Week three in the NFL is one of the most critical junctures in the league’s regular season. Several teams always come into the week 0-2, while several others are 2-0, making the week a turning point for everyone. If you’re 0-2, you have to find a way to step up and avoid going 0-3. If you’re 2-0, going 3-0 is a huge step toward the postseason. Heck, even 1-1 teams have a lot to gain and lose in week three.
With week three of the 2015 season now behind us, several teams managed to handle one of the most critical points of the season with ease. Huge wins over the weekend allowed several teams to prove that they are legit contenders. Seeing as this is the case, here are the three teams that made the biggest statements in week three with their impressive performances.
1. Buffalo Bills
In a battle of two teams on the supposed rise in the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills did more than just beat the Miami Dolphins; they absolutely dismantled them. The Bills were fast, explosive, and physical and overwhelmed the Dolphins in Miami. Both teams came into the contest at 1-1, so the implications of the game were huge. The winner would avoid digging a deep hole in the division while the loser would be stuck with a losing record through three weeks. Each team needed the game, but the Bills were the ones that played like they needed it.
Buffalo made a lot of statements in its dominant victory. The Bills proved that Tyrod Taylor is the real deal at QB, as he threw three touchdowns. They proved (once again) that their defense is too much to handle for most teams, as they forced three turnovers and gave up just 14 points. They even proved that they have a great running back not named LeSean McCoy in Karlos Williams.
Above all else, however, the Bills proved that they are ready to contend for the playoffs. Now, it comes down to consistency, which is something else they are ready to show the NFL world they have.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have always been talented during the Matt Ryan era. Several times over the past eight or so seasons, this team has had the look of a club that can make a Super Bowl run. In every one of those instances, however, the Falcons have faltered. Often, they failed to even make the playoffs (including each of the past two seasons). This season, things finally feel like they may be coming together in Atlanta, and a week three win proved it.
Facing a Dallas Cowboys team dealing with injury after injury, the Falcons were expected to continue their undefeated start to the season. While they did just that, it wasn’t easy, as Dallas had a 14-point advantage at three different times in the game, including an 11-point lead going into halftime. After that, however, the Falcons looked dominant. Julio Jones made catch after catch, and Devonta Freeman looked like he was shot out of a canon every time he touched the ball, leading the team to 25 unanswered points and an 11-point win.
What was the statement Atlanta made with this victory? Well, the team proved that its offense is too good to ever count Atlanta out of a game, for one. More importantly, the Falcons told the NFL they are ready for that Super Bowl title this season, for real this time.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the most consistent franchises in the NFL. They have made the postseason in each of the past four seasons, so you would think turmoil would be lacking in Cincinnati. However, when you lose the first game in each of those playoff appearances, things are going to become tense. In 2015, the goal for the Bengals was to finally take that step and break the drought. With their huge week-three win, they are one step closer to achieving that goal.
Playing the division rival Baltimore Ravens on the road, the Bengals had a daunting task this weekend. The Ravens came in 0-2 and desperate for a victory. The Bengals were 2-0 and ready to announce their status as top dog in the AFC North. That’s exactly what they did. In a thrilling finish, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green led Cincinnati to one of the most impressive victories of the young season. The win says a lot about the Bengals. It says that Andy Dalton is better than people give him credit for. It says that A.J. Green is proving to be one of the most dominant players that the game has, regardless of position. It also says that this team is clutch and tough.
The most important statement Cincinnati made with this victory was that they are ready to return to postseason and win once they get there as the top team in the AFC North. This win will do so much for the Bengals’ confidence going forward, and it could propel them to heights not seen in multiple decades in Cincinnati.