As we enter Thanksgiving week, it’s time to start clearing our plates a bit.
We’re approaching the time when teams start to be mathematically eliminated from the postseason, but just because 1-9 Carolina hasn’t yet been officially knocked out doesn’t mean I’m expecting a run any time now.
It’s a different story with the four-, five- and six-win teams — a subset that includes more than half the NFL currently. Those are the teams I’m really talking about. Some are very much in the playoff race. Others are facing dire reality.
Week 11 began Thursday night with the Bengals dropping to 5-5 and Joe Burrow being lost for the season. They’re 5-5, so hope isn’t lost, but … let’s be realistic. It’s not looking great. Then Sunday, the Jets fell to 4-6 (in 14th place in the AFC), with Zach Wilson being benched. Maybe Aaron Rodgers can take all the time he needs to rest his Achilles now. The 4-6 Chargers have their quarterback, but they’re in the same boat: paddling upstream amid Class V rapids.
On the flip side, the desperate Bills beating the Jets saved their season for now — still very much in it at 6-5. And how about those barnstorming Broncos, winners of four straight? Those who buried them following the 70-20 loss to Miami or when they reached 1-5 are looking silly now, as Denver and Indianapolis have outside chances to make the postseason. Also, you can’t slam the door on the 4-6 Rams and Packers right now.
But after Week 12? Chances are, I’ll be able to lop a few more teams off my list of actual contenders. While that might not square up perfectly with a week of thanks and giving, it’s the cold dish of reality served annually this time of year in the NFL.