With week 11 of the National Football League coming to an end, the playoffs are starting to look different now. The top teams in the league appear to be NFC teams with a shortage of qualified AFC contenders.
In the NFC, every week appears to be a pivotal week for a number of teams who are fighting to put themselves in the position to make sure they are still around when the post season starts in January.
Starting with the shakeup that occurred Nov. 20 when the reigning NFC champion, Atlanta Falcons, took on the Seattle Seahawks in a Monday night showdown. With the win over the Seahawks, the Falcons now hold the tie-breaker over every team in the hunt for a wild card spot.
The Falcons moved to the sixth spot after ending the Seahawks Monday night games win streak, which not only put the Seahawks out of the wild card for now, but also put them behind the Detroit Lions. The Falcons, Seahawks and Lion all have 6-4 records, but the Falcons are starting to get into a groove at the right time of the season.
Their next three games are at home but they also have a tough stretch to finish the season. They will play the New Orleans Saints twice, the Minnesota Vikings once, the Carolina Panthers once, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice. All of these games would have been mostly irrelevant if it had not been for that Monday night victory.
The Philadelphia Eagles are still the number one seed at 9-1 with the Vikings in second at 8-2, the Saints in third also at 8-2, the Los Angeles Rams in fourth at 7-3, and the Panthers in fifth also at 7-3 with the Falcons now taking the last spot at 6-4.
To show how competitive the NFC South really is, if the playoffs were to start today, they would have three teams out of their division in the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers are also in the hunt at 5-5 but let’s all be real. Green Bay will not make it far anywhere without the great Aaron Rodgers and after being dominated two weeks in a row, first by the Falcons and then by the Eagles, it appears the Cowboys window has now closed as well.
The AFC is nowhere near as competitive as the NFC. You have the usual teams at the top of the conference in the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are 8-2 and on five and six game winning streaks, respectively.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in third at 7-3. They are a team on the rise. They have already exceeded their win total for any of the past six seasons. Their win over the Cleveland Browns Nov. 19 put them up a game on the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South.
The Kansas City Chiefs have fallen from the best team in the NFL to number four in the AFC with a record of 6-4. The best thing that can be said about the Chiefs’ playoff chances is that their division is in even worst shape then they are, so their chances are looking up.
Even after losses in four of their past five games, the Chiefs still have a two-game lead in the AFC West. The Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos all have losing records.
The Titans are right behind the division leader Jaguars with a record of 6-4 but are fifth in the conference. Their Nov. 16 loss to the Steelers, combined with the Jaguars win diminished their chances of winning the AFC South. Despite that, the Titans remain a strong playoff contender, thanks to the conference being relatively weak.
The Baltimore Ravens locs up the final playoff spot for now with a record of 5-5. A shutout of the Packers at Lambeau Field, combined with the Buffalo Bills third consecutive lost, has dropped the Ravens directly into the wild card race. The Buffalo Bills are in the hunt, right behind the Ravens and they share the same record at this point of the season.
There are also six other teams still in the race for the playoffs. They all share the same losing record. The Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers and Raiders are all at 4-6.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.