“You want parity, Mr. Rozelle,” the late great Howard Cosell once told the then-commissioner of the NFL. “Well, you have parity. Parity in the form of mediocrity.”
So it is today as we look at the NFL landscape.
Pittsburgh is 2-3, causing angst in Western Pennsylvania. Green Bay sits at .500. The Patriots are soul-searching at .500. The entire AFC East, in fact, is tied for first at 3-3. Twenty-one of the 32 teams in the league have either two or three losses.
Fifteen years after Pete Rozelle’s death, has the league finally reached the point where any team can indeed win on any given Sunday? Or is this an early-season blip fueled by four weeks of incompetent replacement officials? And can any team(s) make a move out of the mushy middle?
“From a power rating perspective,” says Covers Expert Teddy Sevransky, “I've got the Patriots and Packers as the two three-loss teams most likely to get on a serious mid-season run. Denver is another three-loss team that I've got ranked highly, quite capable of making a run. As for 'sleepers', I'd got my eye on Miami and Tampa Bay - two teams with solid mid-season potential.”
New England Patriots (+550 to win Super Bowl)
The Patriots’ next six games are against middle-of-the-road teams, starting with the Jets at home this Sunday (-10.5, 47). New England’s problems - in no particular order - are an atrocious secondary, the inability to kill the clock with fourth-quarter leads and Tom Brady’s bad decision-making at key times in games.
Green Bay Packers (+1,000 to win Super Bowl)
Lose to Indianapolis, beat Houston with several key players out of the lineup. Go figure. The Packers offense is starting to gain some steam after struggling early in the year, and things set up nicely for a late-season run. They have St. Louis on the road, two home games, then a week off to get healthy before playing four division games in five weeks.
Denver Broncos (+2,000 to win Super Bowl)
We’ll know a lot more about the Broncos after Monday’s game at San Diego (Denver +1, 47). Every other year or so, eight wins is enough to win the division and this might be one of those seasons. The Broncos have already put the tough part of their schedule (their losses have been to New England, Atlanta and Houston) behind them, so they could be ready to go on a decent mini-run if they can get by the Chargers.
Miami Dolphins (+5,000)/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+15,000)
Take away that stinker on opening day at Houston and the Dolphins are actually pretty good and have the ability to close out games. They have a week off before playing the Jets on the road and they still have two games remaining with New England. The Bucs have been a good betting team (4-1 ATS) and are only a few plays away from a 4-1 SU start. Tampa Bay gets 2.5 points (49.5) against New Orleans at home Sunday.
Odds courtesy of LVH Superbook.