Now that Week Three of the 2009-2010 NFL season is behind us, it's time to grade the top 10 teams. In a season where you have the defending champions Pittsburgh Steelers at 1-2 and the high-flying offensive jagernaut New Orleans Saints at 3-0, this list may have some surprises. So enjoy and let the arguments begin.
At 2-1, the Green Bay Packers have shown some spunk under second year starter Aaron Rodgers. But with their starting strong safety Atari Bigby out for the season with a knee injury and a inconsistent offensive line, the Packers continue to find their true selfs and play up to their potential. And with the Vikings and their long-time pal Brett Farve coming up this Sunday, the Packers must focus past the media hype if they want to remain contenders in the NFC North.
Coming off a huge upset win over the defending champions Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals could be the sleeper within the the AFC North. They have a knowledgeable quarterback in Carson Palmer and have players that are capable of making big plays at a moments notice such as running back Cedric Benson and wide receiver Andre Caldwell. Their defensive is a little iffy but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has high expectations and will keep his troops in line.
Last season, Matt Ryan was the talk of the league with his amazing ability of throwing accurate passes on the run and his cool under pressure attitude. So naturally this year, the Falcons have high expectations.
However, they're going into a bye-week after losing to the Patriots, 26-10, at New England. The Falcons need to discipline their his defense, who allowed 168 yards on 39 carries last week, allowing New England to eat up nearly 40 minutes of the game clock.
The Buffalo Bills are better than their 1-2 record displays. Yes, they have trash-talking Terrell Owens on their team and a shaky quarterback Trent Edwards, but their defense is for real. Lead by their veteran cornerbacks of Terrence McGee and Bryon Scott, the Bills should make some noise in the AFC East. Especially with their premier running back Marshawn Lynch returning from a three-game suspension this week.
Now that we reached the top five, this next team might be a surprise to some. But the Denver Broncos are a legit 3-0 team. Their defense leads the league in yards per game (214.7), yards per play (3.9) and fewest red zone drives (4).
Defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil ranks second in the league with six sacks, which have all occurred in the previous two weeks (most in the NFL). This week the Broncos visit the Dallas Cowboys, who may seem fragile on the surface, but have a few playmakers of their own.
The soul-searching Dallas Cowboys are slightly ahead of the Broncos for one reason, they have a target on their back. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game in some time, but a chance of pace could be in the works after an inspiring victory over the Carolina Panthers in front of their home crowd last week.
However, their defense needs to keep the pressure like they did last week, where they had three forced turnovers and three sacks. The team's star running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones are questionable against the Broncos, which even puts more pressure on the defense.
The Brett Favre Vikings (or Minnesota Vikings as they're known throughout the league) are a very good team. With last season's leading rusher Adrian Peterson and a tough defense led by Antoine Winfield, the Viks should win the AFC North division and make a deep run in the playoffs.
Head coach Brad Childress is a great motivator and you can tell when he speaks that he knows his team as a shot at something great. The only thing now is can the team fall up the expectations?
This year's Baltimore Ravens sure looks a lot like the 2001 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Except this time, second year starter Joe Flacco is the quarterback and well, Ray Lewis, is still one of the most feared linebacker in the NFL.
The Ravens are 3-0 after a punshing 34-3 victory on Sunday over the Cleaveland Browns. Flacco threw for a career-high 342 yards and said afterwards that you can't take anybody lightly. With that attitude, the Ravens should go far in the playoffs and might dance their way into the Super Bowl.
The Colts are also 3-0. Really, no surprise here. When you got the two-time MVP Payton Manning at the helm, the Colts will always be a team in the mix. Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell has slowly filled the shoes left by Tony Dungy and appears to have his team heading in the right direction.
Their offense is solid and their defense is relentless. You should expect the Colts to stay near the top of this list throughout the season.
The Saints top my list at number one. If you haven't seen them play, you've been missing out. Not only did they average scoring over 40 points in their first three games, but they did with precise route patterns and accurate passes from an very improved Drew Brees.
The defense is just as impressive, which is led by a formidable defensive line and a solid secondary. Head coach Sean Payton knows the season is still early, but if the team stays healthy, which is always a question with any team, the Saints should win their division and march into the NFC Championship game. Don't be surprised if they face the Vikings in that game.