November 12, 2013 by Ell and Mike Sports
NFL Midseason Rankings
17. Titans (3-4) – The Titans have played tough on both sides of the football mostly through an improved defensive effort which leads the way and good play from QB Jake Locker, until he was injured. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played like a backup so far and the offense has not been the same, as Locker also added to the run game. RB Chris Johnson has been inconsistent so far this season and the same goes for his back RB Jackie Battle. Free agent pickup RB Shonn Greene has rarely played due to injury. WR Kendall Wright continues to improve stretching the field while WR Nate Washington has been a reliable target. Free agent pickup, TE Delani Walker, had one big outing, but has been quiet since; however, it could be the QB play. The defense has been solid this season led by a strong defensive line providing both pass rush and run support led by DT Jurrell Casey who has proven to be one of the best interior lineman in the league. The D-line with DE Ropati Pitoitua, DT Antonio Johnson, Casey, and DE Derrick Morgan has held up strong despite being extremely underrated. LB Zach Brown has really blossomed into a good player providing pass rush and racking up tackles. Safety Bernard Pollard has been having a good year despite some fines for hard hits proving to be a solid pickup alongside another hard hitter, Safety Michael Griffin. CB Alterraun Verner has really played well leading the young secondary which still needs to improve in the turnover department (Interceptions). This is a young, competitive Titans team who should play better once Locker and Greene is healthy and the defense should keep them in every game.
18. Dolphins (3-4) – The Dolphins had seen a lot of improvement out of QB Ryan Tannehill this season, but he has been struggling lately behind a poor O-line; leading to the team struggling mostly on offense. After starting a surprising 3-0, they have four straight losses, but they have room to grow with a young team and a defense that will keep them in games. RB Lamar Miller has run the ball well at times, but struggles with consistency and backup RB Daniel Thomas also has his trouble with consistency and doesn’t appear to be a threat for the starting job at all. Big free agent pickup WR Mike Wallace leads the teams in yards, but has struggled with his chemistry with Tannehill with big drops negating what should have been big plays; this can’t and shouldn’t continue to happen. WR Brian Hartline continues to remain a consistent target and WR Brandon Gibson has come up with some big plays proving his worth. FB/TE Charles Clay has really impressed in the receiving game stretching the field. On defense, the Dolphins DEs provide great pass rush provided by: Jared Odrick, Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, DE/DT Randy Starks and Derrick Shelby. Odrick has really been a solid contributor this season showing his high motor and Wake continues to dominate, but has struggled with injuries this season. OLB Phillip Wheeler continues his usual work as a sideline to sideline tackler and MLB Dannell Ellerbe provides toughness and run D up the middle. The young secondary has been inconsistent giving up big yardage and big plays at times, but CB Dimitri Patterson has been a big surprise leading the team in INTs and CB Brent Grimes has played well, despite coming off injury. Once LB Koa Misi and DE/OLB Dion Jordan, heat up this defense will be even better to mask the secondary problems and help against the run. The Dolphins are on the road to improvement now that they finally found a franchise QB in Tannehill, but the run game must continue to improve and the young defense must continue to improve. This team will be competitive this season and it will be interesting to see how grow going forward.
19. Ravens (3-4) – The Ravens have struggled after their Super Bowl victory, struggling to run the football and play good pass defense which is not usual Ravens football. The pass offense has been average, although QB Joe Flacco has been taking the blame for a stagnant offense despite no run game at all. RB Ray Rice has struggled with various injuries this season which has led to him being a non-factor in the Ravens run game and RB Bernard Pierce has also struggled to get going most of the season. The O-line has played inconsistently while dealing with injuries and could really use an upgrade at center over Center Gino Gradkowski. Left tackle Eugene Monroe who was acquired via trade still has not dominated. WR Torrey Smith continues to stretch the field this season as more polished receiver, but his bombs are not always leading to TDs as he only has 1 on the season himself. WR Jacoby Jones has been horrible this season while dealing with injuries showing he was not ready for his increased role. TEs Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson have been horrible in the passing game while trying to replace TE Dennis Pitta. Undrafted free agent WR Marlon Brown continues to impress as a big target that can go up and get it while WR Tandon Doss continues to improve in both the receiving and Special Teams games, but remains inconsistent. The defense has played up and down mostly struggling in the secondary, but continue to be led by strong pass rush featured by new leader OLB Terrell Suggs and newly acquired OLB Elvis Dumervil. The D-line has played well despite health struggles from DE/DT Haloti Ngata behind DE Chris Canty acquired for depth and DE/DT Arthur Jones who continues to impress. MLB Daryl Smith, a low-key acquisition, has really played well against the run and has improved a lot against the pass really taking over for the retired Ray Lewis in the middle. The unit plays tough, but is nowhere near the expected dominance, behind the struggling secondary; mostly the safety play. The Ravens seem to lack playmakers on offense which is a problem and must do anything to establish the run game again. The defense has been improving, but the secondary needs work and must show improvement against better competition if they hope to go anywhere.
