The Oakland Raiders are relevant again (and Al Davis is still the owner)- The part about Al Davis is truly unthinkable but for the first time in 8 seasons the Raiders are going to finish with fewer than 11 loses. These Raiders currently stand at .500 with a 7-7 record, but the most surprising statistic is that they are 5-0 in division games. They are third in the AFC West and if they win their upcoming game against the Chiefs then the Raiders will be the first team in NFL history to win all their division games and miss the playoffs. Both of these ideas are shocking. San Diego had beaten Oakland 13 straight times entering 2010, but this season the resilient Raiders knocked off the defending AFC West champs twice. No one has discussed "the Raiders" and "the playoffs" in the same sentence, unless "will never make" was in between, for many years. We will see Oakland back in the playoffs soon, probably not this season but in the neat future.
The Minnesota Vikings- Joe Webb starts, Favre's streak ends, Josh Childress is fired, they trade for Randy Moss, they waive Randy Moss, the Metrodome collapses, they play a "home" game at Ford Field, and Monday Night Football is moved outdoors to a college field where Toby Gerhart starts at running back and Joe Webb comes in to replace Brett Favre...pretty much what everyone expected coming into the season.
Randy Moss plays for 3 teams this season- The Patriots shockingly traded Moss back to Minnesota in return for a third round pick next season. Although his connection with Tom Brady was historic and marked in the record books the front office grew increasingly tired of his off the field antics and contract disputes. It only took the Vikings a few weeks to realize they got a bad deal so Minnesota waived Randy Moss. Eventually he was signed by the Titans, where he is currently residing on the bench trying to recall what the end-zone looks like. Congratulations to the Patriots who after trading Randy Moss obtained former-Pat Deion Branch. Branch has more catches, yards, and touchdowns than Randy Moss. No one would've guessed that the Patriots lose Randy Moss for Deion Branch, and the fact that the swap worked out for New England is an even greater testament to this franchise.
The Patriots two leading rushers are: an undrafted free agent and a former Jets practice squad player- Only the Patriots could thrive in the run game with two guys who were unheard of before October. Danny Woodhead was cut by Jets and Green-Ellis went undrafted and was finally signed by the Patriots. Injuries to both Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris opened opportunities for these young backs and like always, the Patriots revealed their hidden gems. Ben Jarvus Green- Ellis (The "Lawfirm") has compiled over 800 yards already and is on pace to break the 1,000 yard plateau, while Danny Woodhead is used as a receiver out of the back field but is also averaging an outstanding 5 yards per carry. Woodhead also plays wide recievers is a dual threat in both the passing and run game, but his talents extend to special teams where he one of the leading tacklers on their unit.
Jaguars>Colts- Entering Week 16 the Jaguars are leading the AFC South (yes, Peyton Manning is still on the Colts and yes, this is 2010). We all assumed a division title and around 12 or 13 wins for the Colts but the Jaguars did have the same plans as the rest of America. This is not some fluke and the most jaw-dropping fact is that David Garrard's passer rating is higher than Peyton Mannings. The Colts run game has been non-existence and injuries have plagaued Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie. Everyone is aware of Peyton Mannings ability to throw to any and all receivers, but now he is running out of healthy targets. Maurice Jones-Drew is on almost all MVP lists while Peyton isn't even the highest Manning on anyones list.
Tim Tebow got his first starts AND Josh McDaniels got fired- Tebow getting a start this season over Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn was a long shot, but if any coach had the desire to try this it was going to be Tebow-Lover Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is the sole reason the Broncos used such a high draft choice on the former Heisman Tropy winner Tim Tebow. But after a couple of blow out loses and poor management McDaniels was on the hotseat. He didn't stay there for very long, instead he was quickly fired. But upon his departure it seems as if the entire team is embracing a new era lead by Tim Tebow. The dual threat quarterback showed off his arm and legs during his first start in Oakland. Kyle Orton had been having a phenominal season, mostly because of his conenction with breakout wide reciever Brandon Lloyd. Many NFL teams could use either of the Broncos back-up quarterbacks (see Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals).
Michael Vick is an MVP candidate- One of the greatest comeback stories, Mike Vick left football as a pro bowl quarterback for the Falcons and he has returned to that same form for the Eagles. Last season he was stuck behind Philly "hero" Donovan McNabb. But the team decided to part ways with their franchise quarterback but unfortunately for Vick Kevin Kolb hurdled his way into the starting job. Kolb had started the season off well and has taken advantage of all his opportunities but once Michael Vick got the nod after Kolb's injury a new chapter was beginning. He deserves the MVP award and Michael Vick has handled his entire situation with class, dignity, respect, and honesty.
This season's leading rusher: Arian Foster (1345 Yards)- Arian Foster is on pace to finish the season as the NFL's leading rusher for 2010. He has out-rain the likes of Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Foster has more yards on the ground than Shonn Greene (696) and Ryan Matthews (503) combined. Joseph Addai, Beanie Wells, Marion Barber, Pierre Thomas, and Steve Slaton COMBINED have less rushing yards than Arian Foster in this breakout season. Arian Foster has been one of the most important players in the entire league this season. Similarly to Tom Brady, Arian Foster is carrying an entire team in 2010. He has 7 games of over 100 yards including one monster performance with 238 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Colts. Before the season very few people knew the name "Arian Foster". He went undrafted out of Tennessee and played only 6 games for the Texans in 2009. But in those 6 games Foster averaged: 43 yards/game, 5 yards per carry, 12 yards per reception and totaled three touchdowns. The Texans witnessed the breakout of Steve Slaton and had no expectations for Foster to blossom into an All-Pro running back.
The Cincinnati Bengals- In a year filled with surprised the Bengals are on the tail end. They have a roster filled with superstars but these names are atop the biggest busts of the year. Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Cedric Benson have looked absolutely terrible individually, but even worse together. The only thing that tops all these guys stats has been the Bengals record. Last season the won the AFC North, beating out the Steelers and Ravens, and swept their division games. Their playoff run from last season seems like an eternity ago after constant failure, the only consistency this roster has is in disappointment. There is no doubt Cincinnati's front office will blow up there roster and a lot of people are going to be unemployed come the spring. Head coach Marvin Lewis has not been able to work with this overrated offense despite having "Batman and Robin" lined up wide. The TOcho Show has been a complete disaster and Cedric Benson is on his last legs and no longer high quality running back. Additionally, it is tough to tell if Carson Palmer's down fall is due to a lack of playmakers or just the end of a average career. One thing is for sure, the 2011 Bengals will be filled with a completely different roster, only time will tell if different results will follow.