The season of giving may be coming soon upon us, but in the National Football League, it is the season of stinginess from here on out. The playoffs are nearing, and every team is looking for a late-season push to reach the NFL’s second season.
Here is the current state of the NFL as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. (Standings are updated as of 11/10/16)
- Dallas Cowboys: Currently sitting at 7-1, few predicted the success the Cowboys have had so far this year. They seem to be a lock for the division crown.
- New York Giants: The Giants have had a typically inconsistent yet entertaining season, but they have overcome adversity and currently have a wild card spot.
- Washington Redskins: Last year’s division winners, the Redskins have had a more difficult 2016 season than expected, but one can never count them out.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Despite their last-place ranking, the Eagles are arguably the most dangerous team in the NFC East. Divisional games have been their undoing this season.
- Minnesota Vikings: After jumping out to a 5-0 start, things have settled down for the Vikings. Still, they remain heavy favorites for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
- Detroit Lions: The Lions have a fierce offense, but a lackluster defense. If they can continue to score enough points to cover their defensive deficiencies, they have a chance at the playoffs.
- Green Bay Packers: The Packers may only boast a 4-4 record, but they are usually a second-half team anyway. As long as Aaron Rodgers is in town, the Packers are playoff-bound.
- Chicago Bears: The rebuild is on for the Bears, but the future looks bright, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have been an entertaining team so far this year, with an explosive offense outweighing their defensive miscues. Atlanta needs a better defensive effort to go deep in the playoffs.
- New Orleans Saints: The Saints always have a great offense, but their trademark lack of defense will keep them out of the playoffs again.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers expected to take leaps forward in 2016, but are just the same old Bucs. They need a better offensive line to be contenders.
- Carolina Panthers: The NFL’s biggest surprise, the reigning NFC champions have been stuck in the mud in 2016 at 3-5. It’s time to look forward to 2017 in Carolina.
- Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are a rare breed in the NFL: a consistent playoff team. Seattle is young enough to make another run if they can stay healthy this year.
- Arizona Cardinals: Many experts’ sleeper Super Bowl pick, the Cards have yet to take flight this year. The Cards have gone longer than any other sports team between championships, something that will likely not change this year after all.
- Los Angeles Rams: The Rams may have moved to sunny Los Angeles, but things haven’t changed for the franchise; they remain the same old mediocre team they were in St. Louis.
- San Francisco 49ers: It has been a drastic fall from grace for the 49ers, who only have one win on the season and have yet to find a winning formula since the departure of coach Jim Harbaugh.
- New England Patriots: Despite finally serving his suspension for DeflateGate, QB Tom Brady has been better than ever in 2016. The Patriots just keep on trucking.
- Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins, led by running back Jay Ajayi, have been a surprising 4-4 team, but are ultimately nothing more than a spoiler.
- Buffalo Bills: Even though they haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, it seems as if the Bills are on the cusp of returning to respectability. A winning season would go a long way for Bills fans.
- New York Jets: The Jets always have high expectations for themselves, but the song remains the same: they are talented enough to tease, but not consistent enough to warrant contention.
- Baltimore Ravens: A bounceback year was in order for the Ravens following a disappointing 2015 season, and so far they’ve delivered. They have a shot this postseason with their tough defense.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have the league’s best trio of offensive playmakers, but their offensive line and overall defense has a bit too many holes to be contenders.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Despite a 3-4-1 record, the Bengals remain dangerous. If they too can get their defense together, they’re a playoff team. Until then, they’re a .500 squad.
- Cleveland Browns: The Browns have started 5 different quarterbacks and have yet to win a game this season.
- Houston Texans: The Texans spent big money this offseason, but Brock Osweiler’s indecisiveness and the injury to JJ Watt likely seal the Texans’ hopes of playing in the Super Bowl at their own stadium.
- Indianapolis Colts: It is a shame that Andrew Luck is wasting his prime years playing for a bad Colts team. Their window has all but closed, despite Luck’s heroics.
- Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota has had a tremendous season for the Titans at QB and the defense has shown major signs of improvement. Things are trending upwards for Tennessee.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Every year, the Jaguars are a trendy pick to go .500 and break their stretch of losing seasons. However, every year they continue to disappoint.
- Oakland Raiders: The Oakland Raiders are finally contenders again. Derek Carr is a stud at QB, and he has a large cast of partners in crime. The Oakland defense could use work, but the offense is so potent, the Raiders continue to just win, baby.
- Denver Broncos: The reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Broncos are arguably the toughest matchup in the NFL. Their intimidating defense can shut down any team, and their offense is loaded with deep threats.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Although some count out the Chiefs due to their lack of star power, they are a grinding squad that knows how to win.
- San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have had a difficult season this year. They have played many close games and have lost in the most crushing of ways. Philip Rivers is still a quality QB, but he’s running out of time at age 35.
Projected Playoff Seeding:
- Dallas Cowboys
- Minnesota Vikings
- Atlanta Falcons
- Seattle Seahawks
- Green Bay Packers
- New York Giants
- New England Patriots
- Oakland Raiders
- Houston Texans
- Baltimore Ravens
- Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Champions: Seattle Seahawks
AFC Champions: New England Patriots
Super Bowl Champions: New England Patriots