We have arrived at the halfway point of the NFL season. Here’s a brief rundown of who are contenders, outsiders and are planning for next season.
Buffalo Bills (5-2)
Their QB Josh Allen is a MVP candidate. Their defense has played great and the AFC is theirs for the taking this season. As long as there are no hiccups along the way.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
They’ve looked good for the most part. QB Lamar Jackson is having another tremendous year, but the defense needs to rediscover their identity down the stretch.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)
Even with their most recent loss to the New York Jets they are playing well on offense and defense this season. QB Joe Burrow is healthy and that counts for them staying in contention going forward.
Tennessee Titans (6-2)
With RB Derrick Henry suffering a season ending foot injury that will hurt their play-action offense. RB Adrian Peterson could show he’s still got it, but their defense will need to continue their stellar play.
Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)
With everything that’s happened off the field they continue to win games and prove they are a playoff team as of this moment. QB Derek Carr is showing again that he is a good quarterback for what they have put together.
Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
There’s no surprise here in that with QB Dak Prescott healthy the Cowboys are atop their division. The defense has been the biggest surprise as one of the most improved units in the league.
Green Bay Packers (7-1)
The NFC North is theirs to lose. QB Aaron Rodgers is having another great year and WR Davante Adams is showing that he is probably the best receiver in the league. The defense is the best they’ve had with Rodgers at the helm.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
There are some signs that it could come undone at the seams later in the year, but for now QB Tom Brady won’t let them think about that and should improve in the troubled areas. Injuries have decimated their secondary most of the year.
New Orleans Saints (5-2)
Now that they have to rely on Trevor Siemian and/or Taysom Hill at quarterback with Jameis Winston out for the year with an ACL injury. They’ll have to rely a lot more on RB Alvin Kamara on offense and the defense will need to step up in a big way.
Arizona Cardinals (7-1)
They’ve been on a great start to the year. However, they can’t rest on their laurels and expect a victory to just fall into their lap. They play in the toughest division in the league and must keep QB Kyler Murray on the field. It bit them in the butt late last season.
Los Angeles Rams (7-1)
Not shocked to see that the offense is humming with QB Matthew Stafford at the helm. The defense has been dominant and added another All-Pro in LB Von Miller at the trade deadline from Denver. The rich get richer.
Outside Looking In
Carolina Panthers (4-4)
Even with their struggles they should get a needed boost when RB Christian McCaffrey gets back soon. The offense hasn’t been the same without him and that should help keep the defense fresh.
San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
I refuse to believe that they won’t clinch a Wild Card spot in the NFC. There is far too much talent on this roster for that not to happen. I’m not saying this because I’m a die hard fan, but rather I had them winning the Super Bowl before the season started.
Seattle Seahawks (3-5)
The defense hasn’t been good all year long and the offense is just awful without QB Russell Wilson. When you’re able to play a team like Jacksonville last week it makes all those glaring weaknesses disappear. When Wilson returns they should compete for a Wild Card spot.
Minnesota Vikings (3-4)
QB Kirk Cousins is having another great year. RB Dalvin Cook can’t seem to stay healthy this year and the defense has been terrible for the most part. They are fortunate that most of the NFC is worse than them.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-3)
Even with some recent losses this Chargers team is in a good position to get a Wild Card spot or take the division. QB Justin Herbert and the offense need to get back into the rhythm they had when the season started for that to happen.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)
There is no way that this team will miss the playoffs. For that to happen QB Patrick Mahomes will need to be missing the rest of the season. If he doesn’t get hurt the Chiefs should be playing in January even with a terrible defense.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
It’s been a frustrating year watching this team. They have some solid pieces in place and QB Carson Wentz is getting back to what he was before the disastrous last two years in Philadelphia. Yet, Wentz and the turnover bug rear its ugly head far too often and head coach Frank Reich forgets that he has RB Jonathan Taylor.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Just when you think this will a struggle the Steelers manage to quiet the critics. The defense is bailing them out and rookie RB Najee Harris is the focal point of the entire offense. Their just hoping QB Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t try to turn back time and think he’s still a spring chicken on Sundays.
Cleveland Browns (4-4)
Aside from his first year in Cleveland, WR Odell Beckham Jr’s last two years have been a whimper. He’s now out after being waived this week. He wasn’t the problem on offense for them. QB Baker Mayfield is regressing quite a bit this season, yet they are still in a good position with a few wins in the next few weeks.
New England Patriots (4-4)
While I’m not surprised they are in the position they’re in currently. The defense has been their strong suit, but rookie QB Mac Jones has been the surprise here. He’s not forcing a lot of throws and is spreading the ball around efficiently. We’ll see how this ends, but I won’t be surprised if they get a Wild Card spot.
Start Planning For Next Year
New York Jets (2-6)
They couldn’t protect their rookie QB Zach Wilson and he got hurt. After winning a game with his backup quarterback Mike White, he then gets hurt in the next game. This is why they fail. None of this should surprise you if you’re a Jets fan.
Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Apparently last season was a fluke or was it mainly because Ryan Fitzpatrick was the quarterback for most of the season? Either way the play-calling on offense has been terrible and the defense is a disaster. Better luck next year.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
I’m not gonna say they’ll abandon ship from Urban Meyer after only one season. I could see Meyer jumping ship after only one season from the disaster that he is overseeing.
Houston Texans (1-7)
So they didn’t trade QB Deshaun Watson before the deadline. That’s the least of their problems as the product they have on the field is just atrocious. Don’t be shocked if they clean house from this current coaching staff and start again in the offseason.
Denver Broncos (4-4)
I just don’t see them getting anywhere this year. Whatever the offense is trying to do this year just isn’t working. They have a good defense, but they can’t will them into the playoffs. I don’t see Vic Fangio returning next year as a head coach.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
There is so much inconsistency here. QB Jalen Hurts looks good at times, but the turnovers have been killing the Eagles all year. The defense isn’t much better. This coming offseason will be another purge of established players from this franchise.
Washington Redskins (2-6)
Whatever the defensive identity is this year it doesn’t mirror what they were last year. The offense has been awful and the honeymoon with QB Taylor Heinicke is over and done with. This could have been different if QB Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t get hurt.
New York Giants (2-6)
Depending on how this season ends we could see drastic changes with the Giants. Head coach Joe Judge could be shown the door, but GM Dave Gettleman will no doubt be the first to go. QB Daniel Jones has not been great and the turnovers have been bogging down this offense.
Chicago Bears (3-5)
I would be shocked if this team manages to clinch a playoff spot. The defense has been carrying them, but only they do so much. Head coach Matt Nagy is on borrowed time and will likely exit at the end of the year. QB Justin Fields is a better quarterback than what has been on display so far.
Detroit Lions (0-8)
While I don’t want to admit it would warm my heart to see it happen. If this franchise goes winless for the second time in its history that would just cinch it for everyone that this is the worst franchise in NFL history. I’m sorry for saying it, but Lions fans have known this for quite some time.
Atlanta Falcons (3-4)
They appear to have turned a corner in some areas. The defense is playing better, but the offense will struggle with WR Calvin Ridley taking a leave from football. All eyes will be on their top pick TE Kyle Pitts as the number one target.