This season has been one of the strangest in recent years. The replacement refs have done an awful job, highlighted by multiple missed calls this past weekend, especially on the Hail Mary play which ultimately won the Seattle Seahawks the game last night.
Beyond the replacements, however, there have been some pretty surprising games in every week. The Saints have started off the season losing all three of their games, which seems to take them out of playoff contention already.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals have managed to start 3-0 after surprising Tom Brady and the Patriots in their home opener.
Some of the teams that have gotten off to a hot start will end up sinking this season, like the did Bills last year. Others who have started off poorly will ultimately right their ships and get back to winning.
Still, some will continue to surprise and that is exactly what I will take a look at.
This may be the biggest surprise of the season, especially since the Cardinals have had their success after Kevin Kolb came in for John Skelton when the latter was hurt in the first game.
Still, the Cardinals will be able to keep this up for the season because they have a stellar defense and a competent offense.
Don't get me wrong, they aren't going to go 16-0 this year, but should be able to play well enough to make it to the playoffs for two reasons.
First, they have played well so far and it has largely been on the backs of their defense, which should be consistent.
More importantly, they have a very winnable schedule. They have only 6 games left against good opponents, including two against the 49ers and one against the Packers. The rest come against the likes of the Rams, Dolphins and Vikings.
I know, I know, they won last night on a terribly botched call by the replacement officials.
It was easily the worst call I have ever seen and should be the tipping point in negotiations between the NFLRA and NFL.
Still, the Seahawks have proven that they can play defense with the best of them and are really only one dropped pass away from being undefeated.
Holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to only 12 points was pretty amazing regardless of how many missed calls there were.
It may take a little while for the offense to catch up to the defense, but the Seattle Seahawks seem to be legitimate. They may not make the playoffs this year, but they aren't out of the question and that is a pretty big step up for Seattle fans.
New Orleans Saints
Wow, the bounty scandal and the loss of Sean Payton has hurt the Saints way more than anybody thought.
Drew Brees has almost been as good as his usual self this season, but the rest of the team has looked pretty dismal.
The Saints are 22nd in rushing yards per game, 25th in passing yards allowed per game and worst in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. For the record, they allow opposing running backs to rush for 215 yards per game against them.
It's pretty hard to win a game when other teams can run the ball all over you.
The good news is that every game has been pretty close so far. Both the first two games were decided by eight points and the last one was a field goal in overtime.
Still, the Saints have a tough schedule ahead of them and have already struggled through an easy section of it. They may win some games this year, but it doesn't look like it'll be enough to get them into the playoffs.
Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Houston Texans
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. New York Giants
6. Arizona Cardinals
7. Chicago Bears
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. New England Patriots
10. Green Bay Packers
11. San Diego Chargers
12. Seattle Seahawks
13. Denver Broncos
14. Philadelphia Eagles
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Cincinnati Bengals
17. Detroit Lions
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. New York Jets
20. Buffalo Bills
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
22. Washington Redskins
23. Miami Dolphins
24. Kansas City Chiefs
25. New Orleans Saints
26. Tennessee Titans
27. Carolina Panthers
28. Oakland Raiders
29. St. Louis Rams
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Indianapolis Colts
32. Cleveland Browns
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