We are officially to the halfway point of the NFL season. Every team has now played at least eight games. Does this make you happy or sad? You can be sad because the season is going by so fast, but I prefer to look on the bright side of things: the games are only going to get more intense, with better match-ups and more playoff implications. So let’s see where everyone stands heading into the start of the stretch run.
Last Week: 1
Green Bay Packers (8-0)The pass defense is becoming a bit of a concern (they yield almost 300 yards per game through the air, good for 31st in the league). Luckily, Aaron Rodgers and the offense average over 34 points per game to cover up a lot of those problems.
Last Week: 7
Baltimore Ravens (6-2)For the second time in their history, Baltimore has swept the Steelers in the regular season. Is this finally the turning of the tide in this rivalry?
Last Week: 3
San Francisco 49ers (7-1)In a league being taken over by sharp-shooting QBs and big play offenses, the Niners have taken a stranglehold on the NFC West with a punishing defense that allows the fewest rushing yards and points per game in the league.
Last Week: 8
New York Giants (6-2)They kicked off their brutal stretch by snapping Tom Brady and New England’s 20-game regular season home winning streak, but it doesn’t get any easier in the second half. Up next, a trip across the country to take on the one-loss Niners.
Last Week: 9
Houston Texans (6-3)The explosive air show on offense has been replaced by a relentless rushing attack. The Texans produced not one, but two 100-yard rushers on Sunday, as both Arian Foster and Ben Tate eclipsed the century mark. With those two guys occupying opposing defenses, look for Andre Johnson to explode when he returns from his hamstring injury.
Last Week: 6
Detroit Lions (6-2)They’re 1-2 in their last three games, but they have a chance to bury the Bears coming out of their bye week. If the Lions win, they’ll sweep the season series with Chicago and grab control of the wild card spot coming out of the North.
Last Week: 2
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)Rashard Mendenhall has lost his explosiveness. For the third time in his four pro seasons, Mendenhall is averaging less than 4 yards per carry. He needs to pick it up to compliment the Steelers new dynamic aerial attack, or defenses will continue to drop deep into coverage and shut down the Pittsburgh passing game.
Last Week: 11
New York Jets (5-3)Three straight wins for Gang Green as they head into a rematch with the last team to beat them, New England. Tom Brady will provide a good test for the improving Jets D, which has allowed an average of only 12.6 points per game during their winning streak.
Last Week: 5
New England Patriots (5-3)Speaking of Tom Terrific, the once feared New England offense has slowed considerably. After starting out 5-1 and averaging 31 points per game, the Pats have only scored 38 points total in their last two contests, both losses.
Last Week: 10
Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)We’re about to find out if these surprising Bengals are for real in the next month. Cincy faces off against Pittsburgh twice and Baltimore once in their next four games.
Last Week: 12
Atlanta Falcons (5-3)Now that’s the kind of game the Falcons were thinking about when they traded up so high in the draft to take Julio Jones. The rookie receiver delivered two big-play touchdowns (a 50-yarder and an 80-yarder) to help open up the Atlanta offense.
Last Week: 14
New Orleans Saints (6-3)I’m not really sure what to make of this Saints team as they head into a big game this weekend against Atlanta with the NFC South lead up for grabs. New Orleans is undefeated at home, outscoring opponents by 90. Then they head out on the road, and can’t function, going 2-3 with losses to Tampa Bay and St. Louis.
Last Week: 4
Buffalo Bills (5-3)I really like the Bills, but it looks like the league has figured out how to stop Ryan Fitzpatrick. In his last three games, Buffalo’s upstart QB has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns.
Last Week: 16
Chicago Bears (5-3)The schedule softens considerably in the second half for the Bears, making this weekend’s match-up with Detroit and Week 16’s match-up with the Packers extremely important. The Bears have already lost to both the Packers and the Lions, so they’ll have to split both division match-ups if they hope to squeeze into the playoffs with a wild-card spot.
Last Week: 18
Dallas Cowboys (4-4)A win is a win, but the Cowboys certainly could’ve made a louder statement in a home game against the woeful Seahawks. One guy making a statement on his own is DeMarco Murray. The rookie runner is averaging 8.5 yards per carry in his last three games and looks like a threat to break a big run every time he touches the ball.
