There’s been a lot of bad football in the NFL over the past four weeks. Good quarterbacks seemingly are harder and harder to come by. Guys luck Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, who were supposed to be the next wave of great QBs, are playing well below their potential. Through the first quarter of the season, only eight teams have a winning record. (The J-E-T-S shockingly are a member of this club.)
On Monday, all the talk was about how many kickers are shanking balls left and right. The Jaguars, Steelers and Eagles all lost games because their kickers couldn’t deliver. The Saints and Chargers nearly lost after missed field goals but were saved from embarrassment by Drew Brees and a penalty, respectively.
The league had another bad week as Monday Night Football ended in controversy. The referees inexplicably missed an obvious call in the final seconds of the Seahawks-Lions game, essentially handing the win to Seattle. The following day, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino admitted that the refs botched the call.
Here’s hoping for another wild week!
1. (1 last week) Patriots (3-0) — It would have been better if the Pats had a bye later in the season. They’re as healthy as they’ll be, and if it stays that way, a Week 11 match up with the Broncos in Denver will be an AFCCG preview.
2. (2) Packers (4-0) — Save for some crafty moves in the pocket that resulted in a first-quarter TD pass, Aaron Rodgers was fairly pedestrian against the 49ers defense. The biggest takeaway from this game was the ability of the Packers defense to stop Colin Kaepernick from running all over the field, as he’s done in the past.
3. (4) Broncos (4-0) — The defense sacked Teddy Bridgewater seven times, including a strip sack on the final drive by T.J. Ward. Peyton Manning continues to throw ducks all over the field, including two INTs on Sunday, but for the most part, his receivers have been bailing him out on jump balls. Only the Jets have allowed less points per game on the year.
4. (5) Bengals (4-0) — Andy Dalton and the Bengals might have the widest array of offensive weapons on an NFL roster this year. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are the best 1-2 RB combo.
5. (6) Falcons (4-0) — Atlanta put up a whopping 48 points at home against the Texans in Week 4. Devonta Freeman (the backup to injured rookie Tevin Coleman) scored three TDs for the second week in a row. Dan Quinn is the early candidate for Coach of the Year honors.
6. (7) Panthers (4-0) — Bringing up the rear of the undefeated teams is my sleeper pick for the NFCCG, the Panthers. Josh Norman is playing like an all-pro corner. He had a pick-six among four Carolina interceptions. The NFC South (where 7-9 was enough to win the division last year) is the only division with two undefeated teams.
7. (3) Cardinals (3-1) — Anytime you kick five FGs at home, you deserve to lose. In the final minutes, with a third-and-2 on the St. Louis 48-yard line, Carson Palmer overthrew his receivers twice to turn the ball over on downs. This must have been a painful Sunday in Glendale.
8. (8) Seahawks (2-2) — No movement up or down here, since they nearly lost the game in the final seconds to the 0-4 lions. Although, you can’t ignore Kam Chancellor’s heroics, as he made the crucial play at the crucial time to steal the win.
9. (11) Vikings (2-2) — Through four weeks of the season, Adrian Peterson is the leading rusher in the NFL. It appears I may have been wrong on this one. The Broncos loaded the box on a fourth-and-1 and Peterson ran 50 yards for a TD. He was never touched. Teddy Bridgewater is coming along nicely, but allowing seven sacks is a bit much.
10. (16) Rams (2-2) — Todd Gurley’s coming-out party didn’t get started until the second half, but once it started, he proved he was worth the high draft pick. Gurley rushed for 146 yards (all but two of them in the second half). The St. Louis defense wouldn’t break either, as the Rams held Arizona to FGs in four out of five red zone trips.
11. (20) Jets (3-1) — Brandon Marshall was one of the lone bright spots on offense. At 3-1, the Jets are in fourth place in the AFC. It’s been a cupcake schedule so far, with wins over the Browns, Dolphins and Colts and a loss to the Eagles.
12. (9) Bills (2-2) — Teams take on the personality of their head coach. In his introductory press conference, Rex Ryan said he wanted to ‘build a bully’ (poor choice of words considering the signing of Richie Incognito) and he has. But in 2015, bullies get in trouble, and the Bills have been called for 58 penalties (46 of which have been accepted) putting them on pace to break the NFL record.
