No one saw the Seattle Seahawks starting out with a 4-3 record. The schedule has been difficult, but there is no spinning getting manhandled at home by Dallas, followed by a loss in St. Louis. In two games this year (Dallas, San Diego), the Seahawks' defense was dispatched. The Legion of Boom is no longer scary with Kam Chancellor playing slower, and young players Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon getting victimized. There have been off-field stories of unrest. The running game is inconsistent and the offense is less explosive without Percy Harvin. The Seahawks need their defense to dominate like 2013 or Russell Wilson to reach another level because they haven't been championship caliber yet. -- Gregg Rosenthal
New Orleans Saints
I picked the Saints to win the Super Bowl. I expected the offense to break records set by the Denver Broncos last season. After finishing fourth in defense in Rob Ryan's debut, I figured they could be even better with three-time Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd joining breakout candidateKenny Vaccaro at safety. Instead, the Saints have been the NFL's most disappointing outfit, failing to put together a single impressive performance until Sunday's convincing victory over the Packers. Byrd is out for the season, Vaccaro has been a liability and the defense can't stop anyone. At least the offense is finally finding its identity. -- Chris Wesseling
The stalled takeoff of the fourth down revolution.
According to The New York Times, coaches are still going for it on fourth down only about five percent of the time. The data, however, is overwhelming when suggesting that coaches need to be more open-minded when it comes to taking risks. Though it is a quick way for a coach to torpedo momentum, it's also just a few successes away from transforming the NFL. Imagine how much more complex and interesting offenses can become if they are thought of in four-down increments throughout the game. Imagine Peyton Manning with more opportunities to throw the football! -- Conor Orr
The Falcons from top to bottom
The Falconsare poorly assembled: A franchise quarterback, an elite wideout and nothing else around them. Mike Smith is coaching a team that can't run the ball, can't rush the passer, can't pass protect and can't keep opponents to under 27.6 points per game. Thomas Dimitroff is a celebrated general manager for good reason, but he's just as culpable for this product as Smith. I'm not thinking either survive the wreckage. -- Marc Sessler
What a sad division. The winner of Thursday night's Saints-Panthers tussle will lead the division with a .500 record. New Orleans' Week 8 win was the first victory for the division since Oct. 5. The group will exit October with a combined four victories for the entire month. The Buccaneersare a dumpster fire. The Falcons are swirling the toilet bowl and couldn't even hold a 21-point halftime lead Sunday in London. The Panthers have held the division lead despite being a sieve on defense. The Saints have been equally as bad on defense. New Orleans could still win the division despite starting 2-4. There is a chance another 10-win NFC team could miss the playoff, while the South division winner has a .500 record. -- Kevin Patra
I won't defend Adrian Peterson's actions involving his son, which, if true, certainly deserves a punishment that takes him off the field. Consider this more a football fan's lament about how Peterson's legal issues and subsequent roster purgatory wiped away a year of a gifted player's prime and put a black mark on the entire season.
I don't feel bad for Peterson. The disappointment here is for Vikings fans (who seem to be on the losing end of too many anvil drops) and anyone else who loves watching Peterson play. A.P. blew it, and we all lost. -- Dan Hanzus