NFL Week 13 Predictions: The MVP Race Is FUBAR

We’re into Week 13, so it is about that time for me to rant about the NFL’s MVP race.

The 2015 MVP Race Is FUBAR

Seriously. Where in the world is Carson Palmer (and Carmen Sandiego for that matter)?

This has been a terrible season for MVP discussion, because it seems like the people having the discussion have never paid any attention to what usually qualifies for an MVP season in the NFL.

Team record has been driving the debate this year with the Patriots (now 10-1) and Panthers (11-0) having their quarterbacks on top of most lists regardless of performance. Team record matters, but you never had to be a No. 1 seed just to be discussed. Look at Aaron Rodgers last year. Of course, some like to be hypocritical and throw J.J. Watt into the mix, but I thought we killed that noise last year of how a defensive player almost can never be MVP. And are we really just going to ignore that the Texans were behind by over 40 points in two different games to start this season? Give him his DPOY (if that) and move on already.

Yet I saw a Friday poll on NFL Network for MVP that included Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and J.J. Watt.

Frankly, I’m shocked they didn’t throw in Aaron Rodgers after a gift-wrapped Hail Mary to beat the Lions. Sure, we’ll just ignore he’s having his worst season since 2008.

But Andy Dalton? Yeah, through six games he was right up there, but we’ve seen more of the old Dalton emerge in recent weeks. He’s having a nice year, but it’s not in the MVP range.

Cam Newton’s season is not even close to what you’d expect from an MVP season. It’s more like a classic Steve McNair year, and I don’t even mean 2003. People just wanted to give him the award before the year started because he lost Kelvin Benjamin, yet for the fifth season now, we’ve seen that Newton essentially posts the same statistics every year regardless of what’s around him. And they are just solid, not spectacular numbers even if you adjust for shortcomings around him (while also adjusting for his own problems with overthrows and inaccurate passes). Defense is what drives the W-L record in Carolina, and it always has in the Newton era. Newton has played better since the Green Bay game, but if we prorate his numbers to a 16-game season, this would have to be one of the worst seasons ever for a MVP winner. And it’s coming against a Charmin-soft schedule that might help this team get to 16-0.

I saw another link from a top site that asked if Adrian Peterson can make this a three-horse MVP race. If that wasn’t bad enough, the article excluded other quarterbacks and had the nerve to say “Brady’s putting up better numbers with worse players.”

That statement is vomit inducing to say the least.

For all but two plays and two drives, Brady has had Rob Gronkowski, the best TE in football, all season long.

Dion Lewis was having an incredible season in terms of forcing missed tackles. He was the third-most targeted receiver on this team, and he’s missed four full games and most of a fifth. He wasn’t knocked out for the season until Week 9.

Julian Edelman is one of the best YAC receivers in the game. He has missed two full games and a large chunk of the Giants game.

Danny Amendola is about the closest thing you can have to an Edelman replacement. He missed some of the Buffalo game and one full game (Denver last week).

Most of Brady’s 2015 stats were compiled with these players on the field. If we look at since Week 9 when the slew of injuries (one every week) started, Brady’s numbers have clearly dropped to a non-MVP level.

  • Brady Weeks 1-8: 68.9% complete, 20 TD, 1 INT, 8.34 YPA, 115.8 PR
  • Brady Weeks 9-12: 58.6% complete, 8 TD, 3 INT, 7.35 YPA, 90.3 PR

Gee, it’s almost like the value-added parts of the team have been hurt in the last month. And you expect this to happen to any QB when they lose so much in a short period of time. But please stop pretending he’s put up his numbers with scrubs or that he’s still putting up MVP numbers. In this span he also should have thrown a game-ending interception against the Giants on a terrible pass, but Landon Collins dropped the ball.

In any other season, the quarterback on the No. 1 scoring offense with a 9-2 record with dazzling stats would be right at the top of the MVP discussion, yet that is not happening for some reason with Carson Palmer this year in Arizona.

He’s averaging 8.8 YPA, which is phenomenal at this volume.

Palmer’s average pass is thrown 11.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — highest in the NFL — and he is still completing 63.6% of his passes. Tom Brady’s average pass is 7.7 yards. Newton’s is high too at 10.5, but he’s completing 57.1% of his passes.

ESPN’s QBR has had strong correlation with MVP winners. Palmer’s 82.1 QBR is well ahead of No. 2 Dalton (73.1), and much higher than Brady (67.5) and Newton (58.5). Newton ranks 20th on the season. Palmer’s season has been more consistent than any of them.

