NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Patriots Logo

1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
The Patriots really never ease off and it showed with a 51-17 win over Jacksonville. Brady is off to the best statistical start of his Hall of Fame career. LeGarrette Blount had a great return to action, rattling off three touchdowns. The Pats offense seems unstoppable and the defense is definitely good enough for them to roll through the season.

Packers logo2. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 2)
Only one other quarterback in NFL history started the season with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions through his first three games. That was Peyton Manning in 2013 when he broke just about every meaningful passing record ever. Make that two now with Aaron Rodgers joining the conversation.

Denver_Broncos3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 3)
It hasn’t always been pretty but that doesn’t mean the Broncos don’t deserve a spot in the top five. Peyton Manning seems to be settling into the offense much better now and the ground game saw a slight improvement. This Denver defense has the potential to be legendary though.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)4. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 4)
Craziest stat so far of the NFL season. The Arizona Cardinals have outscored opponents by 25.3 points per game. With the hapless Rams, winless Lions, Michael Vick led Steelers and the other two AFC North teams not named the Bengals on the slate, Arizona might just continue to blow teams out.

Bengals Logo5. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 5)
Playing games against division rivals always seem to be tough in the AFC North. However, the passing game looks electric with Andy Dalton leading the charge. The ground game has been mediocre at best this season. If Cincy can figure out how to punish teams on the ground, this team should wrap up the North crown easy.

Falcons logo6. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 11)
For the third time in as many weeks, the Falcons pulled together a fourth quarter comeback to beat the NFC East. Atlanta is showing the mental toughness to stay in games and seems to be a good position to make a playoff push.

Bills logo7. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 12)
Buffalo is looking more and more like the real deal. A dominant win against the Dolphins elevates them into the top 10 for the first time this season. I was likely too harsh on Buffalo for their loss to New England, but poor performances from Indy, Dallas and Kansas City opened the door for them.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo8. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 13)
The Steelers gained one star but lost another. Ben Roethlisberger is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks for Pittsburgh but LeVeon Bell is finally back on the field. The Steelers will have to drastically change the gameplan, relying on both Bell and DeAngelo Williams to get them through. Unfortunately, their time to recover is short as the Steelers play the Ravens tomorrow night.

Seahawks logo9. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 7)
The defense got the boost it needed in Kam Chancellor’s return. However, the offense still seems to be spinning it’s wheels. Seattle had to settle for field goals way too often considering they were playing against the lowly Bears. Marshawn Lynch missing time won’t help anything either.

Chiefs Logo10. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 6)
Another week, another primetime loss. However, the pair of defeats came at the hands of Green Bay and Denver. Alex Smith finally through a touchdown to a wide receiver but the offense got things going too late. The fourth quarter saw Kansas City bully the Packers’ defense. That identity was missing though for the first three quarters of play.

Cowboys logo11. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 7)
So the Cowboys forgot they needed to play two halves of football this week. The defense looked helpless in the second half giving up 22 points and the offense sputtered. Joseph Randle finished the first half with 91 rushing yards. He finished the game with 87 yards. That cannot happen again if Dallas expects to win.

Colts logo12. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 10)
Well a win is a win, but that doesn’t save the Colts here. Andrew Luck proceeded to throw two more interceptions and Indy needed a furious fourth quarter comeback to beat the upstart Titans. Chuck Pagano needs to do something differently going forward.

Jets logo13. New York Jets (Last week: 13)
The offense made some big mistakes and without the defense generating turnovers, the Jets found themselves on the losing end against Philly. Getting Eric Decker, Chris Ivory and Darrelle Revis has to be the priority right now if the Jets want to build on their solid start.

Vikings logo14. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 14)
Sunday provided us with a second straight convincing victory from the Vikings. Adrian Peterson continued his dominance for a second straight week with 120 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings defense also handled what has been a fairly good Chargers offense, sacking Phillip Rivers four times and bouncing him from the game.

Panthers logo15. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 18)
Who would have thought that through the first three weeks, the only division with multiple undefeated teams would be the NFC South. The Panthers have quietly won their first three games and face another winnable game against Tampa Bay this weekend. There is a good chance this Carolina squad stays undefeated.

Eagles Logo16. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 17)
No matter how you spin it, the Eagles defense played much better this week in New York. The offense seemed to find some rhythm, the defense contained the Jets offense and the special teams provided some big plays. Philly gets a chance to make up some ground in the division with a game against Washington this weekend. A win would put them right back into contention for the division title.

Chargers logo17. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 16)
When you struggle to block, the whole team struggles. The Chargers have not had much of a run game and they allowed Minnesota to get after Phillip Rivers this weekend. With the Broncos continuing to win, San Diego needs to start earning some more wins.

Dolphins logo18. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 15)
Many pundits thought Miami was going to be a decent team this season, potentially even challenging New England for the division title. Consecutive losses to the Jags and Bills, the latter being in the form of a blowout, have tapered those conversations.

Raiders logo19. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 22)
The Raiders got the win, a road win no less, to earn their first winning record in nearly four years. Derek Carr continues to show that he is every bit of the franchise quarterback Oakland drafted him to be.

Lions Logo20. Detroit Lions (Last week: 19)
Detroit just could not find a way to consistently move the ball against Denver. On the other hand, it was good to see Calvin Johnson get involved and dominate Aquib Talib for most of the night. The Lions need to find their ground game fast if they hope to salvage this season.

Ravens logo21. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 20)
Steve Smith played lights out this Sunday but it wasn’t enough to prevent the worst start in franchise history. Looking at this Ravens team, they are tough and gritty but lack playmakers on offense.

Rams logo22. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 21)
That upset of the Seahawks seems like it happened a very long time ago. The Rams defense gave Pittsburgh all it could handle but the offense has mustered just 16 points in the last two games. The next two games for St. Louis are away against Arizona and Green Bay. This team could easily be 1-4 by mid-October.

Texans logo23. Houston Texans (Last week: 24)
Houston got a much needed win to keep pace in the lowly AFC South. Alfred Blue led the charge with 139 yards on the ground. The Texans should have Arian Foster back very soon, which could be just what this team needs to start winning some meaningful games.

Giants Logo24. New York Giants (Last week: 26)
Just when it seemed like the Giants were spiraling down, they got a much needed win over a division rival. Suddenly, with Dallas losing this weekend, the division seems much more in reach and the damage done the first two weeks looks like it can be reversed.

49ers Logo25. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 23)
Well…at least things can’t get worse. This San Francisco team is not built to play from behind and when Colin Kaepernick throws two pick-sixes in the first six minutes of the game, the 49ers have no chance of winning.

Browns logo26. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 26)
Josh McCown played worse than his stat line suggests. He started very slow and threw a bad late-game interception to dash the Browns chances of a comeback. The blame can’t all fall on him though. Cleveland allowed five sacks against Oakland. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Titans logo27. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 30)
They might have lost, but it was by a very narrow margin. Tennessee blew a fourth quarter lead, but the fact that it had a fourth quarter lead on Indy shows that the Titans are very much in the conversation of challenging in the AFC South.

Saints logo28. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 27)
Luke McCown is not Drew Brees in any shape or form. However, McCown had a very solid game on a day when the running game didn’t really bail him out. He completed 81.6 percent of his passes for 310 yards. If the running game gets going, New Orleans could start to win a couple.

Washington made up logo29. Washington (Last week: 29)
Well it looks like I overestimated the abilities of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones. Jones could have made the game a lot closer but he fumbled as he lunged for the end zone, costing Washington seven points. The defense also had no answer for Odell Beckham Jr. all night long.

Jaguars logo30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 28)
It seems like that win against Miami was more of an anomaly then a sign of Jacksonville turning the corner. The Jags suffered a 51-17 drubbing by the Patriots. No one expected the Jaguars to win, but any week you give up 51 points is a bad one.

Buccaneers logo31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 31)
Nine points is all we got out of the Buccaneers this weekend. It was a very poor showing but the defense played decently well, limiting the Texans to field goals for the majority of the game.

Bears logo32. Chicago Bears (Last week: 32)
The train wreck continues and the Bears have already started their fire sale. Rumors have placed Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery as potential trade options. Chicago seems like it is fully embracing hitting the reset button.


Why even bother?

I was looking through the list of NBA champions last week when writing my commemoration to Moses Malone. While I was looking over that list, I noticed an interesting trend among NBA champions, one that I thought was kind of troubling.

The_NBA_Finals_logoWhat I am going to tell you will significantly help you in determining who will be meeting in the NBA Finals after the playoff field is set.

The NBA seeds it’s playoff teams one through eight in each conference at the end of the season. Theoretically, everyone has a chance to win the championship but looking at NBA history, that doesn’t seem to be statistically true. The likelihood that an eighth-seeded team winning the championship based on NBA history is zero.

