Rams, Eagles, Bears: Contenders or pretenders? – NFL.com

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Another NFL Sunday where the Patriots, 49ers, Packers and Saints prove they’re at the head of the class. But there’s a rather large middle class in the league this season.
Oh sure, the Seahawks and Ravens have earned trust. The Chiefs will get Patrick Mahomes back soon, which makes that offense a huge problem for the rest of the NFL. (Though kudos to Matt Moore for a rock-solid, professionally quarterbacked game on Sunday night. Can’t say enough about the former retiree’s effort, even though it came in a loss.) And the Vikings are sitting pretty with six wins, none of which they have to give back. But the beauty of a parity-driven NFL is how often teams rally from midseason mediocrity to forge an inspiring playoff push.
So, at the midway point, eight weeks into the 2019 campaign, which teams have the potential to emerge from the fat middle and make noise this winter? And which are doomed to irrelevancy? It’s time to separate contenders from pretenders, Schein Nine style.
CONTENDERS

1) Houston Texans (5-3)

Houston is a half-game back in the AFC South, though the first-place Colts currently hold the tiebreaker, having beaten the Texans back in Week 7. The bad news: The iconic J.J. Watt tore his pec in Sunday’s win over the Raiders and is done for the year. This is sobering news, as Houston’s roster is top-heavy, with Watt being one of the great representatives of that star power. The depth is shaky. So is the coaching.
But at this point, I refuse to bet against the great Deshaun Watson. He’s a magician. He’s special. He’s the kind of quarterback who can carry a flawed team to unforeseen heights.
2) Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

I loved the Rams’ aggressive trade for Jalen Ramsey. And since the deal, Sean McVay’s team has won two “get right” games against the lowly Falcons and Bengals to put a three-game skid in the rearview. Did the Rams get their mojo back? I think so. Still love this team, and can you imagin

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