The First Quarter of the 2015 NFL Season reviewed.
The First Quarter.
While it's not always as important as the fourth quarter, you can usually tell a lot about how a game is going to play out by how the first quarter goes.
If one team comes out swinging, and they find the endzone multiple times... You can bet that the rest of the game won't be pretty for the other team.
If one team stumbles and struggles, they might be able to find their footing... but it's unlikely.
Well... The NFL season is the same way.
No team has ever started 0-4 and made the playoffs.
Hell, only three teams have ever started 0-3 and made the playoffs.
Losing early... Can sink a franchise.
Now, that's not to say it's a death sentence to start off rocky, and you don't have to look that far into the past to prove it.
Why, this time just last year, the Patriots were 2-2. and coming off of a 41-14 beating by the Kansas City Chiefs...
We all know how that worked out.
From how the first quarter of the 2015 NFL season has played out, this is how I think it will finish.
1. The Cincinnati Bengals. (3rd seed)
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers. (Wildcard)
3. The Cleveland Browns.
4. The Baltimore Ravens.
This division is a red hot mess.
Each team has something to be excited about... Kinda.
The Steelers should be the division champs.
They should be.
But... With Big Ben being hurt, some bad kicking, and the coaching staff being hideously inept... They're going to screw themselves out of the title picture.
The Bengals are easily the most complete team in the division, and while they're going to be eaten alive by a team like New England down the road... They'll win enough games to lock that third seed down!
Cleveland has some pieces... but they need to get more pressure on the quarterback and develop a sense of consistency on offense.
They can't even throw their playoff hopes away because they have nobody there to catch it.
Poor Joe Flacco, seriously.
1. The Indianapolis Colts. (4th Seed)
2. The Tennessee Titans.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars.
4. The Houston Texans.
The upside to playing in the worst division in football?
You're allllllllllllllways in the race!
You probably won't win the division, and if you don't... That doesn't bode well.
A. Your hated division rivals pick before you do.
B. You get the second best team in every other AFC division next year.
But I mean... I guess it's better than being the worst team in the worst division in football.
That's the sad, pathetic, and unfortunately not-so-lonely story of the AFC South.
The Colts, pound for pound, have the most talent in the division, when healthy... But that still hasn't meant much this year.
They limped to an 0-2 start before rattling off wins over the likes of the Titans, Jaguars, and Texans... Hardly impressive wins.
Hopefully, Luck will get healthy at some point, and make the Colts legitimate contenders... but with his surrounding cast... that much is unlikely.
If you combine the other three teams, you might make up one competent roster.
The Texans have the NFL's best player, as well as the man who currently leads the league in receiving yards (admittedly through five games), but they also got spanked by Matt Freaking Hasselbeck this week.
As for the Jaguars and Titans? They've actually played better than I thought they would.
True, Mariota's debut was well, well overhyped nonsense, but he's been better than expected. And the Jags defense... It hasn't been terrible.
Having said that, this is the worst division in all of football, and that's really, really sad.
1. The New England Patriots. (1st Seed)
2. The Buffalo Bills. (Wildcard)
3. The New York Jets.
4. The Miami Dolphins.
BEHOLD, THE PATRIOTS ARE JUST AS GOOD AS I SAID THEY WOULD BE.
In all seriousness, the Patriots really are the juggernaut I said they would be, and by riding the arm of Tom Brady, I don't see them losing until 2016.
And that doesn't necessarily mean this season.
Ah... The Bills.
God dammit, Rex.
They've got talent out the wazoo, and when they can run the ball consistently, they'll rack up a few shallow wins.
The Jets are good, but ultimately, their ineptitude on offense will be the death of them.
Wait until Geno Smith is healthy and Ryan Fitzpatrick has another characteristically bad game... QB controversies sink seasons.
And the Dolphins...
What a waste.
What. A. Waste.
1. The Denver Broncos. (2nd Seed)
2. The Oakland Raiders.
3. The Kansas City Chiefs.
4. The San Diego Chargers.
I don't quite get it.
I had a really, really hard time typing that.
But... Even the most cynical critics have to admit that the Oakland Raiders are one of the most improved teams in football.
They have a top ten offense.
A top. ten. offense.
Runningback Latavius Murray had the worst game of his young career last week, and he still ranks in the top ten, Derek Carr is on pace for 35 touchdowns, and Amari Cooper... Well... more on him in a second.
