Posted by chrisbrockman
LOS ANGELES — The quarter point of the NFL season is a great measuring stick to see what trends we thought when the year began are following through, what teams are on their way toward the postseason and who should start thinking about next year, and what players are dominating and destroying fantasy leagues. In terms of the latter, Maurice Jones-Drew and Stevan Ridley are KILLING ME, while with the former, the trend of this being a passing league has taken on new heights. Gone are the days of the grind-it-out, premier 1,500-plus-yard back (Adrian Peterson not withstanding), here are the times of every team basically being a backfield-by-committee, every quarterback throwing it 40-plus times per game and scoring through the roof (of course, not if you play in Jacksonville or Tampa Bay).
It’s a fun and exhilarating time to be a football fan, player and analyst. The game is evolving by the week. Players are bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, quicker, slicker. Lots of other -er words. As it stands now we have five, count ’em five undefeated teams, two still winless and 10 teams at 2-2. Can’t wait for the second quarter of the season.
Let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 record: 0-4) (last week: 32) — What would you put the odds of the Jaguars going winless up against the Broncos going undefeated? Right now I’d say it’s 60-40 in favor of Jacksonville. Oh, and your weekly MJD fantasy update: he got me a whopping 2.87 points this week. Trust me, I wish I had a better option.
31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) (30) — How much longer before we start a Free Doug Martin campaign? Mike Glennon slinged it on the opening drive last week but after that he looked like a guy making his first NFL start. Only way to go but up.
30.) New York Giants (0-4) (27) — Not sure how it got so bad for the G-Men but they have no running game, they can’t pressure the quarterback, and Eli Manning is getting killed back there. It can’t get much worse but does anyone see it getting better?
29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) (29) — Ben Roethlisberger said the Steelers are the worst team in the league. It’s tough to argue with him though Le’Veon Bell really looked good in his first game action this season. The ankle looked good. He caught the ball and made moves. Ran hard. If the offensive line can hold strong, Ben could rally them back to .500.
28.) Oakland Raiders (1-3) (25) — How in the blue hell did the Seahawks think Matt Flynn could be their starting quarterback and pay him $12M or whatever it was? Did you see him standing back there on Sunday, afraid to get hit, not knowing where the ball was supposed to go? Might as well had Darren McFadden run the WildCat all day. Oh wait, he got hurt again.
27.) St. Louis Rams (1-3) (22) — I wonder if Steven Jackson is glad he’s out of St. Louis or not, given the state of the Falcons at the current moment. Both the NFC West and South are proving to be formidable divisions and SJax can’t stay healthy. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
26.) Washington Redskins (1-3) (28) — Preseason Week 4 went better than the first three, as a win finally found its way into the column. Robert looked better. The defense played better. Alfred Morris got banged up but Roy Helu didn’t miss a beat. Oh, right, they played the Raiders.
25.) Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (31) — Whenever you have Adrian Peterson you’re in any game. Vikings fans have been waiting for Christian Ponder to do something to represent that he’s The Guy. I’m not saying Matt Cassel is that guy but he did sling it pretty well across the pond. Glad the Brits got to see a good game for once, too.
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (24) — I’ll be curious to see how the Panthers look this week coming off a win and a bye. They really put the bang thing on the Giants and a strong front four knocked Eli around something good. Cam Newton had his best week of the year.
23.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) (18) — Well, this Eagles team certainly is exciting. I don’t know what the record is for points allowed in a season but Chip’s Crew might just give it up this year.
22.) Arizona Cardinals (2-2) (23) — Beating a rookie quarterback on the road isn’t much to celebrate, let alone one in the eye of that Tampa Bay hurricane, but a win is a win is a win, and the Cardinals are at .500 which is impressive. Just thought they’d be getting a little more out of Carson Palmer than 250 ypg and a 70 QB rating.
21.) Buffalo Bills (2-2) (21) — Nice breakout game for Bob Woods and a solid win at home against he defending champs. The Bills are going to be in every game but E.J. Manuel is going to be running for his life far too often unless the offensive line gets some cohesion.
20.) New York Jets (2-2) (20) — This Geno Smith roller coaster is going to be more fun this season than any ride on Coney Island. Have a hot dog at Nathan’s, get some cotton candy and take a walk on the boardwalk. Then take the train to the Meadowlands. Just make sure you have on your seatbelt.
19.) Cleveland Browns (2-2) (26) — Wanna turn around your season? Get your starting quarterback injured, play your 3rd string, trade your No. 1 draft pick, show your fan base you’re giving up on the year, then start balling out! The Browns are definitely winning this Thursday. Count on it.
18.) Baltimore Ravens (2-2) (16) — Well, I mean, Eli Manning never threw five interceptions in a game like Joe Flacco did last week against Buffalo. Not yet at least. This Ravens team is going to have good times and bad this season. Get used to it.
17.) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) (15) — Man, I really thought the Cowboys were going to run away with the NFC East, and they still might, but I’d really like to see a team with a 21-10 lead in the 3rd quarter put one a way. Especially on the road. That would’ve been a good one. Dez Bryant sure had some nice catches in this game though. He’s really putting it all together.
