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February 22, 2024

The mid-season report for the NFL’s top teams

By ALEX FORLENZA | November 7, 2019

Before I start, I have to talk about Lamar Jackson, the quarterback. He is not like Tim Tebow. He’s not a gimmick, not some wide receiver playing wildcat. He is leading one of the best offenses in the league, and he just made New England’s number one ranked defense look slow and undisciplined. 

We hear critics say, “He’s gonna get injured,” or “he can’t make all the throws,” or “wait until the league figures him out.” First of all, he’s not going to get injured. You know why? He’s too damn fast. You are more likely to break your ankles than tackle Lamar. Secondly, if you still say he cannot throw, you simply have not watched him play this year. And lastly, if Bill Belichick didn’t figure him out who will? Buddy Ryan back from the dead? 

Lamar is for real, and we should not tear him down for not being the classic white, 6’6, 245lb, 5.28 40-yard running QB. No we should just enjoy the action. 


The Good Teams

The New England Patriots:

They’re still here. They are still going to be the number one seed. Their defense is really good. But, they are going to look much better in every statistical category because their schedule is disgustingly easy. The one-win Jets twice, the tanking Dolphins twice, the NFC East which has a .500 division leader and they still have the winless Bengals on their schedule. 

They play approximately three real playoff caliber teams. But, that means they’ll get home field in the playoffs and they still have Tom Brady. But, the rest of the offense is lead by 38 year old tight end (TE) Ben Watson, the not HoF receiver Julian Edelman and a conglomerate of B+ running backs. So, they should still be super bowl favorites, but it’s no giant gap.

The Baltimore Ravens:

They just beat the Pats. They beat them by scoring 37 points on a team that allowed 61 combined prior to the game. Lamar, his massive angry offensive line, and Mark Ingram average over 200 rushing yards a game. They are basically bigger and stronger than other teams and they run them over. Also, they have three athletic TEs who can block and make contested catches. So, they can run any play through mismatches. 

Oh, they also have Lamar at QB. Defensively, they started off the year rough. But, they added all-pro cornerback Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith has recovered from injuries and they moved Patrick Onwuasor to weak side linebacker. So, their defense has started to make plays and not make extremely bad mistakes they had at the beginning of the year (see: Patrick Mahomes throwing to a wide open Damien Williams). If they keep up this pace, they might steal a one-seed from the Pats, or at least get a playoff bye.

The Indianapolis Colts:

Jacoby Brissett has been great, for the most part. They lead one of the tougher divisions in the NFL and beating Kansas City and the Texans earlier this year has helped that lead. Their defense still is wildly talented and still young and athletic with players like Darius Leonard coming back off injury. 

Their offense is humming with Jacoby Brissett putting up MVP numbers against the Texans a couple weeks ago, and they moved the ball well against a massively underrated Steelers defense. However, if this team has a weakness. The GOAT, Adam Vinatieri, has not been good. He has missed way too many kicks in key points. They could have two more wins if Vinatieri was still Vinatieri.

The Kansas City Chiefs:

Andy Reid is the best offensive coach in football. You can have your Sean McVay’s and Kyle Shanahan’s. Andy Reid is making Matt Moore look like Patrick Mahomes on the scoresheet. They also have schemed up a great run game behind Damien Williams and LeSean never ages McCoy. 

Their defense is good, not great. People will say they “proved themselves” against the Vikings, but you can’t prove yourself against Kirk Cousins. But, at the same time, they have contained opposing offenses enough to allow Matt Moore to win some games. In a couple weeks they’ll have Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes back, and defenses should be very afraid. 

Massively overrated

The Buffalo Bills:

This team is average at best. The only team they have beaten are the Vikings. The others have been quite simply bad. 

This team will still make a wild card spot because their defense is talented, and they have a continuously easy schedule. But, they will get blown out in the first round. It will not be close. Even though they have a nice two game lead in the wild card race, the Steelers or the Raiders are more than competent enough to catch up. Particularly, the Steelers because they will play each other later in the year in what might amount to the tie breaker that keeps the Bills out of the playoffs. 


The Good Teams

The San Francisco 49ers:

The only undefeated team left. They have a disgustingly powerful D-Line with rookie Nick Bosa wrecking havoc and a solid secondary held down by veteran Richard Sherman. The unit as a whole is probably the best in the league, but similar to the Patriots their competition has not been the greatest. 

The gaudy defensive numbers have come against the likes of QBs like Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston and Kyle Allen. On the other hand, their offense has been good, and they’ve been good against actual defenses. They put up 51 on the Panthers, and they beat the steelers two very solid defenses. 

