Who would have thought?
That seems to be the overarching question when it comes to the first three weeks of the NFL’s season.
Like this one for instance: Who would have thought the Chiefs would be 3-0?
Or this: Who would have thought the Giants would be 0-3? The Steelers too?
Or how about the Redskins and Robert Griffin III? People may have been weary of the looming sophomore slump, but perhaps no one predicted things would be this awful. Who would have thought the Cowboys would have a division lead even once this season? And yet, here they are.
The AFC East standings look absolutely backward. The Jets have a winning record — say what?
It’s been rocky for the clubs with high expectations. After Sunday’s games, the teams that made the playoffs last year are a combined 19-16. And those playoff teams have a very pedestrian 11-10 record against non-playoff squads thus far.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t confused. But, oh, how I love being confused.
How wild things have been.
There’s about to be a mutiny in Tampa Bay. The Browns won a game with their third-string quarterback. Mark Sanchez’s season ended before it even got started, likely meaning that his legacy will be the butt-fumble. The Eagles blew everyone away with their opening week offensive circus — remember all of that “this is the future of the NFL” nonsense that everyone went overboard on? They’ve been awful since. And the Jacksonville Jaguar fan base (all 10 of them) held a rally to get the team to bring in Tim Tebow, and if Tebow is your saving grace, you’re in really bad shape.
Seriously, what’s next?
My pick to win it all — and honestly, a lot of people’s pick to win it all — San Francisco, has looked downright Jacksonville-esque in its two losses this year. They were hammered by Seattle, then put up a pathetic performance at home against the Colts. The offense has been dreadful to say the least, and Colin Kaepernick looks like a really bad rookie. All this, even though they played like world-beaters in the opening week shootout against Green Bay.
Nearly everyone wrote off the Colts this year — citing a lack of the “Chuck strong momentum” they had last year as a reason they wouldn’t be as successful, a rationale I don’t quite understand. They do have basically the same team, if not an improved one. And their acquisition of tailback Trent Richardson from Cleveland last week took everyone by surprise. Very rarely do we see a big trade in the early parts of the season making such a splash.
And what did Cleveland get out of this deal? They traded their alleged savior first round draft pick for… a first round draft pick. They’re saving money I guess?
But then Cleveland stunned everyone Sunday. Third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer looked like he wasn’t supposed to be quarterback for the Browns because he was almost spectacular in their last minute win over the Vikings. And poor Vikings, who had only just started feeling what winning was like again. Christian Ponder is causing everyone in Minneapolis reminisce about the days of Jeff George. And that’s no easy task.
I think I’m most surprised by the Saints starting 3-0. I do think they’ll still miss the playoffs. And deep inside I’m hoping because, humanity doesn’t need Sean Payton winning anything. And New England? They’ve been practically non-existent so far, even with their 3-0 record. But I guess compared to the Patriots’ offseason, anything would be considered quiet.
My point is, the NFL has already done it and we’re only three weeks in. This is what makes the game, and at the professional level in particular, so great. Fascinating storylines, mixed with upsets and baffling finishes, crazy injuries, the league’s first ever 28-2 score and we already have some doozies of divisional races on our hands.
Everything is truly wide open. The next couple of weeks is where we find out the most about each team, where we separate the big boys from the pansies. And I’m loving every minute of it.
So yeah, I’m confused. We all are. But the NFL is back and as awesome as ever. So, let yourself be confused. Feels pretty good, huh?