1995NBAFinalsThere has never been an eight seed to win the NBA Finals. In fact there has never been a seven, five or four seed to win the title either. Only one time in the last 65 years that a team not seeded one through three has taken home the trophy. That only time came 20 years ago when the Houston Rockets won the title as the sixth-seeded team in the West. That is even more impressive when you consider that back then, each conference only sent six teams from each conference.

Getting to the finals is almost impossible for teams outside of the top three as well. Granted the NBA has only sent eight teams from each conference starting in 1984 but over the last 31 years, only four times in that span has a team seeded outside of the top three even made it to the finals. Those same Rockets were the first and then four years later, the Knicks shocked everyone as the only eight seed to ever make it to the finals. The Mavericks in 2006 and the Celtics in 2010 remain the only teams not seeded in the top three to qualify for the playoffs in that time span.

Before that, the trend wasn’t much better despite having fewer teams. The Seattle Supersonics in 1978 made the Finals as a four seed. The Rockets preceded their eventual underdog win with a trip to the Finals in 1981. They round out the list of just six teams outside of the top three to make the finals.

NBA logoIt has gotten to a point where you have to wonder if teams should even bother trying. Obviously, everyone will because you never know what might happen but overall, the odds are so stacked against teams that haven’t locked up a top three seed. There have been 248 teams to enter the playoffs as the bottom four seeds over the past 31 years. Just one of those teams has made it to the Finals (the 1999 Knicks).

The best teams in the league are supposed to move on to the Finals but it is staggering how much the seeding plays a roll in who make it to the championship round. You have to wonder if the NBA could find a way to make the playoffs more level. There probably isn’t much and we still see teams that are the lower seeds upsetting higher seeds. They just never seem capable of doing anything past that.

Part of the problem is the tendency for NBA superstars to team up and create super teams. That means that these lower seeded teams are either very young or completely lack the talent to compete. It is a product of the NBA’s roster structure. It is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just how the league tends to run.

It is also a product of having seven game series. Just because a team has a bad night does not mean they are out of the postseason. They have a number of opportunities to regain their ground and aren’t like to have four bad games against a lower level team. That limits an underdogs chance to advance because they need to outplay what is considered a superior team four times, rather than just one.

There always has to be a time where the underdog wins. It just makes sense. However, until it finally happens, you have to wonder why even bother. The chance that these teams make it to the Finals is low. The chance that they win the NBA Title, close to impossible. Yet it is sports so the manta “any given Sunday” will continue to drive underdogs. That is the beauty of sports.

Just an interesting trend I noticed that definitely tell you a lot about the NBA.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Patriots Logo

1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
The Bills’ defense was supposed to thwart Brady. Instead, he was only sacked once, a testament to the play of the offensive line, and threw for 466 yards, a testament to how good Brady is. The defense didn’t seal the deal quite as convincingly as you would like but the defending champs are 2-0.

Packers logo2. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 2)
No Eddie Lacy, no Jordy Nelson? No problem for the league’s best quarterback. Aaron Rogers might not have had the best statistical night but he took it to the Seahawks. He exorcised some demons as well for the Fail Mary game and last year’s NFC championship game. Still a lot more to do but the Pack are in good shape right now.

Denver_Broncos3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 3)
The Broncos are beyond lucky to walk away with a win at Arrowhead. Two touchdowns in nine seconds completely flipped the script. The offense did just enough to keep Denver in it and the defense won the game for them. Peyton Manning needs to start handing out gift baskets full of Papa John’s pizza to thank the defense for carrying him to two wins so far.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)4. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 5)
Dominating the Bears is always a good stat padder. Now the Cardinals have to take on division rival San Francisco. If the 49ers show up like they did in their season opener, Arizona will have their hands full.

Bengals Logo5. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 9)
Still no completely sold on Cincinnati as a title contender but they are starting to look a little more legitimate. The Bengals are very fortunate Giovani Bernard was there to pick up Jeremy Hill’s slack against San Diego. Next on the schedule, a chance to put the Ravens out of reach after just three games.

Chiefs Logo6. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 8)
That has to sting some. Kansas City outplayed Denver for a majority of the game on Thursday night. Unfortunately, Jamaal Charles had a very off night, fumbling twice and cost the team the game. They still move up a spot because of the issues Seattle, Dallas and Indy are facing.

