Week 9 of the 2016 season is pretty much in the rear view mirror with this evenings MNF matchup being the last game to play in order to conclude the week’s festivities. That puts us solidly at the 1/2 way point of the NFL season. Perfect time to take a look at the current NFL standings and read the tea leaves.
As I just mentioned, there is a Monday Night Football game this evening. It’s an important contest standings-wise between the Seattle Seahawks and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are locked in the annual battle for a wild card spot in the AFC East at 4-4 behind the 7-1 New England Patriots who had to play their first four games with a handful of QB’s not named Brady. Seriously, shouldn’t they have to do that every year? Or give them a permanent playoff spot so the other three teams could at least vie for something obtainable? I digress. Let’s break the divisions down. We will do the AFC below and the NFC tomorrow.
Ed Note: Click here for the NFC Aftermath
American Football Conference
AFC East – the Pats are sitting comfortably at 7-1 with the rest of the division at .500 or below. A win tonight would keep the Bills within striking distance of a wild card slot and put them one game over .500 for the season. The Dolphins are talented but have organizational issues and questionalbe clubhouse leadership. The Jets are a mess. Freezing out their QB in the offseason so he had no camp. Not paying, trading or playing their incredible interior DL depth. Absolutely sucking on game day. This is on the coaches. This is on the front office. This is on the owner. The Jets are dysfunctional and need to be overhauled from top to bottom.
AFC North – From bad to worse. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are two teams playing beneath their talent level. They aptly demonstrated this fact in a poorly played game this past Sunday. The Ravens came away the victors and are now tied with the Steelers at 4-4. The Bengals are trying to find an identity sitting at 3-4 and the Browns …. well the Browns have 18 rookies on their team and they play like it. Regardless they have a ton of raw talent and play hard. 0-16 is possible but I have to believe they can win a game or two down the stretch.
AFC South – This is a talented division that can’t seem to hit its stride. The Texans currently are in first at 5-3 but it’s anything but clear if Brock Osweiler is the answer at QB. The Colts and Titans both trail at 4-5. The Colts have issues everywhere but QB and the Titans aren’t sure which team is going to show up on any given week. If they find a way to play consistent football they could easily be the class of the division. The Jaguars are sitting in a familiar position for them at 2-6 yet have a talented roster from top to bottom except for …… In a recurring theme QB play is absolutely killing them.
AFC West – Da Oakland Raiders are sitting at 7-2 with a roster that should improve by the game. They have the perfect coach for the talent on hand who has implemented a simple scheme that lets his players excel. They players show resiliency and play tough, hard-nosed football. Unlike the AFC East the Raiders have the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos nipping right at their heels (6-2 & 6-3 respectively) in one of the toughest divisions in football. The San Diego Chargers are a disappointing 4-5 but have played tough and lost heart breaking games. With Philip Rivers at QB they are never out of a game. Bottom line, if your club has a scheduled match versus an AFC West opponent you’ve got a game on your hands.
The AFC is putting up a solid group of teams to represent in the 2016 Super Bowl. The Pats, Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos are the first tier of teams in the power rankings with the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Colts and Titans all within striking distance if they can solve their individual issues.
Cold weather games tend to separate the pretenders from the contenders (thank you Butch Davis) and with the first half of the season over the heavy weights of the division have made themselves known. The Patriots are the favorites at this point (as they often are) yet any of the top three AFC West Teams could have something to say about that.
Joker in the Deck – The Chargers. Always the Chargers. They have Philip Rivers at QB, have a talented roster and don’t quit. You can’t have that bad of luck for that long can you? Can you?
National Football Conference next.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over