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2013 Season 1st Half Analysis

Injuries to quarterbacks have plagued much of the 2013 NFL Season. Early in the season, quarterbacks were dropping like flies, but those injured always happened to be some of the least skilled and influential QB's. More recently higher profile players have fallen victim. The Bears carried on well without Jay Cutler, so the injury to Aaron Rodgers is the first to really throw a wrench into the playoff picture.

Through 9 Weeks, the playoff picture is gaining some clarity. In the AFC, all 4 divisions have a heavy favorite, even though our projected favorite in the AFC West, Denver, is still behind Kansas City in the standings for now. Including the Chiefs, that means that already 5 of the 6 playoff spots are all but clinched. Therefore, the biggest battles down the stretch will be for the top 2 seeds, and a wide open battle for the 6th playoff seed. In the NFC, things are much less clear. The Cowboys, Saints, and Seahawks remain favorites in their divisions, but aren't quite as safe bets as the AFC division favorites. The Aaron Rodgers injury has moved the NFC North from having a reasonably strong favorite in Green Bay to now being a relatively even 3-way battle. The Wild Card spots in the NFC are also still open for the taking, although it will probably require more wins to get into the playoffs from the NFC compared to the AFC.

Below we analyze each team's performance through 9 weeks with our expected points added stats and ratings, and project their season outlook and playoff chances going forward. All automated odds found below as well as a variety of others can be found on our Standings page.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills (3-6)
Rating: -2.8 (30th) / Projected Wins: 6.1 / Win Division: 1.1% / Make Playoffs: 2.2%
The Bills season is essentially over. Their problem has been poor passing offense, both before and after E.J. Manuel was injured. Manuel returning may help slightly, but it's more likely that the rest of the season will just be helpful experience for the rookie rather than a chance to make a run.

Miami Dolphins (4-4)
Rating: -0.3 (17th) / Projected Wins: 8.0 / Win Division: 15.6% / Make Playoffs: 28.9%
The play of Ryan Tannehill has fallen off tremendously since the first few weeks of the season, and the fortunes of the Dolphins have followed. Overall Miami is a very league average team, and find themselves in about a 4-way battle for the 6 seed in the AFC

New England Patriots (7-2)
Rating: 1.0 (15th) / Projected Wins: 10.5 / Win Division: 75.3% / Make Playoffs: 84.1%
So far, the Patriots have only played like a 5-4 team that wouldn't warrant Super Bowl contention. But if Gronkowski and Amendola stay healthy going forward, the Patriots rating and odds will likely increase dramatically. Most likely, New England would claim the 2 seed and play like a top-5 team the rest of the season, but there's a chance their early season struggles were indicative of deeper troubles that could result in them struggling to surpass Indianapolis and Cincinnati in the standings.

New York Jets (5-4)
Rating: -2.4 (29th) / Projected Wins: 8.0 / Win Division: 8.0% / Make Playoffs: 16.7%
Thus far the Jets have overachieved, winning most of their close games. The offense has been poor, and the defense hasn't been quite as good as the media would have you believe. Despite their "if the season ended today" playoff status, the Chargers, Dolphins, and Titans remain more likely to claim the final spot in the AFC playoffs by season's end.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (3-5)
Rating: -0.6 (19th) / Projected Wins: 6.7 / Win Division: 4.0% / Make Playoffs: 7.0%
Surprisingly, the Ravens poor record has been indicative of their level of play rather than an unlucky fluke. The defense has been just as good as last year, but the offense rates nearly 4 points per game worse. They rate almost 2 points worse than 2012 in each net passing and rushing offense. Interestingly, apart from 1 catastrophy in Buffalo, the Ravens have had net passing marks between 3.9 and 8.9, which is remarkably consistent and also generally above the league average of about 4 or 5. However, they have only had 1 really above average normal pass plays mark all season, compared to doing just that in all 4 playoff games last season. With a banged up Ray Rice, the Ravens have had below average rushing in all 8 games. Based on their success in previous seasons, the Ravens could still make a run in a weak AFC wild card race, but they haven't done much yet in 2013 to warrant many expectations.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
Rating: 2.9 (8th) / Projected Wins: 10.2 / Win Division: 84.4% / Make Playoffs: 85.9%
The Bengals have combined their own improvement with the Ravens and Steelers falling apart to have already virtually secured the division in just 9 weeks. After improving less than a point a game in their net passing rating from 2011 to 2012, Andy Dalton and the Bengals have improved over 3 points per game from 2012 to 2013. Then Bengals will likely end up the 3 or 4 seed in the AFC, but aren't very likely to make the AFC Championship game.