Cowboys logo7. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 6)
Well that was ugly. The Cowboys remain perfect on the season and sent home DeMarco Murray looking foolish. They also lost Tony Romo for the next eight weeks. This offense has a lot of reinventing to do with him and Bryant out for significant time.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 13)Pittsburgh_Steelers logo
Pittsburgh get LeVeon Bell back this week which means that the explosive offense we saw on Sunday is going to be even better. The defense is still a work in progress but it took a small step forward. San Francisco wasn’t much of a test though.

Seahawks logo9. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 7)
Well they looked better against the Packers…kind of. Seattle has no identity on offense, a product of the front office trying to do too much. Jimmy Graham is no so silently fuming at his role with the team. Seattle desperately needs a win against the Bears to get back on track.

Colts logo10. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 4)
Missing: Andrew Luck. Last seen dominating the NFL in 2014. Missing since the AFC Championship game. The Colts need to do something differently on offense to get the team moving in the right direction. Right now they have no direction or cohesion.

Falcons logo11. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 18)
Two game winning drive in two weeks. Matty Ice is living up to his name. Atlanta now face the Romoless Cowboys and if they can walk away with a win this team will be in business.

Bills logo12. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 10)
Well so much for all of the hype. The defense had it’s hinges blown off and got to Brady just once the entire game. Buffalo made a late push but it was too little too late. That being said, they had a chance to tie it on that last drive. The Bills are still dangerous but have a little more developing to do first.

Jets logo13. New York Jets (Last week: 20)
Turnovers the Jets defense forced in 2014: 13. Turnovers the Jets defense forced through the first two weeks of 2015: 10. This defense is scary good and the offense is just good enough for them to win some games this year.

Vikings logo14. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 15)
Minnesota finally remember that they had Adrian Peterson on the roster and fed him 29 times this weekend. That seems a little excess and the Vikings have to find a good balance between rushing and passing. Good win against a division rival though.

Dolphins logo15. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 11)
You got the sense that Miami wasn’t firing on all cylinders when they played Washington. Now we saw that on display with a loss to the in-state rival Jaguars. Ndamukong Suh apparently isn’t listening to the coaching staff and the ground game seems non-existent. Not good signs for the Dolphins.

Chargers logo16. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 14)
The come back proved to be too little too late. There were some positives from this performance though, including a much better outing by rookie running back Melvin Gordon.

Eagles Logo17. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 12)
The defense showed up in Week 2 but forgot to bring the offense with it. Holding Dallas to only 20 points was a pretty good showing, considering how frequently they were on the field and how many times Dallas had a short field. Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray have not been the explosive pairing the Eagles hoped for though.

Panthers logo18. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 23)
Don’t look now but the Panthers are 2-0. The wins were against the middling Jaguars and mediocre Texans but they are wins nonetheless. A win against the rival Saints would Carolina in a really good spot to contend for the NFC South crown.

Lions Logo19. Detroit Lions (Last week: 17)
Ill-timed penalties and poor offensive line play killed the Lions this week. Detroit had nothing going for them on the ground whatsoever. Finishing with 16 carries for 38 yards won’t win many football games.

Ravens logo20. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 16)
The offense came to life, the defense disappeared. Losing to the Raiders is not something many playoff bound teams do during the course of the season. A loss to the Bengals this weekend would drop the Ravens to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.

Rams logo21. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 23)
There are highs and lows to every NFL season. The Rams were coming off a high and crashed to a very uninviting low. Washington simply outplayed St. Louis and bullied them at the point of attack. The running game needs to get going again so they can take some pressure off of Nick Foles.

Raiders logo22. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 27)
Oakland earned a huge win this weekend over the Ravens. Now with a winnable game against Cleveland on the horizon, Oakland could end up with winning record for the first time since December of 2011.

49ers Logo23. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 21)
Unfortunately, that was the 49ers team most of us assumed we would see during the season opener. The offense was outmatched and the defense looked helpless. Full scale collapse after a strong start.

Texans logo24. Houston Texans (Last week: 22)
I get that Arian Foster cannot play at the moment but there is still no reason the Texans should be throwing the ball 52 times in one game with Ryan Mallett at quarterback. Mallett isn’t that type of player. Bill O’Brien has to be smarter than that next week.

Browns logo25. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 26)
Johnny Manziel has played well in his first two games. There is significant room for improvement. However, it seems the Browns are going to roll with Josh McCown now that he is healthy. I can’t really understand why but it seems our time of watching Manziel scramble has come to an end. At least for now.