Their defense may struggle, but for the first time in forever, the Raiders have reasons for optimism.
However, an AFC West division title is still a year or so away as the Broncos defense is stout.
I mean, realllllly stout.
Number one in the NFL stout.
Usually, Peyton-lead teams ride him all the way to the playoffs, when the young Col- I mean old Bronco finally breaks down.
This year... I think it'll be the opposite.
As for Kansas City, they've got nothing but talent across the board.
They've got superstars alllll over the field...
But they just can't get it together.
Their offensive line is their biggest weakness, and their secondary has been ravaged in recent weeks.
This team has all the pieces to be good... It just might not be this year.
And San Diego...
What the hell do you say about San Diego?
Much like the classic Qualcomm Stadium... They're just not what they used to be.
1. The Green Bay Packers. (1st Seed).
2. The Minnesota Vikings.
3. The Detroit Lions.
4. The Chicago Bears.
The Lions aren't going 0-16 again, so relax, Lions faithful.
However... I don't know who is going to beat the Packers.
Obviously, it'll be a road game, because that's when Aaron Rodgers turns into Alex Smith.
COME AT ME BRO.
I could see Denver doing it. Their defense is rocky mountain solid, and the Packers defense is just bad enough to get exploited by what's left of Peyton Manning.
And Arizona? That game could be interesting.
Very interesting indeed.
All in all, they'll probably have the most wins, and be able to edge out whatever NFC West team challenges them.
Minnesota is okay.
They're not great, and Teddy Bridgewater has failed to live up to his pre-season billing.
I don't see them making a push for the division or the post-season any time soon.
Let's not pretend that Chicago stealing a win from the Raiders changes anything long-term lol.
1. The Atlanta Falcons. (3rd Seed)
2. The Carolina Panthers.
3. The New Orleans Saints.
4. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I don't buy the NFC South hype!
Truly offensive, I know.
Julio Jones and Cam Newton are co-MVPs, I read NFL.com articles, I know I'm supposed to believe that.
I just... don't.
The Falcons are still the same team they were when they played this trick a few years ago.
They'll start off red hot, Julio will get hurt, and the rest of the team will be exploited.
Please. Don't get me started.
Cam Newton is remarkably overrated, and beating teams like Tampa Bay and the AFC South...
That doesn't impress me.
1. The New York Giants. (4th)
2. The Dallas Cowboys.
3. The Washington Redskins.
4. The Philadelphia Eagles.
Shoulda stuck with Tebow, eh Philly?
In all seriousness, if you read my picks, you know that I'm a firm believer in the New York Giants this season.
Not a huge fan of Odell Beckham.
Have my doubts about Eli.
But I think they're a solid team, and if they stay the course, they'll really take the NFL by storm down the road.
As for Dallas... I just don't think they'll get Romo and Dez back in time.
Running the ball and playing mediocre defense can really only get you so far.
The other two... What can you even say?
The Washington defense is good?
The Philadelphia offense is explosive at points?
1. The Seattle Seahawks. (2nd)
2. The Arizona Cardinals.(Wildcard)
3. The St. Louis Rams. (Wildcard)
4. The San Francisco 49ers.
This is really confusing.
I honestly don't feel sure about these picks at all.
I'm a little hesitant to trust Seattle, but hell... isn't that true for the rest of the division?
The Rams are Cardinals look great on paper, but they can't consistently win the games they're supposed to win!
The Rams started a season with an upset, but then couldn't beat the Redskins?
I mean, they turned around and beat the Cardinals and face the Packers this weekend, who knows which team will show up?
However, the three best teams in the NFC West should all make the playoffs.
The order and standing are made significant by home-field implications alone.
MVP- Tom Brady.
Welp, my pre-season prediction of Andrew Luck as MVP...
Didn't quite play out.
Whether it's just the bad offensive line, the lack of receiving options, or an undisclosed injury, the NFL's young prodigal passer has not had the season I had hoped he would have.
Know who has had an outstanding season?
After three games, he's thrown for over 1,000 yards, 9 touchdowns, and just hasn't looked human.
He's on pace for 5,931 yards, 48 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
How the hell can someone be on pace for no interceptions?
HE'S ON PACE FOR ALMOST 6,000 YARDS?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
The Patriots could certainly use some help on defense, but that hasn't effected their dominance on offense. It looks like Brady and the gang are playing Madden out there, bowling over every team they've played so far.
