It's a fun tradition for fans to make projections for the season after Week 1: Peyton Manning is on pace to throw 112 touchdowns! The Jets are on pace to go 16-0! Fun and knowingly foolish.
But after Week 4? With a full quarter of the season in the books? Full season projections have legitimate validity. Let's take a look at some of the things we're on pace to see this NFL season.
• Peyton Manning is on pace to throw an NFL-record 64 touchdown passes.
• The Broncos are on pace to score an NFL-record 716 points (44.8 points per game), crushing the 589 points New England scored in 2007.
• The Chiefs are on pace to give up just 164 points, or only 10.2 per game.
• A year after rushing for 2,097 yards, Adrian Peterson is on pace for "just" 1,684 yards on the ground.
• Eli Manning is on pace to throw 36 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 1962.
• The Jaguars are on pace to go 0-16 and be outscored 516-124, an average final score of 32-7.
• The Buccaneers are on pace to have Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman fight to the death at midfield before their Week 8 home game on national TV.
• Eli Manning is on pace to break the career NFL record for Manning Face despite playing six fewer years in the NFL than his brother.
• The Steelers are on pace to never get an offensive line.
• Chip Kelly's defense is on pace to revolutionize offense in the NFL.
• Geno Smith is on pace to take Jets quarterback fumbling to even greater heights.
• Brian Hoyer and the Colts are on pace to ruin the Browns' plans of getting a top-five draft pick.
• Pete Carroll is on pace to get punched if he keeps acting like that after every win.
• The Falcons are on pace to end their streak of losing home playoff games.
• James Harrison is on pace to get 20 tackles and no fines.
• Matt Schaub is on pace to be a backup quarterback in 2014.
• The Rams are on pace to forever keep St. Louis a baseball town.
Quote of the Week
"We're going to focus on getting better. That's what's going to change the outcome of these football games. Those that don't, ain't going to be a part of us. -- Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach
Finally some good news for the 0-4 Steelers. Mike Tomlin has given them hope. He's given them a way out. If his players refuse to get better, Tomlin will cut them and save them from having to play for the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers. The competitive failing in practice this week will be intense.
Stat of the Week
With 16 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first four games of the season, Peyton Manning has tied an NFL record for the most touchdowns without an interception to start a season.
The only other player in NFL history to achieve that is Milt Plum, quarterback of the 1960 Cleveland Browns. But realize that Plum played in a very different era. Here he is, pictured at right, back in those days on the Browns. Ol' Milt's touchdowns were far more impressive than Manning's are, because it's clear he was playing with people who barely even knew what a football was, let alone how to catch one hurled through the air. Also, back then they were all forced to play football in boxer shorts and were banned from doing any leg-strengthening exercises. Anyway, my point is: Milt Plum > Peyton Manning.
Misleading Stat of the Week
Embattled Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has touchdown passes in three consecutive games. Rip him all you want, but Schaub provides a certain amount of consistency and oh, … what's that? The three-game streak of touchdown passes is pick-sixes? Well … OK. At least he's hitting people in stride.
This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Matt Cassel, QB, Minnesota -- 16-for-25, 248 yards, 2 TDs
Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego -- 86 total yards, 2 TDs
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh -- 84 total yards, 2 TDs
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago -- 5 catches, 107 yards, TD
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Pittsburgh -- 5 catches, 103 yards, TD
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston -- 5 catches, 69 yards, TD
Photos of the Week
News Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Gus Bradley: "What do you think it will feel like to be the first coach to ever go 0-16 in his first season?
Mike Tomlin: "Are you concerned that the bye week will mess up your team's momentum?"
Rob Chudzinski: "You're in first place. The Indians are in the playoffs. What's it like to coach in a sports town that enjoys so much success?"
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@DJGalloESPN how bad must Chad henne feel about being benched for that?
— Big Tuna (@TheAhrens) September 29, 2013
It can't feel good. Imagine: Your girlfriend breaks up with you and says she wants to see someone else. OK. Fine. She must have a better option. You can live with that. But then you see her out on a date. And she's with a head of lettuce stuck onto the top of a cane that's sitting in a rain boot. She chose that over you. That's what getting benched for Blaine Gabbert feels like.
