by majshark, 10/22/01
Six week into this intruiging NFL season, the "P" word rears its ugly head.
Many of the teams have struggled, while few have found consistent success. Others, however, litter the bottoms of divisions with embarassing play and coaching.
The following is a brief evaluation of the NFL. Each team is placed into one of five categories based on perfromace as of October 22.
And here they are, from great to ugly.
THE GREATThe RAMS are clearly the class of the league. They have been impressive on both sides of the ball to amass a perfect record through six weeks. While the RAIDERS haven't been as impressive as the Rams, they are playing consistent, winning football. They have done it despite playing below their capability. They are the class of the AFC at this juncture.
THE GOODThe PACKERS came to earth after falling hard at Minnesota, a tough place for the Pack in recent seasons. For them to truly contend, they need to win the games that traditionally give them trouble; this year, they are 0-2 (at Minnesota and at Tampa Bay) in such games. The STEELERS have taken control of the brusiing AFC Central with a punishing defense (sacking Buc QB Brad Johnson 10 times) and and equally punishing running attack led by Jerome Bettis. The BEARS and BROWNS are suprises thus far with 4-1 and 4-2 records, respectively. Both are getting it done with defense, attitude, and an offense that minimalizes its mistakes. Another suprise is the 49ERS. Steve Mariucci should be an early candidate for Coach of the Year for having this team competing week in and week out despite a young defense. Jeff Garcia looks to be the next in line of great QBs in the Bay Area.
THE MEDIOCREThe GIANTS looked tough, but they need to put a little more punch in their offense if they expect to make another run. It is suprising to consider the BENGALS and the PATRIOTS mediocre nowadays, as they have been so bad for a decade. They sit at 3-3 however, their best start in recent memory and potential for better things (even if they don't happen this season). It is equally suprising to consider the RAVENS, DOLPHINS, BRONCOS, BUCCANEERS, SAINTS and VIKINGS middle of the road, but for a significantly different reason: These teams were preseason pics to be contenders for the Super Bowl. Six weeks in, injuries (Ravens, Broncos) and inconsistent play (Dolphins, Broncos, Vikings, Saints, Bucs, Colts) have taken their toll. The SEAHAWKS have been competitive with Trent Dilfer at the helm, but listening to coach Mike Holmgren this is clearly Matt Hasselbeck's team. This is a team gearing for next season when their new stadium will be unveiled. Despite a lack of run defense, the JETS have been winning behind their veterans, most notable quarterback Vinny Testaverde and running back Curtis Martin. The CHARGERS are on the verge of being good; mounting another winning streak against quality opposition would remedy their recent downturn. The EAGLES last-second loss to the Cardinals was inexcusable. The win over the Giants was huge, albeit ugly; this is a team still trying to find its rhythm.
THE BADWho would have thought the TITANS would be this bad? Their once proud defense has shown signs of vulnerability and Eddie George has had few moments. If they are to take back the division they claim as theirs, their time must be NOW. The CARDINALS have proven to be significantly better than the other two doormats in the NFC east. Coach MacIinnis has done a great job installing attitude; one wonders how much longer Jake Plummer will be their starting QB.
THE UGLYThe cream of the crap. Although the BILLS won at Jacksonville, they clearly did not deserve to win. Rob Johnson is quickly becoming the Jake Plummer of the north, and believe me, that is NOT a good thing. The JAGUARS have been decimated by injuries, and losing to Buffalo like they did at home may have doomed their season. The PANTHERS loss to Washington legitimized their freefall since their open day upset win in Minneapolis. The CHIEFS need to find some receivers for Trent Green, or they may struggle to win another game. Everyone knew the COWBOYS would be bad, but at least they come to play each week. The REDSKINS won their first game, but like the Bills, they still look awful. It would be a suprise if Marty Morhinweg was coaching the LIONS by the end of the year. Both the coaches and players are contributing to the wreck.