Boom or Doom Predictions For NFL’s 2-2 Teams

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GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 26: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles scramble in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 26, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

After four weeks of the NFL’s 100th season, there are more questions than answers. There are certain teams such as the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs who look like Super Bowl contenders. There are teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins who are looking ahead to 2020. However, through four games there are an astounding 13 teams sitting with a 2-2 record. It is hard to tell what their futures hold, but that is what we are trying to determine. In this piece, we will be predicting the fate of every middle of the road team in the league. Will they boom and put all of the pieces together for a successful season? Or will they fail and have their season end in doom and gloom? It’s time to predict boom or doom for the NFL’s 2-2 teams.

Predicting Boom or Doom For 2-2 NFL Teams

Baltimore Ravens

In the first two games against Miami and Arizona, second-year QB Lamar Jackson looked like an MVP candidate. First-round draft choice Marquise Brown looked like a superstar, along with tight end Mark Andrews. The Ravens still lead the NFL in points per game, yards, and rushing yards. With that being said, the Ravens are on a two-game losing streak and their defense looks to be cause for concern. Against Kansas City, they gave up eight yards per play and only recorded one sack. In fact, in each of the last two games, Baltimore has given up over 500 yards and a combined 73 points. The secondary has lacked leadership and communication. Including Earl Thomas who got into an argument with teammate Brandon Williams post-game. That said, the AFC North is weaker than in previous years, and Lamar Jackson is too electric of a player for the Ravens to fail.

Prediction: Boom

Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey should be on MVP watch. McCaffrey is on pace for 444 touches and 2,519 yards from scrimmage. Although this is a tough pace to keep up, it is remarkable what he has done through four games. The entire offense runs through him, and with Cam Newton being injured for an unknown amount of time, backup Kyle Allen will be relying on him to carry the load. The defense has played rejuvenated, with first-round pick Brian Burns being an immediate impact player on the defensive line. They appear to have found their next franchise kicker in Joey Slye who has more than filled the shoes of Graham Gano. In a division that’s up for grabs, the Panthers should not be counted out by anyone.

Prediction: Boom

Los Angeles Chargers

There may not be any team in the NFL with worse injury luck than the Chargers. It started in pre-season when it was announced Superstar safety Derwin James likely miss the entire regular season. Shortly after, starting left tackle Russell Okung was put on the reserve/non-football illness list. Since then, multiple impact players have gone down with an injury. The Chargers have been competitive despite this and should be more explosive on offense now. The Chargers have the potential best running back duo in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Keenan Allen is playing like a top-three wideout week in and week out. Unfortunately, injuries and a Kansas City Chiefs team stand in the way. The Chargers won’t be bad by any means. They still have too many stars for that to happen. But a playoff birth in 2019 is unlikely.

Prediction: Doom

Minnesota Vikings

Before week four, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook led the league in rushing.  After a matchup against the Chicago Bears defense, Cook is in third place. The Bears shut him down, and when Cook was shut down the entire Vikings offense went with him. In a league when passing is the predominant way to play, the Vikings remain prioritized on establishing the ground game. Against Chicago, Kirk Cousins took six sacks and looked lost without a running game to lean on. On the bright side, defensive end Everson Griffen looks like his old self after missing much of last year due to mental health issues. The defense as a whole looks stout and ranks 5th in PPG allowed, and 6th in YPG allowed. Unfortunately, the division provides no easy games and without a competent passing game, making the playoffs is unlikely.

Prediction: Doom

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles showed on Thursday Night Football that they are still a great team despite injuries to DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, and many more. But this club still has many questions to answer. Will the backfield tandem of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders keep their momentum? Is Carson Wentz‘s ability to extend plays sustainably? Can the defense work their way out of their slow start? And will they fix their two biggest weaknesses which are their secondary and taking penalties? Against Green Bay, Philly had nine penalties for 91 yards that occurred in key moments and kept Green Bay in it. Luckily for Eagles fans, they should be able to fix that issue and get healthy. Drew Crabtree predicted the Eagles to dominate in the offseason, and they are too well-coached and talented to disappoint. Expect everything to work its way out in the city of brotherly love.

Prediction: Boom

Houston Texans

A team with Deshaun Watson, JJ Watt, and Deandre Hopkins should be a lock for the playoffs, right? Unfortunately for them, they have one major Achilles heel that will hinder them all year. Their offensive line which was ranked 28th heading into Week 4 by PFF, caused Watson to be sacked six times against the Panthers. Watson has not had good protection yet this season, and the trade for Laremy Tunsil has reaped little to no benefits so far. The Texans have superstars at QB, WR, and on the defensive line. But they lack depth behind them, and with a line as shaky as theirs, one injury could derail the rest of their season. Predicting boom or doom is tough for this team.

