A quarter of the way through the season already, and it’s a good time to take stock of things. Some predictions made just a month ago still look pretty good, while others look downright silly.
Before we get to the 1/4 season awards, a quick look at the division leaders:
NFC East: 4 games in, it’s pretty clear-no team in this division wants to run away with it. The Cowboys are in first at a really ugly looking 2-2, and could easily be a 1-3 team themselves. Sitting a mere game out of first are the Redskins (expected to be better) and the Eagles (about where they should be). In dead last, and it isn’t even close? The Giants. Perhaps the shock of the quarter season.
NFC South: Here, you have the Saints, and then there’s everyone else. With Payton back, the Saints are up to their old tricks. The Falcons should get things together and given them a tough run, however.
NFC North: Bears and Lions are sharing things for the moment. Packers will no doubt be in the mix, and the Vikings? Right now, hard to imagine them threatening this year.
NFC West: The Seahawks are no joke. The 9ers were the popular pick for the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks are staking their claim to the title of best in the Conference, for now.
AFC East: Ah, that old familiar team, the Patriots are in first. But wait, whats this? They are joined by the surprising Dolphins? The Pats are a patchwork of young unheralded players working hard, coupled with All-Pro Tom Brady. The Dolphins are finally looking like that good young team many thought they could be.
AFC South: Sitting atop the division? The Colts and the…Titans? Not the Texans? Mild surprise there. I expect the Texans will eventually catch up and surpass the Titans, but the Colts are looking like they are going to be hard to take out of first.
AFC West: Broncos at 4-0? No surprise. Chiefs at 4-0? Mild surprise. Tough luck? Chargers are 2-2, but it’s tough being in the same division as the Broncos right now.
AFC North: And your division leader is….The Bengals. And the Ravens. And…The Browns? Yes, a 3 way tie for these 2-2 teams. Give it a few more weeks and odds are the Browns will remember they are the Browns, and will play as such.
Now, the awards.
NFL MVP: Peyton Manning, and it isn’t even close. 16 touchdowns in September and not a single interception? He is a huge part of why they are 4-0.
NFL Defensive Player of the Quarter: Take your pick-NaVorro Bowman is leading the strong 49ers defense, and will be called on more with Aldon Smith’s indefinite leave. Aqib Talib is looking comfortable in New England as he’s out to an early lead for interceptions. I will give the nod to Justin Houston from Kansas City, however. Leads the league in sacks and just seems to be in on every play.
NFL Offensive Player of the Quarter (not named Peyton): Leading the league in rushing-and it’s not even close at the moment-the nod goes to LeSean McCoy of the Eagles. Honorable mention to Reggie Bush of the Lions, who is looking quite rejuvinated in Detroit.
NFL Rookie of the Quarter-Offense or Defense: Thus far, there have been some good rookie performances, but it’s hard to see a standout so far. EJ Manuel looks like he was worth what appeared to be a reach in the first round as he’s starting for the Bills. Geno Smith has surprised at times, setting a Jets rookie passing record in the process. DeAndre Hopkins has given Andre Brown and the Texans that secondary WR threat that they so badly needed. And defensively, we’ve seen good play from picks like Eric Reid and Ziggy Ansah. No one has stood out thus far, but there have been some notable performances at least.
Coach of the quarter: Andy Reid. Piloting the Chiefs to a 4-0 head start? Impressive, considering he’s now doubled their 2012 win total in the minimum amount of games possible. Andy could not have asked for a better landing spot, post-Philly. He will need to keep it up though, if he expects to get them into the playoffs-he’s neck and neck with the Broncos right now.
Not ready for prime time: The Rams, who I expected to be much improved, looked good week one but haven’t looked as good since. Clearly this is a team that needs another year to come together, but the talent should be in place. Honorable mention for the Eagles–not that anyone expected much this year, though a season-opening beatdown of the Redskins was a tease for Eagles fans. Give Chip Kelly another year or two to shape the roster with his guys, and his offense could be scary in the NFL. But, that defense needs a lot of work.
Shock of the quarter: The Giants and Steelers are a combined 0-8. And the Giants, especially, have looked terrible. A most un-Coughlin like team at the moment, they just don’t have the pieces. If they keep things up at this pace, they will be getting a good piece in the 2014 draft.
All in all, some things have gone as expected (Broncos being a dominant team), while most other things are still taking shape. Another four games will really help clarify some things (like that muddled AFC North). One things for sure-2013 has not been dull so far.