Former Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith had a simple philosophy when looking at the course of a season: break the season up into four quarters and work to win all four.
We’re at the end of the first quarter in the NFC and we have a few surprises and a few predictions that were dead on.
Remember, it is still early and there’s plenty of room for improvement, unless you’re a Giants, Jets, Texans or Falcons fan. Only one team in the history in the NFL (1992 San Diego Chargers) started the season 0-4 and made the playoffs.
Here is part one of our NFL Grades at the Quarter mark of the season starting with the NFC.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) First in NFC East
The best team in the NFC (L)East is off to a 1-2-1 start. The Eagles may have saved their season with a 25-20 victory at San Francisco. Prior to this game Philadelphia sucked. They gave up 27 straight second half points at Washington, then were blown out by 18 at the Rams, and TIED the Bengals at home (See below). Yes, almost the whole offensive line is injured, but the season is shot if Carson Wentz doesn’t improve. Wentz hasn’t looked like himself and there have been early whispers that he might get benched for rookie Jalen Hurts. Grade: C-
Dallas Cowboys (1-3) Tied for 2nd in NFC East
This team would be 0-4 without a miraculous comeback vs. the Falcons. One of the reasons? The Cowboys horrific defense:
After giving up 49 points to the Browns on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense has now given up 146 points through four games. If this pace continues, they’ll give up a total of 584 points in 2020, which would break the all-time record for most points allowed in a single NFL season. The current mark is 533, which was set by the Baltimore Colts in 1981.
Furthermore, the Dallas Cowboys are giving up an average of 36.5 points per game. If that continues, they’ll beat the 35.8 mark set by the New York Giants in 1966, who gave up a total of 501 points in 14 games that season.
On offense the Cowboys can’t hold onto the ball, as shown by their 9 turnovers leading to 45 points for the opposition. This team is a mess. Forgotten in that mess is Quarterback Dak Prescott, who has thrown for more than 450 total yards in three straight games. GRADE: D
Washington Football Team (1-3) Tied for 2nd in NFC East
After a week one upset of the Eagles, the football team’s offense is stagnant (17 points per game) and they can’t play much defense (over 30 points per game). There’s already huge question marks regarding second year Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who already doesn’t have his new coach’s commitment. Speaking of that coach – in the offseason Ron Rivera received word he has cancer. That hasn’t stopped him, however, as he will continue coaching through his final three weeks of chemotherapy. While this team has many flaws, they have good leadership moving forward. GRADE: C
New York Giants (0-4) Last in NFC East
Can we trust that Daniel Jones is the answer moving forward? His two touchdown passes to seven turnovers scream NO. The offense has been atrocious, only scoring a total of 47 points (Cleveland scored this in one game) and 3 TD’s through 4 games! It’s not all negative. The Giants had a good first half vs. Pittsburgh, hung in till the end vs. Chicago and held the explosive Rams offense to only 17 points. Don’t be fooled by the semi-good, Giants fans, it’s time to start the Tank for Trevor Lawrence talk. GRADE: C-
Green Bay Packers (4-0) First in NFC North
The Cheeseheads have been nothing short of sensational starting the season 152 points with 0 turnovers! Aaron Rodgers has been MVP worthy (13 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and 1,214 yards), has an amazing running back, and has all the time in the world to throw as his line has given up only 3 sacks in 4 games. The only possible issue? Their bye week is this week, which could hurt some momentum heading into a Week 6 clash at Tampa Bay. The Packers are Super Bowl dreaming. GRADE: A+
Chicago Bears (3-1) Second in NFC North
Despite a 3-1 start, Week 4’s 19-11 loss to Indianapolis was very concerning. Chicago only scored 3 points for most of the contest, QB Nick Foles was inaccurate, they couldn’t run the ball (28 yards), and the coach forgot how to call productive plays. Two fourth quarter comebacks separate these Bears from 1-3 and 3-1. On the plus side, Coach Matt Nagy deserves tons of praise for benching Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles at Atlanta. Yes, Foles was bad vs. Indianapolis, but it was his first start for Chicago against possibly the best defense in football. This team has a ton of resiliency, but their season may be defined in the next four game stretch. GRADE: B
Minnesota Vikings (1-3) Tied for 3rd in NFC North
After week two and an 0-2 record, most Vikings fans were calling for tank. The team responded with a close loss to the division leading Titans (31-30) and a win against the Texans (31-23). The offense finally got going vs. Houston, with a renewed focus on running the ball (27 carries for Dalvin Cook) and two 100 yard receivers (Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson). The defense, however, is nowhere near as good as past seasons’ and their best defender is likely out for the year. Does this front office accept mediocrity with an inconsistent Quarterback moving forward? GRADE: D+
