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Surprise, surprise: Broncos really are better team

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Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson was the architect of the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty in the mid-1990s. His team celebrated two consecutive Super Bowl victories with Johnson at the helm. He joined "FOX NFL Sunday" in 2010. Follow him on Twitter.

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I really thought the Cowboys were going to go into Denver and beat the Broncos. I really did. But the Broncos are playing much better than I thought. I was thinking they hadn't beaten anybody. Sure, they were unbeaten, but I just thought the Cowboys were better.

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Now, I don't know what the Cowboys are thinking. They will be looking at how Tony Romo played again; they will be examining all that. I mean, this was a big game, and Tony didn't deliver again in the big game. I'm telling you, it looks like he needs to get more offensive weapons. They missed Felix Jones in this game because he produces big plays. The Broncos have given up 26 points in four games. Mike Nolan has done a great job with that defense. The big thing to me was how could the Broncos go from such a bad team at the end of last season to a really good one this year? Also, I mean, we all heard the news in the offseason. Who was this young kid, Josh McDaniels, and how was he going to be able to succeed with his quarterback (Jay Cutler) wanting out of there? And then his star receiver, Brandon Marshall, acting out so he was forced to suspend him. After all that, I don't think anyone would have said McDaniels would be 4-0 right now. But when McDaniels agreed to the trade of Cutler to the Bears, he wanted Kyle Orton. And I think Orton is playing the best of his career. They proved Sunday that they are a much better team than anybody gave them credit for. And, at the end, it looked like McDaniels and Marshall have become friends. They hugged each other at the postgame press conference.

Giants look fierce

The Giants appear to be the strength of the NFC right now. They are such a solid team in all areas. They run the ball extremely well. Eli Manning is making all the clutch throws and they play great defense. Going into the season, I thought the Giants' biggest weakness would be they would miss Plaxico Burress and his big-play ability. But the emergence of Mario Manningham and Steve Smith — I mean, those two young receivers have shown me they don't miss Burress. And the success of those two has led to Eli's spreading the ball around even more. They are more diversified now without Burress. Because of all the things the Giants do well, they could play with any team in the league. They have a dominating style of play: a strong defense, they run the football and they are very physical. Their only worry is if Eli is really hurt. He said he wasn't, and it didn't look that bad. They'll know pretty soon.

Colts keep rolling

The Colts continue to amaze me. Teams play them with a style that in the old days would win the game. Keep Peyton Manning on the sideline, run the football and control the clock, convert third downs. I mean, Miami did all those things extremely well against the Colts and so did Seattle on Sunday, and they are a struggling team right now, and Peyton is so good when he has the ball that he's going to put touchdowns on the board. And you just can't match his point production. Miami couldn't do it and Seattle wasn't even close. It doesn't matter whether you have twice the amount of possession time or even three times as Miami did. It makes no difference if you convert 75 percent of your third downs. You just can't match touchdowns with Peyton right now. Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, those are three very good receivers. Plus, Donald Brown, the rookie running back from Connecticut, gives them a physical presence. They are so efficient on offense you can't even make one mistake and stay in the game with them. Now, can Peyton stay that hot, that efficient as we get into the cold-weather months of the season? I say probably not. But right now, they are extremely fun to watch.
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Pay attention to the Saints' D

I tell you, the more I watch the Saints and how their defense is improving, wouldn't it be interesting to see Drew Brees against Peyton Manning at the end in the Super Bowl? There would be some fireworks there. I think New Orleans, as the year goes on, will end up playing a little better defense than the Colts. But that's just speculation right now. I love Indianapolis' pass rushers, but their defense bothers me, because too many teams are converting third downs on them. Going into today, teams were converting 50 percent of their third downs against them. Even though they have outstanding pass rushers, if they can't get teams off the field on third, it is going to catch up with them eventually. As a coach, that's a really important stat to me. The reason the third-down conversion stat is so important is because you are giving the other teams three more downs to take a shot at scoring a touchdown.

Big decision for Tennessee

The biggest disappointment of the first quarter of the season has to be Tennessee. That team's heads have got to be spinning right now. They lost only three games all last season and today they are 0-4. And Kerry Collins struggled again Sunday. I don't think a coach can ever say the season is over after four games, but they have to strongly consider Vince Young. I think they have to see what he can do before deciding whether or not he's going to be with them next season. The longer you wait on that decision, the more you're going to be unsure what to do at the end of the year. I don't think making a switch at quarterback is admitting to your team that your season is over for the simple reason that Collins continues to struggle and they need a spark. And Young played pretty well in his rookie year. So, it's not as if you're taking a guy who has never played and replacing somebody who is playing well. You're replacing someone who is struggling who is also at the end of his career with a young guy who has talent. You have to find out about Young because you have a lot of money invested in him. Hey, he's obviously a talented player. He showed that as a rookie, and you wouldn't have drafted him that high if he weren't talented. You would hate for the season to end and not know about him and then have him go somewhere else and become a star.
Tagged: Kerry Collins, Titans, Felix Jones, Tony Romo, Colts, Drew Brees, Pierre Garcon, Kyle Orton, Donald Brown, Reggie Wayne, Saints, Vince Young, Giants, Steve Smith Sr., Brandon Marshall, Peyton Manning, Cowboys, Eli Manning, Mario Manningham, Broncos, Plaxico Burress, Panthers

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