Midway through the NFL season, we have seen some teams who have surprised (Dallas), disappointed (Jacksonville) and lived up to expectations (Seattle). Brooklyn Beat staff has reviewed each team and we project where they will finish.

JW – Justin Worsley

JP – Jay Pino

NB – Nick Binioris

GS – George Stanley

MM – Mat McWhorter

Dallas Cowboys (7-1)


The Cowboys are playing vintage football by taking care of the ball and using the run to set up the pass, in an era where that style of play is all but forgotten. Their defense is once again over-achieving as they did two seasons ago, appearing to bend on occasion but never break. Some attribute the success of the Dallas Cowboys to their stchedule of weaker opponents but it’s not as if the Cowboys are limping by the competition with a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back as the new faces of their franchise, they are taking care of business every week. Their final eight games include a Week 10 visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers and road contests against both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. They’ll lose two of those three remaining games to finish at 13-3 atop the NFC East but will need their defense to continue it’s overachieving ways against stiffer competition in the playoffs in order to make a real run at a championship. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 6-2

Team MVP: Dak Prescott, QB. Prescott is the undisputed MVP here, no one expected him to play like he has this season and his play beyond his years is why they are sitting where they are.

Team LVP: Dez Bryant, WR. Bryant hasn’t done much to hurt the team this year, but he certainly hasn’t done much to help it get to 7-1. The Cowboys will need him to stay on the field if they hope to win some tough division games down the stretch and compete for a championship.

Best Draft Pick: The drafting of Ezekiel Elliot was met with criticism but it is clear that although the rookie running back wasn’t the piece they needed last April, he was certainly the piece they needed once Romo and Bryant went down. It’s true you can put a lot of people behind that offensive line, but having someone like Elliot in the backfield makes the offense all the more dangerous.

Coach’s Fate: Despite the adversity entering the season, Dallas has flourished. Jason Garrett is safe.

New York Giants  (5-3)


Up and down start to the season where the Giants have won games more on the strength of the defense than the offense. The offense has yet to break out but a good start out of the bye against an Eagles team that the Giants they’ve struggled mightily against lately has them heading in the right direction. NB

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: Landon Collins, S.

Team LVP: Larry Donnell, TE.

Best Draft Pick: Sterling Shepherd, WR.

Coach’s Fate: Ben McAdoo is still learning the ropes and leaves some to be desired. However, the Giants aren’t an organization that pulls the plug early on coaches.

Washington Redskins (4-3-1)


The surprise division winners last season, Washington has fallen back to earth. On offense, Kirk Cousins has taken a small step back from last season, but underwhelming play from running backs Matt Jones and Chris Thompson has plagued the team. To make matters worse, Trent Williams, the highest-rated offensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus, has been suspended for four games.

Defensively, there are two players who have clearly struggled for the Redskins this season. Bashaud Breeland has been continuously burned all season while Ziggy Hood has been a liability on the defensive line. Luckily for Washington, Hood will be a free agent this offseason.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, their schedule isn’t very forgiving. Only two of their opponents have a losing record, and that includes a Panthers squad who has surged since their bye week. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 3-5

Team MVP: Trent Williams, OT. Williams has been the top tackle in football and has anchored what has become a pretty talented offensive line.

Team LVP: Basaud Breeland, CB. Opposing offenses have taken advantage of Washington, who has schemed Josh Norman on the left side instead of having him cover the nest opposing receiver.

Best Draft Pick: Su’a Cravens, LB. Cravens had a hot start to the season, but missed some time after suffering a concussion. His late interception in Week 2 sealed Washington’s win over the Giants.

Coach’s Fate: I think Jay Gruden is safe. The team may not make the postseason again, but the NFC East is suddenly competitive again and Gruden could argue that the team will be a playoff contender again in 2017.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)


The Eagles took a chance and traded starting quarterback Sam Bradford and rolled the dice on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz has shown plenty as to why he was picked second overall in the draft. The issue is that his offensive line, run game and receivers haven’t exactly given him much help. The defense however, has made strides since last year. The Eagles ran off a 3-0 record to start the season but have gone 1-4 since. The rest of their schedule has the potential to bottom out the Eagles season, so they need to finish the year playing great football. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 3-5

Team MVP: Fletcher Cox, DT.

Team LVP: Nelson Agholor, WR.

