Coming up on Week 4 of the NFL, we have seven teams sitting at 3-0: the Green Bay Packers, the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Arizona Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons and defending Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots.
Before I elaborate on the strengths and weaknesses of the above teams, I think it’s only fair to eliminate a few of these teams as possible contenders.
While the Cincinnati Bengals have made an adorable run at their first three games, let’s face it: It’s Cincinnati, and the chances of Andy Dalton actually performing well all season are slim to none.
The Atlanta Falcons are putting up a good fight in the beginning like they always do, but I think we can all agree they should just be happy they’re winning again.
As for the Carolina Panthers, while I give Cam Newton props as a quarterback for working with a mediocre offense, I really don’t see them finding the offensive chemistry most teams already have down.
The Real Competition
Now let’s talk about the other three undefeated teams the Patriots are up against, and why they’re not looking as impressive as their flawless records may imply.
I personally wouldn’t mind watching the Arizona Cardinals be the underdog of the NFL this season, but I don’t see that happening after taking a look at their schedule.
After facing the Eagles, Steelers, Packers and the Seahawks twice, the chances of them shining in the National Football Conference aren’t looking too hot. But, like I said, I hope they prove me wrong.
On the Denver Broncos front, which I think is a front everyone is sick of talking about, I’m predicting Peyton Manning and his squad to do what they always do: play a phenomenal season, give the state of Colorado something to watch and be excited about during the playoffs and then blow it.
It speaks to Manning as a player that he leads the history of the NFL in touchdown passes, but he only has one ring to show for himself.
He’s an individual winner, not a Super Bowl winner. And he should really give up on the whole commercial thing.
Lastly, two words: Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay is where I can actually see some legitimacy in the team’s talent and drive as a whole.
Even with Jordy Nelson injured, this offense is stacked, and Aaron Rodgers is the only other quarterback (besides Tom Brady) I’ve seen continuously make everyone around him a better player.
With last season’s NFL MVP leading the Packers, we might just be seeing them in Super Bowl 50.
So, what do the New England Patriots have that these teams don’t? Let’s take a look.
Using Hate to Motivate
Spygate, Deflategate and Headsetgate, oh my! Patriots haters, bring it on. Because in New England, they call it TalentGate.
Give us some angry comments on your Facebook timeline, a passive-aggressive meme on Instagram and, heck, throw a court case in there while you’re at it.
In case you haven’t already noticed, they usually win. The New England Patriots thrive off gossip and accusations.
With proving others wrong in mind, the entire organization shows up weekly and gets the job done in a professional manner.
A Team of Characters
Some NFL teams have one or two “characters.” When I say character, I mean a player who's recognized for his talent on the field and his unique personality off the field.
The Browns have Johnny Manziel, the Texans have JJ Watt, etc.
The Patriots are stacked with characters who love the game, the fans, the attention and, of course, each other.
With Tom Brady’s latest Under Armour commercial, Julian Edelman’s recent hype video that gave all of Patriots Nation goosebumps, Coach Bill Belichick’s hilarious media dismissals and Rob Gronkowski as a human in general, it’s safe to say they’re all one of a kind.
And, if you like them, you love them.
Do I really need to touch upon Boston’s sports culture?
I’ll be brief here and just point out that since Robert Kraft purchased the organization in 1994, every single home game has sold out.
In New England, the Patriots aren’t just a team; they’re a way of life. And the overwhelming, ride-or-die support shows when the team delivers week after week, year after year.
The AFC East
Since the glorious year of 2001 (hint: when the Belichick-Brady storm began brewing), the Patriots have gone 63-18 in the AFC East.
In this same amount of time, the New York Jets have gone 39-41, the Buffalo Bills 27-34 and the Miami Dolphins 34-48.
In the last 18 years, the Patriots have won the AFC East 13 times. And shockingly, it looks like this year will be the 14th.
Lastly, let’s note while the other six undefeated teams have the chance of putting a loss in their record this weekend, the New England Patriots have their bye week to relax, recuperate and prepare for the Dallas Cowboys.