With the NFL’s new 17-game schedule, we are unofficially at the halfway mark of the 2022 professional football league’s season.
The increasingly-long NFL season might be great for the 32 owners wishing to line their pockets with more money (win). It also helps to defray the increasing cost of paying the football players (win). The television networks are gleeful as nothing brings eyeballs and advertisers like the NFL’s massive audience (win).
The biggest loser in extending the football season has been the health and career longevity of the football players. The longer the season goes, the more likely it is for a player to incur any number of minor and major injuries.
Football is a collision sport being played by increasingly heavier, stronger, and faster players.
That being said, it’s time to take a deeper dive into a few of the NFL teams located closest to ol’ SwampSwami. Then, let’s pass out a few midseason awards and make a few predictions about the second half of the NFL season.
New Orleans Saints (3-6)
The good news for the Saints is that they are just one game behind Tampa Bay and Atlanta for the NFC South lead halfway through the year. The Saints’ offense is now relying on the weak arm of fading veteran quarterback Andy Dalton and a depleted wide receiver group. With a failing offense, the Saints’ defense has been on the field longer than average and has played like a tired group at times.
Finally, this Saints team really misses the steady hand of long-time coach Sean Payton. It wouldn’t surprise me if new head coach Dennis Allen (formerly the team’s defensive coordinator) is fired at the end of his first year. This team has underperformed badly in 2022.
Houston Texans (1-6-1)
It’s sad to start an analysis by saying, “If you think that the Saints stink this year, how would you like to be forced to watch the Texans on television nearly every week?” The Houston Texans are a product of their out-of-touch team ownership and executive management. The team itself, led by long-time NFL player and coach, Lovey Smith, plays hard every week. The problem is that they are competing with sub-par talent which has been selected by the aforementioned management team.
The good news for Houston? They are playing right up to expectations (last place in the AFC), will likely have one of the top picks in next year’s NFL draft, and are all but forgotten in the city of Houston after the Astros recently won the World Series.
Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
If you would have told a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan that they would have won four of their early season games using a back-up quarterback (Cooper Rush) and still be 6-2 at the midway marker, they would have grinned from ear-to-ear. The Dallas defense continues to keep this team close in most every game. The Cowboys haven’t been in the NFL championship game or a Super Bowl in more than two decades. They’re just hoping not to step on a proverbial banana peel during the second half of the season and still qualify for a spot in the NFC playoffs.
Dallas’ weaknesses are usually exposed in the playoffs, but at least this team (of the three mentioned here) seems to be on-track at the halfway point.
Let’s now hand out a few SwampSwamiSports.com Awards for some teams and players at the halfway point of the 2022 season.
Most Pleasant Surprise – NFC – New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks (tie)
With a brand new coach and not a lot of new talent, the New York Giants have bolted out to a 6-2 start this year. Nobody saw the Giants becoming a contender this season. They still have another half-season to go, but this team has become a tough out every week.
Likewise, the Seattle Seahawks (led by long-time coach Pete Carroll) were expected to struggle after trading Super Bowl winning quarterback, Russell Wilson, to Denver. No one would have believed that 6-3 Seattle would be leading the NFC West ahead of San Francisco (4-4), Los Angeles Rams (3-5) and Arizona Cardinals (3-6).
Biggest Negative Surprise – Entire AFC West
Prior to this season, the “experts” advised that the AFC West would become a true Wild West Show featuring Kansas City plus rising teams in Denver (now featuring Russell Wilson at quarterback), the Los Angeles Chargers, and an improving Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs have been impressive (albeit a bit lucky thus far) with a 6-2 start. The Broncos have been struggling on offense and are currently 3-6, while the Raiders are even worse at 2-7 (including a shut-out loss at New Orleans two weeks ago). Though the Chargers are a respectable 5-3, they have given up more points this year on defense than the team’s vaunted offense has been able to muster. The highly-hyped but disappointing AFC West may only field one playoff team at season’s end.
Coach of the Year – Midseason Award – Tie – “New York, New York”!
Though Frank Sinatra made a hit record by the same name years ago, the two NFL teams in the Big Apple have exceeded expectations at the midway point of the season.
