Ladies and gentlemen we have come to the second half of the NFL football season . Around this time of the season, teams start to show what they’re about. Teams start to show whether they are a contender or a pretender. You get to see which teams are a lock for the home field advantage , and which ones might be fighting for a wild-card spot. Also this time of the year you most likely already know which team maybe picking first overall in the next NFL draft.
There have been plenty of surprises and letdowns this far in the 2018 season. I will give my five surprises and five letdowns.
1) Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs High-powered Offense.
Many thought, including myself, that there would be a step back in Kansas City after the trade of Alex Smith. Alex Smith had an amazing year last season, one of the best of his career, while Patrick Mahomes spent his rookie year on the bench.
Andy Reid must know what he’s doing to take Patrick Mahomes and turn him to one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the game. I personally watched these Kansas City Chiefs whip on my Cleveland Browns at First Energy stadium, I am not going to ever underestimate them again. This team is loaded with speed all over their offense. Their defense is good enough to go maintain leads, making them a very dangerous team in the playoffs.
Week 10s Monday Night Football game might be a preview of this year’s Superbowl. The Rams and the Chiefs played a very high scoring and exciting game.
2) Khalil Mack, and the surprising Chicago Bears.
Was I surprised to see the Bears defense bloom after the acquisition of Khalil Mack the beginning of season? No. Am I surprised to see the Chicago Bears sitting atop the NFC North with the Packers, Lions, and Vikings in the same division? Yes!!!! I expected the Bears to be a tough team, but I did not expect them to be the best in there division.
I didnt think quarterback Mitch Trubisky could carry this offense enough to keep up with their defense. First year head coach Matt Nagy has kept the Bears offense humming and moving the ball enough to help win games. This Bears team might be dangerous come playoffs.
One has to wonder what the potential this team is as Mitchell Trubisky gains experience. He look like a stud this past week trying for over 350 yards.
3) The play of the Redskins
I hope I’m not the only one surprised to see the Washington Redskins sitting atop the NFC East after 10 games. If you look at their offense alone you would guess this team would be fighting to get out of the divisions cellar, not leading it.
The Redskins do not blow you away statistically on offense. Alex Smith is having one of the worst years of his career statistically speaking. Looking beyond statistics you see the Skins protect the ball offensivly and play solid defense.
Statistically speaking their offense is among the bottom teams when it comes to scoring. And one has to wonder if Colt McCoy can step at quarterback after Alex Smith broke his leg in week 10.
With the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants all not playing up to their potential….. We may just see the Redskins sneak into the playoffs.
4) The “same ol Browns” ain’t the same ol Browns.
2016 Record 1-15
2017 Record 0-16
2018 Record ?-?
Looking at the Cleveland Browns record at 3-6-1… one would not think that this team as not good. But anybody that has watched the Browns week after week can tell you differently.
As a Browns fan I can tell you Cleveland has only been blown out in 3 games against the Chargers, Steelers, and Chiefs. They had tied against the Steelers and have been in numerous overtime games. They have took a team like the New Orleans Saints Who currently sits at 9-1 , and nearly beat them. They held Drew Brees to almost nothing for three quarters. The scary thing is they have better since the firing of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
The offense came to life against Kansas City, but the defense could not contain the high-powered attack of the Chiefs. The following week they man handle the Atlanta Falcons and their high-powered offense. One should not be surprised to see this Cleveland Browns team continue to be in a dogfight game in game out for the remainder of the season. As long as Baker Mayfield is the quarterback, this team has a Fighting chance any game.
The future is bright in Cleveland, Ohio. In the future is not tomorrow anymore, the future is now. This year as long as Nick Chubb can go hard, I believe the Browns will be a tough outing.
Okay enough gloating on my team!
5) Surprising competition
I say this because you have seen teams surprise everybody week-to-week.
Going back to Week 1 the Cleveland Browns were an underdog to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They took thm into overtime and almost wne.
The following week the same outcome almost happen against the Saints. The Browns missed a field goal and stop a dramatic upset. Week after week there have been surprising outcomes.
