By: Brendan Gallagher
Tennessee Titans (Angelo)- Team is off to a typical 1-3 start, but Demarco Murray has shined through all four games as the team’s newly acquired star running back. Marcus Mariota has had an underwhelming first few games at QB and the defense has perpetually struggled to force turnovers and stop opposing offenses. The Titans did have a big late game win versus the Detroit Lions, with AFC south veteran WR Andre Johnson catching the game-winning TD with under a minute remaining in the game. The Titans will look to bounce back from last week’s loss to their division rival Houston Texans in a road matchup against the Miami Dolphins this week. It’s hard to root against the Titans who find themselves at the bottom of the league year in and year out. Playing in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans’ 2016 season is still far from over.
Kansas City Chiefs (Nate)- The Chiefs have had a roller-coaster season thus far, opening the season with a comeback win against the Chargers in overtime, losing to the Texans by a TD, but recently getting blown out by the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs talented defense simply couldn’t stop the high powered Steelers offense led by Big Ben Roethlisberger and reinstated stud running back Le’veon Bell. The Chiefs have battled through the season with Spencer Ware serving as the primary substitute for agile RB Jamaal Charles, who is recovering from an ACL tear last season. The Chiefs will look to bounce back in week 6 against the red-hot Oakland Raiders as they currently on their bye week this Sunday. KC has the necessary weapons to make a mid-season push as a balanced team from the AFC West. WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Travis Kelce will have to emerge as legitimate receiving threats to make this playoff push possible.
Indianapolis Colts (Neil is a diehard fan)- Neil has had a passionate love for this team ever since the Peyton Manning era, and now the team has a young ideal franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck. The Colts struggled during the second half of the 2015 season with Luck injured, but he is back and healthy now to serve as the team’s playmaker and locker room leader. Unfortunately, the Colts have not found much success thus far as they’re began the 2016 season with an abysmal 1-3 record. The Colts simply don’t have enough defensive talent and depth to compensate for their injury-riddled secondary. They began the year with a heart-breaking loss to the Detroit Lions and followed that up with a tough road loss to one of the NFL’s best teams, the Denver Broncos. In week 3 the Colts earned their first win against the suffering San Diego Chargers. Week 4 was more of the same lackadaisical defense for the Indianapolis Colts, resulting in a tragic division loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The Colts have a home matchup versus the Chicago Bears in what is a must-win game for the 1-3 squad.
Detroit Lions (Emerson)- Life as a Lions fan must be tough to say the least. Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL this past year after a memorable nine year career solely with the Lions. The Lions added two experienced wide receivers in Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin this past offseason. Jones has shined as a top 15 receiver in the entire league thus far, but hasn’t done quite enough to compensate for the Lions’ mediocre defense. Since their surprising week 1 victory against the Colts, the Detroit Lions have lost three straight to the Titans, Packers, and Bears. The Lions will have to make some major adjustments ASAP if they truly want to compete in a dynamic division led by the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. The Lions are listed as the underdog in a vital week 5 tilt on the road against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, led by rookie phenom QB Carson Wentz.
New York Giants (Tommy)- The Giants are off to an interesting start of the 2016 season. After an early two game win streak against the Cowboys and Saints, two wildcard teams from the NFC. The Giants, however, followed the win streak up with back to back losses to the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. The Giants’ defense, loaded with expensive offseason acquisitions like DE Olivier Vernon, have been repeatedly exposed in the passing game. On the other side of the ball, Odell Beckham Jr has struggled to say the least during these two losses. Star cornerback Josh Norman of the Redskins won the psychological battle with OBJ, who was recorded punching a kicking net late in the fourth quarter on the New York sideline. He still has the temper and discipline of a young player, which was displayed yet again in the Vikings game. Beckham Jr. was in a chippy perpetual scuffle with Vikings #1 cornerback Xavier Rhodes all game; he even received a taunting penalty early in the second quarter. OBJ finished this primetime game with a career low 23 receiving yards. The Giants offense lost versatile running back Shane Vereen to a season-ending tricep tear, so they will look to WRs Sterling Shephard, Victor Cruz, and aforementioned Odell Beckham Jr to carry the offense in a crucial underdog matchup against the Green Bay Packers in chilly Lambeau Field.
New England Patriots (B)- Rooting for the Patriots over the past decade and a half has been exciting and rewarding. The Pats have won four Super Bowls over that span, (with two heart-shattering losses to Eli Manning’s New York Giants) led by playoff savage/Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady. After extended controversy and multiple appeals, “Deflategate” from two years ago resulted in a four game suspension for Tom Brady in 2016. With young quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett under center, the Pats have managed to go 3-1 over that span. Rob Gronkowski is still clearly not 100%, but Brady returns to lead New England this Sunday versus the sorry Cleveland Browns. TE Marcellus Bennett has stepped up in Gronk’s absence and veteran WR Julian Edelman will look to renew his chemistry with Brady again. The Pats are a dominant team in the AFC year in and year out and they will look to make another Super Bowl run this year with their high-powered offense and newly refined flexible defense led by LB Jamie Collins and CB Malcolm Butler.