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  • 11/17/2011, 01:38PM ET

NFL's biggest positive surprise and disappointment

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Nine games into the season and.....................

Biggest positive surprise
Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were predicted by many to be the absolute worse team in the league.
Their starting quarterback decided to quit, rather than continue to play.
Top receiver Chad Ocho left during the offseason
Running back was Cedric Benson was expected to miss games because of jail time and court
Rumors swirled around that Marvin Lewis must have had pictures of the owner in a compromising position to keep his job.

So what happens?
The Bengals are 6-3 and in position to make the playoffs and possibly win their division

Biggest disappointment
The Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles brought in 2 all-pro cornerbacks
Micheal Vick was a year into the system and ready to let loose
The Eagles snagged Steve Smith from the hated Giants
They were widely believe to easily win the NFC East and be a Super Bowl contender

So what happens?
The Eagles are 3-6
Vick is playing horribly
The Eagles defense is a mess
Andy Reid might lose his job
The Eagles will most likely miss the playoffs and the season is an epic fail

Note: Who ever takes this, use 2 different teams


Biggest Surprise:

SF 49ers at 8-1

It's been 9 years since they won more than 8 games. This is virtually the same identical team that finished with 6 wins last year, 8, 7 and 5 wins the years before that.

Smith isn't losing them any games with bad passing, their defense has been lights out against the run and servicable against the pass. It never has been until this year.

Dissapointment:

ATL Falcons at 5-4

The reason I think they are worse off than the Eagles, is because of their pasts.

The Eagles were great on paper but they never accomplished anything. They just threw a bunch of random stars together and expected success out of the gate. It doesn't work that way in the NFL. You need a team, not individual stars. Diva WR like Jackon don't help either.

The Falcons went 13-3 last year. After 9 games this year, they've already lost more games than they did all year in 2010. Matty Ice started out 18-1 at home over his career. He's lost more home games this year than he did in his previous 19 starts!

With all the weapons they have (Turner, Jones, White, etc...) this team shouldn't be so inconsistent.


The 49ers are a bit of a surprise.
Not many people expected them to be 7-1 at this point

However, many analysts felt that Harbaugh was the right coach to bring the best out of
a team regularly chosen to take the lead in the weak NFC West and now they're doing it

The Bengals on the other hand is shocking!
No one expected them to do anything

Unlike the 49ers, the Bengals are doing it in the toughest division in the NFL.

They don't have an easy conference game between Pittsburgh, Baltimore and instate rival Cleveland
They're holding their own and no one in their right mind picked them to make the playoffs

The Eagles were a top 5 team in most preseason rankings and picked to win it all
Contrary to what you mentioned, the Eagles have had just as much success the past few seasons and went to the playoffs 4 out of 5 seasons and actually won games

Atlanta hasn't won a playoff game since Micheal Vick and although they win games during the season, they're not viewed as a real post season threat

The Eagles signed some of the biggest FA and actually have the players to compete

The story of the Eagles losing is almost bigger than if they were winning


The way you lump Cincy in with the "playoff teams" in their division is a bit misleading. You say they don't have easy games with the elite teams in their division... but their record has little to do with that so far.

They've had a very easy schedule so far. Their opponents:

Browns, Indy, Jags, Denver, Seattle, Titans and Bills. Their only games against elite teams (49ers & Pitt), they lost. Yes we all thought Cincy would be terrible, but their fluffy schedule is more of a factor than elite play.

The Eagles went 10-6 last year and right or wrong, almost ALL the credit went to Mike Vick and his MVP calibre season. The team wasn't heralded as superb, Mike Vick was "the reason" for their success.

Just because fans in Philly think they have a Superbowl team and some "experts" in the media are quick to jump on the bandwagon, doesn't mean that the team is destined for greatness. Vince Young is the one that coined them the "Dreamteam" when they really weren't even close to such a thing. Keep those three 4th quarter blown leads and they sit 6-3.

Vick is always an injury waiting to happen and is hurt currently. He also has a passer rating below 80.


It wasn't just Philly and media hype.

The Eagles main problem last year was stopping the pass. Hence they went out and got two of the best cornerbacks in the league.

