With the NFL a little over a quarter of the way into the season, the sample size is large enough to paint a broad picture of how the league is shaping up. It’s not as if we actually can predict much, but we now have a tiny bit of data that we’ll ignore if it doesn’t fit the narrative we pushed in the offseason. But you aren’t here for that, you’re here for these quarterly reports.
Let’s get to it though.
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills — 1 ET
New England (3-2, T-1 AFC East): One of the more confusing teams historically, we shouldn’t really be surprised that New England doesn’t make much sense. I mean, they’ve forced more turnover than all but one team, have a solid point differential, and looked really impressive last week thumping Cincinnati. Someone has to win the AFC East, and New England just might mess around and beat someone in the play-offs. Who knows if they’ll survive the season without a defensive-led mutiny of both Coach Bellichick and Tom Brady when those guys finally get sick of the offense acting like the Jets.
Verdict: I’d hold whatever stock you have if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like sleeping at night and/or gloating about being right.
Buffalo (3-2, T-1 AFC East): The Bills haven’t scored 20 points in a game since September 14th, tallying totals of 10, 17, and 17 over a three game span that saw them play San Diego in Buffalo and games in Houston and Detroit. Through the willpower, grace, and courage of storied veteran
party animal quarterback Kyle Orton, the Bills threw for a season high 294 yards for their only win in the past three weeks. Now, if they played a team with an NFL kicker, I don’t think they win. They don’t run the football well (haven’t hit 100 yards in 3 weeks) and I don’t think they can keep it up and challenge for anything other than an above-.500 record.
Verdict: Sell. This might be the last time they’re over .500.
Carolina Panthers vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1 PM ET
Carolina (3-2, 1st NFC South): Next six games are @ Cincinnati, @ Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans, @ Philadelphia, and Atlanta. And then, after the bye week, we’re looking at a possible winter wonderland in Minnesota and Drew Brees in a dome. Cam won’t be able to carry this team forever and the defense is a middle of the road squad without Hardy, so unless Ricky Williams comes out of retirement or Greg Hardy beats this case like he … nevermind… Cam keeps this team afloat long enough for the realization that they’re surrounded by sharks and their lifeboat has holes in it.
Verdict: Sell hard.
Cincinnati (3-1, 1st AFC North): The defense is dominant when Geno Atkins is healthy and good to go. He’s off the injury report at last check. AJ Green’s loss is kind of a big deal, but they’re a running team that has a running back that does best out in space, not against weak boxes, so they’ll be fine when they re-identify as a running team. If AJ comes back by November when they go to New Orleans and Houston, they’ll be able to split those and pretty much lock up a play-off bid, if not the division.
Verdict: Buy and let it ride until someone goofs and calls Gio Bernard “Gio Metro”. Then, take the loss, pack up, go home, and just stare out at the mountains and wonder where life went wrong.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns — 1 PM ET
Pittsburgh (3-2, T-2 AFC North): Until the Steelers stop throwing the ball at such a high clip, we won’t see their offense do enough to win the games that they don’t force a turnover in. The refusal to run the ball is alarming enough to crack Todd Haley jokes with a tiny bit of seriousness behind them, and they had a moral loss to Jacksonville when they only won by eight points (if there are moral victories, there are moral losses, and that 8 point win is a definite moral loss) so don’t look at that record as much more than really being 2-3.
Verdict: Hold and Hope. They’ll be a roller coaster.
Cleveland (2-2, 4th AFC North): The Browns are a combined 5 points from being 4-0. They are also a combined 4 points from being 0-4. Your guess is as good as mine.
Verdict: We’re one irrational benching away from Johnny Manziel being the quarterback of a run first, defensive oriented team, so that alone is worth the buy.
Green Bay Packers vs. Miami Dolphins — — 1 PM ET
Green Bay (3-2, T-1st NFC North): They’re probably the least likely team in the NFC North to fall apart and mess everything up. That has to be worth something. As far as I’m concerned, they’re 2-1 because they weren’t going to win in a primetime game in Seattle and they weren’t going to lose to Christian Ponder handing the ball off Matt Asiata. They haven’t done enough to warrant changing up how you feel about them, and I say that in all honesty. If you think they’re wack, look at their 7 point outing against Detroit. If you think they’re good, they blew out Chicago in Chicago.
Verdict: R-E-L-A-X and hold.
Miami (2-2, 3rd AFC East): Now that they have two running backs for the first time in a lot of weeks, we’ll probably see them throw the ball 36 times a game for 187 yards and maybe a ridiculous Mike Wallace touchdown on the only catchable of 10 deep balls. They’re throwing the ball more than 3/4 of the league, but they don’t do very much on passing plays. They aren’t good.
