If there is one thing sports fans love to do, it is blow a situation way out of proportion. In the spirit of that craziness, it only makes sense to try and judge the best looking NFL teams after just three weeks of the season. With that said, it is not always crazy to make early judgments about teams in the NFL. After all, the NFL is nothing if not consistent in its statistical outcomes.
After just three weeks of the season there are seven remaining undefeated teams in the field of 32 NFL teams. Four teams from the AFC (Denver, Kansas City, New England, and Miami) are undefeated along with three teams from the NFC (New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle), but which team is the best remaining undefeated squad? More importantly, which undefeated team looks the most dangerous?
#7 – Chicago Bears
Chicago has to be the least impressive of the remaining undefeated teams. Despite getting a more offensive-minded coach in Mark Trestman, the offense in Chicago still has its deficiencies masked by tremendous special teams play and a typically strong Bears defense.
Look no further than the Bears’ competition from the first two weeks for a reason why their start isn’t impressive. Chicago needed last minute scores to win in weeks one and two (Cincinnati and Minnesota respectively), and had to hold off a furious comeback attempt from the Steelers in week three. The Vikings and Steelers are both 0-3.
Last season the Bears started 7-1 and muddled their way through the remainder of the season only to miss out on the playoffs all together. Don’t expect the Bears to be among the last remaining undefeateds.
#6 – New England Patriots
What are you thinking, how could you disrespect Tom Brady like this? Sorry Pats fans, but that 3-0 start isn’t that impressive. The offense has struggled to find an identity after the departure of Wes Welker to Denver and losing Rob Gronkowski to wrist and back surgery in the off-season. The Gronk will return and the offense will regain some dynamic features when he does, but the frustration is written all over Tom Brady’s face as he struggles to connect with his average crop of WRs.
In addition to a rudderless offense, New England’s undefeated start has been powered largely by facing weak competition. The Pats were behind early against Buffalo (1-2), struggled against a Jets squad led by a very green Geno Smith at QB at Foxboro, and beat up on a hapless Tampa Bay team that is 0-3.
#5 – Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill might not be Dan Marino, but he just might convince a few long suffering Dolphins fans that they finally have a quarterback worthy of starting for the long term under center. The Dolphins were rather lifeless in week one but managed a victory nonetheless, since then it appears Mike Wallace, Tannehill, and the rest of the Fins could be finding a rhythm.
On the downside, their only impressive victory was on the road in week two against Indianapolis (2-1). Their other victories came over a Cleveland (1-2) team synonymous with losing and an Atlanta team with a lot of questions (1-2). Until the Dolphins prove their metal against tougher competition, they can’t move up this list.
#4 – Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson and company look dangerous as always, at home. They manhandled the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in week two and sent a message in the process that last year’s playoff appearance was no fluke.
On the other hand, Seattle’s other victories came against Carolina (1-2) and Jacksonville (0-3). At some point in time, in order to be taken seriously Seattle is going to have to prove it can win on the road consistently. So far the Seahawks are 2-0 at home, but that is no surprise for a team that went 8-0 at home last season. Improving on an 0-8 road record from last season will be the true measurement of their greatness.
#3 – Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs, are you serious? Yes, the Chiefs deserve to be number three and for good reason. Alex Smith might not be an elite NFL quarterback, but he is an excellent game manager and he is finally in the right system for his abilities. Andy Reid has the Chiefs firing on all cylinders on offense and the defense is pretty darn good too.
Kansas City managed to do just enough to beat a tough Dallas defense and then stymied Chip Kelly’s spread offense in Philadelphia in week three. If nothing else, this squad had two wins all of last season and now have three already through three weeks.
#2 – New Orleans Saints
I’m sorry, what about Bountygate? That seems a distant memory now as Drew Brees and Sean Payton have reunited on the sidelines in New Orleans. The style and swagger are back in the Big Easy and the Saints offense is firing on all cylinders, but it isn’t the offense that lands New Orleans high on this list.
Under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints might finally have the defense needed to make deep playoff runs. Last season the Saints had one of the worst defenses in the NFL and held opponents to 17 or fewer points just two times. Already this season the Saints have held all three opponents to 17 or fewer points.
#1 – Denver Broncos
This really shouldn’t shock any NFL fan. This team went 14-2 last season and looks poised to do that or better this season. Peyton Manning is absolutely unstoppable to start the season throwing seven TD passes in the first week alone. In addition to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, Manning now has Welker to throw the ball to and the emerging Julius Thomas at TE.
The only thing that can stop Denver is its defense. Champ Bailey has been slowed by injuries to start the season, Von Miller is fighting off the field issues and suspension, and Elvis Dumervil signed with the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. More will need to be thrown at this defense in order to determine just how good it really is.
In the end it is highly unlikely any of these teams will finish undefeated, after all that has happened twice in NFL regular season history. If nothing else, the hot starts for these seven means you can expect to see the majority of them in the playoffs come January. According to ESPN.com, 75% of teams that start 3-0 make the playoffs.