Fans are a lot like coaches. They spend a lot more time worrying about the things that go wrong than they do celebrating the things that go right.
For instance, this week's mailbag questions:
Wild card? The NFC East is going to be lucky if its division champion has a winning record. This might be the worst division in the NFL, fresh off an 0-4 weekend.
Even more uninspiring, the only two victories by NFC East teams so far this season came over division rivals, an eat-your-own development that underscores just how evenly matched -- and woeful -- the four teams are.
The NFC Least has been headed this way for a while, although the trajectory was obscured by the New York Giants' two Super Bowl runs (in 2007 and 2011). After all, the division hasn't put two teams into the playoffs since the 2009 campaign.
The Washington Redskins are probably the biggest surprise here -- they are worse than I thought. Certainly, Robert Griffin III has not looked right yet, but while we all focused on his knee injury this offseason, we apparently forgot just how bad that defense is. Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles offense is breathtaking, but his defense is just as likely to knock the wind out of their season. Those are two of the worst three defenses in the entire league. New York and the Dallas Cowboys have pitiful running games -- ranked 32nd and 26th, respectively -- and the Giants have the added dimension of having the worst turnover differential in the league. These are not balanced, well-rounded teams. They are not on the same level, for instance, as the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers.
Dallas probably looks to be the closest to pulling it together. The 'Boys beat the Giants on the opening weekend and lost by one point to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. They have dynamic receivers, and Tony Romo is completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Still, their offense is ranked 24th in yards and the defense is 25th in yards allowed. In any other division, the Cowboys would be middling. In the NFC East, they might be champions.
There is good news if you're a fan of one of these NFC East teams: your squad almost certainly won't be eliminated early, and even the most modest hot streak could catapult your team into the division driver's seat. (Last season's division champ, Washington, went into its Week 10 bye with a 3-6 record.) The NFL likes to call this parity. Right now, it looks more like putrid.
With that out of the way, there are two problems the Lions should worry about this week -- and every other week, until they are solved:
1) A general lack of discipline, manifested in the number of penalties the Lions have drawn. They were flagged eight times for 101 yards in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals and drew 11 flags for 88 yards in the opener. Jarring stuff, even before you get into the details -- like how Ndamukong Suh's low hit actually took a touchdown off the board in the opener. For a team that has talked a lot about wanting to be more disciplined, this is -- um -- not very disciplined at all.
2) Dropped passes. According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions have nine of them, among the worst in the league. This is undermining Matthew Stafford's stellar start -- while the quarterback is completing almost 66 percent of his passes, his receivers are dropping 11.4 percent of his attempts. A lot has been made about how much the offense stagnates when Bush is out, but the drops are not helping, either.
#AskJudy do you think the chiefs will go 3-0 continuing the streak?â Dave Lavigne (@davedabomb3) September 17, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs will take part in one of the most fascinating games of the week on NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football," in large part because it will be interesting to see how the emotion surrounding Andy Reid's return to Philadelphia -- where he coached so many of the players still on the Eagles' roster -- will impact everyone.
Here's why I think the Chiefs have a pretty good chance to get to 3-0: The Eagles' defense is awful right now, arguably the worst in the NFL (ranked 30th in yards allowed), and it is particularly terrible against the pass. It seems pretty clear from the first two weeks of action that every Eagles game is likely to be a shootout. They beat the Redskins by jumping all over them early, then hanging on for dear life. The defense fell apart against the San Diego Chargers, though, and the Eagles lost.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs boast a top-tier defense. If the unit can slow Philly's offensive assault -- especially early -- while Reid unleashes his own aerial attack, the Chiefs certainly could pull out a win on the road. They are a more balanced team than the Eagles.
The problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they have multiple issues, and I don't think they can be solved in a week. As coach Mike Tomlin pointed out Tuesday -- putting the blame squarely on the offense -- scoring 19 points in two games is not a winning formula. It doesn't take an advanced math degree to deduce that, unless they somehow get the offense going Sunday night, the Steelers are not going to be able to keep pace with the Chicago Bears, who are averaging 27.5 points per game. Pittsburgh's running game is glaringly diminished -- 75 yards in two games -- and the offensive line is clearly problematic.
If there is good news, it is that tight end Heath Miller and running back Le'Veon Bell are expected to see increased practice participation this week, although it is unlikely that Bell will play Sunday against the Bears. The Steelers played better against the Cincinnati Bengals than they did against the Tennessee Titans, but the offense has to get fixed in a hurry to give the Steelers a chance to avoid 0-3 -- or worse.
I admit that I might start to waver if this goes on much longer. But for now ... No, I don't think Tim Tebow is an upgrade, and I think the distractions he would bring with him are not something a rookie head coach and a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars team should add to the mix. Chad Henne has completed more than 60 percent of his passes, so on that point alone, he is better than Tebow. Tebow is not a long-term solution for a team in the throes of a massive rebuild, and the Jags have to keep their eyes on the big picture. A short-term fix would be pointless.
But, really, how much worse can it get? Blaine Gabbert is hurt, and the offense he and Henne have led has scored 11 -- ELEVEN -- points in two games, which is approximately what the Denver Broncos score during halftime. This tells you how little confidence anybody has that Tebow can make an offense work: Jacksonville is the least functional offense in the league, and still, the answer is "no" to Tebow.