Each year we look at the NFL before the season begins and know, for an absolute fact, that certain things are true and will remain true for the upcoming season. Eight weeks into the season nearly all of those ideas look completely stupid. Let's look at 10 of them for 2013.
Not enough targets in Denver -- I swear this was actually a thing. Everyone was completely convinced that when Wes Welker signed with the Broncos in free agency, he'd see a major dip in his statistics because the Broncos have Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Well, Welker's on pace for 1,110 receiving yards (he averaged 1,243 per year in with the Patriots) and he has nine touchdowns, which not only leads the league but also ties his career high as well. None of this even takes into account Julius Thomas stepping up and catching a ton of passes either. Thomas is on pace for 902 yards. Thomas and Decker haven't skipped a beat either. Peyton Manning is quite good at his job.
NFC East is SEC of the NFL -- Maybe it was just Bruce Allen who felt this way? Regardless it's quite the silly notion at this point. The SEC is college football's 800-pound gorilla. The NFC East is the worst division in football. They've got just five wins outside the division combined. The Cowboys at 4-4 lead the division, which would be good for third place in the AFC West. Travel back in time and tell someone before the season that would be the case. They won't believe you. The Giants were 0-6 two weeks ago, there was debate about blowing it all up, there were rumors of landing Jadeveon Clowney in the draft and now we're talking about them having a shot in this division.
Seattle and San Francisco will explode offensively -- When the Seahawks and 49ers spent the offseason whipping the media and their respective fan bases into a froth with the NFL's version of the Cold War, many began creating an expectation for high-powered offensive battles in the NFC West. That's now how these two teams operate, though. They run the ball with Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore and use two of the best defenses in the NFL in order to dominate teams. The NFC West powers have just three losses between them (and the Colts have two of those wins) and it looks like the formula's working just fine, thanks. The Star Wars offseason didn't have to equate Star Wars numbers.
Jets Could Be the NFL's Worst Team -- A rookie quarterback in Geno Smith, trading their best player in Darrelle Revis, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley serving as the best offensive weapons and It looked realistic. Even if the Jets are the ultimate roller coaster team -- they haven't won two or lost two games in a row and their point differential fluctuates wildly week to week -- they're still substantially better than we could've expected. The offense is wanting, to say the least, and ranks 31st in DVOA at Football Outsiders. But Rex Ryan's done some of his finest work on this defense. If he gets this team to .500 at the end of the year, he might deserve the Coach of the Year Award.
Robert Griffin III is completely healthy -- Guilty as charged on thinking this would be the case. I saw Griffin in training camp and got suckered into believing he was pretty close to 100 percent. Maybe he even was. But the reality is that regular healthy and football healthy are two totally different things. Griffin was definitely regular healthy. He could cut, he could sprint, he could do all the things to prove he was ready to get back no the field. But when it came time to actually play he didn't have his speed at first and he didn't trust the pocket around him. Once he got his legs back he might've started running too often too soon (possibly as a result of the Redskins struggling out of the gate). He's averaging substantially more yards per game but he's also averaging 38 attempts per game, a gigantic increase on his average (26.2) from 2012. Red flags abound.
Dolphins Fixed Their Woes in Free Agency -- Miami fixed *some* of their problems in free agency. They added weapons by bringing in Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. But those guys haven't drastically improved the passing attack, mainly because there's no protection for Ryan Tannehill. Jake Long hasn't been his old self in St. Louis but the Dolphins would kill to have signed him back in the offseason. Their line is a mess and the secondary isn't necessarily shutting people down. At 3-0 the Dolphins let the news of Jeff Ireland's extension leak into the media and it looked pretty smart. Since then they're 0-4 and the cracks in the foundation are starting to show.
Tampa Bay Is a Contender -- Too obviously incorrect? They're winless, they're not guaranteed to win a game (though with the Dolphins, Bills or Falcons look like good spots to pick up at least one win) and they're a PR disaster with Greg Schiano at the helm. It seems like a decade ago, but there was a point in time when the Buccaneers were a viable playoff contender. No one was penciling them in to win the NFC South, but when they traded for Darrelle Revis this offseason it sure did look like they could make a significant move in 2013. Good thing they didn't give up this year's first rounder too.
Michael Vick Is Perfect for Chip Kelly's Offense -- Injuries may have played a major role in Vick falling out of the starting lineup and it's even possible we've seen his last snap with the Eagles at this point. But let's not act like his play was perfect: his yards per attempt is up to 8.6 but his completion percentage is actually DOWN from 2012. Vick said he fell in love with football again and after Week 1 we all fell back in love with Vick as well. In his six starts, the Eagles are 2-4 and he's averaging only 202.5 yards per game passing. His 308 rushing yards are nearly more than he had in 2012's 10 starts but maybe that's part of the problem. It's become clear that the Eagles, who've only scored three offensive points in the last eight quarters, don't have the (preferred) starting quarterback of 2014 on the roster right now.
The AFC West Is Top Heavy -- Many folks -- myself included -- believed that the Raiders were a slam dunk for the worst team in the NFL. The Jaguars are so, so, SO much worse than the Raiders. Terrelle Pryor might not be a "franchise quarterback" but he's at least better than anyone could've expected. The Raiders defense is surprising people. The Chargers (4-3) would be in the playoffs if they started today and are a vastly superior team to what we expected before 2013. Philip Rivers is in the middle of a renaissance despite a dearth of weapons. Peyton Manning and Denver are good as expected but they're not the best team. Andy Reid somehow turned the Chiefs around FASTER than we all expected, helping them surge out to an 8-0 record to start the season.
This Year's Playoffs Might Be Predictable -- Haha. Remember everyone trying to find playoff teams that wouldn't get back next year? Halfway through the season that looks pretty easy. The Vikings are 1-6, the Falcons/Redskins/Texans are 2-5 and the defending champion Ravens are 3-4. Any of those teams (OK, not Minnesota) could still make it to the playoffs but the postseason picture already looks vastly different than it did just a few months ago.