Week 3 of the NFL season is already upon us. The contenders and pretenders are already starting to reveal themselves. You certainly can't win the Super Bowl in the third week, but you can certainly lose the opportunity to go. This trio, striving to be in the former category, could find themselves on the wrong side of recency after this fateful weekend.
Tennessee Titans (@ Jacksonville)
(Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
The certainties in life are simple: death, taxes, Cowboys-Giants on Sunday night...and Jaguars-Titans on Thursday.
This midweek staple has been somewhat low on thrills in the new century (save for Derrick Henry's record-tying run to glory last season), but that's exactly what should scare the Titans. They followed up a dominant road win in Cleveland with a dud of a home opener against the Colts and are in desperate need of a prime time win to keep this early momentum alive. A big opportunity awaits in the form of the Jaguars, who kept things respectable last week with Gardner Minshew at quarterback in place of the injured Nick Foles. A team like the Titans, consistently fringe contenders in the late stages of the decade, can't afford to lose games like these if they want to make a postseason appearance.
Buffalo Bills (Cincinnati)
(Sunday, 1:00 p.m., CBS)
No one, they say, circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Speaking of circles, time is a flat one.
The Bills have been one of the more fun storylines of the early season. They're 2-0, taking hold of the (literal) New York football scene, and capturing the hearts of the pigskin-loving public with the antics of young stars. Sunday's Orchard Park premiere will be one of the most anticipated games Central New York has seen in quite some time. Opposing them will be a winless Cincinnati Bengals squad coming off a brutal 24-point loss at home to San Francisco. In other words, it's the recipe for a perfect trap game. We're also accustomed to seeing hot Buffalo starts go for naught. For example, a 4-2 start in 2016 became a 7-9 disaster that cost Rex Ryan his job. Good teams know how to beat the bad ones. Sunday is a prime opportunity for Buffalo to change their franchise narrative.
Atlanta Falcons (@ Indianapolis)
(Sunday, 1:00 p.m., CBS)
Until the literally Luck-less Colts firmly establish themselves as contenders, their opponent could be a staple in this weekly column. Last week was a good start, as they topped a determined Titans team on the road after giving the Chargers a run for their money in Los Angeles.
Returning home to Indianapolis, the Colts have a big chance to make a statement against a Falcons team coming off the high of a victorious Sunday night thriller. The relatively healthy Falcons have also become the de facto NFC South favorites in the wake of injuries to Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Their first week in the slot could come at a dangerous price against the Colts. Indianapolis has already proven themselves to be a team that won't go down easily. Both squads are looking to make a statement. The Falcons need to make sure they make the right one.