Listen, I don’t try to live my life as a contrarian. That’s not true — I kind of do. I’ve spent a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I’ve heard a lot of the sports world’s most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it’s best to take a look at the other side.
In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think — unpopular opinions, if you will — and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Today, I explain why the most interesting — and BEST — teams to watch in the NFL this season don’t have winning records.
The best part of the 2022 NFL season has NOT been the marquee superstars. Don’t get me wrong, I love Patrick Mahomes. Josh Allen. Lamar Jackson. Et al. But we knew they were going to be great. No, to me, the best part of this season has been those teams that have been unexpectedly super fun. The not-ready-for-prime-time teams that have captured our imagination and played in some of the most thrilling games of the year.
I’m talking about the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets. Yes, the Jets! Gang Green’s become a main attraction in the NFL this fall.
It reminds me of my youth. We’d travel all over Southern California to watch Reel Big Fish. But at some point, we found ourselves enjoying the opening act much, much more. Of course, that opening act was Blink-182 — pre-Travis Barker, mind you. It was this poppy, crass, little punk band, but you could never take your eyes off them. And dammit, that’s the way I feel about those three aforementioned teams. Because they are what make the NFL great. You can have all your headliners and future Hall of Famers. Give me the chaos of the undercard. Give me the insanity, which has made this league so amazing to follow.
The Lions being entertaining isn’t that big of a surprise. Dan Campbell has been a walking quote machine since he took over as head coach in January of 2021. Detroit became a sentimental favorite this summer when it appeared on Hard Knocks. Even the most ardent of fans of NFC North rivals — I fall into that category, as a Bears supporter — have a soft spot for the Lions because of their appearance on the wildly popular HBO docudrama.
With only one playoff win since 1957, the Lions feel relegated to permanent also-ran status. But holy [smokes] are they entertaining! They are like that loveable wrestling jobber we’re all rooting for, a rando who’ll eventually be squashed by the main eventers. I guess that would make the Lions the Danhausen of the NFL in this scenario. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen Danhausen, you’re about to go into a YouTube wormhole. Enjoy. And hey, the man hails from Detroit!!
The Lions have been a Scorigami dream. Last week, they lost (obviously) to the Seahawks. It was the first game in NFL history with a 48-45 final score, which just kind of seems weird. But not as weird as the fact that Jared Goff has played in three of the four games with at least 90 combined points in the last five seasons. JARED GOFF.
The Lions have scored 140 points (35 points per game) and allowed 141 points (35.3 ppg) this season. The 281 combined points scored and allowed are the most by any team in the first four games of a season in NFL history. The 140 points are the most in the first four games in club history. The 141 points allowed? The second-most in club history. (They are the Lions, after all.) But that’s the thing here. If you’re going to start the season 1-3, at least be interesting. I mean, it gets a little sad seeing Campbell get into his feelings after a game. But I kind of love the drama.
The Falcons are also rather interesting. Head coach Arthur Smith became a hero to fantasy enthusiasts years ago when he unlocked the full potential of Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. And then he made Cordarrelle Patterson into a fantasy cheat code last year, further endearing himself to football nerds everywhere. However, Art has been warring with those same people this year, claiming he’s not out to win fantasy championships, but rather games for his team. In doing so, he’s failing to completely tap into the unlimited potential of tight end Kyle Pitts. The 22-year-old unicorn of an NFL player has yet to make an impact, while guys like rookie running back Caleb Huntley are scoring touchdowns and leading the Falcons to victory.
The Falcons are thriving by running the football. They have surpassed 200 rushing yards twice this season. And while that might not seem like must-see TV on the surface, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Atlanta upset the Seahawks (which was great because Mariners fans are insufferable) and then beat the Browns in back-to-back weeks. And honestly, I just keep watching because I know that Pitts’ breakout game is looming … even now that he’s out this week with a hamstring injury. OOF. I still believe the breakout’s coming! I can just feel it.
And then there are the Jets, who are competing in games in such a variety of ways. Clutch for Mets fans everywhere, who can’t believe their team just let a 10.5-game lead evaporate in the NL East and need something else to occupy the mind.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson made headlines in the offseason when — well, let’s just say he made headlines in the offseason. The second-year QB then got injured. He was replaced by Joe Flacco, who started throwing the ball 50 times a game. Zach returned and promptly beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh — which, while not as momentous as it would have been in years past, is still a pretty good accomplishment.
The Jets have been impressive because they actually had a really good draft, putting solid pieces around their quarterback in Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson. The defense has been much better than many expected, with two more rooks — Sauce Gardner and Jermaine Johnson II — turning heads. Dare I say, the Jets are just a fun team to watch.
So you can have your snotty prestige teams, occupying the prime-time windows on Sunday and Monday. Give me my little punks in the early games, because I’m feeling this.
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NFL's three BEST teams to watch in 2022? Give me the Lions, Falcons and Jets! – NFL.com