Best Draft Pick: Carson Wentz, QB.

Coach’s Fate: Doug Pederson will still be coaching the Eagles in 2017.

Minnesota Vikings (5-3)


The Vikings started  5-0, the final remaining undefeated team, and did so while weathering some serious injuries to key players.  A three game losing streak has silenced the team’s Super Bowl aspirations for now. Minnesota’s offensive line issues have been unable to avoid poor play, with players underperforming and injuries the line serving as the main factor in the three game skid. Quarterback Sam Bradford has avoided the injury bug, which is a big reason why they are still 5-3 at the halfway mark. Minnesota has the NFL’s best defense, but they’ve got plenty of work ahead of them. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: Sam Bradford, QB.

Team LVP: Jerick McKinnon, RB.

Best Draft Pick: David Morgan, TE.

Coach’s Fate: Mike Zimmer is doing the best he can in a tough situation. He keeps his job as the Vikings try to hold onto the division.

Detroit Lions (5-4)

Matthew Stafford

Currently sitting at second place in the dumpster fire that is the NFC North, the Detroit Lions look like a potential wild card team. The young Lions have been pretty good at home (3-1) this year and four of their last seven games are home contests against lesser opponents like Jacksonville and the B-side of their divisional foes Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago. Their road contests won’t be easy against opponents like resurgent New Orleans, the Dallas Cowboys and the Giants, who are as usual, quietly finding ways to win close to midseason. Their offensive line is improving and they have experienced a resurgence on both sides of the ball  but they are a 9-7 team at best with a potential wild card berth on the horizon, however, with no quality tests this season and a young, inexperienced team, they will exit the playoffs early. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 4-3

Team MVP: Matthew Stafford, QB. Stafford is taking care of the football better than he ever has, despite being on pace to hit the turf 40 times this year. He is also on pace for his best season as a passer since 2011 if he can keep the ball away from the other team and stay upright.

Team LVP: The entire secondary. If you want to score on the Lions, go through the air. The entire secondary has been terrible in coverage this year. Of the 24 touchdowns scored on the Lions this year, 21 have come through the air. One might be quick to blame this on a lack of a pass rush, but Detroit’s pass rush has been respectable this year, with 20 sacks through eight games.

Best Draft Pick: Taylor Decker, LT. Decker is the major reason why Stafford has stayed out of a body cast thus far this season as the team’s starting left tackle. He also helped pave the way for a season-best rushing performance in the team’s comeback win over Minnesota.

Coach’s Fate: Detroit is contending and Stafford is in the running for league MVP. Caldwell’s job is safe.

Green Bay Packers (4-4)


Green Bay finds itself in third place in a very tight division race for the NFC North behind the Vikings and the Lions. Three of their four losses have come to current division leaders. Despite Aaron Rodgers stepping up his play the last few weeks, the Packers only have a 1-2 record to show for it. Fortunately for the Packers, they finish the season with seven very winnable games out of eight. Two of those are against an unpredictable Lions team and a Vikings team that has been struggling as of late. They also play Seattle at home. The Packers still could win the division. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 6-2

Team MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB.

Team LVP: Jeff Janis, WR.

Best Draft Pick: Kenny Clark, DE.

Coach’s Fate: Mike McCarthy isn’t going anywhere, especially if Green Bay wins the division.

Chicago Bears (2-6)

Jerrell Freeman, Virgil Green

Chicago is bottoming out, almost as expected. Jay Cutler was injured early on and then word got out that Head Coach John Fox actually preferred backup Brian Hoyer before Hoyer’s arm was broken, just in time for Cutler to come back. Alshon Jeffery continues to be the best playmaker on the team, but has only found the end zone once this season – and that was last week. The offensive line has been pretty bad, save for Josh Sitton and rookie Cody Whitehair, who has stepped in nicely at center after Hroniss Grasu went down.

Defensively, there have been some bright spots, but this is a pretty underwhelming unit overall. Jerrell Freeman has continued to build off a strong 2015 season and is the top-ranked inside linebacker in the NFL. Additionally, Akiem Hicks has emerged as a great offseason signing and Adrian Amos continues to look like an absolute steal for the Bears ever since the plucked him in the fifth round last year. Sadly, those are their only bright spots as rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd has had a poor season, particularly on run defense, and even more concerning, as a pass rusher. The secondary has also struggled with Kyle Fuller spending the season on injured reserve.

