Looking forward to the NFL playoffs

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

We’ve hit the week eight mark of the NFL season and now it’s time to look towards the end. What teams could come back? What teams are imploding? And who will win it all?

But first, here are the teams that I will not talk about. These are teams that are rebuilding and will take a number of years for them to get back on track and into serious playoff considerations. These teams include: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts.

These are the teams that will not make the playoffs, but I want to talk about how they are imploding. First is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last year, this team made the playoffs and made it all the way to the AFC championship game and now, is 3-5 on a four game losing streak. They gave up 40 points to the Dallas Cowboys, which shouldn’t happen when your defense is your primary weapon. The team has lost faith in quarterback Blake Bortles and will continue to struggle until they find their generational quarterback. Until then, I advise them to make their defense happy and find a new QB.

Moving on to the Cleveland Browns. Coming into the season I was expecting 8-8 as their ceiling. Now it looks like they can only win five games this year. They just hired their head coach, Hue Jackson, and offensive coordinator, Todd Haley. Jackson should’ve been replaced last season, after failing to get a single win, but they kept him. Why? Rookie QB Baker Mayfield looks strong. If the Browns want to get eight wins, they need to focus on their defense and run game to help Mayfield succeed. Instead they focused too much on Mayfield and now have some major gaps in their front office.

Finally, the last team that I believe is imploding is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. First of all they need pick a consistent QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick who was substituted for Jameis Winston when he served a three game suspension from the NFL for an off the field incident involving an Uber driver. Fitzpatrick played beautifully and inspired the phrase “Fitzmagic.” His talents earned him a trip to the bench after just one bad game. Now Winston had a bad game and Fitzpatrick is the starter once more. Pick one and stick with it. No QB is perfect; especially the two in that locker room, but to constantly switch your offensive scheme week to week causes issues and poor performances on the field.

Now to talk about all the teams that are not in the lead, but still have a chance. Some of these teams are surprising some are not. The first is the Seattle Seahawks. They are 4-3, and have a great QB in Russell Wilson and are transitioning from the legion of boom, to a younger more dedicated defense. Next is the, Green Bay Packers. When you have a Hall of Famer as a QB you should be in the lead. They aren’t due to two reasons, a defense that models most Styrofoam companies for protection, and their head coach, Mike McCarthy. McCarthy has kept Rodgers away from too many Super Bowls, and this season will prove he does not have what it takes to lead a team. Good luck to Green Bay, the one-man army trying to get to the playoffs.

The Atlanta Falcons have struggled despite the explosive offense they could create. Due to major injuries, Atlanta just can’t hold any momentum. They can do a lot in this league and go a long way but need to stay healthy. Superman, a.k.a. Cam Newton, is getting the job done in Carolina. Stanford alumni Christian McCaffery, who is now a household name and a fantasy beast on Sunday’s, has helped the Panthers eliminate opponents and gave Newton just one more target to play with. They are 5-2 and looking to invade the playoffs. Finally the NFC East. Every team here is a surprise. Dallas can’t score the ball, they don’t have any receivers apparently and Dak Prescott still can’t find a consistent wideout. The Eagles are 4-4 and even Carson Wentz still can’t get them on a hot streak. The Washington Redskins are 5-2 led by Alex Smith quietly winning games like he did in Kansas City. Making a modest living not bankrupting the NFL like his predecessor, which I wonder if the team likes that.

Moving to the AFC, the Denver Broncos defense needs to straighten themselves out to get back to their former glory they once had. Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers are amazing to watch. Gordon has established himself as a workhorse who can play with the best and with veteran Phillip Rivers, they might do some damage. The AFC South frankly sucks. Giving every team a shot at winning even the Colts, but Deshaun Watson will beat out the Tennessee Titans this year.

The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are doing their best to better the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams are strong opponents, but lack the talent that Pittsburgh has. With AJ Green missing time on injury the sensational Tyler Boyd will get to see how good he really is. The young receiving talent among these three teams is incredible. I can’t wait to see the future of the AFC North.

Finally, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. Both will fight for Wild Card spots, but neither will make it, due to the horrible persona in each team’s QB position. They don’t have the experience or talent to get back to their winning form.

Now the front-runners. Those whose talent is scaring the rest of the NFL and whose teams are dominating their division. At the top we have the Los Angeles Rams. The only team undefeated at 8-0 and is looking to keep it that way. Strong defense, best running back in the league and a winning system with one of the smartest men on Earth as a head coach, the Rams are looking unbeatable. Then you have the New Orleans Saints. With a Hall of Fame record breaking QB, an elite core of running backs and long speedy wideouts, leads to offensive success and team success, should I say more? The Chicago Bears on the other hand, are currently leading their division. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In the AFC the Chiefs are at the top as Patrick Mahomes looks to be an MVP candidate. His talent among amazing weapons and a defense that can maintain its own is a strong team to stop. The Steelers hold among the top as they had a shaky start and they still don’t have their elusive talent Le’Veon Bell. Last but not least, the New England Patriots. The dynasty continues and will forever, or it seems like it. The halfway point is set and there’s only eight more weeks to change the course. Let’s see who gets to the playoffs.