It’s crazy to say, but we’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season. We have three unbeaten teams which would be your New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs and perhaps the biggest surprise, the San Francisco 49ers. Perhaps an even bigger surprise is the number of winless teams, 6. The Jets, Dolphins, Bengals, Broncos, Redskins, and Cardinals. This is the first time since the NFL Merger in 1970 we’ve had six winless teams at this point of the season. Since we’re at the quarter point of the 2019 season, so this means it’s time for some evaluations.
Shocker! They’re unbeaten with an inside track at the AFC East Championship. Pro Bowl Receiver names have been thrown around like a crazy Antonio Brown tweet. (It happens a lot) Brown of course played a game for New England, but he did eventually get let go and the search for his replacement is on including Stefan Diggs. While many will focus on Tom Brady, and rightfully so the pass catching of the Pats is what I’m watching. Julian Edelman leads the team with 21 receptions on 32 targets and James White is next with 16 receptions on 21 targets.
To be fair, the combined record of the Patriots opponents through their first four games is 4-11. The game against the Bills did prove one thing. The team misses their tight ends. Yes, the team even misses Dwayne Allen and of course they miss #87 Rob Gronkowski. Not just for the pass catching, but also for the run blocking as well. After four games in 2018, the Patriots had 470 rushing yards and this year after the first quarter of the schedule they have 365.
With Ben Watson coming back, this may help ease things for Sony Michel. The sophomore running back has 171 yards on 62 carries meaning an average of 2.8 yards per carry with a TD. James White is playing a glorified slot receiver role for the Pats with 37 rushing yards and 132 receiving yards so Sony will be a featured back looking for help now that James Develin is out for the foreseeable future. New England has their toughest stretch to come with games against Baltimore and Houston on the road and hosting the Cowboys and Kansas City. To those that are “bored” with the first few weeks sit tight, it’s about to get fun for the Pats.
Just like New England, the Chiefs are 4-0. Unlike the Patriots though, the Chiefs have faced competition. The combined record of Kansas City’s opposition is 8-7-1, of course one big game was the game I touted as the AFC Championship preview against Baltimore which was a win. 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes continues to do Mahomes things with crazy passes and just under 1,600 all-purpose yards.
Kareem Hunt is off of the Chiefs roster meaning there’s some snaps available, cue LeSean McCoy who is in his 11th season and first with Kansas City. Shady has 214 yards on 40 carries averaging 5.3 yards a catch which is the second most in his career. This will only help “Patty Playoff” and the Chiefs. If Mahomes can get some offensive help, teams will have to scheme for that possible rushing threat. There is a receiving threat besides Travis Kelce so far this season. Demarcus Robinson can be dangerous as the season rolls on as he has 250 receiving yards which is just 38 yards away from his mark from a year ago. Robinson’s speed and talent with one handed grabs will make him a viable target for Patrick Mahomes and fantasy owners as the bye weeks start coming up.
Tanking For Tua Hitting Overdrive
Six winless teams have hopes open for a QB. If the NFL was wise, there would be a Premier League style relegation tournament to get the number one pick in the NFL draft. In all seriousness, the Jets have just had bad luck with injuries and their starting QB Sam Darnold kissing someone. They won’t make the playoffs but if they have things go their way, they will be fine.
Miami is trying to tank. That’s obvious, losing the first game of the season 59-10 to Baltimore was ugly, following that up with a blowout loss to the Patriots didn’t help. Now members of the team want to be traded away which is bad for head coach Brian Flores especially during the off season. What free agents can the Dolphins attract when they’ve been blown out by a collective score of 163-26.
At the end of the season, plan on the draft order showing Miami picking first, with Denver picking second, Redskins third and the rest will fall into place.
With a quarter of the season complete, it’s on to the next phase of the season. Fine tuning. With rosters taking shape over the four weeks, teams will start planning for the 2019 NFL Trade Deadline and by the end of October, in the words of Bon Jovi. We’ll be halfway there!
-John Luck (@jluck_89)