The Seattle Seahawks have been up to the challenge so far this season.
The Seahawks' next hurdle is picking up a victory in Houston, where they battle the Texans looking for the first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Seattle has bookended a big victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers with expected wins against Carolina and Jacksonville. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll deserves some credit for preventing his club from having a let down last Sunday against Jacksonville.
The 'Hawks were coming off a 29-3 thumping of the defending NFC champion Niners and didn't take their foot off the gas in a 28-point triumph over the Jaguars. Russell Wilson matched a career high with four touchdown passes and was a spectator by the end of the 45-17 rout. He threw for 202 yards and was picked off once while losing a fumble before giving way to Tarvaris Jackson.
"It was huge win for us," Wilson said. "Offensively we made a statement. Guys made tremendous plays, communication was great."
Sidney Rice and Zach Miller caught two touchdown passes each and Golden Tate led the Seahawks with 88 receiving yards on five catches.
Seattle improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2006 and has won each of its past eight regular-season games, outscoring its opponents by a 279-87 margin. That run has quickly elevated the Seahawks to the top of the class in the NFC.
"Well, we don't shy away from the challenge," said Wilson. "I believe that we have such great competitors in our locker room and just our coaching staff believes in us. We believe in them. The way they prepare us, like I always said to the guys, 'The separation is in the preparation.' And we have to prepare the right way. Every week, we go into it, it's a championship mentality.
Added Wilson of the upcoming meeting with the Texans, "This game's going to be a huge game. It's one of the teams that obviously a quote-un-quote Super Bowl contender and is a team that's got a lot of talent and everything."
Houston was unable to make this a meeting of unbeaten teams as it was hammered 30-9 in Baltimore last weekend. The Texans had rallied to win each of their first two games, but couldn't overcome 17 straight points scored by the Ravens in the second quarter.
Up 6-0, Matt Schaub had an interception returned 37 yards for a score by Baltimore linebacker Daryl Smith and the Ravens followed a stalled drive by the Texans with an 82-yard punt return for a score.
"Over a four-play sequence, we give them 14 points," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's where the game turned, and we were playing catch-up all game long."
Schaub ended 25-for-35 passing for 194 yards in the setback. Houston, which was flagged for 14 penalties for 113 yards, trailed at halftime for the third straight game and managed just 107 yards of offense in the second half.
The Texans got three field goals from Randy Bullock while getting denied its second straight 3-0 start.
This will mark the third meeting between the Texans and Seahawks, with each team having previously won at home.
Seattle took the first meeting 42-10 on Oct. 16, 2005, while the Texans came through with a 34-7 triumph on Dec. 13, 2009 in Houston.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
This matchup will pit the NFL's current top-two defenses against each other. Seattle is ranked No. 1 at 241.7 yards allowed per game and is yielding an NFL-best 9.0 points per game.
Houston is second at 249.0 YPG, but is 24th in scoring defense (27.3 PPG).