A battle of two winless teams was as poorly played as expected, but in the end the Broncos got their first win of the season, and the Bears yet another ugly loss.
The final score, 31-28 Broncos, masks what a badly played game it was for both teams. The Broncos’ defense was absolutely dreadful for most of the game, but Justin Fields made enough late mistakes to hand the win to the Broncos.
Those mistakes included a fourth quarter fumble that the Broncos returned for a touchdown, and an interception on Fields’ last pass of the game.
Mistakes from the Bears also included an inexplicable decision by head coach Matt Eberflus to go for it on fourth-and-1 with the score tied 28-28 late in the fourth quarter and the Bears in field goal range. Eschewing the field goal, Eberflus first called timeout and then sent the Bears’ offense back on the field, where a predictable run up the gut was stuffed.
Both of these teams are bad, but the 0-4 Bears are a complete disaster. The 1-3 Broncos will at least hope that this win can build some momentum for Payton.
The Broncos’ defense is awful.
If that wasn’t clear when they gave up 70 points to the Dolphins last week, it should be very clear today, as the Bears have put up 21 points midway through the second quarter.
Justin Fields, who has been terrible this season, is 12-for-12 for 185 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s been shredding this terrible Broncos defense.
Sean Payton said before the season that last year’s Broncos staff did one of the worst coaching jobs he’s ever seen, but the reality is his own staff has not improved upon last year’s effort. Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s seat is getting warm, just four games into the season.
Every week we bring you all the inactives from the 1 p.m. ET games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.
The Browns will not have quarterback Deshaun Watson on Sunday, but they will have tight end David Njoku.
Njoku was added to the injury report on Saturday after suffering burns to his hands and face in a fire pit accident and head coach Kevin Stefanski said that the team had to see if he could put a helmet on before deciding on his status. Njoku passed that test and got the green light to play against the Ravens.
Watson is out with the shoulder injury that limited him to just a few throws in practice this week. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will make his first NFL start.
On the Ravens side, running back Justice Hill, center Tyler Linderbaum, and safety Kyle Hamilton are all active after being listed as questionable. Safety Marcus Williams was also in that group, but he is inactive.
Ravens at Browns
Ravens: WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Rashod Bateman, T Ronnie Stanley, CB Marlon Humphrey, EDGE Odafe Oweh, S Marcus Williams, QB Josh Johnson
Browns: QB Deshaun Watson, TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden, CB Kahlef Hailassie, C Luke Wypler, DE Isaiah McGuire, DT Siaki Ika
Dolphins at Bills
Dolphins: QB Skylar Thompson, EDGE Jaelan Phillips, S DeShon Elliott, CB Eli Apple, C Connor Williams, TE Tyler Kroft
Bills: S Jordan Poyer, CB Kaiir Elam, T Germain Ifedi, OL Alec Anderson, DT Poona Ford
Broncos at Bears
Broncos: LB Frank Clark, C Alex Forsyth, LB Josey Jewell, OLB Ronnie Perkins, DT Mike Purcell, S Justin Simmons, S JL Skinner.
Bears: DB Eddie Jackson, DB Jaylon Johnson, QB Nathan Peterman, WR Chase Claypool, RB D’onta Foreman
Steelers at Texans
Steelers: QB Mason Rudolph, P Pressley Harvin, OL James Daniels, WR Gunner Olszewski, NT Breiden Fehoko
Texans: CB Tavierre Thomas, LB Denzel Perryman, QB Case Keenum, RB Dare Ogunbowale, OL Michael Deiter, T Josh Jones, T Laremy Tunsil
Vikings at Panthers
Vikings: S Lewis Cine, TE Nick Muse, C Garrett Bradbury, DL Khyiris Tonga, QB Jaren Hall
Panthers: RB Raheem Blackshear, WR Jonathan Mingo, S Xavier Woods, CB Sam Webb, LB Deion Jones, T David Sharpe
Rams at Colts
Rams: RB Zach Evans, OL Zach Thomas, OL Alaric Jackson, DL Earnest Brown
Colts: QB Sam Ehlinger, CB Darrell Baker Jr., DE Isaiah Land, LB Cameron McGrone, C Ryan Kelly, T Bernhard Raimann, TE Will Mallory
Buccaneers at Saints
Buccaneers: LB SirVocea Dennis, CB Jamel Dean, CB Derrek Pitts Jr., LB Markees Watts, OL Brandon Walton, TE Payne Durham, DL Calijah Kancey
Saints: QB Jake Luton, WR A.T. Perry, CB Paulson Adebo, DB Jordan Howden, OL Cesar Ruiz, TE Foster Moreau, DE Kyle Phillips
Commanders at Eagles
Commanders: RB Chris Rodriguez Jr., DE K.J. Henry, T Trent Scott, G Chris Paul, TE Curtis Hodges, WR Mitchell Tinsley
Eagles: WR Quez Watkins, QB Tanner McKee, S Sydney Brown, RB Rashaad Penny, S Justin Evans, OL Tyler Steen, DT Moro Ojomo
Bengals at Titans
Bengals: CB DJ Ivey, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB Devin Harper, OL Trey Hill, OL Jackson Carman, TE Irv Smith
Titans: WR Treylon Burks, OL Peter Skoronski, LB Luke Gifford, DB Elijah Molden, OL Jaelyn Duncan, QB Will Levis
Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool said this week that he does not feel the team has put him in position to be his best and they will reportedly pass on putting him in any position for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Claypool will be inactive for the matchup of 0-3 teams. Equanimeous St. Brown is expected to be active for the first time this season.
