Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
- My favorites to win the NFC East to start the year certainly do look like the cream of the crop. They hung in there against the formidable Chiefs, but they got the job in division against the Redskins and Giants. I think they have the best offensive line and defensive line collectively in their division where both sides are equally as good. They found the run game against the Giants. When they want to control a game like that they can do it and do it effectively. Their biggest issue is their pass defense and secondary. Jalen Mills is playing out of position on the outside and has been one of the most targeted corners in the league so far. Meanwhile, newly acquired Ronald Darby is on the shelf making their already weak corners more thin. Their pass defense ranks 25th in passing yard per game given up, which certainly is not good. Retrospectively last place is the Patriots in that category, but they have faced teams in catch up mode the past two weeks. The next four games include a road match up against the Chargers, home against the Cardinals, on the road at Carolina, and home against the Redskins. The most important game there is the match up with the Redskins in their attempt to sweep the season series against their rivals. I do expect them to take care of the Chargers and Cardinals, maybe even the Panthers. A 6-1 record after this stretch is not out of the realm in my opinion.
Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
- I am not like some analyst cough cough Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless who are all in on this team. This defense looked great against the lowly Cardinals, but they looked like a little league team against the Broncos. I also do not count that Giants win all that great with how poor they played this year so far. I trust Dak a lot I liked him coming out of college a lot, but I just do not think they have enough weapons around him to help him throw the ball. To me Dez Bryant has been one of the most over-hyped players in the league and to me has been nothing more than an underachiever in the league. He has even gotten worst in his older age losing a lot of his speed, which has exposed his poor route running. Even Dak is not confident in throwing him the ball with how little he targets him. I also do not think this line is as dominant as people say giving up a lot of pressure the past few weeks. They rank 22nd in rushing yard per game with only 89 yards. If they continue to run on offense like this I am not sure they can sustain Dak throwing often all year long. The next four games they play the rising Rams, the injured Packers, the lowly 49ers, and the difficult Redskins. I think the match up against LA is a toss up, I doubt they beat the Packers no matter how hurt they are Aaron Rodgers is in the zone again, and I bet they beat the 49ers pretty well. The big match up against the Redskins can be a key turning point for both teams. I will give them a respectable 4-3 at the end of the four game stretch.
Washington Redskins (2-1)
- Right where I thought the Redskins would be. Better than people expected and a team who can beat anyone they face each week or look terrible. The certainly looked terrible against the Eagles week one, but they got their groove on the past two weeks beating the Rams and Raiders. Not only did they beat the Raiders they destroyed them right from the opening kick off. Their defense put themselves on the map with their ferocious pass rush on one of the leagues' best offensive lines. I also think Josh Norman continues to prove he was worth that hefty contract. He has been one of the least targeted corners in the league and has been shutting down every team's top target so far. They currently occupy 5th in yards per game against on defense and 8th on offense in yards per game. That equals to a pretty good team who should continue to be a tough out for teams on their schedule. They have a tough match up on Monday against the Chiefs that can help them put themselves on the map as contenders. Then they face the bad 49ers for an easy win. The next two games are key for them in a rematch with the Eagles and another divisional match up with the Cowboys. Coming out of that stretch with a respectable 4-3 record if they split those divisional games.
New York Giants (0-3)
- This team is exactly what I thought they would be. A team that did not do enough to their offensive line to use their shiny new weapons effectively on the outside. I knew that would be a problem when the line only give Eli a second or two to throw the ball. This defense is still lights out and keeping them in games outside of that Lions match up where it got a little out of hand. Part of that is on the offense's inability to stay on the field to give their defense a break. Some of that is on the coaching staff and their unwillingness to run the ball. I know they have not been effective running it, but you need to keep the defenses honest by running the ball more than 12 times a game. That philosophy just allows defenders to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. The next four games coming up are the Bucs, Chargers, Broncos, and Seahawks at home. None of those teams are easy wins for a team in desperate need of one. I will give them two wins somewhere in there ending up with a 2-5 record, but I can also see it being worst. Fun fact: the Giants have a losing record when OBJ has a 100 yards in a game. For whatever it's worth everyone keeps wanting him on the field, but his production clearly does not lead to wins.
