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A mid-season look forward in the NFL

A mid-season look forward in the NFL

By Jarom Moore, Contributor | Posted - Nov. 3, 2011 at 5:32 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Halfway through the season allows a chance for some educated guessing on what will happen as the season moves along. What records will fall, what are the chances the Dolphins never pop the champagne, will Tebow be a quarterback by season's end and what teams will make a late push for the playoffs.

Here is a look at those subjects and how it might turn out:

Quest for perfection: The Patriots came closest, the Colts sat players, the Broncos lost late and the '72 Dolphins remain the sole perfect team. The Green Bay Packers are the only team without a tick in the loss column this season.

They are led by Aaron Rodgers who is playing as well as a quarterback has played, maybe ever. He has 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. He leads the league in completion percentage and the team is healthy.

This team seems as dangerous as the Patriots who lost in the Super Bowl after 19 straight wins. Coming off a bye they play a struggling Chargers team, then a Vikings team that isn't playing great. They will welcome the Bucs then play the Lions on Thanksgiving. They should be undefeated at least until then. They will play the Lions twice and the Giants. Those are the three games that the Packers could lose. It will be hard to play a short week against the Lions then have a long break and visit New York. These two games could be the clinching games for the division and the conference.

IF they win both, but will start sitting players? Will they lose to a rival Bears team that will be in the playoff hunt or the playoff-hungry Lions the last week of the season when neither team is playing for anything.

Record watch: Dan Marino has had a record since 1984 and it is being threatened by three players. Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are all on track to break that record. Brees in on pace for 5488, or 404 yards more than Marino, which means it could be broken with a week left.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (AP Photo/Tom 
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Jerry Rice has held the receiving yards record since 1995 and that is in danger by two players, Wes Welker and Steve Smith. Welker is on pace to break it by 40 yards and Smith is on pace to be 10 yards short.

Calvin Johnson is on pace for 22 receiving touchdowns and the record is 23.

The Saints are on pace to break the Rams single season total offense record.

The record for sacks is 22.5 held by Michael Strahan. DeMarcus Ware is on pace for 27 through seven games and Jared Allen is on pace for 25 through eight.

Not all of these will happen, but one probably will and there could be two or three.

Late playoff push: As the season winds down there will be a team like the Packers of last year who will do just enough to make the playoffs. There will be a team that pushes enough to get into the playoffs with a late surge, or at least scares some teams. The Eagles could be the team that makes the playoffs. They were overhyped, but looked really good against the Cowboys last week.

They have the talent and the coaching if they can keep it up they could be a scary team late. A team that will upset teams, more teams, and might make a run is the St. Louis Rams. Hold on, yes they have only one win, but they haven't played a game in their division. They just beat the Saints last week who might have been the best team left on their schedule. They have two free wins against the Cardinals and the Seahawks, which would get them to five wins.

Sam Bradford is getting healthy, the defense looked great and the addition of Brandon Lloyd gives them an offensive weapon to compliment Steven Jackson. They would have to beat San Francisco twice and the Steelers, but they only have those three games that will be tough.

If they only lose one of those games they will end 9-7.

It's a long shot but they made noise last year and they have talent.

Last playoff spot: There are only six teams that make the playoffs from each conference, but there are at least eight playoff-worthy teams. Which teams will have to sit after missing the playoffs by one game, or like the Giants last year just from tie-breakers?

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy 
celebrates after a fourth quarter touchdown 
against the Dallas Cowboys. (AP Photo/The News 
Journal, Daniel Sato)
Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy celebrates after a fourth quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. (AP Photo/The News Journal, Daniel Sato)

Right now the Buccaneers and Falcons are 4-3 and in the seventh and eighth place in the NFC. The Saints lead the NFC South with a 5-3 record.

The AFC is even more messed up. The Ravens are 5-2 and out of the playoffs. The Titans, Raiders, Chargers and Jets are all 4-3 and as low as eleventh in the standings. The AFC West has three teams tied at 4-3 with the Chiefs currently leading. The AFC North has three with two losses, the Steelers are 6-2 and the Bengals are 5-2. This weekend's Steelers-Ravens game has huge implications for that.

The AFC East has two 5-2 teams, Bills and Patriots and the Jets are 4-3. Every week will matter from this point on. Any division loss could end the season for one of these teams early.

A look to next year: The Tim Tebow clock has gone from when he starts playing to when he gets benched. If he can't spur the Broncos to victory he may be on the way out or to another position. He has received praise for five minutes of play and hammered for the other 115 minutes. If the Broncos brass try to move him it will be an interesting story line for where he goes. He could go to Jacksonville and sell tickets for the Jaguars or maybe the Dolphins who honored his Gators team in their loss.

He has been slotted as a tight end or H-back and could salvage his career with a position change. The season isn't over and he could will his team to some wins, but one thing remains as long as Tebow has pads on he will be talked about by fans and media.

The other story for next year will be the Andrew Luck watch. He has become the most coveted prospect in years. His comeback against USC was his signature game and he will be the number one draft pick in the upcoming draft.

The only question is who is bad enough to get him. The Colts are right now, but Peyton Manning wants to keep his job and believes he will play by the end of the season.

The winnable games they have will be two against the Jaguars and the Panthers. The Dolphins are the other winless team in the league. They have lost the last two weeks by three points, but every game they play from this point on will be against a playoff caliber team that will still be in the hunt. The only team they play that is more than a game out of the playoffs is the Redskins.


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Jarom Moore


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