Movers and Shakers: Ranking The NFL's Top 10
Three weeks are in the books on this young 2009 NFL season, and already we are beginning to see some patterns and story lines take shape for the rest of this season.
The Steelers and Patriots are not as good as in years past. Both teams look really, really, really old.
The Ravens, Saints, and Jets look like the real deal so far.
And the brothers Manning, i.e. the Colts and Giants, are still the kings of the show.
By the way, how about dem Lions! No, I am not crazy enough to throw Detroit into a top 10 or 15 list, but this may be my last chance to give the Lions some kudos before their next 19 game losing streak.
10: New England Patriots (2-1)
It's hard to be 2-1 and look totally lost, but that is where the Patriots are right now. Even though they beat the Falcons 26-10 on Sunday, the Patriots offense continued to struggle in the red zone.
Four times New England had the ball inside the Falcons 20, and four times they came away with Stephen Gastkowski field goals. Not good.
And it is not good when Tom Brady is seen yelling at his teammates, when it is clear that HE is the problem.
Brady overthrew his receivers all day, making it apparent that he may not be totally comfortable on that surgically repaired knee.
Are the Pats a good team? Are they an 11 win team? Yeah, they have the talent, but by no means is this the dominant Patriots team of years past. They can be had.
9: Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
Holy cow, the Bengals!?
Yes, you can stop the double take. The Bengals are in the top 10, and why not?
The Bengals soundly beat the Packers in Week Two in Lambeau Field, and came all the way back to shock the Steelers on Sunday.
If it were not for a freak play in the home opener against Denver, the Bengals could be 3-0 right now.
The Steelers sat back and watched the Bengals rally from a 20-9 deficit to beat Pittsburgh for the first time in more than eight years in Cincinnati.
Carson Palmer's last second TD pass to Andre Caldwell should reinstill confidence in Bengal fans that Palmer can reclaim his Pro Bowl status.
With the Browns next on the schedule, there is no reason not to think that Cincinnati could be 3-1 and in first place in the AFC North.
8: Chicago Bears (2-1)
I think Bears fans are happy that Jay Cutler is their quarterback. In years past, the Bears were used to seeing their QB choke in the big spot. Not anymore, not with Cutler.
With Chicago down 19-17 in the fourth to a beaten up Seahawks squad, Cutler engineered a three-and-a-half minute drive that concluded with a 36-yard strike to Devin Hester for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Bears improved to 2-1 on the year and are keeping pace with the Vikings and Packers.
7: Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Even though they lost to the Patriots in a cold and hostile environment, you still have to like what is going on in Atlanta.
The Falcons held the Patriots to four field goals in Sunday's game, hanging around as long as they could until Tom Brady's touchdown to ex-Jet Chris Baker late in the fourth quarter.
Matt Ryan is a having a brilliant year, throwing for 695 yards and completing 65 percent of his passes. He has only one interception this year and didn't turn the ball over to the ball hawking Patriots, which was key in keeping Atlanta in the game.
A set back was coming eventually, but the Falcons are for real.
6: Minnesota Vikings (3-0)
Say what you will Packers and Jets fans, but Brett Favre worked his magic on Sunday in Minnesota leading the Vikings to a last minute victory over the 49ers.
Favre, who has been held in check through the first two games, lit it up on Sunday. He completed 24-of-46 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Favre completed 6-of-10 passes on the Vikings game winning drive, capped off by the 32-yard touchdown to former Eagle Greg Lewis for the winner.
The whiney Favre, who spends most of his time during the week complaining about his time with the Jets and how they "injured" him, is now 3-0 with the Vikings. Minnesota figures to be a tough out all season.
5: New York Jets (3-0)
It was ugly, but the Jets got it done at Giants Stadium against a feisty Tennessee Titans team on Sunday.
The Jets were exposed a little bit on defense, as the duo of Chris Johnson and LenDale White rushed for 127 yards against Gang Green.
The Titans revealed that the Jets can be run on by rushing to the outside and into the gaps, since the Jets blitz way too much sometimes.
Offensively, Mark Sanchez got his first taste of pressure in the NFL. He was sacked three times and threw some pretty questionable passes, but when it mattered the most, Sanchez got the job done.
He completed a six-yard touchdown to Jerricho Cotchery to give the Jets a 21-17 lead in the fourth, and he completed a 46-yard bomb to Cotchery to set up a field goal to give New York a 24-17 lead.
Sanchez became the first rookie quarterback to start 3-0 since the 1972 NFL/AFL merger.
The Jets are now 3-0, having beaten three soild football teams. Not bad for a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, heh?
4: Indianapolis Colts (3-0)
Here is something that doesn't change: Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Even though he doesn't have Marvin Harrison anymore and has lost Anthony Gonzalez to injury, it has not stopped Manning from putting up huge numbers.
On Sunday night, Manning broke out for four touchdown passes and 379 yards passing. Reggie Wayne, Manning's trusted number one receiver, had 126 yards receiving, including a 20-yard touchdown to open up the scoring for Indianapolis.
Defensively, the Colts stepped up to the plate against the high flying Cardinals offense, holding Arizona to 323 yards of offense, while sacking Kurt Warner four times and picking him off twice.
With the way the AFC South is shaping up right now, it looks like Indy is set to run away with the division title once again.
3: New Orleans Saints (3-0)
When those Saints go marching on! The Saints are streaking past the competition right now.
Even though Drew Brees was held in check by the Buffalo Bills defense, the Saints still scored 27 points in a blowout victory.
Pierre Thomas gashed the Bills for 126 yards on the ground, with two touchdowns—both in the fourth quarter—as he led the charge for New Orleans.
The Saints held Buffalo to 243 yards of offense, and kept Terrell Owens without a catch. Now the Saints prepare for a sure-fire war with the Jets set for next Sunday. Should be the Game of the Week.
2: Baltimore Ravens (3-0)
Watch out for dem Ravens!
The Ravens are quickly turning into the AFC's best team, with the combination of a solid offense, and one of the best defenses in football.
Sunday's 34-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns was not about Joe Flacco; it was all about Willis McGahee and the Ravens defense.
McGahee, who was a bum last year, has resurrected his career this year. McGahee ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, improving his stats to 190 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
McGahee, who had all of seven rushing touchdowns last year, is well on his way to matching his best TD year of 13, which he set in 2004 as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Defensively, the Ravens manhandled the bumbling Browns, holding Cleveland to 186 yards of offense and 11 first downs.
The Ravens travel to Foxboro next week to face the Patriots for their first real test of the 2009 season.
They win that, and the Ravens could become number one!
1: New York Giants (3-0)
Now for the kings of the NFL: The New York Football Giants!
The Giants steamrolled the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday, holding the Bucs to 86 yards of offense, and five first downs.
The Giants controlled the football for 43 minutes, with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw leading the way for Big Blue.
The Giants, as a team, rushed for 226 yards, with Bradshaw rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries, and Jacobs 92 yards and a touchdown.
Eli Manning didn't have to do a lot against the Bucs. He threw for 161 yards and two touchdowns to Steve Smith and the forgotten man, Sinorice Moss, to help improve the G-Men to 3-0.
The Giants travel to Kansas City, where they should smack around the Chiefs, before returning to Giants Stadium to face the bumbling Raiders. It's good to be the king.