Every NFL team has completed about a quarter of their schedule. Some squads are establishing themselves as contenders, some are trying to find themselves as the second quarter of the season begins, and some may want to start considering the 2023 draft. There is still a lot of football left to be played, but the time for some teams to figure things out is now – otherwise it will be a long fall and winter for the teams that are struggling. For this week’s edition of the NFL Wrap up it’s time for some quarterly report cards.
Valedictorian: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the only undefeated team, so they receive the highest grade. Philadelphia had a great off-season and it has paid off with a 4-0 start. The addition of AJ Brown has helped take Jalen Hurts’ game to another level and the Eagles are a serious threat in the NFC. Despite falling behind to an improving Jaguars team, the Eagles were able to come back and secure the win by causing Trevor Lawrence to fumble four times. Off-season addition Haason Reddick was responsible for two of the sacks that caused fumbles. And because of trades, Philadelphia is likely to have a top pick in next year’s draft as well. No franchise has had a better off-season and start of the season than the Eagles.
Passing with Honors: Buffalo Bills & Kansas City Chiefs
The Bills and the Chiefs have established themselves as clear contenders despite a blemish on their records. These two teams met in the playoffs last season and could be on a collision course to meet again in the AFC Championship game this season. Buffalo pulled off a gritty comeback in Baltimore this past week. Josh Allen didn’t have his best performance, but the Bills were still able to find a way to win. Kansas City’s offense bounced back in a big way against perhaps the best defense in the NFL on Sunday night. The Chiefs hung 41 points on Todd Bowles’ defense in Tampa. I would have put the Dolphins in this group, but the Tua situation looms over the team right now.
Good but Work to So: Packers, Dolphins, Rams, 49ers, Vikings, Tampa Bay, Ravens, Bengals, Cowboys & Chargers
All of these teams should improve, but have had injuries or weaknesses that need to be resolved.
Average: Giants, Jaguars, Titans, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Seahawks, Falcons & Jets
Some of these teams in this tier have improved, while others have gotten off to a slow start. The good news for these squads is that they haven’t dug themselves into a deep hole and many of them have exceeded expectations like the Jets, Falcons, Jaguars, Giants, and Seahawks.
At Risk of Failing: Raiders, Saints, Lions, Colts, Patriots, Bears, Steelers, Commanders, Panthers & Texans
These teams have dug themselves into a hole, or their weaknesses are so glaring they probably won’t overcome them. The Raiders could easily be 3-1 and are better than their 1-3 record but, they haven’t been able to finish close games early in the season. The Lions’ offense has scored more touchdowns than anyone in the NFL, but their defense has given up even more. The Saints have been battered with injuries and turnover problems. Mac Jones’ injury is a big loss for a Patriots’ offense that didn’t even know who the coordinator was coming into the season. The Bears, Steelers, Commanders and Panthers offenses are a mess. Houston has been playing hard, but they can’t get over the hump.
Week 5 Games to Watch:
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-8.5): The Falcons play hard and Tampa Bay has battled injuries so far this season. This game is for first place in the NFC South.
Cowboys vs Rams (-4.5): Matthew Stafford has been getting hit a lot this season and his reward for this week is Micah Parsons. Cooper Rush has done enough to steady the ship for Dallas while Dak Prescott heals from injury.
Eagles (-5.5) vs Cardinals: Can the Cardinals start this game better than they’ve done so far. If they can’t get off to a good start then they will be in trouble versus a confident Eagles team.
Bengals vs Ravens (-3): Baltimore is 0-2 at home and has struggled to finish games. These are two teams that both need a win to create some separation in the AFC North.