NFL Playoff Race Post Week Eight


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Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback celebrating a win over the Los Angeles Rams in his first career start.

AJ Swiatek, Reporter

 NFL Playoff Race Post-Week Eight

Eight weeks of the NFL season have come and gone, and, with every passing week, more clarifying light shines onto the NFL playoff race. Halfway through the season teams are finally able to be truly categorized with a sense of confidence. Some teams have separated themselves into powerhouses of the league while others have signified that they are clear bottom feeders. And one thing is for certain, every team wants to be a part of the former.

The Real Ones: The Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and Buccaneers

For starters, these four teams have separated themselves from the rest as the real Super Bowl favorites at this point. All four have very complete rosters, and all four seem to get better after every week of the season. Junior Connor Groya spoke on the utter dominance displayed by the top tier of teams thus far.

“The Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks, and Buccaneers are all very good teams and the main contenders,” Groya said. “All of those teams are mostly very complete teams all the way around. They all have impressive offenses and a stacked wide receiver core with Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs, rookie Chase Claypool on the Steelers, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the Seahawks and Chris Godwin on the Bucs. Along with great offenses, most of those teams have good defenses as well that stop opponents from putting too many points on the board. All around those teams are just well put together teams that clearly have what it takes to win.”

The Probables: The Ravens, Titans, Saints, Cardinals and Packers

The Probables are rightfully labeled as they all will likely still be talked about when it comes time for the deep playoffs. However, these teams all have some form of a flaw on their resume that is preventing them from being in the same current conversation of the top four squads in the league. Senior Gavin Hughes gave his intel on the success of these teams, and what more he needs to see to label them as a true top-caliber force of the NFL.

“These teams have their weaknesses and rely too much on offense,” Hughes said. “When you have quarterbacks who demonstrate a skill set like the quarterbacks each team possesses, it’s awesome. However, it doesn’t win Super Bowls. These teams need to improve everywhere, even on special teams…who would’ve thought. COVID isn’t helping any of these teams and I don’t think age is either. At the end of the day, I can’t see any team in this group making it to the granddaddy of them all.”

The Ponderers: The Colts, Bills and Rams

The Ponderers are a grouping of teams with a stellar combined record, and, on paper, appear to be comparable with the Probables; However, these three all of shown enough on the field to show avid NFL watchers their true flaws, and bleed through as true Superbowl pretenders. Junior Nick Tanny talked about what he has seen from these teams that have held him back from believing they are the real deal.

“The Colts, Bills and Rams are a step down from the top teams because of inconsistent play,” Tanny said. “Each team also has a problem with the offense or defense which is holding them back from the best. The Colts have Philip Rivers at quarterback arguably the best position in the league who is struggling this season which hurts the Colts a lot. The Bills and Rams look good when they play easier competition but when they play tougher competition they get exposed to their weaknesses.”

The High School Debate Team: The Browns, Bears, Dolphins, Raiders and Broncos

The High School Debate Team has its victories but also has its signs of immaturity and the inability to compete with veterans at a high caliber of play. These five have all shown glimpses of what is possible, but have also given many reasons to keep them far away from the top tier. Junior Troy Walker gave his two cents on the varying situations these squads are in.

“These five teams are seen as Super Bowl contenders to some, but for the people who truly pay attention to football know that they will not be a contender at all,” Walker said. “Although they all have good chances of making the playoffs and honestly all still could, I just see all of these teams rosters and they all have potential to be contenders within the next few years but as of now the players are too young and don’t have the experience that the top teams indeed do have.”

The Class Of 21: The 49ers and Chargers

Both of these teams can likely kiss the 2020 Super Bowl trophy goodbye, but never fear! These two teams have some of the brightest futures in the league and the potential to cause some real damage next season. The Niners have had some real issues keeping players healthy, and the Chargers have been unable to close out games. But, these should be fixable heading into 2021, and both of these teams should be real threats to contend come next season. Senior Bobby Hessling reiterated the fact these squads likely will not end up on top this year, but next year can be their turn to take their cut of the cake.

“San Francisco is a team that is crumbling but is still 4-4, they only win vs poor offenses because the Kyle Shannahan offense only works when healthy, Chargers have the talent but coaching is an issue,” Hessling said. “You have your franchise QB and his record is worse than it shows because of poor coaching. Overall although these two may not win the Superbowl this year, their fans should be extremely excited for 2021.”

The Crystal Balls: The Vikings, Falcons, Panthers, Bengals and Texans

These five are already using their crystal balls to get a better look at the future. All five teams have good building block players in place, and just need to have a good offseason to have a potential turnaround. Although the expectations for these teams were very different entering the year, they all wind up in the same boat by already looking at the draft by the trade deadline. Hughes gave insight revolving around his views of the Crystal Balls.

“I refer to this group as “the land of lost souls” and it’s not surprising that some of these teams didn’t sell some of their young talents to prepare for the draft” Hughes said. “Even experience won’t help these teams, that’s when you know as an owner it’s time to start selling. Obviously, the trade deadline is gone and passed but if you’re a fan of any team in this group, don’t start wasting wishes away when it comes to making the playoffs.”

The Over-performers: The Lions and Eagles

The Over-performers have done exactly what the title has implied. Over-performed. In the case of the Lions, their current record and team belief is not an accurate depiction of their true situation. And as for the Eagles, although they sit on top of the NFC East (and many project them to walk away as the winners of the East), that is no large task this season. Walker once again gave his thoughts on the said tier of teams.

“These two teams have been in the midst of winning pretty questionable games,” Walker said. “Although their picture for the playoffs is in good reach, I think we can all agree that the Detroit Lions will eventually start to decline and fall off while the eagles are leading the worst division in the NFL by far sitting below the .500 mark. They might have to make the playoffs and if they do, they’ll be shown up first-round whoever they play.”

The NFC Least: The Giants, Football Team, and Cowboys

The entire NFC East division has been an utter embarrassment to the NFL this season and has even stirred conversations about another new playoff format. This division is so historically bad that even one of these three squads can squeak into a playoff squad. Senior Jeffrey Grace gave his opinions on what is holding these teams back from any form of great football.

“The giants and cowboys are seen to be in the NFC East division of the National Football League,” Grace said. “This division is very low because both teams had key players injured. This division is really up for grabs and is anyone’s game. This division doesn’t have anyone over four wins which is very bad because If you look in other divisions you at least teams with over four wins. The giants are usually seen to be bad but the cowboys are on and off. This year the Cowboys are just off suffering quarterback loss of Dak Prescott.”

The Race For Prince Charming: The Jaguars and Jets

At this point, these two are in a race to the finish line for the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Both teams have been dubbed with the term “Tank For Trevor”, the extremely talented supposed once in a generation prospect at the quarterback position. It is now down to who can suck worse than the other squad, and Hessling gave his views on who is fit for such a job.

“Trevor Lawrence is without a doubt the best quarterback prospect I have seen come out of college within the past decade,” Hessling said. “The thought to be the worst team in the NFL, the Jaguars were looking like the team to get him, but the 0-8 Jets are zoned in on him, it is now a race to be the worst, the jets are selling everything and truly trying to tank, while the Jaguars are so bad they just consistently lose and the next eight weeks we will the race to number one and It will be very ugly.”

So, there you have it. Half of the monumental 2020 NFL season is over and teams’ identities are starting to be agreed upon by many analysts. If this season has shown fans anything so far, it is that anything is possible on any given Sundays. Stay tuned for the power rankings following week nine to keep up with the playoff situation!