NFL Season – 1/2 Way Mark

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It’s crazy to think that half of the NFL’s regular season is over, but this is the harsh reality as we are entering Week 9 beginning on Thursday night. At this point in the year, the contenders are pretty well defined, and those who will most likely miss the playoffs are pretty well known. Let’s take a look at where each team stands, and how my predictions are looking halfway through the season:

Tom Brady (above) has silenced the doubters, and led the Patriots to an early division lead.

Tom Brady (above) has silenced the doubters, and led the Patriots to an early division lead.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (6-2)

2. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

3. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

4. New York Jets (1-7)

So far, this division is mostly going how I predicted, with the Patriots out front and the Jets in the cellar. However, Ididn’t have the Bills winning as many games as they have, and the team has shown to be formidable, even on the road.  While this division looks tight, with Buffalo only trailing New England by a game, it really is the Patriots’ division to lose. Now that RB C.J. Spiller is injured for the Bills, I expect them to fall off the pace, and miss the playoffs.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)

T-2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)

T-2. Baltimore Ravens (5-3)

4. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

This division is still about as tight as it was at the 1/4 way mark of the season, and I wouldn’t expect this trend to end any time soon. The AFC North will probably provide the closest division race in the NFL this season, with both the Steelers and Ravens looking like they are hitting their stride. While Cincinnati has struggled the past few weeks, I expect their offense to improve once WR A.J. Green returns from injury. The biggest surprise in the division has to be the Cleveland Browns, who are still above the .500 mark. Obviously, Cleveland is a better team than I gave them credit for, and it will be interesting to see how long they can keep the pace.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)

2. Houston Texans (4-4)

3. Tennessee Titans (2-6)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)

This division was as easy to predict as any in the NFL. The Colts have a solid grip on first place, despite Houston only trailing by a game. Simply, the Colts are in a class above every other team in their division. I don’t expect the Texans to remain at the .500 mark for the rest of the season, making it a cakewalk to the division title for the Colts. Obviously, the Titans and Jaguars are only in the hunt for the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. I wouldn’t expect any changes to these standings.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos (6-1)

2. San Diego Chargers (5-3)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)

4. Oakland Raiders (0-7)

I predicted this division perfectly thus far, as the Denver Broncos have shown that they are the NFL’s best team thus far, and the class of the AFC West. The Chargers have also looked impressive, and should continue to be in the hunt for the playoffs. On the other hand, the Chiefs are a team on the fringe. They need to find some consistency, or else they may end up being an 8-8 team at season’s end. Finally, the Oakland Raiders’ are already planning their off season vacations, and awaiting their chance at taking FSU QB Jameis Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft. Oakland could be the next team to go 0-16.

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)

3. New York Giants (3-4)

4. Washington Redskins (3-5)

The surprise of the year thus far in the NFL has been the Dallas Cowboys. I predicted that this team would finish in last place, and man, was I wrong. Despite being touted as one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Cowboys have shown the ability to compete with anyone. It will be interesting to see if they falter, as many doubters of the Cowboys believe they will. The only other competitor in the division is the Philadelphia Eagles, who are coming off a tough loss in Arizona. If the Eagles can improve their running game behind a healthy offensive line, I still expect them to take this division from the Cowboys. On the other hand, the Giants and Redskins have been the definition of mediocre this season, and have suffered a variety of injuries that have severely hurt their chances to compete this season. I’d expect both teams to be on the outside, looking in come playoff time.

NFC North

Matthew Stafford (above) has lead the surprising Lions to the lead in the NFC North standings.

Matthew Stafford (above) has lead the surprising Lions to the lead in the NFC North standings.

1. Detroit Lions (6-2)

2. Green Bay Packers (5-3)

T-3. Chicago Bears (3-5)

T-3. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

When was the last time the Detroit Lions were in first place halfway through the season? They are quite the surprise, as I only had the Lions finishing 8-8. The team would need to majorly falter down the stretch for my prediction to come true, and despite an injury to WR Calvin Johnson, the Lions look like a legitimate playoff team for the first time in a long time. The team I predicted would win the division, the Green Bay Packers, is looking like it’s defense is made of Swiss cheese after losing to struggling New Orleans. I expect the Packers to get back on track, but it shall be an interesting two-team race down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Bears and Vikings, they have stumbled to 3-5 records respectively, and don’t have any hope at making the playoffs the way they are playing.

NFC South

T-1. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

T-1. New Orleans Saints (3-4)

3. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6)

There are surprises to this NFL season, and there are also disappointments. After being anointed a Super Bowl contender before the season, the New Orleans Saints haven’t even looked like a playoff team, and are the biggest disappointment thus far. The Saints’ defense is one of the worst groups in the NFL, despite the addition of S Jairus Byrd in the off season. However, I still think the Saints will end up taking this division. The Panthers, Falcons, and Buccaneers are three of the worst teams in football this season, and I don’t expect the tide to change for any of the teams. Expect New Orleans to wake up at some point, and take this division with either 9 or 10 wins.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-1)

T-2. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)

T-2. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

4. St. Louis Rams (2-5)

I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted these division standings for halfway through the season. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks have lost three games already, and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t looked any better. To top it off, the division’s hottest team to end last season, the Arizona Cardinals, picked up where they left off, and have jumped out to a 6-1 start despite many injuries to crucial players. The Cardinals have shown that they are true playoff contenders, and despite my prediction, I now know that they will make the playoffs. It will be interesting to watch the Seahawks and 49ers battle it out for what could be the final playoff spot in the NFC. Finally, the Rams are a team already planning for their off season.


As the season has gone on, some of my predictions are looking less and less accurate, but that comes with the craziness that is the NFL Regular Season! Keep watching and enjoy as the season continues to get closer to playoff time.

 

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