It feels like we say this every year, but it has been another NFL season full of surprises. Through three weeks, a lot of predictions have been proven wrong already, and there are plenty more left to broken. With this in mind, we wanted to focus on the teams that have been positive surprises, so the question this week is: who is the most surprising NFL team through three weeks of the 2016 season?
Austin Mirmina, Campus Correspondent
How can it not be the Philadelphia Eagles? They started the season with some rookie quarterback named Carson Wentz and first-year head coach Doug Pederson, yet they’re 3-0; didn’t see that coming.
Wentz flew under the radar in college, but now he is capturing national attention (e.g. Wentzmania) with his smooth transition to the NFL. Through three games, Wentz has yet to throw an interception. He also became only the second quarterback in NFL history to start and win his team’s first three games in a season, per NFL.com. The other? You guessed it, Mark Sanchez.
I realize the Eagles have played a soft schedule in the early going, beating both the lowly Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. However, Philly destroyed their crosstown rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, by a score of 34-3 in Week 3, a game in which Wentz threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns. This is not an illusion. The kid is for real, and so are the Eagles.
Bobby Farris, Campus Correspondent
I get how good the defense is over in Minnesota, I really do, but I still can’t believe that with no Adrian Peterson and no Terry Bridgewater, that defense was able to carry them undefeated into Week 4. I mean, look at their schedule, they had to play the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers and handled them both pretty well. The Eagles have been surprising but their schedule didn’t hit a bump until Week 3 in the battle of Pennsylvania. I could have predicted at least 2-1 in Philly, but if you asked me what Minnesota’s record would be after Week 3, I would have said 1-2, no questions asked. It’s been impressive and actually somewhat fun for football. Bradford has looked solid and that defense is beyond elite. If they can manage without “All Day” Adrian Peterson, maybe this is a Super Bowl contender that I didn’t even think could go 3-0.
Nathaniel Benson, Campus Correspondent
I have to say the most surprising 3-0 team is by far the Vikings. I respect what the Eagles and Carson Wentz have done, but the Vikings are missing their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and starting running back Adrian Peterson, who has been elite his entire career, yet the Vikings still managed to win their first three games, two against very stellar teams: the Panthers and Packers. It’s almost unbelievable that the Vikings defense actually carried the team to victory that many times already. I do wonder how much longer the Vikings defense can carry the entire team though, but for now, they have been on another level. It does show they have the depth to be a playoff team. I would like to see them continue their success, because they are one of the sleeper teams this year.
Molly Burkhardt, Staff Writer
If someone told me that going into Week 4, the Eagles would be the only NFC East team still undefeated, I would laugh in your face. Go ahead and insert your “NFC East is a dumpster fire” take, I’ve heard it all before as a Giants fan. It’s the year of the rookie for the Eagles. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has shocked everyone with 769 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions so far. Their head coach Doug Pederson is in his first year, and rookie running back Wendell Smallwood has come up huge for the Birds, rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries last week against the Steelers.
Granted the Eagles had a fairly forgiving schedule the first two weeks against Chicago and Cleveland, but they’ve managed to establish a dominance over the division. But not for long. With divisional games coming up against Washington, and Dallas over the next few weeks, I have a feeling Wentz and the Eagles are going to get a lot less comfortable.
Austin Mirmina is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bobby Farris is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Nathaniel Benson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.