Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Listed below are the top four teams in each conference that are currently on the outside looking in come playoff time. The number attached is the current seeding in each conference.
7. Tennessee Titans (4-4): Very quietly, Mike Munchak’s team has settled into second place in the AFC South and still has five games remaining versus its divisional rivals. Running back Chris Johnson had 150 of the team’s 198 yards rushing in Sunday’s 28-21 win over the St. Louis Rams.
8. Miami Dolphins (4-4): The Dolphins awoke from a four-game losing streak Thursday night, thanks to defensive end Cameron Wake’s sack and safety in overtime in the 22-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The offensive line remains an issue, especially because of Jonathan Martin's absence and the suspension of Richie Incognito, per James Walker of ESPN.com.
9. San Diego Chargers (4-4): When quarterback Philip Rivers hangs on to the football, this is a dangerous team. As usual, consistency remains an issue. After not giving up a touchdown in two straight games, the Chargers allowed 30 points and 500 total yards in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.
10. Cleveland Browns (4-5): The Browns snapped an 11-game losing streak to the rival Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and suddenly find themselves in second place in the topsy-turvy AFC North. The defense has been steady all season, and veteran quarterback Jason Campbell has provided a little spark.
7. Detroit Lions (5-3): Jim Schwartz’s team has already won one more game than it did in all of 2012. The Lions play two straight road games (at Chicago and at Pittsburgh) after their off week, and they are far from out of the NFC North title race. But can they find a way to beat the Green Bay Packers?
8. Chicago Bears (4-3): After a 3-0 start, Marc Trestman’s team was opening a lot of eyes with the improved play of the offensive line and the ability to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. But Cutler is out for now, and what has happened to the Chicago defense? Despite all their recent issues, the Josh McCown-led Bears would be in a three-way tie for the division lead with a win over the Packers on Monday.
9. Arizona Cardinals (4-4): Bruce Arians was NFL Coach of the Year in 2012 as an assistant and interim head coach with the Indianapolis Colts, and he is off to a good start in 2013 in his first gig as the full-time main man. The Cards return from their off week and face three straight AFC South opponents.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5): Seven touchdown passes by second-year quarterback Nick Foles in Sunday’s 49-20 win over the Oakland Raiders was something to marvel at. But why can’t the Eagles win in their own building, where the Birds have dropped 10 straight?