New England Patriots and Washington Redskins are playing championship football. The New England Patriots owned the first half of this MSFL season, so perhaps it’s appropriate that they fell flat in such entertaining fashion to close out week 7 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a reminder that the next 9 weeks won’t resemble the first half at all.
Very little has been decided, especially in an NFC with 5 teams only having one loss. Similarly, AFC teams don’t look truly “out of it” with about 9 teams having winning records. Former 2x Super Bowl champion Coach Barry Allen’s Giants are far from a juggernaut, and they will have to battle uphill just to make the playoffs, much less secure home-field advantage.
As we continue our midseason review week here at TheMSFL.com, here’s a look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the season’s first half:
Playoff races: Denver and Green bay are the only squads to have two-game or more leads in their divisions, and we’d expect Philadelphia and Dallas to make the NFC East a three-team race. The wild-card races in both conferences look even more insane. The AFC isn’t as deep as the NFC, but we’re hitting midseason with the Bills, Browns, and even the MSFL preseason champion Raiders out of the playoff picture. In the NFC, only one loss separates the No.1 seed from the No. 8 team. Basically, the first half was just about eliminating four NFC teams: Atlanta, Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles. Everything else is possible.
Passing League: It’s been a nice half-season statistically for Quarterbacks that all happen to have a common denominator, a struggling defense. Eli manning tops the list leading the league in passing yards with 2,251 yards throwing for a 2 TD to 1 Int ratio paired with the #27 ranked defense in the league. Paxton lynch follows suit throwing for 1,978 yards. Despite the rookie QB Lynch having all this defensive talent around him they have struggled thus far and managed to come in at a measly #28 pass defense forcing the young quarterback to get them out of bad situations.
Rookie wide receivers: It’s supposed to be difficult for rookie wideouts to get up to speed at the MSFL level. But these talented crops of wideouts have come out of the gates quickly. Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller V, and Josh Doctson could all be candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Indianapolis relevance: The colts haven’t had a defense ranked in the top 5 since 2007 yet here they sit as the #1 ranked defense after 7 weeks. If they can take care of a dangerous Kansas City at home, they will be 5-3. This doesn’t look like a playoff team yet, but it’s nice that one of the league’s worst franchises, roster wise will be playing November games that matter and could have an impact on the conference.
Coach Maxwell: All of Chicago’s regular season moves are turning to gold. The Bears have the best rushing attack in football with Jacquizz Rodgers and Lamar Miller leading the league in rushing. Even newly added Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is getting in on some of the action. One thing is for certain this Bears team is already better than it was a season ago.
Washington creeps: Coach Urban Meyer has quietly led his team to the top of the MSFL standings with a 6-1 record on top of what seems as the toughest division on paper in the NFC East. Plenty of reason for his recent success due to being ranked 3rd in turnover difference with 20 takeaways vs only 10 giveaways. They may not stand out anywhere in terms of offensive or defensive production but if you make a mistake against this roster you will surely pay for it.
Falcon's demise: The very passionate return of coach DJ has become a roller coast ride of emotions, most of it being a downward spiral. As the time of this writing, they are on an 8 game losing streak and remain one of only two teams that have yet to taste victory in the MSFL. The only positive note to take from the first half is that Atlanta is actually the most disciplined team in the league leading in avoiding penalties, but that can only take them so far.
AFC North: How did this once intriguing division get so bad, so fast? The ravens have yet to win in back to back games, Bengals barely broke a 4 game losing skid vs divisional foe in Cleveland, and Pittsburgh started off the season on a 3 game losing streak. They have however seemed to have turned it around but time will tell if they can continue this improvement in the second half.
Hoops on Hot Seat: After trading away the newly extended Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo decided to turn to its 4th round rookie quarterback out of Ohio State, Cardale Jones. This handpicked quarterback has played so poorly and in turn left the team in shambles that it could go down as one of the worst GM decisions in the history of the league. Tyrod Taylor may not have been the franchise Quarterback the Bills wanted but Cardale Jones IS NOT the Quarterback they need.
Every Franchises Rehab Facility: After 7 short weeks, there has been an epidemic of devastating injuries impacting each franchise one after another. Either coaches need to get smarter about resting players who fatigue or strength and conditioning trainers need to be reevaluated. Either way, something must be done in hopes that this trend does not continue and ends a franchise playoff run before it even begins.
If the season ended today
#1 NFC East Was (6-1)
#2 NFC North GB (6-1)
#3 NFC South Car (5-1)
#4 NFC West Sea (4-2)
#5 Wildcard TB (5-1)
#6 Wildcard Phi (5-2)
Bubble: Cowboys, Saints, 49ers
#1 AFC East NE (5-1-1)
#2 AFC West Den (5-2)
#3 AFC North Pitt (4-3)
#4 AFC South Ind (4-3)
#5 Wildcard KC (3-2-1)
#6 Wildcard Mia (4-3)
Bubble: Texans, Jets, Chargers