We’re about halfway through the season right now so I thought I’d take a look and handout my NFC mid-season report cards. As far as you know, later in the week I’ll post my AFC report cards.
-New York Giants (7-1):
So far, the Giants have benefited greatly from a weak first-half schedule. They played Washington and beat them before the Redskins really had their groove. They beat a Cowboys team this week that is completely putrid from top to bottom due to injuries. Their only loss came on a road game at Cleveland.
Despite the poor teams on their schedule, they’ve won. And that’s all you can ask. They are one of the top two teams in the entire NFL right now and have very few weaknesses (secondary, Plaxico’s nonsense).
-Washington Redskins (6-2):
The Redskins might be the biggest surprise in the conference. Jason Campbell is playing mistake-free football and you can’t say enough about that. Last season, the Redskins would stay in games until the end, only to have Campbell cough up a pick or two at a terrible time. He’s not doing that anymore.
Also, Clinton Portis is leading the NFL with 944 yards rushing. A team that doesn’t make mistakes and runs all over you is a damn good team. A big hat tip to Jim Zorn for the job that the rookie head coach has done so far. They get a higher grade considering expectations for 2008.
-Philadelphia Eagles (5-3):
Not a huge disappointment, but a bit of one. If you look at how they lost the games they did, it’s unacceptable. They blew a fourth-quarter lead in Dallas, couldn’t score a small handful of points in the second half to beat the Bears, and then did the same thing the next week against Washington. There are your three losses.
But that’s the difference between excellent teams like the Giants, and slightly above average teams like the Eagles. The Giants get that yard when they need that yard. The Eagles? Not necessarily.
-Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
The Cowboys enter the bye week after getting trounced by the Giants in New York. To say they are decimated by injuries would be to say that Hiroshima was devastated by a big bomb. If you want to fault them for not having a better backup QB option heading into the season, then that’s fair.
But it’s not just Romo who is hurt. It’s G Kyle Kosier, P Mat McBriar, WR Sam Hurd, RB Felix Jones, CB Terrence Newman and S Roy Williams. Oh, and Pacman Jones is a colossal turd. Considering expectations this season, head coach Wade Phillips might not have a job after the bye week. And the bloom has really come off of Jason Garrett’s head coaching rose, huh?
Chicago Bears (5-3):
The Bears are a little above where they should be. The defense hasn’t been as dominant in the past and much of that has to do to not having Tommie Harris right. I’m a big believer in defensive tackle play and when you lose one of the best in the business, it affects the whole unit.
Kyle Orton has been a little better than ok this season, but now he’s out for a month with a high-ankle sprain that he suffered against Detroit. Rex Grossman will have to lead the way, which means a reliance on rookie RB Matt Forte. Grossman can still chuck the rock around the field, but it’s not recommended.
Green Bay Packers (4-4):
I think this is one of the best – if not the best – 4-4 teams in the league. What’s that mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that the Packers have a damn good team, but it hasn’t always equated to wins this season.
Aaron Rodgers has been better than most predicted (not better than I predicted because I’ve liked the kid for a while now) and he came awfully close to handing the Titans their first loss of the year this past week. Keep an eye on Green Bay in the second half of the season.
Minnesota Vikings (4-4):
I’m not a fan of teams with no quarterback and I don’t believe the Vikings have one. Tarvaris Jackson is garbage and Frerotte is a nice backup. Backup. Not starter. Backup.
The Viking are a 4-4 team to me. They earned that mark.
Detroit Lions (0-8):
How bad is this team? They can’t run, throw, block, tackle, kick, run or block. They are miserable and the front office deserves the bulk of the blame. It all starts at the top. If it wasn’t for Calvin Johnson, this team would be absolutely unwatchable. As it is, this team is unwatchable.
Grade: A (kidding, F)
Carolina Panthers (6-2):
The Panthers are back to being the Panthers. Their two-back system is locked and loaded with a pair of first-round picks in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart. Throw in the deep threat that is Steve Smith and you’ve got yourself a nice offense.
On defense, keep an eye on burgeoning linebacker Jon Beason. This boy can play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3):
Anyone know what to make of this team? They beat Packers and murdered the Panthers. Yet, they found a way to lose to Dallas, New Orleans and Denver. But they still found a way to win 2/3 of their games so that does warrant some respect.
Atlanta Falcons (5-3):
Oh boy, what got into Atlanta? This is a team that was supposed to be an absolute doormat this season.
Matt Ryan is a rookie QB that will struggle mightily as the starter. The Falcons reached on tackle Sam Baker in the draft. Michael Turner is undersized and was a backup in San Diego for a reason. This team is still wheeling from the Michael Vick fiasco.
Nope, nope, nope, and nope.
The Falcons are playing some really nice ball for a club that had no shot to do anything this season. Good for them, they get a good grade.
New Orleans Saints (4-4):
Drew Brees is a top-two quarterback in the NFL. In fact, I don’t know who I’d rather have this year. He’s that good.
The problem? Not much help around him. This guy makes Lance Moore and Devery Henderson look like Anthony Carter and Hassan Jones (ok, better than Hassan Jones). With Reggie Bush hurt and no real defense, well…you get a 4-4 team.
Arizona Cardinals (5-3):
Hey look what I found! A winning team in the NFC West. Man, these teams are awful and the Cardinals are the tallest midget. They are playing decent football and have benefited from a weak schedule. They aren’t great, but they are good enough to beat crappy teams. I’ll add a + to their grade because they so often are losers.
Seattle Seahawks (2-6):
The second place team in the NFC West is Two. And. Six. Wow.
The Seahawks are dreadful and now are hit with injuries. They are sans QB Matt Hasselbeck, LB Lofa Tatupu, DE Patrick Kerney and, as always, WR Deion Branch.
This past week, QB Seneca Wallace spiked the ball on third down to stop the clock so they could…punt. Uh, yeah. That’s where they are.
San Francisco 49ers (2-6):
At least they are tied for second in the division, right? I love Frank Gore and Patrick Willis along with the emergence of Ray Edwards and Josh Morgan.
St. Louis Rams (2-6):
The Rams are also tied for second place, so they have that going for them, which is nice. The Rams actually have a wee bit of talent, but it’s not enough. They have been blown out numerous times this year and are playing for their second coach this year.
Wow Micah, you are spot on with all of these assessments.