Sunday's slate started out with a bang, a true "you can't make it up" moment in St. Louis.
It was that kind of day. In fact, it's been that kind of season thus far, chock full o' amazing and wild developments.
Here are nine things you simply can't make up:
1) Carson Palmer, MVP candidate.
My respect for the Arizona Cardinals organization is well-documented. In the preseason, I called the Cardinals a top-three team in the NFC. They are even better than that -- this team is a true Super Bowl contender.
Can't make that up.
Bruce Arians' team has won nine straight games with Palmer starting at quarterback, and 16 of 18 going back to October 2013. Fresh off his second ACL surgery, Palmer looks better than ever. Clearly, the 35-year-old quarterback isn't just along for the ride on this talented team; he's as important a contributor as any player in the league right now.
2) Tom Brady's playing the best ball of his career at age 38.
I made a simple prediction in the preseason: "Tom Brady is about to embark on the greatest middle-finger tour in sports history."
Still, I can't help but marvel at this level of dominance. I'm beyond impressed. It's like Brady has played three straight scrimmages against air.
Brady's remarkable. He's a legend. And he's certainly a man on a mission, doing stuff that 16th-year pros just shouldn't be able to do.
3) Joe Philbin is even more underwhelming than I anticipated.
Like Brady, Philbin spawned a lot of offseason analysis from this writer. Of course, my feelings on each individual were quite different. I thought Philbin would continue to leave something to be desired in Miami -- though I'm not sure I thought it'd be this uninspiring.
In Sunday's home opener, Miami got destroyed 41-14 by the division-rival Bills. The Dolphins played with no energy, no plan, no desire to adjust and, quite simply, no clue. Frankly, the final score doesn't do this blowout justice -- Buffalo led 27-0 at the half, thanks to three Ryan Tannehill picks in the opening 30 minutes. The crowd was dead. The defense -- fronted by 114 Million Dollar Man Ndamukong Suh -- was a sieve. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor looked like John Elway.
Bottom line: Less than a month into the season, Joe Philbin somehow has fallen below my basement-level expectations. And he now has a lower winning percentage (.471) in Miami than his predecessor, Tony Sparano (.475).
4) The Carolina Panthers are 3-0!
Honestly, I thought the Panthers were en route to six or seven wins this season, with general manager Dave Gettleman leaving the cupboard bare at receiver and along the O-line. And I wasn't the only one who left them for dead after the crippling injury to Kelvin Benjamin. But here they are tied for first place in the NFC South, thanks to clutch play on offense and smothering defense. (Carolina ranks second in the league in scoring D.)
5) The Eagles are better without DeMarco Murray?
Chip Kelly is a genius! Or something ...
6) The Raiders are ... legit!
Oakland, behind Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and a ferocious pass rush, looks like a real NFL team. That's still just a bizarre sentence to write, given this franchise's recent history (even though I envisioned this could be the case at the outset of this season).
7) The Colts remain a franchise in flux.
It shouldn't be that hard for the Colts to look the part. This team has plenty of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Andrew Luck came to play in the final quarter Sunday, but he looked awful for much of the game, forcing the issue in an extremely disconcerting manner. Luck entered the season as an MVP front-runner. Three weeks later, he leads the NFL with seven interceptions and owns a career-worst 65.1 passer rating. Maybe Sunday's fourth quarter, in which Luck led three TD drives, will get the talented youngster going. Hard to imagine he'll have more picks than touchdown passes for much longer.
A lot of folks blame the dreadful offensive line and defense for Indy's underachieving start. Honestly, I think the biggest problem with this franchise exists off the field of play. Even after Sunday's win, the conversation won't shift from the reported dysfunction between head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson. Less than a month into a projected Super Bowl year, we're already talking about who will be coaching the Colts in 2016. Didn't see that coming.
8) Maybe Sean Payton will be the next coach Indy ...
... because it sure feels like the beginning of the end in New Orleans.
9) Andy Dalton, Mr. Clutch?!
Still, Smith putting a team on his back is something we've come to expect over the years. Something we haven't come to expect: clutch play from the Red Rocket.
No, Andy Dalton didn't play a perfect game on Sunday, logging a pair of second-half turnovers, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and gave Baltimore the lead halfway through the fourth quarter. But with the game on the line, Dalton bounced back, hitting A.J. Green for a pair of touchdown strikes in the game's final seven minutes.
The Bengals have been one of the best and most complete teams in the league so far this season. And Dalton, with a dazzling 121.0 passer rating, is a major reason why.
You can't make it up.