Dallas: The Defense
The obvious answer is the line, while not as dominant as usual, is still very solid, and they have an All-Pro running back in Zeke Elliot, but not does a play-off team that make. If Dallas makes the play-offs it is because their new look D continues to turn old roster pieces into new and improved players (I.E Byron Jones).
New England: Bill Belechick
Or Tom Brady.
A WIN BABY! But seriously, the recent draft picks have begun to contribute, and this team is no longer an easy out for anyone. Will they make the playoffs? Probably not. Are they going to increase their win percentage by six to seven hundred percent? Probably.
The team has looked sloppy on both sides of the ball for large chunks of the game, but on the flip side of that, they have looked dominant for small stretches. It is hard to repeat, but if they can regain some of their underdog spirit and clean up their act, they should compete again.
Gruden, for all of his strange, counter intuitive decisions, has brought a certain excitement, and their player’s are battling. The team is rebuilding more than fans probably like, but if Gruden can get his offense to click with Derek Carr, the rebuild should be relatively short.
Pittsburg: Bell Cow
Leveon is coming back, and a running back of his ability can cure a lot of problems. The opposing defense will need to respect the run more, and the Steelers historically putrid defense should get to rest a little more, and get a little more pressure on the opposing offenses.
Chicago: Defensive MVPs
Khalil Mack has been the best player on that side of the ball in the league this year, and it isn’t even really close. He has turned this defense into one to fear. The offensive improvements are just icing on the cake.
Green Bay: A-Rod
As long as he is their QB, they will compete for the play-offs and beyond.
Denver: Young RBs
The defense is better, Case Keenum makes enough plays to win, and Emmanuel Sanders has been excellent, but the reason for their solid start has been the inspired play of their young backfield.
New York Giants: Future
Saquon Barkley is a beast, and the other skill position players are as good as advertised. If they can shore up the offensive line play, they might just compete this year. If not, they have a bright future.
Things have gotten ugly in Seattle. They are void of talent in key areas, and the once great defense has all but disappeared. There is also turmoil in the locker room. This is not a team without talent however, and Russell Wilson aside, they have pieces that could make a great team again.
Kansas City: Super Nova QB Play
Pat Mahomes is playing like the MVP of the league so far. If he can keep up this level of play, they won’t need the defense to be any better than mediocre. This might be they year Andy Reid gets that elusive Super Bowl win.
San Francisco: Heart
This season has not gone how any fan hopes, but guys are still competing, and backup C.J. Beathard has enough talent to keep the offense going at a respectable rate. This team might not be play-off bound, but they can continue trending admirably upward after a major bought with the injury bug.
Baltimore: Veteran Leadership
This is a team full of veterans that know what it takes to succeed in the NFL. They don’t do anything pretty, but they play smart, they don’t beat themselves, and they have a style that bodes well for when the weather heads south.
Miami: Tannehill 2.0
Ignoring the usual Patriots debacle, Miami has been surprisingly good this year. That has been in no small part because of the solid to great play of their controversial QB. If he can keep it up through the rest of the season they will no be an easy out for anyone come play-off time.
New Orleans: Offensive Diversity
No team in the NFL can beat you in more ways than New Orleans, and that is only getting more true with the return of the underrated Mark Ingram. They lose games because the defense lets them down, but they win games because no one can stop every way they can attack a defense.
Washington: Senior Citizens
This team has been a surprise, mainly because the aged offensive stars have been impressive thus far. If they can hold up, they can compete all year long.
Arizona: Golden Boy
They are not a talented team. The offense has a lot to be desired aside from the legendary Larry Fitzgerald and star RB David Johnson, and the defense is quickly losing its once great status. But they got a young QB who, if all goes well, could expedite a rebuild quickly in the desert.
Minnesota: Captain Kirk
The offense is hardly to blame for their slow start this season. Kirk Cousins has been playing up to his large contract, but the once feared defense has lost its teeth somehow. If the past is any guide, they should figure this out, and when they do they will have an offense that can not just hold leads, but extend them.
Los Angeles Rams: Dream Team Done Right
The usual narrative for teams built like the rams is hype, followed by let down, glimpses of optimism, and eventual collapse. They have avoided this trend, and right not look like the team to beat in the NFC, and possibly the entire league.
Detroit: 100 Yards of Freedom
Kerryon Johnson became the first hundred yard rusher for Detroit since Barry Sanders-- I mean Reggie Bush, in 2013. That is so bad. If this can become a little more common than a total solar eclipse, Matt Stafford might just have enough help to help this team out of mediocrity.
Atlanta: WR 2
Everyone knows the ups and downs with super star WR Julio Jones, but rookie Calvin Ridley has helped this offense return to its 2017 form. If the defense can get over a few critical injuries they have a chance at the NFC South title, and another Super Bowl run.
Buffolo: Josh Allen
This is not the follow up to last year that the Buffalo fan based imagined. But if they aren’t going to be play-off good, at least Josh Allen has shown some signs of being worth the sacrifice. If they can develop him into a star, they will be poised to grab for control during the post Tom Brady power vacuum.
Carolina: Good Cam
McCaffrey has been great, and the defense is doing its thing, but having Cam playing well is the difference maker for this team. With him playing at his best this is a team to fear.
Cincinnati: Good Dalton
Same draft, same problems, same solutions. Dalton’s best isn’t as good as Cam’s, but if he is playing good it is enough to make this a play-off team again.
New York Jets: Darnold
Sam Darnold is very young, and has a lot to learn, but if they are patient with him he gives them the same, if not better chance, than Buffalo at seizing the NFC East post- Brady era in ten years or so.
Indianapolis: Rotator Cuff
A healthy Luck opens their championship window back up for another decade or so. The team needs to keep building around him, but this year was the most legitimate improvements they have made on their roster in years and as Luck shakes off the rust Frank Reich and company will continue to grow.
They haven’t exactly lit the world on fire, and Deshaun Watson doesn’t look quite like the super star he appeared to be last year, but he hasn’t been terrible either, and memories of last year are enough to make it seem likely that he just needs to shake the rust off and he will be back to form.
Los Angeles Chargers: Like Mike
The defense has stars, the offense is potent, but first round pick and red-shirt rookie Mike Williams has been a welcome surprise addition. He looks like a future number one, and a sure fired pacifier for the eventual replacement of star QB Philip Rivers.
Everything this team does is ugly, and yet they are at 3-1. Coach Mike Vrabel has kept the tough, lunch-pail mindset that the past coaching staff instilled, while implementing a better offense and tweaking the defense into a top-10 unit. QB Marcus Mariota hasn’t put up huge numbers, partly because of injuries, and partially because of lack luster WR play, but his grit and leadership have been the heartbeat of this team.
Jacksonville: No Fournette, no problem?
Hyperbole aside, it has been impressive that a team built so obviously on an old school dominant defense and rushing combination, has been able to win most their games this year by next guy up approach at RB and relatively consistent play from the often maligned Blake Bortles.
Tampa Bay: WRs
Regardless of who is throwing the ball, the WR unit looks like one of the best in the league. If they can avoid the sloppy interceptions, they should put up enough points to compete in the NFC South.
LA is Editor-in-Chief and Head Writer at Lot 10 Underground. He is an avid Eagles fan and a weary Lakers one. He grew up sneaking through the halls of Hogwarts after dark with Harry and his more talented friends, stumbling along the dark walls of Rock Tunnel in Pokemon Red, storming through flood riddled ships with Master Chief, and questioning Goku's parenting techniques in DBZ. If you'd like to contact him, you can try an owl, but he prefers e-mail: