1. Seattle Seahawks
The Champs are hanging onto their Number 1 spot by a thread. The defense looks not quite as monstrous this year, at least from what we have seen. They started off the season with a decisive 20 point victory over the Green Bay Packers, lost to the Chargers by 9 on the road and beat the Broncos in OT due to the services of Beast Mode. The defense is not quite as good as last year’s, but should be back to top 5 in the League soon enough. The Seahawks have a favorable schedule for the second quarter of their season, and will quickly pile up wins.
2. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning looks like his 2013 self, continuing to defy age, to the relief of the Broncos. The Broncos managed to only lose once in Overtime to the Defending Champions in their brutal opening quarter to 2014. The second quarter doesn’t get any easier, as they face the Cardinals, 49ers and Chargers. They need to hit the ground running after the bye week to retain their perch on the rest of the AFC, as the Bengals and Chargers are closing the gap quickly.
3. Arizona Cardinals
If these initial rankings were based purely on 2014 merit, the Cardinals would easily top the list. Bruce Arian’s squad looks playoff ready, defeating the Chargers in a thriller on Monday Night in Week 1, and the Giants and 49ers with relative ease. Week 5 showdown against the Broncos is the Cardinals chance to show the world that they are at the top of the League.
4. San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers is becoming a thrilling Quarterback to watch. Keenan Allen looks to be over his slow start, which can be blamed on monster match ups against Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson where he still managed to get decent yardage. Antonio Gates is clearly not done yet. Oh, did we forget to mention the Chargers top 10 defense? This team is ready to contend not only for the playoffs, but for the division crown against the likes of the Broncos and the Chiefs.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Giovanni Bernard is becoming the LeSean McCoy of the AFC. But Bernard is not struggling this season, unlike McCoy. The Bengals have won all of their games, and really it hasn’t been that close. Andy Dalton is doing his job and then some, and will have WR Marvin Jones, returned to him soon enough to pair alongside AJ Green to complete this offense. The Bengals have a difficult Second Quarter, playing the Patriots, Panthers, Colts and Ravens. The Bengals have a chance to prove their legitimacy.
6. Green Bay Packers
The Pack Attack has not had the ideal start to their season, but their blowout win over the Bears was convincing enough to let us know that this team has their act back together. It’s not as bad as it seems, as the Packers’ two conceded losses were to the Seahawks and the Lions. Aaron Rodgers reminded everybody that he existed in Week 4 by throwing for 300+ yards and 4 TD’s. With a moderately difficult second quarter, the Packers will show the League, one way or another, which way they are headed.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
Despite LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles’ struggles, the Eagles have been able to win mostly due to their Special teams and Defense causing turnovers. The offensive issues need to be fixed or else this team is going to digress as the season progresses. The Eagles need to take advantage of a relatively easy second quarter of the season.
8. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts started off 0-2 losing to the Eagles and the Broncos, and easily won the second two games of their first quarter. But we know how good this team is, and how good they are going to be. Andrew Luck has the deepest, most talented receiving corps around him, and an emerging pass-catching back in Ahmad Bradshaw that is becoming a great target as well. They seemed to mesh in the last two games against the Jags and Titans, and the Colts look ready to roll. Week 5 showdown against the Ravens will open up their difficult second quarter of the 2014 season.
9. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are continuing to succeed under the label “The team that no one is talking about”. Steve Smith went off on his former team on Sunday (wasn’t exactly quiet about it either) and is becoming this team’s top target in the passing game. Joe Flacco is becoming a very capable pocket passer in this offense, and is making fewer and fewer mistakes. C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs are leading a solid front seven. With their only loss coming to the undefeated Bengals, the Ravens are in place to keep winning.
10. Detroit Lions
The Lions are off to a great start in 2014, starting off 3-1 and defeating the Packers, Giants and Jets. Despite Megatrons injury struggles, they have got it done on offense. Matthew Stafford looks more and more dependable, and their defense has been solid in the first quarter of the season. The bad loss to the Panthers can be blamed on the Panthers’ strong defense (although not recently) and the then injury-free offense led by Cam Newton. The Lions have an easier Second Quarter to their season, so look for this team to keep moving.
11. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have had internal struggles with confusion in management, and issues on and off the field on both sides of the ball. The defense is wearing thin with suspensions and injuries, and the offense is not really counteracting them either, completely falling apart in the Second half in both of their losses. They have a moderately difficult second quarter, facing the Broncos, Chiefs and Rams twice. With the Seahawks and Cardinals playing very well, the 49ers are in danger of being left in the dust.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
Forget about the first game and the Chiefs look like an elite team. They lost to the Broncos by just a touchdown and preceded to destroy the Dolphins and the Patriots. Jamaal Charles is back, and the defense, despite its struggle with injuries, looks like its back to doing its job. They play the 49ers, Chargers, Rams and Jets in the second quarter of their season, and with Jamaal Charles back, look for the Chiefs to put themselves in the playoff picture early.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Possibly overrated but to early to be sure, the Cowboys sit comfortably in the 13th spot. They lost to the 49ers at home but since then have beaten the Titans and the Rams, as they should have, and then embarrassed the Saints on Sunday night. The defense is finally stepping up, and the O-line is unstoppable. Demarco Murray and Dez Bryant are in the top 5 in the NFL in their respective positions, and they are the two playmakers taht make this offense. In order for the Cowboys to avoid the classic Cowboys 8-8 finish, they will need to beat their NFC East foes, since they play each of their division rivals twice each in the remainder of the season.
14. Chicago Bears
The Bears have struggled to get Matt Forte going and have delt with injuries to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Hopefully for the Bears, these injuries are in the past, as both WR’s scored a Touchdown in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Jay Cutler threw two interceptions which were costly to the Bears in Week 4. But really, the main issue is the Defense as a whole. It can’t stop the gunslingers of the NFC. That’s just the honest truth. But the Bears still have a good chance of contending for the NFC North crown this year. The Bears face struggling, but contending teams in the second quarter as they go up against the Panthers, Falcons, Dolphins and Pats.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
We have seen the best and the worst of the Steelers already this year. We saw the 26-6 loss to the Ravens as well as a late game meltdown to the Buccaneers. But we have also seen the Steelers 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers. Antonio Brown is becoming one of the best receivers in the League, Le’Veon Bell is one of the quickest Running Backs and Big Ben seems to be revived. The QB-RB-WR combo in Pittsburgh is maybe the best in the NFL. But the “Steel Curtain” is officially dead and is in need of an overhaul. The Steelers have a very easy schedule in the first 3 games of the second quarter, going against the Jags, Browns and Texans before facing the Colts to round out the first half of their season. The Steelers need to pile up wins quickly while they can.
16. New England Patriots
The Patriots have made the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 years under Tom Brady. But Tom Brady is old. He and this Patriots team was just taken apart by the Chiefs on Monday Night. Not to mention a loss to the Dolphins by 13 in Week 1. And maybe it’s not so much Brady’s fault, as he was just punished by the Chiefs Defensive line. The Offensive Line will be a problem going forward. Well, at least he has Gronk this year. If this Patriot’s dynasty is to continue, Tom Brady needs to stop throwing interceptions and get back to his Tom Brady self.
17. Atlanta Falcons
The NFC South has been very confusing so far in 2014. The Panthers defense looks average, the Saints have only won one game and the Falcons are struggling to stay in some games, while annihilating the Buccaneers in another case. No one seems to want the division right now, and it is right their in front of the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan just can’t catch a break with this O-Line, and the defense has a lot of issues. But they have the offensive pieces to start winning, specifically Julio Jones, Devin Hestor, Steven Jackson, Matty Ice and eventually Roddy White again. The rest of the team (including the O-line) is going to have to keep up with the offense for this team to be successful.
18. Carolina Panthers
A 2-0 start and people started to think that the Panthers were going to prove everybody wrong in 2014. But two back-to-back blowout losses due to the exact issues that critics predicted would arise after a misled offseason at the Offensive Line and the Secondary positions, and this Panthers season could be headed in the wrong, but expected direction (hate to say it). The new Wide Receiver corps has stepped up for the Panthers, but the Running Backs have been decimated by injuries. If this defense can figure it out, and if Cam Newton and the Backs can shoo away the Injury Bug, then the Panthers may return to contention. But they have the hardest second quarter out of any other team in the League, going up against the Bears, Bengals, Packers and Seahawks, so they need to fix their issues in a hurry.
19. New Orleans Saints
The road woes continue for the Saints in 2014, with no end in sight. This team has to figure out how to win on the road! They have a incompetent defense, and this high powered offense have not been able to keep up with the points that their defense is allowing. The Saints have to get a wrap over their turnovers in order to sustain drives. The Saints have a make-or-break schedule for their second quarter of the season, facing the Bucs, Lions, Packers and Panthers. This team is going to have to start winning in a hurry in order to keep up with the rest of the NFC.
20. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have been an up and down team in 2014, no surprise there. From making quick work of the Patriots to being destroyed by the Bills, they are a difficult team to rank. But Ryan Tannehill looks relatively comfortable, and this team just can’t wait to get Knowshon back, with upcoming games against the Packers, Bears and Chargers.
21. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings dismantled the Rams and Falcons, and were dismantled by the Pats and Saints in the First Quarter of their season. Teddy looks ready to be the permanent starter after a stellar showing vs. Atlanta. Matt Asiata has done well in place of AP. Even with the absence of Adrian Peterson, this offense is becoming dangerous in the League. The Vikings next four games are moderately difficult, and its time for them to let Teddy Bridgewater step into the role he is ready for so that they will be successful.
