One-on-One: Who is the most surprising team in the NFL?

New Orleans Saints

Heading into this season, everyone figured it was going to be the New Orleans Saints vs. the world. But I don’t think anyone saw the world actually winning.

After a long offseason which included losing their head coach for an entire season, their interim head coach for half of a season and their star linebacker for at least six games due to ‘bountygate,’ everyone figured the Saints would bounce back. If anyone could face this much adversity and still win, it was the Saints.

Yet this season has quieted the Who Dat Nation. Starting off 0-2, including giving up 40 points to Washington Redskins’ rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and 35 to the Carolina Panthers, is extremely surprising. The only team to score more than 35 points last year on the Saints defense was the Green Bay Packers in week one.

Minus a 14-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left against the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round of the playoffs, and the Saints would have been one win away from the Super Bowl. Instead, New Orleans is the only winless team in the entire conference.

Sure, you can be impressed by the Arizona Cardinals 2-0 start with two narrow victories, but they finished last season winning seven of their last nine games. Only the Saints downfall is truly puzzling.

-Bobby Nightengale

 

Arizona Cardinals

Did anybody see this coming? The Arizona Cardinals are 2-0, defeating the Seattle Seahawks at home and going on the road to beat the New England Patriots.

The Cardinals were the last team to name a starting quarterback for this season. Neither Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton played well enough to win the starting job during training camp or the preseason. It appears Skelton was deemed the lesser of two evils and given the job. He was injured during Week one, however, and Kolb was brought in.

One of the most surprising aspects of the Cardinals 2-0 start is that Larry Fitzgerald has been a non-factor to this point. In Week one, Fitzgerald was targeted 11 times, but caught only four balls for 63 yards and no TD’s. In Week two, he was targeted five times, but only managed one catch for four yards.

The Cardinals win over the Patriots was very surprising for multiple reasons. The first is that the Patriots outgained the Cardinals by 143 yards. Secondly, kicker Stephen Gostkowski was four-for-four on the day when he missed the 42-yard potential game winning field goal that lead to the Cardinals winning.

The Cardinals may not have been the most impressive team thus far, but they are by far the most surprising.

-Aaron Wargo