[Originally posted to The Roar. Available here.]
As Thanksgiving Week wraps up we’re two-thirds of the way through the NFL Season.
This is the perfect time for the casual fan to jump on a bandwagon and pretend you’ve been following the league all year.
To help you on the way we’ve provided a guide to who has already made it, who is still in the hunt, and which towns are hastily camouflaging a stadium as they try and pretend they’ve never heard of football.
The Sure Things
Lead by America’s older brother Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos recorded their second win over divisional rivals Kansas City this week setting them up for an easy playoffs berth.
The Seahawks have dominated this year on the back of skittle-fueled running back Marshawn Lynch. Perhaps the real deciding factor in the Seahawks’ season has been its defensive secondary, the self-proclaimed ‘Legion of Boom’ made up entirely of massive nerds who love Pokemon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
New England Patriots
Heading up a division featuring ButtFumblers and (alleged) massive racists, the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, have done their utmost to still be the most unlikable team in the NFL.
They’ve lost their minds at probably correct calls. They’ve named plays after the coach’s girlfriend.
Oh, and they also pulled off the best comeback of the year to knock off the Denver Broncos.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is weirdly loveable and the Saints are a joy to watch.
They’ve got one of the hardest runs to the playoffs taking on the fearsome Panthers twice and the occasionally dangerous Rams but if they’re able to split the difference with the Panthers they should secure their division.
The Lions do not deserve to be here.
If it wasn’t for two of their divisional rivals losing franchise quarterbacks (including the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers for a month and proceeding to shit themselves every single game) they would probably be in the middle of the pack with no real hope of advancing.
As it stands, sometimes luck shines on Tim Allen’s team of choice.
The highlight of their season was far and away the fantastic comeback against the Cowboys but there hasn’t been much else to inspire fans.
Their next two games are tough, facing off against the actually good Eagles and the sometimes-not-awful Ravens but even picking up just one of these two should see them clinch the division.
The No Hopers
Carrying the weight of the most needlessly controversial team name and stubborn piece-of-shit general manager who refuses to change the name, Washington wasn’t exactly swimming in good vibes this season.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) wasn’t exactly up to the challenge of carrying the team but he did get kicked in the dick against the 49ers hard enough to make RG4 an unlikelihood, so I guess that’s something.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers give up leads like a child in a dog park.
Perhaps the most telling of these was the 21-0 lead they had over the Seahawks only to lose 24-27 in overtime.
Actually being enjoyable to watch, for good or bad, puts the Bucs ahead of the Jaguars but they’re still comparable to banging your head against a fence, it’s just a nice fence.
The Texans were as disappointing as their name is uncreative.
They spent the season as the team everyone was certain would turn it around and go on a massive winning run but it never came.
The most telling moment of their season came when new, fun quarterback Case Keenum was subbed out for former quarterback and expert at giving the other team the ball Matt Schaub, a move that made the home crowd boo and heckle so loudly that the team had to switch to a hard count to run their plays.
Unfortunately due to a large collection of very bad teams the NFL often finds a lot of teams deserving to lose every single game by a huge amount but accidentally winning one or two by the law of averages.
The Jacksonville Jaguars base their entire franchise around these unfortunate accidents.
They beat the Texans, sure, but the Texans have beaten themselves every week so it can’t be that hard.
Believing in the Cleveland Browns is like believing you will be the first person in the world to never die.
Everyone likes to do it but it’s ultimately futile. The factory of sadness kept churning all year but will close for the playoffs.
St Louis Rams
The Rams have had an impressive few weeks and a powerful running game but in the overpowered NFC West they look a bit like Hawkeye in The Avengers.
Sure, they’re there and technically part of the team but really who gives a shit?
Like the ice cream gumball combo that shares their name the Bills looked tempting at first but ended up melting in the sun and becoming a weird disappointing splodge on the concrete that you wish you hadn’t wasted your hard-earned $2.50 on.
This week’s game against the Cowboys was a solid microcosm of the Raiders season. They perform just well enough to make you believe in them before folding faster than Superman on laundry day.
If the Raiders defence had realise it’s technically legal for the other team to sometimes run with the ball they might have been able to salvage their season but alas that wasn’t the case.
