With its 17-week schedule and seemingly random placement of byes, the NFL does not do midseason organically. But given that those of us who cover the league (and, more important, our editors and producers) are really into landmarks, and it's a little more than halfway through the 2007 season, this seems like as good a time as any to reflect on what's gone down and look boldly toward the future.
Conveniently, the Patriots just won the de facto First-Half Super Bowl, pulling out a 24-20 victory over the Colts in Indy to improve to 9-0. They'll now make a run at perfection while squashing any prospective challengers, beginning with this Sunday's trip to South Florida to throw eggs at Don Shula's house.
Two other teams may mount a run at immortality: The 0-8 Rams and the 0-8 Dolphins, who tragically won't meet this season in a game that some enterprising scribe would dub the Sucker Bowl. If and when the latter of these terrible teams secures its first victory, the proud members of the 1976 Buccaneers will gather that night at a 7-Eleven on Dale Mabry and chug Ripple in the parking lot to celebrate.
If there's one writing device editors love even more than landmarks, it's predictions, and here were mine at the start of the season. They've changed, naturally – I prefer the word "evolved" – but before you start emailing me about my lack of clairvoyance, remember these redeeming facts: I picked Tennessee and Washington to make the playoffs, I was all over Adrian Peterson from the start, and I was the only Yahoo! NFL writer who picked the Patriots over the Chargers in the AFC.
You know what Tom Petty said: Even the losers get lucky sometimes.
Before I give you my midseason list of questions, from top to bottom, here are some alterations to my preseason picks.
Teams I'm throwing out of the playoffs: Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, Cincinnati, Denver (that's right, I'm sticking with the Cardinals to the bitter end).
Teams I'm putting in instead: Green Bay, Giants, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland (though I do think the Bills, along with the Jaguars, will give the Browns a run for their money).
Revised Super Bowl pick: Nah.
1. New England Patriots: After watching them gut out a fourth-quarter comeback, rather than blow out an overmatched team, don't they somehow seem even scarier?
13. Cleveland Browns: Will they show up this time against the Steelers?
14. Kansas City Chiefs: Anyone need a Priest?
15. Seattle Seahawks: Could this team go 7-9 and win its division?
16. San Diego Chargers: Yeah, they're 4-4, but who have they beaten?
18. Baltimore Ravens: I know they went 13-3 last year, but can we all stop pretending that this is a good team?
20. Chicago Bears: Hey, Lovie – any second thoughts about that decision to not retain Ron Rivera?
21. Arizona Cardinals: Will they rise up and defeat the Lions, or are they destined to embarrass me once again?
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Yo, Donovan – does the road to the No. 6 overall pick in the '08 draft go through Philly, too?
24. Minnesota Vikings: Is Adrian Peterson better than Prince (that other purple-clad Twin Cities superstar) in his prime?
25. Denver Broncos: Has this franchise's tragic run of misfortune finally caught up to it, or are its fans just paying for all the Rockies favors they cashed in with the sporting gods?
30. San Francisco 49ers: If he has to keep watching his team's offensive ineptitude, will Mike Nolan soon petition the NFL to allow him to wear a straitjacket on the sidelines?
31. St. Louis Rams: Hey, guys, about that bye week … why not just take the rest of the season off?
32. Miami Dolphins: Yes, I know you're mammals, but can we all agree that you sleep with the fishes?