Where Things Stand: NFL Edition Part 1
Written by Sean Fitzgerald on October 3, 2019
We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season, so I thought: “Why not produce a new ‘Where Things Stand’ Article, with the same format as I have done with the MLB Editions?”
I will be doing four Editions, with weeks 1-4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17. There will be the same, if not more, humor and snark as the MLB Editions, but still analyzing what is going on with the NFL’s eight divisions and 32 teams.
So, with that being said, let’s jump right into things with the AFC East.
In this edition, the Jets and Niners had bye weeks.
NY Jets: 0-3
State of the AFC East:
If this sentence I wrote on June 3, 2019, at 7 p.m. (Yes, I have been planning this sentence in the article for this long) and isn’t the jump-off point on how the Patriots already have this division in a chokehold, then either one of three things happened:
-Tom Brady got hurt
-Roger Goodell suspended every notable Patriots Starter:
-Hell froze over and the Jets somehow took first place outright in the division four weeks in.
I forgot the fourth scenario: The Bills and Josh Allen being the best team in New York. Yeah, that’s happening!
The Bills almost beat the Patriots in Week 4 in a battle of undefeated teams, and this was AFTER Josh Allen got knocked out of the game and Matt freaking Barkley was leading the charge and came so tantalizingly close to claiming first place. Buffalo is good. If they get at least competent to slightly above average quarterback play, and their defense shows up every week, it’s not impossible to say they could be a wild card team.
The Jets, well they have embarrassed themselves on Monday Night Football, had the backup quarterback obliterated by Myles Garrett and Sam Darnold has been out since Week 2 with mono. Yeah, I see Adam Gase unemployed after this year, or dare I say by Week 11? If I’m right on that, I may need to go test my luck with predictions elsewhere!
And then there’s Miami, whom from this point forth until a victory is achieved, will be called the LOLphins.
Okay for real, this is such a bad job at disguising the tanking going on in South Beach, and it’s depressing. And for Dolphins fans, it has to be ironic they may end up having the best team ever with the undefeated team of 1972 and a possible 0-16 team in 2019. Miami: Don’t botch this up like the Niners or Giants and make sure you lose if you REALLY want Tua.
State of the AFC North:
HALLELUJAH!! The Browns are in first place after four weeks by virtue of beating the Ravens and being 1-0 in the division!! The Browns started slow, but that win Sunday just jolted people back into reality and gave us the look of a team we saw from last year, only more explosive (Nick Chubb says hello).
And, I TOLD YOU!! I told you all who have listened to Pass the Mic with Fitz & Enzo, who listened to The M Podcast with Mitch Spinell and on Twitter that Lamar Jackson is not a true franchise quarterback until he can show me he could make NFL throws against average and above-average defenses, unlike what he unleashed against college defenses in Miami and Arizona, and he did not make those same passes against the Chiefs or the Browns. The Willie Snead pass at the end of the Browns game was not even a long throw, and his other two touchdowns were in broken coverages. His impact has truly been on the ground, so until he can pass like he did the first two games for every single game, he is just a good, not great QB who runs a lot.
Glossing over the Bengals here, they’re irrelevant in my eyes, but wow!! I never expected the Steelers to collapse like this. I thought Big Ben would be fine, but wow!! He might have just handed the division to the Browns by going down and if what we saw in Week 4 is the trend and not an outlier for the Browns, then we have the AFC North as our playground the next few years! I love seeing Steelers nation in the basement after staring up at them for so long.
State of the AFC South:
You know, we’ll get to the true state of the AFC South in a moment, but this right here isn’t the state of the AFC South. No, this is an indictment and trial of former Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson, former coach Chuck Pagano and Owner Jim Irsay.
Andrew Luck retired during the preseason, and these men are responsible. Grigson never invested into the offensive line, Pagano wasn’t able to execute to protect him and Irsay let this happen, and while Brissett has looked decent through a few games, Colts fans and football fans everywhere were robbed of Andrew Luck, and his brilliance far too soon.
This team was set up for a Super Bowl run, a TRUE contender. Yet that all vanished when Luck departed and hung up his cleats. Now, I don’t even know who’ll win the division as the Texans can’t even protect Deshaun Watson (Luck 2.0), the Jags have internal turmoil (see Ramsey, Jalen) and the Titans are Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
This division is a mess but intriguing because Gardner Minshew actually looks like a solid quarterback with Nick Foles out. Part of me is curious about how things will be handled when Foles is back. Minshew is 2-1 as a starter and was respectable against the Chiefs too. I like them as a sleeper in the AFC.
Also, I’m more and more convinced that Tennessee’s wins over the Browns and Falcons will be blips on the radar rather than a trend, and this is an 8-8 or 9-7 team again. That’s all I have to say about the Titans for right now.
Kansas City: 4-0
LA Chargers: 2-2
State of the AFC West:
I will reconfirm what we all now know to be truth and gospel: Patrick Mahomes is a cheat code. He can decimate a defense without having to blink. Mahomes will look back at a ref while scrambling to make sure there is no flag on the play(no seriously, he did that in week 4, and it was amazing!!).
