This 2014 edition of the NFL has been one that is not easy to figure out. One week sees great performances from a team only to watch them crash and burn a couple weeks later. It is hard to trust a team in this kind of fluid atmosphere. I can’t imagine trying to bet real money on these games. The outcomes are never a given. The Rams just beat Denver in a game that was not even close. No expert, on TV or elsewhere, called that shot.
The most consistent team of 2014 has been the Arizona Cardinals. Not many pundits had them being as dominant as they have been so far through 11 weeks in the NFL season. They are currently 9-1 and just beat a very good Detroit team and they did it without their starting QB, Carson Palmer. Palmer will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL so Drew Stanton will have to do the job the rest of the way. He has a good defense and great wide outs to throw to, but the pressure will be on him. A ton of credit has to go to head coach Bruce Arians. The old guy is not washed up nor incapable of leading this franchise back to glory. They may fail in the playoffs with a backup quarterback, but his coaching has been superb.
The most consistently bad team has been Oakland. They have been undisputed in their level of badplay. They sit at 0-10 and it looks doubtful they will earn more than one win this year, if that. Rookie QB Derek Carr has played well for a first year guy, but not well enough to cover up the lack of talent. The team first needs to pick a coach that they can stick with on a long term basis. Their temporary staffing agency is really letting them down with the level of coaching talent they are sending them every 4.2 months. If there were preseason odds on the team that would finish last, like Super Bowl odds, I would win a stack of cash with the Raiders.
The New England Patriots didn’t start out this year with a bang. It was more like a thud and it had all the TV geniuses saying that Tom Brady was through. He would be just as well to spend his time spending his rich wife’s money. That narrative changed when the Pats came out on Sunday Night Football and destroyed the alleged best team in the NFL at the time in the Cincinnati Bengals. After that game the Patriots have been on a big time roll and Brady has looked as good as ever. He is still the same guy he has always been and he is doing it with scrubs at wide out. Gronkowski is back to his brutal form and reeking havoc on defenses. They even got a near 200 yard rushing performance from a running back in last week’s game. The Patriots are going to be hard to beat in the playoffs especially if they get to play at home throughout.
It is no surprise that the Jacksonville Jaguars suck again. They are down and can’t get up. Blake Bortles has shown promise but a rookie QB can’t lift an entire franchise right away. Even Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman had pitiful records in their initial campaigns. The NFL is a league built on parity so it is a matter of time before they get back to a better level of play. They can’t stay this bad forever. Only the Raiders are capable of such longterm cellar dwelling. Once Bortles gets more comfortable as the face of the franchise and they add more weapons for him, the Jags will be on the come.
Denver has been on track to get back to the Super Bowl again this year. They did have a slip last week in a game they should have won against the Rams, but they have played well the vast majority of the 2014 season. They are at 7-3 currently and need to watch out for division rival Kansas City and try to keep pace with the Patriots for home field in the post season. The latter could mean the difference between another Super Bowl appearance and another gut wrenching loss for Manning at the hands of Bradichick.
The NFC South as a whole is the worst entity in the NFL. From preseason Super Bowl hopeful New Orleans Saints to the inept Panthers to the underwhelming Falcons, this division is the worst in football. It may come down to the last week in the season to see what loser will rep the NFC South in a losing effort in round one of the post season. Oh and the Tampa Bay Bucs are the worst team in this factory of pity. They sit at 2-8 which is better than being at the mediocre top. They won’t waste fans’ time with a playoff destruction and will get a decent draft pick if they keep up the losing the rest of the way
Since losing in a nasty fashion to Seattle to start the year, the Packers have gotten back on track. They are throwing up huge offensive points lately and are much better than the team that got off to a rocky start this year. Detroit is right there with them record-wise, but looked more dominant at the start of 2014. They just got Megatron back though and he has not hit his stride yet.
This last “worst” spot could be filled with the Jets, but we all knew they would be awful. So I will pile on the Giants and Redskins. They are making it easy on the Cowboys or Eagles to win the NFC East. New York needs a new coach and Eli Manning is shot. His five picks last week were unbelievable. I am not sure he is even the same guy who won two Super Bowls anymore. I feel like he got caught up in a wacky Disney film scenario where an awkward teenager took over his body and Eli is playing the violin at a middle school in Oregon. The Redskins have an RG3 problem. The quarterback’s injuries have been an issue, but he just isn’t NFL ready and they should face that fact. He had a great rookie year and that is going to be his peak.
The best of the best will be sorted out in the playoffs and anything can happen. A low seed could upset the team with the best record. The worst of the worst will be sorted out in the off season. Coaches will be fired, players cut, and new draft picks will be prayed over to help the teams’ futures.