With each NFL team playing just 16 games in the regular season, every game is critical to a team’s hopes of making the playoffs. Losing one game can be the difference between a postseason appearance or missing out on a chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
Now that we are through Week 6, with every team having played five or six games, we are getting to the point of the season in which we are starting to get a clearer picture of which teams will be competing for playoff spots. Here are some teams that are already running out of time and need to start winning now if they want to be in the playoffs come January.
The Bears had the best defense in the NFL last season, thanks to the addition of Khalil Mack, which helped them get to a 12-4 mark last season. Everyone expected the team to have another strong season this year with the defense leading the way, but the offense has sputtered and caused the team to underachieve so far.
The Bears are 3-2 but in last place in the NFC North. Right now, they’re on the fringe of a playoff spot but they need to get some more wins if they want to increase their chances of making the playoffs. The Bears are coming off their bye and face the Saints at home on Sunday in an important game in the NFC playoff race.
After Baker Mayfield had a strong rookie season and the Browns traded for Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason, many people predicted the Browns to go at least .500 this season and be competitive for a playoff spot.
Instead, they’re 2-4 and with each loss it becomes more difficult for them to live up to the expectations people had for the team entering the season. The Browns seem to have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002, but they have to start racking up some wins if they’re going to end their drought. They have their bye this week, then have a tough contest with the Patriots in Week 8.
After winning their first three games, the Cowboys have lost their last three to put them at 3-3 on the season. That is the same mark as the Eagles, who hold the tiebreaker for first place in the NFC East.
Head coach Jason Garrett is seemingly on the hot seat, so the team may need to make the playoffs to save his job. This week could go a long way in seeing how realistic the Cowboys’ playoff hopes are because they’re hosting the Eagles on Sunday night in a game that will be for first place in the division.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers didn’t have as high expectations as this NFL season as their Los Angeles counterparts the Rams, but most people expected the Chargers to be better than 2-4 through six games.
Of course, the Chargers have been hurt by Melvin Gordon’s holdout and Hunter Henry’s injury, but the reasons for the sub-.500 record don’t matter. All that matters is that the Chargers start winning games if they want to make a return trip to the postseason after going 12-4 a season ago. The Chargers next visit the Titans on Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams
The defending NFC champions,
were expected to compete for the top seed in the NFC come playoff time, but instead, they’re having a hard time just keeping pace in their own division. They’re currently third in the AFC West with a record of 3-3.
They’re behind the undefeated 49ers and the Seahawks, both of whom have already beaten the Rams this season. That will make it difficult for the Rams to win the division, so a wild card may be their best chance of making the playoffs, and even that will become increasingly hard to get if the Rams don’t start winning games now. They head across the country on Sunday to play the Falcons.