Trimester Besters: Which Undefeated Teams Are Most Likely to Start 4-0?
With the 2010 season of professional football underway, the saying "expect the unexpected" has been in full effect thus far.
Looking past the Brett Favre drama, off-season of holdouts, and typical Terrell Owens, the NFL season has been quite thrilling to say the least.
It seems as if the edge of our seats will be worn out following the fall and winter, given all the un-givens of this year.
The mere sight of seeing the San Francisco 49ers slapped with an 0-3 record, the Seattle Seahawks putting up nearly 25 points per game, and Jerry Jones' expensive Dallas Cowboys begin 1-2 is enough to prepare for an exciting season.
Not only have unheralded records been earned, but quarterback changes have been abundant.
Vince Young, a former third overall draftee, has been rotated in a particular game in which head coach Jeff Fisher stated his obvious mistrust in Young's passing abilities.
Former Washington Redskin, Jason Campbell, has been benched after being traded for and pumped as a savior for Oakland.
And of course, the old man himself has ineffectively lead the Sidney Rice-less Minnesota Vikings to a 1-2 record.
However, a few more surprises may take place in these teams' fourth games of 2010.
Lovie Smith, with his job on the line, has composed himself in a very emotionally solid way in order to conduct his squad to an undefeated beginning. Can he resurrect his own?
Well, if things continue to fall into place for the Monsters of the Midway, Smith and Jerry Angelo will endure newfound respect.
The news out of Chicago is the current marriage status between quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who was hired by Virginia McCaskey during the off-season.
That news is undoubtedly categorized as "good."
Cutler ranks fifth among all quarterbacks in passing yardage with 870. The former Pro Bowler has posted a 109.7 passer rating to polish his six touchdowns and two interceptions.
However, 'tis too good to be true, as Chicago's rushing attack is overlooked greatly. The smashmouth identity of the Bears has faded quite quickly as Lovie's "get off the bus running" mentality has only managed 72 yards-per-game on the ground.
Matt Forte has blossomed as a receiver, leading all running backs in receptions since coming into the league in 2008.
Blocking continues to be inadequate as Cutler has developed the pattern of throwing off his back foot and racked up sack yards. Martz adapts to pressure, as apparent in the matchup against Dallas.
Week Four: At New York Giants (1-2)
With the brand-new "produce or sit" motto being in effect by Lovie Smith, former All-Pro Tommie Harris and corner Zack Bowman have been benched due to their inability to contain the opposing offense. Tim Jennings has stepped into Bowman's shoes as of late, and he seems to fit well.
Jennings will need to play physical as New York runs pitches with blocking from their young receivers down the field. Contain the run, and Eli Manning will self-destruct.
New York's Perry Fewell enjoys to call blitz plays, which calls for Chicago to bring in extra blockers like Brandon Manumaleuna to assist the tackles in containment.
The Giants have committed 10 turnovers, ranking second-worst in the league, and will have a tough matchup ahead of them against a Bears defense who thrives off turnovers.
Prediction: Chicago Bears 27 | New York Giants 14
Kansas City Chiefs
What a pleasant surprise.
Like the upcoming team, the Kansas City Chiefs were written off. A useless season, a waste of Matt Cassel's talent...
Well, look who's 3-0.
Kansas City has earned hard-fought victories over the high-powered San Diego Chargers and underachieving San Francisco 49ers so far, and look to show off their No. 1 ranked rushing attack.
Matt Cassel has looked average at best for the young Chiefs, but has done enough to earn a W in the win column so far.
Newly acquired Thomas Jones has produced at a high level in one of the NFL's best running back duos along with Jamaal Charles.
The two have combined for 455 yards on 86 carries, an average of 5.3 yards-per-carry.
Jones and Charles' production combined with a defense who has allowed only 12.7 points-per-game is an instant recipe for success.
Week Five: at Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Even with a successful campaign thus far, the Chiefs face their toughest matchup after an earned bye week next week, playing Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis squad.
Kansas City's defense will have to make the difficult decision to either: a) take their chances and blitz to pressure Manning or b) drop back in zones all day and force arguably the best regular season quarterback of all time to force the ball downfield.
Honestly, it's a decision I wouldn't want to make.
Regardless of what you attempt to do, Peyton Manning will pick your defense apart. It's a matter of containing the rushing attack, which Indianapolis hasn't done successfully in years.
If the Colts gain ground on the Chiefs' defense, Matt Cassel won't handle the pressure of throwing every down well. The Chiefs need to come out swinging in order for a win in week five.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 10 | Indianapolis Colts 28
Surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers have displayed the power of the Terrible Towel in their first three games, without Ben Rothlisberger.
Most analysts predicted a .500; 2-2 record at best in the first four games of Pittsburgh's schedule.
Well, following the injury bug bites of Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, the Steelers continuously find ways to come out victorious with their fourth string quarterback.
The unique and complex defensive schemes head coach Mike Tomlin has drawn up has confused opposing offenses and consistently contained any assault.
Even run stopping formations including Troy Polamalu lining up in a linebacker spot and Lawrence Timmons as a safety have been broken out. Innovation isn't scarce for Pittsburgh's defense.
The Steelers are No. 1 in points allowed, sixth in yards allowed, and third in rushing yards allowed. Equally astounding is the production on the opposite side of the ball.
Despite quarterback play, running back Rashard Mendenhall has led the Steel Curtain to 24 points and 150 yards rushing per game, with the league's worst quarterback play.
Modifications of the Steelers' formations, players, and overall production is even more shocking than their record. There's no doubting the Steelers' ability to win, regardless of conditions.
Week Four, vs. Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh certainly could be considered a favorite in week four's contest against Joe Flacco and the 28th-ranked offense of the Ravens.
Although Baltimore has hung in each of their battles, the Ravens have looked sloppy and Flacco has appeared to be a bit inconsistent at times throughout three games.
The Ravens certainly have an edge when it comes to offensive talent, but as this season has displayed, talent doesn't guarantee wins.
Ray Lewis and his troops have allowed only 13.7 points per game, so an offensive shoot-out isn't imminent.
Containment on the ground may determine this matchup, as each team has attained powerful, explosive tailbacks.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers - 14 | Baltimore Ravens - 13