Their second-half schedule has some winnable games, including home matchups against Tennessee and San Francisco as well as a road trip to Tampa Bay this Sunday, but with a team this bad, there is no guaranteed wins. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 2-6

Team MVP: Jerrell Freeman, ILB. Danny Trevathan made the headlines when Chicago signed him this offseason, but Freeman has emerged as the leader of this defense and quietly one of the best players in football.

Team LVP: Bobby Massie, RT. While Hicks has looked like a great signing, Massie has been the opposite. He has especially struggled in pass protection.

Best Draft Pick: Cody Whitehair, C. Drafted to be a guard, Whitehair was pushed to center to take over for an injured Grasu and has emerged as a stud at center.

Coach’s Fate: The team stinks, but it isn’t necessarily John Fox’s fault. Chicago is dealing with quarterback issues due to injuries and Fox has reportedly not been a fan of Cutler. Fox may ultimately push for the team to use a top pick on a new franchise signal caller, which would buy him more time.

Atlanta Falcons (6-3)

Matt Ryan

The Falcons entered the season with the league’s toughest schedule. Expectations were not very high in Atlanta. The offense has soared this season, averaging 33 points per game. Matt Ryan looks like an MVP candidate while Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been unstoppable at times. The offensive line is vastly improved. Julio Jones is putting together another outstanding season. Their defense is a major issue if they have championship aspirations. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 4-3

Team MVP: Matt Ryan, QB.

Team LVP: Adrian Clayborn, DE.

Best Draft Pick: Deion Jones, OLB.

Coach’s Fate: Dan Quinn is looking like a good coach in the making. Easily keeps his job

New Orleans Saints (4-4)

Drew Brees

It was an ugly start to the season with three straight losses, but the New Orleans Saints have won four of their last five games including a big win over Seattle last Sunday. They still don’t play much defense but this is a team that can score points and challenge Atlanta for the division down the stretch. They’ve got a lot of divisional football left, which could be troublesome but I see the Saints finishing the year at 10-6, a game or two behind Atlanta, and getting in as a wild card and possibly playing a spoiler role in the first round. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 6-2

Team MVP: Drew Brees, QB. Brees has been great this year and he is on pace for his best season since his record-setting season in 2011. So long as Brees is under center in New Orleans, they will be a dangerous team.

Team LVP: Coby Fleener, TE. With the way Jimmy Graham flourished in New Orleans offense a couple of seasons ago, everyone thought Fleener would reap the benefits as a capable target in the Saints offense but he just hasn’t been able to get on the same page as Brees and with the emergence of rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas, Fleener has been getting less and less looks and has gotten lost in an offense that already spreads its targets pretty thin.

Best Draft Pick: Michael Thomas, WR. Thomas has been stellar in New Orleans last few games. He now leads the team in receptions and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns. Thomas and Brandin Cooks should work nicely together down the stretch in New Orleans passing attack, with Thomas as red zone threat and a possession guy and Cooks as New Orleans midfield shot home run hitter.

Coach’s Fate: Sean Payton has been subjected to trade rumors in recent years, but nothing ever sticks. I can’t see them hopping ship now.

Carolina Panthers (3-5)

Luke Kuechly

The defending NFC champions had a very rough start to the year with three of their five losses being by a combined margin of just seven points. A young secondary has seen its hiccups in adjusting to the NFL while the offense has attempted to work out the kinks after leading the league in offense in 2015. The Panthers play has picked up as of lately and they figure to finish the year better than they started but it may be too late to salvage a playoff berth in 2016. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 4-4

Team MVP: Luke Kuechly, MLB.

Team LVP: Mike Remmers, LT.

Best Draft Pick: James Bradberry, CB.

Coach’s Fate: Ron Rivera led this team to a Super Bowl in 2015, he’s going nowhere.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)


A promising start for the young Buccaneers team led into three straight losses. It’s been a tough season for the team, particularly the offense which has lost numerous players at running back and wide receiver, which has stunted quarterback Jameis Winston’s development. The defense has also struggled mightily through the air. NB

Projected Second Half Record: 2-8

Team MVP: Mike Evans, WR.

Team LVP: Roberto Aguayo, K.

Best Draft Pick: Noah Spence, DE.

