At about the halfway point of the NFL season, we’ve pretty much been proven that we don’t know anything. All of the “unbeatable” teams have put up one or more stunning duds where just as we thought they were the cream of the crop, they fell back to earth. The outlook on the postseason and who is getting in and who is deserving to get in has never been more murky.
As we try to evaluate who is hot, who has the best resume, and who has the highest-ceiling, this sounds exactly like the College Football Playoff Committee that just started putting out their rankings every week. They just have a group of “experts” gather in a room and decide who the best, most-deserving four teams are and stick them in the playoffs and we argue about it week-to-week. There aren’t division winners and teams that earn a wild card- it’s just chaos.
So, since it truly feels like chaos right now in the NFL trying to decide who is good and who isn’t, who would make the playoff if it was decided like the College Football Playoff? Who would get snubbed? Who would get overrated? The NFL itself is just as big of a reality show without a voting committee. Let’s embrace the college chaos and pick the four teams based off of their wins and losses, the eye-test, and all of the other factors that goes into the selection process.
1 Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
While everyone else in the NFC seem to have put up inexcusable losses, the reigning champs have arguably been the most-steady team in the NFC. Their two losses are understandable- they had a tough game on the road against a potentially-contending Rams team 34-24, and they lost a divisional game on the road in New Orleans, who always seem to have their number. The rest of their wins have all seem to have come with ease as Tom Brady and the offense has been humming even still at age 44 as they average the most points per game in the league at 32.5, and they’ve been able to overcome multiple injuries on the secondary. If there was a committee like in college, they’re the easy, well-known pick. The voters would look at them like Alabama: the known commodity that is the steady ship that won’t go down as long as Brady is at the helm.
- Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
Before this week, the Cardinals may not have even been voted in by this hypothetical committee. They have no winning history to give them the benefit of the doubt, Kyler has been banged up, and Kliff Kingsbury is ridiculed by the media for his conservatism. It didn’t matter that they had the best record in the NFL. However, they just dominated the 49ers on the road without DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green, and were quarterbacked by COLT MCCOY. We thought they couldn’t win unless Kyler Murray was looking
like a Madden Player on Rookie skill-level, and they made a statement win by proving they have the pieces and coaching around him to continue to look legit. On top of having the best record in the league, they have impressive wins against the Rams on the road, the Browns, the Titans, and their only loss came at the very end against the Packers. They’re the new blood voted in by the committee that’s ready to finally get their shot.
- Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
The Ravens are the most resilient team in the NFL, and that would have enough play with the committee to give them the benefit of the doubt as the best team out of the AFC and into the playoff as the 3-seed. They have a weird home blowout loss to the Bengals 41-17 where they just collapsed in the second half and an overtime loss week 1 on the road to the Raiders, but every other game they’ve either won wire-to-wire in impressive fashion or put up an impressive comeback as they’ve found a way to win. They were down double-digits to the Chiefs, the Colts, and Vikings at some point and won all three of those games in the end. Lamar Jackson has been playing on another level as these comeback wins have appeared to crack the myth that their run-based offense that chews clock is incapable of coming from behind, and he’s been an MVP-candidate. The defense normally plays bully-ball, but they give up the most deep plays of any contender- if those simple mistakes can be fixed, they’ll be back to the powerhouse they once were. The Ravens’ resume of having a consistently-winning history with a former-MVP quarterback at the helm would get them into the playoff even with the bad loss.
- Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
The Rams are the inverse of the Cardinals where before this week they could have easily been given the #1 seed. They have a superstar-caliber team pedigree of Sean McVay at head coach, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on defense, Matt Stafford throwing bombs to Cooper Kupp, and they just traded for Von Miller. Their only loss came in a stunning in-division game at home against Arizona, who was the hottest team in football at the time. They blew out all of the games on their easy schedule thus far and even took care of business against the Bucs. However, they put up an embarrassing performance at home on Sunday Night Football against the Titans in their first game without Derrick Henry, who could be the most-valuable player in football. The Titans get up for big games, but they were shell-shocked and Stafford was clearly not himself. However, the committee would still put them in at fourth ahead of the rest of the league and recognize that almost everyone has had a shocking loss. The Rams have too much of a superstar pedigree that appears to have been improved from their teams in the past that have been as dominant as they have to be left out just yet.
The Notable Snubs
Buffalo Bills (5-3)
The Bills have the highest margin of victory by far, but the 9-6 loss to the Jaguars, the week one blanking by the Steelers at home, and the inability to get up for the first half against Miami and failing the eye test would leave them with more to be desired and on the outside looking in.
Green Bay Packers (7-2)
We know the Packers will be back to being one of the best teams in the NFL once they get the reigning MVP back, but the loss against the Chiefs where he was not there would have shown the committee just who the Packers really are without him. Yes, it was Jordan Love’s first ever start, but the Packers live, breathe, and die with Rodgers, and he wasn’t available and they haven’t looked as impressive because of it.