We’ve reached the quarter pole of the NFL season and the Kansas City Chiefs stand alone as the only unbeaten team.
Are the Chiefs the best team in the NFL? That’s debatable, given the early decline of the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, two teams I expect to rebound soon.
What the first 25 percent of the season has exposed is that all 32 teams have flaws that have been magnified. How else can you explain the Chiefs being the only perfect team through four games, and three of their games have caused the blood pressure to rise.
Here’s a look at the divisions so far:
• NFC EAST — Philadelphia (3-1), Dallas (2-2), Washington (2-2), New York Giants (0-4).
• Analysis — The biggest surprise is how woeful the Giants are. I had them picked as a wild-card entrant, but have scored only 66 points in four games. Philadelphia’s only loss is to the Chiefs and Carson Wentz looks like the real deal. Dallas’ star has dimmed as Dak Prescott hasn’t been as good as last year. Washington looks much improved, but was hit with a stunning number of injuries on Monday. In the end, Dallas should still win this division if its gets its act together.
• NFC SOUTH— Atlanta (3-1), Carolina (3-1), Tampa Bay (2-1), New Orleans (2-2).
• Analysis — Best division in football? The case could be made. I picked Carolina to win the division at the start of the year because nobody in this division ever repeats. Atlanta looks like it might have staying power and Tampa Bay is considerably better. With Drew Brees, New Orleans always has a puncher’s chance. I’m sticking with Carolina.
• NFC NORTH — Detroit (3-1), Green Bay (3-1), Minnesota (2-2) Chicago (1-3).
• Analysis — The Lions have been a smoke-and-mirrors team, while the Packers have to almost exclusively pass the ball. Minnesota is already riddled with injuries and the Bears have quarterback problems. The Packers’ division to lose.
• NFC WEST — Los Angles Rams (3-1), Seattle (2-2), Arizona (2-2), San Francisco (0-4).
• Analysis — The Rams are a nice story, but reality will soon set in. Seattle always starts slow and will pick up steam. Arizona and San Francisco don’t figure in. Seattle should still win this division handily provided it can find a running game.
• AFC EAST — Buffalo (3-1), New York Jets (2-2), New England (2-2) and Miami (1-2).
Analysis — This could very well be a division where three teams finish under .500. Buffalo and the Jets have overachieved and the Dolphins are terrible. Even though New England is showing signs of finally declining, it will win by default.
• AFC SOUTH — Jacksonville (2-2), Houston (2-2), Tennessee (2-2), Indianapolis (1-3).
• Analysis — A 9-7 record might win this division. Of course the Jags won’t be around at the end, but the other three are about .500, provided Andrew Luck returns soon for the Colts. When in doubt, I like the team with the best defense and that’s Houston.
• AFC NORTH — Pittsburgh (3-1), Baltimore (2-2), Cincinnati (1-3), Cleveland (0-4).
• Analysis — Pittsburgh has hardly played its best football and its record is a testament to its embarrassment of riches. Baltimore can’t score, Cincinnati was left at the starting blocks and Cleveland is staring at 0-16. Pittsburgh should rule.
• AFC WEST — Kansas City (4-0), Denver (3-1), Oakland (2-2), Los Angeles Chargers (0-4).
• Analysis — The Chiefs have the best record, but Denver may be the best team. The Broncos’ defense is lights-out against the run. Kansas City’s imaginative offense complete with a group of greyhounds is fun to watch, but you worry about the defense and the offensive line. If David Carr is out more than 2 weeks, the Raiders are in trouble. The Chargers are going to beat somebody really good because they’re much better than their record indicates. While of course the heart is with Kansas City, that five-game stretch coming up beginning with Houston next week is beyond brutal. Don’t be surprised if Denver and Kansas City end up in a tie.