The Sports Report: A look at the NFL mid-season

The NFL season has passed the midway point and it’s a top-heavy league. There are four to five great teams and a lot of average teams.

The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints lead the National Football Conference with 9-1 and 8-1 records.

In the American Football Conference, the Kansas City Chiefs lead the conference with a 9-1 record followed by the New England Patriots with a 7-3 record. Beyond the four top teams, the field remains wide open and there are many surprising and disappointing teams. The playoffs could see some teams that haven’t played in a long time.

Surprises

The Chicago Bears have turned their franchise around. They’ve been a great team so far with a 6-3 record and have picked up some big victories. They defeated their division rivals the Detroit Lions 34-22 on Nov. 11 and also defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-17 on Sept. 17. They also came down to the wire with the New England Patriots. They had a Hail Mary pass that fell one yard short of tying the game.

The Bears’ off-season changes were the main reasons for the turnaround. Matt Nagy was hired as the new head coach. He is an offensive coordinator by trade and ran the quarterbacks last season in Kansas City. They signed wide receiver Allen Robinson to a four-year contract and traded for one of the best defensive players in football.

Khalil Mack was acquired for two first-round picks and has been a force since he arrived. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace traded up from the third pick to second to guarantee they drafted Trubisky. He is a mobile player and has been dynamic all season.

Disappointments 

The Houston Texans appeared to be a disappointing team at the beginning of the season. They struggled to start this year with a 0-3 record, including a loss to the New York Giants. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last season and struggled to start this season. He now has 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season and is completing 65 per cent of his passes.

J.J. Watt returned to the roster after having back surgery, which made him miss half of the season.

The Texans have a top 10 defence and are a serious threat to win the division. Deshaun won the Heisman Trophy in 2017 and the national championship.

On the other hand, the Detroit Lions have been a major disappointment. They have a 3-6 record and have two losses in the division. Matthew Stafford became the third-highest paid player in the NFL this off-season. He got $92 million guaranteed and $135 million over the course of the five-year deal.

They also hired Matt Patricia as the new head coach. He was the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots and the team has struggled under him. The team lost to the New York Jets in week one and the fan base booed him when he was introduced at the next home game. He could be fired if the team continues to struggle.

Jacksonville is the biggest disappointment thus far. They won their division last season and finished with a 10-6 record. They made it to the conference championships game but fell to the New England Patriots. This season they have a 3-6 record and are last in the division. They have had some major injuries on the offensive front and their defence has struggled all season. Quarterback Blake Bortles will likely not be on the roster next season and head coach Doug Marrone is also in the hot seat.

The NFL season is heating up and there will be some more changes as the season goes on. As we approach week 12 there are only six weeks before playoffs.

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