NFL Midseason Review

Halfway through the 2020 NFL season, read how the league is shaping up


Julia Fallert

The playoff picture is beginning to take shape, issues with COVID-19 have minimized, and the overall feel of the NFL is beginning to become somewhat normal again.

Blake Robinson, Reporter

The NFL is now over halfway through their regular season, and although this season has been a bit different than seasons in the past, it seems that things are starting to move along a lot smoother. The playoff picture is beginning to take shape, issues with COVID-19 have minimized, and the overall feel of the NFL is beginning to become somewhat normal again.


AFC East

The AFC East is home to one of the closest races for first in the conference, as well as home to the least close race for last play in the league. The Buffalo Bills are currently at first in the division with a 7-3 record, but the Miami Dolphins are close behind them with a record of 6-4. In third place are the New England Patriots with a record of 4-6, already with two more losses this year at a bit over the halfway point than they had throughout the entire 2019-2020 season. In last place is none other than the winless New York Jets, sitting at a record of 0-10, already being eliminated from playoff contention.

The Buffalo Bills have proven to be a talented team this season, being led by the tandem of third-year quarterback Josh Allen and newly acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs on offense, and cornerback Tre’Davious White on defense. The Bills may be first in the division as of now, but they have some important division games coming up on the schedule that are must-wins if they want to secure their spot at the top.

The Miami Dolphins have shocked the football world by maintaining a spot near the top of the division for most of the season, as expectations for the team heading into the season were not all that high. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa have both been used at the quarterback position throughout the season, both men fighting to earn a secured starting spot, in turn helping their team win games. Before being defeated by the Denver Broncos Week 11, the Dolphins went on a five game winning streak, helping keep their chances at the playoffs alive. The Dolphins’ schedule for the remainder of the season is very up and down as far as the skill level of their opponent goes, but all the games are going to be important to them if they want to not only win the division, but make the playoffs.

The New England Patriots are clearly not the same team they were in prior seasons, sitting at a below .500 winning percentage. Franchise quarterback Tom Brady had to be replaced by former MVP Cam Newton after Brady left in the offseason, and although Newton has held his own as the starter, it’s obvious that things are not the way they used to be in New England. Although the Patriots do have a solid defense, tied for ninth-best when it comes to points allowed, their offense hasn’t been nearly as good, having the fifth least points scored in the league. Playoff chances for the Patriots aren’t looking great, and although there’s a chance they can sneak in, I would be surprised to see the Patriots in the playoffs at the end of this season.

The New York Jets have not won a single game so far this season, sitting at a record of 0-10. They are also the first team in the NFL to be statistically knocked out of playoff contention, despite it only being a bit over halfway through the season. The Jets are just going to hope they can land a good draft pick in the offseason and hope for the best in 2021, because the 2020 season clearly hasn’t worked out well for them.

AFC West

The AFC West is currently being led by the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, who have a record of 9-1. The second-place team in the division are the Las Vegas Raiders, who are at a record of 6-4. In the third are the 4-6 Denver Broncos, and in the last are the Los Angeles Chargers, who have a 3-7 record.

The Kansas City Chiefs have surprised nobody with their so far dominant season, making a convincing case for a possible repeat in the Superbowl. The stacked Chiefs offense is being led by Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, and he has plenty of tools to work with, such as star receiver Tyreek Hill, monster tight end Travis Kelce, and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Assuming the Chiefs offense continues to fire on all cylinders, they should have no problem not only making the playoffs, but making a deep run in the playoffs, if not winning the Super Bowl in back-to-back years.

The Las Vegas Raiders, in their first year in their new hometown, have proven to be more impressive than expected. Despite this, they are still three games out of first place, with a Wild Card game looking like their best odds of making the playoffs. Quarterback Derek Carr has stepped it up a lot this year, having a big effect on the team’s success this season on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side of things, though, things have not looked good for the Raiders, being their biggest downfall this season. While winning the division seems out of reach, sneaking into a Wild Card game is still a possibility for the Raiders. The remainder of the schedule for the Raiders is relatively weak compared to the rest of the league, so it’s definitely possible for the Raiders to finish strong this season and potentially make the playoffs.

