The NFL at the Quarter Pole

After four weeks of the NFL season, we can begin to get a better feel for the direction teams are headed for the 2015 season. As with every season, there are clubs that play better than expected as well as clubs that disappoint. Here is a quick look at the division races at the quarter pole. AFC East The New England Patriots are still the class of the AFC East with a 3-0 record. Tom Brady is on a mission and is off to one of his best starts ever. The New York Jets are the surprise team with a 3-1 record. Their only loss was at the hands of the Patriots. New Head Coach, Todd Bowles,  is making a strong case for being Coach of the Year with his role in the turnaround. Buffalo is talented, but inconsistent. They look like great one week, and then poor the next. They still have a shot at a wild card spot. Miami is in trouble. They are 1-3 and lethargic looking. The poor start brought about the season’s first coaching change, as Joe Philbin was fired Monday morning. Tight end coach Dan Campbell is expected to be the interim coach. My feeling is there will be more changes once the season ends. AFC North Cincinnati is at the top with a perfect 4-0 record. Fans like to say that the Bengals win despite quarterback Andy Dalton. Sorry guys, but not this year. Through four games, Dalton has a 123 passing grade and has thrown nine touchdowns to only one interception. Pittsburgh at 2-2 will be in trouble until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns from a knee injury. Baltimore at 1-3 has been a disappointment. Joe Flacco doesn’t look like his usual self. Playing for his third offensive coordinator in three years will do that to a player. Cleveland is well….Cleveland. AFC South Many thought the Colts would walk away with the division but they have struggled and sit at 2-2. If the rest of the division wasn’t so weak they could be in trouble but as of now they are still favored to win division. Tennessee is a 1-2 and has shown they may be able to contend. Rookie Marcus Mariota is off to a fairly good start. Houston at 1-3 doesn’t have a quarterback and will struggle to reach .500. Many had hoped that second-year quarterback Blake Bortles would take a step in his second year. He hasn’t and the Jags are 1-3. AFC West Denver sits on top of the division with a 4-0 record. It hasn’t been the play of Peyton Manning who got them there, it’s been a very strong defense led by new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Oakland Raiders are at 2-2 and look as if they are finally about to turn the corner. They have a brilliant young quarterback in Derek Carr and an ace receiver in rookie Amari Cooper. San Diego is at 2-2 and that has to be a disappointment for them. Sunday they just got by a poor Cleveland team 30-27. NFC East After four weeks, there is no clear-cut favorite in the NFC East. The Giants are tied at the top with a 2-2 record. After a slow start, the G-Men have won two in a row and Eli Manning is starting to play like the Manning of old. Dallas, also at 2-2 will struggle until they get quarterback Tony Romo back and by then it may be too late. What was supposed to be a strong defense has been inconsistent at best. Washington at 2-2 is a surprise. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has flashed and those flashes have gotten the Redskins to that 2-2 start. Defensive lineman Chris Baker has come on and had two sacks Sunday against Philly. The Eagles have been one of the biggest disappointments of the young season. They sit at 1-3 and are struggling. If they don’t show a quick turnaround, Head Coach Chip Kelly will be in trouble. If you don’t think that’s the case, you haven’t been watching what has gone on in Philly the last nine months. NFC North Green Bay as usual sits on top the NFC North division with a 4-0 record. Right now, Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football and as long as he is in Green Bay they could rule the division. Minnesota sits in second with a 2-2 record and they have been inconsistent to say the least. They were horrible in their opener at San Francisco but then came back with strong games against Detroit and San Diego. Sunday they lost a close game at Denver 23-20. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is improving but still not there yet and Adrian Peterson still isn’t quite back to his old self. Chicago lacks top talent and has had an abundance of injuries. They lost top draft choice Kevin White before the season began and leading receiver Alshon Jeffery has missed three of four games with calf and hamstring problems. The defense is better but doesn’t have enough players who fit the new 3-4 scheme. As I write this I don’t have the result of the Lions- Seahawks game, but up until now Detroit has been the disappointment of the NFC North having not won a game yet. NFC South On paper, Carolina doesn’t have the best talent in the division but they are the best coached team. They have overcome a number of injuries since spring to start out at 4-0. Atlanta brought in highly regarded Dan Quinn to be their new Head Coach and the move has made a huge difference. The overall play of the Falcons is much improved and they are tied with Carolina at 4-0. Don’t overlook the playoff running back Devonta Freeman who has been outstanding. I thought New Orleans would come back from the disastrous 2014 but they haven’t. Drew Brees isn’t what he used to be despite his game winning TD pass Sunday night against Dallas. Tampa Bay is going with a rookie quarterback who is playing like a rookie. Number one overall draft choice Jameis Winston has completed only 55% of his passes and has thrown seven interceptions. You can’t win in the NFL with turnovers. NFC West Arizona looked like the team to beat after three weeks but then struggled at home versus St. Louis in week four. I still think they are the class 0f the division, but let’s see how they come back from the loss. St. Louis has been inconsistent but played their best game at Arizona on Sunday beating the Cardinals 24 -22. First round pick Todd Gurley finally looked fully recovered from a severe knee injury suffered a year ago - while he was at Georgia - running for 146 yards. If Gurley can remain healthy he will give the Rams a huge boost going forward. Seattle got off to a slow start losing their first two games. They came back last week to beat up Chicago. As I write this I don’t have the results of the Seahawks – Lions matchup on Monday Night Football. Going forward, I feel Seattle and Arizona will fight it out for the division crown with the loser being a wild card team. San Francisco at 1-3 will regret their divorce from Jim Harbaugh and will struggle to be a .500 team in 2015. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe  

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