NFL Midseason Ranks

The 2016 NFL regular season is at its 50 yard line. Surprisingly, the league has taken a backseat, both to the MLB playoffs (Go Cubs!) and polarizing presidential election. Why? Many factors, including the lack of dominant teams and the quality of play. At the halfway mark, here’s where each team ranks.

1)New England Patriots (7-1)

The Patriots are the lone powerhouse of the NFL. New England started a surprising 3-1 without their MVP quarterback Tom Brady, and when Brady came back, he shook off all the dust and proved that the Patriots are head and shoulders above everybody else. Brady won the AFC Player of the Month for October and has made the offense nearly unstoppable. New England’s defense is doing fine, evidenced by the trade of Pro Bowler Jamie Collins to the Browns.

2) Dallas Cowboys (7-1)

One word: rookies. The Cowboys are white hot and on a league-high seven-game win streak, thanks to the two rookies in their backfield, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott ranks first among all NFL players in rushing yards (891) and has an astounding 111.4 rushing yards per game. All Prescott has done is stepping in for the injured Tony Romo and playing MVP caliber football as an inexperienced, fourth round pick. Dallas is hyped.

3) Atlanta Falcons (6-3)

Out in Atlanta, Matt Ryan’s career has finally lifted out of the depths of the past few seasons and his strong play has propelled the most dangerous offense in football (1st in yards from scrimmage). Receiver Julio Jones is hands down the best receiver in football, routinely commanding double teams, while the running back tandem of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman has been impressive. Wins over Denver and Oakland, and a close call against Seattle, prove Atlanta is for real. Like Oakland, Atlanta needs their defense to be just good for the team to be a contender.

4) Oakland Raiders (7-2)

Speaking of big name football teams experiencing a renaissance, the Raiders look like the only challenger to the Patriots in the AFC. Quarterback Derek Carr is leading one of the most proficient offenses in the NFL, with help from the best receiving duo in football and a rock-solid offensive line. It feels shocking to say this- Oakland is Super Bowl material.

5) Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1)

This year’s Seattle team isn’t as good as the teams of the past, but to win the NFC, they probably won’t need to be. Every year, the Seahawks’ defense has ranked as one of, if not the best defense in football, and this year is no different. Seattle’s rushing attack has been disappointing (31st in football), but quarterback Russell Wilson gets this offense to where it needs to be to win games. The Seahawks also seem to have favorable treatment from the men in the zebra outfits.

6) Denver Broncos (6-3)

Denver isn’t as good as not year, not on offense and certainly not on defense. Quarterback Trevor Siemian has experienced rough patches and hasn’t had the rushing attack to support him, while the defense has been exposed up the middle by opposing running backs. But the Broncos are still a game out of the AFC West division and figure prominently into the playoff picture.

7) Detroit Lions (5-4)

Matthew Stafford and the Lions are up-and-down, but they could sneak into the playoffs in a year where seemingly everyone’s alive. Detroit lost to Houston, Tennessee, and Chicago but have come back in the fourth quarter game after game. Their upset of division leader Minnesota was a big step in the right direction for Detroit, and the rest of the schedule is winnable.

8) Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

The Chiefs have an average offense, average defense, and are somehow right in the thick of the playoff picture. Hopefully, quarterback Alex Smith comes back soon, because the Chiefs have a brutal five game stretch coming up that includes the Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, and Falcons. To win two of those games would put Kansas City in prime position for a playoff spot.

9) Minnesota Vikings (5-3)

After keeping their season undefeated for longer than any other team in football, the Vikes have been free-falling. Losses to Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit have sent the Minnesota season on a downturn and discarded all the Super Bowl hype the Vikings had in the early season. Along with the undefeated season, offensive coordinator Norv Turner is also gone, as the offense has been virtually silent the past few games. But Minnesota does have an elite defense and a possible return from running back Adrian Peterson, so don’t rule them out yet.

10) Houston Texans (5-3)

Houston, we have a problem. That problem is the mediocre performance of struggling quarterback Brock Osweiler, a justified concern given all the money Osweiler gained from his new contract this offseason. But outside Osweiler, the Texans are a pretty good football team and one that is the favorite to take the AFC South and return to the playoffs. The Texans haven’t stacked up well against good teams, losing to the likes of Denver, Minnesota, and New England, but took care of the Chiefs, Titans, Colts, and Lions, all teams in the mix for playoff spots. Figure out the quarterback situation and Houston should be a lock to win the division.

11) New York Giants (5-3)

12) New Orleans Saints (4-4)

13) Green Bay Packers (4-4)

14) Buffalo Bills (4-5)

15) Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)

16) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)

17) San Diego Chargers (4-5)

18) Washington Redskins (4-3-1)

19) Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

20) Carolina Panthers (3-5)

21) Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

22) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

23) Tennessee Titans (4-5)

24) Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

25) Miami Dolphins (4-4)

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

27) Los Angeles Rams (3-5)

28) New York Jets (3-6)

29) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)

30) Chicago Bears (2-6)

31) San Francisco 49ers (1-7)

32) Cleveland Browns (0-9)

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