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Week of November 12, 2013

Observer Sports National Football League Mid-Season Review

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By Cameron Docherty


merica’s favorite sports league is 10 weeks into the NFL season, and it’s hard to think of one that has confounded fans more than this one. Whether you’re a diehard supporter of your franchise, an occasional viewer or just a casual fantasy football participant, you’ve likely been left scratching your head at how this season has unfolded. Off the field we have seen unprecedented coverage of off the field scandals including alleged bully Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito. On the field we have seen just as much tumult and commotion. For example, the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have been underwhelmed in their bid to defend their title. New York Gi-

ants fans so used to tasting recent success, saw 6 straight losses to open up the season. New York Jets fans on the other hand have seen their team accrue a 5-4 record on the back of their stellar defensive line and the steady if not inconsistent, play of rookie QB Geno Smith in a season where not much was expected of gang green. Midway through the season the American Football Conference has been considerably stronger than the National Football Conference, who has produced four of the last six Super Bowl champions. The AFC has seen it’s traditional powerhouses like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos hold serve, but it has also sprung a few surprises. Most notably, the Kansas City Chiefs are a perfect 8-0 atop the West after only winning 2 games last year. The Cincinnati Ben-

gals, who boasted one of the leagues best defenses, have been stricken by injuries to defensive leaders Geno Atkins and Leon Hall. This has given surprise teams like the Cleveland Browns initiative to grab a playoff spot. In the NFC, general mediocrity has allowed for the most wideopen race for playoff spots in recent memory. The Seattle Seahawks have separated themselves from the pack, boasting the conference’s best record and an unbeaten streak at home that extends back to Christmas Eve 2011. The New Orleans Saints look rejuvenated with head coach Sean Payton back at the helm after a season suspension due to the bounty gate scandal. Beyond the great northwest and NOLA, there isn’t too much clarity in the NFC. The North is log jammed

with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers all vying for first place. Similarly, the East is very cramped. The Dallas Cowboys have failed to capitalize on lackluster play from the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and the NY Giants. Yes, big blue is somehow, someway, still in the mix. In a season where off the field press has dominated the headlines, it is good to see such fiery competition on the field. From Aaron Hernandez to Richie Incognito, we have had all sorts of bad press reflecting on the NFL. But the National Football League has continued to deliver on the gridiron, and if the second half is as riveting as the first, you’ll be happy you tuned in every Sunday.