Forced Sports/Pop Culture Reference in Hopes of Sounding Cool
There were more commercials in the final episode of "Breaking Bad" than there are in the Super Bowl! We're just lucky that, unlike last year's Super Bowl, the power didn't go out during the show. Huh. Maybe that's what happened at the end of "The Sopranos."
Five Things You Think She Thought He Thought We Think
1. For three hours on Thursday, the Jaguars offered fans two free drinks, including beer, with the purchase of a ticket. The deal was promoted with the Twitter hashtag #DrinksOnUs.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) September 26, 2013
If the Jaguars for some reason plan to continue playing football this year, why not expand the use of the hashtag to help make watching Jaguars games somewhat bearable for their fans?
All the team's Twitter feed has to do is tweet out what's happening in the game and, when something Jaguarian happens, tack on #DrinksOnUs as a signal for fans to take a shot of the strongest alcohol they have on hand.
• Jaguars are punting again. #DrinksOnUs
• Blaine Gabbert just fumbled, picked the ball up, fumbled again, picked it up and threw it straight into the air. Interception. #DrinksOnUs
• Too embarrassing to describe what just happened. Needless to say, we're down 28 at the end of the first quarter. #DrinksOnUs
• Opposing team is now just pointing and laughing. Gabbert just got pantsed by a linesman. #DrinksOnUs
And so on and so forth. Chances are, Jaguars fans would be passed out drunk by early in the third quarter, spared from watching the Jaguars play football. It's the only merciful thing to do.
2. I can't believe the Steelers played a game in London and we all completely forgot to make the Big Ben/Big Ben correlation until after he left. (Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is nicknamed "Big Ben," while there is a famous bell and clock tower in London called Big Ben. Amazing!) Roethlisberger is 31. Let's just hope he can play another game in London before his career ends so the Big Ben/Big Ben thing can get the attention it deserves! (It would also be real neat if an NFL team drafted a player named Pippa or Harry Potter. Because those are famous names in England!)
3. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid successfully challenged a spot on Sunday and referee Terry McAulay announced that "Philadelphia would not be charged a timeout." That is good news for the Eagles. There had to have been concern that Reid's clock management was so poor during his tenure in Philadelphia that even the future would be affected. Not that the Eagles need timeouts anymore. They're too fast. In fact, when they pick fifth in the draft this year, I bet they don't even use all of their allotted time before submitting their selection. Chip Kelly is just that unorthodox.
4. In a low-scoring game in which the Ravens never trailed by more than two scores, Baltimore had Joe Flacco throw 50 passes, which is 25 more passes than is suggested in the "How to Win Games" section of the Joe Flacco Operator's Manual. Five of those 50 were intercepted. Meanwhile, Ray Rice got just five carries. The Ravens lost. To the Bills. Uh-oh. We've seen this movie before.
Flacco stinks? Baltimore's play-calling is horrific? Just like last year, the Ravens are going to fire their offensive coordinator and give the job to someone with an ugly track record as a college head coach. Last year it was Cam Cameron getting canned from Jim Caldwell. This year it will be Caldwell getting canned for Lane Kiffin. And the Ravens will win the Super Bowl.
The other alternative, I suppose, is maybe Joe Flacco is just a serviceable NFL quarterback who went on a remarkable and remarkably fortunate four-week Super Bowl run last winter and will never get near a championship again. That or the Lane Kiffin thing. One of them for sure.
5. In his postgame news conference after destroying the Eagles, Peyton Manning had this to say: "We've got a tough test next week playing a team we're unfamiliar with, that is a good football team that is tough to play at home." Manning said that about the Cowboys -- and he said it with a straight face. It's time we give Peyton Manning credit for not only being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but also for being one of America's finest actors.
How They Spent Their Bye Week
Packers: Taking exotic vacations.
Panthers: Hanging out with binge eaters.