With nine weeks of the NFL season now officially in the books, teams have begun to distinguish themselves as contenders or pretenders. There have been some surprises and some disappointments, but it has all been entertaining. Now the NFL enters its unofficial second half of the season, and there is plenty of dramatic story-lines for fans to be excited about.
How good are the Atlanta Falcons?
The Falcons are the lone undefeated team in the NFL, but despite their perfect record many doubt that Atlanta is a true Super Bowl contender. They had to come from behind in the 4th quarter for three straight games against mediocre teams; those teams currently have a combined record of 8-17. The question is: can the Falcons step up when they face tougher competition?
Can Andrew Luck lead the Colts to the playoffs?
The Indianapolis Colts were the worst team in the league last year, winning only two games. The prize for all their losing? QB Andrew Luck, who they recruited with the first overall pick in the draft. Many predicted that he would be good, but few thought he would be this good. He has already led the Colts to five wins this season and a real shot at the postseason. This could be the start of a long and successful career for Luck, and it should be great to watch.
Top Remaining Games of 2012
Who will be the NFL's Most Valuable Player?
Preseason prognosticators predicted the usual suspects for the MVP award this year including Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, but it has been two other quarterbacks getting the MVP attention thus far. Peyton Manning is no stranger to MVP awards, winning four of them over his career, but few thought he would be this good following a year on the sideline due to a neck surgery. The other contender is Matt Ryan, who has led the aforementioned Falcons to their undefeated record. Either could win the award, and in the second half of the season other candidates may step forward as well.
Which head coach will be the first to get fired?
For some teams to have success, others need have struggles, and the blame for those teams' struggles are usually laid at the feet of the head coach. Either during or after this season plenty of coaches will lose their jobs. Who are the most likely candidates?
- Pat Shurmur of the Browns is on the thinnest ice, having only won six games in his two seasons as coach. The team's recent ownership may hasten Shurmur's departure.
- Jets coach Rex Ryan is another on the hot seat thanks to his team's struggles. Nobody talks more than Ryan, but he has failed to live up to any of his promises.
Other candidates that may be fired first include Norv Turner (Chargers), Romeo Crennel (Chiefs), and Ron Rivera (Panthers).
Who will be playing in Super Bowl XLVII?
The Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears have each stood out from the rest of the league and are the top contenders, each having only one or fewer losses. There are plenty of second tier contenders that may find themselves in the Super Bowl as well including the Patriots, Broncos, Giants, and 49ers, among others. As has been the case in previous years, it will be the two teams that are the hottest in the second half of the season who will find themselves in New Orleans come February. My prediction: Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers.
Who do you think will be heading to the Super Bowl in February?