Claypool has four catches for 51 yards on the season. He had 14 catches for 140 yards in seven games last season and the the overall production is far below what the Bears expected after sending a second-round pick to the Steelers for Claypool last season.
Rapoport also reports that rookie Tyson Bagent will be the No. 2 quarterback this week. Nathan Peterman has been the primary backup to Justin Fields so far this season.
This year, the NFL has begun announcing the fines imposed on players for on-field rules infractions. We’ll be posting separate items on fines of significance.
We’ll also be listing all of the fines here, by team, player, announced violation, and amount.
All fines are subject to appeal. It’s not known whether the NFL will update the weekly disclosure of imposed fines with information as to the outcome of the appeals.
Here are the Week 3 fines, covering 20 teams, 34 players, and 1.35 percent of all plays:
Falcons, Kaden Ellis, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Falcons, Keith Smith, unnecessary roughness, $87,418.
Bears, Jaquan Brisker, unnecessary roughness, $9,287.
Bears, Tyrique Stevenson, unnecessary roughness, $6,515.
Bengals, Cam Taylor-Britt, unnecessary roughness, $7,516.
Cowboys, Chuma Edoga, unnecessary roughness, $6,847.
Cowboys, Jonathan Hankins, unnecessary roughness, $7,319.
Broncos, Kareem Jackson, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Broncos, Drew Sanders, unnecessary roughness, $5,793.
Broncos, Patrick Surtain, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Lions, Alex Anzalone, unnecessary roughness, $13,922.
Lions, Brian Branch, unnecessary roughness, $8,103.
Lions, Brian Branch (second fine), unnecessary roughness, $8,103.
Packers, Rasul Douglas, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Packers, Ben Sims, unnecessary roughness, $4,167.
Texans, Jonathan Greenard, unnecessary roughness, $7,604.
Colts, Kwity Paye, unnecessary roughness, $10,927.
Chargers, Raheem Layne, unnecessary roughness, $4,870.
Chargers, Maxx Crosby, unnecessary roughness, $10.927.
Dolphins, Raheem Mostert, unnecessary roughness, $10,927.
Vikings, Harrison Smith, unnecessary roughness, $21,855.
Patriots, Jabrill Peppers, unnecessary roughness, $43,709.
Patriots, JuJu Smith-Schuster, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Saints, Tony Jones, unnecessary roughness, $5,222.
Giants, A’Shawn Robinson, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Giants, Jihad Ward, unnecessary roughness, $8,139.
Giants, Leonard Williams, a hit on a quarterback, $16,391.
Steelers, Kwon Alexander, unnecessary roughness, $43,709.
Steelers, Miles Killebrew, unnecessary roughness, $13,792.
49ers, Trent Williams, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Seahawks, Julian Love, unnecessary roughness, $21,833.
Seahawks, DK Metcalf, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Seahawks, Teez Tabor, unnecessary roughness, $6,000.
Titans, Arden Key, a hit on a quarterback, $43,710.
Broncos safety Kareem Jackson got another fine letter from the NFL this week.
The league announced that Jackson was fined $11,473 for unnecessary roughness as a result of a play in last Sunday’s 70-20 loss to the Dolphins. Jackson’s fine was for a low block.
Jackson was previously fined for hits to the head on Raiders wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and Commanders tight end Logan Thomas in the first two weeks of the season. He was fined $19,669 and $14,819 for those infractions.
Two other Broncos were also fined for unnecessary roughness. Linebacker Drew Sanders was fined $5,793 and cornerback Pat Surtain II was fined $11,473.
Receiver KJ Hamler is back.
