What to Make Of The 2021 NFL Season
So far the only predictability is unpredictability
Upsets aren’t a new thing in the NFL by any means. This season however, underdogs have seemed to be thriving more than ever.
You would have thought the 2020 season, which was majorly effected by COVID-19 and player opt-outs, would’ve been the one to bring this kind of parody. Turns out the 2021 NFL season was the one where any given Sunday truly any team could be beat.
Let’s take a look at some of the shocking outcomes thus far, starting with last Monday’s game.
The 7–2 Rams were set to take on the 3–5 49ers. Equipped with an MVP candidate in Matthew Stafford, the Offensive Player of the Year front-runner Cooper Kupp, and newly acquired players in Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, Los Angeles seemed to be well on their way to another victory. Instead, the Niners fresh off a loss to the Kyler Murry-less Cardinals cruised to a 31–10 win over LA. But hey, that’s a divisional matchup and upsets occur there all the time. Nothing too crazy yet.
But then we move on to the matchup between the 6–2 Ravens and the 2–7 Dolphins. Baltimore had been one of the hottest teams in the league heading into their game against Miami. On top of that, the Dolphins had been one of the worst teams this season. Typically a recipe for disaster for Miami. Nope. The Dolphins somehow dominated Lamar Jackson and company, winning 22–10. This game however, was played on a short week. Thursday Night Football always provides an opportunity for upsets, so thus far nothing out of the ordinary.
Now comes one of the bigger ones. The Tennessee Titans have been one of the best teams in the NFL this year. They’re tied for the league lead in wins with eight, and have been a force all season. Except when they played the all mighty…New York Jets? Yes the Jets who currently sit with two wins found a way to defeat the Titans. And this was a Tennessee team which still had a healthy Derrick Henry (he ran for 157 yards in the contest). It wasn’t enough however, to stop New York from getting their first win of the season. Now the Titans were without A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, but injuries also filled the Jets roster. Still, this provides some with a reason to see how an upset occurred.
This next one I have no explanation for.
The Buffalo Bills have been thought of as a Super Bowl threat for most of the season. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars fresh off the first overall pick, have appeared to be heading in that direction once again this year. On paper this was perhaps the most one-sided game all year. So obviously Jacksonville won 9–6. Buffalo didn’t have any major injuries, the game wasn’t played on a short week, and this wasn’t a divisional matchup. There simply was no excuse for the Bills to lose, besides the fact that Josh Allen (JAX) terrorized Josh Allen (BUF) all day. This game still has me scratching my head.
Now if you look at each of the games, besides the Bills/Jags, you can see how an upset occurred. Despite that, they’re all still somewhat shocking. Pair that with them all happening in just the first 10 weeks of the season, and it becomes even more apparent how crazy of a year it’s been.
Even looking at just the month of November can show the true parody in the league. This month in the NFC, only two teams have yet to lose a game. You probably think it’s teams like the Buccaneers or Cowboys or Packers. Wrong. Instead, the two teams without a loss in November are the Washington Football team (2–0), and yep you guessed it, the winless Detroit Lions (0–0–1).
What a season it’s been. I can’t wait to see how the rest of it plays out. Best of luck to all the favorites out there. Clearly they’re the ones who need it.