NFL Mid Term Report

We are halfway thru the season!  It’s time to do a midterm analysis.  Who is trending up?  Who is struggling?  Who has hope and who is done?  We discuss it all here.

Let’s start with the AFC.  There are nine winning franchises in the AFC after eight games.  Miami, Kansas City, Baltimore and Jacksonville are all leading their divisions at 6-2.  Every team in the AFC North has a winning record.  Meanwhile, every team EXCEPT New England has a winning record in the AFC East.

The AFC East

Dolphins.  At 6 – 2, the Dolphins are pretenders at the moment.  Buffalo dismantled the Dolphins in New York, 48 – 20 the week after the Fins destroyed Denver 70 – 20.  The Bill’s took advantage of the Fins lack of identity on defense and carved them up.  The Eagles exposed the Dolphins a few weeks later 31 – 17.  The Dolphins are flashy.  They are fast.  They have a cool coach.  They put up a lot of points.  Unfortunately, they have yet to show they can win against an elite team.  Still, based on their record, I will give them a B-.  If they can figure out the defensive side of the ball, they are a real contender.  B-

Bills.  The Buffalo Bills are a puzzle.  They flat out destroyed the Dolphins who are the best team they have played all year.  Yet, they have found ways to lose against the Jets, New England and Jacksonville.  Division games are always tough, so I won’t grade against the Bill’s too harshly.  However, losing to Jacksonville at home is troubling.   The Jaguars are still building.  They are not elite yet. The Bills losses are not indicative of a team trending downward, rather they are indicative of a team that lacks consistency and concentration.  They will need to clean that up to have a run at the post season.  C+

Jets.  The New York Jets get an A for effort but a C overall.  Effort is a factor in winning games.  Consistent performance is the key to success overall.  The Jets have shown they can beat the elite.  They won a tough gritty match ups against the Eagles and the Bill’s.  They almost beat the Chiefs, losing by a mere field goal.  However, they were flat out dismantled by the Cowboys and lost by five to an inferior New England team.  The Jets had their eyes on the Super Bowl with the addition of Aaron Rodgers.  Losing Rodgers was a massive blow, but the Jet’s still find themselves in playoff contention, midway thru the season.  C

Patriots.  The New England Patriots are abysmal.  They lack talent.  They lack offensive direction.  The defensive play is uninspired.  Perhaps they are mailing it in for Caleb Williams.  F.

The AFC North

First and foremost, I will say the AFC North is this year’s version of the SEC.  All four teams have winning records, and at this point they all have a chance at the playoffs.

Ravens.  The Baltimore Ravens are currently 2-1 in division play, defeating the Bengals and Cleveland but losing a tough matchup in Pittsburg.  Their most impressive win is against the Detroit Lions, skinning them 38-6.  Losing to the Colts 22-19 is tough.  Losing to the Steelers when victory was at hand may haunt them at the end of the season.  The Ravens are not flashy.  They just find ways to win.  Still, I am not sure what kind of team this is yet.  B.

Steelers.  The Pittsburg Steelers are always well coached and tough to play.  That is why they are 5-3.  They are a team that is still rebuilding.  Thursday night’s victory against the Titans illustrated how far the Steelers have yet to go.  I don’t trust the quarterback.  For the first time all season, the offensive coordinator joined the team on the field this week, rather than call plays from the booth.  On defense, thier pass rush is tremendous, but the secondary is a major liability.  C.

Bengals.  The Cincinnati Bengals are the pretty boys of the NFC North.  Yup, I said it.  They are only good when Joe Burrow is 100% healthy.  If he gets dinged up again, the Bengals chances plummet.  When Joe is on, the Bengal’s crush.  When he is off, they drop games.  Their best win is against the 49ers.  Their victory in Santa Clara was a statement to the rest of the NFL that they are back.  However, when you look behind the curtain, they are only back as long as Joe Burrow can stay healthy.  This is a C team until they show me more.

Browns.  The Cleveland Browns are an inconsistent mess.  When Nick Chubb went down early in the season, the Brown’s offensive conscious flew out the window.  Deshaun Watson is unreliable at best.  Apparently if you don’t feel good, you can sit out.  That’s what a guaranteed contract gets you.  Still, the Brown’s defense is likely the best in the NFL due to talent and coaching.  The Brown’s defense is the only thing keeping them in games.  They should have lost to the 49ers two weeks ago.  They were lucky at the end of the game as Jake Moody missed the crucial game winning field goal.  At this point though, despite a winning record this is C- team.

AFC South

Jaguars.  Jacksonville is starting to trend upward.  Their worst loss is against their division rival, the Houston Texans.  They probably should get a pass for that as the Texans are a new team with a new coach and a new Quarterback.  Since that loss, the Jaguars have executed a five-game winning streak, defeating Buffalo on the road.  Off the bye week, they play a angry 49ers team next week.  This game will really tell the rest of the NFL where they are at.  B.

Texans.  Houston is surprising the league.  They are 3 – 4 but they are 11th in passing yards with a rookie quarterback.  That is an astounding stat.  C.J. Stroud is the real deal.  He has only thrown one interception to his 9 touchdowns thus far.  DeMeco Ryans has his team in every single game.  This is the only team with a losing record that rates a B- in my book.

