games stood out to me during week four of the NFL season… and
in both games it was a result of issues with home field getting
up… The Buffalo Bills.
lost to the New York Giants.
The New Orleans Saints.
beat the Dallas Cowboys.
on both of those games in a second. Right now… some ideas about
why four games into an NFL season marks a good measuring stick.
any sport, you can’t go getting too excited about things game-by-game.
That’s a bit different in the NFL, where the difference between
home field throughout the conference playoffs and heading home
after the regular season can be one game.
one game between home field and an early start to the offseason
a bit extreme… but remember that the Matt Cassel Patriots went
home after registering an 11-5 record… losing tie-breakers to
Miami and Baltimore for their division and wild card possibilities.
10 wins is usually enough to be in playoff consideration. Patriots…
11 wins didn’t cut it.
game is important… but week one, or even weeks one and two, are
way too early to use as confirmation for each and every team of
things to come. At times, divisions are in such chaos that a team
might be able to take a month or two off and still make a run
at the postseason. Last year… Panthers… 7 wins took a division
speaking though, at the beginning of the season, 10 wins is a
guideline of sorts… fall below it, the season is almost certainly
over… hit it or better, and you likely have a chance at moving
on. Best way to take care of anything? Win your division.
to 6-0 and things look outstanding, since a .500 record for the
rest of the season will put you at 11 wins… and let’s face it,
a 6-0 start generally means looking right at a top seed for the
10 wins is a nice marker… six wins is a nice marker… and four
weeks kind of works as well.
games is a nice point because if you are going to batch together
any strings, then month by month (or essentially a quarter of
the season) is a good place to start. Go 3-1 in each quarter and
you hit 12 wins. Stay even in each batch of four and you generally
have avoided losing streaks while positioning yourself for one
after the first four games, most teams have played at least one,
and likely two, division games. Every team will have played at
home and on the road. Just one good game… everyone take a look
at Marcus Mariota, thank you… may be a nice sign for years to
come. After four games though, the league tends to shake itself
out a bit from the momentary excitement of a single victory to
the realities of the season in play.
one more thing about the NFL… defending home field. Probably a
bit exaggerated, but let’s consider. If you have a winning record
at home… say 6-2 or better… suddenly just splitting road games
gets a team into the range of those magical 10 wins. And generally
speaking, teams that lose at home do not turn their fortunes around
and win on the road. You don’t need to go undefeated at home…
you had better win at home.
as I begin finishing up looks at each division, I find myself
drawn to these two noted games in particular. And while it doesn’t
say anything specifically amazing about the Saints for the year
to come, I think it speaks volumes for the Bills and provides
and nice jumping off point for the other essays.
took overtime, but on October 4th the Saints beat the Cowboys.
First win of the year for the Saints. But it was more than that…
because the last time the Saints won at home was October 26th.
Yeah… their eighth game last season. New Orleans won
in a game with Green Bay, and then went on a run of 6 losses at
home. So, a win at home for them did catch my attention.
let’s flip it to that first game I mentioned, way back at the
start of this article. The Bills lost to the Giants this week.
Defend it and say it’s worth excusing since the opponents are
decent, but both of the Buffalo losses have been at home. Yeah…
yeah… New England and New York. Whatever. They are 2-2 on the
year and 1-2 at home. Remaining home games include Cincinnati
and Dallas… and Dallas late enough that they could be healthy
and still in playoff contention. Good teams do not go 4-4 at home.
so while there are a few teams at 4-0… and several teams with
1, 2 or 3 wins that seem inconsistent… and lots and lots of questions…
we can take the pulse of the league and begin shaping opinions
that have some evidence as support.