Now that we're at the halfway point of the season, it's time to take stock of what has happened so far this season in preparation for the last seven or eight games (depending on which team you follow). This season has been, well, strange — to say the least. Here's my top five surprises so far.
1) The Falcons are the last unbeaten team. Sure, Atlanta is a good team, but I never thought we'd see the type of consistency required to go unbeaten this long from this team. The Falcons are winning by nearly an average of 10 points per game. They're not crushing most of their opponents, but they are keeping them at arms length. As always with the Falcons, the true test comes in January.
2) The Panthers and the Chiefs have been awful. Cam Newton's sophomore season has been forgettable at best, and this season's trendy team, the Kansas City Chiefs, have been one of the worst teams in the league. Both of these teams were expected to do big things, but they've played terribly in most of their games. Put a fork in the 2012 Panthers and Chiefs. They simply weren't ready to play.
3) The Colts are in playoff contention. On the other end of the spectrum, the Indianapolis Colts have made an incredible turnaround from a season ago, due in large part to Andrew Luck's performances. The Colts are 5-3, and currently rank 5th in the AFC. They're not going to win their division this season, but if they can keep it up, they'll be in the playoffs, something no one thought they could do after watching them a season ago.
4) Mark Sanchez is still the Jets' starting quarterback. The Jets' circus has continued much longer than I or any sane person thought possible. Rex Ryan continues to stand behind his failing quarterback while Tim Tebow waits patiently on the sideline. I've said multiple times that it's time to move on, but it appears that Ryan is content going down with Sanchez, and that's exactly what's likely going to happen at the end of the season.
5) Peyton Manning is having an MVP-type season. Peyton Manning is in the top five of nearly every passing statistic, and it's beginning to appear as if he'll claim his fifth AP MVP award. Manning leads the league in completion percentage, and he's not turning the ball over. I wondered at the beginning of the year whether he could pick up where he left off in 2010, and I now have my answer. The man is a living legend, and he's still one of the best in the business.