Each NFL season brings surprisingly good teams and surprisingly bad teams. Football fans have seen a lot of both this season, but some of the disappointments seem to be overshadowing the pleasant surprises.
The St. Louis Rams were the preseason favorite to win the NFC West after narrowly missing the playoffs last season. With first-year offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels running the offense and another year under quarterback Sam Bradford's belt, it seemed reasonable to expect St. Louis to return to prominance. However, numerous injuries on both sides of the ball, including to Bradford, have plagued the Rams all season. They do have one impressive win against New Orleans, but that's about it.
After beginning the season 3-0 with a comeback win over the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills have gone just 2-7 and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. They lost their best player for the season in running back Fred Jackson, and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled during the losing streak. The defense hasn't helped the offense either, giving up 25.3 points per game.
Most thought the Indianapolis Colts would suffer after hearing of quarterback Peyton Manning's neck injury before the season, but few thought the Colts would be sitting at 0-12. The Colts will miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. There's been speculation all season as to whether the Colts are purposely losing in order to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, leading to further speculation of what's to come of Manning. Needless to say, the Colts have a lot of work to do.
The San Diego Chargers are on track to miss the playoffs for the second straight season and reports say head coach Norv Turner will be fired at the end of the season. The Chargers have the offensive weapons necessary to compete in the NFL, but quarterback Philip Rivers has regressed this season, accounting for 21 of the team's turnovers. At 5-7, San Diego still has an outside chance to make the playoffs, but will probably have to win the remainder of its games.
Then there's the self-proclaimed "Dream Team." The Philadelphia Eagles have been on a roller coaster this season, with more downs than ups and are likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Eagles haven't had much difficulty scoring, but have hit speed bumps with injuries to quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The defense has been the real problem. Beefing up the secondary has left a glaring hole in the front seven and opposing teams have been able to run the ball at will.
Like St. Louis, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just missed the playoffs last season, going 10-6. The offense seemingly has all the pieces. Quarterback Josh Freeman can throw and run, LeGarrette Blount is a bruising running back and wide receiver Mike Williams gives the team big-play ability. But the Buccaneers offense only averages 18.2 points per game and Freeman is throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.