The NFC Giants’ first year coach, Brian Daboll, is getting the most from a rather mediocre quarterback, Daniel Jones, and his frequently injured running back, Saquan Barkley. How have the Giants gone 6-2 at this point in the season? Great question.
The New York Jets are 6-3 under second year head coach, Robert Salah. His background in coaching-up defenses has really paid off as the Jets have become the NFL’s 7th rated defensive squad. As the Jets’ offense grows in confidence (the team just upset the Buffalo Bills last Sunday), the J-E-T-S may have a chance to make the playoffs. Who would have believed that a year ago?
“Please Don’t Wake Us Up” Award – Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings (tie)
The NFC East Philadelphia Eagles and NFC North Minnesota Vikings were expected to be playoff contenders this year. The NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team, the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles have the NFL’s third best offense and third ranked defense. Though the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the last NFL unbeaten champions, Philly’s favorable remaining schedule gives them a chance to enter the NFC playoffs with a perfect regular season record. (Did I just jinx them?)
The Minnesota Vikings are now 7-1 and lead the NFC North by (get ready for this shocker) five games in the loss column! Green Bay, Chicago, and Detroit each have six losses through last weekend. Statistically speaking, the Vikings seem to score just enough points each week to secure a victory. During the team’s current six-game winning streak, Minnesota’s margin of victory has been a mere 5.5 points. A win is still a win, right Vikings fans?
“Rocking Chair” Award – Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady
These two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks have struggled in 2022. Green Bay (which was expected to be a Super Bowl contender again this season) sits at 3-6 at the midway point. Aaron Rodgers is playing the worst football of his lengthy career. With seven interceptions to go with 14 touchdown passes, Green Bay’s longtime quarterback needs to make some major adjustments to improve his passing and dour attitude. This year’s Packers are in deep trouble.
Down at Tampa Bay, quarterback Tom Brady is 45 years of age. It’s hard to criticize the oldest player in the NFL who also happens to own the most championship rings.
Like Green Bay, the Bucs were expected to waltz through the NFC South division and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Tom Terrific’s team is just 4-5 today. However, Brady found a way to lead his team down the field in the final seconds on Sunday to score the winning touchdown against the struggling Los Angeles Rams. To beat the Rams, Tom Brady felt the need to pass the ball an incredible 58 times (completing 36 of them). Santa needs to come early and bring old man Brady a new supply of SportsCreme for his sore throwing arm!
SwampSwami’s NFL second-half of the season predictions!
Philadelphia – the Eagles fly to the top seed in the NFC playoffs with a 14-3 record.
Green Bay – the Packers bench Aaron Rodgers, and Packer fans cheer wildly (but still lose).
San Francisco -the 49ers overtake a faltering Seattle Seahawks to easily win the NFC West.
Los Angeles – the Rams do not qualify for the playoffs after winning last year’s Super Bowl.
Dallas Cowboys – will make the playoffs as a wild-card team but will lose in the second round (again).
The NFC South – is so bad that none of the teams finish with a winning record. A coin-flip is held to determine which team has been nominated to lose at home during the opening round of the NFC playoffs.
Kansas City and Buffalo – will continue to duke it out for the #1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs.
Miami or New York Jets – one of those two teams will find a way to make it into the playoffs.
Cincinnati – With a tough remaining schedule (including games at Tennessee, home against Kansas City, at New England, and at home against Buffalo and Baltimore), the Bengals (like the Rams) also miss the playoffs.
Pittsburgh – Now just 2-6, my Terrible Towel Team will lose at least 11 games this season. However, Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin will get one more year to turn things around in Steel City.
Houston – The Texans will win just one more game to finish at 2-14-1 and get the top pick in next spring’s NFL draft.
SPECIAL BONUS PREDICTION!
After the season, the Houston Texans will change the team’s nickname to the “Dis-Astros”!
This comes after the football team is sued by season ticket holders for the crime of “Falsely Impersonating a Professional Football Team”. A negotiated settlement will be reached by both parties. The season ticket holders will receive a free one-hour massage from professionals recommended by the team’s former quarterback, Deshaun Watson.