With three weeks down in the regular season, it’s time to take a look at early contenders and pretenders. Some teams will continue to dominate throughout the season while other teams will fizzle out into mediocrity or worse as the season roars forward. For this article, we are only going to look at the undefeated teams: the Vikings, Eagles, Ravens and Pats.
Patriots: The only real concern for the Pats this season was the fact they might start slowly without Brady, but that clearly didn’t happen. It seems as if nothing can stop the Patriots, as they blanked the Houston Texans 27-0 with third string rookie QB Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had never started a regular season NFL game in his life prior to this start. Furthermore, the rest of the AFC East looks horrendous, all sitting at 1-2, which gives the Patriots a commanding lead in the division, especially with Brady set to return after one more week. Aside from division standings, the Pats have looked outstanding on both sides of the ball, especially in the running game, with LeGarrette Blount averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game as well as putting up four total touchdowns. Additionally, Rob Gronkowski, who is widely regarded as the best tight end in the league, returned this week on a limited snap basis. It is safe to say that once Brady comes back and Gronkowski is taken off of a snap restriction, the Patriots should easily take the division and make a deep playoff run.
Eagles: In the beginning of the season, my expectations were fairly low for the Eagles, but Carson Wentz has proven most sports analysts and me decisively wrong. The Eagles lead the league in point differential, sitting at +65, largely in part because of their dominating win over the Steelers (34-3) last week. In that game, Wentz looked like a veteran, tossing over 300 yards and two touchdowns with zero turnovers and a 125 passer rating. Wentz does not look like a rookie who is still adjusting to the NFL; he looks comfortable in his role and should continue to play effectively throughout the season, with the following weapons at his disposal: Jordan Matthews, Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Not a bad supporting cast coupled with great quarterback play. In recent history the Eagles have always been a risky bet to advance deep into the playoffs, but look for them to take the division this year.
Vikings: Despite a 3-0 start, I don’t buy the Vikings as a playoff team this year. Too many crippling injuries will eventually catch up with them and hurt their performance. Yes, they had impressive wins over the Packers and Panthers, but the season is too long for them to continue winning without Peterson or Bridgewater at the helm. Furthermore, relying on Bradford is a scary thought given his NFL career thus far. After poor runs with the Rams and Eagles, Bradford is one of the biggest draft busts of all time. Look for a record slightly above .500 for the Vikings. My guess is 9-7.
Ravens: The Ravens have accumulated three unimpressive wins against the struggling Jaguars, the Browns and the 1-2 Bills. I just do not think the Ravens offense is strong enough to consistently put up enough points and their defense is nothing special either. Unless the Ravens pull Ray Lewis out of retirement to play linebacker, I don’t see the Ravens making the Super Bowl, or even playoffs for that matter. I credit the Ravens for a strong start, but expect a rather flat finish and near .500 record for Baltimore