Can you believe it? We’re already halfway through the 2015 NFL season. Crazy. With that, I give you my mid-season report:
AFC Top Contenders
New England Patriots (8-0) – Just lost Dion Lewis, but since when has any RB not been expendable on the Pats? Blount is solid at true RB (Lewis did more damage in the passing game than running the football) and Gronk, Edelman and LaFell give Uncle Tom plenty of weapons through the air. Oh, and hopefully James White can step in and do some good things because I just picked him up off waivers for my fantasy team.
Denver Broncos (7-1) – Did you see what this defense did to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? Denver’s defense is so good, you can’t count them out. Even with Peyton playing his worst since his rookie season.
AFC Top Pretenders
Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) – I know, you all think I’m crazy. The Red Rifle, Andy Dalton is ballin’ out and the Bengals look legit. I get it. I see it. I also see the Patriots in the same conference also currently undefeated. Barring a major injury in New England (even more significant than Dion Lewis, like Gronk or Uncle Tom), I don’t see anyone stopping them from reaching the Super Bowl except maybe, just maybe the Broncos and their insanely good pass defense.
AFC Sleeper Team to Watch for
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) – Gone without Big Ben for four games and with him hobbled for three others (leaving only two where he played a full game at full strength), yet the Steelers are still 2nd in the AFC North and in the driver’s seat for a wildcard spot in the AFC. When Roethlisberger plays, the Steelers are very good. They have a very winnable game with or without Big Ben this week vs. Cleveland, then the bye week, then a healthy Ben down the stretch. I would not want to play Pittsburgh in the first round.
NFC Top Contenders
Green Bay Packers (6-2) – Aaron Rodgers is still the man and you gotta think Eddie Lacy will turn it around at some point–and even if he doesn’t, James Starks can run the rock just fine. Rodgers said in his postgame press conference after a 37-29 loss to the Panthers that the Pack would be confident to go back into Carolina and win a playoff game if needed, and I agree with him.
Carolina Panthers (8-0) – The Panthers have surprised me a bit. So has Cam Newton. He shouldn’t have though. Cam has been winning on the big stage his whole life. Junior College National Champion. NCAA National Champion. Is Super Bowl Champion next? It’s possible the way the Panthers are playing right now, but I still give Green Bay a slight edge in the NFC.
Arizona Cardinals (6-2) – Chris Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer have all turned back the clock and are rollin’ right now. The Cardinals have the highest scoring offense in the league and the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu and the Arizona D can hold their own too. The Cards are the only team in the league ranked in the top three for both offense and defense (YPG).
NFC Top Pretenders
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) – I’m sorry, I just don’t see it happening here. The Vikings are 31st in total offense, and that’s with Adrian Petersen even. The defense is ranked 7th, which gives them a fighting chance most weeks, but don’t look for the Vikings to do anything in the Playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – They have the weapons, but they’ve lost 3 of their last 4, including to the Bucs and 49ers. Not good.
NFC Sleeper Team to Watch for
Seattle Seahawks (4-4) – Still 2-time Defending NFC Champs. Still a top-tier defense, ranked 2nd overall. With Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham, I feel like the offense will turn it around and the Seahawks will be ready come Playoff time.