I’m keeping the Eagles at #1 despite their loss and mounting injuries. Based on full season body of work combined with overall roster talent, I still feel like they’ve earned this spot. I have the Bills behind them as the top AFC team. A lot will be learned this week on Monday Night as they face the Bengals, who nearly blew what was a fairly comfortable lead this past week. I have the 49ers up here as well. Their QB question is certainly going to be a concern in the playoffs when a single play makes such a huge difference. But their defense is what wins them games. Rounding out this top tier are the Chiefs, who may have to travel during the playoffs this year, something new for them.
Big win by the Cowboys, albeit against a backup QB. I still can’t help but feel like they’ll disappoint in the playoffs. Watch out for this Chargers team that is getting healthier and starting to realize some of their lofty preseason expectations. They won’t be an easy out. The Vikings, once again, found a way to win another nailbiter. This team makes no sense, but their record is what their record is. And the Ravens simply need Lamar back to get a fair assessment, but they’re certainly at least a threat in the AFC.
The Lions finally came back to life as they were absolutley smacked around this week. Their playoff hopes took a big hit this week, hence the drop, but this team is still the only one of this tier that would really threaten to win a playoff game. The Packers continued their winning ways in fairly impressive fashion. They now have a very realistic shot at the playoffs, and they do have Aaron Rodgers. But they wouldn’t be a feared team. The Giants and Commanders are in great positions to make the postseason, but they’ll both be one and done most likely. And the Seahawks need to win out and get some help, but they’re also one and done if they were to get in.
In the AFC, the Dolphins freefall continued this week. And now Tua may be concussed. What was once a very promising season may wind up ending before the playoffs. The Jaguars are clearly the best team in the AFC South, as the Titans are officially a mess. I don’t think the Jags could make a run, but winning their division would be a significant accomplishment. The Jets and the Patriots are currently on the outside looking in, but they both still have playoff hopes. The Jets would be the bigger threat of the two. And then there are the Steelers, who have been incredibly impressive of late and also have an outside shot of getting in still. Arguably more important than getting into the playoffs would be keeping the “Mike Tomlin has never finished below .500” fact alive.
Yes, the winner of the NFC South will be hosting a playoff game still. In fact, this week was actually a solid week for the 3 teams still alive. The Panthers are the best team in my opinion. Their defense is very good and their offense can run the ball. And don’t look now, but Sam Darnold is starting to look competent. The Buccaneers once again proved how terrible they are, but also that Tom Brady is never out of a game. And the Saints stink, but also won, and do still have life.
For the rest of the teams, go out and win some games, build the winning culture, mess up other people’s playoff dreams, and DO NOT TANK. A higher draft pick is way less important than building a winning culture in your organization along with momentum heading into the offseason.