Hoosiers In The NBA: 2016-2017 Midseason Grades

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

Even though All-Star Weekend is still a few weeks away, each team has already played more than half of their regular season games, meaning we have technically passed the halfway point of the season. Let’s take this time to grade how each former Hoosier is doing so far this season based on expectations coming into this season. Let’s start with the two rookies:

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Brooklyn Nets/Dallas Mavericks:

Season Averages:

6.8ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.3apg, 0.67spg, 0.17bpg, 1.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 38.4% FG, 32.4% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 18.8mpg (12 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ San Antonio (W 105-101): 9 points (3-9 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 3 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Cleveland (W 104-97): 19 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Midseason Review: After 10 decent but not that memorable games with the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was given a second chance this past weekend when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Since signing that contract he’s started two games and has led the last-place Mavericks to wins against the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While he will likely see a big reduction in playing time once Deron Williams comes back, Ferrell’s two performances should warrant at minimum another 10-day contract from the Mavericks. He’s making the most of this opportunity after being limited during his stay with the Nets, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up signing a permanent contract either with the Mavericks or with another NBA team in need of solid point guard play.

Midseason Grade: B

Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

5.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 0.8apg, 1.00spg, 0.38bpg, 1.1tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.8% FG, 24.4% 3FG, 60.0% FT, 17.4mpg (24 games)

Recent Game Logs:


Midseason Review: Like Ferrell, Troy Williams also had a chance to show off what he could do for the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the season. While he held his own on the court, it wasn’t enough as he was buried on the bench when the Grizzlies became healthier and just this past week was released to make room for Toney Douglas.

However, that doesn’t mean Williams has had a bad season. While he still has a lot to work on, the fact that he averaged a steal per game is very impressive. He’s become a very hard worker and a serviceable defender. I expect the Grizzlies to call him back up to the roster before the end of the season if another team doesn’t pick him up on waivers before then.

Midseason Grade: C+

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

17.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.8apg, 0.60spg, 0.51bpg, 1.8tpg, 2.1fpg, 42.0% FG, 38.8% 3FG, 84.1% FT, 30.5mpg (47 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs New York (W 129-122): 15 points (5-19 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

vs Washington (W 101-91): 31 points (11-18 FG)(3-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Oklahoma City (W 118-116): 22 points (8-20 FG)(1-1 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Orlando (W 100-93): 17 points (7-20 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 3 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (W 129-122): 19 points (7-16 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

vs Charlotte (W 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Minnesota (L 119-105): DNP – injury

vs Memphis (L 110-105): 13 points (4-11 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 137-112): 24 points (9-14 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Miami (L 109-103): 7 points (3-17 FG), rebound, assist, block, 3 turnovers, 30 minutes.

vs Milwaukee (W 111-92): 25 points (9-20 FG), 4 rebounds, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 125-108): 6 points (2-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Memphis (W 119-95): 21 points (7-16 FG)(4-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 127-114): 9 points (3-9 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Boston (L 120-109): DNP – injury

@ Philadelphia (W 123-118): DNP – injury

@ Indiana (L 120-101): 14 points (4-11 FG)(5-7 FT), rebound, 3 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Midseason Review: Eric Gordon has been a perfect fit in Houston as he is by far the leading candidate for Sixth Man Of The Year. His chemistry with James Harden has been awesome, and the way he’s turned the Rockets’ bench from a weakness to a strength has helped make this a dangerous team.

The only reason I’m not giving Gordon a perfect grade is because his performance has slipped the past month. In particular, he’s shot a shockingly bad 29.8% on three-pointers during the month of January and is attempting an astounding 10.3 deep balls a game.

He’s also missed four games in the last three weeks, which isn’t normally bad but considering Gordon’s injury history and the fact that he hadn’t missed a game until recently, there may be some worry about whether or not he’s slowing down. Overall he’s still having a phenomenal season but not enough for a perfect grade.

Midseason Grade: A

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

16.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.6apg, 1.15spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 45.3% FG, 37.3% 3FG, 69.8% FT, 34.0mpg (39 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 114-88): 15 points (4-9 FG)(5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 98-94): 18 points (7-12 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 123-112): 18 points (7-20 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Houston (L 118-116): 17 points (6-16 FG)(1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

vs Denver (W 121-106): 15 points (7-19 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, block, 3 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 109-94): 13 points (6-9 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

vs Memphis (W 103-95): 16 points (5-10 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, personal foul, 32 minutes.

