We’re almost a third of the way through the 2016 NFL season! For some, that’s a third of the way through a tight-rope act whose successful completion could result in a championship. For others, it’s a still a long ways until the calendar flips and your teams’ lifeless body is reanimated for the next season.
- Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are on fire. It’s entirely possible that their offensive line is the most dominant positional group in the league. Ezekiel Elliot rattled off chunk yardage virtually untouched. His after burners are impressive as well, and Dak Prescott still has yet to throw an interception. Dallas is for real with these two leading the charge; the only storm on the horizon is the return of Romo and what Dallas might do with their two quarterbacks.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Philadelphia was bound to lose at some point this season. Lane Johnson is missing the next 10 games due to PED suspension, so a shuffling at the offensive line begs some questions. The upcoming slate will be decidedly telling for where the birds stand: Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, New York.
- Washington Redskins: I feel partially responsible for the 3 game win-streak Washington has stumbled into. Washingtons offense seems to have no shortage of weapons with the emergence of Jameison Crowder. Transversely, the secondary seems to be Josh Norman and warm bodies.
- New York Giants: it’s times to come out and say it: Eli Manning is playing poorly. I’ve let him off the hook for a while now, but Sunday night was as winnable as any game they’ve played this season. He missed open receiver after open receiver, air mailing Will Tye on what would have been an easy touchdown. He was bailed out by another spectacular Odell Beckham touchdown catch. The lack of depth at defensive line is another disturbing quality of the team–the Giants got gashed on the ground the plays where JPP and Vernon were not in the game. This might not be a good football team.
- Atlanta Falcons: Is Atlanta for real? Is Matt Ryan for real? You know it. Atlanta walked into the defending champions building and totally exploited their lone defensive deficiency. With Carolina losing AGAIN on Monday night, Atlanta might just run away with this division.
- New Orleans Saints: New Orleans comes out of the bye with four of their next five against Carolina, Seattle, Kansas City and Denver. YIKES. New Orleans might suffer the fatal blow to their season during this stretch.
- Carolina Panthers: Without Cam Newton Monday night, Carolina again lost in heartbreaking fashion. If Cam can clear the concussion protocol and get back to a semblance of his old ways, the upcoming schedule looks favorable: New Orleans, Arizona, Los Angeles, Kansas City, New Orleans.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay squeaked out a win against Carolina Monday night in Cam Newton’s absence. Given how depleted their defense was, they should thank their lucky stars to have avoided the reigning MVP. I’m still wondering why the selected a kicker in the second round.
- Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota is my Super Bowl team right now. A team with Sam Bradford is a Super Bowl favorite right now. How insane does that sound? They have offensive lineman dropping like flies, but thankfully this team is built on suffocating defense. With the Eagles, Bears, Lions and Redskins coming up, this Vikings team is going to FEAST.
- Green Bay Packers: Not a sharp effort at home from the Packers at all. They let a bad football team hang around the entire game. Smarter teams would have been wise to exploit the Packers dearth of capability at cornerback. The Packers gold-standard run defense gets to throw down with the Cowboys running attack next week.
- Detroit Lions: The most emotion I’ve ever seen out of Jim Caldwell on that fumble recovery Sunday afternoon. I don’t know enough about the Lions this season to believe they are anything better than last season
- Chicago Bears: The election might be winding down, but the Bears are beginning their campaign against Cleveland for the Office of the Worst Team in Football. They’re are nothing more than a pseudo-bye at this point.
- Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson earned my respect by gutting out an MCL sprain against the Jets before the bye. Even I wouldn’t of missed the opportunity to pad my passing stats. Now Seattle gets real, with games against the Falcons, Cardinals, Bills and Patriots upcoming. This is where their defense has made their money.
- Los Angeles Rams: I sincerely do no understand the Rams. They can beat Seattle, they can beat Arizona, but they can’t beat Buffalo? The only team that may be more undisciplined than the Rams came to Los Angeles and stuck it to the Rams.
- Arizona Cardinals: Lucky for the redbirds, Carson Palmer missed a game against the 49ers. This team needs to get it figured out fast though–first place schedules usually do not get any easier.
- San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kapernick and his disdain for standing is the only thing keeping this team relevant. He’ll start this week against a red-hot Buffalo Bills team.
