Because I got tired of doing this thing every week.
It’s pretty hard to know who will win in any given game, but the objective here is to review what teams have done in an attempt to predict what they’ll do in the future. Oh what a difference a week makes! This time last week, I had the Arizona Cardinals in my Top 3, looking pretty unstoppable. Then, this past Sunday, they lost at home to the Rams (who somehow managed to lose to the Redskins and the Steelers in a game where Ben Roethlisberger got injured and Mike Vick had to play meaningful snaps late in the game), and suddenly the once-perfect Cardinals look far more vulnerable, and are ranked accordingly.
I’m going to try to do a better job of taking a look at who a team has beaten, as well as my own gut feelings, to give more of a well-rounded view of where things stand. Let’s take a look at the Top 8. Teams listed in single parentheses () are those who that team beat; teams listed in double parentheses (()) are those who that team lost to.
- New England: 3-0, (Pit, Buf, Jax)
- Green Bay: 4-0, (Chi, Sea, KC, SF)
- Cincinnati: 4-0, (Oak, SD, Bal, KC)
- Denver: 4-0, (Bal, KC, Det, Min)
- Atlanta: 4-0, (Phi, NYG, Dal, Hou)
- Seattle: 2-2, (Chi, Det), ((St.L, GB))
- Arizona: 3-1, (NO, Chi, SF), ((St.L))
- New York Jets: 3-1, (Cle, Ind, Mia), ((Phi))
I don’t know if there’s necessarily a good reason to have the Patriots listed ahead of the Packers, this would be more my gut feeling. The Pats have looked like absolute world-beaters, so they get my top spot. I like Cincy over Denver based on strength of schedule, though I’m sure they’ll end up losing to the Broncos when they go out on the road in late December. Enjoy it while it lasts, Cincy! It only seems fair to have Atlanta in the Top 5, though really, who have they beaten? Listing Seattle at 6 just SCREAMS “me being a homer”, especially when you consider the teams we beat (at home) have a combined 1 victory. I still have some respect for the Lions (they’ve had a brutal schedule so far), and to be quite honest, the Cards get knocked down a peg for losing at home to the Rams, so suck it. The Jets cap off our top 8 almost exclusively because their defense is top notch, and their quarterbacking play isn’t so horrendous. A lot to like out there.
- New York Giants: 2-2, (WA, Buf), ((Dal, Atl))
- Buffalo: 2-2, (Ind, Mia), ((NE, NYG))
- Carolina: 4-0, (Jax, Hou, NO, TB)
- St. Louis: 2-2, (Sea, AZ), ((WA, Pit))
- Minnesota: 2-2, (Det, SD), ((SF, Den))
- Kansas City: 1-3, (Hou), ((Den, GB, Cin))
- San Diego: 2-2, (Det, Cle), ((Cin, Min))
- Washington: 2-2, (St.L, Phi), ((Mia, NYG))
Back-to-back heartbreaking losses to the Cowboys and Falcons were followed by back-to-back really strong wins against the Redskins and Bills. The Giants are a team who are a couple of unlucky breaks away from 4-0, and the division they’re in is kind of a mess right now. The Bills might be this year’s enigma team of the AFC (like the Rams in the NFC), or they might have just pounded on a couple of bad teams in Indy and Miami. Their defense isn’t quite as dominant as we anticipated, but on the flipside their schedule going forward is pretty weak, so if they can continue beating up on bad teams, they might have 7-8 more wins to throw onto the pile. Carolina couldn’t be more properly rated, outside of the Top 10. This is a paper tiger 4-0 record if I’ve ever seen one. They played against three shitty QBs (Bortles, Mallett, Luke McCown) followed by a rookie in Winston. Their schedule gets remarkably more difficult in the games ahead. As for the Rams, what can you say? They’re 2-0 in the division right now and at this pace should end the season 6-10.
