Welcome to the second part of our series of posts looking at the mid-season grades for teams in the NFL.

Last week we took a look at how teams in the NFC had performed and this week we turn our attention to the 16 teams in the American Football Conference (AFC).

It has certainly been a topsy-turvy season with just one team having lost one game, two teams having won one game and the majority of the remainder winning between 2 and 6 games.

All of which means that heading into the second half of the season, if a team can get hot and string together some wins, they will go into playoff contention. Similarly, if a team loses form and loses a few games in a row they can be quickly caught and overhauled in the race for the post-season.

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Let’s now continue with our look at how the 16 teams in the AFC have performed this season.


AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – A-

  • Current Record – 7-2 (1st)
  • Biggest Positive – QB Lamar Jackson’s passing and pocket presence is more poised.
  • Biggest Negative – Ravens are still prone to losing games they should be winning.
  • Best Player (Rating) – QB Lamar Jackson (A-)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – K Justin Tucker (C)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – John Harbaugh (A-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 9/1
  • Comments – It’s been a hugely impressive start for the Ravens in what has proven to be a stacked AFC North. Lamar Jackson’s passing is much improved, which has made his rushing more effective. This team is super-strong all round. A Super Bowl is a realistic prospect and those 9/1 odds won’t be that long for much longer.

Cincinnati Bengals – C+

  • Current Record – 5-3 (4th)
  • Biggest Positive – Their recent improvement in form coincides with QB Joe Burrow being fit.
  • Biggest Negative – An appalling start to the season put the Bengals in a tough spot.
  • Best Player (Rating) – Joe Burrow (B)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – WR Ja’Marr Chase (C)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Zac Taylor (B-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 12/1
  • Comments – After an awful start, the Bengals have now won five on the bounce with wins over some big teams on that run. From this low baseline score, expect this Bengals team to improve considerably over the rest of the season now that Burrow is fully healthy.

Cleveland Browns – B+

  • Current Record – 5-3 (3rd)
  • Biggest Positive – Outstanding defense and solid offense means the Browns are tough.
  • Biggest Negative – The huge investment in DeShaun Watson looks a bust at present.
  • Best Player (Rating) – DE Myles Garrett (A+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – QB DeShaun Watson (D)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Kevin Stefanski (A)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 40/1
  • Comments – An outstanding defensive effort led by the incredible Myles Garrett has been the foundation for a much better than expected start to the season by the Browns. There are still issues on offense, especially with RB Nick Chubb out for the season and QB Deshaun Watson still not at his best, but this Browns defense keeps them in a whole host of games.

Pittsburgh Steelers – B-

  • Current Record – 5-3 (2nd)
  • Biggest Positive – That Steelers defense can still cause any team huge problems.
  • Biggest Negative – On offense the Steelers simply do not score enough points.
  • Best Player (Rating) – DE T.J.Watt (A-)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – Kenny Pickett (C-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Mike Tomlin (B)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 66/1
  • Comments – A lack of points scored by the offense will ultimately be the Steelers undoing in this very tough division. They are second in the NFL North now based on divisional record, but I think they are the team that will end up bottom of this table and the worrying thing is for other AFC teams, the Steelers are not that bad.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills – D-

  • Current Record – 5-4 (3rd)
  • Biggest Positive – Despite a poor start, they aren’t out of the running and will improve.
  • Biggest Negative – The team is worryingly inconsistent and not playing their best.
  • Best Player (Rating) – WR Stefan Diggs (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – QB Josh Allen (C-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Sean McDermott (C-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 16/1
  • Comments – After going so close the last two seasons, this was supposed to be the season the Bills came of age and pushed hard for the Super Bowl. Everything was set up for that at the start of the season, so a 5-4 start and 3rd place in a relatively poor AFC East division represents a poor start to the season by their own high standards. QB Josh Allen needs to do better, as does the Bills defense.

Miami Dolphins – B+

  • Current Record – 6-3 (1st)
  • Biggest Positive – Perhaps the most explosive offense in the history of the NFL?
  • Biggest Negative – RB Devon Achane’s injury after his incredible start to the NFL.
  • Best Player (Rating) – WR Tyreek Hill (A)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – CB Josh Norman (C+)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Mike McDaniel (A)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 11/1
  • Comments – The Dolphins are in control of the AFC East based on their incredible offense. However, they have lost three games already and the signs are that their defense doesn’t quite match up against the best teams that well. They are going to be hugely exciting to watch for the rest of the season but whether they can win it all, I’m not sure.

New England Patriots – C

  • Current Record – 2-7 (4th)
  • Biggest Positive – The defense still can cause any teams problems, as the Dolphins found out.
  • Biggest Negative – Huge issues at quarterback where Mac Jones continues to suffer.
  • Best Player (Rating) – S Kyle Dugger (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – QB Mac Jones (D-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Bill Belichick (C+)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 400/1
  • Comments – Offensive woes have hampered the Patriots all season long. Mac Jones has not been convincing at QB and replacement Bailey Zappe has also fallen short. The Patriots have had six QBs in the building at one time this season but they are still nowhere near finding the long-term solution to Tom Brady’s successor.

New York Jets – C-

  • Current Record – 4-3 (2nd)
  • Biggest Positive – Despite huge criticism, QB Zach Wilson is doing ok as Aaron Rodgers replacement at QB.
  • Biggest Negative – Aaron Rodgers season-ending injury after 4 plays of Week 1.
  • Best Player (Rating) – RB Breece Hall (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – CB Sauce Gardner (C-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Robert Saleh (B-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 66/1
  • Comments – After four plays of the season, many felts the Jets Super Bowl chances were over after Aaron Rodgers went down. Zach Wilson struggled initially in his place, but despite horrific criticism, he has started to command the offense and now the Jets lie 2nd in the Division and could improve to 5-3 and if they beat the Chargers tonight.

