An NFL Midseason Check-In

Keep up with the NFL rankings as the league approaches the middle of the season.

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During this global pandemic, the NFL’s season has been a welcome sign of normalcy. The NFL has attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19 with regular testing, limited fan attendance, and masks worn on the sidelines. Despite some setbacks, the season has been a success so far. Here’s what the NFL’s standings look like as of now:

Nfc East

The New York Giants are 3-7 but have lost four games by one possession and are a team with significant potential and young talent. Interestingly, despite their poor record, the Giants are still in second place in a very weak NFC East behind the 3-5-1 Philadelphia Eagles, and can still very well make the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys, who made the playoffs last year, had their high hopes dashed when star quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a horrific leg injury. Meanwhile, the Washington Football Team is still rebuilding and the Eagles have been struggling with their offense, which has left the division wide open. For Giants’ fans, they can be optimistic about their future, with a developing second year quarterback in Daniel Jones and a recovering Saquon Barkley. The Giants can be a threat in NFC East for years to come.

NFC West

There’s a tight race for first in the NFC West, with the Seattle Seahawks leading the division with a 7-3 record. They are followed closely behind by the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at 6-3 and 6-4, respectively. The NFC West is by far the most competitive division in the league. The Cardinals and Seahawks game in Week 7 was one of the most exciting games of the year. There were dozens of memorable plays, such as DK Metcalf catching up to Budda Baker and preventing him from returning a pick 6 despite being behind 30 yards. The game went into overtime, and Seattle missed a potential game-winning field goal, which let the Cardinals steal the win. Russell Wilson is proving to be one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league with the help of elite receivers Tyler Lockett and Metcalf. Wilson has been boasting MVP-like numbers and is a prime contender for the award, even though he has never received an MVP vote before.

NFC North

The NFC North continues to be dominated by the Green Bay Packers. The tandem of Aaron Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams has been an unstoppable force. Not many people believed in the Packers, but Aaron Rodgers has proven the doubters wrong, leading his team to the top of the division as a 7-2 team. The Bears’ offensive struggles have barred them from catching up to the Packers and the team is trailing with a 5-5 record. The hottest team in the division is the Minnesota Vikings, who have won three games straight after their bye week to maintain a 4-5 record. The Packers are projected to win the division, but if the Bears can piece together their offense and quarterback situation, they could make the playoffs.

NFC South

The NFC South has a new rivalry in the division. It’s simple: Brady vs. Brees. Over the offseason, the Buccaneers acquired Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown to make them one of the most entertaining teams in the league. They already had one of the best receiving corps in the league with All-Everything receiver Mike Evans and speedy Chris Godwin. They are an obvious threat to the Saints at the top of the division, though they have lost to them twice already. The Saints are continuing their success this season led by quarterback Drew Brees and a dynamic offense, backed by a solid defense and excellent secondary. They remain at the top of the NFC South at 8-2, but the Buccaneers are only two games behind.

AFC East

The Buffalo Bills reign over the suddenly revamped division. Coming off a solid playoff run last year, Josh Allen has tremendously improved to emerge as a top quarterback and MVP candidate this season, with the help of Stefon Diggs, a revamped offense, and a solid defense to cement one of the league's most deadly pass attacks. However, a surprising wild card emerged this season that’s right on their tail, and it’s none other than the Miami Dolphins. Coming off a 5-11 season, Brian Flores took the reins of the team and molded one of the most, if not the most, impressive turnarounds this season. The defense stepped up to become an unexpectedly great unit, while the offense flourished after the replacement of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick with rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa as the Dolphins won three straight games to be 6-3. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ dominance during the Tom Brady era has seemingly come to a close this season with the departure of Brady. A respectable defense and the big free agent signing of Cam Newton still couldn’t lead them to more than a 4-6 record, with the glaring problem being the lack of offensive weapons on the team. The New York Jets, with the incompetence of Head Coach Adam Gase and a massive shortage of talent, are headed toward a historically awful season.

AFC West

The AFC West remains the property of the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is clearly one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and is now equipped with a record breaking deal of $500 million that will keep him a Chief for the next decade. In the passing game, Travis Kelce and speedster Tyreek Hill are still some of the best pass catchers in the league and lethal threats for opposing defenses. The high octane offense is accompanied by a defense that improved greatly from last season and continues to make their mark this season, with notable players such as safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive tackle Chris Jones. But the Chiefs aren’t alone in the division, as their only loss came from division rival and newly relocated Las Vegas Raiders. En route to playoff contention, the Raiders won their last three games with a high-powered offense consisting of talented running back Josh Jacobs, speedy rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs, dominant tight end Darren Waller, and quarterback Derek Carr leading the way. To round out the division, the Broncos and Chargers have lost more games than they have won. But both have players with bright futures, such as the Broncos’ Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy and the Chargers’ rookie quarterback and Rookie of the Year hopeful Justin Herbert.

AFC North

The AFC North remains very competitive, but as the only team boasting an undefeated record, it is clear that the Steelers are one of the most exciting teams in the NFL. They run an unstoppable defense with the likes of elite pass rushers such as T.J Watt and Cameron Heyward, and a shutdown secondary led by talented players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden. On the offensive side, Big Ben, who was out for most of last season after battling injuries, now leads a remarkably talented offense with an electric wide receiver trio of Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and rookie Chase Claypool. The Ravens and Browns are in a neck-in-neck race for second with records of 7-3 and 6-4, respectively. The Ravens are still led by last year’s MVP Lamar Jackson, and, though the team has somewhat regressed since their great season last year was cut short in the playoffs, they’re still a notable threat to opposing teams. The Browns, meanwhile, emerged as a better team this season, with a flashy backfield in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to lead the Brown’s rushing attack, key offensive pieces in Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and Jedrick Wills Jr, and Myles Garret once again showcasing his dominance as a defensive end. The Bengals, while not having the best record, have rookie quarterback Joe Burrow showcasing his talent as the first overall pick alongside rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins and free safety Jessie Bates on the defensive side.

AFC South

The Colts are in prime positioning to clinch the top spot of the AFC South with one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Linebacker Darius Leonard, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, has his eyes set on another career season, alongside defensive tackle DeForest Buckner bolstering the defensive line, and Xavier Rhodes and rookie Julian Blackmon running a shutdown secondary. On the offensive side of the ball, Philip Rivers has been a great addition to the Colts, with T.Y. Hilton and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. as wide receivers, rookie Jonathan Taylor in the backfield, and offensive linemen such as Quenton Nelson and Anthony Castonzo protecting Rivers as he throws game-winning touchdowns. The Titans shouldn’t be overlooked either, as they boast a 7-3 record, and returning playoff heroes such as Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and A.J. Brown intend on replaying their miracle playoff run once again. On the contrary, the Texans so far have had a disappointing season after they made a baffling trade in the offseason to give away their star receiver in DeAndre Hopkins during his prime to acquire aging (and now injured) running back David Johnson. Deshaun Watson couldn’t do much to save the Texans’ 3-7 record, especially when Bill O’ Brien was finally fired midseason after a long run of questionable decisions and moves as the head coach. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have only won one game in an upset against the Colts, ending Week 11 at a 1-9 record.

The NFL was presented with the daunting task of keeping the season running for its high-contact sport during a pandemic. Despite the setbacks that the NFL faced as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks, they have succeeded in providing an exciting, unpredictable, and truly remarkable season of football that will go down as one of the most interesting seasons in league history.