Teams on the rise
⇧⇧⇧ Arizona Cardinals (4-0)- The Arizona Cardinals were one of the most interesting teams coming into this 2021 NFL season. They had a good start last year but fizzled out and eventually missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record. So in the offseason, they added experienced players to help them over that hump, which has definitely worked so far with their 4-0 start. Defensive End JJ Watt, Center Rodney Hudson, Running back James Conner, and Wide Receiver AJ Green were the key offseason additions for Arizona. The defense which looked suspect last year dominated the Tennessee Titans week 1 and held their own to the now looking dangerous LA Rams offense. And of course, QB Kyler Murray who is having an MVP start to this season just looks electric out there. He just had his way with one of the best defenses in football in the LA Rams after last week’s 37-20 victory over them. After the Rams beat the Bucs in week 3 people were pointing to the Rams as the best team in the NFL, but the Cardinals just usurped that throne.
⇧⇧ Dallas Cowboys (3-1)- We hear it every year from the loudmouth Cowboys fan, “This year is our year!” well they might be onto something this year. The Cowboys started off the year with a tough back and forth battle with the reigning Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The big question coming into the year was how QB Dak Prescott was going to play after his broken ankle injury which saw him miss most of last season. The other was if their defense can improve to that of a playoff team. Well, Dak has had a great start to the season amassing over 1,000 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in just 4 games. His ankle seems like a non-issue and that Cowboys offense with weapons such as Ezekiel Elliot, Ceedee Lamb, and Amari Cooper looks like one of the best in the league. Their defense has also been a revelation under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and break-out cornerback Trevon Diggs who already got himself a hefty 5 interceptions, more than most teams in the NFL already. Their only concern going forward is if the leadership can stay consistent. Head Coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t had the best track record recently, but if he keeps his talent playing how they are, the Cowboys seem like a lock for the NFC West.
⇧ Los Angeles Chargers (3-1)- The Chargers had probably the best season they could last year for a team that missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record. The reason for the greatness was discovering the hot new quarterback, Sunshine Justin Herbert. Herbert had the best ever season for a rookie QB, and with new coach Brandon Staley, the future is very bright for this team. Herbert managed his record-breaking rookie campaign under one of the worst O-lines in the league last year, and they beefed up the front for him this year. Rookie first-round pick Rashawn Slater has played great and the offense is clicking with a healthy Austin Ekeler, and former first-round pick WR Mike Williams has played the best football in his career. Defensively they are great when healthy with stud pass rusher Joey Bosa, elite safety Derwin James, and experienced Corner Back Casey Hayward Jr locking up the outside. Their only loss came to the Cowboys. and the Cowboys didn’t win, but the Chargers lost due to penalties and execution. If this team can mature quickly with this young coach and QB tandem, they can be a powerhouse in this league for many years to come.
Teams on the Fall
⇩⇩⇩ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)- This may be the NFL’s worst offense and the sad part is that everybody is healthy. After a sizzling 11-0 start last year, the Steelers couldn’t tough the winter out and went out with a whimper going 1-5 with an embarrassing wild card playoff loss to the Browns. Big Ben and the Steelers decided to go one more year to see if they could find that 11-0 magic yet again, but this year the well has run dry. Ben at the age of 39 looks like one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league, with his inability to expand the pocket and his Star Wars Stormtrooper arm. He is constantly overthrowing his targets and is killing drives like he is Michael Myers. The Steeler’s glaring problem last year was the inability to run the ball, and this year hasn’t fared any better. New 1st round pick running back Najee Harris looks amazing when he is in the open field 1 on 1 breaking tackles, but those opportunities rarely come. The revamped O-line, which has 4 new starters from last year just hasn’t got the answer yet as Najee is often met in the backfield before he has any real opportunity. The Steelers defense still remains one of the best in the league when healthy, but unless carried by them and their special teams such as in their sole win of the season against the Buffalo Bills, this Steelers team will have their first losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin.
⇓ Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)- After getting dominated in the Super Bowl last year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chiefs saw their gaping weakness and immediately addressed it. The O-Line which saw QB Patrick Mahomes running around for his life was shored up with 5 new additions along with stalwart Orlando Brown Jr as the Left Tackle. But the offense hasn’t been the issue for the Chiefs this year, but the whole defense. The KC defense is the 2nd worst defense in the league for points allowed, and this does not bode well for the future. 50-40 blowouts sure are fun, but are not practical in the NFL, especially in the playoffs. The Chief’s two losses have come from good teams in the Baltimore Ravens and the LA Chargers, but the Chiefs are only looking towards one thing, the Super Bowl. So these performances against good teams should get the Kansas City faithful worried about the team. Because yes, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce can win a game alone with their offensive prowess. But a one-off game in the playoffs with that leaky defense can only spell disaster for the Chief’s future.