The 5 Biggest Takeaways From The First Quarter Of The NFL Season

1. Teams Are Copying Denver’s Super Bowl Winning Formula, And It’s Working

Only four weeks into the season, 29 of 32 NFL teams have already lost at least one game. The Minnesota Vikings (4-0), Denver Broncos (4-0) and Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) have yet to drop a game, relying on dominant defenses and conservative, turnover-averse offenses to win. Even though Sam Bradford, Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz weren’t expected to start for their respective teams at the beginning of the preseason, each has protected the ball and avoided trying to do too much. It’s only a matter of time before even more teams start copying this brand of football.

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2. Use Point Differentials, Not Team Record, To Predict The Rest Of The Season

It’s easy to overreact after four weeks of football, but if point differentials are any indication, expect the next 12 weeks to yield very different results. Currently, there are two division leaders sitting at 3-1 despite having negative point differentials (Rams, Texans), and two teams who are 1-3, sitting at the bottom of their divisions despite outscoring their opponents through four games (Chargers, Cardinals). In other words, look for the Rams and Texans to regress, while the Chargers and Cardinals should start putting some win streaks together.

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3. The Denver Broncos Are Even Better Than Last Year’s Squad

Again, it’s still early, but no team has looked better than the defending champs. The offense, and particularly the rushing attack, looks much more comfortable in head coach Gary Kubiak’s second season. Forcing defenses to stack the box, quarterback Trevor Siemian has done a masterful job finding Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in space to make defenses pay. On the defensive side of the ball, Von Miller is leading the league in sacks, Todd Davis and Jared Crick have filled the voids left by Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson, and the secondary looks better than ever.

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4. Bill Belichick Secures Legacy As The Best Coach In NFL History

No other man in the league’s history could’ve done what Bill Belichick did the first four weeks of this season. Forced to play without Tom Brady, Belichick guided the Patriots to a 3-1 record with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett at the helm. An impressive road victory over the Arizona Cardinals and a humiliation of the Houston Texans served as reminders that the NFL has never seen a better coaching mastermind. With Brady back and the defense looking better than ever, it’d be far from surprising to see the Patriots enter the postseason 15-1.

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5. The AFC South Is The Worst Division In Football… Again

For the fourth year in a row, the AFC South is the weakest in the league. All four teams have negative point differentials, and only the Texans can say they have multiple wins to their name. The hype train for the Jaguars and Titans already looks to have been premature, and the Colts’ offensive line seems to be trying to let pass rushers through. With zero dynamic offenses, only two above-average defenses (Texans, Titans) and rapid improvement in every other AFC division, the AFC South won’t be boosting its reputation anytime soon.

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