The Around The NFL writers are answering some big questions as we hit midseason. In this installment, who were we wrong and most surprised about?
Toby Gerhart and Christine Michael
Our summertime "Making the Leap" list was far from pristine. For my part, I mistakenly touted running backs Toby Gerhartand Christine Michael as superstars-in-waiting. Gerhart has essentially lost his backfield job to a college quarterback, while Michael hasn't shown enough to overtake Robert Turbin. I think we'll see more from Michael down the line, but I banged the table a year too early.
Kansas City Chiefs
Given all the offseason losses and early-season injuries, I expected the Chiefs to crater in a tough AFC West. Instead, following a Week 1 stinker, they've played inspired football. With several winnable games coming up, K.C. remains in the thick of the hunt for a wild-card spot. Alex Smith has done as much as any quarterback with minimal surrounding receiving talent and a poor offensive line. Andy Reid continues to maximize the talent on his roster. -- Kevin Patra
Drew Brees authoring a historic quarterback season
I predicted several times on the Around The NFL Podcast and in print that Brees would not only post a career year but join Peyton Manning (2004, 2013), Tom Brady (2007) and Aaron Rodgers (2011) by turning in an outlier season for the ages. It didn't take long to realize that forecast didn't have a chance of panning out. Brees' pocket presence, decision-making and ability to make plays down the field all fell short of what we have come to expect from him in New Orleans. If the August oblique injury lingered into this season, last Sunday's performance is a promising sign that he's finally at peak strength. --Chris Wesseling
Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers
Though Smith is a good enough coach to get things turned around, we also thought he was a good enough coach to transform a massively talented roster to fit the mold of what he's looking for. Now, it looks like Tampa Bay is another two seasons away from reaching the playoffs. The Bucs also appear to be in the middle of a very star-studded fire sale. Before everything goes according to plan, they'll need to develop a franchise passer and mop up some recent drafting mistakes. -- Conor Orr
Rise of the Cowboys
After the first Sunday of the season, the Cowboys were 0-1 and the predictable butt of many an Internet joke. Things have changed. The Cowboys lead the NFC East, and the "triplet" combo of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant -- along with a stellar offensive line -- has made Big D a legit NFC power-player. Adversity was sure to come -- and we got it in the form of Tony Romo's injury and a surprise loss to the Redskins on Monday -- but these Cowboys might have the goods to actually rise to the challenge for once. Imagine that. -- Dan Hanzus
I had the Bears as one of my NFC wild-card teams and a top-10 team overall. The continuity on offense and expected defensive improvement looked to be enough to push them to double-digit wins. Instead, the offense has taken a confusing step back. Jay Cutler has taken much of the blame, but he's always been this guy. The offensive line has played worse, especially at tackle. Brandon Marshall's health and Alshon Jeffery's lack of development have hurt. Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston haven't helped enough in the pass rush department. (Although Houston's season-ending ACL tear is a killer.) This is one of the most erratic, unpredictable teams on a week-to-week basis. -- Gregg Rosenthal