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.
Los Angeles Chargers
If any team could wish for a do-over, the Chargers would probably wish the hardest. To the hold-out from running back, Melvin Gordon, to the injuries on defence, particularly, young star Derwin James, to the decline of veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers, the Chargers have not managed expectation well at all this season. Yes, they have some valid excuses, but they still run out a talented side every week, and a side that talented should not be losing games they way they do. Their season looks to be over, and now the story becomes, is this the last season we see Phillip Rivers in a Chargers uniform?
Los Angeles Rams
Last seasons Super Bowl runners up have been hit and miss in their games so far this season. The Rams began the year going 3-0 before losing the next three straight. The McVay/Goff offense has struggled to reach the same heights it achieved last season. While still being more than serviceable, Rams fans will be hoping for improvements out of quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley II. Defensively, the Rams continue to leak points with their boom or bust style, yet the addition of cornerback Jalen Ramsey will help to plug some of those concerns.
Tank, Tank, Tank. The Dolphins have one objective and one objective only. Tank for Tua. The Dolphins have been unapologetic about their intentions for the number one overall pick in next years draft. With that pick, the Dolphins will more than likely select the highly sought after Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Until then, keep expecting mundane performance after mundane performance from the Dolphins, who will aim to end up 0-16 for the season.
Well positioned at the halfway mark, the Vikings are only one win behind the Green Bay Packers in the fight for the NFC North. They've achieved this through their persistent running game, led by running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are ranked 3rd in both rushing yards per game and rushing attempts per game. Cook has been one of the best in his position so far throughout the season. Quarterback, Kirk Cousins has shown that he is capable of performing well against lesser opposition, however his ability to take it to the next level will dictate whether or not the Vikings can cause a stir in the playoffs.
New England Patriots
The undefeated Patriots have been arguably the most impressive side throughout 8 weeks, however there is no mistaking that they have played against more of the lesser teams in the league. The favourable schedule so far has allowed the Patriots to flex their muscle, particularly through their defence. The reigning Super Bowl champions are setting a record pace statistically, leading the majority of all defensive categories. This isn't expected to continue though, considering the jump up in difficulty in the next few weeks, although don't expect it to decline too much either.
New Orleans Saints
When veteran quarterback Drew Brees went down with a thumb injury in week 3, Saints fans and NFL fans were collectively holding their breath. Any sort of absence of the 40-year-old has normally resulted in danger for the Saints. Yet, back up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has exceeded expectations by going 5-0 since Brees' injury. With Brees returning to action last week, and looking like he hasn't missed a beat, the Saints are now look every part the Super Bowl contending team many expected them to be.
New York Giants
Beginning the season with stalwart quarterback Eli Manning under centre, the Giants continued to look like the miserable team they have been in the last couple of seasons. Head Coach Pat Shurmur finally pulled the trigger and made a much needed change at quarterback, starting the sixth overall pick in this seasons draft, Daniel Jones. While still not the complete product, Jones has certainly raised the Giants from a lacklustre team to a work in progress. This season is all about reps for Jones, the more he can play and develop fluency under centre, the quicker the Giants will become a playoff contending team again,