13. (10) Chiefs (1-3) — After a brutal three-game stretch (Denver, GB, Cincy) the Chiefs come home to lick their wounds and play the lowly Bears in Week 5. KC is in last place in the AFC West, but that will change soon.
14. (14) Chargers (2-2) — Philip Rivers played great against a Browns defense that was lacking CB Joe Haden. Keenan Allen also is playing well. Rookie kicker Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard FG attempt with two seconds left, but he was given another chance when Cleveland jumped offsides and he delivered.
15. (15) Colts (2-2) — I made a rule in Week 1: If you beat the Jaguars, you’re only allowed to move up one position. However, if you need OT to do it, you stay put.
16. (12) Cowboys (2-2) — Two more bites from the injury bug. Sean Lee out with a concussion, and Lance Dunbar is out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. No Dez Bryant. No Tony Romo. An overtime loss to the Saints. A Week 5 thrashing by the Patriots might be ahead.
17. (17) Ravens (1-3) — Steve Smith‘s injury is bad news for a team trying to salvage its season. Joe Flacco was unimpressive on Thursday night but came through in the final minutes of regulation and then in overtime to set up Justin Tucker for the win.
18. (13) Steelers (2-2) — Michael Vick is doing his best to hold the fort until Ben Roethlisberger returns. He played poorly, but the team played well enough to win. Thursday night’s loss was all on Josh Scobee.
19. (24) Giants (2-2) — Some people have been saying that the Giants could very easily be 4-0. While I don’t totally agree, I’ll admit this team has been playing better than we thought it would. With Victor Cruz returning soon, the G-Men could win the NFC East.
20. (19) Lions (0-4) — Yes, I know they’re the only winless team in the NFL, but it’s been a brutal schedule so far. The sooner they fire Jim Caldwell, the sooner this roster will reach its full potential.
21. (26) Titans (1-2) — The NFL is so bad this year, the Titans moved up five spots during a bye week.
22. (27) Redskins (2-2) — Maybe Dan Snyder can trade Robert Griffin III. Maybe the Rams will offer a seventh-rounder for him.
23. (18) Eagles (1-3) — The Chip Kelly experiment officially is on the ropes with a loss to the Redskins. They can’t figure out how to use their biggest offseason acquisition, DeMarco Murray. Sam Bradford played well but not until the second half. In their next seven games, however, the Eagles play only one team with a winning record.
24. (23) Browns (1-3) — If you’re not from Cleveland, it’s impossible to care about this team until Johny Manziel plays.
25. (21) 49ers (1-3) — Three points at home? Ouch. San Francisco ranks dead last in the league with 12 points per game, and dead last with 158 passing yards per game. So who looks worse than Kaepernick in all this? A: Ron Jaworski.
26. (30) Saints (1-3) — Drew Brees‘ 400th TD pass was dramatic, as it gave the Saints an OT win over the Cowboys. Who was most excited about it? Rookie kicker Zach Hocker. Hocker missed a 30-yard FG attempt that would have won the game in regulation.
27. (22) Raiders (2-2) — A 22-20 loss to the Bears will knock you down a few spots. Amari Cooper is playing well as a rookie wideout, but turnovers did in the Raiders.
28. (25) Dolphins (1-3) — Joe Philbin’s tenure with the team is over. Ndamukong Suh is killing the defense from the inside. Ryan Tannehill is killing the offense in the same fashion.
29. (29) Buccaneers (1-3) — Jameis Winston looked very much like a rookie on Sunday, throwing four INTs. For the second time this season, his first pass of the day was intercepted and taken to the house. The team cut rookie kicker Kyle Brindza after seeing him miss five FGs and two XPs over the last two weeks. Yikes!
30. (28) Texans (1-3) — Whatever happened to former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney? He has just 10 tackles and zero sacks through four games. The team will stick with Ryan Mallett at QB because Rex Grossman remains unavailable.
31. (32) Bears (1-3) — The Bears are in fire-sale mode, as they look to transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3. A win against the Raiders doesn’t do much to change the perception of this team, or its season.
32. (31) Jaguars (1-3) — Kicker Jason Myers had two chances to win the game as regulation expired. He missed them both. But luckily for him he was given another chance in OT. He missed that one, too!
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