If there were one word to describe the NFL season so far it would be parody. At the midway point of the season there are only 6 out of the 30 teams in the whole league that seem to be out of the playoff hunt, and that is simply unheard of.
From the Saints starting 0-4 and beginning to climb back, to the Cardinals jumping out to a 4-0 then losing every game since, there is simply no predicting what will happen in the second half of this crazy season. So that is why we will predict exactly what is going to happen leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Recap and Predictions:
The most the AFC has to offer at this point of the season are a handful of above average teams, maybe with the exception of the Texans. All the clubs that are currently in playoff position in the AFC are good, but each have obvious flaws. While this may make it the weaker of the two conferences, it should create for some close matchups down the stretch.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “The Patriots are the favorite to lock up the AFC East as the season enters it’s second half.” Doesn’t seem like anyone stopped me. The AFC East is playing out just like most people would have expected before the season started. The Patriots had a few mishaps in the early portion of the season, but they are now on a roll and will be in great shape to win the division for the ninth time in the last ten seasons.
Surprise: The play of Ryan Tannehill.
It appeared that the highlight of the Dolphins season was going to be the “Hard Knocks” television series on HBO that followed the team in training camp, yet this team, with a rookie quarterback and new head coach, comfortably stand at 4-4 at the midway point.
Disappointment: The New York Jets.
The Jets always talk the talk during the pre-season, but once it comes time to back up that talk, they simply fall short. It’s more of the same this year as New York is 3-5 and the inevitable “We want Tebow” chants have arrived at MetLife Stadium.
MVP: Tom Brady.
Is this really a surprise? From afar it would appear that Brady is having a good, but not great season. Then, take a look at his stats. His 2,408 passing yards are second best in the NFL, trailing only Drew Brees. He’s also fifth in the league in touchdowns (16), tied for the least interceptions (3) among starting QB’s, and has the most completions in the AFC (209). Yes, Tom Brady is putting together another MVP caliber year, and this should surprise no one.
Game to Watch: Texans @ Patriots – 12/12 at 8:30 PM.
This will be a much-needed test for the Patriots, as they have a rather easy schedule leading up to their bout with Houston.
Division Winner: New England Patriots (11-5, 2 Seed).
The Pats will have an unlikely AFC East loss in the remainder of their schedule, combined with a close loss to the 49ers at home in mid-December. Their 11-5 record, however, will still be good enough for a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, along with a first round bye.
The Ravens cruised out to an early lead in the division, but the Steelers have closed the gap and will give their divisional rivals a close race to the finish.
The Ravens and Steelers still have two matchups left against each other this season and this will potentially decide the division winner. While Pittsburgh has suffered injuries on both ends of the ball, they seem to be gelling as a team heading into the midway point.
Surprise: Browns 7-6 win over San Diego.
Who wins football games 7-6? Even pee-wee level football teams score more than 7 points, right? This is embarrassing, but Cleveland has to take what they can get.
Disappointment: Andy Dalton “Sophomore Slump."
After an impressive rookie season, surprising folks everywhere by leading the Bengals to the playoffs, Andy Dalton has suffered from the “sophomore slump” disease. He’s third in the NFL with 11 interceptions, and stands around the middle of the pack in every other significant statistic for quarterbacks.
MVP: AJ Green.
In his second year in the league, Green is first in TD receptions (7) at the wide receiver position and fourth in receiving yards (636). It is safe to say that Green has proven himself as one of the best, if not the best young receiver in the NFL.
Game to Watch: Ravens @ Steelers – 11/18 at 8:20 PM.
Assuming the Ravens and Steelers win their relatively easy week 10 matchups, this game will be for first place in the division and it will certainly be a dog fight. Just don't tell Michael Vick.
Division Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5, 3 Seed).
Expect the Steelers to come out strong in the second half of the season by beating the Ravens twice and re-claiming the AFC North from their division rivals.
The Houston Texans have certainly made it clear that they will be the team to beat in the AFC, as they end the first half of the season at 7-1. They will benefit from the competition that the surging Indianapolis Colts will provide, as Houston will need some battles heading into the postseason.
Even though the Texans have the inside track to the top seed in the AFC, they have yet to win a playoff game as an organization, so don't expect it to be an easy road for Houston in a conference that features playoff tested teams.
Surprise: The Indianapolis Colts at 5-3.
