First and 10: Steelers still rolling, 'Boys get tough, the one-sided Pats
Tony Romo has proven he's still the best QB in Texas (not Matt Schaub)
The Steelers are exceeding everyone's expectations, rolling over every opponent
The Saints and Falcons both have the early look of NFC playoff contenders
Each week, I'll provide quick-hitting insights from the slate of 1 p.m. games.
Even with all the problems in Dallas so far this season, Tony Romo is putting together what could be another outstanding season. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 284 yards and two TDs in the Cowboys' win over the Texans and now has 940 passing yards through three games. Dallas was effective enough with the running game to open up big passing plays, and the Cowboys' offensive line did a great job of protecting the quarterback. Romo's a victim of the constant overreaction to everything that comes along with being the quarterback of the league's most public team. But on Sunday, Romo showed he's still in a higher class than Texans QB Matt Schaub. Everyone talks about all the weapons in Dallas, but I'm not sure guys like Miles Austin and Jason Witten are stars without Romo. He was even on the same page with Roy Williams on Sunday (5 catches, 117 yards, 2 TDs) -- something even optimistic Cowboys fans thought would never happen.
You couldn't find many people other than SI's Peter King who picked Pittsburgh to win it all this season, but if the entire NFL world could have a mulligan after three weeks, the Steelers bandwagon would be pretty crowded. They've jumped out to a 3-0 record without Ben Roethlisberger and re-established the physical running game that had slowly gone away in the last couple years. They also have to feel great about Mike Wallace looking like a bona fide No. 1 receiver, making up for the loss of Santonio Holmes.
The Vikings got their first win, but they still have to be worried about their offense. Whether it's Sidney Rice's absence or Brett Favre's rounding into shape, Minnesota isn't scaring anyone downfield. The Lions have one of the more suspect defensive backfields in the NFL and Favre only had one pass play of 20-plus yards heading into Week 3. As a result, defenses are creeping up toward the line of scrimmage and Adrian Peterson is working hard for his yards. Add in some extra third-down work, and Minnesota has to be concerned Peterson will wear down at some point.
The Chiefs defense showed once again it's legit in a dominant win over the 49ers, but don't scratch them out of the 'pretender' column just yet. They were manhandling an inexperienced San Francisco offensive line and the Niners were playing at 10 a.m. local their time. San Francisco didn't have a chance to match K.C.'s energy. Let's see how the Chiefs fare at Indianapolis after their bye week.
The New York Giants have been one of the hardest teams to figure out in the NFL. But their failure to show up at home against the Titans has to indicate they've fallen pretty far since their Super Bowl run three seasons ago. Meanwhile, is there any quarterback who can throw for fewer yards than Vince Young -- 118 passing yards on Sunday -- and still somehow be in control of a game?
The Patriots are going to have to put up a lot of points to win on any given week. The Bills came into Foxboro with the worst defense in the NFL and Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up New England's inexperienced secondary. All the concerns about Wes Welker entering the season and Randy Moss during the first two weeks were mere distractions from the real issue -- the Patriots defense.
So far it's hard to imagine there will be a more impactful acquisition than Anquan Boldin for the Ravens. Baltimore still looks slightly anemic on offense, but Boldin had three touchdowns on Sunday against Cleveland, giving Baltimore just enough offense to let the defense win games. And Boldin has to be the only offensive player as tough as the defensive guys in Baltimore.
No other team in the NFL has played uglier games than the Bengals. But they're 2-1 and have the Browns and Bucs coming up. It doesn't seem like last season's disappearance of their passing game was an anomaly. Cincy will have to grind out every win, but that might just work. Meanwhile, Jimmy Clausen was passable, but the Panthers will probably have a top pick and be looking at other quarterbacks in next year's draft.
The Falcons and Saints -- giving us the most exciting early game of Week 3 -- reminded everyone how small the margin is between the good teams in the NFL. New Orleans got a dose of its own medicine Sunday, ultimately losing because of special teams when Garrett Hartley missed a field goal in overtime. Aside from kicking, special teams had been a huge edge for the Saints this season. You get the feeling these two teams will meet twice more -- once in December (at Atlanta) and once in the playoffs.
Isn't it amazing what a week can do? All the columns calling for Wade Phillips to be fired will disappear for now. But you can bet you'll start hearing about hot seats in places like Carolina and San Francisco. The Niners are going to be considered the biggest disappointment, but considering their youth, that may not be fair.