Three weeks down, three undefeated teams left. I know that I expressed surprise after seeing more than a few of them drop off, but this week was even more surprising, actually. Two AFC East "powerhouses" (do we really know yet? Not quite) went on the road and lost. Two surprise teams sacked up and took victory into their hands. And the defending champs played well again.
The picks this week went better than I expected. Even with the surprise victories/losses, I had a good week, despite not gambling too much. Here are the standings for Week 3:
Finally, Peter King came back to the pack after two incredible weeks.
We all went wrong with Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Arizona. Oh, and let's not forget the Patriots (and honestly, how could we). I gambled on the Jets to go out to Oakland and win. That was ill-conceived. I also "gambled" on the Packers in Chicago. Not much of a gamble, really, and it turned out well.
Here are the Rankings for Week 3:
1.) Green Bay (3-0) [no change]
Jermichael Finley stepped up. The defense seemed a bit stiffer, as well. One may wonder if a new vulnerability in the special teams has been unearthed; I look at it as an aberration until proven otherwise. Let's not forget that few teams have a dynamic return man like Devin Hester. Aaron Rodgers played well enough to win, but there were a number of ugly drives. Also, clock management appeared to be an issue. All small stuff, it seems, but as the old expression goes, the devil is in the details.
2.) Detroit (3-0) [+2]
Are the Lions really this good, or did they take advantage of a Minnesota team that just can't close the deal? I'll take a little bit of both. They definitely took advantage of Vikings miscues. But let's be honest here: Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are pretty good. Johnson is probably a top 3 receiver (just after Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson). Stafford is proving that when he's healthy, he's a top 10 QB.
3.) Buffalo (3-0) [+2]
At some point, I have to stop being surprised about this team winning and come to expect it. One thing that helps their chances is a favorable schedule. Before their Week 7 bye, they get the Bengals, Eagles, and Giants. Those are three winnable games. And looking further, they don't have what looks like a tough game until they have to go to San Diego in Week 14. I'm guessing the Jets will play them tough, but if Fred Jackson can run anything like Darren McFadden did this week...yeah, not so tough.
4.) New Orleans (2-1) [+4]
With the rules being what they are and the prevalence of passing, red zone defense has become a premium. New Orleans had it in Week 3. It helped that the Texans struggled, as usual, and had no idea what they were doing in the red zone (Washington had the same problem, and is there any surprise there? Nope). One other obvious point: the Saints are money in the 4th quarter. When they absolutely had to score, Drew Brees led them down the field and got TD's.
5.) New England (2-1) [-3]
If I have long-time readers, they might be asking me "Why keep the Pats in the Rankings after a bad loss"? Well...there are a number of teams that appear to be deserving of a spot. It's one of those weird weeks where more than 10 teams deserve to be in. But I've been an admirer of the Pats since 2007 or so, and because of that, I can never truly count them out. Plus, does anyone really think that Oakland, San Francisco, or Cleveland have staying power? Or more staying power than the Pats? In both cases, I'd vote no, and so the Pats stay in, though they had to drop.
6.) NY Jets (2-1) [-3]
Much like their division rivals in New England, the Jets appear to have more staying power than other 2-1 teams that don't have a recent history of winning. I fully expected the Jets to pull out a win in Oakland, but since they didn't, they had to drop a little. And despite getting run over by Darren McFadden, I think they have a solid chance to be a playoff team.
7.) Baltimore (2-1) [-]
An impressive first quarter led to a rout in St. Louis for the on-again, off-again Ravens. Inconsistency may well be their calling card this season, but when they're on, they are ON. As such, they move into 7th this week over the Steelers, who they already beat head-to-head. And, as usual, more impressive victories tend to lead to moving up higher than those who are not so impressive.
8.) Pittsburgh (2-1) [+1]
Speaking of unimpressive wins...the Steelers' Sunday Night win over Indy has to rank as one of the least impressive wins this season, considering how bad Pittsburgh looked throughout. That's why Baltimore, the Jets, and the Patriots are still above them. If it had been closer to the spread, I would have kicked the losers down a couple more spots.
9.) San Diego (2-1) [-]
Another unimpressive win leads to a good team being in the lower part of the top ten. I think the spread for this game was among the largest I've heard of recently. It'll probably be one of the largest of the season, too. At any rate, the Chargers are tied for the division lead, and while they haven't looked their best, I'd be willing to bet on them winning the AFC West over Oakland.
10.) Dallas (2-1) [-]
I wrestled with this one a little bit. The last thing I want to do is exhibit blatant favoritism, especially toward a team that has one awful loss and two borderline wins. Yes, they won against SF and Washington, but both of them were not what I would call "strong" wins. Although, that play Anthony Spencer made last night was pretty strong in my book. So look at it this way: every team Dallas has played so far is 2-1. If that counts for anything, then there's a reason Dallas is in the top ten aside from being my favorite team. And if not, then I'm a bloody homer. No excuses here.
Finally, a note on the teams that exited the Rankings. They were Houston (6), Washington (7), and Atlanta (10). Two undefeated teams that went down, plus another road loss for the Falcons. I don't think there's a lot of surprise in any of these results, nor the fact that all three dropped because of them. I never had a lot of faith in the Texans or Redskins; let's face it, the Texans have no history of success whatsoever, and the Redskins are still starting Rex Grossman, which bit them in the rear last night. The Falcons are now 1-2, which is not good enough at this point to be in the top ten. That's not to say that they won't make it back in, of course.
That's all for this week. See you next week!