A year after finishing a combined 14-35, the Bills, Jaguars and Rams are 3-0, lead their respective divisions outright and have allowed a combined 28 points.
Meanwhile, that reigning dynasty in New England is 0-1 and has surrendered 42 points all by itself.
Yeah, it’s safe to say the first leg on the NFL’s Road to Minneapolis supplied its share of unexpected twists and a serious lean in favor of the defenses.
The Giants and Seahawks, two top NFC contenders, have allowed a combined 36 points, but are 0-2 because they’ve yet to score a touchdown.
Eight home teams lost. Five of them were double-digit losers, and all but one of them scored fewer than 19 points, including the Bengals, who were shut out 20-0 by the Ravens.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw three first-half interceptions and didn’t get benched. Houston’s Tom Savage took six first-half sacks and then a seventh when coach Bill O’Brien benched him against the Jaguars.
Now O’Brien is back where he normally is: up a creek with no QB and a defense that deserves better.
In Cleveland, the Steelers were held to 290 yards by a Browns team missing No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.
In Chicago, the Falcons scored 23 points before having to survive Chicago dropping not one, but two potential game-winning touchdown passes at the end. A year ago, MVP Matt Ryan and that offense scored 24 or more points in 17 of 19 games.
In Green Bay, the Packers gave the rest of the NFC North another reason to worry beyond Aaron Rodgers. Feasting on a Seattle offensive line that’s not befitting a Super Bowl pick (guilty) and some, ahem, favorable officiating, the Packers held the Seahawks to nine points, the fewest they’ve allowed in 23 games.
And what about poor Blair Walsh? Whether he’s playing for or against Seattle, nine points never seems to be enough.
As we turn toward the second leg of the Road to Minneapolis and Super Bowl LII, injuries will play a role. Naturally.
No injury is bigger than Kansas City losing safety Eric Berry for the season (Achilles’). With corners Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell matching up well on New England’s outside weapons, Berry was a critical part of Kansas City’s game plan in the 42-27 road win.
Kansas City is back home as a 4 ½-point favorite. But the Eagles (1-0) are dangerous with tight end Zack Ertz — eight catches for 93 yards in the 30-17 win at Washington — not having to worry about Berry.
Another injured player to note is Cardinals do-everything back David Johnson, who is expected to miss months because of a dislocated wrist. Arizona is 0-1, but it’s still a 7 ½-point favorite at Indianapolis, which says more about the Colts’ dysfunction than Arizona’s strength.
Of course, all eyes will be on New England and the league’s 24th-ranked passer, Tom Brady (70.0 rating). Don’t worry, Tom, Vegas believes in you enough to make you a 6 ½-point favorite at New Orleans.
Speaking of the Saints, some of us assumed Adrian Peterson had accepted his role with the Saints. But watching his exchange with Sean Payton on the sideline Monday night was sort of like seeing a stranger walk into another man’s house and grab the TV remote.
Keep fighting for control of Drew’s team, Adrian, and don’t be surprised if you’re asked to leave. In 98 years, no one has been immune to the NFL’s circle of life.
Seattle should get righted as a 13 ½-point favorite at home against San Francisco. The Giants will have a tougher time at home against Detroit, especially if that offense is without Odell Beckham Jr. again.
The most interesting game of the week is Green Bay at Atlanta on Sunday night. Is the Packers’ defense for real? Is Atlanta’s offense ready to snap a six-quarter funk going back to Super Bowl LI?
We’ll find out soon enough.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL