The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

NFL midseason grades: NFC

One team sits above the rest
From Week 10 of the NFL Season featuring the Washington Commanders at the Philadelphia Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 14, 2022. (All-Pro Reels / Joe Glorioso)

Officially halfway through the NFL season and the team’s identities are pretty much set. While anything can happen the rest of the way, the NFC has one team that stands above the rest, the Philadelphia Eagles. 

After losing the Super Bowl by just three points last season, the Eagles look well on their way to defending their Conference title and looking to change their fortunes in the Super Bowl. 

While some teams have played above expectations, there are far more teams that have disappointed in 2023, with many AFC teams looking far stronger than their NFC counterparts. 

Philadelphia Eagles: A+ 

No Super Bowl hangover? That in itself deserves a high grade. At 8-1, the Eagles are looking like the favorites to go all the way. By beating the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys in two of the last three weeks, they have proved they can beat up more than just the lesser teams in the NFL. 

Going forward, they will really have to prove their dominance with upcoming matchups with their upcoming schedule going in order: Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, a rematch with the Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks.

If they win at least four of those games, they will not only be the favorite to win the NFC. They will be the surefire favorite to win it all. 

DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown have dominated as a 1–2 punch in the receiving corp. Smith has 42 receptions for 533 yards and four scores and Brown has dominated to the tune of 67 receptions for 1,005 yards and six TDs. 

Dallas Cowboys: B

At 5-3, the record is good, not great, for the Cowboys, but their losses came to the Eagles, 49ers and a shocker to the Cardinals. They have only really been dominated by the 49ers and have looked consistent regardless of that loss. 

The rest of the way is easier for the team, other than matchups with the Bills and Dolphins, but they should be easily able to finish with double-digit wins and a playoff appearance. 

Moving forward with Tony Pollard has been a mixed bag, as his yards per carry is down to 4.0, but he also was the reason they were in the game in their loss to the Cardinals. 

Winning the division is completely out of the question, so their playoff run will be incredibly difficult, but this team can still make a run with their talent on both sides of the ball. 

Washington Commanders: B 

Coming into the season, the goal was not the playoffs, but the team has played above expectations. Still, at the trade deadline, they sold, and they sold more value and got less than advertised trade packages. Trading both Chase Young and Montez Sweat, they gave up on the potential to make the postseason to get value for players who likely will leave in free agency. 

Still, the team has four wins and QB Sam Howell looks like he can be the team’s signal caller going forward. 

With 2,471 and 14 TDs, while completing 66.6% of his passes, he has shown flashes of talent and ability to win games, but he has also thrown nine interceptions in 2023. With an 89.3 QB rating, he will certainly be given a few more years to prove himself and develop under a likely new head coach in 2024. 

New York Giants: D- 

Things keep getting worse for the Giants. After Saquon Barkley missed several games with injuries, QB Daniel Jones tore his ACL and will be out the rest of the season. His injury and the current 2-7 record mean the season is over, Jones’ time in New York is likely over and the team can just tank for a higher draft pick.

Even with Jones, the team looked bad, worse than they were projected to be. Jones is not a franchise-level QB, Barkley has struggled with injuries in recent years and there just is not enough talent on both sides of the ball for prolonged success. 

San Francisco 49ers: B- 

Even with a 5-3 record, the 49ers have left a lot to be desired on the field. There are few teams that can compete with the talent and name value San Fransico has on both sides of the ball, especially at offensive skill positions. 

Brock Purdy has not done anything to lose games, but he has just 12 passing TDs on the season. In their last game, they lost to the surging Cincinnati Bengals and have previously lost to the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns. 

Winning all of their games against NFC teams through this point, they should easily make the playoffs. The only problem is that their problems as a team will show up in the playoffs. 

Seattle Seahawks: B 

Up until the blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Seahawks were hovering around an A grade, but the problems are starting to pile up in the Pacific Northwest. Kenneth Walker III is a strong runner, but he is flawed in being a non-north-south runner. 

After not writing back to his doubters last season, Geno Smith’s magic did not return in 2023. He has nine TDs to seven interceptions and conceivably, with a better QB, this Seahawks team could very well be 7-1. 

If Smith plays like he has through the first half, finding success later in the season will be difficult. But if there is one thing that is sure about Smith’s career is that it is impossible to predict what will happen. 

