2013 NFL mid-season review: Which non-playoff team will make the post-season?

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Oct 24, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after he scored a touchdown during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we’re half way through the regular season and I have to say I’m pretty upset about it.

Not because of the way things are looking right now with my Chicago Bears, but the fact that the regular season is almost over is what’s eating away at me.

So far this season we’ve seen a lot of surprises. The defending Super Bowl champions who had to go on the road to open the season against the Denver Broncos, were lit up by Peyton Manning for seven touchdowns.

Not really a surprise that the Broncos are 7-1 right now, but the Kansas City Chiefs being the only undefeated team in the league? Seriously?

Don’t get me wrong, Kansas City was a team that I praised over at NFL Spin Zone after word got out about Andy Reid and Alex Smith landing with the Chiefs. I expected this team to be somewhat of a contender in the AFC and that it would take some time to reach this level, but things have been rolling and look at them now.

On the other side you have the Atlanta Falcons who are currently 2-5. They lost Julio Jones and haven’t been playing like the defending NFC South Falcons’ from last season that we were used to watching. Matt Ryan is still a great quarterback, but the man can’t do everything all by himself.

Then you have the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens who have been under-performing at a shocking level. I mean Baltimore isn’t as bad as Houston and Pittsburgh, but they’re the defending champs so they need to step it up a little bit.

Anyways, I’m going to take a look at two teams in each conference who still have a chance to turn things around and make the post-season.

Let’s start off with the NFC.

If the season ended today, the Seattle Seahawks would win the NFC West, New Orleans Saints would have the NFC South, Green Bay Packers would take the NFC North again and the Dallas Cowboys would win the NFC East.

The two wild card times would be the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions.

Now I’m supposed to select two teams who can turn things around, so not everybody’s team is going to be selected. Let’s not try to rage out, but your comments are appreciated.

Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton is absolutely on fire right now and is playing like an MVP type quarterback. He’s doing things with not only his arm here and there but his legs as well. Being a dual threat quarterback can really benefit your team as long as you have the right talent surrounding this player. Carolina’s defense right now is ranked 10th in the league against the passing game and second in the league against the rush. Their run game is ranked in the top 10 of the league but their passing game is almost last in the division.

The Panthers remaining schedule for the season looks like this, vs the Atlanta Falcons (2-5), at San Francisco 49ers (6-2),  vs New England Patriots (6-2), at Miami Dolphins (3-4), vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7), at New Orleans Saints (6-1),  vs New York Jets (4-4), vs New Orleans Saints (6-1), at Atlanta Falcons (2-5) which will be the end of their regular season.

Now if Carolina is able to stay tight on defense and Newton can remain consistent or even up his game during the second half of the season, there’s no reason why the Carolina Panthers couldn’t finish 10-6.

Chicago Bears - That’s right I said it, the Chicago Bears. And not because they’re my team, but they didn’t look all that bad against the Washington Redskins without Jay Cutler. The good thing about Cutler right now, is he’s only out for maybe three-four weeks tops then he’s back in the game. This defense is still causing turnovers and either putting points on the boards themselves or setting their offense up with great field position.

Yeah the defense has given up big plays but at the same time they can still be clutch and knock the ball loose or jump a route to swing the momentum of the game their way. Plus Hester looked like he got his step back after returning that 75+ punt for a touchdown against the Redskins. This team is used to being carried by its defense even when it’s offense hasn’t done much.

McCown looked great against the Redskins during the second half as he threw over 200 yards and one touchdown. The offensive line is still in tact so if they can give McCown enough time to find his receivers down field, he’s going to find them easily. Alshon Jeffery has definitely stepped it up for this offense and is taking a load off of Brandon Marshall’s shoulders.

Marshall is still a big factor for this wide receiver corps and so is tight end Martellus Bennett. You can’t forget about running back Matt Forte who scored three touchdowns and rushed for nearly 100 yards.

If the offensive line can step up their play and protect McCown and open up the running lanes for Matt Forte, this should hold them off long enough until Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs are able to return.

Call me crazy but even with Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs out, this team is still a better football team than the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. Until they can prove otherwise, but I believe in McCown.

This team has the best chance of catching the Detroit Lions or Carolina Panthers for that final Wild Card spot in the NFC playoff hunt. I just don’t see San Francisco falling apart, maybe losing to New England and Seattle again but that’s really it.

Taking a look at the remainder of their schedule. They’re currently on a bye week right now.

Next Monday they’ll travel to Green Bay (5-2), vs Detroit Lions (5-3), vs Baltimore Ravens (3-4),  at St. Louis Rams (3-5), at Minnesota Vikings (1-6), vs Dallas Cowboys (4-4), at Cleveland Browns (3-5),  at Philadelphia Eagles (3-5), vs Green Bay Packers (5-2) which could possibly be a game where their post-season hopes are in their own hands.

Now if you would please either click either Next or just hit the right arrow on your keyboard, let’s take a look at the AFC.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears NFL Oakland Raiders