The first quarter of the season is over and we now have a little bit of a clearer look at teams’ identities.
1. The Broncos have clearly established that they are going to be a dominant team and they are the Alpha dogs of the league.
2. After a slow start in weeks 1 and 2, the Saints have really come around the last 2 weeks with back to back explosive offensive performances.
3. The Chiefs had no problems dominating yet another NFC East opponent as they remain perfect, and continue to look good in all phases of the game.
4. Tom Brady did not look like himself in the first 3 weeks of the season. Sunday night was his best performance of the season, and the game still came down to the final seconds with Atlanta hanging around in the 4th quarter. The Patriots remain undefeated, but they have not been able to blow anyone out the way the Broncos and Saints have. With their schedule being as easy as it has, you have to worry a little bit for Patriots fans. You have to imagine that that Tom Brady will get it together soon, but there seems to be a lot of parity in the league this year.
5. Seattle has looked really bad in their 2 away games. Again, they did virtually nothing for 3 quarters and found a way to come from behind with some miraculous plays from the defense. Without these golden nuggets, they don’t win these games. Although the the defense has been rock solid for the past 2 seasons, they can’t count on those plays every time they are on their way to a loss. There will come a time when that luck runs out and they’ll actually have to get some consistent scoring drives from the offense away from the Link.
How do you rank the five 3-1 teams? All have looked really good at times this season, and their record speaks for it having only one loss.
6. The Bears lost to the Lions so they take a drop in this week’s rankings, but I expected the Lions to beat the Bears at home with that explosive offense. Otherwise, the Bears have an explosive defense and some elite offensive weapons. They will be a factor this season, although the Lions look like they’re gonna give the Bears a run for the money in the NFC North.
7. The Lions proved that they will be factors this season after a very explosive and impressive win over a tough Bears team. Reggie Bush adds a scary dimension to this team that already has a perennial 4,000 yard passer and 1,000 yard receiver.
8. The Colts are showing that they are a power team with their running game. They are going to be able to grind teams out and wear them down. And they still have that Andrew Luck guy. This may not be one of the best teams in the league, much like the Seahawks, but they seem to just find ways to win and there’s something to be said about that.
9. The Titans have one of the better defenses this year and Jake Locker was having a breakout season. They have impressed through 4 weeks, but Locker is out now and this teams figures to lose a step on the offensive side with Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in.
10. The Dolphins finally lost one, but it wasn’t close this time. Hopefully this thrashing by the Saints doesn’t ruin their confidence, because this is a good young team that has a lot of potential. The only reason why I rank them the lowest of the 3-1 teams is because Ryan Tannehill was unable to take care of the football on Monday. Good teams take care of the football and don’t give opposing teams extra chances to beat them. Who knows how well the Fins will play against the better teams in the league.
11. Green Bay is 1-2 but they have one of the best QBs in a QB driven league. Much like Peyton Manning, Rodgers is going to hit a lot of targets and make it look very easy in the process. He’s gonna hurt you with his legs too. Their 2 losses were to 2 good teams and they hung around in both games. The Lions and Bears are playing very well so the Packers have some ground to make up coming off of their bye. If anyone can do it, my money is on Aaron Rodgers.
12. The Chargers offense has been very potent this season. Their defense has been allowing too many points, but Philip Rivers has this offense looking unstoppable at times. Unfortunately they’re AFC West with the undefeated Broncos and Chiefs who figure to continue to be undefeated for the foreseeable future.
13. I didn’t have the 49ers ranked in my top 20 last week. They looked so bad in weeks 2 and 3 that I thought their season was lost. They started out looking that way for the first quarter ½ against the Rams, but then Colin Kaepernick found ways to connect with Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for touchdowns (something he has been unable to do since week 1). He didn’t have an amazing night, but the Rams looked really bad so the Niners came out looking really good. And it was nice to see Frank Gore and the run game get back on track. Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter both got some nice work and TDs in garbage time when it was obvious the Rams posed no threat. In weeks 1 and 4 the Niners looked like they could be the best team in the league. In weeks 2 and 3 they looked like they could be the worst team in the league. I suspect they’d rather be a good team and will find ways to ride Frank Gore to some much needed victories.
14. The Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Browns and dropped to 2-2. They have too much talent to lose these games that figure to be automatic W’s on paper. The Browns have been playing well the last weeks and have found a way to come out with a 3 way tie with the Bengals and Ravens in the AFC North. There has been a lot of parity in the league this season, so it’s been hard to tell whats going to happen with the teams outside of the top 10. The Bengals have shown us that even though they have top 10 talent, they’re not ready to be a force in the league yet.
15. The Dallas Cowboys. What can I say? They’ve lost 2 games to the AFC West and they still have to play the Broncos. Lucky for them, the NFC East is the worst division in football so they finish week 4 in first place at 2-2. The Redskins and Eagles are not far behind the Cowboys at 1-3 and they still have to play each other. The Cowboys haven’t amazed this season yet, but neither have most teams, and the Cowboys have a lot of weapons to be a force in the league.
16. The Baltimore Ravens just lost to the Bills. The Bills almost beat the Patriots in week 1. Are the Ravens that bad? Or are the Bills a lot better than everyone thought? Who knows? But the Ravens need to run the ball more and better. Ray Rice was my first round pick in my fantasy draft and he has disappointed me for 4 weeks. The Ravens have other options in the run game, but don’t seem interested in using those options effectively either. This team is leaving a lot to be desired from fans and fantasy owners alike.
17. The Buffalo Bills almost beat the Patriots in week 1, then almost lost to the Panthers in week 2, almost beat the Jets in week 3, and almost lost to the Ravens in week 4. They have been up and down this season, but they’ve been in every game and have impressed at times. There is some potential here.
18. The Houston Texans have all the talent and all the potential in the world, but they are frustrating their fans and fantasy owners. Their first two wins went down to the wire and could have easily lost both of the games. In week 3 they brought nothing to the table against the Ravens. In week 4, they looked like they had righted their ship against the Seahawks after thoroughly out performing them in the first half. Late in the 3rd quarter, the Texans were up 20-3 and looked like they were on their way to route the Seahawks. When you have the lead and have dominated the whole game, you run the ball and burn the clock, you don’t throw an interception to one of the best scoring defense’s in the league. The Texans clearly looked like the better team, but they look like they just don’t want to win this season.
19. The Minnesota Vikings had an impressive win in London. They haven’t had any trouble scoring points this season thanks to Adrian Peterson. They’ve been in all 4 of their games, but lost a couple of close ones and unfortunately are sitting at 1-3. It’s tough to play in the NFC North where the Lions and Bears are 3-1 and the Green Bay packers can flip a switch and play at a level that not many teams can match. This Vikings team is not as bad as their record indicates.
20. The Cleveland Browns have looked good with Hoyer at quarterback winning their last 2 games. Who knew the Trent Richardson trade would result in 2 wins? I thought it would certainly result in 2 losses. Shows what I know. But I am glad that drafting Josh Gordon and sitting him for the first 2 weeks didn’t turn out to be a bad idea.