I’m having a tough time getting a proper read on the Vikings. The 49ers are pretty solid on D and the Broncos are probably the best defense in the league. I still like the talent on this team, but they’re far from perfect. The Chiefs have had a pretty rough go from the schedule gods early on, with losses to three of the best four teams in the league. As things get easier, I’d expect the 1-3 record to turn around in a hurry. The Chargers lost a couple games on the road, to far-away lands of Cincinnati and Minnesota. I’m not ready to bury them yet, but they better prove they can win a few on the road before I declare them ready for the playoffs. And don’t look now, but the Redskins are better than we thought! I’ll throw out that stinker of a Thursday night game, because all of those games on Thursday nights are stinkers. They’ve played okay defense and gotten just enough out of their quarterback.
- Oakland: 2-2, (Bal, Cle), ((Cin, Chi))
- Baltimore: 1-3, (Pit), ((Den, Oak, Cin))
- Pittsburgh: 2-2, (SF, St.L), ((NE, Bal))
- Indianapolis: 2-2, (Ten, Jax), ((Buf, NYJ))
- Detroit: 0-4, ((SD, Min, Den, Sea))
- New Orleans: 1-3, (Dal), ((AZ, TB, Car))
- Dallas: 2-2, (NYG, Phi), ((Atl, NO))
- Miami: 1-3, (WA), ((Jax, Buf, NYJ))
There are going to be lots of ups & downs with a team like the Raiders, hence why they lost to the Bears over the weekend. Just be glad there are any ups at all. Baltimore’s yet another team that got hit over the head with the Difficult Early Schedule stick. It’s promising they were able to pull out a tough one against the Steelers, but at the same time, it’s probably better to temper expectations with that team, given their difficulties on defense and atrocious wide receiver corps. Pittsburgh is a team I like to do great things this year, but I’ll like them a lot more when Roethlisberger gets healthy. Indy is a complete trainwreck right now, having managed two wins over two of the worst teams in the league. I’d say it’s time to temper expectations there too, but have you SEEN their division?
The Lions had a rough early schedule, especially having to play three of their first four on the road. But, they’re rewarded with 6 of their next 8 games at home. If they’re going to do ANYTHING after this winless start, they better go on a huge run at home. The Saints are closer to the Ain’ts than I’ve seen in quite some time, and I don’t think there’s much helping this team. They might steal a few wins against some crappy teams, but this isn’t much more than a 4- or 5-win team. The Cowboys will go up this list in a hurry if/when they get Romo and Dez back and start winning some games. Miami has no one to blame but themselves, as their early schedule hasn’t been all that difficult. I know I’d hate to lose a home game to London (where there were considerably more Jets fans than “home” team Dolphins fans), but that ugly loss on the road in Jacksonville really sealed Joe Philbin’s fate.
- Philadelphia: 1-3, (NYJ), ((Atl, Dal, WA))
- San Francisco: 1-3, (Min), ((Pit, AZ, GB))
- Chicago: 1-3, (Oak), ((GB, AZ, Sea))
- Cleveland: 1-3, (Ten), ((NYJ, Oak, SD))
- Houston: 1-3, (TB), ((KC, Car, Atl))
- Jacksonville: 1-3, (Mia), ((Car, NE, Ind))
- Tennessee: 1-2, (TB), ((Cle, Ind))
- Tampa Bay: 1-3, (NO), ((Ten, Hou, Car))
The Eagles are a disaster; HOW did they beat the Jets??? The 49ers’ offense is a joke and Kaepernick is well on his way to finishing his career as a mediocre backup. The Bears need Cutler just to look somewhat respectable, and they’re killing any shot they had at the #1 overall draft pick by playing him (who thought I’d ever say that?). The Browns look somewhat spry, but ultimately should go nowhere. The Texans look the opposite of spry. They probably have to play Mallett, just to see what they have in him (as we all know what Hoyer is capable of), but they’ll never win with him and would honestly be better off giving Hoyer a go and seeing if he’s enough to get them over the hump that is Indy’s floating carcass. The Jags are the Jags, and that’s all they’ll ever be. The Titans looked great in week 1, until we all realized they beat up on the NFL’s Junior Varsity squad. The Bucs should be pretty awesome in a few years, if they can keep piling up on #1 overall draft picks.