The Denver Broncos have, to put it simply, not played the way they wanted to this season. They have a solid roster for the most part, but it just hasn’t worked out for them. Their offense has struggled to score points, and the defense has had a tough time preventing points from scoring. While the Broncos may not statistically be out of the playoffs just yet, their tough schedule ahead of them won’t give out much confidence.

The Los Angeles Chargers, despite not having a very good record, have exceeded many fan’s expectations. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is leading the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year, wide receiver Keenan Allen is having one of his best NFL seasons yet, and backup running backs Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley have gotten a chance to prove themselves with starting running back Austin Ekeler going down with an injury early on in the season. While having a losing record isn’t very exciting, the Chargers have seen some good things out of their core players.

AFC North

The AFC North is home to the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL this season, as the Pittsburgh Steelers are on top with a record of 10-0. The Cleveland Browns are three games behind them, simply looking to continue winning games in order to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Although the Baltimore Ravens are down in third place, they still have a record of 6-4, looking to make their way up to second place in the division to hopefully secure a spot in the playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals are the worst team in the division by about three and a half games, sitting at a record of 2-7 thus far.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, despite fans knowing they were good heading into the season, have really impressed this season, clutching onto an undefeated record through 10 games. Defense has been the Steelers’ main factor to their success, only having allowed 174 points up to this point. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebacker TJ Watt have both been key players in the Steelers’ defense, among other defensive players that have contributed to the defense’s success this season. Even if they remain undefeated for the remainder of the season, it’s looking like a playoff spot for the Steelers has been locked up.

The Cleveland Browns are doing a good job of getting wins this season, but they’re being overlooked due to the fact that the Steelers have been so successful this season. Even with key offensive players such as running back Nick Chubb going down early on in the season and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr having a season-ending injury just a few weeks ago, the Browns have still managed to maintain a winning record throughout the course of the season as running back Kareem Hunt has managed to help out the Browns offense significantly. With Chubb now back and Hunt still around, the Browns have a good chance of getting into the playoffs via the wildcard, though it is possible for them to both make their way to first place, and to fall out of the playoffs completely.

The Baltimore Ravens aren’t having quite the season they expected to, despite still being two games over .500. This is mainly attributed to the fact that they play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, as they still have a better record than many teams throughout the rest of the league. Many of their wins this season have been convincing ones, being able to put up between 20-30 points in most of their victories, and most all of their losses have been narrow ones, the biggest point differential in one of their losses being 14. They have a tough schedule over the next couple of weeks, but it cools down a lot towards the end of the season, so if they can get their much-needed victories and do what they’re expected to do against the weaker teams, they have a good chance of getting themselves into the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals, unlike the other three teams in their division, are not having a very successful season, only being able to pick up two wins for the time being. The Bengals didn’t expect much heading into the season other than to see rookie quarterback Joe Burrow find success and develop during the season. During their Week 11 game, however, Burrow suffered a season-ending injury, riding the Bengals of one of the only things they had to look forward to this season. The Bengals will now look ahead to the NFL draft, where they will hope to have another top pick, because the remainder of the 2020 season is not looking good for Cincinnati.

AFC South

The AFC South has the tightest race for first in the conference, with the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans tied at a record of 7-3, the Colts only edging the Titans out based on tiebreakers. Other than those two teams, however, the division isn’t too exciting, with the Houston Texans standing at a record of 3-7, and the Jacksonville Jaguars holding a 1-9 record.

The Indianapolis Colts have really held their own throughout the season thus far, surpassing most people’s expectations for them. The defense has been a big part of the Colts’ success this season, only giving up 208 points to their opponents. While the defense may be the biggest factor for the Colts, the offense should not be overlooked, as veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers has had a great season with his new team, helping them score 276 points this season. While they may be in first, one loss can be detrimental to their spot on the top, meaning every game from this point forward is very important for the Colts.

The Tennessee Titans were one of the best teams from the 2019-2020 season, making it to the AFC Championship before being eliminated by the team that would end up winning the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans are once again one of the better teams in the NFL, heading down a similar path they did in 2019. The Titans offense, led by running back Derrick Henry, has been what’s helped them the most this season, scoring 279 points up to this point. The defense, on the other hand, has not been as good as they would hope, giving up 259 points this season, only 20 points less than what they’ve scored. Similarly to the Colts, the rest of the Titans games are necessary to win if they want to not only win the division, but to make it into the playoffs.

