The 2009 NFL regular season is half of the way through. After eight weeks we are starting to see the contenders separate from the pretenders. Today is report card day for the NFC. 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 under achieving based on pre season projections and analysis? Fourth, I take into account coaching and how well teams have been prepared and whether any coaches have made decisions that 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 NFC.
Dean’s List –
The New Orleans Saints
[adinserter block=”1″]This may be the kiss of death, because I put the New York Giants on the Dean’s List in the first-quarter report, and they have collapsed since. The New Orleans Saints are a truly special team. They are getting it done in all phases of the game. Even more impressive is that they have had to come from behind in the last couple of weeks and been successful in doing so. I don’t think the Saints go undefeated, but I have no idea who is going to beat them in the playoffs. Drew Brees is on another level from every quarterback in the NFL and Darren Sharper may be the NFL MVP at the mid-way point on defense.
Grade A –
The Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings get another A here and were on the fringe of making the Dean’s List. We can debate referee calls all day long, but you could make an argument that they should be undefeated. The Vikings like the New Orleans Saints, are getting it done in all phases of the game. Something that did bother me was the second-half comeback by the Green Bay Packers last week. I hope the Vikings defense isn’t getting tired, because they have been a very active defense this season. The Vikings need to get Antoine Winfield back after the bye week or this team is going to be very susceptible to the pass. The great news here is that their schedule down the stretch almost looks too easy other than the Cincinnati Bengals game. This is a team that could realistically run the table the rest of the way down the stretch.
Grade B –
Green Bay Packers
The Philadelphia Eagles are the only team to get a B in both the first-quarter and mid-season report card. The Cardinals, Cowboys, and Packers both improve from C grades. If not for the Eagles letdown against the Oakland Raiders, they would have gotten an A grade. The Cowboys have turned their season around with the emergence of Miles Austin and a revamped offense. The Packers are a team to me that is a pretender who will destroy bad teams, yet struggle with anyone over .500. The Cardinals were rolling recently before being upset by the Carolina Panthers. In the end, I would only expect one of these teams to make the NFL playoffs when it is all said and done.
Grade C –
New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers
The biggest drop off from the first-quarter report card would be the New York Giants. I think we were all fooled by their schedule. I also think the Giants have been hurt badly on defense to the point where teams are now starting to bully the Giants defense. The Giants have lost three straight and don’t look to be a team that will turn things around in the near future. This team desperately needs a true #1 receiver, a better linebacker, and some healthy guys back in the lineup. The Bears have a 4-3 team and like the Packers, beat the bad teams and struggle against the good. Matt Forte has finally scored so maybe that is the start of a mid-season turnaround for the Bears. The Panthers have finally realized that the best way to win is to take the ball out of Jake’s hands. The Falcons were red hot earlier this season, but are really struggling on both offense and defense. The 49ers have never recovered from their last-second loss to the Minnesota Vikings and are a team another year away from really making a splash in the NFL.
Grade D –
The Seahawks have to be one of this season’s most disappointing teams. There were big expectations for the Seahawks offense with a new coach and new receiver, yet we are stuck seeing the same old Seahawks. I never believed in Jim Mora but this is just ridiculous. The Lions had a lot of promise earlier this season, but injuries to their two franchise players have bitten the Lions hard. There is now talk that Kevin Smith will share more time in the backfield and Calvin Johnson, JR. hasn’t played in weeks. I think this is a good team in the making, but unfortunately this isn’t the year of the Lions.
Grade F –
St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[adinserter block=”2″]The Rams and Buccaneers stay consistent with F grades, while the Redskins move down a grade. The Washington Redskins have such a good defense, that it is a shame that they can’t get their offense going. The coaching mess will haunt this team for the rest of the season. The Bucs are horrendous period. The Rams are struggling this year more so than anyone expected. Sure, Marc Bulger has been hurt but he has struggled even when he has played this season. Steven Jackson is racking up the numbers, yet only has one touchdown this season to show for it. The Rams are a team that needs to be blown up and completely disassembled before they turn their franchise around. I don’t see anything different for any of these teams when we take another look in the 3rd quarter.
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