With eight weeks already in the books, it's time to have a look over each team and grade their performances throughout the first half of the NFL season.
Consistency has been the achilles heel for the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of the season. They began the season 3-0 before then losing the next 3 on the trot. With one of those losses against the miserable New York Jets. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has been an MVP candidate throughout the first 8 weeks, leading the Cowboys to a very respectable 27.1 points per game. Currently leading the NFC East, the Cowboys sit in the box seat to win the division, especially after their convincing win over divisional rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. There is still a lot of improvement left in the Cowboys and that should strike fear in the rest of the teams in the league.
The boys from Denver have numerous issues that need addressing, firstly, quarterback, Joe Flacco has been underwhelming, the offensive line is well below par and the usually stout defence has been, at times, ordinary. Vic Fangio has finally gotten an opportunity at head coach and so far this season he has not delivered. The main concern being the decline in the defence, normally Fangio's strength. A positive for the Broncos is the arrival of Courtland Sutton, the wide receiver should be a mainstay in the Broncos offense for years to come. Get Sutton a decent quarterback, John Elway, oh, and an offensive line to protect him while you're at it.
Not entirely sure what to make of the Detroit Lions, the highs are high and the lows are low. At times, they look fantastic and other times they look ordinary. They have been very competitive in loses against some very good teams, particularly against the Packers and the Chiefs. They've lost running back Kerryon Johnson for, most likely, the rest of the season. Defensively, the Lions are struggling, conceding 26.6 points per game. Can quarterback Matthew Stafford carry this team on his back and get them to the playoffs? Perhaps? But if he does, he'll be right in the mix for MVP claims.
Green Bay Packers
Has Aaron Rodgers finally found the ideal head coach? So far, it appears to be the case under new head coach Matt LeFluer. Rodgers has looked to have re-found his magical spark, that some pundits were saying was beyond him. Albeit, Rodgers and co have been well supported by a stout Packers pass defence, currently ranked 8th in opponent completions per game. Rodgers and LeFluer have managed the offense well by also incorporating an effective run game, led by Aaron Jones. Packers fans would be happy to see a run game that they can finally rely on. The Packers lead the NFC North for now, however there are a few very important matchups looming on the back-end of their schedule.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a special talent. For as long as he stands upright, the Texans are a good chance to make a deep playoff run. However Watson is being hit far too often for the Texans liking, while the addition of tackle Laremy Tunsil has helped ease concerns for now, the Texans are still ranked 24th in quarterback sacks allowed. Defensively, the Texans have lost veteran rusher JJ Watt for the reminder of the season, it is a big loss in an area that the Texans are already struggling in. That being said, there is enough fire power in the offense with Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, to cover some defensive concerns. Look for the Texans to cause a stir in the AFC (assuming Watson stays fit).
After the shock retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck in the preseason, the Colts were expected to take a backwards step this season, even with a vey well-rounded team. Fill in quarterback Jacoby Brissett has done a fantastic job taking over the role from Luck. The Colts haven't been without injury concerns, key players on both sides of the ball have been injured at some point through the first 8 weeks, most notably, last seasons defensive rookie of the year, Darius Leonard and star wide receiver TY Hilton. Head coach Frank Reich has done a fantastic job with this team. Reich would be favourite for coach of the year at this point of the season. Just like the Texans, the Colts are a dangerous team for those in the AFC. They are a real dark horse for the Super Bowl.
Minshew Mania has taken over Jacksonville! With a long term injury to quarterback Nick Foles in week 1 of the season, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who looks like he could fit right into any of the Australian cricket teams from the 1970's, has been fantastic for the Jags. Along with Minshew, running back Leonard Fournette has finally started to showcase just how good a player he is, playing a substantial role in the Jags offense. The defense has been the key component for the Jags success in recent years and after losing elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Rams, the now less-star-studded defense, has still been able to be reliable enough for Minshew and co to get the Jags to 4-4 and still be in the mix for the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs
The story for the Chiefs through the first half of the season has been injuries. Regular injuries to key personnel has stifled the Chiefs ability to be their dynamic selves. With wide receiver, Sammy Watkins returning to action last week and last years MVP, quarterback, Patrick Mahomes only a game or two away from returning to the field, expect to see the Chiefs regain their mojo in the back half of the season. They'd be happy with the fact they are over .500, considering all the disruptions, however, this team is well and truly set up for Super Bowl or bust.