Marcus Mariota, Atlanta (at Seattle)
Mariota will probably be the first veteran quarterback to get replaced by a rookie this year, but for Week 3 at least, he’s still the entrenched starter. He’s facing a Seahawks defense that was bailed out by two fumbles at the one-yard line against Denver and looked like papier mache against the 49ers last week. The Falcons offense hasn’t been inept, and the Seahawks don’t have a Marshon Lattimore or Jalen Ramsey to match up with Kyle Pitts. It could be a big week for Mariota, who is adding value as a runner.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans (at Carolina)
Last week saw a Winston fourth-quarter meltdown, but the Panthers defense isn’t quite the Bucs. In fact, they’ve only faced Daniel Jones and Jacoby Brissett this year and lost to both. Winston and the Saints receivers are a big step up from what Carolina had to defense in the first two weeks, and Alvin Kamara should also be back this week to give the Saints another player that is difficult to match up with in the passing game. Winston should be able to quickly put the memory of last week’s game behind him.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco (at Denver)
Garoppolo was outstanding in relief of Trey Lance, showing that he is at a level of familiarity with this offense to not need any training camp or preseason reps to run everything crisply and correctly. The 49ers offense should get George Kittle back this week, just in time for a Broncos defense that has trouble defending the tight end. Denver will also be without Patrick Surtain II II, their best coverage corner by a large margin, which is a problem when you are facing Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. The Broncos defense has only had to face Geno Smith and Davis Mills to this point, so Sunday night will bring a test they are likely to fail.
Joe Flacco, NY Jets (vs Cincinnati)
Yes, a lot of Flacco’s production last week came in garbage time, but it also lit the fuse of #10 overall pick Garrett Wilson. The Jets passing game has a lot of talent, and the Bengals defense has only had to face Mitchell Trubisky and Cooper Rush (and lost to both), so even late-career Flacco represents a step up in matchup quality that they might not be ready for. Flacco and the Jets should come into this game on an emotional high and find extra motivation in the opportunity to send the defending AFC champs to an 0-3 start.
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