@ Minnesota (L 96-86): 19 points (8-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, turnover, 33 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 122-118): 23 points (7-14 FG)(8-8 FT), rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 40 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 120-98): 6 points (3-11 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, turnover, personal foul, 24 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 121-100): 20 points (8-17 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

@ Utah (W 97-95): 18 points (8-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 5 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ New Orleans (W 114-105): 15 points (5-11 FG)(2-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 35 minutes.

vs Dallas (W 109-98): 17 points (7-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 107-91): 17 points (6-18 FG)(4-5 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Midseason Review: When Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, a lot of people , including myself, thought Victor Oladipo would see a huge statistical jump as he became Russell Westbrook’s new running partner and maybe even get some All-Star buzz.

Instead we have a slightly overall improved Oladipo with a greatly improved three-point shot. Now to be fair, I don’t think many predicted that Westbrook would put forth a superhuman effort and sustain it through an entire season like he’s currently doing. As a result, there aren’t as many extra points to go around as first thought.

The next step for Oladipo is to become more aggressive and earn Westbrook’s trust enough to help burden the scoring load. That likely won’t happen this season as Westbrook looks like a man on a mission to prove he can carry a team by himself, but little by little we’re seeing Oladipo and Westbrook connect and soon we may get that All-Star level play from Oladipo. But for now Oladipo gets credit for his most efficient shooting season of his career.

Midseason Grade: B-

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

3.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 0.2apg, 0.37spg, 0.34bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.6fpg, 42.2% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 62.2% FT, 12.6mpg (41 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Minnesota (W 95-89): 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 125-117): 2 points (1-3 FG), 4 rebounds, 7 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 118-109): 0 points (0-1 FG)(0-2 FT), rebound, turnover, personal foul, 4 minutes.

vs Detroit (L 125-124): 0 points (0-0 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 13 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-87): 0 points (0-0 FG), personal foul, 6 minutes.

vs Cleveland (W 102-86): 2 points (0-1 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, block, personal foul, 4 minutes.

vs Orlando (L 115-109): DNP – coach’s decision

@ Washington (L 120-101): 10 points (4-5 FG)(2-5 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 20 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 107-85): 4 points (2-10 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 18 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (L 93-92): 10 points (4-6 FG)(1-3 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

@ Boston (W 127-123): 8 points (4-8 FG), 6  rebounds, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 105-98): 8 points (4-6 FG), 10 rebounds, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

vs Memphis (W 112-109): 0 points (0-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 113-111): 4 points (2-4 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

Midseason Review: Until recently, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in Noah Vonleh’s progress. He was playing fewer minutes and was abandoning the three-point shot altogether. Thankfully things have changed recently.

Last season, Vonleh was placed in the starting lineup to carve out playing time for him and also to get his game going. The result was 4.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 42.2% shooting during his 56 starts compared to 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 41.7% shooting coming off the bench.

Two weeks ago, Vonleh was again placed in the starting lineup to get him going and he’s shown a much larger improvement in the role this season. During his nine starts, he’s averaging 5.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on 46.2% shooting compared to 2.7 points and 3.0 rebounds on 39.5% shooting coming off the bench. While not a huge jump from last season, it is the first noticeable improvement we’ve seen out of Vonleh this season and hopefully points to more improvement down the road.

Midseason Grade: C

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

10.9ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.4apg, 0.74spg, 1.08bpg, 1.2tpg, 3.2fpg, 59.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 68.9% FT, 26.9mpg (38 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Cleveland (L 121-109): 6 points (3-3 FG), rebound, 3 assists, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ Chicago (L 118-111): DNP – concussion

vs Oklahoma City (W 123-112): DNP – concussion

@ Detroit (L 115-114): DNP – concussion

@ San Antonio (L 102-85): 9 points (3-5 FG)(3-4 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Houston (L 121-114): DNP – illness

@ Philadelphia (L 102-93): 16 points (6-14 FG)(4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, block, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Boston (L 108-98): 13 points (5-7 FG)(3-4 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

vs Portland (W 107-85): 6 points (3-7 FG), 10 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

vs Toronto (W 113-78): 11 points (4-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

vs Brooklyn (W 112-105): 12 points (5-7 FG)(2-2 FT), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 31 minutes.

vs Washington (L 109-99): 13 points (4-7 FG)(5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 113-103): DNP – injury

@ New York (L 110-107): DNP – injury

vs Sacramento (L 109-106): DNP – injury

Midseason Review: Finally out of the shadow of Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller is flourishing as the starting center of the Charlotte Hornets. In fact he’s starting to play like the Cody Zeller that all Indiana Hoosier fans remember fondly.

A master of setting screens, Zeller helps the Hornets offense flow and serves as the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Kemba Walker. He’s also finally shooting at a high rate as his 59% shooting is such a drastic improvement from the 42.6% he shot three years ago during his rookie season. He’s also averaging double-digit points for the first time in his NBA career.

The only negative is that all the extra playing time has led to Zeller taking a bigger beating than usual and the result is 10 missed games. He’s shown he has the skill to be a good center in this league, but can he physically keep up against bigger guys? I think he will eventually but right now he’s getting accustomed to handling the bigger responsibility.

Midseason Grade: B+

All In The Cards: Midseason Grades For All 32 Teams (Week 9/Bye Week)

Welcome to a special bye week edition of All In the Cards! Just because the Arizona Cardinals have off this week doesn’t mean that I get the week off too. However, this week I’m going to take a different approach. Since the Cards’ bye week just happened to land at the midpoint of the season, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give my midseason grades for every team as well as my midseason awards. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s grade every team so far this season based on expectations:

Midseason Grades:

AFC East:

  • New England Patriots: A+
    • If any team deserves an A+, it’s the Patriots. You would think they would be satisfied finally earning their fourth Super Bowl last year, but this team is gunning for history. Five championships would permanently cement Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the best in NFL history at their positions. This team has a good chance to complete their second perfect regular season.
  • New York Jets: B
    • Todd Bowles has done wonders for the Jets, as they team has already taken on his personality. The defense is a typical aggressive Bowles defense and the offense has been better than expected thanks to the offseason additions of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall. Tendency to beat themselves and the recent loss to the Raiders prevented this from being an A.
  • Buffalo Bills: C
    • The Bills had such a great start to the season, but injuries have hampered what looked like a promising season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Key offensive players such as Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy, and Sammy Watkins have all missed playing time. The offense will be fine when everyone is healthy. The real surprise is the defense, which started off really well but has been burned multiple times the past few weeks.
  • Miami Dolphins: C-
    • The Dolphins under Dan Campbell would probably get a B+/A- grade, but I’m grading the entire first half of the season so that includes the ugly start under Joe Philbin. While the Dolphins have played great lately (minus the blowout loss to New England), this was a team expected to compete for the AFC East so a record of 3-4 is still disappointing. They still have a chance to turn things around a compete for a wild card.

AFC North

  • Cincinnati Bengals: A+
    • I expect the Patriots to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but if they don’t it will be due to the Bengals beating them. What’s so cool about this team in particular is that an organization is finally being rewarded for years of development as players like Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert are having career years. As long as Dalton doesn’t revert, I think this team has to be considered one of the favorites.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
    • The Steelers haven’t had the best of luck, never really having a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell at the same time. Luckily the defense has been better than expected, which is why the team was able to stay afloat when Big Ben was out. They have an uphill battle with the loss of Bell and a tough second half schedule, but this team has already shown this season they can grind through the hard times.
  • Baltimore Ravens: D+
    • I could be mean and give the Ravens a failing grade, but the truth of the matter is that the Ravens are a decent team but have been really unlucky. In all six losses,they have had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win. To me, the crunch time struggles has more to do with Joe Flacco’s unfamiliarity with Marc Trestman’s system and his receivers than it does with Flacco himself.
  • Cleveland Browns: C
    • Despite their record, the Browns been a decent surprise and have played good teams (such as Oakland, Denver, and Arizona) really tough. However, it’s the record that gives them a C grade and makes this season seem like another disappointment. There’s also the fact that the Manziel vs McCown debate doesn’t really have a definitive answer, which is hurting the identity of this offense.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts: D
    • Despite all the turmoil Indianapolis has gone through this season, the Colts still lead the AFC South. For that reason alone, no matter how badly they have underachieved, I can’t give them a failing grade. What’s sad is that all three of the Colts’ wins have come against other AFC South teams. What’s even sadder is that all they need to do is win their other three games against the AFC South and they’ll win the division.
  • Houston Texans: C
    • Some people are calling the Texans’ first half of the season a disappointment but I didn’t expect a lot out of the Texans this season anyway. The fact that they have switched between quarterbacks, watched their franchise running back get injured again, and have seen their once strong defense get humiliated multiple times, just makes the fact that they are tied for first in their division both impressive and sad.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: B-
    • While this may look like your typical 2-5 Jaguars team at a glance, what we have here is a scrappy team that is finally showing progress but still can’t get over the hump. Besides getting annihilated by the Patriots, Jacksonville has been competitive in every one of its games. We are also seeing some promise from young guys like Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, and T.J. Yeldon. The wins should come soon if they continue to improve.
  • Tennessee Titans: C-
    • A lot has happened since the Titans blew out the Buccaneers in week one. For one thing, the Titans have a new head coach because they haven’t won since. However, I expected this kind of season from the Titans so I’m not going to give them too terrible of a grade. Being only two games behind the Colts in the AFC South, I think the Titans will try to make a second half push, even though getting another top five pick would be a better plan.

AFC West

  • Denver Broncos: A-
    • The reason the Broncos are the only undefeated team not to get an A+ from me is because the defense has deteriorated a lot faster than expected. They seem to have a plan going forward, becoming more of a running team, but sooner or later they will need Peyton Manning to throw to win an important game. I still think he can do it but he’s no longer a sure bet. However, that defense is a sure bet.
  • Oakland Raiders: A+
    • It’s been a while but there is finally light in the Black Hole. The emergence of Derek Carr has given the Raiders a shot at making the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Like Jacksonville, Oakland is also seeing improvement from its young skill position players (Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray) and were able to hit the jackpot with the Michael Crabtree signing. Jack Del Rio won’t win Coach of the Year, but he deserves consideration.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: C
    • Everything looked like it was going downhill when Jamaal Charles was lost for the season, but the Chiefs have rebounded to win their last two. While they find themselves still very much in the playoff picture, I think the Chiefs will not be able to find reliable offense often enough to stay in the playoff race. If anything, the rest of this season can be used as a test to see if Alex Smith is this team’s answer at quarterback.
  • San Diego Chargers: D+
    • I knew the Chargers were going to bad, but watching Philip Rivers trying to single-handedly keep this team afloat is heartbreaking. The Chargers really need to improve their running game as it ranks as the fourth worst in the NFL (86.4ypg). Not only that, but the defense allows the sixth most points per game (28.4). If the Chargers are able to win three more games I would call that a success.

NFC East

  • New York Giants: C
    • Starting the season 0-2, winning your next three games then losing by 20 on national television to one division rival only to beat another division rival the next week? Yep, sounds like a typical Giants’ season to me. The only real problem I see going forward has to do with the defense allowing 52 to New Orleans. Defenses have hard time recovering after giving up so many points so that will be something to watch the rest of the season.
  • Washington Redskins: B-
    • I honestly thought the Redskins would only have one win at most and a new head coach by the time week nine came rolling along. However, I have been really surprised by the toughness this Redskins team has shown as they have battled every game, even against some good opponents. I don’t know if they can keep it up, but they have definitely been one of the pleasant first half surprises in the NFL.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: C-
    • The Eagles had one of the most bizarre and confusing offseasons that I can remember so it is only right that their season has also been bizarre and confusing to this point. Defensively the Eagles are better than expected, but that revamped offense has been hit-or-miss with Sam Bradford really struggling at times. If Bradford can’t string a series of good games together I don’t see the Eagles making the playoffs.
  • Dallas Cowboys: D
    • I wanted to give the Cowboys a pass or at least an incomplete grade due to the absence of Tony Romo, but the way they have handled Greg Hardy’s recent troubles is going to doom this team before Romo can get back on the field. Such a shame too as they looked very promising during those first couple of games, especially on offense post-DeMarco Murray. However, it looks like their window of opportunity has finally closed.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers: A
    • Even after a loss to undefeated Denver, I would have considered still giving the Packers an A+, but it was how they lost that game that made me slightly downgrade them. While the Broncos defense is without a doubt the best in the NFL, they completely shutdown the Packers offense. It’s only one loss and the Packers will be fine, but now we know there is a way to stop Rodgers and company. However only a few teams are capable.
  • Minnesota Vikings: A
    • It seems like ages ago that this same Vikings team was handled by the San Francisco 49ers 20-3. Since then the Vikings have won every game save a three-point loss to the Broncos. They haven’t been pretty, but this isn’t college football so you don’t need style points. All you need is wins and the Vikings keep finding ways to win. Reminds of last season’s Arizona Cardinals in some ways, especially how the Vikings’ defense has played.
  • Chicago Bears: C-
    • The Bears are a hard team to evaluate because they are only two two fourth quarter stops away from being 0-7. Yet this team has played much better than a potential winless team, especially when the got Jay Cutler back from his hamstring injury. I don’t think they are going anywhere this season, but if they can continue to improve as the season goes along, I think John Fox’s team be set up for the long run.
  • Detroit Lions: F
    • Every team has a bad day now and again, so I was going to look past the Lions debacle against the Cardinals. I was going to look past the fact that Detroit was the last team to pick up its first win. However, when you mess up so bad (firing your offensive coordinator and then losing 45-10 to the Chiefs the next week) that your owner fires both your general manager and team president midseason, I have no choice but to fail you.

NFC South

  • Carolina Panthers: A+
    • Each week the Panthers remind me more and more of the Seahawks team that won the Super Bowl just a couple of years ago. Their defense has passed all expectations and somehow Cam Newton is making it work on offense with only Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr. as reliable receivers. It’s really hard to believe this is almost the exact same team that made it to the playoffs on a technicality. They will have earned it this year.
  • Atlanta Falcons: A
    • The defense has completely transformed under new head coach Dan Quinn, while Matt Ryan and the offense have been reborn in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme. The only thing keeping the Falcons from a perfect grade is the fact that they have had to rely on huge second half comebacks to earn the majority of their wins this season. While a win is a win and there are no style points, relying on comebacks can backfire very badly.
  • New Orleans: C
    • After a 1-4 start, the Saints have won three in a row and they have been against decent teams. There was a huge transition for the offense to start the season with the departure of Jimmy Graham but it seems Drew Brees feels comfortable again based on his seven-touchdown performance against the Giants. The defense still needs a lot of fixing and will probably prevent them from making a run at the playoffs.
  • Tampa Bay: C
    • Everyone knew this would be a transition year for the Buccaneers and it has played out exactly like one to this point. This team is constantly learning and sometimes you have to fail to properly learn. That’s what happened recently when the Bucs lost after blowing a big lead against the Redskins and then holding on the next week when they blew another lead to the Falcons. Things seem to be going right on track.

NFC West

  • Arizona Cardinals: A-
    • I’ll go more in-depth on my midseason evaluation of the Cardinals during my week nine recap, but the short version is that the Cards left some wins on the table. For as well as the Cardinals have played this season they should have won against St. Louis and they should have been able to adjust to the Steelers change at quarterback. The only surprising thing from the Cardinals has been the rebirth of Chris Johnson.
  • St. Louis Rams: B+
    • The Rams were a mess offensively to start the season, but they have since found their identity thanks to a historic start by running back Todd Gurley. With that front seven and Gurley to eat up time on the offensive end, opponents face a huge challenge when trying to overcome a deficit. Rams’ management has spent years planning this team out and they are finally starting to see the fruits of their labor.
  • Seattle Seahawks: C+
    • The Seahawks have had a roller-coaster of a season so far  and even though they haven’t performed as well as they did the last two seasons, the fact is that they sit at .500 with a huge opportunity to get within one game of the NFC West lead if the beat the Cardinals. The most surprising thing we’ve seen from the Seahawks is that the defense, and specifically the secondary, hasn’t been consistently great, which could cost them later in the season.
  • San Francisco: D-
    • All you need to know about the 49ers’ season is that they are benching Colin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert. The only reason I don’t give them a failing grade is that they have been competitive in quite a few games and even have the upset win over the Vikings. Other than that, this was the down season every 49ers’ fan was dreading after they fired John Harbaugh.

Midseason Awards:

MVP: Tom Brady

Offensive POY: Philip Rivers

Defensive POY: Aqib Talib

Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley

Comeback POY: Chris Johnson

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick

Assistant Coach of the Year: Wade Phillips, Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator

My Week 9 NFL Predictions:

  • Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 13
  • Miami 23, Buffalo 20
  • Green Bay 24, Carolina 17
  • New Orleans 31, Tennessee 16
  • Pittsburgh 23, Oakland 21
  • Minnesota 19, St. Louis 16
  • New England 38, Washington 17
  • New York Jets 24, Jacksonville 14
  • Atlanta 28, San Francisco 10
  • New York Giants 38, Tampa Bay 34
  • Denver 27, Indianapolis 17
  • Philadelphia 31, Dallas 20
  • Chicago 27, San Diego 21

Week 8 Record: 9-5
Week 9 Record: 1-0
Season Record: 79-41 (.658)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2