If you want to find teams to start dropping in this category, here are three to consider New England Patriots (7-7, No. 8 in FFA), New York Jets (7-7, No. 9 in FFA) and Seattle Seahawks (7-7, No. 8 in NFC). They’ve all had some promising stretches this season, but look too flawed to inspire hope at this stage. The Patriots, who have lost three of their last four games, had that disastrous onside play end as a walk-off, 48-yard fumble return by Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones in Sunday’s 30-24 loss. The Jets were reminded once again why Zach Wilson is incapable of leading this team when a crucial win is needed. And the Seahawks can no longer run the ball or stop the run consistently.
On the other hand, that Miami Dolphins (8-6, No. 7 in the AFC) are better than their three-game losing streak might suggest. The 49ers and Bills are two of the best teams in the league, while the Chargers are hitting their stride. There’s no shame in falling to opponents like that, especially considering Miami battled until the end in Saturday night’s loss to Buffalo. The Dolphins may be clinging to this last wild card, but they’re good enough to hold on.
The same probably cannot be said Commanders of Washington (7-6-1, No. 7 in NFC). They have the 49ers and Dallas after tying and losing to the Giants in back-to-back games. Facing those teams will not be an easy task. Finally, we can talk about teams that are still mathematically alive, a group that includes teams Las Vegas Raiders (6-8, No. 11 in FFA), Cleveland Browns (6-8, No. 12 in FFA), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8, No. 13 in FFA), Green Bay Packers (5-8, No. 10 in NFC), Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1, No. 14 in FFA), Los Angeles Rams (4-9, No. 14 in the NFC) and every other team in the NFC South, but we would have wasted time and space. Neither of those teams has shown enough to make anyone think they’re going to make a miracle run over the next three weeks.