Prediction: Doom

Cleveland Browns

The Browns received more media attention than any other team in the offseason. But so far the experience has not been what fans expected. If it weren’t for that 89 yard TD against the Jets in week two, Odell Beckham Jr would only have 219 yards through four games. Baker Mayfield has struggled and the playcalling has lacked the same innovation as last year. The starting tackles are also major weaknesses. Thankfully for the Browns, their defense has shown they are a difference-maker. Despite pro-bowler Denzel Ward and rookie starter Greedy Williams missing the last two games, the Browns have played their butts off. They only allowed a combined 45 points to the Rams and Ravens who were arguably the two most electric offenses last year. Are they Super Bowl contenders? Probably not. But if the defense manages to hold up until the offense figures things out, watch out.

Prediction: Boom

New York Giants

Ever since giving Daniel Jones the keys to the franchise, the Giants have back to back wins. Fans in New York have someone to cheer for at the Quarterback position now. But without generational talent Saquon Barkley who will be injured for the next 6-8 weeks, the offense will suffer growing pains. The division has two Super Bowl favorites at the top and the defense has looked suspect at best. Giants fans may have a fun team to watch this season, but they are still far away from playoff contention.

Prediction: Doom

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While the improved offense under new QB guru Bruce Arians has gotten most of the attention, new addition Shaquil Barrett leads the NFL with nine sacks on defense. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles has rejuvenated the Bucs D and has blitzed as much as any coordinator in football. If Jameis Winston can keep improving his QBR which has gone up every week, the Bucs won’t be an easy out for anyone. That said, Winston does have four years of inconsistent history to cause concern if the improvement is going to be consistent. What should remain consistent is the defense, and they should be able to do enough to keep Tampa hanging around in December. This team can fall under both boom and doom.

Prediction: Boom

Oakland Raiders

Jon Gruden has himself a fighting squad. They will now be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the remainder of the season who was suspended for an inexcusable hit on Jack Doyle in Sunday’s game. Drew Crabtree wrote a piece titled Vontaze Burfict Has No Place In The NFL if you’re interested in reading more about the situation. Despite this team being surrounded by controversy since the hiring of Gruden, the Raiders play gritty football. That said, their talent level still isn’t up to snuff with the rest of the league. But they are starting to have players to build around now.

Prediction: Doom

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans have gone 9-7 each of the last three seasons. That is the perfect statistic to use when describing this team. Marcus Mariota is an inconsistent QB and it’s fair to wonder if this is his last season in Tennessee. One week the Titans look frisky and look talented enough to be playoff-bound. Week one against Cleveland being the perfect example. But then they have games like in week three against Jacksonville where they look like a team drafting in the top ten in 2020. This inconsistency will most likely continue throughout 2019 if history is any indication.

Prediction: Doom

Jacksonville Jaguars

Which version of Leonard Fournette will the Jaguars get in 2019? Fournette is one of the hardest players in the league to figure out. His yards per carry average looks incredible in the box score, but the number is inflated by long runs of 69 and 81 in weeks three and four respectively. He has looked fast in the open field but has numerous runs where he is stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Despite Gardner Minshew gathering all of the media attention, this team still runs through Fournette. The defense has been stellar one week and sloppy the next. Just like Tennessee, inconsistency will doom this team.

Prediction: Doom

Indianapolis Colts

Before Andrew Luck‘s shocking retirement, the Colts were Super Bowl hopefuls. Those expectations have been lowered some but the Colts are still one of the best-built teams in the league. Injuries to stars players Malik Hooker, T.Y. Hilton, and Darius Leonard have hurt them in the early going. The good news for Colts fans is they should all be back sometime this season, and their depth is keeping them competitive. The offensive line remains one of the top groups in the NFL, and Marlon Mack is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. This team is too well built to fail and out of all the inconsistent NFC South teams, the Colts are the most consistent. In a boom or doom scenario, their superb roster construction will make them boom.

Prediction: Boom

The League is Wide Open

Although the top teams such as New England and Kansas City have made their presence felt early, the league is in a very competitive state right now. Very few teams right now can be perceived as an easy win on the schedule. After four weeks, the rust should begin to be shaken off of these 13 middling teams. In a league where starters are playing less in the preseason than ever, it is normal for time to be needed to get in sync. It will be fascinating to track the progress of these teams as the weeks go on and see which teams turn the corner and which teams stay the same or potentially fall off a cliff.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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