Giants Logo26. New York Giants (Last week: 25)
The Giants just became the first team ever to lose their first two games after leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter. Yes ever. These late game collapses are going to cost Tom Coughlin his job at year’s end if he cannot turn the team around.

Saints logo27. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 21)
Losing to the Cardinals is one thing. Losing to the Bucs is humiliating. The Saints are heading for another lost season right now and if Drew Brees cannot go against Carolina on Sunday, this team is as good as defeated.

Jaguars logo28. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 29)
That win against Miami looked convincing. The ground game is still a long way from proven but Allen Robinson is starting to look like a real #1 receiver. If Jacksonville can weather the storm that will be the Patriots this week, they get Julius Thomas back in Week 4 and then this offense will hopefully take the next step.

Washington made up logo29. Washington (Last week: 31)
After losing DeSean Jackson, I did not expect Washington to get their first win any time soon. Washington dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which got them the win. That one-two punch of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones could be something special.

Titans logo30. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 27)
Well the Titans returned to reality this weekend in a humbling loss to Cleveland. This is still a team with a rookie quarterback, a suspect receiving core and a defense that lacks playmakers. Tennessee still has a long way to go before they start challenging any one sincerely.

Buccaneers logo31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 32)
Week 2 was truly crazy as even the Bucs got a W. Beating the Saints does not mean that we are going to see Tampa completely turn the season around but it shows that they can be competitive right now rather than in the future.

Bears logo32. Chicago Bears (Last week: 28)
Pitiful is probably the easiest way to describe how the Bears have played so far. Things probably will get worse before they get better too with Jay Cutler set to miss at least two weeks. The Bears have earned their spot in the basement, especially with so many teams around them winning this weekend.

Quarterback Carousel Continues to Spin

What a whirl it has been already on the quarterback carousel in the NFL. We got a really early taste this year before the season even began when Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a teammate in the locker room. That thrust Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting role and the Jets have opened their season 2-0.

Drew_BreesWeek 2 dealt some serious blows to the stability of the quarterback position across the league. Drew Brees played all of Sunday’s game against the Bucs but he may miss next week with a bruised rotator cuff. That would place journeyman Luke McCown into game action for the first time since November of 2011. That isn’t exactly reassuring for the Saints but Verizon has to be thrilled. Believe it or not this actually affects Mark Ingram more than anyone else. The former Heisman winner has never had the chance to be a feature back in an offense but if Brees cannot play or is limited, the focus quickly shift to him to deliver. And he will need to deliver fast because the Saints are 0-2. Panic Level: Moderate

Jay_CutlerIn the Windy City, the Bears are already in free fall and Jimmy Clausen is set to retake the starting role, if only temporarily. Jay Cutler has a hamstring injury that Chicago has said will keep him out at least two weeks. Clausen filled in for Cutler last year after the latter got benched. He was passable, tossing two touchdowns but also throwing a pick. The more concerning thing is that he actually sustained an injury in that game last year, forcing Cutler back into the lineup. If Clausen were to go down, Chicago would really be in trouble then. The last quarterback on the roster is youngster David Fales from San Jose State. If he has to start for the Bears, this team will be in full scale crisis mode. Panic Level: Low (they can’t be much worse).

Tony_RomoDallas ended up taking the brunt of the pain from the losses this week. Tony Romo fractured his left collarbone, which will keep him out for the next eight weeks. The Cowboys have already begun handling his loss. They placed Romo on the short-term IR and traded for veteran Matt Cassell as a reserve option if now-starter Branden Weeden struggles or suffers an injury himself. Neither quarterback is much good but they are both serviceable, which is the best Dallas could hope for as they try to ride out the storm. Despite losing Romo, the Cowboys could still hold the division lead when he comes back based on how poorly the rest of the division has played. However, with Dez Bryant also out for probably a similar time frame, things in Big D are shaky. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the panic that should be surrounding this team. Panic Level: High

