Five Wide: 2023 Week Three

By Thomas Willoughby

It’s back, guys! Get hyped! Near enough a whole year around the sun and we’re there! The London Games are right around the corner, and I could not be more excited.

Three games over three weeks, one including the MIGHT(il)Y (disappointing) Atlanta Falcons, bringing something resembling the best the league has to offer. I know it’s got a bit of a reputation for being a bit rubbish (both in terms of team quality and on-field action), but the fact we even get these is something in itself. They’re still quite special, is what I’m saying. Enjoy them while they’re here.

With another big round of NFL action in the books, let’s crack on with looking at some of the other stuff! 

*Low hanging Taylor Swift pun*

Hey guys, I don’t know if you’re aware but someone super famous has been hanging around superstar Tight End Travis Kelce. There’s even a rumour, trying to confirm as we speak, that she was spotted next to his mother at the Chiefs game at Arrowhead this weekend! That’s right, Taylor Swift, the most famous woman alive, was watching the Chiefs beat the brakes off the Bears on Sunday, in what was the best kept secret in the NFL this weekend.

Oh you knew that? Oh you knew that because the broadcast cut to her about a billion times? Ah, my bad. I should have known. Still, that’s exciting, isn’t it! The biggest name on the planet sharing a building with Patrick Mahomes and that! Oh, it’s not? Ah right. Well.

This made me laugh, at least.

Listen, myself and Taylor Swift have a long and storied history which I will NOT be going into on this column. But seeing Redzone detail itself for the announcement that she was present? Disgusting. 0/10 experience. Hope all involved are reprimanded.

History fakers

There’s going to be a lot of words written about the Miami Dolphins 70-20 victory over the Denver Broncos, so I’ll try to keep things brief. Mike McDaniel: how dare you?

Not so much for the scoreline, I’ve no problem with that. But the ending. How dare you? You’ve been walking all over the Broncos all afternoon, scoring basically every time you touch the ball. You drive down to field goal range, knowing that a single kick will equal the all-time single game highest points total (tied with the 1940 Bears, if you must know), before deciding to kneel it out? How dare you? 

And don’t say it’s out of respect. Don’t say you’re not trying to embarrass anyone. You’re about 30 points past the point of trying to avoid embarrassing anyone. Just take the points and write your name into the history books. How dare you?!? You make me sick so much Mike McDaniel.

Rebecca Blackwell-AP Photo

Minshew-mania v2

There was a time, not long ago, when we believed a hero was being born in front of our very eyes. The Jacksonville Jaguars were (as ever), a mess. The Bortles-era was dead, and the Jags were reeling from handing Nick Foles are ridiculously large contract that backfired spectacularly. Waiting in the wings, however, was a young man. A young man who wore a headband and had a striking moustache. Gardner Minshew was the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Minshew-mania was peaking.

It didn’t last, of course. The Jags tanked for Trevor Lawrence and the mania left Jacksonville for pastures new. A short stint with the Eagles led to him making his way to Indianapolis, where he’d back up their new QB1 in Anthony Richardson. Sadly, the Colts have done a bad job of protecting their young gunslinger (where have I heard that before?), and he had to sit this one out. And they’re rolling into Baltimore, hot off a 2-0 start. Step forward Sir Minshew, second of his name. Good luck.

Oh and he only went and did it. He wasn’t the sole reason, of course, but he had a clean day. The Ravens are really good, and he kept these Colts in it. And they capitalised, with a game-winning field goal in overtime. Sublime.

We might not see Minshew again this season. Richardson looks pretty good and is the undisputed QB1 when he’s healthy. But, should he not be good to go, they’ve got a more than capable hand to turn to in his stead. For now, however, let’s enjoy that mania again. Just for a little while.

Rob Carr-Getty Images


I’ve made no secret of where my allegiances lie, so you’ll forgive me for where this is going to go. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH UNLUCKY BOYS! Nice lead you’ve got there. Sure, would be a shame if something happened to it, eh! LOSERS! Ahem.

Yes, the Saints lost, which certainly put a smile on my face after a pretty horrible evening of Falconing. What’s more, they were 17-0 heading into the 4th quarter. What’s more, they gave up 18 points in one quarter. WHAT’S MORE, is they missed a last-gasp field goal to secure their fate! Fourth quarter collapses? Can’t relate, I’m afraid.

The NFC South is a weird one, with 3 sides vying for the title. This was an opportunity for the Saints to get their noses in front early in the race. And they blew it. What fun!

Everybody panic

I ended week one with a call for calm in the face of hysteria. Following the expansion of the league season, and the addition of an additional playoff team per conference, starting 0-2 is no longer a death sentence for your season ambitions. It’s alright! I come to you with a warning, however. Starting 0-3, even now, is almost insurmountable.

Since 1990, only 4 of 158 sides to have started 0-3 have made the playoffs, the most recent being the 2018 Houston Texans, who dug themselves out of a hole three defeats deep to finish 11-5, winning the AFC South on the way. That’s a 2.5% chance of pulling it off. If you’re the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, or Carolina Panthers, it’s not looking good.

It’s not over, though, right? You can get a bit of a run going and somehow pull it out of the bag. If I were pressed for who is most likely to make it happen, I’d have to say Minnesota feel like the side most capable of dragging themselves back into the NFC North fight. But It’s a big old mountain to climb. Good luck, boys.

Features Image Credit: Matt Ludtke-AP Photo

Thomas Willoughby