Now, I know that the same argument could be made for Aaron Rodgers, but despite playing one more game and relentlessly feasting on a porous Kansas City secondary... He's thrown for fewer yards and only two more touchdowns.
Brady is on a revenge tour, and I don't see it stopping any time soon.
Offensive Player of the Year- Rob Gronkowski.
Now, I know this is a stretch because the last time someone who wasn't a quarterback or runningback won the award was Jerry Rice... in 1993.
I also know that a tight end has never won the award.
But... Gronk is hardly just any tight end, is he?
Let's just forget about the career numbers for a second.
Let's just forget that Gronk has caught as many touchdowns by 26 as Jason Witten has by 33.
Gronk is off to a monster start.
If averages play out, Gronk's final stats will look like this.
85 catches, 1,643 yards, 21 touchdowns.
Other than absolutely shattering the record for yards that he set back in 2011, he'd be 12th all time in receiving yards period.
Oh, and same for touchdowns, except he'd be third.
I know, I know, it's crass to assume any player would live up to the average made in week four...
But with Gronk, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he surpassed that.
He's. That. Good.
Defensive Player of the Year- JJ Watt.
I'm standing by JJ for this award.
You know why?
Because he should win this award every year as long as he suits up in the NFL.
Honestly, the voters should give him DPOTY this year regardless of whether he deserves it or not simply because he got screwed out of the MVP last year.
It's still early, and someone else could step up, but the fact of the matter is, nobody really has.
Aqib Talib has made a few clutch plays, and the young Josh Norman is taking the league by storm, but let's be honest... it takes a lot to give a corner this award.
The MVP is almost always a quarterback.
The OPOTY is almost always a runningback.
And the DPOTY is almost always a pass rusher, that's just the way it is.
Offensive Rookie of the Year- Amari Cooper.
I was dead on with this one.
The kid isn't just good, he's grrrrrrrrrrrrreat.
It's stupid that a 21 year old can embarrass the likes of Pacman Jones, Patrick Peterson, and Joe Haden... But that's exactly what he's done.
Despite a rough first game that involved him suffering through three quarters of Matt McGloin, Cooper has caught 24 passes for 339 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
He's got more receiving yards than Odell Beckham Jr, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Randall Cobb, and even Calvin Johnson.
He's off to an outstanding start, and barring injury, will most definitely eclipse the elusive 1,000 yard mark.
In any event, he's been the most impressive rookie of any position by far, and he's almost a lock to take home this hardware.
Defensive Rookie of the Year- Marcus Peters.
Well it sure as hell isn't Malcom Brown.
I'm sure that other people will have other names to throw around, but for me, I've been the most impressed by Kansas City's rookie corner, Marcus Peters.
Despite being at a bit of a size disadvantage, he's played very big.
He started the season off with back to back games with interceptions, including a pick six off of the legendary, Peyton Manning.
The Chiefs have struggled lately, and look like they might be the worst team in the AFC West, but Peters is something to look forward to in Kansas City, and I can't wait to see him face-off with Amari Cooper in December.
Comeback Player of the Year- Adrian Peterson.
If Peterson keeps racking up these CPOTY awards, he's going to have to change his last name to Pennington.
In all seriousness, Peterson hasn't had the drop-off we all anticipated he'd have, and currently leads the league in rushing. I don't anticipate that changing any time soon, and even if it does, it's not like there's another candidate that pushes the envelope.
32. The Miami Dolphins.
31. The Jacksonville Jaguars.
30. The Houston Texans.
29. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
28. The Chicago Bears.
27. The San Francisco 49ers.
26. The Cleveland Browns.
25. The Detroit Lions.
24. The New Orleans Saints.
23. The Tennessee Titans,
22. The Philadelphia Eagles.
21. The Washington Redskins.
20. The Baltimore Ravens.
19. The Kansas City Chiefs.
18. The San Diego Chargers.
17. The Oakland Raiders.
16. The Dallas Cowboys.
15. The Buffalo Bills.
14. The New York Giants.
13. The Minnesota Vikings.
12. The Indianapolis Colts.
11. The St. Louis Rams.
10. The New York Jets.
9. The Pittsburgh Steelers.
8. The Carolina Panthers.
7. The Seattle Seahawks.
6. The Cincinnati Bengals.
5. The Arizona Cardinals.
4. The Atlanta Falcons.
3. The Denver Broncos.
2. The Green Bay Packers.
1. The New England Patriots.