A.F.C. Up For Grabs?

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst ISeptember 26, 2008

Going into this season, it was pretty much a three headed monster that consisted of the favorites for the A.F.C It looked like it would come down to San Diego, Indianapolis, and New England.  And maybe it will be.  So how come after three weeks, NONE of those teams are in first place?

Of course, injuries are part of the story here, with each team having been bit by the bug.  The Patriots are missing Tom Brady, the Colts haven't had Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clarke, and it doesn't seem Peyton Manning is fully healed from his preseason injury, and after one game, the Chargers' Shawne Merriman opted for season ending surgery.

Now New England seems to be missing the most, but I don't recall Tom Brady playing defense for the Patriots which gave up five overall touchdowns to one player on the Dolphins.  ONE PLAYER ON THE DOLPHINS!

San Diego has lost some last minute games, while it seems that the rest of the N.F.L. has caught up to Indianapolis.  Other than a second half wake up call against Minnesota, the Colts could easily be 0-3.

Now we all know the Super Bowl was won last year by a New York Giants team that gave up 80 points in their first two games so it's definitely not over yet.  But then again, the Giants definitely were not predicted for the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl.

So what about those first place teams?  Who would've thought we'd be talking about Buffalo, Baltimore, Tennessee, and Denver as division leaders?  Most likely we won't be able to talk about that in about a month for all of them.  So who's the conference's best?  Is it any of those teams?

The team that's been the most entertaining, i.e. most competitive games and putting up the most points has been the Denver Broncos.  But one of those games was against the Oakland Raiders, and for those other wins it kind of seemed like lady luck was on their side, as the refs blew a few calls in the San Diego game, and Martin Gramatica missed a chip shot in the Saints game last week.  Add in the fact that their defense is being more generous than David Duchovny to online porn sites, and their lead might dwindle.

The first place Baltimore Ravens!  I don't care if they've only played two games.  I kind of had them figured to win two games all season.  But the truth is this sleeper team led by a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback have beaten two winless teams.  And they both play in Ohio (maybe it's something in the water).

One of those teams was the supposed juggernaut Cleveland Browns, with their five primetime games.  It seems that the Browns are this year's version of the New Orleans Saints last year, as in a high powered offense thought to take off but having trouble getting off the ground.  Looks as if Cleveland could win when no one was paying attention to them, but now that they've had to take the next step, it's just not happening.  Could it be the Browns peaked last season without even getting to the playoffs?

The team that seems to be the biggest shocker in terms of playoff droughts is the Buffalo Bills.  It took awhile, but it looks like the Bills have finally found Jim Kelly's replacement in Trent Edwards.  In a division that has a beat up New England team, a rebuilding Miami, and Jets team that hasn't lived up to expectations, Buffalo might have smooth sailing to their first division title since 1995.

Although a playoff team from last season, no one would have thought the Tennessee Titans could dethrone the Indianapolis Colts.  And maybe they won't.  But right now, their defense is playing great and Kerry Collins is playing mistake free football as their quarterback.  As long as Collins remains the play caller over the ineffective Vince Young (I never thought I'd write that sentence), the Titans might just be the first AFC South division winner not named the Colts since 2002, the last time these same Titans captured this division.

If I had to pick a team right now of those I would pick the Tennessee Titans.  Now they're not winning in flashy ways, but neither were the New York Giants last season.