We are entering the halfway point of the regular NFL season. Right now, there’s quite a range of possibilities for how the rest of the season will shake out, with some front runners already clear and some poor stragglers already out of it.
The New England Patriots have a winning record for the first time this season after they beat the Indianapolis Colts 26-3. For the second consecutive week, Bill Belichick and his defense embarrassed a young quarterback. New England sacked Sam Ehlinger nine times and intercepted him once. Mathew Judon and Josh Uche each had three QB hits and Jonathan Jones had the pick-six. The Colts offense had an abysmal franchise record of only 2.0 yards per play and getting a mere total of eight first downs.
On the other hand, the Patriots offense was not very sharp at all. They only mustered one offensive touchdown: a two-play two-yard drive that was set up off a blocked punt. On the bright side, the unit was able to get into field goal range four times with Nick Folk drilling the kick each time. The offense needs real work and can be very suspect at times, but the defense and special teams have both been proficient enough to win games. After the game, the Colts made an interesting decision. They fired head coach Frank Reich and then replaced him with former legendary player Jeff Saturday, who has never coached more than high school football before.
The top individual and team performance of the week came from Joe Mixon and his Cincinnati Bengals. They stomped the Carolina Panthers 42-21 and Mixon had a whopping five touchdowns. The sixth-year running back had 153 yards and four scores on the ground, as well as four catches for 58 yards and another touchdown. The Bengals raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looked back. All seven of the Panthers first-half possessions were either three-and-outs or turnovers, a truly embarrassing performance. Baker Mayfield came in relief for P.J. Walker who was benched by interim head coach Steve Wilks. The quarterback position has been a nightmare for the Panthers who are now in last place in the NFC. The Bengals move to 5-4 and look to be making a step to get past their Super Bowl hangover.
What is going on with the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers? They have lost five straight games and lost to the Detroit Lions 15-9. The future hall of famer threw three interceptions compared to one touchdown. He had 291 yards to finish the game but that number is completely misleading as he picked up meaningless yards at the end of the game. The Packers were 1/4 on fourth down and did not score once on four red zone trips. The Lions offense was putrid in their own right with barely getting 250 yards of total offense, but Dan Campbell’s team was able to pull off the win regardless.
The Seattle Seahawks are now 6-3 after beating their divisional rival the Arizona Cardinals 31-21. With this win, it begs the question if Geno Smith is an MVP candidate. This seems preposterous to anyone who has followed his pro career up until now, but he is quietly putting up career-high numbers. He ranks fifth in touchdowns with 15, sixth in yards with 2,199 and has only thrown four interceptions. On Sunday he threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals. Rookie teammate running back Kenneth Walker III has had an impeccable first season and put up 109 yards and found the endzone twice. After a touchdown on their initial series, the Cardinals punted on seven of their next eight possessions. The Seahawks have somehow exceeded expectations, while their counterpart in Arizona has seemingly stagnated.