My original plan was to reflect on the predictions I made about the games this weekend. I was hanging out in a coffee shop Saturday and three coffees in thought it may be fun to laugh at why I don’t gamble in Vegas.
They say Man plans so God can laugh. After the Broncos’ defense collapsed and blew a 17-3 lead, we’re veering a little bit.
The NFL expanded the playoffs to include multiple wild-card teams in 1978.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 30, 2019
From 1978-2018, 120 teams started 0-4. Per @pfref, only one — the 1992 Chargers — rallied to make the playoffs.
1/120 translates to a 0.83 percent chance.
The 2019 Denver Broncos are not a good football team. This isn’t a controversial point to make. Even before Jacksonville shredded them, Elway had a 44.1% chance at drafting in the top five next year. Now the Broncos have a 6.8% chance at the first pick in the draft.
So, Broncos Country now has a few options in front of them:
1. Continue to root for victory and rage about every single defeat.
2. Start calling for Elway, Fangio, Scangarello, et al. to be fired.
3. Call for the tear down, including trades of Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris...basically every player left on the roster who helped Peyton Manning finish his career with a Lombardi trophy.
There’s a fourth option, which may be the most painful, if only because it’s pretty nuanced: accept where this team currently resides and enjoy the positive individual performances on an otherwise bad football team.
I know 0-4 sucks. Hard. But here are a few #Broncos who did their part to get the win.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Will get back to you with more after I watch the All-22.
Ian St. Clair already touched on all five of the players above in his winners/losers post this week, but let me just say that Sutton has been my favorite player to watch this year. It’s been a joy to see him grow from last year to now and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.
E is ballin’ after what could have been a career ending injury last December. Justin Simmons has taken to Vic Fangio’s defense like a fish to water, and his range has been one of the few really nice things on the backend. Dalton Risner was thrown into the fire as a rookie second rounder and has quickly become one of the core players of the offense. Von Miller remains one of the best defensive players in football.
There’s a lot to like about this year’s roster, even if they aren’t winning games. So the fourth path is the one I plan to take. That means extra focus on next year’s draft and zeroing in on the core players who will be a part of the next contending team.
In the meantime, this week’s Power Rankings is a quick look at alternate teams to “root” for if you need a team to help you pass this lost 2019. As always, I rank them by how likely they look to winning Super Bowl LIV.
The World of Suck.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4)
Reason to root: You’re a masochist.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me for 45 years, I’m a Miami Dolphins fan.— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) September 29, 2019
31. Cincinnati Bengas (0-4)
Reason to root: You love redheads.
30. New York Jets (0-3)
Reason to root: You still think Gase, not Peyton Manning, is responsible for 2013.
Adam Gase frantically checking his play sheet, unsure why his brilliant offense isn't working pic.twitter.com/Xccb8CjE32— Mike Schoppmann (@warmbenchco) September 22, 2019
29. Washington (0-4)
Reason to root: Dan Snyder seems like a good dude, Case Keenum got scapegoated, McVay and Shanny owe their success to Jay Gruden, and you’re mad the libs still won’t write out this team’s mascot.
The #Redskins had Sean McVay (2010-2016), Kyle Shanahan (2010-2013) and Matt LaFleur (2010-2013) on their coaching staff.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 24, 2019
Those three coaches are a combined 9-0 to start the season. pic.twitter.com/MhDPMlAsut
28. Denver Broncos (0-4)
Reason to root: You bleed orange and blue. No team can distract you from your laser focus. Nothing comes close. It’s an addiction at this point, and even if you could figure out how to quit, you don’t think you’d want to.
The reality is this year's #Broncos squad ain't going to the playoffs. Instead of raging and blaming every single problem ad nauseam, my plan is to focus on the good individual performances and start to focus on how to build the next contender.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 30, 2019
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
Reason to root: Misery loves company and the Steelers have one of the biggest fan bases in the league. The blame game is fun and Kevin Colbert makes it far easier than John Elway does with his trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick after Ben Roethlisberger is done for the year.
26. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1)
Just for giggles, was way too proud of this one:
Seahawks 21 Cardinals 17— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Vance Joseph does his part to quiet the questions about Carroll's archaic offensive philosophy for a week. Fantasy owners run to pick up Will Dissly. Again.
Reason to root: It’s time for an Air Raid revolution in the NFL and Vance Joseph wasn’t that bad (and you can say that last part with a straight face).