Detroit Lions (1-3) Tied for 3rd in NFC North
This team could be 3-1: they blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead vs. Chicago in Week 1, had a 14-3 lead at Green Bay early on, and another early 14-0 lead on New Orleans last week. Eh, maybe I lied: the defense has been awful, allowing 31.8 points per game (29th in NFL) and 170.2 rush yards per game. It looks like their coach won’t be around too much longer after his clueless comment that he took over a team that needed “a lot of work”. GRADE D
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) First in NFC South
What else can you say about Tom Brady? After a rough start at New Orleans, Brady returned to form to the tune of 297 yards and 3 TD’s at Denver and rallied the Bucs from a 24-7 deficit to defeat the Chargers with 5 (!) touchdown passes. There is some cause for concern moving forward regarding injuries to Brady’s key weapons. Despite that, Tampa Bay is poised to make their first playoff run in over a decade. GRADE: A-
Carolina Panthers (2-2) Tied for 2nd in NFC South
Carolina has quietly been one of the biggest surprises so far despite it’s best player going down. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks the part and is already 6th in the NFL in passing yards (1147) and 3rd in completion percentage (73%). What’s even more impressive is that Carolina brought in an entire new coaching staff this offseason. This team continues to improve weekly and may be a dark horse to make the playoffs. Not bad for a team expected to have a top pick in 2021. GRADE: A-
New Orleans Saints (2-2) Tied for Second in NFC South
New Orleans was considered a huge disappointment after week three. Drew Brees was too old to throw deep, he had no options to throw to aside from injured Michael Thomas, and the defense was awful in their losses. That is until they played the Lions. Reports of this team’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Drew Brees possibly saved the season with a vintage performance that included five straight TD drives in a row. With Michael Thomas coming back soon Saints fans should be encouraged. GRADE: C
ATLANTA FALCONS (0-4) Last in NFC South
39-24 and 26-10.
Two leads that will haunt Atlanta Falcons fans for some time. In four games the Atlanta Falcons were carved up by two MVP candidates (Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers), surrendered 570 total yards to the Cowboys, and made Nick Foles look like the Chicago Bears’ next savior. Are there any positives? Maybe wide receivers Calvin Ridley ( 21 rec, 349 yards, 4 TD’s) and Russell Gage (24 receptions, 186 yards, 1 TD)? The team, however, is 0-4, their coach is on the hottest of hot seats, and their Quarterback might be too. GRADE F
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) First in NFC West
You can’t describe this team without drooling over Russell Wilson. This man is SUPERHUMAN this year. Wilson is on pace to break NFL records and surpass almost all of his personal best. Check out how great Wilson has been courtesy of www.fieldgulls.com:
RW after four weeks
|Stat||Eye-popping number||NFL rank||On pace for NFL record?|
|Passer rating||136.7||1||Y (122.5)|
|ANY/A (Y/A + sacks)||9.74||1||N (9.78)|
There are major concerns on defense. Seattle has given up 460 yards in their first three games and a putrid 415 yards to the helpless Dolphins. Their six interceptions, however, bode well for the playoffs. This is Seattle’s second 4-0 start in team history and they won the Super Bowl the last time this happened. GRADE: A
Los Angeles Rams (3-1) Second in NFC West
The Rams look like they have regained their 2018 form. Their offense, led by Quarterback Jared Goff (72.1 completion percentage) looks much better. They have two receivers on pace for over 1,000 yards and have found a nice run-game by committee. Despite this, the Rams stalled last week, only scoring 17 points against the winless Giants (LA averaged 31.4 before this game). Luckily the schedule moving forward is easy and a 7-1 start isn’t out of the realm of possibility. GRADE: A-
San Francisco 49ers (2-2) Tied for 3rd in NFC West
Injuries have ravaged the defending NFC Champs. At this point of the season, the 9ers have lost their starting QB, RB, and four key defensive starters. The team has also been horribly inconsistent, as seen in their 36-9 thrashing of the Giants and then the 25-20 embarrassment against the winless Eagles. The 49ers are running out of time to fix their issues while holding out hope that the return of Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert will save their season. As of right now it looks like the curse of the Super Bowl runner up may continue. GRADE: C
Arizona Cardinals (2-2) Tied for 3rd in NFC West
The Cards went from 2-0 to 2-2 quickly. Everything looked peachy after their 2-0 start: QB Kyler Murray was playing MVP ball, DeAndre Hopkins was the missing piece, and the defense was great. The Cardinals lost its last two and everything above was reversed. Most of the blame is falling on its quarterback, and rightfully so. Kyler had 133 passing yards vs. Carolina and three interceptions vs. Detroit. While he is an amazing runner (265 yards, 8 yards per carry) it seems that he has regressed somewhat relying on Hopkins and his legs. The Cards like their next game at the Jets. GRADE: C
- / 2 years ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.