Just past the midpoint of the NFL season, it’s an interesting time to assess what is going on in the league. The picture is like a gelatin mold that hasn’t fully formed yet: you can see the rough shape of things at the top and the bottom but a lot of the ingredients in the center haven’t completely settled.
A few of the usual suspects – or at least THE usual suspect, the Patriots – promise to be formidable. The Steelers started a touch shaky but are looking strong in the AFC North at 6-2-1 – even without star running Le’veon Bell who has to make a decision on ending his holdout this week or be ineligible for the rest of the season. Likewise, the Houston Texans have righted their ship and look good at 6-3 on top of the AFC South. The KC Chiefs and young star QB Patrick Mahomes are one of the greatest stories in the league first half – and stand at 8-1. But KC has been a notorious fast-starter and bad closer in recent years and the LA Chargers are only a game back in the loss column at 6-2 in the AFC West, so there should be an exciting race to the end in the AFC.
The NFC has a great season underway, too. The game of the year may have been last week when the New Orleans Saints held off the LA Rams 45-35, handing the Rams their first loss of the season. It seems highly likely that these two will face off once more for a trip to the Super Bowl. The other leaders in the NFC that may change that equation are the resurgent Carolina Panthers at 6-3 (although the Steelers embarrassed them Thursday night), or the other division leaders Washington, Chicago, or Minnesota.
On the other end of the spectrum from the above-mentioned teams, we have the squads who are down and out. This group is either mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, or they may as well be. It pains us to say it, but we know too well that after our first taste of playoff football in Buffalo in 17 years, the Bills are in dire straits once more at 2-7. Let’s hope Josh Allen will lead them out of the hole soon! The other woebegone AFC teams include the Jets and Browns (but, like the Bills, both with rookie QBs who show promise), the Colts, Raiders, Broncos, and the very disappointing Jaguars. The NFC bottom-dwellers include the Cowboys, Cardinals, 49ers, Lions, Buccaneers, and woeful Giants. Now, a couple of these teams could theoretically win out the rest of the way, but there’s absolutely no evidence this season to suggest any have the skill or consistency to do so. As they say: there’s always next year.
The middle is cluttered with teams that have not distinguished themselves – nor have they totally eliminated themselves from the discussion. Most are longshots that probably don’t deserve to be mentioned as having any realistic shot at catching fire and making a run toward the Super Bowl. In the AFC we’ll put the Dolphins, Bengals, Ravens, and Titans in this category. Each has little margin for error – with the Ravens at 4-5 having the least. In the NFC, The Eagles, Seahawks, and Falcons are in this column – and we’ll put the Packers here out of respect for Aaron Rogers, although at 3-5-1 they need to run the board from here on in. Of these teams, the Eagles have to be watched the most closely. They sit at 4-4 as of this writing, but they are the defending Super Bowl champions so we have to see if the championship hangover ends now and they return to championship form.
All in all, the stage is set for an exciting NFL finish! When it’s game time make sure to have a big supply of Crunch Rolls available for the party!