It doesn't get much stranger than the start to the 2017 NFL season.
Granted, most likely think so every year. But we're in a timeline where the New England Patriots sit at 2-2—the same record as the New York Jets.
In the aftermath of Week 4, we're also talking about teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders going down. Put another way: The Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-2 and in the running in the AFC South.
The silver lining? Oddsmakers have to keep up with this by adjusting long-term lines, which would-be bettors can exploit in a big way as the NFL tries to sort itself out. Here's a look at updated power rankings, Super Bowl odds and a few words of advice on notable lines.
2017 NFL Power Rankings and Super Bowl Odds
|1||Kansas City Chiefs (12-1)|
|2||Denver Broncos (25-1)|
|3||Green Bay Packers (15-2)|
|4||Oakland Raiders (12-1)|
|5||Buffalo Bills (100-1)|
|6||Detroit Lions (33-1)|
|7||Atlanta Falcons (15-2)|
|8||New England Patriots (7-2)|
|9||Seattle Seahawks (12-1)|
|10||Philadelphia Eagles (33-1)|
|11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (33-1)|
|12||Los Angeles Rams (75-1)|
|13||Carolina Panthers (33-1)|
|14||Washington Redskins (50-1)|
|15||Dallas Cowboys (12-1)|
|16||Pittsburgh Steelers (12-1)|
|17||Houston Texans (50-1)|
|18||Tennessee Titans (22-1)|
|19||New Orleans Saints (66-1)|
|20||New York Jets (500-1)|
|21||Minnesota Vikings (33-1)|
|22||Arizona Cardinals (66-1)|
|23||Cincinnati Bengals (200-1)|
|24||Jacksonville Jaguars (75-1)|
|25||New York Giants (66-1)|
|26||Los Angeles Chargers (150-1)|
|27||Baltimore Ravens (50-1)|
|28||Miami Dolphins (100-1)|
|29||Chicago Bears (500-1)|
|30||Indianapolis Colts (100-1)|
|31||Cleveland Browns (1000-1)|
|32||San Francisco 49ers (1000-1)|
|author's opinion, odds via OddsShark|
- Buffalo 3-1
- N.Y. Jets 2-2
- New England 2-2
- Miami 1-2
- Pittsburgh 3-1
- Baltimore 2-2
- Cincinnati 1-3
- Cleveland 0-4
- Tennessee 2-2
- Jacksonville 2-2
- Houston 2-2
- Indianapolis 1-3
- Kansas City 3-0
- Denver 3-1
- Oakland 2-2
- L.A. Chargers 0-4
- Philadelphia 3-1
- Washington 2-1
- Dallas 2-2
- N.Y. Giants 0-4
- Detroit 3-1
- Green Bay 3-1
- Minnesota 2-2
- Chicago 1-3
- Atlanta 3-1
- Carolina 3-1
- Tampa Bay 2-1
- New Orleans 2-2
- L.A. Rams 3-1
- Arizona 2-2
- Seattle 2-2
- San Francisco 0-4
Don't Panic: New England Patriots (7-2)
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Don't give up on those Patriots.
Yes, it's odd Tom Brady and what should be a contending team has a 1-2 mark at home right now. But playing host to the elite Kansas City Chiefs and Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers while trying to figure things out on the defensive side of the ball will do that to almost any team.
Brady certainly isn't the problem, not when he's sitting on 10 touchdowns with zero interceptions. It's the defense collapsing and surrendering four touchdowns to Newton in a 33-30 loss.
Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal provided some staggering context:
Mark Daniels @MarkDanielsPJ
Patriots have allowed 1,827 yards allowed this season. Only six teams have been worse in NFL history in the first four weeks of the season.2017-10-1 23:04:52
Still, things figure to even out. It sounds cliche to blindly throw trust behind Bill Belichick, but it has certainly been a viable strategy in the past. And the schedule evens out over the course of the season, especially thanks to an AFC East featuring struggling teams in the Jets and Miami Dolphins. Given the wealth of injuries, a 3-1 Buffalo Bills team might come back down to earth sooner as opposed to later.
More important than anything else? Brady. Offensive alterations can mask poor defenses and nothing is more important in the NFL than the man under center. Until the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs, nobody should pass up the Patriots.
Abandon Ship: New York Giants (66-1)
It's over for the New York Giants.
Yes, this is a comment that has been leveled at the Giants in the past and they have pulled off miracles. But these aren't the Giants of old—these are the 0-4 Giants. The Giants that scored only 13 points through their first two games, then came up short in two road contests by five points.
Eli Manning (six touchdowns, four interceptions) doesn't have a running game behind him, nor does the 36-year-old look like the quarterback to push an average team over the top anymore. He did, however, help out the team's running game stats here:
New York Giants @Giants
WATCH: Eli Manning takes it to the house! TOUCHDOWN #NYGIANTS! https://t.co/rTItNgDynK2017-10-1 21:18:43
Not only are the Giants mathematically eliminated in spirit, the schedule doesn't get any easier. They have to deal with the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks over the course of the next three weeks, with the Chiefs and Raiders left to play.
Did anyone mention tough NFC East matchups?
These Giants aren't the Giants that bettors might roll the dice on back in the day.
Time to Invest: Denver Broncos (25-1)
Those who shied away from the Broncos to start the season weren't in the wrong.
But they will be if they don't loop back to them.
Skepticism about the Broncos made sense. Trevor Siemian entered the season as the starter and the running game was unknown. An elite defense didn't seem enough to roll with the team, given the dominance of the Chiefs.
But now these Broncos are 3-1 with two wins in the AFC West already and a knee-slapper of a supposedly tough encounter in a 42-17 shellacking of the Cowboys. More recently, Siemian and the defense took down the Oakland Raiders, 16-10.
Quarterbacks are important, but so is confidence from a downright amazing unit.
"We're gonna shut down everybody we play, I promise you," linebacker Brandon Marshall said, according to NFL.com's Michael Silver. "We just have a different tenacity about us this year, a different mindset. A lot of guys came back stronger and more focused. We're just more aggressive, more confident."
Denver has allowed north of 20 points twice so far and is absolutely shutting down opposing runners. Melvin Gordon ran for 54 yards against the unit on 18 attempts. Ezekiel Elliott, eight on nine. LeSean McCoy, 21 on 14. Marshawn Lynch, 12 on nine.
With the defense playing like it is and the offense looking respectable, it's time to throw weight behind the Broncos as contenders given the strong payout here.