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NFL First Quarter Update

Mill Woods

Posted on October 3, 2018 19:30

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Contenders overcome early losses and perform, especially late in the season - and especially against division rivals; this is what I remember after a tumultuous first quarter. The perennial-champion New England Patriots - now at 2-2 record - overcame a slow start to wallop the previously-unbeaten Miami Dolphins. In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons have shown similar resilience, but we must wait to see if the Falcons can rebound from a spate of defensive injuries.

The Miami Dolphins were riding high at 3-0, then laid an egg against the main team they really need to beat - the Patriots. It is a good sign for the Pats, not for the Dolphins - no matter the record.

The Atlanta Falcons have been in all three games they lost, falling mainly due to the loss of three Pro-Bowl-caliber starting defenders. The Falcons’ defense, which ranked in the top 10 last season, has lost three games this year. But two of the three starters now on injured reserve may return later. The Falcons could finish the first half at 3–5 and still make the playoffs with a strong second half.  

The NFC is the league’s more competitive conference. Except for the Rams, no NFC teams are running away with playoff spots. The Falcons have the ability to win in crunch time, last evidenced by their eliminating the Rams in LA last January. My doubts are around those key injuries - and whether the Falcons have already fallen too far behind.  They play in the NFL’s toughest division; the Saints and Panthers joined the Falcons in the playoffs last year and are potent this year, too.

The fate of the NFC North is now controlled by that ferocious Bear defense.  However, that division is in play; I don't rule out the Lions or Vikings, although I don’t like the Packers’ chances with Aaron Rodgers hobbled.

In the NFC East, I still rank them: 'Eagles over Cowboys' - although the Redskins are improved. 

I think the NFC wild-cards will come from the South and North.

The AFC is controlled by the Titans and Jaguars, also due to excellent defense. Patrick Mahomes is an overnight superstar for the Chiefs, but a word of caution: hot young quarterbacks have often cooled - some due to injury: Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz.  So, it’s too soon to crown the Chiefs.

The Ravens have capitalized on the weakened Steelers, whose outlook is troubling, because: 1) the Ravens and Bengals are rejuvenated; 2) the Browns have been competitive in all four games; 3) the Steelers' have a tough schedule; and 4) they lack team cohesion.

I think the AFC wild-cards will also come from the South and North.

That hobbled Falcons defense is a stark reminder: injuries can drastically change teams’ outlook.  Stay tuned.

Last week, I went an impressive 12-3.  My Week Five picks are:

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

 

Mill Woods

Posted on October 3, 2018 19:30

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