NFL Winners and Losers: if you doubted the Eagles defense, maybe reconsider that

Hey, remember when everyone seemed to think the Philadelphia Eagles' defense wasn't any good?

The Eagles' defense is just fine. Despite the overreaction after Philadelphia gave up 35 points to the Detroit Lions in the opener, the Eagles have allowed virtually nothing since. They did great in a win over the Minnesota Vikings last Monday and were completely dominant against the Washington Commanders in a 24-8 win on Sunday.

Part of Sunday's performance was Carson Wentz holding the ball way too long. It was still impressive. In the first half the Eagles had six sacks — which included two strip sacks — and allowed 50 yards. For the game the Eagles ended up with nine sacks, the most by any team in the NFL this season.

Counting the Week 2 win over the Vikings, the Eagles' defense allowed seven points in six quarters. The group allowed a late touchdown when the game was decided. Don't hold that against Philadelphia too much.

Maybe, just maybe, worrying about Philly allowing some garbage-time points to the Lions in the opener was overreaction.

The good news is nobody was short-sighted enough to give up on the Eagles' offense. Jalen Hurts has made some great strides, due in part to the players he is throwing to. DeVonta Smith made two tremendous catches, including a touchdown, near the end of the second quarter to help the Eagles to a 24-0 halftime lead. The first one went for 45 yards and was a great play, from the placement of the deep pass from Hurts and the athleticism of Smith to come down with it.

In the first half, Hurts had 279 yards and three touchdowns. That was almost six times the yardage Washington had as a team before halftime. His counterpart, Wentz, was 3-of-10 for 24 yards in the first half.

The Eagles gave up 35 points in the opener, but that came after they had a big lead. And the Lions' offense might be good. The Eagles have been fantastic on defense since then. In Week 2 they flustered Kirk Cousins, with Darius Slay Jr. having a phenomenal game covering Justin Jefferson. In Week 3 the pass rush overwhelmed Washington, which was averaging 27.5 points per game through two weeks.

Some critics will question whether Hurts can keep it up. Others won't give the Eagles' defense much credit because they let up a bit in Week 1 with a big lead. The truth is the Eagles don't have a clear weakness right now. They're 3-0 and have looked good in every game.

If the Eagles' defense is going to be anywhere near what it has been the past two weeks, it won't be long until the NFL world takes note of the Eagles' chances of being a contender in the NFC this season.

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) reacts after sacking Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 3 of the NFL season:


Packers defense: There’s no question that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had excuses for a quiet day on Sunday. They were missing many players including Mike Evans, who was serving a suspension.

But we can still appreciate the Packers defense.

Green Bay’s defense has been very good since a loss in Week 1. They won’t start planning parades for shutting down the Chicago Bears and the skeleton of the Buccaneers offense, but the defense that looked pretty good on paper to start the season has been an asset. The Packers did allow a long touchdown drive to Tom Brady, but batted away a two-point conversion attempt with 14 seconds left after the Bucs took an awful delay-of-game penalty, and they held on to a 14-12 win. For the first 59:45 of the game, the Buccaneers didn't reach the end zone.

If the Packers can combine a strong running game, Aaron Rodgers and a defense that looks legit, that Week 1 loss will be a distant memory before long.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons likely won’t have many wins this season, so they should be thrilled with every one.

On Sunday, they played a team on their level and won. The Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-23, getting a clutch third-down sack of Geno Smith in the final two minutes and then picking him off on fourth down to clinch the win.

The Falcons almost did win in Week 1 against the Saints, but blew it late. In Week 2 they had a fun comeback but it came up short in a loss to the Rams. If they didn't beat Seattle on Sunday, it might have been a while until their first win. They don't need to worry about that anymore.

Miami Dolphins: Maybe the Buffalo Bills won't have the easiest path to an AFC East title.

The Dolphins held on to beat the Bills 21-19 to improve to 3-0 and get a big divisional win. They almost had a disastrous finish, when a punt from their own end zone with two minutes left went off the backside of the protector, and it went out of the end zone for a safety.

The Bills had chances. Allen short-armed a fourth-down pass to a wide-open Isaiah McKenzie on fourth down before the safety on the botched punt, and the Bills couldn't get out of bounds in the final seconds to set up a last-second field goal, much to the chagrin of Buffalo's offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.

The Dolphins are happy to get the win. It's one of their biggest in years. The Bills are the favorites to win the division, but the Dolphins are going to be a factor.

Lamar Jackson, again: We'll get through this section without mentioning that the Baltimore Ravens didn't get that long-term deal done with Jackson before the season. Wait.

Anyway, Jackson is off to a remarkable start to the season. He had four more passing touchdowns and had 107 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground against a Bill Belichick-coached defense in a 37-26 win over the New England Patriots.

Jackson wasn't given a ton of help at receiver and his running backs have been battling injuries, but he's making it work. He has 10 touchdown passes in three games. The Ravens aren't great on defense so far, but Jackson is dragging them along.

Indianapolis Colts: Maybe the Colts are going to win the AFC South, after all.

The Colts were in an 0-1-1 hole and 4.5-point underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs, per BetMGM oddsmakers. The Colts pulled off the 20-17 upset, with Matt Ryan hitting Jelani Woods for his second touchdown of the day in the final minute.

The Colts picked off Patrick Mahomes on a deflected pass with seconds to go and the Chiefs on the edge of field-goal range.

Indianapolis wouldn't have been dead at 0-2-1, but it would have been a hole to dig out of. A 1-1-1 record with a win over the Chiefs isn't so bad.

Roquan Smith: Smith wanted a new contract from the Chicago Bears, and he didn't get it. He made a trade request that he eventually rescinded.

Smith could cash in as a free agent after this season. On Sunday he made the biggest play in the Bears' win, catching a tipped interception in the final two minutes deep in Texans territory. That set up a field goal as time expired and the Bears won 23-20.

Smith was great Sunday, with 16 tackles and that interception. The Bears' gamble on not extending him isn't looking great, but they're happy to have him for at least one more season.


Los Angeles Chargers: For a team with a history of bad losses, Sunday wasn’t good for the Chargers.

The Chargers didn’t want to sit Justin Herbert and let him rest. What happened was they played him at less than 100 percent with a bad rib injury and lost anyway. The Chargers fell 38-10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who look much improved now that the stink of the Urban Meyer era is off of them. Trevor Lawrence, who was shaky at times in the opener, has been fantastic ever since. Maybe he and the Jaguars have arrived already.

The Jaguars played well, but it’s still a bad loss for the Chargers. The Chargers had big hopes with a talented roster and they’re 1-2.

It’s early, but the Chargers took on some injuries, still have a quarterback who isn’t 100 percent and now are under .500. That’s not how the Chargers wanted to start this season, but it’s also on brand.

Kliff Kingsbury’s offense: Other than a furious rally in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2, the Arizona Cardinals’ offense has been stuck.

The Cardinals aren’t going to dump their $230 million quarterback, Kyler Murray. That means the pressure gets turned up on coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals lost 20-12 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, scoring four field goals and never reaching the end zone. The Cardinals are 1-2, with that rally against the Raiders keeping them from being winless.

For a coach that was touted as an offensive genius when he was hired, with a quarterback who is among the highest paid in league history, the offense doesn’t have a lot of pop. There’s no DeAndre Hopkins, who will miss six games with a suspension. Hopkins is a fantastic receiver, but he shouldn’t be the difference between the Cardinals being a top-10 offense and being totally inept. Kingsbury needs to be better, and soon.

Robert Saleh: The New York Jets have been good for two minutes all season.

They were two very good minutes, as they came back for a crazy win over the Cleveland Browns. But they trailed by 13 in that game before the comeback. They lost 24-9 in the opener. And on Sunday they were bad again against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 27-12 loss.

The Jets looked bad last season too, and it's time to wonder about Saleh. Last year the Jets were bad in Saleh's rookie season as head coach, but he got a pass because he stepped into a bad situation. The situation this season is not great either, but the Jets are showing no signs of progress (other than those magical two minutes). Saleh hasn't had injured quarterback Zach Wilson these first three weeks, but Wilson hasn't looked great yet in the NFL. Saleh better hope Wilson has improved and makes a big difference when he comes back.

If the Jets are a debacle all season, can they sell their fans on a third season of Saleh?

Josh McDaniels: He still hasn't won a game as a head coach since Nov. 14, 2010.

McDaniels waited a long time to come back as an NFL head coach after a failed stint with the Denver Broncos, and his return with the Las Vegas Raiders isn't going well. The Raiders are 0-3 and in the AFC West this season. That's practically a death sentence.

The Raiders rallied against the Tennessee Titans and scored with less than two minutes left, but the two-point conversion was no good. It was a close 24-22 loss but still a loss nonetheless.

McDaniels won't get many breaks from the schedule coming up. He'll get a win eventually but his chances of making this a successful first season with the Raiders don't look great.

Detroit Lions defense: The Lions should be better, considering their offense has looked fantastic. The defense isn't doing its part.

A coverage breakdown in the final final minute led to a 28-yard touchdown from Kirk Cousins to a wide-open K.J. Osborn and the Minnesota Vikings came back from an early 14-0 deficit to win 28-24. The Vikings picked off Jared Goff's late desperation pass and held on.

The Lions are 1-2 but it feels like they should be a win or two better. Detroit lost in Week 1 despite scoring 35 points. They looked like the better team through three quarters Sunday. But the defense still needs a lot of work.

The post-Sean Payton Saints: Payton was a good coach for the New Orleans Saints. Dennis Allen might be a fine replacement, but you can tell there's a difference.

The Saints' offense isn't very good. Aside from a late rally to beat the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans hasn't moved the ball well. Jameis Winston is pressing and the Saints came out of Sunday with a 1-2 record after a 22-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Winston had 353 yards but also two interceptions and the Saints scored only twice, once late after the Panthers were up 22-7. The Saints always had an efficient offense with Payton. It'll be a lot harder to replicate that with him on Fox's studio analyzing games.