Leading up to this season, I wrote a series of off-season recap articles. Since the NFL is at its unofficial halfway point, I’ve decided to take a look back at those articles and see where I was right, wrong or way off. I broke down the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Washington Football Team, Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots – Following the draft and free agency I had Belichick’s bunch headed for a 6-11 record. At the time of my article, Cam Newton was still listed as the starting QB for the team while rookie Mac Jones has taken over since then. There were some ups and downs during the first half of his first season which is expected, putting up 1,996 yards nine touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 68% of his passes. I also highlighted rookie DL Christian Barmore and his expected role with the team and he’s been playing his best football of the half season these last two games, leading all Patriots defensive tackles in snaps both weeks. New England currently sit at 4-4, good for second in the AFC East. With a long time before their late week 14 bye, I believe the Patriots will go slightly over my six win prediction.
New Predicted Record- 8-9
Where I Was Right
Green Bay Packers – What an offseason the Packers had huh? There was a possibility that future first ballot Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t be suiting up for the green and yellow this season do to a rift with management. I had them finishing this season at 10-7 with Jordan Love as the projected starter for the year (crazy right?). Rookie CB Eric Stokes has been playing very well this season, allowing an 84 passer rating against him so far. Second round pick, center, Josh Myers started off the season as the top center on the team until a knee injury sent him to the short term IR. Aaron Rodgers ended up coming back and playing despite the offseason drama and had Green Bay rolling before his positive Covid test this past weekend. The Packers are currently 7-1 and cruising in first place in the NFC North, at this rate, a division title is all but a lock.
New Predicted Record -13-4
Arizona Cardinals – In the third season under coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Arizona Cardinals have seemingly figured it out. Led by star QB Kyler Murray and their star studded defense, the desert birds have shot out to a 7-1 mark after the first half of the season. First round pick Zaven Collins has played well this season while still struggling to find time on the field during pass rushing downs. On the offensive side of the ball, rookie wideout Rondale Moore has been used as a runner and return man so far this season using his speed wherever he can. Losing veteran defensive lineman JJ Watt for the year may be a tough blow to a unit tied for fifth in sacks and seventh in passing yards allowed.
New Predicted Record 11-4
Where I Was Wrong
Washington Football Team – Entering the season, I had the Football Team making a push for a playoff spot. That has not been the case to this point. Three of their top free agent additions have either underperformed (William Jackson III) or have dealt with significant injuries (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Curtis Samuel). It’s hard to give a proper grade to first round pick Jamin(JAY-min) Davis since the defense as a whole has been so bad. One thing to look at is Davis’ dip in playing time over the past month and make of that what you will. On the bright side, they look to have found solid players in second round rookie OL Sam Cosmi and third round rookie CB Benjamin St-Juste. A 2-6 record certainly isn’t on pace to finish 9-8 as I predicted in the offseason, best wishes to the WFT moving forward.
New Predicted Record 5-12
Indianapolis Colts – I had Indianapolis going 10-7 this season and while there’s still a chance, 4-5 isn’t an ideal start to make that happen. QB Carson Wentz has performed well for the most part the first half of the year despite what the record shows, throwing for 2,198 yards with 17 touchdowns to three interceptions. The Colts do bolster one of the league’s top offensive lines and a top five rushing attack with 1,236 yards on the ground (2nd) and 137.3 per game (5th). With six games remaining, I’ll be on the lookout to see if the Colts are able to get hot and make the push I predicted. Time will tell.
New Predicted Record 9-8
Cincinnati Bengals – I’ve never been happier to be wrong about anything than I am about my preseason Bengals prediction. Before the start of the year I slotted them at the bottom of the AFC North with a 5-12 record and I feel it’s safe to say that won’t be the case. The debate on wether Cincinnati should’ve taken Penei Sewell or Ja’Maar Chase have been put to rest as the Bengals wideout has set the league on fire since reconnecting with QB Joe Burrow. On pace to run away with the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award like he’s been running away from defensive backs, Chase has shown out with 38 catches for an astounding 786 yards (3rd) and seven touchdowns (3rd) all while leading the league in yards per catch with what would be a record if he stays on this pace at 20.7. Burrow has also been solid through the first half, leading Cincinnati to a 5-3 record and posting 2,215 yards (6th), 20 touchdowns (3rd) and nine interceptions on 67% completions. The Bengals defense has also been a strong point for this first half as well, already surpassing the team sack total from a season ago. Free agency additions Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton and Riley Reiff have all been key contributors to this “new look” Bengals and will look to seeing how far they can go this year.
New Predicted Record -10-7
New Orleans Saints – Not gonna lie, I expected New Orleans to struggle a bit more than they have to start the season. Starting 5-2, they’ve already matched the win total I set for them in my previous article. The week one 38-3 beating they put on the Green Bay Packers set up what has certainly been a weird, yet successful beginning to the season. First round pick Payton Turner has been decent for New Orleans so far when he’s seen the field while I would say the best production from a Saints rookie has come from 60th overall pick LB, Pete Werner. Moving forward without Jameis Winston at the helm is going to be tough for a team that was already 31st in pass yards per game (180.9) and can now no longer look forward to the return of WR Michael Thomas who is also shut down for the year.
New Predicted Record 9-8/10-7