This season was supposed to be a “rebuilding” year for Indianapolis, as their new face of the franchise, Andrew Luck, was bound to get the wheels rolling on the future of the Colts. Then, after starting the season at 1-2, the Colts have won four of their last five and would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Indi has faced challenges early on, as their new head coach, Chuck Pagano, is suffering from a battle with leukemia. Chuck’s fight has lifted the spirits of Colts players, as you can see that the team has grown closer while their coach roots them on from a distance.
Disappointment: Maurice Jones-Drew.
After failing to gain more than 25 yards rushing in three of his first four games, Chris Johnson had the “biggest disappointment” tag written all over him. Then he ran for 526 yards in his next four games so, yea, no disappointment there.
Now the biggest disappointment in the AFC South has to be Maurice Jones-Drew. Although Jones-Drew has been out for two plus weeks with a sprained foot, when he was on the field his numbers were not what you would expect from the all-pro running back. Jones-Drew has only surpassed the 100-yard mark once this season, and that is not going to cut it for a struggling franchise that is doing anything they can to put fans in the seats in Jacksonville.
MVP: Arian Foster.
Foster is not only the MVP in the AFC South thus far, but has a very good shot of winning MVP of the whole league. Houston's go-to running back leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns (9), and is second in the AFC in rushing yards (659).
Game to Watch: Texans @ Bears – 11/11 at 8:20 PM.
After failing their first primetime test against the Packers, the Texans get another chance to prove to the country that they are for real as they head to Chicago to take on the red hot Bears.
Division Winner: Houston Texans (13-3, 1 Seed).
A down year in the AFC South will give the Texans a great chance to capitalize on a relatively easy second half schedule. Their toughest tests will come in Chicago and New England, but if they win one of these games they should be able to cruise through their other opponents on their way to the top seed in the AFC.
Simply put, Peyton Manning has taken the AFC West by storm. If you just watched him play on the field, you'd have no idea that his offseason neck surgeries ever took place. Manning has led the Broncos to a 5-3 record at the midway point, and he has quieted any critics that doubted he could return to all-pro form.
Surprise: Peyton Manning’s overwhelming first half.
No one can be too shocked that Peyton Manning is playing well, but the true surprise is that he is playing at the highest level we have seen from him in years, while taking over a completely new offense in the process. Oh yea, and Denver has had the toughest schedule in the first half of the season as well, so that should make his numbers look even more impressive.
Disappointment: Everything about the Chiefs.
Is there anything good to say about the Chiefs? The answer is a resounding no. Kansas City appeared to be a well rounded team entering the season, but everything that could have possibly gone wrong has gone wrong, and Chiefs fans will now be rooting for the number one pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Game to Watch: Chargers @ Broncos – 11/18 at 4:25 PM.
In a rematch of the memorable come-from-behind win when Denver visited San Diego in week 6, this will surely be a hard fought game with both teams knowing that the winner will be in good position to win the division crown.
Division Winner: Denver Broncos (11-5, 4 Seed).
The Broncos may stumble in their second meeting of the season with San Diego, but due to a favorable schedule from here on out they should be able to win the AFC West crown at 11-5.
The top five teams in the NFC may be the top five favorites in the NFL to win the Super Bowl heading into the second half of the season. That is how deep this conference has been this season.
Look for some very close divisional races down the stretch in a conference that will almost certainly be favored against any team that comes out of the AFC for the Super Bowl.
In a division that is known for being one of the most competitive in the league, the NFC East has been the center of attention this season, but seemingly for all the wrong reasons. Robert Griffin III, or RGIII as everyone and their mother seems to call him, had a record setting start to his rookie season, yet the Redskins look to be one of few teams out of playoff contention at the midway point.
The Eagles and Cowboys have seemingly been mentioned as much as the presidential candidates over the past few month, as they have underachieved at a very high level so far, yet the media can’t get enough of the reality show atmosphere surrounding each club.
Surprise: Alfred Morris.
The first year running back for the Redskins has been a bright surprise for a team that is undergoing change on a seemingly weekly basis. Morris is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (793) and tied for fifth in the NFC in rushing touchdowns (5).
Disappointment: Michael Vick.
The play of Vick this season can be best described as extremely unpredictable and inconsistent. After signing a huge deal with the Eagles, Vick has not provided Philly fans with any sort of satisfaction. Vick’s 19 turnovers are tied for first in the NFL with Matt Cassel of the Chiefs, giving Andy Reed valid reason to bench their highly paid “flashy” quarterback.
MVP: Eli Manning.