Coach’s Fate: Dirk Koetter’s team has struggled early on but his offense outside of Mike Evans is completely depleted. He’s likely safe though Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith is probably on the hot seat.

Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1)

Cliff Avril celebrates after his big hit on Derek Carr.

Russell Wilson has been unable to get 100 percent healthy with some nagging injuries have kept him in check this season. The offensive line springing leaks at all times his lack of mobility has hurt the offense. This has made it difficult to watch the Seahawks on the offensive side of the ball. They have what they hope to be a breakout performance Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. The defense is almost solely responsible for them still being in the driver’s seat of the NFC West. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: Cliff Avril, DE.

Team LVP: Bradley Sowell, LT.

Best Draft Pick: Jarran Reed, DT.

Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)


After last year’s NFC Championship game appearance, the Cardinals came into the year with big expectations but have floundered. Carson Palmer’s late career Jake Delhomme impression has been uncanny and the passing offense has struggled. The defense has still been strong, giving them a chance in the second half if the offense gets it together. NB

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: David Johnson, RB.

Team LVP: Michael Floyd, WR.

Best Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT. None of the Cardinals rookies have played much, so Nkemdiche pretty much gets this by default.

Coach’s Fate: Bruce Arians is one of the best coaches in football. It’s more likely they look for a replacement at quarterback instead of one at head coach.

Los Angeles Rams (3-5)


The more things change the more they stay the same. The Rams might have moved across the country but little has changed about the team. At 3-5 in what is now one of the weaker divisions in football and with games against a dangerous Miami team, New Orleans, New England, Atlanta and Seattle it looks as if they will stay right where they are at third in the division. To make matters worse, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft is sitting on the bench and Case Keenum still has a starting job despite putting up high school numbers in an eight game span. You don’t trade to move up to the No. 1 spot, basically saying “This is our guy, this is who we want,” and have that guy sit the bench eight games into the season. In any case, Head Coach Jeff Fisher is doing Goff a favor by not tying himself to the rookie until they are out of contention so he isn’t spoiled for whoever the new head coach is next year. The Rams will finish at 5-11, 6-10 at best. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 3-5

Team MVP: Kenny Britt, WR. Britt has managed to stay out of jail, keep his Instagram clean and is also on pace for career highs in receiving yardage and receptions.

Team LVP: Todd Gurley, RB. Gurley has been useless this year, but it isn’t entirely his fault. He was ran into the ground last year and the Los Angeles Rams did nothing to help take the attention off their former Bell Cow, who looks poised to be the next Steven Jackson, only his talent should be wasted much faster.

Best Draft Pick: Jared Goff, QB. The weather is gorgeous in L.A., there’s a brand new corvette parked in the garage and Jeff Fisher wants to ride around Hollywood in a Dodge Dart.

Coach’s Fate: I’m convinced Jeff Fisher has just checked out of coaching mentally and maybe sees the writing on the wall despite repeated claims that he doesn’t worry about that sort of thing.

San Francisco 49ers (1-7)


The 49ers continue to be a dysfunctional franchise since Jim Harbaugh left town. After a surprising 28-0 thumping of the Rams in Week 1, they have lost seven straight, lost Anthony Davis to retirement (again) and benched Blaine Gabbert in favor of Colin Kaepernick – and that’s just the offense!

Defensively, the front seven has looked terrible. Former Oregon teammates DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead have not meshed well together on the line while Ahmad Brooks continues his decline. NaVorro Bowman and Ray Ray Armstrong were both playing well before going down on injured reserve.

Not all things, however, are bad. San Francisco has found themselves a pair of gems at cornerback with Jimmie Ward and Tramaine Brock, but those two are still far from building blocks.

San Francisco has a few easy matchups in the upcoming weeks, including Chicago and the Jets, but both teams are arguably better than the 49ers. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 0-8

Team MVP: Tramaine Brock, CB. Brock has emerged as the 49ers best cover corner and one of the few bright spots on the team.

Team LVP: Blaine Gabbert/Colin Kaepernick, QB. The only thing Gabbert was successful at was play action runs while Kaepernick has not fared much better since taking over.

Best Draft Pick: Rashard Robinson, CB. Robinson wasn’t even the first cornerback the 49ers selected. While first round picks Buckner and Joshua Garnett (why was he taken in the first round again?) are struggling, Robinson has become a pretty decent depth player.

