NFL 2013 Season Reflections Part 2

In concluding writing on the 2012 NFL Season, there remain a few key reflections which can now be summed up nicely in the wake of the Super Bowl. Then we can agree to not talk about the season again…until it’s brought up the next time the Ravens or 49ers make it to another World Championship.

For the supposed weaker side of the league, the AFC had some talent…

It is fair to say that as a conference, the ratio between those teams which achieved close to their targets and those which fell far short is weighted towards the latter, but for teams such as the Texans and the Broncos it was a case of letting the momentum take them where they wanted to get to. For Houston in particular, it was a scintillating run which appeared to level off at perhaps just the wrong time. While observers marvelled at the record-breaking form of Adrian Peterson in the NFC, Arian Foster was steadily clocking up game-winning performances in the running game. The emergence of JJ Watt as one of the most clinical defensive players of the whole league was also a marvel to behold.

As the headlines focused on Peyton Manning, it was Von Miller and Trindon Holliday who were the standout performers in Colorado. Denver were relatively fortunate with their division as San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland dealt with trying to avoid tumbling down the rankings, but it was their wins over the Steelers, the Saints and the Ravens which truly showed their class as a possible Super Bowl candidate. A five-game winning streak to end the regular season saw them wrestle the top AFC seed from the grasp of both Houston and New England, only to come up short in a chilly match-up with Baltimore.

Elsewhere, in the AFC North, it was a bruised and battered Ravens which narrowly won the division despite a resurgent Bengals break for the title. Despite failing to make the post-season, Pittsburgh still managed to beat the Giants on the road whilst also dealing out a defeat to Washington. Even Cleveland were able to mount a few upsets, not least in the low-scoring win over the Chargers and two convincing divisional wins which ensured they had a say in the eventual AFC North rankings.

The Chargers and Dolphins provided glimpses of brilliance throughout the season, but were simply not consistent enough. They are very much well placed, however, to challenge for their respective divisions come the new season.

Finally, the Ravens won the Super Bowl against very high odds at time, and showed what a resilient and unpredictable conference the AFC was in 2012

On the other hand, the NFC was still pretty impressive…

In terms of personnel, the NFC arguably boasted a greater volume of the better players in the league. The playoff picture was altered radically in the NFC East over a matter of weeks as Washington got back into gear and the Giants faltered. The revelation of the season was undoubtedly the NFC West, which saw the Rams remarkably hold the 49ers in the only tied-game of 2012, while the Seahawks shocked the league with some memorable wins. The Bears turned a sure-thing into a season to forget, while the Packers blew it in the play-offs when they seemed to have the momentum…again.

Seven teams finished the season with double-figure winning records, but much like the Texans in the AFC, it was a case of playing catch-up for some of the bigger names. With New Orleans still reeling from imposed personnel changes they simply did not get up to speed in time to be a challenger, though Atlanta were out of sight by the halfway point.

The NFC witnessed the arrival of the read-option as a first-choice system, thanks in no small part to rookie Russell Wilson and second-year Colin Kaepernick who quarterbacked their teams into the post-season, leaving observers and fans in awe as they did so. On the ground it was Adrian Peterson who blazed his way towards a near record-breaking yardage marker for the season, carrying the Vikings into the playoffs while he was at it.
Other highlights included Robert Griffin III consistently surpassing expectations; passing, scrambling and ‘keeping plays alive’ to earn the Rookie Of The Year at the end of season awards.

For what it’s worth, here are my star performers…

QB of the season: Russell Wilson (Seattle)
Offensive player of the season: Michael Crabtree (San Francisco)
Defensive player of the year: Aldon Smith (San Francisco)
Team of the year: Houston Texans
Shock of the year: Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl

A fan on fitba, NFL and ruggerby league in that order. Dundee exile, based in Perth. A journalist as well apparently.


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Andy says:

    Coming from a Bengals fan, I’d usually question your ability to effectively grade the Ravens as the shock of the season! However this time, it is appropriate. Vividly remember Flacco stepping back with 40 seconds to go and letting go of an effective Hail Mary – which Denver defended in about as effective a manner as their play calling in those closing minutes. From there though, they’ve looked like winners. Flacco elite yet?!

  2. slickmick says:

    I wouldn’t say so…but then again, does he even want to be considered elite? That way the expectation and pressure on him would increase. At least this way he continues to ‘overperform.’

    He is after the ‘elite’ salary though :-P

  3. Andy says:

    Of course he wants to be elite. Listened to a podcast rounding up the Super Bowl, they said there is no question anymore and that his postseason stats now trump Peyton. They will pay the man!

  4. markill says:

    Flacco isn’t elite. If anything he is a big game player. Credit ot him for that for sure. Being a winner isn’t being elite. Big Ben has two rings. He is a winner too. But he isn’t elite, no matter how special I feel he is.

    You neglected to mention the Colts. I feel they were the surprise of the year. Going from worst to playoffs and having to deal with the coach cancer situation. credit to the members of that organisation for sure.

    • Andy says:

      Absolutely. He’s not elite, he’s consistent and good when he needs to be. I think ‘elite’ gets thrown around a lot these days! I ran a 10 team fantasy league this year, with 6 bench spots and nobody went near him!

  5. slickmick says:

    I actually drafted Cam first, then Flacco as his backup. Needless to say neither made it to the Week 16 in my team.

    Even if I wasn’t looking at it with tiger-striped specs on, I’d still say he has work to do to be considered one of the best. He can’t scramble well, which Rodgers can do…and he tends to fade alot of his short passes rather than direct them.

    His long range throws are fine, but bear in mind Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are agile receivers as well.

    At best, Flacco is reliable…it’s guys like Pitta (who I’m a big fan of btw) who give Flacco the weapons to win games, he does not do so on his own like Rodgers or Cutler, or even Dalton and Big Ben have done this season.

  6. Phil says:

    Being a Ravens fan, i’ll admit that Flacco is not elite. I think he was lucky in the post season, the example already given (Denver) shows that it could have gone the other way very easily.

    I was literally chewing my finger nails by midway through the 3rd quarter. The blackout didn’t help either. Anyway, we won and I’m going to gloat a little :)

    If the game would have gone to OT or was a little longer in length, the 49er’s had the legs, no doubt!

  7. markill says:

    didn’t he get two of the lowest ever QB ratings during gaems this season? I know that doen’st tell you everything about a QB role or performance but its an indicator that he is just as capable of being rubbish as he is great

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