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First-half NFL surprises

The 2013 NFL season just reached the halfway point. Coming into the year, everyone expected the Seahawks and Broncos to do well and the Jaguars and Buccaneers to do poorly. Nine weeks have proved all of that to be true. And Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are still better than everyone else.

This season offered plenty of triumph and heartbreak and has been one of the strangest seasons in recent years. Here are some teams that have either exceeded preseason expectations or fallen short of them.

Achievers:

Kansas City – The Chiefs, has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. After the 2-14 debacle of 2012, the Chiefs control their own destiny at 9-0. Adding head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith to a solid group of players proved to be genius. Look for the Chiefs to make some serious post-season noise.

New England – After losing almost their entire receiving corps from a year ago, the Patriots have jumped out to a quiet 7-2 record and a two-game lead in the AFC East. Tom Brady just wins.

New Orleans – Sean Peyton’s return from a year-long suspension has righted the ship. After having the league’s worst defense last season, the Saints have the tenth best defense in 2013. They will have to keep a close eye on the Panthers, who are only one game out of the division lead.

Deceivers:

Baltimore – The Super Bowl Champs have been really bad this year. A win over the 4-4 Dolphins has been the highlight of their season. A 3-5 record is better than the abysmal offense, and the defense hasn’t done their part either. The Ravens need to figure things out quick if they want to have a say in the Wild Card race.

Atlanta – The Falcons are 2-6 and seem to be going downhill fast. They haven’t been able to stay healthy, and they are four games out in the division they won last year.

Tampa Bay/Jacksonville – Pro football in Florida is laughable right now. Both teams are 0-8 and just plain terrible. Nothing is going right for either franchise, and at this point they are fighting to lock up the first draft pick in 2014. The sunshine and living situation in Florida are the only consolation for potential top picks Teddy Bridgewater and Jadeveon Clowney.

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