At this point in the NFL season we have seen enough on teams to actually begin to gather firm opinions on each one. Fans, the media, and even front offices have started to realize what teams actually have a realistic shot at the playoffs and who’ll be playing for Andrew Luck.
Being the best team in the NFL doesn’t matter until you’re at least the best team in your conference, so I’ve split the NFL Power Rankings into the AFC and the NFC. The records are what they are, but I’ve become more comfortable with the teams as a whole instead of a particular teams most recent win or loss and that factors heavily into where they are ranked. Hopefully your team makes the cut and is one of the six listed above the fold.
Projected Playoff Teams
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – After the first week of the season everyone outside of Pittsburgh was ready to label this team to old & slow. They’ve only lost once (In Houston) since they came out flat in Week 1. The Steelers have an offense that’s led by a two-time Super Bowl champ and the best pass defense in the NFL. hey can confirm this #1 rating with back to back home wins against the Patriots & Ravens.
2. New England Patriots (5-2) - Despite what people were saying leading up to the Steelers game, Pittsburgh matches up perfectly against New England. Even though the Patriots are hard to watch on defense, I still like this offense to give them enough most weeks.
3. Houston Texans (5-3) – The Texans are strong in every aspect of the game. The defense is capable of shutting down the run and the pass. They can run or pass on anybody when they have the ball. Gary Kubiak has never had a defense that can win when the offense plays bad. They sit in first place and undefeated in their division despite playing a month without Andre Johnson.
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – The defense is there but you never know what offense will show up. I don’t trust Joe Flacco in big games or games where both teams have a stout defense. Flacco will struggle against the Steelers this week and it’ll allow Pittsburgh to concentrate more on Ray Rice.
5. Buffalo Bills (5-2) – This team will go as far as Fred Jackson takes them. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a game manager and he’s more than capable of spotting the safe route and getting the ball out. But any team that slows Jackson will be able of beating the Bills.
6. San Diego Chargers (5-2) - I know Oakland and KC fans are hating this pick but I still believe the Chargers will get it together. The Chiefs were a botched snap away from losing at home to the Chargers. As bad as this team has played they still sit atop the division with the same 4-3 as Oakland and Kansas City. Their peak is far greater than their foes.
Outside Looking In
7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) – They have some young talent and a great defense. The Bengals dwell in a division with the Steelers who have gone to three Super Bowl in recent years. They also have to get past a veteran, talented team that’s hungry to get to that next level. The Bengals are the team of the future in this division but they need another draft or two. They’ll be good but come up just short of the playoffs.
8. New York Jets (4-3) – I can’t put a team in the playoffs that can’t win on the road. If they beat the Bills in Buffalo then maybe I’ll start to believe they can overtake the last playoff spot. They’ll have that opportunity this weekend. If they lose this week they’ll be on pace for a .500 season. The Jets are 4-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.
9. Tennessee Titans (4-3) – Stubbornness is killing this team. All they have to do is bench Chris Johnson and make Javon Ringer the every down back. Having a rushing attack will ease Matt Hasselbeck’s workload. It’s not too late for the Titans. They sit 1/2 a game back in a bad division where the divisional leader has never got over that playoff hump.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) – A homeless man is leading the Chiefs on a great four game winning streak. They say it’s better to be lucky than good…I rather take good, it doesn’t run out. Nine more games is a long time to keep hoping for luck to get you a divisional title. For those that are riding with this “success”, here are the Chiefs’ wins: Vikings 22-17, Colts 28-24, Oakland 28-0 (the Kyle Boller / Carson Palmer game) and the Monday Night Philip Rivers’ fumble.
11. Oakland Raiders (4-3) – We all criticized Al Davis but the good moves he made, Hue Jackson is killing overnight. Jackson is attacking the NFL in a Bill Parcells manner. That’s not a compliment. Parcells would always take his former players with him to his next destination. It worked when these players were younger but as he aged these players did as well and they had no value. Jackson remembers how good Carson Palmer and TJ Houshmandzadeh were when he was there 5 years ago and now thinks they’ll put him over the top. Instead it will sink this team for years to come. Several teams were need of a high caliber wideout, yet no one went after Housh, except Hue who says he looks great.
12. Cleveland Browns (3-4) – They can’t score with most teams. They put too much pressure on their defense by constantly relying on them to keep teams from advancing the ball at all. The injuries and issues in the backfield have made the second year quarterback, Colt McCoy’s job a lot harder, especially in the first year of a new offense.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) – Jack Del Rio screwed the Jags. All the money they spent on this defense worked but the naive Del Rio drafted the wrong quarterback in Blaine Gabbert and decided to cut their veteran quarterback right before the season started. Instead of getting a veteran quarterback to play the season he tried to sell everyone on how great Luke McCown was. All you have to do to beat the Jags now is shut down Maurice Jones-Drew.
14. Denver Broncos (2-4) – This team isn’t just about Tim Tebow. While Tebow has a lot of improvements to make, he doesn’t control the horrible blocking of the offensive line, not having a rushing attack or a go to receiver. It’s a bad team, that’s why they had the #2 overall pick. They’ll win some games but I don’t see John Fox giving Tebow the time he needs to improve.
15. Miami Dolphins (0-7) – I don’t know where to start with this team. There is no face of the franchise. Brandon Marshall could be one but he talks more than produces. It’s not all his fault, instead of going out and getting a quality starter this offseason, the soon to be fired Tony Sparano stuck with Chad Henne. He was playing half way decent before his injury made way for the Matt Moore era. Worst part, if Miami can stink it up more than Indy, Sparano doesn’t even get to reap the reward of Luck.
16. Indianapolis Colts (0-8) - The Colts are just horrible. They don’t do anything well. They quit on each other the day Peyton Manning couldn’t start and Kerry Collins walked through the day. Who cares about talking Colts football until the draft?
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock