Tags

, ,

Most surprising NFL team in 2014: Buffalo Bills. Not the Cowboys nor the Cardinals, both of whom had the pieces in place and if anything, had unfairly and unlucky mediocre records last year. The Bills have somehow pieced together a winning record (so far) using nothing but spare parts and duct tape. If there is a fan base more deserving to see their team play in January, I can’t think of which it might be. If the Pats collapse, as I feel they will, then the division is the Bills’ to lose. [update week 10: I stand by this, other than the bit about the Pats. They may still buy themselves a wild-card spot yet.]

Most disappointing NFL team in 2014: New Orlean Aints. I think it’s time to revive the moniker. How can a team with a Manning-level QB be so awful every year after their championship? It’s easy to point fingers at the defense, but Brees’ offense has been anemic at best as well. They’d be lucky to win the worst division in the league this year, but probably can’t even manage that due to the completely average and unremarkable Panthers. [update week 10: How you feel about this depends on how you feel about the referee’s call which cost them the game today. Personally, I think the worst aspect of NFL gameplay is seeing beautiful, miracle plays get completely cancelled by relatively minor penalties, such as some asshole on the other side of the field holding, or this defensive back flopping NBA-style after the Saints receiver barely touched him. That said, the Saints are not going to make the playoffs this year.]

Most overrated team: New England Patriots. Their record is better than they are, with their ridiculously cushy schedule so far as of week 7. Most of their wins have been less than ringing, with even the pathetic Jets coming within an ace of victory during the final drive, and the worst team in the NFL coming within a touchdown. Brady is in twilight, Gronk has been inconsistent at best, the wideouts are a confused mess. Only a halfway decent defense is letting them win — and who ever thought the Patriots of all teams would be relying on the defense? The Bill+Tom love story of Foxborough may finally be winding down. [update: well, not so much anymore. Brady exhibits that quality only elite-level players have: when faced with mounting losses, he only gets madder and more determined instead of more demoralized.]

Most underrated team: KC Chiefs. Yes, I am biased, but hear me out. Their only really shameful loss was to the lowly Titans, and that was the first week of the regular season when most of the pistons weren’t firing yet. But the offense learned quickly, puting up very respectable showings against the Broncos and the Niners, two of the strongest squads in the league. They blew out the Pats (see above) and squeaked out a road win against the always-dangerous Chargers. New TE Kelce is mentioned in the same breath as Tony G, and RB2 Knile Davis is proving almost as dangerous as his future-hall-of-famer colleague. And Eric Fisher is looking much better on the O-line his sophomore season. The wideouts remain an issue outside of Bowe, but this offense is still miles ahead of where they were last year. The D is not as overpowering as the first half of the 2013 season, true, but that is a tough standard to beat. [update: 3 weeks later, and this is even more justified than when I first wrote it. The running game was largely denied today, but they still found ways to find the win. The 2013 Chiefs were a one-trick pony. These Chiefs are decidedly not.]

Best team as of week 7: Dallas Cowboys. It was about time Jerry’s ‘Boys finally earned their “America’s Team” moniker. Romo always took more flak than he deserved. For instance, last year he put up 48 points against the red-hot Denver Broncos, and yet he still got blamed for the loss after the defense let Peyton run wild on them to the tune of 51 points. Dallas fans perhaps think he plays linebacker as well as defensive coordinator in addition to QB; I don’t know. And say what you will about Jerry Jones, but at least he is actually a football fan and a fan of his own team, unlike so many other NFL owners who will remain nameless. Jerry Jones is always celebrating in his owner’s box when his team is ahead. Many other owners are emotionless either way, probably too busy counting empty seats and wondering if they can jack up beer prices as opposed to caring about the product they are putting out on the field. Anyway, they are shaping up to be the 4th-quarter team to beat. [update: I stand by this. And Romo once again proved how underrated he is by his team’s relatively poor performance during his absence. The NFC conference finals will see the ‘Boys represented. Who their opponent will be is unclear as Carson Palmer may have torn his ACL again.]

Worst team as of week 7: Oakland Raiders. Hopeless. Disorganized. Blundering. Yes, this is the team those fans deserve. At this point, it seems that too many players have simply gotten used to losing and have accepted it, same as their former head coach before he was unceremoniously cashiered over the phone after week 4. No wonder they may be moving back to LA in a year or two. Interim head coach Tony Sparano, taking a break from his New Jersey mafia duties, and promising rookie Derek Carr seem like the only ones still trying, but they can’t do anything on their own. At least the fans can take solace that Matt Shaub isn’t their QB. Perhaps that can give them comfort during their weekly knife fights in the parking lot. [update: not exactly much arguing against any of this, is there? Maybe at this point they are just intentionally gunning for the #1 draft pick for their first season in their new city next year.]

Most likely Superbowl matchup as of week 7: Yes, it is pointless to make this sort of prediction this far out. That said: Broncos/Cowboys. Cowboys win 37-27. [update: I stand by this.]

Advertisements