There are too many story lines to even keep track of while I sit at the CBS studios with Bill Cowher, Dan Marino and the rest of the guys and watch all the games. I do like to sit down when the Sunday night game is over and think about what the weekend games told us about the league at this very moment. Here are six things on my mind:
1. Scoring at a record pace: As I said heading into Week 3, the NFL was on a record pace for scoring points (1,556 points scored in 32 games). Well, Week 3 slowed down a little bit but we're still on record pace after for the first three weeks (Week 1: 791 points; Week 2: 765 points; with one game to go in Week 3, 672 points puts us at 2,228). The question is why the record pace in scoring? Some coaches tell me the defenses are behind the offenses but are slowly catching up. Others feel the spread offenses and all the shotgun formations have increased scoring. I would also think the number of penalties called, especially pass interference and illegal contact, have helped sustain drives. Going into Monday's game, there were 18 scoring plays of 40-plus yards in Week 3. Explosive scoring plays are fun to witness, but the old adage "don't take the foot out of football," held up this weekend, too. There were 51 field goals kicked.
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2. Sophomore QBs stepping up: There's a lot of hype surrounding Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, which is understandable, but both rookies lost this weekend. That caused me to turn my attention to the second-year signal-callers -- especially the four guys not named Cam Newton. It's amazing what some game experience, a solid offseason and lots of reps during the season can do for a young quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder have all had the typical bumps and bruises that go along with being a young NFL starting QB but they also all won this weekend. As a group they were impressive. The four youngsters completed 79 passes in 125 attempts for 1,060 yards with eight TDs, one INT and three sacks. There have been plenty of moments when fans have pronounced these guys busts. But now Jacksonville, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Minnesota fans have to be excited about their teams' futures with these bright young stars of the game.
3. Running backs taking a beating: When I was in NFL personnel work, I lived by the expression, "You never have enough running backs." This weekend was an example as to why -- running backs get injured. C.J. Spiller of the Bills, Reggie Bush of the Dolphins, Dexter McCluster of the Chiefs and Willis McGahee of the Broncos all got hurt. They now join Matt Forte, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jonathan Stewart, Brandon Jacobs, Jahvid Best, Rashard Jennings and John Conner among those fighting to get back on the field. The shelf life of a running back isn't as long as it used to be, but this weekend was particularly damaging.
4. Percentage plays: Atlanta, Houston and Arizona are all 3-0 and the statistics say they now have a 76 percent chance of making the playoffs. As for winning the division and hosting a playoff game they only have a 52 percent chance of that happening and only a 22 percent chance of making the Super Bowl. The point is it's too early to predict a great ending to this season even though three teams are undefeated.
5. No one got shown the door: The way player behavior was headed in Week 2 -- arguing and some physical contact -- I thought there would be big problems in Week 3. Coaches on the sidelines, working to get answers to officiating questions and occasionally demonstrating their frustration, led the league to warn everyone that penalties, fines and possibly ejections would be coming to those who showed extreme frustration with the replacement officials. I still believe there were a number of occasions that warranted at least a fine and more likely a suspension. I suspect the worst is over with player discipline and we may see the real officials sooner rather than later.
6. Some things I liked, others I don't: I felt so bad for Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith after the loss of his brother, but I loved the way he played in his brother's honor, which inspired his teammates.
• I was disturbed by the backfire of the Lions' plan at the end of the game to possibly force a penalty before kicking a winning field goal.
• I liked the way the Raiders and Chiefs fought back to win games they should have lost.
• I don't like that Alex Smith had his no-interceptions streak ended with a pick on Sunday -- but he did throw 231 passes without one before being intercepted at the end of the loss to the Vikings.
• I don't like that the Redskins are in a seven-game home losing streak.
• I do like that the Cardinals are riding seven-game winning streak at home.