NFL Playoff Chances


Pike Temple, Sports Editor

Almost halfway through the NFL season and the playoff race is already starting to take shape. Many teams have impressed so far, but many others haven’t lived up to the preseason hype. Here are 3 teams that are on the rise for exceeding preseason expectations and 3 teams that have fallen from grace due to an underwhelming start to the season.

Up: Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks have had an exceptional start to the season. Geno Smith is statistically playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league through the first 9 weeks of the year. Kenneth Walker III looks like a franchise RB. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are a solid duo at WR. The real problem is the team’s defense, which isn’t primed to compete with the top offenses in the NFC. However, if Seattle can split games against the Rams and the 49ers, they could earn a playoff spot and prove that Russell Wilson’s success with the Seahawks was schematic.

Down: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams, defending Super Bowl Champions, have fallen off a cliff in terms of offensive production. Cooper Kupp, former triple crown winner, is having a solid season so far, but now teams are doubling him and the effects are evident. The Rams have struggled to put points on the board and outside of Kupp, QB Matthew Stafford hasn’t been able to create chemistry with any other pass catcher on the roster. Without the ability to run the ball, the Rams offense has been stagnant on occasion this year and it doesn’t look like the team that dominated defenses last season. 

Up: New York Jets

The NY Jets were projected to turn around the ship this year. While improvement was indefinite, a 6-3 start to the season wasn’t expected. Zach Wilson is playing well enough and the defense has been dominant in recent weeks. The Jets can prove they are for real due to a semi-difficult remainder of the season. If they are able to win the easier games on their schedule plus compete with the Bills, beat the Vikings, and beat the Dolphins, they should be able to earn a wildcard spot and make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. 

Down: Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers were expected to be one of the best teams in the NFC this year, but alongside bad coaching, worse play calling, and lackluster play from QB Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have now lost 5 straight games. The offensive line isn’t doing Rodgers any favors, plus the WR room is one of the weakest in the league. The defense was projected to be one of the strongest in the NFC, but they’ve struggled to sack the quarterback and, per usual, stop the run. Whether it’s the scheme or the personnel, Green Bay is no longer the dominant presence in the NFC North.

Up: New York Giants

The New York Giants under coach Brian Daboll have shocked the league and now sit in third place in a very competitive NFC East, albeit with a 6-2 record. In the offseason, video of QB Daniel Jones missing wide open receivers had fans worried, but the Giants rebuild looks to be trending in the right direction. With a fairly easy schedule down the stretch, a 10 win season is very possible for NY. NFC East teams have blown expectations out of the water and for the first time since the 2007-08 season, three teams from the division could make the playoffs this year. With Saquon Barkely carrying the load on offense, a playoff berth is surely on the horizon.

Down: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Tom Brady, are 4-5 and are second in the division tied with the Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs offense has struggled this season, a trait uncommon of teams with Tom Brady at the helm. With an underwhelming running game, Brady has had to rely on unproven receivers and it’s simply not working. Even star wideout Mike Evans isn’t playing up to his Pro-Bowl caliber form. With a defense that has underperformed considerably given the talent on the roster, there is no excuse, outside of injuries, for the terrible performance through week 8 of the regular season.