NFL First Half of 2016 Highlights
As we get settled in for the second half of the 2016 NFL season, it’s time to take a look at the biggest stories of the first eight weeks.
Yes, now is the time to panic. The season is half over, and soon you will be left to watch a meaningless NBA season with the obvious outcome of a Finals featuring LeBron versus the revamped Golden State Warriors.
There’s been a ton of big NFL headlines during the first half of 2016. Some ugly. Some exciting. Some just annoying.
Let’s have a look at the top ten storylines of the NFL season so far.
10. Russell Wilson’s poor fantasy play. We can’t talk NFL without diving into the fantasy aspect. Wilson has been the biggest bust at the QB position in fantasy play. On average he was drafted 3rd by ESPN fantasy leaguers for their QB spot. Wilson has repaid that trust by being the 24th ranked QB in fantasy play. His highest output was 24 points, and the rest of his games hover around the dismal 11 point mark.
9. The Raiders are back. No really, they are back. This could be the second best team in the AFC, behind the Pats. Derek Carr is playing at a high level and refuses to let his team lose on the road. Their lone blemish is at home to the Falcons early in the year.
8. Brock Osweiler may be the new face of free agency balloon payment busts. The former Denver quarterback has made one of the best receivers in the NFL, DeAndre Hopkins, a non-factor. Osweiler is certain to receive more hate-Tweets than anyone in the NFL for all of 2016, from his own fanbase of course. Other teams’ fans love Brock.
7. Concussion protocol has forever changed the NFL. They don’t have the system perfected yet, but monitoring player brain injuries has impacted almost every single week. Stars are missing serious playing time, when in seasons past, they would have missed maybe two downs.
6. Carolina’s demise from defending NFC champs was hard and fast. Cam Newton is not the same guy he was in 2015, now that defenses have figured out how to get under his skin by pounding him early and often. Poor QB play still doesn’t explain the defense’s fall-off from what they did in 2015.
5. Josh Brown domestic abuse. Idiot kickers usually just miss important kicks. Not this year, though. The latest face of domestic abuse belongs to former Giants kicker Josh Brown. He was eventually released by the team and will likely never work in football again. This event showed once again how slow the NFL process is when it comes to domestic abuse. Details are slow to come out over months and years. No one wants to rush to judgement, but case details should be available much quicker so judgement can at least begin sooner.
4. Dallas rookies. Dak Prescott is the beneficiary of another rookie. Ezekiel Elliot is all he was cracked up to be coming out of Ohio State. The run game has made the short, safe passing game look easy for Prescott. It won’t be one rookie who stole Tony Romo’s job. It took two of them, and of course his glass-like collarbone.
3. NFL protests. The player protests appear to be getting less attention at the midway point, but they continue nonetheless. And when the Super Bowl rolls around, it will be interesting to see how much attention these protests get on the biggest stage of the year in TV land.
2. Matt Ryan has played at an MVP level so far. He’s taken his team from fraud status to powerhouse. At least on the offensive side of the ball. Dan Quinn is supposed to be an alleged defensive guru, so any help he can add to slowing down opposing offenses will be appreciated by the ATL and Matty Ice. Ryan leads the NFL in touchdown passes, passing yards, and completions after 9 games. Ryan would be the first Falcon to win the MVP.
1. Tom Brady. This ageless wonder showed no signs of rust when he came back from DeflateGate exile. He’s gone undefeated through his four starts and is ahead of Ryan in QB rating and yards per game. Seemingly every Patriots skill player got better the moment #12 walked back onto the field. That’s what happens when legends enter the fray.
Those are the first half of 2016 highlights.
What happens the next 8 weeks will determine which teams and players are remembered in the years to come. It’s not how you start, but how you finish when it comes to the most competitive League in all of professional sports.
Some teams are finished already. Others will rise up. And some will start a nosedive in the next couple weeks.