From The Basement: Anyone’s Season

As of the past several years, NFL fans have been treated to extremely predictable seasons. It’s the same old story: the New England Patriots dominate, and the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs are the playoff “dark horses.”

These same teams regularly slide their way deep into the playoffs, and many of them have won a recent Super Bowl. From the outset of each season, it has been fairly simple to determine who will dominate and who will struggle. This year, however, for the first time in a long while, things have played out quite differently.

The unpredictability of this season began immediately on opening night. The defending champions, the seemingly invincible New England Patriots, were dismantled by rookie running back Kareem Hunt, journeyman quarterback Alex Smith and their Kansas City Chiefs. No rational observer other than a biased, die-hard Chiefs fan would have predicted this outcome. From this point on, the phrase “any given Sunday” has seemed to be the most viable rule for predicting game outcomes.

After their loss to the Chiefs, the usual powerhouse Patriots proceeded to lose again, this time to the Buffalo Bills. The reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons lost to the Miami Dolphins, led by Jay Cutler, who had only recently returned on the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams — yes, the same team that we saw stumble to a record of 4-12 last year — has a strong winning record and has beaten Dak Prescott’s up-and-coming Dallas Cowboys, who have seen their star running back Ezekiel Elliott fight the NFL to stay on the field multiple times. The dominant Green Bay Packers lost star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone. The New York Football Giants have looked anything other than giant, limping out of the gate to a 1-6 start.

Players such as Alex Smith, often considered nothing more than role players, have emerged as MVP candidates, while future hall of famers such as Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have looked like dead men walking on the field. Other than the inevitable, traditional collapse of the pathetic Chicago Bears (who have still managed to string together a two-game winning streak, with rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky completing only FOUR passes), this season has been nothing short of insanity.

The only team that has at this point provided a relative sense of stability is … the Eagles? Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles. Even with one loss to the Chiefs, this team looks to be flying high. With the emergence and rapid progression of North Dakota State product Carson Wentz at quarterback, this squad could very well shape up to be the team to beat this year. This, however, is exactly what NFL analysts said about the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs, prior to their two-game losing skid. In this league, nothing is certain.

The takeaway? This could be the wildest, most hectic season NFL fans have seen in quite some time. The usual weighty teams are struggling: the door is completely ajar for the customary stragglers — the Bears, Browns, 49ers and Jets — to enter the playoffs and have a chance at a title run.

Could we see the Eagles take their first title? Could the currently red-hot New Orleans Saints make a playoff run? Right now, we spectators have no clue. We may identify a potential hot-shot team but, come a bad loss on Sunday, it could immediately fall out of contention. This year, predicting games has been more a matter of luck than insight.

Break out the popcorn, grab a seat on the couch and stay tuned. It will be a long time until we see a season like this again. Because for once, it truly is anyone’s season.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Grant is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].

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