A Recap of the 2018 NFL Season


Pietro Topa

Zachary Lee ’18 weighs in on the 2017-2018 NFL season.

The comebacks, the crushing defeats, the thrills, the losses. The 2017-18 NFL season has been thrilling. However, it is time recap the current season and review teams with potential.

This current season has seen the rise of teams who previously have been under the radar or have had bad seasons for these last couple of years. Starting in the NFC South, we have seen the rise of the New Orlean Saints as the prominent team of the South with a 11-5 record compared to their 7-9 from last year. This is partially due to their running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara providing the thunder and lightning for the Saints. Kamara, the rookie, has proved to be surprisingly effective with has 728 yards in rushing and 826 in receiving, solidifying his spot as one of the best running backs currently in the game. Ingram has definitely proven that he is a seasoned veteran, racking up more than 1,124 rushing yards this season and 416 receiving yards. Drew Brees has shown his merit as well as a veteran racking up 4,334 yards and a 72% completion rate with only seven interceptions out of his twenty-one touchdowns.  

However, the most important improvement for the Saints has been their defense. They have one of the best defenses in the league, allowing a total of 20.4 points and 336.5 yards per game. A vast improvement to the 28.4 points and 376 yards per game last year. On top of that the Saints defensive has forty-two sacks and twenty interceptions this year, making the Saints even more lethal than last year.

The NFC North has been a conference full of disappointments and surprises. One of these great surprises has been the rise of the Minnesota Vikings with their new quarterback Case Keenum. Case Keenum has been jumping back and forth between the Houston Texans and the LA Rams for most of his career.  For each of these teams he never had the chance to start an NFL game, but this year, with the injuries to the number one and number two quarterbacks for the Vikings, he has been able to lead the them to an incredible 13-3 record, clinching them the division lead, while just last year the Vikings were 3rd in the conference with an 8-8 record.

“I love the Giants, but they need to fix their offensive line, because if they don’t, Manning doesn’t have a chance. But, if they do, I believe they have a good shot at another Super Bowl.”

Furthermore, this is not a fluke; Case Keenum has shown to be an elite quarterback with 3,547 passing yards and a completion rate of 67.6%. He has also thrown for twenty-two touchdowns while only being intercepted seven times. However, Case Keenum is not the only weapon that the Vikings have. Their wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have both proven their worth time and time again throughout this season. Thielen has racked up 1,276 yards with four touchdowns, and Diggs has been able to produce 849 yards with eight touchdowns. Latavius Murray, the Vikings’ running back, has obtained 842 rushing yards, 102 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. With all of these weapons playing to the best of their capabilities,  it is no wonder that the Vikings are currently #11 in overall offensive capabilities.

However, the crown jewel of the team is the Vikings defense. With the #1 defense in the league allowing in only 15.8 points and 275.9 yards per game, the Viking’s defense seems to be absolutely unstoppable. With a total of thirty-seven sacks and a turnover ratio of 3.3, the Vikings’ defense has been able to shutdown some of the highest powered offenses in the game. Yet, they do seem inconsistent, which was evident as they were pushed over by the both the Steelers and later on the Panthers as well. However, unlike many other teams, there are no individual  stars here, just a solid defense with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove next year.

The NFC West has already been shaken up with new young teams on the rise. Scoring over twenty-eight points per game, the Los Angeles Rams have proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. Their new head coach, Sean McVay, has brought the Rams from the 3rd in the West with a 4-12 record to a 11-5 record making them number one in the West. Jared Goff, the Rams’ quarterback, has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with.  He has be able to rack up 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns with only seven interceptions and a completion rate of 62.1%,  On top of that, their rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp has 869 yards with five touchdowns making him an incredible force on the field in combination with Sammy Watkins, who himself has racked up 593 yards and eight touchdowns.   

