Is the quarter-pole really meaningful in the NFL? I wonder. It's such a small sample compared to the other major sports. Even still, we've seen some trends that could hold up through the season. For the most part, though, we've seen that quite a few teams can be great one week and vulnerable (if not outright bad) the next. People love to trumpet parity and how it's made the league better; I'm all for fair competition and not letting things turn into the NBA where only a few "glamour" teams have a chance to win the championship. But would it hurt to have more consistency outside of the NFC North?
It was another great week for King in the picks. Me? Not so much. Here are the standings for Week 4:
Not a lot of "gambles" this week, either. I missed on Buffalo, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Arizona.
It seems like Buffalo is not exactly who we thought they were. Not yet, at least. A real contender goes into Cincinnati and wins; Buffalo didn't, and now I have to question their legitimacy just a bit. Not enough to kick them out of the Rankings, but the question is there now.
Dallas had an "unfortunate" collapse, due to the bad play of Tony Romo. No surprise there.
Pittsburgh and Minnesota, in all honesty, should have won. Despite having no O-line, Pittsburgh is clearly a better team than the Texans, and they're more used to winning. I still refuse to take the Texans seriously; the Steelers just didn't play as they were capable. Minnesota is obviously one of those in the tank teams that'll maybe win 2-3 games all season. It might take a QB change to do it, though.
Philadelphia is another team that had a disappointing collapse. However, San Francisco might bear watching over the next three to four weeks. I'm in no rush to anoint them, as much like the Texans, their recent history is stinky. If there's one difference, the 49ers franchise has at least enjoyed multiple championships, while the Texans are a poorly operated joke.
Finally, we have the Arizona Cardinals. In my (not very humble) opinion, the Cards were screwed out of a sure win. Victor Cruz of the Giants stumbled and let go of the ball inexplicably. Arizona picked it up, and the game was essentially over as the Giants had no timeouts. But wait! Referee Jerome Boger interjects that Cruz had "given himself up" and by rule it was a dead ball, with the Giants retaining possession. Now, unlike Peter King, who thinks this was the correct call, I think this is a crock. Cruz clearly did not "give himself up"; he fumbled the ball. Because of Boger's too strict adherence to a rule that doesn't quite make sense, Arizona lost a win. People will say, "well, they could have stopped Manning after that". No, they couldn't. Why? They're not good enough. How many teams could come back from a call like that and still win the game? Maybe the Packers. And maybe the Patriots. That's about it.
Here are the Rankings for Week 4:
1.) Green Bay (4-0) [no change]
To be honest, I was a little surprised the Packers covered. Other teams had huge spreads and failed miserably, but the Packers sacked up and put 49 on Denver like everyone knew they should. I think the Packers are the best team in the league without question and the closest to a sure thing every Sunday. Losing Ryan Grant didn't seem to bother them very much; Aaron Rodgers just ran for two TD's and threw for 408 yards. Oh, and a couple more TD's through the air. Being the stubborn jerk that I am, I'm still going to say that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are better QB's. But Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees better look out, or they're gonna get lapped. In fact, considering the results of this season so far, I think the lapping is underway already.
2.) Detroit (4-0) [no change]
I find it a little funny that some people aren't giving the Lions much respect. That said, I understand how easy it is to look at this team as something of a fluke, since they haven't been this good in 30 years. Still, with Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading a very potent offense, and a defense that gets pick-sixes with impunity (just ask Tony Romo, ugh), this Lions team is for real. Besides the Packers, they appear to be the only other sure thing in the NFL. Since they're still undefeated, that would appear to be obvious. But others have missed it.
3.) New Orleans (3-1) [+1]
Somehow, I'm not surprised that the Saints are the next best team after Green Bay and Detroit. Change that close loss in the first week to a win, and the Saints are 4-0 and looking like the most sure thing in the NFL. Still, even with that loss, New Orleans has looked good in every game they've played, which isn't something every team can say.