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)

Titans.  This is just a down year for the Titans.  They are well coached, but it looks like Ryan Tannehill is on his last legs.  Will Levis has stepped in and impressed, but he is a rookie.  The Titans need to concentrate on stacking reps and building for next year.  This year is a tough sell.  They will be in most games, due to a tough stingy defense, but they lack a true parameter home run hitter on offense to scare opposing defenses.  I give them a D+.

Colts.  Dumpster Fire.  This team started the season horribly with the owner’s denigrating comments about Jonathan Taylor, causing Taylor to sit out.  Rookie quarterback (or should I say fullback), Anthony Richardson is done for the season with injuries due to his extremely physical play.  The worst thing this team did was let Carson Wentz go.  He gave them a fighting chance.  Between a mouthy owner and a substandard roster, this team is done for the season.  F.

AFC West

Chiefs.  The Chiefs record of 6 -2 is better than the team is.  The Kansas City Chiefs are in somewhat of a rebuild mode on offense.  They lack a true number one receiver.  Tight Ends were never meant to be the number one option, but that is what Travis Kelce is.  The Chiefs have to get better at rushing the ball.  Kansas City also needs better production on the parameter.  They are 3rd in the league in passing because Patrick Mahomes distributes the ball well.  However, Mahomes also leads the league in interceptions because he is forcing too many plays.  The defense seems to be the strength overall.  Mahomes will be the reason they win…or lose.  While their record says they are a contender, I am not convinced.  C+.

Broncos.  This is quite possibly the most puzzling team in the NFL.  Believe it or not, Russell Wilson has played well all season.  He has 16 touchdowns to four interceptions.  Where the Broncos struggle is rushing the ball.  Where the Bronco’s fail is on defense.  Miami put 70 points on them.  It is hard to see where this team goes the remainder of the year sitting at 3 – 5.  They did just beat the Champions 24-9.  I am giving them a C because I trust the coach and the quarterback.  Don’t sleep on the Broncos, they might have just awakened, midway thru the season. C.

Chargers.  The San Diego Chargers suffer from inept coaching.  They are in every game, but they can’t find a way to win.  It is reprehensible to be fourth in the league in passing yards and be sub-500.  D.

Raiders.  Is anyone surprised that the Las Vegas Raiders are once again a dumpster fire? They just fired their head coach, general manager and offensive coordinator.  F.


Now, let’s take a look at the NFC.  With only five teams with winning records, the playoff picture seems a bit clearer within the NFC than it does in the AFC.  The best divisions appear to be the NFC East and the NFC West.   They each with multiple teams with winning records.  Let’s dive in.

NFC East

Eagles.  The Philadelphia Eagles are the toast of the town in the NFL.  They are the only team I can give an A to right now.  At 7-1, they are dominating the NFL.  This is a team that plays complete complimentary football.  Losing both coordinators, Javon Hargrave and Miles Sanders has not caused this team to miss a beat.  They reloaded their roster, and their coaching staff remains on point.  Every team has at least one awful game.  For the Eagles it’s the week six loss to the Jets.  Their most impressive wins come against the flashy Fins and the Minnesota Vikings.  Despite their record, their first true test will be against the Dallas Cowboys.  I think the Eagles have the edge this week, but we shall see.  A.


Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in action during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


Cowboys.  This team is America’s Fools Gold.  They dropped a game to the Cardinals in Phoenix.  Then, a few weeks later the 49ers destroyed them in Santa Clara.  The Cowboys have put up a lot of points.  They have a seemingly smothering defense.  However, a closer look at the Cowboys reveals that their run game is insignificant, and their pass game is too reliant on one receiver.  CeeDee Lamb leads the team with 633 yards, followed by Jake Ferguson with 237 yards.  If Lamb goes down or has a bad week, where does the Cowboy’s offensive production come from?  The Cowboys are a B – team at this point in the season.

Commanders.  This team just traded away their two best pass rushers.  They have no run game to speak of.  Ron Rivera is likely gone after this season, if not before it ends.  Unfortunately, they are not a very good team right now.  D.

Giants.  After last year’s playoff appearance, we all expected great improvement from the Giants this year.  Instead, they have not only digressed, but fell into the Manhattan sewer.  The rest of the NFL has figured out Daniel Jones who has thrown only two touchdowns.  They lack consistent talent on the parameter and the defense, while well coached, cannot compensate for an anemic offense.  Finally, their future prospects are poor because they are trapped by a horrible Daniel Jones contract.  F.

