The Cincinnati Bengals, presumed losers and Hard Knocks hard luck case are 2-1 and just one crazy, lucky Brandon Stokley play away from being undefeated. The Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Carolina Panthers, all division winners from a year ago are all 0-3. The New York Jets, quarterbacked by rookie Mark Sanchez, are 3-0. The Denver Broncos, benefactors of that lucky win against the Bengals are 3-0, and according to total yardage, have the NFL's best defense.
After the Patriots week 2 loss to the Jets, I wrote that week 2 meant something important and that after two weeks of football, we should have a much better grasp on the rest of the season. Except maybe I was wrong. My buddy McBlog! has been blogging on how confusing a season this has been for fantasy footballers thus far and I'm bound to agree, but this confusion extends to the totality of NFL football. We're three weeks in and there's not very much I'm sure about.
So what am I sure of? Here's a brief list:
# The Browns, Buccaneers, and Rams are really, really bad football teams. And the Dolphins aren't bad, but it's going to be a long, long season for Dolphins fans.
# The Ravens are very good, but I'm not quite sure just how good at this point. We know the defense is great, but although Joe Flacco and the offense have shown incredible promise, I'd still like to see more against teams not named the Browns and Chiefs.
# The Bills, Chiefs, Raiders, Redskins, and Lions won't make the playoffs. Beyond them and the four teams I mentioned up above, I'll make no promises.
For whatever reason, it's just been tough to get a real read on anyone this year. The big problem is the shake up at the top. I'm pretty confident about who the league's real losers are, but I don't think anyone is super confident about the league's top 5 or even top 10. Let's just look at the league's seven still undefeated teams for a moment. The Giants have looked impressive, but two of their wins were against the terrible Redskins and even more terrible Bucs. The Colts have had two of their three games- against the Jags and Dolphins- go down to the wire. Besides their lucky win against the Bengals, the Broncos have garnered wins against the Browns and Raiders. The Vikings beat the Lions and the Browns before Brett Favre's miracle win against the Niners.
That leaves the Jets and Saints, who just coincidently, happen to be playing each other this weekend. The Jets have chalked up impressive wins against the Texans, Patriots, and Titans, but ultimately, no matter how good their defense proves to be, we're still dealing with a rookie quarterback. I'm pretty sure the Jets will be a good team- probably a playoff team- this season, but who in their right mind would put money on their reaching the Super Bowl. The Saints are interesting and I give them some credit for their road wins against a McNabb-less Eagles and a not-very-good Bills team, but certainly no one is sold on the Saints defense.
As I mentioned, there are nine teams I'm sure are not playoff teams: The Rams, Bucs, Browns, Dolphins, Bills, Lions, Redskins, Chiefs, and Raiders. And looking through the previously mentioned undefeated teams and the various other two win teams, I see very few impressive wins. In fact, only 5 teams in the league have more than one win against teams not part of the lousy nine, and not one of those five stands out as super impressive. There are the Colts, with wins against the Jaguars and Cardinals, the Bengals, with wins against the Packers and Steelers, the Bears, with wins against the Seahawks and Steelers, the Niners, with wins against the Seahawks and Cardinals, and the Jets, who's wins I mentioned above. I know I haven't listed them with the bottom nine, but some of the wins on this list- Cardinals, Jaguars, Seahawks- are pretty damn close.
Ultimately, I think where we're getting is that no one has looked super impressive thus far and even the teams that have edged in that direction still have a lot to prove. And there are some huge "who's really good" games this weekend, most notably Patriots-Ravens, Jets-Saints, and Vikings-Packers. But even Cowboys-Broncos and Steelers-Chargers will go a long way in determining whose for real and whose not.