Looking forward into Week 4 of this NFL season, only seven teams are sitting undefeated at 3-0. The Unbeaten Club’s 2013-2014 editions is missing some vaunted teams; others come as a surprise to everyone except the team members.
New England Patriots
No surprises here. Even without tight end phenom Wes Welker, and indicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, quarterback Tom Brady has managed to keep the New England Patriots in the running for the playoffs. So early in the season, it’s hard to say, but at this point a few years ago, no one knew Brady would take his team undefeated all the way to Super Bowl XLII (vs. New York Giants v Patriots, Arizona, 2008, 17-14 NYG). Brady is accustomed to winning by decisive margins, and incomplete passes are not normally part of his portfolio. He has to work with and train an offense that is not as well synced with him as in previous years. Despite that, Brady’s Patriots remain undefeated going into Week 4, as expected.
Currently ranked 14th in the league, the Miami Dolphins are a slight surprise in the 3-0 arena. The Dolphins remain the only team to go undefeated for an entire season, but those glory days seemed long gone with the retirement of legendary quarterback Dan Marino. Enter Ryan Tannehill, late of Texas A & M. The Dolphins selected Tannehill as the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In his sophomore year as Dolphins quarterback, Tannehill’s performance of the course of the season is generating thoughts of MVP status. And no wonder. At the close of Week 3, Tannehill’s passer rating at 94.3 bypassed Drew Brees (91.4) and Tom Brady (79.4). Tannehill has also faced and beaten Andrew Luck and the Colts (24-20) as well as Matt Ryan of the Falcons (27-23). Granted, he did not win these games single-handed. However, every coach and team owner knows success begins with confidence. Confidence in the game plan and confidence in the players; Ryan Tannehill is one of those players and worth watching.
The staple of the NFL has opened the 2013 season with a bang, coming out of the gate with signature ferocity on offense and defense. With quarterback Jay Cutler and first year coach Marc Trestman in charge, the Bears have turned in impressive wins this season over the Bengals (21-24) and the Vikings (30-31). In Week 3 the 40-23 dismantling of the Steelers blew away any doubt that the Chicago Bears are far from old news. Week 4 the Bears are slated to travel to Detroit to deal with the Lions. This is another classic battle, and fans are hoping the lopsided defeat of the Steelers will not be repeated. We want to see a game. The Chicago Bears rarely fail to come through.
New Orleans Saints
After Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map, one of the mainstays of the city, the Superdome was destroyed. The New Orleans Saints were essentially homeless, borrowing venues from college teams and other NFL players until the Superdome was restored. Once the Saints were free to return to the Superdome, they were unstoppable at home.
Quarterback Drew Brees came to town and with Coach Sean Peyton began to rebuild the team in the Big Easy. They reached the pinnacle of that success with the Saints’ Super Bowl appearance and win in 2010. This win galvanized the city, restoring their faith and swagger. The home team could no longer be called the “Aints”. Start with an aggressive, ball-hunting defense, plus a highly aware and athletic offense, add a quarterback who does not quit and you have the current 3-0 incarnation of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints play Miami in Week 4 and Brees already has Tannehill beat on experience and poise. With Peyton’s return from suspension, the Saints have been back on top of their game all season. It is a toss-up on who will come away from this week’s game undefeated.
Kansas City Chiefs
After a nightmarish season of 2-14, new Coach Andy Reid has rebuilt the Kansas City Chiefs in more ways than one. He has revamped the offense, adding former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to the lineup. He also implemented the offensive strategy that led his former Philadelphia Eagles to 130 wins during his 14 year stint. The Chiefs are scheduled to meet the winless New York Giants in Week 4, and one can only muse upon the possible outcome. Reid’s team has a flash and finesse KC has not seen in far too long. The rapid turnaround has many in the league seeing Kansas City as a possible contender in the playoffs. That’s quite a turnaround indeed.
After the Year of No Peyton, legendary former quarterback turned owner John Elway leaped at the chance to dig the Denver Broncos out of mediocrity. Enter Peyton Manning. After multiple surgeries to repair neck injuries, Manning sat out for an entire year, watching his former Indianapolis Colts post the worst season in recent history (2-14). It came as a surprise to many when the Colts released Manning for the 2012 season and went with then-rookie Andrew Luck.
From the moment he arrived in Denver, fans were heartened, and he has not disappointed them. This season, Manning delivered a smack down to Super Champion Baltimore Ravens on opening day (49-27), throwing seven touchdowns in a single game. As of week 3, the Broncos remain undefeated, and Manning has broken the record (12) for most touchdowns thrown in three games, previously held by rival Tom Brady (11).
The Mile-High City is riding a wave of success on Manning’s shoulders, and he is more than capable of carrying the load. In Week 4, the Broncos are facing the Philadelphia Eagles, whose game play has been so erratic one can hardly fathom the results of this game going any other way but 4-0 for Denver. Manning has former Patriot Wes Welker as well as an offensive line that has yet to fail him and a defense that simply rolls over the opposition.
Seattle loves their Seahawks. The evidence is in just how much noise they make during home games. There is no doubt the Seahawks have an advantage as their stadium can be the loudest venue in the NFL when their team is on a roll. Even when the Seahawks fall to their opponents, the fans never fail to make some noise and support their team. Standing at 3-0 after overwhelming the Jacksonville Jaguars 1 7-45, the Seahawks are once again looking forward to being contenders in the playoffs.
The Seahawks ran a losing 3-5 on the road last season, but that hitch has been corrected this year. Coach Pete Carroll is working with a beat up offense but the team roster is overflowing with players ready to step up. Quarterback Russell Wilson is on several MVP watch lists. With a passer rating of 109.6, Wilson has thrown six touchdowns, and just two interceptions. Wilson is a young player, but his maturity and confidence carry over on the field and the offensive line is hard at work making adjustments to see him better protected.
Going 3-0 into Week 4, not all of these NFL teams will remain undefeated. Speculation is running rampant as to who will be beaten first. No matter who gets the first mark in the loss column, these seven teams have exploded this season and show no signs of slowing down.
Written by:Brandi Tasby