BY ADAM GREENE
We’re three weeks into the NFL season and it has already gone off the rails. There’s always some chaos after Week 1, when teams open their campaigns and a couple of squads always surprise. Week 2 steadies the ship and then Week 3 shows up to finally clue us in on how the season is going to go.
In 2022, Week 3 did not get that memo. Security let “Week 1 Chaos” back into the club and, by sundown Sunday, cats and dogs were living together. It was mass hysteria.
So let’s talk about some of it.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO UNDEFEATED TEAMS IN THE NFL
Yes, I’ve done the math and while I don’t hold any type of advanced degree in the subject, my careful calculations have told me that there just two 3-0 franchises in the NFL and they are exactly who we all predicted would do it back in the preseason, right? Right???
In the AFC, the Miami Dolphins have defied the odds and even reality it seems by opening the season with a perfect record. Back in August, I picked Miami to finish with a winning record, but miss the playoffs once again. I no longer think that at all.
It’s not just because the Fins are 3-0. It’s also because two of the other AFC teams I thought would battle their way to the postseason look nowhere near capable of making that prediction true.
The Las Vegas Raiders are 0-3 and, if they were to sneak into the tournament, would be only the seventh team in modern NFL history to do it. As for the Denver Broncos and new chef Russell Wilson, that kitchen looks like the it could be closed down any minute by the Denver Health Department. The Broncos are 2-1, but nobody’s feeling great about it. They’ve looked like hot sweaty garbage in every game and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett was so bad at clock management that the team had to hire a guy last week to ONLY do that.
The Dolphins look like they’ll have no issue riding their schedule to an AFC Wild Card. But, hey, there’s no reason to settle for that. We’re just three weeks in, but Miami leads the AFC East. Why not just keep it?
Over on the NFC side, it’s the Philadelphia Eagles that have kept their loss column empty for the league’s first three contests. The Eagles have cruised against teams they were favored over, so this is much easier to believe.
Their schedule stays pretty easy the whole way, so Philadelphia was always making the playoffs as long as they remained healthy. There was a thought (and I was one of the people thinking it) that Dak Prescott’s injury for the Dallas Cowboys would clear out the NFC East entirely. It obviously hasn’t, but Philly still has the inside track.
SHOCKING UPSETS ALL OVER
The Dolphins surviving Josh Allen and the Bills wasn’t the only surprise last Sunday. The winless Indianapolis Colts held off the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs 20-17. The Colts had looked terrible in the first two games, tying with the Houston Texans and losing in blow out fashion to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Against the Chiefs, unquestionably one of the league’s best teams, Indy actually played like a competent football team. And Matt Ryan looked like an NFL QB for the first time in September, finishing 27 of 37 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
It didn’t stop there. The Carolina Panthers held off a late charge by the New Orleans Saints for a 22-14 win, Baker Mayfield’s first with the franchise. Jameis Winston’s broken back (in multiple places!) is apparently going to be a problem.
Speaking of injuries, Justin Herbert’s ribs allowed Doug Pederson to tie with Urban Meyer as the fifth winningest head coach in Jacksonville Jaguars history. The Los Angeles Chargers fell in a full on curb stomp, 38-10. Like Winston, Herbert put up some OK numbers, but turnovers (a pick and a fumble) from the QB kept any comeback from materializing.
Add in some other “mild” upsets like the Green Bay Packers beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the San Francisco 49ers losing to the Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys holding off the New York Giants and you have an early season that already looks beautifully chaotic. It’s “Any Given Sunday” every Sunday.
IS THERE HOPE FOR WINLESS TEAMS?
The aforementioned Raiders and Texans are the last teams standing with goose eggs in the win column.
No one predicted that Las Vegas would be 0-3 at this point with the addition of Josh McDaniels as head coach and Devante Adams at wide receiver. Yet, here they sit alongside Houston, who we all did expect to be here. In fact, the only thing surprising about the Texans’ record is that they got the tie against the Colts.
But the Texans have been here before and made magic happen. Only, they did it with a different quarterback who shall remain nameless unless it’s in a massage themed civil court case. In 2018, Houston won nine straight after opening 0-3. I don’t feel like that’s on the table for the Texans.
The Raiders though, are simply too good to just fold up after some pretty terrible luck. Vegas’ schedule has been brutal. They opened with the Los Angeles Chargers, then the Arizona Cardinals before traveling to an equally desperate Tennessee Titans.
Las Vegas has a talented roster and what should be a good coach. What they don’t have is any relief in sight. Next week they host the Broncos, then travel to the Chiefs. It calms down some after that, but the Raiders’ entire season is simply on the line against Denver Sunday.
Only six teams in the NFL since the 1970 merger have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start. Just one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, made it to the postseason after opening 0-4.
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
Connect with us our socials on Twitter and Instagram for the latest sports news, viral moments, betting odds and the occasional memes.