Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Listed below are the top teams in each conference that would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. The number attached is their current seeding.
7. Miami Dolphins (5-5): Six days after handing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their first victory of the season, Joe Philbin’s club got back to .500 after shackling the San Diego Chargers. It is also worth noting that the Dolphins play four of their final five games versus their AFC East rivals.
8. Oakland Raiders (4-6): The Silver and Black aren't all the way back, but at least they're in the conversation. Dennis Allen’s team got its first road win of the season on Sunday against the Houston Texans. equaling last year’s victory total. But who plays quarterback next week versus the Tennessee Titans: Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor?
9. Tennessee Titans (4-6): Mike Munchak’s team has to be kicking itself. The Titans lost a pair of home games within the division, first to the then-winless Jacksonville Jaguars and then to the Indianapolis Colts after jumping out to a 14-0 lead. And the two setbacks came in the span of five days. Getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 won’t be easy.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6): Mike Tomlin’s team has won four of its last six games after that 0-4 start. A lot will be determined in the next week and a half, as the Steelers travel to Cleveland next Sunday and then head to Baltimore for Thanksgiving.
11. Baltimore Ravens (4-6): John Harbaugh’s defending Super Bowl champions have already lost as many games as they did all of last season. The good news on Sunday against the Chicago Bears was that running back Ray Rice and the ground attack finally got untracked. But a loss is a loss.
12. Cleveland Browns (4-6): The Browns looked like they might be on their way to a season sweep of the Cincinnati Bengals when they jumped out to a 13-0 at Cincinnati on Sunday. But there were collapses in every aspect of their 41-20 loss. The Steelers come to town this week, and this time around, it’s an even more intriguing matchup.
13. San Diego Chargers (4-6): After a nice midseason surge that saw Mike McCoy’s team with a 4-3 record and a win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers have dropped three straight games. And while the Bolts will get another crack at the Raiders, they have already lost to both the Dolphins and Titans.
7. Arizona Cardinals (6-4): Don’t look now, but the Cards have become awfully tough to deal with thanks to an opportunistic defense, just enough Carson Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians. And now, this scrappy team finds itself tied for second in the NFC West with the defending conference champion San Francisco 49ers.
8. Chicago Bears (6-4): Between a long weather delay and overtime, it was a long day for the Bears on Sunday. But a 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens has Marc Trestman’s team back in a tie for first place in the division. Still, that sweep at the hands (or paws) of the Detroit Lions this season looms large.
9. Dallas Cowboys (5-5): While Jason Garrett’s team was resting this week, the rival Philadelphia Eagles moved into first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys get back to action this week against the surging New York Giants, and completing a season sweep of the series is essential.
10. Green Bay Packers (5-5): Three different starting quarterbacks in three games and three straight losses in those contests as well. There’s still time for the Pack to get back atop the NFC North thanks to three more divisional games. But the recent losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants could come back to haunt Green Bay come tie-breaker time.