Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season is underway, starting with the San Francisco 49ers' 30-12 win over the New York Giants on "Thursday Night Football." The 49ers putting up 30 points isn't surprising, but the way they did it is. Quarterback Brock Purdy totaled 310 passing yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-37 passing, but he did so with his air yards per pass attempt just five yards, 4.9 to be exact. Of Purdy's 310 yards, 65.2% of them -- 202 -- occurred after the catch. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan went with a training wheels offense on Thursday night, and the 49ers were still explosive in the end.
Since anything can happen when it comes to the NFL, what's next, you ask? Well, here are five bold predictions for this weekend's Week 3 slate.
The Patriots have won 14 consecutive games against the Jets, the second-longest active win streak against a single opponent in the NFL. That's one game fewer than the Chiefs' 15 consecutive victories against the Broncos. However, Zach Wilson and the Jets are going to end that streak on Sunday.
Putting Wilson first in that last sentence is a little disingenuous because Gang Green's defense harassing Mac Jones and the Patriots offense is why New York is going to win. Even though Jones enters Week 3 leading the NFL in completions (66), pass attempts (96) and dropbacks this season, his 5.7 yards per pass attempt ranks 29th in the league. This is an offense that cannot stretch the field. Cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed should have a field day with Jones in New Jersey ( ).
The defense wearing down Jones should allow for Wilson to hand the ball off to running back Breece Hall plenty of times on Sunday and play ball-control offense. The second-year rusher totaled a career-low four touches in the team's 30-10 loss at the Cowboys in Week 2, something offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett knows he needs to get corrected. Hall and the Jets defense will do just enough to end Bill Belichick's reign of terror over their franchise, which will have Gang Green celebrating like it's 2015 (the last time they beat the Patriots). That's when average gas price across the United States was $2.43, the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts was "Hello" by Adele, the top movie in theaters was "Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens" and Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning was in the midst of playing his final NFL season.
2. Commanders take a page out of Jets playbook, bully Josh Allen into turnovers for stunning win
The Bills are six-point road favorites in their Week 3 matchup against the Commanders, but they will be leaving FedEx Field upset after Washington's ferocious front turns Josh Allen back into a turnover machine. Sure, Allen has seven total touchdowns and no turnovers in his two career games against the Commanders, but that is about to change.
The Bills are coming off an easy, breezy 38-10 win against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2, a game in which Allen completed 84% of his passes (31-of-37) for 274 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. That completion percentage is the second-highest by Allen in his career. However, now he's pitted against another elite pass rush. Washington's four-headed monster of Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Chase Young all totaled five or more quarterback pressures in their win against the Denver Broncos in Week 2. The Commanders pass rush racked up 13 quarterback hits, the most for any defense in a game this season, seven sacks and 22 pressures -- all the most by any team in Week 2.
Allen committed four turnovers, three interceptions and a lost fumble when he faced against a real deal pass rush in Week 1 in a shocking loss to the Jets after Aaron Rodgers was injured four snaps in. He'll get flustered again in Week 3, allowing for a Commanders victory and their first 3-0 start since 2005, the season of their last playoff win.
3. Jordan Love makes history with 3+ passing TDs and no interceptions against stingy Saints defense
Only two quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes (2018 and 2019) and Peyton Manning (2010), have thrown for three or more passing touchdowns and no interceptions in each of their first three weeks of a season since at least 1950. New Packers starting quarterback Jordan Love has done so in each of his first two games as Aaron Rodgers' successor, and he will be squaring off against a Saints defense in Week 3 at Lambeau Field that has allowed just one touchdown this season.
Head coach Dennis Allen's Saints defense has also gone 10 games in a row with 20 or fewer points allowed, the longest active streak in the NFL. That means no one has thrown for three touchdowns against them in that span. Love accomplished the feat, three touchdowns and no interceptions, in Week 2 against the Falcons on the road in a 25-24 defeat despite missing Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones, All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, his top wide receiver Christian Watson, and losing Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins during the game.
Jones practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday, paving the way for a potential return for the Packers home opener. His presence would be a huge boost, given he had 127 scrimmage yards and two total touchdowns (one on the ground and one in the air) against the Bears in Week 1. Between a return from Jones, playing behind an offensive line that has surrendered the second-fewest quarterback pressures in the NFL (21.1%) and playing in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, Love makes history against New Orleans' imposing defense.
4. Justin Jefferson becomes first in NFL history with 150+ receiving yards in each of first three games of a season
Even though the Vikings are 0-2, it certainly isn't 2022 Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson's fault. He is only fifth player since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger with 150 or more receiving yards in Weeks 1 and 2 of a season. Should he do it again in Week 3 against the Chargers, he will be the first player in NFL history to do so in each of the first three weeks of season. Jefferson would also break a tie with Chargers Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Lance Alworth for the most career games with 150 or more receiving yards in a player's first four seasons. Both currently have 10 such games.
While opposing defenses know Jefferson is the Vikings' main attraction, the Chargers won't be able to do much to slow him down. Their 31.5 points per game allowed ranks as the third-most in the league, their 438.5 total yards per game allowed ranked as the most allowed in the NFL and that figure is held up by the 333 passing yards per game allowed, also the highest figure in the league. Jefferson will be racing into the history books on Sunday, creating a record of something no one has ever done before.
5. Kenny Pickett and Steelers offense come alive, QB throws multiple passing TDs for the first time
How bad was the Steelers offense in their 26-22 Week 2 win against the Browns? They didn't register a single offensive snap inside the Browns' 30, marking the first time a team did that and won the game since the Dolphins beat the Ravens 15-13 in Week 13 of the 2015 season. The Steelers defense, two touchdowns, has scored the same amount of times as their offense has in 2023, twice.
Despite that ineptitude, Steelers second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett is going to throw for multiple touchdowns for the first time in his career. He has played in 15 games, 14 starts, since 2022, but he has never tossed at least two scores. His fortune turns around in Week 3 after playing a horrendous Las Vegas Raiders defense. They have allowed an 81.7% completion percentage through the first two weeks of 2023. That's the highest completion percentage surrendered by any team in NFL history through their first two games. Their five passing touchdowns and 116.6 passer rating allowed both ranks as the second-worst in the entire league.
Pickett never having multiple passing touchdowns in a game makes this prediction bold, but against this porous Raiders secondary, even a gloomy offense like the Steelers' can have a sunny day.