By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s Week 4 in the NFL, and it’s time to make some bold overcommitments. Sure, you could point any number of teams that started the season on a hot streak, only for the season to end in shambles. (The 2018 Dolphins say hello.) And sure, you could find a number of teams that stumbled out of the gate, only to last deep into January.
Long story short, it’s Week 3, so nothing matters. But if you think that’s going to stop me from delivering some official POWER RANKINGS of the NFL’s 3-0 and 0-3 teams, then you’re nuts. Plain and simple.
Through three weeks of football, we’ve got seven 3-0 teams and six 0-3 teams. They’re begging to be power-ranked. They’re begging to be ranked by power. Let’s do it.
1. New England Patriots
Dreadful competition thus far, yes, but they are football’s most complete team. The defense has allowed … one point per game. That doesn’t happen in today’s NFL. Tom Brady (perhaps you’ve heard of them) is their quarterback, and the only thing that can get in their way this year would be injuries.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Losing the Super Bowl can be psychologically devastating for a team, but the Rams … the Rams look like they’re better this year. Cooper Kupp’s return has been tremendous, their defense has been fine, and they’ve beaten some actually decent competition.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is on such a heater right now that he can throw a near-interception and an actual interception on a drive that ends with him throwing a touchdown pass. They’ve got all the talent in the world, but for as long as Andy Reid remains the head coach, they’ll remain suspect in terms of Super Bowl chances. He’s a brilliant offensive mind, but he’s also 12-14 as a head coach in the playoffs. People don’t forget.
4. Green Bay
It’s weird; it’s been so long since the Packers were actually among the NFL’s best that it’s taking some adjusting to this year. Yet here they are, and looking at their schedule, they have the opportunity to enter their Week 8 meeting with the Chiefs carrying a 7-0 record.
Standing in the Packers’ way to perfection will be the Cowboys. There’s plenty of excitement in Dallas, and with good enough reason. But their schedule is about to get real. We’ll see how they emerge.
Josh Allen is not the guy. The Bills should make the playoffs, though. That’s always fun.
7. San Francisco
Is anybody taking the Niners seriously? If not, I expect it’s because they went from sneaky fun Super Bowl pick a year ago to 4-12, Nick Mullens-led losers. I suppose we are all humans, and humans have trouble letting go. (We also might be smart.)
Ha! Just kidding. You don’t get to play with the undefeated crowd. You tied the CARDINALS. Shame. SHAME!
Anyways, those are the boring ones. Let’s rank the losers, from the most impressively bad team to the least impressively bad team.
Folks. We are witnessing history. The Miami Dolphins may end up being the worst team ever. Every good player got traded away, and the remaining players started a mutiny. The head coach has never been a head coach before, and he probably doesn’t deserve this. The Dolphins are allowing over 44 points per game while scoring just 16 points. Total.
The Dolphins are so bad.
The downfall of the Pittsburgh Steelers really is remarkable. Ever since they all (head coach included) looked past the Jaguars in the 2017 playoffs, they’ve botched relations with their best players, kicked away their playoff chances in 2018, and now appear to have little to no hope for 2019. Bummer.
Watching the Redskins on Monday Night Football, they just look … hopeless. There’s no life there. Case Keenum is like Alex Smith Lite (and who knew such a thing was possible!), the defense stinks, and Jay Gruden is just kind of there. The list of reasons to be excited about the Redskins is short. Because it doesn’t exist.
4. New York Jets
The Jets get somewhat of a pass because they probably didn’t anticipate their starting quarterback to get the kissing disease before Week 2. Nevertheless, Adam Gase has been thoroughly unimpressive, proving the theory that if you can coach one AFC East team to a sub-.500 record, you can probably coach another AFC East team to a sub-.500 record.
“Times are rough around here,” Emmanuel Sanders said. “We sit at 0-3, living in a world of suck.”
You said it, partner.
Just like Adam Gase, it’s kind of amazing that Joe Flacco isn’t magically better at his job just by virtue of changing his home zip code. Crazy.
I don’t know. It’s kind of perfectly on brand for the Bengals to be the best of the worst. Hasn’t that been their whole thing for, like, 20 years?
Congrats to the Bengals.
(Wednesday lines; Home team in CAPS)
GREEN BAY (-4) over Philadelphia
The Eagles: kind of good, but not really.
A middle-of-the-pack defense, a barely-top-10 offense, one-hundred drops, and too many injuries have the Eagles in a baaaad spot heading into Green Bay on a short week.
Kansas City (-6.5) over DETROIT
The Lions: Fake.
They may be undefeated at 2-0-1, but they beat the aforementioned not-all-that-good Eagles and the dreadful Chargers while … tying the Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals. They tied them.
You are what your record says you are, unless you’re the Lions. That is how the saying goes.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) over Washington
The Daniel Jones thing is fun, sort of, but a Saquon-less Giants team against one of the most inept teams in football? Sounds horrible. (I will end up watching too much of it, of course, because of The Football Sickness.)
INDIANAPOLIS (-7) over Oakland
There are a lot of bad football teams currently playing football in the big football league, aren’t there? Man alive, the Oakland Raiders have to play a full, entire season and everything. And they have to go to England? What’s the point? Just write in the results now — 3-13, last-place finish. Save the players some injuries, at least.
ATLANTA (-4) over Tennessee
As you can probably tell, sometimes I do research, and other times I just rely on my big brain to make these genius picks. For this one, I had to do research. A lot of research. I was desperate to find one reason to believe in either of these teams on any given Sunday.
