SportsPulse: Trysta Krick critiques the loopy first half of the NFL season in 2 minutes.
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Can WR Antonio Brown (84) and the Steelers unseat the Patriots this yr?(Photo: James Lang, USA TODAY Sports)
Let’s do that once more.
Prior to coaching camp, we projected the information for all 32 NFL groups — earlier than that rash of distinguished accidents, numerous efficiency points (good and dangerous) and different method of adversity started to outline the 2017 season. It took form rapidly, the Kansas City Chiefs’ opening evening upset of the Julian Edelman-less New England Patriots immediately nullifying our perception the Super Bowl LI champs had been primed to be the league’s first 19-Zero workforce. (Thanks on your suggestions, Twitter.)
Now that we’re midway by way of the schedule and have a greater thought how you can badess every membership, listed below are revised forecasts — primarily based on selecting the result of every contest left on the schedule — plus a bonus have a look at the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles (13-Three): They’re cruising together with a league-best Eight-1 mark. They’ll be severely examined on the opposite aspect of this week’s bye, their subsequent three street video games at Dallas, Seattle and L.A. to face the Rams. Still, with QB Carson Wentz enjoying at an MVP degree, a potent offense buoyed by the addition of RB Jay Ajayi and a defensive entrance seven that is capably compensated for any points on the again finish, Philly looks as if a secure wager to hold onto the convention’s No. 1 seed.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7): A 3-game win streak has gotten them into gear. But a brutal second-half schedule consists of two video games with the Eagles, a visit to Atlanta and a go to from the Seahawks. And RB Ezekiel Elliott’s unresolved suspension continues to loom as the last word asterisk.
Washington Redskins (9-7): They’re really by way of the worst a part of their schedule. However an Zero-Three division report — together with a sweep by Philadelphia — and a decimated offensive line could finally hang-out these scrappy ‘Skins.
New York Giants (1-15):Um, the G-Men have supplied ample proof to recommend they’re completely “capable” of going oh-fer the remainder of the best way.
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Minnesota Vikings (11-5): From Weeks 12-14, they’re at Detroit, Atlanta and Carolina, a gauntlet prone to decide whether or not the Vikes win the division or fall into the wild-card scrum. Minnesota’s resume just isn’t spectacular, and the quarterback place could expertise additional flux if rusty Teddy Bridgewater finally will get the nod over Case Keenum. But an elite protection ought to preserve this membership related.
Detroit Lions (10-6): They host the Vikings on Thanksgiving, Detroit’s solely remaining contest in opposition to a workforce that at the moment owns a profitable report. A golden alternative to make successive postseason journeys for the primary time since 1995, nonetheless the Lions’ controversial Week Three loss to the Falcons serves because the decisive tiebreaker for the second wild-card slot on this projection.
Chicago Bears (7-9): Certainly affordable to suppose this up-and-coming outfit can cut up its remaining video games and sow hope for what could possibly be a breakthrough in 2018.
Green Bay Packers (5-11): They have not missed the playoffs since 2008 and have not completed final within the division since 2005. Proof optimistic that Aaron Rodgers will be the most worthwhile participant within the league.
New Orleans Saints (11-5): QB Drew Brees is within the midst of his least-productive season — at the very least statistically — since he arrived in The Big Easy 11 years in the past. Yet this workforce is using a six-game win streak due to huge defensive turnaround and a balanced offense that options RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara as a lot as Brees. Looks lots just like the 2009 version that received Super Bowl XLIV.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6): They’ve bought an excessive amount of expertise to proceed plugging alongside at .500, proper? On the plus aspect, they have 5 extra residence video games and are displaying indicators of an offensive breakout. But they have to navigate a schedule that features Dallas, Seattle, Minnesota, Carolina and New Orleans — twice.
Carolina Panthers (9-7): The delta between their peaks and valleys could also be larger than another workforce within the league. Adapting to life with out jettisoned WR Kelvin Benjamin provides a hurdle, although getting TE Greg Olsen again from a damaged foot would offer a serious enhance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Three-13): Pay consideration, Cam Newton, this sinking ship is what the Titanic seemed like.
Los Angeles Rams (12-Four): A yr after posting the fewest factors within the league, they’ve now bought the NFL’s highest-scoring badault. That high-octane offense overshadows a dialed-in protection that makes these Rams appear extremely able to a deep playoff run.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5): History suggests they will make an enormous run within the second half. History additionally suggests they will have a couple of maddening performances like final week’s near-inexplicable loss to Washington. But with QB Russell Wilson catching fireplace and now protected by LT Duane Brown — to not point out a reasonably open and unpredictable NFC subject — we like them to go deep into January whether or not or not they’re enjoying postseason video games at CenturyLink Field.
Arizona Cardinals (Eight-Eight): Four of their subsequent 5 are at residence, and the lone foray out of University of Phoenix Stadium throughout that stretch is a visit to Houston. So count on them to hold round so long as RB Adrian Peterson can proceed to hold the mail.
San Francisco 49ers (2-14): They’ve been in too many shut video games to not finally win a couple of, particularly if QB Jimmy Garoppolo will get into the lineup sooner or later.
New England Patriots (13-Three): Far from excellent and possibly not even amongst Bill Belichick’s higher groups, admittedly a really excessive bar. Regardless, the division is within the bag, and a protection that is steadily improved after a catastrophic begin ought to allow Tom Brady and Co. to make a professional run for a sixth Lombardi Trophy, notably given an obvious lack of juggernauts elsewhere within the league.
Buffalo Bills (Eight-Eight): We’d prefer to see the individuals of Western New York rejoice as this workforce punches its first playoff ticket since 1999. Unfortunately, final week’s loss to the Jets bolstered a suspicion the Bills’ margin for error could also be too skinny, particularly with two upcoming dates in opposition to New England amongst different robust outs (Saints, Chargers, Chiefs).
New York Jets (Eight-Eight): Just a outstanding teaching job by Todd Bowles. Given the expertise they parted with after final season, eight wins — heck, even 4 wins — appeared effectively past Gang Green’s grasp. But not like the veteran-laden 2015 workforce that went 10-6 however fell shy of a wild card, this younger group appears to be laying a basis to construct upon.
Miami Dolphins (7-9): Three chilly climate journeys lie forward for a workforce that is blown, uh, tepid and chilly all season.
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Pittsburgh Steelers (13-Three): Perhaps the most-anticipated recreation league-wide left on the schedule can be their Dec. 17 matchup at Heinz Field in opposition to the Patriots, who can be enjoying a 3rd consecutive street recreation on a brief week. Let’s give that one (and home-field benefit) to the Steelers, who seem to have a cakewalk the remainder of the best way if QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell keep wholesome for a change.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7): It’s been ugly to date. But QB Joe Flacco seemed the very best he has all season of their most up-to-date recreation, and the protection is way extra formidable with DT Brandon Williams wholesome. A really gentle schedule provides Baltimore a wonderful shot at one other 5 – 6 wins, which might be sufficient for a wild card in our mannequin.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-11): They would possibly at the very least be compelling if QB AJ McCarron began a couple of video games, or rookie RB Joe Mixon bought considerably extra touches. Alas …
Cleveland Browns (2-14): Two wins appear to be a stretch, proper? Perhaps. But golden alternatives are coming in opposition to the Rodgers-less Packers, whereas the Browns’ Week 17 journey to Pittsburgh would possibly entail a matchup in opposition to a workforce resting its stars.
Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5): It virtually would not matter what QB Blake Bortles does. No workforce has recorded extra sacks. The protection can be permitting the fewest factors and pbading yards per recreation. And their floor recreation is the league’s handiest — with or with out rookie sensation Leonard Fournette within the lineup. Back to Bortles. He will not be again in 2018, however he is been greater than serviceable in latest weeks, and that is loads good given the expertise round him.
Tennessee Titans (10-6): Frankly, they have been relatively disappointing holistically. But loads of groups would like to underwhelm their method to a 5-Three report on the flip. It’d be good to see crisper soccer the remainder of the best way, however — at minimal — the Titans’ expertise ought to allow them to notch one other 5 victories even when they by no means hit on all cylinders.
Houston Texans (Four-12): The three wholesome quarterbacks on their roster (Tom Savage, T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson) have a mixed NFL report of 6-12, with newly re-signed Yates accounting for 5 of these Ws. Enough mentioned.
Indianapolis Colts (Four-12): Let’s evaluation. Two of their three victories got here in opposition to winless groups, and the opposite was in opposition to the post-Watson Texans. Their subsequent three video games are in opposition to first-place opponents. Locker room complaints about coach Chuck Pagano have gotten public. And Andrew Luck is not strolling by way of that tunnel. Pack it up.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-Four): After a begin that seemed Super, they hit a pace bump. Yet a easily paved street lies past their bye, with Buffalo they solely membership left on the docket that presently sits above .500. That Week 1 win over the Patriots might loom giant if the Chiefs stay within the race for one of many high seeds.
Oakland Raiders (Eight-Eight): That four-game tailspin from Weeks Three-6 will most likely price them. With the Patriots, Chiefs, Cowboys and Eagles on the menu, the Raiders do not seem to have sufficient wins within the financial institution to get QB Derek Carr into the playoff crucible for the primary time.
Los Angeles Chargers (6-10): What have they got to stay up for? Two 1 p.m. begins on the East Coast. A Thursday recreation on the street. A Saturday recreation on the street. And 4 extra dates in entrance of the league’s least-supportive residence followers. Happy Holidays, fellas.
Denver Broncos (5-11): Hard to imagine they had been Three-1. Since that promising begin, which included a 25-point dismantling of Dallas, nada. When you give the ball away 19 instances, not even a protection this good can compensate. Unless Paxton Lynch had an epiphany whereas rehabbing his injured shoulder, no motive to imagine they pull out of this nosedive.
Wild card: (Three) Chiefs def. (6) Ravens; (Four) Jaguars def. (5) Titans
Divisional: (2) Patriots def. (Three) Chiefs; (1) Steelers def. (Four) Jaguars
AFC Championship Game: (2) Patriots def. (1) Steelers
Wild card: (6) Falcons def. (Three) Vikings; (5) Seahawks def. (Four) Saints
Divisional: (5) Seahawks def. (2) Rams; (1) Eagles def. (6) Falcons
NFC Championship Game: (5) Seahawks def. (1) Eagles
Super Bowl LII: Patriots def. Seahawks
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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