The 2009 NFL regular season is a quarter of the way through. After four weeks we are starting to see the Super Bowl contenders separate from the NFL pretenders. Today is report card day for the AFC. Let’s take a look at some teams on the Dean’s List and some teams who are worthy of a big fat “F” for fail.
There are several different components I take into account in grading the teams. The first is overall won/lose record. The second is quality of competition and how teams played up or down to their competition. Third, are these teams over or underachieving based on pre season projections and analysis? Fourth, I take into account coaching and how well teams have been prepared and whether any coaching decisions have won or lost games. Fifth, overall individual efforts from team players are definitely taken into consideration in both positive and negative grades. With that said, let’s hand out the NFL First Quarter Report Cards for the AFC.
Dean’s List –
Grade A –
New York Jets
The Jets were one win away from turning into the darlings of the NFL. Unfortunately Mark Sanchez’s inexperience bit them hard in New Orleans. The Ravens and Bengals have overachieved and both look like serious threats down the line. The Bengals need to show a little more consistency on offense for my liking. That offensive struggle in Cleveland almost moved them down to a B. At the same time, if anyone in pre season told you the Bengals would be 3-1 with wins over the Packers and Steelers, you’d laugh in their face. Of the three, I see only the Ravens keeping a steady hand all season. Joe Flacco has been unleashed and the defense seems to have new life. The Ravens can play with anyone!
Grade B –
New England Patriots
The Steelers were borderline C’s for me, but beating the Titans and Chargers have to count for something. I need to see the Steelers start closing out games to give them a higher grade. There is something off about the Steelers and they look very beatable in the post season. The Patriots have a lot of new players and a quarterback just back from a major injury. However, this was a team picked by many to go to the Super Bowl. The Pats are a team that can catch on fire at the right time, or go down in flames in December. The Jags at 2-2 and in my opinion, are huge overachievers. I didn’t expect the Jags or any team with David Garrard at quarterback to put up these kinds of numbers. Their defense is still pretty flimsy and could turn this one into a pretender quickly. However, if we are looking strictly at first quarter play they deserve a B for what they have pulled off thus far.
Grade C –
San Diego Chargers
I can’t find many teams in the AFC in the middle. There are some good to very good teams, while there are some bad to very bad teams. The Texans and Chargers are both 2-2 and right in the middle. Both teams are huge disappointments, especially on defense. Both teams are overall 24 and 25 in defense at the time of this writing. Both teams have great quarterbacks, decent running backs, and underachieving stars on defense. The other common denominator here is that both teams will probably and should probably have new coaches next year.
Grade D –
Kansas City Chiefs
Two of these teams are very bad football teams. At the same time, these are two teams with a lot of talent that are entirely capable of turning around their seasons immediately. The Chiefs insist on being a running team with an over-the-hill running back who has probably started for his last team. The Dolphins have completely underachieved as compared to pre season expectations. The loss of Pennington is huge for the Dolphins. The Dolphins go against every argument that a great running team wins championships. As a running team, they are tremendous. Unfortunately, their defense can’t stop anyone other than the Buffalo Bills. The Titans are winless, but I can’t put them in the same class as the Bills and Raiders. The Titans at least have a shot of turning it around, while the failed teams don’t have much of a prayer.
Grade F –
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