This week, Matt takes a look at some of the teams who've excited and entertained us and whether or not they'll come good as we enter the second half of the season.
At the halfway mark of the regular season, some teams gain confidence and show their true colours, others fall away and lose hope as their seasons seem like they're all but over. This applies to the Buccaneers, the Falcons and the Vikings, who after all having impressive 2012 campaigns/successful drafts really fell short this term.
Teams that have restored hope include the Bengals, the Giants, the Ravens and the Panthers. The latter two have been tipping along nicely without any real headlines and are very much in playoff contention, where as the first two have shaken off poor starts to rejuvenate their squads (more so the Bengals, the Giants could very well go back to losing ways after the bye, who knows).
However impressive or up and down some teams may have been, others have remained consistently exciting and are close favourites for a reason. Here is a list of Matt's must watch teams:
1. Detroit Lions
The Stafford - Megatron combo is as tasty to watch as it is to say. Although they are in a difficult NFC north division, the Bears and Vikings look likely to bottle it, leaving the title open between the Lions and the Packers.
2. Seattle Seahawks
For those who follow Russel Wilson on Twitter, the man of God seems to of had the heavens shining down on him since day one in the NFL. His continued success with a complementing defence has the Hawks as strong candidates to win the SuperBowl in February. Exciting, close games with guaranteed last minute thrills.
3. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is without doubt one of the best quarterbacks in the league, along with Brady, Brees and Manning (Peyton, in case there was any controversy). However, excessive injuries have dented the solidarity of the Packers and what was once a 16-0 team are now fragile and unpredictable. That said, you can always rely on A-Rod to produce the goods and much like the Hawks, are producing some close and tense games.
4. Dallas Cowboys
What a miserable division the NFC East is. Not one team looks like a SuperBowl contender or even a play-off candidate, but of course, one must be. The Cowboys fit this bill because quite frankly, the rest of the division are self imploding. The Redskins could turn things around, but only if RG3 does it for them. The Giants have been hapless but after two wins and a bye week to rest, anything could happen for Coughlin's men. The Eagles? Chip Kelly needs another year to a) acquire the players he wants and b) lose Michael Vick.
The division aside, the Cowboys are unpredictable and provided us with one of the best games in years against the Broncos three weeks ago, Romo providing the only predictable aspect, throwing an interception late in the game. At 4-4, the division is wide open but the Cowboys have that glint in their eyes that says they could make anything happen and you can sense that watching them. If that's not enough, Dez Bryant might throw a tantrum worth watching (see above).
5. New York Jets
They're about as up and down as a porn star but they're about as exciting as a eh.. porn star. Geno Smith is having a good rookie year, not great but enough to beat the Patriots and make the AFC East interesting. This pundit doesn't think they'll make the play-offs but hey, they might fuck shit up for everyone else!
Predictions Week 9:
Bengals - Dolphins
Falcons - Panthers
Vikings - Cowboys
Saints - Jets
Titans - Rams
Chiefs - Bills
Chargers - Redskins
Eagles - Raiders
Buccaneers - Seahawks
Ravens - Browns
Steelers - Patriots
Colts - Texans
Bears - Packers
NFL.com previews the potential trade's for the weeks deadline.