1. Can the Denver Broncos run the table?
Yea sure! But I doubt it. Denver is a pass first team and Peyton Manning’s historical numbers reflect that. But what happens in December when the football is cold and hard making it more difficult to throw and catch the ball. The Broncos will need to keep improving upon their running game if they want to win games in cold, snowy weather. Defensively the Broncos have been very impressive in the absence of suspended Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil going to Baltimore. Defense and running the football are the only way the Broncos have a chance at running the table.
2. Judging from last year to the first 4 games of the season this far, is it time to admit Sean Payton may in fact be the best coach in football?
Since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the “Aint’s” became the Saints. They lost the NFC Conference Championship that season and won a Super Bowl 3 years later over the Colts. So their is no question Sean Payton is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Here’s the proof. The Saints went from (13 – 3) in 2011 to (7 – 9) last season when coach Payton was suspended for the entire year. Now New Orleans is back on track with their coach and lead the NFC South with a perfect (4 – 0) record. With all that being said, I still think Bill Belichick is the best head coach in the NFL. Coach Belichick does more with less than any other coach in the league. Plenty of analysts said the Patriots would take a step back this season. Well they’re (4 – 0) now atop the AFC East and will only get better as the season progresses.
3. Which 0-4 team is the most surprising?
I’m shocked that the Steelers are (0 – 4). I know they lost key personnel like Mike Wallace and James Harrison, plus the injury to Center Maurkice Pouncy is devastating to an offensive line that is already in shambles. But the Steelers still have one of the top rated defenses in the league and Big Ben still has weapons to throw to like Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. Le’Veon Bell made his debut last week in a loss to the previously winless Vikings in London. Matt Cassell had his way with the Steelers defense. I’m most shocked about the (0 – 4) start because of Mike Tomlin. I consider him to be one of the best coaches in the league and I’m very surprised his team lost 4 straight to start the 2013 season since Tomlin’s Steelers have never lost more than two games in a row since he arrived. It seems the Terrible Towel has turned into the Rotten Rag.
4. Is Phillip Rivers back to elite form?
I don’t think Phillip Rivers was ever an elite quarterback. I always had him at the 2nd tier of QB’s along with Eli, Romo and Big Ben. But Rivers looks much better this season with 11 TD’s and only 2 INT’s through 4 games. One of the major issues with Rivers over the past two years really weren’t entirely his fault. Since L.T. left, Rivers never had a solid RB to shoulder some of the load. Antonio Gates was consistently hurt and missing games and Rivers lost his deep threat in Vincent Jackson. A quarterback is only as good as the weapons around him. That is unless you’re Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. So yes and no to the question. Rivers is back and playing great, but not at an elite level.
5. Any NFL coaches in your opinion on the hot seat?
I actually have 5 in mind right now that probably won’t be around next season but some of those coaches are on the hot seat at this second and could lose their job at some point this season. Rex Ryan basically knows he’s done in New York unless they keep him as a defensive coordinator because that’s what he’s best at. Leslie Frazier did lead his Vikings to the playoffs last year, oh wait that was actually Adrian Peterson that carried Minnesota to the post season. So Frazier needs to get things back on track to keep his job. Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers was given one last chance to keep the head coaching position. Right now the Panthers are (1-2) and have finished with losing records the past two seasons. He may not make it til week 17 unless we see major improvements.
6. Biggest surprise(s) in ’13 so far has been…..
The biggest surprise this season was the trade of Trent Richardson from the Browns to the Colts. Nobody saw this one coming! The trade shocked the NFL world but the aftershock was easy to handle. After a few head shakes by football fans around the country, the shock wore off and realization kicked in. It turned out to be a smart move for both teams. Not because they’re both unbeaten since the trade but the state of each organization. The Colts believe they’re ready to win now after an (11 – 5) season and a playoff berth. The Browns are on the opposite end of the spectrum where it seems they understand they’re far from a winning team and need a quarterback to get them going in the right direction. Getting a first round pick for Richardson was probably going to be at the very least a bargaining chip to move up in the draft and get their favorite quarterback in 2014. Or perhaps Bobby Hoyer already solved that problem?! Either way I say it was a well done job by both organizations.
7. Will the Dallas Cowboys win the NFC East by default?
If the Dallas Cowboys win the NFC East it won’t be by default. It will be because they had a winning season and earned the spot. The Cowboys are not the Seattle Seahawks of 2010 who won the NFC West with a (7 – 9) record. The Cowboys are a much better team. The problem is they don’t have the right head coach. To answer the question in a bit more detail – Yes it’s fair to say that the Giants are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The Eagles and Redskins are both (1 – 3) but they’re not terrible teams. The Skins will play better and win more games as a result of RGIII getting better and feeling healthier mentally and physically. The Eagles have the weapons to win on both sides of the ball. As the season goes I believe that Chip Kelly and his staff will make the necessary adjustments and become more competitive as we approach the 2nd half of the season.
Jason Fierman is the CEO/Founder of Route4Sports.com and the host of the Route 4 Sports Podcast which airs every Thursday at 6:30pm est on The Sports Chronicles Radio Network. Favorite sports teams include the San Francisco 49ers, NY Knicks and NY Mets. Follow him on twitter at @SportsProphet1