By: Rajan Nanavati
As the dust settles on Week 6 of the NFL season, we find ourselves in a very familiar set of circumstances.
If the NFL playoffs started today, five of the eight teams who won the division last year would be awarded the division crown this year. Two of the remaining three teams are only a half game back from the division lead, and the last one (Pittsburgh) just beat the team leading their division (Cincinnati) in the latter’s home.
Even Kansas City is off to a red-hot start — just like they were last year — thanks to a quarterback putting up MVP-caliber numbers. After faltering early, the Los Angeles Chargers are charging (no pun intended) up the standings.
Aaron Rodgers is dragging a defensively-challenged Green Bay Packers team to only two losses in their first six games for the second-straight year. The Oakland Raiders have lost at least four of their first six games (they went 2-4 to start last year), only to have their high-priced head coaching hire lead them to a 1-5 start this year. The New York Giants still have a quarterback who looks like his arm was cooked about two years ago. Heck, even Atlanta picked up right where they left off last year: throwing a ton of passes in the direction of Julio Jones, but criminally neglecting him when they get to the red zone.
In today’s world of the always-changing news cycle, television shows featuring personalities who spend 30 to 60 minutes screaming at each other about arguments that none of them really believe in, and individuals trying to get their own attention by spouting the hottest of hot takes on social media, NFL fans tend to react to the happenings of every single mile marker of a race, without taking the perspective that the NFL season is truly a marathon.
Think about it: it was only a handful of weeks ago when teams like the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were sitting atop their division, while we were writing the rough draft of the obituaries for the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Because of the reduced time teams have during offseason OTA’s and even training camp, they’re often like Jello that’s still forming in the freezer: they haven’t quite come together yet. In other words: September is really a glorified version of the NFL preseason, and the first and second weekends of October is usually when you start to see the proverbial market correction.
That’s not to say that everything is exactly the same as it was last year.
The Philadelphia Eagles are still finding their footing. The Minnesota Vikings are still finding their defense in general. We’re taking the Los Angeles Rams a lot more seriously than we did at this time last year. And while teams like Cincinnati and Chicago suffered defeats this past weekend, they have the look of teams that’ll be hanging around all year long.
But other than that, despite all the supposed craziness of the NFL season, we’ve sort of arrived right back where we started: with the Chiefs trying to crash the “Patriots vs. Steelers” battle for supremacy in the AFC, and the short list of talent-rich teams in the NFC hoping to survive a season-long war of attrition.
To quote the late great Yogi Berra: “it’s like Déjà Vu all over again.”