22. New York Giants
The Giants looked pretty good against the Redskins on Thursday Night Football, with Eli Manning having arguably his best game since 2012. But even with this 2-2 start, the Giants look a lot like last years team. They have a tough second quarter of their season, going up against the Falcons, Eagles, Cowboys and Colts. We will know very quickly if the Eli Manning era is still intact.
23. Cleveland Browns
Surprising to many, the Cleveland Browns look almost good behind QB Brian Hoyer. And at this point in the season, a change at QB1 is not in discussion, at least for the time being. The Browns have found other ways to utilize Johnny Football, mostly in trick plays for now. Despite their 1-2 record, they have lost by 3 points or less to the Ravens and the Steelers, and they beat the struggling New Orleans Saints on a last second field goal. The Browns Second Quarter of their season is not very difficult, as they are going against the Steelers, Titans, Raiders and Jags. If they can win the majority of these 4 games, they will be in the playoff discussion at the season’s midpoint.
24. Houston Texans
Yes, the Texans are 3-1, and have already won more games this year than all of last season. But they still have a terrible offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick is obviously not among the list of consistent QB’s in the League, and the injury prone Arian Foster has left this running corps immobile. With JJ Watt dominating and scoring his 2nd touchdown of the season, (yes, the star Defensive End), he is the reason why the Texans have a winning record. Although the Texans have a mildly tough schedule for the Second Quarter, look for the return of Jadeveon Clowney to make this defense even more dominant.
25. Buffalo Bills
The Bills looked like a revamped team at the start of the season, knocking off the Bears and the Dolphins. But two straight losses, including one to the Houston Texans, have caused the Bills to drop from the top spot in the AFC North. They decided to Monday to bench QB EJ Manuel, who just hasn’t been getting the job done in the two years he’s been the starter. We will see in the Second Quarter if old Kyle Orton can do anything with this consistently subpar squad.
26. New York Jets
Prior to the First Quarter of the Season, the New York Jets were overrated, as usual. Yes, they beat the Raiders, but the Raiders are a very beatable team. Every one of their three losses have been by just a Touchdown, but this seems to be the new identity of the Jets as not being able to deliver in the Fourth Quarter. Now they play the Chargers, Broncos and Patriots for their next three games and one could not see the second quarter of their season going much different than the First.
27. Washington Redskins
The Redskins had new life in Kirk Cousins after RG3’s injury in Week 2. He looked great in the 41-10 defeat over the Jaguars when he took over and also in the narrow 37-34 loss to the Eagles due to a last second field goal. But in Week 4 things suddenly flipped, and Cousins played horribly throwing multiple interceptions in the Redskins blowout loss to the Giants. The Redskins are 1-3 through their first quarter of the Season, and it will be interesting to see if Kirk Cousins can turn it around, because he has the offensive pieces in place to do so.
28. St. Louis Rams
The Rams are maybe somewhat hard to judge after three games in their First Quarter of the season. QB Austin Davis has potential, as he led the Rams to victory against the Bucs. Fun fact about Davis, he broke a bunch of Brett Favre’s records at the University of Southern Mississippi.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs looked unlucky after the first two narrow losses to the Panthers and the Rams. Then they looked like a High School team after being annihilated by the Atlanta Falcons, saving the shut out by grabbing two touchdowns in garbage time. And now they shocked everybody to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Mike Glennon looks like he is the answer at QB, and the Glennon-Jackson passing attack looks to be somewhat promising.
30. Tennessee Titans
The Titans surprised everybody in Week 1 by destroying the Kansas City Chiefs who earned a spot in the 2013 Playoffs last year. Since then, they have looked downright awful, losing the last three games by a combined 64 points. Granted, they have gone up against some pretty good teams. But their inability to stay in these games have dropped them to the bottom of the pile for the end of the first quarter.
31. Oakland Raiders
The raiders have shown signs of competition, nearly beating the Jets in Week 1 and only losing to the Pats by a Touchdown in Week 3. However, they have already had an injury to their rookie QB Derek Carr, and neither he or Matt Schaub have shown signs of consistency at the position. They have a couple decent offensive pieces that just have not lived up to their potential, in the likes of MJD and James Jones. Expect more of the same from the Raiders in the second quarter of the season, as they face the Chargers, Cardinals and Seahawks.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Not a whole lot is going right for this Jaguars squad. Each of their first 4 games of 2014 they have lost by at least 17 points. Their offense and defense are both at the bottom of the NFL. Their is reason to believe the second quarter of the Jags NFL season may not be so bad, however. Blake Bortles had his first NFL start against the Chargers, and jumped out to an early lead. The offense was actually functioning, at least for the first half. Chad Henne was never the man for the Jags, and Bortles is really the one hope this team has right now.
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