20. Eagles (3-5) – The Eagles have been good on offense under Coach Chip Kelly, but the defense continues to get carved in the secondary. The offense had moved consistently under QB Mike Vick as he was able to showcase some of his former running skills, but of course this was short lived as he suffered injuries. However, QB Nick Foles has played well in his absence which displays the smart decision in keeping him on the roster for such a purpose; despite a lack of mobility. QB Matt Barkley did not play well in relief play of Foles when needed, but this should only result as a learning experience for him. RB LeSean McCoy has impressed in both the running game and receiving game proving to be one of the best with his speed, toughness and quickness despite his size. RB Bryce Brown hasn’t really built off last year’s success and has been inconsistent, but RB Chris Polk has shown flashes when healthy. WR Desean Jackson has led the way continuing to stretch the field in the absence of WR Jeremy Maclin who is out for the season. WR Riley Cooper has really improved his play and brushed off a prior off the field incident from earlier in the season. TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek both stretch the field, but neither has really been dominant. This speed offense has found all types of way to score the football. However, the defensive side of the ball has been led by MLB DeMeco Ryans who continues to rack up tackles and provide great leadership on a team of new faces. The pass rush is led by DE/OLB Connor Barwin, DE Vinny Curry, and DE/DT Fletcher Cox, but this is a team in need of more talent and production. The cornerback play wasn’t bad in the beginning with CBs Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Brandon Boykins, but injuries forced Boykins into a starting spot allowing big plays. The play of the safeties has not been good, but they are still young and have room to grow. The Eagles offense will keep them in shootouts with teams, but it is up to the defense to continue to improve and cause turnovers. This team is in a weak NFC East division and can make a strong push to win the division as the other teams are also struggling in the defensive department.
21. Raiders (3-4) – The Raiders may finally be going in the right direction under this system as they are competitive in each game and QB Terrelle Pryor gives them a different dimension from the quarterback position to complement the run game. Pryor has been one of the best running QBs in the league and even broke a QB record for longest run with a 93 yard run vs. the Steelers. Although Pryor has struggled at times with his passing, which he continues to improve on, he leads the team in rushing. RB Darren McFadden has battled injuries and has been inconsistent this season while missing some games. However, backup RB Rashard Jennings has proven that he is capable of starting and has look well as a backup to McFadden; he also catches the ball well out of the backfield. WR Denarius Moore appears to be Pryor’s favorite target and he stretches the field well. The only other receiver contributing is WR Rod Streater who has been consistent and can stretch the field as well. The Raiders defense has been inconsistent, but they have been led by veteran safety Charles Woodson, LB Nick Roach, and DE/DT Lamarr Houston. This has caused the team to play with toughness around them leading to a strong defense, but this team needs help in the secondary; however, they are without safety Tyvon Branch who is a key playmaker. The Raiders will not be easy for any team with a bad run defense or an offense that can’t consistently move the ball; it will be interesting to see how many wins they can get. Will they keep Pryor as the starter for the long term?
22. Texans (2-5) – The Texans which were the AFC favorites in some people’s mind before the season, but they have struggled behind the quarterback play of Matt Schaub which has been surprising as he has been interception machine throwing pick 6’s. In Schaub’s absence, QB Case Keenum has played well, but has not won and QB T.J. Yates was extremely ineffective. Keenum may provide true competition for Schaub when he returns as a younger option to groom in the process. RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate have run well this season, but with the constant turnovers most of their big games have ended in losses. It also doesn’t help that Foster has battled injuries this season but Tate has played well this year while battling injuries also. WR Andre Johnson has played well this season, but he has also battled injuries this season. Rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins has lived up to the hype and has finally provided a solid target opposite Johnson, but he has struggled when Johnson is not taking up the double teams. Usually reliable TE Owen Daniels has battled injuries, as well, but TE Garrett Graham has played well in his absence; however, he is not Daniels. The defense has played well against both the pass and the run, but injuries and struggling secondary has not helped as they struggle to force turnovers. They have provided a strong pass rush behind OLB Whitney Mercilus, DE Antonio Smith, and DE/DT J.J. Watt; however they miss their captain MLB Brian Cushing who is loss to injury again. Free agent addition Safety Ed Reed was struggling with injuries early in the season, but has been ineffective since his return; the safety play could really use an upgrade at both spots. The Texans have dug themselves into a hole to start the year, but they can make a strong push with the talent they have for 8-8 or better.
23. Bills (3-5) – The Bills have been good under rookie QB E.J. Manuel (when he isn’t injured) as he seems to be the franchise QB this team really needs and rookie MLB Kiko Alonso has been a solid playmaker leading the defense. Manuel has played well showing great poise and athleticism making plays with his feet, but he is still a rookie and has a lot to learn; however, the potential is definitely obvious. In his absence, QB Jeff Tuel, an undrafted rookie free agent the team liked, was not ready at all and is only a 3rd string QB at this point. QB Thad Lewis, an athletic 3rd string QB who has been in the league a couple seasons, has played well making plays with his feet and giving decent play you would expect from a backup, which could definitely keep him employed. The running game has been the best asset on the team even to Manuel, as RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have pounded the ball well with Spiller using his game breaking speed. They both have also contributed in the receiving game; however Spiller has dealt with injuries with Jackson picking up the work load. RB Tashard Choice has played well when called upon to spell the other two running backs making them a solid trio. WR Stevie Johnson leads the team in receptions and yards, but has been slowed by injuries most of the season. TE Scott Chandler continues to provide a nice big receiving target, in addition, to his good blocking skills. Rookie WR Robert Woods continues to impress and has shown a good connection with Manuel which is good for the long term future of the offense. The Bills defense has played with a strong pass rush provided by the defensive line: DEs Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams and DTs Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus who at times can dominate the line of scrimmage. Williams has really earned his money this season as an unstoppable force on the line. Rookie MLB Kiko Alonso has been a beast for this team in the middle racking up tackles, sacks, and INTs flying all over the field. The secondary has really struggled with injuries and have been very inconsistent this season despite the pass rush. Safety Jairus Byrd has been out most of the season which hasn’t helped. However, Safety Aaron Williams has had a good season and late free agent pickup Safety Jim Leonard continues to force turnovers. This young team and new head coach (Coach Doug Marrone) must continue to grow, but the team is playing hard and there is definitely some improvement. This team will be a lot better as the season goes on and Manuel gets healthy; they will spoil a lot of team’s playoffs hopes late in the season.
24. Falcons (2-5) – The Falcons were expected to be one of the top NFC teams, but they have fell due to key injuries on both sides of the ball which has led to them just being competitive; especially on the defensive side of the ball which has struggled mightily. QB Matt Ryan has played well, but injuries to WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones has made his job harder. Ryan has also played well despite no existence of a running game this season. Despite all of the high hopes of acquiring RB Steven Jackson, he has been injured or ineffective this season which has led to the worst run game in the league. RB Jacquizz Rodgers has also struggled as he has been forced into a starter role, but he continues to help in the receiving game. RB/FB Jason Snelling has had his share of carries also, but other than a few good power runs he hasn’t done much either. WR Harry Douglas has stepped is game up in the absence of White and Jones continuing to stretch the field, but it has not been enough for the shootout the Falcons have been in. Jones was having another great season before getting injured for the season. White had been struggling all year long and is still looking to get healthy for a team in need. TE Tony Gonzales has been reliable as usual and has to be hurting as this team is struggling. The defensive side of the football is a mess, the pass rush has been provided by DE Osi Umenyiora, DTs Peria Jerry and Corey Peters, and LB Joplo Bartu, an undrafted rookie free agent. The young secondary shows flashes, but continues to get carved with the front 7 falling apart in front of them. Safety William Moore has played tough and physical tackling all over the field as a key bright spot on the defense. Rookie CB Robert Alford has out played the bigger named and higher drafted CB Desmond Trufant. This Falcons team is in desperate need of a run game hopefully Jackson can provide it when he returns. The defense has too many holes to fill and with injuries the defense has dug deep to try to find playmakers, but they are in need of talent and production. This Falcons team has been destroyed by injuries and it will be interesting to see what happens next.
25. Browns (3-5) – The Browns have shown people that they have a solid defense that can keep them in games, however their x-factors has been the special teams and the solid play of QB Brian Hoyer, who is now out for the season (torn ACL). QB Brandon Weeden has played inconsistently before losing the starting the job and after regaining it proving to the front office that the he is definitely not a franchise quarterback. QB Jason Campbell is the current starter and should remain in that spot thanks to the ineffective play of Weeden. The run game has been non-existent this season with an ineffective oft-injured RB Trent Richardson who was traded to the Colts and newly acquired free agent RB Willis McGahee who has struggled coming off injury. Despite his run struggles, McGahee has helped with pass protection and leadership on this young team. RB Chris Ogbonnaya has run well in his limited carries, but is most effective as a receiving threat out the backfield. In the receiving game, WR Josh Gordon leads the way proving to be the type of #1 WR the Browns have needed for a while showing great speed to match his good size; it helps that he has been effective no matter who is playing QB. TE Jordan Cameron also continues to impress despite the QB play as a big athletic target with good hands. WRs Greg Little and Davone Bess have played well in spurts, but have been extremely inconsistent on a team in need of play makers. The defense has played well against the run and the pass this season led by MLB D’Qwell Jackson who has finally been able to stay healthy and lead the team in tackles. Free agent pickup DE/DT Desmond Bryant has played well and rookie OLB Barkevious Mingo has excelled in pass rushing. CB Joe Haden continues to shutdown opponent’s #1 WRs and Safety T.J. Ward continues to impress bringing physical play and toughness to the secondary. This D has really been able to bring the heat and continues to overachieve even against better competition. The special teams unit led by WR/KR Travis Benjamin has been extremely explosive this season and has helped with both points and great field position. If the Browns O had more playmakers, then they would be able to benefit from the good returns Benjamin produce regularly. The defense will keep this team in every game for the rest of the season, but it will be up the young playmakers to produce despite inconsistent and sometimes ineffective QB play. It will be interesting to see if this team can rack up some wins and find success on offense going forward.
26. Rams (3-5) – The Rams have not been playing well this season and have been unable to build off last season’s improvements under Coach Jeff Fisher. The defense has continued to be stout against the pass behind pass rushers Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but the secondary has struggled behind CBs Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan this season; mostly Finnegan. The Rams D-line has played very well with Long, Quinn, and DTs Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford. Rookie OLB Alex Ogletree and MLB James Lauranitis the captain of the defense have really excelled behind the improved D-line play. However, the safeties could really use an upgrade and another CB wouldn’t hurt. The key problem has been the run defense where the team has been carved by plenty of teams for big plays. The offense had a decent passing game under QB Sam Bradford, but he suffered an ACL injury which puts him out for the season. He was finally starting to spread the ball well between all of his weapons finally provided to him. He showed the best connection with WR Chris Givens and TE Jared Cook, but now the team must make it with QB Kellen Clemens who has not had much success in the league. The O-line has struggled with RT Roger Saffold in and out and could use some upgrades in the interior. The running game was struggling at the time Bradford was healthy which hampered the offense at times as RB Daryl Richardson struggled proving that he is best as a 3rd down back. However, right after Bradford was injured, rookie 5th round pick RB Zac Stacy has proven to be able to pound the rock for this team even with defenses loaded in the box; he has a good combo of power and explosiveness. The Rams can lean on the power run game and a pass rushing defense for the rest of this season as they try to win games. However, they can’t go so far without QB Sam Bradford and have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason on how they will continue to improve.
