The NFL features seven teams that enter Week 4 boasting a 3-0 record. Somewhere around 75 percent of all teams that have a 3-0 record since 1990 make the playoffs. While those are good odds for the current 3-win clubs, the reality is that one or two of these won’t be playing in games beyond Week 17. This week’s 6-Pack is all about why or why not each 3-0 team is or is not getting to the postseason.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open.
Why: Buffalo had an aggressive offseason in building the roster around Josh Allen and his development so far in 2019 has been obvious. On offense, virtually the entire roster has been overhauled and position coach changes were made at quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver. The Bills’ offense is multiple in the ways it can attack defenses, meanwhile Allen has proven to have the “clutch gene”, engineering 5 game-winning drives in the 13 games he has started and finished in the NFL. As exciting as things are offensively for the Bills, the identity of the football team is its outstanding defense. The secondary has been suffocating opponents for well over a year now and the Bills front seven is coming together. The team is very well-coached under Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier and Brian Daboll, with a strong mix of exciting young talent and experienced veterans.
Why not: While the Bills are unbeaten, Buffalo still hasn’t played its best game and has made its share of unforced errors. Allen’s vertical passing hasn’t shown up so far this season and Buffalo has the smallest overall point differential of all the unbeaten teams despite their combined record of opponents standing at 1-8. In addition, Buffalo’s course to the playoffs is unlikely to come winning a division that features the Patriots and the wild card race is full of uncertainty.
Why: A fully stocked offense combined with the promotion of Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator has ignited the Cowboys offense to the tune of 97 points in three games. The Giants and Redskins aren’t likely to be competitive and the Eagles are snake-bitten with injuries. While the defense hasn’t been bad, it has room for growth to perform even better than it has.
Why not: While I don’t think there should be any concern with Dallas continuing to rack up wins, perhaps the offense could see a decline once more tape on the Kellen Moore offense becomes available and the level of competition stiffens on the schedule. Dallas needs to take care of business against Philadelphia to not find itself in the murky wild card race the NFC promises to feature.
Green Bay Packers
Why: The Packers are undefeated and not even that much credit is due to Aaron Rodgers. This team is winning with defense, which is firing on all cylinders with the additions of Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and the drafting of Darnell Savage. Rodgers will find his groove and Green Bay has everything in place to develop into one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
Why not: Rodgers' supporting cast doesn’t evolve while the offense becomes (remains) middling as Matt LaFleur finds his way as an NFL head coach. The NFC North might be the strongest division from top to bottom in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs
Why: Patrick Mahomes is an elite talent that gives Kansas City a chance to win every week. His success over his first 20 NFL games is unmatched in the history of the game. Even with Tyreek Hill out with injury, KC is still loaded with weapons and Andy Reid is an elite offensive mind. I like the talent this team has brought in defensively, although things are still coming together on the back end.
Why not: Unless Mahomes gets hurt, there’s nothing to discuss here.
Los Angeles Rams
Why: Sean McVay is a winning coach, boasting a 27-8 career record and his offensive weaponry is at full strength, especially with a healthy Cooper Kupp in the mix. LA has the best defensive player on the planet in Aaron Donald and Cory Littleton is coming into his own at linebacker. There is enough defensive talent at every level of the field that can keep this team in games.
Why not: This offensive line has played poorly to start the season and Jared Goff hasn’t been nearly as productive in his most recent stretch of play. With the emergence of the 49ers and of course the Seahawks, the NFC West is more competitive than it has been in recent years.
New England Patriots
Why: The reigning Super Bowl Champions are “peaking” earlier in the season than what we’ve seen in recent years. Remember, this team was 1-2 at this point last season with losses to Jacksonville and Detroit and we know how that ended. The defense is playing at an unbelievable level, having not allowed an offensive touchdown to be scored against it in 12 quarters of football so far this season. The combination of the greatest coach and quarterback of all-time are as effective as they ever have been.
Why not: Unless Tom Brady gets hurt, there’s nothing to discuss here.
San Francisco 49ers
Why: The 49ers were 4-12 in 2018 and were ranked among the top half of the league in both offense and defense. The 49ers, along with the Bills and Patriots, are the only 3-0 teams currently ranked among the top 10 in both offense and defense. The team features a talented roster and there is plenty of untapped potential at the offensive skill positions and defensive line. The secondary is coming together nicely so far this season.
Why not: San Francisco’s opponents have a combined record of 1-8 and the schedule stiffens up significantly the rest of the way. Despite being in his sixth NFL season, there is still plenty to learn about who Jimmy Garoppolo is and the offensive line has holes in it, especially with Joe Staley injured. The Rams and Seahawks are tough competition in the division.