Don’t look now, but the NFL is currently a little upside down.
The Pittsburgh Steelers? They too are basement dwellers in their division, sitting at 1-2 in the AFC North.
Patrick Mahomes had never lost a game in September in his career and now he’s dropped two in a row. Ben Roethlisberger almost sacked himself while throwing a screen pass last Sunday.
Meanwhile, look who’s sitting here undefeated atop the AFC as we head into October: the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos.
The NFC is even nuttier.
Sure, we could have all predicted the Los Angeles Rams would be 3-0. They maxed out their credit cards and made it rain first round picks on the Detroit Lions in exchange for Matthew Stafford like they were at Cheetah’s on the Strip and two bottles in, but did anybody call a 3-0 Arizona Cardinals?
Or how about a perfect start for the Carolina Panthers? I wasn’t 100 percent sure they still had a team.
Why Do We Have These Surprised Undefeated NFL Teams?
Denver got healthy. The Broncos finished with 12 players on injured reserve last year, including their best defensive player, Von Miller, and best wide receiver, Courtland Sutton.
Their quarterback then, Drew Lock, led the NFL in interceptions with 15. The new guy, Teddy Bridgewater, doesn’t do that. He throws it to guys wearing his same jersey.
The Raiders stopped dicking around and figured out they have a good quarterback in Derek Carr. He’s the best signal caller Jon Gruden has ever fielded as a head coach in the NFL, and this constant toying with trading him or bringing in another guy was just dumb.
Right now, Carr is the most dangerous man in the NFL. He’s leading the league in passing yardage with 1,203. He’s on pace to throw for 6,817 yards this season, which would blow by Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 5,477 set in 2013 by nearly a literal mile.
Arizona signed every significant free agent on the market to get better on both sides of the ball, and it continued to spend high draft picks on defense. Also, Kyler Murray has decided he’d like to take that Josh Allen third year leap and is currently completing 76.5 percent of his passes. Drew Brees set the NFL record for completion percentage in 2018 at 74.4.
As for the Panthers? They’re definitely better, but they’ve gotten some solid schedule help. Carolina, in 17 games, will play 11 of them against teams that finished 2020 below .500. The next team they’ll face that ended last year with a winning record will be the Miami Dolphins on November 28.
Teams that start the season 3-0 have a 75 percent chance at making the playoffs. It’s time to start betting these teams accordingly at MaximBet.
Thursday Night Football Betting Odds
If some of the biggest science fiction movies of my lifetime have taught me anything, it’s to be afraid of computers.
Artificial intelligence is destined to doom us a civilization according to the Terminator franchise. You can’t even take a trip to Saturn to check out a giant alien obelisk without some computer trying to kill you by refusing to open the pod bay doors. The Matrix computers are so evil that Keanu Reeves had to come back a decade later to karate chop them right in their virtual noses again, but this time as John Wick instead of Neo.
Artificial intelligence, they all say, is smarter than us. One day, it will rule us.
Well, back in early September, right before the NFL season started, ESPN unleashed its own A.I. and with its Football Power Index, simulated the 285-game NFL schedule 20,000 times. One of them, simulation 13,330 to be exact, had the Jacksonville Jaguars making the playoffs as the seventh seed in the AFC.
Not only that, the computer simulation in question said those same Jags would open the year 4-1.
I don’t think Skynet’s ready to take us out just yet, is what I’m saying here. The “machines” from The Matrix are still getting waxed by an eight-year-old on Mario Kart. And she’s using a green turtle shell to do it without so much as a single kung fu cobra kick.
Bengals 27, Jaguars 13
Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.
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