NFL coaches typically think of the NFL season in terms of four 4-game increments. I have no real idea why this is, but I’ve read and heard that a million times from NFL “experts,” so I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s correct.
4 games are now in the books for almost every team (everybody but the Steelers and Titans), so it seems like as good a time as any to take a breath, step back, and figure out what we know and don’t know about this 2020-2021 NFL Season of Covid Nonsense (trademark pending, thanks).
That the Chiefs and Ravens are really good. Well, we knew that during training camp too, but we definitely know it now. Their Week 3 game felt like an AFC Championship preview, and if so, the Ravens have some work ahead of them, because the defending Champs looked superior on both sides of the ball and remain the favorite to win a second straight Lombardi trophy in a few months. The Steelers and Titans are both 3-0, and both have more than enough talent to make the Chiefs and Ravens nervous in the AFC. But KC and Baltimore look like the two best teams (AFC version) for now. The NFC looks a little more wide open, though Seattle and Green Bay are the only undefeated teams and neither record seems undeserved.
WE DON’T KNOW
How some of these teams are winning games. Yeah, I’m looking at YOU, Bears, Bills and Browns (oh my). Buffalo was picked by plenty of people to win the AFC East, but mostly by default. They have played a pretty easy schedule so far, but 4-0 is 4-0. (I used to think 4-0 was 3-1 but it turns out, nope, it’s 4-0). The Bears were not supposed to be 3-1 right now and the Browns haven’t had a winning record after 4 games since the Eisenhower administration. OK that’s not true, but it’s been a while. My guess is that after 8 games the Bears and Browns have returned their glass slippers to the league office, but Buffalo, while no longer being undefeated, still looks like a solid playoff team.
The New York football teams aren’t particularly good at playing football. Two teams, one stadium, zero wins so far. Nobody in the Tri-State area expects that to change any time soon. If this keeps up for a couple more months, it may turn into a race to see which team can tank successfully enough to nab Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with the first pick of next year’s draft. The “When Will Jets Head Coach Adam Gase Be Fired” Watch has officially begun.
WE DON’T KNOW
What to make of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers quite yet. TB12 looked like he was finally starting to age during the first 3 weeks as he put up pedestrian passing numbers (especially considering how pass-happy the NFL is right now) and then in Week 4 he threw for 5 touchdowns and oh by the way the Bucs are 3-1. Admittedly the 3 teams they beat have a combined record of 4-8, but you can only play the teams they schedule for you. Brady has a lot of weapons (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Gronk) and so far they haven’t been even close to fully healthy, so the ceiling is still pretty high here. That said, this team isn’t close to a playoff lock.
That the NFC East is going to have a tough year. The Washington Football Team That Doesn’t Have a Last Name is pretty weak, as expected, and the NY Giants are even worse. No surprises there. The Eagles and Cowboys being a combined 2-5-1, however, is unexpected. I assumed ONE of those teams would be pretty good (and assumed it was likely going to be Dallas) but right now a 6-10 division champion does not seem beyond the realm of possibility. The Cowboys have a fairly soft stretch coming up in their schedule though, so a quick turn-around wouldn’t shock anyone. I’m guessing they’re 4-4 at the halfway mark.
WE DON’T KNOW
How many more games will be postponed due to COVID. Week 4 brought the first postponements, as multiple Titans tested positive and the Titans – Steelers game was moved to Week 7. The Chiefs-Patriots game was pushed back a day when New England’s QB Cam Newton tested positive. Every fantasy football player lives in constant fear of having a star player injured and unavailable for weeks…now we get to worry about COVID outbreaks sending players and WHOLE TEAMS to the sidelines. For example, this week my team was supposed to go up against both Derrick Henry and James Connor. Turns out I faced 2 backups who combined to score 2 fantasy points. Obviously this was a BEST CASE scenario. For me at least. And really, that is kind of my top priority in these matters.
That the Texans, Falcons and Vikings are major disappointments. All 3 of these teams had legitimate playoff aspirations going into this season and after 4 weeks they have combined for one win between the three of them (and that was, for the purposes of this paragraph, an intramural victory, as Minnesota’s one win came against Houston. So really it barely counts). These are not talentless teams in the middle of a rebuild either. Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien has been fired already and Dan Quinn (Falcons HC) may be calling him for resume advice in the next week or two.
WE DON’T KNOW
What to make of the following teams: New England (2-2), Las Vegas (2-2), LA Chargers (1-what to make of the following teams: New England (2-2), Las Vegas (2-2), LA Chargers (1-3), New Orleans (2-2), Carolina (2-2), Arizona (2-2) and San Francisco (2-2). Which is perfectly fine of course. We’re 4 games into the NFL season, if we knew (or even thought we knew) the fate of every team at this stage it wouldn’t be sports, it would be a James Bond movie. Each of these teams have shown flashes of quality and have also lost games they probably shouldn’t have, whether because of injuries (the 49ers), inexperience (Cardinals), too MUCH experience aka-you’re-getting-old-Drew-Brees (Saints) or just general mediocrity (Raiders). If any of these teams ended up 6-10 it wouldn’t be a major surprise, and you can flip those numbers around and say the same thing.
As they say, that’s why they play the games! Let’s see where we are in a month, shall we?
Commercial Real Estate Broker/Sports Fan
Staff writer at Six Feet Apart, commercial real estate broker for CBRE, Inc., and most importantly, a father of two.