by Tuesday Morning Tailback
If you caught my 2012 Season Preview two months ago, you may remember that I went way, way out on a limb and picked the exact eight division champions from 2011 to all repeat again as champions of their divisions this year. Well, it may be safe to say that New Orleans (3-5) probably won’t catch Atlanta (8-0). But the other seven teams each have an excellent opportunity to repeat with six of those currently leading their division.
A few weeks ago, every team in the AFC East was 3-3, perfect parity. Since then, the New England patriots have appeared to re-assert their dominance while the New York Jets have slipped towards mediocrity. The Miami Dolphins are the wildcard here as they have two games against the Patriots later in the season and may shake things up. The Baltimore Ravens finally got a leg up on the Pittsburgh Steelers last year in winning the AFC North and came within a dropped touchdown pass of going to the Super Bowl. The Ravens once again lead the division but still must twice face the Steelers, who they beat twice last year but the Ravens have some serious key injuries this season. The Ohio teams will battle to stay out of the division’s basement.
The Indianapolis Colts appear to have made a great decision in going after Andrew Luck, who set a rookie single-game passing record this past Sunday and has more than doubled the teams 2011 wins in just half of 2012. The Houston Texans enjoyed their first ever trip to the playoffs last year so much they decided to try again, and they will succeed. The 7-1 Texans have a mid season showdown this Sunday night against the 7-1 Bears. The Tennessee Titans got embarrassed at home by those Bears this week and the Jacksonville Jaguars had better go get Tim Tebow or Los Angeles may go get the Jaguars. Peyton Manning has proven he still has much to prove and has led the Denver Broncos to first place despite their brutal first half schedule. The Broncos’ biggest challenge during the season’s second half is not to fall asleep as they have the easiest remaining schedule. The rest of the AFC West is made up of under-performing teams that had some promise in recent years but don’t seem to have it together in 2012.
At times this season, Eli Manning of the Giants has looked like he is on his way to being MVP (something his older brother has won four times but he hasn’t yet). Then there was the lame performance on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Redskins rookie R3-G3 got a lot of early season press but he’s led his team back to the bottom of the NFC East. Andy Reid is in a sad situation in Philadelphia and will probably be fired by season’s end. The 3-5 Eagles face the 3-5 Cowboys (whose coach also may be in trouble) in the “hype” bowl this Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons are the only undefeated team at 8-0 midway through the season and a 4-game lead over the rest of the NFC South division. In that division the Tampa bay Buccaneers have been a pleasant surprise, while the Saints and Carolina Panthers have been disappointing. The Green Bay Packers are the only team to beat the Bears this season and have shown to be a top-notch team in recent weeks. There are a bunch of middle-of the-road teams in the NFC North and NFC West, with all of those teams having a chance to break away from the pack in the second have of the season. In a lot of ways the NFC seems like it may be a repeat of 2010, with Atlanta and Chicago leading the way only to have Green Bay come and knock them both out in the playoffs. This is not to discount the Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, last year’s NFC Championship participants.
The 2012 season has yet to live up to the excitement of 2011, especially when it comes to last season’s phenomenal quarterback play. But we do know is that there will be some surprises down the stretch which may yet make this a memorable season.
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.