Mid-season surprises of the NFL


As usual, the NFL has not gone as many “experts” predicted with some teams doing better and some worse than what they were expected to do.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the biggest surprise of the NFL, period. The last two weeks they have beaten the only two undefeated teams, including the defending Super Bowl champion and 21 consecutive game winners New England Patriots. The Steelers were not expected to be in the playoff mix this year. Expectations went down more when their starting quarterback was injured and they were forced to start rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has been the biggest individual surprise in the NFL this season, going undefeated as a starter. The Steelers, right now, look like the Super Bowl favorites.

The New York Giants are also a team doing surprisingly well. Again, many people did not anticipate them to be a challenger for a playoff spot. The players complained to the league that their coach, Tom Coughlin, was too hard on them. It appeared that a mutiny was at hand. Now, the Giants are in second place in a tough NFC East division. Quarterback Kurt Warner is playing well for the first time in a couple of years and running back Tiki Barber is an MVP candidate.

New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is healthy again this year, and running back Curtis Martin is having an outstanding year. The Jets look like a team that could challenge for the Super Bowl.

The San Diego Chargers are tied for first in their division and look like a team that will make waves in the playoffs. Last year, Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the entire Chargers offense. This year, Chargers quarterback Drew Brees is having an outstanding year. Brees looked promising two years ago, but performed terribly last year. This season he is leading the Chargers’ sudden high- scoring offense.

The Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans all have young quarterbacks playing well and leading their teams. Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich and David Carr have led their teams to winning records after being three of the worst teams in the league last year.

Those teams are doing better than expected, but other teams are doing worse.

The Carolina Panthers are terrible this year. They made it to the Super Bowl last year and were one field goal (by SDSU alum Adam Vinatieri) away from winning. This year they are in last place in their division and have won only a single game.

The Seattle Seahawks are also underperforming compared to pre-season expectations. They are tied for first in their division, but only have a 4-3 record. The Seahawks were thought to be one of the favorites in the NFC. They have so far looked soft and like a mediocre team.

The Tennesee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts were all expected to be challengers of the New England Patriots this year. None of these teams have played exceptionally well. They are all still in contention for the playoffs and can make a late season run. As of now, they are playing below expectations.

The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are coached by two of the most famous and best coaches of all time, Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs. However, neither team looks like a playoff contender this year. Both teams have losing records and their playoff hopes are quickly fading away.

The first half of the NFL season has been full of surprises and the second half will be just as good as the playoffs draw closer.