Warrior Weekly: NFL Divisional Breakdown

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WSPN’s Max Brande breaks down and analyzes each of the NFL’s eight divisions through week 13 of the NFL season.

This NFL season has been anything but normal through these 13 weeks, and with week 14 about to play out, we are in for a whirlwind of a finale. With over 200 positive COVID-19 cases in the NFL, the coronavirus has taken front stage in the NFL. From games on all nights of the week to no fans in the stands, the league has looked more different this year than ever before. In today’s edition of Warrior weekly, WSPN’s Max Brande breaks down and analyzes each division of the NFL through week 13 (week 14 stats and records not included).

AFC North
Current Standings:
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)
Cleveland Browns (9-3)
Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1)

With the Steelers losing to Washington in week 13, this division is still up for grabs, but really only between the Steelers and Browns. The Ravens are just too far back to be able to win the division, and the Bengals have been eliminated from playoff contention. Two of the Steelers’ four remaining games are against divisional opponents, one of which could be an all important division title game in week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. If Baker Mayfield and the Browns can continue to stay hot in the remaining weeks, look for them to jump into contention for their first AFC North division title in organization history. The last time they won the division was in 1989 when it was called the AFC Central. Sitting at 9-3, they are in a pretty good position to make history. If they cool off, however, look for the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens to make a jump into one of the last playoff spots in the AFC.

AFC East
Current Standings:
Buffalo Bills (8-3)
Miami Dolphins (8-4)
New England Patriots (6-6)
New York Jets (0-12)

This division looks nothing like it has for the last 15-20 years. Since the 2000 season, the AFC East winner has been a team other than the New England Patriots only three times (‘00, ‘02, ‘08). With Tom Brady in the NFC, this division has taken a new look, with the Bills and the Dolphins fighting for that divisional title. Beginning the season at 4-0 with the addition of Stefon Diggs, the Bills were looking like a favorite for the division. With the surging Dolphins one game back from the Bills and the Patriots still within reach, this division is by no means locked up. It’s a three-team contest at this point, with the Jets being eliminated from playoff contention. While unlikely for the Patriots to win the division, don’t rule out a wild card spot if they have a hot finish. On a two-game win streak, they are trending in the right direction. Thursday night’s game against the Rams is essentially a must-win game for the Pats if they want any shot at the playoffs.

AFC South
Current Standings:
Tennessee Titans (8-4)
Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
Houston Texans (4-8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11)

This is a pretty interesting division right now. It is a two-man race to the finish, The Texans have a 2% chance at making the playoffs, and the Jaguars have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Titans and Colts in a total deadlock with each other, splitting their matchups and both sharing an 8-4 record, have made for an interesting finish in the division. Winning this division now becomes extremely vital for both of these teams because whoever doesn’t win the division has to get into the playoffs via a wild card spot, and while the Colts currently hold the last wild card spot, the first two teams out of the playoffs at the moment (Raiders and Ravens) are only one game back from the Colts (6-6). Given that the Titans and the Colts each have two remaining divisional games left, whoever doesn’t win this division will need some luck on their side to make the playoffs, given how tight the AFC is this year.

AFC West
Current Standings:
Kansas City Chiefs (11-1)
Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
Denver Broncos (4-8)
Los Angeles Chargers (3-9)

With the Chiefs having clinched the playoffs (and division if they win on Sunday) and the Chargers being eliminated from playoff contention, the wild-card becomes vital for this division. As it stands now, the Raiders are the first team out of the playoffs, just one game back from the final wild card spot. The playoffs are a bit more of a longshot for the Broncos, being four games back from the final spot with only four games to go. The Broncos playoff light is slowly dimming day by day. The Raiders are by no means out of this thing yet. It all depends on what the teams around them do, mainly the Dolphins, Colts, Ravens, and Patriots. The Dolphins and Colts hold the final two wild-card spots at the moment, and the Ravens and Patriots being the second and third teams out of the playoffs. Things are getting tight in the AFC, and the Raiders are right in the middle of the mix.

NFC North
Current Standings:
Green Bay Packers (9-3)
Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
Chicago Bears (5-7)
Detroit Lions (5-7)

To be perfectly honest, it’s not looking good that the Packers are going to blow this hold on the NFC North. They have a three-game stronghold of first place right now, and their chances of blowing that are very low. Like the AFC West, this division seemingly comes down to the wild card. The Vikings have the final wild-card spot right now, with the Bears and Lions the second and third team out of the playoffs. I wouldn’t rule out the playoffs for any team in this division, but the next two weeks are going to determine who has what it takes in this extremely tight division to prevail into the NFL playoffs. Given how these teams have performed over the past few weeks, it’s looking like things are going to stay the way they are in this division, but with this crazy season, anything can happen.

NFC East
Current Standings:
New York Giants (5-7)
Washington Football Team (5-7)
Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1)
Dallas Cowboys (3-9)

This division is easily one of the craziest divisions in the league this season. As crazy as it is, it’s as simple as this: If you don’t win this division, you will most likely not make the playoffs. The first-place team in the division is last among all the division leaders, and the second-place team is five spots out of the playoffs. There is no wild card spot currently in this division. A lot can change over the next few weeks, but it’s hard to see a scenario where the second-place team in the NFC East would make the playoffs.

NFC South
Current Standings:
New Orleans Saints (10-2)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Atlanta Falcons (4-8)
Carolina Panthers (4-8)

At 10-2, the Saints have already clinched the playoffs. Given the current state of this division, it looks pretty clear cut right now. It looks like the Falcons and Panthers are too far back to climb their way back into the playoff conversation, and the Buccaneers currently hold the second wild-card spot. This division is pretty similar to the AFC South, where there are essentially two good teams and two bad teams. The difference here is that the two good teams in the NFC South are a lot more spread out than the two good teams in the AFC South. The Buccaneers have two more divisional games left, both against the Falcons. These are two good games for them to solidify a wild card spot, but nothing that will put the Saints at risk of losing the division title.

NFC West
Current Standings:
Los Angeles Rams (8-4)
Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
Arizona Cardinals (6-6)
San Francisco 49ers (5-7)

This is one of the closest, most exciting divisions in all of the NFL right now. With the Seahawks losing to Washington the other night, this division has gotten extremely interesting. The Rams and Seahawks are gridlocked at the top both sitting at 8-4, with the Cardinals falling next (6-6), and the 49ers holding up the rear at (5-7). The best thing about this division is that all four of these teams still have a shot at making the playoffs. Being four spots out of the final wild-card spot, it’s a bit of a longshot for the 49ers right now, but the Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals are all still in the mix.As it stands right now, the Rams have the division title, the Seahawks have the first wild card spot, and the Cardinals are the first team out of that final spot, with the same record (6-6) as the Vikings, who currently hold that spot. This conference is going to have a crazy ride to the finish, with the NFC West playing a key role in that.