|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Day Weekend!||2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results||2015 NHL Expert Playoff Picks: First Round||Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Death of Odin Lloyd|
It seems like only yesterday we were all excited for the NFL season to finally begin. Now, it’s already a quarter over. The season has already been filled with some massive surprises. The Falcons are 1-3. The Chiefs are 4-0. New England is working smoothly with its rookie receivers. The Texans are sliding. Detroit is leading the NFC North. Even the Giants are winless. It’s been a completely wild four weeks, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, October 1:
Drew Brees and the Saints are back up to their old tricks, and coach Sean Payton is back on the sidelines. Atlanta’s struggles have made New Orleans an early favorite to run away with the division. With a slew of weapons and an elite quarterback, New Orleans can go a lot further than that. Both divisional games so far have been one-possession wins, but it’s real tough not to give up points when you give Brees the ball.
Seattle‘s stingy defense helped cap off a big comeback in Houston, and kept them at bay until Seattle could get the victory in overtime to remain unbeaten. If it’s true that defense wins championships, then Seattle is a top contender. Still, their offense could stand to perform better to give them a chance. Especially if they wind up against a top offense like New Orleans or Denver, their defense won’t mean much without some points to back it up.
There’s no love lost between these two teams after all their coaches have put each other through, which is what will make this game fun. San Francisco‘s point totals so far this year are 34, 3, 7 and 35 points, which shows how hit-or-miss they’ve been so far. Detroit has scored at least 21 points in all games so far, scoring a season-high 40 in Week 4 against the rival Bears. Detroit’s ferocity will give them a big advantage, and if the wrong version of this season’s 49ers shows up, it’ll be a long night for San Fran. The 49ers might want to make provoking Ndamukong Suh into getting way too many unsportsmanlike conduct penalties a big part of their strategy.
At this early stage, it’s looking likely that we might see another 7-9 team make the playoffs, this time from the NFC East. The Cowboys have plenty of good pieces, but the Bears have some nice ones in their own right. They have powerful options at running back and wide receiver, and while their defense has given up more points than they would like, they still have plenty of ability to force key turnovers and make stops. Dallas will have their hands very full.
The Patriots are #1 for the moment based on strength of victory. They answered a lot of questions about the rookie wide receivers after a couple of weeks when Tom Brady started making them look good. Of bigger concern for New England is the loss of Vince Wilfork for the year with an Achilles injury. That removes easily the best New England defender from the best part of the New England defense. Without him, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola will need to come back completely healthy now, and the rookies will need to become great, neither of which is exactly a guarantee.
Denver is on pace to be the most fearsome offense of all time by a large margin. Their lowest point total so far has been 37 points. At this point, it’s really hard to imagine anyone doing anything about Denver.
Miami already won in Indianapolis in Week 2, an impressive victory to be sure. Ryan Tannehill is emerging as a stable quarterback for Miami, and the Dolphins are playing with a vigor that they haven’t had in some time. Still, Indy followed up that lone loss so far with a big win in San Francisco. Andrew Luck has a knack for getting things done, and now they have Trent Richardson in the fold. Miami could get the win again, but it’s a lot harder to win in the same road stadium the second time in a year, and Indy knows their tricks.
It appears Alex Smith and Andy Reid were just what Kansas City needed, as they’ve already doubled their win total from the previous season. 2-2 Baltimore has been iffy so far, while the Chiefs have been very good on defense, and have been pretty good on offense too. We’ll see what happens when they finally butt heads with Denver, but Baltimore is not the championship team they were last season, and have Cincinnati and even Cleveland right there with them.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks