We're 25 percent through an NFL season that has thus far been as boring as a bag of rabid squirrels on angel dust. We've had stars emerge, teams implode, and comebacks that would make John Elway's eyes bug out of his head, if he wasn't so sad about the state of his own team.
The one-quarter mark seems like a good time to draw some conclusions, so we can, at the suggestion of liveblog participant Steve Patriot, look back at them in Week 17 and laugh. Here we go.
Philadelphia Eagles are overrated bags of hype who will fail spectacularly.
It could be that: Michael Vick stays banged up all year, the offensive line doesn't improve, the team never comes together, they never find the right run/pass balance and they miss the playoffs.
It could also be that: It's a long season, and the talent will rise to the top; 1-3 isn't good, but there's plenty of time to get things figured out and get better.
Projection: Well, the injury to Jason Peters certainly doesn't help, and there are personnel questions on defense that can't be ignored. I don't see Michael Vick being a picture of health the rest of this season, either. It's not like we're going to see a total 3-13 implosion, and they're better than 1-3, but I think the Eagles will be in a tough fight for a Wild Card the rest of the season.
Conclusion: Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record is going down.
It could be that: Yes, multiple people are going to bust up that record.
It could also be that: As we get into months of ickier weather and injuries to skill position players pile up, the whole "throw the football like it's a live grenade" trend will fall by the wayside.
Projection: Dan Marino's single-season record is going to be broken by at least two players. Marino's record is 5,084 yards. Over a 16-game season, that breaks down to 317.75 yards per game. There are six (SIX!) players ahead of that pace right now: Tom Brady (at a staggering 388 yards per game), Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo. If Brady stays healthy and on that pace, he'll catch Marino in his 13th game. I see both Brady and Brees going over the 5,084 mark.
Conclusion: The Detroit Lions are one of the top teams in the NFC.
It could be that: The Lions are all the way real and playing with a ton of confidence and enthusiasm. They are legit and here to stay.
It could also be that: They're not as good as advertised, and while they're certainly better than they've been in recent years, they're not quite in the upper-echelon just yet.
Projection: The Lions are 4-0, but how convincing are those four wins? They beat Kansas City by 45. Aside from that, they needed overtime to beat Minnesota, a Tony Romo meltdown to beat Dallas, and weren't overpowering against the Bucs. This is a good team, and they'll make the playoffs, but they will, sooner or later, fall off the pace set by the Packers.
Conclusion: The Pittsburgh Steelers are just not very good.
It could be that: The offensive line is the worst in the game, and that just puts way too much pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, literally and figuratively.
It could also be that: There's still a very good defense here, and the Steelers have too much talent to lay down and die.
Projection: There are a lot of similarities here to the Eagles, actually. Tremendous talent, but crippling problems. Ben Roethlisberger's made a living off of thriving behind a shoddy offensive line. It's worse now than it's ever been, but as long as Roethlisberger isn't in a hospital bed, the Steelers can win games with him and their talented receivers. Again, like the Eagles, I see them on the fringes of the Wild-Card fight all year long.
Conclusion: Darren Sproles is way, way better than Reggie Bush.
It could be that: The Saints made a brilliant move bringing in Sproles to replace Bush, because he's a better playmaker, and a better all-around player, too.
It could also be that: Miami really made a boo-boo by asking Bush to be its every-down back.
Projection: There really is no projection on this one. This is just the way it is.
Conclusion: The Washington Redskins are good enough to win the NFC East.
It could be that: The Redskins bring a fierce pass rush and a running game that can move the ball on anyone, and that might be enough in a disappointing division.
It could also be that: Everything Rex Grossman touches will, sooner or later, be dragged to the bottom of a sewage ditch.
Projection: I don't think we're looking at a division winner in the Redskins, and I do think they've probably got a couple of losses in their future that you'll be able to pin on Grossman. Don't forget, though, that he could also deliver a couple of wins, too. He's on pace for 24 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. The .750 winning percentage won't last, but I don't believe it'll dip down below .500, either.
It could be that: Yes, based on the strength of his Madden-style performance against Denver, Aaron Rodgers is a better all-around quarterback than anyone else right now.
It could also be that: This title is still Tom Brady's.
Projection: When the year is finished, it'll be Brady with more yards and touchdowns, because the Patriots are going to be a more pass-heavy team. But there's no question, either, that Rodgers has an athletic element to his game that Brady doesn't. I see it as a toss-up right now, but the numbers (and thus, probably the reputation, too) will be on Brady's side at the end of the year.
Conclusion: The contract the Arizona Cardinals gave to Kevin Kolb was money poorly spent.
It could be that: The Cardinals gambled big on Kolb, and he's played short of expectations.
It could also be that: The Cardinals are 1-3, and that's not great, but they'd probably be 0-4 if they hadn't moved for Kolb.
Projection: Kolb signed a five-year deal worth as much as $63.5 million, with $21 million guaranteed. Even if the Cardinals improve to around .500, you don't spent that kind of money for such average results. The struggles of the Cardinals aren't entirely Kolb's fault, obviously, and it's fair to note that their three losses are by a total of eight points. But they were looking for a quarterback rating better than 87.0. It's too early to say whether or not it was money poorly spent, but I don't see Kolb turning into a top-ten quarterback, either.
Quarter-point conclusions, Part II is coming Wednesday.
- Tom Brady
- Aaron Rodgers