Every NFL season comes with its own set of surprises. Good teams become bad; average players take their talents to the next level; great players struggle to live up to expectations; up becomes down; and left becomes right. This is the nature of the beast. It’s also what makes the game of football so exciting. But once the season begins, once the new year starts to unfold, you begin to get a greater sense of how things are destined to play out.
Slowly but surely, the heavyweight contenders manage to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. On the flip side, the same can be said for the teams at the bottom of the barrel. While there’s still plenty of football left to play in 2016, these five in particular already did an excellent job of showing their true colors. Unfortunately, they aren’t bright, and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. Take a look for yourself.
1. Miami Dolphins
Heading into the 2016 season, the Miami Dolphins gave us plenty of reasons to be excited. Tom Brady’s four-game suspension could give Miami a legitimate shot at staking an early claim on the AFC East. Additionally, many expected the offseason hiring of head coach Adam Gase to breathe new life into the club and finally get the offense going in the right direction. Through the first four games of the season, however, none of these things have happened.
At present, the Dolphins hold a 1-3 record. They are averaging just 17.8 points per game (while giving up 22.3 points per contest), amassing only 329.8 total yards per game, and are firmly planted in the cellar of the AFC East division. Even worse, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who should thrive under Gase’s guidance, looks lousy this season. He’s already thrown five picks and compiled a passer rating of 87.3 (in case you didn’t know, that’s not good). The season is still early, but we have no faith in Miami’s ability to turn things around.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are not good, and no part of us thought the hiring of Chip Kelly would change that. So far in 2016, this franchise has managed to prove us right time and time again. The Niners are averaging under 23 points per game while looking beyond stale on the offensive side of the ball. They are giving up almost 27 points per contest, and show no signs of altering their scheme and tactics, resulting in a lackluster 1-3 record.
Let’s face it: This organization was doomed from the moment it forced Jim Harbaugh out of the driver’s seat. At this rate, he may not be the only coach who winds up finding a home back in college.
3. San Diego Chargers
The good news for the San Diego Chargers is that by putting up 30.3 points per game (third of 32) through the first four weeks of the season, they clearly know how to light up the scoreboard. The bad news, however, is that they don’t know how to prevent the opposition from doing the same, which allows their opponents to average 27.0 points per contest.
It’s early in the year, but we already feel bad for veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. The guy plays outstanding football (67.6% completion percentage, 1,110 passing yards, seven touchdowns, one interception), yet the defense consistently fails to hold up its end of the bargain. This club should be a great addition — at some point — to the Los Angeles family.
4. New Orleans Saints
Like the Chargers, the New Orleans Saints are thriving from an offensive standpoint. This group is averaging 28.5 points per game and compiling 386 total yards a contest. Unfortunately, the Saints are similar to the Chargers in another important area — they’re crap on defense. New Orleans is giving up 32.5 points per game (worst in the NFL) and allowing opponents to torch them for 422.8 yards an outing. The Saints look like what would happen if Mike D’Antoni was ever handed the keys to an NFL franchise. Trust us, that’s not a good look on anyone.
5. Cleveland Browns
Even for the average football fan, this pick was fairly obvious. Aside from the team’s inability to stay healthy, the Cleveland Browns can’t score (18.5 per game; 26th of 32), they can’t stop others from getting into the end zone (28.8 per game; 27th of 32), and they’ve already been through three different starting quarterbacks in the first four weeks of the season. As a result, it should surprise no one that, Cleveland remains the only team in the NFL without a win. Don’t worry, Cleveland fans; the start of the NBA regular season is right around the corner.