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RZL :: 10 FAVORITE FOR NEXT BOWL :: Half Season Edition
By Olivier Ratajczak
Special to

The half mark has passed, and week 9 has already been engaged.
The trademark of this season is still continuing ; so to say, the truth of the past is not anymore today's one. And the future shall give birth to something as different.

I was seeing the Lions and the 49ers as possible future contenders ; that is not the case anymore. Each team has suffered a loosing skid that probably ends their post season hope.

You can also count the Eagles and Broncos among the teams who have jeopardized their chances in the second quarter : both teams are riding a 3 weeks loosing skid, and that may not stop there.
The Ravens are also hitting ground since they lost Cameron Rymer for the season. They're one QB away from being elite again and SB contender, as Tannehill won't help much. As so, I don't know why they don't make a run for available Dolphins QB Eric Stubb.

The Saints are gaining life again even with season ending injuries to key players. Far from being again a SB contender, they nonetheless will be tough to beat ahead in the Schedule.

I particulary like what the Chiefs are doing : Stafford is injured for long and still Miller and co are winning. Smashmouth is the way and I don't know who would stop Fat Mike this season.

Now, unto the the top 10. As always, there is no specific order for the teams. In general, Most teams from the last article have consolidated their status : Redskins, Buccs, Vikings, Chiefs, Jets and Seahawks most notably. The rest is still good but up to risk. In general I feel at the end of Q3 that we'll have the true story about who's solverware legit and who's going to be a pretender.

- What to say ? They delt with some pretty good teams in Bengals and Dolphins and their only loss came to a contender in Atlanta Falcons. The question is : can they handle the top teams in RZL ? We'll probably see that in the post season, because their Schedule has only 4 serious games agasint Saint, Buccs, Steelers and Broncos. Even with those 4 in the loss column, They should probably in and in the talk for the SB berth.

- Washington, despite laying an egg in Cleveland, has confirmed that they're legit still. They feared when Wright went hurt against the Browns, but Osweiler did good in his absence, and above all they displayed that the run can be a serious threat in their offense if need be, rookie HB Fletcher having a good first half so far. The defense is sick, giving them a combo of offense/defense hard to match. This said, the second half of the schedule is tougher and will show what DC is really made of.

- Minny is still the lone team being undefeated.They are explosive on offense, and jsut played good enough on defense (notably in terms of TO) to remain hte undisputed top team in the NFC. They look poised to win their division (baring any injuries) as their lone games against a top team is in week 16 against the Redskins ; a game that should be decisive for a playoff bye.

- Gotta love the Jets when they play like that. But : should history and trends reapeat themselves ? I guess Matty has hired any Voodoo sorcerer to cast spells to repeal those jinxes that made the Jets not living to their hype and talent in second halves of past seasons.

- The Manziel experiment is doing fine in Piitsburgh ; notably because they grind the yards and the clock running, and the defense is steel made. This said, They should work on their "catching-up" pass offense, because as the Eagles game showed, this can be their downfall en route to the SB. Can Wade make it all the way with a scrambling rookie QB ? That's a story Worth following as any Mexican telenovelas !

- Seattle is steady in its approach : a killing offense that can score by pass or run at will and a bend-but-don't-break defense that keeps them enough in games. So : why fixing what it ain't broken ? with a favorable Schedule, the 'Hawks are looking good to repeat.

- They began the Q2 loosing to Atlanta and lost their starting QB for the season. Well : adversity tends to streghten the will. That it did in Tampa, as they're now Rolling on 3 wins streak. Will they try to copycat Seattle and win and SB with a back-up QB (who's BTW from Seattle !) ? The odds seem favorable.

- The Bengals are benefitin from their serious play as of late and enter this top 10. With a dismantling of the once mighty Eagles, the showed the league that they ought to be taken seriously. Explosive offense whose only setback may be the defense where Cincy has lost their star MLB for the season.

- The Falcons may have it a bit more difficult than last season, but when they do focus on the game they play as good as any teams in RZL. The rest of the season doesn't look really hard, so expect them to be in serious position for a SB berth baring any key injury.

- The Jaguars are either Iron hot, or Iceberg cold. the problem is that they tend to be Iceberg cold against top teams. Frankly they just benefit from other teams downfall to be in this top 10, even if their passing attack can stil lead them. In a weak AFC South, I can see them in the post season as division winner, but the Outlook remains shaddy for a serious SB run.

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