Week 3 is in the books, and we’re still left with more questions than answers. Some quick stats:
- The Steelers have jumped to the top of our rankings.
- Atlanta is way up (+7) and the Chargers are way down (-12).
- The NFC West is the worst division by far, with its highest team (Seattle) ranked only 19th.
- Three divisions (AFC South, AFC North, AFC East) account for 9 of the top 14 teams.
|1(5)||Pittsburgh Steelers||The Steelers continue to roll, even without their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but they face likely their toughest test so far this weekend when the division rival Ravens come to town.|
|2(4)||Indianapolis Colts||It’s beginning to look more like business as usual in Indianapolis; blowout loss to the Texans aside, the Colts look just as unbeatable as they ever do. Without the pressure of an undefeated season to fight for, Indianapolis might be deadlier than ever.|
|3(1)||New Orleans Saints||After two close games where the Saints came out on top, they were handed their first loss of the year in overtime by division rival Atlanta. Garrett Finkle, I mean, Hartley went wide left on a FG in overtime and will likely be replaced by next week. Something no one seems to be talking about: the Saints run defense is awful, coming in at 30th in the league.|
|4(8)||New York Jets||After a tough loss in the Week 1, the Jets have stormed back and won consecutive divisional games against the Patriots and Dolphins. Not time to anoint anyone yet, but New York figures to go 3-1 and remain atop the AFC East with a trip to Buffalo on tap.|
|5(10)||Philadelphia Eagles||Michael Vick continues to play at a very high level, and the Eagles have in turn continued to win. It looks as though they’ve emerged as the favorite in the NFC East.|
|6(2)||Green Bay Packers||People were, including myself, ready to crown the Packers as the creme of the crop…until the lost to the Bears. Maybe the lost the game more than the Bears won it, but a championship caliber doesn’t commit 18 penalties and set up Devin Hester with low punts and space to run. Watch for a big bounce back from GB at the expense of the Lions next week.|
|7(9)||New England Patriots||Good news, bad news time. Good news: the Patriots put up 38 points and had 200 yards of rushing. Bad news: the Patriots gave up 30 points to Buffalo. Still a lot of questions on defense, and a road game in Miami awaits.|
|8(3)||Houston Texans||In 2010, it’s been the “Tale of Two Texans” so far; after a breakthrough win over the Colts to start the year and a dramatic OT comeback last week, Houston laid an egg against a winless Cowboys team at home. Fortunately for the Texans, the Raiders await and Houston still sits atop the AFC South.|
|9(16)||Atlanta Falcons||The Falcons were the first team in 2010 to give the Saints a loss and have put up the third most points in the NFC so far. They have a relatively weak schedule this year and have two upcoming games (49ers and Browns) that should allow them to keep their lead in the NFC South.|
|10(7)||Miami Dolphins||The “Miami Magic” the Dolphins had in two wins over the Jets last year fizzled in their first meeting this year, with Miami losing for the first time this season and dropping to third in the division. Not time to panic, but the next meeting will be in the colder New Jersey climate.|
|11(11)||Baltimore Ravens||The Ravens got a win this week over division foe Cleveland, which doesn’t prove much. A win against Pittsburgh on the road would go along way toward restoring Baltimore’s top-5 status.|
|12(17)||Chicago Bears||The Bears took out one of the best teams in the league last week to improve to 3-0. Sure, the Packers had 18 penalties and Cutler should have had about 7 more INTs, but sleeping on the Bears this year and, in particular, their defense, could be a big mistake.|
|13(12)||Cincinnati Bengals||While the offense continues to struggle, Cincinnati has been able to bounce back from their lost against the Patriots to arrive at a 2-1 record. They should be able to coast to 4-1 and remain a contender against Cleveland and Tampa Bay.|
|14(13)||Tennessee Titans||Vince Young was benched in a tough loss to the Steelers last week, but he rebounded to lead the Titans to a good road win over an inconsistent Giants team. Tennessee is keeping good pace in the AFC South; a big improvement over last year’s 0-6 start.|
|15(15)||Minnesota Vikings||The Vikings got off the snide with a much needed victory and now have the bye week to get things figured out. Three things we know about the Vikings: Favre won’t have a year like 2009; Peterson is looking like the best back in the league again; the defense has at times looked stellar. Week 5 will tell us a lot about this team.|
