Does Anybody Know Anything About the NFL?
In yesterday's edition of NFL's Sunday Surprises, I pointed out a number of things that surprised me about the first Sunday of football. Now that Week One in the NFL is finished, did we find out anything we didn't already know?
One thing we thought we knew coming into the season is that the two best divisions in football were the NFC East, and the AFC South.
The NFC East finished the week with a 3-1 record, with the only losing team being the Washington Redskins. And the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were very impressive in their wins, both blowing out their opponents. This, we already knew.
The AFC South however did not fare so well, finishing week one with a record of 1-3, with the sole winner being the Tennessee Titans, and that wasn't a very pretty win, but it was a win nonetheless.
With Titans quarterback Vince Young apparently "quitting" on his team at one point in the game, the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive line being decimated by injuries, quarterback David Garrard throwing almost as many interceptions in Week One as he did all of last season, the Houston Texans looking quite lost in their season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Indianapolis Colts being out muscled by the Chicago Bears, the AFC South may well have fooled us all.
All of this, we didn't know.
There are three divisions in the NFL with 3-1 records. Two of them are in the NFC. We thought we knew that the AFC was the better overall conference, at least that's what the media thought we knew.
The NFC won three of the four inter-conference matchups in Week One and the NFC won the Super Bowl last season. Is there a transfer of power taking place in the NFL? Nobody knows for sure, but in Week One, the NFC was the better conference.
We thought we knew that Tom Brady was invincible. Nope. Didn't know this either.
We thought we knew that all rookie quarterbacks struggle when they are forced into the lineup in Week One. Nope. Not in Week One of the 2008 regular season.
We thought the Patriots were still the team to beat in the AFC, and the Colts were the next in line, followed closely by the San Diego Chargers, with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a bit of an after thought. We don't think that way any more do we? Can anyone say "flip-flop"? Reverse this order now.
We thought that in the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles would be good. And, in Week One anyway, they were.
The Washington Redskins, St. Lois Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and the Oakland Raiders all struggled (a bit of an understatement in some cases) in their season openers. We already knew this.
The Atlanta Falcons have an offense, and the New Orleans Saints have a defense. We didn't already know this.
There are many other things we thought we knew coming into the regular season. But we have already been reminded, in Week One, that anything can change in an instant. And no one can really predict what each game will bring.
The attraction of the NFL is the weekly suspense, the drama, the reality that until they play the game, we don't really know who will win, who will play well, or who won't.
And so the next question to be asked is this: Can each team, each player, and each coach maintain the surprisingly high expectations that come with the Week One accolades? For several teams and many players, Week One proved their capabilities, justified their draft selections, and quieted the critics.
For those teams, those players, Week Two brings a different challenge. They have to live up to expectations that are just as unreasonably high as they were once convincingly unknown. For other teams, other players, Week Two brings an opportunity for redemption, to prove the critics wrong, and to raise future expectations.
On comes Week Two of the National Football League's regular season, and with it, even more unknown.
Man, I love this game!
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