Los Angeles Rams: D 

After winning the Super Bowl with a lot of the players still on the roster, the Rams have been far too stubborn in trying to recreate the magic. A better season would have seen the team try to offload salary and find value with their aging players, but they stuck to their core.

They are 3-6 and need a miracle to turn the season around. They are just unable to compete and have won just one game at home in 2023. Matthew Stafford is having one of the worst seasons of his career with just eight TDs to seven interceptions and his career looks to be closer to ending than previously expected. 

Arizona Cardinals: F

Despite Kyler Murray coming back this weekend, the Cardinals look awful and he probably will not be able to fix that. His contract was an overpayment for a player with clear and impact pitfalls in his game and perceived work ethic and without him, they are even worse. 

They got lucky to even get one win to this point and will finish the season as one of the worst teams in the league and finish with a top pick in the draft. Despite a duo of fantastic QB prospects, the team has committed to Murray for the future and might trade back in the draft. 

Detroit Lions: A 

Just a few short years ago, the future of the Lions was in question. Now, they are 6-2 and atop the NFC North. Jared Goff has shed off bust allegations on his new team and has the Lions offense working well at home. 

That is the only thing holding Detroit back. They looked like the best team in the league when they played in front of their home fans but have looked slightly worse on the road. Despite having 3-1 records in both environments, they clearly play better at home, which could cause problems depending on their playoff seeding. 

Minnesota Vikings: B+ 

Kirk Cousins was playing the best football of his career until the football Gods decided the Vikings could not have nice things. The team still has talent and despite missing their most talented playmakers against the Falcons, Josh Dobbs in his first week with the team led them to victory. 

Other than the Lions, the NFC North provides Minnesota with free wins, the question is whether or not Dobbs will be able to do enough to get this team into the playoffs. Justin Jefferson will return at some point in the coming weeks, and his return could spark some big wins for Minnesota down the line. 

With Cousins, they were playing above expectations and he was playing well. With Dobbs, they have zero expectations for the season and every win gets even sweeter.  

Green Bay Packers: D+ 

The realization that Jordan Love is not the guy is becoming all too real. In the system, he has been alright. Out of the system, he has been downright bad. His improvisation skills have not translated and his fundamentals are bad, especially for someone who has spent several years on the bench of an NFL team. 

At 3-5, Titletown has no direction and is struggling. It may be time to go full rebuild. 

Chicago Bears: F 

There is little to look to for hope in Chicago. Justin Fields is not an NFL-level QB and he takes too many sacks and is too inaccurate to be a franchise’s savior. The Bears will have multiple top-5 picks in the 2024 Draft and should take either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye and Marvin Harrison Jr. 

Those two selections will provide hope for the future, the only thing will be what the team can get if they look to move on from Fields in a trade. 

New Orleans Saints: C- 

The Saints will likely win the NFC South. That is not because they are good, but because they are in the worst division in football. None of the four teams are playoff-caliber but that is just the way it goes. 

Derek Carr has been good at limiting turnovers, but he has not been the difference-maker the team wanted going into 2023. Despite the weak division, it is no guarantee that the Saints will even be the team to pull out the win, as they have lost to some pretty bad teams. 

Sitting at a C- is only because of their potential to make the postseason. 

Atlanta Falcons: F 

Despite drafting Bijan Robinson with a top pick in the draft, he only has 103 carries in 2023. It has been a horrible misuse of his talents and for that reason alone they should be at an F. But, there’s more. 

Desmond Ridder looked awful, Arthur Smith is inadequate at leading an NFL team and other skill position talent has been used in the wrong ways. 

No other notes. The Atlanta Falcons are bad. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C- 

Likely the only other team that can win the division, the Bucs have lost some bad games, but have played competitively throughout the season. Baker Mayfield has played well for expectations, but he is not the future QB of the team.

With a suffocating defense (other than against the Texans), there is potential for a nine or 10-win season, but they have to start winning games they should be winning, instead of playing to their competition, whether that is playing up or playing down. 

Carolina Panthers: F 

Trading everything of value for a QB draft prospect is always a confusing move and Bryce Young has given little to be excited about for the future. Despite being 1-7, there is no excitement in a bad record. 

The Panthers are without their first-round pick in 2024 and are just losing to lose. Young needs to develop for there to be hope for the future, but it is hard when there is little around him to actually help that development. 

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.