- New England Patriots: We didn’t learn anything about the Patriots though their burning of the Browns other than Brady likes his new toys. This team could win 15 games easily.
- Buffalo Bills: Add me to the list of people that did not believe firing the offensive coordinator– on a team that gave up 50 in their first two games–would make a difference. Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Rex fired Rob? I imagine it happening in a way similar to how John Travolta’s character in Swordfish has the duplicate body–he inserts it into an explosion to fake his own death and make every detractor of his think the issue is resolved. Meanwhile, the real issue is still Rex, even though the Bills are on fire right now.
- New York Jets: Be sure to take the Jets out with the rest of the trash. The Steelers receivers against the Jets secondary is a mismatch similar to Mike Tyson vs Christian Bale in The Machinest
- Miami Dolphins: Miami is a laughable disaster. Not even Adam Gase, someone who steadied Jay Cutler’s ship last season, is capable of saving Ryan Tannehill. Does anyone actually believe that Laremy Tunsil slipped getting out of the shower?
- Houston Texans: We love to jab at the NFC East for the low-quality winners it produces, but Houston should be celebrated the same way if they win the division this season.
- Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota is quietly turning into one of the league’s most exciting players to watch. Given the quality of their division, I would not rule them out of contention.
- Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano’s doomsday clock stalls as the Colts barely survive lowly Chicago. I think it comes down to “when not if” as far as the Grigson/Pagano dismissal is concerned.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Bears, Raiders and Titans coming up? Someone needs to flip the switch for all of Jacksonville’s big acquisitions.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steel City’s passing attack is amazing to watch. They are beginning to pull away from the rest of the division.
- Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens match up this week with another two who started 2-0 but has found themselves in the midst of a losing streak since. Baltimore was almost a cause for the Giants last week too, but Breshad Perriman wasn’t able to keep both feet in at the end of regulation.
- Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals got absolutely destroyed by Dallas. 28-0 at one point. That loss might just be the tip of the iceberg for the Bengals–they have the dubious distinction of traveling to Foxboro this week, where the Patriots haven’t lost to an AFC opponent in any game Brady has started and finished since 2005. I have a feeling Brady will play 60 minutes too.
- Cleveland Browns: I have to believe that Hue Jackson is in it for the long haul. Chicago is pushing hard for the Bad Team Belt, but I think Cleveland clinched that before kickoff of week one.
- Denver Broncos: Did you think I would be saying “The Broncos need Trevor Siemian back” before the season started? Denver is a contender with the Northwestern product, but if he’s out for an extended period, Lynch needs to step up. I would assume that the Broncos held out on starting Siemian last week because of the short turn-around against the Chargers, a team who stands mathematical zero chance against Denver.
- Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr and his stable of receivers are FUN to watch. I absolutely love when a defensive minded coach has a defense that stinks too. Del Rio has a little bit of that Rex Ryan shtick about him, except his outfit game is en fuego and his balls can’t fit in any modern American home.
- Kansas City Chiefs: nothing like a bye week to contemplate getting two weeks work of points scored on you before halftime of your previous game. This team could be 1-7 and their playoff odds would be the same as if they were up 10 in the fourth quarter with Andy Reid trying to milk the clock.
- San Diego Chargers: the Chargers STINK. McCoy has a seat at the train station with Chuck Pagano.
Who Can Win it All?
- New England: needs no introduction, this Patriots team is loaded. They went 3-1 and now have the greatest quarterback of all time returning to the lineup. Their two tight end sets in the redzone will be unstoppable.
- Minnesota: The Vikings defense is on a legendary pace. There is still a little voice in my head whispering to my common sense regarding Sam Bradford, but for now they are the class of the NFC.
- Pittsburgh: “How will Pittsburgh supplement the loss of Martavis Bryant?” Sammy Coates. Markus Wheaton. Warm Body off the streets. This team breeds playmakers.
- Dallas: their offensive line is one of the most dominating units in football. Their unstoppable run game meets Green Bay’s immovable run defense.
- Atlanta: The leagues number one offense has been down this road before, last time they crumbled down the stretch.
- Denver: the defending champs have begun their potential encore season with a 5-1 record. Siemian has been wonderful for the Broncos, as has Gary Kubiak, so getting back both will be huge.