Frank’s mid-season NFL game recap and analysis

Frank Passalacqua, Sports Editor

As the 2013 NFL season just reaches past mid-way, we all can all agree the year is flying by.

It becomes apparent to the average NFL fan, which teams start to stand out. Whether it be for becoming an elite team, or for being labeled as a joke, this is the time of year where standings and predictions become important.

Everyone knows the elite group of teams like the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Seattle Seahawks were expected to be contenders, but who saw the Kansas City Chiefs starting off the season at a perfect 9-0? Before we get into the best and worst of NFL teams, let’s start off with that ‘middle class’ if you will.

After watching the first 10 weeks of the NFL year, there are a few teams who are flat-out inconsistent on a weekly basis. It works out perfectly, because those teams are the ones with a 5-win record. Yes, the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles all have five wins to date.

I would include the Green Bay Packers in this section, sitting at 5-4, but their recent injury to Aaron Rogers is the only reason they aren’t 7-2.

Looking at the teams mentioned before, the biggest issue that strikes this team is inconsistency. There is no other way to put it. The Philadelphia Eagles opened the season on fire against the Washington Redskins, and Chip Kelly seemed to be an offensive-mastermind. Well, that light quickly faded as the Eagles have yet to gain solid ground at an even 5-5 record. Yes, they too have dealt with their share of injuries, but there are times that highly acclaimed offense struggled to even score a touchdown in an entire game. With Nick Foles playing at an out-of-this-world level, I expect them to find their groove and break away from the pack.

Looking at the Cowboys and Jets- they are a toss-up each week.

Dallas recently got blown out 17-49 to the New Orleans Saints, who literally picked them apart on every aspect on the field and made them look like a high-school team. With player breakdowns in Dez Bryant and an apparent mid-season collapse, the Cowboys have not been on a good run. Maybe it was that last-second heart breaker to the Detroit Lions that broke the team chemistry.

Now, the New York Jets are another team with a perfect definition of inconsistency.  The Jets have a solid defense; there is no denying that. With one of the best run-stopping defensive lines in the game, all they would need is some flare to their offense, right? Absolutely, because that was not a trick question.

I think the problem lies in rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Obviously, as a rookie, this is kind of expected. However, it is Smith that I blame for the team not easily sitting with the top-five teams in the NFL.

Smith has thrown for only eight touchdowns in nine games, but has 13 interceptions and three lost fumbles.

I don’t get it. The Jets are the only team that have stepped up and beat great competition, like the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, but fail miserably other weeks and get blown out to the Cincinnati Bengals 9-49, and fall to teams like the Titans and Steelers.

That leaves the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. Both teams speak for themselves and continue to flip-flop each week. The Cardinals are dealing with a new quarterback this season, and the Bears keep missing big opportunities to come away with the win. Regardless, both teams lack any form of…consistency.

Next, we’ll get into the teams that are looking at a good draft pick. First, the Atlanta Falcons receive my vote for most upsetting team of the season. They lost no key players during the offseason, and just look like a mess each week. At 2-7, they can sit this one out and rethink for 2014.

Getting into the obvious, the Jacksonville Jaguars are just inexcusably bad. At 1-8, they statistically are the worst team in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also 1-8, which is kind of shocking to me as well. They gained a good number of players this offseason, like Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldon, but have a disastrous offense. Releasing quarterback Josh Freeman and losing Doug Martin to injury are certainly keys to their failure.

We also have the notable teams who we can just shake our heads at each week; the Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, and I’ll even throw the New York Giants into this discussion. Adrian Peterson is the Vikings, and that’s that. Looking at the Texans, what in the world happened to them? They ended last season at 12-4 and looked to be a serious Super Bowl contender, and this year they sit at 2-7. As for the Steelers, what can you say, their age is showing. I did include the Giants, only because of their 0-6 start and the pace Eli Manning is on to break a season-high interceptions thrown record. They are, however, on a three-game winning streak, but don’t look now.

Lastly, we have the teams growing their playoff beards early. I briefly touched on the Chiefs in the beginning, but that story is amazing. Last year, they sat at the bottom of the NFL with a record of 2-14. With the addition of head coach Andy Reid and some solid draft picks, they are the only undefeated team in the NFL. In fact, they are so good, they have allowed less points this season (111) than the Jaguars have managed to score so far (115).

The Patriots are expected to be in the running each year for top-caliber teams, and they never disappoint. The departure of Wes Welker in the offseason and injury to Rob Gronkowski definitely set their offensive pace back a few weeks, but mid-way through the season, teams better watch out.

Seattle is second in the league with a record of 9-1, and always manage to come out with a dramatic win. Whether it is a crazy comeback to barely win the game or just a blow-out, Seattle has something good to cheer for on Sundays. And the last team I will brag about is the Denver Broncos. Of course they are a great team, Peyton Manning is their quarterback. Each week, Peyton puts on a spectacular show and the Broncos are probably everyone’s pick to reach the Super Bowl. However, head coach John Fox has been hospitalized due to a stroke, so it’ll be interesting to see how they cope with that.

A tell-all game will be when the Chiefs face the Broncos in their Week 11 matchup, that’ll be a good one.

Silent but deadly teams, comfortably sitting at 6-3, are the Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts. Without getting into detail, they are wild-card teams that have a good chance to catch fire and make some major upsets in the playoffs.

Let’s see how the rest of the season unfolds.