16.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) (8) — You can’t talk all offseason about how you’re an AFC contender and how you’re ready to win in the playoffs not just reach the playoffs, go on “Hard Knocks” and run your mouths, then go to Cleveland and only score 6 points. Six points?! That’s embarrassing. Come on, Andy Dalton, impress us! We want to believe in you!
15.) Atlanta Falcons (1-3) (11) — As Bill Parcells always said, you are what your record is, and while the Falcons on paper still look like a playoff team, right now they are 1-3 in a division the Saints look like they’re running away with. And when you think about who else you think is going to make the playoffs, that means there’s only 3 spots for the Packers, Bears, Lions, Saints, Falcons. Every game is important. Oh, and thank you, Tony Gonzalez for ballin’ out this week and lifting my fantasy team to its first win.
14.) Houston Texans (2-2) (14) — Lotta people talking smack this week about Matt Schaub and how every week he does something late in the game that makes you shake your head. Can he be a Super Bowl quarterback?
13.) San Diego Chargers (2-2) (17) — Something’s gotten into Phil Rivers. Lemme throw some stats at ya: 2nd in completion % (73), touchdowns (11) and passer rating (118); 5th in yards-per-attempt, 7th in total yards. Is it Ken Whisenhunt? Is it no more Norv Turner? Beats me. But I sure like this new Phil Rivers.
12.) Tennessee Titans (3-1) (13) — Who’s ready for a month of the Amish Rifle?! Get excited Titans fans! Man, just when Jake Locker seemed to be coming into his own back there, he gets cheapshoted and taken out. That defense is better than I thought, too.
11.) Chicago Bears (3-1) (3) — Our biggest drop this week, and maybe it’s a market correction on the Bears, but Jay Cutler was back to doing Jay Cutler-like things is not good news in Chi-City. And maybe that big bad Bears defense is no more, because Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush ran rampant over them. We’ll see how they respond with the Saints coming to Soldier Field this week. Huge game.
10.) Detroit Lions (3-1) (19) — Conversely, our biggest jump of the week belongs to The D, who put a hurt on the Bears. Maybe the Lions are good? I dunno. Reggie Bush sure is making a difference. It’s gonna be that kind of year in the NFC North, I think. Lotta points, not a lotta defense and some slingin’ of the football. Should be fun.
9.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (9) — If the Packers want to win this division, and I’m guessing they do, they’re gonna need a healthy Eddie Lacy and James Starks running the football. Hard. Strong. Tough. We know Aaron Rodgers is gonna do his thing but they need that balance.
8.) Indianapolis Colts (3-1) (12) — OK, we all know not much can be learned after a thumping of the Jaguars but I’m liking this team more and more each time I think about them.
7.) Miami Dolphins (3-1) (7) — The Dolphins aren’t ready for primetime, that was evident Monday night against the Saints, but they do some nice things. I like how they ran the football, and Mr. Lauren Tannehill stands tall back there and showed his mobility (the key fumble not withstanding). Defensively, still a few things to sure up, especially with Patriots, Bengals and Chargers coming up.
6.) New England Patriots (4-0) (10) — Now that was a pretty impressive win Sunday night by Tom and the Bunch. What I love about the Patriots is that they do whatever it takes. If it’s running the ball, great. Passing and a hurry-up offense, super. Stick their finger in the dirt and play smashmouth, we can do that. Whatever it takes. Losing Vince Wilfork for the season definitely hurts, but is there a better defensive back in the league right now than Aqib Talib? Dude wants to get paid.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-2) (6) — Very solid, back-on-track win Thursday night, and while it was against the struggling Rams, it was nice to see the 49ers get back to doing what they do so well: run the football and play defense. That’s the recipe for returning to the Super Bowl. And establishing that will open up Colin Kaepernick to do this thing.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) (5) — Alex Smith finally turned the ball over, but yet the Chiefs defense reeked enough havoc on the Giants to cruise to a comfortable win. There’s a lot to like about this Kansas City team and it starts with Smith, Andy Reid, Jamaal Charles and ends with that defense. Can’t wait for them to play Denver in Week 11.
3.) New Orleans Saints (4-0) (4) — I’m officially impressed with the football being played in New Orleans at the moment. Offensively, they are clicking. Defensively, they are swarming. Sean Payton is doing kettle bell workouts and kissing Drew Brees. And thank you, Marques Colston, for being that wonderful ball catcher you are in the second half and getting the 8.67 points I needed to win this week.
2.) Denver Broncos (4-0) (2) — You know what Ying Yang Twins (or whomever) song “Shots!”? Well they should write a remix for the Broncos called “Points!” since that’s all Denver seems to be doing this year: scoring points. Averaging over 44 points per game, more than Jacksonville and Tampa Bay have scored TOTAL all year.
1.) Seattle Seahawks (4-0) (1) — It wasn’t looking good for 3 quarters down in Houston, but wouldn’t you know Russell Wilson and that defense found a way to win. Beast Mode, a pick 6 by the Legion Of Boom and voila, we have a ball game. Then we have overtime and whaddyaknow, Seattle escapes undefeated. Always compete.