The Houston Texans are three games behind the two teams tied for first in the division, this season definitely not being their best in recent years. Last season, the Texans finished first in the division, but this season, they’re not far ahead of the last-place team. In the offseason, the Texans traded elite wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, and although Johnson has contributed this season, he hasn’t had nearly as big of an impact that Hopkins had when he played in Houston, especially now that Johnson is on the IR. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has worked with what he has, and although wide receivers such as Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks have stepped it up this season, it hasn’t been enough to get them to the point where they were at last season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are last in the division with just one win, the second-worst record in the NFL. Although the Jaguars have been last in their division since the 2017 NFL season, they at least had a solid defense behind them in years prior, but after trading away their top defensive player, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, even their defense hasn’t been very good this season. The Jaguars have had a couple of players stand out this season, such as running back James Robinson and wide receiver D.J. Chark, but they haven’t been able to help out enough to make them a legitimate team this season. At this point in the season, the Jaguars are just going to be looking for their younger players to continue to improve, hoping for something positive to take away from this season.


NFC East

The NFC East is by far the weakest division throughout the NFL, with the first-place team, the Washington Football Team, sitting at a record of 4-7. Behind them are the Philadelphia Eagles, who have a record of 3-6-1. In third are the New York Giants with a 3-7 record. In last are the Dallas Cowboys, a 3-8 record earning them that spot. Despite the fact that all four teams in the division are under a record of .500, one of them will make the playoffs, so this could technically be considered a successful season for whichever team ends up on top.

The Washington Football Team lead their division despite their losing record, fortunate enough to be in a division in which every other team is below an average record. On the offensive side of the ball, Washington has not impressed, as wide receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson are the only offensive players that have really stood out for them. The defensive side of things is where Washington gets their limited success from, as they are in the top ten for the least amount of points allowed per game. Washington has some big divisional games coming up in the following weeks, and being that they’re as close to first place as they are, those are going to be essential to win if they want to remain on top of the division.

The Philadelphia Eagles are just only behind the Washington Football Team by about half a game. The Eagles could have possibly been at a better record by now had they not suffered as many injuries as they did. Running back Miles Sanders, tight end Zach Ertz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson have missed significant playing time this season for the Eagles, among other week-to-week injuries. If the Eagles starters can stay healthy, then we may be looking at a better football team, but until then, the Eagles will need to take it week by week to reclaim their grasp on first place. Even one loss can knock them down the standings significantly, so if they want to make playoffs, their remaining games are must-wins.

The New York Giants are close behind the first-place Washington Football Team, hoping they can make it into the playoffs despite their poor record. After just two weeks into the season, Giants star running back Saquon Barkley suffered a season-ending injury, majorly affecting the Giants offensive plan, as it was clear that Barkley was their key component for scoring. Backup running back Devonta Freeman filled in for Barkley up until Week 7, where he too suffered a severe injury. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard also suffered an injury after just two weeks of play, missing out on four weeks of the season. These injuries clearly have been detrimental to the team’s scoring ability, as they are currently tied for the third least points scored in the NFL. Despite the offense’s issues, the Giants’ defense has been solid enough to prevent them from having an even worse record than what they have now.

The Dallas Cowboys may be last in the division, but they are still nearly as close to first as any other team in the division is. The Cowboys have dealt with many problems this season, but the biggest one they’re having to deal with is their defense. The defense has given up 359 points this season, leading the league in points allowed. Their offense has statistically been the best in the division, but with their defense playing as poorly as they have been, it’s going to be hard to win games. Another issue the Cowboys have gone through is at the quarterback position. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5, and the Cowboys have gone through three quarterbacks since then. Despite their misfortune, the Cowboys do have the chance to finish first in the division, especially considering they have one of the easier remaining schedules in the league outside a couple of games.

NFC West

The NFC West is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, all four teams in the divisions being tough competitors. The Los Angeles Rams, with a 7-3 record, are in first place. Right behind them are the Seattle Seahawks at the same 7-3 record, and the Arizona Cardinals are just behind them at a record of 6-4. In last are the 2020 Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers, who have a record of 4-6.

