There are now just five undefeated teams left in the NFL through three weeks (neither competitor on Monday Night Football is undefeated), as the Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Eagles, and Vikings have made it to 3-0 on very different paths.
The Ravens opponents are a collective 1-8, with wins against the 0-3 Jaguars and Browns and the 1-2 Bills. The Eagles have beaten the 0-3 Bears and, sorry, Browns, and the 2-1 Steelers.
The Patriots, Vikings, and Broncos have all beaten teams with at least one win, with the Patriots and Vikings beating the 2-1 Texans and Packers, respectively.
No one would really consider the Ravens a top competitor, despite their undefeated status, but the other four teams have a lot in common.
League leaders in point differential— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) September 26, 2016
PHI +65 (new QB)
NE +36 (no Brady)
DEN +27 (new QB)
MIN +24 (new QB)
Pretty cool, right?
The Eagles lead the league in point differential with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and a league-leading offense playing alongside a rejuvenated and a league-leading defense led by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz that just held the Steelers to 3 points on Sunday.
The Patriots have juggled third-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett over the first three weeks of the season to create the 5th ranked offense in the NFL, while the 5th ranked defense just pitched a complete game shutout of the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.
The Broncos have played sophomore 7th round quarterback Trevor Siemian, who just threw 315 yards and 4 touchdowns on the road for the 4th ranked offense, and their 9th ranked defense has stifled three very good offenses in the Panthers, Colts, and Bengals.
The Vikings are The Walking Dead, missing their starting quarterback, running back, left tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker, yet the recently acquired Sam Bradford and the 3rd ranked defense have toppled the Titans, Packers, and Panthers. The Vikings offense ranks 20th in points (how I ranked the other teams) and 31st in yards per game.
These four teams have overcome a lot and the new quarterbacks have really risen to the occasion, but it’s been a complete team performance for all of these squads. The defenses have gotten the ball back to the offense so they could produce despite a limited playbook- and even the Ravens 4th ranked defense deserves some credit in that regard.
One would assume that, eventually, defenses will figure out the tendencies of these young quarterbacks and that the fun ride will soon be over. The Patriots are different from the competition, however, because they have a set date when they will change their quarterback to a savvy veteran.
The return of quarterback Tom Brady is on the horizon, as is the return of edge defender Rob Ninkovich, along with the returned health and involvement of tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Danny Amendola, running back Dion Lewis, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and maybe even right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Perhaps the Patriots can take an undefeated record to even greater heights upon their return.
The Eagles play the Vikings in week 7 and the Ravens in week 15, while the Patriots face the Ravens in week 14 and the Broncos in week 15.