As Week 6 has come and gone, the remainder of the season is starting to become clear. We can now separate the contenders from the pretenders and with six weeks' worth of information, we have a pretty good idea of who will still be playing in January.
As a result, several teams saw that last chance they had to slip into the playoffs go down the drain. Here are six of them.
Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars:
Three of these poor teams had no wins coming into this week, so I wouldn't really say that one more winless week dashed their hopes, but not having a win six weeks into the season pretty much seals the deal.
The Vikings snagged their only win against the Arizona Cardinals and play in the toughest division in football. The Jaguars aren't faring much better—their only win was in Week 1 against a Titans team that didn't seem to know what it was doing. They've now lost five in a row.
The Colts have proven themselves to be a one-man team. With Peyton Manning out for the season, the Colts are going to miss the playoffs. This will be the second time that has happened since Manning was drafted.
The Rams have had some unlucky injuries this season, but even so, no wins is something to be deeply concerned about. To make matters worse, Sam Bradford has suffered a high ankle sprain. Even with Brandon Lloyd in the lineup now, they might get only two or three wins.
The Dolphins may be the worst team in the league. Their 24-6 loss to the Jets on Monday night dropped them to 0-5. As bad as they were before the season started, the loss of Chad Henne for the year has made them even worse. They should at least be happy they'll get Andrew Luck as a consolation prize.
Of all the one-loss teams out there, maybe the Jaguars had the worst chance of turning it around. Blaine Gabbert has been far from impressive in his first few games and he obviously isn't going to be a difference-maker for the rest of the season.
The Cowboys had a slow start, but with the Philadelphia Eagles playing horribly and the Giants seemingly not able to decide whether they were good or bad, the Cowboys seemed to have a shot at the playoffs—until this week.
The Eagles won against the Redskins, snapping their four-week streak of losses. With the Eagles back in the picture, the Cowboys' chances of making the postseason shrink considerably.
To make matters worse, the Giants came back after giving away a win to the Seahawks and beat a very good Bills squad, proving they're still far from irrelevant.
With both the Eagles and Giants back in winning form, the Cowboys' chances of winning the division slide down to near zero.
I put these two in the same slide because their playoff hopes have disappeared for the same reason.
The Seahawks and Cardinals had their playoff aspirations shattered not because they lost a game (they both had a bye this week), but by San Francisco winning a game.
The 49ers stomped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45-3 last week, but flukes happen. However, this week the 49ers went out and handed the Detroit Lions their first loss. The 49ers are for real, and even if the Seahawks are better than the Rams and Cardinals, it's now readily apparent the 49ers are the best team in the division.
The San Francisco 49ers are for real. Because of this fact, any hopes the Seahawks or Cardinals had of waltzing into the playoffs by winning their weak division went out the window.
This one came about in a weird way. The Broncos had a bye week, but there was still plenty going on in Denver.
First off, the Broncos named Tim Tebow their starter. While it's big news, it shouldn't shock anyone. Under Kyle Orton, the Broncos have a single, solitary win and they spent a first-round pick on Tebow in 2009, so they have a good bit invested in him.
If Tebow isn't the future at quarterback for the Broncos, then they need to know it for certain before they can move on. Starting Tebow is a necessity.
The next big move (and the one that kills any chance they had of making the playoffs) was trading away their best receiver, Brandon Lloyd. Without Lloyd, the Broncos have no chance of capitalizing on Oakland's loss of Jason Campbell or the Chargers collapsing at the end of the season again.
With the Broncos and Chiefs a non-factor in the AFC West, it would take one hell of a meltdown by the Chargers and Raiders to not win the division.
Did the Carolina Panthers have a reasonable hope to get into the playoffs this year? Not really, but Cam Newton was playing out of his mind and improving every week until this week.
If anyone in North Carolina thought Newton and Steve Smith could engineer a late-season comeback and get the Panthers to the playoffs, last Sunday's loss to the Falcons put the nail in the coffin.
The Falcons have been having an awful lot of trouble themselves this season, but they still managed to whip the Panthers 31-17. To make matters worse, Newton threw three interceptions in the matchup.
Don't get me wrong, Newton is still definitely the future of this franchise, but he has a lot of learning to do. As the years go on, I wouldn't be surprised if Newton led the Panthers to a Super Bowl or two. Unfortunately for Carolina fans, it just won't be this season.
The Cleveland Browns almost beat the Raiders on Sunday. "Almost" is the key word there.
However, it should surprise no one that the Browns, the perennial non-factor in the stacked AFC North, couldn't get it together and win. They now drop to 2-4 and any outside chance they thought they had of making the playoffs with Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis are down the drain.
The Browns will continue their role as a basement dweller through the rest of the season, but there's always next year.