AFC South

Houston Texans – B+

  • Current Record – 4-4 (2nd)
  • Biggest Positive – The play of rookie QB CJ Stroud has been sensational.
  • Biggest Negative
  • Best Player (Rating) – QB CJ Stroud (A+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – DE Will Anderson Jr (C-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – DeMeco Ryans (B+)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 125/1
  • Comments – A tale of two Rookies in Houston. 2nd Pick in the NFL Draft CJ Stroud has been immense and has stunned fans with how quickly he has adapted to life in the NFL. 3rd pick in the draft Will Anderson Jr has struggled to make much of an impact with just two sacks across his first eight games in the NFL. Even so the Texans look so much better than last season already and they will only improve.

Indianapolis Colts – C+

  • Current Record – 4-5 (3rd)
  • Biggest Positive – RB Zach Moss has had a fantastic start to the season.
  • Biggest Negative – The injury to rookie QB Antony Richardson has hit the Colts hard.
  • Best Player (Rating) – RB Zach Moss (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – Jonathan Taylor (C-)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Shane Steichen (B-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 150/1
  • Comments – It’s been a tough baptism for Shane Steichen, losing his first choice quarterback Anthony Richardson is a big blow, but Gardner Minshew has done in his place. The Colts two lines are pretty strong, but there is a lack of strength in depth in some key positions and it seems to be that it is this which is responsible for the Colts below par record.

Jacksonville Jaguars – B+

  • Current Record – 6-2 (1st)
  • Biggest Positive – RB Travis Etienne and QB Trevor Lawrence are proving to be the 1-2 partnership the Jags wanted.
  • Biggest Negative – The pass rush is still below par and can be why team’s get the better of the Jags.
  • Best Player (Rating) – RB Travis Etienne (A-)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – DE Travon Walker (C+)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Doug Pederson (A-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 18/1
  • Comments – It seems harsh to pick fault with the Jags given their 6-2 start but there are areas for improvement. The pass rush still needs work and Travon Walker needs to produce more for a number 1 draft pick. But there are many positives that outweigh the negatives and which mean the jags should be set for he post-season.

Tennessee Titans – D

  • Current Record – 3-5 (4th)
  • Biggest Positive – The emergence of rookie QB Will Levis in his first start.
  • Biggest Negative – The passing game was awful, but Levis does offer hope of improvement.
  • Best Player (Rating) – MLB Azeez Al-Shair (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – QB Ryan Tannehill (E)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Mike Vrabel (C-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 200/1
  • Comments – The Titans season looked in the bin after Tannehill went down injured and Malik Willis came in to almost zero effect. The Titans turned to Will Levis, their 2nd round pick this year and he responded with a 4 TD winning debut over the Falcons. Levis is the future in Tennessee and he is probably their major positive from what’s been a poor season so far.

AFC West

Denver Broncos – C-

  • Current Record – 3-5 (4th)
  • Biggest Positive – QB Russell Wilson seems to be improving his play from last season.
  • Biggest Negative – The Sean Payton effect has been much less than many would like.
  • Best Player (Rating) – QB Russell Wilson (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – WR Jerry Jeudy (D+)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Sean Payton (C-)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 250/1
  • Comments – It’s been another tough season for the Broncos as Sean Payton has found life tough at Mile High. Russell Wilson’s big improvement this season has been a big positive and is partly why they have won three games, including beating the Chiefs. However Jerry Jeudy’s form at WR has fallen off a cliff and the rush attack also is somewhat lacking.

Kansas City Chiefs – B

  • Current Record – 7-2 (1st)
  • Biggest Positive – Mahomes & Kelce remain as potent an offensive duo as any in the NFL.
  • Biggest Negative – Mahomes & Kelce seem to be 90% of the Chiefs offense.
  • Best Player (Rating) – TE Travis Kelce (A)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (D)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Andy Reid (B+)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 9/2 fav
  • Comments – The Chiefs remain as talented as ever with Mahomes and Kelce leading the offense and a fantastic effort from their defense too. However, a lack of options at WR is hampering the effectiveness of the Chiefs offense and they have never really replaced Tyreek Hill since he left for Miami. They are still Super Bowl favourites though.

Las Vegas Raiders – D

  • Current Record – 4-5 (2nd)
  • Biggest Positive – DE Max Crosby is having another outstanding season with 9.5 sacks.
  • Biggest Negative – QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury hit and inconsistent start in Vegas.
  • Best Player (Rating) – DE Maxx Crosby (A-)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – QB Jimmy Garoppolo (D+)
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Josh McDaniels (D-) – Now Sacked
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 200/1
  • Comments – The sacking of Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler was perhaps unsurprising given the somewhat poor results and toxicity at the ball club. Antonio Pierce came in as an interim coach and led the Raiders to a big win over the Giants at the weekend. A sign of better things to come perhaps?

Los Angeles Chargers – D-

  • Current Record – 3-4 (3rd)
  • Biggest Positive – RB Austin Ekeler’s return from injury will be a big help to the offense.
  • Biggest Negative – On paper a talented defense, but on field, the Chargers look out of sorts.
  • Best Player (Rating) – QB Justin Herbert (B+)
  • Most Disappointing Player (Rating) – RB Austin Ekeler (C+) due to injury
  • Head Coach (Rating) – Brandon Staley (D)
  • Current Super Bowl Winner Odds – 40/1
  • Comments – The Chargers lost a lot when Austin Ekeler went down injured, but now he is back they will hope to see their fortunes turn around. They face the Jets tonight seeking a win and if they get it, they may not be out of contention for the playoffs. However, they need a big turnaround after a poor first half of the season.

If you have not already read it, you can check out Part One of this two-part series where we focus on mid-term grades for teams in the NFC.