Share every sharing choices for: who is a contender and also who’s a pretender the end of the NFL’s untouched teams?


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photograph by Justin Edmonds/Getty pictures
The NFL will finish Week 3 with five undefeated teams. In the NFC, the Cardinals, Panthers, and Rams space all undefeated. The Raiders and also Broncos room unbeaten in the AFC.

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A an excellent start might seem like any team could achieve, yet historically beginning 3-0 bodes well for a groups long-term possibilities in the season. Over the last five years a complete of 25 teams have been undefeated through the nearby of week 3, v 18 of them making the playoffs by year’s end. Four of them go on to appear in the supervisor Bowl. External of a completely bizarre 2016, in which 5 teams began 3-0, but only one made the playoffs, the trend is fairly constant that beginning strong means finishing strong.

Statistically speak we’re going come see 2 of the remaining five undefeated teams miss out on out top top the playoffs. Let’s break it under and try to occupational out who it could be.

Denver Broncos

Week 1: 27-13 victory over GiantsWeek 2: 23-13 victory over Jaguars Week 3: 26-0 victory over Jets

Why the Broncos are contenders

It’s complicated to call Denver a “surprise” for this reason far, since they’ve beaten negative teams they should have actually beaten. However, inside of the raw results there are signs of a team trending upwards in a huge way.

Teddy Bridgewater is cementing himself as the team’s answer at quarterback and much more importantly he’s no making mistakes. This is permitting a team, who frankly don’t have a the majority of explosiveness ~ above offense, come grind out wins. It’s a situation of one offense not screwing points up because that the defense, which is whereby the Broncos have actually really excelled. The team ranks in the height 5 of every defensive statistical category, and also leads the NFL in stopping drives, with enemies only scoring on 10.3 percent of your possessions.

If this stop the Broncos will be playoff bound in the AFC West, something the nobody predicted.

Why the Broncos room pretenders

Without concern Denver has had actually the softest cupcake start to the 2021 season. Every three enemies represent some of the most dysfunctional teams in the league, and also outside that the blowout win of the Jets, that not choose these have been particularly convincing wins.

When the dust settles you need an aspect of explosiveness come win games in the NFL against elite teams, and thus much the Broncos haven’t shown it. This has been a fun begin to the season, however the lack of huge plays will begin to rear their head when up against teams who won’t crumble versus Denver’s defense

Verdict: PRETENDER

Arizona Cardinals

Week 1: 38-13 victory over TitansWeek 2: 34-33 win over VikingsWeek 3: 31-19 victory over Jaguars

Why the Cardinals room contenders

The Arizona offensive ethics are well known, with Kyler Murray gift the perfect quarterback to happily litter 50 times a game when asked. Obviously yes sir a ton of firepower ~ above this offense, v the Cardinals averaging 34 clues a game, yet this season they’ve added a wrinkle with a hard defense.

As it stands the team is allowing 5.4 yards-per-play throughout both phases, an excellent for 12th in the NFL. The isn’t wholly impressive in isolation, yet the team played two very solid offensive teams in the very first two mainly of the season. Pair that v an violation in the height 10 in both passing and also rushing, and also you have actually a recipe because that success.

Why the Cardinals room pretenders

I nothing blame you for being excited through this team ~ the first two weeks when they stuck it come two groups that have legitimate playoff resumes, yet that game in main 3 against the hapless Jaguars was much too close for comfort.

There’s additionally a worrying trend that the explosive happen rush we saw in main 1 is slowly down, and also generating much less push than lock did against Tennessee. The concern is even if it is this team has sufficient gas for the long haul, or just how they’ll handle adversity once it strikes.

Verdict: challenger (with a little trepidation)

Carolina Panthers

Week 1: 19-14 end Jets Week 2: 26-7 over Saints Week 3: 24-9 end Texans

Why the Panthers are contenders

I nothing think anyone meant the team defense to be this good, even the most die-hard Panthers fans. Yes the talent to be there in the front seven, however 2021 has been the year it’s every meshed together. Carolina’s defense is damn close to impenetrable, enabling just 3.8 yards-per-play, and also a paltry 36 very first downs end the 3 games.

On the flip next you have actually Sam Darnold, who is playing the ideal football of his job in his brand-new home and immediately finding a rapport with top receiver D.J. Moore. Darnold is much from acquisition over games himself, yet he’s law a many under center and also when that’s supported by the defense you have actually a recipe for success.

Why the Panthers room pretenders

Much favor the Broncos, look at that they’ve played. The Week 2 win over the Saints walk a long means to making a statement, but that was also an injury-ravaged brand-new Orleans team the Panthers faced.

The defense has actually been certain phenomenal, however it’s unrealistic come think it will hold — especially against some that the offenses the Panthers are encountering coming up. It’s been a hell of a begin for a team plenty of expected to go 5-12 ~ above the season, however with crucial injuries come Christian McCaffery and Jaycee Horn it’s farming closer to the point where the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella story.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Las las vegas Raiders

Week 1: 33-27 end RavensWeek 2: 26-17 end Steelers Week 3: 31-28 over Dolphins

Why the Raiders room contenders

Boasting the finest offense in the NFL, las Vegas is averaging 471 yards-per-game top top the ago of Derek Carr, who has actually gone full Super Saiyan top top the season. Carr has currently thrown because that 1,200 yards this season, and also we just finished main 3. It is a breakneck speed to save up, but he’s playing really good football and keeping the Raiders competitive, even when your defense falters. Of course, it helps once you have actually as many athletic receivers as vegas does, each of who is able come break substantial gains at the fall of a hat.

As time go on the Steelers look worse, yet beating the Ravens in mainly 1 continues to be a large statement game — and that narrow win over the dolphin is traditionally a location where the Raiders would loss into a trap game, but they avoided it this time.

Why the Raiders room pretenders

Defensively the team is mediocre. Right currently that’s okay since the offense has been for this reason good, yet it’s worrying to check out the team in the center of the load in happen defense, and also bottom 3rd in operation defense.

That’s putting means too much pressure ~ above Derek Carr and also company, and will be something to watch. Still, i think there’s a spark come this team and also they’re hot at the appropriate time. Ns buying in.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Los Angeles Rams

Week 1: 34-14 over Bears Week 2: 27-24 over Colts Week 3: 34-24 over Buccaneers

Why the Rams space contenders

The Rams take it their currently stellar playmaking defense and added Matthew Stafford to the other side the the ball. It’s that simple. Us talked around the prominence of explosiveness previously with the Broncos, and that’s what Stafford is providing in spades end Jared Goff.

You can argue that 2 of the teams they’ve play so much have fallen off, yet these are still three wins over playoff teams a year ago, including an anchoring win over the Super bowl champs that reflects this season isn’t a flash in the pan.

The Rams room playing in a really tough division, but right now they’re the course of the NFC West and compare favorably once it’s time for divisional games.

Why the Rams room pretenders

I don’t have a really great answer here. If she going come nitpick friend can allude to Stafford’s start and have doubt whether he can keep increase his pace, yet there’s so lot wiggle room right here that he have the right to drop turn off a little and the Rams will still be severe threats every week.

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Verdict: CONTENDER

Can any type of of these teams go every the way?

Statistically speak there’s a 16 percent chance among these teams will make the super Bowl. If I had actually to placed money on it there’s only one answer: The Los Angeles Rams.

This team isn’t far removed indigenous making the big game already, doing that in 2019 and also I think there’s enough talent to get the job done. That risky making a proclamation choose that, however so far the Rams room worth it. They’re just put, a very, very an excellent football team.