Roughly two months announcing that he has pericarditis and being waived with a non-football illness by the Broncos, Hamler has joined the Colts’ practice squad.
The Colts announced the move on Saturday.
The Colts also elevated guard Ike Boettger and receiver Amari Rodgers to the active roster from the practice squad for Sunday’s home game against the Rams. Cornerback Darren Hall was released from the practice squad.
Hamler was a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2020. He had 381 receiving yards on 30 catches as a rookie. Last year, he appeared in only seven games, catching seven passes for 165 yards.
The Broncos lost badly to the Dolphins on Sunday. The Broncos became the first team to give up 70 points in more than 50 years.
Some would think coach Sean Payton would react by going harder on his players. Actually, it was the opposite.
“See if this makes sense,” Payton told reporters on Friday when asked whether he was tougher on the team. “I’m going to go back to Bill [Parcells]. The hardest time working with Bill was when you were three or four wins in a row. I mean, you couldn’t wait for the game. You’d have a couple tough losses, and then he’d be a little bit more ‘pick-me-up.’
“I think you have to use your gut relative to what they need. That began Monday with the team meeting, and then at practice. I felt really good about the energy this week. I can remember — we were 4-1 playing Detroit. They had kind of had one of those streaks from the year before. I don’t know how many games, but we were a heavy favorite. He had us all convinced by Friday we were playing the ‘85 Bears. You couldn’t get to the game fast enough. I think you trust your instincts relative to your team and where you’re at.”
Payton also discussed Parcells’s habit of periodically creating a crisis.
“We’re playing the Colts in that Super Bowl,” Payton said regarding his 2009 Saints. “We just won the NFC Championship game, and the city is celebrating like there’s no tomorrow. The Colts just won in Miami four years earlier. They’re at the same hotel, same hotel room. I remember our conversation. He’s like, ‘You have to have a crisis now.’ You have to be careful if you’re creating one. It was kind of given to me. Tuesday used to be the media day and we had five players miss buses, 9:30 [a.m.] buses. When they got to the locker room, we had a ‘come to Jesus’ crisis. I think that was necessary.”
The broader point is that, sometimes, yelling at the players won’t help. They know they got their asses kicked. They know it was as bad as it could get. Rubbing their faces in it could only make it worse.
So far, it appears Payton’s approach has worked.
“I can only go by the practices,” he said. “I thought we had one of our better weeks. I thought the energy was good. You pick yourself up. This is a grit league with toughness required. I thought [it went] well.”
Of course, the bad news for the Broncos is that, if/when they ever start putting it all together and winning games, Payton could become far less pleasant to be around. Especially if/when Parcells tells him he should create a crisis.
The Broncos are expected to sign free agent receiver Tre’Quan Smith next week, Mike Klis of 9News reports.
It will reunite Smith with head coach Sean Payton, who were together for four seasons in New Orleans.
Smith visited the Broncos on Thursday.
The Saints placed Smith on injured reserve with a groin injury before Week 1 but cut him earlier this week.
Smith has 131 receptions for 1,764 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career.
The Saints made him a third-round pick in 2018, and he played 66 games with 35 starts in New Orleans.
The fourth week of the 2023 NFL season kicked off on Thursday with a win by the Lions and it continues with 14 more games on Sunday, which means that the 28 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.
The Seahawks and Giants play on Monday and their final injury reports will be released on Saturday.
Falcons at Jaguars (in London)
RB Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) is questionable to make his regular season debut for the Falcons. WR Josh Ali (ankle) is out.
Jaguars WR Zay Jones (knee), LB Devin Lloyd (thumb), and DB Antonio Johnson (hamstring) are out. T Anton Harrison (ankle), DL Foley Fatukasi (shoulder), and WR Jamal Agnew (quad) are listed as questionable.
Dolphins at Bills
Dolphins EDGE Jaelan Phillips (oblique) is out. RB Salvon Ahmed (groin), T Terron Armstead (back, ankle, knee), S DeShon Elliott (ankle, groin), and C Connor Williams (groin) were designated as questionable.
S Jordan Poyer (knee) will not play for the Bills.
Broncos at Bears
LB Frank Clark (hip), LB Josey Jewell (hip), and DT Mike Purcell (ribs) are out for the Broncos while S Justin Simmons (hip) is questionable to play.
S Eddie Jackson (foot) and CB Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) won’t play for the Bears. RB Travis Homer (ankle) is questionable.
