Miami Dolphins: They opened with a nice win at New England, but it has been a disaster since. They’ve lost five in a row and on Sunday suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who entered on a 20-game losing streak. The Dolphins were supposed to be a playoff contender after winning 10 games last season, but instead they have one of the worst records in the league. Even though Brian Flores is a defensive coach, the Dolphins rank 30th in yards allowed per game.
To make matters worse, the way they worked their pre-draft trades with San Francisco and Philadelphia — moving back from No. 3 to No. 12 and back up to No. 6 to select wide receiver Jaylen Waddle — included them giving the Eagles their first-round pick, which if the season ended today would be in the top five.
You would have to think that if this losing trend continues, owner Stephen Ross could consider making big changes to the front office and coaching staff. The Dolphins have had some notable personnel misses, and the early returns on the decision to draft quarterback Tua Tagovailoa fifth in 2020 over Justin Herbert haven’t been good.
New York Giants: I thought the Giants could be a surprise team. They were anticipating quarterback Daniel Jones to have a breakthrough year, and they were happy with how their defense came together at the end of last season. Instead, they’re 1-5 with a minus-63 point differential that is tied for the third worst in the NFL.
Jones has shown some promise, and he has had to deal with injuries to running back Saquon Barkley and several wide receivers, but the Giants’ offense is averaging only 19 points. The defense is giving up 401.3 yards and 29.5 points a game. The Giants thought they made a good hire with Joe Judge as head coach, but they haven’t been shy about making changes in the past when things weren’t working. Safe to say, things aren’t working.
Washington Football Team: Last year, the defense was great as Washington claimed seven wins and the NFC East title. This season, it is giving up 31 points per game — the most in the league.
It’s hard to understand how that could happen. The defensive line is loaded with first-round draft choices. The team added a high-priced cornerback in William Jackson III and drafted linebacker Jamin Davis in the first round. The offense is dealing with some key injuries to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Curtis Samuel, but it’s surprising to see Washington with a 2-4 record.
Seattle Seahawks: After winning 12 games last year, the Seahawks changed offensive coordinators and added guard Gabe Jackson and tight end Gerald Everett. Their defense was supposed to be improved enough that they could compete for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Instead, the defense has been a disaster. Making matters worse was the finger injury that landed Russell Wilson on injured reserve. At 2-4 and in the NFL’s most competitive division, Seattle will have a tough time making the playoffs. The Seahawks’ one hope? There are only six winning teams in the NFC at the moment — and seven playoff spots.
New England Patriots: It was expected that the Patriots could struggle early with rookie Mac Jones at quarterback, but after their free agency spending spree, a 2-4 start counts as disappointing.
More so than some of the struggles on offense, the Patriots’ defensive woes have been surprising. This is a team that will need to be carried by its defense, and it has been merely average, ranking 17th in yards allowed per game.
With the Bills in charge of the AFC East, New England’s only hope is to rebound enough to get into the wild-card chase.
Cleveland Browns: Coming into the season, I thought the Browns would be the third-best team in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bills. Now they are 3-3 and a bit of a mess.
They’re very good on defense, allowing just 307.7 yards per game. But the offense has had some issues, and the injuries are starting to pile up. Running back Nick Chubb and starting offensive tackles Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin missed Sunday’s loss to Arizona, and quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. all picked up injuries during the game. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been on injured reserve, and Hunt and rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah were both placed on IR Tuesday. That’s a concerning injury list heading into Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers entered the season with Super Bowl hopes. That goal isn’t over, but their 2-3 start has not been good.
Injuries have been the biggest issue for the second season in a row. They’ve endured key losses in the secondary and in the backfield. Tight end George Kittle is on injured reserve. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed last week’s game with a calf injury, and rookie Trey Lance got hurt during the game he started in his place. It remains to be seen who starts this week.
There’s still time to make a run. But in a division with the only unbeaten team (the Arizona Cardinals) and a 5-1 contender (the Los Angeles Rams), there isn’t much margin for error.