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Chris graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of 'nerdy' things that would embarrass his wife.

Who Would’ve Guessed? 5 Surprises of the 2015 NFL Season

Greg Olsen Touchdown

Carolina has shocked everyone with their hot start to the season. (Image Credit: Ryan Kang/AP)

We are almost at the halfway point of the 2015 NFL season and if you’ve been following each week, you’re probably as shocked as I am about some of the things that have happened. After another seemingly endless preseason and all the off-field drama in the NFL office, it’s nice to have the unpredictability of football back.

But seriously, before week 1 of the season who would have guessed…

The NFC South Would Be the Talk of the Town

Everyone remembers how bad the NFC South was last season. The fact that three teams with losing records had a chance to still win the division with two weeks left was just sad. Now all of a sudden, the Falcons and Panthers have two of the best records in the league! 

Ron Rivera, Cam Newton and Carolina’s defense have had a lot to do with the Panthers’ success. After second-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin went down, an already thin Panthers offense looked destined for failure. But MVP candidate Cam Newton is somehow doing it all and making clutch throws and big runs to close out games. Meanwhile, Ron Rivera’s defense is looking as stingy as ever – even without Greg Hardy. Josh Norman is scaring quarterbacks almost more than the pass rush and it’s hard not to think this year’s Panthers are for real.

In Atlanta, new Head Coach Dan Quinn and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan are the primary reasons for the Falcons’ hot start. You’ve undoubtedly heard people talk about the “energy” Quinn brings to the team, however it’s his willingness to try new things that has really helped the Falcons. With less than a week to go before Game 1, Quinn reshuffled the personnel on the offensive line, bringing in guys he thought would fit better into Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. The lack of complacency really brought a different mentality to the team and it showed in the first five games.

Denver’s Offense Being This Cringe-Worthy

While Denver’s high-powered offense showed signs of slowing down at the end of last year, it was simply unimaginable to think a Peyton Manning-led team could put up so few points. The season ending injury to left tackle Ryan Clady could be part of the cause of the enormous pressure on Manning. The run game has also been stagnant, as CJ Anderson struggles to validate splitting time with Ronnie Hillman (the faster and sharper back). The uncertainty Manning has in Gary Kubiak’s system is leading to opposing defenses capping the deep routes and Manning is perhaps making the worst decisions of his illustrious career.

Add it all together and the Broncos are lucky to be undefeated.

In fact, if not for having the #1 defense in the league, the Broncos might even be looking up in the AFC West – the same division that houses the habitual also-rans known as the San Diego Chargers, the also uninspiring offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, and an improved-but-still-hard-to-trust Oakland Raiders. The only thing that would surprise me more than this Broncos team staying undefeated after week 8 (a meeting with the Green Bay Packers), is John Elway bringing Tim Tebow back to quarterback the team the rest of the way.

The Number of Injuries to Key Positions

Are the recent practice rule changes finally taking their toll on the players? Have enormous contracts softened the star athletes? Or is there just an injury bug going around the NFL? Whatever is going on, it’s hard to remember a time this early in the season where we’ve had so many injuries.

Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Tony Romo have already missed time due to injury and it seems like every week there is a wide receiver, running back, safety, or lineman who goes down with a torn something.

Cincy’s Bengals as a League Powerhouse

The state of Ohio might still be skeptical given the Bengals tendency to fold in the playoffs, but this year’s team has all the makings of being a Super Bowl contender.

A lot of it has to do with the play of Andy Dalton, who appears to have heard the rumblings that he simply wasn’t good enough. He is slinging the ball with power and accuracy and is leading one of the leagues most potent offenses. Marvin Lewis, who could consider himself lucky to be employed given the Bengal’s postseason ineptitude, looks to have found the right formula for winning games.

The Old Guys Still Have It

A year after the NFL boasted one of the most talented rookie classes of this decade, it’s the old guys that are still making the plays.

Demarcus Ware, Darrell Revis, and Charles Woodson are all playing at a high level against opposing offenses and truly leading by example for the young faces around them. On the other side of the ball, Steve Smith, and Cardinals’ trio Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Chris Johnson are helping their teams put up points. What year is it? 2008? It’s great to see these veterans making an impact on their teams, especially in a league that isn’t as friendly to old, weary faces as it used to be.

The NFL season is still very fresh and there are undoubtedly more surprises in store as we approach the second half of the season.

 

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