NFL Bulls and Bears, Week 8
Can you believe that we’re almost halfway through football season?
At this time last year we were talking about undefeated teams, record-breaking performances and a little something called Spygate.
This year, things are just a little bit different.
Nobody expects Tennessee to finish undefeated. As a matter of fact, I may be the only person to make mention of the subject so far this year. Nobody is talking about the two winless teams (Cincinnati and Detroit) either. Most of the discussion at this point is about the wildly fluctuating teams in the middle of the pack, a bizarre mixture of contenders and pretenders from the last several seasons. In an effort to make sense of the mess, here are your Bulls (positive momentum) and Bears (negative momentum) as we get nearer to the halfway point.
Cleveland Browns (2-4)
The Browns may only be 2-4 but they have won two out of their last three games and have some momentum that could carry them to a successful second half if they can maintain their focus. The offense couldn’t move the ball against a tough Redskins team but their defense played well enough to keep the game close. If they don’t give up too soon, the Browns could pull together to go 5-5 down the stretch and gain back a lot of the respect they have lost early on this year.
Green Bay Packers (4-3)
The Pack got off to a hot start and then fizzled, but ever since their worst loss in week three they have been gaining ground steadily and their blowout of the Colts has them back in the NFC crown chase. The biggest factor here is whether they’ll be able to bounce back from another loss, which could very well be coming against Tennesee or Minnesota. If the Packers can take a loss and bounce back, they have to be considered the leading candidate to win their division.
Houston Texans (2-4)
Like Cleveland, the Texans have been playing much better in the last few weeks than they played at the beginning of the season. Granted, their wins came against Miami and Detroit, but sometimes that is all it takes to get on a hot streak. I think it’s much more likely that the Texans regress than continue to win, but it’s hard to bet against a team with this kind of momentum.
St. Louis Rams (2-4)
The Rams were laughed at, scorned, and cast aside in the first four weeks of the season.
BUT IF YOU VISITED THIS SITE, you would have known that the Rams of week five were not the Rams of week one. And I quote:
Check out how they have increased their Low every week since week one. It hasn’t mattered much because their smallest L of the year is still 17 points, but it is progress nontheless. They took their first lead of the whole season against Buffalo. I’m not saying they will win a lot of games…I’m just saying that they’re not as bad as they were in week one.
No, I didn’t predict a victory against Washington or Dallas, but I was right about the direction they were headed in. It looks to me like they will collapse again, followed by a late-season surge.
Buffalo Bills (5-1)
The Bills may be ranked #6 in the WTM Power Rankings, but they have really outperformed this year and are headed for a regression. Their highs are shrinking, their lows are growing, and their next three games are all against divisional foes. If they make it through this stretch 2-1 or 3-0 they’ll take their division, no doubt about it. But if they stumble through at 1-2 or 0-3, they’ll have to push hard through their final games when they play those divisional foes for the second time.
Miami Dolphins (2-4)
When the ‘Phins blew out New England in week three they got a lot of attention. Their Wildcat offense (and variants) were making defensive coordinators look silly. They have lost two in a row, however, and a lot of analysts are wondering if the offense is going to be able to carry the brunt of the load. This team will have its bright spots but between peaks we’ll see some deep valleys, and there won’t be any playoffs in sight for Miami this year.
New Orleans Saints (3-4)
The Saints have a really neat chart. Look at the growing inconsistency…their last two games are a 31 point win and a 23 point loss. Now they’ve lost Reggie Bush for over a month. Teams that behave like this see a peak and then steady decline for the rest of the year (as documented here), so unless they can manage to win several games in a row by smaller and smaller margins they’ll be missing the playoffs while Carolina and Tampa Bay duke it out for the NFC South title.