Aside from the Rays turnaround in Tampa Bay, I don't think there's anything more unexpected in sports than this year's football season. Most of it just doesn't make any sense. It's as if Tom Brady's injury sent everyone in disarray. Looking at the list of all 32 teams, I couldn't tell you who the favorite is to win it all. Steve Young said he wouldn't count the Falcons out. The Falcons! The 4-12 Falcons from last year! The same team that coming into this year didn't have a quarterback, a coach, or a team with any morale? Now they're 4-2 and in contention to win the competitive NFC South? What!?
Three weeks ago "Big D" looked unstoppable. Oh what three weeks can do. Now the Cowboys have an ailing quarterback, Adam "no longer Pacman" Jones has been suspended indefinitely from the league, and TO (who argued he wasn't getting the ball enough after a game in which 33% of the plays went to him) now has to deal with possibility of being outshadowed by the stats of the great Roy Williams. Just like when TO's double coverage left Terry Glenn open for touchdown after touchdown. That could be interesting. Big D might stand for Big "Drama" in the coming weeks for America's team.
How about the New York Football Giants. They were awesome...and then Monday happened. As soon as every analyst started calling them the best team in NFL (finally some respect for the Super Bowl champs!), the 1-3 Browns made an embarassment out of them on national television. As a Giants fan, I hope they take the loss as a wake up call. They can't afford to be overconfident. They got to 5-0, playing with a chip on their shoulder. They're going to have to continue to play with something to prove every week if they want to keep the league's respect.
Chicago on the other hand, has no one's respect right now. They've defied odds to lose games this year. They blew a 14-point lead against the Panthers, a 10-point lead in the last 3 minutes against the Bucs, and after scoring a touchdown to take the lead against Atlanta with 11 seconds left!, they still somehow managed to lose. If the Bears could protect leads no one should ever blow, they'd be 6-0 and atop the NFL power rankings right now. Imagine that.
Then there's the Redskins. After completing the impossible task of winning back-to-back games on the road in the NFC East, Washington lost to a St. Louis team poised to go 0-16. How is that even possible? Well, because that's the NFL. Year in and year out, it continues to be the most unpredictable sport. How else could you explain Chris Berman's preseason Super Bowl pick of the Colts over the Seahawks? It's the same reason 40% of our fantasy football rosters are different come Week 4. It's why they run those classic "4 months earlier" commercials at the end of the season, when they mock confident fans' preseason predictions. There's just no way of knowing. Here's what I think I know about the NFL:
1. The Saints are for real. I said it last week in their loss to the Vikings: If they can clean up their act and rid themselves of the bonehead mistakes, they'll win the NFC South and be a threat to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
2. The Colts are finding their groove. After their 17-point come-from-behind win against Houston, I said to myself, this could be one of those season-changing moments that turns it all around for the Colts. After a 31-3 shellacking of the Ravens this past week, Peyton and the Colts look to be back on track.
3. The Giants will be fine. Every team needs a slap in the face once in a while to remind them it takes more than just showing up to a football game to come away with a victory. The Giants will recognize that their recent successes came from playing with something to prove, and get back to that mentality.
4. The Browns might be back to true form. They made some adjustments in their offensive style of play, and took it to the Giants on Monday. They no longer have the pressure of expectations to deal with; almost everyone has already written them off. They've gotten a lot of their prime time games out of the way, and have the chance to play under the radar for the rest of the season; a role they seemed more comfortable with last year.
5. Lastly, if there's anything we can tell from the season thus far, it's that nothing is a guarantee. I expect to see a lot of shake-ups in the divisional races in the next few weeks to come. No lead will be safe for quite some time. The competition is on even grounds this year in the absense of Tom Brady, and everything appears to be up in the air. It should be quite an interesting year in the NFL.
Image taken from Yahoo! Sports