NFL Week 7: 10 Reasons This Is the Least Predictable Season Ever
It was "Back To The Future's" 25 year anniversary in 2010. Yes, 25 years ago the Delorean first graced the silver screen, and the wacky haired professor sent young Marty McFly spiraling through time, in a portion of funny delights.
"How does this relate to the NFL?" I hear you ask. Well perhaps it doesn't. But considering how fast the past seven weeks have flown by in the regular season, it may be time for Roger Goodell to call on the Doc, and send the league back a few short weeks into the past.
As outlandish as this seems, to think three months ago that we had all expected the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys to excel this season, now appears to be almost laughable.
Sure, Green Bay notched a big time win over rivals the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night, but as for the new and improved 49ers and the sure to be Super Bowl Champions the Dallas Cowboys, 2010 has been as unkind as a drunk uncle on Christmas day.
But while we're on the topic of unpredictability, what storylines have made this season one of the most memorable seven weeks into the year?
To be quite frank, it's easy to draw a headline from each individual game. However, we don't have that kind of time, so here's a quick look at 10 Reasons This Is The Least Predictable NFL Season Ever, along with a small trip down memory lane.
10. Neither Darrelle Revis Or Charles Woodson Lead The League In Interceptions
Al Bello/Getty Images
If any quarterbacks were planning a trip to Revis' Island or Charles Woodson's interception factory this season, it appears that just about every passer has managed to avoid that inevitable travel trip.
In the 2009 season, Charles Woodson and Darrelle Revis were of course unstoppable. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner (Charles Woodson) notched up 9 total interceptions last season, while New York Jets superstar corner Darrelle Revis also clocked in with a high total of 6.
Therefore, given both players impressive campaign last season, it was formidable to expect each player to outdo themselves in 2010.
Unfortunately that wasn't the case.
No, as it stands Darrelle Revis has been missing in action frequently this season, due to a persistent hamstring injury that continues to plague no. 24. Currently Revis has recorded a measly 7 tackles on the year, and only now is beginning to return to game form.
Charles Woodson on the other hand has been healthy, but is struggling with the absence of defensive stars Al Harris and Atari Bigby in the secondary. Luckily for the Packers Woodson has at least snatched a pass once this year, however his tendency to give away silly penalties will likely harm his chances of repeating as Defensive Player of the Year.
So who is leading the league in interceptions?
Prior to Week 7 Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall wasn't even close, but his four picks against Chicago on Sunday now sees him earn the top honors.
It's odd to see the NFL without it's two brightest cornerbacks at the top, and it is fair to say that injury and age have played a factor. There's plenty of time left for either to get back ithe hunt, but both Woodson and Revis are losing out to possibly less talented cornerbacks as each game draws on.
9. Kyle Orton Is One Of The Best Quarterbacks In 2010
Larry French/Getty Images
If you were one of the few people to pick Kyle Orton as a standout player this season, my hat goes off to you, as I for once chose to see the negative in Orton's play during the offseason, and put him down for another dismal year.
In terms of turnarounds, Kyle Orton has pulled off a near miracle. Sure, the Broncos 2-5 record on the year brings a little dampener to the situation, but Orton's 2,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on the season earn him the second spot behind Philip Rivers in the passing game.
By looking at Kyle Orton on paper, it could be said that this big time performance was a long time coming. In Orton's Chicago Bear days he was of course a highly criticized quarterback, but in his two year career with the Denver Broncos, Kyle Orton has managed to get his arm back on track - even if it hasn't resulted in wins.
Aside from wins and losses though, much of Kyle Orton's new found success could be credited to the Broncos latest go to wide receiver, Brandon Lloyd.
Since the beginning of the season Kyle Orton has been searching for a new number one target in the passing game since the absence of Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, and although Brandon Lloyd may not possess the same explosiveness, Lloyd has managed to earn himself 709 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year.
It's questionable to say that big things are to come from Kyle Orton, after all, most of Mile High would probably appreciate a few more wins than a top rank quarterback. Still, the right path has been chosen in Denver, and now fans hope it is just a matter of time before all things begin to click.
8. America’s Team Has Plummeted In The NFC East
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
With a game in hand this Monday Night against the New York Giants, the 'D' in Dallas Cowboys has stood for nothing more than disappointment, demise and devastation across the state of Texas.
Heading into the season, the entire Cowboys roster knew just how tough the NFC East division can be. What Dallas, and the rest of the NFL weren't expecting however, was for Jerry Jones' men to slip to 1-4 on the season, following many rough and disappointing performances.
To start from the very top of the list, the Cowboys main issue has come from the quarterback position. It isn't totally fair to blame the Cowboys woes on Tony Romo, but no. 9's lack of accuracy and poor decision making has made up for many of Dallas' losses.
Moving down the list, the Cowboy defense has also struggled. In the air, America's Team has been doing just fine, but when the opposing team chooses to pound the run game, the Cowboys 25th rank rush defense is exposed for many of it's weaknesses.
Going forward, this Monday night will likely determine the Cowboys season. Fortunately the game is being played in front of a Cowboy home crowd, and if all things go according to plan, Dallas may be able to escape with a season building victory.
Keep in mind though, if the Giants dominating defense can rattle Tony Romo, and bring him to the ground, it may be another long day for Wade Phillips. 1-5 is tough to claw back from, and with the NFC East battle constantly waging on, it may be goodbye to Dallas for good on Monday Night.
7. Tampa Bay Sits Above The New Orleans Saints In The NFC South
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a very young, promising and upcoming team, but perhaps not even NFL experts could have predicted the Bucs to be ahead of New Orleans in the NFC South division.
Following Week 7's explosive action, the Bucs were fortunate enough to see a victory over St. Louis, and a New Orleans loss to a weak Cleveland Browns side, at home in the Superdome.
Although for Tampa Bay they are still within arms reach of the Atlanta Falcons, the Bucs are still one game behind their division rivals. However, the sweetest sight of course comes from seeing Josh Freeman's young offense above the defending Super Bowl Champions, seven weeks into the year.
Similar to most teams, key games lay ahead for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers take on Arizona next week, followed by a second consecutive away trip to Atlanta, that could mean the difference between second or first place
Statistically Tampa Bay have been poor, but hey, winning is winning right?
The ball keeps rolling for Tampa Bay, and although it has endured a few detours this season, the Bucs are looking more and more likely to post a wild card season, if not a playoff berth.
6. The Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams Have Been Victorious This Season
Leon Halip/Getty Images
It was far from predictable entering 2010, and here we are looking toward Week 8, with both the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders having recorded three wins each on the season.
Seeing as though the Rams were only successful in posting one win last year, a 3-4 record right now looks favorable for the future. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford has been stellar in his first year under center, and although star wide receiver Michael Clayton will be sorely missed due to injury, the Rams are now showing promising signs for the next decade.
On the opposite side, the Oakland Raiders are also looking determined. Talent is beaming in this roster, and after a 59-14 win over division rivals the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the likes of Darren McFadden have really come through for Al Davis.
Aside from wins and performances though, it is simply great to see these teams doing well. We've all seen how special it has been to see the Kansas City Chiefs excel in 2010, and the thought of the Rams returning to their best, and the Raiders finally proving to be contenders in the future is a promising site.
It may be important not to jump the shark too early here - but for now we'll give both sides credit. Oakland do still have quarterback issues, but Darren McFadden has been the highlight in The Black Hole.
As for St. Louis, Sam Bradford may be no Kurt Warner just yet, and God knows he didn't come from the grocery store to the NFL. But that isn't to say that St. Louis can't be a contender next season, considering how wacky the AFC West has been this year.
5. San Francisco Kicks Off Promising Season In Controversial Style
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
It was supposed to be a breakout season for the San Francisco 49ers. A successful draft campaign in hand, and a rejuvenated offense led by Alex Smith, who had played well for most of the preseason.
When the regular season kicked off, San Francisco struggled. Losses to Seattle, New Orleans, Kansas City and Atlanta capped off the 49ers first month, and when San Francisco fell to Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, turmoil struck the bay area.
Following on from San Francisco's 0-5 start, boos were also heard at Candlestick Park. Quarterback Alex Smith wasn't living up to expectation, and although the 49ers did notch their first win against Oakland in Week 6, the very next week a loss to Carolina buried San Francisco's season.
But for all of the tribulation that surrounds this team, the hot seat is also looming. Head coach Mike Singletary has been backed by the 49ers board, however one must wonder when Singletary's good luck will run out, and leave San Francisco to cut their loss.
Realistically this story is yet to play out fully, but it is one that has been extremely unpredictable. From a sure playoff bet in a weak division, the 49ers are now dead last in the NFC West, and not showing any signs of improvement.
This season is an obvious waste, but many more stones are left unturned in San Francisco right now.
4. The Green Bay Packers Path To The Super Bowl Takes a Wobbly Turn
Jim Prisching/Getty Images
It's arguable to say that the Green Bay Packers are the most talented team in football, but by looking at Mike McCarthy's roster, nobody can be blamed for picking the green and gold to win it all this season.
When the Packers 2010 campaign kicked off, wins began to flow immediately. A close but surefire victory over Philadelphia in Week 1 got the ball rolling, and accomplishments over Buffalo and Detroit were to follow in later weeks.
Unfortunately for Green Bay though, their Super Bowl freight train was derailed by a major injury bug, that took joy in biting star tight end Jermichael Finley, linebacker Clay Matthews, and most importantly, running back Ryan Grant.
In Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings the Packers played host to Brett Favre for their annual redemption game, and unlike last year, were successful winning 28-24.