Palmer had the big prime-time performances in back-to-back weeks against the Seahawks and Bengals, leading a GWD in each game. He’s led a GWD in three consecutive games.

Palmer slipped up late against the Rams and in Pittsburgh, but he still threw for over 300 yards in both games (over 400 in Pittsburgh) and had the team in position late. He would have liked a dropped pick in Pittsburgh.

Let’s not act like Palmer has a loaded cast here either. Never mind that his defense isn’t as strong as NE or CAR, but his offense is basically driven by three wide receivers best suited for intermediate to deep routes. John Brown and Michael Floyd are also weekly fixtures on the injury report. Chris Johnson just went down. They don’t really have much at TE. This is a vertical offense predicated on the QB being accurate down the field, and Palmer has excelled this year. If you’re someone in need of a storyline for the award, having a career year at 35 a year after a torn ACL is pretty damn good.

Guess which offenses rank first and second in average starting field position? That would be the Patriots (31.72) and Panthers (31.40). That’s very valuable to have, and none of it is driven by the QB. Arizona is solid at 7th (29.44), but again, not as favorable as what Brady and Newton have had.

Palmer should be running away with this MVP race so far, yet he’s a footnote at best in mainstream media. Offering him the “Comeback Player of the Year” award is a slap in the face.

Arizona gets Minnesota on Thursday night, and will finish the season with Green Bay and Seattle. If these quarterbacks continue to play the way they have, we’ll find out just how much of a popularity contest this award has become.

2015 Week 13 Predictions

I knew better than to start trusting the Lions, because once you do, they do something like that on Thursday night against Green Bay.

Winners in bold:

  • Ravens at Dolphins
  • Texans at Bills
  • Panthers at Saints
  • Jets at Giants
  • Bengals at Browns
  • Seahawks at Vikings
  • Falcons at Buccaneers
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • 49ers at Bears
  • Cardinals at Rams
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Chiefs at Raiders
  • Eagles at Patriots
  • Colts at Steelers
  • Cowboys at Redskins

This feels like a week where Miami fired someone and will remember how to play good football for at least one game.

Luke McCown almost beat the Panthers in Carolina this year, so it’s good to have Drew Brees back, but the Saints are just playing lousy football right now. Panthers should win.

I like the Giants mainly because Darrelle Revis is out. Beckham in DFS, yes.

Browns are only punishing themselves by not starting Johnny Manziel. Austin Davis is not the future.

Really intrigued by Seahawks in Minnesota. Think the lack of passing game and soft running D from the Vikings hurts them in this matchup. Still, hard to trust Seattle in early road game. Should be a close one.

Normally I’d pick the Falcons to bounce back, but Tampa Bay goes against what I think this year. So I went with the opposite of my opposite pick and just stuck with Atlanta.

I expect Denver to run wild on the worst run defense in the league, which Brock Osweiler will somehow get the credit for.

Tom Brady won’t throw five touchdown passes against the Eagles, but the Patriots still might score five offensive touchdowns.

I expect the Cowboys to split the series with Washington down the stretch here, but give me the Redskins at home on Monday night.

Obviously the main game I’m focused on is Colts at Steelers. It was an offensive display last year with Ben Roethlisberger having the game of his career. He has to forget all about that one and just play the way he has this year. He’s piled up the yards in the games he has finished and has his full plethora of wide receivers for this one. I want to see if Matt Hasselbeck can win a shootout. He’s getting a lot of credit for 4-0, but this could be the toughest test yet if he has to score 28+ to win on the road. Yes, Pittsburgh’s defense has given up plenty of 300-yard passing games already, but points have been harder to come by. I think Hasselbeck is the perfect QB to repeatedly take advantage of Pittsburgh’s soft pass defense (big cushions), but you can’t do that the entire game. He’ll have to hit some big throws and the running game is still as unreliable as ever. Should be a fun game, but I like the Steelers at home here in a pretty important game for both teams.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 4-10
  • Week 11: 9-5
  • Week 12: 8-8
  • Season: 107-69 (.608)

NFL Week 1 Predictions: At Least Try Covering the Best Receivers

Maybe next year I’ll remember to include this part at the end of my season predictions.

