NFL Graveyard: First Quarter
The first quarter of the 2016 NFL season is done and it is time to lay some teams’ hopes and dreams to rest in the NFL graveyard. Sure, every team starts out with hope that they will make it to the postseason. Even if it is only the team’s employees that have such hope. But after four weeks, some teams are ready to be laid down in the coffin and buried until next season. And while there are more teams to come at the midway point of the season, these teams can give up on their playoff hopes and look forward to 2017.
The Cleveland Browns are the first team to prepare their spot in the graveyard. Actually, they get to pick their own plot of land. The Browns are the last team in the NFL that is winless and it looks as though it may be a while until they record their first victory. At 0-4, Hue Jackson has a long road ahead of him to change his team’s fortunes. The good news for Cleveland is that the basketball season is right around the corner and that means that LeBron and the Cavs will have a chance to repeat.
The Colts, Jaguars, and Titans are all ready for the pitchfork. While they all have a 1-3 record and are only two games behind division leaders Houston, there are too many good teams in the other divisions for a second team to make the playoffs from the AFC South. And while Houston is far from great, I think they can maintain their lead and win the division. As for these teams, Jacksonville was a preseason favorite to improve greatly and it hasn’t happened so far. The Colts have fallen on hard times yet again and questions circle that while franchise. And the Titans are just quite simply one of the hardest teams to watch play. I think new coaches may be needed to resurrect these teams!
Dolphins fans can officially give up on the 2016 season and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Miami. The Dolphins are 1-3 and trail the Patriots (3-1), Bills (2-2), and Jets (1-3). And when the postseason is talked about in the AFC East, the Patriots are always at the fore front. The Bills are behind them and have a long shot at a wild card. And while the Jets have the same the record as Miami, I believe in them more to turn things around and at least make a run at the postseason. The Dolphins are struggling all around and the only piece I like is WR Jarvis Landry. Head coach Adam Gase now has almost a full calendar year to figure out a way to give Dolphins fans some sort of hope for the future.
Th San Diego Chargers are the only team in this division that I am ready to bury. And let’s face it, they bury themselves every week. The Chargers have found a way to get to 1-3 so far in 2016 and it is all by their own doing. They have handed teams wins at the end of games and cannot seem to get out of their own way. Just last week they blew a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter to give the winless Saints their first victory. They will continue to fall behind the Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs. Although if the Chiefs look like they did in Week 4 once again, they will be headed to the graveyard as well.
The Bears and Lions will be laid to rest this week. Both teams have a 1-3 record and are finished for 2016. They are complete opposites of the Vikings and Packers, who are at the top of the division. The Bears are dealing with injuries and a lack of firepower on offense while the Lions have had some great offensive games but cannot stop teams with their defense. But both teams are struggling with being two of the most bland and forgettable teams in the NFL.
While this pains me, I am burying the New Orleans Saints today. At 1-3, the Saints’ defense is devastated and features guys that were probably the last guys picked in backyard football games. And while the offense shows potential to put up points, they have been inconsistent and not the offense that Saints fans have come to know. Plus, New Orleans seemingly can’t win in their own dome which was what they did best in the recent past. And the 1-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be joining them today as that team is nothing short of a dumpster fire. After an amazing first week, the Bucs have cooled off quickly and have looked terrible.
As of right now, everyone in the NFC East is safe. The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0 and atop the division. The biggest question with the Eagles is whether Carson Wentz can continue to look as good as he has in the first three games. The Cowboys are 3-1 and the remainder of their season also revolves around the quarterback position. Dak Prescott has gotten the job done so far. But what will the Cowboys do when Tony Romo is healthy. Sure, handing him the ball will probably cripple him. But will it also cripple their momentum? And the Redskins and Giants are 2-2. And while both have looked like Jeckyll and Hyde teams, their is still too much time to say they are done. If Cousins and Manning can protect the ball, they can move up the division ladder. But if they keep turning the ball over, the Redskins and Giants will be buried by mid season.
Amazingly, the Rams avoid burial for now as they are at the top of the division at 3-1. The Seahawks are also 3-1 and are starting to look like the old Seahawks once again. The Arizona Cardinals are 1-3 and have looked horrendous. But I am not digging their grave just yet. They are only two games back and could easily get back into the playoff picture once Carson Palmer gets back into the lineup. But the San Francisco 49ers are ready to get into the grave. Despite a good win in Week 1 and putting up a fight in their other games, the 49ers have no chance at the postseason. They just lost their biggest star in Navarro Bowman for the season and will now just go through the rest of the season and try to finish with some dignity. The once great franchise is down on their luck right now and Chip Kelly has some work to do to turn the team around before he loses another coaching job.
Daryl Karpinski, Jr.