While Peyton has played very well, Eli has been the better Manning brother in the first half of the season. Eli is second in the NFL in passing yards (2,426), as he has been on point with his deep receiving core all season. Look for the younger Manning to have a good shot at a third Super Bowl ring come playoff time; don’t worry, we’re shocked too.
Game to Watch: Cowboys @ Eagles – 11/11 at 4:25 PM.
This could essentially play the role of an elimination game in the NFC East, as each team desperately needs a win to have a realistic chance at squeaking into the postseason.
Division Winner: New York Giants (10-6, 4 Seed).
Although the Giants have a difficult schedule in the second half of the season, they have the inside track to the division crown come late December. Look for Eli and the rest of the defending champion Giants to win the NFC East at 10-6.
The Bears are looking like their 1985 “Super Bowl shuffle” squad with the way their defense has stepped up so far this season. With the Lions underperforming compared to their expectations, this has seemed to become a two-team race for the division title.
Surprise: Adrian Peterson.
Coming off of knee surgery in the offseason, it was hard to tell what to expect from AP this year. Right out of the gate Peterson made it clear that he was back and doing just fine, as he has jumpstarted a surprising Vikings squad to a 5-4 record halfway through the season. Peterson leads the NFL in rushing yards (957) and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns (6).
Disappointment: Matthew Stafford.
Coming off of a season where Stafford took the league by storm by throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns, his follow up act has been less than thrilling. Stafford has 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in the first half of the season, and this certainly has fans upset in Detroit, especially after the Tigers were swept in the World Series.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers.
After the Packers controversial loss in Seattle, many began to question Aaron Rodgers low touchdown total (3) and lack of the killer instinct they had come to expect from the former Super Bowl MVP. Well, since that loss all Rodgers has done is throw for 1,638 yards and 22 touchdowns, reminding everyone that he is doing just fine.
Game to Watch: Packers @ Bears – 12/16 at 1:00 PM.
This rematch from the Bears only loss this season will play a major role in determining the winner of the NFC North. These long-time rivals will surely make it a game to circle on the calendar with so much at stake.
Division winner: Packers (12-4, 3 Seed).
last six games. In the second half of the season Green Bay’s biggest challenges appear to be road games against the Giants and the Bears. It is realistic to see the Packers only loss coming in New York, meaning they would hold the tiebreaker against the Bears for the NFC North division title, as they will have swept the season series with Chicago. Go Pack, go.
The NFC South is made up of potentially the best team in the NFL and then a group of teams that don’t know who they are quite yet. Despite an epic collapse, the Falcons will win the division, but the real question is whether the NFC South will get two playoff teams this season.
Surprise: Doug Martin.
Martin is third in the NFL in rushing yards (794) and second in rushing touchdowns (7). The highlight of his season thus far was clearly this past Sunday in Oakland when the rookie went off for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns. Who saw this coming? No one, that’s who.
Disappointment: Cam Newton.
Coming off of an impressive rookie season, a lot was expected for Cam Newton and the Panthers in his second go-around. Well, whatever expectations he had have seemingly come to nothing as Newton’s club is 2-6 and fading fast.
The former Heisman winner is in the lower portion of the NFL in almost every significant statistical category for quarterbacks, and he has handled himself very poorly in post-game interviews. Newton needs to have a more positive attitude with the media if he wants to be anything in Carolina, as Panthers fans expects him to be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future.
MVP: Matt Ryan.
the right decisions to lead them back. When they have a lead, Ryan manages the game very well and limits mistakes. The Falcons quarterback has put himself in position to win the MVP award if he keeps this impressive play up, while leading the Falcons to a first-round bye in the process.
Game to Watch: Falcons @ Saints – 11/11 at 1:00 PM.
This game will certainly mean much more for New Orleans, as they still have to play Atlanta twice in their up-hill battle to claiming one of the last playoff spots in the NFC.
Division Winner: Atlanta Falcons (14-2, 1 Seed).
The Falcons will split their games with the Saints and fall to the Giants late in the season, but their 14-2 record will be good enough for the top seed in the NFC and a first round bye. Then it will be time to see if Matt Ryan can finally get over his major flaw and deliver a playoff win to Atlanta.
Surprise: Russell Wilson.
While his stats won’t blow you away, Wilson’s composure and overall character are what have led the Seahawks to a winning record (5-4) at the midway point. Wilson carries himself like a veteran, yet it is his first year in the league. With a great defense and running back at his side, he doesn’t have to be great, he just has to keep managing the offense the way he has so far. If Wilson continues this production, the Seahawks will have a great shot at making the playoffs.
