If the NFL were to shut down as our government did a few nights ago, the Steelers, Jaguars, Buccaneers and Giants would all be deemed non-essential employees, and would be asked to stay home this week. Each of these teams is a quarter of the way through their season, and none of them have secured a win for their city, much less America.
Meanwhile the Seahawks, Patriots, Saints, Broncos and CHIEFS would be asked to solve this nation’s current problems, or something like that. They have defeated every opponent the people who schedule NFL games have thrown in front of them.
Back to the big picture, nine teams have completed a quarter of their season with a zero in the win or the loss column. In this next section, I’ll tell you who to save from the burning shipwrecks of the 0-4’s, who to toss from unblemished 4-0’s and everything in between.
Fresh- Start them with confidence
Needs some Gravy- They have the potential, they just need a little extra push
Stale- Bench players you should be looking to trade, or release soon
Moldy- Hello free agency!
New England Patriots (Ws: Bills, Jets, Bucs, Falcons)
Hmm, none of their four opponents have winning records. Are the Patriots really as good as their record shows? They squeaked by the Bills and Jets (two rookie QBs), drubbed a team who’s starting QB is now inactive because he was so bad and pulled out a win against a now 1-3 Falcons team.
Injuries have already been a huge issue and the Pats were dealt a huge blow Sunday when Vince Wilfork tore his Achilles and likely ended his season. Luckily for them, it looks like Gronk will be back next week, and Amendola will return in the near future.
Though Brady has looked mediocre early, expect his numbers to increase once his targets come back, and the Pats to make a late season run IF they can stay healthy.
Fresh: Brady, Gronk
Needs some Gravy: Thompkins, Edelman, Vereen, Amendola
Stale: Ridley (not ready to toss him just yet)
Denver Broncos- (Ws: Ravens, Giants, Raiders and Eagles)
Fairly soft schedule so far, but at this point they are without a doubt the clear Super Bowl favorites. With Manning at the helm and a plethora of offensive weapons to choose from, their offense is seemingly unstoppable. Their defense is solid and will only get stronger as the year goes on with Miller returning from suspension and numerous others healing from injuries.
The only real question mark is the running back trio, but it seems to be working out more to the favor of pre-season third-string RB Knowshon Moreno.
Somewhere, in a dark room, Tom Brady weeps over the loss of Welker.
Fresh: Manning, Welker, Thomas, Thomas, Decker
Needs some Gravy: Moreno
Stale: Hillman, Ball
Moldy: Opposing defenses
New Orleans Saints- (Ws: Falcons, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Dolphins)
I hear Mardi Gras will be Sean Payton themed this year. The Saints vastly underperformed last year while Payton served his suspension for “Bounty Gate,” but now, things are back to normal. Wins against the Falcons and a slightly overhyped Dolphins team look good on the resume, but a narrow escape from Tampa proves they aren’t invincible.
Brees is on the way to another monstrous season, Jimmy Graham is unstoppable in the red zone and Sproles looks like he is the back to own, although Thomas isn’t a bad alternative.
Fresh: Brees, Graham, Colston, Sproles
Needs some Gravy: Thomas, Stills
Stale: Lance Moore
Moldy: Mark Ingram
Seattle Seahawks- (Ws: Panthers, 49ers, Jaguars, Texans)
Thug life! The Seahawks are undefeated, but barely. Again, not the most impressive schedule to date, after barely pulling out a win against Carolina, massacring a near-lifeless Jacksonville team at home, and praising the football Gods the Texans were dumb enough to throw with a lead.
“But Rob, they beat the 49ers who were your Super Bowl favorites.”
Yes, yes, sit down, I know. However, it’s a division rivalry game at home and Kaepernick struggles in Seattle. Plus, I pegged the 49ers to lose that game anyway.
Nothing impressive in the passing game as Wilson and Lynch are doing work on the ground, but even they haven’t been that great. This week’s matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis will be their biggest challenge yet.
Fresh: Lynch, Seattle D
Needs some Gravy: Wilson
Stale: Tate, Baldwin, Rice, Miller
Kansas City Chiefs- (Ws: Jags, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants)
Andy Reid be praised! The Kansas City Chiefs have started the season 4-0.
At this point, there are two logical conclusions: The Chiefs are for real and serious contenders or the NFC East is a joke, and we have yet to see the Chiefs in serious action. I’m inclined to believe that latter.
I’m definitely not downplaying the wins against Dallas or in Philadelphia. Nor am I ignoring the apparent resurrection of Alex Smith and dominance of Jamaal Charles. They have both been impressive, but the Chiefs haven’t really been tested yet. Lucky for them, they have an elementary school cake walk through most of the season up until they play Denver twice in three weeks.
I would not be surprised if they made it into the playoffs as an AFC wild card team in a fairly weak conference.
Fresh: Charles, Smith, Chiefs D
Needs some gravy: Bowe, Avery
Moldy: Fasano, K. Davis
Jacksonville Jaguars- (Ls: Chiefs, Raiders, Seahawks, Colts)
Apparently the new helmets do not help.
This sad sack of a franchise is moments away from going to London or LA. There’s little left to say about the negatives of this team, so let’s just move on.
Blackmon’s return from suspension should provide the Jags with a much-needed offensive weapon (How’s Denard doing in that position?) It should also give Cecil Shorts a boost by taking away some coverage.
Needs some gravy: Blackmon
Moldy: The rest of the franchise
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- (Ls: Jets, Saints, Patriots, Cardinals)
Two winless Florida franchises with terrible fan bases? Shocking.
After essentially handing the Jets a win in week one, things have continued to spiral downward for the once proud TB franchise. Before releasing him moments ago, the Bucs scratched Freeman and started Glennon, so that should just about tell you how bad things are in Tampa.
Martin has been uninspiring with a disappointing 3.4 YPC average and injury/terrible quarterbacking has hampered V-Jax’s production. Mike Williams has two touchdowns, so that’s pretty good I guess. Things are going to get worse in Tampa before they improve.
Needs some Gravy: Martin, Jackson, Williams
Pittsburgh Steelers- (Ls: Titans, Bengals, Bears, Vikings)
The season started poorly for Pittsburgh when they lost Pouncey for the season (and then proceeded to lose to the Titans), and since then things haven’t looked much improved.
When Felix Jones is your leading rusher with 78 yards, you know things are bad. Luckily for the Steelers, Bell looks like he can provide some solid support from the ground. Unfortunately for him, the same line that has already allowed 15 sacks on Roethlisberger is blocking for the running game. Somehow Jerricho Cotchery is still relevant with 248 yards and two TDs? Who called that one?
Heath Miller also returned to the lineup and still looks like serviceable TE for desperate owners.
Fresh: Bell, Brown
Needs some Gravy: Roethlisberger, Miller, Sanders, Cotchery
New York Giants- (Ls Cowboys, Broncos, Panthers, Chiefs)
“Eli Manning is an elite quarterback”- ESPN the past four years.
Is he now? Does an elite quarterback lose to Panthers 38-0 or have 3 more INTs than TDs a quarter of the way through the season? I don’t think so. There are a myriad of other reasons why Eli isn’t an elite quarterback, but that’s not what I’m talking about right now.
The Giants are a disaster. Eli has been awful, Wilson can’t be trusted and Nicks is going games without targets. The only bright spot on this team is Victor Cruz. Plain and simple.
The Giants with an “elite” quarterback are somehow worse than the Jets with a rookie quarterback. Riddle me that.
Needs some Gravy: Manning
Stale: Myers, Nicks, Wilson, Randle
Moldy: Jacobs, Scott
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