There are the teams in the NFL like the Patriots, Saints and Packers; who no matter what their record says, will get the most coverage and discussion time on the major networks. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks certainly deserve all the credit their getting so far this season with how they’re blowing teams out. But who is just under the radar that we should be paying more attention to?
There are seven undefeated teams in the NFL right now after three games. It’s a pretty impressive feat to start off the season so strongly but history shows us that those with the best starts aren’t always those with the best finishes. Moreover, history tells us that even the teams with the best records don’t end up in the big game in February. Each year there are teams that come through with a playoff spot when no one predicted it, that’s what makes the NFL so compelling to watch. There are always the favorites, but, as the past seasons have shown us, it’s more likely that the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with confetti raining on them will have a record closer to 10-6 than 16-0.
With all of the coverage for the NFL these days, it’s really hard to find a team that no one is talking about. I’m not about to make a bold prediction here either and say “Here is the team that will rise from the middle ranks and make the playoffs unexpectedly!” I’ve been watching the NFL long enough to know that’s a dumb move this early in the season. You can talk about the unexpectedly undefeated teams so far like the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins and say that they are showing themselves to be playoff caliber teams, but they could also be like the 2011 Buffalo Bills who started 3-0 and went on to win only 3 more games the rest of the season. True, the Chiefs haven’t given up a turnover yet, but QB Alex Smith showed some ineffectiveness in the redzone in their last outing. The Dolphins have been a surprise 3-0 team as well but have been outgained in yards for each one of those wins. Those kinds of stats can turn winning ways around fairly quickly.
So which teams are being overlooked right now that might end up playing in January? Other than the Chiefs and the Dolphins I’d say the Lions are looking like a possible surprise team. To qualify for this I figured that the team would have to be a non-playoff team from last year. That would discount the Colts, Texans, Falcons, and Ravens. The Lions could use a playoff season to save their head coach’s job too. Even though they’re still playing undisciplined ball with 27 penalties for 260 yards so far, the addition of Reggie Bush (if he stays healthy) is looking to be a useful addition to Detroit’s offense.
We all know that there will be a team or two that will make the playoffs this year that came from the bottom or middle of the pile like the Redskins did last year. Could it be one of the 3-0 teams like the Chiefs or Dolphins or another team altogether like the Lions?