Sadly, we are at the halfway point of the NFL season and there are several teams in both conferences fighting for that coveted first overall seed and a bye week the first round of the playoffs along with home-field advantage throughout the postseason
After New England lost to Baltimore and San Francisco lost to Seattle on Monday in an instant classic, the AFC and NFC might be in for a mix-up at the top of the rankings. Even with the Patriots and 49ers losing, they are both still at the top of each conference. However the former unbeaten teams showed a lot of weaknesses in their defeats and both have a tough back end of their schedules, so the home-field advantage is up for grabs.
New England Patriots: Obviously. With Bill Belichick’s defense playing at an all-time great level and Tom Brady still at the helm on offense, this team is going to be tough to beat, home or away.
Baltimore Ravens: With second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson playing like the MVP of football along with a physical running game and playmaking defense, this team is my favorite to go all the way and win it all barring injury. This team is very underrated in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
Indianapolis Colts: Although the Colts aren’t first place in their own division, this team would be undefeated if it could make a field goal or extra point, which seems impossible at this point. Injuries to the Colts’ roster have been up and down so far, but if they can get healthy and make kicks, they match up very well against other AFC teams.
Kansas City Chiefs: Yeah, I said it. Their defense is the least intimidating in football. Once the quarterback has identified where Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones are, it’s hunting season because nobody else on the defense is theatening. The Chiefs also pass the ball way too much, not using clock and putting a terrible, tired defense back on the field. There are many more reasons to not like the Chiefs. In fact I don’t like anything about them except Patrick Mahomes. From coaching to personnel, this team is a fraud.
Houston Texans: I don’t trust this team as talented as it is for many of the same reasons I don’t trust the Chiefs. Again, once you identify two people on defense there isn’t anyone else you have to game plan around. Coach Bill O’Brien gets too antsy with his play calling, not running the ball.
San Francisco 49ers: This is a young, fast and smart roster that is coached very well. The 49ers — outside of Jimmy Garoppolo — don’t make mistakes and pay attention to little details that ultimately give them great matchups. Even the mistakes Garoppolo makes are fixable; he’s started only 18 games and is coming off a torn ACL. Not to mention his receiving corps is made up of rookies and second-year players besides Emmanuel Sanders, whom the 49ers traded for at the deadline just two weeks ago. They’re a very talented team looking to revolutionize offensive football. Watch out for this team, seriously.
Green Bay Packers: The defense worries me depending on the week or which way the wind is blowing. However when you have Aaron Rodgers you always have a chance. The running game has lifted much of the burden of Rodgers as well. This team is dangerous.
Minnesota Vikings: This team scares me the most. Their defense is very opportunistic and has a perfect balance of speed and size in their front seven. Dalvin Cook has been the best running back in football and Kirk Cousins can make any throw. They have a perfect team to manage the clock on offense and play really good defense. What can hurt the Vikings is the coaches not trusting their own players, particularly Cousins.
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson is just flat-out scary and is the best off–script player the league has. This team looks a lot like the Vikings, however I don’t trust the back end of the Seahawks defense like I do Minnesota’s. This team goes where Wilson goes and outside of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Wilson has been the best quarterback in football this year. They also showed Monday night the formula to beating San Francisco.
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles — both are too flakey and inconsistent. The Cowboys defense might be the most basic defense ever been run in the NFL, while their offensive line just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. The Eagles, on the other, hand lack speed all the way around. Philly has no finesse to it. Although it could overpower most any team, speed kills. Also Carson Wentz has no one to throw to besides Zach Ertz who is doubled every play.
Los Angeles Rams: It’s doubtful they could even make a run at this point, but even if they did, Todd Gurley is injury prone and Jared Goff needs play action to thrive. With no threat of a run game the play action is useless. The defense is much improved after the Jalen Ramsey trade. If the offense could give the ‘D’ more rest, Los Angeles could be a real team.
New Orleans Saints: They’re overrated all the way around and I hate to say it. This team doesn’t feel any different from the previous three that ended in disappointment. I don’t like the depth on the roster on defense and not having Mark Ingram to split carries with is taking a toll on Alvin Kamara.
The NFC is far better than the AFC from coaching to talent on the field. The team that comes out of the NFC will be the most battle tested as well. That being said, the Baltimore Ravens have something special about them and they will beat whoever comes out of the NFC, my guess being the 49ers.