The midway mark of the 2012 NFL Regular Season has produced a lot of predicted excitement. Here are The Football Educator’s midseason observations six through ten.
6. Rookie of the Year?
This one’s close and most will probably disagree based on gaudy stats and superhuman highlights, but for all the good that Robert Griffin III has brought to Washington’s offense, the Redskins are still 3-5. We witnessed this last season with the lightning quick emergence of Cam Newton that catapulted the Carolina Panthers from 2-14 to 6-10, only to be 1-6 to date. My biggest move in the offseason is also my selection for midway ROY in QB Andrew Luck. Luck’s stats aren’t those of RGIII, but neither is the offensive talent surrounding him. What he has done is elevate his team’s overall play to a position within striking distance of dare we say “Playoffs?” (thanks Jim Mora). No other 2012 rookie has done more for his team.
7. Breakout performer in the 2nd half?
QB Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. The “Cheeseheads” were all we could talk about this time last season. 2011’s MVP is still producing up at the top of the NFL for his position, yet the Packers record pales in comparison. Green Bay has 5 NFC North games on the backside of 2012 and has already defeated division leader Chicago. To call Rodgers a “breakout” player might be a reach, but his team might very well break out and away from their opponents as a direct result of his play (4th overall in NFL – Win Probability Added).
8. Team whose success will end in the 2nd half?
The biggest surprise of the 1st half - MINNESOTA VIKINGS. For the same reasons they’re the surprise of the first half, the Vikings will struggle down the stretch. Ponder’s numbers just aren’t up to par to sustain this success. Add to that their schedule of @Seattle Seahawks, @Houtson Texans, and double division games against rivals the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
The Vikings will slide in the 2nd half.
9. Is it time to start Tim Tebow in New York?
- If the organization makes the decision to go with Tebow, then it is making the decision to part with Mark Sanchez only 3 seasons removed from drafting him 5th overall in 2009.
- Sanchez is 28th in the NFL in NY/A (aka Offensive Pass Efficiency, #1 WIN Predictor) and at or near the bottom in a number of other passing categories.
- Head Coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannebaum should gauge the confidence the team has in their starting QB, determine if it’s scheme or performance driven failure, and have a plan of how Tebow would change things for the better if brought in.
- Tebow is not a better passer than Sanchez, but his intangibles might raise the level of play of his teammates, much like he did in Denver in 2011.
- One thing to keep in mind is that the New York Jets Defense isn’t shutting people down to support any QB (despite what Ryan thinks). They have gone into the 4th quarter behind in all of their 5 losses, and are currently ranked 27th in Points Allowed and 24th in Yards Allowed.
- Otherwise, I would stay with Sanchez until the end of the season and then make an overall evaluation.
10. Super Bowl Winner?
Atlanta Falcons (7-0) after the midway point. Not because of being undefeated, but they’ll WIN the NFC South division and hold home field (16-3 over past 2 ½ seasons). The Falcons should then take the NFC and match up very well over the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and the Denver Broncos across the board (Offense, Defense, Special Teams combined).
The toughest AFC matchup is with the Houston Texans, whose staff has Super Bowl experience through Denver and the Texans have displayed a superior defense at the midway mark.
In the end I’ll take Atlanta’s QB Matt Ryan over Houston’s QB Matt Schaub in a 4th quarter game winning drive for the Lombardi Trophy (along with veterans TE Tony Gonzalez, WR’s Roddy White and Julio Jones, and the hard running of RB Michael Turner) by taking the ball downfield for a game winning field goal by PK Matt Bryant (2-2 from 50+).
Agree or Disagree.? Let me know @Ted_Sundquist