NFL Mid-Season Report: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
We are near the mid point of the season and we have seen much already. Broken records, new players with new teams, and old vets continuing dominance. We have also seen critical injuries and losing streaks. We have seen sheer dominance by some units and some paltry play by others. We have seen rookies take the place of departed vets and some bench players coming in for injured starters. We have also seen rookies to well, and do poorly. I take a look at all this in my NFL mid-season report.
Broncos 49, Ravens 24. Peyton Manning throws for 7 touchdowns. On opening night in Denver, the Broncos star QB shatters the record of 7 touchdowns that stood for close to 50 years!
Redskins 45 Bears 41. Devin Hester ties Deion Sanders for most return touchdowns in NFL history with 19, even in a loss.
In a Week 5 win over the Falcons, Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass for his 52nd straight game, the second longest streak in NFL history.
The Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7 became the first team since the 80’s to win 7 games after losing 14+ the previous year.
In the new NFL, has pass has taken over the entire game. Quarterbacks are assessed more than ever. Wide Receivers are asked to run more precise routes, and even Running Backs are asked to do more in the passing game. Even with all these improvements, Running Backs can still carry a team. Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs starting back, is on pace for over 300 rushes and receptions, showing his diversity and capability. Matt Forte is also of the same mold, on pace for nearly 290 total touches. There are also some backs of this mold whom this year have under performed, like Ray Rice and Chris Johnson.
We have also seen new players with new teams. Some of these players are Wide Receiver Wes Welker and Anquan Boldin, Tight End Delanie Walker, Linebacker Elvis Dumerville, and Cornerback Darrelle Revis. Some are doing well, such as Welker, who now with Manning is tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns while Anquan Boldin has provided a stable Receiver for Colin Kaepernick. Some players haven’t done so well, like Mike Wallace, who leads the league in drops. Some new players have been added to become a double act with another star at their position, like Dumerville and Suggs, or Chiefs Cornerback Sean Smith paired with Brandon Flowers. Some of the signees have been injured and haven’t been able to get going, like Danny Amendola of the Patriots.
There have been lots of injuries that have hurt some teams in just 7 weeks, such as Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkoski, Falcons Running Back Steven Jackson, and Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb. There also have been some players who have taken a new role on their teams in response to these injuries, such as Jarrett Boykin of the Packers, Jaquizz Rodgers of the Falcons, and Michael Hoomanawanoui of the Patriots.
In just 7 weeks, some units are on pace for record numbers. The Broncos offense is one. Manning has thrown for 22 scores in just 7 games! They have also scored 20+ points in every game this season, and are 6-0. Another unit that is also dominating comes from the same division, the Chiefs defense. They have gained 36 sacks, 10 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles, and 4 defensive touchdowns. Both are on a pace to be undefeated by their Week 11 match up. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some units are on pace for offensive ineffectuality, such as the Giants. Eli Manning has thrown for 15 interceptions and is on pace for 40, an NFL record if he continues on this ghastly pace.
We also have seen some high-pick rookies play disappointingly, and some undrafted and low-round players making big impacts. Tavon Austin, taken 8th overall by the Rams, has been out produced by an undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. Or, #1 overall pick Eric Fisher has been out played by 2nd year Left Tackle David Bactari of the Packers.
Now, lets look at my review of the league for the first 7 weeks.
1. Firstly, the Chiefs are for real. While the offense needs some kinks fixed, the D has been great. Getting sacks and making huge plays at the right time, they are keeping up with Denver and may even beat them.
2. Knowshon Moreno has returned. When Montee Ball was drafted, we thought Moreno would be silenced, but Moreno has instead taken the lead back role and has given the Broncos stability, leading all Denver backs with over 500 scrimmage yards.
3. Patriots rookie receivers have played a critical role in their offense. Despite inconsistencies, they have given Tom Brady some timely plays, including a game-winning catch in the back of the end zone by Thompkins for the victory a week ago versus the Saints.
4. The Falcons have no depth. After Julio’s season-ending surgery and Roddy White’s recurring injuries, the Falcons are thin at Receiver. They have not made it a priority to find a replacement for him. The Offensive Line is also weak and playing poorly, and they haven’t fixed issues along their line.
5. Mike Wallace is proving to be the biggest bust of free agency. 65 million dollars and leads the league in drops, Wallace is hurting his Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and he is struggling to develop a chemistry.
6. Carson Palmer is not the Quarterback the Cardinals hoped he would be. 12 interceptions in 7 games and 5 in the past two have hurt the Cardinals chances of making a play in the division race. The Cardinals have a great D, but the offense has consistently put them in bad situations.
7. Alex Smith is outplaying Colin Kaepernick. While he may not be as dynamic, he makes safer plays and doesn’t turn it over. The Chiefs are 6-0, the Niners are 4-2. Go figure.
8. The Giants have almost no offense outside of Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks has yet to heal, and the pre-season breakout star David Wilson fumbled his way to the bench and then got injured. Add to that Eli’s interceptions and you get an 0-6 team.
9. The Ravens are severely regretting (or should be) Joe Flacco’s contract. They have no depth at Wide Receiver and poor offensive line play has led to short gains through the air and on the ground. If the Ravens don’t get better line play, the Ravens will not even win the division.
10. The Browns are good on offense…..with Brian Hoyer as their Quarterback. Now that Brandon Weeden is the QB, they have been unable to put up points and have turned it over at the worst moments. The Browns, despite their very solid D, will struggle to win with Weeden at the helm.
11. The Texans are overestimated. They have only one pass rusher, one receiver, and they run their offense on one rushing concept: the stretch rush. Now that teams are taking it away, they cant consistently gain yards, move the ball, and because of this, they are forced to do what Schuab cant do: pass the ball. The D is also getting put in bad spots because of it. If the Texans don’t make major changes now and in the future, they can dissolve back to the stench they once were.
12. Terrell Pryor is the hope of the Raiders. While he was sacked 10 times last week, he has also given the Raiders offense newfound life. If he can get a better line, receivers, and more consistent running game, he could become very, very good.
13. This was a poor first round draft. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks have played much better. Most notably to have played poorly are the first 10 picks. The offensive lineman have not done well, the defensive players haven’t done much better, and they have been out produced by players were considered less than them. The notion that players are as good as the round they were taken is the clear reason why players like Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, and JaMarcus Russell were washouts.
14. Philip Rivers is on a major return. Now with a revamped receiving core and new pieces like Danny Woodhead, Rivers is on pace for career highs in yards, completion percentage, and touchdowns. Young players such as Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown have given the Chargers a new life on offense.
15. The Eagles addition of Chip Kelly was and now should be cemented as overrated. His fast style has led to quicker three and outs and turnovers than last year. His fast style has also led to another injury of Michael Vick. If the eagles don’t find some continuity on offense, they will continue to play fruitlessly.
16. The Saints must find more dependable outside threats. Marques Colston may be the model of consistency, but he struggles to stretch a defense. When the Patriots took out Jimmy Graham, it was apparent that the Saints did not have the needed weapons to score, and they ultimately lost. Coming out of a bye, teams will look to replicate the success the Patriots had against them, and if they succeed, it could spell catastrophe for the Saints.
17. The Rams have the weapons, but are short of a Quarterback. They have capable Wide Receivers in Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, and Chris Givens, as well as an underused but dynamic Tight End named Jared Cook. The Rams have under performed heavily on offense, and it all points back to Sam Bradford.
18. Geno Smith will be the Jets starter next year. Along with the rookie mistakes, he has guided the Jets to a 3-3 record and doing surprisingly well in keeping up with the Patriots. While he has plenty of room to grow, his presence on and off the field has been a nice addition to this Jets team.
Now that I have done then preview for Weeks 1-7, I’m going to do an outlook on Week’s 7-16.
1. The Chiefs D will only get better, and they seem to play as one. That is huge with lots of road tests awaiting them, including ones with Denver and Indianapolis.
2. The Falcons will continue to fall. Despite Matt Ryan’s new contract, the Falcons aren’t getting any better and the injuries continue to derail what was already a poor season.
3. The Jets will improve enough to secure a wild card spot. It might be early, but the teams we thought would secure wild card spots are either leading their division( like the Colts and Chiefs), or under performing (like the Dolphins and Giants).
4. The Texans and Giants will not rebound from their starts and Eli Manning will eventually be benched in favor of the rookie Ryan Nassib.
