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  • 10/11/2011, 10:12PM ET

The NFL surprise team so far this season is....

DJRoxalot (1085-669-126) vs Remembers Grogan (6-5-0)
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The San Francisco 49ers.

They went 6-10 last year, after being the favorites to win the NFC West.

They have a 1st year head coach making the transition from the college ranks to the NFL. They went out and drafted Kevin Kaepernick because they were not sold on Alex Smith being the long term answer at QB.

However, Smith has played very well so far, completing a career-high 65.9% of his passes for 193ypg, career-high 7.66ypa, 7 TD's, 1 INT with a career-high 104.1 Passer Rating.

After a slow start, Frank Gore (80ypg, 4.3ypc, 3 TD's) and Kendall Hunter (26.6ypg, 4.6ypc) are forming a pretty nice 1-2 punch at RB.

The defense is

13th in total ypg allowed
23rd in passing ypg allowed
tied for 4th in rushing ypg allowed
2nd in scoring defense


MTC.

Good luck, Grogan.


Nice opening DJ and Thanks for the challenge.

The 49ers are a great pick. Honestly, there are 3 teams out there that truly qualify for this based on our qualifications: Lions, Bills and the 49ers.

The Bills have had a great season to date. They have re-tooled their offense, have a late round draft pick as their QB, a RB drafted from the collegiate powerhouse of Coe, and a defensive unit that ended last year ranked in the bottom half of total defense.

Buffalo came in Last place in their division, and were tied for the worst record in their Conference.
The 9ers? They came in third in the division, and had the Seventh worst record in their conference.

But where it becomes clear that the Bills had the lower expectations is in their respective statistical rankings. Let's compare both teams ranks from last year and it really seems obvious who was poised to have a better season. Or better yet, who was poised to have a worse season:

SF Buffalo
Total Defense: 13th 24th
Total Offense: 24th 25th
Points Against: 16th 28th
Points For: 24th 28th


More To Come.
GL DJ.


In regards to your opening paragraph, you are correct. But you know what? Jim Harbaugh is a rookie HC in the NFL. Keep in mind college coaches typically don't just walk into the NFL and have instant success. Here are some notable college coaches that have failed:

Lane Kiffin, 5-15.
Steve Spurrier, 12-20 in 2 seasons.
Nick Saban, 15-17-1
Bobby Petrino, was 3-10 and quit 13 games into his first season.
Mike Riley, 14-34.
Butch Davis, 24-35-1
Dennis Erickson, 40-56

Just to name a few.

Buffalo's defense isn't all that this season:

30th in total ypg allowed, SF is 13th
26th in passing ypg allowed, SF is 23rd
29th in rushing ypg allowed, SF is tied for 4th
15th in ppg allowed, SF is 2nd in ppg allowed

The 49ers have a better combination of offense and defense for a surprise team. Up next, I will talk about the QB position.

Shoutout to my 12 year old 7th grader. Had 4 tackles and 2 sacks in his first game in pads playing with 8th graders. Coach took him out when they are up 24-0, with 10 minutes left and his replacement promptly gave up a 50 yard TD play in their 24-6


Congrats to your 7th grader!!

Now, Harbaugh is a good story. But last time I checked the HC doesn't play the game.

Lets face it, turn around story wise, the Bills surprised even THEIR fans.. the combined record of their opponents this year: 13-11
The 49ers?: 11-13.

Advantage: Bills

The bills were in LAST place in their division last year. Good story would have been them being ahead of Miami.. Great story? Ahead of Miami and the Jets.. Amazing, unbelievable story? Where they are. In First Place. I mean c'mon... who pictured them ahead of the Pats AND the Jets?

49ers? Well, their division sent a 7-9 team to the playoffs. 7-9... The 9ers were ONE game out of first. So, a good year for them would be leading the division this year and it is. But amazing? No..

Advantage: Bills

Truly, this isn't about how their offense or defense has done this year, it's about how they have surprised people. No one expected this, except maybe the Bills. (I doubt even they saw it coming.)

Now, by the end of the year, this may be a different story. But for now? Clearly, the Bills are the bigger surprise team.


Harbaugh doesn't play the game. But college coaches have a lot more things to worry about in the pros. It's not all about just recruiting (which is why Les Miles would be a terrible fit in the NFL). It's about dealing with ego driven players that have a bigger and fatter contract than the HC. That is the No.1 reason most college coaches fail. It is much easier to tell an 18-22 year old he will not play than a player with a million dollar contract who could complain and go to the owner.

The records are basically a wash.

Offensively, nobody expected the 49ers to be averaging 28.4ppg, 7th in the NFL.

Last year Fitzpatrick showed he can play the QB position: 57.8%, 231ypg, 6.8ypa, 23 TD's, 15 INT's, 81.8 Passer Rating

Smith not nearly as much: 59.6%, 215ypg, 6.93ypa, 14 TD's, 10 INT's, 82.1 PR. Harbaugh was so unconvinced he was the future they drafted Colin Kaepernick.

