by Aidan Adams-Campeau
There have been many surprises this NFL season. Many of last year’s top teams have disappointed fans with their performances in the first seven weeks of the season, but there have also been many impressive success stories.
The Kansas City Chiefs, who had a 2-14 record just last season, are emerging as the team to beat, going undefeated in their first 8 games. The Chiefs’ turnaround is largely due to the arrival of veteran coach Andy Reid, as well as their new quarterback, Alex Smith, who previously played for the 49ers. Several teams have continued improvements that began in the past few seasons. The Seattle Seahawks have fought their way to an impressive 7-1 record, led by quarterback Russell Wilson and coach Pete Carroll. The Denver Broncos have also established themselves as a dominant team this season, with a 7-1 record and several commanding performances by quarterback Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, has led his team to a 5-2 season, with impressive victories over the 49ers and the Broncos. The New Orleans Saints have made a comeback this year, following their 7-9 season in 2012 and the return of their previously suspended head coach, Sean Payton. This season, they have gone 6-1, losing only once to the New England Patriots after a game-ending touchdown drive by Tom Brady.
Despite improvements among many teams, some previous front-runners, such as the Baltimore Ravens, appear to have regressed this season. After winning the Superbowl last year, the Ravens have a losing record, 3-4, this season to date. The Atlanta Falcons, who played in the NFC Championship game last year, have an even worse record, 2-5. Both teams have lost significant players due to injury and retirement, and the results are evident in their disheartening records. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars are widely regarded as the worst teams in the league, with neither team having a win all season. The New York Giants are perhaps this year’s biggest disappointment, as this normally playoff caliber team has gone 2-6 this year.
Locally, the San Francisco 49ers have had an encouraging few games after their slow start, pulling their record up to 6-2. Though they began the season 1-2, they have had a five game win streak over the past month, extended last week with a win over the Jaguars. Kaepernick has had some unimpressive games, but overall he has played well and justified his position as the quarterback for the defending NFC Champions.
With ten weeks left to play in this NFL season, there is still plenty of time for any team to make the playoffs or crumble in the upcoming games. However, teams have revealed much of their true ability in these first two months, and sports fans now know which ones to watch.