5.) San Diego Chargers (2-6) S.O.S- 16th
Although they are averaging over 400 yards of offense per game, the Chargers have struggled to pick up a victory in the last month. During its’ four-game win streak, San Diego has allowed 29 points. I believed their offense would be consistent enough to carry them. The largest margin of defeat was 17 back in week three at Minnesota. They play in close games but seem to falter down the stretch. Philip Rivers has thrown 18 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Melvin Gordon has not filled expectations, with no touchdowns and only compiling 382 rushing yards through eight weeks. A favorable schedule is in the horizon in the next few weeks (vs. Bears, at Jaguars) so it will be interesting to see if they are able to turn their season around into the final stretch of the season.
4.) Cincinnati Bengals (7-0) S.O.S- 2nd
It does not appear that the Bengals have the second toughest schedule in the NFL this season. Cincinnati is not seen as a real contender, considering they have exited in the wild card round in previous four seasons. This may be the final chance for Marvin Lewis to remain at the helm of the organization. After witnessing them overcome a double-digit deficit versus the Seahawks in week 5, that is when I began realize this team is different from other years. The team is third in points-per-game (28.3) and has a solid all around defense, only allowing around 18 per contest. Outside linebacker Vincent Rey is in the top-10 in combined tackles (65). It will be interesting to see if a first-round bye will be earned.
3.) Seattle Seahawks (4-4) S.O.S- 4th
You would think adding Jimmy Graham to an offense like Seattle’s would only make it seem as if a third consecutive Super Bowl trip is eminent, but they are questions to be answered. Russell Wilson is a conservative quarterback who does not throw much during a game. Wilson is 32nd in the NFL in attempts per game (29.2). Also, with Marshawn Lynch as your running back, why you would bring in another offense weapon? Seattle has begun to pick up play, winning its last two games but squaring off against the Cardinals may present a challenge to the team. It may be the Arizona’s division to win this year.
2.) Indianapolis Colts (3-4) S.O.S- 31st
I predicted the Colts to go 15-1, they lost that in the second week of the season as they fell to 0-2. As of right now, they are leading the NFL’s-worst division, the AFC South. Not one team in the south is above five hundred. All the weapons the Colts signed over the offseason have crapped out. Andre Johnson has not been productive, Andrew Luck has been playing with fractured ribs since week 3 and shoulder injuries have also nagged the fourth-year quarterback. In his first three seasons, Luck has advanced a round further in the playoffs. From the wild card round to the AFC Championship games, Luck has built off every year, but at this point, the Colts will be lucky to even play in mid-January. The only thing going for Indianapolis right now is the strength of their division. Indy’s 13th ranked offense is slowly picking up, but with a game against the Broncos in the horizon, all hopes may be lost.
1.) Carolina Panthers (6-0) S.O.S- 27th
Winning on the road in Seattle is tough to do, especially leading a game-winning drive down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Cam Newton has played well to say the least. Even though is he 32nd in throwing yards per game (212.5), he has done it with his feet as well. On 54 attempts, Newton has gained 245 yards and four touchdowns. Greg Olsen is playing the best tight end right now. He not only has the ability to catch and score touchdowns, but his down-field blocking has been key for Jonathan Stewart and other offensive players on the Panthers. On defense, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have led the attack. Carolina has only given up 2039 yards, which is second behind the Broncos. The Panthers are allowing 229.8 pass yards per game. Carolina has a chance to start the season 7-0. In week 9, the Packers come to town and I have a hard time believing Aaron Rodgers will not have his way, although his home and road splits are quite different. All in all, it is nice seeing a new team on top of the NFC.
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