Each week, the Rampant Discourse staff will offer their quick takes and rampant reactions to the NFL 2017 season. This week will be a light week, with only Paul’s reactions to the games.
After the craziness of last week, week 4 brought a bit of a return to normalcy, although that didn’t mean there weren’t a few eyebrow raising moments. Here are some affirmations and surprises from this past weekend.
- Da Bears – After playing the Falcons tough in week 1 and upsetting the Steelers last week, I was beginning to wonder if I had misjudged them and if they could be a legitimate threat for a wildcard spot. Their performance on Thursday Night Football put those thoughts to rest and confirmed that they are a team good enough to put up a fight and pull off an occasional upset at home, but not good enough to win consistently.
- AFC North – Going into the season, I thought the Steelers were the class of the division, with the Ravens possibly challenging for a wildcard spot and the Bengals and Browns dwelling near the bottom. Pittsburgh’s stumble in Chicago and Baltimore’s 2-0 start (despite being against the dregs of their division) made me wonder if I was discounting the Ravens. This week put my mind to rest. While Baltimore has a stout defense, their offense is truly awful, and until it improves, I feel confident saying they won’t be sniffing the playoffs. Maybe it’s time for Harbaugh to fire another offensive coordinator?
- Eagles and Rams – As long as they keep winning, I’m going to keep pounding my chest over my two bold picks to win their respective divisions. Neither win surprised me this weekend, and I don’t see either team slowing down, with the NFC West looking like one of the worst divisions in football and the Eagles having only played one home game so far. I regret more and more every day having not placed money before the season began on the Rams winning their division.
- Bye-bye 18-1 – It’s officially time to be worried about New England’s defense. They’ve given up 30+ points in consecutive weeks and are averaging over 30 points allowed per game. Their offense has been amazing, and I’m confident that Belichick and Brady will find a way to keep winning, but this isn’t a championship caliber defense right now. The Patriots are tied with the Jets(!) in their division and losing to the Bills, speaking of which…
- Ascendant Bills? – I was quick to write off the Bills after what appeared to be a chaotic and confusing off-season where they waffled on re-signing QB Tyrod Taylor and then proceeded to trade away all of his offensive weapons. At the very least, it seemed to be indicative of a rebuilding year. Apparently nobody told the team, though, because after a second consecutive surprising upset, they’re now 3-1 and on the top of the AFC East. Their victory over Denver was in Buffalo, and the Falcons suffered a number of injuries in their game, so I could see this team fading later in the season, but a win is a win and the Bills definitely deserve credit for taking advantage of their opportunities.
- New defense in New Orleans? – While New England’s defense continues to look lost, New Orleans’ has seemed to turned a corner. After the first two weeks, no defense looked as generous as the Saints’. However, in their last two games, they’ve shut out one opponent and held another to 13 points. Neither offense was a powerhouse, but it’s still an impressive result. If the Saints can find a defense to match up with their prolific offense, then the NFC South is definitely within reach.