Green Bay Packers (3-1)
- Coming off an easy win against the Bears this past Thursday allows them an extra half a week to get healthy. This team could be a Super Bowl contender, but they need at least one of their tackles back to protect Rodgers. They currently are on their 5th and 6th choice on both sides of the line. Meanwhile, Davante Adams was just taken out on a dirty hit and on defense their best pass rusher Mike Daniels is still trying to come back. However, as long as they have Aaron Rodgers they are pretty much guaranteed 10 wins a season. I just wonder how good he would be on a team like the Patriots or Vikings who have better talent. To me the Packers have done a disservice to him by not delving into free agency more to give him better talent. Defensively I do worry about how they match up against better passing teams like the Falcons who just out ran them all night long two weeks ago. Even Glennon when in rhythm was able to throw the ball into open spaces. I still think this team is the favorite in the NFC, but I am slowly losing faith in my pick. The next four match ups are at the Cowboys and Vikings. Then at home with the Saints and Lions. I have faith in them to beat the Cowboys and Saints. The divisional match ups will be tough because I think the Vikings and Lions have generally better rosters. 5-3 after those four games will be a good outcome for such a banged up squad.
Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
- The Vikings even without Sam Bradford is my favorite to come out of the NFC North at this point. They proved they can move the ball and protect their quarterbacks much better than last year. Part of their passing success to me is the balance they have on offense where Dalvin Cook looks leaps and bounds better than the aging Adrian Peterson from last year. Meanwhile, both Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs occupy 2nd and 3rd most receiving yards in the leagues so far. Their defensive numbers might not be the prettiest so far, but they have played three good passing offenses in the Saints, Steelers, and Bucs. Two of which were playing in catch up mode after the Vikes jumped out to an early lead. Their next four games are against the divisional foes the Lions, Bears, and Packers. Ending off with the offensively inept Ravens. That three game stretch may be difficult with a solid Lions team and an always strong Packer squad. Even the Bears should to be written off since last time they were humiliated by the Bucs they came back and beat the Steelers. Overall, I'll have them winning at least two of those games with a 4-3 record, but I can see them being able to take advantage of an injury riddled Packers team.
Detroit Lions (2-1)
- The Lions really should be 3-0 right now if they just found the end zone on that play against the Falcons, but hey every team has those sort of games throughout the year. Overall, they are exactly what I expected them to be. An offensively gifted team who has an undervalued passing defense especially in the secondary. I still question their pass rush after being able to take advantage of weak o-lines against the Cardinals and Giants. I also wish they would just take the reigns off of either Ameer Abdullah or Theo Riddick to have a more in rhythm run game. Props to them for actually sticking with it unlike last year, but at some point you need a go to guy. They currently do not have that guy and it may take the draft to find that sort of player. I also love that Kenny Golladay has worked out well for them since he was one of my sleeper prospects going into the draft. The next four games include the Vikings, Panthers, Saints, and Steelers. That is a pretty tough stretch to be honest with the Vikings and Panthers having two top defenses. Coming out 5-2 or 4-3 should be a reasonable task for them. The real question is if they can actually close out a season.
Chicago Bears (1-3)
- As a Bear fan I have excepted that the season was lost right at Week 1 it is ridiculous to keep trotting Glennon out there who turns the ball over and is clearly not the future. Their only excuse is that they are paying him a lot of money, but so what good teams do not worry about that and just cut their losses. Trubisky deserves to start even with the weak offensive weapons to throw to at worst he turns the ball over, but to me it's better for him to work out the kinks this year and come back next year more ready. If he loses confidence that just proves they should try to find another quarterback since the job of a starting qb has a ton of ups and downs. So, if he cannot handle the rough patches this year he probably will never be able to. Their defense is solid enough and their run game is always good. A big issue is players getting hurt a ton each year I do not know if it is on the coaches or the training staff, but something needs to be done. John Fox will probably be canned after this year after his 8th 20+ point loss. Ryan Pace may stay do to his ability to find solid players overall so far. The next four games they face off with the Vikings on Monday night which gives them 11 days to give Trubisky starting reps to get his first start. Then they face off against the Ravens, Panthers, and Saints. They have a roster to compete with those teams it just depends on what version shows up the one who beat the Steelers or the one who got trounced by the Bucs and Packers. I can see a rough 2-6 record after this stretch hopefully the losses just look more competitive.
Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
- People are scoffing at this 3-0 record due to two close loses to the lowly Bears and the solid Lions. However, sandwiched in between those two wins was a drubbing of the Packers where the game was not even close. Their offense is predictably high powered 388 yards per game that ranks them as the 4th best offense in the league. My only worry is their dominant o-line that was healthy all last year has been dinged up this year. However, I doubt there's another team that can compete with their two headed monster at running back, Julio Jones, and a solid Matt Ryan. Oh I am also one of those guys that see Ryan as just an above average quarterback. If you take out his rookie year and MVP season and take the averages from there you get Andy Dalton. However, I do know he is better than Dalton, but I just want people to slow down putting him up with Rodgers and Brady. Give either of them this roster they would always be competitive. This defense looks much like the same to me where they swarm to the ball carrier with solid linebackers and defensive backs. Meanwhile, their defensive line still gets gased by how often they end up on the field because their offense scores so fast. Overall, I think they currently are the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The next four games include easy match ups against the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets. In the middle of that is an intriguing rematch against the Patriots. Even if they lose that game they will come out 6-1 at the end of the month.
Carolina Panthers (2-1)
- The Panthers are lucky that the Bills have just an incompetent offense as them or else they most likely lose that game up in Buffalo. I am not sure if Cam is still hurt, does not care anymore, or if this is what he really is, but he just looks terrible so far. It confuses me how he can nail a pass 30 yards down field, but a simple flick to dynamic rookie Christian McCaffrey out of the back field is impossible for him. It also does not help Cam that both Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are hurt leaving him with just Devin Funchess to throw the ball to.....yuk. They should go back to what they were good at pounding the rock and using play action to give Cam easy reads. However, this o-line may not be capable of that as one of the worst blocking units in the league still. Thankfully, for them they have the top defense in the league with only 251 yards per game given up. Part of that is playing the 49ers and Bills. The next four games on the docket includes the Patriots, Lions, Eagles, and Bears. That is honestly a pretty difficult stretch and coming out 3-4 is a real possibility.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
- I really do not have much to say about the Bucs at this point due to their abbreviated schedule in September due to Hurricane Irma making them take an early Week One bye week. Even their games have yet to show who they really are. They played an inspired game against the Bears destroying them right from the snap. Then they were manhandled by Case Keenum and the Vikings. Coincidentally the Bucs are 0-3 versus Keenum so maybe that is just a weird fluke. Overall, they currently reside at 30th in yards per game against with 402 yards given up per game. However, like I said one game was the Bears playing catch up and then the other game was them getting raced out of the building. I do worry about their former first rounder Vernon Hargreaves at corner who has not lived up to expectations. His size that was not an issue in college has been a big issue in the pros. Then their key cogs in the middle Gerald McCoy, Kwon Alexander, and Lavonte David are all nursing injuries. Without them I doubt their defense gets much better. I have faith in their offense helmed by Jameis Winston who continues to get better and now has Doug Martin back from suspension soon who will help the run game a lot. They play the Giants this week, then the Pats, at the Cardinals, and then at Buffalo. I think they should beat everyone, but the Pats in those match ups. I would not be surprised if they even beat the Pats. I will give them a 4-2 record as the move into November.
