NFC is upside down midway through NFL season

Nov 6, 2022, 1:00 PM | Updated: Nov 7, 2022, 3:03 am
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks to the sideline during the second half of an NFL ...

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks to the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

              Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt York)
            
              Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) waves to spectators after an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers defeated the Rams 16-13. Brady become the first player in NFL history with over 100,000 career passing yards. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Aaron Rodgers used an expletive to describe three interceptions. Tom Brady used a different expletive to express his relief and excitement after a comeback win. The Rams and Cardinals played like slop again.

The NFC’s best teams in 2021 have sure had a tough first half in 2022.

Midway through the season, the Philadelphia Eagles (8-0) and Dallas Cowboys (6-2) are the only NFC playoff teams from last season with a winning record.

The Green Bay Packers (3-6) have lost five straight games for the first time since Rodgers was a first-year starter in 2008. Rodgers tied a career-high with three picks, including two in the end zone on the first two possessions, in a 15-9 loss at Detroit.

Rodgers isn’t playing like a two-time reigning NFL MVP, but he doesn’t regret returning to play after contemplating retirement.

“I think that’s an exaggeration,” Rodgers said. “Frustration and (misery) are two different emotions. When I decided to come back, it was all in. I don’t make decisions and then in hindsight, 20-20, have regrets about big decisions like that. So, I was all in, and this is a lot of life lessons for sure this year. But luckily, it’s not over. There are still a lot of games left. We’ll be counted out probably by many. We’ll see how we respond.”

The Packers have eight games left to turn things around, but it won’t be easy. Their next three opponents — Dallas, Tennessee and Philadelphia — are 19-5 combined.

Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed headed toward a fourth straight loss before the seven-time Super Bowl champion engineered a vintage game-winning drive in the final minute against the Rams (3-5). Brady drove the Buccaneers 60 yards on six plays in 35 seconds with no time-outs, tossing a 1-yard TD pass to rookie Cade Otton for a 16-13 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs.

“We needed it,” Brady said. “We needed it, and we got it, we fought until the end.”

Despite a 4-5 record, the Bucs are still favorites in the weak NFC South. They already beat Atlanta (4-5) and New Orleans (3-5), which plays against Baltimore on Monday.

“You don’t get satisfaction unless you make the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl,” Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said.

The Buccaneers could win the division with a losing record and still make some noise with Brady in January.

“We certainly haven’t played perfect by any stretch, but hopefully this gives us some confidence and we can win again next week and get to 5-5, which would be pretty good for us going into the bye week and then we can re-evaluate everything,” Brady said.

The Rams have lost four of five, and their once-dynamic offense has scored more than 20 points just one time this season. The latest lackluster performance left coach Sean McVay considering changes.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s the panic button, but changes have to be made, adjustments have to be made, we can’t continue to go on like this and what that looks like, I don’t necessarily have the exact answers right now,” McVay said. “What I don’t want to have anything to be misunderstood that I’m not in this with those guys, I’m a big part of this, I have to do better.

“We’re going to stay connected throughout this, but we do have to be able to look inward and figure out what are some of the solutions, changes, adjustments, different things that we have to do to be able to get different results and different production from our offense.”

The Arizona Cardinals (3-6) fell to last place in the NFC West with a 31-21 loss to Seattle. The Cardinals are 4-11, including a wild-card loss, since a 10-2 start last season.

“We are just playing bad football,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “It is not winning football.”

Meanwhile, the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings (7-1) and the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks (6-3) are already one win away from matching their total number of victories from 2021.

The AFC isn’t upside down like the NFC, with five of the seven playoffs teams from 2021 owning winning records at the halfway mark. The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) and Las Vegas Raiders (2-6) are the only two 2021 AFC playoff teams with losing records.

The biggest surprise in the conference is the upstart New York Jets. They’re 6-3 following a 20-17 upset over Buffalo. The six wins equal New York’s combined total over the previous two seasons.

The rest of the conference is playing out as expected.

The Bills (6-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) are leading the way followed by the Ravens (5-3) and Tennessee Titans (5-3). The defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) have bounced back from an 0-2 start and the New England Patriots (5-4) have done the same after opening 1-3. Both teams need to make up ground in the second half to get into the postseason.

___

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Ghana's Mohammed Kudus celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the World Cup group H ...
Associated Press

Kudus scores 2, Ghana beats South Korea 3-2 at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Mohammed Kudus scored twice, including the go-ahead goal after South Korea evened the match in the second half, and Ghana staved off elimination at the World Cup with a 3-2 victory on Monday. Mohammed Salisu also scored for the Black Stars, who lost their opening match against Portugal and were […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Fred, left, and Rafinha laugh during a training session at the Continassa sporting center,...
Associated Press

Neymar gets treatment at hotel as Brazil plays at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Neymar stayed at the team hotel for physiotherapy treatment on his right ankle Monday as the Brazil squad played Switzerland at the World Cup. The Brazil striker was the only player who did not go to Stadium 974 for the team’s second match in Qatar. Danilo, who also missed the game […]
1 day ago
FILE - New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (8) dribbles up the court during the second half of an NB...
Associated Press

AP source: Mavs close to deal with 4-time All-Star Walker

The Dallas Mavericks are close to a deal with four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Monday. Walker’s career has been on hold because of knee injuries, but the 32-year-old could give superstar Luka Doncic some much-needed backcourt help for the struggling Mavericks. The person […]
1 day ago
Germany's Leon Gorentzka steps on the right shin of Spain's Gavi during the World Cup group E socce...
Associated Press

Gavi misses Spain practice at World Cup because of injury

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Teenager Gavi did not practice with Spain on Monday, a day after the team’s draw with Germany at the World Cup. Gavi was nursing a minor injury sustained in the 1-1 draw at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday. The 18-year-old midfielder was substituted in the 66th minute against Germany, shortly after […]
1 day ago
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup grou...
Associated Press

Canelo slams Messi over Mexico team World Cup jersey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — In one corner, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez. In the other, Lionel Messi. The Argentina star may have gotten into trouble with the wrong person after moving the Mexican national team jersey with his foot while celebrating his team’s much-needed World Cup win against Mexico on Saturday. The Mexican boxer said on Twitter […]
1 day ago
Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, left, and Cameroon's Pierre Kunde battle for the ball during the ...
Associated Press

Aboubakar saves Cameroon in 3-3 tie with Serbia at World Cup

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — Substitute Vincent Aboubakar scored one goal and created another as Cameroon rallied from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Serbia at the World Cup on Monday. He lobbed goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the 64th minute and then set up striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting two minutes later. The thrilling draw was […]
1 day ago
NFC is upside down midway through NFL season