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Top Five Surprising NFL Starts Thus Far

A look into the top five surprises in the NFL thus far Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
A look into the top five surprises in the NFL thus far
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season has been underway for three weeks already amd this season has had plenty of stories on the field. Off the field, not so much. Between the Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, and Adrian Peterson stories dominating headlines overall, I’m going to bring us back to reality and talk about not only the good, but the great.

In this article, we are going to look at my top five best and surprising starts that the NFL has to offer us through three weeks. Let’s get the ball rolling and I want your input. Tell me what stories are being missed!

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

5. Cincinnati Bengals are the only team in the AFC that is undefeated. With the like’s of the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos in the AFC, also in weaker divisions, you would think that one of those team’s would be undefeated and for awhile. Not this year. Cincinnati has stepped up to the plate and has shown dominance in both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has shown, to an extent, that he is worth the boat load of money that was given to him this offseason. A.J. Green, even while hurt, has still been A.J. Green and they have depth at all positions on offense. Mohammed Sanu has been the jack of all trades, throwing and receiving touchdowns. Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill have been a two-headed running back tandem. The defense has been very solid too plus they arguably play in the toughest division in Football.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

4. New England Patriots struggle on offense. The talk all offseason was mostly about how Denver and New England one upped each other, signing player after player to better their position in the AFC. The Patriots added Brandon LaFell, acquired Tim Wright from Tampa Bay to fill the old “move” tight end role, and that was really it. Another year in the system for Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, and Danny Amendola was only supposed to make the offensive attack more explosive. The only constant on offense has been Julien Edelman and a couple Rob Gronkowski touchdowns. Even Tom Brady has been struggling. Part of that has to do with protection. Should the Pats protect Brady and put the receivers in spots where they can succeed, the offense should start rolling and open up the run game. 

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3. Detroit Lions first in total defense. What? Yes, the Lions are giving up 180 yards in the air, good enough for third in the NFL. They are holding opponents to 63 rushing yards a game, good enough for second in the NFL. Those two together make them the league leader in total defense. A big part of that has to do with their pass rush with Suh and Fairley applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks along with Stephen Tulloch (who now is doing discount double checks on the IR) and CJ Mosley. A solid defensive back corps has been an underrated part of this team. Will they keep it up and battle for first in the NFC North? They’re sitting pretty atop currently with a 2 and 1 record. 

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2. DeMarco Murray leading the NFL in rushing yards. Yes, Murray is leading the NFL in this category by 70 yards over Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers. Murray has shown speed, power, and the ability to get outside and make opposing defenses miss. If the Cowboys can manage to call plays for Tony Romo that are successful it’ll open the run game that much more. This offense has always looked really good on paper, only to disappoint on the field. But if they keep up the pace they’re on now, they will be tough to stop and Murray will be an absolute animal this year, health aside. He will be am every down back and will be near the top in yardage for running backs this year, again, if healthy. 

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

1. Rookie Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin came to Carolina as a tall wide receiver who has all the physical tools to be a really good one. The only problem was he is the only receiver on the team period so opposing defenses would focus mainly on him. While the defenses have focused mostly on Benjamin thus far, outside of tight end Greg Olsen, Benjamin has succeeded a lot then most thought he would and in a big way. Benjamin is currently 10th in the NFL in receiving with 253 yards on 16 grabs with 2 touchdowns. Despite the absolute lack of talent of the WR corps, Derek Anderson and Cam Newton are forcing the ball to the rookie and he has not disappointed by any means. He has a chance to be named the offensive rookie of the year with plays like this: 

And also like his catch Sunday night. Incredible receiver. They will continue to force the ball to Benjamin and he will be successful with his size and speed. He is certainly exciting and entertaining to watch. 

The NFL has had plenty to talk about outside of the off field issues that dominate headlines and this list of five certainly give us reasons to talk about what happens on the field. Please feel free to chime in with your top five, readjust mine, or tell me what you think belongs there!