One aspect of the NFL season that often looms large is the ability of teams that play so-so ball in September and October to get hot in November and December and emerge as contenders or at least dark horse squads.
At this point of the season, with about half of each team’s games in the books, some squads are better than their records would indicate, which means that if they get their act together, their situation could look drastically different by Christmas.
These two teams, in particular, have a great opportunity to take off as the playoffs inch closer and prove that their current record is a mirage.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are just 3-5, and their defense is struggling a bit, as is their passing offense.
But the debut of Deshaun Watson is looming, as he could suit up and take the field as early as Week 13, which would ironically come against the Houston Texans, his former team.
Regardless of how fans feel about his sexual misconduct allegations, Watson is an elite or near-elite quarterback, and even if Cleveland still has trouble stopping opponents, it could at least keep pace with them offensively once he joins the team.
Watson’s presence could especially help a young wide receiver like Donovan Peoples-Jones, who has been starting to play better as of late.
2. San Francisco 49ers
With a 4-4 record, some may be writing off the Niners, but they have dealt with some key injuries, and they seem to be getting healthier.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 31, 2022
The key for them is the trade for Christian McCaffrey, who has already given their anemic offense a much-needed tune-up.
He had 94 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards in San Francisco’s Week 8 win over the Los Angeles Rams while becoming only the third player to notch a rushing, receiving, and passing touchdown in the same game.