Award Predictions

  • MVP: Andrew Luck
  • OPOY: Andrew Luck
  • DPOY: J.J. Watt
  • Coach: Chip Kelly
  • OROY: Amari Cooper
  • DROY: Vic Beasley
  • Comeback: Sam Bradford

I guess that completes the jinx for Indy (top seed, MVP, SB team) I bestowed upon the 2014 Saints a year ago. At least Rob Ryan isn’t in Indianapolis (or T-Rich).

Antonio Brown and Historic Receiving Streaks

Whether it’s real football or fantasy, the wide receivers have been stealing the show lately. 2014 was the greatest rookie class of WR’s ever, as it seems to be one of the few positions colleges are developing these days. A.J. Green is the latest in a line of wideouts to sign a huge contract. He deserves every penny for having to deal with Andy Dalton’s inaccurate throws.

With one game in the books for 2015, we saw more greatness from two members of the 2010 draft: TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Antonio Brown. Gronk might already be a HOF lock if he retired today. He’s just that dominant with 58 TD in 68 games. The 2015 Steelers are just that stupid to leave him so frequently open as they did on Thursday night. That game was also proof that you don’t need a 41-38 final to be an offensively-dominated game. Those defenses were both lost. In the rare event they were in position someone usually just made a play anyway. That someone was usually Brown, who continued his unmatched streak of consistency. Just how consistent has Brown been? I dug into the regular-season streaks since 1960 at PFR.

ABrownHist

Not only does Brown continue to have 5+ catches and 50+ yards in 33 games, but he recently set the record for consecutive 80-yard games at 11. He’s still on record streaks for 60+ and 70+ yards as well. We see Calvin Johnson’s recent dominance, Josh Gordon’s incredible 2013 feats and Odell Beckham Jr. has a shot to set a new mark for 90-yard games with a 10th on Sunday night.

How about receptions?

MostREC

No one has ever had consecutive games with 13+ receptions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen soon.

Unique Quarterback Debuts

Tyrod Taylor will start his first game in his fifth season in the NFL. That’s pretty rare. The only relevant QB I can think of who did not start a game until his fifth season was Jeff Hostetler with the Giants. That also might be the best-case scenario for Taylor’s career prospects, because late-blooming quarterbacks are almost unheard of.

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the first two picks in the draft, will start their first game against each other. Think the NFL had a good hunch on how the draft would turn out to schedule that one? Otherwise it’s pretty hard to hype up these two franchises. I believe this is the first game in the modern era (since 1950) where two rookie quarterbacks started against each other in Week 1. Forget the top two pick part, I’m talking about any rookie QB.

I’d write some more but I’m really tapped out at this point and just want to see some 2015 action.

2015 Week 1 Predictions

I had the Patriots beating the Steelers ever since I knew this was going to be a game in New England. I slightly hesitated when it didn’t look like Tom Brady was going to start, but all along I figured the Steelers would start 0-1. They played closer than I expected at least.

  • Seahawks at Rams
  • Colts at Bills
  • Panthers at Jaguars
  • Chiefs at Texans
  • Browns at Jets
  • Packers at Bears
  • Dolphins at Redskins
  • Bengals at Raiders
  • Titans at Buccaneers
  • Lions at Chargers
  • Saints at Cardinals
  • Ravens at Broncos
  • Giants at Cowboys
  • Eagles at Falcons
  • Vikings at 49ers

I was getting worried when I kept picking road team after road team, but it evens out to 8-8 in the end. Hopefully I’ll finish better than 8-8 after no losing weeks in 2014. My only .500 weeks in 2014 were Week 1 and the Divisional round.

The Rams won’t get their special teams advantage this time over the Seahawks, though I think it can be a close one. I like the Colts to pull out an ugly one in Buffalo, because you still have to score a decent number of points to down that team. The Bills aren’t the type of team the Colts usually lose to. Maybe I’m drinking some Hard Knocks kool-aid, but I like the Texans to get a minor upset at home with Bill O’Brien helping to make Brian Hoyer look competent. I think Mariota outplays Winston, but the run game and a late turnover gives Tampa a close win. It’s important for Peyton Manning to get off to a quick start in Gary Kubiak’s offense. How they look in this game will weigh heavily in how I project the Thursday game in Kansas City. Finally, I can’t wait to see Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray in this Chip Kelly offense. That could be a very entertaining game in Atlanta.

NFL Week 10 Predictions & 2013 Midseason Awards

The 2013 NFL season is halfway over and we know just a little more than we did in August.