|16(18)||Kansas City Chiefs||At this point in the season, it’s a toss-up which has been more surprising; the Steelers going 3-0 without Big Ben, or the Chiefs going 3-0 period. With big wins over preseason favorites San Diego and San Francisco, KC fans are starting to build up real hope. Next week is a bye for the Chiefs, who will hope to keep the upset streak alive against the Colts in Week 5.|
|17(20)||Dallas Cowboys||Dallas won what was likely a must-win game at Houston. They will have to retain that motivation to keep up with the resurgent Eagles.|
|18(6)||San Diego Chargers||The Chargers always stumble out of the gate, but a loss to Seattle–even on the road–is not what San Diego hoped for in Week 3. Off-field issues this offseason seem to be throwing off the team to start the season; hosting the Cardinals in Week 4 should be just what San Diego needs to get back to a .500 winning percentage.|
|19(25)||Seattle Seahawks||Another team that should be thanking the football gods that it is in the NFC West, Seattle may actually be better than originally thought after they took out the Chargers. It’s too early to tell, but looking ahead their schedule is fairly easy and they could very well represent the West in the playoffs.|
|20(14)||New York Giants||The Giants got whooped by the Titans this weekend. For a team with relatively talented players, they have struggled more than they should. Something has to change and coach Tom Coughlin might be the first to go.|
|21(19)||Denver Broncos||Despite a 476-yard performance from Kyle Orton, the Broncos didn’t have enough success in the red zone to close the gap against the Colts, losing 27-13. At the bottom of the AFC West, Denver will need to do some soul-searching if they hope to win with a road game at Tennessee in Week 4.|
|22(24)||Tampa Bay Bucs||They may be 2-1 and looking better than expected, but it’s hard to imagine them surviving a schedule that includes 2 games against both the Falcons and the Saints, as well as match-ups with the Ravens and Bengals as well.|
|23(26)||Arizona Cardinals||Trivia question: what conference features no teams that crack the top 20 for total offense and their best spot for total D is 17? The conference that 2-1 Arizona should be very, very thankful it belongs to.|
|24(22)||Washington Redskins||After an opening-week win over Dallas, the Redskins have fallen back to earth. Big time. A humbling loss to St. Louis will either motivate them to improve or send them spiraling toward a top-5 draft pick in 2011.|
|25(29)||St. Louis Rams||The Rams pulled off a big win against Washington, but Steven Jackson was hurt in the process. Reportedly it isn’t a serious injury but he should be able to file a lawsuit against the Rams because it is a crime that a player of his caliber has to be on the same crappy team year after year.|
|26(23)||Jacksonville Jaguars||The Jaguars at least saved face by beating Florida favorite Tim Tebow and the Broncos in Week 1; it hasn’t been very pretty since then. Jacksonville managed only a field goal against the Eagles as Michael Vick took the reigns and unleashed his brand of winning football on the hapless Jags.|
|27(21)||San Francisco 49ers||They went from the hot pick in the NFC to the WTF happened team in just three short weeks. It’s probably not fair to pinpoint a specific area as “the” problem, but when your power RB is leading your team in receptions and yardage, I think the QB and the WRs need to get on the same page.|
|28(28)||Oakland Raiders||Sebastian Janikowski is one of the highest-paid kickers in the league; unfortunately for Oakland, that didn’t prevent him from missing three field goals on the day, including a makeable FG at the end of the game which would’ve given the Raiders a walkoff win over Arizona. Prospects aren’t any better next week with a visit from the Texans.|
|29(27)||Detroit Lions||Detroit managed to keep their first two games competitive, but Adrian Peterson ran amok on them in week 3. Jahvid Best already has 4 rushing TDs, but averaging 3.3 yards per carry isn’t anything to call home about.|
|30(31)||Cleveland Browns||The Browns continue to struggle. Though lacking in the talent department, they continue to play teams tough, and though they haven’t gotten any results yet, look for them to play spoiler late in the season.|
|31(32)||Buffalo Bills||With Trent Edwards at QB, the Bills scored 17 points in their first two games; under Ryan Fitzpatrick, they managed 30 against a suspect New England defense. It’s another notch in the “L” column, but Buffalo fans feel better than they have all year.|
|32(28)||Carolina Panthers||Not that it was a surprise, but the Jimmy Clausen era started with a 53 passer rating day and a post-game tongue lashing courtesy of Steve Smith. All is not well in Carolina and playing the Saints and the Bears before their bye week will likely have them facing a 0-5 record.|
Commentary breakdown: Alex (AFC North, NFC East), Brian (AFC East/South/West), Pat (NFC North/South/West).