This season has definitely been interesting. It hasn’t gone away that anyone has expected. There have been lots of surprises, on and off of the field. As we draw closer to the playoffs, let’s focus on the 5 biggest surprises that have happened on the field.
Who’s The MVP?
Over the past few seasons, there has been a clear MVP candidate by week 10. This year, the MVP race is anything but clear. Tom Brady is currently the favorite to win, with Josh Allen close behind him. However, that could easily change before next week. Josh Allen didn’t have a stellar Thanksgiving game against the Saints, while Tom Brady has a tough challenge in the Colts on Sunday. The MVP race is still wide open. Jonathan Taylor has been getting MVP hype after his dominant play over the last 2 weeks. Could a non-quarterback win the MVP for the first time since 2012? If the season continues like this, it’s possible.
Who’s The Super Bowl Favorite?
Usually at week 12, there’s a clear idea who the Super Bowl favorites are. This year, the Super Bowl picture is anything but clear. Over the past few weeks, we have seen top teams suffer ugly losses to mediocre teams. Currently, the Buccaneers and Chiefs are favored to play in the Super Bowl. Considering what we have seen from both of those teams this year, that Super Bowl doesn’t seem likely. The Buccaneers lost 2 straight games to the Saints and Washington, while the Chief’s offense has struggled all season. The Super Bowl race is wide open for any team at this point.
Rookie Quarterbacks Struggle
Should a rookie quarterback sit on the bench for a year before starting? The 2021 season certainly suggests so. 5 quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2021 draft. Of those 5, only 1 has stabilized enough to provide efficient quarterback play. Mac Jones, who was the last quarterback drafted in the first round, has been efficient enough to help the Patriots win. He’s also currently first in rookie of the year odds. Trevor Lawrence has looked like a below-average quarterback all season. Trey Lance has taken a few snaps this year but continues to sit on the bench. Zach Wilson and Justin Fields have suffered injuries this season, but neither played consistently before exiting with injuries. The jump from college to NFL is a difficult one to make. It looks like most first-round quarterbacks will struggle to make that jump, without good coaching.
Cardinals Still Dominant, Even Without Kyler Murray
After a week 8 game against the Packers, Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins sat out due to injuries. In came Colt McCoy, Murray’s backup quarterback. McCoy threw for 249 yards and a touchdown in his first game filling in, leading the Cardinals to a victory against the 49ers. In week 11, McCoy threw for 328 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Cardinals won 2 of their last 3 games, even without their elite quarterback. Now the Cardinals enter their bye week in week 12, hopeful to get Murray and Hopkins back after the bye week. The Cardinals remain one of the last few dominant teams in the NFL. With Murray and Hopkins returning, that looks likely to continue for the rest of the season.
The Chiefs’ Offensive Struggles
Over the last 3 years, the Chiefs have dominated the NFL. At the center of their high-flying offense were Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. This year, it’s been a different story. Mahomes has thrown 11 interceptions this year, most of which aren’t his fault. The Chiefs are fourth on the list for dropped passes. Out of 3 of the last 4 games, the Chiefs couldn’t score more than 20 points. What might be even more surprising is the Chiefs’ defense. Their defense has stepped up over the last few weeks and has allowed the Chiefs offense to be less than perfect. The Chiefs are still winning games, even with their offense struggling. It looks like the Chiefs identity is changing from offense-focused to defense-focused before our eyes.
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