Alex McPhee: The NFL’s 100th season is just about at its halfway point and I think this is really where we find out where our top tier teams are, and who’s not going anywhere this year. For me, it really looks like the Patriots are the class of the NFL right now. I know their schedule hasn’t been too tough so far, but the way they’re winning games is so dominant that it seems like it’ll be tough to beat them. Is there anyone you think can keep them from another Super Bowl run?
Tanya Koomjohn: While I agree that an 8-1 record is very promising, I think the 49ers prove to be a favorable opponent this season. They are currently undefeated with an 8-0 record, continuously showing one of the most dominant defenses in the league. They also have a really good young head coach Kyle Shanahan and a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo that gets the job done.
In their last home game just over a week ago, San Francisco defeated the Carolina Panthers in a score of 51-13. Despite the 51 point drop on the Panthers, the majority of their strength comes from their defensive line. The combined unit of Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa was disruptive to the Panther’s passing game. Bosa recorded four tackles, three sacks, and an interception during this game.
AM: The thing I don’t love about the 49ers is their upcoming schedule. Not to discredit anything they’ve done so far but they still have to play some really good teams like the Packers, Saints and Seahawks. That stretch of games could really test them.
And speaking of the Packers, I think they could be a huge factor in the race for the Super Bowl being 7-2. Despite an ugly loss to the Chargers, they’ve shown plenty of promise which makes me believe that they’ll be contenders. In a recent two game stretch against the Raiders and Chiefs, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw eight touchdowns and over 700 yards, and he didn’t throw an interception. Incorporating their star receiver Davante Adams back into the fold should only help them more.
TK: If you are going to bring up the Packers, I think it’s fair to mention the Saints who have a 7-1 record. After a ligament injury to his throwing hand kept him out for 5 games, New Orleans got their quarterback Drew Brees back. Just in time to play the Cardinals, Brees returned in week 8 for a 31-9 win over Arizona. He completed 34 of 43 passes and three touchdowns, appearing in mid-season condition.
However, the Saints continue to put themselves at risk as they have not addressed the wide receiver position. Despite Michael Thomas’s strong receiving game, the Saints still lack depth within this position and have been forced to rely on players like Te’Quan Smith and Josh Hill. I think if the Saints can bring along another strong wide receiver, they’ll be in a good position to advance far in the playoffs, otherwise their future may be worrisome.
Mentioning developing young players, who do you think will receive the number one pick overall and get the chance to develop a top prospect?
AM: I think Miami is going to finish last and receive the number one draft pick overall. They have a record of 1-8 meaning they have only won one game. In their season so far they have given up 256 points and have only scored 103 points in total. They looked especially terrible in week two against the Patriots. They couldn’t even put up one point losing 43-0. I can’t really see them having to fight for the number one pick, except maybe with the Bengals.
TK: I was actually just about to bring up the Bengals which at times have looked equally as terrible. They carry a winless record, the worst in the NFL, and don’t look very promising. Cincinnati recently made the decision to bench long-time starting quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals opted to start Ryan Finley, who may win them a game or two, but there’s not a whole lot of optimism there.
AM: Lastly, if we are going to talk about teams beating the Patriots, we should mention the 6-2 Ravens because they just beat them. The final score of the game was 37-20. They ruined the Patriots winning streak, and did it in somewhat dominant fashion. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson beat them through the air and on the ground, with 224 total yards by himself and three touchdowns. The Ravens really put together a great game plan to win and show that they’re a contender.
TK: I would agree the Ravens look great, but either way we’re in for an interesting second half of the season. NFL fans should really look forward to the upcoming games including Seahawks against the 49ers this week, then Texans against the Ravens in two weeks.
Tayna Koomjohn & Alexandra McPhee are sports columnists for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl