NFL Midseason Report: 2009
Retirement melodrama aside, Brett Favre has been story of year
Michael Vick's return gets the Much Ado About Nothing award
Picks for first-half MVP, offensive player, coach and much more
The NFL's 256-game regular season is half gone (actually 50.4 percent, but who's counting?) You know the drill. It's midseason review time...
Story of the year -- Brett Favre is fantastic as a Viking: Nobody has bemoaned the never-ending Favre retirement melodrama more than me, but you have to hand it to the old goat; he has played his 40-year-old keister off in Minnesota. Two pressure-packed wins over Green Bay, a 16-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 106.0 passer rating that is just a hair behind the league-leading Drew Brees (106.1), and a 68.0 completion percentage? Are you kidding me? What more could Brad Childress and his 7-1, first-place Vikings have wanted?
Trend of the year -- It's a rich-man, poor-man's league: There were five teams that won just once in the season's first half: St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Cleveland. Three more won only two games: Tennessee, Washington and Oakland. On the flip side of the awful eight were the elite eight. Five teams made it through the first half with just two losses: New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Denver and Dallas. Three more were either unbeaten or beaten just once: Indianapolis, New Orleans and Minnesota. That's 16 teams, or half the league, that were either living large, or barely breathing.
Most overhyped storyline -- The return of Michael Vick: Let's just call this the Much Ado About Nothing award. Vick's return to the NFL in an Eagles uniform inspired reams of breathless coverage by almost every media platform other than the Food Network, but it has produced zilch in the way of on-field impact. Vick has passed for six yards, and rushed for 27. That's it. Thirty-three yards in his six games of action, or 5.5 per game. But he does lead the league in sit-down interviews with the NFL's various TV partners.
Most overlooked storyline: The Colts are undefeated, again: Maybe it's because Indy has started 8-0 in three of the past five seasons now, and we bore easily. But where's the love for a Colts team that has been perfect despite breaking in a new head coach (Jim Caldwell), is on a 17-game regular-season winning streak, and is getting it done without a running game, Marvin Harrison, or much in the way of healthy veterans in the secondary? Perhaps it's because Indy has beaten just two teams that currently have a winning record (Arizona and Houston).
Best Division -- AFC North: The Bengals and Steelers are rolling at 6-2, and the Ravens remain dangerous at 4-4, even if their defense has been a major disappointment.
Worst Division -- NFC West: The 5-3 Cardinals are the only team with a winning record, and after a strong 3-1 start, the 49ers have dropped four in a row and re-joined the ranks of the stragglers in the division (Seahawks 3-5, Rams 1-7).
Best performance under the gun -- Tony Romo, QB, Dallas: They were all but writing Romo's obituary after a Week 4 loss at Denver dropped Dallas to 2-2, with seemingly every former Cowboys star shy of Duane Thomas coming out of the woodwork to critique the quarterback's inconsistent game. But one four-game winning streak later, the first-place Cowboys are being led to some pretty big things by their efficient (one interception in four games), big-play-making quarterback.
Sideshow of the year -- Jim Zorn loses his play-calling duties to a bingo caller: Sherman Lewis probably doesn't deserve all the cheap-shot jokes about the bingo game he led at a retirement home, but who can resist? The Redskins stripped Zorn of everything but his humanity, then sent him back out there to play the role of their head coach for a few more months.
Statistic of the year -- Tom Brady throws for an NFL-record five touchdown passes in the second quarter: In that 59-0 Week 6 Patriots beatdown of the Titans, Brady looked like a kid playing in the snow at recess, telling his buddies to go long and then tossing them touchdown passes as easy as one, two, three, four and five.
Comeback of the year: Saints 46, Dolphins 34, Week 7: New Orleans trailed Miami 24-3 late in the second quarter and looked destined to lose its first game of the season. But the Saints improved to 6-0 by scoring 43 of the final 53 points, including 36 in the second half, and 22 in the final quarter. New Orleans entered play having not trailed all season, and wound up scoring at least 45 points for the fourth time in six games.
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