The most recent was the Tennessee Titans thrashing the New England Patriots… Or you can go with last week’s Indianapolis Colts run away victory over that same Tennessee Titans team.
I’m no Nostradamus, but I do predict a lot of upsets as this season continues on.
5 Let Downs
1) Raiders struggles with Jon Gruden
The last time we seen Jon Gruden trolling the sidelines as Oakland Raiders head coach, they were competing for Super Bowls.
Chucky has left the broadcast booth of Monday Night Football and returned to the same sidelines sporting a 10-year 100 million dollar contract.
One would think that there had been instant success giving the talent on this roster at the beginning of the season.
Derek Carr was quarterback, Marshawn Lynch was running back, Amari Cooper at wide receiver. The defense did not look as great, but with Khalil Mack being disruptive at least you had a chance.
Now all that stands is Derek Carr quarterback.
Since the beginning of this year both Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack have been traded. Marshawn Lynch is now gone for the year with injury.
I bet that 10 year 100 million dollar contract don’t look like the smartest of ideas to the Raiders brass nows.
2) Le’Veon Bell not reporting to the Steelers
This was a shocker. I already knew that Le’Veon Bell was not going to be a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2019. Holding out until the last second seemed very logical for the estranged running back, not reporting seeing beyond belief.
Now because Bell did not report to the Steelers in the week 10 he forfeited his 2018 paycheck. Le’Veon probably wasn’t hurting for money, but even I figured he wanted to get paid.
We know now 110% without a doubt that Le’Veon Bell will be playing for another team next season. The Steelers will hurt this year without him.
James Conner is a bull, and a monster at running back, but he still is not Le’Veon Bell. His dominate receiving skills will be missed by Big Ben come playoff time.
3) Horrible officiating and Special Teams Play
At the beginning of the 2018 season we watched many teams lose games because of missed extra points and field goals. We have seen kickers get cut, and get picked up. And yet those same kickers that got picked up also missed kicks.
Rodger Goodell has to be beaming with joy, cuz this just looks good in his case of getting rid of the kicker altogether.
What doesn’t look good for Rodger Goodell is a horrible officiating. An official blew an obvious false start on Chargers left tackle Russell Okung amd the Browns gave up a touchdown on defense. That touchdown gave the Chargers a lot of momentum heading into halftime.
I know many fans will say that their teams receive bad calls, but rarely do you see the NFL apologize for bad calls.
The Cleveland Browns have seen a couple of apologies this yer.
Since that Chargers game, the Browns games have been officiated amazingly. Very few calls have been bad. As a Browns fan I am ecstatic.
Now just hope the NFL gets it right with the officiating. I suspect the special teams play to be straightened out before the playoffs.
4) Jimmy Garoppolo injury
Last season Jimmy G stormed onto the field and led the San Francisco 49ers to five consecutive wins to end the season.
Fast forward to the 2018 season Jimmy G wasn’t as dominant as he was late last season, but the season was still young.
Then Jimmy Garoppolo tore the ACL in his knee.
The newly-minted multi Million Dollar Man was now sidelined for the rest of the season. Fast forward to today and the 49ers look like they’re poised for another top 10 pick. And yet we still wonder if Jimmy Garoppolo is the man in San Fran.
5) Eli Manning’s Struggles
When the New York Giants drafted running back Saquon Barkley from Penn State with the second overall pick, I figured to see a resurgence of the New York Giants.
More specifically, a resurgence of Eli Manning.
Sadly that has not been the case and now we hear rumors of him being benched and retiring.
I’ve never been a big Eli Manning fan since he pulled the draft day stunts of choosing who he was and wasn’t going to play for. But to see somebody go out the way he is going out is kind of gut wrenching.
Peyton went out on top, Elway went out on top, as others have. But Eli looks like he is going out looking as a washed-up quarterback.
What a sad ending to a career that had really high ups , but really low downs.
That is the end of my article I would just like to wish everybody a very Happy Thanksgiving, hope everybody hugs are family tight and is thankful for everything they should be. God bless.