With four weeks remaining in the 2016 NFL regular season, it occurs to me that the league is lacking something: a great team.
Look around. Everybody has at least one major problem.
Let’s go from top to bottom (or at least middle).
Dallas Cowboys (11-1): The pass rush is toothless and the offense is being led by two rookies. Nobody has ever gone deep into the playoffs with that formula.
Oakland Raiders (10-2): The defense has been gutted time and again, especially on the ground. And they really don’t have much experience on either side of the ball. Of late, they’ve been forced to pull a series of rabbits out of their hat after slow starts. Is that really sustainable?
New England Patriots (10-2): For the second consecutive season, it appears as though Tom Brady’s play is falling off in the second half. That should surprise nobody, because Brady is far from 100 percent, and he’s already the league’s oldest position player. Throw in injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola and it certainly doesn’t feel like New England’s year.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-3): Until Alex Smith shows us that he can throw a football beyond the sticks on third down, the Chiefs will continue to be viewed as a one-and-done playoff team.
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 28, 2016
Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1): The pass protection is abysmal, the running game has been inconsistent and they just lost star safety Earl Thomas for the remainder of the year.
Denver Broncos (8-4): It was a minor miracle they won the Super Bowl without strong quarterback play in 2015. Doubtful lightning strikes twice with a second-year seventh-round pick under center, especially in an era in which it’s almost impossible to repeat. If not for a lucky win in New Orleans a few weeks ago, the Broncos would have just one victory since Week 9.
New York Giants (8-4): They lack a running game, which explains why they rely far too heavily on Odell Beckham Jr. That’s not sustainable.
Detroit Lions (8-4): They lack a running game, which explains why they’ve spent the season winning by their skin of their teeth. That’s not sustainable.
— Luis Perez (@bbkid25) October 23, 2016
Everybody else has a minimum of five losses in 12 games. The 7-5 Pittsburgh Steelers have major holes on defense, while the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens are wildly inconsistent and relying on the league’s eighth-lowest-rated passer. The 7-5 Miami Dolphins haven’t beaten anybody of note and aren’t going anywhere with Ryan freakin’ Tannehill under center. The 7-5 Atlanta Falcons have the NFL’s 27th-rated defense and the 7-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t do anything poorly, but don’t do anything particularly great while relying on the still unreliable Jameis Winston.
The only other NFL team with a winning record is the Washington Redskins, who lack offensive balance and have lost back-to-back winnable games to fall to 6-5-1.
There’s room for this to change, but right now, the NFL has a lot of good teams and no great ones.
At the very least, that should make the next eight weeks extremely fun.