These are still strange times for the NFL, its players and its fans, as each day we continue to realize there is no gameplan for reconciling our outrage at the handling of unspeakable off-field transgressions with our passion for the on-field product on Sundays. We feel a thirst for justice, accountability and explanations, and we’re hoping that our global compass of morality and propriety will guide us to the proper outcomes.


Prior to Wednesday, we had never heard of the “Commissioner’s Exempt” designation – nor do we know if it even existed – but this appears to be the fair and rationale solution for Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy. Whether it was due to pressure from sponsors or fear of sustained criticism from fans, team owners are finally saying and doing the right thing. The end result is that the players will sit, the dialogue will continue and the games will go on. We’ll take that for now.


The above preamble is not exactly a fire and brimstone pep talk for our Week 3 preview, but let’s try our best to celebrate what is good about the game. Last week we gave you the Gronknado scale to evaluate our top five storylines. This week, we’re downsizing significantly to honor the little guy who just might rival Gronk for overall awesomeness and has been the most electrifying player of the young season, Darren Sproles. Let’s make like Sproles and get low, low, low for this week’s lowdown of the five things we think are most intriguing.


Whoa and 2

History tells us that only 12% of teams that start a season 0-2 will make the playoffs. The Raiders and Jaguars represent the usual suspects in this category, but pre-season Super Bowl contenders New Orleans and Indianapolis are also winless. We’re doing our best not to panic here, but there are troubling trends that have popped up for both squads. Each team should notch its first victory in Week 3. If not, they’ve got some serious issues. The New York Giants are hapless members of the 0-2 club as well. In their case, we fully endorse immediate and sustained panic.


Captain Kirk

There are a lot of angles to digest with the RGIII injury. On a macro level, it is a shame to see such a dynamic athlete hobbled by a series of debilitating injuries. While everyone would like to see RGIII at his best, the debates continue over whether he is actually the best quarterback for Washington, even when healthy. Kirk Cousins is handed the keys once again, and his performance over the next several weeks could have substantial implications for the future of this franchise. It remains to be seen if Washington has any relevance as a potential post-season contender, but things are never dull in the Snyder-dome. We’re officially intrigued.


Hello, Cleveland?

Intra-division matchups in the AFC North are among the most unwatchable games on the NFL slate (Exhibit A was last week’s Ravens-Steelers dud), but we still can’t take our eyes off the Browns. Beating the Saints in Week 2 could prove to be a watershed moment, but heartbreak is always lurking around the corner on the shores of Lake Erie. The Browns draw the Ravens this week, and it feels like a must win to restore and establish credibility for the franchise.


No Lows in Buffalo

Bills fans thought the highlight of their season was Donald Trump’s decision not to buy the team, eventually ensuring the sale of the squad to a local owner who will keep the team in Buffalo. Then the unthinkable happened: the Bills actually played like a legitimate contender in their first two games. Bills fans are unflailingly humble and are comfortable with low expectations, but there is some genuine optimism in western New York. It’s also impossible not to be inspired by Jim Kelly’s fight with cancer, and we’d be quite alright if that translates to some on-field magic in Buffalo.


Pursuing the Pack

The Lions failed in their first attempt to capture a signature victory last week. They come right back to face the Packers and have another opportunity to assert themselves as the team to beat in the NFC North. As for Green Bay, they have looked surprisingly mortal thus far, and we’re left to wonder if the high-flying offense will ever reach its full potential. We like the Stafford vs. Rodgers gun-slinger matchup here, and we may be poised to make a bold statement that we’d put our eggs in Stafford’s basket this season. Crazy talk? Perhaps. But at least Rodgers will always have Hans and Franz.


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