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What we’ve learned so far this NFL season

It is hard to believe, but we are almost at the halfway point of the NFL season. While there are some teams you can pretty much pencil into the 2014 playoffs, there are others that have plenty of work to do. So what have we exactly learned so far during these first seven weeks?

 

Tom Brady’s demise was greatly exaggerated

Remember when fans and analyst were saying Tom Brady was in decline after the New England Patriots’ loss against the Kansas City Chiefs? Well ever since that point, the Patriots and Brady in particular has played superb football.

Since the loss against the Chiefs, Brady has thrown for 914 yards, nine touchdown and zero interception in three games. Brady is also completing over 64 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 118.1.

While some people were quick to say Tom Brady was in decline, I was not one of them. Now at 5-2 and on top in the AFC East, it appears everything is back to normal in Foxboro.

 

Seattle’s chances to repeat are diminishing   

I know it is only seven weeks into the season, but the Seattle Seahawks have went from the favorites to repeat to a team that may struggle just to get into the postseason. The team is 3-3 and has lost two straight games. Seattle also plays in arguably the toughest division in the NFL. 

While the Seahawks defense is the eighth best in the league, they aren’t playing as well as their Super Bowl team from a year ago. 

Last season, the Seahawks allowed the fewest points and fewest yards in the NFL. Seattle also forced the most turnovers. In 2014, the Seahawks’ defense is 19th in points per game and ninth in yards per game. The team is also not forcing turnovers like they did in 2013 as they have forced the fourth-fewest in the NFL. 

If you look at Seattle’s remaining schedule,  it won’t be easy to get into the playoffs. The team has two games against the San Francisco 49ers, two games against the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals, at Kansas City and at the Philadelphia Eagles. Even if they split the games mentioned, that might not be enough to reach the postseason. 

 

Lions appear to be a NFC Contender

Last season, the Detroit Lions started 6-3 but finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs entirely. This season, the Lions are off to another good start and unlike last season, they could be a serious contenders in the NFC.

While earlier Lions’ teams won by outscoring their opponents, this team is winning with their defense. Detroit is giving up only 290 yards per game, which is the lowest total in the NFL. The team also has the second stingiest run defense in the league (73.4) and ranks seventh in passing yards given up (216.9).

Detroit has been able to get pressure on quarterbacks with just their defensive line. Because of that, they have had their linebackers in coverage with their defensive backs.  Third-year defensive end George Johnson leads the team in sacks with four. Ezekiel Ansah has also had a good season with 3.5 sacks. 

The Lions figure to be more danger in the second half of the season once receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush recover from their injuries. Lions have all the key ingredients to make a run in the NFC. The question is, will they slump during the second half of the season like in 2013?

Cowboys aren’t just winning because of DeMarco Murray 

DeMarco Murray is receiving a lot of the credit for the Dallas Cowboys success and deservingly so. After seven games, the running back has 913 yards and seven touchdowns. While Murray deserves credit, Tony Romo and Rolando McClain should also receive credit in the team’s success.

Romo has been excellent in the Cowboys’ victories this season. The quarterback has thrown for 1,508 yards, 13 touchdowns in the team’s six victories this season. Romo also has a quarterback rating of 104.7 so far this season. 

When the Cowboys traded for McClain last July, they were probably just expecting to get a player who could give them depth at the linebacker position. Not only has the team gotten more than they expected, the Cowboys have a player who looks like the player many expected coming out of the University of Alabama in 2010. 

McClain ranks third on the Cowboys in tackles with 31 tackles. He also leads the team with three tackles for loss and two interceptions. 

Last season, the Cowboys were statistically one of the worst defense in the history of the NFL. This season, McClain has help lead to the 14th ranked defense in the league. 

McClain, who was out of football last season after retiring twice and being arrested three times after the Oakland Raiders drafted him in 2010 is considered a favorite for the Comeback Player of the Year award. 

Broncos are the favorites to win the Super Bowl…because of their defense

It’s hard to say anyone is playing better than the Denver Broncos right now. Not only are they led by Peyton Manning and their explosive offense, they defense is also one of the best in the league. 

Denver’s defense ranks sixth in total defense and are now tied for third in the league with 21 sacks. Von Miller (eight) and DeMarcus Ware (seven) rank first and second in the NFL in sacks respectfully. 

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is having fun using Miller in different ways this season because of the presence of Ware. Miller is lining up both on and off the line of scrimmage which makes it more difficult for offenses to slide their protection toward Miller.

As long as their defense keeps playing this well, it will be hard for any team to defeat the Broncos during the regular season, more or less the playoffs. 

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