Where have the good teams gone?

by Joe on October 11, 2010

Usually after week 5 in the NFL we have a pretty good idea of which teams are good, which teams are bad, which teams could make the playoffs, and which teams would be sitting at home. No way that can be done this season. The main reason is there aren’t really many “good” teams.

When I say “good” teams I mean teams that are a threat to win every time they step on the field. Teams that are consistent. Teams with players that show up every game and perform. Teams with dominating defenses. Teams with balanced offensive attacks. Teams with superstar players who play like superstars every week. I am talking about teams like the Niners of the 80s and 90s. Dan Marino’s Dolphins. Elway’s Broncos. Kelly’s Buffalo Bills. The Patriots from a few years ago. These weren’t necessarily Super Bowl winning teams but you knew you were gonna get a good performance every week and the teams could win any game they played. They rarely stepped on the field and sucked. So far I don’t think we have seen any of that this season. BTW, I hated most of those teams but overall I think the NFL is better when there is a villian to root against.

After week 5 there are no undefeated teams and the last team to lose was the Kansas City Chiefs who while they have played well this season would never be confused for a Super Bowl team. Teams like the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints who many expected to fight it out for the NFC title are 3-2. Others were expecting big seasons from the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers and they have 1 win between them. Indy has 2 losses, San Diego has 3.

Let’s take a look at the different divisions and see if we can figure out if there are any great teams left in the NFL:

AFC East: Buffalo? Terrible. Miami? Too many holes. New England is 3-1 but their defense is looking pretty bad. They played terrible against the Jets and beat 2 bad teams (Cincy and Buffalo). Belicheck might be able to turn the defense around later in the year but they aren’t anywhere near as scary as they were a few years ago. The New York Jets have a big game against Minnesota tonight that could tell us a lot. Mark Sanchez looked terrible in the opening game against the Ravens but turned it around in the next three games. The Jets defense is playing decent and they have a good running game going right now. I would say the Jets are the best team in this division but are they great? Probably not. Division winner but not as scary as they should be.

AFC North: Cleveland is terrible and Carson Palmer isn’t helping Cincy out at all. Neither of them are in the discussion here. Pittsburgh rolled in their first three games without Roethlisberger and they will be tough this year. Their defense is playing awesome and it will be interesting to see if they get better when Ben gets back or if he disrupts everything. The Baltimore Ravens are probably the top team in this division by a hair. If Joe Flacco can get it going week in and week out like he is capable of they will probably be the cream of the crop in the AFC. The defense has been good so far but the offense isn’t playing up to its potential. Of all the AFC teams they have the highest ceiling and most promise. They have the potential to be great but still have some work to do.

AFC South: All the teams in this division are 3-2. All of them have been impressive at times and all of them have stunk at times. Injuries are hurting Indy. Chris Johnson has had a few mediocre games. You don’t know what you will get from Jacksonville any week. And Houston has been all over the place. Indy, who was probably the favorite in this division, is already 0-2 in the division with losses to Houston and Jacksonville. All the teams have beaten a good team or two and all have lost to someone they probably should have beaten. This division might be the embodiment of what I am talking about. Yeah, these teams are all pretty decent but there has been no hint of greatness from any of them. I guess I will go with the Houston Texans as the best team in the division but it isn’t by much. Tennesee is pretty close.

AFC West: Kansas City is leading this division with a 3-1 record but I don’t think too many people really expected them to be above .500 this year. Denver, Oakland, and San Diego are all 2-3 but are all very flawed teams. San Diego has the worst special teams I have ever seen. Denver can’t run the ball at all. Oakland needs to get the QB situation figured out although Jason Campbell played pretty well yesterday. I think San Diego is the best team in this division but they need to figure out special teams. KC returned a punt against them, Seattle returned 2 kicks, and Oakland blocked 2 punts resulting in 9 points. This is a weird division so far this season with no signs of greatness.

So in the AFC we have only 3 teams that could potentially be considered great or even good: The New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And all three of them have shown big weaknesses. All three of them still have a lot to prove. Maybe one can rattle off 4 or 5 straight wins and seperate themselves from the rest in this conference.

NFC East: Did anyone think Dallas would be 1-3? Many people had them as Super Bowl contenders this season. Philadelphia has looked great at times when Michael Vick was running the show but injuries turned the reigns back to Kevin Kolb. The NY Giants have some good wins over Chicago and Houston but looked terrible against Indy and Tennessee. The Washington Redskins are already 2-0 in the division which probably puts them at the top of the heap. They had a bad loss to St. Louis but have quality wins against Philly and Green Bay. But they are far from great.

NFC North: Detroit is much improved from the past few season but are far from great. Minnesota has a ton of potential but we still need to see something from Favre (although we might have already seen too much). I expected Green Bay to win the NFC but injuries to key players like Jermichael Finley and Clay Matthews will hurt them. That leaves the Chicago Bears. Chicago looked good in their wins but put on one of the worst performances by any team this year against the Giants. Great teams don’t have games like that. Yeah, they might lose but they don’t get decimated like the Bears did against the Giants.

NFC South: Carolina should be better than 0-5 but not much. Tampa should be worse than 3-1 and the opponents they beat only have a combined record of  3-12. New Orleans was predicted by many to repeat as Super Bowl champs but injuries to the running game have hurt and Drew Brees has never really gotten it going. The Atlanta Falcons are 4-1 with a tough opening day loss in OT to the Steelers. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White are all playing great and the D has been solid also. If there is any hint of greatness in this division it has come from the Falcons.

NFC West: So much for San Francisco winning this division. 0-5 isn’t how you want to start and they might be worse than that if possible. The team is in total disarray right now. St. Louis is improved and Sam Bradford looks like the real deal but they still have a few too many holes. The Seattle Seahawks are great at home but not good at all on the road. Four of Seattle’s next six games are on the road so we will find out soon if they will be contenders and if they can fix some problems in the bye week they might be the best team in this weak division. The Arizona Cardinals are 3-2 but they have a point differential of -50. Nobody expected any greatness from this divison and everyone has lived up to that so far.

So what do we have in the NFC? Maybe Chicago and Atlanta? Not much else beyond that so far.

Maybe after a couple more weeks we will start seeing some teams distance themselves from the pack. Maybe teams like Green Bay and New Orleans can turn things around. Maybe KC and Tampa Bay will show us they are for real. The whole NFL is stuck in a rut of mediocrity after the first 5 weeks so we will see what happens over the next 5.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: