Week 3 of the NFL season is already here. Here are my predictions for all 16 games.
Momentum is a strange word. For certain sports, it can be hard to define, yet it can also be obvious when one team is in possession of it.
It is even more perplexing to know why it starts and stops.
Yet one thing is for sure; momentum can turn quickly and during seemingly insignificant events.
With the 49ers leading 6-0, having dominated time of possession 20 minutes to seven, everyone could see the 49ers had the momentum.
The game was going to script, despite the adverse weather condition for a west coast team, given it was snowing heavily.
The Bears had not even completed a pass with less than two minutes left in the first half. Thus, when the 49ers called their second timeout, the Bears faced a third and five from their own 24-yard line. It looked like a good move from 49ers coach Chip Kelly.
Then Bears third-string quarterback Matt Barkley did what was unexpected; he completed a pass.
And with that, the momentum shifted.
While the pass was for just eight yards, it ensued a first down. Then Barkley completed another for 11 yards. Another for 28, 17 and Jordan Howard was in for a touchdown.
The Bears were up 7-6 at halftime and the momentum was undeniably with the Bears.
Similar to what has happened in eight of the prior ten consecutive losses for the 49ers (a franchise record) they completely lost their way after being competitive for just under a half.
The 49ers were unable to offer the slightest of resistance to the change in momentum. It’s been the biggest criticism of Kelly – he cannot get them to overcome momentum changes.
The second half unfolded like a dream for the Bears.
Their average offensive line was made to look like the Cowboys’ front five, as Barkley threw from a perfect circle of protection time after time.
He found numerous receivers and would have had an even better day but for several dropped passes from receivers.
Yet, this week it did not cost them the game.
The Bears’ defence covered the 49ers’ meagre corps of receivers when quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw accurately.
But when they couldn’t, Kaepernick was inaccurate. He was benched after missing a wide open Vance McDonald. However, his replacement Blaine Gabbert fared little better for accuracy.
The Bears rolled to 26 consecutive points, leaving the 46,000 who came to Soldier Field happy as they tiptoed their way home through the slippery sludge.
Kansas City’s Eric Berry was incredible against the Falcons, becoming the first player to record an interception for a touchdown and an interception for a two-point conversion.
The latter play won the Chiefs the game.
Atlanta’s head coach Dan Quinn must analyse why he made several decisions which led to the late two-point attempt, such as the decision to go for it on fourth down in the third quarter.
A field goal would have easily kept them in the game and ultimately would have proved the difference.
Meanwhile, the Rams announced that Jeff Fisher has a two- year contract extension, which is the most bemusing coaching decision from an NFL front office I’ve seen in my 26 years of watching.
In five years at the Rams he has a 31-44-1 record. As I noted two weeks ago the last quarterback of his who had a great year was Steve McNair, back in 2003.
His offensive schemes have not kept up with the passing game revolution, and despite multiple coordinators since 2003, none have been able to overcome the failings of what and how Fisher wants to achieve.
Further, the young quarterbacks that are thriving at the moment, all have one thing in common; their coaches were all previous quarterbacks. Fisher was a cornerback and standout on special teams.
There is one thing to be said for consistency, another for lack of imagination. Jared Goff and the new LA fans deserve better.