The National Football League just saw the tenth week of the season come and go, getting us a little closer to the playoffs. The playoff races in both conferences are headed towards tight finishes down the stretch. There are a good number of teams with legitimate shots at making the playoffs and competing for the Super Bowl.
After ten weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs are the lone unbeaten team in the NFL sitting at 9-0, leading the AFC West. The Seattle Seahawks who represent the NFC West, have the second best mark at 9-1. After this week, there were no more winless teams as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first wins of the season.
The AFC West looks like it will be sending two teams to the playoffs as the Denver Broncos are right behind the Chiefs with a record of 8-1. The two teams meet up this Sunday in a showdown that will have the attention of many fans across the league. Assuming the Chiefs and Broncos both make the playoffs, this leaves the rest of the AFC to battle it out for four playoff spots.
The New England Patriots have overcome numerous injuries to key players this season to sit atop the AFC East with a 7-2 record. Behind the Patriots in the division is the New York Jets, who at 5-4 are currently in the sixth and final playoff spot. Things are bound to change over the next seven weeks as the Jets have traded off wins and losses all season long. Not too far behind the Jets are the Miami Dolphins, also in the AFC East. The Dolphins are in a world of trouble off the field, but still have a chance with a 4-5 record.
Speaking of 4-5 records, five teams, including the Dolphins are 4-5 on the season. The Tennessee Titans (4-5) squandered a golden opportunity to gain some ground on the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) for first place in the AFC South. The Titans lost at home to the winless Jaguars, giving the Jags its first win of the season. Two other 4-5 teams reside in the AFC North and are the Cleveland Browns and reigning, defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Ahead of them in the standings is the Cincinnati Bengals, who are 6-4, but have a tendency to play inconsistent football from week-to-week. The San Diego Chargers are the other team sitting at 4-5, but will have a tough task ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs. Going back to the Chiefs and Broncos, the Chargers will likely be battling for that sixth playoff spot.
The NFC is a little more crowded in the playoff picture. The Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers (6-3) are battling it out for the NFC West, but the Arizona Cardinals are creeping in on them at 5-4. Seattle is the frontrunner to win the Division, but with seven weeks remaining in the season, anything can happen. The St. Louis Rams aren’t necessarily out of the playoff hunt just yet, but their road to the playoffs could be a bumpy one.
The NFC South race is heating up at rapid pace. The New Orleans Saints who are 7-2 are the leaders of the division and look primed to make another Super Bowl run. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that the Saints will win the division as the Carolina Panthers have rattled off five consecutive victories putting them at 6-3. The Atlanta Falcons have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments this season and sit at 2-7 while the Buccaneers just picked up win number one on the season. This is a two-team race the rest of the way.
The NFC North is jam-packed at the top of the division. The Detroit Lions (6-3), Chicago Bears (5-4), and Green Bay Packers (5-4) are all in contention to win the division. The Lions are coming off a huge victory over the Bears to take sole possession of first place in the division. Injuries could unfortunately play a huge role in this playoff race as both the Packers and Bears have lost their starting quarterbacks to injuries for at least a couple more week. The Minnesota Vikings virtually have not shot at making the playoffs as they are 2-7 and just aren’t a good team this season.
The worst division in the NFL this season is the NFC East. No team has run away with the division yet no team looks like they want to. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are both 5-5, but the Cowboys hold the tie-breaker by being 3-0 in the division. The Washington Redskins and New York Giants have underachieved to say the least this season, yet both teams are 3-6 and both teams have a valid shot at coming back to win the division. The Redskins were in this predicament last year and won the final seven games to win the division. With the way these four teams have performed this season, there is no telling what could happen over the course of the final seven weeks of the season.
There are ultimately six teams that have very little to zero chance at making the playoffs. Those teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6), Buffalo Bulls (3-7), Oakland Raiders (3-6), Houston Texans (2-7), Atlanta Falcons (2-7), Minnesota Vikings (2-7), Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.
The final month-and-a-half of the NFL regular season will be filled with excitement and disappointment, depending on who your root for. Which teams will take advantage of opportunities and which ones will squander them away? With seven weeks left, your guess is as good as mine.