Heading into the final seven weeks of the season, it’s no longer about power rankings, but about playoff positions. It’s quite clear that the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots won’t miss the postseason, but after that it gets a lot more complicated, not to mention the division titles still up for grabs.
Things are especially complicated in the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys hold the lead but are tied at 5-5 with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins at 3-6 are still in the picture. The same goes for the Ravens and the Browns in the AFC North at 4-5, hoping for more slip ups from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Except for the NFC East, which is one big mess thanks to the Dallas Cowboys failing to hover beyond the .500 mark all season mark, it’s quite clear who is going to win each division. The Seattle Seahawks at 9-1 just might be the best team in the NFL (beating the Falcons 33-10 this week), and seem to have a clear and almost unbeatable lead over the San Francisco 49ers. It’s hard to see the Niners (6-3, losing to the Panthers) not making the playoffs, but they’ll have to play in a wildcard game to do it.
The New Orleans Saints have the lead in the NFC South (destroying Dallas 49-17), but there are still two games between them and the Carolina Panthers (one game behind at 6-3), which will decide who wins the division and who (probably) joins them as a wildcard. The Dallas Cowboys are now in the lead of their division only thanks to a head to head lead over the Philadelphia Eagles (also 5-5). The two teams meet in Dallas on the final week of the season.
The Kansas City Chiefs (9-0, leading the AFC West) are going to play the Denver Broncos twice in the next three weeks, which will probably determine who wins the division and gets the number one seed in the conference. At the current state of things, the Broncos will have to play a Wild Card playoff game while the Chiefs will get one more week of rest.
The AFC North is probably the toughest division to call, with the Bengals in the lead (6-4), but both the Browns and the Ravens have beaten them (4-5), making it quite close until the very end. The AFC East is the exact opposite, as usual. The Patriots are at 7-2, and even the 5-4 Jets won’t be good enough in the long run to take their top spot. Miami, at 4-5, are also still in the picture.
What of the AFC South? Hard to see the Colts, despite their shocking loss to the St.Louis Rams (38-8). They are at 6-3, but the closest team to them, the Tennessee Titans, just lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texas are a shattered bunch at 2-7 and the most disappointing team this season.