We know four fairly consistent teams are sitting at 2-6 and possibly (likely?) headed for their first losing season in some time: Texans (2010), Falcons (2007), Giants (2004) and Steelers (2003). The Ravens (3-5) may soon join them for the first non-playoff season in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era. Too bad that “championship gene” dissolves easily in the offseason without enough talent and luck to keep it together.

him

It’s unclear how the coaches feel, but Mike Tomlin’s thoughts are easy to predict.

“Obviously, a variety of things create the end result, but it’s a result we’re going to take. We’ll tighten the screws, put a hat on a hat and continue to scoop the proof out of the pudding. We accept every serving we get this season. Sometimes it’s tough to chew, but everyone with a willing, hungry mouth will continue to get his plate filled this season. We have eight games remaining on our schedule and you can guarantee we look forward to completing each and every one of them.”

Speaking of standards being standards, we have a new high and low when it comes to 0-8 teams. The Buccaneers are the best 0-8 team ever while the Jaguars are the least competitive team since the 1970 merger. The Jaguars have trailed thru the end of every game after the 11:34 mark of the second quarter. It wouldn’t shock me if both win this weekend, but as far as 0-8 goes, these teams couldn’t be much different in how they’ve played.

It’s not only the win-less teams standing out for some of the wrong reasons…

  • Are the 2013 Chiefs the worst 9-0 team ever? Well, despite the soft schedule, their scoring margin is +104, which amazingly is one point ahead of my 2008 Titans (+103) comparison.
  • Are the 2013 Seahawks the worst 8-1 team ever? This has not been a dominant team and falling behind 21-0 to Tampa Bay will hopefully be a wake-up call.
  • Are the 2013 Patriots the worst 7-2 team ever? No, thanks to the Pittsburgh defense. With a favorable schedule, don’t count out a No. 1 seed (again) for them.

Oakland will not be the worst 2013 team as I predicted, but Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia sure looked like the team I expected to see often. Thanks for letting Nick Foles devalue the single-game touchdown pass record.

The Colts and Seahawks lead the league with three fourth-quarter comeback wins. Okay, not everything’s changed from last year. We’ll watch Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson battle for the most game-winning drives thru a player’s first two seasons:

GWD1st2

We’ll also watch Peyton Manning try to break the records for passing touchdowns and yards in a season. The schedule will likely be too difficult to set any efficiency records, but the volume could go down. He also has the Broncos on pace for 686 points, which would smash the previous record (589):

MPts

Week 10 Viewing

Here are some mini-previews for what I’ll be focusing on Sunday afternoon.

Bills at Steelers – I can go on a really long rant about this one, but I’ll try to keep it short. This reeks of a game where the Steelers will do well at home against a rookie quarterback, bringing out the “Dick LeBeau is a master of defense!” narrative because he has a great record against rookies since 2004. He didn’t have to play against Ben Roethlisberger (2004). He didn’t face Matt Ryan (2008). He didn’t see Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson last year. When he played Robert Griffin III, the Redskins had damn-near 12 dropped passes in the game. They stopped themselves. I think the Buffalo running game is a major asset in this one, but EJ Manuel will have to play well in his first game back from injury, which I don’t particularly see happening.

Yet why should anything on Sunday erase the 55-point, 610-yard ass-kicking this defense suffered last week? How does he get a pass for this season for that matter? How can he live down TEBOW? That’s the root problem with the Steelers. No team rests on their laurels as much as they do. As deficiencies have crept up, there’s been no solutions from the GM or Tomlin on how to fix them. Apparently they will fix themselves because “we’re the Steelers, we’ve won six Super Bowls and we’re just going to do what we do.”

Well, the NFL is moving on without you, Pittsburgh. Hopefully you’ll soon turn out the lights in the trophy room and read up on how to build a winner in today’s NFL.

Panthers at 49ers – Both teams have a mobile QB drafted in 2011. Both teams have a stingy defense. Both teams have been on an ass-kicking run against ass-sucking competition. Is it as simple as going with the home team, who just so happens to be the more reliable option? I’m not quick to accept teams without a proven track record. This would be Carolina’s biggest win since at least 2009. We know this team is historically awful in close games and has very few quality wins over the years, so this would be a big step forward. The 49ers, we can trust them more due to the talent they have and their results the last two years under Jim Harbaugh, who had a bye week to prepare for this one.

