We are entering the final five weeks of the 2018 NFL season and we have seen some teams really set themselves apart from the rest. You look at the Saints, Rams and Chiefs, who are all putting up North of 35 points per game as the league’s three highest-scoring teams and have lost a combined four games. Then there’s teams like the Texans, Bears and Seahawks who are stringing together winning streaks right now and on Sunday night we will see a matchup of two other highly talented teams in the Chargers and Steelers, who only have three losses on their resume. I don’t want to undermine what some other teams have done and obviously this is the time of the year a sleeping dragon like the Patriots starts waking up, but I just want to say there are a lot of actual contenders right now. However, I think there is one team that not only looks very dangerous right now, but I believe is on its way of becoming a perennial threat to compete for the Super Bowl – and that’s the Indianapolis Colts. To explain why I believe they are set up for a bright future, I will talk about different key factors for them going forward. Here they are:
There’s a saying in football and I think it’s true – there are more games being lost than won, meaning it’s more likely a team loses a game by some bad decisions, situational football or such as rather than one factor earning them a victory. Some prime examples would be several teams taking their foot off the gas pedal and getting scared against the Patriots after holding a lead, the Packers’ epic collapse at Seattle in the 2015 NFC Championship game when everything seemed to go wrong at the end of the game and these three games from Sunday, I want to present to you. With this article I don’t want to take anything away from their opponents, because they did what they needed to in order to walk home victorious, but rather I want to show how the losing teams could have easily turned fortunes in their favor. To do so, I will illustrate three different types of game developments and complexities – one team that gave away a big lead, one that put themselves in a hole early they couldn’t climb out of anymore and one that put up the better performance and had plenty of chances to win, but couldn’t get the job done.
This was a unique matchup. While New England went into the AFC playoffs as the number one seed and favorite to win it all, Philadelphia took on the underdog role throughout the NFC race, with the opposing team favored in both games at Lincoln Financial field. Despite earning the top seed in their respective conference as well, not many people believed that backup Nick Foles would be able to match MVP and five-time champion Tom Brady in the big game. All the analysts talked about how Philly’s defensive line would have to harass Brady throughout the game, to keep the score low and give them a chance to win the game. Yet, 74 points and, an all-time NFL record for any game, 1151 total offensive yards later, it was the Eagles hoisting the Lombardi trophy with Foles being named Super Bowl MVP. How was this possible?
While everybody talked about the peaceful protests shown by teams around the NFL, the theme that kind of went under the radar on Sunday was how many prohibitive favorites went down to underdogs in the early games. I want to take a look at how those five teams overcame the odds and came up with the Ws. Here we go:
After going to the NFC Championship game three years in a row, the 49ers can get to .500 at best if they manage to win their final regular season game, which wouldn’t even bring them close to a playoff spot this year. Coming into the season as one of the favorites to end up in Arizona in February, their season went the wrong way and they’ll end the year with a lot of question marks not many people expected them to face at this poit.
So why did their season go the wrong way?