Well, the playoffs are almost here. It feels like just yesterday, football fans were wondering if we were even going to get a season. Now, nine weeks in, we’ve gotten a fun one. But better yet, a season full of twists. Who would have thought the the Cowboys would be so utterly horrible? Or that for the first time since 2000, the Patriots would have a losing record?
The biggest surprises however, aren’t the teams who are failing. The biggest surprise is which teams are succeeding. From the Raiders’ surprise success to the Buccaneers, there’s been a lot. But this will cover the team from each conference who has a good shot at the playoffs despite what anyone thought.
I’ll start with the very obvious team in the AFC. The Miami Dolphins have without a doubt been killing it this year. On a five game winning streak and dominating teams on defense, it seems that this once considered rebuilding team is making a playoff push. And a pretty hard one at that. They’ve had defensive takeaways in their last 15 games under Brian Flores, a Coach of the Year favorite, and this season a lot of those takeaways have led to scores afterwards on offense, or they have been scores themselves.
None of that is to take away from rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and what he’s been able to do on offense. After just four games, he’s thrown for 519 yards, completing 63.6% of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. That may sound unimpressive, but when your defense is playing at the Dolphins’ level, as long as he’s not turning it over, it’s ok. All of this to say, watch out for Miami. First the Heat, now the Dolphins. Something is in the water.
Moving to the NFC, this is the really dark horse. The New York Giants have a chance to make the playoffs. For the first time since prime Eli Manning, they have a shot. They are a game behind the Eagles (which isn’t saying much for them, as they’re 3-7) and have been playing better. Daniel Jones has gone two games straight without a turnover, and they’ve found their filler for the missing Saquon Barkley in Wayne Gallman. While not a full stand in, he’s been good in situations in which they needed to run the ball.
On the flip side, their defense has been pretty decent, which is the biggest compliment a team in the NFC East can get, at stopping opponents. As many football fans have said, the Giants are the best 3-7 team. While they won’t be making the playoffs due to spectacular performances, in the division they’re in, they can pretty easily make it.
Very few teams have had the turnarounds that these teams have had. And very few in the future will. Unless the Jets somehow draft a star and become Super Bowl contenders, it just speaks to the weirdness of 2020. However, if these teams make it, they will have deserved it. Both have been talked about badly for so long. Making the playoffs over many other teams that were good in the past is definitely the way to shut that talk up. So be on the lookout for Miami and New York (I trust you know what New York I’m talking about). They’re about to make this year a whole lot more fun.