The NFL season is half over, believe it or not. We waited, it seems like forever, for the season to get here and now it’s half over. After the first four weeks of the season I wrote about some of the odd happenings and things to look ahead too. I was wrong about one thing and that was the Browns going winless this season. Every team in the league has at least one win, the Browns now having two. Cleveland was able to clamp down on San Diego’s offense last week and walked away with a 7-6 victory. Now there is a new team at the bottom of the league: Jacksonville. The Jaguars were a team that I had said if Maurice Jones-Drew held out too long the franchise would be at risk of going 0-16.
Despite the Jags getting lucky to MJD back, briefly anyway. Now he’s done for a few weeks with a foot injury, but if Jacksonville doesn’t do much without him don’t be surprised if he’s shut down for the year to rest up. There’d be no reason to risk further injury for a team with one or two wins. They are out of the playoffs and should try to look to the future. It will be interesting to see if MJD gets a multi-year contract from the Jaguars or if they decide to start over without him. The Jags have a lot to build off of, but need MJD to stay put if they want a chance of being relevant next season.
New Orleans has been through a tumultuous year and the season didn’t start too well. The Saints started the year 0-4. They’ve played three times since my last blog and have gone 2-1. While winning the NFC South is likely out of reach with Atlanta playing so well, the Saints could get hot and make it to the playoffs as a Wild Card team. A lot of things have to go their way though, and they have to put last week’s loss to Denver behind them. The Saints defense is awful, which means the high-powered offense has to score a ton of points just to give them a chance to win. If New Orleans doesn’t score on every position the outlook isn’t good on a week-to-week basis. I think the Saints will make some noise in the second half of the season, but they really just want this year to be over so the franchise can try to regain some normalcy.
After a 4-0 start, many thought the Cardinals were the real deal. They have a tough defense and one of the best receivers in the NFL; but they still don’t have enough to get over the hump. Arizona now sits at 4-4 and the road doesn’t get any easier. The next three games for the Cardinals are against Green Bay, Atlanta and St. Louis. The Cards’ schedule is pretty tough the rest of the season, and at best I think Arizona only wins three more games this season. It’s sad really. The Cardinals have some many pieces in place and they thought Kevin Kolb was the answer at quarterback. Trading for Kolb is looking more and more like a bust. John Skelton is going to be starting for the Cards while Kolb sits out with an injury. Since Kurt Warner retired, Arizona has struggled offensively and if Skelton isn’t the answer, look for the Cardinals to look for a franchise quarterback in next year’s draft.
The best division in the league at the halfway point has been the NFC North. Chicago has been surprisingly great, riding the defense to a 6-1 record. Right behind the Bears are the shocking Vikings and the Packers. The way things look right now the NFC North could have three teams in the playoffs, both Wild Card teams coming from the division. None of the other divisions in the NFC have really shown me much thus far although you can never count out one of the teams in the East, or the Seahawks. For now though, the NFC North is the best and teams might have to go through the historic Lambeau Field or Soldier Field to get to the Super Bowl.
The lone undefeated team in the NFL is Atlanta. While I don’t see them going 16-0, the Falcons’ schedule is favorable. They face the Saints twice and the Giants, but the rest of the games are very winnable. If the Falcons clinch a postseason berth early, especially if it is the top spot. There is a very good chance they take their foot off the gas in make sure the main players don’t get injured. That doesn’t always work out though as some players get complacent or get off rhythm, which leads to a letdown in the postseason. It will be interesting to see what coach Mike Smith does. The Falcons have yet to make noise in the playoffs with Smith leading the team and Matt Ryan needs to show he can get the job done in the second half of the season (the playoffs) before he’ll be fully considered an elite quarterback.
With nine more weeks in the season, there is a lot of action left to see. Some teams will continue to run wild, while others will stall and fall flat. In another four weeks I’ll take a look at the standings and assess how things look for some playoff contenders and teams that just don’t have what it takes to get the job done.
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