Matt Breida will have a tough test this week. (Sports Illustrated)
Welcome to Week Three of the 2023 NFL season. Minnesota has ostensibly beefed up its run game by trading for Cam Akers; the Browns have signed old friend Kareem Hunt in the wake of losing Nick Chubb for the season; and whatever’s going on with Raider DE Chandler Jones is serious enough that the team has placed on the non-football illness list.
New Lead Back for the New York Giants
This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the New York Giants is not as tasty as we might have liked given that — stop us if you’ve heard this one before — Saquon Barkley is hurt.
An ankle woe that has prohibiting him from practicing all week will force him to the sidelines in Week Three (and likely for several weeks) as the Giants are hoping to move over .500 — not an easy task given that they face the third highest point spread of any team in this week’s slate and are playing a team that’s expected win total has already risen from 10.5 to 12.5. Barkley was off to a sluggish start this season, logging 29 totes for just 114 yards (3.9 YPC) and one touchdown before getting hurt late in the Giants’ Week Two contest.
What really sucks here for the Giants is that they are coming off a huge win last week in which they matched their biggest comeback ever, but will likely struggle to build on that momentum given the circumstances.
Regardless, with Barkley out, we’ve got an interesting revenge narrative here with Matt Breida taking the reins as the Giants’ top back. Breida spent the first (and best) three years of his career in San Francisco before bouncing around a bit over the last four seasons. Now he emerges as a possible RB3 for this matchup, which is hardly favourable considering maybe three teams are better against the run than the 49ers.
Breida could wind up being useful against softer run Ds (see video below for a reminder of what he can do), but if you’re seeking a Barkley replacement specifically for Week Three, you can likely find better options. For instance, has Baltimore’s Gus Edwards been claimed off your league’s wire yet?
Chargers Have Dug Themselves a Hole
After finding a way to implode last weekend in an overtime loss to the Titans, the Los Angeles Chargers find themselves in an 0-2 hole and suddenly their +3500 odds to win the Super Bowl as per Fanduel seems generous.
Fortunately, this weekend LA faces Minnesota, also 0-2, so we know someone is bagging their first win. But for the Chargers, so far it’s been the same old, same old — fantastically exciting and close games that they somehow find a way to lose.
LA’s offense is fantastic, but not so great that it can overcome a horrific defense. It feels like we are going to find out what this team is all about this week; we’re either going to see a determined squad put it all together on both sides of the ball and re-establish itself as a playoff contender, or we’re going to watch the frustration boil over and this early-season hole become insurmountable while Head Coach Brandon Staley‘s seat heats up even more.
Unfortunately, even as much as we love this team, we’re leaning towards the latter outcome this week.
Denver Also Struggling
Shifting to the other winless AFC West team, the Denver Broncos have been meh both on offense and defense so far, and now get to face undefeated Miami in Week Three.
A tough start to the season only compounds Denver’s longer-term issues. This team has only won five times over the last 19 tries since the beginning of the 2022 campaign. So much for Sean Payton turning this bunch around.
We can see the Broncos making a game of this, but more than likely will find themselves at 0-3 after this weekend. That’s significant given that just six teams in NFL history have ever come back from that start to make the playoffs. Yes, the season is longer in recent years, meaning there’s more runway to return from the abyss, but let’s get real: should Denver lose this game, its playoff drought will almost certainly reach eight years by season’s end.
RotoRob Tune of the Week
French punk band Berurier Noir launched in 1983, remained active until 1989, and then reformed between 2003 and 2006. In 1990, it released its second live album, Viva Bertaga, which included “Porcherie,” originally from 1985’s Concerto pour Détraqués.