The 2017 NFL season is officially at the halfway point with Week 9 coming to an end. Eight teams have at least six wins on the year, and only four of the 2016 playoff teams are in the current postseason picture.

What did we learn from all of Sunday’s games? Here are five takeaways from Week 9

The MVP award is Carson Wentz’s to lose

Wentz has to be considered the favorite to win the award after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Denver Broncos 51-23 Sunday. The quarterback has separated himself from Tom Brady, Alex Smith and the now-injured Deshaun Watson as the No.1 MVP candidate.

Leading the Eagles to an NFL-best 8-1 record, Wentz had another stellar performance in Week 9, throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He now ranks first with 23 touchdowns on the year, and his 104.1 passer rating is fourth in the NFL. Wentz hasn’t had a bad game yet, never posting a passer rating below 83.0 or throwing more than one interception in a game. He has 19 touchdowns and three picks since Week 3.

The quarterback on the best team is usually named the MVP, and there’s no doubt that Philadelphia has been the league’s best team halfway through the season. The Eagles are beating teams handily, winning four of their last five games by double-digits. Philadelphia’s offense hasn't scored fewer than 20 points once.

Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles The Philadelphia Eagles' win over the Denver Broncos highlights the results of NFL Week 9. Pictured: Carson Wentz looks on during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 5, 2017 in Philadelphia. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The AFC South is a two-team race

The division that was up for grabs just a couple of weeks ago now only has two realistic winners. That happened with last week’s news that neither Andrew Luck nor Deshaun Watson will take the field again in 2017.

The Indianapolis Colts beat the Houston Texans 20-14, winning on the road in Week 9. Indianapolis still sits in last place, and Jacoby Brissett isn’t going to the playoffs with a defense that’s allowed the most total yards in the NFL. Tom Savage did even more to prove how valuable Watson was by completing just 43 percent of his passes in the loss. Houston had just one offensive touchdown after scoring at least 33 points in each of their previous five games.

With both the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars sharing first place at 5-3, the AFC South might come down to their Week 17 matchup in Tennessee. The Titans won their first meeting of the year, though Jacksonville has been the more impressive team with the NFL’s top scoring defense.

There are more big injuries than ever before

Injuries are part of the NFL, but it’s hard to remember a time when this many big names went down for the season. Several All-Pros and MVP candidates won’t play again until 2018, and it’s having a major impact on the standings.

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots lost their best receiver in Julian Edelman before the regular season began. Kansas City, arguably New England’s greatest threat in the AFC, lost their best defensive player in Eric Berry before 30 teams even started the year. J.J. Watt, the best defensive end since Reggie White, is done this season, as well. That list doesn’t even include Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Rodgers, who might be the three most fun players to watch in the NFL.

Middle of the road quarterbacks are getting hurt, too. Jameis Winston suffered an injury in Week 9, leaving a game for the second time. Carson Palmer and Sam Bradford might not play again this year.

Dallas’ defense is back to where it needs to be

The Cowboys didn’t have a great defense in 2016, but it was good enough to give Dallas the NFC’s best record. After struggling through the first quarter of the 2017 season, the unit is playing well enough to potentially get the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.

Dallas went into its bye week with three losses in four games, having allowed at least 35 points in each defeat. The Cowboys have since gone on a three-game winning streak, allowing fewer than 20 points in each contest. Playing well against the 49ers and a banged-up Redskins' team is one thing, but doing so against the Chiefs is another. Dallas shut down one of the NFL’s best offenses in their 28-17 win over Kansas City.

With Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and a top offensive line, the Cowboys don’t need an elite defense in order to make a deep playoff run. If the unit keeps playing like this, Dallas might be the biggest threat to Philadelphia in the NFC.

The New York Giants are headed for a top-three draft pick

New York was defeated at home by the Rams 51-17 in Week 9, but that might not even be rock bottom for the Giants. If the team can’t win on the road against the winless 49ers in Week 10, they might not get another victory in 2017.

Take a look at New York’s schedule and try to find another win after their trip to San Francisco. The 1-7 Giants still have road games remaining against the Redskins, Raiders and Cardinals. They’ll host the Redskins, Chiefs, Cowboys and Eagles. Oakland is the only one of those teams with a losing record.



A Week 10 win should ensure that the Giants will finish ahead of both Cleveland and San Francisco in the standings. Will they be able to catch anyone else? Tampa Bay (2-6) is the only other team with fewer than three wins, and they beat New York in Week 4. A pick near the top of the draft should mean the Giants will look much different in 2018. General manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo won’t survive such an embarrassment, and the organization will likely draft a quarterback and prepare for life without Eli Manning.