5.The AFC, the Patriots will win the east, the Colts win the south, the Chiefs the west, and the Bengals the north. In the NFC, the Cowboys will win the East, the Saints the south, the Packers the north, and the Seahawks the west. The Jets and Broncos will be the AFC wild cards and the Bears and Niners will be the NFC wild cards.
6. Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker of the Chiefs, will break Michael Strahan’s sack record of 22.5 with 23. Peyton Manning will break Tom Brady’s record of 50 TD passes with 51.
7. The Chargers will have a winning record, but a 1-5 record within the division dooms their chances.
The Raiders finish 7-9, but Pryor throws for 2800 yards and 14 TD’s.
The Chiefs record 77 sacks as a team, a new NFL record.
8. The Jets intercept only 9 passes all year.
The Patriots lose another defensive starter to IR.
The Dolphins WR’s lead the league in drop percentage.
The Bills finish 6-10, Doug Marrone goes on the hot seat.
9. The Ravens finish 6-10.
The Steelers finish 8-8.
The Browns field the best D in the division, third best in the league, finish 7-9.
The Bengals bench Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard is second for rookie rushing yards.
10. Andrew Luck throws for 38 TD’s.
The Titans end the season with the fewest rushing yards in the league.
The Texans by year’s end have started 4 different QB’s.
Justin Blackmon records 1300 receiving yards.
11. Eddie Lacy rushes for 1000 yards and10 TD’s by season’s end.
Calvin Johnson leads the NFL in receiving scores with 16.
Devin Hester has a 20th return-td, 1st in NFL history.
Ponder is benched, Vikings go between Cassel and Freeman en route to a 3-13 season.
12. Matt Ryan throws more TD’s to Running Backs than Wide Receivers.
Cam Newton leads the division in rushing scores.
Mike Glennon has four 3 INT games.
Kenny Stills leads all Saints Receivers in receiving average.
13. Eli Manning does not reach the interception record, because he is benched by interceptions #28.
Nick Foles is named starter over Michael Vick.
Terrance Williams has more receiving scores than Larry Fitzgerald.
Robert Griffin leads the league in QB rushing yards, and fumbles.
14. Marshawn Lynch leads the NFC in rushing yards
Colin Kaepernick rushes for more TD’s than the Rams.
Carson Palmer is 2nd in the NFL in INT’s with 21.
Sam Bradford is benched.
Now that I have completed my review and forecast of the season, here are my Pro Bowl and Award predictions.
AP MVP: Jamaal Charles and Peyton Manning, Chiefs/Broncos
AP Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson, Lions
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year : Eddie Lacy, Packers
AP Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Houston, Chiefs
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alosno, Bills
Comeback Player of the Year: Brian Cushing, Texans
AP Coach of the Year: Andy Reid
NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year: Peyton Manning
Pepsi Rookie of the Year: Geno Smith
GMC Never say Never Moment of the Year: Kenbrell Thompkins
FedEx Air Player of the Year: Peyton Manning
FedEx Ground player of the Year: Jamaal Charles
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Mathew Stafford
Jamaal Charles, LeSean Mccoy, Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, Knowshon Moreno
Anthony Sherman, Chris Ogbonnaya
Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Jordy Nelson, Justin Blackmon, Dez Bryant, TY Hilton, Brandon Marshall
Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates
David Bakhtari, Ryan Clark, Andrew Whitworth, Nate Solder, Tyron Smith, Matt Kalil
Larry Warford, Jon Asomoah, John Greco, Mike Iupati, Louis Vasquez, Zane Beadles
Travis Fredrick, Rodney Hudson, Max Unger, Manny Ramirez
Ezekiel Ansah, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Cameron Jordan, Robert Quinn, Muhammad Wilkerson
Dontari Poe, Dometa Peko, Sheldon Richardson, Jurell Casey, Jason Hatcher
Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Robert Mathis, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumerville, Ryan Kerrigan
Kiko Alonso, Derrick Johnson, Darryl Smith, Sean Lee
Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers, Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib, Alteraun Verner, Tim Jennings
FS Eric Berry, TJ Ward
SS Eric Reid, Earl Thomas
K Matt Prater, Mason Crosby
P Dustin Colquitt, Marquette King
PR Dwayne Harris, Trindon Holliday
ST Jarett Bush, David Bruton
So there you have it, my 2013 Mid-Season Report. Hope you enjoy!