It’s past the midway point of the NFL season, and no one has a emerged as the clear cut favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.
It is so hard to tell who is going to emerge because it appears that each contending team has liabilities.
Let’s take a look at the contending teams.
Texans: They have certainly had a good year, but the question remains, “Are the Texans good enough on offense?” They are 24th in the NFL in yards per play. The defense can carry them for only so long.
Ravens: I question their defense. It was a just a few weeks ago that the Cowboys riddled the Ravens defense with their running game. Also, you have to rush the passer to win a title, and the Ravens are 25th in sacks per pass play. Having Terrell Suggs back healthy now should improve that.
Patriots: Defense is also a problem for the Patriots. They are 31st in the league in third-down defense. They don’t get off the field, and that puts a lot of pressure on Tom Brady to put up points.
Broncos: Certainly Peyton Manning is back to his old form. But there is a problem with the running game. The Broncos are 26th in rushing yards per attempt.
Colts: The Colts have been a surprise coming off their two-win season of a year ago. Andrew Luck has come along nicely in his rookie year. They have a lot of negative numbers, but the minus-9 turnover ratio is the worst of any of these potential playoff teams. Although they may go to the playoffs there is no way they make it to the Super Bowl.
Steelers: The vaunted Steelers defense went into Monday’s game ranked 26th in the league in third-down defense. Ouch!
But the big concern now is Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder. There is no way they can advance without him.
Falcons: Two problems: the running game and the defense. They are 30th in rushing yards per attempt and their tackling has been horrendous.
Bears: Defense is there, but what about the offense? Jay Cutler, one of the most maligned quarterbacks in the NFL, has spent a lot of time on the ground. Chicago is 30th in sacks per pass play. That will make it tough to win a title.
49ers: The defense is pretty good, but offensively they have not been very explosive. In a pass-happy era, the 49ers are 28th in pass yards per game.
Giants: The Giants are 26th in the league in passing yards per attempt and rushing yards per attempt, and the defense hasn’t been that good either - and yet they still lead the NFC East.
Packers: The offensive line has been a big problem. Green Bay is 29th in sacks per pass play and now must play the rest of the season without starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Seahawks: They are last in the NFL in passing. However that disputed win over the Packers may give them an edge in getting into the playoffs.
So as you see, the good teams all have flaws, some more than others. It’s not unusual for teams to have problems at this time of the year. The team that fixes themin the final seven weeks, and on into the playoffs, will be the teams that get to the Super Bowl.
The Giants did it last year. Which team is it in 2012?
That’s a good question. I don’t have the answer, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I am pretty confident about who WON’T get into the Super Bowl from the above list. The Seahawks and the Colts have no chance.
At the top of most people’s list are the Falcons and the Texans. I guess that’s about as good of pick as any, and I will go with that for now. But that could change weekly. If it’s not the Texans in the AFC, I would have to go with the Patriots. I have a lot of faith in Tom Brady and Bill Billichick. If it’s not the Falcons, I would go with the 49ers as my second pick.
But that is only a guess.
The big winner is the NFL fans. With all of this uncertainty, it will make the playoffs fun to watch.