The Return of Football

Four Weeks in the NFL


Photo courtesy of Google Images

D.J. Hudson, Sports Editor

As the heat cools down and the leaves begin to change colors, it can only mean one thing: football is back. Week Five is coming and every NFL team has the same dream, however some of these dreams are quickly fading into hopes of getting a high draft pick.

This year’s defending champions are the 2-1 Seahawks from the NFC West division. Led by quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks are a very powerful team. The Seahawks are the only team in the NFL to be undefeated at home for the last two years. Playing in the loudest stadium in the world might be a major factor in this. These facts may make it sound like Seattle is a lock to at least make it back into the playoffs. However, the NFC West may be the toughest division in football. The 2-2 San Francisco 49ers finished second in the NFC championship game behind the Seahawks. It was their third championship game in three years. However, this year San Francisco is struggling. The 3-0 Arizona Cardinals have also been a huge surprise this year. That should have been predicted, though, when they ended last season with a record of 10-6, barely missing the playoffs. This goes to show how deep the NFC really is.

The rest of the NFC looks pretty strong too. The NFC North is pretty tough themselves, with the 2-2 Green Bay Packers as defending champions, even if they have been a bit of a disappointment in 2014. The 2-2 rival Chicago Bears might have the edge on them this year with the fact they are co-leading the division. This could also be the year of the Lions. With a 3-1 record, Detroit may be able to have a huge year if quarterback Matthew Stanford can stay healthy, their offensive line can protect him, and their defense can make stops. The Minnesota Vikings have a new head coach, former Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator, Mike Zimmer. They might need a few years of rebuilding before becoming a big threat in the division. They also definitely need running back Adrian Peterson and a healthy quarterback in Matt Cassel before they can become a threat to win games.

The Eagles went to the playoffs last year with first year head coach Chip Kelly. With a 3-1 start, the Eagles are flying high (pun intended). The Cowboys may not be as dominant as they have in the past, but they still have the best T.V. ratings out of any NFL team. The team’s season could go either way. However, if it goes poorly, this season could be the last go-around for head coach Jason Garrett. Also on the chopping block could be the 2-2 New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin depending on if the Giants’ season takes a turn for the worst. The Redskins are not in a good place with star (quarterback) Robert Griffin III who is injured again. They also have a first-year head coach in Jay Gruden. Not to mention the team may have to change their name. Things are looking gloomy in our nation’s capital.

Last but not least in the NFC, is the south division. Starting with the Carolina Panthers who are off to a decent starts, Even after losing their star receiver Steve Smith, they have found a way to get on top again. Along with the Atlanta Falcons, who after a disappointing season last year, could be back to playoff-bound. The only thing that could stop the Falcons is their defense. that may not hold up when tested. The Saints could make a push to the playoffs as well. With a future Hall Of Fame QB like Drew Brees anything can happen. Not much can be said about the Buccaneers other than it’s going to be a bumpy road.

The AFC has a great assortment of teams. Starting with the closest division the AFC North. The leading Cincinnati Bengals look to be the NFL’s most complete teams thus far this season. The Bengals and the Cardinals are the two unbeaten teams left in the NFL and show little signs of stopping. One thing to remember about the Bengals going forward is that they are still a really young team and are still due to make some mistakes. The rest of the North looks strong too, maybe even strong enough to produce a division winner as well as a Wild Card winner or two. The 3-1 Ravens, even without running back Ray Rice, seem to be very good. Maybe good enough to make another trip to the playoffs. However we can’t count out the also 2-2 Steelers, who are looking to make it back to the playoffs after missing it last year. The Cleveland Browns would also love to make the playoffs this year after missing out the past 20 years. It might not be likely they make it this year. However it is clear they are improving and they could make an unexpected run. The question on everyone’s mind is still yet to be answered: will Johnny Manziel get to start this year or will we have to wait to see Johnny Football in action?

The AFC West looks good as well. The West sent three teams to the playoffs last year, led by the defending AFC champions, the Denver Broncos. This could be another division to watch for. The Broncos, after losing in an embarrassing fashion in the Super Bowl are looking to go back and not repeat history. A huge surprise so far is the San Diego Chargers handing Seattle their only loss this year is something very few predicted. San Diego has been one of the most impressive teams thus far this season and quaterback Phillip Rivers has shown he should be considered one of the best in the league. They may be able to prove that last years playoff win against the Bengals wasn’t a fluke. On the other hand the Kansas City Chiefs, after getting off to an amazing start last year, and being the last unbeaten team in the league, they are not having the same luck this year. The Raiders might not be in Oakland next year, a change certainly could not hurt this team right now.

The AFC East is not just the Patriots show anymore as in year past. The Bills, as of right now, are the division. If quarterback EJ Manuel can stay with this team, they could hold some weight. Also, the Miami Dolphins are holding their own while the Patriots are as good as always with living-legend quarterback Tom Brady on the field and a healthy tight end Rob Gronkowski. They could take over and go back to the playoffs they have become so accustomed to. This is very possibly the last year for head coach Rex Ryan in New York. Quarterback Geno Smith not playing well, Fans chanting to start back-up quarterback Michael Vick, and the rest of the team not clicking, as it might be time to let Rex go.

Finally the AFC South, with Houston on top doing what Kansas City did last year, going from worst to first. After having the number one draft pick, the Texans are now leading division, even after losing the first pick Jadeveon Clowney in the first game to a knee injury. The Colts are still a big contender to the division, especially with the Texans QB questions, is Ryan Fitzpatrick really the future of this team? As for the rest of the division, it does not look as good. The Titans are not where we thought they might be this time of year. Then there’s Jacksonville, who will may be a lot better under quarterback Blake Bottles, but are not yet ready to contend.

It is still early in the season and anything can happen, but isn’t that the reason we love the NFL?