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2017-2018 NFL season in review

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2017-2018 NFL season in review

One of the buses passes along the Ben Franklin Parkway during the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

One of the buses passes along the Ben Franklin Parkway during the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

One of the buses passes along the Ben Franklin Parkway during the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

One of the buses passes along the Ben Franklin Parkway during the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Story by TJ Wall, staff writer

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With the Philadelphia Eagles as the 2017-2018 NFL champions, this season is sadly over. Here’s some thoughts on my expectations for this season that I wrote about in “There’s always a tomorrow” compared to the final results:

Expectations vs. Results:

  • Houston Texans:

I had a lot of faith in the Texans this season after they picked up quarterback Deshaun Watson in the draft. I felt like he would fill a big gap in the Texans roster. I also believed that the Texans defense would dominate considering the fact that they had star defensive players J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney both healthy and on the field at the same time. Along with those two expectations, I also expected the Texans to be potential AFC champions. At the beginning of the season, everything seemed like it was falling into place for these things to occur. Deshaun Watson was playing incredibly and was even seen as a potential Rookie of the Year (R.O.T.Y.) and Most Valuable Player (M.V.P.) candidate. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney were both healthy and playing well. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse as Deshaun Watson tore his ACL and J.J. Watt obtained a tibial plateau fracture, keeping both players sidelined for the remainder of the season. So basically, what really happened this season was the exact opposite of what I expected.

  • Oakland Raiders:

I, as well as many others, believed the Raiders were on track to compete for the AFC championship along with the Texans. However, things turned out to be different than expected once again. With Derek Carr at quarterback, a returning Marshawn Lynch at running back, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as the receivers, a sturdy offensive line and one of the better looking defenses in the league, the Raiders did not, by any means, live up to the preseason hype that surrounded them.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Steelers were the only team that lived up to their expectations this season. They played at a high level and made it to the playoffs. However, they were not expected to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars on their way to the AFC championship. While this is mainly due to the fact that the Jaguars weren’t even supposed to be there in the first place, it still doesn’t dismiss the fact that the Steelers actually lost to a team that wasn’t even expected to be there. Anyways, there’s not much to sa y about this because they did what was expected of them.

Over-achievers:

  • Los Angeles Rams:

The Rams, led by second-year quarterback Jared Goff and Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley, came off of a 2016 season in which they only won four games. This season, the Rams did a complete 180. They acquired a new coach in Sean McVay, won 11 games and made it to the playoffs. I didn’t hear many people predicting that the Rams would do as good as they did, especially with a young and brand new coach, but they defied the odds and had a great season. Rams’ fans will definitely have something to look forward to this next season.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Jaguars, during the 2017 NFL draft, acquired a stud at the running back position in Leonard Fournette. While Jacksonville, also known as “Sack-sonville” because of their elite defense, was expected to improve a slight bit with this draft pick, they were not expected to make it to the AFC championship! However, just like the other three teams in this section, they defied the odds and shocked the football world. One of the main concerns the Jags had was how well would their quarterback Blake Bortles perform. He hadn’t proven to be the quarterback they’d been hoping for when they picked him with the third pick in the 2014 NFL draft. However, he had a pretty nice showing this season and even played pretty well in the playoffs. The Jaguars went from a 3-13 season in 2016 to a 10-6 season this year. Things are looking better for Jacksonville. We will just have to wait and see what moves they make in the offseason.

  • Minnesota Vikings:

The Vikings went 8-8 last season. This season, they went 13-3 which was a huge improvement. The main concern Minnesota had coming into this season was mainly how well Case Keenum would play at the quarterback position but also how well newly acquired running backs Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook would do. Both situations turned out better than expected. Despite the fact that rookie Dalvin Cook tore his ACL and only got to play a few games, he still looked very promising. Latavius Murray took over when Cook went down and had a solid season as well. Case Keenum played phenomenally and exceeded everyone’s expectations. Their defense was a top three defense in the league. They made it to the NFC conference championship. Even though they lost, they looked really good and they may be a team to watch for next season.

  • Philadelphia Eagles:

There is definitely a lot to say about Super Bowl LII champs. The Eagles finished last season with a record of 7-9 which ranked them as the worst team in the NFC East. With a second-year coach and a second-year quarterback, no one was expecting the Eagles to win their division and ultimately win the Super Bowl. However, they played extremely well and exceeded all expectations. With what the Eagles did this season, they deserve a huge amount of respect. Despite the fact that their starting quarterback Carson Wentz attained a season-ending injury, the Eagles kept moving forward. Even in the face of adversity, the team gave it their all and just kept striving to be the best they could be and it payed off in the end. The Eagles are no longer the underdogs coming into this next season so they better be on their A-game every week because the other teams will be coming for their heads and will show no mercy.

Under-achievers:

  • New York Giants:

The Giants were supposed to be a deadly team this year. With a stacked wide receiver corp featuring Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and newly acquired tight end Evan Engram paired with All-Pro quarterback Eli Manning, their offense was on track to be the best of the best. Their defense looked as if they could have been a top five defense in the league. However, after their entire receiving corp was injured, some for a few weeks, some for the rest of the season, the Giants drastically under-performed and finished last in the NFC East with a record of 3-13. Some say their poor performance is due to the fact that the Giants’ offensive line is weak, some say their performance is due to the fact that Eli Manning is getting older and not playing as well and some say that it’s solely due to the fact that their receiving corp was injured. I believe it was a combination of all three things. If the Giants would’ve had their receivers healthy, their chances to do good would have drastically improved. Then, the issue of an aging quarterback combined with a weaker offensive line doesn’t go well together. So, all of these issues combined ultimately led to the collapse of the Giants this season.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Buccaneers thought they had a solid, overall team coming into this season. They were seen as potential threats that would be a tough competitor in the playoffs. However, the Bucs played awfully this season and finished with a record of 5-11. I really don’t have much to say about Tampa Bay. All I can really say is that they were supposed to be really good and they ended up being really bad. That’s about it.

  • Dallas Cowboys:

My beloved Cowboys had just come off of a season in which they’d finished with a record of 13-3 and it was that season that they were supposed to win the Super Bowl. However, they were beat by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs which was a disappointing end to the season for Cowboys’ fans all across the world. Coming into this season, the ‘Boys were expected to be even better and to make an even stronger playoff run and potentially win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they didn’t even make it to the playoffs and they finished with a record of 9-7. Starting running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games late in the season. Some believe that this is the sole reason the Cowboys struggled this season. Others believe it was due to quarterback Dak Prescott’s “sophomore slump”. I believe that the absence of Elliott didn’t have much of an effect because backup running backs Alfred Morris and Rod Smith took over and played just as well as Elliott was before his suspension. I don’t believe that Dak had that bad of a season despite the fact that it wasn’t as top notch as his rookie season. He still put up good numbers especially for a young, second-year quarterback. The main problem that plagued the Cowboys was that neither their offensive line nor their starting linebacker Sean Lee could stay healthy and that caused both the offense and the defense to play way less efficiently. If the Cowboys could pick up a solid receiver and boost their offensive and defensive line, they should be right back in the conversation of being a Super Bowl contender.

  • Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks have been a solid competitor for the last few seasons. However, this season they, similarly to the Cowboys, finished with a record of 9-7. With a top-tier quarterback in Russell Wilson, an all-pro tight end in Jimmy Graham, a decent receiving corp featuring Doug Baldwin and a top 10 defense in the league, Seattle should have made it to the playoffs. The problem is that their offensive line is iffy and they still have yet to find a running back good enough to replace Marshawn Lynch (now with the Raiders). Their defense, despite being known as the “Legion of Boom”, is getting older and are more injury-prone. Also, free safety Earl Thomas III is expected to part ways with the team this offseason. With questions looming over Seattle, they’ll have to make some moves soon. However, they are not in that bad of a position. They can still revamp their team fairly easily because they have the players around them to do so. We will just have to wait and see what Seattle does this offseason.

Conclusion:

With each new season comes new possibilities, new expectations and new outcomes. This season has definitely gone back and forth and has took many unexpected turns. I have had an amazing time reporting on each week this season and I look forward to next season which I expect to potentially be even crazier than this one.

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About the Writer
TJ Wall, sports editor

TJ Wall, also known as “Wheelz,” is an editor of the sports section and is a fun-loving, witty guy who loves sports, music and keeping up with the...

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