Early Season NFL Surprises: NFC

Steve O Speak

NFC East:

Eagles: While it is not too surprising to see them at 2-1 considering they had games against the Lions and Jags, it is quite surprising to see who is behind center. Vick so far is playing maybe the best football of his career, and makes the Eagles extremely dangerous.

Giants: While the Colts and Titans are two good teams, if the Giants want to be a contender not only do they need to not get blown out but they need to actually win one of those games. Despite having a ton of talent up and down that lineup, this team is not firing on all cylinders.

Cowboys: The 0-2 start was a bit of surprise, but they looked better last week in their victory over the Texans. So far this team is not utilizing all of their talent, and could still be a threat if they turn it around. Right now though their sloppy play makes them look like an average team and not the Super Bowl contender they thought they were.

Redskins: Their opening win against the Cowboys gave them hope, but a new coach and new quarterback has led to the same problems that plagued them before. While their 1-2 record isn’t shocking, it is a surprise that they lost to the Rams.

NFC North:

Bears: Chicago is one of the major surprises this season as they have jumped out to a 3-0 start, including wins over Dallas and Green Bay. Their offense and defense are vastly improved and they look like a strong playoff contender.

Packers: Green Bay, gave away the game last night, but thus far still looks like a serious playoff team. Their offensive line woes continue though, and will need to be fixed moving forward. The Packers also are severely missing RB Ryan Grant who is out for the year, and don’t be surprised if they make a trade to fix the problem (cough, DeAngelo Williams).

Vikings: Minnesota started out 0-2 which was a pretty big surprise, and are still looking to find their way offensively. They still remain a dangerous team with the weapons they have, but right now don’t seem like a great contender.

Lions: The Lions starting out 0-3 would hardily qualify as a surprise, but on the positive note they were in both of their first two losses (Bears and Eagles) until the very end. And that was without their starting quarterback Matt Stafford.

NFC South:

Saints: New Orleans has started out a respectable 2-1, with big wins over Minnesota and San Francisco, but they have shown some weaknesses as well. Their special teams has let them down and cost them a win Sunday against Atlanta, and their defense isn’t as dominate as it was last season.

Falcons: Atlanta looks to be legit, after coming off a sub-par season last year. They played Pittsburgh and New Orleans to a tie in regulation, and throughly crushed the Cardinals. Their defense looks improved and the offense seems to be running smoothly.

Buccaneers: Tampa’s 2-1 record looks better than their actual talent, and is inflated by wins against the Browns and Panthers. That being said this is an improved team this year that is assembling a lot of young developing talent. This might not be the year for Tampa, but they could be ready to contend in a year or two.

Panthers: Their 0-3 start isn’t really a surprise, as this team was set up to fail. With no first round pick and the loss of their star defensive end Julius Peppers, put this team in a hole they couldn’t get out of. The big surprise with this team is how quickly they ended the Matt Moore era. While I wasn’t a big believer in him, he did help turn their season around last year, and probably deserved at least half the year this season. Going to Clausen so early could be risky for the Panthers long term as well.

NFC West:

Seahawks: Their 2-1 start qualifies as a major surprise, especially considering the fact they had to go through the 49ers and Chargers to do so. The numbers aren’t pretty, but in a weak division these 2 early wins are key. I’m guessing though their lack of talent catches up with them in the 2nd half of the season when their schedule toughens up a bit.

Cardinals: No Warner no problem right? At least that’s how it looks in the standings with a 2-1 start, but the reality is they beat the Rams in Sam Bradford’s first ever game and the Raiders (a game they almost lost). When the Cards played a contending team they lost 41-7. They might hang around the division lead considering who weak the West is, but I don’t think they end up with it.

Rams: A 1-2 start is more than I think the Rams could ask for, and is a bit more impressive that their win came over the Redskins with Steven Jackson sitting on the bench. Bradford has been solid so far, but he hasn’t faced a really tough defense yet. As of now he looks to have the potential to be a top notch quarterback one day, but the rest of this year is crucial.

49ers: San Francisco’s 0-3 start not only qualifies as a surprise, but an utter shock. This team was picked to win the NFC West and be a serious contender, but they have looked lost on the football field. Their start has already claimed their offensive coordinator who was fired yesterday, and could lead to some changes in personnel as well.

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