Verdict: Sell. Don’t believe in volume passers to ever do anything for you when they suck.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings — 1 PM ET
Detroit (3-2, T-1st NFC North): Their infamous “How are these guys in the NFL? The guy in the bar who played goalie in High School JV Soccer could go make more than 4 of 12 field goals right now and he’s hammered” level kickers are what’s holding this team back from being 4-1 even though their latest “ridiculous on paper offense” isn’t exactly doing all that well yet. They have a scary defense and Calvin Johnson has a scary ankle injury. But at this point, I’m sick of being conservative.
Verdict: Buy. At some point, they’ll find a serviceable kicker and they’ll be able to convert red zone attempts into points like normal teams do.
Minnesota (2-3, T-3 NFC North): They scored 41 the one game Teddy started, but they’re 1-3 without AD. Ask me again in my week and I might change my tune, but as of now, ride it out with the best rookie QB. Also, you can hold out hope that AD beats his ca… nevermind.
Verdict: All of the good adjectives to describe winning in a physical manner in football are now soiled due to domestic violence. Minnesota has the ultimate NFL karma though for making the face of their franchise a nice black quarterback whose first name is also a soft plush children’s toy. Not only buy the Vikings, but also buy as many “Teddy Bears” as Minnesota sells and give them to your children to hug tightly as they watch grown men collide viciously.
Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets — 1 PM ET
Denver (3-1, 2nd AFC West): They’re going to be the best wildcard team ever. It’s not their conference until they beat San Diego, who has the better quarterback.
Verdict: Buy them as anything other than a wildcard team? Nah, that’s a sucker bet. Schedule is brutal and they play Oakland twice, once week 17, where Peyton will try to pad his stats enough to break even more records of a superior quarterback. I bet you didn’t think I’d get so salty.
New York (1-4, 4th AFC East): Here’s the big question, will Rex make it to the bye week?
Verdict: Nah. November 2nd at BrehFest 2014 will be his last game on the sideline as the head coach of the Jets for at least 4 years.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 1 PM ET
Baltimore (3-2, T-2nd AFC North): I’d be lying to you if I said that I even care about what’s going in Baltimore. I’m entirely serious, I don’t think I’ve seen much of them other than Steve Smith bodying Carolina and … that’s really it.
Tampa Bay (1-4, 4th NFC South): With Mike Glennon running the show, they might not be one of the 5 worst teams in the league anymore. I was dead wrong about Josh McCown. He’s not going to do much of anything for this team.
Verdict: Buy. They’re moving on up. They might not finish last in their division now.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans — 1 PM ET
Jacksonville (0-5, 4th AFC South): The Jags are two years away from being two years away.
Tennessee (1-4, 3rd AFC South): They won’t win as long as Jake Locker is in a T-Shirt on the sideline and Ken Whisenhunt is their head coach. Neither of those are changing any time soon.
San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders — 4:05 PM ET
San Diego (4-1, 1st AFC West): The best team in the AFC, IMO. You have to scroll to see their entire injury list, but they lost to Zona by one in Zona and beat the champs. Their defense is their offense, if that makes sense, and they’ll squeeze every single bit of air out of the ball before they give it back to you. I know they beat Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York, and they’ll move to 5-1 this week with a win over Oakland, but the way they’ve won is how you want a good team to beat bad teams.
Oakland: A grown man buried a football in front of other grown men and the first guy on the team to shovel dirt onto the grave was their rookie quarterback. They don’t have a game on their schedule where they’ll be less than a touchdown underdogs until probably week 16 against Buffalo. Have fun in LA in two years though.
Verdict: They’re worse than you think. Sell.
Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons — 4:25 PM ET
Chicago (2-3, T-3rd NFC North): The wheels fell off the wagon when they lost peanut, but we didn’t know it until they played a team that wasn’t the Jets. They’re dangerous because of all their weapons (a metaphor I can use because there is nobody currently serving a gun related suspension on their team as far as I know) and they’ll find a way to mess up other team’s plans, but this team isn’t equipped to go out there and be anything more than middle of the road.
Verdict: Sell. Might end up 4th in the division by the bye week.
Atlanta (2-3, T-2nd NFC South): They are undefeated in domes, and winless in open air. They play 4 more true open air games and only one is going to be cold. Kind of a huge deal because they’re really good historically when hand warmers are fashion accessories.
Washington vs. Arizona Cardinals — 4:25 PM ET
Washington (1-4, 4th NFC East): Nope.
Arizona (3-1, T-1st NFC West): The soon to be 4-1 Arizona Cardinals beat three playoff contenders and got beat up on in Denver. Luckily, they don’t play a real team for a few weeks and even then, it’s Philly, and we’re not even sure if they are any good (well, I have some theories, keep reading, they’ll come). Come November, when their schedule will be at the “they might lose every one of these games” juncture, they’ll probably have Carson Palmer back and they’ll be able to actually do things on offense again.
