One thing is for certain: football is absolutely ghastly.
While the Patriots rule the East, the Jets are #2 and they just lost Ryan Fitzpatrick with a thumb injury. His back-up, Geno Smith, also left the game with injuries. The Patriots just pasted the Dolphins and the Bills are in full disarray.
The Steelers trail the Bengals in the North and they just lost running back LeVeon Bell for the season with an MCL injury. He's the best player on that roster. The Browns are awful and the Ravens just lost Steve Smith Sr. with an Achilles injury, and he was their last remaining player on offense.
No one has any expectations of the South. I don't think the South has any expectations, either. There's a reason why the the AFC East and the NFC South have the best records: they get to slap down this worst division in football.
The Raiders are behind the Broncos in the West, and the Silver and Black just beat the Jets. Are we seriously at a point where the Raiders are the top AFC wild card contender?
Even the Patriots, Bengals, and Broncos have their own issues, but looking a gift horse in the mouth is the last thing we want to do at this point. The Patriots have an all time great offense, the Broncos have an all time great defense, and the Bengals have managed to stay out of prime time. We can just pencil two of these teams in for the AFC Championship game, right?
The NFC is more competitive (as has been the case ever since 2000), but even then the same teams are at the top of their divisions. The Giants lead the East, the Packers lead the North, the Panthers lead the South, and well, I guess one change-up, the Cardinals lead the West.
The only clusterbomb that can rival the AFC South is the NFC East, but at least there are injuries to blame. The Giants are the only team with a non-losing record and they sit at 4-4. Saints quarterback Drew Brees just laid 511 yards and SEVEN (7) touchdowns on their defense. The Patriots play them in two weeks.
The NFC North is the Packers, by right, but the offense is anemic without Jordy Nelson and the defense is the same Dom Capers disaster that looks atrocious as soon as the Packers are trailing by a single score. The Vikings, sitting pretty at 5-2 as a possible wild card team, have beaten teams with a combined 10-30 record, including two over the 1-7 Lions, and they lost to the 49ers.
The Panthers and the Falcons are probably making the playoffs, on the back of their AFC South match-ups, but the Falcons just lost to Tampa Bay while Atlanta was at home. The Panthers #1 wide receiver is Ted Ginn. Can anyone seriously consider the Panthers a legitimate threat?
And then there's that wild card NFC West. The Cardinals lead the division, but they just had to come back from a 13-point deficit against the Cleveland Browns. The 4-3 Rams aren't a threat and the 4-4 Seahawks are actually just bad this year, with wins against the 2-5 Bears, 1-7 Lions, 2-6 49ers, and the 2-5 Matt Cassel-led Cowboys.
The fact that there's (technically) parity in the ranks doesn't mean that the product is better. The games on the field are sloppy. The 7-0 Broncos are led by a quarterback with a -4 touchdown-to-interception differential, a feat never-before accomplished in the post-merger NFL (and only once recorded in history, with the 1964 Bills). The 7-0 Bengals have a 3-11 record in Prime Time or the Playoffs with Andy Dalton at quarterback.
The 7-0 Patriots are using a 6th round quarterback, a 7th round receiver, and a running back that wasn't in the league last year.
The reality is that the Patriots are more likely-than-not going to be 10-0 when they face the Broncos (538 gives the Patriots a 60% chance of winning their next three games), while Denver has a good chance of being 10-0, too (538 gives them a 42% chance of winning their next three games).
The good teams are good, the bad teams are atrocious, and the teams in the middle are also atrocious.
This is truly a season befitting the NFL's handling of the offseason.