Saturday, November 1, 2014

NFL 2014: First half review, second half predictions

Through the first half of this season, there are many questions to answer throughout each division. Some divisions already can seemingly bail on two teams in terms of playoff chances, while others have four teams fighting for their title. In this post, we can look back at each division through the first half of the year and see how that will project into the second half.



As everyone knows, the Patriots are my team. But pull all the bias' aside, they have been the dominant team in this division this season. Despite a week one division loss to the Dolphins, it is becoming seemingly obvious that this team will not have to worry about a tiebreaker for the division. However, The Phins cannot be written off for a playoff spot. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has improved each week since almost being benched, as well as a drastically improved defense. The Bills have also improved from last year, however dramatic injuries to their running back position as well as sub-par quarterback play will more than likely be the Achilles heel for this team. This team has snuck out a few good wins this year, however they finish the year with more tough games. Lastly…. the Jets. As much as everyone hates Rex Ryan, I still respect his defensive ability. This team has basically no real talent on offense and he still continues to keep the team from imploding on itself. While this team is certainly done for this year, Rex has left a solid start for the next coach. He will also have a job as a coordinator very quickly this summer.

Patriots: 13-3 (1 seed)
Dolphins: 9-7 ( 6 seed)
Bills: 7-9
Jets- 4-12

AFC North

This is more than likely the most underrated division in Football. Each of these teams has a chance to win the division and possibly make some noise in the playoffs. First, the Steelers played their best game of the year last week against Indianapolis. It is a good time of year to get hot, and with a good coach and Quarterback this team is dangerous. While the Bengals have been on a downhill slide since losing to the patriots, they simply have too much talent to write off. They also have a tough final stretch of the season, so this is another tough team to predict. The Ravens are also difficult, as they are loaded with talent but cannot seem to win the games they are supposed too. The defense is improving, while Joe Flacco seems to put out more and more games that make fans shake their heads. The Browns… After a hot start to the season, Brian Hoyer has begun to slip. If it continues, the chants for Johnny Football will continue to grow. Personally, I think the Browns should stick with Hoyer until Josh Gordon comes back in a few weeks. Give him a fair chance with some real talent on the outside and who knows. As I stated earlier, this division is probably the closest at the midway point and will be very tough to predict.

Steelers- 10-6 (3 seed)
Ravens- 8-8
Bengals- 8-8
Browns- 7-9

AFC South

This division has had the weakest back end in all of football through the first half of the season. I won't spend much time on the Jaguars and Titans as they are surely not going to find a way into the playoffs because there are too many options at the wildcard and even winning out may not be enough. One note: Blake Bortles will be a force in this league. This division is interesting at the top. The Colts have the division lead, however the Texans have so much defensive talent it is tough to write them off. The Colts got embarrassed on defense against the Steelers, leaving question marks all over the place. I think the Colts will pull through, however the first half of this season has shown us that anything can happen in this division.

Colts- 10-6 ( 4 seed)
Texans- 8-8
Titans- 6-10
Jaguars- 5-11

AFC West

Another close division race out in the AFC West. The Raiders can be written off because of their first half record, however this will be a contending team in the next few years. Derrick Carr is playing with confidence, and the defense will continue to improve. The last three teams, the Broncos Chargers and Chiefs, are close. While it is very likely the Broncos will win the division, we could see a repeat of last year where the top three teams in the division make the playoffs. The Chargers played like one of the top teams in the league through the first 5 weeks, however they started to fall off towards the end of the first half. As some of their depth at running back returns, this team will continue to be an offensive force. If their secondary can get healthy- and stay there-they can make some noise in the playoffs again. The Chiefs have an extreme lack of talent and depth at skill positions. Jamaal Charles is an obvious exception, while Dwayne Bowe and company has been seriously lacking this year. If he picks it up and Alex Smith continues to shake his title of "game manager" this team could again make the playoffs.


Broncos- 13-3(2 seed)
Chargers- 10-6 (5 seed)
Chiefs- 9-7
Raiders- 3-13


NFC East

Another tough division race. A few weeks ago this looked like one of the best divisions, however the tide has changed since. The Giants are a team that is so confusing. They have so much talent across the board, but they seem to lose every game they should win and win every game they should lose. If Eli keeps it together and Couglin's face doesn't turn bright red to early, this team could make some serious playoff noise. The Cowboys, on the other hand, seem doomed for collapse. While they looked like one of the teams to beat in the NFL, they made the typical Jerry Jones move of putting an injured Tony Romo back in the game last week which has possibly caused another lingering injury. Some people won't agree, but I foresee a dramatic collapse in this team after the loss to the Redskins. The Eagles are a team loaded with offensive talent that they are not even using. LeSean McCoy is barely even getting the touches he deserves-trust me, he is on my fantasy team. They have been grinding out tough wins without a lot of offensive touchdowns, so they have the potential to get a lot better. The Redskins will more than likely miss the playoffs, however it will be interesting to see how they finish the year. If it ends on a high note, this team could go into next year with some momentum. They have lots of talent and should play the role of dream crusher for some playoff teams coming down the stretch. 

Giants- 10-6 (¾ seed)
Eagles- 9-7
Cowboys- 7-9
Redskins- 6-10

NFC North

The NFC North is a close division through the first half of the year, but it is opening up pretty fast. After an awful defeat to the Patriots last week, the Bears are seemingly collapsing. I have said this a few times, but this team is the definition of wasted talent. They should be a 12-4 team even with their schedule, but somehow they find a way to get beat up week after week. I don't see it getting any better. The Packers are on the opposite train. Despite losing last week to the Saints, the Packers had an okay first half. They should come out of the bye this week with a win against the Bears, which will give them some momentum to finish the regular season on a good note. The Lions should be another playoff team from this division if they can win the games that they should. Through the past few years they have found a way to lose some real head-scratchers, so they certainly are not a shoe in. Lastly, the Vikings. While I believe they are a contender the next few years, Teddy simply needs time to develop. They have a tough second half schedule which I believe will eliminate them from any playoff chances in a very tough NFC, however watch out over the next few years.

Packers- 11-5 (2 seed)
Lions- 10-6 (6 seed)
Vikings- 6-10

NFC South

Who wants to win this division??? For some reason, no one can win this division in consecutive years. After two wins in a row, in seems like it is the Saints division to lose at this point. The Panthers are collapsing due to poor defensive play (who saw that coming?) while the Saints continue to rise. The Bucs seem to be in a fire sale at this point in order to craft the team to Lovie Smith's liking. This team should have more W's as they have played some very close games. No playoffs for them this year though. The same goes for the Falcons, who again are losing games they shouldn't. Watch for some dramatic changes after this year, including a new head coach. 

Saints- 10-6 (¾ seed)
Panthers- 8-8
Buccaneers- 6-10
Falcons- 6-10

NFC West

The records in this division are completely misleading. This is without a doubt the best division in football. Even the Rams, who are the worst team in this division, could probably sneak into the playoffs in a division like the AFC South. The Cardinals are a much better team than anyone wants to acknowledge, as they played probably the most consistent first half of any team. They also proved that they can handle dramatic injuries unlike any team, which is scary. The 49ers are a mainstay in January, which should hold true this year. Though they played a few bad games in the first half, they are due back some of the most dominant defensive players in the league. They will be well rested and ready to go come playoff time. Last years Superbowl champs seem to be experiencing the "Super Bowl hangover". If they dominate the Raiders this week, they can put that all to rest. However, another close win (or even… a loss) could raise even more questions about this team. I really like the Rams, which is a team that should have 2-3 more wins than they do. Austin Davis could keep this job if he can finish of the year strong, and if this team EVER shakes the injury bug they have too much talent to be ignored.

Cardinals- 12-4 ( 1 seed)
49ers- 11-5 (5 seed)
Seahawks- 9-7
Rams- 6-10

Lots of football left to be played, which means lots of time to prove me wrong. I just opened a fortune cookie which said "The weekend ahead predicts enjoyment"… that means the Pats win tomorrow and sure up my prediction for them to win the 1 seed.  Enjoy the second half of the season, and don't forget:

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