Well, that was confusing. In a week charged with political and social movement statements before the games, paired with confusing results to finish most of the games leaves an uneven picture of what to expect from the teams this season, along with what seems to be a wide open playoff race. With such a range of results that, for a lot of teams, conflict from week two to week three, here are the teams I trust for the remainder of the season.
Honorable Mention: Green Bay Packers
At 2-1, this team has played two of the best teams in the NFC (Atlanta and Seattle) three weeks deep and defeated one of them. On the defensive side, they consistently get pressure and force the quarterbacks into making mistakes. While they played fairly poor offensive lines against the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, in their loss to the Atlanta Falcons they had three sacks and seven quarterback hits. Let us also not forget that the quarterback is still Aaron Rodgers. However, the offense still has that feeling of backyard football, where they want to toss it to Rodgers and make something out of nothing for a unit with a poor running back and shallow receiving core (you think Andy Dalton makes Geronimo Allison look that good?). That is the primary reason they are honorable mention here. They became worse offensively, not better, and while they still have Rodgers and what seems to be a fairly decent defense, they need that extra piece.
The Trustworthy Teams: Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings
I know: there are some controversial teams on the list but every one of these squads is really good at two or three games and get back to what they are good at. These are the teams that really are good at what they do and stick to it, so when rubber meets the road and things hit the fan, they can go back to the things that make them good, which is why these teams made the cut.
Buffalo Bills: 2-1
On offense the Bills have a top-five running back in LeSean McCoy and a creative run blocking scheme set in their offense. This team wants to run the ball and with a mobile quarterback like Tyrod Taylor, play-action is a great spin off of the running game. But this team will always identify with the run. On defense, the Bills only let up 12.3 points and 278.3 yards per game. They have 10 sacks and 26 passes batted down with four forced turnovers. They are not a very complex defense, they just produce pressure and depend on their corners to make plays. They are a tough team to run against, giving up a mere 75.3 yards per game, which forces a team into passing situations, making the opposing offense easier to read.
Atlanta Falcons: 3-0
This is a just a really good offense. It is no coincidence that four of these teams make up the top four offenses in the league. This team is especially hard to defend because they have every major piece. In the passing game they have quarterback Matt Ryan, elite receiver in the alien Julio Jones (humans are not this good), and the B+ receivers that can be plugged in the slot or outside in Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. On the ground, the duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a great one, as both can block along with having great hands out of the back field. This team averages 388 yards per game and 29 points, with almost a 50-50 split to keep them balanced.
New England Patriots: 2-1
Yes, they took a shellacking to the Chiefs in week one and yes, their defense is rough. But this team has the best quarterback to play in Tom Brady, an elite tight end in Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick as their head coach. Belichick will make adjustments in October to the defense by picking up someone off a practice squad who ends with nine sacks. At 40-years-old, Brady is, somehow, still elite enough to carry the team by leading the league in passing with 1,092 yards. Betting against the Patriots is like betting against Alabama; it is straight silliness.
Kansas City Chiefs: 3-0
The two things to love about the Chiefs is an explosive, big-play offense and their defensive front. They are second in the league in sacks with 11 and have forced five fumbles. They get to the quarterback and cause lots of problems, pressuring Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers into three interceptions last weekend. On the offensive side, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are always on the verge of breaking off a big run or dashing away from the coverage for a long touchdown. The offense stretches the field so far that it makes them incredibly hard to defend and they average 31 points per game through the first three weeks of play.
Minnesota Vikings: 2-1
The Vikings look great on offense and have impressed with a great passing attack. But the real strength is on the ground, with a retooled offensive line and a stud running back in Dalvin Cook, who is second in rushing yards to only Hunt with 288. On the defensive side, the Vikings real strength is in their corners; Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. They put these guys on islands and the result is locking down players like Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown. This team has let up only 20.7 points per game and the corners are a big reason why.