Defensively however, the L.A. Rams have been lacking. Allowing 20.6 points per game and 339.6 yards per game, the LA Rams are currently #19 this year. However, the L.A. Rams do have a dominant defensive line with forty-eight sacks. Aaron Donald, their defensive tackle, leads the Rams in sacks with eleven. The Rams’ linebacker, Robert Quinn also has an additional 8.5 sacks. However, in order for the Rams to be a SuperBowl contending team next year, their defense needs to get better.

Just like the Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles have made a comeback from being last place in NFC East with a 7-9 record last year to first with a 13-3 record this year. Carson Wentz has been doing absolutely phenomenal this year with a 60.2% completion rate throwing 3,296 yards and thirty-three touchdowns with only seven interceptions allowing the Eagles to score more than 28.6 points per game. However, due to a torn ACL in week thirteen during their game against the LA Rams he is out for the rest of season.

Thus, Nick Foles has taken over for Wentz for the last three games in the regular season and had done an okay job with five touchdowns and two interceptions, but his completion rate is 56.4%, though,  which is terrible, causing the Eagles’ offense to bump down from number two to number seven in only three weeks. But, he has been absolutely amazing during the post-season with a 72.6% completion rate, six touchdowns, and one interception. He definitely has a bright future ahead of him! Their accomplished wide receivers Aishon Jeffery, a recent addition to the Eagles, has racked up 789 yards and nine touchdowns, while Nelson Agholon has eight touchdowns with 768 yards. Their tight ends, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton have shined this year with Ertz racking up eight touchdowns and 824 yards, while Burton has five touchdowns and 248 yards.

However, the Eagles defense has remained stout with the #4 defense in the league allowing in only 18.4 points and 306.5 yards per game. Their defensive end, Brandon Graham, and defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox, have definitely help bolster this Eagles defense with 9.5 and 5.5 sacks respectively. Chris Long, another recent addition, has been doing well this year with five  sacks as the Eagles’ defensive end and with their win in Super Bowl LII these Eagles are going to soar.

The reverse has happened to New York Giants who have been incredibly disappointing following a great season. Instead of maintaining a good record of 11-5, the Giants have collapsed this year  with a 3-13 record. Eli Manning has done an okay job this year with a completion rate of 61.6%, 19 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and throwing for 3,468 yards, but this is not the statistics of a 2-time Super Bowl champion. Orleans Darkwa has done okay this year with 751 yards and 5 touchdowns. Evan Engram, their rookie tight end, has done okay this year as well with 722 yards and six touchdowns. Sterling Shepard has obtained 731 yards and two touchdowns making his season okay at best. On top of all this Odell Beckham, the Giants’ best wide receiver, has been out ever since he broke his ankle during the Giants-Chargers game. This was a huge blow for the Giants this season, and even though he is returning, the Giants have even more problems.

The Giants’ offensive line has been absolutely terrible. The job of the offensive line is to protect the quarterback at all costs. But for the Giants the moment the other team does a blitz Manning has only 1.07 seconds to throw the ball after the snap before the offensive line collapses. This means he has 1.07 seconds to scan the field, check who is open, throw and dodge whoever is rushing him, and then throw to prevent either an interception, intentional grounding, or a fumble. This is obviously not a lot of time, and on top of the fact that Manning is not a running quarterback, which means that he is not good at evading rushing defenders, he is not able to get anything done. Even the fans believe this is ridiculous with Zachary Lee ‘18 stating, “I love the Giants, but they need to fix their offensive line, because if they don’t, Manning doesn’t have a chance. But, if they do, I believe they have a good shot at another Super Bowl.”

The Tennessee Titans has finally made it to the playoffs this year with Marcus Mariota. Mariota, like Bortles, has done an okay this season with a 62% completion rate and thirteen touchdowns, but with fifteen interceptions. Their running backs, Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray, have done very well this year with five and six touchdowns with 744 yards and 659 yards respectively. Their wide receiver Rishard Matthews has done well with four touchdowns and 795 receiving yards. The Jaguars’ tight-end, Delanie Walker, has done a great job this year with 807 yards and three touchdowns. However, they are not anything special with 20.9 points and 314 yards per game, placing #23 in the league in terms of offense.

