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We're nearly a third of the way through the NFL season. It won't be much longer before the playoff picture and tiers of contenders begin to solidify themselves a bit. There are plenty of teams exceeding expectations so far this year, but there are also plenty of teams that are off to starts that could be described as disappointing to varying degrees. We're here to talk about some of those teams. 

To be clear, this isn't about the worst teams in the NFL. The Texans are bad, but that was supposed to happen. Instead, we're looking at teams off to poor starts relative to expectations, or just issues that are standing out that may keep them from reaching the heights we expected of them before the season began. 

So, we're taking a look at the panic meter, ranking nine teams from the least amount of panic to the most. What is the scale on which we are measuring panic? Honestly, I have not decided yet. We're winging it. Let's go.

9. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay's offense should be able to find a way to get untracked. No, it likely will not be as efficient or explosive as it was with Davante Adams, but leaning more into Aaron Jones, and Aaron Rodgers' ability to fire quick-strike passes with precision accuracy, should stabilize things a bit. The defense, though, is very worrisome. There is so much talent at all three levels, but they seemingly just cannot execute, or put players in position to succeed. The Packers still seem like a playoff team, but maybe not a Super Bowl contender. 

Panic level: 6 out of 12 ayahuasca trips 

8. New Orleans Saints

The defense has slid out of the top 10 in efficiency as measured by DVOA, and sits exactly 10th in EPA per play. Replacing Marcus Williams with Tyrann Mathieu is not exactly working out as planned. There are injury issues basically everywhere. Jameis Winston, even before his injury, was not performing at the level that was expected (by some, though not me) to take this team from an also-ran to a playoff squad. Also, these dudes are getting kinda old. And the Saints are once again all-in on winning this season. Eventually, the bill is going to come due. Likely fairly soon.

Panic level: 4 out of 7 Taysom Hills

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

It's tough to say if we should be panicked about Kenny Pickett on any level just yet. He's made only one start, after all. But I think it's definitely time to start panicking about the whole "Mike Tomlin has never finished a season below 0.500" thing. Pittsburgh is 1-4 and has the 11th-toughest remaining strength of schedule, according to Pro Football Focus. T.J. Watt is expected to return this season, but not for at least several more weeks. The run game looks atrocious. Unless Pickett is about to go on a run that makes him the no-doubt Offensive Rookie of the Year, this team is going to struggle to get to 9 wins (or 8 wins and a tie).

Panic level: 6 out of 9 Omar Eppses (if you know, you know)

6. Los Angeles Rams

Uh-oh. The defending champs are not looking good. The Rams have the third-worst point differential in the NFL. The offensive line is in shambles. Sean McVay keeps trying to make Cam Akers happen. Nobody except Cooper Kupp gets open. Allen Robinson is out there running wind sprints. Odell Beckham is offended by their contract offer. Matthew Stafford looks... off. The only thing keeping this panic level from shooting through the roof is the presence of Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey.

Panic level: 7 out of 9 minor elbow injuries

5. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are 2-3, and they're already behind in the tiebreaker against the Ravens. Their defense looks good, but there are various problems piling up for the offense. The offensive line has... not been fixed. Joe Mixon is running with a piano on his back. Tee Higgins is hurt. Teams are playing shell coverages and daring them to either run the ball or throw short passes, and they are mostly obliging with little success. How much faith do you have in Zac Taylor to turn things around?

Panic level: 6 out of 8 Joe Mixon goal-line carries

4. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders are 1-4 in a division that includes the Chiefs. Their chances of winning the AFC West are essentially already gone. Their chances of making the playoffs are not much higher, considering how far behind the 8-ball they are. Until last Monday night, the Chandler Jones contract was looking VERY worrisome. Josh Jacobs looks great and is driving a lot of the offense... but he's also a running back and is not under contract beyond this season. The Davante Adams experience has been relatively up and down, which was expected but is also a disappointment because they need it to be consistent and carry the team. Josh McDaniels may or may not be the answer. I'm not in full-blown, house-on-fire mode long-term here, but this season might already be a lost cause.

Panic level: 12 against a 10 in blackjack

3. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona is 2-3 and one of its wins was, to put it kindly, a ridiculous fluke. This is a team that voluntarily decided to add a few more years to the Steve Keim-Kliff Kingsbury pairing just a few months ago! What is this team's identity beyond Hey Kyler, Go Do Something? 

Panic level: 33 out of 40 Call of Duty campaigns

2. Indianapolis Colts

So, when is this team going to figure it out at quarterback? Or at least, make a bolder move for a player with higher upside? If and when they do that, will the offensive line be good enough? It's taken a step backward this season. Jonathan Taylor remains an elite back, but that status typically does not last all that long in the modern NFL. What the heck happened to the pass defense, which ranks 21st in DVOA at Football Outsiders? I'm not worried for Chris Ballard or Frank Reich's job security yet, but this team does not look like it's going anywhere this season and the clock might soon start to run on what has widely been considered one of the best management infrastructures in the league. 

Panic level: 4.5 out of 5 AFC finalist banners

1. Denver Broncos

Yikes, guys. Russell Wilson looks like an outright disaster, and that new contract hasn't even started yet. Nathaniel Hackett somehow looks even worse than his quarterback. Javonte Williams is out for the year. Randy Gregory is injured as well. Jerry Jeudy has not lived up to expectations. Albert Okwuegbunam is a ghost. Were it not for the presence of Patrick Surtain II and the rest of this very fun secondary, boy, things would be extremely dark. As it is, the Walton family (which now owns the team) might be inspired to make sweeping changes this coming offseason. They'd be justified in doing so.

Panic level: 3 out of 3 game-management decisions