Johnny Manziel

I am starting to wonder if the Browns are afraid of success. After nearly reaching .500 last season, Cleveland made a number of questionable veteran acquisitions, including Josh McCown. They needed a quarterback for sure but not many pegged McCown as their savior. McCown entered the season as the starter but a nasty hit in the season opener left him with a concussion. In stepped the polarizing Johnny Manziel. He was far from perfect or even polished but he was productive. Posting to three touchdowns to just one interception in roughly seven quarters of relief work isn’t bad. The four fumbles are definitely concerning but Manziel has regularly kept plays alive and made something out of nothing. He isn’t throwing for a ton of yards but his is picking up a lot of yards when he does throw. He has been electric and exciting, something Cleveland has not had in a while, but the Browns maintain that once McCown is healthy, he will get his job back. I know I initially advocated against it, but after two weeks, I would like to see some more Johnny Football. They won too in Week 2, which is definitely a positive. A game against the Raiders could be winnable as well and would be a really good test for the young Manziel. Cleveland fans should actually start to panic if their original starter is in fact healthy, oddly enough. Panic Level: Moderate

Who does Dallas turn to now?

The Cowboys have not announced a return date for Bryant and have said that it is a week-to-week evaluation.

When things go bad, you hope they just don’t get worse. Well things just got a lot worse for the Cowboys. Dallas just entered crisis mode.

Week one saw Dallas’ leading receiver Dez Bryant suffer a major foot injury that required surgery. Bryant, who just signed a five-year $70 million contract this offseason, is rumored to miss anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks with the injury. The number seems to be up in the air.

That was catastrophic for the Cowboys. Bryant accounted for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns a season ago. That loss was not ideal but then the unthinkable happened.

Romo’s timetable for return has not been established yet.

He dropped back, he turned to scramble and he lost the ball. He then received a crushing hit that drove his left shoulder into the ground. Tony Romo didn’t get up for a while after that. The Dallas medical staff charged onto the field. Romo eventually walked off under his own power, holding his arm gingerly.

It looked bad and it is no doubt that Romo will miss some extended time. He has been officially diagnosed with a broken left clavicle. No timeline has been set yet but when Romo broke his right clavicle a couple of years back, he missed 10 weeks of the season.

Dallas cannot afford to lose Romo for 10 weeks this year. That paired with the injury to Bryant is going to cripple this offense for the most part. The offensive line is still great and the combo of Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar can lead the running game but the passing game is as good as dead. Brandon Weeden is the only other quarterback the Cowboys have on the roster at the moment. That is far from a reassuring thing.

Brandon Weeden
Weeden (left) is a veteran who could bridge the gap until Romo’s return but has been uneven in his appearances.

Weeden in his career has been mediocre at best. He started his career in Cleveland, but that was short-lived as his reputation for committing turnovers lost him the job. In 28 career games, Weeden has 28 interceptions and 12 fumbles. That is not exactly reassuring for your starting quarterback. It is hard to say those days are behind him either. He played great in relief of Romo but in the only game he started last season, Weeden threw two interceptions, fumbled once and completed only 55 percent of his passes.

Even if Jerry Jones and the Dallas coaching staff thinks Weeden is the man for them to start next week against Atlanta, they are going to need to sign another quarterback. Someone needs to back up Weeden next weekend.

Matt Flynn is among the names that will float out. He has had some success as a starter in Green Bay and could be a good back up. Kyle Orton is officially retired but Dallas could coax him off his couch. He has a lot of experience as a spot starter all over the league and actually played for the Cowboys as recently as 2013. One last option that might appeal to Dallas would be bringing Dustin Vaughn back. He was signed by the Cowboys in 2014 as an undrafted free agent so he has some familiarity with the team already and looked good at times in the preseason.

The Cowboys brought in Brice Butler already from the Raiders at receiver and will continue to rely even more heavily on Terrance Williams. I already mentioned the running backs. Dallas will need to work hard to establish the run early and often going forward. With all of the options they have at running back, which will eventually include Christine Michael, Dallas should be able to alternate them to keep everyone fresh and have a solid ground game.

Despite being 2-0, Dallas has to feel like it is in a major rut at the moment. Losing your top receiver and starting quarterback in a two-week span is not something many teams are able to overcome. Looking past the Atlanta game, the Cowboys have a winnable game against the Saints before hosting the defending Patriots. Following its bye, Dallas heads to New York for a rematch with the Giants. Then the Seahawks visit Big D. That is a very tough slate for the Cowboys.

Dallas could find a way to weather the storm but that is unlikely. With the Cowboys sliding, and both Philly and New York sitting at 0-2, Washington suddenly seems to be in a good spot. This division is an absolute toss-up the rest of the way.

If Dallas has any hopes of finishing on top of the pile, it needs to find a couple of new offensive weapons. Bryant and Romo will eventually be back but until then, Dallas will have a tough time making ends meet.