The haves and have-nots are split 3-29. Kansas City, New Orleans and the Rams are in their own class. The biggest mystery in the NFL right now is not the total link of CTE to helmet hits, it’s how did New England manage to beat the Chiefs when they played. KC is clearly the class of the AFC. The Chargers and Patriots will put up a fight, but don’t have the horses. The Saints have holes on defense, but when you put up 40 points every week, it doesn’t matter. The Rams have to find some way to slow them down to get past them when they meet in the NFC title game.
Proper or over-reaction? If you watched the Panthers, Patriots and Redskins this week, you’re tempted to remove them from the contenders list. Washington gave up 1 million yards to the Bucs and escaped thanks to the Bucs’ own ineptitude. Carolina was thrashed in a way they hadn’t been in many years. The Pats got whupped by a .500 team. Are they exposed, or just having a bump in the road? I suspect all of them will bounce back.
Division separation has begun. There is now at least a 2-game gap in the AFC East and West and the NFC East, South and West, plus a 1.5 game gap in the North divisions. That’s the line between contenders and pretenders for the division titles. That just leaves the AFC South, where 1 game separates each team. The difference there is that Jacksonville has lost 5 in a row, and the other 3 are on winning streaks. That should be fun to watch down the stretch.
Things can turn quickly. Speaking of the AFC South, after 4 games, Jacksonville was already 2 games up on Houston. Now, after 9 games, Houston is 3 games up on Jacksonville and the Jags season is over. Don’t blink, you might miss something.
1. Kansas City – A cut above. This week’s game is “must stay up and watch it” TV.
2. New Orleans – Just a machine. Disgusting for Panthers fans to watch.
3. LA Rams – See #1 above.
4. LA Chargers – Imagine what could happen if their best defensive player ever gets on the field.
5. Pittsburgh – Great job of keeping the Panthers 1-for-life against them.
6. New England – Will still win at least 12 games thanks to a terrible division.
7. Chicago – Mack is back, and so is the defense.
8. Washington – Still the best in the division, but what a Swiss cheese defense between the 20s!
9. Houston – Coming off the bye, have challenges with the rising of Indy and the Titans.
10.Carolina – MAJOR step back. Need to win ALL non-Saints games remaining.
11.Minnesota – Also off bye, need to get consistent while Chicago is still in sight.
12.Tennessee – Major statement win. Is it a sign of things to come?
13.Cincinnati – Dropping like a stone. Lost without their resident criminal on defense.
14.Green Bay – Wildly inconsistent and hard to figure out.
15.Miami – See #14 above.
16.Baltimore – See #15 above.
17.Seattle – OK, I’m finally running out of Jesus Juice jokes.
18.Atlanta – Just too many injuries to overcome.
19.Indianapolis – Getting much better, and Neck Beard is finally healthy.
20.Dallas – See #16 above.
21.Philadelphia – That’s TWO home games they had no business losing that they have lost.
22.Cleveland – Mayfield is the real deal. There is finally hope in Cleveland.
23.Denver – First team to fire their coach at season’s end? Tampa & Jets may beat them to it during the season.
24.Detroit – Need O-line help badly. Julius Peppers must be salivating in his sleep this week.
25.Jacksonville – The coach is a dead man walking without a winning streak.
26.Tampa Bay – See #25 above.
27.Buffalo – Coach is still too new to get fired, but improvements must be made this year.
28.NY Jets – See #26 above.
29.NY Giants – See #29 above. Monday was a good start.
30.Arizona – See #30 above.
31.San Francisco – Like the 3 above them, but the injured QB gives a good excuse.
32.Oakland – Only that $100 million contract prevents the coach from getting fired.