2012’s many surprises in the NFL

“If I’d told you before the season started that the New Orleans Saints would be 1–4, the Detroit Lions 1–3, and even my Green Bay Packers 2–3, would you have believed me?” asks Shane Driver, a second-year professional writing student.

Going into a season, there are always the favourites that show up, and then there are the teams that surprise us by coming out of nowhere and performing beyond our expectations. This season in the NFL has been full of surprises. Due to the loss of half of their coaching staff and half of their defensive line in the “bountygate” scandal (which is a story in itself), the New Orleans Saints are 1–4 going into week six.

Jack Hayden, a third-year English student, comments, “They’ve failed to get that offensive outburst they could easily find for most of last season. And due to the holes in their defensive line and the loss of Jonathan Vilma, they can’t seem to stop teams from scoring against them, with Jamaal Charles most recently torching them for 233 yards on 33 carries.”

After winning the Super Bowl three seasons ago and being perennial contenders, the Saints have a legitimate chance of missing out on the playoffs. The team needs quarterback Drew Brees to start working that arm of his or this is going to be a season to forget for their fans.

Every season, some players fall into a slump because of injury or lack of cohesiveness with their teams. This season there are a few notable players that have underperformed. “Chris Johnson, otherwise known as CJ2K, underperformed last season and many said it was because he held out to get paid,” comments Jahangeer Hassan, a first-year commerce student and fantasy owner. “This season, too, he hasn’t shown up—and not only is he affecting his own team, I drafted him in fantasy!”

On the other hand, this seems to be the season of running backs, with players like Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs, Maurice Jones Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars, C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills, and Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphin rushing their respective teams to victory. Running back is probably the most injury-prone position in the league, and if these players can avoid injury and keep their stats high, fans are in for a good show.

Tobi Lawal, a second-year philosophy student, comments, “Ever since Fred Jackson went down with his injury, C.J. has put the team on his back—and it seems like he might actually rush for at least 1,000 yards this season.”

Last season, there wasn’t much showing from the rookie QBs (except for Cam Newton). This season has been the complete opposite; Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks are all strapping up and performing well.

“I thought RG3 had the Rookie of the Year title down already, but after seeing what Andrew Luck did against the Packers last week, I don’t know. I might have to reconsider,” says Tom Rackle, a second-year English student. “The rookies are proving that even though the NFL may be a veteran quarterbacks’ league, rookie quarterbacks still have a lot to say on the issue.”

Mark Hinder, a third-year CCIT major, comments, “The Atlanta Falcons are 5–0. And with Matt Ryan putting up MVP numbers and the Falcons’ defence showing their toughness once again, it’s going to be hard to knock them off this season.” Although the Falcons have shown this sort of form before, Matt Ryan is more determined this season; add wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and running back Michael Turner to that, and Atlanta is arguably the best offensive team in the NFL.

The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants, although they’re both 3–2 right now, have shown enough, both defensively and offensively, to prove that they are in the running for playoffs.

It is still too early in the season to say with certainly who’s going to come out on top come playoffs time, but the Atlanta Falcons, the San Francisco 49ers, and defending Super Bowl champions the New York Giants will have a lot to say about which team eventually comes out with the Vince Lombardi trophy on February 3 in New Orleans.

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