The fact that many people thought they were destined for greatness and now they've fallen on their faces makes it a big disappointment

Atlanta on the other hand is still very much alive.
Their 13-3 record last year was special and not many people thought they'd repeat

In fact, they're second in the NFC South and still very much alive for the playoffs. I don't even see how they're considered to be a disappointment

Cincinnati vs San Francisco is purely subjective
What's more surprising: A team expected to be the worse in the NFL and making the playoffs or a team expected to be average and doing very well?

No one saw Cincinnati coming and schedule or not, they're winning games that they weren't expected to win.

San Francisco has largely underachieved the past few seasons. They have a decent running back, good wide receivers and tight end. A top draft pick QB
Their defense has always been decent
With a good coach they're reaching their potential


Another thing to look at Cincy:

They were mediocre with "stars" like Ocho Cinco and T.O. and those 2 didn't do a thing when they were together. Palmer played well at times, but it's been a while since Cincy had a bonafied team and not just players playing behind the massive egos of the guys I just mentione. It's hard to play when you have these giant heads blocking your view.

Substract 3 malconents and add in two dynamic rookies and you won't be that worse off. People overblown the situation with these guys leaving and didn't focus on what Dalton and Green could bring to the table.

As sum1 pointed out in the comments, my math even short changed the point I made about the Eagles and the record they COULD have right now with just a small tweak to their game. A potential 8-1 start if but for a few mistakes.

I wouldn't say they've fallen on their faces, they just haven't dominated. They are only getting 3.5 quarters of solid play. Looking multiple 4th quarter lead after 4th quarter lead is mostly mental to me. If they can stop teams for 3 quarters, why not 4? It can't be talent, it has to be attitude and desire.

November 17, 2011  01:47 PM ET

Teams only, or can I pick players?

November 17, 2011  01:51 PM ET

The disappointment is inarguable. The surprise certainly is.

November 17, 2011  01:55 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Teams only, or can I pick players?

For this teams. It would be too difficult to compare and contrast teams versus a player. However, if you want, we can do players in another TD. Send me a direct challenge if you're interested. Or I can send you one.

November 17, 2011  02:13 PM ET

It's cool. Just double checkin!

November 17, 2011  02:14 PM ET

Positive Suprise - Colts. Who ever thought one team was based so direct to one player. Disappointment - Every team that loses to the Patriots.

Comment #6 has been removed
November 17, 2011  02:29 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

I would've gone with the Rams or Chargers for the disappointment.

yeah, I was really expecting something from the Rams, the Chargers? not so much, they just traded their traditional slow start for a mid season crash. how many years in a row have they spent the last few weeks trying desperately to catch up and win the division? still can't believe they let Sproles leave, he has been phenomenal this year

November 17, 2011  02:54 PM ET

Both positive surprises are good choices. No one expected anything out of either team. Right now it looks like the 49ers are on the higher trajectory. San Francisco is on the road to a first-round bye, whereas the Bengals are going to just squeak into the playoffs, if that. It's really a function of divisional placement more than anything, though. Drop the Bengals in the AFC West or South and they'd be an easy division leader.

For disappointment, I'm surprised the Rams didn't get a nod. This was supposed to be their year to really establish control of their division and instead they've regressed and cratered hard. They're headed for 4-12 territory.

The Colts also could be called a disappointment, even accounting for the loss of Manning. No one expected great things out of them without their superstar, but it's disappointing to realize that the rest of the team is THIS bad. How many titles could Peyton Manning have had by now if the rest of the team had even been average?

November 17, 2011  03:22 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

Both positive surprises are good choices. No one expected anything out of either team. Right now it looks like the 49ers are on the higher trajectory. San Francisco is on the road to a first-round bye, whereas the Bengals are going to just squeak into the playoffs, if that. It's really a function of divisional placement more than anything, though. Drop the Bengals in the AFC West or South and they'd be an easy division leader.For disappointment, I'm surprised the Rams didn't get a nod. This was supposed to be their year to really establish control of their division and instead they've regressed and cratered hard. They're headed for 4-12 territory.The Colts also could be called a disappointment, even accounting for the loss of Manning. No one expected great things out of them without their superstar, but it's disappointing to realize that the rest of the team is THIS bad. How many titles could Peyton Manning have had by now if the rest of the team had even been average?