The Titans’ defense has taken a step up from last year, they are ranked #13 allowing only 22.2 points and 328 points per game. Their linebackers, Derrick Morgan, Brian Opako, and Wesley Woodyard, have done well with 7.5, seven, and five sacks respectively. The Titans’ defensive end, Jurrell Casey, has done a good job this year with six sacks. However, one of their greatest assets is their safety Kevin Byard with eight interceptions out of the twelve total interceptions on the team and eighty-seven tackles. However, if the Titans wish to go anywhere next year, they have to step it up.

On a happier note, the Buffalo Bills has made it to the playoffs for the first time in eighteen years. Strangely enough, out of all of these teams who made it to the playoffs this year the Bills’ defense and offense are both well below almost any other teams. The Bills offense is ranked #29 in the league scoring only 18.9 points per game. Their quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, has done well this year with a 62.6% completion rate and fourteen touchdowns and only four interceptions. LeSean McCoy, the Bills’ running back, has been amazing this year rushing for 1,138 yards and catching for 448 yards with a total of eight touchdowns. Defensively, they haven’t fared any better ranked #26 and have allowed 22.4 points and 355.1 yards per game. Their defensive ends, Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes, have done an okay job with four sacks each. The Bills’ rookie cornerback, Tre’Davious White, has also done a good job with four interceptions, but the heavy lifting has been done by the Bills’ safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Both have five interceptions and Poyer has an additional two interceptions to boot.

But despite having a mediocre team and no one spectacular, the Bills finally made it. Despite the ranks, the Bills are a stout and competitive team that others should look forward to seeing in the playoffs. Because who knows, with that talent and drive for sucess, they might run away with a Super Bowl one day.

On the other side of the spectrum is the veteran and proven New England Patriots. Having the #1 offense in the league, Tom Brady has shown his years of experience this season for sure. Throwing for 4,577 yards with a completion rate of 66.3% and tnirty-two touchdowns with only eight interceptions, he has solidified himself as an elite quarterback. The Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has also proven himself to be crucial tool for the Patriots with 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. Their wide receivers, Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks, has done well this year as well with five and seven touchdowns with 439 and 1,082 yards respectively. Furthermore, the running back Dion Lewis has done well with 896 rushing and 214 receiving yards with a total of nin touchdowns.

And the Patriots’ defense matches. Ranked #4 in the league and allowing 18.5 points and 366 yards per game, the Patriots have definitely improved. Their linebacker , Kyle Van Noy has 5.5 sacks, but their defensive end Trey Flowers leads the team in sacks with 6.5. The Patriots’ rookie defensive tackle, Deatrich Wise, has had a good season this year with five sacks. Their cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore have done well with two interceptions each. Duron Harmon, their safety, has done pretty well with four interceptions. But despite their lacking defense, they have still shown that they are a veteran team that still has a couple more years on them.   

Sadly, this year the New York Jets were unable to make the playoffs this year maintaining their 5-11 record. Their new quarterback Josh McCown has done well this year with a 67.3% completion rate and throwing for 2,926 yards. He also has eighteen touchdowns and nine interceptions for the thirteen game he has played. Bilal Powell has had an okay season rushing for 772 yards and five touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson, the Jets’ wide receivers, both have done well with 810 and 941 yards as well as five and seven touchdowns respectively. Yet, none of these bright flashes of hope for the struggling Jets has been enough,  and as a result they are ranked #28 offensively.

Defensively, they are slightly better being ranked #25 allowing 23.9 points and 352.2 yards per game. If the Jets want to be competitive next year, the players that they get during the draft just have to be better.

Overall, as the 2017-18 season comes to close, next year is going to be an amazing year for sure. And despite the lackluster performance from all the New York teams this year, fans are still as hopeful as ever.