Jussel: After 3 games, Broncos and Seahawks are NFL’s stars
The National Football League season is three weeks old, just a toddler but far enough along to evaluate contenders, pretenders and, yes, outright failures.
ABOVE THE CROWD
Seattle’s Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are the unquestioned stars so far, both going 3-0 and for the most part being unchallenged.
The Seahawks went on the road and squeaked by in their opener at Carolina, then blew out San Francisco and Jacksonville at home to have a plus-59 point differential. QB Russell Wilson has picked up in his second year where he left off last season.
The Broncos are 3-0 and have averaged 42 points per game, and they’re doing it without stars Von Miller, Champ Bailey and now Ryan Clady. Think Peyton Manning was worth that first phone call a couple of summers back?
UNBEATEN FOR NOW
Andy Reid can coach, as the Kansas City Chiefs have shown in going 3-0 after winning only two games last season. Their defense has allowed just 34 points.
Tom Brady is whining as he tries to find receivers in New England, but the Pats are 3-0 thanks to a defense that has also allowed only 34 points.
The other 3-0 AFC team is Miami, thought to be tough defensively, weak offensively. They are scoring 25 points per game as young QB Ryan Tannehill is starting to get his act together, completing 67 percent of his passes and on pace for a 4,400-yard passing season.
There are two 3-0 teams in the NFC besides Seattle. Strangely, Chicago’s Bears are averaging more than 30 points per game, and the New Orleans Saints are allowing only a dozen points per game. Who’d a thunk either?
HAPPY TO BE 2-1
Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Baltimore and Houston were expected to be powers and are hanging with the in crowd.
The Bengals have defeated Pittsburgh and Green Bay, no mean feat, after a three-point loss to da Bears in the opener in Chicago.
Indy has had a little Luck (Andrew has thrown the ball less than expected) and an improved defense allowing only 16 points per game, including Sunday’s 27-7 romp over San Francisco.
Baltimore won a Super Bowl, was hammered in its opener in Denver, nipped the Browns, then blasted a good Houston team 30-9. Careful.
Houston beat San Diego by three, Tennessee in overtime, then was destroyed 30-9 in Baltimore. The Texans are the only winning team that has allowed more points than it scored.
The New York Jets have no QB, very little in the way of receivers and running backs. They edged winless Tampa Bay and Buffalo and were nipped by New England. It’s a smiley face waiting to be turned upside down.
Tennessee edged the Steelers, lost to Houston in overtime and beat the Chargers in the final seconds. Dame Fortune is smiling.
Detroit and Dallas are the 2-1 squads in the NFC, and both are showing plenty of offensive talent in averaging almost 30 points per game. Still, can you see either in an NFC title game?
BAD, BUT BETTER THAN EXPECTED
The Chargers are 1-2, but competitive as new coach Mike McCoy tries to limit Philip Rivers’ mistakes. Philadelphia scared the bejesus out of everyone in an opening win over the Redskins that left NFL Nation gasping. One small problem: They can’t stop anyone.
Carolina has a superb defense and just blitzed the Giants 38-0 to improve to 1-2, and Buffalo has won by two points, lost by one point and lost by a touchdown. Oakland won a game. Yes, it was against Jacksonville, but a win is a win.
WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT
Last season, the Redskins and Vikings were in the playoffs. They are now 0-3 no-hopers. The Giants are 0-3 and the only team to have allowed more than 100 points (115). The Skins have allowed 98 and the Vikes 96. Yikes!
The Steelers are also showing a serious lack of talent across the board in going 0-3. They did, however, lead Tennessee 2-0 and Cincinnati 3-0.
Disappointing at 1-2 are perennial playoff teams Green Bay, Atlanta and San Francisco. The Pack is averaging 31 points a game, but struggling to stop anyone, allowing 29 points per game. Ditto the Falcons, allowing 25 points per.
San Francisco, the team that started as the top-ranked team in most NFL power polls, has scored only 44 points while allowing 84. Although Colin Kaepernick was the darling of the naked magazine cover world in the offseason, he has led the 49ers to 10 points in his past two games and has thrown four interceptions. Anyone seen Alex Smith?
St. Louis and Arizona are both 1-2, but simply not worth getting worked up about.
NOT A BYE, BUT CLOSE
Jacksonville is winless and will remain that way in the foreseeable future. Tampa Bay has been almost as bad. Jacksonville has scored 28 points, and the Bucs have scored 34. Coaching staffs are shaking in their collective boots.
Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor (think Dark Ages) and Grand Junction High School journalism teacher who belongs in the Armchair Quarterback Hall of Fame, if only there was one.