Much like my blog yesterday, I'm going to tackle the NFL at the midway point.
Week 8 just ended and most teams have played 7 or 8 games. You can definitely get a sense of who is a legit contender, and who are the bottom of the barrel teams. I'll go over my previous division winners and I'll pick who I think will win their division now, and the wild cards from each conference. I'll also pick the MVP, coach of the year, offensive and defensive player of the year and offensive and defensive rookie of the year compared to my season preview.
Let's start with the AFC. The AFC East is being led by the New England Patriots at 7-0. The Jets are 4-3 and the Bills and Dolphins are 3-4. I was wrong about this division, picking the Dolphins. They've kind of gotten back on track, but they were just destroyed by the Patriots and they were a mess before firing Joe Philbin. The Jets and Bills are both middle of the road, but the Jets are playing much better than I thought with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. The Bills are a typical Rex Ryan team. They play good defense, have a subpar offense and blow games. The Patriots are clearly the class of this division. They're on a war path since the stupid "deflate gate" bull shit and Tom Brady and Bill Belichek are playing and coaching with anger, and they thrive that way. I don't think they'll go undefeated, but Tom Brady is playing like the MVP and they'll win this division easily. I shouldn't have doubted them. In the AFC North, the Bengals are leading the division with a 7-0 record. They're playing lights out defense right now, but they have to prove it in the playoffs before I trust them. The Steelers are 4-4 and just lost LeVeon Bell for the rest of the season, they're toast. The Browns are exactly what everyone, save for ESPN, thought they'd be. They're mediocre on offense and defense and people still talk about Johnny Manziel like he's an important player. The Browns stink. The Ravens are a shockingly bad 2-6. They've blown games that they should've won, and they look pretty bad on defense without Terrell Suggs. They're the most disappointing team in the NFL in my opinion and they just lost their best receiver for the year with Steve Smith SR tearing his ACL. The Bengals will run away with this division, no problem. The AFC South is a joke and this division made me look like a moron with my preseason preview. The Colts are in first place, but they're tied with the Texans at a dreadful 3-5. Andrew Luck is clearly hurt and their defense stinks. Screw you Indy for making me look like an idiot. The Texans are terrible. Their "vaunted" defense can't stop anyone, and their offense is bad and just got worse with Arian Foster going down with a season ending injury yet again. The Texans stink. Jacksonville and Tennessee have three wins combined. They're playing as everyone thought they would. Blake Bortles may not be that good of an NFL QB and the Jags defense is not good. The Titans are being led by a rookie QB, I know he's missed the last two games, and they may not win another game all season. Mariota is going through growing pains and he has no weapons on offense and their coach is pretty bad, and just got fired. I'm still picking the Colts to win this division, but they may only win 6 or 7 games and they will get crushed in the playoffs. The AFC West has been surprisingly competitive. The Broncos are still the best team and they're undefeated. Something is going on with Peyton Manning, but the Broncos are winning with their league best defense. They're lock down on that side of the ball. The Raiders are 4-3 and in second place. Derek Carr is a star in the making and now he has Amari Cooper to throw to. Their defense is playing halfway decent led by ageless wonder Charles Woodson. The Raiders may actually be good. The Chiefs had a brutal schedule to start the season and started 1-5, but they've won their past two and look better, even with Jamaal Charles out for the year. They have a good tight end in Kelce and a deep threat in Jeremy Maclin. Their defense is good as always. Unfortunately for them, they dug themselves to deep a hole and they won't be able to get out of it. The Chargers are a team in flux. They don't know if they're moving to LA, and they have no fan base. Phillip Rivers is on the back half of his good playing days, and Melvin Gordon hasn't lived up to the hype. The Chargers aren't a threat anymore. So, the playoff teams from the AFC will be division winners, Denver, Indy(UGH!), New England and Cincinnati. The Wild Cards will be the Jets, I can't believe I just wrote that and the Raiders, I really can't believe I just wrote that. I was wrong on Miami and Pittsburgh has suffered some brutal injuries, but other than that, I think I did okay. The Patriots are coming out of the AFC with little push. Denver is the only team that can compete, but they won't be able to beat New England in Foxborough. The Patriots will represent the AFC again in the Super Bowl.