Disappointment: Sam Bradford.
Coming into his third season in the NFL, this was supposed to be Bradford’s breakout year. It has been anything but that, as the Rams QB has only thrown one more touchdown than interception and has not seemed to make any progress under new head coach Jeff Fisher.
MVP: Marshawn Lynch.
Coming off of three straight games over 100-yards rushing, Marshawn Lynch is on a roll and keeping the Seahawks in playoff contention. He highlights an offense that lacks weapons yet has found a way to get it done as a unit. Look for Lynch to compete for the rushing title, as he only stands behind Adrian Peterson in total rushing yards this season (881).
Game to Watch: Bears @ 49ers – 11/19 at 8:30 PM.
This could very well be an NFC Championship preview, as Chicago and San Fran are arguably the two most balanced teams in the NFL.
Division Winner: San Francisco 49ers (12-4, 2 Seed).
The NFC West seemed to be more challenging at the beginning of the year, but now the Niners divisional competition seems to be getting easier as the season goes on. San Francisco will take the division title rather easily, as they have a favorable schedule from here on out.
The Texans and Patriots will earn first round bye's with their division crowns and top records in the conference, while everyone else will be fighting for the chance to make it to the conference championship. With each of these teams being rather balanced, expect some very close games come January.
- Texans (13-3) (AFC South Champ)
- Patriots (11-5) (AFC East Champ. Wins tie break over Pittsburgh based on conference record)
- Steelers (11-5) (AFC North Champ. Wins tie break over Baltimore based on head-to-head win percentage)
- Broncos (11-5) (AFC West Champ)
- Ravens (11-5)
- Chargers (9-7)
3. Steelers over 6. Chargers
4. Broncos over 5. Ravens
The Steelers takes care of the Chargers convincingly in Pittsburgh, while the Broncos beat Baltimore in a battle down to the wire.
1. Texans over 4. Broncos
The Texans will squeak by Peyton Manning and the Broncos, as Arian Foster shows why he is an MVP candidate by having his best game of the year.
2. Patriots over 3. Steelers
In a battle between two common foes, Brady and the Pats will advance on a late touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Gronk will spike the ball so hard that they have to repair that portion of the end zone after the game.
2. Patriots over 1. Texans
The Patriots will take an early lead to quiet the crowd in Houston. The Texans will show some resiliency and fight back towards the end, reminding Pats fans of games that New England has let slip away in the fourth quarter in recent history. A long touchdown drive will put Houston away and the Patriots will return to their sixth Super Bowl in the last twelve seasons.
The Falcons and the 49ers will earn bye's and maintain hopes to get to the Super Bowl for the first time in a long time. The Seahawks will benefit from an improved defense, but running into the defending champs in their wild-card playoff game will be an obvious sign that they are not ready to play with the big boys quite yet.
- Falcons (13-3) (NFC South Champ)
- 49ers (12-4) (NFC North Champ. Wins tie break over Packers based on head-to-head win percentage)
- Packers (12-4) (NFC North Champ. Wins tie break over Bears based on head-to-head win percentage)
- Giants (10-6) (NFC East Champ)
- Bears (12-4)
- Seahawks (9-7)
3. Packers over 6. Saints
4. Giants over 5. Seahawks
The Packers will win a "last team with the ball wins" type game over the Saints, while the Giants will have Seattle wishing they never left the west coast in a blowout victory at home.
1. Falcons over 4. Giants
Matt Ryan will finally get over the hump and win a playoff game, but it will take the Falcons overtime to knock off the defending champs.
3. Packers over 2. 49ers
In a rematch of their season opener, in which San Francisco won, 30-22, Green Bay will flip the script and blow out the 49ers on their own field to head to the NFC Championship game.
3. Packers over 1. Falcons
The Falcons will give Green Bay all they can handle, but a hot Aaron Rodgers and an improved Packers defense will prove to be the difference, as the Packers will advance to their second Super Bowl in the past three seasons.
Super Bowl 47 - New Orleans, LA (Mercedes-Benz Superdome):
Patriots vs. Packers
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. What else do you need in a Super Bowl? When all is said and done, these two will go down as some of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. It will be an absolute treat for football fans everywhere to get to see this matchup, as Brady's Super Bowl window is inevitably closing.
For the pick...
To be continued.Back to the New England Patriots Newsfeed