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NFL first quarter surprises



By Brandon Niles EBS Contributor

There are two kinds of surprises in life: a surprise party where an assortment of merriment ensues, and then the kind your pet leaves on the carpet floor while you’re at work. Throughout the NFL, there are some teams and players enjoying proverbial parties as we enter the second quarter of the season, while others are left cleaning up the carpet and hoping the stains aren’t too deep.

Celebrating success

Oakland Raiders
Aside from a rough Week 1, the Raiders offense has looked great. Quarterback Derek Carr has been sharp in victories over the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, and rookie receiver Amari Cooper has already shown glimpses of elite-level play. Meanwhile, running back Latavius Murray has demonstrated power and decisiveness leading the Oakland rushing attack. With defensive end Khalil Mack rounding out a quartet of stars 25 and younger, Raiders fans have to be excited for the future.

Tyrod Taylor
The Buffalo Bills have been treated to exciting offensive play thanks to the emergence of Taylor as a starter. He nearly rallied the team to an improbable come-from-behind victory against the New England Patriots in Week 2, and he embarrassed the division rival Dolphins in Miami. Taylor has the Bills offense humming, and Buffalo fans are appropriately enthusiastic about the present and future of the team.

Larry Fitzgerald
The Arizona Cardinals have looked like one of the best teams in the league through the first few games of the year, and Fitzgerald is a big reason why. He had monster games against the Chicago Bears and division rival San Francisco 49ers, helping Arizona to an early division lead. After years of struggles by the Cardinals at the quarterback position, veteran Carson Palmer has helped to remind fans all around the league that Larry Fitzgerald is still an elite player at the wide receiver position.

Cleaning up the Mess

Miami Dolphins
Thought to be a dark horse contender for the AFC East title this year, the Dolphins have limped into the season. They barely beat a struggling Washington Redskins team, and they embarrassed themselves against the Bills in a 41-14 drubbing at home. The Dolphins will need to right the ship quickly if they don’t want to plummet into a hole they can’t recover from. Otherwise, jobs will be on the line in Miami.

The Baltimore offense
A new offense in Baltimore was supposed to create a potent passing attack, supplemented by a strong and versatile running game. What we’ve seen instead is a disjointed team having difficulty moving the ball. While the Ravens have found success forcing passes to veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., the overall product on the field has been disappointing for Baltimore fans expecting more out of their $100 million quarterback Joe Flacco.

Andrew Luck
The Indianapolis Colts quarterback showed the late game heroics we’ve come to expect from him against the Tennessee Titans, but he’s been a turnover machine. The slow starts and sloppy interceptions have been disappointing for a team expected to compete in the Super Bowl. Struggling behind a poor offensive line, Luck looked terrible against the Bills and New York Jets, and one has to wonder if the Colts will be able to move the ball against the best defenses in the league.

Whether or not the unexpected developments fans have witnessed thus far will continue is anyone’s guess. But with several months of the NFL season left, one thing we can always expect is more surprises, more action, and a lot more fun.

Brandon Niles is a longtime fan of football and scotch, and has been writing about sports for the past decade. He is a fantasy football scout for 4for4 Fantasy Football and is co-host of the 2 Guys Podcast.

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