We’re at the midway point of the NFL season…sort of. For years the league played a 14 game schedule which meant Week 7 was the midway point. And then they added two games, making this week the midway point. Now, with an additional game, creating an odd 17th game, the league doesn’t really have a middle demarcation for the season…until they undoubtedly add an 18th game at the next collective bargaining session.
The trade deadline is coming up Tuesday, but unlike other sports, trading isn’t as big of an event in the NFL as other sports. Each sport tends to have its own “thing”. The trade deadline is huge in the MLB, while the draft isn’t big at all; while the draft is huge in the NFL but the trade deadline is merely a passing thought.
It may be the fact that rosters are twice as big and a trade won’t make as big of an impact as in baseball…or basketball which only has five players on the court. Whatever the reason, teams tend to not trade for that “one piece” to get them over the hump.
With that said, the trade deadline is approaching, and it feels like half the league has decisions to make. And, ironically, there are eight games featuring 16 teams, half the league, which could have implications whether a team decides to buy or sell before Tuesday.
Here are the games
New Orleans Saints (3-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
The Saints are only one game behind the Falcons for the division lead, so a win will keep them right in the thick of the NFC South, which could propel them to make a move to build on what they have. But, this game is more about the Colts. They are two games behind the emerging Jaguars team. A loss will put them further behind, and should seriously put them in sell mode, to stockpile draft picks and continue to build around their young and injured QB Anthony Richardson.
New England Patriots (2-5) @ Miami Dolphins (5-2)
The Dolphins aren’t going anywhere, they are almost guaranteed to be in the playoffs, barring any calamitous injuries. This game is all about the Pats. Frankly, they should be in sell mode even with a win this week. But the owner and the coach will never do that, even at 2-6. But by Tuesday night, players like Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry should be elsewhere.
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) @ Tennessee Titans (2-4)
The Falcons are in first place and should definitely look to bolster their roster. But this game is about the Titans. They are in last place with one of the worst teams in the AFC. They have the heir apparent’s to both Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, in Tyjae Spears and Will Levis, making both Tannehill and Henry expendable. Both may not be traded, but I’d be shocked if King Henry wasn’t dealt.
Minnesota Vikings (3-4) @ Green Bay Packers (2-4)
At 2-4, facing the 49ers, everyone was shipping Kirk Cousins out of town. But after an unexpected win and a soft patch in their schedule coming up, there is rejuvenation in Minnesota. A win gets them back to .500, with a real shot at the playoffs. Over the span of just six days the Vikings may have turned into buyers from sellers.
Los Angeles Rams (3-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
The Cowboys probably won’t win the NFC East, but are still firmly in the wildcard picture. They will surely be buyers before Tuesday if they do anything. But this is about what the Rams will do. They are in a division with a suddenly beatable 49ers team that is sitting at 5-2. The Rams are still two games behind them, but a win will bring them back to .500, and put them into the wildcard race. At 3-4 they are bunched up with three other NFC teams, (Buccaneers, Commanders, Saints), and a loss could mean the end of Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles. He’s back healthy, but the team now has emerging rookie Puka Nacua, who has proven to be a fantastic replacement for the veteran.
New York Jets (3-3) @ New York Giants (2-5)
Even with a win, the Giants will still be under .500 and, at 3-5, will not realistically be in the playoff hunt. But a win by the Jets keeps them squarely in the playoff picture. The second Aaron Rodgers went down it felt like a lost season for Jets fans. It still may be, but they’ve clawed back to .500, and a win keeps them in the hunt for a long-awaited playoff berth. With a win, expect the Jets to make some moves to build around them for this year.
Cleveland Browns (4-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
Each team is above .500, and each team is currently in the playoffs if the season ended today. And, both teams are within striking distance of winning their divisions. Realistically each team should be buyers, but for the team that wins, they should definitely look to build for a playoff run.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) @ San Fransisco 49ers (5-2)
For me, this is the most intriguing game of the week. The Bengals have been the most inconsistent team this year, but they have clawed back to even. A loss will again drop them under .500, and in a division where everyone else is over that mark, they could decide this isn’t their year and be sellers. The 49ers were seemingly running away with the division, and possibly the no.1 seed in the NFC. They still may do both, but after two consecutive losses there is now doubt. A third loss would have them reeling and no doubt be compelled to make some moves before Tuesday to help their squad.