Just over two months into the NFL season, it’s interesting to see how things have changed for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings since the start of the season, and not in a good way.
The four teams opened the season winning 15 of 18 games combined through week 5. Since then, however, they’ve gone 2-12. From Super Bowl favorites or contenders, to teams that suddenly seem like they’d be lucky to make the playoffs.
The Eagles started the season 3-0, as rookie quarterback sensation Carson Wentz defied all the preseason talk about him by looking poised, calm, and shortly put, like a good NFL quarterback. The Eagles dismantled the Steelers 34-3, and it looked like they were going to be cruising towards an NFC East title. But then came the loss to the Lions. And Wentz started throwing interceptions. And they lost a close game to the Redskins, and Cowboys, and now Giants. Swept by their division. The win against the Vikings seemed to be a short-lived solution, not a light at the end of the tunnel, as they’re at 4-4 right now, losing four of their last five games.
Green Bay Packers
It’s hard to remember when the Packers weren’t favorites to win the NFC North at the beginning of the season. Green Bay, despite Aaron Rodgers posting weaker numbers than before, started the season 3-1. They didn’t look as formidable as the Vikings, but they looked good enough to make it another solid 10-win season. But things have taken a turn for the worse. Eddie Lacy, who can’t keep his weight down, got injured again. The defense is hurt and not so good to begin with. Rodgers has to do too much, and is making mistakes. Mike McCarthy? He seems closer than ever to getting fired. The Packers have lost 3 of their last 4, including twice at home. At 4-4, even the playoffs aren’t a sure thing, with the Vikings and Lions in their division.
Even with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, there’s something very flawed with the way the Steelers play offense. Always looking for the big play, it makes for some exciting football and big numbers. But when the field gets smaller and the distance shorter, there’s a problem. After a 4-1 start, which included three games of scoring 31 points or more, Roethlisberger got injured in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Steelers have lost their last 3, hoping that Big Ben’s return is a sign things are going to get back on track, in a division without a single team that really stands out.
It’s been an interesting roller coaster for the Vikings since the offseason. Teddy Bridgewater got injured in the worst way possible, maybe career ending even. So they brought in Sam Bradford, which resulted in jokes and memes. But then as it turned out, Bradford was perfect for this offense, while the defense held opponents five consecutive times to 16 points or less. The Vikings were 5-0, on top of the NFC after week 5. Since then? Three straight losses. Bradford looked bad in two of those losses, but overall the lack of a solid running back and too many options on offense is starting to cost the Vikings, something they hoped their defense would help cover up.