With week three of the 2013 NFL season in the books it’s time to take a look at how the season has played out so far. There have been a lot of surprises this season, with some surprisingly good teams to go with some surprisingly bad.
Kansas City has seen perhaps the biggest turnaround of the year behind new coach Andy Reid and QB Alex Smith. The New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers have been huge disappointments, both winless and near the bottom in most offensive and defensive categories.
The Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts seem to be rising, while the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and the Houston Texans seem to be falling. But three weeks does not a season make, and of course there’s still 14 weeks to go before the NFL playoffs start.
Perhaps the the biggest disappointment in the league, the Giants are now 0-3 after getting embarrassed 38-0 by the Carolina Panthers. It’s New York’s first 0-3 start in 17 years. Nothing seems to be going right for the team, with the defense on both sides of the ball struggling and an offense that can’t seem to get it going. Eli Manning leads the league with eight interceptions.
One bright spot for the Giants is that they play in what looks to be the worst division in the NFL. Dallas leads the NFC East with a 2-1 record with wins over the Giants and Rams and a loss at the Chiefs. Dallas looked solid in Sunday’s 31-7 romp over the Rams, but they still have consistency issues to deal with.
The Eagles brought in new Head Coach Chip Kelly and his high-speed offense to much fanfare and the team looked great in week one, raking up 26 points in the first half of their win over the Redskins. But the ‘Skins followed that with two straight losses including a 26 – 16 loss at the Chiefs and their ex-coach Andy Reid on Thursday night. The Eagles still lead the league in total yards with 1385, 395 of which have come from LeSean McCoy, but Michael Vick and the Eagles need to win games, which will be tough against Denver on Sunday.
Washington looked better in their week three loss to Detroit, but a fumble and a reversed call resulted in a loss. RGIII looks to have come back from healthy, now he needs to win.
Coming into the season the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers were expected to be the best teams in the league. After the Niners were blown out for a second game in a row, the Seahawks seem to have an unrivaled claim to the best team in the league. Russell Wilson has 6 passing touchdowns and the third highest passer rating (behind Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers), while Marshawn Lynch has been deadly. In San Francisco there are plenty of questions about why the Niners haven’t been able to score, and there have even been reports of infighting between running back Frank Gore and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
While Atlanta came close to reaching the Super Bowl last season, the Falcons are now 1-2 after a tough 27-23 loss to Miami. On the other hand New Orleans seem to have righted the ship after an off-year in 2012. Drew Brees continues to be near the top of the league in most offensive categories. The Panthers were able to bounce-back from a tough loss at the Bills to embarrass the Giants 38-0 on Sunday, and Cam Newton looks like he is ready to go on a tear.
Tampa Bay could easily be 2-1 instead of 3-0, but a 23-3 loss to New England is a sign that perhaps their defense isn’t as good as initially thought. Running back Doug Martin leads the league with almost 300 yards, but he can’t do it alone. QB Josh Freeman needs to put points on the board if the Bucs are going anywhere in 2013. If not, Freeman’s contract is up at year’s end and he could be looking for work in the off-season.
Even though Aaron Rodgers leads the league in passing yards and continues to be among the best QBs in the league, the Packers are looking up at Chicago and Detroit in the standings. Green Bay’s only win of the season is against Washington, with losses to San Francisco and Cincinnati, however Cinci’s win was made possible by a fumble recovery for a touchdown with 3:47 left in the game. Green Bay’s injuries are starting to mount, but it is still way too early for Green Bay to start panicking. The Packers still lead the league in points with 96, but are closely followed by the Chicago Bears with 95.
The Bears have had two game-wining drives en-route to a 3-0 record, but the toughest win was a 24-21 win over Cinci in week one. They’ll face Detroit on Sunday and then host New Orleans, being 5-0 at that point would mean a lot more than 3-0 now.
Detroit was able to barely survive Sunday’s game against the Redskins. QB Matthew Stafford is having a solid year so far and has yet to be intercepted. Their game against the Bears should tell us a lot more about both teams.
