Column: The most — and least — surprising things about the first 3 weeks of the NFL season
Through the first three weeks of the NFL season, there have been some predictable trends and plenty of curveballs. A look at what we did and didn’t see coming:
Not surprising: Tom Brady picked up right where he left off from the Super Bowl, and — even at 40 — is on pace for a career year.
Surprising: No Super Bowl hangover so far for the 3-0 Atlanta Falcons, despite their historic collapse on the league’s biggest stage.
Not surprising: New Orleans is terrible on defense again. The Saints, who seem to find new defensive lows each year, are ranked 31st in that department.
Surprising: New England has been even worse. Through three games, the Patriots lead the NFL in yards allowed (461.0), have precious little pass rush and lots of mix-ups in the secondary.
Not surprising: Chicago is turning over the ball and not taking it away. The Bears, who already have played their Week 4 game, are last in the league with a minus-7 turnover differential. They were at the bottom last season at minus-20.
Surprising: Jacksonville is cruising in this department. The Jaguars, who were 30th at minus-16 last season, are now second at plus-5.
Not surprising: Through three games, the Rams have already fumbled eight times, losing four.
Surprising: That was the season total for the league-leading Falcons last year.
Not surprising: The Rams are better on offense than they were last season. They had nowhere to go but up.
Surprising: They’re No. 1 in scoring, with 107 points. That’s approaching half their scoring total of 224 in 2016.
Not surprising: The Jets are in the AFC East cellar.
Surprising: They aren’t horrendous. They beat Miami last Sunday, and quarterback Josh McCown has looked better than expected. He has done a good job of protecting the ball and getting everyone involved.
Not surprising: Pittsburgh lost on the road. Happens to everybody.
Surprising: The Steelers, who were stunned by Chicago, can’t buck their trend of blowing road games they should win. They are 5-13 in their last 18 road games against losing teams.
Not surprising: Steelers star Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 354 yards receiving.
Surprising: In second and third place are Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (299) and Stefon Diggs (293), who have emerged as one of the NFL’s most dangerous tandems, even with a quarterback change. Diggs was a fifth-round pick, and Thielen went undrafted.
Not surprising: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has beaten every other team in the league.
Surprising: Rodgers just won his first overtime game. Before beating Cincinnati, he was 0-7 in those.
Surprising: Houston’s Deshaun Watson nearly became the first rookie quarterback to win a game in Foxborough, Mass., in the Bill Belichick era.
Not surprising: The Patriots pulled it out at the end, running their record to 9-0 against those first-year talents, adding Watson to a list of that includes Andrew Luck, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota.
Not surprising: Detroit’s Matt Prater, who boomed a 64-yard field goal in Denver, is still a marksman from long distance. He has made four kicks from 55 yards or longer this season, an NFL record.
Surprising: The guy who stole the show from long distance is Philadelphia rookie Jake Elliott, who beat the New York Giants with a game-ending 61-yarder. Not only is that the longest field goal by a rookie in league history, but it’s tied for the third-longest game-ending kick behind Tom Dempsey’s 63 in 1970 and Matt Bryant’s 62 in 2006.
Not surprising: Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt fumbled the first time he touched the ball. Hey, he’s a rookie, and it was on a huge stage, at New England on national TV.
Surprising: Everything Hunt has done since that turnover. The third-round pick from Toledo has six touchdowns in his first three games, tied for the most in NFL history, and his 538 yards from scrimmage are second-most by a player in his first three games, behind the 562 by Detroit’s Billy Sims in 1980.
Not surprising: The Chargers have lost some close games. That has been their pattern in recent years.
Surprising: Heading into Week 4 of their inaugural season in Los Angeles, they’re 0-3 and facing a must-win situation Sunday against Philadelphia. With a trip to Oakland coming next week, the season doesn’t get any easier.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer
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