The NFL Playoffs are just six weeks away. With just five games remaining for every team, now is the time to get into position for the post season tournament. Here is a look at the current standings in each conference, and who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
First, the AFC. Currently, the teams in the playoffs are:
- Houston Texans (10-1, AFC South Division Leader)
- Baltimore Ravens (9-2, AFC North Division Leader)
- New England Patriots (8-3, AFC East Division Leader)
- Denver Broncos (8-3, AFC West Division Leader)
- Indianapolis Colts (7-4, Wildcard Leader)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, 2nd Wildcard)
Behind the current playoff teams, the Cincinnati Bengals are in seventh place in the AFC with a 6-5 record. Then come the Miami Dolphins, the only team at 5-6. The 4-7 teams are the San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills. The rest of the conference includes the Cleveland Browns (3-8), Oakland Raiders (3-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9), and the Kansas City Chiefs (1-10).
Obviously, the team that we all care about are those 5-6 Dolphins. Miami does not control their own destiny in trying to make it to the post season, but they are still in the hunt and cannot be ruled out yet. It's not an easy road, with two Patriots games, and at San Francisco still on the schedule, but it's not an impossible road either.
The division title is likely headed back to Foxboro with the Patriots this year, but the Wildcard could be in play for Miami. The fifth seed Colts still have to play at the Lions this week, then host Tennessee, before playing both games against the Texans split by a visit to Arrowhead stadium to face the Chiefs. Not necessarily an easy way to end the year.
The Steelers still play the second Ravens game, this one in Baltimore, this week. Then they have the Chargers in Pittsburgh, at the Cowboys, and two home games against the Ohio teams, Cincinnati then Cleveland. Making the road tough for the Steelers, however, is not knowing when their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return from his dislocated rib injury.
In the seventh position, one place out of the playoffs and one spot ahead of Miami, the Bengals travel to San Diego this week, then home against the Cowboys. Week 15 sees the Bengals in Philadelphia, before that game in Pittsburgh, and finally they host the Ravens.
If the Dolphins can come out of the Patriots and 49ers games these next two weeks still within touch of the playoffs, their games against the Jaguars and Bills in Miami could put them in position to make the season finale against the Patriots in Foxboro a meaningful contest.
It's a lot that has to happen....but the important part is that Miami is not out of contention yet.
Looking over at the NFC now, the current playoff picture is:
- Atlanta Falcons (10-1, NFC South Leader)
- San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1, NFC West Leader)
- Chicago Bears (8-3, NFC North Leader)
- New York Giants (7-4, NFC East Leader)
- Green Bay Packers (7-4, Wildcard Leader)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-5, 2nd Wildcard)
The rest of the conference has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at 6-5 on the outside looking in. Behind them, the 5-6 Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints are still trying to hold on to playoff chances. The St. Louis Rams are sitting at 4-6-1 on the year, with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals 4-7. Finally, the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles are both 3-8.
The interesting thing to watch the rest of the season are the Packers and the Seahawks. The NFL has to hope that those two teams either get hot or cold, taking control of their division or falling apart and fading out of playoff contention. Right now, the Packers are one game out of their division lead, while the Seahawks are in the playoffs by one game. Of course, everyone will look back at the final replacement refs game, with the simultaneous possession touchdown giving the Seahawks the win over the Packers - and making the NFL and NFL Referee Association agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The league cannot be pleased to see that one game margin come back into play as the season moves toward its conclusion.
Of course, a lot can happen over the next five weeks. An injury can always turn the landscape upside down, a team can got hot and roll of a bunch of wins, or a team can suddenly go cold. Hopefully, whatever happen, it will benefit the Dolphins.