We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.
The Alydar Division-For those of you too young to remember, Alydar was a horse that finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978, getting nipped at the finish line by his rival all three times. These are the close but not quite teams of the NFL. Two of these teams are going to make the playoffs, not that they actually deserve it, but the rules call for 12 teams.
Detroit Lions- Of all the teams that I listed the lions are the ones that SHOULD have made the jump. They have all the pieces in place-enough talent on both sides of the ball to at least be an also ran and to compete with those above them. However two things have occurred. 1-The Suh mess has somewhat polarized the team from the rest of his peers and the rest of the NFL, putting a target on the Lions back. I had Suh as my highest rated player in my 2010 Draft Project but there is something wrong with him and if it is not corrected then there will be more serious problems in Detroit. His actions and more importantly the responses to them make him and the team an embarrassment to the league. They reflect on the lack of control that Jim Schwartz, a guy I really like, has over this team. Yes, Suh has changed the culture of losing in Detroit, but Schwartz missed an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and suspend Suh himself to set an example for the rest of the team. 2- They have also had bad luck at the RB position with injuries to Jahvid Best, who I really like, and Kevin Smith, who looked great before his injury, that has made their offense one dimensional.
Bottom line is- the Lions have trouble understanding the difference between a tough and physical football team (what they want to be) versus a cheap and dirty team (what they actually are).
Chicago Bears- I'm not a big Lovie Smith fan, nor am I a big fan of the bears or the way that they play but you have to give them credit for playing tough, good defense and really placing an emphasis on running the ball in what is becoming a pass-heavy league. Cutler was having his best year as a pro and was making plays but more importantly, WAS NOT MAKING PLAYS FOR THE OTHER SIDE! Even if Forte comes back and shines, they aren't going anywhere, even if they manage to sneak into the tournament.
Cincinnati Bengals- I have to give Marvin Lewis credit because we all thought the places were in place for a bad team (4-12 team that adds a rookie QB). Dalton has played fantastic for what I consider a "limited-upside" quarterback. A.J. Green has been everything I envisioned and them some. The Bengals can sneak into the playoffs.
New York Giants- Dare I say the Giants have once again collapsed in the second half of the year. It's ok to lose to New Orleans, it's ok to lose to San Francisco although frankly I think the 49ers are a bit of an overachieving team. With that being said it was totally unacceptable to lose to Seattle at home, to the Eagles at home, who are just cascading downward in terrible. To lose to them at home in a game you needed, with a backup quarterback, terrible. Tom Coughlin has lost control of the team and he has to go, EVEN IF THEY MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. And lets not forget that opening day loss to that powerhouse team they affectionatly refer to as the Washington Redskins. They need to go back to playing Giants football, that means running the ball 45-47% of the time, it's a mentality. Stopping the other team from running the ball.
New York Jets- They have changed their culture, they're exciting, fun, they talk a lot. I'm all for Rex Ryan and what he has to say but at some point he has to shut up, enough is enough. Not all of your players are all-stars, some of them are not all that good. Don't continue to feed their egos and tell them they are a great team when they are not. Losing to New England, acceptable. Losing at Baltimore, acceptable. Blowing leads vs Oakland and Denver, unacceptable. The Jets have to understand that they desperately need a couple of pieces that they are not willing to go out and get. Wake up, your safeties stink. They can't cover, they can't tackle. They are basically just terrible.
Tennessee Titans- Interesting team. Good offensive line, not as good as in years past but still good. Solid defense. They have a quarterback who I kind of like. He has given them a chance to compete. The problem that I have is that the Titans need, as quickly as possible, to develop Jake Locker. They have to. While I like Hasselback, he certainly isn't the future of the franchise. It's almost as if this year is a bit of a waste in terms of developing Locker.
Denver Broncos- God I hate the Denver Broncos. I can't believe they are where they are with Tebow at quarterback. I'm here to tell you I cannot understand how this guy can be a quarterback. But I give him credit, he is getting the job done. A little bit of luck, a little of the teams they are playing against self-destructing, a somewhat favorable schedule, and a lot of a great defense.