Seven weeks of the 2020 NFL season have gone by and the playoff picture features some expected teams, but also a few surprises. Let’s take a look.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
If this were any other division, the Eagles would be nearly out of the playoff picture and considering tanking for a high draft pick. However, this is not just any division. In the NFC East, 6-10 might win the division, and even the last-place New York Giants at 1-6 need to win only a few games to shoot back into contention. Ultimately, in a division where the other three teams have average to bottom-tier quarterbacks, Philadelphia just needs Carson Wentz to stay healthy and win a few more games.
Next game: Nov. 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
Currently, the Packers are only a half-game ahead of the second place Chicago Bears. That said, Green Bay seems to have a clear edge here. They have Aaron Rodgers to the Bears’ Nick Foles. The Packers have Davante Adams, the Bears have Allen Robinson. Aaron Jones versus Chicago’s David Montgomery. Green Bay has the advantage schedule-wise, as well. In their next five games, they only play one team above .500 (Chicago, on November 29th). In contrast, the Bears play only one game against a team below .500, a divisional matchup with Minnesota on November 16th. While Chicago should remain in the wild card hunt, the Packers have the upper hand in the NFC North.
Next game: Nov. 1 vs. Minnesota Vikings
NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While Tom Brady‘s move to Tampa Bay had a few bumps in the road at first, Tampa Bay has been rolling. They are on a two-game winning streak, breaking a tie for first place in the division with the Saints. However, don’t be fooled into thinking the Bucs will run away with the division; they are up against a difficult schedule in their next five games. The Bucs’ only contests against sub-.500 teams come against the Giants (Nov. 2) and Panthers (Nov. 5). Clearly, the NFC South will be a competitive division in the coming weeks.
Next game: Nov. 2 @ New York Giants
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
Speaking of competitive divisions, how about the NFC West? No team is below .500, and with the playoffs being expanded to seven teams per conference, all four teams getting into the playoffs is not impossible. Currently, Seattle has a half-game lead over the Arizona Cardinals, though with a loss on Sunday against the 49ers and victories by Arizona and the L.A. Rams, they could drop as low as third place. It is up to Russell Wilson and receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf to win this division. In the NFC West especially, division games become all the more important.
Next game: Nov. 2 vs. San Francisco 49ers
In The Hunt
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans might be first in their division if not for Brady’s arrival in Tampa. Even still, the Saints are only trail the Bucs by one game and picked up a key divisional win last week against the Carolina Panthers.
Next game: Nov. 1 @ Chicago Bears
The Bears are only a half-game behind the first place team in their division. However, unlike the Saints, the Bears do not have a Hall of Fame quarterback (though Nick Foles does have a ring), a top-three receiver, or a top-five running back. Even still, they should find themselves right in the thick of it in a few weeks.
Next game: Nov. 1 vs. New Orleans Saints
Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams
These two teams are grouped together not only because of their identical records, but also because they are in the same division. Arizona has a bye week coming up in Week 8, and the Rams will be off in Week 9. Looking further down the road, the teams will face off in Arizona on December 6th. That matchup at will serve as a great test for both teams.
Next game for Arizona: Nov. 8 vs. Miami Dolphins
Next game for Los Angeles: Nov. 1 @ Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team
Washington was expected to be one of the worst teams in the league this season. Thus far, that prediction has been mostly accurate. In fact, Washington has virtually no shot of making it into the playoffs as a wild card team. However, they are only a half-game back from division leader Philadelphia Eagles. If they can win a few more games, their Week 17 matchup against Philly may mean a lot more than originally thought.
Next game: Nov. 8 vs. New York Giants
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