NFL Midseason Brand Check

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This week marks the halfway point of the NFL season. We covered who’s up and who’s down after the first four games, when Peyton Manning was destroying defenses at an unprecedented level. While Manning and the Broncos cooled off from their historic rate, they, along with a handful of teams, have set their eye on a larger prize: the Super Bowl. In the meantime, here’s the official Nao NFL midseason brand update:

Kansas City Chiefs

– the Chiefs are the only undefeated team in the NFL at 9-0. This is after a 2-14 season. We previously covered the importance of the Andy Reid hire in the offseason, as well as a dominant defense that ranks second in the league in points allowed at 111. A healthy Jamaal has made a huge difference. But the NFL is a QB league and Alex Smith is the most underrated in the league. His numbers appear pedestrian – he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards all season – yet he’s 22-3 in his last 25 games as a starter. All for a supposed “game manager”.

Carolina Panthers

– the Panthers defense have allowed the least points in the league at week 9, a big part of their resurgence. And with a recent article in Sports Illustrated, linebacker and leader Luke Kuechly is getting well deserved national attention.

NFC East

– Although Dallas is now a respectable 5-4 to lead the division, there was a chance that it would pull a 2010 NFC West, with the Seahawks winning the division at 7-9 and falling backwards into the playoffs – and into a home playoff game and upset of the New Orleans Saints.

Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin/Miami Dolphins

– Details are still very murky about this situation, but what’s clear is that Martin and Incognito are not with the team. What was once a case of bullying seems even more unclear after information leaked that Martin never addressed the situation with Coach Philbin, that the Dolphins asked Incognito to make Martin tougher, and there’s been little public support for Martin. Granted, these details explain very little either way, but it does not reflect well on the Dolphins’ organization.

The Super Sophomore QBs

– Nao profiled the success of rookie QBs last season, lead by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. Luck and Wilson picked up where they left off last season. RGIII has had a difficult year starting with controversy from last year’s knee injury. The questions of whether he was still injured or not, coupled with the reality of whether he was actually still injured, affected his consistency all season – although he has thrown for 290+ yards in 2 out of his last 3 games.

Peyton Manning/Drew Brees

– Still the two top QBs in the league, still marching their teams to another playoffs. Along with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (although he will be out for a significant amount of time with a broken collar bone), this is as good and consistent as the position gets.

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