Although the league heads into Week 4, it is never too early to take a look at the National Football League playoff picture.
As we currently stand this is the current playoff standings, followed by how I believe they’ll look at season’s end.
CURRENT AFC PICTURE
1st Round Byes: 1. New England Patriots (3-0), 2. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
3. Denver Broncos (3-0) vs. 6. Oakland Raiders (2-1)
4. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) vs. 5. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
IN THE HUNT: 7. New York Jets (2-1), 8. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
PREDICTED AFC PICTURE
1st Round Byes: 1. New England Patriots (14-2), 2. Denver Broncos (12-4)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) vs. 6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
4. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) vs. 5. Buffalo Bills (11-5)
Being that it’s so early in the season, basically every team is still in the hunt. The Patriots look like the best team in the conference by far. Once you get past them theres a group of maybe three teams that look like they could threaten to challenge them as the top dogs. Those teams would be the Bengals, Broncos, and Bills.
At the moment the Colts look much worse than last year, the Jets still can’t get productive play from their quarterback, and the Steelers have now lost Big Ben to injury. Meanwhile the Chargers can’t get out of their own way, and the Ravens find themselves at 0-3 trying to salvage their season. You also can’t expect the AFC South to produce a wild card team. The conference as a whole looks weak.
One team that could surprise people is Oakland. They’re currently in the final playoff spot and have an easy game against the Bears upcoming. If they win that game they’ll be 3-1, facing the Broncos at home for the division lead. It’s crazy to think, but the Raiders could be back after a long while.
I believe the Chiefs will finish with a wild card spot. Jamaal Charles looks like the best running back in football, and while their defense was picked apart by Aaron Rodgers it still has loads of talent.
CURRENT NFC PICTURE
1st Round Byes: 1. Green Bay Packers (3-0), 2. Carolina Panthers (3-0)
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) vs. 6. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
4. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) vs. 5. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
PREDICTED NFC PICTURE
1st Round Byes: 1. Green Bay Packers (13-3), 2. Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
3. Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs. 6. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
4. New York Giants (8-8) vs. 5. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
There are more great teams in the NFC than in the AFC. With Green Bay, Arizona, and Seattle they make a formidable top tier of the conference. The Cowboys would also join that group if they didn’t lose their top three players from last season to free agency or injuries
The current NFC is tough to predict. At the moment the NFC East looks sadly pathetic, and there are few great teams past Arizona and Green Bay.
The Cowboys are currently the NFC East leaders, however I believe the Giants will end up winning the division at a lowly 8-8. The Giants have the best quarterback in the division and the best wide receiver with Dez Bryant and Tony Romo hurt. The Giants played both the Falcons and Cowboys close in their losses. This division will come down to who wins the division games, and I’d pick the Giants over any of the other three right now.
The NFC South is top heavy with the Falcons and Panthers. It’s safe to say neither Tampa Bay or New Orleans will threaten either for the division. Since I have two teams out of the West and two teams out of the North, there’s no room for Carolina.