Cleveland Browns (4-5)
Rating: -1.3 (25th) / Projected Wins: 7.2 / Win Division: 9.0% / Make Playoffs: 12.9%
The Browns slim playoff hopes rest in the hands of Jason Campbell. He has been good through 2 games, but it would be a surprise if the Browns pass game didn't struggle to some extent the rest of the way.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Rating: -0.3 (18th) / Projected Wins: 5.9 / Win Division: 2.6% / Make Playoffs: 4.0%
The Steelers have played well enough to be 4-4, but bad luck and flukey plays have dug too deep a hole for them to have any real hope of making the playoffs still. Their defense has dropped to 23rd in the league.

AFC South

Houston Texans (2-6)
Rating: -1.0 (22nd) / Projected Wins: 5.9 / Win Division: 0.8% / Make Playoffs: 2.4%
With the Texans all but eliminated from playoff contention, the rest of the season becomes a question of whether Case Keenum can be a solid starting NFL QB. He has been solid through 2 games, but the limited sample size leaves considerable questions. Keenum appears to have been a bit lucky thus far that his many long jump balls have resulted mostly in completions rather than incompletions or interceptions, which will surely regress to an extent.

Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
Rating: 2.1 (10th) / Projected Wins: 10.9 / Win Division: 90.2% / Make Playoffs: 92.0%
The Colts have been good but not great. They have been remarkably consistent, with above average offensive net passing marks in 7 of 8 games. Because of their weak division, Indianapolis has virtually already won the AFC South barring a miracle. They will most likely find themselves in a 3-way battle with the Patriots and Bengals for the 2 seed and a bye in the playoffs. Our current projections favor them in that group, but a healthier Patriots team will likely boost their rating enough to become favorites.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Rating: -6.5 (32nd) / Projected Wins: 2.4 / Win Division: 0.0% / Make Playoffs: 0.0%
Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota? That appears to be the central question surrounding the Jaguars halfway through the 2013 season. Through 9 weeks, Jacksonville's rating is a whole 3.5 points worse than any other other team in the league, although this season more than any of the previous 4 has failed to produce more than 1 really bad team. Though others have also managed terrible records, they have been much more unlucky than the Jags. That makes the Jaguars heavy favorites for the #1 draft pick, and they even have a slim but reasonable chance of an 0-16 season.

Tennessee Titans (4-4)
Rating: -0.6 (20th) / Projected Wins: 8.0 / Win Division: 9.0% / Make Playoffs: 25.1%
The Titans are similar to the Dolphins, only their slightly better unit is offense rather than defense. They are a very mediocre team with a young QB that has shown some promise but can't quite seem to take the next step. As such, they also find themselves in the hunt for the 6 seed in the AFC, but in a crowded race.

AFC West

Denver Broncos (7-1)
Rating: 8.7 (1st) / Projected Wins: 13.0 / Win Division: 78.3% / Make Playoffs: 98.8%
The Broncos rate 3 points better per game in net passing than any other team, and are also in the top few rushing teams in the league. Their overall rating is 4 points per game better than any other team, meaning we would favor them in every game against any opponent, even on the road. As such, Denver remains our heavy favorites in the AFC West despite being down 1 1/2 games to Kansas City, with a good chance to gain ground when they play head to head in Weeks 11 and 13. Our playoff odds for the Broncos remain ridiculously high, with a 55% chance of making the Super Bowl and a 37% chance of winning it. That makes them about 3 times more likely to win the Super Bowl than any other team at this point. The emergence of a healthy New England team could diminish those numbers a bit, but securing the division and claiming the #1 seed could counteract that.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
Rating: 0.5 (16th) / Projected Wins: 11.7 / Win Division: 19.8% / Make Playoffs: 96.9%
There is merit to questions as to whether the Chiefs are the worst 9-0 team in recent history. Kansas City barely rates better than an average team in our ratings. They have faced an incredibly easy schedule, been further helped by meeting backup quarterbacks, and still needed luck to barely win several close games. On top of that, their success has come almost entirely in areas that are historically unreliable, while their struggles have come in the most reliable area of passing offense. The only way the Chiefs miracle season will extend deep into the playoffs is if they manage to hold off the Broncos in the division and claim a bye and home game in the playoffs. More likely, they will fall off the cliff, get only the 5 seed, and lose in the first round of the playoffs. With a back loaded schedule, we actually project the Chiefs to lose more games than they win from here on out. But even then, they project to have the 2nd most wins in the AFC despite only acquiring the 5 seed.

Oakland Raiders (3-5)
Rating: -1.5 (26th) / Projected Wins: 6.2 / Win Division: 0.1% / Make Playoffs: 3.6%
The Raiders have very little chance of making the playoffs after Terrelle Pryor's strong start to the season has faded considerably. Going forward, the Raiders need to hope that the strong start was a sign of potential and not simply a surprise factor before defenses could better gameplan to defend Pryor's dual threat abilities.

