08 November 2013

2013 Halftime Report for the National Football League

Since every team in the National Football League has now played at least half of its regular season games, a review the results and standings is warranted. 

AFC East: The Jets are still within striking distance of the Patriots but have little room for error. New York needs to break its "win one, lose one" routine and go on a winning streak, especially in the three remaining divisional games. Additionally, the Jets need the Bills or Dolphins to upset New England, which would give the Jets a tiebreaker advantage if the Jets win those three key games. This is New England's divisional crown to lose. Buffalo is destined to continue the NFL's longest current streak without a playoff appearance. Miami will be further distracted by its bullying scandal. 

AFC North: Cincinnati holds a precarious two game lead over Cleveland and two and a half game lead over Baltimore in the standings.  However, the Bengals lost the first meeting versus the Browns. Also, the Bengals have yet to play the Ravens. If Cincinnati loses again to Cleveland and at least once to Baltimore, this race will tighten up considerably.    

AFC South: Indianapolis continuing its two game cushion over Tennessee will depend considerably on how the Colts fare versus the Titans in their two games against each other. A sweep by the Titans would possibly swing the divisional crown into their clutches. Houston will need a miraculously long string of wins just to sneak into contention for the playoffs. Jacksonville is destined to receive the first or second pick in next spring's NFL draft. 

AFC West: The race between Kansas City and Denver developed early in the season as a question of which team would win the division with the other settling for the higher wildcard. These two will face each twice in the span of fifteen days. If one team sweeps, that team will most likely grab the divisional championship as well as the top seed in the AFC playoffs.  

NFC East: At first glance, it appears that Dallas holds a precarious lead of one game over Philadelphia and one and of a half over Washington. However, the Cowboys can do no worse than splitting their series versus its fellow division members after having beaten each one once already. In contrast, the other three teams have lost two games within the division. The Cowboys could still fritter away their shot at the playoffs with games at New Orleans, New York, Chicago and Washington remaining. A loss or two by the Cowboys, especially to the Eagles or Redskins, will endanger Dallas' playoff hopes. 

NFC North: This race stands out as the tightest by far in the NFL. Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago have identical overall and divisional records. Each one in that trio has defeated one of the other two and lost to the other. The Lions hold a slender lead in terms of tie-breakers with the strongest conference record, four wins and two losses, compared to the Bears having split their six games with the NFC and to three wins in five conference games for the Packers. Fans should expect this race to go undecided until the last weekend of the season. 

NFC South: The Saints' cruising toward the divisional championship hits two recent speed bumps. Meanwhile, Carolina's streak of four victories has launched the Panthers just one game behind the Saints. These two will settle the championship in December when they will face each other twice in three weeks. The Falcons have crashed and burned. The Bucs will receive the other draft pick not allotted to the other decrepit team a few hours drive to the north of Tampa Bay.

NFC West: The Seahawks have pulled slightly ahead of the Forty-Niners, mostly due to Seattle's victory over San Francisco in September. If San Francisco can win their rematch, this race may not be settled until late December. If Seattle wins the game, the Seahawks can afford a loss versus another opponent. 


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