What Two NFL Teams Have Surprised So Far This Season?

With a quarter of the NFL season behind us, who are the two most surprising teams thus far?

The most surprising team in my opinion is the Denver Broncos. No one predicted the Broncos would start 4-0. With the departure of Jay Cutler, the hiring of a new head coach in Josh McDaniels and the pouting of talented wide receiver Brandon Marshall, many people predicted the Broncos would have a hard time winning more than just a couple of games this season.

So why are they playing so well?

The main reason is the defense. The Broncos defense has been dismal in recent years, one of the worst in the league. This year’s defense is completely rebuilt. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil leads the league with 8 sacks through four games and is likely headed to his first Pro Bowl, veteran Brian Dawkins is playing like a future Hall of Famer and Champ Bailey continues to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. As a team, the Broncos are ranked third in the league in overall defense and are in the top five in most major defensive categories. Last season, the Broncos gave up an average of 28 points per game. This season, they’ve given up just 26 points in four games. The team has also produced 10 turnovers, three shy of what they did all of last season.

Offensively, the team is enjoying a balanced attack. No one will mistake quarterback Kyle Orton for John Elway, but he’s not making many mistakes and is doing enough to put points on the board. Rookie running back Knowshon Moreno leads all rookie running backs in rushing while a talented wide receiver corps led by Eddie Royal, Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley gives Orton numerous weapons.

Up this week: New England Patriots

The next most surprising team is the San Francisco 49ers, who are 3-1 and would be 4-0 if it weren’t for a Brett Favre desperation touchdown pass in the closing seconds two weeks ago. It looks as though the team has bought into the philosophy of coach Mike Singletary, a very fiery and intense coach who commands respect from his players. The defense, led by Takeo Spikes, Nate Clements and Patrick Willis, has played stellar and is ranked 5th in the league in rushing defense and 8th overall. The offense has been productive as well with running back Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis giving the team a legitimate air and ground threat.

Up this week: Atlanta

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