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Inside The Wheelhouse – Top 5 NFL Stories from Week 3

Tom BradyLooking back at NFL Week 3 we finally got to see the 2009 NFL Season begins to take shape. Confidence is starting to grow in some locker rooms while urgency is growing in others. “Hot seats” are getting warmer and new coaches are getting a heroes welcome. Quarterbacks have lost their jobs and teams are feeling the Super Bowl hangover. These are the Top 5 stories coming out of Week 3 of the 2009 NFL Season.

5. The Denver Broncos are 3-0.

This by far is the most surprising 3-0 team in all of football. Let’s be honest Kyle Orton is not the best Quarterback in Football by far and I’m not sure if Denver is 100% behind their Quarterback still. I’m sure Denver loves that they are 3-0 but let’s be honest, most Broncos fans would prefer Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy lining up at center in 2010. If the Broncos have a winning record by Week 6 (next three games are Dallas, New England & San Diego) then we can consider the Broncos as a team to be reckon with in the AFC.

4. The Patriots finally look like the Patriots.

It has taken 8 years for Patriots fans to see the calm, cool and collect Tom Brady to lose his mind during a game. The usually laid back and quiet leader in the Patriots locker room clearly had enough of his team looking like trash the last 2 ½ weeks of the 2009 season as he gave a reported inspirational speech heading into the 2nd half of their game with Atlanta. As finally New England fans were able to see the team they know & love come out and outplay & outscore a very dominant Atlanta Falcons team.

The Patriots quickly reminded all of the NFL what this team is capable of and that the first two weeks of football this year were clearly them cleaning out the rust. For a team that has been atop the NFL Mountain for so long they are starting to play with a large chip on their shoulder because they know they can repeat what they accomplished in 2007. Patriots fans are hoping they can carry the same energy & swagger into Week 4 and beyond.

3. The Pittsburgh Steelers & Arizona Cardinals are 1-2.

In the history of the NFL there have been times where the runner-ups in Super Bowl struggle the next season (i.e. 2007 Chicago Bears, 2003 Oakland Raiders for example), sports writers refer to it as the “Super Bowl hangover. It now appears for the first time in a while that both teams from the following year Super Bowl are dealing with this hangover.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were considered a favorite heading into this season, most writers saw them either repeating or at least appearing in this year’s Super Bowl. No one figured that by Week 3 we’d be looking at a 1-2 Steelers team, a team that could have been 0-3 if not an overtime victory in Week 1 against the Titans.

The Steelers have the same team on paper from the Championship team minus an injured Troy Polamalu who is clearly suffering from the Madden cover curse. Could it be that this Steelers team had to much “swagger” heading into the 2009 season figuring that they would just dominate every team in their path towards another Super Bowl Championship? Or could it be that the off-season distractions (that the media for some reason has blown off) from Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger truly did affect “Big Ben.” I’m sure guest hosting Monday Night Raw will rejuvenate this Steelers team…

As for the Arizona Cardinals this start is a little bit more believable then the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you have a Quarterback that is 78 years old lining up under center every week you can’t expect the same results from “the greatest show on turf” era or even the Kurt Warner from last year’s playoffs. The clock is ticking on the Matt Lienart era in Arizona like a countdown to St. Patrick’s Day in an Irish pub. It’s only a matter of time before we see the “American Bad Ass” Matt Lienart carry this Arizona team back to the top of NFC.

2. Brett Favre does it again.

Despite not having the NFL ticket I was able to watch the end of the very competitive 49ers/Vikings game on Sunday. For the time being Brad Childress looks like a genius for splitting his locker room in half and pissing off two capable starters (Sage Rosenfels more then Tarvaris Jackson) in the NFL to enjoy their headsets & clipboards for the year.

Brett Favre drove his team down the field yet again to give them the win with little time remaining. When ESPN does another Brett Favre highlight reel when he retires this will be one of the plays that captures the “gunslinger.”

The Vikings beat the toughest team they have faced on their schedule thus far as they head into the very emotional Week 4 Monday Night game against the Green Bay Packers. But what many people seem to not be talking about is how many times the 40 year old Quarterback coming off of shoulder surgery threw the ball.

Brett Favre went 24/46 for 301 yards. If Brett Favre wasn’t hurting after Sunday’s game and wishing he could take painkillers again he’d be lying as if he was on the couch of Joe Buck Live, talking into Rachel Nichols microphone or text messaging Chris Mortenson. How many more games does Minnesota think Favre can play this season if he continues to throw the ball this much? Thankfully they have the running game to protect ol’ #4 but I wouldn’t bet on Brett playing every game this season.

1. FINALLY…The Lions Win.

The largest travesty to come from this game was that the fans of Detroit could not watch it. I’m sure that helps the economically stricken area of Detroit’s morale when they can’t watch their beloved Lions team finally win a game since December 2007. Great job NFL, way to play to your fans and not the owners of the NFL!

For that moment in time Lions fans were able to take the paper bags off their heads, turn their frowns upside down and not drink so heavily after a Lions game. The Lions BARELY beat a self-destructing Washington Redskins team, but a win is a win and the Lions finally won.

It was by far the best moment & story from Week 3 as the Lions fans were able to go out and celebrate with their fans following the game thanking them for hanging in with them through thick and thin. Matt Stafford is shaping into a hero for the time being and Detroit fans aren’t wishing they drafted Mark Sanchez…yet.

Cheers to Detroit and the state of Michigan. At this point in Week 3 of the NFL season you have the same record as the two teams from last year’s Super Bowl and have better records then two teams (Titans & Panthers) who had first round byes in last year’s playoffs.

Congrats to the Detroit Lions and the Lions faithful on getting that large winless monkey off of your back!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at

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Read the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009: The Essential Guide to the 2009 NFL and College Football Seasons by clicking here.

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