Rating the top NFL shocks in 2022

NFL
NFL

Has there been a more unpredictable NFL season than the one we are currently enjoying? Already we have seen a series of surprises as both conferences develop in ways that no one expected.

If you’re an NFL fan checking the latest sportsbook reviews, then based on what we’ve seen so far in 2022, you would be best advised to choose a sportsbook that offers the biggest prices on the underdogs.

Seven weeks into the season and there is only one team standing unbeaten – the Philadelphia Eagles – while almost half the teams in the league are clustered around the average, with either a 0.500 record or one game either way. Here are five of the biggest surprises so far:

NFC East over NFC South

Preseason predictions said that the Panthers with Baker Mayfield could surprise a few people, while the Bucs would be Super Bowl hopefuls. Instead, all four teams in the NFC South have started the season with losing records, while in the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants have each won six games, the Cowboys have won five and even the Commanders, who are currently 3-4, appear to be competitive.

Green Bay and Tampa struggling

Before the season began, most fans would have included the Green Bay Packers or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – or both – on a list of the NFC’s top three Super Bowl contenders.

But neither team is playing anything close to that quality of football. The Buccaneers’ situation is not as dire as that of the Packers, because they play in a weaker division, but they might not be able to count on the Falcons, Panthers and Saints continuing their current poor form for the remainder of the season.

Tom Brady, one of the all-time greatest sports figures, appears to be in decline, and the Buccaneers have a dismal third-down and long record, little to no running game and sinking team morale.

Meanwhile, after losses to the Giants, Jets and Commanders, the Packers are looking average at best. The offensive line has been terrible, putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers and making it difficult for Matt LaFleur to incorporate more running plays, and there is a Davante Adams-sized hole in the offense.

New York thriving

With both the Jets and the Giants seemingly deep into rebuilds, not much was expected from New York football this season. But both have surprised pundits with excellent starts.

Although they are second to the Eagles in the NFC East, the Giants have the second-best record in the NFL, at 6-1. There is a long way to go, of course, and injuries are mounting up, but this is an extremely encouraging start for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016.

The Jets are also facing injury problems, with the loss of running back Breece Hall a potentially major problem. However, their defense has been outstanding from the beginning, while Zach Wilson is making steady progress. Their grit and resilience, demonstrated in dramatic wins over the Browns and the Packers, has been remarkable, and their 5-2 record means that the New York teams combined are 11-3 and there is a real prospect of one or both making the playoffs.

Weakness of the AFC West

The expected intense struggle for supremacy in the West has not materialized. The Kansas City Chiefs have a 5-2 record and recently recorded a 44-point victory against the San Francisco 49ers.

Despite their propensity to start games slowly, the Chargers are still in the hunt, but the Broncos and Raiders are struggling. The Raiders have lost a lot of tight games and their wavering defensive resolve and lack of confidence are issues. And down in Denver, Russell Wilson is on track to be the season’s worst letdown. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett is currently absorbing most of the pressure but Wilson looks nothing like the player he was in Seattle.

Geno Smith flourishing

The fact that Geno Smith, Wilson’s replacement, is experiencing a career revival in Seattle is a remarkable twist. When Smith played for the Jets in 2014, he was a regular starter but at this point in his career, no one had high hopes for him as the Seahawks entered a protracted rebuilding process.

Instead, Smith has been playing brilliantly from the get-go, leading the NFL in completion percentage and consistently hitting deep passes. The Seahawks are 4-3 and currently in first place in the NFC West, and Smith’s contribution, alongside good performances from running back Kenneth Walker and a revitalized defense, are combining to give Seattle a genuine shot at the playoffs in 2022.

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