Now that we’ve hit the first quarter of the NFL season, it’s time to take a step back and see who’s been the biggest surprise, upset, disappointment and what this means for the rest of the season.
Biggest Surprise Team:
Kelly: For me this has to be the Vikings. After their slew of injuries to start the year, a crazy trade for an injury-prone, less-than-spectacular starting quarterback, I know I discounted them, especially, especially after they lost their star running back Adrian Peterson. However, some way, some how, this team continues to find new life each way. Their defense, which is currently giving up just 12.5 points a game, is one of the best in the league, and they continue to impress.
Max: I agree the Vikings are the choice here. But I’m nearly as surprised by the fact that the Denver Broncos are 4-0. They lost a few key pieces from their great defense, started a previously unheard of 7th round pick and… haven’t lost a step. Their defense looks just as good, if not better, as it did in the Super Bowl and Trevor Siemian has been a notch or two above competent while also showing improvement every week. Conventional wisdom knew going in that this defense would be good but I think we’re all surprised to see them still be AFC favorites.
Kelly: I’m going to go with Arizona, just because I had penciled them in to make another deep run into the playoffs. Although they got a little back on track this past week, starting 1-3 through your first four games isn’t a good sign. Carson Palmer, pre-concussion, wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Palmer currently has a completion percentage of 58.8 to go along with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season Palmer completed 63.7% of his throws and had just 11 interceptions all year to go along with 35 touchdowns. His production dropping like that has clearly derailed the Cardinals up until this point.
Max: The way the Carolina Panthers have started the season is very concerning. I can’t think of a worse omen than last weeks loss to the Falcons, a game that saw Julio Jones go for 300 receiving yards. The Panthers defense has been nowhere near as good as it was a year, their running game has been suspect and Cam Newton is taking a ton of hits. We’ve only played four games and already the Panthers have three times as many losses as last year and Derek Anderson is starting this weekend. Color me worried.
Most fun to watch team:
Kelly: As someone who loves watching a good offense, there’s no more fun team than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watching Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates run well-developed routes, enjoying Le’veon Bell (now that he’s finally back) slice through defenses and watching Ben Roethlisberger display his cannon of an arm for the first quarter of this season has been quite entertaining.
Green Bay Packers
Max: There are few things better in the modern NFL than watching Aaron Rodgers play quarterback. The man is seemingly capable of an all-time great play at any moment. He made two jaw-dropping throws in Week 1 alone that might not even be among the five best he’s ever thrown. I sincerely hope the Packers offense has gotten out of its funk because watching Rodgers’ greatness is a treat.
Least fun to watch team:
New York Jets
Kelly: I won’t be mean and say Cleveland because everyone is already ripping into them, so I’m going to go with dun dun dun, the New York Jets. Maybe I’m biased – scratch that I’m definitely biased- but since I watch their games the closest, let’s just say it hasn’t been an easy start to the year. From Ryan Fitzpatrick forgetting what team he’s supposed to throw to, to watching our defensive backs get torched like no other and then stare at each other, like “Crap, whose man was that?” to watching missed chances, see below, just slip away, this 1-3 start could get even uglier.
Max: I don’t know if Andrew Luck is going to make through this full season healthy, but I’m pretty sure if I watch much more of the Colts I’ll end up with some bruises of my own. Luck has absolutely no help from the rest of this poor excuse from a roster. He is quite literally running for his life on every drop back. Why did I draft him in fantasy again?
MVP for the first quarter:
Kelly: I’m going to give this one to Matt Ryan because the Atlanta Falcons were supposed to be bad. And let’s be frank their defense isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. However, their offense has been clicking, even in their only loss. The offense has scored at least 24 points in a game, and over 45 in the last two. Ryan has thrown for 1,473 yards, a 72.1% completion percentage, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. Granted, he’s got one of the top 3 wide receivers in the game, but Ryan has been incredible (and been riding my bench….)
Max: The two best teams in the league thus far are led by ferocious defenses. Doesn’t that mean the best defensive players on those teams are the most valuable? Von Miller is second in the league in sacks with 5.5 through four games and has kept up insane level he reached in last year’s playoffs. He might be the closes thing the league has to a superhero and he gets my quarter-pole MVP.
Player who hasn’t lived up to expectations:
Kelly: So this player isn’t solely responsible for not reaching expectations, but Cam Newton has unfortunately had a hard, albeit injury-plagued start to 2016. Newton’s turnovers (5 interceptions + 1 fumble) equal his six touchdowns and his team is off to a rough 1-3 start. Cam started the year by getting whacked around by the Broncos and hasn’t really rebounded ever since.
Max: I expected big things out of the sophomore quarterback and so far we haven’t seen anything. His four big day against Arizona was ugly and his 1:1 TD to INT ration through four games isn’t exactly the stuff legends are made of. Carolina’s struggles have opened a huge door in the NFC South but Winston needs to do better than a 1-3 pace if he wants to take advantage of it.