Smith has been playing lights out this season: 65.9%, 193ypg, 7.66ypa, 7 TD's, 1 INT with a 104.1 Passer Rating. Smith has a worse OL. He has been sacked 14 times to just 3 for Fitz.

The 49ers are a bigger surprise because they are being led by a first year NFL coach.


I am kind of puzzled by your comparison. The only place where smith performed worse than Fitz is in TD to INT ratio. Smith had a better QB rating, better completion percentage and a better YPA. I am not sure how that shows he was so much worse than Fitz last year to qualify as a bigger surprise. Neither had a great 2010.

As far as offense? Buffalo is 3rd in total points behind GB and NE. SF? 7th.

I think that truly shows the difference in these two teams. NO one expected Buffalo to be the third highest scoring team in the league.. There was zero indication of that last year. SF is good at 7th, but clearly, the bigger surprise is the Bills.

The RBs?
Gore is 2 x Pro Bowler. We expect him to do well. 4-1000 yd seasons to date. Current? 400 yds for a 4.3 YPA

Jackson? He has had one 1000 yard season before this one. Clearly, he is overachieving. Current? 480 yds for a 5.3 YPA

Buffalo has exceeded everyone's expectations. In first place in the same division as the team with the best record in 2010, and a team that played in the AFC championship game. No one figured that Buffalo would be in first at ANY point this season.

Good TD DJ

October 11, 2011  10:15 PM ET

I am guessing someone here will say the Bills...

October 11, 2011  10:23 PM ET

If I were nostradamus, I would say the the Raiders might be mentioned once or twice in this td.

October 11, 2011  10:26 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

If I were nostradamus, I would say the the Raiders might be mentioned once or twice in this td.

Ha. No.

October 11, 2011  10:27 PM ET

Eagles hands down .. A team can be surprisingly bad just like they can be surprisingly good ..

October 11, 2011  10:27 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Ha. No.

ok. I can think of a few other teams, but I guess I'll have to be patient and see who's mentioned.

October 11, 2011  10:28 PM ET

You will not have to wait long.

October 11, 2011  10:29 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Eagles hands down .. A team can be surprisingly bad just like they can be surprisingly good ..

We agreed to TD about the good surprise teams.

Comment #9 has been removed
October 11, 2011  10:30 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

We agreed to TD about the good surprise teams.

Then 49ers vs Bills thread is coming

October 11, 2011  10:30 PM ET
QUOTE:

Another no argument TD created by DJ.

Rude does the same. Go bother him about it.

October 11, 2011  10:31 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Then 49ers vs Bills thread is coming

1 might argue the Lions.

October 11, 2011  10:32 PM ET

Could argue the panthers just because no one expected them to even compete with three playoff teams last year and they took each one to the wire ..

October 11, 2011  10:33 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

1 might argue the Lions.

Lions are good .. But we expected them to compete even possibly make the playoffs .. I would've laughed at you if you told me the 49ers would 4-1 even with their cream puff schedule .. Same goes for the Bills with their tough schedule so far .. Games get easier for them ..

October 11, 2011  10:54 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Could argue the panthers just because no one expected them to even compete with three playoff teams last year and they took each one to the wire ..

Moral victories aside, they are 1-4.

Comment #16 has been removed
October 11, 2011  11:01 PM ET

Nice choice, but so many possibilities...it's too bad you're doing only good teams, although I guess the Eagles/Jets thread is already up.

October 11, 2011  11:25 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Lions are good .. But we expected them to compete even possibly make the playoffs .. I would've laughed at you if you told me the 49ers would 4-1 even with their cream puff schedule .. Same goes for the Bills with their tough schedule so far .. Games get easier for them ..

That seems to be the consensus sports analyst opinion I've been reading and hearing...

But I disagree to an extent. Yes, people predicted the Lions to be "good" this year but not nearly to the level of which they've played thus far.

The cliche Lions prediction was more along the lines of 9-7, lucky to sneak into the 6th seed wildcard spot. I don't think anyone had penciled Detroit down as opening up their season 5-0, looking nearly unstoppable, with a legitimate opportunity to challenge Green Bay for the NFC North.

October 12, 2011  12:16 AM ET

Lions or Bills. No way anyone predicted the Lions to dominate this much.

October 12, 2011  01:54 AM ET

Good surprise or bad surprise?

Bills, Bengals, 49ers.... all were predicted to suck, and they aren't.

I'd be hard pressed to pick anyone other than Cinci. People were talking about them winning 1-2 games. Rick Reilly said they'd go 0-16. And here they are, sitting at 3-2.

 
October 12, 2011  06:01 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

Go Raiders !!!!!!

Hey, Dole. LOL.

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