[caption id="attachment_18642" align="aligncenter" width="475"] Christian Petersen / Getty Images[/caption] It's hard to gauge which winnings teams are actually genuine contenders. Everybody has an opinion on the surprising Cardinals, Vikings and Eagles. However, understand each team is where they are for a reason. Let me explain why. The Arizona Cardinals have certainly been hit with criticism from NFL fans despite their success, now 4-0 they find themselves at the top of people's list of pretenders. Such views are not entirely fair. While the base stats (yards, scoring) for both offence and defence are fairly pedestrian they do one thing very well: take the ball away. The Cardinals were 3rd in defensive takeaways with 10 (behind Atlanta and Chicago) after week 4. That's more than teams such as the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. What this means is that it doesn't matter how ordinary their offence is, they'll get the ball back. Couple that with the fact that QB Kevin Kolb seems remarkably solid in the clutch and a potential Hall of Fame receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) and you've got a team that'll always be competitive. They're lucky, but it's luck they manufacture themselves with big clutch plays on offence and defence. That's how you win football games. I'm not saying they can keep it up, I have the Rams tipped to win their week 5 matchup today. But they're a good example of the success that can come with doing a single thing extraordinarily well, even if everything else is just ordinary. Current Give-Aways and Take-Aways stats. A team that has found a way to win 'dirty' every week is the Philadelphia Eagles. Again, like the Cardinals above most of the credit has to go to the defence. While Michael Vick in the first three games of the season was completely ordinary and currently stands at 4-6 touchdown-interception ratio his defence was keeping him in the game. The Eagles had made a habit out of not playing up to their potential, but they are still winning atop the NFC East with a 3-1 record. Currently rated 6th overall in yards allowed the Eagles' defence has kept an offence averaging only 16 points per game in every match. When Vick finally had a good (read: uneventful) game, they lucked out with a Giants missing a field goal. The key to their success is obviously in Michael Vick, but his success is also obviously tied to his offensive line. Clearly that's improving as the Giants only sacked him twice during their matchup. Even better, LeSean McCoy carried the ball 23 times for 123 yards. Exactly what the Eagles need to keep Vick healthy and that offence running. If that OL remains steady and that defence continues its strong play then they'll keep winning and should top the NFC East. However the Eagles are not the only team winning 'dirty'. When the Minnesota Vikings beat the 49ers in week 3 everybody had a good laugh at the 49ers expense but firmly believed the Vikings' victory was just a fluke. Now people think differently, but questions rightly remain. The Vikings beat the Lions with special teams, returning a punt and a kickoff for a TD. Great if you're a VIkings fan but tricky to evaluate. The reason why it's so hard to gauge this performance as a team is because, frankly, special teams are unpredictable. Make no mistake, the Vikings coaches were salivating when they saw how the Lions cover punts and kicks on tape, and deserve credit for planning against that, but I cannot claim that the Vikings will beat other teams the way they beat the Lions. Here's what the Vikings do well: Run the ball and stop the run. The have weapons too. Adrian Peterson is clearly almost 100% and Percy Harvin is as legitimate a receiver as anybody in the league. We shouldn't be too concerned with Ponder's ordinary day. With the Vikings scoring unconventionally and with Peterson running with authority the game simply didn't call for him to throw the ball a lot. The issue I have with the Vikings is that they play in the toughest division in the NFL, the NFC North. The Vikings cannot beat the Packers and Bears the way they beat the 49ers and Lions. Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler will throw on their middle-of-the-road pass defence. They'll be forced to score 30+ points in a game, currently they are only averaging 22.5. That said, if they have a shot against these high powered offences, it'll be by controlling the clock via the running game. Something the Viking can do. It's hard to predict how these teams will finish this season, but playoffs are not out of the question for any of them. Believe them fluky if you will, but there are some genuine reasons why each one of these teams is where they are right now. What do you think? Are there any teams you believe don't deserve their current record?