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SBM Sports: The Highs (and Lows) of the NFL Season So Far

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Now that the NFL Season is rolling, we can take the temperature of the league to see where we stand after a few weeks. I warned against the tendency to overreact after one week, but we have a few weeks under our belt now and some trends/headlines are developing. Here are the biggest stories of the NFL season so far:

The Saints may be the worst team ever

Not really. But I couldn’t have had this more wrong. The Saints already have 4 of the 5 losses I predicted for them, and two of the teams who beat them haven’t beaten anyone else! The Saints’ struggles so far have taught us a few things: it’s hard to win with an interim-interim-Head-Coach, Drew Brees is great but can’t make up for a total lack of a running game, and not even the real refs could deliver a win to New Orleans. Speaking of the real refs…

We have always hated refs, real or replacement, remember?

The “Fail Mary”, as it has been called, was the lowest point in an increasingly hostile situation with the NFL replacement officials. The interception/TD-catch call gave Seattle an undeserved win and ended the referee lockout in one fell swoop. Three weeks of replacement officiating had several ramifications. Player safety was in jeopardy as the replacements failed to enforce rules designed to prevent injury. The most serious example being the illegal yet un-penalized hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey. Also, the pace of games was choppy and frustrating due to seemingly endless on-field meetings while the replacements figured out what call to make.

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There were some advantages to having replacements though. First, we got an endless number of internet memes to laugh at on Twitter. I mean, this is hilarious.

Second, Roger Godell, who apparently sees himself as some sort of Sadam Hussein/Judge Mathis/Napoleon hybrid was embarrassed into conceding and settling the ref lockout. This led to another hilarious meme of Godell as Vince McMahon. Win/win!

The Detroit Lions are who we thought they were 🙁

My beloved Lions are terrible again. The Lions have added horrible Special Teams and a so-so offense to their horrible defense from last season. The sum of these yields a familiar sight: the Lions at the bottom of the NFC North.

After giving up a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown two weeks ago to the Tennessee Titans, the Lions got right to business this Sunday by allowing Percy Harvin to run 105 yards untouched on the opening kickoff. The Lions then gave up a punt return in the third quarter…it was really fun rooting for a professional football team last season.

The Lions have Philadelphia, Chicago (and Devin Hester), and Seattle (and Leon Washington) coming up after their bye week, so things could get worse before they improve. And of course Head Coach Jim Schwartz is sticking by the Special Teams Coach. I’ll be writing about this in another four weeks. Stay tuned.

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New England is still my pick for the Super Bowl

Despite their 2-2 record, I am sticking by my pick of the Patriots as Super Bowl champions. Their two losses are by a combined three points and each could have turned on last-second field goals. I’m still not sure the field goal that beat them in Baltimore should have counted. The decision was essentially a coin flip that went against New England.

Losing to the Arizona Cardinals on a missed field goal of their own seemed like a much worse loss when it happened. Arizona is currently 4-0, and undoubtedly a surprise to everyone. The Cardinals have no quarterbacks or running backs, yet they are undefeated. Try to figure that one out.

The Patriots’ performance this weekend was very encouraging. The offense was (finally) clicking, and the defense was solid. Looking ahead, the Patriots won’t be seriously challenged until December. They have mildly interesting games against Denver and Seattle coming up, but based on what each team has done this season, the Patriots should come out ahead. If Tom Brady and Co. can go on the run I predict, they will be red hot at the perfect time and may have locked up their division. The Bills, Jets, and LOLphins are somewhere between “eh” and awful.

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Honorable Mentions

1) Alfred Morris, 2) the Atlanta Falcons continuing their run as the Kings of the Regular Season, 3) He’s not a pro, but Geno Smith for President!

This is what has caught my eye thus far in the NFL season, what about you? Who has surprised you thus far? Have you changed any of your preseason predictions? Hit the comments below and let me know!

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Comment(17)

  1. I'm glad to see Alfred Morris getting some love. He was a sleeper pick in my fantasy league and he's gonna take me to a championship this year.

