The NFC has clearly cemented themselves as being the top conference in the NFL. Midway through the 2012 NFL season in head-to-head matchups, the NFC is 23-13 against the, now, junior varsity AFC.
Such squads such as the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and the Green Bay Packers were expected to be good this season, but due to the disappointments of the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, the conference continues to stay balance and dominating with the emerges of the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and the hot, of late, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The conference will become much stronger during the second half of the season because the late start New Orleans Saints are picking up stream.
All the 16 teams in the NFC has their own tales of accomplishments, and through this breakdown of the first half of the season for this conference, they will be revealed.
Atlanta Falcons (8-0)
The Falcons are 8-0 for the first time in team history. The team record for victories in a season is 14 in 1998 when the team advanced to Super Bowl XXXIII…Quarterback Matt Ryan is on pace to set single-season passing records for completions (412), attempts (598), completion percentage (68.9), yards (4,720), touchdowns (34) and passer rating (103.0).
Tight end Tony Gonzalez (50 catches, 495 yards) and wide receivers Roddy White (47 catches, 709 yards) and Julio Jones (40 catches, 628 yards) can be the first trio in franchise history to each record 80 catches and 1,000 yards in a single season. Gonzalez, who joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (17) as the only players in NFL history with 15 50-receptions seasons, can become the first tight end all-time with two 100-catch seasons. White is on track for his team-record sixth 1,000-yard season.
Defensive end John Abraham (7.0 sacks) needs 6.0 sacks to become the 13th player in NFL history with 125 career sacks.
Chicago Bears (7-1)
The Bears are the first team in NFL history to return seven interceptions for touchdowns in the first eight games of a season. Chicago’s seven interceptions-touchdowns are already tied for the third-most in a season in league annals and the Bears need three more to pass the 1961 San Diego Chargers (nine) for the most in a season all-time. Cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs each have two interception-touchdowns and the single-season record is four.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is on pace to set franchise receiving records for catches (118), yards (1,594) and touchdowns (14)…Running back Matt Forte is on track for 1,436 scrimmage yards and would be the first Bear with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in each of his first five seasons.
Quarterback Jay Culter has 1,774 passing yards and can become the first quarterback in team history with three 3,000-yard seasons…Including the playoffs, wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester 19 total return touchdowns (12 punt returns, 6 kickoff returns, one missed field goal), tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most in league history.
San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
The 49ers are allowing 12.9 points per game (103 points), which would be the lowest mark in franchise history (13.6 in 1976).
Quarterback Alex Smith is completing 69.4 percent of his passes. That completion percentage would rank third in team history for a single season behind Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Young (70.3 in 1994) and Joe Montana (70.2 in 1989). Smith has a 102.1 passer rating and can join Young and Montana as the only 49ers to post a 100.0-plus rating in a season.
Running back Frank Gore is on pace for his franchise-best sixth 1,000-yard season with 1,312 yards. It would be the fourth 1,300-yard season in team history and Gore would own two of those performances…Tight end Vernon Davis leads the team with four receiving touchdowns and needs one to be the first tight end in club annals with 40 touchdowns.
Linebacker Aldon Smith is on pace for a career-high 15 sacks and would be the first 49er to record at least 14 sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons.
New York Giants (6-3)
Quarterback Eli Manning is on pace for 4,312 passing yards, which would be the second-most in a single season in team history (Manning, 4,933 in 2011). He has 197 career touchdown passes and needs three to pass Phil Simms (199) for the most in team history.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz is on track for 101 receptions, 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns. It would be the first season in team history with at least 80 catches, 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cruz had 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns last year…Safety Stevie Brown has five interceptions and 168 return yards. His 168 return yards are the most by a Giant since 1963 (Dick Lynch, 251). Lynch and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell hold the single-season franchise record (251).
Kicker Lawrence Tynes is on pace for 181 kicking points and 46 field goals; both would be single-season NFL records (David Akers, 166 and 44 set in 2011).
Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 25 touchdowns in his team’s first nine games in two different seasons. Rodgers is on pace to pass for 4,236 yards and 44 touchdowns. It would mark the second 4,000-yard, 40-touchdown performance in franchise history; Rodgers accomplished the feat last year. Rodgers’ 107.4 passer rating would be the second-highest single-season mark in team history, trailing the NFL-record 122.5 rating he posted in 2011.