San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Rating: 3.7 (5th) / Projected Wins: 8.6 / Win Division: 1.8% / Make Playoffs: 39.5%
While the other ruitinely unlucky team in the league, the Panthers, have finally experienced a reversal of fortune, the Chargers yet again find themselves with less wins than they deserve. The Chargers have the 4th worst defense in the league so far, but their offensive net passing is the 2nd best, and should take precedence as time goes on. San Diego failed to capitalize on their easy early schedule, and are now faced with a more difficult late schedule including 2 games against Denver. As such, despite their very high rating, the Chargers are most likely to only win about 9 games. Of the several teams competing for the 6 seed in the AFC, they are the most likely to claim it, but the race is so crowded that it is probably more likely than not that they miss the playoffs.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
Rating: 1.9 (12th) / Projected Wins: 8.6 / Win Division: 65.8% / Make Playoffs: 67.9%
The Cowboys have earned their place atop the unimpressive NFC East with solid passing offense. But in a way the Cowboys fortunes are more likely to be decided not by their own play but by that of the Eagles and Redskins. While Dallas has remained a good but not great team for several seasons now, Philadelphia and Washington have shown incredible variation in their results, and if either manages a hot streak to end the season, they could overtake a relatively consistent Cowboys team. Dallas will have to hope that Nick Foles doesn't continue his early season success, and that Robert Griffin doesn't regain his 2012 form and make a similar late run to the 2012 season.

New York Giants (2-6)
Rating: -2.3 (28th) / Projected Wins: 5.0 / Win Division: 2.3% / Make Playoffs: 2.7%
Through 8 games, the Giants are below average by about a point per game in our ratings in each of offensive interceptions and rushing. The Giants have deserved nearly as bad a record as they have acquired, but due to their strength in recent years, we won't rule out some form of comeback. Whether the Giants do rebound or not, they are virtually certain to still miss the playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
Rating: 1.4 (13th) / Projected Wins: 7.6 / Win Division: 23.4% / Make Playoffs: 27.6%
The Eagles have been a little unlucky to be below .500 at this point. While their defense has been bad, the offense has been good enough to more than make up for it. At this point, it appears the Eagles chances rest with how well Nick Foles can perform, although if they went back to Michael Vick he would give them a decent chance to make a run as well. If Foles can play anywhere near as well as he has so far this season, the Eagles will have a solid chance to make the playoffs, but we still expect some regression from him. To make the playoffs, Philadelphia would almost certainly have to win the NFC East.

Washington Redskins (3-5)
Rating: -1.2 (24th) / Projected Wins: 6.6 / Win Division: 8.5% / Make Playoffs: 9.0%
The Redskins have the best rushing offense in the league for the 2nd straight year thanks to their read option attack. However, they have only shown flashes of their 2012 passing form. Washington also has the worst punting unit in the NFL so far, giving up touchdowns from a block and 2 returns in 3 consecutive games in Weeks 4-7. The path to the playoffs is clear for the Redskins, they would need big improvement from Griffin in the pass game. While they likely wouldn't need quite as improbable a finish as last year's 7 straight wins to win the division this year, their chances remain slim.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (5-3)
Rating: 2.2 (9th) / Projected Wins: 9.4 / Win Division: 28.8% / Make Playoffs: 48.4%
The Bears surprisingly carried on just fine during Cutler's injury. Chicago's playoff chances increased dramatically following their surprise win last week over the Packers and the injury to Aaron Rodgers. The Bears playoff chances are nearly a coin flip, and a big factor in the equation comes this week vs Detroit with a likely less than 100% Cutler.

Detroit Lions (5-3)
Rating: 3.4 (6th) / Projected Wins: 9.9 / Win Division: 37.6% / Make Playoffs: 63.2%
The Lions have rebounded to their 2011 form. And the injury to Aaron Rodgers makes them slight favorites in the 3-way race for the NFC North. The Lions will more likely than not make the playoffs either as division winners or as a wild card, but it is no sure thing due to the strong competition for the NFC wild cards this year.

Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Rating: 4.0 (4th) / Projected Wins: 9.9 / Win Division: 33.6% / Make Playoffs: 52.8%
The injury to Aaron Rodgers makes our rating and playoff odds for the Packers unreliable going forward, but we can still make some reasonable estimations for their season. How quickly Rodgers is able to return will also have a big impact on their chances. Green Bay seems unlikely to make the playoffs unless he is able to play in at least half of their remaining 8 games. The possiblity of a high seed or a bye in the playoffs has disappeared, but the Packers would still be a tough contender whether as a division winner or wild card.

Minnesota Vikings (1-7)
Rating: -1.0 (21st) / Projected Wins: 4.2 / Win Division: 0.0% / Make Playoffs: 0.0%
The Vikings are much better than their record would imply. Their big issue has actually been their defense. Their passing has been bad but not terrible, and their rushing has been good despite not quite matching their great levels of the past couple seasons. Minnesota is good enough to win a few more games the rest of the way, but aren't doing themselves any favors for next season by rostering 3 subpar quarterbacks with little upside.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Rating: 1.1 (14th) / Projected Wins: 5.9 / Win Division: 0.3% / Make Playoffs: 1.7%
The Falcons are unlucky to not be at least .500 at this point, but despite their large potential their poor record is probably far too much to overcome. Before Julio Jones was injured, Roddy White was very hobbled, so Atlanta never had 2 great receivers together. For that reason, it makes sense to assume that if Roddy White gets back to 100%, the Falcons could be just about as potent on offense as they were before Jones went down. With both receivers out, Matt Ryan still propelled the offense to success in Week 7, but has struggled in the 2 games since.

Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Rating: 3.4 (7th) / Projected Wins: 9.7 / Win Division: 37.5% / Make Playoffs: 61.6%
The Panthers have been a good enough team to be in the playoff race since they drafted Cam Newton, but found themselves with losing records the past 2 seasons due to a bad string of luck and a tough division. This year they have improved a bit, and their luck has turned so far, but they still face a tough remaining schedule. In 2011, their offense was very good but the defense was poor. In 2012, the defense improved but the offense fell off a bit. Finally in 2013, they have put together both a strong offense and defense. Carolina will more likely than not make the playoffs, and has a shot to even pass the Saints in the division, but being in the tough NFC makes the playoffs still no sure thing.

New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Rating: 4.6 (2nd) / Projected Wins: 10.9 / Win Division: 62.2% / Make Playoffs: 84.4%
The Saints come in as our 2nd highest rated team in the NFL, but their playoff odds are capped a bit by the presence of the Panthers in their division, the fast start the Seahawks have managed, the fact that their Week 13 matchup with the Seahawks will take place in Seattle, and the Seahawks having a rather easy rest of their schedule. The Saints still have a relatively large number of landing spots for a playoff seed, but they are currnetly frontrunners for a bye and will be dangerous no matter where they end up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8)
Rating: -3.0 (31st) / Projected Wins: 2.9 / Win Division: 0.0% / Make Playoffs: 0.0%
The Bucs are the 2nd worst team in our ratings, but if it's any consolation they are the best 31st rated team of our 5 years of ratings through 9 weeks. Tampa simply hasn't passed well and hasn't played great defense. The positive is that Mike Glennon has been decent considering that he was just a 3rd round pick this year. The Bucs should still win a few games this year and aren't a realistic threat to go 0-16 like the Jaguars are. But we do have them projected to finish with the #2 draft pick. Unless Glennon shows some quick improvement, that pick seems likely to be spent on a QB.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Rating: -1.1 (23rd) / Projected Wins: 7.7 / Win Division: 1.6% / Make Playoffs: 10.1%
The Cardinals have the 3rd best defense in the league, but their pass offense has been poor, with only 2 decent net passing marks in 8 games. The fact that Carson Palmer played much better last year with Oakland provides some hope for a turnaround, but so far their stats have been alarmingly bad. Arizona is on course for 8 wins, but has little hope of making the playoffs unless the pass offense improves in a big way.

San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
Rating: 2.1 (11th) / Projected Wins: 10.4 / Win Division: 16.8% / Make Playoffs: 71.9%
The 49ers have rebounded since their slow start, with among the best rushing games and defenses in the league. However, the 49ers pass and rush offense still lag a bit behind their 2012 ratings. As a result, they don't have a very good chance of catching the Seahawks in the NFC West, but are likely to claim a wild card spot.

Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
Rating: 4.0 (3rd) / Projected Wins: 12.5 / Win Division: 81.6% / Make Playoffs: 97.9%
The Seahawks sit 3rd in our ratings, down about a point per game compared to 2012 due to an offensive rushing drop from very good to pretty average. Seattle hasn't been quite as dominant as many in the media would have you believe, but they are in prime position to secure the all important #1 seed in the NFC. We project a 29% chance of Seattle making the Super Bowl from an NFC which is still relatively wide open.

St. Louis Rams (3-6)
Rating: -1.9 (27th) / Projected Wins: 5.6 / Win Division: 0.0% / Make Playoffs: 0.8%
The Rams have been a little poor in just about all areas of play, with the defense playing considerably worse than their strong 2012 performance. Their pass offense rating has decreased a bit since the injury to Sam Bradford, but was a little below average even prior to the injury. The Rams have now spent 4 seasons and a whole lot of money waiting for Sam Bradford to develop as a quarterback, and due to the injury it appears they will now have to hope that the improvement happens in his 5th season.

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