We are now through 5 weeks in the NFL season, and I know y’all do not care, but my fantasy team is 2-3. I am scuffling about mediocrity near the middle to bottom half of my league, and I’m not really sure how good my team actually is. In my wins I’ve appeared to be dominant, taking two 20 point victories. But in my losses…let’s just say if these matchups were street fights, I would hope people would step in to keep me from getting stomped out and promptly send me in an Uber to the hospital.
I’m not really sure how to feel about the rest of the season. My confidence is fading fast, but my inconsistent success continues to string me along, keeping me marginally invested in my team. Coincidentally, these emotions that I have basically mirror my fandom for the Ravens right now. I legitimately have no idea if they are good or not: they stomped out the Bills and the Steelers, but have also been blanked by the Bengals and lost to the #Browns by a score of 12-9. This sentiment without a doubt rings true for the majority of NFL teams. Teams that we thought are good are getting beat by bad teams and teams that we thought are bad are beating good teams. Which is confusing because the NFL is usually the league with the least amount of parity: the team that is better almost always wins. So that bares the question: which teams are good and which teams are bad?
To determine this, it’s important to cut out that teams that are definitely good and definitely bad, which will be brutally easy.
Good: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints.
Bad: San Francisco 49ers, New York (Football) Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders.
The rest of the league is a little more difficult. Why? Mostly because of the weird, interlocking relationship of losses and ties that have produced a bevy of 2-2, 2-3, and 3-2 records, making it borderline impossible to determine who is ahead of who. But that is why I am here, to guide you through this delicate time in your life. Let’s start with some of the easier ones in this middle section:
The Cowboys are bad.
Record: 2-3 – losses to Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, and Carolina Panthers; wins against New York (Football) Giants and the Detroit Lions.
Maybe Dez Bryant was up to something. An anemic offense, led by Dak Prescott’s inconsistent play and garbage offensive playcalling, have produced an unreliable product on the field. The inability of the Cowboys to find their “identity” have led them to wander around in mediocrity. A lot of the blame should be placed on Jason Garrett, some on Dak, and 100% on Jerry Jones’s racist, decaying body and mind.
The Bills, Jets, and Buccaneers are bad.
Records: 2-3, 2-3, 2-2.
In the NFL, you cannot survive without really good to solid quarterback play. And while the jury is still out on the Bills’ Josh Allen and the Jets’ Sam Darnold, it is difficult to imagine a situation as to where they both are able to consistently spearhead their offenses. On top of that, their respective defenses are unable to counteract a stagnant offense. For the Bucs, it’s almost impossible to ask for more out of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who wow’d for the first two weeks, but then returned back to earth in prototypical Ryan Fitzpatrick fashion. That team will live and die by their quarterback, and I’m not convinced by either option they have.
The Browns are good.
Record: 2-2-1, wins against the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens; losses to the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints; tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cleveland Browns could either be 5-0, 0-5, or 4-0-1. This truth is probably the biggest confirmation of their potential. With them being in every game, the only things that have forsaken them are missed field goals, injuries, and awful calls by the official. The presence of Baker Mayfield and offensive weapons around him, a very good defensive on the other side of the ball, and maybe a kicker who can make remedial field goals, the Browns could quite possibly make a run for the division crown.
The football team from Washington, the Eagles, and the Texans are good, relatively.
Records: 2-1, 2-3, 2-3.
If the either team were to be in other division in football, they would be nowhere close to having a shot to make the playoffs. But the NFC East is awful, which is good for now as the Eagles are still waiting for Carson Wentz to return to his MVP-caliber form from last year. But the football team from Washington actually look decent, with a dangerously revitalized Adrian Peterson and a serviceable Alex Smith, they could be poised to run the NFC East. It would be much more fun to see them blow it though.
A fearsome defensive line has not translated into great success for the Texans so far. But you have to remember, Deshaun Watson is still trying to find his groove since returning from his injury. Before he got hurt, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If he can get anywhere near that level, the Texans can contend in the AFC South.
The Bengals and Falcons are good.
Records: 4-1, 1-4.
The Bengals look to be for real, I guess. I’m not happy about it.
Even though the Falcons have lost 4 games, their offense is potent enough to rattle off 4 straight wins easy, as they are averaging 29 points a game. Even with their “top” receiver Julio Jones still not recording a touchdown this year, they have been bolstered by the presence of the best wide receiver to come from Alabama, Calvin Ridley. Save for the Steelers game, the Falcons were within one score in each lost, so the results may not show it, but I’m encouraged by the Falcons.
The Packers are bad.
If the Packers had a real coach, and a working defense, they would be the best team in football. But since they don’t, they’re not good. Simple as that.
The Steelers, Broncos, Lions, and Seahawks are bad.
Records: 2-2-1, 2-3, 2-3, 2-3.
Ben Roethlisberger is old and a shell of his former self, there is no Le’Veon Bell to do basically everything for the offense, their defensive secondary has continually been getting burned by every receiver under the moon. That does not spell success for Pittsburgh.
I can’t name 5 players on the Denver Broncos and neither can you.
The pride of Detroit beat the Patriots and the Packers, who have two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. On the other hand, they lost to the Cowboys, 49ers, and the Jets, who were led by *adjusts glasses* Dak Prescott, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Sam Darnold. So there’s that.
Seattle’s defense is their biggest liability, with the entirety of the Legion of Boom being gone, with the injury to Earl Thomas, who was arguably the most important member of that defensive unit. Without them, their consistency of their defense is like that of Swiss cheese. Full of holes, and only good on burgers.
The Chargers are good, relatively.
They have beaten the teams that are supposed to beat, and they have lost to the Rams and the Chiefs. So really, they are the only team that makes any sense.
The Vikings, Titans, Dolphins, Patriots are good.
Records: 2-2-1, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2.
3 out of 4 of these teams have questions about their quarterback play. The other team is the Patriots. The Vikings have a good enough defense to bolster their offense when it fails, but they have been liable to get carved up the likes of the Rams. The Titans are only as good as Marcus Mariota will allow them to be. The Dolphins may need to prove themselves against better competition, but they have looked good for sure.
The Patriots offense isn’t what it used to be. They feared machine that has been around the past couple of years is no more, as they are just nickel and diming their way thorough defenses, keeping the passes short. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue to stay with this conservative style of play, or if they’ll get back to the Patriots of old.
The Ravens are only as good as Joe Flacco will be.
Flip a coin, I guess.