If Carolina wins I can start to admit I was wrong about them, but they have to show it first. A team I was skeptical on years ago was the 2005 Bengals when Carson Palmer broke out and the defense was getting a ton of interceptions. Without a track record I refused to believe they were legit. I even foolishly made a statement that Palmer would never win a playoff game in his career. Well, he hasn’t, and the Bengals still haven’t won one either. However, I cannot take much credit as that torn ACL suffered in the playoff game certainly had an impact on his/their future.

That’s the NFL sometimes. You can make a prediction, be right about it, but if the reason is something you never had in mind, should you really take credit?

So I’m all about seeing what the Panthers do not only in this game, but against the Patriots in Week 11. Please, make me believe this year is different.

Broncos at Chargers – “Can” the Chargers beat the Broncos? The answer’s always yes to the “can” question, but what would be the reasons? One of them will not be “Mike McCoy knows the Denver offense because he used to be their coordinator!” as that’s a sorry excuse you often hear but rarely ever see matter in a game. Not everyone is as foolish as the 2002 Raiders in how they called the game against Jon Gruden.

Besides, it’s not McCoy’s offense, it’s Peyton Manning’s offense, which defenses haven’t really stopped since he was a rookie. However, when Manning plays San Diego, some weird shit tends to happen. Ask Kenton Keith or San Diego punter Mike Scifres. Last year, Eric Decker tripped and fell on what would have been an 85-yard touchdown.  Three plays later Matt Willis ran the wrong route and it cost Denver a pick-six. In the rematch in Denver, Manning had a bubble screen tipped and returned for a touchdown.

If San Diego can put together long drives against a suspect defense (like they did against the Colts), but finish them for touchdowns, while getting some mistakes from the mistake-heavy Broncos, then of course they can win this one. It probably helps that John Fox is out and Jack Del Rio is the interim coach. Though that could actually benefit the Denver offense if Jack Del Riverboat returns and allows Manning to try some fourth-down attempts not done on Fox’s watch. This could be another very interesting shootout or a big Denver comeback.

I’m just happy to finally see a 2013 AFC West game that doesn’t involve Oakland.

2013 Midseason Awards

  • MVP – Peyton Manning (would be first NFL player to win MVP with two different teams)
  • Coach – Andy Reid
  • Offensive – Calvin Johnson
  • Defensive – Richard Sherman (someone notable from a top defense)
  • Comeback – Philip Rivers (for previously being lousy?)
  • OROY – Eddie Lacy
  • DROY – Kiko Alonso

Those picks of Jamaal Charles for MVP are a cute way of trying to be different and get some page hits, but let’s be honest. No way is the MVP a player on a sub-par unit for a team being carried by its defense against one of the easiest schedules since 1989.

There’s plenty of time left for most of these competitions to heat up, though I have to think Andy Reid has the coach award on lockdown, unless he suffers a second-half slide that could make Josh McDaniels blush.

2013 NFL Week 10 Predictions

Well I’m on a TNF losing streak now after Washington faded following a 27-14 lead.

Winners in bold:

  • Bengals at Ravens
  • Bills at Steelers
  • Lions at Bears
  • Raiders at Giants
  • Eagles at Packers
  • Rams at Colts
  • Seahawks at Falcons
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • Panthers at 49ers
  • Texans at Cardinals
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Cowboys at Saints
  • Dolphins at Buccaneers

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-3
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Season: 88-45

I don’t feel confident about picking the Eagles and Bengals, but that’s too many home teams if I didn’t.

I’m not picking the Buccaneers to win because Miami has no leadership and is distracted by douchebaggery, but I just think the two teams are pretty even and Tampa Bay’s been so close to getting a win. It’s time.

Also, the Jaguars are 1-20 in their last 21 games, but the one win was over Tennessee. Mike Munchak’s already lost to an 0-13 team (2011 Colts) in his career. Watch out…

But don’t ever be shocked anymore.

NFL History: MVP Quarterbacks Playing with MVP Running Backs

Christian Ponder would be one of the least likely NFL MVP winners in 2013, but if the game had gone to hell and he won a year after running back Adrian Peterson was named MVP, then they would join Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk as the only QB/RB duo to win consecutive MVPs. Warner won in 1999 and 2001 with Faulk taking it in 2000.

Here is a list of every instance of a MVP quarterback playing with a MVP running back. This is based on the AP’s MVP award, which was first given in 1957.

