This has not been a banner year for the NFL. The off field incidents regarding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have cast a shadow on the whole season. Now, there is an on the field issue that is getting ugly. I for one am rooting for it.
When the NFL changed to the 4 division format in 2002, I realized that it was possible for a team to win their division at 4-12! It involved every team losing all their games except in their division. It was a doomsday scenario. We will never be closer to that scenario than we are right now. The Atlanta Falcons are going to win the NFC South at 6-10.
The Falcons are currently 4-7. The hold the tiebreakers because they are 4-0 in their division. The most important tiebreaker in the NFL is head to head. So if the Falcons keep winning their division games, they are in the drivers seat. Let me say again, in the drivers seat at 4-7. That is the state of the NFC South. All of the teams are that bad.
No doubt about it, Atlanta will at best finish 6-10. They will be heavy underdogs in their next three games. Vs Arizona, at Green Bay, then a home tilt with Pittsburgh. 4-10 is almost a lock at this point.
The New Orleans Saints lost their third consecutive home game last night, which is unheard of during the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era. New Orleans is the biggest threat to the Falcons winning the division at 6-10. They need to lose 3 of their remaining five games. They will be underdogs this week at Pittsburgh, and in week fifteen at the Bears. Their other three games are division games, and we’ve already mentioned how bad all those teams are.
The Carolina Panthers are 3-7-1, because of course there has to be a tie thrown in. They have the most favorable schedule of the remaining teams. A winnable game Sunday at Minnesota, and a home game against Tampa Bay can almost be penciled in as wins. If they lose at New Orleans (likely) and vs Cleveland, then they will be 5-9-1 going into their week seventeen tilt at Atlanta.
Tampa Bay, is still in the hunt as well, despite being 2-9. Only mathematically, though. With games against Cincinnati, Detroit, and Green Bay, they are only there to play spoiler.
Here’s what to root for to get the impossible dream. A 5-10 Atlanta Falcons team hosting a 5-9-1 Carolina Panthers team in week 17 for the NFC South title. The game that NBC would flex because it’s a win and you’re in.
Atlanta- losses to Arizona, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh. Win vs New Orleans. Carolina Week 17.
Saints- Losses to Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Atlanta. Win vs Carolina. The week 17 game vs Tampa Bay would then be meaningless.
Carolina- Losses to New Orleans and Cleveland. Wins vs Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Atlanta Week 17.
Now we all have something to root for the rest of this season. All three teams are underdogs this week!