It seems like every year the NFL is coming up with new ways to excite their fans. This rather unpredictable sport is now in its 11th week, and fans everywhere are getting closer to figuring out if their team is going to make it to the playoffs.
“The NFL has been pretty crazy this year. I’ve been surprised at how a lot of teams have panned out,” said sophomore Kurt MacDonald.
Coming into the season, the heavy favorites were the usuals: the Broncos, Patriots, 49ers, Saints, Seahawks and others were expected to have strong regular seasons. However, the NFL almost never goes according to plan.
The Patriots started the season shaky but have turned things around thanks to tight end Rob Gronkowski’s presence and have now won their last five games.
The 49ers also had a cold start to the season as rumors began circulating that the locker room was turning against head coach Jim Harbaugh. Although they had a big win against the New Orleans Saints in overtime this week, they are still only one game above .500, which is subpar considering San Francisco’s success in recent years.
As for New Orleans, Sean Payton and his Saints have had a rollercoaster season to say the least. After losing to the 49ers in overtime, they have dropped to 4-5, but are still holding the top spot in the NFC South.
Although many teams have not met the preseason expectations, there are certainly plenty of teams that have exceeded the preseason predictions. The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals have turned the most heads. Arizona has been absolutely lights out on defense and has committed next to zero turnovers on offense. Both of these teams have dealt with serious injuries with multiple players out for the season, including the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, who just signed a 3-year $50 million contract extension. Palmer tore his ACL this past Sunday and his season is over.
The Cowboys had many offseason problems with salary cap and injuries. They lost linebacker Sean Lee in training camp and Tony Romo suffered a serious back injury against the Redskins a couple weeks ago. Although Romo played this past Sunday and won, the Jaguars are not an extremely competitive team, as they sit at the bottom of the AFC South with a record of 1-9.
The Broncos and Patriots are at the top of the AFC with records of 7-2. The Cleveland Browns shocked most as quarterback Brian Hoyer and company lead the AFC North with a record of 6-3. They worked hard for a huge win on Thursday night against their division rival and AFC North favorite coming into the season, the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles trail the Cardinals with a record of 7-2 and lead the NFC East. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has come in relief after starting quarterback Nick Foles suffered a fractured collarbone and has held his own.
“It’s been really fun to watch the Eagles play this year. Chip Kelly has a year of experience under his belt now and even though Foles went down, Mark Sanchez has really shown a strong will to play,” said junior Grant Korten. “I’m very eager to see how we close out the season; Dallas is our toughest opponent right now. Winning the division is most important.”