Top 10 NFL Teams Heading into the Second Half of the Season
By George Keene
Nine weeks have passed since the start of the NFL season, and it is safe to say that nobody could have predicted the top 10 teams at the midway point of the season. The Chiefs are not on this list and the Arizona Cardinals find themselves at number one. The writers at The Leonid ranked the top 10 NFL teams heading into the second half of the season.
- Arizona Cardinals – 8-1 (First place in NFC West)
The Cardinals find themselves with an impressive 8-1 record at the midway point of the NFL season. They are first place in their division, and Kyler Murray’s quarterback play has been MVP level. He has 17 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions and has a QBR of 63.6, which is seventh best in the league. The Cardinals defense has also been elite, allowing the fourth fewest yards per game in the NFL. Linebacker Chandler Jones just broke the franchise record for sacks as well. They rank top 5 offensively and defensively and that is a major reason why they are 8-1.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6-2 (First place in NFC South)
The Bucs have gotten off to a great start, following their superbowl win against the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Their 6-2 record is because of Tom Brady’s 5-1 touchdown ratio. Brady has 25 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions and ranks second in yards with 2,650 and 2nd in QBR. The Bucs have been plagued with injuries in the secondary, but despite this, Todd Bowles’ defense gives up the seventh fewest yards per game in the entire NFL. They will continue their quest to defend their championship in the second half of the season, behind the leadership of the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.
- Los Angeles Rams – 7-2 (Second place in NFC West)
Behind newly acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Rams have gotten off to a 7-1 start. They took down the defending champ Buccaneers early in this season and just came off a disappointing loss to the Derrick Henry-less Titans. Despite the week 9 let down, the Rams are still a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Arguably having the most star studded defense in the NFL with Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and new addition Von Miller, their defense will definitely look better in the second half of the season. On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have been an unstoppable duo this far this season. Kupp is the receiving yards leader and the Rams are averaging the fourth most yards per game with 399.3. They are my favorite to win the superbowl.
- Green Bay Packers – 7-2 (First place in NFC North)
After a drama-filled offseason surrounding their superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers find themselves on top of the NFC North with a three game lead on the Minnesota Vikings. He was held out last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and as a result, the Packers fell to the struggling Kansas City Chiefs 13-7. The Packers will make the playoffs again this year, but the question will be whether they can beat any of the other powerhouse teams in the NFC, like the Bucs, Rams, and Cardinals. Their star studded offense and improved defense makes them an all around great team. Despite being the reigning MVP, could Aaron Rodgers be the Packers downfall?
- Tennessee Titans – 7-2 (First place in AFC South)
The Titans have been through a rollercoaster of a season, and its only been nine weeks. The Titans destroyed the Los Angeles Rams and lost to the New York Jets, one of the laughing stocks of the NFL. They are in first place in the AFC South and have defeated their only competition for the division title, the Indianapolis Colts, twice this season. However, the second half of their season will be more reliant on the production of quarterback Ryan Tanehill. An injury will keep star running back Derrick Henry out 6-10 weeks, and he has been an integral part of their success thus far into the 2021-22 campaign.
- Buffalo Bills – 5-3 (First place in AFC East)
Bills mafia has been loud and proud in the last couple seasons, as the Bills have gotten better and better, and after signing a contract extension this season, quarterback Josh Allen has shown he is worth the money. He has had an excellent start to this season, throwing for 2,236 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. After an unexpected loss to the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bills will look to bounce back and dominate next week against the New York Jets. The Buffalo Bills are also giving up the fewest yards per game as well, and their stellar defense will need to continue as they look to grab the #1 seed in a surprisingly weak AFC.
- Baltimore Ravens – 6-3 (First place in AFC North)
The Baltimore Ravens have been a pleasant surprise. After losing running back after running back, most notably, J.K. Dobbins, the Baltimore Ravens have had success. They lead their competitive division and Lamar Jackson may be on his way to another MVP award. The Ravens average the third most yards per game at 414.10and Lamar Jackson is a big reason why. Jackson has not only run the ball efficiently, he has been an elite passer this season and they will need more of that to win this very much up for grabs division.
- Los Angeles Chargers – 5-3 (First place in AFC West)
The LA Chargers have been a huge topic of discussion this past year. In his sophomore season, Justin Herbert has been the quarterback the Chargers were hoping he would be. The Chargers are averaging 282.4 passing yards per game and with a bolstered offense, the Charges just need average defensive play in order to win games and increase their chances of making the playoffs and winning the division.
- Dallas Cowboys – 6-2 (First place in NFC East)
The Dallas Cowboys got off to an electric start this season. Their offense leading the league in yards per game with 434.3 and their defense consisting of stars like Trevon Diggs, Demarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory, the Cowboys look like a force to be reckoned with. Dak Prescott’s play has been MVP level after coming off of a dislocated ankle suffered in the previous season. After a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos, the Cowboys will look to bounce back against the Atlanta Falcons. With very little competition in the NFC East, the Cowboys will look to earn the number one seed in the NFC.
- Cleveland Browns – 5-4 (Third place in AFC North)
Odell Beckham Jr. is gone. Weeks of drama surrounding Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. has finally come to an end, after Odell signed a deal with the LA Rams. Now, Baker Mayfield will look to reestablish himself as an elite quarterback in the NFL. With nine weeks left, the Browns are still in a good position to fight for the division and make the playoffs, but play on offense and defense will have to be more consistent for them to make a deep run into the playoffs.
All statistics received from ESPN.com retrieved November 13, 2021.