We are roughly a third of the way through the NFL season and with each passing week we have more and more information about the 32 NFL teams. I’ll do the full simulation update after the Monday Night Football game tonight, but wanted to recap some of the big games this weekend and how they affected the playoff picture. We’ll look at each division in detail and I’ll list their average number of wins.
The Patriots have the highest average win total in the AFC, but that is not the surprise. The surprise is that the Buffalo Bills have the second highest average in the AFC. That’s right, higher than Pittsburgh and even higher than Denver. While the Bills have looked impressive at times this season, the main culprit to their projected success is an easy schedule. They still play the Dolphins (twice), Jets, Browns, and Jaguars. If Buffalo can win the games they are favored to, they have a great chance to make the playoffs as we highlighted earlier.
I placed an asterisk because we don’t know exactly how long Ben Roethlisberger will be out for the Steelers. The number shown is based on him missing Week 7 against the Patriots, and then being back in Week 9 after the bye. While Pittsburgh suffered a bad loss to the Dolphins this week, every team in the AFC North lost this week so they didn’t give up any ground in the standings. The Ravens and Bengals will hang around but the division is still in the Steelers’ grasp for now.
Let’s not mince words; this division is a dumpster fire. None of these teams are very good but one of them is going to be guaranteed a playoff spot. The Colts no longer have the benefit of the doubt to turn it around at some point as they sit behind Houston and Tennessee in projected standings.
In what may be the best division in the NFL this season, it really tightened up this week. This was a great result for the Chiefs as the top two teams in the division both lost and they now stand just a half game back in the standings. The Chargers are 2-4 but that record is very deceiving as they have inexplicably lost games in the fourth quarter and overtime that they had no business losing. In an alternate universe, the Chargers could be 6-0 right now.
AFC Playoff Bracket
If the AFC West isn’t the best division, then it’s the NFC East. Last week, we thought it was a good idea to bet both the Cowboys and Eagles at plus money to win the division and now the Cowboys are the clear frontrunners. As many people that jumped on the Eagles bandwagon early in the season seem to be jumping off now. We’ll quickly learn how “real” the Eagles are as they have a very challenging schedule coming up. As we’ve seen in recent history, this division could very well be decided on the final Sunday of the season.
We got a lot of backlash when we pegged the Vikings as heavy favorites to win the NFC North, but didn’t hear much after the Packers offense looked stagnant yesterday. Minnesota has a 2-game lead in the standings and frankly just look like the better team at this point. Minnesota was our Super Bowl favorite last week and there is nothing that happened in Week 6 that would suggest they shouldn’t be at or near the top now.
What originally looked like a slow start for the Panthers now just appears to be a bad team, especially on defense. Meanwhile the Falcons looked impressive in defeat in Seattle and deserved a better fate than the referees swallowing their whistles on a clear pass interference call. Atlanta is in the driver’s seat in the NFC North and it doesn’t look like anyone is within striking distance as of now.
The Cardinals were also not pleased by the result in Seattle yesterday. The Cardinals have a great chance tonight to get back to .500 against the Jets. If they lose, they look to be in the same boat as the Panthers: a talented team that just isn’t winning games. I think it would be really funny for Jeff Fisher and the Rams to finish 7-9 and the simulation pegs them for exactly that.
NFC Playoff Bracket