September football has come and gone. Fall is in full swing and October football will be here this week. In baseball, champions are crowned in October. In football, championships can be lost in October. Many pretenders will stick around for a while longer while the contenders try to get stronger with each week. Let’s look at what we have learned.
5 things we learned in Week 4
1. Mediocrity lives here. The AFC North and the NFC East are mired with mediocre and bad teams. Neither conference has a team with a winning record after a quarter of the season. Both conferences have recent Super Bowl champions that are winless (Steelers, Giants). (The last 5 Super Bowl winners are a combined 7-12, 4 of those wins from the Saints.)The main storyline is inconsistency. Football teams such as the Ravens, Cowboys, and Bengals are trying to find their identity as an offense. Washington and Philadelphia rank dead last in yards allowed on defense.
2. Peyton Manning is special. Ok we could say this every week so far this season. Peyton Manning’s September: 1,470 yards, 16 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Manning has benefitted from playing 3 out of the 4 games at home and of course is dealing with some warmer weather for now. History shows that Manning comes down to earth as the temperature drops. The way the Broncos have been playing though, they would hope to clinch a playoff spot early. However there is another team in their division that may have something to say about that…
3. The Kansas City Chiefs continue to surprise. Most people expected the Chiefs to beat the Giants on Sunday. But nobody had the Chiefs being 4-0 after the first quarter of the season. The AFC West is the only division with two undefeated teams. The Broncos and the Chiefs don’t play each other until Week 11 and then again in Week 13. These will be pivotal games if both teams continue their quality of play. Kansas City’s offense is clearly not as good as Denver’s offense however the Chiefs’ defense has been playing better than the Broncos’ defense. The Chief’s Justin Houston leads the league with 7.5 sacks. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs defense will stack up against Peyton Manning and if they can hold up for an entire season.
4. Adrian Peterson is a freak. This has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the Minnesota Vikings. Despite beating the terrible Steelers on Sunday for their first win, the Vikings are a bad football team except for one guy. Their defense is 29th in the NFL in yards allowed and their passing offense is in the bottom third of the league. Adrian Peterson continues to be a game changer and is a once-in-a-generation type player. After 4 games, Peterson is 2nd in the league with 421 yards (behind LeSean McCoy). AP had the highest rushing total of Week 4 and hopes to help turn around a Vikings team that can still make some noise in a down year for the NFC. There may be a quarterback controversy after Matt Cassel, playing for the injured Christian Ponder, led the Vikings to their first victory.
5. The AFC East, AFC South, and NFC North are all entertaining, and somewhat unexpected dog fights. Sure the AFC North and NFC East may come down to the wire as well but the quality of play in those two divisions is not nearly as good as the AFC East, AFC South, and NFC North. All four teams in the AFC East are .500 or better. 3 teams in the AFC South are .500 or better (those Jaguars are all-time bad). And the NFC North has 2 teams .500 or better (with the Packers who had a bye being only one game under .500). The AFC East may be the most unexpected so far as the Patriots weren’t expected to have much competition. The Jets, Bills, and Dolphins have all had unexpected wins. The Lions had a surprising win against the previously undefeated Bears in the NFC North. And the Titans have been right there with the Colts and Texans in the AFC South. October may help clear up the playoff picture in these divisions.
Let’s look at where these teams stand after September.
Week 5 (Meaningless) Power Rankings
1. Denver Broncos
2. Seattle Seahawks
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New England Patriots
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Indianapolis Colts
7. Tennessee Titans
8. Detroit Lions
9. Miami Dolphins
10. Chicago Bears
5 games to look for in Week 5
Last week’s record (2-3) Season Record (8-12)
Sunday, October 6th: New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
The Saints are coming off an exciting home Monday night victory against the Dolphins while the Bears are coming off their first loss of the season to the Detroit Lions. The Saints have played 3 of their first 4 games at home. Their one road game was a close win over the lowly Buccaneers. The Bears offense turned the ball over 4 times, including 3 Jay Cutler interceptions, against the Lions. The Bears have yet to lose at home and I think they continue to win by handing New Orleans their first loss of the year.
My Pick: Chicago Bears
Sunday, October 6th: New England Patriots (4-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
The Patriots still have not turned in a statement victory. As their team gets healthier, New England may get more dangerous as the year goes. The Bengals have the opportunity to stake their claim in the AFC North by beating the Patriots. The defensive front of the Bengals may give Brady problems. The Bengals are also undefeated at home but this will end on Sunday. The Patriots will find a way to rattle Andy Dalton and beat the Bengals.
My pick: New England Patriots
Sunday, October 6th: Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1)
This is a matchup between two of the most surprising teams in the NFL after September. Tennessee’s offense is among one of the worst in the league in yards gained (28th) and their defense isn’t among the league’s best (11th). Kansas City’s defense is slightly better (9th in the league) while their offense is right along the league’s average (16th). Regardless, the two teams have found ways to win. The Chiefs are slight favorites on the road and I believe they will pull off the win.
My pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, October 6th: Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
This is a matchup between two of the three great quarterbacks from last year’s draft class, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. Both the Seahawks and the Colts hope to return to the postseason after both making it last year. Both defenses are known for their ability to force turnovers. The Seahawks are top in the NFC with 13 takeaways while Indy is 3rd in the AFC with 8 takeaways. Both teams have an elite ground game as Indy ranks 3rd overall in the NFL in rushing yards (598) and Seattle ranks 4th (577). However both teams are not where they want to be in the passing games as both teams rank in the bottom third of the league. The Seahawks defense can cause problems for a quarterback and they will force enough turnovers to win on the road.
My pick: Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, October 6th: Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
These are another two teams that hope to return to the postseason. Both teams have not played up to their full potential. Houston’s fans have become vocally upset with Matt Schuab recently after the team blew a 20-3 lead at home against Seattle last week. Schuab threw two interceptions, one in the 4th quarter which was a pick-six. Despite allowing Seattle to come back, Houston still ranks 1st in passing yards allowed defensively (2nd overall). San Francisco is not far behind at 5th overall defensively in yards allowed. Offensively, Houston has had no problems moving the ball as they rank 4th overall in yards gained but 18th in points scored. The 49ers on the other hand have not had as much luck moving the ball as they rank 21st in yards gained. But San Francisco rarely loses at home under Harbaugh (even though this has come and bit me in the behind once this season) so I will pick the 49ers to win.
My Pick: San Francisco 49ers
The temperatures will continue to drop as the weeks go on. Hopefully we can get a better idea of where these teams are soon. Enjoy!
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