iUP Students draw up an early look at the NFL playoff picture

Reigning Super Bowl champions completely eliminated from playoff contention? Texans being terrible as they usually are? Eagles rising like a phoenix from the ashes with an unexpectedly awesome record? All these are headlines that football fans have experienced so far this year in the NFL. Now with the season wrapping up, it is time to look forward to the playoffs and what football fans are experiencing at this time. Unsurprisingly, some teams such as the Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears are officially out of the playoffs. However, other teams, which include the likes of the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles, are having incredible once-in-a-decade performances this season, leaving many iUP students thinking about what teams will be able to clinch the postseason and make a potential run to lift the iconic Lombardi trophy in Arizona this February.


Unfortunately, not every NFL team can have a perfect season, and this always leaves those who get the short end of the stick and end up with losing records year after year (looking at you Texans). On the other hand, teams can also go from one extreme to another as fans are seeing with the Los Angeles Rams this season. Since being fresh off of a Super Bowl victory played on their home turf against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, arguably three of the best players for the Hollywood Rams have experience injuries that put their seasons to an unlucky end (Mattew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald). This combined with a lack of performing offense has led the Rams to a dismal 5-11 season, which completely closed the curtain on any sort of hopes to make the playoffs and defend their crown as Super Bowl champions For example, Marcus Bamber, a student here at iUniversity Prep and iHoot’s associate editor in chief, said that “Let’s hope this is a mountain ram, considering how far they fell off.” Even this alone shows the immense disappointment conveyed by NFL fans such as Marcus. Staying in the NFC, some more teams like the Packers have been surprisingly dreadful throughout the midseason, even with the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback. As you will see with the following teams, poor offseason moves are a large factor in considering why teams, like the Packers, were at one point 3-6 this season. Recently, the Packers moved on from star wide receiver Davante Adams, and speedster Marques Valdez-Scantling leaving their wide receiver core in shambles with two new rookies coming into the roster to replace these stars. Despite all of these shortcomings, the Packers seem to be making a late playoff run now being 8-8 with an opportunity to secure the No. 7 seed this Sunday.


Moving on, this next team has seen a combination of injuries and bad offseason decisions, despite being a super bowl favorite at the start of the year. This is none other than the Denver Broncos who have one of the worst records in the league at 4-12. After trading for a supposedly elite quarterback in Russell Wilson, and giving up three players and a multitude of draft picks in the process, the Broncos have been underperforming beyond reason as seen by their current record. Most of this is due to injuries (which would include their standout wide receiver Jerry Jeudy), and massive blunders in their current Passing, Rushing, and Receiving attacks. The Broncos have one of the worst offenses in the league currently, and not even a top 3 defense is able to make up the ground lost, resulting in a further plummet of a team that won the Super Bowl just less than a decade ago.


Even though some teams like the reigning Super Bowl champions have had an inadequate year, teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings might as well be having some of the best seasons in both of their franchise’s histories. The Philadelphia Eagles remain the top team in the NFL as they are having a near-perfect season with only three losses compared to their thirteen wins so far. Another team that is overperforming this season is the Minnesota Vikings who are right behind the Eagles with a 12-4 record. These teams are doing especially well as just last year the Eagles finished with a 4-11 record and the Vikings finished with a 7-9 record. Reflecting on these two teams, iUniversity Prep student Curtis Bamber said “It is nice to see some underperforming teams make a comeback and really change their records around in such a short period of time.”


Other teams that surprisingly are doing really well this season include the New York Giants, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and the San Francisco 49ers. Each of these teams has increased their record from the previous year by a large margin and is some of the top-performing teams both in their division and the NFL overall. This is shown with the 49ers as last season the team was last in their division, but during this year, the 49ers won the NFC West with a record of 12-4. This is a major improvement to their previous record of just 6-10. All of these teams have turned their performance around in just one year and each has a good shot at making the playoffs.


Out of all of the 32 combined NFL teams, each year only 14 ever make it to the postseason, but with many organizations over and underperforming, fans are sure to see a different playoff picture this year. So far, the teams most likely to have a shot at the Super Bowl in the playoffs include the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Minnesota Vikings. If your favorite team is not among these top titans, we have also asked iUP students about two dark horses that could definitely change up the playoff picture, the Miami Dolphins, and the New York Giants. As demonstrated by our entire article, anything could happen as the regular season reaches a close, and with the NFL being as unpredictable as it has ever been, you never know what could happen, and what headlines could possibly be made.