And on top of that their schedule gets harder, so we will get to see this team continue to show its stuff. I think they can grab a sixth Super Bowl this year, or at the very least in the next few seasons with this team.

The New Orleans Saints:

Teddy Bridgewater took this team and went 5-0. Now they get Drew Brees. However, their talent level offensively is not great. When this team plays against a smart defense, their flaws show up. 

On defense they are above average, and they have talent at every level. But, they do not take the ball away. They need some more playmaking on defense to be a real threat. And, their schedule gets significantly harder the rest of the year playing the undefeated 49ers and the second placed Panthers twice. 

I think this team may end up as a wild card team rather than a division champ. And, even though they’ll make the playoffs I don’t buy their chances against basically any other top NFC team. 

The Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is really good at this whole football thing. And he has help! Aaron Jones is a legit running back which Rodger’s hasn’t had since Eddie Lacy. On top of that, his defense is not utter garbage. In fact, it’s good. 

Granted, the loss to the Chargers and letting Andy Reid carve their defense up the last few weeks is a bit alarming. Nonetheless, the Packers have put themselves in a position where Rodgers isn’t forced to literally carry the entire state of Wisconsin by himself. This team is and will continue to be very dangerous. The matchup with San Francisco in a few weeks has some really important seeding implications, and obviously it will be an entertaining game.

The Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson just got a new friend in Josh Gordon. Now their offense will star D.K. Metcalf, Gordon, Lockett and Chris Carson. And, so far they have been great offensively. Wilson is also kind of amazing. However, their defense is suspect. And, by suspect I mean bad. 

They have Bobby Wagner and that is it. And, similar to many other teams atop the NFC their schedule gets harder. Wilson should keep up his magic, but teams will be able to score a lot against this team. So a WC is about where they will end the season with a first round exit, unless they seed themselves to play the Cowboys. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

It was almost Gardner Minshew. Then, he got swallowed alive by the Texans in London. So Josh Jacobs will get the award at this rate. He is on pace for about 1,500 rushing yards and another 200 receiving. He will probably finish the year with double digit touchdowns. And he’s helped this Oakland team look competent, even competitive. The Jon Gruden experiment is sort of working at least for their offense and Josh Jacobs is reaping the rewards with his production.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Bosa, again. But, this time its Nick Bosa. Ohio State and the Bosa family seem to have perfected the pass rusher formula in a lab. Nick Bosa has been a fiend for the 49ers. He has seven sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He is in the defensive player of the year, not just defensive rookie. Its astounding.

Offensive Player of the Year

CMC, Christian “The Entire Panthers Offense” McCaffrey is the offensive player of the year. He single handedly destroys opposing defenses and fantasy teams at the same time. He leads the league in yards from scrimmage, he runs routes better than half the receivers in this league and he has literally no one else on his team to take the pressure off of him. Ok, D.J. Moore is pretty good, but McCaffrey is the engine of this team and is the clear answer.

Defensive Player of the Year

Jamie Collins has been everywhere for the Pats defense. Granted, that defense did just get shredded. However, Jamie Collins has statistically dominated reeling in three picks, causing two fumbles, grabbing six sacks and leading his team in tackles. And even when they were getting dominated by the Ravens, Collins was making plays, particularly when the Pats switched to a 3-4 and started climbing back into the game. Overall, his numbers will not be matched because he gets to pick on terrible offenses all year. Also, his play in Belichick’s defense is such an amazing fit that he will benefit the most from his teams performance.

Coach of the Year

Frank Reich has pushed this Colts team to maximum overdrive. Jacoby Brissett is nowhere near Andrew Luck and still this team is in their division lead. Other coaches like Ron Rivera, Sean Payton and Andy Reid have had injured MVP caliber quarterbacks. But, their QBs are coming back. Luck is gone. And still Reich has managed to get his team to buy in to Brissett and again. If they had a kicker they’d probably be the second seed in the AFC right now.

Most Valuable Player

Lamar Jackson was at 125-1 odds to win the MVP before the season. He is now the co-favorite. And, his schedule happens to be the hardest of the MVP candidates. So, hypothetically if the Russell Wilson’s and Aaron Rodgers’ of the league also keep up their runs Lamar will have the better body of work. Also, he happens to be leading the league’s best offense (the Cowboys do not count). And, just watch him play. The 22-year-old phenom is Madden 04’s Mike Vick, in that “he is a problem.”

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