One of the things you learn as a parent is that puking is as individual and distinct as anything else about your child. I’ll spare you the details, but puking has been on my mind over the weekend, and then the Eagles and Cowboys happened, so it feels appropriate. I think it’s fair to say that puking up games in the NFL is also individual and distinct. No two are alike. The Cowboys, they did it with Tony Romo throwing two interceptions for touchdown with the Cowboys up by 24, bringing the Lions back in the game when their offense had done nothing. The Eagles, they gave up yards in bunches to the 49ers, and missed field goals and turned the ball over when they moved it in the second half. The Vikings? They like to just stop picking up first downs in the second half.
How to rank these teams? The violent nature of these comebacks can cause us to overreact to a team. If we re-ordered the plays, the outcomes would just look like close losses. In Dallas’ case, as it turns out, they have played a pretty tough schedule (their four opponents are 9-3 in other games) and each has been close, so despite squandering opportunities, they are not a bad team and are most likely an above average one. The pass defense played really well most of the game against Detroit, and Rob Ryan has made a big difference.
TIER ONE (SUPER BOWL FAVORITES)
Green Bay Packers (4-0). Aaron Rodgers failed to win another close game this week, because he made it not close.
Baltimore Ravens (3-1). Four touchdowns allowed and four defensive touchdowns scored through four games is kind of sick.
New England Patriots (3-1). The record for most interceptions by a defensive tackle in a season is 3, by Charlie Johnson of the Eagles in 1980. Vince needs to get this.
TIER TWO (SUPER BOWL CONTENDERS)
Detroit Lions (4-0). Cris Carter had 4 touchdowns in the first 4 games of a season three times (1992, 1997, 1998). Calvin Johnson has the record for the first 4 games of a season, with 8.
New Orleans Saints (3-1). A nice, quiet victory for the Saints on the road in Jacksonville this week. Nothing wrong with comfortably taking care of an inferior opponent.
TIER THREE (PLAYOFF CONTENDERS)
Houston Texans (3-1). Arian Foster showed again that he is not just a system back, though the line is very good. The cut against Polamalu and the touchdown run were things of beauty.
Buffalo Bills (3-1). A somewhat predictable letdown by Buffalo after the New England victory, they still could have won if Stevie Johnson’s catch was not called incomplete.
New York Giants (3-1). The Victor Cruz’ controversy overshadows that this team has played better since opening week, even with the injuries, and consecutive road victories is hard to do in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans (3-1). Time to start taking the Titans seriously, and the AFC South is a two team race. They handled Baltimore, who has been impressive against everyone else, then went on the road to Cleveland and won convincingly. The defense is playing really well.
San Diego Chargers (3-1). San Diego got some big plays against the Dolphins from Vincent Jackson. This team still has been able to pretty much sleep walk to three wins, and I don’t think they’ve played their best yet.
New York Jets (2-2). So now teammates matter, right? I agree, and Sanchez had no time.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2). The line is a mess, Ben is hurting, the defensive line aged overnight, yet this team still was in the game against Houston on the road until the end.
Dallas Cowboys (2-2). Yes, they’ve gagged away two games. They are still in a good position in the East with both games against the Giants coming, and the win over Washington.
TIER FOUR (AVERAGE TEAMS)
Washington Redskins (3-1). Should have put the Rams away sooner, because that team is bad.
San Francisco 49ers (3-1). One team has a two game lead in a division, your San Francisco 49ers. Amazing what a coaching change can do for the dysfunction of last year. If the ‘Niners are average, they will run away with the division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1). Not an impressive performance, but at least it allowed Jon Gruden to profess his love of slumpbusters.
Oakland Raiders (2-2). Richard Seymour would have totally gotten away with that rag doll toss of Tom Brady if it had been Michael Vick.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-2). The pass defense is pretty good, and Andy Dalton is holding up pretty well.
Chicago Bears (2-2). Devin Hester continues to amaze, but man, that offensive line is bad. They were fortunate that the Panthers missed some plays in the red zone and missed field goals.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3). Trent Cole is now out for at least two games with a calf injury, which is not good for an already struggling defense.
TIER FIVE (BELOW AVERAGE TEAMS)
Atlanta Falcons (2-2). Yes, I’m lowering the Falcons another tier after a win. The Eagles victory doesn’t look impressive now, considering that they also needed Vick out of the game. Then they let Tarvaris Jackson light them up and came within a few yards of losing.
Cleveland Browns (2-2). Colt McCoy managed to throw for over 350 yards while averaging under 6 yards a pass. That is impressive.
Arizona Cardinals (1-3). Yeah, the Cardinals didn’t get a gift from Cruz. They didn’t exactly do anything to earn that win late, though.
Carolina Panthers (1-3). Bad defense, penalties, and errors in the red zone continue to hurt this team, but they have been competitive in every game in the second half.
Miami Dolphins (0-4). They’ve lost to three likely playoff teams and the Browns in a close one on the road, so I can’t drop them any further yet. Tony Sparano will get whacked if they don’t win very soon.
TIER SIX (THE TIM TEBOW WOULD LIKE TO START FOR ANY OF THESE TEAMS TIER)
Denver Broncos (1-3). Orton hasn’t played well, but I don’t think the fans really want the second stringer to come in. They want the guy third on the depth chart. I think the fans will get their wish soon.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3). The Jags are playing better defensively, so there’s that. I think there’s at least some hope in Jacksonville now.
Indianapolis Colts (0-4). Another close loss where they played really hard. This team is still better than about 3-4 others.
Minnesota Vikings (0-4). No big blown lead, but another close loss means Minnesota joins the 1991 Buccaneers as the only teams since the merger to lose the first four games by a touchdown or less.
TIER SEVEN (BACK OF THE PACK FOR A STANFORD QUARTERBACK)
Seattle Seahawks (1-3). Are the last two games signs of life for the Hawks, or the effect of playing at home against teams that aren’t very good themselves? I’m going with the latter.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-3). I would like to see Cassel and Haley star in a remake as Buffy and Hildegarde.
St. Louis Rams (0-4). The Rams are ranked too high.
[photo via Getty]
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