Monday, November 14, 2011

Halftime at the NFL

Well, we are a little past the halfway point of the NFL season. It's time to take a look around the league and see how things are shaping up.

As usual,. a disclaimer: I don't know enough about football to offer any analysis, so I am basically stating the blatantly obvious below.

WTF is up with Indianapolis? Sure, Peyton Manning is a good player, probably the best of his era. But the remainder of that team isn't so bad that they fall apart without him. But that is exactly what's happened: the vaunted Indianapolis Colts, who for nearly a decade have been in the playoffs and winning their division each of those years save one, are currently winless. Even once-great teams that fall on a bad year eke out 6-10 years. Given the fact that Manning may not be coming back, this should have most Colts fans worried.

WTF is up with Buffalo and Detroit? Both of these teams, generally miserable for the past decade or so, started out very, very strong. Both have dropped off recently, and their records are now a modest 5-4 and 6-3. (The Lions, alas, have the misfortune to be in the same division as the undefeated Green Bay Packers, so they may be fighting for only a wild card slot during this glorious year.) Does this mean that these teams have finally got something right, or is this a fluke (like Cincinnati seems to have every few years or so)? From the little that I've seen, the Bills are hit-or-miss enough that this may simply be an anomaly, but the Lions appear to have gotten some semblance of a team started up.

WTF is up with the West? Everyone in the West? All eight teams in the west, with the exception of the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers, are pretty bad. No team in the NFC aside from the 49ers have managed to scrape together more than 3 wins, and they all still have to face the 49ers twice (save Seattle). the AFC looks a little better; the Oakland Raiders are 5-4, and the rest are tied at 4-5. This appears to be a continuation from last year, when somehow the Seattle Seahawks cracked the playoffs despite having a losing record (but still managing to stiff the New Orleans Saints).

WTF is up with the AFC North? It's not horribly unusual to have a three-way tie this late in the season, but it is a bit strange to have that tie be as high up as 6-3. Things shook out a little this past weekend, with Pittsburgh beating Cincinnati and Baltimore losing, but still.  A Ravens-Steelers knockout is fairly common these days, but a surprisingly strong resurgence from the long-suffering Bengals has made things interesting. At one point, I believe, three of the four top teams in the AFC were in this division.

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