Coach’s Fate: Chip Kelly is a terrible coach, but he can also push his problems on his quarterback. General Manager Trent Baalke is more likely going to get axed.

New England Patriots (7-1)


Just when it seemed as if the karmic power of the football gods would finally get the best of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with a four game suspension to their Canton-bound signal caller, the Patriots find themselves sitting at 7-1 and are one of the hottest teams in football. Similar to their NFC counterpart, the Dallas Cowboys, the quality of their opponents for the first half of the season has come under fire. The Patriots have some tough contests in the last eight games of the season including games against some stingy defenses that could give the Patriots trouble. Seattle, Denver and Baltimore both have defenses that spend a lot of time on the field but do a pretty solid job considering the lack of production on the offensive side of the ball. If any of those teams can execute offensively when they play the Patriots, they could hand New England a loss. New England is also at times due for a trap game, and I see Week 17 against the Dolphins as that game. I predict the Patriots finish the season 13-3, atop the weak AFC East and the Super Bowl favorite out of the AFC. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 6-2

Team MVP: Tom Brady, QB. You might argue how many parts Brady or how many parts Belichick the Patriots recipe for success might contain, but it is without question a two man show in New England. Belichick’s coaching chops were on full display during Brady’s four game suspension and in a true partnership, Brady returned and has taken care of business ever since.

Team LVP: Logan Ryan, CB. Ryan has been the team’s No. 2 cornerback opposite Malcolm Butler for the first half of the season but has had serious issues in coverage and the Patriots have scrambled the last few weeks to find his replacement. Ryan leads the team in tackles, but that’s not the statistical category you want your cornerback leading and says more about how many guys catch the ball on him in coverage than his run support.

Best Draft Pick: Joe Thuney, G. Thuney has been great since being thrown into the fire as the starting left guard of the Patriots this past summer. The rookie was a huge part of the run game that picked up the slack during Brady’s absence. He’s a true Patriot, having played five different positions in college and despite being projected as more of a tackle, has done an excellent job inside.

Coach’s Fate: Do we really need to ask? Belichick will leave on his own terms.

Buffalo Bills (4-4)


A bad start defensively got the offensive coordinator fired (what?). Since then, they’ve been better but it’s more of what’s become expected of a Rex Ryan team. Tyrod Taylor signed an extension in the offseason but we’re still not sure if he’s the franchise quarterback. NB

Projected Second Half Record: 4-4

Team MVP: LeSean McCoy, RB.

Team LVP: Stephon Gilmore, CB.

Best Draft Pick: Adolphus Washington, DT.

Coach’s Fate: Ryan probably needs to make the playoffs to save his job. His act wears thin on teams and he’s running out of head coaching opportunities. He profiles better as a defensive coordinator.

Miami Dolphins (4-4)


After losing four of their first five games, the Dolphins have ripped off three straight wins due much in part to the emergence of Jay Ajayi at running back. Ajayi’s stellar play ultimately caused Arian Foster to retire. Jarvis Landry continues to be a solid slot receiver and Ryan Tannehill has bounced back to decency after an extremely poor start to the season.

Miami has a few talented players on defense, including Ndamukong Suh, who continues to be among the best defensive linemen in the league and Cameron Wake, who also shook off a slow start. Before going on injured reserve, Reshad Jones was playing at a near-elite level. Mario Williams, however, continues his regression, especially as a pass rusher.

The Dolphins have a ton of winnable games in the second half schedule. If they keep up the momentum they have recently built, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them end up with a winning record for the first time since 2008. JW

Predicted Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: Jay Ajayi, RB. The Dolphins bounceback is almost directly tied to Ajayi, who has rushed for 529 yards over the past three games.

Team LVP: Jelani Jenkins, ILB. Only five linebackers have graded out lower than Jenkins according to Pro Football Focus. Jenkins has especially struggled in coverage where opposing tight ends have feasted on him.

Best Draft Pick: Laremy Tunsil, G. Playing out of position at guard, Tunsil has adapted well to his new position. With Branden Albert struggling to protect the blindside, Tunsil could take over at left tackle next season.

Coach’s Fate: It’s Adam Gase’s first season and after a slow start they seemed to have kicked it in gear. Unless the team bottoms out, he’ll be safe.