Of course. He’s a tight end against a Vance Joseph defense. It’s the easiest fantasy play in the book. https://t.co/I95crUkLGN— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 29, 2019
Sort of compelling if you squint.
25. New York Giants (2-2)
Reason to root: You didn’t get why people laughed at Saquon Barkley at two in 2018, and you loved Daniel Jones at six this year. OBJ was 90% of the problem and you can’t wait for Dave Gettleman to get the last laugh.
Dwayne Haskins is making his debut vs the Giants.— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 29, 2019
This was his reaction when the Giants took Daniel Jones over him pic.twitter.com/UGlaIzg6PT
24. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Reason to root: You’re convinced Matt Ryan is a top 10 quarterback and want to spend this year
punishing yourself figuring out how Dan Quinn can’t win.
Quarterbacks with 300+ passing yards in each of the first four games of the season:— David Branson (@obxleatherman) September 30, 2019
1998 Steve Young 3-1
2000 Kurt Warner 4-0
2009 Peyton Manning 4-0
2013 Peyton Manning 4-0
2013 Drew Brees 4-0
2019 Patrick Mahomes 4-0
2019 Matt Ryan 1-3
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
Reason to root: You’re all about the mustache rides.
Gardner Minshew breaks the #Broncos defense and the #Jaguars pull within a score. pic.twitter.com/vm3uRfuQeY— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
22. Tennessee Titans (2-2)
Reason to root: You believe taking 17 sacks is better than throwing one interception.
He's been sacked 17 times, he may hold the ball too long, but Marcus Mariota is the only @NFL QB to start every game and have NO giveaways in 2019.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 30, 2019
21. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
Reason to root: Watching Luck miss out on a Super Bowl because he retired gives you some sort of validation.
Not saying anything you don't know, but Colts really, really, really missed TY Hilton, Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker today. Hilton is flat-out irreplaceable.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 29, 2019
20. Oakland Raiders (2-2)
Reason to root: You actually hate Broncos Country.
Thank you Jon Gruden. #Bears pic.twitter.com/f4aYLeZBPR— David Prince (@viewsbydavid) September 29, 2019
Interesting, if nothing else.
19. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
Reason to root: Overrated quarterbacks behind patchwork offensive lines are kind of your thing.
Fire passer rating into the sun https://t.co/Cvjq8S7szF— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) September 30, 2019
18. Carolina Panthers (2-2)
Reason to root: You dreamed of Christian McCaffrey in orange and blue back in 2017, you had Brian Burns as ED1 this year, and you sort of feel bad for what’s happened to Cam Newton since February 7th, 2016.
After registering 179 scrimmage yards (93 rushing, 86 receiving) and a rushing TD in Sunday’s win, Christian McCaffrey now joins Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history with three games of at least 175 scrimmage yards and one TD in their team’s first four games of a season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 30, 2019
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
Reason to root: Who doesn’t love crab legs?
Bruce Arians has a history of turning around QBs who were once turnover machines. Peyton Manning, Big Ben, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer all turned the corner with him. Jameis Winston is his latest pupil.— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) September 30, 2019
16. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
Reason to root: You’d throw Philip Rivers in the Hall before Eli, but know the media and QBWinz crowd don’t agree. After all, you can’t write about NFL history without Manning (and David Tyree, and Justin Tucker, and Plaxico Burress, and Osi Umenyiora, but still).
I'm telling you, Philip Rivers sucks the life force out of every player on this team in order to stay healthy.— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) September 29, 2019
15. Chicago Bears (3-1)
Reason to root: The 2015 Broncos team was your favorite Manning season, and watching the 2016 version carry Trevor Siemian didn’t turn you off of bad quarterback play.
Packers fans don’t root for Mitch Trubisky injuries.— (@ob_sean) September 29, 2019
Packers fans root for #MitchTrubisky contract extensions. #GoPackGo
14. Buffalo Bills (3-1)
Reason to root: You’re from Wyoming or upstate New York.
Josh Allen's first quarter pic.twitter.com/IJ7urJfxc1— The Ringer (@ringer) September 29, 2019
13. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)
Reason to root: Watching the Broncos get screwed by zebras doesn’t hurt enough.
