Week three brought many highlights, but the only one anyone is going to remember is Vikings QB Brett Favre hitting newly signed WR Greg Lewis in the back of the endzone with two seconds left to beat the San Francisco 49ers and move to 3-0 on the season.
As a diehard Packers fan, I was speechless. I knew Favre would lead a comeback, as he had done so many times for the Green and Gold, but to watch him do it for the Vikings was just painful. Minnesota plays at home against the Packers on Monday Night this week, but first here are my rankings heading into week four.
Teams previous ranking in ( ).
1. New York Giants (1): Putting up 24 points and holding their opponent to under 100 total yards. I don’t care who you’re playing, that’s impressive. No Burress, no problem; this team might even be better without him.
2. New Orleans Saints (2): They were finally held under 30 points and QB Drew Brees finally looked mortal. However, other than a special teams TD, the Saints defense pitched a shutout against a solid offense. They are proving they can win on both sides of the ball.
3. New England Patriots (5): They still have work to do, but it appears they are getting closer to the juggernaut we saw in 2007. Tom Brady to Randy Moss is still dynamic, and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half against a good Falcons offense.
4. Baltimore Ravens (6): This team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They put up over 30 points yet again and QB Joe Flacco continues to impress. The defense is not what it used to be, but it is good enough to win on a weekly basis.
5. New York Jets (9): This team is flying up the rankings. I had them at No. 21 at the beginning of the season, and thought that was too high. Now they have cracked the top five, with potential to move even higher. QB Mark Sanchez has played like the Rookie of the Year so far.
6. Indianapolis Colts (11): Even though they lack a consistent ground game, the Colts put up points with ease. They manhandled the Cardinals, forcing QB Kurt Warner to throw 52 times. If they can get RB Joseph Addai or rookie RB Donald Brown going, they will be a scary team to face.
7. Minnesota Vikings (7): Vintage Favre on that last play. They had no business winning that game, but good teams find ways to win. They are now preparing for the circus on Monday Night Football in which K Ryan Longwell will face his old team. Oh fine, I guess Favre playing against the Packers is probably a slightly bigger circus.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (8): No Donovan McNabb, no Brian Westbrook, no problem. QB Kevin Kolb played flawless and rookie RB LeSean McCoy ran for 84 yards and a score. The Eagles have a bye this week, so they should be healthy and ready to go in week five.
9. Atlanta Falcons (4): The loss to the Patriots did drop Atlanta out of the top five, but they are still a very good team. However they have got to address the defense if they want to be a Super Bowl contender.
10. San Diego Chargers (10): Whether or not RB LaDainian Tomlinson is healthy, the Chargers have got to get the ground game going. This will help out QB Philip Rivers even more and the Chargers can finally be an elite offense.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (3): Losing to the Bears is one thing. Losing to the Bengals (even if they are 2-1 and improving) is not acceptable if you are the defending champions. The value of S Troy Polamalu is off the charts. Without him, the defense just doesn’t click. RB Willie Parker ran for just under 100 yards, but he’s got to start doing it on a regular basis.
12. Dallas Cowboys (12): Dallas remains at No. 12 after struggling to win at home against a winless Panthers team. RB Felix Jones is now hurt and starter Marion Barber may also miss another week. Nonetheless they shouldn’t have huge problems with the Broncos this week.
13. Green Bay Packers (13): No change in the rankings for the Packers either. They beat up on a bad Rams team, though the game was still in doubt in the third quarter. RB Ryan Grant has got to regain his 2007 form and the defense is still adjusting to the new 3-4 style.
14. Chicago Bears (14): I expected a lot more from the Bears after taking down the defending champs. Sure QB Jay Cutler led his second game-winning drive in as many weeks, but this team should beat the Seahawks with more ease.
15. San Francisco 49ers (16): I had this team ranked No. 31 to start the year, and they are one play away from being 3-0 and having an early stranglehold on the division. The loss of RB Frank Gore hurts, but they have a favorable schedule for the next few weeks. Glen Coffee is the hottest thing to hit the fantasy waiver wire this season.
16. Houston Texans (15): Tough loss for the Texans. They had a game-tying TD taken away because of a penalty, and then lost a fumble on the one-yard line the next play. Their offense is still very good, but as we know defense wins championships and theirs is not championship caliber.
