The NFL is one of the toughest leagues to predict as there is so much parity and roster turnover from year to year, and even week to week. One day a team looks like a Super Bowl contender, while the next they look like the Cleveland Browns.
Because of that, we tend to overreact to what we’ve seen from a team most recently. That’s not always the best indication of how good or bad they are, which is why we’re here to calm your nerves. Don’t get too carried away with these recent trends.
The Broncos were exposed by the Falcons
The Broncos lost their first game on Sunday against the 4-1 Falcons, and it’s led some to say they’re no longer Super Bowl contenders. That simply isn’t true. Denver played without its starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian, and faced the best offense in the league. The Broncos’ defense wasn’t as dominant as it’s been for the past year, but they weren’t exposed. They just had a bad game. Few teams boast the versatility and talent at running back that the Falcons do as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman gashed Denver in the passing game.
The Patriots tried to take the same approach last season, but their running backs are nowhere near as talented as Atlanta’s – few teams’ are. The Broncos will rebound and get it back on track, particularly with Siemian back in the fold.
Ron ChenoyRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Cutler should get his job back with Brian Hoyer going 1-2
The Bears have been without Jay Cutler for three weeks, and it hasn’t been a complete disaster. They’ve gone 1-2 with Brian Hoyer under center, and while that’s not ideal, it’s far from the quarterback’s fault. Hoyer has been significantly better than Cutler, throwing for more than 300 yards and at least two touchdowns in each of his three starts. He’s third in passer rating (108.5), has six touchdown passes and no interceptions, and has more yards than Sam Bradford does in one fewer start. Not to mention, he leads the league in completion percentage, too.
While his 1-2 record obviously isn’t what he’d like it to be, he undoubtedly deserves to remain the starter for the remainder of the season – even when Cutler returns. The Bears aren’t a good team, but they’re much better with Hoyer at the helm. He doesn’t make mistakes and is the first viable replacement Chicago has had for Cutler.
Tim HeitmanTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Falcons are locks to make the playoffs
Remember last season when the Falcons started 6-1? Remember that they also finished the year 8-8 after losing seven of their last nine games? Yeah, me too. The Falcons are currently 4-1 and look like world-beaters. There are still several areas of concern for Atlanta, though. The defense is far from the best in the league, and the pass rush has been wildly inconsistent this season. Of course, it was dominant against the Broncos on Sunday, but that’s the first time its showed any signs of life in 2016.
Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL (besides celebration penalties), and the Falcons are nowhere near being locks for the playoffs. They faltered in 2015, and they’re candidates to do so once again this year. Atlanta has a good shot at making the playoffs, but it’s far too soon to call them NFC South champions, or shoo-ins for the playoffs.
Getty ImagesChris Graythen
Eli Manning's Giants are the worst team in the NFC East
After starting the season 1-0, the Giants currently sit in the basement of the division at 2-3. Their record might suggest that New York is the worst in the East, but it’s not. The Giants have been unfortunate to have played some of the best teams in football. They’ve already faced the Cowboys, Packers and Vikings, whose combined record is 12-2.
Eli Manning hasn’t played well and Odell Beckham Jr. is a headache for the coaching staff, but the talent is there. It’s just that the schedule hasn’t been favorable to Manning or the Giants, and their record shows it. Just don’t expect them to finish last in the NFC East. The Eagles have one of the toughest remaining schedules, and the Redskins don’t have the defense to sustain success.
Getty ImagesTom Dahlin
The Vikings have a shot to go 16-0
Technically, they have a shot. Realistically, they do not. The Vikings play in a tough division with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, both of whom can put up points in bunches. The Vikings still have to play the Packers one more time and the Lions twice, and while those will be tough divisional matchups, they’re far from Minnesota’s most difficult challenges on the schedule.
Games against the Eagles, Cardinals and Cowboys all pose significant threats to their perfect record, and it’s highly unlikely the Vikings escape without a loss in one of those three games. They’re undoubtedly the best team in the NFL right now, and their 5-0 record reflects that. Just don’t expect them to remain perfect.