First Quarter Winners and Losers of the 2021 NFL Season

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Nick Johnson

The first 4 weeks of NFL football have definitely brought lots of surprises. Some teams have been revealed as potential sleepers, some contenders have shown a lot to worry about, and some teams were just downright okay. Here are my winners and losers of the first quarter of 2021 NFL football.

 

Winner: The Carolina Panthers

Congratulations Carolina! Somehow you have managed to scratch and claw your way out of post-Cam Newton purgatory. The Panthers are off to a pretty hot start this year after acquiring Sam Darnold from the Jets. Carolina is sitting at 3-1 right now after a week 4 loss to Dallas, but they were a bad call or two away from starting with a perfect 4-0 record. Sam Darnold has been insane this year so far with 1,189 yards, 5 passing touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. In my opinion, I think he is really starting to look like a dark horse MVP candidate if he can just keep the interceptions down. The new Darnold is really highlighting just how dysfunctional of an organization the Jets are, he seems like a completely new player. I don’t know if he is peaking or if the Jets really dragged him down that much. Pray for Zach Wilson, he’ll need it.

 

Loser: The Kansas City Chiefs

Ok, before you harass me, hear me out. Just because the Chiefs are on the loser side of this list does not mean they are a bad football team. They have had some really competitive losses with other top teams this year and that’s not something to be ashamed of, after all, 2-2 is a respectable record. However, the Chiefs should be held to a higher standard in my opinion. If you want to be a contender, you have to win one of those close games, and they just haven’t shown the same dominance they have in years prior. They should still be incredible this year, but for now I think they belong on the losers side of the list. Don’t worry Chiefs fans, you’ll get used to losing sooner or later.

 

Winner: The Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens had a tough week one loss to Las Vegas, but other than that they, for the most part, have really proven me wrong this year. I still think Lamar’s good days are dwindling and he’ll end up like Cam Newton in a few years. However, for now, that offense has shown no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Yes, they did struggle with Detroit and relied on a record-breaking Justin Tucker bomb to win the game, but I think that’s just playing down to competition. Normally I would say good teams shouldn’t play down, but I think even the best teams probably end up getting complacent from time to time. Good job Ravens, just hope Lamar doesn’t have his ACL ripped to shreds.

 

Loser: The Pittsburgh Steelers

I would say the Steelers need to move on from Ben Roethlisberger, but as a Bengals fan, I think they should keep him well into his fifties at this rate. Ben is a shell out there, he struggles with accuracy, doesn’t throw much deep (and when he does it’s incomplete), and he is about as mobile as a seahorse on dry land. Everyone knew Pittsburgh would struggle this year, but 1-3? If only you actually addressed your offensive line instead of laughing at the Bengals line. Speaking of the Bengals line, TJ Watt is the defense. The Cincinnati game proved how bad this team is without one shiny piece on the line, they seem completely incapable of going .500 this year. Hope you had fun Steelers fans, the rebuild always sucks.

 

Winner: The Cincinnati Bengals

Did you really think I wouldn’t put Cincinnati on this list? 3-1 is an incredible start to their season, especially when you consider what some of the “experts” projected for them. Joe Burrow has been tearing up defenses, with the exception of a few picks against the Bears, Joe Mixon, for now, remains a top rusher in the league, and Ja’Marr Chase has shown he was the right pick over Penei Sewell. Another hard-fought win or two and Cincinnati could wind up in talks for a potential wild card spot. Is it optimistic? Sure, but all I’m saying is that there is a chance.

 

Loser: The Tennessee Titans

They are a disappointing 2 loss team this year. One loss came from the Jets, do I need to go on?

 

The Biggest Loser: The New York Giants

Yes, the Giants picked up a win this Sunday to move up to a woeful 1-3, but they had so much promise heading into the season (on paper anyway). They went out of their way to spend a whole lot of money, only for 1-3. I’m just confused why Kenny Golladay, one of their biggest signings, wanted to catch passes from Daniel Jones of all people. He had about 28 better quarterbacks in the league to choose from and he went to Daniel Jones? The Giants are looking at a bigger problem than just this year. I believe this is an issue with the GM David Gettleman. Gettleman hasn’t done anything in his time with the Giants and he had better be on the hot seat here. Good luck Buffalo, all of New York is relying on you to do something this year.

 

The Biggest Winner: The Arizona Cardinals

Coming into the season I couldn’t really tell if the Cardinals were overrated or underrated, but so far they look like a force to be reckoned with. Kyler Murray is looking more dominant than ever, DeAndre Hopkins still looks like a steal, and the team is firing on all cylinders as a whole right now as the only 4-0 team in the NFL right now. Arizona isn’t exactly beating nobodies either, especially with the statement win over the Rams in LA, and right now I have no reason to believe that won’t be the NFC Championship this year. Good job Arizona, just don’t get too cocky.