1. Arizona Cardinals:
Is there a more quiet 3-0 team in the NFL than the Arizona Cardinals? After moving on from Carson Palmer, the Cardinals have now won two straight with Drew Stanton under center, leading them to an early lead in the brutal NFC West. Yes, they are even above the defending champion Seahawks. Of course, it’s only Week 3, but the Cardinals have already defeated the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers have been a perennial powerhouse for some time now, and the Chargers shut down the defending champion Seahawks last week. Although the lowly Giants were squeezed in there, the Cardinals are not a cheap 3-0 team. The Cardinals can gain some more national attention in two weeks (after their early Week 4 bye) if they can challenge the mighty Broncos in Denver.
2. Mohamed Sanu:
I wrote about the potential of the Bengals offense in the first week of the Thermostat, and now I will return to discuss the one of the players who compliments AJ Green, Andy Dalton, and Gio Bernard. Mohamed Sanu filled an important role last week when AJ Green was sidelined mid-game with an injury. However, with Green on the way back I hesitated to highlight Sanu, who I thought would fade back out of the limelight. Sanu proved me wrong, as he still came through this week. Or perhaps I should say “threw”, as Sanu managed to throw a touchdown pass to quarterback Andy Dalton. In fact, Sanu has completed all four of his career passes for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, which isn’t bad for a for a wide receiver who often plays second fiddle. However, Sanu has shown over the past two weeks that rather than being a secondary option, he is an important piece in the increasingly dangerous Bengals offense.
3. Ben McAdoo:
McAdoo, the Giants’ new offensive coordinator, is under pressure to revive the stagnant New York offense. Against the Texans, the Giants finally showed some sort of life, putting up 30 points with most of their plays coming from the no-huddle. Eli Manning was at the pinnacle of efficiency, hitting 21 of 28 passes for two touchdowns and no turnovers. The Giants also ran the ball a whopping 42 times all game for a uncharacteristic 193 yards, the majority of which came from newcomer Rashad Jennings. While The Giants will face more difficult defenses than the Texans in the future, McAdoo’s offensive scheme has shown that it can work. So while the Giants still have a ways to go, McAdoo makes the HOT list by getting his name off of New York’s hot seat, at least for the time being.
1. Matt Cassel:
Matt Cassel left Sunday’s game with a broken foot, which will sideline him for some time. Even worse, Cassel may return to find he has lost his starting job to top draft pick Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel is most (perhaps only) known around the league for taking over the Patriots in 2008 after Tom Brady torn his ACL and leading them to an 11-5 record. However, after that breakout year, Cassel regressed and failed to consistently perform for the Chiefs and now the Vikings. With this injury, it seems that Cassel’s time as a starter in the NFL might be coming to an unfortunate end.
2. Eddie Lacy
The Packers are one of a few perennial powers, along with the Saints and Patriots, that have struggled this year, and Lacy deserves a good portion of the blame for Green Bay’s problems. Lacy has failed to top 45 yards in any game this year, and in addition to losing a fumble on Sunday, he was also tackled in his own endzone for a safety. Lacy had a brilliant rookie season, but has failed to get anything going this year. The lack of a reliable running game has contributed to the difficulties Aaron Rodgers has had passing the ball. To be fair to Lacy, he has faced some tough run defenses so far, but if he cannot right the ship soon the Packers could begin to give more carries to backup James Starks.
3. New England Patriots:
The only winners of the brutal root-canal of a game between the Patriots and Oakland Raiders were the Polish. In case you missed it, every single point scored in the game was scored by someone with the suffix “-kowski”; both kickers (Janikowski and Gostkowski) and the Patriots Rob Gronkowski. Despite winning the game, the Patriots looked awful. Against the Raiders. At home. The Patriots have had an up and down season so far, and when they have this much trouble beating the lowly Raiders, fans must be concerned. You have to start wondering what exactly is wrong with the Patriots; they restructured their defense with the addition of Darrelle Revis, but could their lack of downfield threats be holding them back? Regardless of the specific problem, it’s clear that, at the moment, the Patriots are not the Super Bowl contender they have been for the past decade.