After two weeks of watching the Patriots barely get past the Jets and the Bills, some started to wonder if the Pats offense and it’s still-green receiver corps would ever get it together. If the 23-3 win over the Buccaneers is any indication, the kids are starting to come around. Julian Edelman, who was the only receiver Tom Brady could count on in weeks one and two, still leads the league with 27 receptions, but on Sunday the rest of the lineup started getting involved. The Pats are 3-0 for first time in six seasons, but they will they will get biggest test of the season when they travel to Atlanta for Sunday Night Football.
There are some excited fans in Miami this season for sure, as the Dolphins have already bested the Colts and Falcons. They’ve scored 74 points while only allowing 53, although Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 14 times and has leads the league with five fumbles. Shoring up the defense is key to Miami’s post-season hopes, but this team looks like a contender.
The Broncos look like they are the best team in the AFC after two weeks, and that is before they beat the Raiders tonight on Monday Night Football. They blew out the Ravens in the first game of the season and beat the Giants 41-23 in the “Manning Bowl.” Peyton Manning is looking as good as ever, he has yet to throw an interception, and with Wes Welker around to throw the ball to, the Broncos look like the team to beat in the AFC.
But we expected the Broncos to be good in 2013. Fans weren’t sure what to make of the Chiefs. With an accomplished head coach and quarterback coming in the form of Andy Reid and Alex Smith, you would think they would improve. But with convinding wins over the Cowboys and the Eagles, the Chiefs are surprising a lot of people. They still don’t have a turnover and running back Jamaal Charles has proved to be a force. In a weak conference, the Chiefs might be able secure a playoff spot if they continue to play this well.
And in Oakland and San Diego, there is reason for optimism despite both team having just one win. Oakland might finally have an NFL-quality quarterback, as Terrelle Pryor leads the league with 7.4 yards per rushing attempt. The Chargers on the other hand have seen Philip Rivers playing better than he has in years, and they could have easily won both games they lost.
Pre-season you could have been forgiven for thinking the Texans were the only team in the AFC South with a shot at the playoffs, but with both the Titans and the Colts playing solid football, don’t be surprised if one of them ends up overtaking a struggling Texans team. The Texans allowed three touchdowns in the first half against the Chargers in the first game of the season, need overtime to get past Tennessee, and were blown out 30-9 by a Baltimore team that is much-changed since they won the Super Bowl in February.
Although Houston’s two game-winning drives might say something about the team ability to win, the truth is those two games were much closer than they should have been. The Texans defense, a huge part of their success in recent years, has allowed 82 points so far while forcing just one turnover.
Indianapolis completed the trade of the season, acquiring Trent Richardson from the Browns in exchange for a first-round draft pick. Although Richardson wasn’t a big factor, the Colts looked great in their 27-7 routing of the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. With a talented young quarterback in Andrew Luck, a running back and a defense that steps up when it needs to, the Colts look like they will be a dangerous team this season.
The Titans have been better than expected and don’t have a turnover yet. QB Jake Locker, 2011’s eight overall pick, has improved from last season but is still having trouble reliably moving the chains.
And then there’s the Jaguars, who have scored just 28 points through three games and just 691 total yards, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy has 395 by himself.
A conference that has recently been among the leagues most competitive is taking a back seat early into 2013. While the Baltimore Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions, the number of players they lost makes this a very different team. In the pre-season, it was the Cincinnati Bengals that were getting most of the hype. With the Ravens and Bengals both sitting at 2-1, it’s tough to say who is better right now. The Bengals were able to get past Green Bay in week three, right around the same time the Ravens were pummeling the Texans en-route to a 30-9 win. At the moment, it looks like both the teams have a great shot at the playoffs, but who will win the division?
With the trade of Richardson, it looks like the Browns have already conceded this season and are looking ahead to 2014. After Brandon Weeden failed to get much going through two weeks, the Browns started Brian Hoyer at QB, and they held on to beat Minnesota for their first win of the season. While the playoffs might be a stretch for the Browns, the front office is working feverishly to get the Browns there next season.
And coming into the season, fans expected Pittsburgh to struggle, but did anyone think they would be this bad? They have nine turnovers in three games without forcing a takeaway. That is no way to win football games.
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