Couldn’t do it.
For every reason to bet against one team, there was an equal reason to bet against the other team. It’s a vicious cycle.
Run away, ladies and gentlemen. Run away fast.
HOUSTON (-4.5) over Carolina
Don’t let the Kyle Allen Week Of Buzz distract you from the fact that the Panthers stink. (Except Christian McCaffrey. He works out.)
New England (-7) over BUFFALO
It’s tempting to highlight this one as the AFC East game the Patriots randomly drop in a season. But that would be too obvious, now wouldn’t it? They’re obviously going to win this one and then lose to the Jets on Monday Night Football, or graciously give a victory to Brian Flores in Week 17. This one actually means something, doesn’t it? Which in turn means that the Patriots will win it and the Bills will not. That is the rule of the AFC East.
(Fun fact: The Bills enter this weekend as AFC East leaders. Let’s just hope those crappy Patriots can muster the energy to put up a good fight!)
Los Angeles Chargers (-16) over MIAMI
If you’re thinking about taking the Dolphins … think about something else. Don’t think that. Definitely don’t think that. Go watch four minutes of a Dolphins game, if you can stomach it.
Seattle (-5) over ARIZONA
Has any team in the history of pro sports ever inspired more indifference than the Arizona Cardinals? Does anybody outside of the greater Phoenix area think about the Arizona Cardinals for than five minutes every year? They’ve always just kind of existed. They made the Super Bowl that one time, which made everyone say, “Huh, no way. Good for them?” But other than that, they’ve managed to keep on existing as both the least loved and least hated team in sports history.
Even the influx of a slick, sexy head coach and the No. 1 overall pick at QB can’t make the Cardinals interesting.
(I may have written this exact description of the Cardinals in a picks column either last year or in years past. I honestly have no way of remembering though, because if it was about the Cardinals, it went in and out of the brain in a matter of a few seconds, never to be considered again.)
LOS ANGELES RAMS (-9.5) over Tampa Bay
I will say that the head coach intentionally taking a delay of game penalty is prrrrrobably not why a kicker misses a kick. Right? We agree that makes sense. A kick is a kick; five yards shouldn’t matter that much on a short kick. Just kick the thing.
At the same time, Bruce Arians’ postgame press conference was so indignant, as if to say, “Of course I took a delay of game penalty to make the kick easier. Duh. You imbeciles. How could you not understand this?” I believe that kind of decision-making on the sideline and at the podium leads to some bad mojo following you for at least another week.
(Plus, considering the football basically grazed the upright, we kind of can say that the penalty yardage was the difference, can’t we?)
DENVER (-3) over Jacksonville
Dang it, I hate this line, because I thought I had the opportunity to Mr. Smart Guy Mike taking the 0-3 Broncos over the hot-as-snot Jacksonville Jaguars. Apparently I am late to that party.
In any event, I love the Gardner Minshew thing that’s going on. Yet even as someone who helped drive the hype train early in this very column two weeks ago, it is clear to see that the hype train might be teetering off the rails. It’s just a bit much, and even though Joe Flacco is Joe Flacco, playing against Denver’s defense in Denver is a challenge that Minshew is not quite accustomed to facing.
I deserve at least a point off that line for that sound reasoning.
(Jalen Ramsey got a tummy ache reading this write-up and is going to need a few days off from work.)
Minnesota (+2) over CHICAGO
Behold, my Worst Pick Of The Week.
Look, sometimes you just feel like zagging when you know you should be zigging. The heart wants what the heart wants. You might say, “But Mike. But Mike. The Vikings are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games!” And you might say, “But Michael! The Vikings are 3-16 against the spread in their last 16 trips to Chicago! You’re crazy!”
“Yeah,” I’d reply while adjusting my shades. “Crazy like a fox.”
I’d then immediately drive off, all cool looking, arm around the passenger seat of my blue convertible, engine revving as I go 0 to 60 in 3 seconds flat.
(And then I’d rear end the car in front of me in a messy, grisly collision, of course.)
(This pick is SO bad. Love it.)
Cleveland (+7) over BALTIMORE
The runner-up for this week’s Worst Pick Of The Week. There’s literally not a single reason to feel good about the Cleveland Browns at this moment in time. Their head coach is what we thought he’d be. Their quarterback loves throwing picks. Their defense is aggressively injured. And all of those Super Bowl hopes and dreams are in danger of going poof before the calendar even flips to October.
But that’s when the zig/zag theory has to kick in. No kinda bad/possibly OK team is ever as bad or as good as it seems. They’re always just one week away from reminding you that they can indeed be mediocre, if they try hard enough. And with their season kind of hanging in the balance, the Browns have some mediocrity to be discovered within themselves. I believe in them.
NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) over Dallas
I’m honestly not sure if the “Don’t Bet Against The Saints On Prime Time, ESPECIALLY At Home” corollary remains in effect when Drew Brees is not under center. It’s been 300 years since someone else has held that spot, after all. But I’ll stick with it for now. Too much positivity surrounding that whole Kellen Moore situation in Dallas. It’s making me uncomfortable. JASON GARRETT IS STILL THE HEAD COACH, PEOPLE.
Cincinnati (+4) over PITTSBURGH
For the second straight Monday night, we will sit down in front of our beloved Vizios, and we will say, “Oh boy does this game stink.” And then we will watch every last minute of that stinky football game. Because we are broken, broken humans.
Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last week: 8-8