Indianapolis led the charge in a huge week for the AFC.
At the start of the season, it didn’t look good for the AFC. Defending Super Bowl champ Baltimore was hit hard in the offseason, New England lost Wes Welker and others, Houston was expected to be good but not really a powerhouse of the league, and then to add insult to injury, New York, Jacksonville, and Oakland bottomed out the conference as perhaps the three worst teams in the NFL. Oh, and don’t forget the Browns. The one bright spot was Denver, a legitimate Super Bowl contender predicted by many to face one of the many superpowers from the NFC. Green Bay, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.
I include myself in these predictions. The NFL is always competitive, but there was no question in my mind who the dominant conference was. The NFC was, and still is, lined with potential.
Well here we are in Week 3 and the so-called weak AFC has come out playing angry. The first two weeks was an impressive start for the AFC, going 5-2 in interleague play. But Week 3 was when they really kicked it up a notch, shocking their NFC counterparts with six wins and only one loss. That’s 11-3 for the season, just to keep track.
The biggest statement came from the Indianapolis Colts on the road against the Niners. Four of Indy’s five losses came on the road last year and San Fran is dominant at home. Also, the 49ers are pretty damn good! The Colts didn’t care what was supposed to happen, they made their own headlines. It started with an unprecedented defensive performance out of the Colts, holding Colin Kaepernick to just 150 passing yards and no touchdowns. They harassed Kap all day, sacking him three times and forcing him to turn the ball over twice (fumble, int). It ended with a tremendous running game, led by Ahmad Bradshaw with 95 yards and a TD. Former Brown Trent Richardson also picked up 35 yards and a TD. Even Andrew Luck got in on the action, scrambling four times for 24 yards and a TD. It’s also important to note that not one Colt turned the ball over. The passing game wasn’t spectacular but it certainly still added to a fantastic all-around effort by the Indianapolis Colts. I’ll admit it, I did not see that one coming.
The Week 4 bye comes at a good time for the 1-2 Packers.
Indianapolis wasn’t the only team to earn a big win for the AFC. Cincinnati and Miami both scored late to stun two NFC playoff teams (Green Bay, Atlanta). Kansas City picked up its second-straight interleague win with a defensive shutdown of the Eagles. Even Cleveland shined behind the defense and Brian Hoyer in his first career start. The one win for the NFC came from Chicago–beating Pittsburgh–who incidentally has two of the three interleague wins for the NFC (Seattle has other).
So what’s the deal, NFC? Is this indicative of how the season will go?
It’s still early, of course. The NFC, although beat up these opening weeks, still has a lot of great teams that have yet to reach their potential. Expect the NFC to fight back throughout the course of this season. It’s certainly something we’ll have to keep an eye on. Next week will be a great chance to see how it continues to play out with a whopping eight interleague games on the Week 4 slate.
I couldn’t find good videos of some of the plays I liked this week, so here they are in gif form, sorry for the size and no sound. Feedback on these gifs is welcome.
Miami game-winner over Atlanta.
Cleveland game-winner over Minnesota.
Cincinnati game-winning fumble recovery over Green Bay.
Dolphin’s huge hit on Atlanta return man.
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