Three NFL weeks have passed – please, slow down – and there are some teams that find themselves hot out of the gate, while others are still playing as if it’s the preseason. Remember, the games in September count just as much as the games in December. Here’s the first edition of Three Up, Three Down. The three up doesn’t necessarily mean those are the best three teams, and likewise for the three down not always being the worst teams.
1. Peyton Manning and the 3-0 Denver Broncos.
They were expected to be good….but this good? The addition of Wes Welker to an already dynamic passing attack was just not fair. With Welker, DeMaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas, the Broncos have one of, if not the most dangerous arsenal of WRs in the league. The Manning-led Broncos have scored a league-high 127 points in three games (42.3 ppg), which is 31 more points than the second-highest scoring team in the Green Bay Packers. Manning’s numbers look like those from Madden where he’s playing teams at the rookie level. In week 1 against the Ravens, he threw for 462 yards and 7…let me spell that out for you, S-E-V-E-N, touchdowns. Last Monday night on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Pryor’s (Raiders), Manning went 32-of-37 for 374 yards and three touchdowns. In three games, he’s completed 73% of his passes for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also hasn’t thrown a pick and retained bragging rights with his brother Eli. Need I say more?
2. Andy Reid and the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs
Who saw this coming? The Chiefs – coming off a 2-14 campaign – added Alex Smith at QB and Andy Reid as their new head coach. How exactly are they winning? They’re taking care of the football – no turnovers in three games – and are playing admirably on defense. Their defense has allowed 32 points in three games. The other two points the Chiefs allowed came on a safety, the only points the Jacksonville Jaguars scored in KC’s week one 28-2 victory. They held both the Cowboys and Eagles to 16 points each, and forced Chip Kelly’s Eagles into five turnovers. At 3-0, the Chiefs already have more wins than they did all of last year. How long will it last?
3. Ryan Tannehill and the 3-0 Miami Dolphins
I know very little about the Miami Dolphins. What I do know is that they are 3-0 and Ryan Tannehill is their starting quarterback. They opened with wins on the road in Cleveland (23-10) and Indianapolis (24-20) before returning home and delivering a come-from-behind 27-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. I’m impressed, but I’m not sold on them…yet. Statistically, the Dolphins don’t (and won’t) wow you. They are 14th in the league in passing yards (249 ypg) and 28th in rushing (70.3 ypg). Looking at their schedule, they have favorable matchups against the Bills (twice), Jets (twice), and the hapless Steelers. If they can get to 10 wins, a playoff berth isn’t out of question. They get a chance to show the nation they’re for real on MNF next week on the road against the undefeated New Orleans Saints.
1. Eli Manning and the 0-3 New York Giants
What’s it like being the little brother, Eli? Eli’s G-Men are 0-3 in the dismal NFC East and were just shut out 38-0 by Carolina. An offense with WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should never get shut out, especially against the Panthers of all teams. They have given up a NFL-most 115 points in three games and have turned it over a league-high 13 times. Eli Manning has thrown eight interceptions and is nowhere close to the talent of his brother Peyton in Denver.
2. Ben Roethlisberger and the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are football’s version of the New York Yankees. They have a young coach, but the players are old, underperforming, and are destined down a path of destruction. They are weak at running back (Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones won’t cut it nowadays) leaving it all up to Big Ben to make plays for a hapless offense. While he has his fair share of success, Antonio Brown being his best target is worrisome. It may be a long football season in Pittsburgh, but at least the Pirates will be playing in October, right?
3. Maurice Jones-Drew and the 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
They were expected to be bad…but this bad? Actually, yes, yes they were. MJD was coming off a 2012 injury, Blaine Gabbert was still (no longer is) the starting QB, and well, it’s the Jaguars. Have the Jaguars ever been good? That’s a serious question. OK, they made the playoffs in 2007 but that seems like forever ago. Their current offense has scored three touchdowns, and they’ve held one lead all season long – a brief 2-0 cushion over the Chiefs in a game that they eventually lost 28-2. They need a legitimate QB…badly. Heck, they need a lot more than that. At least the 2014 NFL Draft is only 225 days away.