New York Jets (3-6)

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets

After going a promising 10-6 in 2015, the Jets had high hopes for 2016. Unfortunately, their $12 million quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has completely fallen apart. The Jets were going to move to Geno Smith in favor of Fitzpatrick until he went down with injury. Their defense is also in the bottom 00 for points-per-game allowed by their defense. The loss of Eric Decker has made a stagnant passing offense even more stagnant and things don’t figure to get much better with Fitzpatrick at the helm for the rest of the season. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 3-4

Team MVP: Brandon Marshall, WR.

Team LVP: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB.

Best Draft Pick: Darron Lee, ILB.

Coach’s Fate: Todd Bowles returns to the Jets in 2017

Baltimore Ravens (4-4)


Baltimore started the season off 3-0 before losing four straight. Fortunately for them, all four teams in their division have struggled and a win over Pittsburgh last Sunday put them in a tie for first place.

On offense, Baltimore has struggled tremendously.  Joe Flacco is currently having his worst season as a pro, tossing seven interceptions and just six touchdowns. After dealing with poor play at left tackle last season, the team drafted Ronnie Stanley in the first round and he has not fared much better. Along with Flacco’s struggles, their receivers are also nothing exception, with father time finally catching up with Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken having a miserable showing in a contract year. Mike Wallace has bounced back nicely after a poor 2015, but is still nothing exceptional. After missing his entire rookie season, Breshad Perriman is taking his lumps.

The Ravens big offseason signing was safety Eric Weddle, who has been as good as advertised, currently ranked as the top safety in football according to Pro Football Focus. Timmy Jernigan is also a bright spot, but there are a ton of holes on defense as well. Jerraud Powers continues to be torched in the secondary while an injury to Elvis Dumervil has led to his poor play. Za’Darius Smith has played porrly in Dumervil’s place.

The Ravens are not a good football team, but they are in a generous situation with the Bengals and Steelers failing to string together wins week to week. Their schedule, however, is not so generous with a pair of road games against Dallas and New England. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 2-6

Team MVP: Eric Weddle, SS. The Chargers made the foolish move of letting Weddle walk this offseason, while he was still in his prime and he has showed no signs of slowing down with his new team.

Team LVP: Ronnie Stanley, LT. The Ravens drafted Stanley over Laremy Tunsil, hoping he would fix the Ravens offensive line woes. He hasn’t.

Best Draft Pick: Tavon Young, CB. The Ravens slot corner, Young has emerged as the team’s top cover corner, plus he does pretty well against the run.

Coach’s Fate: Honestly, it’s surprising to see that they’re even 4-4 at the moment. Harbaugh coached this franchise to a Super Bowl victory, so he is afforded a longer leash because of it, but his seat will be warm in 2017.

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)


The Steelers, have cooled off considerably since a hot start partially due to injuries but a bigger concern is that they’re a tale of two teams. At home their offense is a nightmare to handle but they drop off a cliff on the road. They need to step it up away from Heinz Field. Being healthier in the 2nd half will help. NB

Projected Second Half Record: 6-2

Team MVP: Antonio Brown, WR.

Team LVP: Artie Burns, CB.

Best Draft Pick:  Tyler Matakevich, ILB. He has only played 19 total snaps, but he hasn’t been abysmal like every other draft pick playing in Pittsbugh. 

Coach’s Fate: Mike Tomlin has been the coach since 2007 despite mixed results. Historically, the Steelers aren’t a team who make a lot of coaching changes, so I’d expect him to return.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)


The Bengals have been mediocre this season. They needed a win against the Redskins but the NFL’s terrible overtime rules prevented that from happening. Cincinnati needs a spark from someone other than A.J. Green. Quarterback Andy Dalton has played well this season, but being sacked 25 times never helps. Their defense is ranked near the bottom of the league and their special teams are about the same. Maybe the return of tight end Tyler Eifert could be just what the Bengals need. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: A.J. Green, WR.

Team LVP: Michael Johnson, DE.

Best Draft Pick: Tyler Boyd, WR.

