With eight weeks of football in the books, most teams have yet to play half their schedule. For some of them, the season is just about over, save for the personal stats. Those teams will spend the rest of the season as spoilers and jockeying for a high draft choice.
Who do I honor as part of this group? Some were playoff teams and expected to contend again this year. One was a Super Bowl team. They are Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis, San Francisco, Arizona, Jets, Buffalo, Miami, Cincinnati, Houston and Oakland.
The next group are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but the next few weeks will finalize their status I touched on earlier this season as either Contenders or Pretenders. Those teams are the Eagles, Redskins, Panthers, Buccaneers, Saints, Green Bay (we'll see tonight), Broncos (ditto), Chiefs, and yes, my Ravens.
The final group of remaining teams are for real. These teams will be contending for a playoff spot for the rest of the season. Whether it be a division winner or Wild Card entry, barring a total collapse, they should be there until the end. Some of those teams are perrennial contenders, and others have been pleasant surprises so far this season. They include the Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Titans, and Jaguars in the AFC. The NFC group is much smaller as the group doesn't include a representative from the NFC South since I am still waiting to see who wants it more than the others. The NFC group is made up with the Cowboys, Giants, Lions (not a typo) and the Seahawks (only because the other three teams in the West are already done for the season).
Next week we get to set ourselves in front of the TV at 4:15pm (Eastern time) for a game whose hype might outshine the Super Bowl in February. Unfortunately, they can't meet in the big game, even though they are and regardless of next week's outcome, will still be the two best teams come the end of the season. Either way, I join with all of you as serious football fans come next Sunday afternoon. (Hint, believe it or not, I like the home team - Indy!)
Monday Night Football next week: Ravens @ Steelers
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