Every year there always seems to be at least few teams that surprise fans and experts across the NFL world. Last year, the New York Giants surprised people, in a negative way, and the Los Angeles Rams surprised people in a positive way. In this rather short article, I will be talking about 3 teams that in my opinion, may surprise you.
New York Jets
Everyone seems to agree one thing, and that is that the New York Jets are rebuilding. I myself can confidently say that even the Jets don’t expect to win anything any time soon. This can easily be supported with the selection of Sam Darnold, and the fact that the New England Patriots are still sitting atop the AFC East practically untouched. Now, I’m not saying the Jets are winning anything, or even making the playoffs for that matter, but I think that they are “ahead of schedule” on their rebuild. I believe that 2018 will be growing year for this young Jets team, and that they are preparing to make a splash in the 2019 offseason when free agents like Le’Veon Bell are roaming the free market. The Jets are in line to have the most cap space next offseason, and I would definitely expect them to make a pretty big run at a guy like Bell. Now, let’s get to why the Jets may surprise you next season. Well, their division is quite honestly garbage. The AFC East is undisputedly the worst division in football, and this obviously helps the Jets cause. With 4 games next year coming against the quarterback-less Bills, and the free falling Dolphins, the Jets are in a good position to have divisional success in 2018, which normally leads to overall success. Also, we all know how much trouble they give the Patriots, regardless of the amount of talent on paper.
New York Giants
All we’re doing is switching locker rooms here, folks. The New York Giants had a horrific season in 2017, and they must put that in the rear-view mirror if they want to have success in 2018. The selection of Saquon Barkley with the 2nd overall selection in the NFL Draft shows you just how much trust the Giants are putting into aging quarterback Eli Manning. They got rid of the bonehead that was Ben McAdoo, and started fresh when they fired general manager Jerry Reese. With the arrival of who I like to refer to as “the quarterback whisperer” in head coach Pat Shurmur, and the star in the making that is Saquon Barkley, Eli Manning is in line for a successful season pending any injury to his offensive weapons. Newly hired defensive coordinator James Bettcher has brought his 3-4 blitzing style over from Arizona, and the defense will look to provide Eli and friends with as much room for error as possible. Also, in 5 of the last 6 years, the team that finishes last in the NFC East has always won the division the following year, including this past season’s Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
The Panthers have just had horrible luck this offseason as far as the offensive line goes. They lost All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell to free agency, and offensive tackle Daryl Williams is expected to miss atleast half of the season with a knee injury that he suffered in training camp. I don’t expect the Panthers to be able to keep Cam Newton upright, and with a weak receiving core, the offense is on track to be less then good. You never know though, as the Panthers have had success the past couple of years. The Panthers also play in an incredibly tough division, and they will most likely be in the wild card race if anything with the Saints atop the NFC South.
How will your team fare in 2018? Will it be an improvement or decline from 2017?