Posted 09/24/2008 at 05:31 PM
Every year in the NFL a team that appears to be a playoff lock seems to have an inexplicable fall from grace. The Patriots are still 2-1 this season but last week’s dusting leaves a lot of questions about the team. Given the schedule and the players still involved the Patriots will likely still be a winning team but they will not be feared like in past seasons.
A couple of other teams that appeared on the fast track to the playoffs appear to be in trouble however as San Diego, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville all have losing records. Although the Jaguars got a big win last week they face the most daunting schedule in the next few weeks of those teams with Houston, Pittsburgh, and Denver up next. The Jaguars were impressive last week with an incredible time of possession edge but the offense has not been able to create scoring plays and the makeshift offensive line will hurt them in many match-ups.
There are four undefeated teams on top of each division in the AFC right now and none of those teams would have been considered the preseason favorite. Tennessee, Buffalo, Denver, and Baltimore all appear on pace for a nice season but it would be hard to imagine all four of those teams lasting all season in playoff position.
The NFC appears to be pretty clear cut as Dallas will be the overwhelming favorite for the rest of the season after knocking off chief competitors the past two weeks. Dallas will have a hard time making it through the NFC East schedule without a loss or two and also keep in mind that the four second half road games for the Cowboys will feature the three other NFC East teams and the Steelers. Dallas will obviously be a serious threat in the NFC picture but the second half schedule is brutal and might leave Dallas in a vulnerable position entering the playoffs.
The NFC East is 8-0 against other divisions as the only losses are against each other. The other three NFC divisions appear completely up for grabs. Only the Rams have counted themselves out of contention so far and every team from those three divisions has at least one loss.
The college conference season hits full stride this week and after very few major upsets last week there may be a few on line this week. Look for some of the teams that played in big games last week to possibly hit a flat spot this week as it is simply tough to get that kind of intensity in consecutive games. Also keep an eye on teams coming off bye weeks, those teams were nearly a 60% ATS proposition last season in both college and pro football.