clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sunday open thread: Who will be this year’s surprise NFL team?

Who will be this year’s Rams or Jaguars?

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

As we enter the first Sunday of the 2018 NFL season, it’s time to look league-wide.

It seems every year a team comes from the shadows and makes a serious championship run. Last year, we actually got a couple: the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars not only bumped up seven wins from their previous year, but was a play away from representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The Rams had seven more wins in 2017 than they did in 2016, and although they didn’t make much noise in the postseason, they gained a ton of respect for the way they steamrolled that entire division, and many expect them to repeat in 2018.

Now it would be foolish to expect a drastic change like that every year. The NFL simply doesn’t work that way. Still, there’s a pretty good chance a team that most people are sleeping on will shock a lot of fans in 2018.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Who will be this year’s surprise team in the NFL?

My answer: The Cleveland Browns.

I know. I KNOW. I know. I know. i KNOW.

If there’s a team that’s more cursed than the Lions it’s the Browns, but I just can’t help but look at that roster and see a boatload of talent.

This Cleveland team was much better last year than their 0-16 record suggests, and they were miles ahead of where the Lions were in 2008.

On offense they have an embarrassment of riches at receiver, two solid tight ends in David Njoku and Darren Fells, and a quarterback who was able to carry the Bills to their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades. Admittedly, their weak offensive line could be their downfall.

But the real strength is on defense. Myles Garrett is going to be a defensive player of the year candidate, their second level is bolstered by talented players like Mychal Kendricks and Jamie Collins, and their backend ain’t half bad either.

Somehow ESPN ranked this the worst roster in the league, but I couldn’t disagree more. I’m not expecting the Browns to make the playoffs... buuuuuuut their division isn’t all that great (especially if Le’Veon Bell continues to hold out), and the only way to go is up. I expect this team to push eight wins this season, and they could even be in the playoff race as late as early December.

Or it will all predictably fall apart and I’ll have 50 people tweet this article back at me in 2019.

Your turn.

Subscribe to PODD

After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.