The League

Doug Farrar

Doug Farrar

A staff writer

Vulnerabilities abound


This is the first time I can remember that there isn't an obviously dominant team to begin the season. Not that early-season results always portend future performances, but it's tough to get a handle on what any NFL team is doing right now.

The Baltimore Ravens may be the best team in football, but they have some concerns along their offensive line and secondary. And that formerly impenetrable run defense currently ranks 21st in Football Outsiders' Defensive Adjusted Line Yards metric. The Pittsburgh Steelers went 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger, and there's no question about the efficiency of their defense, but will there be growing pains when Roethlisberger comes back, and will that always-shaky offensive line hold up?

The New York Jets continued a four-game winning streak on Monday night over the Minnesota Vikings, but the questions that popped up in their opening night loss to the Ravens still come up from time to time -- generally, their offense isn't good enough to win a shootout, and Darrelle Revis' injury situation is still undefined.

In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons appear to be the best team, but they struggle with consistency. The Green Bay Packers were the chic Super Bowl pick of many, but injuries are ripping that team apart. And who knows what will happen to the Minnesota Vikings with all their soap operas?

If there's one thing I am sure of, it's that such unpredictability leads to the type of competitive balance that is great for the league and the fans who keep track of it. The best possible way for things to go is for the highest number of fans to have a legitimate belief that their team has a real shot at the brass ring.

With so many good-to-great teams determined to pull other good-to-great teams back to the middle, hope springs eternal in ways that it generally doesn't. It may be confounding and confusing, but it's very good for the NFL.

By Doug Farrar  |  October 12, 2010; 8:15 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Baltimore Ravens , Green Bay Packers , New York Jets , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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