Wide receivers Randall Cobb (45 catches), Jordy Nelson (40) and James Jones (40) can be the first trio of wide receivers in team history to each record at least 70 catches in the same season. Jones (eight), Cobb (six) and Nelson (five) are all aiming for 10 receiving touchdowns. The Packers have never had a season in which multiple players each had at least 10 touchdown catches.
Seattle Seahawks (5-4)
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the No. 75 overall selection (third round) in the 2012 NFL Draft, has guided the Seahawks to five wins in his first nine career starts. Wilson is on pace to set team rookie records for passing yards (2,913), completion percentage (62), touchdowns (23) and passer rating (87.2).
Running back Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 881 yards and is on track for 1,566 rushing yards, which would be the third-highest single-season total in franchise history (Shaun Alexander, 1,880 yards in 2005 and 1,696 yards in 2004).
The defense has 25 sacks and aims to be the first Seattle unit with 50 sacks in a season since 2005 (50). Defensive end Chris Clemons, who has had 11 sacks in each of the past two seasons, leads the team with seven. He can become the first Seahawk to record at least 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons with the club.
Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
Running back Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with 957 rushing yards and wide receiver Percy Harvin ranks first in the league with 62 receptions. It would mark the first time the Vikings had the NFL’s leading rusher and receiver in the same season.
Peterson is on pace for 1,701 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and can join former running back LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 900 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of their first six seasons…Harvin, who had a 105-yard kick-return touchdown in Week 4, can become the first player in NFL history with 100 catches and a kickoff-return touchdown in the same season. Harvin and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers are the only players in NFL history with at least 20 scrimmage touchdowns and five kick return-touchdowns in their first four seasons.
Defensive end Jared Allen leads the team with 7.5 sacks and is on pace for his team-best fourth season with at least 13 sacks.
Detroit Lions (4-4)
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is on track to throw for 4,786 yards, which would be the second-highest single-season total in franchise history (Stafford, 5,038 in 2011). Stafford has attempted 346 passes and is on pace to surpass former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s single-season NFL mark of 691 set in 1994.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is on track for 96 catches and 1,534 yards. He can join former wide receiver Marvin Harrison (2001-02) and Houston Texans’ pass catcher Andre Johnson (2008-09) as the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions and 1,500 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Running back Mikel LeShoure has rushed for 375 yards and four touchdowns in six games. He aims to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (six times), Billy Sims (two) and James Stewart (one) as the only players in team history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
Rookie running back Doug Martin ranks second in the NFL with 1,039 scrimmage yards (794 rushing, 245 receiving) and is on pace for 2,078, which would be the second-most in team history (James Wilder, 2,229 in 1984). Martin is on track to set single-season franchise records for rushing yards (1,588) and rushing touchdowns (14). In Week 9, he joined former running back Mike Anderson as the only players in league annals to rush for at least 250 yards (251) and four touchdowns in a game.
Quarterback Josh Freeman is on pace for the first 4,000-yard passing season (4,094) in franchise history. He is also on track for 32 touchdown passes, which would be the most by a Buccaneer in a season.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson leads the team with 710 receiving yards and can challenge former pass catcher Mark Carrier’s team mark of 1,422 yards set in 1989. Jackson is on pace for 12 receiving touchdowns, which would surpass wide receiver Mike William’s club record (11 in 2010).
Arizona Cardinals (4-5)
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald leads the team with 585 receiving yards and is on pace for 1,040 yards. It would mark Fitzgerald’s seventh career 1,000-yard season, the most in franchise history. He can also extend his team-record streak of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to six. Fitzgerald (585 yards, four touchdowns) and wide receiver Andre Roberts (540 yards, five touchdowns) can become just the second duo in club history with at least 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns each in a single season. Fitzgerald and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, now with the Baltimore Ravens, accomplished the feat in 2008.
Linebacker Daryl Washington leads the Cardinals with a career-high eight sacks. He is on track for 14 sacks, which would be the most by a linebacker in franchise history. The single-season club record for sacks is 16.5 set by former defensive end Simoen Rice in 1999.
St. Louis Rams (3-5)
Running back Steven Jackson, the team’s all-time leading rusher (9,496), has rushed for 403 yards and aims to become the sixth player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons. He would join Tomlinson (eight) and Pro Football Hall of Famers in Sanders (10), Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), and Thurman Thomas (eight).