Verdict: Buy now, sell at the midpoint if Palmer is still battling nerves.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks — 4:25 PM ET
Dallas (4-1, T-1st NFC East): Demarco Murray is their workhorse and they’re ultimate “waiting for the inevitable” team. Let me explain. When Tony Romo isn’t asked to do too much, he plays really, really well, eliciting the confidence of the playcaller to give Romo more, and as he gets more, his quality level diminishes, and they play awful and lose. Then, they run the ball more again and he plays well, thus perpetuating the never-ending cycle. Cowboys hit 316 passing yards last game and Jerry Jones wants to go at Sherman. Either Murray (who has never played 8 straight games in his career according to a stat I heard from RyFo) deteriorates from a huge workload (doubtful) or they go full Romo.
Verdict: They’ll find a way to go 8-8. They always do. If that’s what you want, buy.
Seattle (3-1, T-1st NFC West) : Best team in the league. They’re a power running, defensive juggernaut, and that never goes out of style. Also, the Wilson/Luck argument is for people who watch too much bad football analysis. The answer is Cam Newton, 10 times out of 10, and if you don’t see that you’re a homer. Sick of this debate. Every single one of Luck’s pass catching targets would get a parade in Carolina if they were traded there and Marshawn and Cam wouldn’t ever be stopped. Yet Cam still does remarkable things every single year. Back to the Seahawks though, they’re too good to be stopped. They’ve only forced 3 turnovers on the season (which is mostly a luck driven stat despite everything you believe) and if that number starts climbing quick, look out.
Verdict: If they lose a game before they head to Arrowhead on November 16th, it’ll be a disappointment. Buy.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles — 8:30 PM ET
New York (3-2, 3rd NFC East): Things are really clicking for the Giants after being held to 14 points each of the first two games of the season, and they committed to being a balanced attack, with 169 passing attempts to 163 rushing attempts. That ball control will be huge in winning down the road, and will also help with consistency. This one might burn.
Verdict: Buy the Giants. They’re my favorite to win the division at the moment.
Philadelphia (4-1, T-1st NFC East): The most overrated and lucky one loss team in football. They started off the season with a victory (and moral victory) in Jacksonville against a Chad Henne led team, and then went on to beat Indy by 3 in Indy, beat Washington’s backup QB by 3 at home, lose to San Francisco by 5, and then beat a Rams team by 6 that’s being quarterbacked by a guy who was their 4th string quarterback back in August. Call me unimpressed.
Verdict: Sell as fast as you can.
San Francisco 49ers vs. St Louis Rams — Monday Night, 8:30 PM ET
San Francisco (3-2, 3rd NFC West): The Niners have a really good defense and confusing, headache inducing, torturous, offense that also has the potential to light you up like Aldon Smith lit u… Nevermind. It’ll be tough to make the playoffs as a wildcard out of the NFC West this year, and it’ll either be SF or Arizona who does it.
Verdict: Ride with Zona on this.
St. Louis (1-3, 4th NFC West): They are Mike Evans being able to crawl off the field and a made field goal away from a deserving 0-4 record because all of the yards they’re gaining aren’t equaling very many points. They have Seattle, three brutal road games, Denver in St. Louis, a brutal game in San Diego before playing Oakland. The Rams could conceivably be 1-10 at that point.
Verdict: That win percentage is going to crash harder than [redacted Stock Market joke that nobody would get].
Bye Week and Thursday Night Teams:
Indianapolis (4-2, 1st AFC South): Not a single clue. Easiest schedule in football though.
Verdict: Buy. AFC South Champs pretty much guaranteed.
Houston (3-3, 2nd AFC South): Probably not actually good. Pretty much the same team that just went 2-14, but now with Clowney on the sideline in shorts waiting to come back. Beat up on 3 not good teams for their wins and lost to 3 teams that are better. They are who we thought they were I guess.
Verdict: Sell. Offense is still garbage.
Kansas City (2-3, 3rd AFC West): Before the season, smart Chiefs fans said 6 or 7 wins, and that’s probably what happens. Andy and Alex won’t do much for them tbh. They’ll win games they shouldn’t on paper if they feed Charles and Davis. But, because of Alex and Andy, they won’t feed their running backs.
New Orleans (2-3, T-2 NFC South): 2-0 at home, 0-3 on the road. That’s who they are.
Verdict: Buy because they have 6 home games and some easier teams on the road. They’ll win enough to win that conference.
That’s it. This might be back in 4 weeks. Or something different. Bring back the Brehcast.
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