27. Redskins (2-5) – No one expected the Redskins to be this bad especially once everyone was assured that QB RGIII would be out there week 1 no questions asked. However, that may have been the wrong move as he proved to be rusty and didn’t make the same game changing plays with his feet. This led to better 2nd half plays than 1st half, but the team continues to improve offensively on a week by week basis. The offensive line has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play which has not helped the cause and has led to an inconsistent running game. RB Alfred Morris has gotten off to a slow start despite last year’s success, but he has run the football better lately. RB Roy Helu Jr. has returned to complement him well which also helps going forward as he is a special player. WRs Pierre Garcon has stretched the field well continuing his good connection with RGIII and Leonard Hankerson has shown improvement as a consistent pass catcher. Rookie TE Jordan Reed has been a good surprise in the passing game, also displaying his receiving skills with a good set of hands and nice speed. The defense has been inconsistent and long term captain MLB London Fletcher has struggled. They have given up a lot of yards on the ground and through the air and must play with more consistency. The secondary has played well with CBs DeAngelo Hall and rookie David Amerson causing turnovers, but their play has been up and down also. However, it is the safety play which has been horrible and inconsistent; especially behind Safety Brandon Meriweather who continues to rack up illegal hits. The bright spots on defense have been OLB/DE Brian Orakpo, Hall, Amerson, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, and DT Barry Cofield. While the pass rush has been consistent, this team must stop getting gashed for big plays, but they will continue to get better and must add better personnel in the offseason.
28. Steelers (2-5) – No one expected the Steelers to be one of the worst teams in the leagues, mostly due to a poor running game, offensive line, and defense. Are these the real Steelers? The O-line has been one of the worst in the league, especially after losing captain Center Maurkice Pouncey for the season. The play of the tackles has been poor leading to QB Ben Roethlisberger having little time to make plays. Big Ben has been able to make some plays spreading the ball well between WRs Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery. However, the poor play of the O-line has led to way too many turnovers. The run game has been poor starting with RBs Issac Redman, then Felix Jones, then Jonathan Dwyer (re-signed), and now the run game is starting to show improvement behind rookie RB Le’Veon Bell. Bell shows flashes of the type of RB the team needs, but he is still way to inconsistent. The defense has been horrible and has struggled to stop the run without DT Casey Hampton clogging the middle and has struggled stop the pass with CB Ike Taylor with slight help and a year older. The D-line is no longer the same, the linebackers have been productive, and the secondary has struggled mightily. FS Troy Polamalu has finally been able to stay on the field and remain healthy; however he appears to be a step slower and misses the plays he would usually make. The lone bright spots on defense have been LBs Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. DE Cameron Hayward finally shows some flashes of his potential this season, but definitely must give more. The Steelers must improve in the areas listed above if they want to win games, but it is easier said than done; therefore expect an early to mid selection in the draft.
29. Giants (2-6) – No one expected the Giants to be this low with only 1 win against the underachieving Vikings behind QB Josh Freeman who has been an absolute disappoint this season. The O-line has been horrible this season and has struggled to get things going whether they’re run blocking or pass blocking. This is due to injuries, ineffective play, and decline, so it’s not much they can do at this point, but continue to work at it. QB Eli Manning has struggled mightily and has proven to be a turnover machine; at a rate that is worst than when he came into the league early in his career. RB David Wilson has struggled despite the flashes he has shown before and backup RB Andre Brown struggled with injuries not providing much help. This has led to the return of RB Brandon Jacobs who struggled early on, but since has put up a couple good efforts on the grounds. WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz continue to put up good stats, despite the turnovers. WR Rueben Randle has been a good surprise in the receiving game. TE Brandon Myers out of Oakland has not made much noise and this might be a key issue for the Giants also. The big surprise has been that the defense has not performed this season, especially the D-line which is usually the anchor. Maybe they miss the double digit sacks of DE Osi Umenyiora, but captain DE/DT Justin Tuck and star DE Jason Pierre-Paul have not provided much production; Pierre-Paul has been dealing with injury. Along with the disappointing D-line, the secondary has struggled mightily allowing too many big plays, but the poor offense doesn’t help either. The lone bright spots of this defense have been the consistent DE/OLB Mathias Kiwanuka and hard hitting SS Antrel Rolle who has been a vocal leader. CB Prince Amukamara is finally starting to play better when the Giants need help in the secondary most; he should get better as the year continues. Giants have a long way to go on both sides of the ball and must find new way to improve on both sides.
