Videos by OutKick
Today, I revisit the bubble to see what I got right and what I missed.
Let’s start with the NFC. In August, the bubble looked as follows:
The first three teams remain in the center of the bubble. While the Rams are playing the best of the three, they will not sail to a division title. Green Bay and Tampa could each lose two or three more games and still lock up their respective divisions by Week 16. Meanwhile, the Rams have to overcome Arizona.
I did not see Arizona and Dallas coming. Today, both teams have Super Bowl-caliber rosters. Of the two, Dallas faces more uncertainties since they have a below-average defense that Mac Jones exposed on Sunday.
Thus, the NFC bubble stays at five, with the exits of the 49ers and the Seahawks. Seattle and San Francisco both lost their starting QBs. It happens.
Now, to the AFC.
It appeared coming into the season that the AFC had the superior list of playoff teams. That’s not currently the case.
Though Buffalo and Baltimore are NFL’s best teams, there’s a significant drop-off starting at No. 3. Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Tennessee entered the year inside the Super Bowl bubble. That said, I warned about the Chiefs’ flaws in August.
Kansas City has since played itself outside the bubble. It’s not that the Chiefs are 3-3, it’s that they have yet to play a complete game. KC’s defense is horrendous — the worst I’ve ever seen — and they give up nearly 7-yards per play. The Chiefs will also likely record anywhere from three to six more losses among their games with the Titans, Packers, Chargers, Raiders (twice), Cowboys, and Bengals (they are 4-2)
Therefore, Kansas City will have to go on the road in the playoffs — perhaps as a Wild Card — against the Bills or Ravens, two teams they cannot bring to the ground.
The Browns aren’t much better. Cleveland has to get healthy. They have injuries at QB, RB, WR, and all over the defense. Thus far, the Browns have failed to live up to expectations. Stunner, isn’t it?
If the playoffs started today, the AFC would come down to the Bills and Ravens. It’s a two-team race. The Titans come in at a distant third, still in the bubble near the edges. Don’t overreact to Monday night. Josh Allen converts that 4th-and-1 around 9 out of 10 times and wins the game.
Las Vegas is the AFC team to watch. Derek Carr has arrived. The Raiders’ offense gives Vegas a puncher’s chance against anyone, including the Ravens — see Week 1. Watch out for the Raiders to sneak into the bubble by December.
For now, eight teams make OutKick’s Super Bowl bubble:
List your bubble below in the comment section.