The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

NFL Drama Is Just Beginning

Mill Woods

Posted on October 6, 2021 12:37

0 user

After the first quarter of the 2021 season, absolutely nothing is settled, nothing is clear. The playoffs are never decided after four games, but in 2021, extreme parity has clouded the crystal ball even more than usual. Almost every team is a shuffle pass away from winning their division or inhabiting the cellar.

This year will be the fastest that the NFL has ever seen its top teams lose a game. Only one undefeated team remains — the Arizona Cardinals — and I expect them to lose a game before the halfway mark.

What is perhaps more interesting is that only two teams are left without a win — the Lions and the Jaguars — and I expect them to notch a win any day now. In 2021, there is a very small difference between the top dogs and the cellar dwellers, a fact which may drive some fans crazy.

Now, recall that there are 17 games, not 16, in each team's schedule. That extra game means that we are actually not at the quarter pole in this race. There is plenty of time for the teams in last place to overtake the teams in first place, especially since many of them have heads-up matches in the upcoming schedule. The Jaguars, for example, live in a division where the leader is just 2-2. It's easy to see how the Jags could overtake the Titans.

And so, we head into Week Five with extreme doubt everywhere. Even the Cardinals fans are not ready to pop the bubbly — Arizona happens to reside in the NFL's toughest division. The Cardinals scored an impressive win over the Rams, but every team in the division has at least two wins. The thunderous sounds they're hearing in Arizona are the division competitors bearing down on that last undefeated team. I, for example, am going with the Cardinals over the 49ers in the week's most headline-grabbing contest, but I am far from certain about this pick.

I am equally tepid on the KC Chiefs maintaining their thin AFC edge over the energetic Buffalo Bills.

Lately, the teams of the NFC South have been difficult to predict — the Saints and Falcons lost games I expected them to win — only the Bucs are performing as I've predicted (losing one to the Rams).

And goodness knows who will win in the NFC East. I only seem to have a clear read on the Cowboys (nursing a very weak lead).

Because of extreme parity, it doesn't get any easier picking winners and losers from week to week, but I am having an excellent season so far, with at least 10 wins each week (I'm sure I just jinxed it). Last week, I went 10-6. Here is my Week Five outlook.

NFL 2021 Week Five Contests

        Away               Home              My Pick
 
1.     Rams               Seahawks        Seahawks
2.     Jets                  Falcons            Falcons
3.     Lions                Vikings            Vikings
4.     Saints              Washington      Saints
5.     Patriots            Texans             Texans
6.     Dolphins          Buccaneers      Buccaneers
7.     Packers            Bengals            Packers
8.     Broncos           Steelers           Broncos
9.     Eagles             Panthers          Panthers
10.   Titans              Jaguars            Titans
11.   Browns             Chargers          Browns
12.   Bears               Raiders            Raiders
13.   49ers               Cardinals          Cardinals
14.   Giants              Cowboys          Cowboys
15.   Bills                  Chiefs              Chiefs
16.   Colts                Ravens             Ravens.

How do you get through these exciting but uncertain Sunday dramas? Beer or antacids? Choose your poison!

 

Mill Woods

Posted on October 6, 2021 12:37

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: NYT

Kyler Murray is healthy and has the 4-0 Arizona Cardinals leading the N.F.L. in points and yards. By a few important measures,...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest