NFC Midseason Report Card

After 8 Weeks in the NFL, here are my grades for each team in the NFC. Enjoy and feel free to comment!

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) – C. The Cowboys have been average at best this season and the reason is because of their defense. They have the worst pass defense in the NFL and an average run defense (17th). Offensively, Tony Romo is doing well with the passing attack, but the running game is decimated by injuries and little production. The saving grace for Dallas is they are in the NFC East, arguably the worst division in the NFL.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – C-. It was difficult to grade the Eagles because their offense has disappeared, but the defense has emerged. Vick is injured and out, Foles has concussion symptoms, and that leaves Matt Barkley as the current QB. Barkley is far from the QB you want running Chip Kelly’s offense. Still, the defense is starting to play well and the Eagles are only a game out of first in the NFC East. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to stop the slide in Philadelphia.

3. Washington Redskins (2-5) – D. We knew it would take time for Robert Griffin III to get used to playing, but the defense for the Redskins is what is truly ailing them. They rank 28th in pass defense and 29th in rush defense. In addition, they have given up at least 27 points in six of the seven games. A long way to go for the Redskins, but they are only a game and a half out of first.

4. New York Giants (2-6) – F. This season has been a disaster for the Giants. Eli Manning has turned the ball over constantly, the offensive line is not protecting him, and there is no running game. The defense has looked lost and gave up at least 27 points in the first six games. The last two games have been better as they Giants have won, but they were facing Minnesota and the Eagles. I am not sold on the Giants recent winning trend, but they are only two games out of first place.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (5-2) – B+. The Packers have shown a lot in the first half of the season. For starters, the Packers have found a running game that has been missing for the last several seasons. In addition, the Packers continue to click on offense and defense in the last two plus games without James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and Clay Matthews. Watch out for this team in the 2nd half.

2. Detroit Lions (5-3) – B. The Lions are becoming a dangerous team in the NFC. The last second win at home against Dallas coupled with two away wins shows that the Lions can win late and take their show on the road. My only concern is they have not beaten a really good team yet (losses at Green Bay and home to Cincinnati) and when Calvin Johnson is out, they are too predictable.

3. Chicago Bears (4-3) – C. In a reversal of the norm for Chicago, the Bears have been really good on offense and poor on defense. The loss of Jay Cutler will hurt the Bears on offense, but they have the pieces in place to help Josh McCown in Cutler’s absence. The main concern is the defense that ranks near the bottom of the NFL (27th in pass defense and 24th in rush defense). The next three games for the Bears will decide which way their season goes.

4. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) – F. For a team that made the playoffs in 2012, this kind of start is unacceptable. They have not won a game in the U.S. (their win against the Steelers was in London) and their defense is porous. Then there is the quarterback situation. Christian Ponder was not getting it done, so they threw Matt Cassel into the fire and he did not fare any better. Then the Vikings decide to pick up Josh Freeman who looked like a deer in the headlights on Monday Night Football against the Giants. How can a team with Adrian Peterson at running back look so inept on offense?

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (6-1) – A. This Saints team looks different from previous Saints teams. Yes, Sean Payton is back and that cannot be underscored, but the difference is the Saints have a good defense. The defense is not giving up lots of yards and points and is actually tackling. The only chink in the armor is that game at New England when they gave up a TD in the final minute. Look out for them down the stretch.

2. Carolina Panthers (4-3) – C+. Is Carolina for real? I believe they are for real when you look at their games played. The have only played one awful game (at Arizona in Week 5), but played Seattle and Buffalo tough in the first two weeks of the season. Their last three games have been impressive, albeit against Minnesota, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay, but I see a team that is building confidence, especially on offense. I am not saying they will make the playoffs, but they will be close.

3. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) – D. Yes the Falcons have been decimated by injuries, but this team has looked horrendous on defense and where is the running game? Outside of Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez, this team does not look good at all. The losses of Julio Jones and Roddy White have led to predictability on offense which has hurt the Falcons. This season has been a disappointment after making the NFC Championship game last year.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) – F. I am not sure where to start with the Buccaneers. Greg Schiano appears to have lost the team, got into a public spat with his former QB Josh Freeman, and the offense is nowhere to be found. Injuries to Doug Martin and Mike Williams have not helped, but the offense did not look good when they weren’t injured. They are slowly sliding into Jacksonville Jaguars territory with their ineptness. Which week does Greg Schiano get fired?

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks (7-1) – A. We knew the Seahawks would be good, but what really makes them special is they have taken their game with them on the road. Seattle really struggled the past few seasons on the road. Even their lone loss at Indianapolis was still an impressive game. Another thing that impressed me was their ability to play well with the suspensions to their defensive secondary to start the year. Look out if they get homefield.

2. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – B+. The 49ers struggled to start the year and Colin Kaepernick did not look comfortable. The 49ers went back to their bread and butter of the power run game and have won five in a row. With Crabtree coming back in a few weeks, this offense will get better. Yet another NFC team to watch out for.

3. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – C. Arizona is a tough team for me to figure out. They are great at home (3-1) but struggle to take their game on the road (1-3, only win is at Tampa Bay). The defense is strong, but I feel the Cardinals need a little more on offense. Unfortunately for the Cardinals is they are in the tough NFC West.

4. St. Louis Rams (3-5) – C-. The Rams have been a bit disappointing this year after finishing 7-8-1 in 2012. Offensively, they have not had a running game and their top pick Tavon Austin has not shown the explosiveness that we saw in College. Now, Sam Bradford is out for the year and it looks like things will be getting worse on offense. The defense has been good at times this year, but they have not been consistent enough. Tough times ahead for the Rams.

Grade Letters Distribution

Below is the distribution of each letter grade given out to NFC teams.

A – 2 (New Orleans, Seattle)

B – 3 (Detroit, Green Bay, San Francisco)

C – 6 (Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, St. Louis)

D – 2 (Atlanta, Washington)

F – 3 (Minnesota, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)

AFC Midseason Report Card

After 8 Weeks in the NFL, here are my grades for each team in the AFC. Enjoy and feel free to comment!

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (6-2) – B+. The Patriots have been successful despite the offense struggling through the first half of the season. The defense has played well, but injuries to Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib might hurt them in the 2nd half. I expect the Offense to get better and the defense to continue playing at the same level.

2. New York Jets (4-4) – C+. The Jets have exceeded my expectations from the start of the season, but they are lacking consistency. They have alternated wins and losses to start the season and only have one good win (vs. New England). Geno Smith has played well for a rookie and if the Jets can find some consistency they will be tough going forward.

3. Miami Dolphins (3-4) – C. The Dolphins started out 3-0 after some hype in the offseason but have now lost four games in a row and are sputtering. Ryan Tannehill has played well at times this season, but he has 9 interceptions and 32 sacks already. They need more offensive consistency to push for a possible wild card spot.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-5) – C. I think the Bills have played respectably on defense to start the year, but need to find more on offense. The injury to E.J. Manuel hurts them, but Thad Lewis has done well in replace of Manuel. They need more output from their running backs if they want to finish above .500.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) – B+. The Bengals are really starting to become a top team with how both the offense and defense are playing. They have beaten some good teams (New England and Green Bay), but also lost a head-scratcher at Cleveland. Overall, there is a lot to like about this team going forward and they are a deep team.

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) – C-. The Ravens’ start was not unexpected to me, but as defending Super Bowl Champions they need to show a lot more. They are not doing enough offensively and the pass protection needs to get better. The bye week should help Ray Rice and the run game, which in turn will help the passing offense. Still a lot left to do in the 2nd half of the year if they want to make the playoffs.

3. Cleveland Browns (3-5) – C. I give the Browns a C because they have played well despite several issues. For one, there has been a QB carousel between Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, and now Jason Campbell. Campbell appears to be the starter going forward and that should help solidify the offense as the season wares on. Secondly, the Browns traded their 1st Round pick from 2012 in Trent Richardson which does not appear to have had any effect (good or bad) on the offense. The defense has played well this year and will continue to keep them in games.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) – D. The Steelers have played horrendously on offense and have virtually no running game. For a proud franchise like the Steelers, this is completely unacceptable. The defense has played well for the most part, but how long can they keep that up in a season considering they are an older group?

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – B+. Andrew Luck continues to shine as the Colts won some big games at San Francisco and beat Denver and Seattle in Indy. The trade for Richardson has not worked out well thus far from a production standpoint, but there is still time to fix that. The defense has played well, but needs to work on stopping the run. Some big games in December at Cincinnati (Week 14) and at Kansas City (Week 16) should determine how many home games Indianapolis plays in the postseason.

2. Tennessee Titans (3-4) – C+. This was a tough team for me to grade because they have lost to three really good teams (Kansas City, Seattle, and San Francisco), but have beaten decent teams (San Diego and New York Jets). For the most part, the Titans are playing good defense and Jake Locker is coming back from the injury to his hip. The Titans are a decent team and a little more offensive consistency will help them in the 2nd half.

3. Houston Texans (2-5) – F. Given the expectations and the lackluster start, the first half of the season has been a failure for the Texans. They barely beat San Diego and Tennessee to start the season and then Matt Schaub started playing poorly and the Texans lost five in a row to go into their bye week. The loss of Brian Cushing will hurt the defense and the injury to Foster will slow the offense down. Things are not looking good for the Texans after some high hopes at the start of the campaign.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) – F. The grade might be harsh as everyone expected the Jaguars to play poorly, but the Jagaurs have been completely inept. The offensive line has blocked poorly, Blaine Gabbert looked completely lost when he was playing, and the defense is on the field way too long due to the offense. There is a long way to go for this team to be competitive this season.

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) – A+. This was probably the easiest grade to give. A team that goes from 2-14 to 8-0 the next season is a shoo-in for an A+. The defense is playing great and the players are adapting well to the offensive system. The only caveat with this team is they play some close games against opponents that are clearly inferior (Tennessee and Cleveland come to mind). Nevertheless, look out for this team in December and January.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1) – B. What? Only a “B”? Yes because everyone expected the Broncos to be good, and they have been, but their defense is not very good. The have had suspension and injuries to start the year, but that is no excuse for giving up 48 points to the Cowboys or 190 yards to Justin Blackmon (who is Jacksonville’s only receiving threat). You cannot keep falling behind and expect to win every game, especially when it is to a good team (see Indianapolis).

3. San Diego Chargers (4-3) – C+. Let’s start with the fact that Philip Rivers is playing excellent this year and the offense is clicking even with some injuries. My main issue with the Chargers is they have lost games late to Houston and Tennessee and they threw that clunker in against Oakland. Overall, they have done a decent job in the first half of the season.

4. Oakland Raiders (3-4) – C. The Raiders have looked good on defense this season, but have struggled a bit on offense. Terrelle Pryor is the best fit at QB for the Raiders and as he gets more experience, the offense will find it’s groove. They have lost to top teams (Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis), but have do have a win against San Diego. The Raiders will be a very tough out in the 2nd half.

Grade Letters Distribution

Below is the distribution of each letter grade given out to AFC teams.

A – 1 (Kansas City)

B – 4 (Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, New England)

C – 8 (Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, New York Jets, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee)

D – 1 (Pittsburgh)

F – 2 (Houston, Jacksonville)