The Wonderful Unpredictability of the 2022 NFL Season

On Thursday, the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles took on the lowly Houston Texans in a lopsided affair to kick off Week 9 of this NFL season. Despite the game being tied at 14 at the end of the first half, Philly eventually blew the game open and took care of business as expected, outscoring Houston 15–3 in the second half and winning 29–17. Following Thursday night’s win, the Eagles improved their unblemished 8–0 record and remain the only NFL team without a loss this season.

The Eagles’ dominance is just one of many plot twists the NFL has thrown at viewers. Surprisingly, the rest of the NFC East’s teams each have a winning percentage of .500 or above. The Dallas Cowboys currently hold a 6–2 record with most of their games won with backup quarterback Cooper Rush, while starter Dak Prescott nurses a thumb injury. The New York Giants also sit at 6–2 and have been able to put together wins thanks to a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley and strong new clubhouse leader Brian Daboll. It has been quite some time since the NFC East was viewed as a powerhouse; at the moment, it stands as arguably the most competitive division in football, but the surprises do not end there. 

Coming into this season, most NFL fans and analysts predicted that the AFC West would be by far the most stacked and competitive division in the league, featuring big-shot quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr. Many felt that any of the four teams could win the division considering all the star power that had moved out west, including Wilson to the Broncos, Davante Adams signing with the Raiders, and both Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson going to the Chargers. Despite all the big moves that were made, the play in the AFC West has been underwhelming. The Chiefs comfortably sit in first place at 5–2, but the hobbled Chargers are just a game above .500 at 4–3, while both the Broncos and Raiders are multiple games under .500 and have not looked great at all. 

Moreover, other big surprises include the Buccaneers and Packers both having losing records, the Vikings only having one loss, and the Geno Smith-led Seahawks currently sitting in the driver’s seat of the NFC West. Perhaps even more surprising,  the LA Rams — the defending champions — are 3–4, the Bengals are just a .500 team, and the Jets have a winning record. This season has been filled with many twists and turns and has subverted our expectations even more than a Rian Johnson film could do, but despite there being a lot of average play among most NFL teams this year, the amount of parity in the league has made way for more intrigue. At the moment, it feels like there isn’t a clear favorite to win the Super Bowl, and that’s a good thing because it leaves fans in suspense about the finale of the season. Although the Eagles maintain a perfect streak, some have their doubts about how far a young quarterback like Jalen Hurts can lead his team in the postseason. Some may argue that the safest bet would be to pick either the Chiefs or the Bills as favorites based on their quarterbacks, but if there is anything last postseason taught us, it’s that any given Sunday, a young gamer like Joe Burrow can beat anybody. 

As we approach the second half of the regular season, it’s safe to say that we are in store for an exciting finish if the pattern continues. It still feels like most teams can very well make the playoffs and possibly make some noise, and hopefully, the league maintains this level of unpredictability. As it stands, over half the teams in the NFL have a shot at doing something special, and that’s what is making this season a ton of fun. 

If you are a football fan, buckle up for an exciting rest of the season, because your team might just have a special run. 

Image Courtesy of DixieBelleCupcakeCafe of Flickr

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