The AFC After Week Three
It’s only week three, and the NFL has already provided plenty of great moments and stories.
You have the Jets emerging as a threat with rookie QB Mark Sanchez and the Ravens rolling right along with second-year QB Joe Flacco, but you also have the duds and the disappointments.
Let's have a look at all 16 AFC teams.
1. New York Jets 3-0
It has been a great story for the Jets this season. Mark Sanchez has quieted the doubters and has this team on its way to a playoff spot.
But not all the credit goes to Sanchez.
The defense has played phenomenally, giving up only 11 points a game, good for second in the league. The run defense is ninth in the league, and the pass defense is fifth.
With a defense like that, and Sanchez consistently hitting Jerricho Cotchery, this Jets team could take the division title.
2. New England Patriots 2-1
With the return of Tom Brady, many thought the Patriots would be back to their dominant selves again, but New England has shown some vulnerability.
Sure, their record is decent enough, and their ranks in the team stats are solid, but if you look at the games they have played, New England has had some uncharacteristic trouble beating the opponent.
Case in point: week one, when they almost lost to Buffalo, a team that is struggling on offense. This has me thinking it’s the defense that is holding the Patriots back.
Both Randy Moss and Wes Welker are dealing with nagging injuries, which could hinder the Patriots if they continue to linger. The Patriots will have a winning record, but they are not the 18-1 team they were in 2007.
3. Buffalo Bills 1-2
This was supposed to be a bounce-back year for the optimistic Bills, but it has been the opposite.
The defense is playing terribly, T.O. has only 98 yards receiving in three games, and the team does not have a rushing TD. Buffalo is going to have to step it up both offensively and defensively if they want to have a chance in this division.
4. Miami Dolphins 0-3
Probably the biggest letdown in the AFC so far.
After posting an 11-5 record in 2008 the team looked rejuvenated. This year, however, they are playing like the 1-15 team they were in 2007.
Now that Chad Pennington is out for the rest of the year, the team has picked up former Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen. Will Thigpen be the answer? I don’t see it happening.
Miami has dug itself in a huge hole in arguably the best division in the AFC. It will be a long season for the Dolphins and their fans.
1. Baltimore Ravens 3-0
This team is proving that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Joe Flacco is the real deal. He has driven this offense rather than just managing the game, something that makes me think this team could win the Super Bowl this year.
The defense is still the same dominant force, but now the Ravens don’t have to solely rely on their defense to make the big plays. Flacco has developed a solid rapport with veteran Derrick Mason, and if Flacco can continuously find Mason, watch out.
2. Cincinnati Bengals 2-1
Kind of a surprise to me that this team has a 2-1 record, but Cincinnati has a knack for laying low and surprising you.
Carson Palmer isn’t having a spectacular year, but he is healthy, and that’s really what the team needs. Cedric Benson has been a sleeper this year, and Chad Ochocinco is back to playing well.
The schedule has them playing some tough teams, but if everything continues we could see Cincy in the playoffs.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2
Pittsburgh probably didn’t see themselves being 1-2 after week three and in third place, but that’s the way it has gone for the previous Super Bowl champs.
Their current 1-2 record is deceiving and should improve with their next three games coming against San Diego, Detroit, and Cleveland. I don’t see the Steelers failing to recover and not making the playoffs.
Big Ben Roethlisberger is looking sharp, and Willie Parker has finally found his footing in the running game. Look for the Steelers to win three weeks straight and get back on track.
4. Cleveland Browns 0-3
I don’t mean to diss on the Browns, but there are so many problems with this team right now, most noticeably the QB problem. Neither Brady Quinn nor Derek Anderson has shown himself to be the answer, but you can’t just blame them.
The Browns’ O-line is nonexistent, the WRs seem like they are not even on the field, and the defense is just awful. All of this makes the Browns the worst team in the NFL as of week three. This looks to be another disappointing year for the Browns.
1. Indianapolis Colts 3-0
The Colts find themselves at the top of the division. Not much of a surprise there.
Peyton Manning really runs this team, something that he has been doing for years. The Colts are a dominant force in the league, and I like their chances of making it deep into the playoffs.
The rout of the Cardinals Monday night was a sign that the Colts are finally hitting their marks. Watch out NFL.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-2
Jacksonville is a perfect example of a mediocre team that just needs some more talent to become a good-to-great team. They are once again showing signs of being a .500 team, but I think it’s possible for the Jaguars to be a 9-7 team. 10-6 would be pushing it a little.
Just a little more talent and this team could make a name for itself.
3. Houston Texans 1-2
Houston is a great example of an up-and-coming team.
With the duo of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, Houston can be dominating on offense. What’s killing them is their running game and their defense. Steve Slaton has yet to find his footing, and the defense is in the bottom four in three out of the four primary defensive stats.
Like Jacksonville, Houston is a team that just needs a little more talent. They have the offensive weapons, but they desperately need the defensive weapons.
4. Tennessee Titans 0-3
The biggest shocker in the NFL is that the Titans are 0-3. I didn’t expect them to post better numbers than last year, but I never expected to see them in last place and 0-3.
They are in a desperate place right now.
The Titans’ pass defense is ranked 29th, which could be the source of the problems. They are giving up 23 points a game, a little too high if this team wants to succeed.
They better find a cure fast before they dig themselves too deep into a hole.
1. Denver Broncos 3-0
Denver has found its way back to the top of their division even after losing their star QB and having to deal with Brandon Marshall’s antics. Yet the Broncos have overcome those offseason problems.
The only problem the Broncos have is trying to sustain their current lead. Last year they blew their division lead, and I hope they are trying something different so that it does not happen again.
Kyle Orton is doing what he does best: winning football games. As long as they keep playing consistently and don't suffer any major injuries, the Broncos could easily win the AFC West title.
2. San Diego Chargers 2-1
San Diego has a great QB in Philip Rivers, but LT has yet to come back to his old ways.
LT is on the “DL” right now, and the Chargers have yet to find a good replacement for him, which has led to the Chargers being second to last in rushing yards. Their inability to run the ball has been the main cause of the Chargers not making it deep into the playoffs the past couple of years.
The defense remains steady, but far from great.
The Chargers need their running game back, or there is little hope for this team to make the playoffs.
3. Oakland Raiders 1-2
The Raiders do have a win, but don’t expect many more.
This team couldn’t score if the players’ lives depended on it. JaMarcus Russell seems like another first pick bust. Darrius Heyward-Bey has only one catch this year. These players just prove that the Raiders draft the worst possible guys.
Something is wrong with this organization. It needs to be revamped, and it needs to be done now.
4. Kansas City Chiefs 0-3
I wanted to believe in this team, and I wanted them to succeed, but all they have shown is that they are still way behind.
They made the worst move in trading Tony Gonzalez, who is the greatest TE to ever play. He was also their entire offense. Once he left, so did the offense.
Dwayne Bowe is showing promise, and Matt Cassel...well...we will just have to wait and see. Their O-line is just terrible, so it’s no wonder Cassel can’t score. The defense is always on top of him.
The Chiefs were hoping to compete this year, but that's not going to be possible this year. All I can say is wait ’til next year.
Stay tuned for the follow-up article about the NFC.
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