Three weeks in, and just five NFL teams remain perfect in this young season. Fans of the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles all can walk around with a healthy amount of swagger for at least a few more days.
Teams that jump out to 3-0 make the playoffs more often than not, but it’s likely at least one of these five squads won’t be playing beyond New Year’s Day.
Here’s a look at each team going forward. (Note: All stats prior to Monday night’s game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.)
There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in Baltimore. The Ravens rank only 10th in point differential — behind two teams that are 1-2. Plus, their three wins have come against two winless teams and the 1-2 Buffalo Bills. Not running the gauntlet.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3), and that’s against the aforementioned weaker competition. Feel free to remain skeptical unless the Ravens look particularly good against an aggressive Oakland Raiders offense this weekend.
The defending Super Bowl champions are legit thanks to a top-flight defense led by NFL sack leader Von Miller.
But the big surprise is how spry the offense has looked with first-year starter Trevor Siemian under center. After modest play the first two weeks, Siemian made the Cincinnati Bengals look silly Sunday with four touchdowns and no picks.
Denver is well on its way to a return to the postseason, so feel free to stay on the bandwagon.
This team is like Batman villain Two-Face: The defense is the immaculate, impressive side, while the offense is ugly and scarred by injury.
Adrian Peterson may not play again this year, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was lost in the preseason, both due to knee injuries. The offense has looked downright bad at times.
Yet, as long as the Vikes’ defense is swallowing quarterbacks whole and putting points on the board, Minnesota is hard to count out for a playoff spot.
New England Patriots
Who needs Tom Brady?
OK, the Patriots would rather have him than Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett, both of whom started this season. But the Pats are good enough to win without Brady or tight end Rob Gronkowski, and that’s a scary proposition.
Last Thursday’s shutout of the Houston Texans, a talented team in their own right, speaks volumes about coach Bill Belichick’s abilities and system. Pencil the Pats in for an eight consecutive AFC East crown.
It was easy to write Philly and rookie passer Carson Wentz off after topping the winless Cleveland Browns and struggling Chicago Bears. But Sunday’s 34-3 throttling of the Pittsburgh Steelers seals this team as a viable NFC threat.
The Eagles are second to the Vikings in turnover differential and have yet to yield a turnover themselves.
Meanwhile, Wentz playing like a veteran with five touchdowns passes. Can anyone hear Los Angeles Rams executives cursing for letting him slip to No. 2?