Biggest Surprises In The NFL This Season
It’s hard to predict exactly how each NFL season will go and that is part of the fun about it. This season has had its fair share of surprises. Certain teams performed much better than expected whereas others did quite the opposite. Provided below is a list of the 3 most surprising NFL teams in 2019.
3 Most Surprising NFL Teams in 2019
3) Cleveland Browns:
The Cleveland Browns really struggled to meet expectations this season. Multiple sources such as Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report predicted that the Browns would win 10 or 11 games. Many felt the addition of Odell Beckham Jr to an already talented roster would lead to the Browns doing pretty good this season.
In the 2018 season, Mayfield threw 27 touchdowns in only 13 starts, setting a record for rookies. One would assume that this type of talent at QB combined with the Browns’ offensive weapons and young but impressive defense would lead to a successful season. This is far from what happened though. The Browns have a record of 6-9, which has them tied for the 5th worst record in the AFC.
Much of the team’s failures can be attributed to questionable calls and decisions made by first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens. This has not been helped by Baker’s poor showing this season. Mayfield only has one more touchdown then interceptions at the moment, putting him at 30th in the league for interceptions. Due to the fact that talent is not the issue when it comes to this team, it might be wise to change coaching personnel this offseason.
2) San Francisco 49ers:
One of the biggest surprises this year has definitely been the 49ers’ impressive showing. After having the second-worst record in the league last year at 4-12, San Francisco is now tied for the second-best record in the league at 12-3. Although this seems like quite the turnaround, one must take into consideration all of the injuries that the team sustained last year.
There were a number of offensive and defensive injuries sustained. This includes RB Jerick McKinnon tearing his ACL before the season began. But worst of all starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in week 3 of the 2018 season. After facing little to no injuries this year, especially at the QB position, the team has been able to pull a complete 180.
This can be seen by the 49ers leading the league in defensive passing yards per game. Along with this, they rank second in a number of categories such as total defensive yards per game, offensive rushing per game, as well as in points per game. These impressive feats have led to San Francisco clinching a playoff berth and being tied for the best record in the NFC.
This team has been dominant during the regular season, but it should be interesting to see how this team can fare in the playoffs. The 49ers haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and starting QB Jimmy G has yet to reach the playoffs in his career. There is no doubt that this team is impressive, but the playoffs are a different level of intensity as compared to the regular season.
1) Baltimore Ravens:
The most impressive turn around this season has been the Baltimore Ravens. Even though the Ravens were able to win the AFC North in 2018 many people still doubted this team’s ability. After reviewing a number of sources, it would seem that the Ravens were only expected to have at most nine in 2019.
The team has been able to blow past these predictions. After a couple of losses early in the season, the team has been on an 11 game win streak. Their play has been equally impressive at home and away this season, suffering only one loss in each location.
The team has been able to be so dominant this year due to their offensive abilities. The team leads the league in points per game with 33.5, being only one of two teams averaging above 30. Along with this Baltimore ranks second in total offensive yards per game, and leads the league in offensive rushing yards per game.
These offensive capabilities are largely in part due to starting QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson has been playing at an MVP caliber level this entire season. Being able to run the ball better than any QB ever, even Michael Vick, as well as throw absolute darts has given Jackson the ability to beat any team in his path. Although it is always hard for young teams to perform in the playoffs, I feel it will be hard for opponents to stop Baltimore’s momentum.
Just like any other NFL season, 2019 has been full of surprises. After having high hopes after signing OBJ this offseason, once the regular season began the Browns went back to their normal routine of being trash. Other teams with QBs who had talent but were still doubted and needed to prove themselves were really able to step up.
This can be seen by the 49ers turnaround this season. Along with this fans have been completely blessed by seeing Lamar’s unconventional play leading the Ravens to numerous victories. But will these QBs with little to no experience in the playoffs be able to keep up this momentum? Personally I believe that the Ravens will be able to make it to the Superbowl, whereas the 49ers will lose in the conference finals to a more experienced team.
What are your guys’ thoughts though? How will these young teams fare in the playoffs? Were these the 3 most surprising NFL teams in 2019? Or is there a deserving team that didn’t make the cut?