He is the ultimate fantasy and real-life QB weapon that will terrorize the league alongside Baker Mayfield once Tom Brady finally departs.
The AFC West is doomed to be the Chiefs playground, the same as the AFC East is with the Patriots, unless Denver can find a good quarterback to pair with their great defense, which they aren’t close to finding one (yet). I’m not buying into Oakland right now though I’m tempted to because of Darren Waller, and the Chargers only just got Melvin Gordon back last week, and they have the best shot to dethrone the Chiefs right now with Philip Rivers still not looking to be close to declining.
Now to move onto the NFC and the division everyone loves to hate. I’m looking at you Brandon Lewis.
NY Giants: 2-2
State of the NFC East:
Ezekiel Elliott got paid, and Dallas lost by two points to the Saints. Dak Prescott looks impressive, and this team I’m actually going to take seriously. I mean, wow! I’m impressed!!
Washington is a dumpster fire outside of Terry McLaurin (I bless him for my fantasy wins that would leave me 0-4 otherwise), but Case Keenum is a guy I want to root for, yet he can’t do it outside of Minnesota. Honestly, I want to see Keenum resign with the Vikings and see if he and Mike Zimmer with that whole cast could get things rolling again.
The Eagles have not given me enough to say that they are going to be ok, but I remain optimistic. I just don’t feel good yet giving a measurement on them yet. Getting by the Packers and their suddenly stingy defense is a good start.
And now the laughingstock! The derp and Eli—wait! The Giants started the rookie Daniel Jones, the one whom the pundits said was a reach, the one who has led the team to two wins, the one who relegated Eli to the bench, the one who did it without Saquon Barkley in Week 4, and NOW those pundits want to declare Jones the new savior. I mean, wow. What a turn of events.
I wouldn’t be ready to declare Jones a franchise QB yet, but he’s looked good. He’s got them tied for second in the NFC East. I’ll be very curious to see how the rest of the season plays out for him. A lot of people could end up eating crow here.
Green Bay: 3-1
State of the NFC North:
Green Bay actually looks good! Rodgers provides the franchise with magical play every week, the suddenly good defense actually doesn’t collapse and with enough weaponry around him, I think this team could contend for a Super Bowl. Hot take? Yes. Unreasonable? No.
Chicago is an enigma as Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t progressed as much as he needed to by now. Maybe he still gets there but if they keep winning, it’s because of that monster of a defense that I do not want Baker Mayfield anywhere close to, especially Khalil Mack
Detroit isn’t bad either, though it did amuse me the only two teams to go 0-16 have had a tie in their first game in consecutive seasons. They may not be great, but they’re on my watchlist.
The Vikings screwed up with Kirk Cousins. Bring back Keenum, and I guarantee you that system makes them a Super Bowl contender with him, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs. Cousins just can’t get the big wins when he needs them. I don’t like that.
New Orleans: 3-1
Tampa Bay: 2-2
State of the NFC South:
If you told me Drew Brees would go down in Week 2 for about six weeks and the Saints would still be in first place right now, I’d have told you you were crazy, but kudos to Teddy Bridgewater, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Sean Payton and that defense to get things done and even beat Dallas!! If they’re 5-3 or 6-2 when Brees gets back, they’re my first choice from the NFC to get to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay; you made the right call by hiring Bruce Arians. Yes, that missed kick would put you at 3-1 if it had gone through, but Jameis Winston isn’t that bad this year, and they broke the Rams with over 50 points scored on them to get to the .500 mark.
Carolina; it’s wait and see mode for you while Cam Newton heals up. If Christian McCaffrey goes down, you’re doomed.
Atlanta; what happened? Super Bowl hangovers shouldn’t last this long!! Dan Quinn may be out of a job soon if he can’t get that offense clicking. I mean c’mon you can’t get Calvin Ridley going and Julio Jones a little more action??
San Francisco: 3-0
LA Rams: 3-1
State of the NFC West:
I mean, the Niners aren’t disappointing me so far. I am really wanting to see what they do against the Browns in primetime before getting a more clear picture on their contender status.
The Rams lost to Tampa Bay, but their offense is good, and they beat the Browns in primetime even though they had several times where they almost gave the game away. They’re still a top contender in the conference.
The Seahawks are doing their thing with Russell Wilson. This is going to be interesting if this division comes down to the last four weeks right now. I think they might just snag a wild card.
Arizona isn’t good, but I’ll admit, Kyler Murray is actually impressive. I’m actually excited for him rather than dreading him being murdered by Aaron Donald. If the front office can put in the right pieces, watch out for the Cards!!
Also, is it just me, or does the NFC West feel a little bland right now? Maybe it’s just me.
That’s it for now!! Come back on Halloween for Part 2, and tomorrow the 2019 finale of Where Things Stand: MLB Edition Part 3 will be out!! See you all then!!
Sean Fitzgerald is a member of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department and a Sports Coordinator. He co-hosts Past the Mic with Fitz & Enzo Thursdays from Noon-2 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr for insights and occasional livestreams.