By Chris Cheetam, Staff Writer. Ryan Houlihan, Staff Writer. Drew Dykowski, Sports Editor

The midseason recap is here at last! There are a number of unpredictable storylines developing that even the best NFL expert could not predict. In the NFC, the 49ers have surprised everyone and emerged as potential Super Bowl favorites. Meanwhile, the Falcons, Eagles, Bears, and Rams have performed well beneath their lofty preseason expectations. Although most of the NFC has not gone as predicted, Russell Wilson continues to play at an MVP level and Michael Thomas and the Saints have continued to be dominant. Now that the NFL has reached the halfway point, it is time to revisit our end-of-the season predictions.

NFC East

Predictions 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: 12-4
  2. Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
  3. New York Giants: 3-13
  4. Washington Redskins: 3-13

Actual

  1. Dallas Cowboys: 6-4
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-5
  3. New York Giants: 2-8
  4. Washington Redskins: 1-9

Verdict: The East is a two legged race between the Cowboys and Eagles, although both teams have had their fair share of disappointment. Meanwhile, New York and Washington long for better days and continue their lengthy rebuilds. Despite great talent on both sides of the ball, Dallas has a mediocre record and much of the blame is placed on head coach Jason Garrett. After re-signing Dak Prescott to a new outrageous contract in the offseason, maybe Jerry Jones should also consider a new head coach. 

While Carson Wentz has yet to return to his 2017 self, he is not getting any help from his receivers, who cannot even catch a cold. Philadelphia’s defensive secondary is also very exploitable. Luckily, the recent emergence of the run game and Zach Ertz gives Philly a chance at both the division crown and a wildcard berth. 

New York rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has shown flashes of potential in a difficult situation, but has been more “Danny Turnovers” than “Danny Dimes” this year. The Giants should have a strong core to build off with Jones and Saquon Barkley, but needs some serious help on defense. 

It has been another tough season for Washington and it cost head coach Jay Gruden his job in early October. They have finally decided to start Dwayne Haskins, which should excite Redskins fans. Regardless of how Haskins plays, however, this is one of the league’s worst managed teams and they are in desperate need of a clean house. But at least they beat the Dolphins (barely).

NFC North

Predictions                                           

  1. Minnesota Vikings: 11-5                 
  2. Green Bay Packers: 11-5               
  3. Detroit Lions: 9-6-1
  4. Chicago Bears: 7-9

Actual

  1. Green Bay Packers: 8-2
  2. Minnesota Vikings: 8-3
  3. Chicago Bears: 4-6
  4. Detroit Lions: 3-6-1

Verdict: The Packers are back on top of one of the best divisions in football with Aaron Rodgers showing flashes of his MVP years. The Vikings have been one of the highest scoring offenses thanks to Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins. Their defense, especially in the secondary, has been disappointing to this point of the season. The Lions started off the season on the right foot, but continue to lose games in the 4th quarter despite Matthew Stafford playing MVP-caliber football.  Matt Patricia’s defense continues to baffle fans as it remains near the bottom of the league in all stats despite the fact that he’s a former defensive coordinator. Stafford’s injury will not help Detroit’s playoff hopes either. As for the Bears, their ineptitude this season starts and stops with the miserable play of Mitchell Trubisky. If he can’t figure out how to be at least league-average as a quarterback, the Bears will replace him with their first rounder next season. 

NFC South

Predictions

  1. New Orleans Saints: 11-5
  2. Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
  3. Carolina Panthers: 8-8
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10 

Actual

  1. New Orleans Saints: 8-2
  2. Carolina Panthers: 5-5
  3. Atlanta Falcons: 3-7
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-7

Verdict: The Saints seems to have a clear hold on a quarterback controversy-filled NFC South. No Drew Brees. No problem for the Saints, as they did not miss a beat while backup Teddy Bridgewater filled in. With an already potent offense that has weapons in the likes of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara and a top-five defense, the return of Brees only adds to already clear Super Bowl favorites. 

Meanwhile in Charlotte, we might have seen the end of the Cam Newton era as we know it. The former MVP is constantly in trade rumors and team officials have stated it is highly unlikely he will return next year. With a difficult remaining schedule, Kyle Allen will remain the starter and Carolina should continue to ride Christian McCaffrey, who is having a MVP-caliber season. They also have a stingy defense that could lead them to a possible wildcard berth. 

In Tampa Bay, Bruce Arians is doing his best to save Jameis Winston’s career. Tampa’s offense is loaded with weapons (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard), but inconsistency from Winston has held them back. Also, the passing defense has given up the most yards per game in the league and is a big reason why the Bucs are already looking towards next year’s draft. Dan Quinn is fighting for his job after an incredibly disappointing season in Atlanta. Unless the Falcons come up with a magical turnound, expect some offseason coaching changes and a few defensive picks in the draft to improve one of the league’s worst defenses. At least Matt Ryan and Julio Jones provide entertainment for Atlanta fans. 

NFC West

Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Rams: 12-4
  2. Seattle Seahawks: 9-7
  3. San Francisco 49ers: 7-9
  4. Arizona Cardinals: 6-9-1

Actual

  1. San Francisco 49ers: 9-1
  2. Seattle Seahawks: 8-2
  3. Los Angeles Rams: 6-4
  4. Arizona Cardinals: 3-7-1

Verdict: The 49ers have been one of the greatest stories and biggest surprises of 2019. They have been headlined by their defense, led by Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. The unit is the top defense in yards allowed and is third in sacks. Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense have not been as dominant as the defense, but have steadily improved enough to help San Francisco return to the playoffs. 

As expected, the Seahawks are one of the top teams in the NFC. They will contend with the 49ers for the divisional crown. Russell Wilson has played like an MVP all year and that will not change in the second half. Bobby Wagner and the defense have continued to be solid, but are not the dominant Legion of Boom of years past. 

As surprising as the 49ers have been, the Rams have been just as disappointing. The offense has not been terrible and ranks in the top ten in most offensive categories, but is nowhere near the record-breaking unit it was a season ago. Jared Goff has regressed significantly and Todd Gurley continues to be a question mark. Regardless, they are still in contention for a wild card spot and if anyone can solve their issues, it is offensive mastermind Sean McVay. 

Despite their record, the Cardinals have been one of the most entertaining teams in the NFL. Although he has endured a few rookie struggles, Kyler Murray has already shown his MVP potential. He has thrown for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 300. His 9-4 TD-INT ratio is not great, but Murray provides enough excitement down the stretch to make Arizona fun to watch, even if they do not win many games. If they can improve defensively, they could compete for a playoff spot next season.