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  • We’re only in Week 3, and six NFL teams are already starting their backup quarterbacks—so let’s handicap each team’s chance at a win this week.
By Jonathan Jones
September 19, 2019

Week 3 of this NFL season is upon us and already six teams are on a backup (or a backup’s backup) quarterback. You could make the argument that Jacoby Brissett and the Colts make seven, but the team had enough time to ink him to a starter-level extension before the season and, honestly, I don’t want to argue with you.

So of the teams starting a backup guy under center this weekend, I handicapped their chances against their respective opponents in order of having the best chance to win down to saying a prayer. Let’s begin.

1. Giants’ Daniel Jones vs. Buccaneers

No, this isn’t just because of the hype around Young Daniel usurping the throne. This is based solely on what Jones showed in preseason action and the Giants’ opponent this week. In the exhibition games, Jones was an 85% passer with a 137.3 quarterback rating; meanwhile, the Bucs got worked by the 49ers in the Week 1 and took advantage of a hobbled Cam Newton last Thursday. Jameis Winston is 13-16 all-time at Raymond James Stadium, so Tampa Bay is not a world-beater. Plus, I have a feeling Giants players are going to have a boost in their play now that the more talented quarterback they witnessed first-hand for six weeks is now taking over their 0-2 squad.

2. Jaguars’ Gardner Minshew vs. Titans

Our annual Thursday night gathering between the Jags and Titans gives rookie Gardner Minshew a solid chance for his first victory of the season. Minshew stepped in admirably for Nick Foles in Week 1 against the Chiefs, completing 88% of his passes and then nearly beat the Texans on the road in Week 2. The Titans’ defense has been stout so far by allowing the second-fewest passing yards in the league and grabbing four picks already (thank you, Baker Mayfield). The Young ’Stache may very well pull off the primetime victory tonight.

3. Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater/Taysom Hill vs. Seahawks

Sean Payton won’t name a starter for some reason, so let’s hope that’s for competitive reasons and not because he plans to run a two-quarterback rotation Sunday against the Seahawks. Beating Seattle will be a tough task, and if Payton goes with the two-QB system then I would gladly knock this one down a notch. Bridgewater didn’t look great being thrown into the fire against the Rams, and New Orleans’ second straight week playing in the Pacific time zone won’t be a cakewalk. At least the Saints are doing the right thing and staying the week on the West Coast to mitigate a substantial home-field advantage for Seattle.

T-4. Steelers’ Mason Rudolph vs. 49ers

The Steelers traded next year’s first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick, indicating at least in part that they believe they will have a decent season with Rudolph and without Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph had every opportunity to beat out Josh Dobbs this preseason after he couldn’t last year and did so this August. He faces a 49ers team that’s in the top quarter of the league in yards and points allowed one-eighth of the way through the season. Let’s see what the Oklahoma State product can do with a full week of practice as the confirmed starter.

T-4. Panthers’ Kyle Allen vs. Cardinals

Kyle Allen has won his only start in his NFL career and played pretty well! He accounted for three touchdowns and went 16-for-27 against the Saints in Week 17 last year, but New Orleans mostly played its second teamers in that finale with a postseason spot locked up. The Panthers haven’t been playing up to their potential through eight quarters this season. Meanwhile, the Cardinals seem to figure things out in the fourth quarter and hopefully Kliff Kingsbury has found some religion when it comes to fourth-and-short inside the five-yard line. It feels like Arizona is due its first win after clawing back in both games to be 0-1-1.

Dead last: Jets’ Luke Falk vs. Patriots

A week ago Luke Falk was on the practice squad. This week he will be the third starting Jets quarterback in as many weeks. He plays the Patriots.

Godspeed, Luke Falk.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: The magazine cover story this week comes from Conor Orr, who put his whole foot into this piece on the true worth of the almighty Star in Dallas. … Andy Benoit dives deep on why defending the Chiefs offense is just so gosh-darn difficult. … Yours truly on the banged-up Eagles defensive line. … Alaa Abdeldaiem tells us who the most impressive rookies have been through two weeks of league play. … and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: There’s more history to Antonio Brown’s history. … The mortality of the league’s older quarterbacks (except Tom Brady, of course). … There’s so much power in this poll. … and more.


1. The anatomy of a locker room: How the Panthers locker room came together, via The Athletic’s Joe Person.

2. Daniel Jones jersey sales shot up 500 percent once he was named the starter for the New York Football Giants.   

3. Thirty-nine real-life Hall of Fame voters weighed in on whether Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer.    

4. Meet famed hand surgeon Steve Shin, who’s operating on the Saints signal caller.

5. You should definitely subscribe to the revamped podcast schedule here at the MMQB.


I don’t want to bore you with my trouble, but there’s sumptin’ about your love that makes me weak and knocks me off feet.

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