NFL midseason review

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Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

The NFL logo on a football field.

Christopher Elwell, Contributing Writer

Perspective

Now that we are halfway through the 2021 NFL season, let’s look back at what has been a great season of football so far. With the addition of an extra game on the schedule this season, fans were curious about how the additional week was going to impact each of the teams. From what we have seen so far, it hasn’t affected much on the field. The 2021 season has brought everything we expected to see, from breakout stars to overnight sensations.

With every new season there will always be teams that surprise and disappoint. The Cincinnati Bengals are one team that has greatly exceeded expectations. The emergence of quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase have led the charge for one of the best offenses in the league up to this point. Fans had criticized the Bengals’ strategy when drafting Chase, but it has changed the culture of the team. Cincinnati made a statement with their blowout win, 41-17, over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

However, some teams have taken a major step back this season, with none bigger than the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City went into the season as a favorite to make the Super Bowl from the AFC, and they haven’t lived up to that expectation. QB Patrick Mahomes currently leads the NFL in interceptions, but the offense, which was historically the strongest part of the Chiefs, has not clicked like it has in years past. The defense has also not stepped up to make up for the lack of production by the offense, giving up the 6th most points in the league at 220, and the 6th most yards at 3132.

This season has had players surprise the league. New York Jets backup QB, Mike White, took over the Jets offense once starting QB Zach Wilson, the 2021 second overall draft pick, suffered a knee injury. White instantly became the talk of the league after the Jets’ Week 8 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Cleveland Browns third-string RB D’Ernest Johnson also took the league by storm in the team’s Week 7 win over the Denver Broncos after taking the starting position when Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt became injured. Johnson helped the Browns to a 17-14 win, taking 22 carries for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns.

This season has also shown the dominance of QB-teammate pairings, perhaps none being better than Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp. The duo has put the league on notice, leading the charge for a 7-1 Rams team.

They are not the only dominant duo in the NFC West Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins have developed one of the best connections in the NFL. Prior to their loss to the Green Bay Packers, Arizona was the last undefeated team with Murray and Hopkins looking to continue their success for the rest of the season and make a deep playoff run.

Injuries have been a large factor this season, taking star players off the field for extended periods. Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry was forced to get surgery after he broke his ankle and will be sidelined for 6 to 10 weeks, leaving the Titans without the centerpiece of their offense San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffery have missed much of the season due to leg injuries. The rate of injuries in the past two seasons has climbed to a very alarming rate, leaving teams without some of their best players.

The 2021 NFL season has already proven to be one to remember and is anticipated to get better as it progresses. With 9 weeks left, the playoffs are wide open as of now and every team should be gearing towards making a playoff run while fans gear up for more excitement.

Midseason Awards Predictions

MVP- Tom Brady (TB)
Offensive Player Of the Year- Cooper Kupp (LAR)
Defensive Player Of the Year- Myles Garrett (CLE)
Offensive Rookie Of the Year- Ja’Marr Chase (CIN)
Defensive Rookie Of the Year- Micah Parsons (DAL)
Coach Of the Year- Kliff Kingsbury (ARZ)
Comeback Player Of the Year- Joe Burrow (CIN)