We’re almost halfway through the regular season and the majority of superstars have broken bones. Nothing new there, then. Some teams are coping better than others, though and there’s usually a link to results and health.
Despite the early hype, no team has looked overly convincing this year and most teams are fairly average. The good thing for us is that it means the playoffs could be even more exciting.
10 – Carolina Panthers:
It’s very, very hard to justify a team that could only score three points against Chicago side being in the top ten. Yet our flawless logic has left us here. Benjamin and Funchess seem to be helping with the absence of Greg Olsen and they can just about get home in a blitz. It’s average, but it’s an average year.
9 – Los Angeles Chargers
Relax. Calm down. Deep breaths. Yes, they’re sub .500 but they’ve the best pass rush in the NFL and just held Denver to their first shutout in twenty-five years. The emergence of Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler on offence means they’ve got fairly much everything. They’ve also got to welcome back Denzel Perryman. Watch this space.
8 – Pittsburgh Steelers
They’re 5-2 but it’s a false position. Mike Tomlin is all over the place schematically and this team cannot keep relying on Big Ben. He makes too many mistakes and his body appears to be breaking down. Their defence has been incredibly fortunate on so many occasions – hence why they rank atop the league in terms of passing defence. Three of their wins came against teams in their own God-awful division. Don’t believe the hype.
7 – Washington Redskins
What’s funny is that Kirk Cousins continues to play at a high level, but nobody wants to talk about him. Their defence can be lights out when it needs to be and that’s a fairly tidy tandem to have working. The fact they spread the ball out so much makes them harder to play against – and also acts as a hat tip to their depth. They’re also 8th in the league against the run. That’s the key to their success.
6 – Minnesota Vikings
This team are underrated. Defence is king, and the Vikes are 4th in combined yards against, and 3rd against the run. They control time of possession as they can run efficiently and Case Keenum is being given a limited enough role that he can’t completely make a balls of a very well-oiled Minnesota roster.
5 – Houston Texans
Do you know how hard it is to be playing to this level with a rookie quarterback under centre? Very. Yet his maturity has ensured that not only do they stay in games, but they grab them by the scruff. Watson has been a revelation; rattling off a passer rating of 101. They’re averaging 140 yard per game on the ground and despite losing JJ Watt, they rank in the top half of the league in both phases of defence.
4 – New England Patriots
It says a lot about the organisation and Bill that this is easily the worst version of the Patriots we’ve seen in years, and yet they still rank fourth in this list. Brady is looking like himself, but has needed to work on his footwork in the pocket more. Gronk is healthy again and their secondary issues are slowly fading away. Same sh*t, different year.
3 – Seattle Seahawks
That defence is still as mean as they come. Believe that. Wilson has less time in the pocket than a fresh fifty quid note, but the amount of time he can spend running away from people has once again freed up an offence that has to completely base itself around him and some unique play calling. If you’re running flea-flickers, you deserve to be near the top.
2 – Kansas City Chiefs
They’re sliding. But they’re sliding from 5-0, which means they’re better than thirty other teams – at least in our eyes. Design, design, design. Andy Reid has made Alex Smith look like a reincarnation of Christ, and that’s no easy feat. Kareem Hunt’s emergence has aided them greatly, but their strength still lies with their pass rush and shrewd management from Andy Reid.
1 – Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz is a lot of things, but one thing he definitely is not – is ordinary.
He can extend plays and wait for his average receiving corps to get open, but the scary thing about Wentz is that you can see his decision-making get better every single day.
That Eagles defence sets the tone for everyone. Nobody can run against them. Yes, they’re susceptible to being beaten in the air, but without a running game, you cannot beat them over the course of sixty minutes.