This year’s NFL season has already been full of surprises, evident by some of the teams that find themselves with a 3-0 record, and some that are crawling at the bottom of their respective divisions. The year will only get crazier as the weeks go on, but this week’s Pick-Six takes a look at some of the biggest surprises the league has seen to this point in the season.
6. Trevor Siemian Keeping The Broncos Relevant
While the Broncos succeeding as a team shouldn’t surprise anyone given their stacked defense, the way things are going offensively for the team should. After the departures of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler this past offseason, the Broncos seemed lost at the quarterback position. Enter Trevor Siemian, who has completely turned things around for Denver this season as a starter. He led the team (mainly carried by defense) in the first game against the Carolina Panthers to a close win, and has cruised ever since. The defense is good enough to help them succeed throughout the whole season, but it will be interesting to see if Siemian can keep up as the year goes along.
5. Super-Cam And Carolina Can’t Bounce Back
Going into this season, no one could really tell if the Carolina Panthers would be able to match what they did last season en route to a Super Bowl appearance. I had ranked them as one of the top teams in the league in the preseason, mainly due to the return of Kelvin Benjamin to an already-hot offense. However, the team has faltered in the first few weeks of the season, starting with just a 1-2 record, with losses to the Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. The loss to the Vikings was a telling one, given the amount of penalties and mistakes the team made against a team they should’ve crushed on paper. The Panthers aren’t out of the race just yet, as we’ve only gone through three weeks, but they’ll need to figure out their own identity in order to get back on track.
4. The Arizona Cardinals Defense Can’t Figure It Out
The Cardinals defense was solid last season, and most notably destroyed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers late in the regular season, giving up just eight points to a high-powered offense. They added Chandler Jones in the offseason from New England to go along with their already-talented secondary, but the team has struggled in the first few weeks of the year. A close loss to a backup quarterback from New England and an embarrassing blowout against the Buffalo Bills showed some weakness in Arizona’s defense, but Bruce Arians’ coaching should be good enough the rest of the way to work out the kinks.
3. The Minnesota Vikings Are On Top Of The NFC North
No Teddy Bridgewater, no Adrian Peterson, no problem. The Vikings had a great season last year, and had their playoff game against the Seahawks in the bag if not for a missed game-winning field goal attempt by Blair Walsh. They looked as if they’d rock the league this year with everyone healthy, and then tragedy struck. The team lost their quarterback, Bridgewater, for the season on a freak, non-contact knee injury during the preseason, and then lost Adrian Peterson for an extended period of time with a knee injury as well. The team looked like they should’ve been done weeks ago, but have fought back with a top-notch defense and some solid play from Sam Bradford to put the team at 3-0 and atop the NFC North. The Packers are talented enough to make a run later in the year to fight for the top spot in the division, but the Vikings proved they aren’t packing it in this year.
2. The Carson Wentz-Led Philadelphia Eagles Are 3-0
The debate during every Eagles game shifted drastically from “Can Carson Wentz really play in the NFL?” to “Are the Eagles legit this year or are these fluke wins?” to now wondering if this team can be stopped. Carson Wentz is growing at a rapid rate, proving that maybe the Rams made the wrong move during the draft this offseason in picking Jared Goff over this young stud. Wentz has thrown five touchdowns through three games, and has yet to throw an interception. He’s making smart decisions with the football, and it seems to be rubbing off on his teammates in Philadelphia, who have all come around to play at a solid level. The NFC East may scare some people this year, after many wondered if it was the weakest division in football after last season.
1. New England Patriots Are 3-0 During Brady’s Suspension
This one is a fact no one ever thought they’d be saying while the whole Deflategate scandal unraveled: The Patriots are actually 3-0 without Tom Brady this season. Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal, and, even when he went down with a shoulder injury, Jacoby Brissett proved he was just as ready for the job. The coaching in New England is at the best its been in years, mainly due to the resurgence of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The team has been solid on all fronts, except for a lackluster second half against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, where their defense basically fell asleep after Garoppolo’s injury. With two impressive wins over the Cardinals and Houston Texans, the team now finds themselves on top of the AFC East, with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history waiting to come back after just one more game.