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Eight Weeks Down, Nine to Go

What needs fixing, who should be traded, where the fun lies, and the shape of the NFL season so far

The 2016 NFL season has reached its midway point, and there’s been no shortage of crucial developments: The Raiders are fun! Tom Brady is back and better than ever! The Seahawks and Cardinals played to a 6–6 tie! As teams get ready to make their playoff pushes, prepare for the second half with all of our midseason coverage.

NFL Week 8 Recap: The Midseason MVP Favorite Has Played Only Four Games, by Robert Mays

“At the midway point of the 2016 NFL season, the presumptive MVP favorite has played in only half of his team’s games. That says plenty about how diluted the top tier of the league has become, but it says just as much about the performance Tom Brady has turned in through four games upon returning from his Deflategate suspension.”

Imagine If the NFL Trade Deadline Weren’t Boring, by Danny Kelly

“In an ideal world, we’d see a few good players get rescued from their current hopeless situations and a few struggling teams gather more pieces for the future. Whether they were the victims of bad draft luck or simply made a bad decision in free agency, here are seven guys who’ve been left to rot on bad teams and now need saving.”

The 2016 RedZone Power Rankings, by Kevin Clark

“Sure, it’s great that we’re living in an era of consistently stellar shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men and Atlanta, but the real beauty comes from seeing Ryan Tannehill hit Damien Williams for a 10-yard score to extend the Dolphins’ lead over the Browns.”

How to Fix ‘Monday Night Football,’ by Danny Kelly

“[I]f we had our way, Monday nights would have flex options, allowing ESPN to pick the best games on the schedule as playoff scenarios, contenders, and the most exciting teams emerge week to week. Here’s how we’d change things for the second half of this season.”

The 2016 NFL Midseason Awards

“There’s a lot of football left, but with eight eventful weeks already in the books, it’s time to take stock. Which players are wowing their way to hardware? Which postgame press conference outfits dazzled? Which boneheaded play is bound to haunt us all for the rest of time? Ringer NFL experts Kevin Clark, Danny Kelly, and Robert Mays have some thoughts.”

The Rams Are Still Trying to Win Over Hearts and Minds in L.A., by Claire McNear

“An NFL team used to be in one place, and now it’s in another, 1,800 miles, a couple of mountain ranges, and untold beds of arugula away.

I have come here to ask: How is that going? Not the football (the Rams are 3–4), and not the moving — the being-in-L.A.-ing.”

The Oddity of Odell’s Odyssey, by Katie Baker

“Beckham may rant and rave and disappear into fugue states, but the outbursts are never really malicious; they’re just weirdly childlike. His postgame comments may read as woe-is-me excuses, but they’re delivered in a manner of thoughtful reflection.”

Searching for Olivier Vernon, by Danny Kelly

“With so many players on a roster and so few games to play, there’s unused talent across the NFL. And whether an injury forces them into action or a philosophical shift gives them a bigger role, every year plenty of first-half nobodies become key contributors over the final eight games of the season.”

The NFL’s Next Wave of Superstar QBs Remains Unclear, but One Player Is Pulling Away From the Pack, by Robert Mays

“The Raiders passer has his faults, but what he’s shown this season is more than enough to earn him the title of the best young QB to come along since Luck and Wilson. Although uncertainty rules when it comes to the others, it’s time to say the Raiders have found their man. As a slew of Hall of Fame–caliber quarterbacks march toward the end of their careers, Carr is wading into his prime, looking poised to take his place among the NFL’s best.”

The Ringer NFL Show Live Midseason Report

“Robert Mays, Kevin Clark, Danny Kelly, and Rodger Sherman will look at the most and least surprising developments, examine whether or not the league is in trouble, and hand out their midseason superlatives. And of course, they’ll make some outlandish predictions.”

Our 100 Percent Accurate Predictions for the NFL’s Second Half

“Eight weeks of professional football are in the books. Now it’s November, which means the playoff hunt is in full gear. Who will sneak in? Who will win the MVP? Who will take the Lombardi Trophy? Our staff has some predictions.”

Week 9 NFL Picks: Searching for Football’s Cubs, by Kevin Clark

“I don’t know if you heard, but they played a baseball game on Wednesday night, and it was pretty great. In fact, it was probably the coolest thing that’s happened in baseball, and maybe American sports, in a few decades.

Cubs-Indians had it all: two long-suffering franchises playing a do-or-die game; a wild comeback; an almost-iconic home run; LeBron looking like a maniac; and a dramatic play in extra innings.

The NFL would have a hard time replicating that level of drama. (Though to be fair, so would any movie, book, play, or Snapchat story made about any topic in the next 100 years.) There are plenty of reasons, but namely it would be hard for one team to match a 108-year championship drought. (The likeliest culprit, the Jets, would have to flail until 2077 to match the Cubs’ futility.) But a few NFL experiences could come close. If you’re already craving more drama, here’s what to root for.”