New Orleans Saints (1-2)
- This is Drew Brees' contract year and I know he is a great guy who loves the city of New Orleans, but at some point he needs to look around and decide if he wants to stay or go somewhere he can win games. He still has a ton of talent to lead a team say the Cardinals, Cincinnati, Miami, or even Carolina if they want to move off from Cam. This team is going nowhere fast and continue to be a .500 team for what seems like the past five years. Sean Payton to me is an overrated coach who continues to fail on the defensive side of the ball to make the scores manageable for Drew to win games consistently. They have also totally mishandled the signing of Adrian Peterson who is known to be a bad locker room guy and at this point I would think he is at a cancerous level with the lack of usage. They might be lucky finding an exhausted Miami team in London this week to sneak a win from a superior roster. Then they play the Lions, Packers, and Bears to finish their NFC North slate this year. I would not be shocked if they lose to all three teams and yes even the Bears because their roster is generally better than the Saints. A possible 2-5 record is very possible for them to end the month. Maybe even worst.
Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
- I am the least bit surprised by this team's turn around from a year ago. I was also not one of those guys who was calling Goff a bust after a 7 game showcase last year on a poorly run team. Goff looks a lot more comfortable under Sean McVay who is demonstrating why this team was willing to hire such a young coach. Meanwhile, their defense is still as stout as it was with Jeff Fisher there. They also revamped the o-line a bit, added new receivers, and have dedicated a lot of the touches on offense to Todd Gurley. All of that equals to a winning recipe. A recipe so good I would not be shocked they take over the NFC West's top spot from the Seahawks who seem to be in a tail spin right now. The next four games they go against the Cowboys, Seahawks, Jags, and Cardinals. I suspect they might lose to the Cowboys, but I can seem them beating all four of these teams at the end of the day. I will give them a 5-2 record at the end of the four weeks.
Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
- I am not shocked by the results so far for the Seahawks. To me the window is firmly shut on this version of the team and a new influx of talent and release of older guys needs to be done for the next run. Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider to me do not understand the concept of keeping your franchise quarterback upright. Instead, they were determined to upgrade their interior pass rush. Yes, that is a helpful piece, but does not have the same impact as a quality blocker who can open holes for the run game and let Russell Wilson be able to throw the ball. Even with their solid defense they have been gashed for big runs all year long and most of that is on the offense forcing their defense to stay out there for 90 plus snaps a game. To me they are in a similar boat as the Giants with no rudder to help them get back on track thanks to a poor o-line and run game. Only difference one has a young franchise quarterback. They have an easy match up to get back on track against the Colts this week. Then their on the road to the Rams, and the Giants. Finishing off at home against the Texans. If they split those games they should feel happy with themselves. Especially, if they can beat the Rams their biggest divisional rival this year. Finishing the month 3-3 is a victory for a team in need of some good mojo.
Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
- I predicted this to be the beginning of the end for the Cardinals run and it looks to be true. Carson Palmer is actually not the issue looking pretty good when given time to throw. However, that is the issue. Even the Cowboys weak pass rush was able to tee off on him and if it continues I doubt he makes it through the season in one piece. I also think this is the last ride for Larry Fitzgerald who can be like Tony Gonzalez where he can keep playing, but with an expired contract I doubt he goes anywhere else besides Arizona. This defense is solid enough, but it is exploitable when you can avoid Patrick Peterson to throw the ball effectively. They are also missing Calais Campbell's presence in the middle more than people are talking about. The next four weeks they face off with the 49ers, Eagles, Bucs and Rams. They should beat the 49ers, but who knows it took them overtime to beat Jacoby Brissett and the Colts on his first game. I will give them a 2-5 record to close out the month.
San Francisco 49ers (0-3)
- I think this team could easily go winless and it is not for a lack of trying to win either. The game against the Rams was the best they could play and still could not win. I doubt they pull that offensive performance off again. Meanwhile, their defense is like cutting through butter for opposing offenses. I like the direction under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, but they just do not have the talent to succeed right now. Plus, their better off losing just to land the top pick possibly. They play the Cardinals, Colts, Redskins, and Cowboys coming up. I doubt they win any of those and the only win they may get is against the Colts who look competent with Brissett at quarterback. 0-6 is a very real possibility here for the league's worst team.