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NFL contenders and pretenders: Ranking the 3-0 teams

After three weeks of the 2021 NFL season, five teams remain undefeated. Let’s rank them from biggest contenders to potential contender.

5. Denver Broncos

The Broncos might prove a really good team with an elite defense. This ranking is more about the unknown. Denver has beaten the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. Combined, those teams are 0-10 and have a case as the three worst teams in the league. Now, the Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens before seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns over the next three games. How do they fare in those contests?


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4. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have also beaten up on a largely easy schedule, handling the Jets, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans. Additionally, the offense has a new challenge ahead with All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey sidelined for the next few weeks while he recovers from a hamstring injury. The good news? Carolina has an easy schedule and even if quarterback Sam Darnold just plays decent football, 10 wins is very possible.

3. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have the advantage of knowing their offense is captained by a terrific young quarterback. However, they have the curse of being in the NFC West, where a team could win nine games and finish in last place. Early on, Arizona crushed the Tennessee Titans but really struggled to beat Jacksonville and the Minnesota Vikings. Is this a group with staying power? We’ll find out plenty as they visit the Rams this weekend.

2. Las Vegas Raiders

Who saw this coming? The Raiders are atop the AFC West alongside the Broncos, sitting a full two games ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs. Las Vegas has been getting extreme production from quarterback Derek Carr and edge rusher Maxx Crosby, propelling it to a pair of home wins in overtime while taking care of the Steelers in Week 2. While it’s foolish to think this level of play can last, the Raiders have beaten quality teams and with a decent schedule ahead, the playoffs are possible.


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1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are clearly the best of the bunch. Unlike the other four teams, Los Angeles was in the playoffs last year and has a coach proven to be among the elite. The defense also looks terrific, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald and corner Jalen Ramsey. Provided quarterback Matthew Stafford stays healthy, the Rams are a top-tier Super Bowl contender.

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