Peyton Manning made it look easy against a struggling Cardinals team Sunday Night.

Peyton Manning made it look easy against a struggling Cardinals team Sunday Night.

Week 3 in the NFL is officially in the books, with Indianapolis and Dallas winning their primetime battles with Arizona and Carolina, respectively.  There’s a lot that can be said about all four of these teams so far this year, so let’s get right to it.

On Sunday night, the hotly anticipated matchup between two of the league’s most proficient passing offenses turned into a one-sided affair, as the Colts handled the Cardinals, 31-10.  After the Cards failed to score and extend an early 7-0 lead, it seems like the wheels just completely came off on both sides of the ball.  They gave up multiple big plays to Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, and even rookie RB Donald Brown.  The big issue that the 1-2 Cards seem to have right now is that their offense has no balance, with the running game being amongst the worst in the NFL.  Tim Hightower was limited to 9 carries for 22 yards in the game, forcing Kurt Warner to throw 52 times in the game, often under a ton of pressure from Dwight Freeney and the rest of the Indy D-Line, which dominated in the trenches throughout the game, accumulating 4 sacks in the win.  The Cards are going to need to shore up their running game if they really expect to make it back to the playoffs this season.  They get a bye week this week before hosting another disappointing team so far in the Houston Texans.

The Colts have to feel good about themselves right now, moving to 3-0 and already holding a 2 game lead in the AFC South.  Peyton Manning is proving that he can win games with just about any combination of receivers on the field, as the unlikely Pierre Garcon once again looked very good in place of the injured Anthony Gonzalez and Donald Brown looks like a very smart first round pick.  The Colts now head home to take on a banged up Seahawks team before going into Tennessee to take on the 0-3 Titans.

Moving into the Monday Night game, it was another matchup of offenses that never really came into being, as Dallas grinded out a 21-7 victory over the still winless Panthers.  The big story in Big D was just that. Their defense finally showed up the way most people expected them to, pressuring Jake Delhomme, sacking him 3 times, and getting 3 turnovers from the struggling starter for Carolina.  There is some concern as Felix Jones left the game with a knee injury, but Tashard Choice carried the ball 18 times for 82 yards and a TD for Dallas’ lone offensive score. Dallas now looks to move to 3-1 as they head to Mile High Stadium to take on the 3-0 Denver Broncos next week.

As for the Panthers, it might be serious time for them to consider their options at QB.  For the second time in three weeks, Jake Delhomme was terrible, looking lost on the field and not being able to protect the football.  They also need to get back to running the football, which is what their team is built on with DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart on the roster.  It’s now critical for Carolina to get a win after the bye week, and they get a decent shot, hosting the Redskins in Week 5.

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Age was served in Cleveland, with a LOT of help from Adrian Peterson

Age was served in Cleveland, with a LOT of help from Adrian Peterson

I am going to start this by saying that I am a little embarrassed for several reasons, the least of which being my 8-5 record heading into tonight’s Bears-Packers game, which based on Jay Cutler’s 2 INT’s will soon be 8-6.  The reasons that I’m embarrassed is because, I feel that after just one week that I already might have to re-examine my outlook on some teams in the league.  So let’s get right to the part where I very suddenly eat my words in humiliation.

Considering the teams that I saw either overacheive or underachieve today, I’m going to take this on one division at a time, starting in the AFC.

East
I feel like I might have the middle two teams in this division mixed up, as the Dolphins looked like dead fish in Atlanta while there were no problems in

The Dolphins offense was certainly not helped by Penningtons 3 picks

The Dolphins offense was certainly not helped by Pennington's 3 picks

Houston for the Jets.  Give credit to the Jets defense, which pitched a shutout against a very potent Texans offense.  In case you were wondering, no I didn’t forget I picked the Texans to win this game or that I said they would win by 10 points.  On the other hand, Chad Pennington did not look like the QB we saw last year and the Dolphins offense looked like the 2007 version that saw only one win.

Next Up: Bills at Patriots, Mon. Night ; Week 2: Pats at Jets, Bucs at Bills, and Colts at Dolphins (Monday Night)

North
I actually don’t think there were many surprises out of this division as the Steelers and Ravens both scratched out close wins, the Browns looked like the Browns we all know and love, and the Bengals lived up to their “Bungles” moniker with a bit of bad luck against the Broncos.  That being said, Baltimore’s defense was a bit disappointing, as was Cincy’s offense.  It will be interesting to see how these teams react next week, or if they are just not that good.

