That’s obviously the central theme everyone’s tweeting about (oh, 2011) after the early set of games this week. Detroit snapped a 13-game losing streak in Minnesota, moving to 3-0 for the first time since 1980. Buffalo snapped a 15-game losing streak to New England, becoming the first AFC team to hit the mark.
If the Jets lose to the Raiders, the Bills will be the only unbeaten team left in the conference. If the Packers fall to the Bears and the Redskins lose in Dallas, the league’s two most infamous losers will be the only undefeated teams remaining in the NFL.
And the temperature in hell could continue to drop. Buffalo has the Bengals next week; Detroit has a winnable game in Dallas. It’s too early to say if either team is for real, but it’s hard to avoid pulling for both franchises and their long-suffering fans. Just maintain perspective, because there’s a long way to go. The last time the Bills started 3-0, they finished 7-9. When Detroit did it in ’80, it finished 9-7. Neither made the playoffs.
Eight thoughts from the eight early games:
1. Even an Aaron Hernandez injury wasn’t enough to make Chad Ochocinco relevant. In New England, it was Wes Welker who got the extra looks due to Hernandez’s absence. Ocho caught only two passes for 28 yards and dropped a potential touchdown. Welker had a ridiculous 217 yards on 16 catches, scoring twice. And Rob Gronkowski received a boost, too. His two touchdowns today give him five on the year and 15 in just 19 career games.
2. Not underestimating Cam Newton’s performance. His first career win wasn’t pretty, but the weather conditions were pretty much comical for the majority of the first half and the field was a disaster in the second half. Newton’s yardage totals weren’t as high as they were in Weeks 1 and 2, but he didn’t commit a turnover despite those factors and came up big on Carolina’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. It was an impressive outing.
3. Remember those two flaws that were supposed to kill the Eagles? Well, they’re killing the Eagles. Fresh off a concussion, Michael Vick now has a broken non-throwing hand. Who knows how long he’ll be out, but it might not matter because it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets crushed by another pass rusher and suffers a new injury. The offensive line is a disaster, and so is the linebacking corps. Philly missed an embarrassing number of tackles in its flat performance against the Giants. Casey Matthews isn’t fit to start, and his cohorts are sub-par. And the safeties suck, too. They’re really missing Quintin Mikell.
4. The Tony Sparano era should be over. It couldn’t be more clear that the Dolphins simply aren’t going to compete with Sparano as the head coach. I don’t like how we’re often so quick to jump all over head coaches when teams start poorly, but Miami has too much talent on both sides of the ball to be 0-3 with two losses at home and one coming at the hands of the Browns.
5. Another huge loss in the AFC South? The Colts are a disaster without Peyton Manning, the Jags are having trouble adjusting to life without David Garrard and the Titans are now probably going to have to fend for themselves without Kenny Britt, who suffered what is being called an MCL injury in Tennessee’s win over Denver. Britt has become a stud in 2011 — without him, the Titans are a completely different team, especially with Chris Johnson struggling to get it going. His injury puts a damper on the Titans’ victory and puts even more pressure on the Texans, who continue to become clear-cut division favorites as everyone else flounders due to injuries or related shakeups.
6. Cleveland would be 3-0 had it beaten Cincinnati in Week 1. And they have Tennessee, Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco on deck. It’s starting to look like the Browns will be in the race in December.
7. The Vikings’ go Jekyll and Hyde again, kissing goodbye to a 20-point halftime lead against Detroit. Minnesota has now outscored its opponents 54-7 in three first halves and been outscored 67-6 in three second halves. Unbelievable.
8. The 49ers and Bengals played a football game. But I can’t tell you much, because like everyone else outside of the Bay Area and Cincinnati, I didn’t watch one second of this game. I can tell you that the 49ers won and that the final score was 13-8. And I can also speculate that there have been less than a handful of games in NFL history that have ever ended with a final score of 13-8.