What a strange first half of the NFL season it has been.
You have three 8-0 teams at midseason for the first time ever. You have another division where 4-5 makes you the leader (Indianapolis). You have only five of the 16 teams in the AFC with winning records.
You have a Chiefs team that is 3-5, but in no way out of the playoff hunt. They are just one game back of the second wild-card, though they have to come back from their bye week with road games at Denver and San Diego, which more than likely will drop them out of contention.
There’s just been a lot of bad football and more injuries than you can count as the violence of the game has escalated to an all-time high.
The three best teams could very well be in the AFC, because I’m still not convinced the Carolina Panthers are for real, though beating Green Bay certainly caused me to do an Aaron Rodgers double-check.
The midseason grades are all over the place.
• AFC EAST •
1. New England (8-0) — If the Patriots can get past Denver, it will be a Super Bowl repeat. Grade — A
2. New York Jets (5-3) — This is how Rex Ryan envisioned the Jets when he used to coached there. Grade — B+
3. Buffalo (4-4) — Rex’s new team has been wildly erratic. Grade — B-
4. Miami (3-5) — The Dolphins won two straight games after a coaching change, but are back to their old ways now. Grade — C-
• AFC SOUTH •
1. Indianapolis (4-5) — Only in this division can a team play terrible and be leading. Maybe the Colts punched their alarm clock with the win over Denver. Grade — C-
2. Houston (3-5) — Some really horrible losses this year. I had this team winning 10 before the season. Grade — D+
3. Jacksonville (2-6) — The Jags are still the Jags. Grade — D
3. Tennessee (2-6) — The Titans already have changed coaches. Grade — D
• AFC NORTH •
1. Cincinnati (8-0) — I picked the Bengals last out of spite for cutting McPherson's Tanner Hawkinson. Definitely overachieving. Grade — A+
2. Pittsburgh (5-4) — When Ben Roethlisberger plays, they’re very good. Grade — B
3. Baltimore (2-6) — The John Harbaugh magic is wearing off and the team is getting very old. Grade — D
4. Cleveland (2-6) — What a mess. Grade — D
• AFC West •
1. Denver (7-1) — The Broncos' defense, of all things, give them a chance to win it all. Grade — A
2. Oakland (4-4) — The Raiders are no longer the automatic “W.” Grade — B+
3. Kansas City (3-5) — No offensive line, a toastable secondary. Gave away two early games they wish they had back. Grade — C
4. San Diego (2-7) – Injuries and an awful defense are killing this team. Grade — D
• NFC EAST •
1. New York Giants (5-4) — Best of a bad division. Grade — B
2. Philadelphia (4-4) — Everybody keeps waiting for them to run off a long winning streak. Grade — C
3. Washington (3-5) — I wasn’t sure they’d win three games all season. Grade — C+
4. Dallas (2-6) — No Tony Romo, no chance. Grade — D
• NFC SOUTH •
1. Carolina (8-0) — The Panthers are proving a lot of doubters wrong. Grade — A+
2. Atlanta (6-3) — The Falcons have been exposed after a great start. Grade — B
3. New Orleans (4-5) — How do you lose at home to pitiful Tennessee? Grade — C-
4. Tampa Bay (3-5) — Does anybody really pay attention to what’s going on there? Grade — C-
• NFC NORTH •
1. Minnesota (6-2) — The Vikings play nothing but low-scoring games, but they’re good at it. Grade — A-
2. Green Bay (6-2) — The Packers’ defense is beyond horrible and Aaron Rodgers is starting to crumble from the weight of carrying the team. Grade — B
3. Chicago (3-5) — You can't win with Jay Cutler as your quarterback, but it did hurt the Chiefs’ playoff chances. Grade — C
4. Detroit (1-7) — The worst team in football. Grade — F
• NFC WEST •
1. Arizona (6-2) — There never seems to be that much talent there, but it’s two games clear of the field in the division. Grade — A-
2. St. Louis (4-4) — Great defense, no offense. Grade — C.
2. Seattle (4-4) — I believe the underachieving Seahawks will come out of their bye week on fire. Don’t be surprised if they go 7-1 or 6-2 the rest of the way. Grade (for now) — D
4. San Francisco (3-6) – Two years ago the 49ers had the best roster in football in terms of talent and depth. Now it’s one of the worst and Colin Kaepernick has been kidnapped with an impostor left to take his place. Grade — D