Ranking the NFL’s Undefeated Teams Through Week 3

Through the third week of the 2016-17 NFL season there are only five remaining undefeated teams – the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the Denver Broncos, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Minnesota Vikings. Some of these perfect 3-0 records are to be expected, while others have reached this mark despite doubts going into this season, yet each sits atop its division after the first three games of the regular season. Which of these teams have impressed the most? Here is a breakdown of the best of the best in the NFL thus far:

Courtesy: AP/Elise Amendola
Courtesy: AP/Elise Amendola

5. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore has impressed thus far this season, especially on the defensive end. After struggling on that side of the ball last season, the Ravens have given up a mere 44 points in three games. They have excelled by keeping the opposing team’s running attack quiet, as they have held foes’ running backs to 2.6 yards per carry excluding the 85-yard touchdown Isaiah Crowell reeled off in week 2. On the offensive end, Dennis Pitta has bounced back well from the hip injury he sustained in 2014, as he is leading the team in receptions and receiving yards to this point.
However, the Ravens need to beat some of the NFL’s better competition to climb up this list. The Ravens opponents thus far (Bills, Browns, and Jaguars) have combined for just one win in nine games. Facing better competition in the upcoming weeks, they will need to make improvements to remain unbeaten. In particular, their running attack, between Terrance West and Justin Forsett, needs to improve upon its current mark of 3.3 yards per carry. The secondary will have to step up upon facing some of the NFL’s best receivers over the next 5 weeks, including Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Amari Cooper.

4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos seem to make anyone look good at the quarterback position. Trevor Siemian, a second year 7th round pick from Northwestern, has gotten the Broncos off to a 3-0 start. His first career start was a 21-20 victory over Cam Newton and the Panthers, and has beaten the Colts and the Bengals in Cincinnati in the two weeks since. In the away contest against the Bengals, Siemian became the first Broncos quarterback to pass for four touchdowns in a road game since 1973 aside from Peyton Manning. While it is hard to believe those numbers will be consistent, with a balanced running attack led by C.J. Anderson, talented receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and one of the NFL’s best defenses, there is not much required of the quarterback on this Broncos team.
The Broncos should continue to roll in the coming weeks, with only one of their next five opponents over .500. That span also includes two matchups with the division rival Chargers who have already lost Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead for the rest of the season.

3. Philadelphia Eagles
This year was thought to be a rebuilding year in Philadelphia. With a new coach in Doug Pederson and a new quarterback project in Carson Wentz, a lot of changes were made in the offseason to say goodbye to the Chip Kelly era. The Wentz project was expected to be a long term one, yet he has shown instant results for the city of Philadelphia. The North Dakota State standout has already broken NFL records, becoming the first quarterback to start his career with 100 passes without throwing an interception.
There was still much doubt surrounding Wentz and the Eagles after week 2, with their two wins coming against a couple of the NFL’s cellar dwellers in the Browns and Bears, but after their performance against Pittsburgh, few are questioning the legitimacy of this rookie quarterback. Another bright spot so far, Jim Schwartz’s defense has been surprisingly impressive after holding Big Ben and Antonio Brown to just 3 points in the 34-3 rout of the in-state rival. Wentz and the Eagles will take on the Lions after the bye week, and will then have to keep up their exceptional play in order to stay atop the NFC East, with non-divisional opponents including the Vikings, Packers, and Seahawks.

2. Minnesota Vikings
A month ago, it would not be a crazy thought that the Vikings could be 3-0 at this point in the season. However, doing so with Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater sidelined is quite the accomplishment. The defense is mostly responsible for Minnesota’s unbeaten record, as they held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 14 points, and dominated the Panthers on the line of scrimmage with 8 sacks and 3 interceptions of Cam Newton. Bringing in Sam Bradford has shown to pay off in his first two games, and he should continue to improve as he becomes comfortable in a new offense. In addition, Stefon Diggs has emerged as a star wide out for Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, as he is second in the NFL with 325 receiving yards.
The Vikings will continue to be tested in the coming weeks, with their next three foes combining for only two losses so far, including a potential matchup of undefeated teams in week 6 in Philadelphia.

1. New England Patriots
At this point in the season, it is hard to make an argument that any team other than the Patriots is the front runner for the super bowl. Without Tom Brady, using Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brisset at quarterback has gotten New England off to a 3-0 start. LaGarrette Blount is leading the NFL in rushing yards to help alleviate the pressure on Brady’s replacements, and the defense has been exceptional, especially in the Thursday night shutout of the Houston Texans. Aside from being without the future Hall of Fame quarterback Brady, the Patriots have gotten to a 3-0 record without a reception from Rob Gronkowski. After missing weeks 1 and 2, Gronk suited up against the Texans, but played in very few snaps and still clearly is not 100%.
With a long rest week for Gronkowski and with Brady returning in week 5, the Patriots have gotten past the hardest part of their regular season without any blemishes. If the role players continue to play at this level upon the return of superstars Brady and Gronkowski, this Patriots team will be tough to beat.


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