Quarterback Sam Bradford is on pace for 3,594 passing yards, which would be his second 3,500-yard performance in his first three NFL seasons…Wide receiver Chris Givens has a 50+ yard reception in five consecutive games, the longest streak by a rookie in the Super Bowl era…Defensive end Robert Quinn is on track for 14 sacks, which would be the most by a Ram since 2001 (Leonard Little, 14.5).
Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein is on pace for 10 50-yard field goals, which would be the most in a season all-time.
New Orleans Saints (3-5)
Quarterback Drew Brees is on pace for 5,098 passing yards. It would mark Brees’ third career 5,000-yard season. Entering 2012, there have been only three other 5,000-yard passing seasons in the history of the NFL. Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL-record 51 consecutive games and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (47 games) earlier this year.
Tight end Jimmy Graham is on track for his second consecutive season with at least 80 receptions (81) and 10 touchdowns (10). He is the only Saints’ tight end to reach either milestone in a single season. Wide receiver Marques Colston is on pace for 88 catches, 1,252 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would be the second wide receiver in club history with at least 80 catches, 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns in a season (Joe Horn)
Defensive end Cam Jordan is on track for a career-high 12 sacks, which would be the second-most by a Saint in the past 10 years (Will Smith, 13.0 in 2009).
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
Quarterback Michael Vick has 2,095 passing yards and 300 rushing yards. He can join Newton (2011) as the only players in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in the same season. Vick reached 20,000 career passing yards (20,007) and is the only player in league annals with at least 20,000 passing yards and 5,000 rushing yards (5,519).
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has six career 70+ yard touchdowns (four receiving, two punt returns) and only Timmy Brown (nine) has more in club history. Jackson is on pace for his third career 1,000-yard season and would join former wide receivers in Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick as the only Eagles with at least three such seasons.
Running back LeSean McCoy has 623 rushing yards and aims to become the fourth Eagle to rush for at least 1,200 yards in back-to-back seasons (Wilbert Montgomery, Ricky Watters and Brian Westbrook).
Dallas Cowboys (3-5)
Quarterback Tony Romo is on pace for a franchise-record 4,788 passing yards. It would mark Romo’s fourth 4,000-yard season and he is the only Cowboy to pass for 4,000 yards in a season.
Tight end Jason Witten is on track for 116 receptions, which would be the most by a TE in a season in NFL history, shattering the current mark held by Gonzalez (102). Witten has 754 career receptions and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (750) for the most in franchise history. Witten (1,076) and wide receivers Miles Austin (1,274) and Dez Bryant (1,006) are on pace to be the first trio in club history to each have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware has nine sacks and needs 6 for his fourth 15-sack season. He is the only Cowboy to record at least 15 sacks in a season.
Washington Redskins (3-6)
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the team’s first-round selection (No. 2 overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, is on pace for 3,543 passing yards and 940 rushing yards. He can join NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham (1990) as the only players in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and rush for 900 yards in the same season. Griffin can become the first quarterback to rush for 900 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single season.
Rookie running back Alfred Morris is on pace for 1,409 rushing yards and he would join former running backs Clinton Portis (2005 and 2008) and Stephen Davis (1999 and 2001) as the only running backs in team history with a 1,400-yard season…Griffin and Morris are the first rookie quarterback/running back duo in NFL annals to each rush for at least 500 yards.
Carolina Panthers (2-6)
Quarterback Cam Newton, the 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is the first player in NFL history with at least 5,000 passing yards (5,953), 25 passing touchdowns (27), 1,000 rushing yards (1,053) and 15 rushing touchdowns (18) in a player’s first two NFL seasons. Newton’s 18 rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback in his first two NFL seasons.
Wide receiver Steve Smith leads the team with 630 yards and is on pace for 1,260 yards. It would mark Smith’s franchise-record seventh 1,000-yard season.
Defensive ends Charles Johnson (7.5) and Greg Hardy (6.5) and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (5) are on pace to be the first trio in franchise history to each record at least 10 sacks in the same season. Johnson can join Chicago Bears’ defensive end Julius Peppers (2004-06) and Mike Rucker (2001-03) as the only Panthers to record at least 9 sacks in three consecutive years.
Information provided by NFL Communications