17. Denver Broncos (22): I know they are 3-0, but they might as well have opened the season with three college football teams. Beating the Bengals, Browns, and Raiders is hardly impressive. Yes the Bengals are 2-1, but if not for a ridiculously lucky catch and run by WR Brandon Stokley, the Broncos would have lost that game. Their next three games are against the Cowboys, Patriots, and Chargers. I’ll be surprised if they win any of those.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (24): In back-to-back weeks, they took down two of my original top-five teams. Yes, the Packers have underachieved slightly, and the Steelers were without Polamalu, but wins are wins. There’s no denying the weapons the Bengals have on offense but their defense will have to play better if they have any hope of playing in January.
19. Seattle Seahawks (20): The Seahawks nearly grabbed a win against the Bears behind backup QB Seneca Wallace, but came up just short. It seems like this team can never stay healthy, but I still believe when QB Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, they can challenge the 49ers for the division.
20. Arizona Cardinals (17): Arizona laid an egg against the Colts on Monday night. RB Tim Hightower lost a fumble in the redzone and that was the turning point in the game. The offense has yet to click, and the defense still remains average at best. However, the division is injury plagued so don’t count out the defending NFC champs.
21. Tennessee Titans (19): The season is almost a lost cause for the Titans. They sit at 0-3 and if they don’t beat the Jags this week, they will be staring 0-6 in the face as they play the Colts and Patriots before a bye in week seven. Watch for backup QB Vince Young to get the call very soon.
22. Buffalo Bills (18): The defense played well against the mighty Saints offense. They gave up far too many rushing yards, but, hey, when you’re playing against Brees, you have to pick your poison. However the Bills’ offense was stagnant and WR Terrell Owens did not catch a single pass. I’m setting the over/under at two weeks until Owens throws QB Trent Edwards under the bus.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (27): The Jags finally got their first win, due in large part to RB Maurice Jones-Drew running for 119 yards and three touchdowns. WR Mike Sims-Walker had another solid week reeling in six catches for 81 yards. I still don’t think this team has enough talent on either side of the ball to win more than about six games.
24. Washington Redskins (21): Clinton Portis was banged up, but QB Jason Campbell threw for 340 yards and two TDs and finally got on the same page with WR Santana Moss who had 10 catches for 178 yards and a score. Oh, did I mention they lost to the Lions? One can only wonder how much longer Jim Zorn will remain as head coach.
25. Miami Dolphins (25): You’ve got to feel for QB Chad Pennington. It appears he is once again out for the season with a shoulder injury. Backup QB Chad Henne of Michigan will take over but it looks like the season is going to be a struggle for the Fins.
26. Oakland Raiders (23): QB Jamarcus Russell has completed 12 passes or less every game so far, and his passing yards have been approximately cut in half each week. If that holds true again he is going to throw for around 30 yards this week. If it hasn’t already been made official, Russell is a major bust.
27. Carolina Panthers (26): QB Jake Delhomme is still turning the ball over, and RB DeAngelo Williams has yet to rush for 80 yards in a game. The Panthers are 0-3, but face some favorable matchups in their next three games.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28): When a team gains 86 total yards of offense, and their leading rusher is their backup quarterback (one carry for 15 yards), it’s not a good day, to say the least. The Bucs are going nowhere this year and they are going there fast. QB Byron Leftwich has been benched in favor of backup QB Josh Johnson. I understand they need some kind of change, but I don’t see this getting them any wins anytime soon.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (29): The Chiefs defense was torched by a backup quarterback. RB Larry Johnson is still struggling and QB Matt Cassel is playing through an injury. They play in a weak division, but even so the Chiefs are in for a long season.
30. Detroit Lions (32): Believe it or not, I took the Lions in my survival league this week and needless to say I was called many names. But the Lions came through, finally! They showed signs through the first two weeks and they were finally able to get their first win since 2007. There are currently seven teams behind the Lions in the standings, when was the last time we were able to say that?
31. St. Louis Rams (31): QB Marc Bulger was knocked out with an injury but backup QB Kyle Boller played very well. Nonetheless I stand by my prediction that the Rams may actually take a step back from their 2-14 season last year.
32. Cleveland Browns (30): As bad as the Rams are, the Browns are worse. It is entirely possible that the Browns are this year’s version of the Lions. I won’t guarantee a winless season, because they still have two games against the Bengals, as well as games against the Lions, Raiders, Chiefs, and Jaguars, but let’s just say a winless season wouldn’t surprise me.