We’re now several weeks into the latest NFL season and some big gaps are starting to form between the top teams and those who won’t be in the picture for titles at the end of the season. Week 6 has come and gone, and every team has played enough games for us to really start judging their credentials. It’s time to start taking a look at the potential playoff picture and make some educated guesses about the teams we can expect to see clinching their divisional titles in the weeks to come. Obviously, the NFL is always unpredictable and there are surely many shocks and surprises just waiting for us in the near future, but now is still a good time to take an overview of the season so far.
Right now, it’s interesting to look at the similarities and differences between the two conferences. In both, we can easily identify the teams that are running away with their division titles. The Patriots, Broncos and Bengals remain undefeated in the AFC, while the Packers and Panthers are also putting distance between themselves and the rest in the NFC. Every single team in the NFL has won at least one game by this point, with four teams going 1-5 so far. The likes of the Jaguars, Ravens and Lions probably won’t be holding out much hope of turning their seasons around in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, there is still plenty of hope for teams that have experienced mixed seasons so far.
The Indianapolis Colts are a great example of this. After a very rough start to their season in which they lost to the Bills and the Jets, the team went on a great run against all three of their AFC South rivals, the Titans, Jaguars and Texans. A recent loss to the Patriots put an end to the Colts’ victory spree but the team still find themselves top of their division with a 3-3 record. They were without star signal caller Andrew Luck for some of their victories, proving that the team has plenty of talent aside from the QB. The Colts have a good history in the AFC South. Indeed, they’ve managed to win a very impressive total of nine titles in the thirteen years since the division was created. Naturally, experts are once again picking the Indianapolis outfit to claim the divisional title.
Meanwhile, over in the NFC, the New York Giants have endured a very similar season to the Colts. Their 2015-16 story began with a couple of losses to the Cowboys and Falcons. The team then rallied and went on a three-game victory streak with wins against the Redskins, Bills and 49ers. However, that run was ended in dominant fashion by the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving the New York squad with a 3-3 record. The Eagles’ win grants them a 3-3 record as well and pushes them above the Giants into top spot of the NFC East division. The 27-7 final score shows just how good the Eagles were and installs them as favorites for the title, but the Giants will do all they can to fight back. This is definitely one division to watch in the weeks to come.
It’s worth taking a look at some of the divisions that already seem to be over as well. In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers are unsurprisingly top of the table with a 6-0 record. Particularly impressive victories against teams like the Seahawks and the Rams have helped the Packers along the way, and experts currently give them an incredible 97.8% chance of winning the division. The Patriots are enjoying similar success in the AFC East. They have a 5-0 record and are favorites for the title, as well as being one of the top picks to make it to the Super Bowl. However, the Jets are right behind them in the division with a solid 4-1 record.
The Arizona Cardinals have a good lead ahead of their opponents in the NFC West, but that could change in the weeks to come. The Cardinals started the season in great fashion, winning three games in a row. However, their most recent victory against the Lions has been sandwiched between two defeats against the Rams and Steelers. The Cardinals have a 4-2 record with the Rams behind them at 2-3. Back in the AFC, we have to talk about the Bengals. The Cincinnati squad have been arguably the best team in the NFL this season and sit top of their table with a 6-0 record. The Bengals’ offense has been dominant, thanks in no small part to a resurgent Andy Dalton and some very effective tactics. The Steelers are behind them in the AFC North with a 4-2 record but we can’t see anyone stopping the Bengals right now.
We’ve talked about the favorites, but it’s worth mentioning the teams that don’t really have much chance of making the playoffs anymore. The Lions, 49ers, Dolphins, Titans, Chiefs and Jaguars, among others, have struggled to impose themselves in this new season. Some of these teams still have a chance of turning things around, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely as time goes by. To finish up this playoff picture, let’s look at the top-rated teams to earn a Super Bowl victory. First up, we have the Patriots. Following closely behind are the Green Bay Packers, then the Arizona Cardinals. The Bengals are the fourth-favorite team for Super Bowl victory and the Broncos round out the top five.