At mid-season in the NFL, there are pleasant surprises both collectively and individually. Disappointments are there too. Several events could still change the course of things in the second half.
Among the most beautiful surprises, difficult to find better than the two New York clubs. Both the Jets and the Giants theoretically had to spawn with the slums or, in the best possible scenario, start a slow progression.
The Jets defied all predictions by even offering teams such as the Bills and the Dolphins to their roster. Their rich crop of rookies greatly improved the team, which would earn the fifth playoff berth in the American Conference at this point.
For their part, the Giants would also be in the series with a sixth place in the National Conference, an unexpected performance. Wins over the Titans and Ravens show that this team should be taken seriously.
Among other major surprises, the Seahawks have nothing to envy anyone. They figured for many as logical candidates to get the first choice (or among the first, at the very least) of the next draft. They also hold the choice of the Broncos, which will position them advantageously.
Should the Eagles be considered a surprise? I saw them winning their division, but it was hard to imagine them undefeated mid-season.
In terms of disappointments, many are fighting, starting with those who were considered serious contenders for top honors, the Packers, Rams and Buccaneers. Of the lot, only the Buccaneers seem to be still able to rescue their season, in a weak division.
And what about the Raiders and the Broncos, who, rather than fighting for the head of the famous Western division, are engaged in a duel from the bottom of the basement until now? You also have to add the Colts, Cardinals and Saints to the department of underperforming clubs.
On an individual level
Without a doubt, the greatest surprise on an individual level across the entire league is quarterback Geno Smith, who shows that you never have to stop hanging on, even after eight years on the bench! Tua Tagovailoa with the Dolphins has also silenced his critics, countless for two years.
At this position, disappointments jostle. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Baker Mayfield are just a few players who failed to live up to expectations.
To be continued !
In the second half of the season, many eyes will be on the Browns when Deshaun Watson returns to action on December 4. The team’s ground game is devastating and Watson will keep fans dreaming despite his misconduct. In Cleveland, we would pay a lot to buy a victory … It remains to be seen how much the quarterback will feel the rust of nearly two years of inactivity.
The situation in Washington will also be interesting. Will owner Dan Snyder finally lift the hats after years of terrible management by selling his club for a huge fortune? A nice parting gift for him, but even more so for the fans.
Impossible to conclude without mentioning the possible retirement of Tom Brady. He won’t be talkative about it and he’s often mentioned that he doesn’t want his last games to turn into a farewell tour. To be continued…
5 things to watch out for
Brady in Germany
The Buccaneers and Seahawks will headline at 9:30 a.m. in the NFL’s first-ever game played on German soil, in Munich. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has had his share of troubles this season, but despite it all, he takes jealous care of the ball. This season, he is now at 373 straight passes without an interception. If he attempts 30 passes against the Seahawks without larceny, he will break Aaron Rodgers’ record, who threw 402 passes in a row without being intercepted in 2018.
The family will be in the spotlight this week. In the duel between Bills and Vikings, brothers James and Dalvin Cook, both running backs, face off. Receivers for the Bears and Lions respectively, Equanimeous St. Brown and Amon-Ra St. Brown will also be opponents. We should not forget the cousins, Browns carrier Nick Chubb and the one who will try to slow him down, Dolphins defensive end Bradley Chubb. If defensive end Joey Bosa is healthy, he will face his brother Nick, at the same position with the 49ers.
The Stingy Eagles
The Eagles’ perfect record is due to several factors and one of them is their turnover game. The team leads the league with a +15 turnovers differential, in addition to leading in the most turnovers induced with 18. According to NFL Research, if their turnover ratio is still positive this week, they will be the first since the 1958 Colts with a plus differential in nine straight games.
This season, no less than 42 games have been decided when a team went for the victory in the fourth quarter. This is more than ever before after nine weeks of activity. Of note, the Vikings and Giants are the best performers for this, with four wins apiece when trailing in the fourth quarter.
And 20 for Herbert?
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has already claimed 19 games with 300 or more passing yards since his 2020 debut. If he adds another against the 49ers, he will become the first quarterback to have 20 in its first three seasons. He’s tied with Andrew Luck’s 19 with the Colts between 2012 and 2014.