We’re officially halfway through the 2013-14 NFL Season. It has been a crazy first half of the season. The first 9 weeks were surely eventful but I believe the best part of the season is what has yet to happen.
The first half of the season surely had some quality performances but here are a few that really deserve all the attention.
Andrew Luck: Besides a few losses early on to the Dolphins and Chargers, Luck has led the Colts to some impressive wins. He led the Colts to wins over the 49ers in Candle stick, and beating the undefeated (at the time) Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Indy. Luck lost his top guy from the last season, Reggie Wayne, so I look forward to seeing how Luck plays the rest of the season without his favorite target and a dismal running game.
Peyton Manning: Anyone who puts up the numbers he is putting up deserves all the credit in the world. Manning is on pace to break all sorts of passing records. 7 games to start the season against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens, was certainly impressive but he continued to shine through the first 9 weeks. The addition of Welker and emergence of Julius Thomas at tight end and Knowshon Moreno at running back certainly makes the Broncos a favorite to play in February.
The Chiefs Defense: Much improved from last season’s 2 wins, the Chiefs defense has helped the team win its first 9 games of the season, making them the only team to be undefeated at the half way point. The Chiefs defense has held all of its opponents to under 17 points in all 9 games and has 26 sacks this season. Justin Houston has really stepped up this season as he leads the team in sacks and is currently second in the league with 11. The Chiefs defense will really be tested over the next 3 weeks when they play divisional foe, the Denver Broncos, twice.
Noteworthy: Tony Romo, Eddie Lacy, and Matt Forte
Below are a few of the performances that were certainly forgettable to start the season.
Robert Griffin III: Coming off winning the Rookie of the year and season ending surgery after tearing his ACL, RG3 has been anything but spectactular. I am honestly amazed the Redskins have won any games this season. RG3 has 3 games with no touchdowns at all and only has 1 game where he did not throw a pick. 9 interceptions and 9 touchdowns is not what I was expecting from the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Matt Ryan: 1 Win away from the Super Bowl last year to a 2-6 start this season. Ryan has only lead the Falcons to two wins this season and they came at home to two of the worst teams in the NFL: The 0-8 Bucs and the 3-6 Rams. It has been a lackluster start for sure. This time last year the Falcons were on their way to a first round playoff bye. Ryan and the Falcons are almost to the point of looking for their top-5 pick next season if things do not get better, quick.
The Baltimore Ravens: The defending Super Bowl Champions are a mess. Raven supporters sure were supportive of the team in the offseason, saying the losses on defensive, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Paul Kruger, would not be that bad. It’s apparent that those 3 were crucial to this team. Losing Anquan Boldin certainly did not help either. Ray Rice had back to back games of less than 10 yards after contact over the last two weeks. Before those two weeks, he hadn’t done that before. Joe Flacco has only 10 touchdown passes. He has four less touchdown passes than Sam Bradford, who hasn’t played in 2 weeks after tearing his ACL. This team will have a rough second half of the season, no doubt. They finish the season against teams that have winning records in 7 of the last 8.
Almost as bad: Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill
Rookie of the Year contenders
Eddie Lacy: Even though he missed a few games, he has played very, very well lately. As the packers go through the next couple weeks without their Super Bowl winning quarterback, I look for Lacy to be fed the ball plenty.
Zac Stacy: After not getting many carries early on as the Rams gave carries to last year’s phenom, Daryl Richardson, Stacy has stepped up big since Sam Bradford got hurt. In the two games since Bradford tore his ACL, Stacy has 261 yards on 53 carries which is 4.92 yards per carry, which is top 5 in the league during that period.
Geno Smith: He has led the Jets to 5 wins this season, which isn’t much, but relatively speaking , the Jets only won 6 games all of last season under Mark Sanchez. If the Jets continue to win they will need Geno to step up and play well.
NFC South: The Panthers win the NFC South. Yes, that means they beat the Saints for the division title. The Panthers defense is playing amazing and Cam Newton continues to put up numbers that are leading the panthers to impressive wins.
AFC North: The Cleveland Browns win more games than each of the Ravens and Steelers- This isn’t saying much considering how poorly the Ravens and Steelers have played this season but consider this. Jason Campbell is the 3rd browns QB this season and the Browns traded their best offensive player, Trent Richardson, to Indy earlier this season. Their defense is playing well and I expect the Browns to finish second in the AFC North. This is certainly something to build on for a team with multiple high draft picks next season with an awesome projected rookie class coming in.
NFC West: The Seahawks will lose in the first round of the playoffs: These last two weeks have really showed this team’s true colors. After almost losing to Kellen Clemens on the road then coming back from 21 down to the winless rookie led Buccaneers, I am expecting more struggles from this team. The 49ers will win the division and the saints will get the 5 seed. This will give the Seahawks the 6 seed and they will lose the first round to whoever they play. Not what Seattle fans had in mind this season I’m sure.