Last Week: 13
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)Everything looked to be coming together for the talented Eagles, and then they came out and played another sloppy game on Monday night against the Bears. The Eagles are 27th in the league in turnover differential. All the explosive offensive weapons in the world won’t help cover up for that lack of ball security.
Last Week: 15
San Diego Chargers (4-4)Speaking of protecting the rock, the Philip Rivers turnover extravaganza continues in San Diego and it’s resulted in a three-game losing streak for the Chargers. Teams take the lead from their QBs, and San Diego ranks a pathetic 31st in the league in turnover differential.
Last Week: 19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)The secondary can’t stay in front of anyone (28th ranked pass defense) and now their best run-stopping defender, DT Gerald McCoy, is out for the season. Last year’s fairy tale season has transitioned into a nightmare for Bucs fans this year.
Last Week: 29
Denver Broncos (3-5)The biggest jump in the rankings goes to the most unpredictable team in the NFL right now, led by its most unpredictable quarterback. Say what you will about Tim Tebow, he is now 2-1 as a starter. It’s never pretty, but he’s getting those W’s.
Last Week: 20
Oakland Raiders (4-4)Unlike Tebow in Denver, the quarterback switch in Oakland has been a complete, loss-filled disaster. Carson Palmer has played six quarters for the Raiders, during which he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes and thrown 6 picks against just 3 touchdowns.
Last Week: 21
Tennessee Titans (4-4)Chris Johnson had his best game of the season as far as yards per carry go (4.6) and the Titans still couldn’t figure out a way to outscore their opponent. The offense has fallen apart in the last month, as the Titans have averaged 17 points a game while going 1-3.
Last Week: 24
Cleveland Browns (3-5)Colt McCoy has struggled this year, but don’t pin everything on him. No matter who lines in the backfield for the Browns, it’s clear he’s not going to give McCoy much help. Three different runners have started at running back for Cleveland and neither Peyton Hillis (3.5 yards per carry), Montario Hardesty (3.4) or Chris Ogboyanna (2.2) could top 3.5 yards per carry.
Last Week: 22
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)It’s all defense in Jacksonville, and it’s not enough. Expect a couple wins and a lot of offensive struggles in the second half of the season.
Last Week: 27
Minnesota Vikings (2-6)Another struggling team coming off their bye week. Will the extra time give Christian Ponder enough preparation to get his second career win as a starter?
Last Week: 23
Carolina Panthers (2-6)The third of our trio of 2-6 teams coming off their bye week. The Cam Newton Show resumes against Tennessee this week. I know I’ll be tuned in.
Last Week: 25
Washington Redskins (3-5)Two quarterbacks, four straight losses and about a million injuries. Things are unraveling in Washington and I’m not really sure where they’re going to get help. The Redskins didn’t have any depth when they started the season and now they’ve lost star players at just about every important position.
Last Week: 30
Arizona Cardinals (2-6)Is Patrick Peterson the new Devin Hester? For the second week in a row, Peterson delivered a scintillating punt return for a touchdown – and this one was a 99-yard game-winner in overtime.
Last Week: 28
Seattle Seahawks (2-6)Marshawn Lynch exploded for his best game of the season last week (135 rushing yards, 1 TD), but it didn’t matter because of another week of lackluster QB play in Seattle. Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson have combined for a 71.2 QB rating this season. That’s just not gonna cut it.
Last Week: 32
Miami Dolphins (1-7)Hip, hip, hooray! Dolphins cans are cheering in the streets after the team’s first win of the season. Unless, of course, they were hoping to land Andrew Luck…
Last Week: 17
Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)This spot may be temporary for just this week, but laying an egg like that at home against the previously incompetent Dolphins drops the Chiefs WAY down. The loss looks even worse when you check out the Chiefs upcoming schedule. After a home game against the Broncos, KC gets this impossible stretch: @NE, vs. PIT, @CHI, @NYJ, vs. GB.
Last Week: 26
St. Louis Rams (1-7)In an otherwise dismal season in St. Louis, Steven Jackson just will not slow down. The 8-year NFL veteran is on pace for his third best rushing yardage season in his career.
Last Week: 31
Indianapolis Colts (0-9)For the past couple years of the power rankings, the Colts have regularly been near the top. This season, they lose one measly player, and here they are all the way at the bottom.