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Sports

NFL Preview: Chiefs vs. Chargers, Bill Belichick vs. Sean Payton, Week 3 Rookie Watch

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NFL Preview: Chiefs vs. Chargers, Bill Belichick vs. Sean Payton, Week 3 Rookie Watch

2021-09-26 09:52:21

 

-posted by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. (Image Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Special players want the ball when games are on the line in the fourth quarter. And if it seems as though games have been on the line more often this season, that’s because they have been.

Through two weeks, the 2021 season has produced 10 games decided by a field goal or less. That’s tied for the fourth-most such contests in NFL history through Week 2. Seven of the league’s 16 games last week were thrillers in that category.

The seasons with the most games decided by three points or fewer through Week 2:

SEASON

GAMES

 

SEASON

GAMES

2013

11

 

2019

10

1997

11

 

2007

10

1988

11

 

2000

10

2021

10

 

1999

10

Each of the DALLAS COWBOYS’ two games have been decided by three points or fewer, including their walk-off road win over the Chargers last week. The Cowboys (1-1), who host the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (0-2) on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), have kept games close by leading the NFL in both takeaways (six) and turnover margin (plus-four).

Dallas’ opponent last week, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-1), travels to face the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Each of the AFC West rivals has played two games this season decided by four points or less.

Close games are the culture in the NFL, so as the league enters Week 3, get ready for special players to seize the day.

BODY-CLOCK ADJUSTMENTS: The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-1) travel two time zones for an important early season AFC West clash with the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Chargers are playing their second 2021 road game, having flown three time zones to secure a win at Washington in Week 1.

  • Through the season’s first two weeks, NFL clubs when traveling at least two times zones are an impressive 11-3 (.786). And when traveling three time zones, the league is 5-1 (.833) this season, not counting the second of the two wins by the 49ers, who practiced in West Virginia between their ET games.
  • In Week 2, Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for 338 yards, his 10th career game with at least 300 passing yards, tied with PATRICK MAHOMES (10 games) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (10) for the most such games by a player in his first two seasons in NFL history.
  • Meanwhile, the MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-1) travel three time zones this week to play the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (2-0) at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS). The Raiders enter the game leading the NFL with 458.0 yards per game.
  • Last week, Las Vegas quarterback DEREK CARR passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 126.2 rating in the Raiders' 26-17 win at Pittsburgh. Carr, who passed for 435 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, is the fifth quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 375 passing yards and two touchdown passes in each of his team's first two games of a season, joining DREW BLEDSOE (1994), TOM BRADY (2011), RYAN FITZPATRICK (2018) and PATRICK MAHOMES (2019).
  • Miami’s XAVIEN HOWARD, who led the NFL with 10 interceptions last season, registered his first 2021 interception last week. Howard is also the only NFL player this season with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.

The players with the most interceptions since the beginning of the 2018 season:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

INT

Xavien Howard

Miami

19

J.C. Jackson

New England

19

Tyrann Mathieu

Houston-Kansas City

14

Marcus Peters

L.A. Rams-Baltimore

12

Justin Simmons

Denver

12

CHESS MATCH AT GILLETTE: Two of the NFL’s longest-tenured active head coaches will square off this week when the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-1) meet the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-1). The Saints’ SEAN PAYTON and the Patriots’ BILL BELICHICK, both former assistants with the New York Giants, are two of just five active coaches with at least 150 career wins, including the postseason.

CHASING HISTORY: Every team in the AFC North is 1-1 after two weeks. Two of those clubs, the CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-1) and PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-1), meet at Heinz Field Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Cincinnati rookie wide receiver JA'MARR CHASE, who recorded a 42-yard touchdown reception in Week 2, can become the second player in NFL history with a touchdown catch of at least 40 yards in each of his first three career games, joining BILLY HOWTON (1952). Chase, who caught a 50-yard touchdown reception in his NFL debut on Kickoff Weekend, is the second player since 1970 to record a touchdown reception of at least 40 yards in each of his first two career games, joining SAMMY WHITE (1976).

A RUSH OF ROOKIES UNDER CENTER: Six rookie quarterbacks – Chicago's JUSTIN FIELDS, New England's MAC JONES, San Francisco's TREY LANCE, Jacksonville's TREVOR LAWRENCE, Houston's DAVIS MILLS and the New York Jets' ZACH WILSON – have attempted a pass this season, tied with 1971 (six) for the most rookie quarterbacks to attempt a pass in the first two weeks of a season since the league merger in 1970.

  • Five of those rookies could start this week, which would make Week 3 of the 2021 season the second time in the Super Bowl era, excluding the strike-shortened 1987 season, in which five rookie quarterbacks started in the same week within the first three weeks of a season. It also happened in 2012.
  • One of those rookies, Lawrence, goes head-to-head against another former No. 1 overall selection, quarterback KYLER MURRAY, when the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (0-2) host the ARIZONA CARDINALS (2-0) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The game marks the NFL’s 30th meeting of starting quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall since the beginning of 2018.
  • Arizona has an opportunity to begin a season 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when the Cardinals advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
  • Arizona rookie wide receiver/kick returner RONDALE MOORE leads the team in both receptions (11) and receiving yards (182).
  • Last week, Murray passed for 400 yards with three touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown in the Cardinals' 34-33 comeback win over Minnesota. Murray, who had four touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in Week 1, is the first player with at least three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in each of his team's first two games of a season in NFL history.
  • Murray now has 12 career games with both a passing and rushing touchdown, surpassing STEVE GROGAN (11 games) for the fourth-most by a quarterback in his first three seasons in NFL history. Only CAM NEWTON (20 games), JOSH ALLEN (16) and DAK PRESCOTT (13) have more.
  • The game also features two head coaches, Arizona’s KLIFF KINGSBURY and Jacksonville’s URBAN MEYER, who took the reins of their teams after serving as head coaches of college programs. Kingsbury and Meyer did not face each other as college head coaches.
 

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