Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NFC's First Quarter Breakdown

A first quarter breakdown of the NFC.

NFC East- It looks like this division is up for grabs. Dallas seemed to be the favorite entering the season and on paper they should. As in years past, they haven't lived up to the hype. They did look good in their win over Houston and maybe they can build off of that. Philadelphia looked good with Michael Vick at the helm. When he went out against the Redskins everything seemed to go downhill. He might be out with a rib injury for two weeks. Now let's see if Kevin Kolb can hold the fort in Philly. The New York Giants reverted to old school play Sunday night in their victory over Chicago. If the defense can play with that same kind of fire and intensity they could surprise and win the division. Washington looks like an 8-8 team right now. With Mike Shanahan's coaching adn Donovan McNabb's leadership they could sneak into the playoffs. The Skins are a team to keep an eye on.

NFC South- Carolina is in bad shape and head coach John Fox may be on his way out. They changed quarterbacks (Matt Moore to Jimmy Clausen) and they haven't looked very good on both sides of the ball. They almost were able to sneak out a win over the Saints so all may not be lost. Stranger things have happened. With Steve Smith out for possibly the rest of the season, that will be a hinderance to Clausen's development. They also hit an off the field snag when receiver Dwayne Jarrett was nailed for a dwi. The Saints have been more lucky than good this year. Sometimes its good to be lucky though. The offense hasn't been explosive as in seasons past and the defense hasn't been producing takeaways like last season. They also will need to shore up their kicking game if Garrett Hartley can't produce on hitting chump kicks. Atlanta is looking like they have the potential to unseat the Saints as kings of the South. Matt Ryan is clutch and they have been playing well on both sides of the ball. They do have a win over the Saints on the road and the game in Atlanta could be for the division. I think Tampa Bay needs a few more seasons before they're back to being a playoff contender. They do look like they're headed in the right direction and Josh Freeman looks like he could be the man at quarterback for years to come. Question is, does Raheem Morris stick around long enough to see it through.

NFC West- Easily the weakest division in the NFC. San Francisco has faltered and the defense or offense hasn't looked very good. Alex Smith has never developed there and its safe to say there might be a quarterback change sometime soon. In fairness to Smith he's had to play under different offensive coordinators since he's been there. But it's just not working for him. St. Louis has been an early season surprise. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is looking like he could lead the Rams to the playoffs- this year.
The defense has played tough and Bradford hasn't looked like a rookie under center. Arizona seems lost without Kurt Warner and I'm surprised the Warner out of retirement rumors haven't started. Against the Chargers they played poorly in all facets of the game. They've been dysfunctional and its clear Derek Anderson isn't the answer at quarterback. It looks like it might've been a mistake to let Matt Leinart go. They'll be drafting a quarterback of the future in April. The Seattle Seahawks are a darkhorse in the NFC West if there is one. Pete Carroll does have his team playing hard and they did swing a trade for running back Marshawn Lynch. This is a division that is also up for grabs. 8-8 might be all it takes to win it.

NFC North- This division is Green Bay's to lose. If the Packers can play with their heads straight they could runaway with it. They did give one away to Chicago in a game in which they committed 18 penalties. They also let the Lions hang close to the end. Minnesota should be the Packers' competition, but they've looked uninspired and sluggish. It's been Adrian Peterson and not much else. I think Chicago's 3-1 start has been a mirage. They stole a win against the Lions and were handed another by the Packers. If Jay Cutler takes maore beatings like he did Sunday night, he won't last the season. The Lions have had some tough breaks, but that's just a fact of the NFL. They were robbed against the Bears and Matthew Stafford going down made it double tough for this team. Shaun Hill has been a solid stand in for Stafford. If they can cut down on the unnecessary penalties and the secondary can step their game up, they might can steal a few games. They are actually headed in the right direction.     

AFC's First Quarter Breakdown

My divisional breakdown from the AFC's first quarter(first four games)

AFC East- Right now this looks like a race between the Jets and Patriots. The Jets seem to have the upper hand right now since they have beaten the Patriots already. They still have to face them on the road and Mark Sanchez must keep up his stellar play. You know Brady and Moss and co. will be there in the end. Depending on how everything shakes out in the AFC second place might not be good enough to get into the playoffs. Miami will be pesky, but a distant third. Until they get more offensive firepower, like they had in the 80's the Dolphins will be stuck behind the Jets and Patriots. The Buffalo Bills haven't been the same since Kelly and company left town. They look like they'll have a top 10 pick in the draft. It could be top 5 the way they're going.

AFC North- Until proven otherwise this division belongs to the Ravens and Steelers. The Ravens have the ups on Pittsburgh right now due to their win at Pittsburgh Sunday. With Big Ben coming back to lead the Steelers offense, things will get more interesting. They Steelers have held down the fort going 3-1 while Roethlisberger was suspended. For all the characters the Bengals bring in, I don't look for them to overtake Pittsburgh or Baltimore. You just don't know which team is going to show up. If they ever can get all cylinders clicking consistently, this could be a very dangerous team. i just don't know if that will ever happen. The Browns are the Browns. They did get their first win over an aimless Bengals team. They hang tough, but don't have enough. Mike Holmgren has a major job on his hands.

AFC West- Kansas City is off to a 3-0 start. We just don't know if it will hold up as the season goes along. The defense has played well and the running game has been strong. Let's see if Matt Cassel can lead the offense to greater heights as time goes on. San Diego is off to their typical start. Up and down. They still are the class of this division, but Kansas City has a win over the Chargers in hand. In their win over the Cardinals Sunday, everything seemed to go right for San Diego. That's the team you expect to see run roughshod over the rest of the division. The jury still is out on Denver. I just see their defense crumbling against the AFC's best offenses. Oakland hangs tough in games but just can't seem to finish or get over the hump.

AFC South- Is everyone finally catching up to the Colts? They have two division losses to Jacksonville and Houston. In the past those two teams have given Indy fits, so it's no surprise. Houston has looked good, save for that loss against Dallas and running back Arian Foster has been a pleasant surprise. Tennessee seems to have defense and Chris Johnson, but not much else. If David Garrard can stay consistent, Jacksonville could surprise. I expect Indy to take control by the second half of the season. You can't Peyton Manning down for long. They do need the defense to step up though.