  • Bart Starr (1966) and Paul Hornung (1961) played together in 1957-66 in Green Bay.
  • Bart Starr (1966) and Jim Taylor (1962) played together in 1958-66 in Green Bay.
  • Joe Montana (1989-90) and O.J. Simpson (1973) played together in 1979 in San Francisco, though this is a cheap example.
  • Ken Stabler (1974) and Earl Campbell (1979) played together in 1980-81 in Houston.
  • Joe Montana (1989-90) and Marcus Allen (1985) played together in 1993-94 in Kansas City.
  • John Elway (1987) and Terrell Davis (1998) played together in 1995-98 in Denver.
  • Peyton Manning (2003-04, 2008-09) and Marshall Faulk (2000) played together in 1998 in Indianapolis before either won a MVP.
  • Kurt Warner (1999, 2001) and Marshall Faulk (2000) played together in 1999-03 in St. Louis.
  • Brett Favre (1995-97) and Adrian Peterson (2012) played together in 2009-10 in Minnesota.

So only Stabler/Campbell, Montana/Allen and Warner/Faulk played together in a season after each had won a MVP in the past.

That means just seven seasons in NFL history have had active MVP winners at QB and RB.

NFL Week 10 Predictions, Midseason Review and Award Predictions

In writing a NFL midseason review, it takes a lot of work to come up with something for all 32 teams. I learned that this week, passing the milestone of having written 200 articles (all but eight of them done since mid-July 2011).

But even after making playoff predictions and second-half predictions for the teams, one thing I did not write anywhere were my picks for the individual awards, so here they are. The picks are based on who I think has deserved it in the first half, and not necessarily who willl win the award at the end of the season.

First-Half Awards

  • MVP: Matt Ryan
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson
  • Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chandler Jones
  • Coach of the Year: Mike Smith
  • Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 9: New York Giants Shell-Shocked by Pittsburgh Steelers – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Pittsburgh came back on the road from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win for the third time in the Ben Roethlisberger era. Andrew Luck led his fourth game-winning drive in just his eighth game. Matt Ryan (27 years, 171 days) became the youngest QB to reach 20 game-winning drives. Also included is a review of how each team’s offense has done in 4QC/GWD opportunities this season. Only Houston and San Francisco has yet to face one.

NFL Midseason Report – NBC Sports

This is one of three articles I did for NBC Sports this week as part of a midseason review special, and this is the central piece that looks at all 32 teams: where they have been this year, and where they are headed.

Five Biggest Surprises of 2012 NFL Season – NBC Sports

Which surprises continue to amaze us halfway through the season? A look at Peyton Manning’s comeback in Denver, Andrew Luck and the Colts’ quick rebuild, the five rookie quarterbacks, the disappointment of the New Orleans Saints, and the recent dominance of Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin.

Are These NFL Teams Pretenders or Contenders? – NBC Sports

Finally, I take a look at some playoff hopefuls and just how legit their chances are, focusing on the remaining schedule and conference playoff races. Teams included: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, San Diego, Miami, NY Giants, Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. I conclude with a prediction for the 12 playoff seeds when it’s all said and done.

Andrew Luck: Midseason Review for Colts’ Rising Star – Bleacher Report

How good has Andrew Luck been so far? I break down his first eight games by the numbers and find all the records he’s already set or is on pace for. Hint: there are a lot of them.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 9 vs. Miami Dolphins – Colts Authority

My traditional Luck column, breaking down his record-setting performance by Miami where he passed for 433 yards and converted 12 of 17 third-down opportunities.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 10 Predictions – Bleacher Report

You voted for change? Well, not really, but change has come. Not only did I give a marquee preview of Texans/Bears, followed by Colts/Jags, Chargers/Bucs and Falcons/Saints, but I picked every game this week, and will continue to do s.

Predicting the Second Half of a NFL Season Using the First Half – Cold, Hard Football Facts – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Is the second half of the season just a repeat of the first half? Not quite, but we can learn some things from it. Since 2002, 71.3 percent of teams leading their division through eight games go on to win the division. Also some interesting results on the sustainability of offense versus defense, and more playoff predictions.

2012 NFL Week 10 Predictions

Dallas didn’t quite come through last week, marking the first time I picked against Atlanta this season. I am doing it again this week, but promise to only do it one more time at most going forward (regular season at least).

Winners in bold:

  • Raiders at Ravens
  • Broncos at Panthers
  • Giants at Bengals
  • Titans at Dolphins
  • Lions at Vikings
  • Bills at Patriots
  • Falcons at Saints
  • Chargers at Buccaneers
  • Jets at Seahawks
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Rams at 49ers
  • Texans at Bears
  • Chiefs at Steelers

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Season: 85-47