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NFL 2014-15 Mid-Season Report

After a week away from my computer, I am excited to be back and writing about the (gulp) midseason report for the NFL. Where has the time gone? Since the start of this season we have gone from the Seattle Seahawks being the start of a dynasty to being the NFL model for dysfunctional teams. We have seen fans in New England cry for Tom Brady’s head only to be met with a 6-2 record and a 9-1 touchdown vs interception ratio. The New Orleans Saints were big Superbowl favorites but haven’t won one game outside of New Orleans and are a below .500 team at the midway point. The AFC North is the tightest division in football with all 4 teams having records ABOVE .500. How’s this for perspective? The Cleveland Browns are LAST in the AFC North at 4-3. If they were in the NFC South they would be LEADING the division right now.

Before we dive into things let’s recap my predictions from 2 weeks ago and bring me up to date on for some mid-season standings.

My Guess: Colts go over on the Bengals. – RIGHT

Bold Prediction for Week 7: Chiefs over the Chargers. – RIGHT

Guaranteed Lock for Week 7: Pittsburgh over Houston. – RIGHT

Counting the Week 7 predictions that would bring my running total to 13-9 on all categories (guesses, Bold and Locks) and separately I am 5-1 in my bold predictions and 4-2 in my guaranteed locks. I hope you are using my predictions for more good than evil.

Bold Prediction for Week 9: Texans over the Eagles – Yes the Eagles do have a winning record (5-2) but they just aren’t clicking in all facets. LeSean McCoy has had 2 decent games this season and Jeremy Maclin makes everyone forget about DeSean Jackson but I don’t think this team is ready to handle a monster like JJ Watt. I like Foster to run wild over the Defense and lead the Texans to a win.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 9: Patriots over the Broncos. I will never get tired of Manning vs Brady as the games are almost always a toss-up for the winner. Basically this is coming down to that the game is in New England and not Denver. I like the Tom Brady and Brandon LaFell connection to dominate once again for the win.

My 1st Quarter broke down to these teams and players that I was most impressed with:

Best 1st Quarter Team: Cincinnati Bengals (3-0). (Honorable mention for best team – San Diego Chargers (3-1).

Worst 1st Quarter Team: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4). (Honorable mention for worst team– Oakland Raiders (0-4)

Surprise 1st Quarter team: Minnesota Vikings (2-2). (Honorable mention for surprise team: New Orleans Saints (1-3)

Mid-Season Award for Best team: Arizona Cardinals (6-1). The Cardinals get my top spot for two reasons. #1 – who they have defeated. The Cardinals have beat the 49ers, Chargers, Giants and Eagles as their most impressive wins to start this season. Their only loss has come against the Broncos. #2 – The Cardinals won most of those games with a scrap heap that they have the nerve to call NFL Quarterbacks. Now that Carson Palmer is back they are a legit contender for the NFC crown. (Honorable mention for best mid-season team: Denver Broncos (6-1)

Mid-Season Award for Worst Team: New York Jets (1-7). The Jets are so horrendous at their day jobs that I had to put them on the list ahead of winless team! The Jets have no answer at Quarterback or Wide Receiver. Their Running Backs and Defensive Line are the only seemingly bright spots for this team. From week to week the Raiders are at least entertaining with Rookie Studs like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack. Shame on you Jets for making me watch your games and highlights this season. (Honorable Mention: Tennessee Titans (2-6).

Surprise Mid-Season Award for a team: Atlanta Falcons (2-6). The Falcons have surged into my personal Mid-Surprise award after blowing a 21 point lead over the pond to the Detroit Lions. Many people claimed that their problems last year were all tied to a “shotty” defense and injuries to superstar players. What’s the excuse this season? This team as a whole just isn’t producing at the level they should be. Whatever “changes” they made this past off season have not worked and will not work for the rest of the year. Folks seemingly assumed that they were gifted the high draft pick they had last year and would be an elite team once again but maybe the Falcons were just trying to tell us something a year early. This team is done and will surely go through a coaching overall in the off season.

First Quarter Individual Award Recap:

1st Quarter League MVP: DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Runner-up: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

3rd: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

1st Quarter Defensive MVP: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans –

Runner up: Andre Branch, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

3rd: Kyle Fuller, DB, Chicago Bears

Mid-Season NFL MVP: DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys – Leads league in rushing…still (913), tied for league lead in Rush TD’s (7) and the league leader in yards rushed per game (130). In my opinion, Murray is the sole reason why the Cowboys are at the top of the NFL right now. With him on the field he takes away from Romo’s potential mistakes and a poor defensive lineup.

Runner-up: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – 2nd in the League in Receiving yards (852), Tied for 2nd in the League in Receiving TD’s (7), a passing TD, and 1 of only 4 receivers who average over 100 yards receiving per game.

3rd: TIE: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos and Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Mid-Season Defensive MVP: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans – Tied for 4th in the League in Sacks (7), 2 defensive TD’s this season, 1 offensive TD, 1 forced fumble and 3 fumble recoveries

Runner-up: Perrish Cox, CB, San Francisco 49ers – Tied for the League lead in passes defensed (12), 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries on the season

3rd: Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs – League leader in Sacks (10), he has a passed defensed and a forced fumble on the season.

What to expect for the 2nd half of the season:

I expect the coaching guillotine to come out in full force within the next few weeks. A while ago I predicted that Rex Ryan would be the first mid-season termination (and I stand by that) but not so far behind is going to be Mike Smith (Falcons) and Dennis Allen (Raiders). Whenever a coach has to come out on record and comment on their job status (Smith), you know that’s not a good sign. It never fails that you can also always bet on that one surprise coach to get the axe as well. You know who my money is on if they don’t make the playoffs? Sean Payton.

Speaking of the playoff picture, it’s an absolute mess. The only 4 teams that I can certainly say that are making the playoffs are the Broncos, Patriots, Colts and Cardinals. Every other division is so close that (as mentioned earlier) the Cleveland Browns can fly from the bottom of the North all the way to the top with some help. In the end I like the Bengals, Chargers and Steelers to round out the AFC in the playoffs. Over in the NFC I will take the Packers, Lions, 49ers, Saints and Eagles to finish the NFC. Sorry Seattle, it seems that you suffer the same guaranteed fate of all Superbowl teams in recent memory which is no playoffs the year after winning.

The team I would keep an eye on for an unexpected surge for the rest of the year is going to be the New York Giants. The team has had ups and downs this season but they can win ugly and that’s what matters the most in the late season months. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs but I can easily see them making things a nightmare for other teams until the end. As for a team on top that’s going to fall? That would be our favorite team to bash week after week….the Dallas Cowboys. This entire team is running (no pun intended) solely on DeMarco Murray’s back. If something would happen to Murray this team would be done. Look at the panic they went through Monday in the loss to the Redskins when Romo was out for a little bit. Dallas has proven that their pass offense isn’t enough to win games and if Murray would miss time I expect issues to arise.

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Tony Bitkowski

Contact Tony on Twitter @TonyBitkowski.

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