Currently the NFC North is one of the most unpredictable divisions in the NFL. The Chicago Bears still sit in first place, but lately The Windy City's true colors have began to shine, presenting a prime opportunity for Green Bay.
We'll see how the rest of this season unfolds, but to look back at August and say the Packers were Super Bowl favorites, their highly anticipated path has been far from a cakewalk so far this season.
With a shortlist of players though, and a quarterback that can still pack a punch on any given occasion, the Packers do look fickle, but can still punish any team in their paths heading toward the second half of the year.
3. Cincinnati’s Star Power Fails to Benefit Struggling Bengals
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jermaine Gresham - check. Jordan Shipley - check. Terrell Owens - check.
Yep, Cincinnati's offseason progress sure was a sight to behold during the summer. Marvin Lewis' recruiting skills were put to good use, and when former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens arrived in Bengal orange and black for the first time, expectations were high in Paul Brown Stadium.
As it stands now, the Bengals star power has been decent at times. Terrell Owens has managed to become one of the few shining lights for this franchise, recording 564 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year.
Other than T.O's efforts though, the rest of the Bengals outfit has been dismal in comparison. With losses to the Patriots, Browns, Buccaneers and Falcons in hand, the NFC's seemingly most talented team now sits at 2-4 on the year, in the midst of much controversy.
On the positive side of things, the Bengals have managed to play competitively in most games. But although this is something to commend Cincinnati on, it simply hasn't been enough to get the entire job done.
To state the plainly obvious, quarterback Carson Palmer needs to find his confidence - soon. The former reliable quarterback has looked mediocre in recent weeks, proving to be inaccurate and undependable in his 1,699 yard effort this year.
Tough games lay ahead for the Bengals, and with Miami, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis on the horizon, the path back to the top isn't getting any easier. To add the icing on the cake, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are now running away with the AFC North, and making it near impossible for Cincinnati to keep their chances alive.
2. Brett Favre Struggles Following a Stellar 2009 Season
Jim Prisching/Getty Images
For the most part, everybody who is anybody realizes that Brett Favre is the least bit interception prone.
In his years with Green Bay, Brett Favre managed to make a career of throwing to the opposite team, and even during his more recent times in Minnesota, the old timer has continued his awkward trend in the later stages of his 20 year career.
On Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre played a fairly well rounded game. In the early goings Favre recorded consecutive three and out attempts, only to bounce back with bullet passes to the likes of Percy Harvin, to engage the Vikings in a scoreboard tennis match against their division foes.
As the game drew on though, so did Brett Favre's weariness. Interceptions began to flow, and when Favre was hit hard in the second half, his previously injured right ankle appeared to be in some pain as no. 4 limped off of the sideline.
So how did it all end for Brett?
Most of us already know, but for those that don't, Brett Favre did rally his team in the dying stages of the 4th quarter, only to slip on the final play of the game, and throw a wild pass to Randy Moss in the back of the end zone, that resulted in an in-completion and a turnover on downs.
Keeping it simple, it now seems that Brett Favre's heroics are done. There was a certain humble feeling when the camera's followed Favre's potentially final exit from Lambeau Field, and instead of expressing his usual "Aww shucks" attitude, Favre appeared contempt with this last ditch efforts.
And what makes this unpredictable?
The pure fact that Favre was great in 2009. Last year Favre threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns, and the Vikings rolled toward the NFC Championship Game with ease.
While it remains to be seen if that feat is accomplished this year, Brett Favre is no longer the man he was a season ago. Bruised, beaten, and quite possibly soon to be suspended - the immortal Brett Favre is now no more, at least for the time being.
1. The Kansas City Chiefs Sit Atop The AFC West
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
You and I didn't expect it, Chris Berman didn't expect it, and perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs themselves didn't expect it either.
Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs are atop the AFC West.
With a 4-2 record on the year, Matt Cassel's new look offense has been rolling in 2010, thanks to running back Jamaal Charles, rookie tight end Tony Moeaki and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Looking back at where this franchise has came from, this is by far the biggest story of the season. Last year the Chiefs were dead last in the AFC West with a record of 4-12, and even the struggling Oakland Raiders managed to outdo Todd Haley's efforts.
But away from what occurred in the past, it has been Kansas City's pure work ethic that has knocked the socks off of everybody this season.
Eighth in points scored, 12th in yards, and 1st in rush defense, the Chiefs are now looking more and more like a contender this season rather than a pretender, like some folks still choose to believe.
They say there are certain teams that are simply good for football when they are winning, and Kansas City are one of them. Rain, hail or shine, Arrowhead Stadium always sells out, and with their team finally above .500, you can guarantee that the Chiefs 81,000 plus home field won't have an empty seat in the house.
Matt Cassel was great in his New England days, and now he looks to be the full quid over in Kansas City. Better than that, the Chiefs now play the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders in the next two weeks, so get ready to start mixing the words "6-2" and "Kansas City Chiefs" in the same sentence.