off to its best start since 2013. Andrew who?</p>
<p>And though it&#8217;s still mathematically possible for Atlanta to live up to <a href="https://wtop.com/gallery/nfl/2019-nfl-playoff-predictions/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">my lofty expectations</a>, Ryan&#8217;s uninspiring start to the season and Keanu Neal&#8217;s injury (and the ensuing <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/22/falcons-safety-keanu-neal-penalized-as-hes-being-carted-off/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/22/falcons-safety-keanu-neal-penalized-as-hes-being-carted-off/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569294743341000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHc0j0k1VM_0Xl3YuMJEaQ-Vct28A">insult to the injury</a>) have me rethinking my <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2019/09/2019-nfc-south-preview/">second-boldest prediction of 2019</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Broncos 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Packers 27</i></b></p>
<p>Denver, who hired a head coach because of his defensive prowess, has a defense without a take-away or a sack through three games this season. If only they had a player on their team capable of generating both …</p>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shaquil Barrett in five seasons with the Broncos: 14 sacks.<br />
Shaquil Barrett in not even 3 full games with the Buccaneers: 8 sacks.</p>
<p>— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelDavSmith/status/1175907117355753473?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 22, 2019</a></p></blockquote>
<p><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>
<p><b><i>Bengals 17</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bills 21</i></b></p>
<p>Buffalo is 3-0 and has <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/team/_/name/buf/buffalo-bills">a schedule</a> that implies the Bills could steal the Browns&#8217; thunder and be the team that crashes the playoff party this year.</p>
<p><b><i>Titans 7</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jaguars 20</i></b></p>
<p>Right at the point when Jacksonville was <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/17/jaguars-have-fallen-apart-since-last-years-win-over-patriots/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/17/jaguars-have-fallen-apart-since-last-years-win-over-patriots/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569267828649000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGnReY7tlDUUHGAkIsn3qWvRQZFbg">trending in the wrong direction</a>, Gardner Minshew showed up out of nowhere to join D.C.-native Byron Leftwich as the only Jaguars QBs to throw for a touchdown in each of his first three games. If the Jags win the AFC South with the mustached (and <a href="https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1175603494469824512?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">leggy</a>) Minshew at QB, Nick Foles may have just been <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Pipp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Pipp&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1569267828649000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG1IIn1fc4DkteoLMJ8BItYuajBQw">Wally Pipp</a>&#8216;d two years after nearly doing the same to Carson Wentz.</p>

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