The NFL is hitting its final month of the 2014 season, which means power rankings are out, playoff picture and standings are in. No teams has clinched a playoff spot yet, and it’s still quite a busy tangle and battle for the seeding, home field advantage and to even get into the playoffs.
In the NFC, three teams hold a 9-3 record: Cardinals, currently sliding and fast, the Packers, maybe the best team in the NFL and the Eagles, who finally won with some style this weekend. In the AFC, it seems to be the Patriots, Broncos and then everyone else, including the AFC North, with four teams at 7-5 or better.
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-3): Currently leading the NFC West, and have the tiebreak advantage over the Green Bay Packers due to a better record within the conference, and one over the Eagles due to their head to head.
2. Green Bay Packers (9-3): Leading the NFC North, and have an advantage over the Eagles because they beat them when the two teams met this season.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3): Leading the NFC East
4. Atlanta Falcons (5-7): Right now they’re the leaders in the NFC South with the tiebreak advantage because of their head to head against the Saints. The two teams still need to play each other.
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4): They Seahawks are ahead of the Lions because of a better record in common games, and are ahead of the Cowboys, despite losing to them, because of a better record in conference games.
6. Detroit Lions (8-4): Have an advantage over the Cowboys due to a better win percentage in conference games.
Who is still in it: Theoretically, everyone except for the 3-9 Redskins and Giants. Even the 2-10 Buccaneers and 3-8-1 Carolina Panthers still have a shot in the division known as the NFC South. But looking at the four 5-7 teams (Rams, Bears, Saints, Vikings), only the Saints have a shot of actually making it, and it’s a pretty good one considering they’re tied for the lead in their division.
As for the teams that really have a chance? The Dallas Cowboys, obviously, at 8-4, with two division games on the road left for them to play (in Washington and Philadelphia) while the 7-5 49ers need to hope the Cardinals go through one hell of a collapse between now and the end of this season in a month’s time. We might have an 11-5 team not making it into the playoffs because of the NFC South.
1. New England Patriots (9-3): The AFC East leaders and also have the head-to-head advantage over the Broncos.
2. Denver Broncos (9-3): Currently leading the AFC West.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1): Leading the AFC North.
4. Indianapolis Colts (8-4): AFC South leaders.
5. San Diego Chargers (8-4): Not division leaders.
6. Miami Dolphins (7-5): There are five more 7-5 teams in the conference – Chiefs, The rest of the AFC North and the Buffalo Bills. So why is Miami in right now? According to ESPN, Wins tie break over Kansas City and Baltimore based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Buffalo (Miami wins tie break over Buffalo based on best win percentage in division games). Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Cleveland (Baltimore wins tie break over Cleveland and Pittsburgh based on head-to-head win percentage). Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Pittsburgh (Baltimore wins tie break over Cleveland and Pittsburgh based on head-to-head win percentage).
Below Miami are the five other 7-5 teams, with the 6-6 Houston Texans still hoping for a miracle. Four teams: Tennessee Titans (2-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10), New York Jets (2-10) and the Oakland Raiders (1-11) are all out of the picture.
What’s the order after Miami? Right now it’s Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, Steelers and Browns. But each week brings us a different story and twist, especially in the AFC North.