TRUE OR FALSE: Cowboys NFL’s best team? Bengals in real trouble? Patriots cooked? Josh Allen BACK? –

1) Cowboys = NFL’s best team today

I’m obsessed with the Cowboys, who just made quite a mark on the New York/New Jersey area. The ‘Boys deserved all of the praise they received for lambasting the Giants at MetLife Stadium, 40-0. Seven days later, they manhandled the visiting Jets at Jerry World, 30-10. Unsurprisingly, Dallas’ +60 point differential leads the league by a considerable margin.

Mike McCarthy has done a fantastic job juggling his dual roles as offensive play-caller and head coach. This team comes out ready to rock on both sides of the ball. In prior years — heck, basically since the Jimmy Johnson days — Dallas routinely messed around to start a season, playing down to the level of inferior competition. But on Sunday, McCarthy’s charges played brilliant, disciplined, hardnosed, team-oriented football in every single phase. Dan Quinn’s defense is amazing, suffocating opposing quarterbacks with relentless pressure and tiny throwing windows. Dak Prescott was brilliant against Gang Green, connecting with CeeDee Lamb 11 times (on 13 targets) for 143 yards, while also spreading the ball around to a bevy of backs and tight ends.

But despite all of that, I have to say the statement above is false — just barely.

To me, it’s still the 49ers by a hair. Reminder: Back in the preseason, I picked the Niners to win Super Bowl LVIII and Kyle Shanahan to earn Coach of the Year honors. That team has done nothing to sway my bullishness. In the opener, San Francisco hit the road and promptly handed Pittsburgh its worst home loss (31-7) of the Mike Tomlin era. The Niners then beat the rival Rams in Los Angeles, with Sean McVay’s team fresh off destroying the Seahawks in Seattle. While the second win wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the first, the 49ers should’ve won by double digits, as Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey dazzled.

So, yeah, I still have San Francisco as the league’s best team, followed closely by Dallas. And if you are in your mid-40s, like me, everything suddenly feels right in the football world.

2) Micah Parsons = NFL’s best player today

This is unvarnished truth. Micah Parsons looks like Lawrence Taylor 2.0 to start this season. He nearly drove the Jets’ Duane Brown into retirement on Sunday, as the 38-year-old left tackle had no answer for his 24-year-old adversary’s explosive pass-rushing arsenal. In fairness to Brown, who does? Parsons stuffed the stat sheet this past weekend with two sacks, four quarterback hits, a pass defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a partridge in a pear tree. This on the heels of looking like LT against the Giants in Dallas’ season-opening statement.

Now, my preseason pick for Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt, is doing just fine with four sacks and nine QB hits on the season. Not to mention, the Steelers star just scored the first touchdown of his career in Monday night’s win over the Browns. Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson is doing what Justin Jefferson does: Cooking corners and leading the league in receiving yards (309). Unfortunately, his team is 0-2.

But still, Parsons is operating on a different level at the moment. Just ask the good folks over at PFF, who have Micah as their highest-graded player in 2023.

3) Chargers in big trouble

This is true. And it’s a monster deal for a third-year coach whose seat must be heating up.

The Chargers have a Super Bowl-caliber roster, but I have serious reservations with Brandon Staley. Los Angeles’ head man barked at a reporter who asked if the team’s 0-2 start is a hangover from last season’s historic playoff choke job. It all relates, at least to me. It’s poor coaching, it’s a losing culture and — most damningly for Staley — it’s horrendous defense.

Staley was supposed to be a defensive guru, but the Chargers have yet to finish higher than 20th in scoring D or total D. Two weeks into this season, Los Angeles’ defense has given up the third-most points and the most yards. In Week 1, Tua Tagovailoa stormed SoFi and eviscerated the Bolts’ secondary with 466 yards passing in the Dolphins’ shootout win. This past weekend, the Chargers traveled to Tennessee, built a double-digit lead … and then came apart. Staley’s defense yielded a bounce-back performance for Ryan Tannehill while simultaneously allowing Derrick Henry and Co. to do their normal work on the ground. The result: a 27-24 overtime win for the Titans.

The offense isn’t blameless here. Justin Herbert‘s a spectacular talent at the quarterback position, but he’s not exactly an established killer in crunch time. Per NFL Research, the Chargers are 21-10 in games with Herbert where they’ve led at any point in the fourth quarter. Herbert’s 10 losses there lead the league since 2020. That said …

According to the Associated Press, the Chargers are the first team in NFL history to start 0-2 despite having 50-plus points and zero turnovers. Let that sink in.

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