Apologies to all my loyal readers for the brief hiatus in posting – things really got busy at the office!
With nearly two weeks of NFL play in the books, I wanted to weigh in on some items that are currently flying under the radar in the National Football League. It seems like all the recent talk has been about dirty hits, fines, sportsmanship, and injuries. I want to focus on some team play instead. In this post, I’m going to focus on some teams playing above expecatations this year.
Not as bad as you thought: New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals
All of these low expectation teams are 1-1 and have avoided digging themselves in the proverbial hole. Watching these teams, I’ve been pretty impressed. It’s still too early to say that they’re playoff contenders, but I do think they’ve played above expectations and will definitely not be cellar dwellers of the league this year.
The biggest surprise in the group is the New York Jets. This team was written off last winter/spring. They have an incredible defense and a young, athletic quarterback that will continue to build confidence every week. This defense is really what’s special. Any time you can keep a team from scoring, you in turn keep the game close and always give your team a chance to win. I believe the Jets will be one of those teams that always hangs around games and will probably string together a fair amount of wins this year. They are going to be a pest for any opponent. I’m really curious to see Geno’s development and see if this offense can improve. It may be difficult due to a lack of talent at some skill positions, but just maybe they can get something going.
San Diego is another team that was written off well before the season. Every pundit claimed that Rivers was past his prime, with some suggesting that he may no longer be a viable starter after this season. There’s still a long way to go, but the guy looks pretty solid. They nearly beat what many consider a good Texans team (I think they’re a bit overrated) and finally came through with a late win against Philly. I’m not sure they’re a playoff team given how tough their division is – Denver looks good and KC is playing well – but like the NYJ, I think they have the potential to string some wins together and be a solid team. I think they could cause problems for a lot of teams, especially if they’re able to start winning the close games.
Arizona has been a bit up and down this year, but ultimately, I think they are a good team that has a lot of upside. Not enough can be said about Patrick Peterson – the guy is an absolute freak. What can’t he do? His completion Sunday was pretty impressive. Their defense came up huge vs. Detroit, which is no small feat given the amount of talent they were up against. They got some key turnovers and stops, which is always a good sign. I feel that a lot of their success will hinge on the health of Larry Fitzgerald. Having him healthy really keeps defenses honest. So far, he’s been hit by the injury bug. If he can manage to overcome this, the offense will be in a better spot. We’ll also have to keep an eye out for Carson Palmer. He been inconsistent at times. It will be a huge plus if he can keep the turnovers down. Overall, the Cardinals will never get a lot of press because of the two behemoths in their division, but I don’t think they should be taken lightly.