What do you think are the biggest surprises of the NFL season now that most teams have entered the second quarter of their seasons? Here are 10 that stand out to me, but there are many, many more:
9. Cam Newton is all that. The top pick in the draft came into the league with a lot of doubters and even more questions. All he has done his rookie year is instantly become one of the most exciting players in the NFL.
8. Jets’ ground and pound grounded and pounded. The New York Jets can still be a good football team. But with an offense in disarray thanks in large part to offensive line woes, this 2-3 hardly looks like the Super Bowl contender coach Rex Ryan promised.
7. Peyton Manning: The Most Valuable Player in the history of sports. Who knew that Peyton Manning was the only player separating the Indianapolis Colts from total dysfunction? You could have anticipated the offensive difficulties with Manning sidelined, but I don’t remember him lining up at free safety, linebacker and corner, too. The Colts are neck-and-neck with the Miami Dolphins in the Suck for (Andrew) Luck Sweepstakes.
6. The Bills are due. You knew from watching the Buffalo Bills last year – a max-effort team that played hard enough to win, but would come up short – that this year would see improvement. But if Buffalo goes to MetLife Stadium Sunday and beats the New York Giants, a distinct possibility, then Buffalo has to be considered one of the elite teams in the AFC. Either way, the Bills are legit playoff contenders. The debate over that is over.
5. Victor Cruz. Victor Cruz! Victor $%#*@%$ Cruz. My man Victor Cruz. C’mon Victor … The fate of the New York Giants may rest on wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is turning into a one-man highlight reel for the season – both good and bad.
4. Dan Marino’s 1984 record could be broken … into a lot of pieces. Dan Marino’s record 5,084 passing yards in a season has stood for going on 27 years. You need to average 318 yards a game to break it. Right now five quarterbacks are ahead of that pace.
3. Wes Welker is on his way to greatest season by a wide receiver – ever. The New England Patriot slot receiver already the record for most receiving yards after five games. At his current pace he would break Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season … by 500 yards.
2. The nightmare that is the Philadelphia Eagles. The best off-season of any NFL team has quickly turned dark as the “Dream Team” has stumbled to a 1-4 start — and looked bad doing it.
1. The Detroit Lions aren’t just good. They could be Super Bowl good. The Lions are 5-0 for the first time since 1956 – the year before they won their last NFL title. They are not just a Cinderella feel-good story. They are a for-real dangerous team that could go-toe-to-toe with the reigning champions Green Bay Packers.