A personified yawn. Do not resuscitate.
The Vikings are one of those teams that wait until their season is over then step up a gear ruining everyone else’s playoff hopes.
They pulled off a draw with Green Bay and took out the Bears in overtime teaching everyone to never bet on football, ever.
Headed up by Riverboat Ron Rivera, the coach who treats every fourth down as a challenge to his manhood, the Panthers have powered through an impressive run this season knocking over the 49ers, Patriots and Dolphins in successive weeks.
Cam Newton is a very impressive quarterback for a man who wears a towel on his head but the real strength of the Panthers are their defence, which should see them into at least a wildcard position.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs started out on a 9-0 unbeaten streak until unfortunately one week they had to play an actual football team.
Suffering two losses to the Broncos and one to the Chargers the Chiefs have enough in the bank too see them into the playoffs but don’t expect them to go too far.
Technically defending champions, the Baltimore Ravens conjure philosophical questions regarding identity and what makes a person.
With a quarterback that hates the plays he’s forced to run the Ravens have been on and off like a couple in Home and Away.
The Bengals haven’t set the world on fire but they’ve registered some good wins against bad teams and have a run home that would see them unlucky to be tackled in the next four games. Whether they can make it deep into the playoffs is doubtful.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had a rough start to the season but with stars coming back for their big divisional matches and the unstoppable running of Frank “The Inconvenient Truth” Gore they have a good shot at picking up the wildcard, particularly with divisional rivals the Cardinals falling further behind this week.
Backed by polemic quarterback Tony Romo and not much else the Cowboys have pulled wins out of their arse like a clown pulls colourful handkerchiefs. They’ll make the playoffs but no one will enjoy it.
This is a bad teams that does bad things and hurts you for loving them. Their run home is a mix of very hard and stupidly easy games. Splitting the difference they’ll be in with a sniff of the post-season.
Quarterback Nick Foles is actually excellent, throwing 11 touchdown passes in two weeks and holding his own against some of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately they’ve been bitten hard by a bad start and a difficult run home so their season is up in the air.
Technically in the hunt but let’s all be adults about this
In a season that off-field dramas have far outshone anything played on the pitch it seems like the entire world is hoping the Dolphins fall on their face with the speed and accuracy of an olympic diver.
Unfortunately they keep winning – but as a man who believes in a just universe I cannot accept that they might feel happiness ever again.
New York Jets
The Jets, or to use their full name ‘The God Damn Jets’ picked up controversial safety Ed Reed to help with their deep ball problem, though recent weeks have proven the real problem is the Jets deeply balls up any play they run.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers hopes for post-season success broke with Aaron Rodgers’s collarbone.
Running on a third-string quarterback the Packers have suffered loss after loss meaning Rodgers must come back perfect or their season is over. It’s hard to see it happening, which is a shame because they’re actually good at football.
New York Giants
Headed by America’s little brother and Ricky Ponting’s only challenger for saddest sport face, Eli Manning, the Giants went six games before registering their first win this season.
It seemed like an incredible comeback was on the cards but for some reason Manning-The-Younger’s tactic of throwing interception constantly didn’t bring them the wins they’d expected.
The Bears also lost their star quarterback but that hasn’t seemed to hurt them that much.
In fact, much like the Raiders, the Bears problem seems to be they forget that people can run the ball.
Their defence leaves holes in the field so large three miners have been lost in their secondary.
A fortress home field and a solid run gave fans hopes the Cardinals might breakthrough out of nowhere but a loss this week and the ridiculously overpowered nature of NFC West means their season is probably done.
Yes, technically the Steelers could make the playoffs but in the same respect technically I could be named President of the Moon this afternoon. Their run home isn’t terrible but their team is terrible so I guess that doesn’t matter.
San Diego Chargers
Some big wins over the last few weeks, including delivering Kansas City their second loss of the season, gave hope to Chargers fans but it looks too little too late.
The Titans are in the hunt but they’d need to pull off upset wins against the Broncos and the Cardinals and that’s just not going to happen and even if it did happen this is football and it hates belief so they’d probably lose to the Jaguars after a meteor hits the field destroying their endzone.