To the NFC. We will start with the NFC East. This division is a joke. The Giants are leading it with a 4-4 record, and they just gave up 52 points to the Saints. One week they look good, the other they look bad. The Eagles and the Washington professional football team have matching 3-4 records. How they got there is different. The Eagles play awesome defense, but their offense is bad. Chip Kelly is supposed to be an offensive genius, but he doesn't use DeMarco Murray properly, he relies on Sam Bradford too much and he has no real receivers. The Eagles are bad. Washington is lucky to be where they are. Kirk Cousins got way too riled up after a comeback victory over Tampa Bay. He's a terrible NFL QB, but who else do they have? Their defense is not very good either. Basically, they got very lucky three times and that luck is going to run out. The Cowboys have been plagued by injury and stupidity. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant missed multiple games. Joseph Randle is facing punishment for drugs and they're now starting Darren McFadden. Greg Hardy is a lunatic and doesn't belong in the league. And Jerry Jones, boy is he going nuts. The Cowboys may be the best team in this division, but that's not saying much and they are too far behind at 2-5 to win this division. The Giants will win the division and they will probably do it with only 8 wins. The NFC North is led by my beloved Packers at 6-1. They've looked pretty bad on offense the past couple of weeks though and the Broncos just throttled them on Sunday night. They'll fix what ails them, but they need a quick fix. They also need to use Eddie Lacy more, if he's healthy. The Vikings are playing pretty well, with a 5-2 record. But, let us not forget why their star player, Adrian Peterson, was out all of last season for beating a child. Announcers seem to have forgotten this, but I haven't. He's a monster. The Vikings are winning with good defense and the emergence of rookie receiver Stefon Diggs and smart QB play from Teddy Bridgewater, not child abuser Adrian Peterson. The Bears and Lions are equally bad. The Bears are 2-5 and as long as they have Jay Cutler at QB, they'll continue to be mediocre. The Lions are a dreadful 1-7 and they can't catch a break. They're also poorly coached and Matt Stafford is not a franchise QB, he's barely a starting QB. Calvin Johnson deserves better than this. The Packers will win this division. The NFC South has been surprisingly decent. The Panthers are 7-0 and playing awesome defense and Cam Newton is playing fantastic football. They also have a really good run game. The Falcons are 6-2, but they're not that impressive, save for Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. Those are the catalysts of this team, not Matt Ryan. He's been erratic all season. The defense is serviceable. The Saints are 4-4 and Drew Brees is beginning to look like his old self, but he doesn't have any real weapons. Mark Ingram has been solid, but he's not a star and Ben Watson has been playing good at tight end, but that's it. And their defense, woof, they're bad. The Buccaneers round out this division at 3-4. They've played better than I thought they would and while Jameis Winston has looked bad at times, he's had his moments and Doug Martin may be turning his career around. But, they are still a bad team led by a rookie QB. Carolina will win this division. The NFC West has been as competitive as I thought it would be. The Cardinals lead it with a 6-2 record. Carson Palmer has been lights out and so has Larry Fitzgerald and Chris Johnson. They have a potent offense. Their defense is still really good too. Barring injury, this team should be considered a legit contender. The Rams are 4-3 and they look good one week, but bad the next. The emergence of Todd Gurley should definitely help this team out. He's been awesome. And their defense is still one of the league's best. The Seahawks are 4-4 and they've looked very unimpressive. Russell Wilson is not living up to the contract he got. Marshawn Lynch can't stay healthy and they don't know how to use Jimmy Graham. He's the best tight end in football, save for Rob Gronkowski, and he's only getting 4 or 5 targets a game. Their defense is giving up fourth quarter leads as well. They do not look like the "dynasty" that a lot of people predicted them to be. The 49ers are a total mess. They're benching Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert. WTF! He's a terrible pro. They have no running game, they traded away Vernon Davis and they can't get the ball to Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin. Their defense is okay, but when you're on the field for 45 minutes of a 60 minute game, you get tired and when you get tired, you give up points. The 49ers stink. Cardinals win this division. So the NFC playoff teams will be division winners, New York Giants, Green Bay, Carolina and Arizona. The two wild Cards will be Minnesota and Saint Louis. This means I was wrong about the Eagles and the Seahawks. Neither will make the playoffs. I'm torn between Arizona and Green Bay, but Arizona will suffer some kind of injury and the Packers will figure out their offensive problem and they will win the NFC.
So, that gives us a Green Bay and New England Super Bowl. I'm going to stick with the Packers. They're the one team that can beat the Patriots. As far as the awards go, I was wrong on almost all of these. First of all, the MVP is Tom Brady. He's torching this league and he's on a mission. I picked Aaron Rodgers, but he's struggled lately and Tom Brady has not. Brady will also win offensive player of the year. Defensive player of the year will be Charles Woodson, not Ndomakong Suh. Woodson is still playing at an elite level and he makes the Raiders a real threat. Winning this will put him in the conversation as greatest defensive back of all time. Coach of the year is still Jeff Fisher in my opinion. He'll lead this team to a Wild Card spot and that alone gives him the award. I picked Melvin Gordon as offensive rookie of the year. He's been not so good mid way through the season. However, Todd Gurley looks to be a beast. He's setting records and rushing for a lot of yards on a good Rams team. Gurley is, hands down, the offensive rookie of the year. I picked Bud Dupree as defensive rookie of the year, but he has just blended in with the Steeler defense, he hasn't really stood out. Marcus Peters, however, has been a pretty good cornerback for the Chiefs from day one. He's my pick for defensive rookie of the year.
So, there you have it, my mid way NFL picks, Some are the same, some are different. Tell me why I'm wrong and give me your picks in the comment section.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man podcast. He thinks Tom Brady is over inflating footballs just to screw with the NFL. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik