We’re just past half way through the 2020 NFL Season. So Lets get started with our half season reviews. We’re starting out West! Here’s our thoughts on the AFC and NFC West teams as we enter the 2nd half of the Season.
Kansas City Chiefs 8-1 A
Despite losing their first game of the season, in division at home to the Raiders, the Chiefs continue to look imperious. If it weren’t for the Steelers unbeaten start, the Chiefs would be the odds-on favourite to retain the AFC crown and return to the Super Bowl. Since the Raiders loss, the Chiefs have won all three games with an average margin of 21 points, albeit against teams with a record of 10-16.
The Chiefs are healthy, Mahomes is averaging 299 yards a game through the air and the Chiefs have the fourth most yards/game (409). Not to mention the most points (286) of anyone – though Seattle has scored more points per game. Far more worryingly for opponents, the Chiefs have allowed the sixth fewest points/game of anyone (20.3), making this team more complete than last year’s iteration.
The Chiefs have the best point differential of anyone (+103) and the second-best turnover differential. The Raiders have lost one game in their last 20 and if it weren’t for the Raiders, it would be hard to see past them going unbeaten, Ultimately, their season is just getting started. -Adam Barton
Las Vegas Raiders 5-3 A-
After a 2-2 start the Raiders have turned it on going 3-1 in their last 4 games and are on the precipice of their second playoff appearance since 2002. That 3-1 run featured a 40-32 victory against Superbowl favourites and AFC West rivals Chiefs. As well as a last gasp defensive stand for a win against the Chargers and a wet 16-6 victory in Cleveland.
The Raiders biggest issue in the past few weeks has been how they’ve followed the leagues COVID protocols – or not followed in this case. They’ve amassed $1.8m worth of fines so far and have been stripped of their 6th round pick next year for numerous breeches of the rules surrounding the pandemic.
Of their 8 remaining games only 3 are against teams with winning records, the Colts, Chiefs and Dolphins. If the Raiders can continue in their current direction they should be planning on playing post season football. -Bryan Dickie
Los Angeles Chargers 2-6 C+
It’s an odd time to be a Chargers fan. Going into the 2020 season there wasn’t much expected from the Bolts so their 2-6 record maybe isn’t such a shocker. What is shocking is how close they’ve been to winning pretty much every game. Every loss has been within one score, four of those have come on the last play of the game, two in overtime. Ouch.
The one thing Chargers fans can be very happy about is the play of rookie QB Justin Herbert. The former Oregon star is rightfully getting plenty of praise. He’s the first QB in league history to pass for over 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first 6 starts. Herbert is leading the Chargers offence which is 2nd in the league with 3360 yards but their 205 points is 14th. If they can be more efficient on offence and find a way to stop losing on the last play of the game, the future looks bright for the Chargers. -Bryan Dickie
Broncos 3-5 C+
The Broncos season was lost by an 0-3 start that left them way behind the eight ball. But beyond that it has been a rough season for Denver that has left more questions than answers. Specifically, around Drew Lock. The plus side is that having started three QBs in four games due to injury, Lock has started the last four. However, he has passed for 251 yards on average in those games, aided by significant garbage time in last week’s disappointing loss to the Falcons.
Lock has six TDs and six interceptions this year, with 6.5 yards/attempt. The Broncos have the seventh fewest yards/attempt with 336.6. The Broncos are the fourth easiest team to get off the field on third down. Meanwhile the defence allows the 11th most points (27.1), despite being league average in yards allowed. The defence is pretty average across the board and despite having a range of young talent on offence, they are struggling to get the done.
Only six teams have a worse point differential than the Broncos and they must spend the second half of the season identifying if Drew Lock is the answer and finding how they can add stars to move away from being average on both sides of the ball. -Adam Barton
Seattle Seahawks 6-2 B+
As Predicted in week 4 report, this team goes as Wilson goes and for a couple of weeks, his form has dipped in a big way. The blow out against the Bills and the OT loss to the Cards was evidence of how important Russ is. In my opinion, these results were destined to happen. Even a player of Wilsons standard can’t carry a team with no defense every single game.
Here’s some positives; Russ is still elite, despite a few poor games he’s still thrown for 28 TDs and only 8 picks. DK and Lockett appear to be a top 3 WR duo in the league. Carlos Dunlap will fix their pass rush problems and getting Jamal Adams back is a massive bonus.
I could throw tons of stats at this piece and show that they have fallen off a cliff and that’s it’s all doom and gloom but lets be real, Wilson will come back, DK will keep dominating and if the defense can step up and starting making some plays, they still have control of the division and will be a big player when it comes to the playoffs. Big picture and context matter and the Seahawks are still a flipping good team with a top 5 coach in the league. Take a breath, watch them beat the Rams this weekend and it’ll all be okay. A B+ for the poor losses but all hope is not lost. -Jamie Edwards.
Los Angeles Rams 5-3 B
Being 5-3 at the midway point of the season would appear to be a great start. But in a loaded NFC west, it leaves them sitting in 3rd place behind an improving Cardinals and a faltering but strong Seahawks team. Loses to an injury plagued Niners side and a rookie heavy Dolphins team have raised a few eyebrows about whether they haver the quality to make a deep playoff run but putting 24 points on a strong Bears team and brushing aside a decent Washington defence may well have put those issues to bed, for now. Although Goff has his moments where he looks shaky, he’s still decent enough to get the job done, with 13 TDs so far on the season and a 65.5% completion percentage. As for the defense, they are still performing well. 25 sacks and 6 picks on the year and allowing just over 310 YPG. Although it’s not a strong of a unit compared to previous years, they’re still producing and keeping the Rams in the mix.
If they can tighten up on 3rd downs (44%), reduce turnovers (-2 ratio so far) and keep putting Goff in a position to make plays by establishing the run early, they will be in the mix come the end of the year. Whether they are good enough to make a deep playoff run remains to be seen. It’s a B from me. -Jamie Edwards.
Arizona Cardinals 5-3 B+
After splitting their games in the first quarter of the season, the Cardinals have improved to a 5-3 record at the season’s halfway point. They now sit second in the NFC West behind Seattle, but a week 7 victory at home against the Seahawks means the division is within reaching distance. The overtime thriller against Russel Wilson and Co. is a contender for game of the season, with the two teams going back and forth until the very end.
They also comfortably took down Dallas and the New York Jets in their 3-game win streak, before snapping it in a close week 9 loss to the Dolphins. Tua and Kyler had a great duel in the desert, with the Cardinals quarterback totalling 389 yards of total offence and four touchdowns on the day. But a missed field goal on their final drive of the game snatched an overtime opportunity away from the reigning offensive rookie of the year. This team is exciting and they have proven that they have the potential to top their division this season.
Oh and did I mention that their offence currently leads the league in yards per game and their defence is 8th in points allowed per game? Despite the occasional miscue, this team has developed into a well-rounded troublemaker in the NFC.-Owen Widdowson
San Francisco 49ers 4-5 C
What to make of the Niners … it’s been a tough old season for the San Fran boys. Still riddled with injuries and a QB who no one is really sure about anymore, Niners fans have come back to earth with a bang after the highs of last year. Again, I don’t think throwing stats at this will prove anything as there doesn’t seem to be any clear and obvious way for them to make vast improvements unless ACL repair times increase 10 fold.
They do have a few very impressive wins, beating The Rams and New England, neither of which are an easy out but they then somehow manage to get demolished by the Dolphins, who seem to be ripping the NFC west apart, and the Shocking Eagles. I honestly don’t know what to say. It would
appear they are out of Garoppolo and have their sites set on drafting a QB or trading for Darnold in the offseason. I think they need to just batten down the hatches and pray for a high draft pick and write this season off. Kyle Shanahan is clearly an elite offensive HC and he’s got top level assistants around him but one more of this type season and it might be time to re-evaluate the franchise a bit. 1 winning season out of 4 isn’t going to get it done in the NFC west, whether its down to luck or not. Grade C feels right, anything lower would be a tad harsh. -Jamie Edwards