Ravens at Browns
Ravens WR Rashod Bateman (hamstring) and WR Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) will miss Sunday’s game. CB Marlon Humphrey (foot), EDGE Odafe Oweh (ankle), and EDGE David Ojabo (ankle/knee) are also out while T Ronnie Stanley (knee) is doubtful. RB Justice Hill (toe), S Kyle Hamilton (back), C Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) and S Marcus Williams (pectoral) make up the questionable group.
QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder) is listed as questionable after a week of limited practices, but the rest of the Browns are good to go.
Steelers at Texans
The Steelers ruled out G James Daniels (groin) and P Pressley Harvin (right hamstring).
T Laremy Tunsil (knee), G/T Josh Jones (hand), LB Denzel Perryman (hand, wrist), and CB Tavierre Thomas (hand) are all out for the Texans. C Michael Dieter (concussion) is their only questionable player.
Vikings at Panthers
C Garrett Bradbury (back) and DE Marcus Davenport (ankle) are listed as questionable for the Vikings. S Lewis Cine (hamstring) is the only player ruled out.
The Panthers will have QB Bryce Young (ankle) back in the lineup. RB Miles Sanders (groin) is listed as questionable along with LB Frankie Luvu (hip) and WR Jonathan Mingo (concussion).
Rams at Colts
TE Tyler Higbee (Achilles), T Alaric Jackson (hamstring), S John Johnson (face), and WR Ben Skowronek (Achilles) are the Rams’ questionable players.
Colts QB Anthony Richardson (concussion) is good to go, but C Ryan Kelly (concussion) and T Bernhard Raimann (concussion) are not going to play. DT DeForest Buckner (groin, back), QB Sam Ehlinger (right shoulder), and G Quenton Nelson (toe) are all listed as questionable.
Buccaneers at Saints
CB Carlton Davis (toe) could return for the Bucs after being listed as questionable, but CB Jamel Dean (neck/shoulder), DL Calijah Kancey (calf), CB Derrick Pitts (hamstring), and LB SirVocea Dennis (hamstring) are all out. DT Vita Vea (pectoral) and linebacker Devin White (foot) are also questionable.
Saints QB Derek Carr (right shoulder) is listed as questionable after returning to practice on Friday.
Commanders at Eagles
RB Chris Rodriguez (illness) is out for the Commanders and S Percy Butler (foot) is listed as questionable.
The Eagles ruled out S Sydney Brown (hamstring) and WR Quez Watkins (hamstring). S Justin Evans (neck) is considered questionable.
Bengals at Titans
QB Joe Burrow (calf) will start for the Bengals. TE Irv Smith (hamstring) is out and LB Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) is questionable.
WR Treylon Burks (knee), G Peter Skoronski (abdomen), CB Elijah Molden (hamstring), and LB Luke Gifford (hamstring) are out for the Titans.
Raiders at Chargers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) and EDGE Maxx Crosby (knee) headline the Raiders report. Both are listed as questionable along with CB Nate Hobbs (ankle), S Roderic Teamer (Achilles), and DE Malcolm Koonce (groin). LB Curtis Bolton (knee) is out.
The Chargers are set to play without RB Austin Ekeler (ankle) and Derwin James (hamstring) after listing them as doubtful. EDGE Joey Bosa (hamstring, toe) and S Alohi Gilman (heel) drew questionable tags. CB Deane Leonard (hamstring) is doubtful while C Corey Linsley (illness) and S JT Woods (illness) were ruled out.
Patriots at Cowboys
DT Christian Barmore (knee), DT Davon Godchaux (ankle), CB Jonathan Jones (ankle), G Cole Strange (knee), and CB Shaun Wade (shoulder) are questionable for the Patriots.
Cowboys G Zack Martin (ankle) and C Tyler Biadasz (hamstring) are questionable to play, but T Tyron Smith (knee) has been ruled out. TE Peyton Hendershot (ankle) is also questionable.
Cardinals at 49ers
DE Jonathan Ledbetter (finger) and LB Josh Woods (ankle) are out for the Cardinals. LB Krys Barnes (finger), WR Marquise Brown (thumb), RB Keaontay Ingram (neck), and T Paris Johnson (ankle) make up their questionable group.
WR Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder) is set to play for the 49ers, but WR Deebo Samuel (rib, knee) is questionable and WR Jauan Jennings (knee) is doubtful. RB Elijah Mitchell (knee), LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (ankle), and LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) are also in the questionable group.
Chiefs at Jets
If Taylor Swift and Aaron Rodgers are at Sunday night’s game, they won’t be seeing Chiefs LB Nick Bolton (ankle) or CB Jaylen Warren (shoulder).
The Jets ruled out S Tony Adams (hamstring) and G Wes Schweitzer (concussion).