Bandwagon Season in the NFL

Some poeple are getting on and others are getting off, but can three weeks of football really tell us anything important?

How close to the Super Bowl do three wins get you? (Getty Images)

The NFL season is entering only its fourth week, but some key trends are already apparent. Let’s look at the undefeated and winless teams so far. There are seven of each and four of the undefeated teams are going to need really big bandwagons.



Consider then Baltimore Ravens. It’s not a big surprise that they won their first three games, but it’s how they won those games that is eye-popping. The Ravens have averaged 34.3 points a game. For this entire decade, it seemed that the Ravens were merely a competent offense away from a dynastic run. In 2000, they went five straight games without scoring a touchdown and yet went on to win the Super Bowl anyway.


Last season their offense rose to an above average level (24.1 points per games, 11th in the league), and this season they are overwhelming opponents, while their defense remains stout, allowing only 56 points so far and ranking second in Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, which factor down and distance and other situational factors to determine yardage aggregates. The only thing that tempers my bullishness on the Ravens is their schedule. They beat two cream puffs, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns, and their road win in San Diego looks a tad less impressive due to the Chargers long injury list. In the next three weeks the Ravens play at New England and at Minnesota plus a home game against the improved Cincinnati Bengals (a team that is only a fluke play from being undefeated). If Baltimore goes into their bye week 5-1, then Super Bowl dreams are legit in Maryland.


The Indianapolis Colts bring some of the same arguments to the table as Baltimore except their long standing unassailable strength is their offense. For years it seemed that Indy could score against anyone (except maybe the New England Patriots in the playoffs but the Colts 38-34 win two years ago removed that caveat), however stopping their opponents was not always a strength (they were 23rd in points allowed during their Super Bowl season in 2006).


Lately the Colts have become a defensive powerhouse, finishing first and seventh in points allowed in the last two years, and this season they rank third after three games, two of them road contests against 2008 playoff teams, the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins. And despite the injury to Wide Receiver Anthony Gonzales, they are still scoring in bunches, averaging 24 points a game. Judging from the continuity, you wouldn’t know that there was a wholesale turnover of the coaching staff. Except for a night game at Tennessee on October 11th, the Colts could have a smooth run until mid November when, on consecutive Sundays, they face New England and Baltimore in what will certainly be playoff previews.