The Los Angeles Rams are currently first in the division, being led to first by their elite defense. So far, they’ve only given up 192 points to their opponents, which is good enough for second-best in the NFL. Leading that defense is arguably the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald, and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, among other valuable defensive assets. The offense for the Rams has been solid, although it’s not as consistent as they would wish. The Rams have a tough schedule ahead of them, but if they’re able to remain in the first place slot come playoffs, they’re going to certainly be a contender to win the Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks are tied with the Los Angeles Rams as far as record goes, only behind them due to tiebreakers, leaving them second in the division. The focal points of the Seahawks has been their offense, being third in the league in points scored. At the top of the Seattle offense is quarterback Russel Wilson, alongside wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and running back Chris Carson. While the Seahawks’ offense may be strong, their defense is much weaker than most other teams, being the main reason why the Seahawks aren’t better than you’d expect them to be with their explosive offense. The Seahawks schedule for the remainder of the season is one of the easier schedules across the NFL, so even if they’re not able to overtake the one spot, they can definitely make their way into the playoffs via the Wild Card.

The Arizona Cardinals are down in third place in the division, but they still have as much of a chance of making the playoffs as the two teams ahead of them. Although the Cardinals have lost four of their 10 games played, none of their losses had a point differential of more than 10, meaning even when they do lose, it’s not by much. This is mainly due to the productive offense behind the Cardinals, with the dynamic duo of quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins leading the charge. The Cardinals have scored 21 or more points in all of their games this year, averaging 28.7 points per game this season, good for seventh in the NFL. The Cardinals are going to be relying on their offense to continue what they’ve been doing all season, and for their defense to step up enough to let the high scoring contributed by the offense to be enough to win games.

The San Francisco 49ers, despite making it all the way to the Super Bowl the season prior, are last in the division. This is mainly attributed to the injuries they’ve suffered throughout the course of the season, having likely the worst case of the injury bug in the NFL this season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, running back Raheem Mostert, running back Tevin Coleman, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, among other players, have all suffered from injuries this season that have caused them to miss a substantial amount of time. Despite these injuries, they’ve managed to keep it together somewhat, but after losing their last three games, it looks like things have begun to really begin falling apart for the 49ers. Had they not had all of these injuries to key players, this division could look much different, but that is simply not the case. They’re going to hope to see some of their injured key players return before the end of the season to potentially salvage this season, but based on the severity of most of the injuries, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the case.

NFC North

The NFC North only has one team that’s above the .500 mark, that being the first place Greenbay Packers at a record of 7-3. Behind them are the 5-5 Chicago Bears, who sit exactly at .500. Behind them are both the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions, who both have a record of 4-6, the Vikings just ahead of the Lions.

The Green Bay Packers were expected to lead what is one of the weaker divisions in the league, and they’ve done exactly that. With veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers, elite wide receiver Davante Adams, and running back Aaron Jones on offense, the Packers have been able to score 308 points this season, the fourth-most points scored in the NFL. Though the Packers have only lost three games this season, they have been some tough losses. After going 4-0 to start the season, the Packers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 38-10. More recently, they lost to the Minnesota Vikings by just six points, and took a three-point loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Despite those tough losses, the Packers have looked very good this season, likely to remain first in the division if their offense continues to score at the rate that it’s scoring at.

The Chicago Bears are the only team in the NFL at a winning percentage of exactly .500. Unlike many other teams in the NFL with a similar record to them, their offense has been the main reason for their average record, as their defense is one of the best in the league. With linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive ends Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn on defense, the Bears have only surrendered 209 points this season, the fifth-lowest in the league. Looking at the offense though, things have been the exact opposite for the Bears, as they’ve only been able to score 191 points this season, the worst in the conference and the second-worst in the NFL. If the offense doesn’t improve, then the Bears are going to remain at being just an average team, if not worse.

The Minnesota Vikings have been a one-man show for most of the season, with that one man being running back Dalvin Cook. Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson have shown signs of greatness, but have been inconsistent this season, and although quarterback Kirk Cousins has had a solid year, Dalvin Cook is definitely the main focal point for the Vikings offense. Though the Vikings went on a three-game winning streak from Week 8 to Week 10, a loss to the worst team in the conference, the Dallas Cowboys, has halted much of that momentum. Another tough break for the Vikings comes in the form of wide receiver Adam Thielen, who had been playing great for them the past couple of weeks, testing positive for COVID-19. The Vikings definitely have some adversity to overcome for the remainder of the season, but things aren’t looking great for Minnesota.

The Detroit Lions are last in the division, three and a half games behind the first-place Green Bay Packers. The Lions have simply not looked great this season, even in victory. Besides their 18 points victory over the 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars, their largest margin of victory this season has been 3 points. In a recent game against the Carolina Panthers, the Lions didn’t manage to score a single point, being one of the only shutouts the NFL has had this season. The defense for the Lions hasn’t looked great either, as they’ve allowed the second-most touchdowns in the NFL this season. One positive for the Lions this season has been rookie running back De’Andre Swift’s production this season, proving to be a valuable asset to the Lions. Other than that, however, the Lions haven’t had too much to be happy about thus far.

NFC South

The NFC South has an interesting battle for first between the current first-place New Orleans Saints, who are 8-2, and the second-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are 7-4. Behind them are the 4-7 Carolina Panthers, and behind them are the Atlanta Falcons, who stand at a record of 3-7.

The New Orleans Saints are currently in the midst of the seven-game winning streak that has helped them secure a spot at first in the division. Despite top wide receiver Michael Thomas being out for most of the season, the Saints have had one of the better offenses throughout the NFL this year, with quarterback Drew Brees and running back Alvin Kamara being key components in that offense. The Saints’ defense has also been helpful to their success, especially in terms of stopping the opposing team’s running game. Recently, quarterback Drew Brees went down with an injury that will put him out for multiple weeks, meaning maintaining that seven-game win streak is going to be much tougher now. Backup quarterback Taysom Hill was able to help them defeat the Atlanta Falcons in their most recent game, but it is questionable whether or not they will be able to continue their winning ways.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the most polarizing teams both heading into this season and during the season, many debating whether or not the additions they’ve made would be enough to make them a legitimate contender. Over the offseason, the Buccaneers acquired two former New England Patriots stars, the tandem of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. During different points of the season, the Bucs also signed running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown, many believing these to be big signings for Tampa Bay. With running back Ronald Jones II and wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin already being apart of the team prior to these signings, the Buccaneers offense was clearly a stacked one, and that’s been proven by their 320 points scored this season, the second-best in the NFL. While these additions have been helpful to the Buccaneers, it still hasn’t been enough for Tampa Bay to overtake the New Orleans Saints as the top team in the division just yet. The Buccaneers still have a chance to earn their way to the first place spot in the division, but they’re going to have to win some important games ahead of them if they want to do just that.

The Carolina Panthers, despite already being one win away from having the same amount of wins that they had last season, aren’t having too great of a season, being three games under an average record. However, it could be argued that they would have a better record had their star player and one of the best players in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey, not gone down with a major injury after just two weeks. Current starting running back Mike Davis has done a good job of holding down the running back position during McCaffrey’s absence, but you can’t replace a player of his level. Despite McCaffrey’s injury, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who signed with the Panthers in the offseason, has helped the offense out as much as he can, along with wide receivers Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel. Although playoffs are likely out of reach for the Panthers, if McCaffrey can stay healthy next season, they may have a better chance of finding success.

The Atlanta Falcons offense may be ranked in the top 10 across the NFL, but their defense barely even making it into the top 25 has landed them last in the division. Quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have worked to get the Falcons’ offense to third in passing yards, proving to be one of the better passing teams around the league. Their defense when defending the pass game, however, is one of the worst in the league, giving up the second-most passing yards in the entire NFL, as well as giving up the fourth-most passing touchdowns. While the offense may be able to pass the ball well, the defense can’t defend against the pass, putting them in the position they’re in now. Being five games out of first place doesn’t give much hope to the Falcons’ playoff hopes.


The standings in the NFL this season have most definitely been up and down throughout the season, making this season an entertaining one. You have an undefeated team, a team with no wins, a division where no team has a winning record, and a division where even the last play team is only a couple games under average. It has certainly been an interesting season, and with an expanded playoff format being used this season, things are only going to become more intriguing as the season progresses.