This column will run a few times through the end of the season and it will dissect the full and complete playoff picture in the NFL. I will go through every team and sort them into tiers based on their likelihood of making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl.
Instead of doing my six observations article this week, I wanted to break down the NFL playoff picture. As soon as Halloween ends and the Christmas trees go up (haters gonna hate), it’s time for deep and extensive analysis of potential playoff games.
Every single game that matters is meaningful at this point. So it’s time to sort out the pretenders from the contenders to see who has a chance to win it all.
Tier I- Legitimate Championship Contenders: New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots
In my eyes, these are the four best teams in football. These four teams have all of the tools to win a championship this season. It’s not much of a hot take saying that these teams can win the Super Bowl this year and I could go into a million details as to why they’re gonna win it all but that would be boring when everyone knows why already.
Tier II- Dark Horse Championship Contenders: Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers
These teams all can win the Super Bowl but it would take a lot of things going right for that to happen. The Chargers are likely going to have to start the playoffs on the road even though they’re a two loss team through ten weeks in the season. The Steelers are most likely going to have to go through New England. The Panthers will also likely have to go through New Orleans or Los Angeles. I don’t see any of those scenarios working out favorably for those teams.
Tier III- The teams you date but don’t marry: Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings
These teams are all good but not great. Chicago is young and inexperienced. The Eagles are lacking the magic that won them the Super Bowl a year ago and the Vikings have gotten trounced by some of the more legimite teams this season.
You can date them for a bit. They may make you some fun memories and you’ll definitely miss them when the season is all over but they’re unlikely going to put a ring on it when it’s all said and done.
Tier IV- The wild card round losers: Washington Redskins and Houston Texans
You can pencil one of these teams in for that 4:30pm on a Saturday gametime. They’ll likely get beaten on their home field by a team like the Chargers or the Panthers and that will be all she wrote for this season. How do both of these not-great teams have only three losses? Best part is, they play next week!
Tier V- They’ll be in the playoff conversation because each conference requires that 6 teams make it: Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks
Like most recent season in the NFL, the AFC is notoriously weak. Because of that, one of these teams is going to make the playoffs. I’m not sure which one, but one of them will. It will be totally irrelevant because they’ll likely play the Steelers or Patriots on the road and get the brakes beaten off of them.
Also, the Seahawks are okay. They have the look of an 8-8 team through and through.
Tier VI- Pretty much dead: Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars,
Maybe one of these teams makes the playoffs but it’s unlikely. There are glaring holes in all of these teams this season. It’s going to be tough for any of them to rebound significantly.
Tier VII- Absolutely dead and buried: New York Giants, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills
There’s been no shortage of drama from any of these teams. Between Nathan Peterman, Fitzmagic, torn ACL’s, and backup quarterbacks being arrested, these teams are all extremely bad. It goes without saying that there’s virtually a zero percent chance of any of these teams making the playoffs.
Tier VIII- Should be relegated to the CFL: Oakland Raiders
This team is the bottom of the barrel both on and off the field. They should be forced to play in the CFL and I don’t think that they’d come close to beating Alabama.