If I told you the Cincinnati Bengals, of all teams, would be 5-2 and at the top of the AFC through seven weeks, you would say I was crazy, right?
If I told you that the Kansas City Chiefs would be at a measly 3-4, tied for last in the AFC West, and playing garbage defense, you would say I was losing my mind, correct?
If I told you that the Arizona Cardinals would be the only undefeated team left standing, at a red-hot 7-0, playing amazing team football throughout that span, you would say I was insane, right?
I imagine you said “Yes” to those questions. You people out there know how the NFL functions.
The NFL has had dynasty after dynasty, repeat champions more than three times (ahem, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady), and many great games, teams, coaches, and overall success stories in between.
The NFL has functioned like this for years. The NFL hasn’t quite functioned like THIS, though:
Super Bowl Runner-up on track to not even make the playoffs
Team that had two top-10 picks in two seasons flawlessly leading the AFC
NFC team that ran into a brick wall at the end of 2020 starting off a white-hot 7-0
NFC North squad at 0-7 being respected as much as the contenders
Hence, why I am stating this NFL season so far is a wild one.
Wild, you say.
Yep. That’s exactly what I am saying, voice in my head.
Wild West, perhaps?
Ah yes, the Wild West. The NFL teams away from the chill of Green Bay, the “Dawg Pound” in Cleveland, the “Who Dat” nation in New Orleans.
Let’s start this Wild West journey in Houston, Texas.
Hey! That’s not in the West!
I believe the Wild West IS Texas, voice in my head.
Anyway, the Houston Texans franchise is where I want to start. A team that has seen legal issues, two different starting QBs, and a meaningless win over the Jaguars to start the season, and falling and sinking, is a team ready to explode at any moment. A time bomb waiting to go off. That time bomb, when it eventually goes off, will create a shockwave of decisions with team personnel and players that could not only divide the organization, but rip apart the franchise altogether!
When that happens, everything surrounding the Texans will eventually fall off the tree of good fortune and fade away, the Houston citizens will riot, and the Houston Texans franchise will be forgotten for the rest of life on this Earth!
Ok, too dramatic?
Yeah. Too dramatic.
I wasn’t asking for YOUR opinion, voice in my head!
Anyway, I have something to say.
I am not going to be a Negative Nelly and talk about the bad teams this whole time. Let’s bring some positivity into this!
The Las Vegas Raiders come to mind. This team has bounced back from their Jon Gruden situation with wins over the Broncos and Eagles, and has created some new hope for themselves this season after a not-so-great 3-2 start.
I next think of the Los Angeles Chargers, a team with a young superstar quarterback, a great no-nonsense head coach, and a defense to back it all up. This Chargers squad sits at 4-2 heading into their matchup against the Patriots in Week 8.
I am now thinking of the Arizona Cardinals, a team that is 7-0, a team that has a great defense, a high-flying offense, and a sense of rejuvenation after a slap in the face at the end of the 2020 season.
Whew. That’s a lot to talk about. Ok, now that we have the punch-in-the-nose and sunshine and roses stories out of the way, I want to outline the steps the contending teams made to get where they are now. You’re up first, Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Signed QB Tom Brady in March 2020
Brought TE Rob Gronkowski in
Built an elite defense
Picked up chess pieces throughout the season
Rolled through the playoffs after a 7-5 start, a four-game win streak to end the season
Shut down the Chiefs in the Super Bowl with a hugely effective defensive plan
Drafted RB Derrick Henry in 2014
Brought in QB Ryan Tannehill before the 2019 season
Brought in good defensive pieces throughout their transition from pretender to contender
Upset the Ravens and Patriots in the 2020 playoffs
Kept necessary pieces to keep contending
Kept leaning on King Henry to carry the team
Traded for WR Julio Jones during this offseason to make their offense super scary
Rolled through the Chiefs last Sunday to reach a 5-2 mark
One more team: The Bengals!
Drafted QB Joe Burrow, WR JaMarr Chase in 2020 and 2021 Drafts
In 2019, hired Zac Taylor, quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for the LA Rams under current head coach Sean McVay, the basic offensive guru and role model for teams looking for great coaches to help their offense.
Brought in defensive pieces to help their defense that couldn’t do anything major
Helped Joe Burrow through ACL, MCL injury
Sit at 5-2 and in the top spot in the AFC after statement win over the Ravens
The NFL season has seen mighty wins, devastating losses, and many storylines along the way. Hopefully, as the season goes on, more great storylines will become the norm.
The 2021-22 NFL season is just getting underway. And so are the wild ways of the National Football League.