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D.A.'s Early Season NFL Panic Rankings

Who's Already In Trouble?

Damon Amendolara
September 12, 2019 - 4:47 pm

We're only one week in and already a dozen NFL fan bases are bracing for the worst. The magic of the league is the scarcity of games, meaning every outcome usually feels far too important. A loss on opening weekend? You better get ready for a "must win" game in Week 2. With these dramatic overreactions in mind, here's the countdown of the most problematic situations with a mere 94% of the season left. 

12) Colts: The Andrew Luck injury torpedoed Super Bowl aspirations even before last weekend, and the opener wasn't a work of art. Adam Vinatieri might be a future Hall of Famer, but he cost Indianapolis an important win in California by missing three kicks. Losing to the Chargers isn't awful, and the ground game was fine without Melvin Gordon. The panic level in Indiana isn't very high just yet although concerns over a 46-year-old kicker should be. 

11) Giants: Only the most optimistic New Yorkers and perhaps Dave Gettleman thought this team would be very good. However, Big Blue was thoroughly outclassed by Dallas on Sunday. Eli Manning looked old, the defensive line had no answers to stop the run, and Dak did whatever he wanted. It was a surgical dismemberment by the Cowboys which adds more fuel to the prediction this is a lost season for the Giants. 

10) Broncos: Joe Flacco was supposed to settle the quarterback chaos in Denver, but Monday night didn't give fans much hope. The Broncos didn't get into the end zone until almost the 2:00 warning... of the 4th quarter. If the defense is supposed to again be the strength, it was a bad start as maligned Derek Carr looked like Ken Stabler. Vic Fangio ripped his team on Tuesday, which is an alarming opening statement. 

9) Washington: Starting Case Keenum under center was a sign things could begin badly in the nation's capital, but a mutiny after four quarters is new by even Dan Snider standards. By not activating a healthy Adrian Peterson, Jay Gruden caught major heat from his locker room. Even if it gave the team more roster flexibility it was seen as humiliating for a proud future Hall of Famer. Gruden now has to beg AP to forgive because of the injury to Derrius Guice. That's the definition of early stress. 

8) Jaguars: Nick Foles goes down with a broken clavicle leaving dreams of the playoffs already smoldering. The only reason this isn't higher on the list is the debut of Gardner Minshew. The 6th round pick out of Washington State was a revelation in taking over for Foles. But how much can they count on Minshew to produce, and how badly was the supposedly rugged Jags defense exposed by the Chiefs' 40 points? 

7) Lions: Matt Patricia cannot allow a rookie QB on the worst team in the league in '18 to come back and get a tie. A 24-6 fourth quarter lead evaporated off the hot Arizona pavement as Kyler Murray scored the next 21 points. The former Patriots defensive coordinator had stymied Murray for most of the game, but his unit faltered when it mattered most. There's not a lot of patience already for Patricia among Lions fans. This didn't help.  

6) Buccaneers: Jameis Winston is now officially a bust. File the appropriate paperwork, let's get this stamped by the U.S. government like "Taco Tuesday.". An offseason working with noted quarterback guru Bruce Arians only led to another disastrous day for Winston. He threw another bushel of INTs including two Pick-6's. The Bucs were outclassed by the Niners, and the Winston Farewell Tour in Tampa is off to a rousing start. 

5) Texans: The concern since Deshaun Watson entered the league has been if Houston can support him properly. That was only heightened Monday night. Watson's heroic drive to put Houston ahead with under a minute was undone by a porous defense that collapsed on the final drive. The Texans supposedly revamped offensive line was a sieve. Bill O'Brien once again bungled the clock, and then cut a starting DB after the game. Brutal start for perhaps the best team in the division. 

4) Falcons: There was no bigger egg laid on opening weekend than the one by the Falcons. This includes the nightmare that was the Dolphins mess, except we knew Miami was going to be bad. It's why the Dolphins blowout isn't on this list. Atlanta is once again supposed to be playoff contenders yet got totally manhandled by the Vikings. The defense got run over. The offense was nonexistent. The Falcons looked ready for a 5th preseason game. Arthur Blank has spent a lot of money. This roster is supremely talented. If the Bird is the word, the word is "puke."

3) Jets: There were buckets of money spilled this offseason. There's a new head coach to help this offense hum. There's even new jerseys to energize the fanbase. Too bad it equated to a dreadful performance at home, and ultimately a loss to the Bills. To top it off, Sam Darnold has mono and may miss several weeks. Egads. Adam Gase's team didn't look particularly polished or revamped. The attack stalled, receivers ran the wrong routes, and the defense allowed Josh Allen to come back and beat them. This led to Gase pointing fingers and cutting players. Is this going to be an 0-6 team by mid-October?    

2) Bears: Oh, Mitchell. Chicago's defense tormented Aaron Rodgers all night. The pocket consistently collapsed around him, all due to the powerful pass rush of the Bears. Which made Mitch Trubisky's 10-3 stinker even more difficult to swallow. His end zone interception was a terrible decision. His throws were consistently off the mark. Matt Nagy spent so much time worrying about the kicker this offseason, looks like he forgot to address his offense. He's also told Mitchell he's not allowed to talk about last week. Yikes. 

1) Browns: No team had more preseason hype, followed by more of a destruction in Week 1. The pain continues for the Dog Pound. It was an ugly, undisciplined, butt-kicking by the Titans. Penalty flags filled the air like yellow confetti. The defense got worn down by the Titans. Baker Mayfield was under attack all day because of a leaky offensive line. The Browns looked completely unprepared for every part of that game after the first 5 minutes. A loss to the Jets on Monday night will put the cross hair squarely on Freddie Kitchens, and the Browns schedule is brutal over the first two months. Cleveland is on fire, and we're not talking about the Cuyahoga River.