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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

NFL First Quarter Grades

Every season in the NFL is a marathon, but when you break it into quarters there are four distinct sections for each team to try and find success in the marathon. Through the first quarter of the season, there are teams that have met or exceeded their expectations early on, with others looking to get on track as the season heads into the second quarter with Week 5. The same for individual players as awards races are starting to take shape, rookies are finding their footing and every player in the NFL is working to make an impact on their team’s success.

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Good Grades

You always have to start the grades with a positive!

The list of the teams meeting or exceeding expectations has to start with the two only undefeated teams in the league this season, the San Francisco 49ers (4-0) and Philadelphia Eagles (4-0).

Through four games San Francisco has the third-best scoring offense and is tied for the third-best scoring defense. Christian McCaffrey is an MVP candidate leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, dominating the NFL with 13 straight games with a touchdown. 

Over in the NFC East Philadelphia is not dominating like the team did last season. They have won three of four games by one score or less, needing a comeback and overtime to win their last game. Taking away the scoring margins this season, there is no apologizing when you win games and Philadelphia is undefeated.

First-quarter As go to San Francisco and Philadelphia as undefeated teams, as well as teams exceeding expectations like the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Buccaneers.

Players deserving As to start the season along with McCaffrey are Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Micah Parsons, rookies Bijan Robinson, C.J. Stroud, Puka Nacua and De’Von Achane, wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson.

Some teams are right on the fringe of an A. With high expectations coming into the season the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs (3-1), Buffalo Bills (3-1), Miami Dolphins (3-1) and Dallas Cowboys are in the B group.

They are in there with teams like the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) and a slew of 2-2 teams like the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders.

Worse Grades

Teams that fall into the C group, a grade that goes to those with higher expectations than what they have performed so far feature the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2), Cleveland Browns (2-2), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2), Tennessee Titans (2-2), Los Angeles Chargers (2-2), Las Vegas Raiders (1-3), Minnesota Vikings (1-3) and the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3).

All of those teams came in expecting to be competitive in their division, conference and potentially for the Super Bowl if all the cards fell correctly.

There are no failing grades this early in the season, but the teams with incompletes who need to spend time during recess and after school with the tutors are the New England Patriots (1-3), New York Jets (1-3), Denver Broncos (1-3), New York Giants (1-3) and the Arizona Cardinals (1-3).

Then, there are the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, who are the only two winless teams in the league through four games. 

Coincidentally, Chicago could make the argument that this journey it is on this season will end with an A, if the standings hold and the team has the top two overall picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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