    As far as the list, I've got to give love to RG3 for the comeback victory. But who knew that Arizona'd be undefeated after 4 games? I remember people thinking they'd have first pick in the 2013 draft. I don't think they're for real, but hey what do I know. And how about that game by Hartline for the Dolphins? If Morris is my best fantasy move, Hartline is easily my worst. I had him for week 3 of the season and cut him for Shaun Draughn of the Chiefs (who?). Meanwhile Hartline puts up 200+ yards last week. If I'd have put in him and J. Jones for the Packers, I could have easily had 200 fantasy points last week. But I digress, I still won so it doesn't really matter THAT much. But dag, my team coulda been nice.
    My recent post Learning the Apriori Algorithm

    1. It's all about the Tigers and Tiple Crown Cabrera right now. Happy for the Nats tho.

      I would have cut Hartline too. Rookie QB throwing to him. No burn on Hard Knocks. Plus I have Welker and Jordy Nelson. All full at the white WR quota, lol.

      Morris has been a fantasy savior for many out there. He shouldn't have to buy a beer again after the fantasy pool money he's going to win people.

  2. The Cardinals, Vikings, Bengals are who we thought they were??!?

    Why did the Jets even bother with getting Tebow?

    The Niners scare me.

    May not have been pretty, but Eagles on top in NFC east!!!

      1. The Niners man…I see '00(?) Ravens all over them. Alex Smith/Trent Dilfer looks just good enough to get them over the hump too.

  3. Yeah, good post. Thanks for giving ALF a shout-out as well. RGIII and Alf are definitely doing wonders and to think we got him from the draft pick that was offered to us from Minnesota. What an awesome deal! I am starting to see your thoughts about The Patriots. They are who we thought they were, but after last night, those bears are really starting to look great. Granted, they did play against Tony Can't take it to the Next Level Romo, but still the defense and offense are just clicking on all cylinders.

    1. I have to discount yesterday's beating, the Cowboys are just too awful to REALLY compare a team to. Bears look good, but I can't see the offense surviving the Niners or even a game at Seattle.

      Happy the Redskins are looking up. Growing up in Va. Beach (100% Redskins country), it was hilariously depressing to see them win the offseason then go 5-11. I might just have to end my hiatus and buy a RGIII jersey.

  4. 1. 25% into the season my Pats/Bears SB pick looks legit
    2. The Saints defense has always been terrible, its just noticeable because Brees isnt himself
    3. Cam Newton is my favorite non Patriot player
    4. Am i the only one that thinks the Niners offense looks better with Kaepernick
    My recent post Today’s Word is… FATHERHOOD

    1. Kaepernick is a good QB, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Smith has grown by leaps and bounds under Harbaugh. Maybe they could just put anybody back there and still look good. Or maybe I'm just blinded by that defense.
      My recent post Learning the Apriori Algorithm

  5. Most interesting to me is how well, for the 2nd year in a row, that rookie QBs have started out the season (save Brandon Weeden) and their adjustment to the NFL. Tannehil went for over 400 yards this past week. Griffin III has been solid and playing well. Andrew Luck is pretty much what everyone thought he was…a NFL ready QB.

    Kevin Kolb is 4-0 and Drew Brees is 0-4. Who knew? lol

    1. Weeden has had his moments. He's just in a BRUTAL division with sorry receivers. Richardson will help take some pressure off him.

      I'm more surprised Gabbert has become average. I thought he'd be on that David Carr plan.

      I think Tannehill can be really good. He's played like 20 games total at QB. A lot of room left to grow. He's the anti-Weeden in that sense.

      1. I really haven't been impressed with Richardson. I mean fantasy-wise he's been decent, but I'm seeing him with more receptions and plays off that than just big runs. If he's going to live up to his draft hype, I'm gonna need him to look more like some of the RBs in Cleveland's legacy and not just another run of the mill player.
        My recent post Learning the Apriori Algorithm

  6. Al Morris getting some love is cool. As far as my surprises

    1. RG3 and my Skins being 2-2. I’m a diehard, but real fan, and I thought these dudes wouls be 1-3. They’re a couple of bad penalties from being 4-0. Go figure.

    2. The Texans being 4-0. I thought last year was a fluke, but I guess not.

    3. Brian Hartline leading the league in receiving yards caught everyone by surprise.

    4. The other 1st round rookie QBs aren’t looking to bad. Weeden and Tannehill started off very bad, but they’ve gotten progressively better each week.

    5. Chad Johnson still hasn’t been signed?

    1. 2. The Texans hung with Baltimore with their 3rd string QB. I am not surprised to see them playing this well. They'll be right there with NE and Baltimore I think.

      3. I'd have bet my life savings against this at the start of the year.

      5. With Santonio hurt for a while (it seems), Ocho might find himself in New York. He managed to get off without jail time, I could see someone taking that risk…again.

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