With the NFL season a little past the halfway point let’s take a look at Tony’s Top 5 surprising and disappointing teams so far this season.
Tony’s Top 5 Surprising Teams
Carolina Panthers (9-0)
The Panthers barely got into the playoffs last season with a record of 7-8-1. This season they won’t have a problem making the playoffs as they currently have a record of 9-0. We knew the Panthers would be pretty good led by their defense, but when Benjamin went down in the preseason it seemed unsure. Panthers have continued to be doubted all season long but their good defense and their quarterback, Cam Newton, have made this team a serious contender to make it to the Super Bowl.
Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
A lot of people had the Vikings as their dark horse team this season, and those people have been right. The Vikings have quietly become one of the better teams in the NFL this season leading the NFC North with a record of 7-2. Having Adrian Peterson back certainly has helped as he currently leads the NFL in rushing yards this season. The Vikings also have one of the better defenses in the NFL which doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as it should. If Panthers and Vikings happen to both have first round byes in the playoffs people shouldn’t be surprised, these teams are good.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3)
The Falcons have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL led by their 3 headed monster of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. They hired former Seahawks defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, and it’s paid off so far this season. The Falcons were one of the most disappointing teams last season and have now quickly turned it around. With an offense like they have this, team could make a deep run in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (8-1)
The Bengals have one of the best records in all of the NFL this season at 8-1. Just like the Panthers, the Bengals are a team that seems to not get the respect that they deserve. Andy Dalton has seemed to get better every season and it helps when you have a target like A.J. Green to throw to. Their running back Jeremy Hill who came off a huge rookie season has been a disappointment this season though but third year back Gio Bernard has made up for it. The defense looks good and so does everything else so far this season. Can Dalton finally lead this team over the hump and win some playoff games? Or will it just be another season of making the playoffs and losing in the first round?
Oakland Raiders (4-5)
Even though the Raiders are currently 1 game under.500 they’ve still been a quiet surprise this season. Keep in mind this team didn’t win their first game last season until week 12, so having 4 wins in their first 9 games is impressive. They have one of the best young talents in all of the NFL in Derek Carr. He’s made this Raider team worth watching so far this season. He’s got the best rookie wide receiver in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree has emerged this season playing on the other side of the bay. This Raiders team is only about a game out of a wild card spot and if they make the playoffs they could be a real Cinderella team.
Tony’s Top 5 Disappointing Teams
Seattle Seahawks (4-5)
The Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham this off season and after that move everyone thought they were the favorites to win the super bowl, wrong! The Seahawks have looked awful all season and Graham has been nowhere to be found. It just shows you the difference between playing with Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Lynch hasn’t been the same “beast mode” we’re used to seeing and the defense has looked mediocre at best. If this team sneaks into the playoffs they probably won’t play one game in Seattle which means they won’t go far at all. Seahawks fans should probably get off the bandwagon, because this season is done.
Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
The Cowboys have had an unlucky season losing Dez Bryant in week 1 and then Tony Romo the next week. Bryant came back a couple weeks ago and Romo is supposed to come back this week, but it’s too late. The team has gone 0-7 without Romo and sits in last place with a record of 2-7. Even without Romo this team should’ve been good enough to win at least a few games, but instead they won zero. You can find Cowboys fans all over the country and every single one of them have probably been screaming at everyone just like Dez Bryant and Greg Hardy. This division is pretty soft, but so are the Cowboys. Sorry Cowboys fans but even when Romo comes back there’s no hope left for this season.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
The Colts were predicted to not only easily win the division but have one of the best records in the NFL. They currently sit tied in first place with Houston and are 4-5. To make matters worse, Andrew Luck is out for the next 2-6 weeks. That actually might even be a good thing for Colts fans considering Luck has looked awful all season. You can clearly see his shoulder his bothering him and injuring his kidney has just made matters worse. It’ll be upsetting if Colts make the playoffs because it’ll be by winning their terrible division which would give them a home game in the first round. We’ve seen bad teams make the playoffs before by winning a weak division and then pulling the home upset in the first round. This could be that type of season for the Colts.
Baltimore Ravens (2-7)
Most people knew the Ravens were going to be slightly worse this year, but come on! No one expected this bad of a season. Outside of the Patriots, the Ravens have been one of the most consistent football teams over the past few years. It’s not the same Ravens defense we’re used to and the offense doesn’t look great. They have some key injuries with Steve Smith and Terrell Suggs out for the season. Just like Jeremy Hill, Justin Forsett hasn’t had quite the same season as he had last year. In a division that has the Bengals and Steelers in it, you can pretty much put a wrap on this season for Baltimore.
San Diego Chargers (2-7)
A lot of people had the Chargers as a team that could surprise a lot of people and maybe get to the Super Bowl this season, wrong! The Chargers have a solid team with Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon but just couldn’t put it together this season. The injuries haven’t helped, especially the kidney injury suffered by Allen that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Rivers has been having a very good season, considering his team is always behind and he needs to pass a lot more. The defense has looked passable at times especially with cornerback, Jason Verrett, but there’s not much talent aside from him. After their home loss to the Chicago Bears a couple weeks ago you can pretty much lay this season to rest. I expect the Chargers to bounce back next season and compete for a playoff spot.