That Colts team and franchise should be ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED of their performance. Peyton Manning is very, very good, but he doesn't make enough of a difference to explain the cowardly, pathetic Colts completley quitting and underperforming. They had good talent in multiple positions and nobody has shown up to play. They should have won one or two games already. The disappearing act the Colts had this year is one of the worst things I've ever seen in football.

November 17, 2011  03:39 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

That Colts team and franchise should be ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED of their performance. Peyton Manning is very, very good, but he doesn't make enough of a difference to explain the cowardly, pathetic Colts completley quitting and underperforming. They had good talent in multiple positions and nobody has shown up to play. They should have won one or two games already. The disappearing act the Colts had this year is one of the worst things I've ever seen in football.

Agreed. There is no excuse to play this badly. Manning is great, but not THAT great. Surely this team has more skill than they are displaying.

November 17, 2011  03:52 PM ET

Both surprises I agree with.
I think not many people outside of Philly or the media actually believed the Eagles were contenders and not pretenders. We have seen the Washington model burn up too many times to trust FA spending.
Atlanta on the other hand...I expected them to give the Saints a run for their money and for that to be the most competed in NFC division, instead the Saints are cruising it for an easy divisional crown and they are not even the juggernaut they were on their superbowl year. Atlanta and Tampa Bay really let their foot off the pedal and will most likely not make it to the playoffs with the NFC North being the really tough and unpredictable one.
It'd be a delightful surprise if the NFC North sent 3 teams into the playoffs.

November 17, 2011  04:56 PM ET

Bears.

November 17, 2011  05:17 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Bears.

For both?

November 17, 2011  05:18 PM ET

Doesn't matter what Atlanta did last year, the question is who is the biggest disappointment THIS year. That is Philly. No other teams comes in second. Although an argument COULD be made for Indy. How embarrassing can it be to tell your fans that all of your success is based not on coaching, not on the team itself, but one player. And when he's not there, you absolutely suck.

November 17, 2011  05:27 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Doesn't matter what Atlanta did last year, the question is who is the biggest disappointment THIS year. That is Philly.

That doesn't make much sense. You have to look at past success and future probability in order to gauge failure in relative terms.

November 17, 2011  05:34 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

That doesn't make much sense. You have to look at past success and future probability in order to gauge failure in relative terms.

Might make sense somewhere, but certainly not in the NFL. A team who did well last year gets a tougher schedule this year. (see Tampa Bay). Nobody is disappointed in Tampa's season this year because we all knew it was a fluke last year. I gauge a team's season prediction by schedule, draft, free agency moves, player losses. A whole lot more to consider than "what did they do last season"

November 17, 2011  08:20 PM ET

The Eagles have lost 5 games by a combined 22 points. That's an average of just over 4 points per loss.

OJ was close to that point, so I will give him partial credit. Forget 6-3 OJ... if the Eagles played defense in the final 5 minutes and/or scored an extra field goal here and there, they would easily be 8-1. They have only 1 loss by more than 7 points (the Giants, by 13).

Leaning Right for at least getting close to this fact.

Comment #18 has been removed
November 17, 2011  09:53 PM ET

Right has the biggest surprise...by far. Left has the biggest disappointment.

Cincy really isn't that much of a story. They took advantage of a crap schedule in the first half of the season and are now coming back to earth having to face NFL teams again. No, they aren't going to the playoffs.

Atlanta at 5-4 is right where many expected them. Better than average team that over achieved a year ago and came back to the reality of looking up at the superior Saints. No real surprise there.

Nobody...I mean NOBODY saw this coming from San Fran. Even the biggest 49ers homers on earth saw a .500 team at best. Philly was always more hype than substance, but to fail so miserably after the huge off season is unspeakable. They played their Super Bowl against Dallas. Other than that, they've been miserable to watch.

 
Comment #20 has been removed

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