NFC Edition: Who will remain undefeated after week 3?

Entering week 3 in the 2016 NFL season, we currently have eight teams sitting undefeated at 2-0, with three of them competing in the NFC. However, in the history of the National Football League only two teams have gone undefeated in the regular season: 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2007 New England Patriots. The 1934 and 1942 Bears went undefeated yet this was pre AFL-NFL merger. A few teams have come close to touching immortality in the past: 2011 Carolina Panthers (15-1); 2011 Green Bay Packers (15-1); 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1); 1998 Minnesota Vikings (15-1); 1985 Chicago Bears (15-1); 1984 San Francisco 49ers (15-1); 1976 Oakland Raiders (13-1); 1968 Baltimore Colts (13-1); 1967 Oakland Raiders (13-1). Despite eight teams going 2-0, I am not predicting anyone to go undefeated this season, however, I do expect some to have a good shot at extending their undefeated streak for a few more weeks. In this article I am going to look at the teams currently sitting at 2-0 and tell you when I believe they will eventually chalk up their first loss.

Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz fever is in full flow in the city of brotherly love. Through two games Wentz has thrown 43 of 71 (60.6%) for 468 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Wentz, the number 2 overall draft pick this year is looking comfortable for a rookie and has already found his favourite target in WR Jordan Matthews who he has connected with 13 times for 185 yards and a touchdown. Wentz has so far played significantly above his rookie status and it’s his poise and command of the Offense which appears most striking as he can be seen digesting defences and makes alterations at the line of scrimmage in only his second ever NFL game. Most seasoned veterans still struggle with this. The Eagles have played well so far and their Defensive End Brandon Graham has been extremely impressive through the firs two weeks. However, it must be remembered that so far Philadelphia has only gone up against an RGIII led Browns and a Jay Cutler/ Brian Hoyer led Bears team. Yes what Carson Wentz has managed to do in a very short amount of time is highly impressive and must have many in Philadelphia excited while those in Cleveland are left pondering what might have been. Yet let us be realistic, as this Philadelphia team will most likely not remain undefeated for much longer. Spoiler Alert!

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Carson Wentz was selected 2nd overall in the 2016 Draft after Philadelphia traded up twice to grab him – (AP Press)

Week 3 Prediction: I am predicting the Steelers to beat the 2-0 Eagles in week 3. Although Carson Wentz has performed phenomenally in his first two games, I think this game will be similar to Pittsburgh’s week 2 match up with Cincinnati where the Steelers are just the better team and will overwhelm the Eagles on both Offense and Defence. The Eagles are 2-0 but have played 2 of the 5 worst teams in the NFL and playing Pittsburgh in week 3 is a different kettle of fish with their offensive firepower and dominant front 7. Final score Pittsburgh Steelers 34 – 10 Philadelphia Eagles.

First Loss: Week 3 vs. Pittsburgh

New York Giants

Over-paid. These two words were heard on lips of NFL experts around the league during the offseason as the New York Giants made repeated splashes in free agency particularly on Defense. The Giants resigned Jason Pierre-Paul and his seven fingers on a one-year $10.5m contract. CB Janoris Jenkins arrived in free agency on a five-year $62.5m deal alongside DT Damon Harrison who got a 5-year $46.25m contract. The Giants made the biggest splash by signing the young talented pass rusher, DE Olivier Vernon who got a 5-year $85m contract with a whopping $52.5m guaranteed for a player who in four years had only 29.0 sacks. The Giants had an extremely successful draft as 2nd round pick WR Sterling Shepard has emerged after his first two games as one of the best young slot receivers in the NFL while 1st round pick Eli Apple has a tonne of upside at CB.

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Olivier Vernon signed with the Giants from Miami in the offseason on a whopping 5-year $85m contract with $52.5m guaranteed (AP Press)

But give second year Defensive Co-Ordinator Steve Spagnuole credit. In the Giants first two games, he has turned this unit from one of the leagues worst to a unit which shut down Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys run game in week 1 and held Drew Brees to 263 yards and 1 TD on 44 attempts in week 2. The Giants have played well in their first two weeks and will benefit from playing in a poor division in the NFC East, however, I believe that similar to the Ravens if this team goes over .500 it should be seen as a huge achievement for first year Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

Week 3 Prediction: The Redskins are 0-2 and Kirk Cousins stinks at the minute. I believe that the Giants will get the home win against Washington with the impressive trio of OBJ, Cruz and Sheppard going to work through the air. The Giants Defense will also overwhelm a poor Cousins and I expect Spagnuolo to co-ordinate a 4 sacks, 2 INT performance from his unit. Final Score New York Giants 21 – Washington Redskins 17

First Loss: The Giants will go 4-0 before losing at Baltimore in week 5. The Ravens are always a difficult team to beat on the road and despite Baltimore’s below average group of corners, I believe that this game will be a low scoring affair and more of a slug fest than anything. Final Score New York Giants 10 – Baltimore Ravens 17

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings lost their young and emerging franchise Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a horror knee injury during the preseason. The team signed veteran QB Sam Bradford with many criticising the team for mortgaging the future (giving up a 1st round pick in 2017 and a conditional 4th rounder in 2018) in order to be able to compete in the short term. However, Head Coach Mike Zimmer (one of the best in the League) has managed to guide the Vikings to an impressive 2-0 start while Offensive Co-Ordinator Norv Turner managed to make Sam Bradford look in week 2, like what many Rams fans thought they were getting when their team selected Bradford first overall in the 2010 draft. Sophomore Stefon Diggs currently leads the league in receiving yards and is having a break out year. However, heartbreak has struck once again in Minneapolis, as reports today emerge that Running Back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings best player this decade will be out for three to four months due to a torn meniscus.

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Head Coach Mike Zimmer is highly respected around the league and will have to get the best out of his players in the absence of Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson – (Joe Robbins/ Getty Images)

Some may say that AP was not the same force he usually is through the first two games of this season, but the loss of Adrian Peterson will affect every facet of Minnesota’s Offense. Teams who previously had to load the box and leave a single-high safety with man coverage on the outside now have the luxury of leaving two safeties in the back end making it more difficult for the Vikings to beat Defences through the air. The Vikings have ok backups in Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, but Minnesota has just lost the whole vocal point of their Offense and everything that AP did for this team in both the run game and in the passing game by forcing teams to bring players into the box is now gone for the rest of the season. I think that Mike Zimmer is a brilliant Head Coach and that Norv Turner can help the Vikings reach .500 without AP. The Vikings also have a great Defense, however, this once Super Bowl dark horse will now face an uphill battle the rest of the season as they compete against the Packers for the NFC North.

Week 3 Prediction: Without AP and Bridgewater the Vikings will be missing their two star players on Offense for the rest of the year. However, the breakout of Stefon Diggs and the performance of rookie Laquon Treadwell, alongside TE Kyle Rudolph will result in Sam Bradford having a career year (in my opinion). The Vikings will compete in most games this year, but the monumental task of playing at Carolina this weekend will prove too much for Minnesota. Although the Vikings Defence has the ability to keep this close, I believe the Panthers front seven will overwhelm Minnesota and the Vikings will chalk up their first loss in week 3. Final Score Minnesota Vikings 10 – Carolina Panthers 24.

First Loss: Week 3 at Carolina.

– Tom Like

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