Coach’s Fate: Marvin Lewis owns the safest job in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns (0-9)


The Browns started off the season with Robert Griffin III starting at quarterback. He lasted one game into the season before landing on IR. Since then, the Browns have had three different quarterbacks throw for them (excluding wide receiver Terrelle Pryor). Now they are starting rookie third round draft pick Cody Kessler. Thus far they have amassed an 0-9 record and are on track for a winless season. Fortunately, Pryor has found his place in the NFL while with the Browns. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 0-7

Team MVP: Joe Thomas, OT.

Team LVP: Cameron Erving, C.

Best Draft Pick: Corey Coleman, WR.

Coach’s Fate: Hue Jackson can’t be blamed for the lack of talent here. He returns in 2017.

Houston Texans (5-3)


The Texans had high hopes for this season and still do realistically. They have posted a 5-3 record despite some of the worst quarterback play in the league. They also lost their defensive MVP in J.J. Watt. Brock Osweiler just got $37 million guaranteed for his first two years and he needs to turn things around if he’s going to make good on that contract for the Texans. They have playoff hopes but could very well plummet down the stretch. They could also run off some wins if Osweiler steps up. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 3-5

Team MVP: AJ Bouye, CB.

Team LVP: Brock Osweiler, QB.­

Best Draft Pick: Will Fuller, WR.

Coach’s Fate: Bill O’Brien remains in charge.

Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts

Coming off their best win, beating the Packers in Lambeau, they started the second half of their season on a good note. Quarterback Andrew Luck being healthy has kept them afloat though the roster is not very good. Luckily, they play in a very winnable division where the team currently in first place might have the AFC South’s worst quarterback. NB

Projected Second Half record:  4-3

Team MVP: Andrew Luck, QB.

Team LVP: D’Qwell Jackson, ILB.

Best Draft Pick: Ryan Kelly, C.

Coach’s Fate: Chuck Pagano is still there. At this point I’m not even sure how. I wouldn’t expect him to be let go any time soon.

Tennessee Titans (4-5)


After being one of the worst teams in the league over the past two seasons, Tennessee has bounced back well in 2016. One thing that is killing them, however, is crucial turnovers by Marcus Mariota. Three games were lost due in part to a late turnover returned for a score. Running back DeMarco Murray has also had a nice bounceback year in his first season with the Titans and is now second in the league in rushing. Additionally, Taylor Lewan and rookie Jack Conklin have formed into the top tackle duo in the league.

The front seven for Tennessee has played well on defense, but their secondary is struggling, none worse than Perrish Cox. With two first round draft picks and a plethora of talent in the secondary in this class. Tennessee will likely resolve this issue in the spring.

With the division a toss-up, the Titans have crucial games against all three AFC South rivals, but tough matchups against the Broncos, Chiefs and Packers could thwart their playoff hopes. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 2-5

Team MVP: DeMarco Murray, RB. The Titans entered this season with plans to deploy an “Exotic Smashmouth” offense. Murray has been crucial to this, especially with an improved offensive line.

Team LVP: Marcus Mariota, QB. Mariota has improved, but those turnovers are killing him – and the team.

Best Draft Pick: Jack Conklin, RT. Tennessee traded up to draft a right tackle in the top 10 and he has paid off, ranking as the top tackle in this draft class and top 10 in the league.

Coach’s Fate: A career loser, Mike Mularkey has been a surprise this season, although the play calling has gotten predictable at time. He’ll be safe in 2017.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars were supposed to progress this year. They were supposed to be contenders for the AFC South or at least have winning record. That was until they actually stepped on the field. Quarterback Blake Bortles has back stepped mechanically. The run game has been awful. Jacksonville has been unable to win games late in the fourth quarter. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 2-6

Team MVP: Telvin Smith, OLB.

Team LVP: Blake Bortles, QB.

Best Draft Pick: Jalen Ramsey, CB.

Coach’s Fate:   Head coach Gus Bradley, who entered the season 12-36 and likely needed at least a .500 record to save his job, fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson. He loses his job this year,

Oakland Raiders (7-2)


After 13 seasons of futility, it looks like Oakland is finally going to make the playoffs. On offense, Derek Carr has continued to improve, with wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree becoming a great 1-2 combo. Their line is also very solid, though Austin Howard has become a weak link at right tackle.

The weak spot of the team, however, is their defense. While Khalil Mack is an exceptional player and Perry Riley has come out of nowhere to have a solid year, Malcolm Smith, D.J. Hayden, Jiahd Ward and Denico Autry has all play significant snaps and have graded poorly on Pro Football Focus.

