_St. Louis knew its division was for the taking, especially after the Rams went 7-9 a year ago and lost a tiebreaker for the NFC West title. Instead of progressing behind Offensive Rookie of the Year QB Sam Bradford and a young defense, the Rams (0-4) have regressed so badly they already might be out of the race in the league’s worst division.
Injuries, particularly to RB Steven Jackson and WR Danny Amendola, have been a factor. More distressing is a defense that sometimes seems clueless.
_Considering Detroit’s recent history, four wins through half the schedule would be impressive. These Lions score in bunches behind emerging star QB Matthew Stafford, outstanding WR Calvin Johnson and a surprisingly agile and tough defense, with tackle Ndamukong Suh the centerpiece.
The Lions also are exceptionally organized and well coached, something no one could say in Matt Millen’s day.
And they never give up: the Lions became the first team in NFL history to rally from 20-plus point deficits in consecutive victories and its 24-point comeback at Dallas matched the largest one on the road in league history, according to STATS, LLC.
_Matt Hasselbeck has made all the difference in Tennessee (3-1), where the rebuilding is going at a rapid pace. The franchise has a new coach, new coordinators and two new quarterbacks, with Hasselbeck having the best start of his 13-year career. The Titans also have the NFL’s stingiest scoring defense.
“He is doing the things for us that we hoped he would,” coach Mike Munchak said. “You never know how fast things are going to come together when you bring all different guys together that have never worked together and new coaches, but having a guy like him has made the process a lot easier for us.”
_Despite its late flop in Cincinnati, Buffalo (3-1) has displayed resilience, a strong and versatile offense, and no fear of opponents. The Bills‘ comeback win over New England in Week 3 to break a 15-game slide against the Patriots showed that, even if the loss to the Bengals diminished its impact a bit.
“Definitely one that got away from us,” receiver Stevie Johnson said. “Everybody in the locker room is frustrated. We’re 3-1 but we’re frustrated that even have that one `L.’ We just have to come back harder.”
_Stepping into the void the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals have created with slow starts is San Francisco. The Niners’ attitude and work ethic under rookie coach Jim Harbaugh showed best in the surge past the Eagles on Sunday.
Sure, the Eagles’ floundering defense made Alex Smith look like Joe Montana and Frank Gore like Emmitt Smith, but give the 49ers (3-1) credit for never losing faith.
“I told them the other day they’re good, and the longer it takes them to figure that out the better off we’ll all be, because when people start thinking they’ve arrived that’s when they stop working and doing the things that got them there,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll keep pretending we have a long way to go, and we do. We don’t have to pretend.”
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