The NFL Playoff Race Following Week 4

AJ Swiatek, Reporter

After only 4 weeks of the NFL, excluding the results of the Monday night games, fans are already looking to the postseason. The playoffs, and more specifically the Superbowl,, are always the end goal for fans and teams alike. Thus,, it is time to take a look at potential Superbowl Champions, teams whose door into the playoffs seem to be closing and everything in between.

Many teams are gearing up for a playoff push, but, following the rule change in the off-season, only 14 teams will get to punch their ticket. Today, I will be introducing the teams and their chance at the playoffs.

The Locks: Chiefs, Seahawks, Ravens and Packers

The first group of teams are the “locks”. The playoff locks are teams that seemingly every fan expects to not only make the playoffs, but potentially make a run at the trophy. Bobby Hessling is die-hard Packers fan, and spends his Sundays watching any football he can.

“The Pack are legit men. Rodgers is playing at a top-three [quarterback] level, and for the first time in a while I am not only prepared, but expecting to be watching this team deep into the playoffs” Hessling said.

The Flyers: Bills, Steelers, Colts and Buccaneers

Unlike teams similar to the Packers and the rest of the playoff locks, the second group of teams can likely make the postseason but have some form of weakness that has the potential to keep them out of the coveted final game. Nick Tanny is a cross country runner at York who is known as a massive NFL follower, and he weighed in on the second tier.

“This group definitely is above average, heck I would even say great. They each just have their unknowns. In the case of the Bills, is Allen ready to play good playoff tier competition. In the case of the Steelers, they have not played any quality teams so far. As for the Colts and Bucs, it will really come down to if their veteran QBs will be able to play like their younger selves. Every year, one of these teams ends up outperforming one of the playoff lock group teams. It is just a matter of which one” Tanny said.

The Unknowns: Saints (borderline flyer, but Brees really has not looked like himself), Titans, Patriots, Rams, Bear  and the Browns

The third tier of teams likely will be appearing in a playoff game later in the winter, but they just do not feel complete enough to be able to compete until they prove themselves more this season. Charlie Bianchi is coming off of a fantasy football championship and is an avid NFL watcher.

“These 6 feel so different from one another. Prior to the season it seemed nearly impossible that the Bears and the Saints would ever be in the same sentence. But 4 weeks are definitely enough to at least give some light on how skilled the rosters truly are. This is a group that will likely finish in very different places after this season, and I am excited to witness it” said Bianchi. (Bianchi also was very vocal that the Browns did not belong in the third tier, but that was also prior to their victory over the Cowboys on Sunday.)

The Playoff Hopefuls: Cardinals and Raiders

By the end of the season there is no doubt that one of these teams will likely wind up playing in January, but the question is which one steps up. Both teams have had their ups and downs, and Hessling gave his four thoughts on this tier.

“These 2 will definitely be interesting to watch. Gruden has definitely proven his worth as an NFL coach, and Kingsbury has shown he can use Kyler to his strengths. Only problem with these 2 is that they play in the best  2 divisions in the league, so their final records may not fully represent their talent” Hessling said.

The Disappointments: Cowboys, Vikings, Texans, Eagles and Falcons

Many of these teams expected to be in tier 1 or 2 at this point in the season, but they have really underperformed through 4 NFL weeks. These 5 are way too talented to all stay out of the playoffs, so do not b surprised if through the season they begin to leap up tiers. 

Bianchi weighed in on the disappointments “these teams were all ones I would have thought were guaranteed to be powerhouses, or at the least good teams this season. Teams are disappointing every year, but I feel like it is never to the extent of 5 playoff contenders. Some of these teams will definitely turn it around” Bianchi said.

The Miracles: Chargers, Lions, Panthers, Broncos and Bengals

These teams all still have playoff potential due to one reason or another, but their talent and expectations may suggest otherwise. The fanbases of these 5 teams definitely still are cheering for wins, and are not already looking ahead to the draft. 

Tanny gave his implications on the group “These teams are honestly pretty random. This group is all over the place as far as why they are in this group. Out of these I would have to say I like the Panthers and Chargers the most because the Panthers have nothing to lose, and the Chargers are playing with [young rookie quarterback] Justin Herbert under center” Tanny said.

The Scouts: Jets, Giants, Football Team, Dolphin Jaguars

These teams have already turned to the draft to see who they may select, and fans are already prepared for failure. This group has the slimmest odds of appearing in the postseason, but in the words of a young Kevin Garnett, anything is possible. Hessling gave his final thoughts on this tier.

“This group is tanking for Trevor. Other than maybe the Dolphins, it honestly may be better for these teams to lose so they can take Lawrence in the draft. This group just plays sloppy football” Hessling said.

So there you have it. The good, the bad  and the ugly as the NFL playoffs are growing closer and closer. With 12 games to go, anything can happen. Even the Jets making the playoffs. (even if 538 has their odds below one percent.)