Week 2 is in the books, and the football world turns its attention to the NFL Week 3 slate. This week, surprising teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and Arizona Cardinals will try and stay undefeated. Disappointing teams, like the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts, will try and get off the schneid. In addition to these interesting teams in action, there are six other teams that make up the three most intriguing matchups of NFL Week 3.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Sunday, September 26, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
In pregame warmups ahead of 2020’s Week 2 matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers training staff accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung with a needle. LA had to draft backup (and No. 6 pick) Justin Herbert into duty, and the rookie threw for 311 yards and a touchdown in a tantalizingly close 23-20 overtime loss.
The Bolts beat the Chiefs in Week 17, but that was against Chad Henne and not superstar Patrick Mahomes.
Now, in NFL Week 3 of 2021, Herbert and the Chargers are trying to reach the level of Mahomes and the Chiefs, and they have to go through them to do it.
The Chiefs are coming off a late loss of their own after Lamar Jackson’s heroics on Monday Night Football. Mahomes has only lost 10 regular-season games in his first three seasons but twice suffered back-to-back losses.
With this matchup, you come for the marquee QB names, but stay to see if maybe (just maybe) the rest of the AFC West has closed the gap on KC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams – Sunday, September 26, 4:35 p.m. EST, FOX
In 2018, Sean McVay was the toast of the NFL. The then-32-year-old head coach led his Los Angeles Rams to a 13-3 record and beat the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints to reach the Super Bowl.
McVay’s Rams put up 56 points in two playoff games but could only manage a field goal in a 13-3 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. It was a defensive struggle, but the New England Patriots’ QB did just enough to win.
Three years later, that quarterback is now on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is once again the defending Super Bowl champions. McVay might not have to face defensive ace Bill Belichick on Sunday, but he will see Tom Brady once again, leading a team with a stout defense.
The young coach brings a new face to the matchup too, though. In Matthew Stafford, McVay finally found a top-shelf NFL passer, and that might be enough to get him and the team over the top.
On paper, the Rams may be the best team in the NFC. On the field, and the path to the Super Bowl goes through Tampa Bay, and LA will get their first shot at the champs in NFL Week 3.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers – Sunday, September 26, 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC
Familiarity is the name of the game in these NFL Week 3 matchups, and no one on this list is more familiar with each other than San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
After a distinguished college career as a Division II quarterback at Saginaw Valley State, LaFleur’s first NFL job was under Shanahan, the then-Houston Texans offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, per Packers.com.
The two coaches eventually joined the offensive staff of Kyle’s legendary father, Mike Shanahan, in Washington and then reunited a few years later with the Atlanta Falcons.
As the 2-0 Niners face the 1-1 Packers on Sunday Night Football, most fans will focus on Aaron Rodgers vs. the Jimmy Garoppolo/Trey Lance Experience. However, what makes this matchup one of the most fascinating on the NFL Week 3 slate is the chess match between the two coaches and good friends who know each other incredibly well.
The coach that can break tendencies and surprise his opposite number most will likely be the one who takes home the W.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference