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Shield Talk: The ups-and-downs of a young NFL season

Brent Jansen, Columnist

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Before we get started, name the top five teams in the National Football League:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Um…

That’s the case for most NFL fans because outside of the Kansas City Chiefs, no one knows what the top five might look like next week.

These first four weeks of football have been confusing, to say the least. The preseason predictions for each team now seem like a joke, as teams have fluctuated up and down through the weekly ESPN power rankings.

The Patriots, who were projected to be the top team during the preseason, are currently ranked seventh with an average 2-2 record. The New York Giants, ranked at 11th during the preseason, is currently ranked at 30th with an 0-4 record. But on top of the teams that haven’t met expectations, several teams have jumped up and down the rankings on a weekly basis.

The Baltimore Ravens started the season at No. 21. The Ravens then jumped up to the 10th spot after an impressive defensive showing in the first two weeks. Now the Ravens are back to the 22nd spot. These huge jumps are coming after just four weeks of football.

The Atlanta Falcons started the season as the number two team. After a Week 1 win, they surprisingly dropped back to the seventh spot. Then they jumped back up to the number one spot for two weeks. And after an ugly loss to the Buffalo Bills, and injuries to Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, they dropped only two spots to number three.

The top five in the power rankings usually stays fairly static after the first few weeks of the season. But we have not seen much consistency after four weeks. The reason for this is the lack of powerhouse teams.

So far, the only team that has looked consistent on all levels is the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are ranked second in the NFL in total yards and rank 10th in points allowed per game. Most other teams either have a major hole in their game plan or are inconsistent in their play.

For example, the Houston Texans, who were supposed to be a top defensive team in the NFL, gave up 29 points to the Jaguars in Week 1 and only scored 16 points themselves through the first two weeks. But in weeks three and four, the Texans scored a total of 90 points (57 against the Titans and 33 against the Patriots).

The Patriots are the perfect example of a good team with a hole in their lineup. The Patriots have the top offense in the NFL, leading the league with 423 total yards per game. But the Patriots are struggling on defense. They have allowed an abysmal 456 total yards per game. The second worst team in that category, the Indianapolis Colts, have allowed 396 total yards per game – 60 yards less than the Patriots.

The top five spots have been shared amongst the same nine teams since the beginning of the season; the Chiefs, Patriots, Falcons, Cowboys, Packers, Raiders, Steelers, Broncos, and Seahawks. And if these teams continue playing as inconsistently as they have been, the ESPN power rankings will continue its weekly make-over.

Student Spotlight:

Name: Austin Strenkert

Major: Nursing

Favorite Team: Carolina Panthers

Who do you believe are the Top 4 teams in the NFL right now?

#1) The Kansas City Chiefs:

As the sole undefeated team in the NFL, they take the top spot. Their offense is spearheaded by rookie running back Kareem Hunt who looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon. That, alongside their suffocating defense, it appears that they are built like a machine that is finely tuned for a deep playoff push.

#2: The Denver Broncos:

Don’t let their loss to the Buffalo Bills fool you. Right now, Buffalo’s defense has allowed a league-low of 54 points scored to be scored on them. Speaking of defense, Denver might have the nickname of “No Fly Zone” attributed to its defense, but after only allowing ninety-five yards rushing with zero touchdowns against top-tier running backs, we might want to add “Ground Control” as another nickname.

#3 The Atlanta Falcons:

Aside from coaching loses, Atlanta managed to retain the majority of their personnel from last year’s NFC Championship team. Aside from a close Week 1 game against the Bears, Atlanta has put on a show against quality teams like Detroit and Green Bay, with one loss coming from a failed final drive against the Bills.

#4 The Detroit Lions:

Matthew Stafford got paid big time, and now he’s playing like it. Even without a decent running game, Stafford has been able to orchestrate his team to a 3-1 start. They had the chance to be 4-0, but they fell short against last year’s NFC Champions when the would-be game-winner of a touchdown got called back with a 10-second clock runoff, ending the game. Sheesh.

Which team has the best chance to dethrone the Chiefs as the top team?

Two teams, in my opinion, have the potential to take the top spot from the Chiefs.

Kansas City has to play Denver twice this season, and both will be crucial for both teams, as both tout a great defense with a diverse offense, add on top that they’ll be playing for top spot in their division.

Get ready for fireworks. Denver has a suffocating defense that helps keep its young quarterback relaxed and comfortable, and when he is relaxed and comfortable, Siemian has been able to corral his team towards points.

The Packers are the second team I see as a threat to Kansas City. What was once thought to be a shoddy defense has actually shown some signs of improvement, not to say that it’s now top-15, but it would be safe to say they’re now in the top-25.

That may seem irrelevant, but whenever you give Mr. R-e-l-a-x some breathing room to dice up opposing defenses, well, he’s going to put on a show. Whenever Aaron Rodgers steps onto a field, he begins to play chess with a defense that is still learning how to play checkers. Add in a favorable schedule for both of these teams and the Chiefs will need to stay on alert and keep their feet on the gas.

Do you think the Chiefs will remain at the top spot by the end of the season?

In the League are a lot of teams with solid records, but a lot of those teams, however, are not going to keep at the pace they have set for themselves.

Take a look at the Steelers, for example. They have played a Cleveland Browns team whose first drive of the season went for 1 yard, -9 yards, a penalty, and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown to finish it.

Follow that by beating a backup QB in the Vikings, a loss to the now-benched Mike Glennon, and a win over the Ravens. I hope you can see what I’m getting at by saying a lot of these teams who have good records right now have played a “soft” schedule to start the year.

For now, the Chiefs have the No. 1 spot and rightfully so, as they are the team to beat right now.

Columnist Brent Jansen can be found on Twitter @BrentJans. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to [email protected] For video updates from The Seahawk, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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