And then there were three …
Only three undefeated teams remain: The Giants were off last week, while the Titans and the Bills won to become the NFL’s only 4-0 teams. But the Cowboys, and the Redskins -- and maybe even the Eagles -- are better than the Titans and the Bills simply because they have better quarterbacks. 1. NY Giants, 3-0 -- The Giants have 13 sacks and 18 quarterback pressures so far.
2. Washington, 3-1 -- Jim Zorn’s 3-1 start is the best by a rookie Redskins coach since Jack Pardee in 1978.
3. Dallas, 3-1 -- Tony Romo has been intercepted at least once in each of his past seven games, including the playoff loss to the Giants.
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4. Tennessee, 4-0 -- the Titans have beaten four teams with a combined record of 4-11.
5. Buffalo, 4-0 -- The Bills can go 5-0 for the first time since 1991 with a win at Arizona.
6. Philadelphia, 2-2 -- The Eagles are second in the league in takeaways with nine, but 22nd in points per takeaway. Those nine takeaways have produced just 26 points.
7. Pittsburgh, 3-1 -- James Harrison, the Steelers’ MVP last season, is second in the league with 5.5 sacks.
8. San Diego, 2-2 -- LaDainian Tomlinson has three games to reach 11,000 career rushing yards and become the fourth-fastest player to do so. In 115 games, Tomlinson has 10,946 yards.
9. Indianapolis, 1-2 -- The Colts have run a league-low 29.8 percent of the time.
10. New England, 2-1 --The Patriots have never won in San Francisco, where they play Sunday, and Washington.
11. Jacksonville, 2-2 -- The Jags rank 24th in the league in pass defense.
12. Tampa Bay, 3-1 -- The Bucs have a league-high eight interceptions (tied with Tennessee and Green Bay), including two by defensive end Gaines Adams.
13. Chicago, 2-2 -- In the past two games, Kyle Orton has five touchdown passes, four interceptions and has been sacked seven times.
14. Baltimore, 2-1-- Baltimore’s defense has allowed only two touchdowns in 12 quarters, fewest in the league.
15. Carolina, 3-1 -- Defensive end Julius Peppers record his second sack of the season against the Falcons and needs one more to surpass his career low of 2.5 last season.
16. New Orleans, 2-2 -- Drew Brees leads the NFL with 1,343 yards, putting him on pace for an NFL-record 5,372.
17. Denver, 3-1 --Jay Cutler ranks second in the league in passing yards (1,275) and touchdowns (9).
18. Green Bay, 2-2 -- Greg Jennings leads the NFL with 482 receiving yards, putting him on pace for 100 catches and 1,928 yards.
19. NY Jets, 2-2 -- Laveranues Coles (257) and Jerricho Cotchery (243) are trying to become the first Jets’ receiving duo each to gain 1,000 yards in the same season since Keyshawn Johnson (1,131) and Wayne Chrebet (1,083) in 1998.
20. Arizona, 2-2 -- Running back Edgerrin James has 277 rushing yards, putting him on pace for the eighth 1,000-yard rushing season of his 10-year career.
21. Seattle, 1-2 -- When playing on the East Coast, the Seahawks are 10-18 under Mike Holmgren. They were 1-4 there last year.
22. Minnesota, 1-3 -- Adrian Peterson ranks second in the NFL with 420 rushing yards, aiming to become the first player to lead the NFC in rushing in each of his first two seasons since Hall of Famer Barry Sanders in 1989-90.
23. San Francisco, 2-2 -- Running back Frank Gore leads the NFL with 525 scrimmage yards.
24. Atlanta, 2-2 -- The Falcons are making their first trip to Lambeau Field since the 27-7 playoff victory on Jan. 4, 2003. The game was the Packers’ first postseason loss at Lambeau.
25. Miami, 1-2 -- Philip Rivers is 21-6 as a starter against AFC teams with 39 touchdowns, 24 touchdowns and an 87.3 passer rating.
26. Oakland, 1-3 -- Lane Kiffin’s coached 20 games, tied for the second-shortest tenure by one of Al Davis’ coaches. He lasted four games longer than Art Shell in 2006 and tied Mike Shanahan’s 20-game run in 1987-88.
27. Kansas City, 1-3 -- The Chiefs have lost six consecutive road games dating to last season, a 12-10 victory at Oakland on Oct. 21, 2007.
28. Houston, 0-3 -- The Texans, who are trying to avoid the second 0-4 start in franchise history, are 1-11 against the Colts.
29. Cleveland, 1-3 -- Derek Anderson’s 49.9 passer rating is last among NFL starters, and his 49.6 completion percentage is next to last.
30. Cincinnati, 0-4 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick became the 26th QB to start a game in franchise history.
31. Detroit, 0-3 -- Running back Kevin Smith leads the team in rushing and can become the first rookie since Kevin Jones in 2004 to lead the team in that category.
32. St. Louis, 0-3 -- Scott Linehan, 45, was 11-25, including losses in 17 of the last 20 games as the franchise’s 22nd head coach.
The Bengals’ best chance at upsetting the Cowboys is through the air, but Carson Palmer has an inflamed right elbow. Palmer did not play last week, ending a streak of 51 consecutive starts in the 20-12 loss to the Browns. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw three interceptions and a lost a fumble, would start if Palmer can’t play.
“It’s definitely getting better,” Palmer told Cincinnati reporters. “It’s progressed day by day, and I keep my fingers crossed, keep praying and hope that it keeps progressing and that I’ll be ready to roll.”
The Bengals, who rank 30th in rushing at 82.3 yards per game, are banged up at running back, too. Chris Perry (hamstring) and Kenny Watson (hamstring) are nursing injuries, and third-string tailback DeDe Dorsey (hamstring) went on injured reserve. That means newly signed Cedric Benson could play a lot.
If Fitzpatrick and Benson are in the lineup, the Bengals will be extremely limited.
COWBOYS 31, Bengals 9
Charean’s season record: 2-2
BALTIMORE (+3) over Tennessee -- These teams used to be rivals in the AFC Central and have played 11 games since 1999. The Ravens have won seven of the 11 meetings dating to 1999, including six of the past eight.
The Ravens have some injuries on defense, but, as a team, Baltimore is allowing only 14.3 points for three games (4 TDs, 5 FGs). Two of those touchdowns are fumbles returned for touchdowns, meaning the defense has only allowed two touchdowns in 12 quarters, fewest in the league.
RAVENS 13, Titans 10
Charean’s season record: 0-3
New England (-3) at SAN FRANCISCO -- The Patriots have only one thing they need to do: Stop Frank Gore. New England allowed 211 rushing yards in their last outing, an upset loss to the Dolphins, and now rank 25th in run defense.
Gore leads the NFL with 525 yards from scrimmage.
Bet on Bill Belichick having come up with a plan during the Patriots’ off week.
Patriots 20, 49ERS 7
Charean’s season record straight up: 3-0
Charean’s season record against spread: 2-0-1
-- Home team in caps.
Ben Roethlisberger does not have a 200-yard passing game this season, but the run-oriented Steelers will be leaning on him this week with their top running backs injured.
In a 29-22 victory over the Jags on Dec. 16, all three of the Steelers’ touchdowns were passes. And Roethlisberger was 29-of-42 for 337 yards in the Steelers’ 31-29 overtime playoff loss to the Jags on Jan. 5.