The #Lions spent big money this offseason on nickel corner Justin Coleman and he's fit right in for them. An every-down player in the slot who matches up with receivers of all sizes and has been tested in various ways through two weeks. Great fit in #OnePride man-to-man scheme pic.twitter.com/Ap6pgGeqcx— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 19, 2019
12. Houston Texans (2-2)
Reason to root:
Deshaun Watson explains Carolina's defense in 66 seconds. pic.twitter.com/8Fn4OAKHk3— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 29, 2019
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Reason to root: Remember Wink Martindale? He still runs one of the more creative defenses in the league and two straight losses means you can hop on the Lamar Jackson wagon without looking like a tool.
That Lamar Jackson INT in the end zone was Joe Flacco’s fault— lindsey ok (@lindseyyok) September 29, 2019
10. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Reason to root: You had dreams about Baker Mayfield sliding to five last year, Rex Ryan is overrated, and you’re a dog person.
The Browns just housed the Baltimore Ravens in a meaningful game and still clearly have room to get even better.— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) September 29, 2019
9. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
Reason to root: You miss Wade Phillips, love the Scangarello offense, and wish Von Miller was a game-destroying Hall of Fame defensive tackle.
Jared Goff threw his 3rd INT of the game.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 29, 2019
Again, Goff was signed to $110 million guaranteed. Largest in NFL history. #Rams made that decision despite seeing how he played in Super Bowl 53.pic.twitter.com/xJkUgj7yhS
8. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
Reason to root: Troy Aikman doesn’t make your ears bleed. You love BBQ, the 90’s, and no amount of recent history will convince you that Jason Garrett is going to break your heart.
NFL coaches are infallible pic.twitter.com/a7aNYvk3DX— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) September 30, 2019
7. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
Reason to root: The run needs to be established, nerds be damned.
Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute force of nature— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 29, 2019
He snags a one-handed pick-6 to give the @Seahawks a 10-point lead! #SEAvsAZ pic.twitter.com/yWanU9is3K
6. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
Reason to root: Your brother is an Iggles fan. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Carson Wentz is PFF’s highest-rated QB so far in 2019. #Eagles— Cody Swartz (@cbswartz5) September 30, 2019
5. Green Bay Packers (3-1)
Reason to root: You love the Scangarello offense and wish it was paired with an aggressive defensive scheme. Aaron Rodgers still has enough magic left in him that you can get Patty Melt vibes without the icky feeling of pulling for another AFC West team.
Dime— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 30, 2019
'Rodgers Highlights are from the Pocket.' pic.twitter.com/kT8YkylDmc
4. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
Reason to root: You’re still mad Elway hired Vance Joseph over Kyle Shanahan.
Deebo Samuel's touches for the #49ers through three weeks. He can do everything, but it's clear Kyle Shanahan wants to set him up to run. pic.twitter.com/uDFoRhw5S7— Dylan DeSimone (@DylanADeSimone) September 28, 2019
3. New Orleans Saints (3-1)
Reason to root: You had Teddy Bridgewater as QB1 back in 2014.
“I base everything around my last couple years … I had zero stats. … But the one stat that did add up for me over the past couple years were the Ws. I was winning in life.”— ESPN (@espn) September 30, 2019
Teddy Bridgewater explained why he doesn't care about the numbers. pic.twitter.com/VGaZOC0cQq
2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
Reason to root: Patrick Mahomes is on your fantasy team and you won’t be able to root for him once the Broncos are playoff contenders.
Here is Patrick Mahomes' game-winning drive against the Detroit Lions.— 60 Sent (@ClayWendler) September 29, 2019
Maybe the least flashy, most surgical thing he's ever done.
Cool Pat. pic.twitter.com/wTBQn77d60
Laughing at the mortals.
1. New England Patriots (4-0)
Reason to root: You love the Yankees, Alabama, Golden State, AND Lebron James. You’re a front runner who has been secretly pulling for Belicheat for years and welcome this opportunity to grab a torn up grey hoodie from Goodwill.
Patriots defensive ranks so far:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 30, 2019
* Points per game: 6.8 (1st)
* Sacks: 18 (1st)
* INT: 10 (1st)
* 3 & outs forced: 21 (1st)
* Yards/game: 243.0 (1st)
* Yards/drive: 19.1 (1st)
* Rush yards/game: 61.3 (2nd)
* Pass yards/game: 181.8 (2nd)
* More TD scored (2) than allowed (1)