Next Up: Bengals at Packers, Ravens at Chargers, Steelers at Bears, Browns at Broncos

South
OK, I think I owe an early apology to the Titans.  Yes, I know they lost to the Steelers, but with the Colts barely escaping the Jags at home, and the injury to Anthony Gonzalez, combined with the Texans getting beaten at home by the Jets, the Titans might be the class of this South division, and a legitimate contender.  They are still a very good defensive team, and if the running game comes along the way it could, Tennessee could be very dangerous come playoff time.  On the flip side, Houston looks like they are not quite ready to play the first half of the season yet, which will once again make me and the rest of the bandwagon look very stupid.

Next Up: Texans at Titans, Cardinals at Jaguars, Colts at Dolphins (Mon. Night)

West
The two teams that have played in this division so far this week looked about the way I expected them to.  The Broncos caught a very lucky break and escaped with an ugly and undeserved 12-7 win over the Bungles, and the Matt Cassel-less Chiefs crumbled late under pressure just like last year’s Chiefs, falling 38-24 to Baltimore.  If this pattern continues, San Diego should beat Oakland by about 50 tomorrow night.

Next Up: Raiders at Chiefs, Ravens at Chargers, Browns at Broncos
NFC
Much like in the AFC, there were several surprises to me in the NFC.  I knew that the Eagles were a good team, but I had no idea how bad Jake Delhomme could be, as he turned the ball over 5 times in a 38-10 beatdown.  The other big news was Drew Brees exploding on the hapless Lions for 6 TDs in a 45-27 Saints victory.

East
I think the Eagles showed today just how versatile of a team they can be, scoring on offense, defense, and special teams…BUT Donovan McNabb’s

Donovan McNabb left Phillys rout with a cracked rib. Kevin Kolb may start against the Saints

Donovan McNabb left Philly's rout with a cracked rib. Kevin Kolb may start against the Saints

cracked ribs certainly raises the eyebrows of the Philly faithful.  Dallas did what it should be able to do against teams as offensively challenged as Tampa Bay, and the Giants, contrary to what the final score might say, pretty much controlled the game against the Redskins, 23-17.

Next Up: Saints at Eagles, Rams at Redskins, Giants at Cowboys (Sun. Night)

North
Well, it wasn’t pretty, but Brett Favre is pretty old after all and the Vikings got a 34-20 win in Cleveland behind Adrian Peterson’s 180 yard, 3 TD outburst.  Along the same lines, it’s never pretty for the Lions, who saw their defense get lit up by Drew Brees in a 45-27 loss.  Worse even for Detroit, Matt Stafford’s inability to find the endzone through the air while finding Saints defenders on 3 occasions.  Speaking of 3 INTs, Jay Cutler just threw another one!  It’s not looking so good for the Bears right now.

Next Up: Bengals at Packers, Vikings at Lions, Steelers at Bears

South
If today was any indication of how the NFC South is going to break down, then expect this to be a two team race between Atlanta and New Orleans,

Brees threw 6 TDs against Detroit.  Can he do this every week to hide the Saints D?

Brees threw 6 TDs against Detroit. Can he do this every week to hide the Saints' D?

both of which looked very good today against the Dolphins and Lions, respectively, although the Saints did surrender 27 points to Detroit.  Opposite this might be the pillow fight for last place that has begun between the Panthers and Buccaneers, both of which looked completely inept against their NFC East opponents.

Next Up: Saints at Eagles, Panthers at Falcons, Bucs at Bills

West
The NFC West took a bit of a turn for the unexpected as San Francisco went into University of Phoenix Stadium and beat the Cardinals 20-16. (On a side note, why does a school without a football team or even a real campus have a football stadium’s naming rights?) Anyway, I was very impressed by how the 49ers defense managed to contain Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, as well as how well Arizona contained Frank Gore on the ground.  But at the end of the day, the Cardinals are not built to play a defensive game and it showed.  In the other division showdown, Seattle showed that they won’t be fighting with the Rams for last place again this year in a 28-0 thrashing of St. Louis.  It really was a combination of Seattle’s improvement and St. Louis’ lack thereof.  The Rams might challenge the Lions for worst team in the league this year, and we’re even lucky enough to see them faceoff in Week 8.

Next Up: Rams at Redskins, Seahawks at 49ers, Cardinals at Jaguars

Check back tomorrow/Tuesday for reports on the Bears-Packers game as well as the Monday Night games…and now it looks like the Bears might pull this one out tonight, go figure.  Sorry, Jay Cutler. (EDIT: Greg Jennings just scored. I take back my apology.)