Midseason Roundup – The NFC

When the season started, and for the first few weeks, the AFC looked to be vastly superior this year. The NFC’s pre-season Superbowl picks (the Packers, Vikings, Saints, Cowboys) were all stuttering a little bit, while the top dogs in the other conference were playing very good football. As the season has progressed, however, it has started to even out. Lets have a look at whats been going on:

The Top Teams

The Atlanta Falcons are sitting atop the standings in the NFC with a 7-2 record, then there are a wealth of 6-3 teams: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints & Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and all are looking like very good football teams.

The Surprises

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have impressed me a lot so far this year. They have a solid QB in Josh Freeman who has everything but experience as a starter in the NFL, and some good young playmakers on offence. Their emergence is a big part of the competitiveness of the NFC South, where the Falcons, Saints & Bucc’s all have a good chance of making the playoffs. Atlanta’s home record in the last 2 years (18-1) is quite daunting and if they win home field advantage going into the post-season they could be very tough to stop.

The Cowboys have stunned everyone this year in the first 9 weeks of the season, going 1-7. The talent on their roster is not in doubt and for their season to be over at this point in the year is nothing short of disastrous for them. They recently fired head coach Wade Philips and will be hoping to gather some momentum towards the end of the year to put some smiles back on the faces of their fans.

We have to mention the NFC West here too, which is an unusual division due to the fact that a team with a losing record could realistically make the playoffs this year. The 49ers, tipped by some to go far into the playoffs this year, were terrible in the first 6 weeks of the season. They went into week 10 with a 2-6 record, yet could still make the playoffs. The improved play of the Rams, thanks to Sam Bradford’s emergence as a rookie QB & star of the future, has them pushing for a playoff berth as well. With a 1-15 record last year, that would be impressive.

The Standout Players

Clay Matthews – Green Bay Packers OLB – The second year linebacker has been a monster in Green Bay’s defence this year. He leads the league in sacks with 10.5, and if you get a chance to watch the Packers any time soon, watch the speed with which he flies of the edge. He’s a none stop, high motor guy and a pleasure to watch. With some big injuries to key players, Matthews has stepped up and is a driving force on this team.

Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons WR – White has 934 receiving yards (2nd in NFL) and 7 TD’s (tied 5th in NFL) so far this year. He’s a dominant down field threat and a huge contributor to the Falcons 7-2 record. He had 2 TD’s and 138 yards in a big week 10 win over the Baltimore Ravens, which included a 33yd TD catch with 20 seconds left on the clock to win the game. Big time playmaker.

Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles QB – Vick leads the NFL in passer rating after 10 weeks with 115.1. He missed several games with an injury he picked up in week 4, but when healthy & on the field he is arguably the most dynamic offensive weapon in the NFL. He looks every bit as fast as he did when he played in Atlanta, and with the improvements in his passing game (1350 YDs, 0 INTs, 11 TDs in 153 pass attempts) it’s easy to see why NFL pundits all over the league are hailing him as one of the best QB’s in the league on his current form.

Mid-season NFC Championship Picks

I think it’s going to be Packers against the Falcons, with Atlanta going to the Superbowl.

Andy Stuart

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