As we approach the midway point in the NFL 100 season the results seemed to point towards a clearer picture of the teams with playoff potential and those for whom time is fast running out. Let’s start there with a division round up of who is sitting pretty.
Division by Division
AFC East – the Patriots look scary good at 7-0, so scary that Jets QB Sam Darnold was seeing ghosts at the MetLife this week. The Bills are also shaping up nicely for a wildcard spot at 5-1 with their success built on a strong defense and a hope that Josh Allen can keep the ball safe.
AFC North – Baltimore are an offense apart in the league, look at QB Lamar Jackson’s stats – he’s on course to shatter the record for rushing yards by a QB. Their defense has also benefitted from the trade for Marcus Peters. The should stroll the division.
AFC South – the most interesting division without a doubt. The Colts and Texans look like going toe to toe again for the crown and nobody should underestimate the job being done by Colts QB Jacoby Brissett. Remember he was a last minute confirmed starter when Andrew Luck retired almost as the season began. The thoughtfully built Colts roster will be the stronger for me but the Texans should take the wildcard.
AFC West – the Chiefs have been shook by a couple of defeats and the loss of Mahomes but they are still more than a match for the rest of the division who will all splutter there way through the remaining games.
Playoff Teams – Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Chiefs, Bills (WC), Texans (WC)
NFC East – similar to the AFC West there is one playoff calibre team in Dallas and the rest are varying degrees of woeful. Remember when the NFC East was the premier division….?
NFC North – two teams are pulling away in a competitive division. The Vikings and Packers have looked increasingly impressive week by week whereas the Bears and Lions have fallen away. Green Bay has the better QB in Rodgers but the Vikings are the more complete team.
NFC South – one side is outstanding (New Orleans) and have achieved a 6-1 record without their future HOF QB. Teddy Bridgewater has guided the Saints through a potentially tricky period. They have an outstanding roster and may be the #1 seed in the NFC. The Panthers are in good shape at 4-2 but they will have to go some for a wildcard spot in the more competitive conference.
NFC West – turning into the division to watch. The 49ers have leapt into a 6-0 front runner but have they got the offense to compliment their swarming defense? The Seahawks and Rams will both be in the mix and it may be division games which decide this – and Seattle lead this for now.
Playoff Teams – Cowboys, Vikings, Saints, 49ers, Packers (WC), Seahawks (WC)
Trading Season – stick or twist
The first flurry of NFL trades has taken place over the last few days. Teams with a hope of a playoff push, or those that think it could be their year, have made some moves.
Jalen Ramsey (Jags to Rams) – this did feel like trading the family silver (two 1sts and a 4th) but the relationship in Jacksonville had completely broken down and he did make an immediate impact. Still feel the Rams could miss the playoffs, and possibly regret limiting their scope in the next 2 NFL Drafts.
Marcus Peters (Rams to Ravens) – the pick 6 of Russell Wilson on Sunday night suggested this may pay dividends immediately. For a 5th and a swap of reserve linebacker Kenny Young this trade could be great value. Should be fun when the Ravens play the Rams at the end of November.
Mohamed Sanu (Falcons to Patriots) – when do the Pats ever get these wrong? A 2nd for Sanu seems like good sense for a consistent performer from his time in Atlanta.
Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos to 49ers) – the 49ers are gearing up for the playoffs. Support at WR was a need and Sanders for a 3rd and 4th (with a 5th coming to 49ers) is value. The 49ers get a WR with experience right when they will need it most.
Teams I have a lot of time for at the moment in the way they have built their rosters – made me think – I’d love to see a 49ers vs Colts Super Bowl this year. Doubt it happens but hope both sides make it deep in the playoffs.
Wembley here I come
The NFL returns to London this weekend as the LA Rams and Cincinnati Bengals meet at Wembley and I will be lucky enough to be there. It will struggle to live up to the Bears Raiders game from the new Spurs stadium and I really hope Bengals put up a fight or this could turn ugly. Whichever way it goes the #NFLUK crowd will be out in force demonstrating again the love of NFL in the UK. Sure we’ll all have a great time whatever the result.
Look ahead to week 8 match ups – my 4 to watch
Back up to .500 again last week but don’t think I’ve been above that for a while. Must try harder (although I try not to pick the obvious ones…..). What’s on the menu this week?
Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills – the Eagles are falling away whereas the Bills are cementing their place in the running for a wildcard spot. Tough scoring points in this one but Buffalo will score a few more, Bills by 4
Carolina Panthers @ 49ers – Christian McCaffrey vs the 49ers D-line, that’s where this could be won and lost. Panthers defense is not too shabby either. Hard to stay unbeaten in this league, and I think there is an upset on the cards here, Panthers by 3
Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs – interesting AFC v NFC clash here. Would have been so much better with a 100% fit Mahomes. Rodgers and co are hot at the moment with the Matt LaFleur offense. Both defenses give up yardage – Chiefs will give up more, Packers by 7
NY Giants @ Detroit Lions – ah, my beloved Giants, what was that last week vs Cardinals. Turmoil continues in New Jersey and the Matt Patricia led Lions are better than their record suggests. It is a long hard season for the G-Men, Lions by 9
Same time next week