What to Make of Early NFL Surprises?
We are two weeks into the NFL season. As usual a lot of people who think they know a lot about the league have been proven foolish, myself included. There is still a ton of football to be played, but here are my thoughts on some early season surprises. These are surprises to me. They may not necessarily be surprises to you.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles- Anyone who tells you they saw their 2-0 start coming is lying. Granted they have only played the hapless Browns and hugely disappointing Bears, but I am still stunned. For Carson Wentz to go from North Dakota State, to just six preseason drives, to winning his first two NFL starts without committing a single turnover is nothing short of incredible. All this has happened in under a year. I had them winning maybe two games all year. Do I think they will come down to Earth eventually? Yes, but there are a hell of a lot better than anyone expected. For now, Doug Pederson and his staff deserve a lot of credit.
The Vikings- Much of what I said about the Eagles is true of the Vikings. In fact, Sam Bradford was shipped
from Philly to Minnesota on the eve of the regular season when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down. Given the fact that Bradford had been in Minnesota for roughly two weeks, him outplaying Aaron Rodgers Sunday night is quite a feat. Bradford gives the Vikings a consistent vertical passing threat. They have not had this since Daunte Culpepper. Life is about to get harder for the Vikings. It looks like running back Adrian Peterson will miss at least a few months with knee injury. Even though Bradford and the rest of the offense were impressive Sunday night, make no mistake. Peterson is the only top-level player they have at the skill positions. Despite that, the defense is loaded with young talent. I am comfortable saying I grossly underestimated this team prior to the season, but I still do not view them as a playoff team.
Seattle’s offensive issues- Without a doubt, the most shocking result of the young season was Seattle losing to the Rams in their LA opener. The Rams looked like a bad high school offense in their season-opening shutout loss. They scored just nine points in week two, but only gave up three. A win is a win. The Rams will struggle on offense all year long. The story here is Seattle. Despite splitting their first two games, they have only scored 13 points on the year. I cannot figure this team out. No one is ever going to mistake them for an offensive juggernaut, but the first two weeks have been really bad. My gut says they will get it corrected quickly. Russell Wilson is too good of a leader as a quarterback for them not to. They are having a much more difficult time replacing former All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch than I thought they would. Lynch is now retired at just 30 years old, if no one steps up in Seattle in the next couple weeks, I would not be surprised at all if Seattle at least gives him a phone call. This team must run the football effectively to be successful.
The AFC South- Thus far, I have whiffed on two divisions, the NFC North (as noted above with the Vikings) and the AFC South. In that division, Indy’s offensive line issues are not better and may not be fixable this year. At this rate, Andrew Luck will get hurt again before long. Someone needs to tell Jacksonville that the season has started. Tennessee
is improving, but they are too young to really contend this year. That leaves Brock Osweiler and the Texans as the only undefeated team in the division. I am still not sold on Osweiler as anyone’s long term quarterback answer, but Houston is far and away the best team in this division right now. Baring something crazy, they should win it.
There are my early season surprises. Some will prove to be a flash in the pan, others have some staying power. What has surprised you in the early season NFL action?