NFL Mid-Season Report

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The NFL Has reached the midway point of the season and it has been a busy half with plenty of things to keep any NFL fan busy. No matter what team you are a fan of there has been a story surrounding them and the second half looks to be more exciting with teams preparing for playoff runs. Meanwhile teams are preparing for the rest of the season in many different ways. Some teams are looking to recover from a terrible start like the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins or are looking to continue their successful seasons. Certain teams will be looking to make small tweaks to their team while others may be making sweeping changes to try to make a last-minute run. Other teams are already beginning to look to next year into the draft with the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes and further into next year. Of course there is still a season to play and nothing is decided yet but let’s take a look back at the big stories from the first half of the 2011 season and a look at ahead at the rest of the season.


What did the Lockout Do?

Before the season started the biggest story was about the NFL Lockout that essentially cancelled an entire offseason. The lockout ended in with only one game being cancelled in the preseason. The Lockout ended with a new CBA for the NFL that created a host of new rules that have shown their impact so far. Along with the new rules the lack of practice had a tremendous effect on the defence in the NFL. The new CBA limited the amount of full pad practices and the lack of work in the offseason compounded the concerns of the defence. This year the defences have felt the brunt of the changes as they have found a tough time keeping up with the offences. This has led to an explosion of offence in the first half of the season with QBs on pace for record years. Don’t expect this trend to continue though as the weather begins to creep in and slow down offences and the defences begin to catch up. The tide is beginning to turn back around with the Steelers showing they still have it and other defences finally looking to compete at a higher level.


Lions, Bills, and Niners Oh My

Three teams that many did not expect to go very far this year have turned out to be three of the best teams in the NFL. They not only are playing better than many thought but they are serious contenders at making a run at the Super Bowl. The Lions are the one team of this group that some suspected to do better this year but only losing 2 games so far was not what they expected. The Lions are for real and if it wasn’t for having the Packers in their division the Lions would be on their way to a home field spot in the playoffs. Meanwhile the Bills have become one of the biggest stories only losing 2 games this year and beating their division rivals the New England Patriots. In one of the toughest divisions in the NFL with The Patriots and Jets, the Bills have become the team to beat but it will remain to be seen whether or not they can keep it up. The San Francisco 49ers have been the most silent and impressive team so far as many expected the addition of Jim Harbaugh would help but it would not help Alex Smith to win games. Everyone was wrong with Smith and the Niner defence leading the team to a 6-1 record and almost a guaranteed NFC West title, provided they do not collapse in the second half. These three teams have been the biggest surprises this year and will hope to continue their successful seasons next year.


“Nightmare Team”

The Eagles made good on their short offseason signing a number of big names to their team in what could be considered Andy Reid’s last attempt at a Super Bowl. They quickly became favorites in all of the preseason outlooks and new backup QB Vince Young coined the term “Dream Team” referring to the talent on the Eagles. The dream turned to a nightmare fast as the Eagles won their first game but were not very impressive and then went on to lose 4 straight games. The Eagles became the team that everyone wanted to bring down as the talk of how bad they were continued to swirl. The Eagles have started to turn things around especially after their bye week. In week 8 the Eagles trounced the Cowboys 34-7 as the big signings finally looked to be paying off. The extra week off helped the Eagles and may have turned around their season. With a refocused team the Eagles may be able to become the Dream Team that they were supposed to be in the first half of the season. The question still remains if they can be this team as the game against Dallas could have been Philly playing well or just Dallas playing bad again. The rest of the season will determine if the Eagles can get back into a fight for the Super Bowl and everyone will be watching.


The Champs Still Got It

Through 8 weeks of the season there have been many questions asked about who is the best player? and who is the best in a division? The question of who is the best team in the NFL tends to have one disclaimer to it as the new question is who is the best team in the NFL that is not named the Green Bay Packers? The jury is out on who the best team in the first half of the season is as the defending champions Packers are that team. They have continued their play from the end of the last year as Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP type season and the defence is continuing to be ball hawks. The one issue with the Packers has been the ability of their defence to stop the opposing team without relying on the turnover. The defence has been weak but they Packers have had their bye week and have definitely worked on the defence. If the Packers can put everything together they have a good opportunity to make a serious run at the Super Bowl this year. The Packers will have a tough go as they come off their bye week with a three game stretch that all lie within 11 days as they play the Vikings on Monday night then the Buccaneers on Sunday and then their biggest challenge of the season the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Thursday. If they can get by this stretch and add the defence the Packers will be a hard team to beat this year.


Rookie Sensations

The Draft was a break from the lockout last year and resulted in the only news for the NFL. The top pick in the draft was Cam Newton who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers under a lot of scrutiny. Many thought that Newton was not good enough to play in the NFL with comparisons of JaMarcus Russell swirling before the draft. Meanwhile a lot of other QBs were taken in the draft that were not named Cam Newton and without all of the press. In the second round the Cincinnati Bengals selected TCU QB Andy Dalton as they began to make plans for life without Carson Palmer. These two rookies could not be more opposite when they were taken in the draft with Newton having the spotlight and Dalton having little to no spotlight. Although they were polar opposites both QBs have more than impressed in their first year leading their teams. Cam Newton has become the poster boy for young QBs as a starter from day 1 and on pace for the best performance by a rookie QB. He has done everything he can for the struggling team including providing the resurgence for Steve Smith’s career but he has not been able to win games himself putting a damper on his amazing season. Meanwhile in Cincinnati Dalton has played great under the radar football as he has not made the plays that Newton has but has guided the Bengals to a much better record than many expected this year. One of these two QBs will most likely win the Rookie of the year and nobody will argue as both have been great picks by both teams.


Midseason Predictions

The NFL will enter the second half in week 9 and immediately the playoff talk will start as the race begins. There will be no clinching within the next weeks although the next weeks can go a long way to clinching later in the season. Games will become more important as the weeks go on and a few teams will need to turn things around while others will need to keep it up. The best part about the Mid-season is that there is still hope for any team although some teams are further out of it than others. With the playoffs approaching faster with the second half of the season here is my look at my predictions for the end of the season.


American Football Conference:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) [AFCN]

2. Buffalo Bills (12-4) [AFCE]

3. Houston Texans (11-5) [AFCS]

4. Oakland Raiders (10-6) [AFCW]

Wild Card:

5. New York Jets (11-5)

6. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)

AFC Champion:

New York Jets

National Football Conference:

1. Green Bay Packers (14-2) [NFCN]

2. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) [NFCW]

3. New Orleans Saints (12-4) [NFCS]

4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) [NFCN]

Wild Card:

5. Detroit Lions (12-4)

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)

NFC Champion:

Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl XLVI:

Green Bay Packers 24 – 21 New York Jets

– The Lockout did the most for both teams and with New York focused on what wins them games they will make a late run while the Packers will continue to cruise and with more experience and less injuries they will win back to back Championships.

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