With seven weeks left in the regular season, Teams are already positioning for a spot in the postseason. Some are close to clinching their division, and others are fighting for the wild card. Lets take a look at the 5 teams who have struggled early, but may have a chance to make it into the playoffs:
The Lions are 4-5 and are fighting for a playoff spot. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had started off slow; He has seen his completion percentage rise to 63.9, but has a poor touchdown to interception ratio with 11:8. Star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. “Megatron,” has also seen his production drop this season. He leads his team in receiving yards with 974, but has only managed to catch two touchdown on many attempts. After coming off a career season last year, some might say it is the “Madden Curse” that has affected Johnson, but that’s only a myth. The reality is, at one point the Lions defense was rated one of the best in the NFL, but they have surprisingly given up 2967 offensive yards and are rated number seven in the league. Their defense certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations, and the offense hasn’t been doing much better. Now we will see if the Detroit Lions can live out of their football fantasy, and fight their way into the post season.
The Buccaneers have shown glimpses of hope for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 5 years. Quarterback Josh Freeman looks to be having a career season so far with a 56.8 percent passing rating and a 18:5 touchdown to interception ratio. Along with this productive offense comes rookie running back Doug Martin. The rookie running back has shown sensational numbers with 862 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. He is second behind league leader Adrian Peterson. The Tampa defense has been a different story though. The defense has given up more yards (3613) then they have racked up on offense. This stat isn’t a deal breaker, but If the Buccaneers want a chance at making the playoffs, they’ll have to stop relying on rookie Doug Martin, and start relying on the team as a whole.
The Seahawks have been the biggest surprise of the NFL this season. With third round rookie Quarterback Russel Wilson getting the start over Matt Flynn, who had signed for 19 million over three years, the Seahawks have had arguably their best season in years. With a top seven defense, a record of 6-4 just doesn’t seem to fit, so what can be the problem? Despite Russell Wilson having a great rookie campaign, with a 62.1 completion percentage and a 15:8 touchdown to interception ratio, the Seattle offense is ranked last in the league. This needs to change if the Seahawks want to make the playoffs once again. If star running back Marshawn Lynch can find his “Beast Mode” and run for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns like last season, then Seattle may have a chance to reach the post season.
The Bengals are currently experiencing the after effects of a rebuilding process, but in a positive way. Quarterback Andy Dalton was drafted out of Oregon after “franchise” quarterback Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders. So far, Dalton has proved that the Bengals may have made the right choice. With a 64.4 completion percentage and an 18:11 touchdown to interception ratio, Dalton has brought Cincinnati to a 4-5 record. Though this not exceptional, it is good enough to keep them in the playoff hunt. Paired with Dalton’s pass production is wide receiver A.J Green. The second year receiver out of Georgia has had a phenomenal season with 820 yards and 9 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the defense has already given up 3177 yards. If the Bengals want to turn things around, the defensive coordinator/coaching staff will have to take a whole new approach and find ways to correct the second half of the season. If the offense can rub off a little of its magic and inspire their inconsistent defense, then the Bengals might find themselves winning games more often.
The Colts (6-3) are going into week 10 with a four game winning streak under their belts. Having to next play the division leading New England Patriots on week 11, Indianapolis is going to have a true test on whether they can hang with the big boys or not. Rookie Quarterback Andrew Luck has recently started to show why he deserved to be the first pick in the draft, but has struggled this season. He has a 57.5 completion percentage and a 10:9 touchdown to interception ratio. If he and his teammates can build on their recent momentum and capitalize on a flawed Patriots defense, then the Colts should prove why they can be looked at as serious contenders heading into the playoffs. The Colts defense has held opposing offenses to 3155 yards total. Outside Linebacker Robert Mathis has been a key contributor to the defense recording six sacks and one forced fumble so far this season. If the team can continue down this road for the rest of the regular season, then they should find themselves a one way ticket to the playoffs.
If Miami has any chance of seeing the bright lights of the playoffs once again, they may have to battle Indianapolis for it. Since the Dolphins’ loss to the Colts on week 9, Indianapolis now holds the last playoff spot in the AFC. If the Colts maintain their high level of performance and the Dolphins also continue to improve, then it could possibly come down to a Wild Card game to see who will claim the last spot. Miami is hoping that rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill can improve his game and bounce back from a tough loss to the Tennessee Titans. Though Tannehill has thrown more interceptions than he has touchdowns, and has a poor completion percentage, Miami has still been able to keep a respectable 4-5 record. If running back Reggie Bush can continue to carry the offensive load for the team, with 555 yards and 4 touchdowns, then Miami will possibly have their chance at the playoffs.
If these 5 teams can somehow fight the odds and make it into post season, they will prove why they are worthy to contend against the top rated teams.