Since the Hitstick podcast has gone on hiatus, I felt like giving this segment a shot. The premise is simple: I look at a team playing either very well or very poorly so far and examine their performance to determine whether I think they are legit or not. Let's jump right in with the team I feel is the biggest surprise of the season thus far.
Cleveland Browns (4-0)
Already matching their win total from last season, the Browns have opened some eyes so far this year. Their schedule has been a mixed bag, with 2 wins over the winless Chiefs & Packers and a 2-2 Broncos squad. Their key win was Week 3, handing the defending division champ Ravens their only loss so far. After a Week 5 bye, they'll face 2 tough tests on the road in Pittsburgh & Jacksonville. We'll learn more about what they're made of then, but so far I like enough of what I've seen to label them a CONTENDER.
Entire AFC East
They all seem to play each other fairly close, trading wins like Chad's mom on the Jersey Shore. However, when they venture outside of the East, things go bad. Defending champion Patriots beat the lowly Panthers, but lost big to Ravens & Raiders. Bills lost big to Bucs. Dolphins were blown out by Falcons & Titans. Only the Jets have picked up a big win outside of the East, handing Texans their only loss back in Week 3. By default, one of these teams will host a playoff game. Whichever team it is won't matter much, as a first round exit is most likely in order. The AFC East is full of PRETENDERS.