Here’s what we know about the NFL season so far:
The Los Angeles Rams absolutely made the right decision by loading up this offseason to try to win big while Jared Goff’s cap hit was still team friendly.
Patrick Mahomes is an absolute machine who is eating defenses for breakfast and has Kansas City as the most exciting team to watch in the league.
Injuries are absolute killers. The Falcons and 49ers probably both saw their seasons end before they even started thanks to some major injuries.
The Jon Gruden fiasco is just that. A fiasco.
Beyond that, I’m really not sure. After six weeks of play (and week seven’s Thursday Night Football game), 20 out of the 32 teams either have three or four wins on the board. You can chalk this up to the parity of the NFL keeping everyone in check, or the fact that it is a league with an alarming about of mediocrity with just a few top teams. It’s probably a little of column A and a little of column B, but it presents an interesting case regardless.
How do you evaluate most of these teams? You can say whatever you want about how the Bears have looked so impressive at some points this year, like when they blasted Tampa 48-10 and ended Fitzmagic possibly forever. The Panthers have looked very subpar for long stretches of games, and lost one to the 2-4 Falcons. The reality is they’re both 3-2 and in the thick of the fight. I absolutely think the Jaguars are much better than the Jets. The standings say they’re both 3-3 and trying to keep pace in the crowded AFC playoff mess.
And what do you do with the Los Angeles Chargers? They have a 4-2 record, but the wins are over the Bills, 49ers, Raiders, and Browns, teams with a combined record of 6-17-1. Their losses are to the Rams and Chiefs, the top two teams in the overall standings right now. They’ve won every game they were supposed to win, and lost every game they were supposed to lose.
Sunday they head to London for the middle of the three NFL UK games this season to take on the Tennessee Titans, a team with plenty of their own problems after an embarrassing home loss to Baltimore where Marcus Mariota was sacked 11 times.
The Chargers probably should beat the Titans, but the reality is Tennessee is higher in the standings than any of the four teams they’ve beaten so far. Those extremely mediocre Titans are currently leading the AFC South thanks to their tiebreaker advantage over Houston and Jacksonville, and need to prove themselves as a team who can win outside of their own division.
Speaking of the AFC South, the Texans and Jaguars will meet Sunday in Jacksonville. Both teams are 3-3, and right in the middle of that AFC logjam. Jacksonville got embarrassed by the Cowboys last week 40-7, but they did beat the Patriots back in week two.
Will the real Jaguars please stand up?
Keep an eye on the happenings at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champions are 3-3 with five one-possession games in the mix. The visitors to Philly on Sunday will be the Panthers, who are 3-0 at home but 0-2 on the road.
We don’t know much about either team, but we know somebody is going to be leaving that game with a world of questions to answer and one less week of room for error in an NFC where it very well could take a 10-6 record to get a wild card.
Dallas and Washington are fighting with Philadelphia for NFC East supremacy, and they’ll open their account against each other on the season at FedEx Field. Like Carolina, the Cowboys are undefeated at home and winless on the road. Washington has the dubious “honor” of being the only team with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts this season, but they dominated the Green Bay Packers one week later.
As long as the middle of the NFL continues to beat up on each other, somebody is going to have a chance to break out and set themselves up well for January. The 4-1 Saints will hit the road to play the 4-2 Ravens. Somebody is walking out of that game with five wins in the bag, and will surely be near the summit of their respective conference. The loser will be sucked back into the group of teams with three or four wins.
A lot of the questions about the true quality of these teams will still be unanswered after this week. One game can’t move the needle too much. But there are fact that cannot be escaped.
We’re coming up on the halfway point of the NFL season. Teams will be playing their eighth game next week or the week after. The Eagles got hot last year in January behind a great defense, and this year they’ll have an even better quarterback in the playoffs.
The Chargers were tipped by many as the team best set up to beat the Patriots in a playoff game thanks to their defense. They won’t get a shot at the Pats in January unless they break out of this pack of three and four win teams. The Vikings are off to a sluggish 3-2-1 start, but have the talent to be way better.
It’s time to prove it.
Before the season starts, everyone is 0-0, we have a lot of questions, and the playoff race is tight, with many teams still thinking they have a chance to get in. The only difference between the run-up to week one and the run-up to week seven is that all the zeroes have turned into threes and fours. The questions are there, the close standings are there – and most crucial – the playoff race is still packed full of teams in the hunt.
In a lot of ways, week seven will be the start of the NFL season for many teams.