We're about a quarter through the 2022 season, and it feels like only about five NFL teams most definitely suck. Everyone else is a little frisky. Lots of 2-2 teams lurking.
Very few fan bases have had that sinking, early October feeling of, "Oh fuck, we're already out of it…when's the draft??" Unfortunately some have, so to make you scrolllllllllllllll, we'll start with them, because it's Halloween SZN anyway, and heads gonna rolllllllllllllll.
32. Houston Texans (Previous Week: 32)
OMG the Texans are baaaaaaaaad. The only winless lot left standing. Houston is playing a lot of young players, many of whom could be good someday. Starting to think quarterback Davis Mills may not be one of those eventually-good guys. He's a nervous wreck on the road and just got waxed by the shorthanded Chargers pretty much until garbage time. The Texans may have a second straight one-and-done at head coach if Lovie Smith doesn't start winning.
31. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 25)
Baker Mayfield is gobsmackingly awful. I can't fucking believe it. This is the same guy who took the previously 1-31 Browns to a playoff win within three years, right? Set the rookie TD pass record in 2018? I'm not convinced. Maybe that boulder shoulder chip mentality finally backfired on Baker. This Carolina defense is good enough to be 4-0. Doesn't help when you can't score on offense.
30. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 31)
Pretty sure anyone with a brain and an elementary understanding of professional football could forecast how bad the Bears' passing attack would be in 2022 before the season. Since we're talking about Chicago, I can't not use a Jake Johnson GIF when it so perfectly describes Justin Fields' plight/inner monologue every Sunday when he's running for his life/looking for a sentient receiver with a fraction of separation.
29. Washington Commanders (Last Week: 23)
Carson Wentz BLOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWS. Need I say more? Jahan Dotson could be down for one or two weeks. Not sure all the weapons in the world or any other misguided chances will help Wentz resurrect his career. Dysfunctional dude went to most dysfunctional organization to seek redemption. Going about as swell as you'd expect so far for the 1-3 Commanders.
28. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 29)
Similar to Washington, this Saints team has a lot of skill position firepower on offense and even more talent on the other side of the ball. The problem is the quarterback position and the absence of Sean Payton. Although I give Andy Dalton credit for playing better than he had any right to in that London loss to the Vikings, it's gonna be a long season for New Orleans.
27. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 18)
Jared Goff is a first-team All-Pro when the outcome has already been decided, when he's trailing by multiple scores, and/or when he's at home with scripted plays to begin a game. Anywhere beyond that? Worthless. The Lions can't stop anyone, as they proved by not forcing the Seahawks to punt a single time in Sunday's 48-45 loss in Detroit. Yowza. Love you Dan Campbell. Ya ain't there yet.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 27)
The Kenny Pickett era has arrived. First stop: Buffalo! What a starting debut/initiation after throwing three picks against the Jets. Pittsburgh's offense should be much better with Pickett at the controls. Whether that means the Steelers win any of their four matchups before their Week 9 bye remains to be seen.
25. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 22)
I saw Kyle Long on one of those CBS pregame shows this Sunday discussing how he really likes the roster the Colts have built over the past few years and it got me thinking (again): What. About. This. Roster. Is. So. Good? I continue to be baffled by the media's love affair with Colts GM Chris Ballard. He hasn't done shit. Team hasn't won shit. Matt Ryan was his version of a solution to his annual QB problem. Indy is 1-2-1 with a fluke win over KC. That said, I like Indy to beat the Broncos on Thursday night LOL because Denver's noob coach has zero chance to get his men prepared for that quick turnaround.
24. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 20)
It was more Carolina's offensive ineptitude and a super-short field off a turnover that gifted Arizona a victory to improve to 2-2. I refuse to give the Cardinals credit for anything. They benefited from a Raiders collapse in Week 2 for their other win. Kyler Murray is everything that the elder generation hates about the new one. Arizona somehow believed paying him franchise QB money was going to motivate him to study film harder and not play more video games? That's rich. Oh, and Kliff Kingsbury has never been a successful head coach. Like, anywhere. Moving along!
23. New York Jets (Last Week: 24)
In his sophomore season debut, QB Zach Wilson had an excellent fourth quarter to rally Gang Green from a 10-point deficit in Pittsburgh. Does that mean anything? IDK. Not as much as it used to. Wilson still misses a shocking amount of easy, short-area completions. I don't know how it's possible to airmail those simple throws by such a wide margin. Red flags all over the place. The AFC East and the conference in general is too tough for Wilson to be that sloppy.
22. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 16)
The buzz around Nathaniel Hackett all offseason was pretty muted. Sorta like, "Oh yeah the Green Bay OC is Denver's new coach. I guess he'll be fine, maybe?" was my reaction. Probably the consensus more or less. What a kind evaluation THAT turned out to be. Hackett suuuuuuuuuucks. Russell Wilson is cornnnnnnnnyyyy. Who in this Denver locker room is rallying the troops to get everyone going? "BRONCOS COUNTRY, LET'S RIIIIIIDE!" Pssh give me a fuckin' break. Elite cornerback Patrick Surtain II is the only real thing I can cling to about this team. I notice I'm adding unnecessary letters on to a lot of things in this blog. I'l try to refrain. Blame the COVID brain fog that I'm finally coming out of.
21. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 30)
Geno Smith is off to the hottest start in terms of passing accuracy in the history of the NFL through four games. That's 100% factual. My guy Tariq Woolen now has two INTs, a pick-six and a blocked field goal. Fifth-round pick. No. 32 on my NFL Draft big board. NBD. The Seahawks' draft class in general is already producing, including two rookie tackles in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas. If Geno keeps slinging it like this and the pass rush improves even a little, Seattle might contend for the NFC's seventh seed — crazy as that is to type out loud.
20. New England Patriots (Last Week: 28)
Look at where I had the Pats in Week 4. Thought they were doomed without Mac Jones at QB. Instead, they go into Lambeau Field and push the Packers to OT with third-stringer Bailey Zappe at the controls and MATT PATRICIA calling the offensive plays. Bill Belichick is just showing off at this point. New England doesn't have a ton of defensive studs, yet they know how to execute zeh system of Zeh Hoodie. Can't count the Patriots out.
19. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 12)
In Week 4's loss to the Falcons, it felt like Jacoby Brissett had an epiphany. That being: "Holy shit! That's right! I'm Jacoby Brissett!" That is to say, not a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. To post a 68 passer rating against a mid Atlanta D with Nick Chubb running his ass off to help you out is, well, not ideal. But hey, the Browns are tied atop the AFC North and still have Nick Chubb.
18. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 26)
Never have been in love with the head coach-QB combo of Arthur Smith and Marcus Mariota. Maybe the Falcons would benefit from moving off Mariota in favor of Desmond Ridder. Hard to say. Atlanta has been in every game with Mariota under center. He's safe at the minute. This is one of the league's hardest teams to figure out. What we do know is they're the only ones still 4-0 ATS.
17. New York Giants (Last Week: 19)
Most fraudulent 3-1 team I can recall. The Giants are a below-average team, elevated by the talent of tailback Saquon Barkley. Happy to say I bet his OVER 900.5 rushing yards prop before the season. He's already more than halfway there through four games hahahaaaaaaa. I fear a rude awakening awaits the G-Men, starting this Sunday when they battle Green Bay in London.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 21)
I'm sure my own bias is creeping in since I picked Las Vegas to go to the playoffs. On the other hand, the Raiders' three losses have been by a combined 13 points. They finally got off their skid in Week 4's win over Denver. Next up is a Monday night showdown with the Chiefs, where the Silver and Black can make up some serious ground in the AFC West with a victory. Sliding to 1-4 with a bad loss will only embolden the skepticism about Josh McDaniels' hiring.
15. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 8)
Time to stop mindlessly putting the Rams in the top 10 until further notice. Their banged-up offensive line is trash. Sean McVay doesn't seem interested in straying from his predominant penchant for 3WR sets to better protect Matthew Stafford. This does not look like a playoff team. Plenty of time to right the ship. New WR2 Allen Robinson, in terms of notable players on new teams, is rivaling Baker Mayfield as the most disappointing/underachieving. ARob needs to wake up for LA to have any chance at a Super Bowl repeat.
14. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 15)
Just kinda there. Don't feel strongly about Minnesota one way or the other. One of those, "Yeah you're in the playoffs. That's cute. You're not scaring anyone" teams. Counting on Kirk Cousins in a big spot can only carry you so far. Additionally, I'm not convinced the Vikings' defense can hold up against top-tier competition.
13. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 17)
Not a massive surprise such a well-coached team like Tennessee got off the mat and rebounded from a 0-2 start with solid wins over Las Vegas and Indianapolis. Superstar ball-carrier Derrick Henry looks to be rounding into form. Confidence has been restored for QB Ryan Tannehill. A trip to Washington precedes the Titans' Week 6 bye, after which they'll face the Colts in Nashville with an awesome opportunity for a sweep over their AFC South rival.
12. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 10)
For as zen and loving as Aaron Rodgers claims to be, he sure seems to have little tolerance for his teammates fucking up. I'll say it because we're all thinking it: Years of evidence shows the back-to-back NFL MVP doesn't deal with football-related adversity very well. Green Bay continues to disappoint defending the run as well. Not a good sign. The Packers are lucky they play in such a shit division while they sort through some early growing pains. They should pick up three more wins with relative ease against the Giants, Jets and Commanders in the coming weeks.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 13)
NAILS from Justin Herbert to keep gutting through this rib injury. Not that beating the Texans in Week 4 was some miraculous feat. Still, it was a road win and came on the heels of a 38-10 drubbing at the hands of Jacksonville. The Bolts are bruised at multiple key spots beyond quarterback. Good news? Their schedule is gettable for the rest of October: at Cleveland, home for Denver, home for Seattle and at Atlanta.
10. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 6)
Two choke jobs, both at home, where the Ravens have lost five straight overall. The cynical Bengals side of me is whispering about Baltimore being due to get a "W" in their own house this coming Sunday night. Suppose we'll see. Now that Rashod Bateman is dealing with a foot injury, if he's hobbled for the next several weeks or so, I'd be concerned as a Ravens fan about who the hell Lamar Jackson is going to throw to outside of Mark Andrews.
9. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 14)
While Dak Prescott has recovered from a throwing thumb injury, Cooper Rush has more than held the fort down for Dallas, going 3-0 in Prescott's stead. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is working his way toward another head coaching job. Micah Parsons might be the best all-around defender in the NFL amid only his second year. For these reasons, the Cowboys may, at long last, not be overrated in 2022.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 7)
Inclement weather led Trevor Lawrence to lose four fumbles in an eight-point loss to the Eagles. Not to mention, he threw a bad third-quarter interception in the red zone. To remain competitive with Philadelphia in spite of all those giveaways is an achievement in and of itself. That ain't gonna happen again. Jacksonville will be fine. So will its franchise QB.
7. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 2)
The drop-off for Miami is more a reflection of moving from Tua Tagovailoa to Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback than anything else. Presuming the Fins keep their solid defense going and eventually generate a viable rushing attack — which is coach Mike McDaniel's particular area of expertise — they should remain in the mix as a legit AFC contender until Tua's return.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 9)
Not merely being a fanboy in saying this: The Bengals should be undefeated. Easily. It's not a stretch at all to say that. Despite persistent struggles to run the ball, Joe Burrow's pass protection is better over the past two wins. Plus, he's getting the ball out quicker. Zac Taylor's play-calling is dubious as ever to the point where I wish Burrow would just dial up whatever he wants. Maybe it'll look better once the ground game gets going. What I do dig is how stout the Bengals are defensively, proving what they showed in their surge to the Super Bowl wasn't a fluke.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 5)
Amid all the rumored turmoil in Tom Brady's personal life, he remains a steady, stone-cold killer on the gridiron. His receiving corps is getting healthy and there will never be another game where the Bucs only attempt six rushes like they did in Sunday's 41-31 loss to Kansas City. The next three opposing QBs TB12 faces are Marcus Mariota, Kenny Pickett and Baker Mayfield (provided he isn't benched by then). I'm envisioning a nice little winning streak coming up here for the Bucs.
4. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 11)
Look, Jimmy Garoppolo is a mediocre, semi-competent quarterback propped up by Kyle Shanahan and an amazing roster that features a loaded supporting cast for Jimmy G. The Niners are allowing an NFL-low 11.5 points per game, too. So much to like outside the most important position. Intrigued to see whether Garoppolo plays his best football ever as he continues to settle in, or if he cracks and blows his chance at boosting his stock for a starting job elsewhere in 2023.
3. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 3)
That rally over the Ravens was something else. Nevertheless, Josh Allen being the Bills' leading rusher is not a sustainable model for success. Buffalo needs to find a way to be more balanced, because as good and as big as Allen is, he can only take so many hits and can only be so effective when pressed into such obvious passing situations. Over the last two weeks, Allen has completed 61 of 99 passes for only 6.2 yards per attempt, and averaged a middling 21 points.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 4)
Further proving Week 3's stunning defeat to the Colts was an aberration, Kansas City beat down the Bucs on Sunday night to avenge that Super Bowl loss from the previous meeting. Hard to go too wrong when you have a legendary offensive-minded coach in Andy Reid and a generationally gifted QB in Patrick Mahomes who's only continuing to progress.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 1)
Only 4-0 team. Deserving of this spot. All the haters are waiting for Jalen Hurts to regress. Perhaps he's on a steady ascent that will culminate with an Iggles Super Bowl. Who knows? It's so early. What is certain is how dominant the o-line and d-line are for Philly. That will carry them such a long way in a lackluster NFC.