It’s Week 4 of the NFL season. It’s early. Too early, some might say, to be talking about the postseason. But in an effort to spare some fans the disappointment of getting their playoff hopes up too high, here are three teams who look like they might make the playoffs…but won’t.
The Bengals have started off strong again this season, picking up wins in their last three games. If the playoffs were to start today, the 3-1 Bengals would occupy the fifth seed in the AFC. Bravo, Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, the playoffs aren’t starting today, and when all is said and done, the Bengals probably won’t find themselves in a playoff spot at all.
Despite the team’s three wins (only one of which came against a .500 or better team), the only game that really matters is its one loss.
That loss came in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, who are also 3-1 and are tied with Cincy for the top spot in the AFC North.
Why is this one game so indicative of what the Bengals are capable of this season?
It’s not just because Cincy got beat 44-13. It’s because they got beat 44-13 by the Baltimore Ravens; the powerhouse of the AFC North that boasts one of the best defenses in the league.
But it’s not just the Ravens that Cincinnati has to worry about. The Steelers, though just 1-2 thus far, have had the highest-ranked defense since 2010.
Last season, the Bengals lost all four games they played against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and though it's early, that loss to the Ravens this season put them on track for the same results.
And that would be just fine, considering all three made it to the postseason last year, but this time around, a little extra competition in the AFC threatens to leave the Bengals out in the cold come January.
In the AFC West, Denver’s acquisition of Peyton Manning has made a good team better, and with New England, San Diego, and Baltimore the only real threats on the schedule, the Broncos are looking good for another playoff appearance this year.
And the same goes for the 3-1 San Diego Chargers; they’re sitting at the top of their division and only have a few tough games scheduled, so it looks like they’ll have a legitimate playoff run too.
If we assume New England (2-2) and Houston (4-0) make the playoffs again this year (which we will), along with the Steelers and Ravens, that leaves San Diego, Denver, and good old Cincinnati duking it out for the fifth and sixth seeds in 2013.
And with the Chargers and Broncos playing in a weaker division, it’s going to make it that much harder for the Bengals to earn another spot in the postseason.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez gets sacked on Sunday in a shutout loss against San Francisco
But their strong start looks like it’s already come to an end. The Jets were crushed at home on Sunday in a 34-0 shutout against San Francisco. The team’s defense allowed the 49ers (3-1) to run for nearly 250 yards. The offense made just nine first downs, compared to 26 for San Francisco.
But that’s not even the worst of the Jets' problems. Their quarterback is kind of…terrible. Mark Sanchez went 13-for-29 in Sunday’s game and is completing less than 50 percent of his passes the season.
Rex Ryan and the Jets, however, don’t seem ready to give up on their $40 million investment just yet, despite a request or two made by fans in MetLife Stadium on Sunday to replace Sanchez with second-string QB Tim Tebow.
Tebow, who was acquired by the Jets to help incorporate the Wildcat offense, has only run for 38 yards.
And that’s not even the worst of the their problems. In the game against San Francisco, the already Darrelle Revis-less Jets lost wide receiver Santonio Holmes to a foot injury.
Injuries and quarterback quandaries are preventing the Jets from living up to the hype...once again. And if they keep doing what they’re doing, the Jets will guarantee themselves some well-deserved R&R when the postseason rolls by.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in Week 3 against Green Bay
The Seahawks are another 2-2 team that are looking pretty good to start the season. But in the NFC West, a .500 record puts you in a tie for last place instead of first.
That’s the main reason why Pete Carroll’s always-improving Seahawks won’t make the playoffs again this year.
The Seahawks have already lost games against division opponents St. Louis and Arizona, and things won’t get any easier when they visit San Francisco in a few weeks.
But even outside of their division, the NFC looks to have too many contenders for the Seahawks to have a chance at the postseason. The Vikings and Bears have made up for the poor records of last year's Wild Card teams (New Orleans, 0-4, Detroit, 1-3), and the competition in the NFC is as strong as ever.