By Ray Hamill
If September is a month full of sunshine and promise for NFL teams embarking on a new campaign, October, like the weather, often signals the beginning of a harsher reality.
This is the month where the real playoff contenders begin to step forward or fall too far back, where good teams find a way to address the early problems that plague every squad to some extent, and where trends become a reality and teams develop an identity, for good or bad.
October rings in the reality of what we can truly expect from the season, and a month that answers the endless questions posed by September.
Like are the Bills and Rams really that good?
Or are the Jets really not that bad?
Questions like how big a problem will the Patriots defense prove to be as we go forward?
Or can the Evil Emperor Belichick fix it once again with the power of the dark side and deflated balls?
Questions like can the Eagles avoid another seasonal meltdown after another promising start?
Or will the Giants or Chargers ever win a game again? (Actually, they play each other this weekend, so one of them has to win. Or at least they both can’t lose.)
And questions like will we ever get used to calling them the Los Angeles Chargers?
Some things, of course, never seem to change, like the order of the AFC North, or the unpredictable nature of the NFC South, or Philip Rivers, or Jay Cutler.
Both south divisions, in fact, remain the most competitive from top to bottom, and that’s unlikely to change much as October beckons (or ever, probably).
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are the only unbeaten team heading into October, which is unusual for this early in the campaign, but the real questions for Kansas City won’t be answered until much later in the season, and Andy Reid-coached teams have been bridesmaids for far too long for anyone to get too carried away just yet.
Especially with the talented Broncos and Raiders on their heels. (At least we think they’re talented. They are, aren’t they?)
Yes folks, October is here, the feel of fall is in the air, and the NFL is about to get interesting.