30. Vikings (1-6) – You know the Vikings have problems when QB Josh Freeman is considered an upgrade at QB to the front office. QB Christian Ponder struggled mightily out the gate and eventually lost his job to veteran QB Matt Cassel which many expected who went 1-1 with a surprising win over the Steelers looking good and an ugly game against the Panthers. Freeman looked horrible in his 1st start against the Giants which resulted in a loss due to limited offense. The Vikings must decide which QB will keep the job for the long term as juggling 3QBs will never lead to success. RB Adrian Peterson continues to run and impress, despite the loss of his son this season; he remains the best at the position. The WR position is much improved under WR Greg Jennings and WR Jerome Simpson has really improved his game as the most consistent receiver on the team. Rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson has made some plays in the receiving game, but has been very impressive in the return game with returns of 100+ yards. TE Kyle Randolph continues to impress and seems to have a good connection with QB Christian Ponder. The Vikings defense have performed well behind a healthy Jared Allen and a good addition in rookie DT Sharrif Floyd who helps free up the DEs has been a great help. The front 7 led by LBs Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway behind the solid D-line has been able to cause turnover and make plays all season. However, the secondary has given up a lot of plays and must continue to improve as the starters are young. FS Harrison Smith has been the lone bright spot of the secondary making plays following up a rookie season where he made his mark. This team has room to grow, but will definitely be in the market for a QB upgrade in the offseason as they have been limited this season.
31. Bucs (0-7) – The Bucs remain winless despite trading away QB Josh Freeman and starting rookie QB Mike Glennon. An injury to RB Doug Martin doesn’t help as he was the lone bright spot on the offense. This team looks lost at the midpoint, but claims to still support Coach Schiano; at least publicly. It will be interesting to see if he is let go and they decide to go in a new direction, although Freeman was not his draft selection. The defense has played well at times thanks to a nice young, talented front 7. However, the secondary continues to get shred at times despite the high priced additions (CB Darrelle Revis and S Dashon Goldson), especially if the pass rush doesn’t make much noise. They appear to miss retired CB/S Ronde Barber and traded CB Aqib Talib who is shining in a change of scenery with the Patriots. This team remains competitive and should eventually pull off a couple wins, but when this will happen is anybody’s guess.
32. Jags (0-8) – The Jags are unquestionably the worst team in the league right now with no real direction on either side of the ball. The QB situation is horrible as Blaine Gabbert continues to prove he’s a bust and Chad Henne can still never officially steal the job from him which tells you had bad he plays also. The RB situation is also questionable as work horse Maurice Jones-Drew no longer has the burst he once had is no longer capable of being able to carry them. The WR position seems to be a semi bright spot for them as WR Cecil Shorts has the ability to stretch the field and WR Justin Blackmon can also make plays, but continues to make bad decisions off the field. TE Mercedes Lewis wanted to be an offensive leader to this team, but suffered a calf injury and is just returning to action. The offensive line also has been horrible not creating much time in the passing games or holes for the run game, as Jags trade their best lineman which didn’t help in LT Eugene Monroe and loss their future LT 2nd overall pick Luke Joeckel who is out for the season. The defense has provided some pass rush, but it has been inconsistent and mostly from the defensive line. Besides that, teams continue to blow them out by double digits and carve the secondary. The only bright spots on the defense appear to be rookie 2nd rounder FS Jonathan Cyprien, MLB Paul Posluszny and DT Sen’Derrick Marks. This team will definitely need to find some upgrades in the upcoming draft starting with QB.