NFC North

Lions.  The Detroit Lions started the season with their manes on fire, defeating the Chiefs in Kansas City opening weekend.  Then they drop a close match up against Seattle.  They defeated their next four average opponents before running into the Baltimore Ravens buzzsaw.  The Ravens showed the league who the Lions are.  They don’t have the fangs to compete with an above average team.  While the Lions think they are a tough, gritty team, Seattle and Baltimore showed them that they are not.  The Lions are dangerous.  They will make the playoffs, but they have yet to show they can beat the tough teams.  Don’t be fooled. The win against the Chiefs was a fluke.  C Plus

Vikings.  The Minnesota Vikings sit at 4-4 and just lost their franchise quarterback to a season ending ACL injury.  Trading for Joshua Dobbs gives them a fighting chance.  Unfortunately, Dobbs led the Cardinals to a 1-7 record so projections on his impact to this team are poor.  While Dobb’s numbers look decent, he did throw five interceptions and lose four of eight fumbles to opposing teams.  The Vikings record is better than what they are.  D plus

Packers and Bears.  Both squads rate an F from me.  Both teams have a massive running game problem.  The Packers have suffered due to injuries to Aaron Jones, and the Bears lack a bell cow ball carrier.  Both squads have young quarterbacks who have each turned the ball over eight times.  Both quarterbacks should be further along in their development than they are and that is adversely affecting both the Packers and the Bears.  While the Packers are generating a decent pass rush, the Bears traded for Montez Sweat because they only have ten sacks on the season.  The season is over the Packers and the Bears.  Each hope that the Cardinals find a way to win another game.

NFC South

All four teams are in rebuild mode.  The Saints have the most veterans.  The Saints likely have the best roster and coaching staff of all four teams in division.  However, Atlanta has compiled the best home record win at 3 and 1.  Of the two, I give the playoff edge to the Saints.

Saints.  Derek Carr is the best quarterback in this division.  The Saint’s slow start to the season was due in part because of Alvin Kamara’s suspension.  He is slowly finding his feet.  Despite their veteran squad, they find ways to lose games to teams such as Green Bay and Houston that they should have won.   C.

Falcons.  Atlanta is a tough out.  While they have a strong running game their offensive production has been hampered by turnovers and injuries.  Desmond Ridder has promise, but twelve turnovers will consistently give your team the best chance to lose.  C.

Buccaneers.  Baker Mayfield is keeping Tampa Bay in contention.  He isn’t the reason the team has a losing record.  The Buccaneer’s defense is also consistently holding teams to less than 18 points a game.  So, while Mayfield isn’t the reason the Buccaneers are losing, he isn’t the reason they are winning either.  Additionally, Tampa lacks a run game.  They have only managed one rushing touchdown the whole season.  D.

Panthers.  Carolina has a new head coach and a new rookie quarterback.  The Panthers are better than their record says they are.  Given the losses of Christian McCaffrey, and D.J. Moore, it is not surprising that they lack offensive production.  Miles Sanders has not worked out, and Chuba Hubbard is struggling to find his feet.  Bryce Young is showing promise though.  Thielen will no doubt be instrumental to Young’s continued development.  With 581 receiving yards, Adam Thielen is on pace to gain another reliable 1000 yards this year.  Unfortunately, no one else has cracked 300 yards receiving.  The rest of the team must step up.  D.

NFC West

Seahawks.  The Seahawks are trouble.  No one wants to play this squad.  While the roster is quite young, they have veterans in the right spots.  Geno Smith, DK Metcalf, Tyler Locket and Bobby Wagner are all well positioned to keep this young team focused.  Pete Carroll is always at his best when coaching young impressionable rosters.  Currently they are 5-2.  Their best win is against Detroit and their quality loss is against the Bengals (17 – 13).  Their 30-13 loss against the Rams to start the season is a fluke and not indicative of how this team has played throughout the season.  Right now, they are a solid B team and appear to be trending up.  However, their performance against the Ravens will be a good litmus test of what they really are.  B.

49ers.  The last three weeks have been a severe disappointment.  The Niners started the season 5 – 0.  They were on top of the world.  Then, they ran into one of the most physically dominate defenses in the league, the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns game was a trap game and the Niners failed the test.  Then, at Minnesota, Coach Wilkes makes a drastic mistake at the end of the first half which cost the Niners the game at the end.  Finally, they were completely dismantled by the Bengals.  The loss to Cincinnati is the most concerning, as the defense allowed 31 points.  The season does not get any easier for the 49ers.  Off the bye week and they travel to Jacksonville.  At 5-3, I can’t grade the 49ers any better than B-.  The addition of Chase Young will help the pass rush, which should help the secondary.  Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel are slated to return.  Brock Purdy has performed well but has not shown that he can win from behind.  When the chips are down, Purdy has shown a tendency to force plays causing him to make critical mistakes.  If he remains patient, he can lead the team to victory.  Hopefully, harvesting corn in Iowa during the bye week will help center him because the Niners will need him at his best to make a run in the playoffs.  B-.

FILE – San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs for a TD during an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct 8, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. Kittle was voted one of the top tight ends at the midpoint of the season by The Associated Press.(AP Photo/Scot Tucker, File)

Rams.  The Rams are in rebuild mode.  Puka Nacua is their rookie sensation, but he can’t do it all.  The Rams lack a consistent run game.  Finally, their defense is woeful.  D-

Cardinals.  They traded away their only hope to win another game this season.  They are leading the Caleb Williams sweepstakes.  Their win against the Cowboys only illustrates the Cowboy’s ineptitude, not the Cardinals potential.  F.


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