1. The Dolphins Are Legit

In two games under Dan Campbell the Dolphins are 2-0. Their defense, which looks like an all-star team on paper, has finally shown up, and on offense, the team has finally established a clear identity, and that identity is to run the football. Lamar Miller has rushed for 188 yards in two games under Campbell. In the four games under Joe Philbin, Miller rushed for a total of 131 yards.

Under Philbin, the offense looked lost, like they didn’t know what they were doing. Under Campbell, I get a different vibe from them. They know what they are going to do, and are confident that they can do it. By relying much more on the run, the defense isn’t on the field as much something that was a problem under Philbin. This newfound rest has led to a resurgence in the Dolphins’ defense. The team leads the NFL in sacks since Campbell took over as the coach.

In a watered down AFC, the Dolphins are clearly one of the six best teams in the conference.

 

  1. Amari Cooper Is The Real Deal

Yesterday, Amari Cooper became the first rookie since Mike Ditka in 1961 to finish with 100 or more receiving yards in three of his team’s first six games. In other words, Cooper is the real deal. He’s not just accumulating targets; he’s actually taking those targets and translating them into results. I’ve seen Cooper make catches that only a few other receivers in the NFL could make. The Raiders have something special in Cooper and they know it.

With a young quarterback in Derek Carr to go along side Cooper, the Raiders could very well have the next great QB-WR duo.

 

  1. The AFC South Is Wide Open

The standings read as this;

  1. Indianapolis Colts: 3-4
  2. Houston Texans: 2-5
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-5
  4. Tennessee Titans: 1-5

In other words, this division is garbage. Not one of these teams has looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. I have backed the Colts all season long, citing the fact that they have Andrew Luck as their quarterback, but even with Luck at quarterback, the team lacks the talent around him. Their defense is old, their skill players are slow, and Luck takes a beating behind that putrid offensive line.

I honestly have no idea who is going to win this division. They have all looked awful. If there is one thing I can guarantee about this division, it’s this: The winner will be eliminated the first week in January. All four teams have given up more points than they have scored.

 

  1. The Rams Are A Legitimate Wild Card Contender

With yesterday’s win, the Rams improved their record to 3-3. Looking at the landscape of the NFC, and it is clear to me; the Rams are a serious threat to win a wild card in the NFC.

Since the beginning of the Jeff Fisher era, the Rams have always had a dominant defense, and now, they finally have an offensive threat in Todd Gurley. The rookie has been absolutely fantastic thus far, rushing for 442 yards in his first three games. He’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Despite a small sample size, Gurley has clearly established himself as one of the five best running backs in the entire league. Gurley has the elusiveness and speed of LeSean McCoy and the power and vision of Adrian Peterson.

With a legitimate offensive threat and an incredibly deep and domain defense, the Rams are a legitimate threat to compete for a wild card spot in the NFC.

  1. The NFC South is the Panthers’ division to lose

With last night’s win, the Panthers improved to 6-0 for the first time in franchise history. The wins haven’t been pretty, but the team has got the job done, thanks in large part to Cam Newton.

Newton has taken what some might call “scrubs” at the skill positions and has made them look like viable NFL receivers.

The Panthers’ have an elite defense. They have given up the fifth fewest points in the entire NFL and have forced the seven most turnovers.

Compared to the other NFC South teams, the Panthers are in a class of their own. I know the Falcons are right behind them with one loss, but over the last two weeks, the Falcons have shown me they do not have what it takes to be a legitimate threat to win the NFC.

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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