4.) New England (3-1) [+1]
Surprise, surprise, the Patriots are rising again. I had a good feeling about them going to Oakland and winning, something the Jets couldn't do the previous week. Not only did the Pats win, they did so pretty convincingly. Tom Brady excised the screw-ups and got Wes Welker another nine catches to raise his total to 40 on the season. Amazing stuff. I feel pretty confident that this team won't be out of the Rankings again for the rest of the season, even if they only end up with 10-12 wins.
5.) Baltimore (3-1) [+2]
While maybe the most unimpressive performance offensively, it was the Ravens' game to lose Sunday night after Ed Reed got the strip-sack on Mark Sanchez. The Jets didn't really have a chance after that, despite some incredible defensive and special teams play. The Ravens are a bit maddening, actually. They looked pathetic against Tennessee, while putting a couple of beatdowns on Pittsburgh and St. Louis. I'm wary of calling this last game a beatdown, as there was no offense involved. But the defense was more than manly. Supermanly? Whatever you want to call it, they didn't play like a bunch of cream puffs.
6.) San Diego (3-1) [+3]
The Chargers are an interesting team so far. I don't think they've played to their capability in any game this season, despite being 3-1. They've really survived in every win, and made too many mistakes against New England to squeak out. It's hard to say taking 6th shows confidence, and I would never say that I'm that confident in this particular Chargers team. They keep finding a way, though, so they keep moving up.
7.) Buffalo (3-1) [-4]
Perhaps a loss was inevitable. But to do so in the fashion they did it was pretty disappointing. I was also hoping that they would make it to 4-0 and make the doubters (including myself) squirm a little. Alas, it wasn't to be. I guess I was a little too fired up about them going 12-0 before heading to San Diego in Week 14. Still, their schedule is not terribly difficult, and if they get back on the wagon, a long win streak ought to be in the offing. We shall see, though. They only opened themselves up to being questioned.
8.) Tennessee (3-1) [-]
It may just be time to take the Titans seriously. After losing against Jacksonville in Week 1 (which surprised me, I'll admit), the Titans have won three in a row, taking out Baltimore, Denver, and Cleveland. Not exactly murderers' row there, but hey, how many of us expected them to be 3-1 at the quarter pole? If they can keep it up, maybe the AFC South isn't already locked up for the Texans as so many wanted it to be.
9.) Houston (3-1) [-]
Despite Pittsburgh not playing up to their capability, the Texans beat them and earned a spot here this week. With this team, though, one can never be certain that they'll be along for the ride for more than a week at a time. I still have very little respect for this team. I'm not jumping to conclusions like some people, or ceding the AFC South to them. In fact, I had a hunch that someone else would step up and challenge them. I didn't know it'd be Tennessee, but I guess in hindsight that appears to be the obvious choice. I have to give credit to Arian Foster, though. He came back from his hamstring injury and put up man-sized numbers on the Steelers vaunted run defense, including an excellent TD run.
10.) San Francisco (3-1) [-]
I'm as surprised as anybody else. That OT loss to Dallas sure doesn't look like a harbinger of collapse now. And it certainly hasn't helped the Cowboys very much. At any rate, the 49ers are a surprising team, and if they can keep it up, a division title is certainly a lock. It's hard to say that a winning record wouldn't get things done, considering how abysmal the other three teams are.
Finally, a note on the teams that exited the Rankings. They are the NY Jets (6), Pittsburgh (8), and Dallas (10). Obviously, all three lost, and none of them looked that great. So there should be no controversy there. One might ask, though, what about Tampa Bay? Or the NY Giants? Or Washington? All three teams are 3-1, but as you can see, there are only so many spots. I don't like to do more than 10, because it would usually mean spotlighting losing teams, or teams that didn't play as well as the ones that are in the top ten. At any rate, Tampa Bay would appear to be the most "real" of these three that just barely missed the cut. I'm a little concerned that a would-be rout at home against an 0-3 team turned into a nailbiter. But considering the situations in NY and Washington (defense/QB and QB, respectively), Tampa Bay is clearly the next in line should one of these 10 falter in Week 5.
That's all for this week. See you next week!