Oakland has been in a similar situation during this 13-year slump, and it has typically resulted in disaster for them in the second half. Their schedule is far from easy, with games against a resurging Carolina, Indianapolis, and road games against all three divisional foes. Despite this, the Raiders are a good team whose streak of bad luck may be over. JW

Projected Second Half Record: 4-3

Team MVP: Khalil Mack, OLB. Carr definitely deserves some consideration, but Mack is an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses and is the anchor of a defense with a ton of holes.

Team LVP: Jihad Ward, DT. The rookie defensive tackle has been plowed over often this year, struggling at stopping the run.

Best Draft Pick: Karl Joseph, SS. Their first round pick was seen as a bit of a reach, but he has lived up to his billing so far.

Coach’s Fate: With the franchise looking like it finally turned around, Jack Del Rio may even get some Coach of the Year consideration. He is safe in 2017.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)


The Chiefs started off the season on shaky ground, going 2-2 over the first month of the season, and began to look like a disappointment. Lately, they have looked as a more complete team. They are currently on a four game winning streak. Kansas City was able to find their offense by committing to the run. Spencer Ware has been a revelation at running back this season. This allowed the Chiefs to open up downfield for the passing game. The Chiefs have been able to limit high scoring teams with the outstanding play of their secondary, led by Marcus Peters’ five interceptions. The Chiefs are an Andy Reid special. GS

Projected Second Half Record: 5-3

Team MVP: Marcus Peters, CB.

Team LVP: Jamaal Charles, RB.

Best Draft Pick: Tyreek Hill, WR.

Coach’s Fate: Andy Reid is gonna Andy Reid. He keeps his very safe job.

Denver Broncos (6-3)


The Broncos went into the season with Trevor Siemian starting at quarterback for them. They started the year hot, going 4-0 and then the offensive line woes, as well as spotty quarterback play (between both Paxton Lynch and Siemian) has resulted in a 2-3 record since. The Broncos still haven’t figured it out on the offensive line and to make matters worse, lost their starting running back in C.J. Anderson. They are in a very tight race for the division as well as a wild card spot. MM

Projected Second Half Record: 4-3

Team MVP: Von Miller, OLB.

Team LVP: Donald Stephenson, OT.

Best Draft Pick: Andy Janovich, FB.

Coach’s Fate: Gary Kubiak won a Super Bowl last season. He could lose out the remaining games on his schedule and still keep his job.

San Diego Chargers (4-5)

NFL: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

At 4-5 in one of the more competitive divisions, the San Diego Chargers could challenge for an AFC Wild Card spot with a weak backend schedule if Kansas City and Denver drop the ball and they take care of business. Kansas City still has Denver, Oakland and Atlanta left on its schedule while Denver has New England, Oakland, New Orleans and Kansas City twice on their schedule to end the season. San Diego still has Oakland and Kansas City at home on its radar but it lost close games to both of those teams on the road in the first half of the season. Miami could spell some problems for the Chargers, but other than that, the Chargers have it pretty easy to finish the year. I have them finishing 9-7, but on the outside looking in for the AFC playoff picture. JP

Projected Second Half Record: 5-2

Team MVP: Melvin Gordon, RB. Second-year back Gordon has been excellent in both the run and in the pass game. He leads the league in rushing touchdowns with nine and has a pair through the air. He is the versatile back they have been searching for since the departures of LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles.

Team LVP: The entire offensive line. San Diego has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL when it comes to pass protection. Currently, Rivers is on pace to be sacked 44 times, his highest total since 2012. Last year’s 32nd ranked offensive line by Pro Football Focus has made some personnel changes, but the results are projecting nearly the same. The team spent too much money on Orlando Franklin and former first round pick D.J. Fluker has failed to muster any sort of consistency in his play in pass protection.

Best Draft Pick: Joey Bosa, DE. The handling of Bosa’s contract negotiations were ridiculous and his production in just four starts and five games played has proven that this was a guy that San Diego should have busted their ass to get into training camp. Bosa has a two sack performance against both Atlanta and Oakland, two of the league’s best, if not better offenses. He will definitely have an increased impact to finish out the season.

Coach’s Fate: Head Coach Mike McCoy could find himself on the chopping block this offseason after four years of more of the same for the Chargers.

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