Surprises par for NFL early on
October 10, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
The NFL season is a quarter of the way done, and it’s a good time to have a look what we thought would happen vs. what is happening.
Most know that Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been special and has delivered much more than anyone could have expected this early in the season. Obviously, some teams and players have fallen short of expectations. The Steelers, Patriots, Giants, Chargers and Raiders are below expectations so far, but I expect some of them to be making a move soon.
The Patriots, for example, have begun to turn things around. All it took was seeing their 3-0 division rivals Miami come to town. Once Bill Belichick and Tom Brady get their act back on track, they will be potent the rest of the way, especially versus the non-elite of the league. I don’t see the Patriots at the same level once they must face the best of the best.
The Eagles and Vikings, who were powers in 2017, are not quite at that same level this season and may not be at that level again this year. One of the biggest disappointments must be the Chargers. Most were anointing them as AFC West Division winners. There is nothing I see to this point that says they will be all that strong. The however to that is, their division is comprised of the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders, none of who are solid on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs of course, are dynamite on offense and they could overcome their defensive woes and win the division.
The L.A. Rams look to be the best of the NFC West and perhaps of the entire NFL. There will be a few to step up and make their own claim to that title. The Saints look about as strong as we thought they would be and now they get back RB Mark Ingram. They will not be an easy out if Drew Brees continues to set completion records.
The Falcons will have to overcome their defensive injuries to help their strong offense. The Panthers are much stronger to date than many, including myself thought they would.
A good story to begin the season was provided by the always inconsistent Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick for the Bucs. Those first two games were a pleasure to follow, but as usual the Fitz has come back to earth. I don’t expect much from the Bucs the rest of the way, even if Winston has a good season. The NFC South is too tough for them.
The Giants got a lot of credibility for rebuilding in the off-season, but it looks as if that was overblown. Eli Manning needs time to carve up defenses with their skill position players, but the offensive line is not delivering.
You choose, the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all have skill players but not enough to make a run at the Eagles if the Birds find their wings again. So far, it looks as if Carson Wentz needs a little time to find his footing after a pretty serious injury last year.
The AFC North has provided drama and surprises. The Steelers are the best at the drama part, but they have fallen on hard times playing up to their normal standards. But look out for the rest of the division. The Browns, with only one win, have been in every game. But they haven’t learned how to close the deal yet. There are those that believe it is overdue for head coach Hue Jackson to be let go.
The Bengals and Ravens have been playing great and are the clear leaders currently to make the playoffs. The NFC North is providing a lot of mystery. Hard to believe what Mitch Trubisky did last week vs. the Bucs. If the Bears get production from that side of the ball, their defense will take them a long way. The Lions, Packers and Vikings will have much to say about who comes out on top. Most will side with the Packers, due to them having one of the very best at QB in Aaron Rodgers.
The AFC South is a very competitive as we expected. I thought the Texans would make a lot of noise, but they are not playing well and I’m now not sure their head coach can turn things around. Talking about head coaches, the Titans really found a gem in Mike Vrabel. He is very creative and seems to come up with game plans to fit the opponent that gets the job done while getting the most out of his troops. The Jaguars of course have a great defense, but the Colts have nothing much past their very skilled QB, Andrew Luck.