It has been said that every team in the National Football league has been designed to go 8-8, with any other win or loss attributed to just a handful of plays on the field. Predicting what will happen any given Sunday has proven to be anything but exact (how else does Vegas make their money?)
With a quarter of the season in, and there is certainly parity, but also predictions coming to fruition.
Number One) The AFC Still Dominates
The best teams reside in the AFC. Before the season began, two popular picks from experts to win the Super Bowl was the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. After a quarter of the season, these two teams have shown to be the cream of the crop in the NFL. How they have gotten there, however, has covered both ends of the spectrum.
The Chiefs’ meteoric rise over the past two seasons is hitched to wizard Patrick Mahomes and the creative offensive play-calling of head coach Andy Reid. Last year they took over the NFL offensively by doing things we have not seen since the 2007 Patriots: 5000 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns, and 565 total points scored.
As scorching as those stats are, Mahomes is actually on pace to throw for even more yards this year, with is average yards per attempt climbing from 8.8 in 2018 to an other-worldly 9.7 this year. Even in losing Tyreke Hill at the beginning of the year, they just plugged in other receivers and have not missed a beat.
Conversely, the Patriots are winning with what might be Bill Belichick’s best ever defense. The offense has certainly held its own, but what Belichick has done on the other side of the ball is incredible.
Through four games, they have allowed just one offensive touchdown. They are giving up an average of 6.8 points per game, and are top-2 in total yards, total passing yards, and total rushing yards. Their schedule gets more difficult here on out, but if their play is anywhere near this level, it should allow them yet another first-round playoff bye.
Number Two) The NFC is Anyone's Game
The NFC is wide open. It was thought to contain the most talent among NFL teams coming into the year, and this still might be the case, but there is certainly no dominating force. Every team has its strengths but enough warts to keep them from separating themselves.
The Rams’ offense has not lived up to last year’s, the Cowboys looked average against a top defense, the Bears and Saints have questions at quarterback, the Eagles are riddled with injuries, and the Packers still aren’t clicking on offense.
The 49ers are the only undefeated team in the NFC, but they have looked anything but consistent. Couple their sloppy offensive play with their soft schedule so far (teams they’ve faced are 2-8 combined), it's easy not to get excited over their record just yet. These teams should remain atop the NFC throughout the season, but we’ll have to wait and see who will separate themselves as the season goes on.
Number Three) The Miami Dolphins are Historically Bad
“There’s obviously some disappointment with the way things have started,” head coach Brian Flores put mildly. The team lacks talent from top to bottom, with already having traded most of their best players this year, and with many underwhelming performances from who is left.
They are on pace to score the least amount of points and give up the most points in the NFL. They enter their bye week at 0-4, and 0-4 against the spread (including -23 to the Cowboys).
“We’re a young team. The more snaps we have on the field, the better we will get,” says Flores. In reality, there is nowhere to go but up, but at this point, is there even reason to?
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the crown jewel in next year’s draft, and the Dolphins, along with numerous other teams, are chomping at the bit to select him. Their upcoming schedule includes the winless Redskins, Steelers, and Jets (the latter of which they play twice). How they fare against these teams will ultimately decide their future, both near and far.
*preview photo credited to NFL.com
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