30 Things We Have Learned a Quarter of the Way Through the NFL Season

1. Something isn’t right in Carolina. It’s one thing if the offense is a little off — injuries to their backfield and adjusting to having Kelvin Benjamin back in the fold can explain that. But what’s a problem is the defense. Usually stout, the Panthers defense has let Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert, and Sam Bradford put up very good offensive performances against them. And then in week 4, they let Matt Ryan and Julio Jones utterly abuse them.

2. The other team in last year’s NFC Championship Game isn’t without their own issues. In back to back weeks, the Cardinals offense has gotten ripped apart by Buffalo and L.A., respectively. To add injury to insult (literally), Carson Palmer will be going through concussion protocol all next week.

3. When should we all take a step back and re-evaluate Andrew Luck? They’re 1-3 and just got sideswiped by the London– I mean Jacksonville — Jaguars. This doesn’t appear to be a very good Colts team and Luck, in turn, doesn’t seem to be making them all that much better.

4. New England survived the Tom Brady-less  start to the year with a 3-1 record, relying on a couple of unproven arms and without the services of a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Brady’s back now and we can assume the Patriots will put their week 4 shutout loss at home to Buffalo in their rearview mirror.

5. Atlanta’s defense has not played any where near the level many expected it to. But who cares when you have an offense putting up the kind of numbers they are. Matt Ryan just lit up the defending NFC Champions for 503 yards through the air — with 300 of them to Julio Jones. You heard correct — 300!!!

6. Dallas is grinding out wins. Time of possession, few mistakes by Dak Prescott, and a solid running game are all contributing to Dallas’ surprising play through the first four weeks. And without Romo or a healthy Dez. Maybe a changing of the guard in Dallas has just happened before out very eyes.

7. No team can be more pleased to be hitting the bye week than the Seahawks. The offense appears fixed thanks to Christine Michael and the novel idea of involving Jimmy Graham. Seattle could be hitting their stride.

8. I keep expecting Denver to look like a team who’s starting QB is unproven and untested. And all they do is keep winning. I’m going to credit the defense and continue to say we need to wait and see on Trevor Siemian.

9. After a week 1 shutout loss to the 49ers, all the Rams have done is hold Seattle to 3 points, the Cardinals to 13, and when they needed to score, they out-slugged the Bucs 37-32. I’m not totally sure what Jeff Fisher’s team is all about, but they’re 3-1.

10. There’s no question the Jets schedule early on is tough. Starting out 1-5 is not out of the question so no one in New York be completely losing their minds. But the losses to Cincy and KC have been tough for Jets fans to swallow. Things get easier in a few weeks.

11. With expectations high in Jacksonville this year, some thought this past week’s London game was a must win. Well, they won. Can they start turning things around now? Houston will be hard to catch and Tennessee isn’t a pushover either.

12. Chicago loses Jay Cutler and Jeremy Langford, so of course, they beat the Lions. Alshon Jeffery might be the only player on offense for the Bears who survives the year.

13. Washington’s offense looks they’ve found their way, again. Kirk Cousins’s job appears safe for the time being, and the Redskins are right back in the conversation for the best team in the East.

14. Oakland’s defense is being met with a lot of criticism, however, they’ve played very well against teams who don’t have crazy, out of this world offenses. They were made to look like swiss cheese against the Saints and Falcons — but most teams do. Against the Titans and Ravens, Oakland played well and won.

15. The 0-16 dream in Cleveland is a reasonable assertion. Hue Jackson will turn things around there, but it’s not time yet. For now, let’s enjoy this dumpster fire.

16. Unexplainable and inexcusable loss for the Lions at Chicago over the weekend. That loss just makes the 2 before that even worse. Can someone let Bob Quinn know that an offensive line could be helpful? Oh, and some semblance of a rushing attack.

17. Jameis Winston may very well have a bright future in this league, but right now his team isn’t good enough and he’s not experienced enough to put them on his back.

18. Going to the West Coast on a short week proved no problem for the Saints. You have to assume the return to San Diego played a part in Drew Brees’s game preparation. Emotional comeback win for the Saints. But this team’s defense isn’t going to allow them to win many games this year.

19. It’s like the Thursday night game in Foxboro never happened. The Texans picked up right where they left off in week 2. Probably a team good enough to win the AFC South, but how far they can go in the playoffs is very very questionable.

20. Not many teams will be able to say they beat the Pats and the Cards this year. The Bills can, and they deserve credit for turning things around after what was an awful first 2 weeks. With Sammy Watkins, though, now on IR, the Bills are going to have to figure out ways to get points on the board.

21. AJ Green is not human. If Cincinnati can consistently balance their run game with the pass, this offense will be tough to stop.

22. Baltimore’s 3-0 start was fraudulent. This is not a good offense and the defense isn’t good enough to win games by themselves.

23. After a couple of weeks where the offense looked great and appeared to be unstoppable, the Dolphins go to Cincinnati and lay an egg. The other problem in Miami is that defense is not as active or as good as was expected.

24. Any panic that arose after the Eagles plastered the Steelers a week ago can be dismissed. Great teams lose games like that every now and again. For Pittsburgh, that was their stinker of a game. With LeVeon Bell back, the Steelers look like a dominant force.

25. DeMarco Murray is showing he’s just as good as he was when he left Dallas 2 years ago. The Titans are just missing some key components — better O-line, defensive playmakers, deep threat on the outside. They’re not as far away as people want to think they are.

26. Can we stop thinking an imminent Viking collapse is coming? Expectations went from possible borderline Super Bowl contender to missing the playoffs completely when they lost Teddy Bridgewater. The it only got worse when Adrian Peterson went out. But this defense is exceptional and Sam Bradford might have found the perfect landing spot.

27. So in four games, the Chiefs defense probably grades out like this: F against SD, C against Houston, A+ against the Jets, and an F against the Steelers. Maybe they’re getting their bearings or maybe we haven’t seen the true KC defense yet. Through four games, I’m not sure what Andy Reid has down there.

28. The Chargers are going to have to slug it out with most teams this season. They’ll win some and lose some. Expect Phillip Rivers’s numbers to continue to grow.

29. The Giants are pretty much where many expected them through 4 games. They are right in the mix in the NFC East. The rush defense has played better than expected, but, oddly, the offense hasn’t been as explosive as most predicted.

30. A winnable game against the Cowboys drops the Niners to 1-3. But the players seem to really like Chip Kelly. The roster just isn’t talented enough to do much right now.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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Author: Brian Goodwin

An educator for 15 years. I have a passion for sports and a passion for writing about sports. I'm very excited to run this blog and have conversations with people about relevant topics, mostly pertaining to sports but also in all aspects of life.

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