Analysis: NFL loaded with mediocre teams 6 weeks into season

·4 min read

Six weeks into the NFL season and each conference has only six teams with a winning record.

A league that prides itself on parity is loaded with mediocre and poor teams.

Five clubs have one win, the Lions are winless and four division races are all but over, barring major injuries to the first-place teams. Even the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs are just 3-3.

At least the race for the No. 1 overall draft pick will be intriguing.

Detroit (0-6) is the front-runner, but Houston, Miami, Jacksonville, the Giants and Jets each have a real shot with only one win.

The Dolphins traded the pick to the Eagles, so they can’t even benefit from losing. Miami expected to compete for a playoff spot after finishing 10-6 last year, but the Dolphins have lost five in a row after letting the Jaguars snap a 20-game losing streak on Sunday in London. Passing up Justin Herbert for Tua Tagovailoa may haunt Miami for a decade. They’ll need Jaylen Waddle to become a superstar to justify giving up an extra first-rounder to draft him at No. 6.

The Lions may be the best of this bunch despite a 34-11 loss to Cincinnati. They were close to two wins before losing to Baltimore on Justin Tucker’s record-setting 66-yard field goal and to Minnesota on a 54-yarder as time expired.

The Texans should be the favorite to finish with the worst record if they stick with rookie Davis Mills when Tyrod Taylor returns. Houston has been outscored by an average margin of 13.3 points per game and still hasn't resolved the Deshaun Watson dilemma.

The Jags had to leave the country to finally earn their first win with Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. Meyer’s transition to the NFL hasn’t been smooth, but he has a franchise quarterback in Lawrence.

The banged-up Giants keep losing players as the losses pile up. They had no chance against the Rams, who weren’t satisfied with a 38-11 rout over New York.

The Jets (1-4) enjoyed their bye more than most of their Sundays.

The East is the least in both the NFC and AFC.

The Cowboys (5-1) have won as many games as Washington (2-4), Philadelphia (2-4) and the Giants combined after rallying for an overtime victory at New England. If Dak Prescott stays healthy — he’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday after straining his calf on the winning touchdown pass against the Patriots — Dallas should wrap up the NFC East by Thanksgiving.

Same for Buffalo (4-1) in the AFC East, as long as Josh Allen doesn’t go down. The Bills would surpass the combined win total of New England (2-4), Miami and the Jets with a victory at Tennessee on Monday night. The Patriots are 0-4 at home for the first time in Bill Belichick’s 22 seasons as coach.

Tampa Bay (5-1) and Green Bay (5-1) each have two-game leads and should cruise to division titles, barring injuries. The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers haven’t even hit their peak yet. Tampa has been hit hard with injuries, especially in the secondary. Tom Brady is off to an excellent start and the offense still is improving. The Bucs had a weekend off to rest and recover after a 28-22 win at Philadelphia on Thursday that wasn’t as close as the score.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers still own the Bears following a 24-14 victory at Soldier Field. Chicago (3-3) and Minnesota (3-3) aren’t in Green Bay’s class.

Carolina (3-3) and Denver (3-3) each started 3-0, but they’ve proven they’re not serious contenders after losing three straight.

The AFC South could give both East divisions a run for futility. The Titans (3-2) have a tough matchup Monday night against Buffalo. It’ll be a two-team race with Indianapolis (2-4) for the top spot after Carson Wentz looked more like his old self in the Colts’ win over Houston. But the division winner should end up with a winning record thanks to four games against the Texans and Jaguars.

The NFL has some elite teams. Arizona is 6-0. Tampa, Green Bay, the Rams and Dallas are 20-4 combined. Injury-depleted Baltimore (5-1) has been impressive, and the Bills made a statement last week routing Kansas City.

But far more clubs have no chance to win much this season.

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi

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