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NFL 2009 Mid-Season Report Cards – AFC

Peyton ManningThe 2009 NFL regular season is halfway way through as we enter Week 9. After eight weeks we are starting to see the Super Bowl contenders separate from the NFL pretenders. Today is report card day for the AFC. Let’s take a look at some teams on the Dean’s List and some teams who are worthy of a big fat “F” for fail.

There are several different components I take into account in grading the teams. The first is overall won/lose record. The second is quality of competition and how teams played up or down to their competition. Third, are these teams over or underachieving based on pre season projections and analysis? Fourth, I take into account coaching and how well teams have been prepared and whether any coaching decisions have won or lost games. Fifth, overall individual efforts from team players are definitely taken into consideration in both positive and negative grades. With that said, let’s hand out the NFL First Quarter Report Cards for the AFC.

Dean’s List –
Indianapolis Colts

[adinserter block=”1″]The Colts remain on the Dean’s List for the second report card of the NFL 2009 season. The Colts are now the lone unbeaten in the AFC. Peyton Manning and crew have had some scares and it hasn’t been easy in some cases. However, they have never had to come from behind the way the Saints have to remain unbeaten. The Colts remain to have issues with stopping the run. The problem is that teams have to abandon the run to play catch-up to Peyton and crew. This year’s Week 10 game against the New England Patriots will be the next NFL game to capture the nation. Indy has a very tough stretch down the line so I don’t see Indy going 16-0. However, past lessons have taught this team never to let up. The Colts are truly in a class all by themselves in the AFC.

Grade A –
Denver Broncos
Cincinnati Bengals
New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots have dramatically improved from a slow start. Tom Brady seems to be back in his 2007 groove and the team is looking more confident by the week. The Bengals and the Broncos are the surprises of the AFC this season. I still question the longevity of the Broncos success with Kyle Orton at quarterback. The Bengals look better than they ever have under Marvin Lewis and that includes their pre-Carson Palmer injury run a few years ago. The Steelers continue to come up in big situations. However, they continue to have a hard time putting away teams. It is arguable that they would have lost the Vikings game if not for some questionable calls. I am still not buying into the Steelers as being some kind of NFL juggernaut this season.

Grade B –
Houston Texans
Baltimore Ravens
San Diego Chargers

The Chargers and the Texans move up from a “C” grade on their previous report card. The Baltimore Ravens unfortunately move down a grade. Of the three teams, I think Houston has the only real shot of making it into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Baltimore Ravens they share a division with the Steelers and the Bengals. Houston has been the quietest offensive show in the NFL. Matt Schaub is the “Matty-Ice” of the NFL this year as he has been a touchdown machine. Steve Slaton got it back on track until his benching and even the defense has played well. The Chargers are in the worst division in the NFL, so division wins aren’t a big deal to me. San Diego has some major problems and may get exposed a bit once they start playing some NFC East teams. However, you can’t argue with their record or mid-season turnaround.

Grade C –
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
Jacksonville Jaguars

The biggest drop in the report card is the Jets dropping from an “A” to a “C” grade. Teams have finally gotten a look at Mark Sanchez and have been able to prepare for the boy wonder. Rex Ryan has made some rookie coaching mistakes and the Jets have lost some close games. Braylon Edwards looked like a great pickup in his first game against the Dolphins, but hasn’t been a difference maker since. The only reason the Bills are here is because of their record. Like the Washington Redskins, the Bills have a tremendous passing defense and just an awful offense. I don’t believe the Bills are for real, but we’ll see. The Jaguars are a one-man show with MJD. David Garrard is a joke and this is a team that has had problems replacing Mark Brunell at quarterback for years. I love the Dolphins and I am a big fan of their offense. They are the only team in the NFL to properly run a Wildcat offense. However, like the Jags they need a quarterback and until they get one, they will wind up as a really good team with a mediocre record.

Grade D –
Oakland Raiders

This one hurts and they belong as a failure, but the Eagles win has to count for something. After being a blown out a week earlier, the Raiders played the game of their lives against the Eagles. The Raiders never let up and took a big favorite by surprised and pulled off the upset. As for the rest of the season, JaMarcus Russell is the worst NFL starting quarterback I have ever seen play football. Tom Cable looks confused and their rookie wide receiver tandem haven’t done squat. Richard Seymour predicted the Raiders would make the playoffs. I don’t even think the make .500 by the end of the season.

Grade F –
Kansas City Chiefs
Tennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns

[adinserter block=”2″]Of all three teams, the Titans have the best shot of an immediate turnaround. The Titans finally made the quarterback switch and have gone with Vince Young. Vince Young finally won for the Titans, and the Titans looked great against a team that destroyed them earlier this season. I don’t think they are making the playoffs, but Vince could take them to an 8-8 record. The Cleveland Browns are without a doubt, the worst team in the NFL. There are some bad teams with talented players, but this team is just awful. Congress should investigate how Derek Anderson has been able to keep his job the last few weeks. I do believe that the Chiefs are on the way to good things, but those good things are a season or two away. Larry Johnson has killed the Chiefs on and off of the field. Todd Haley has run the ball to the death, yet his star running back isn’t even averaging 3.0 yards a carry. The only thing that could hold this team back is Matt Cassel. If he is going to be a bust, it will be a longtime before this team turns around.

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