The first month of the NFL season is in the books and it has been a strange four weeks so far. At the quarter turn mark several of last year's playoff teams have started slowly or darn right awful.
It is widely know that each year, nearly half the playoff teams from the year before fail to make the playoffs. Here is a quick look at last year's playoff teams.
In the NFC, the only playoff teams from last season with a winning record are the Atlanta Falcons (4-0) and the San Francisco 49ers (3-1). Two of last year's playoff teams, the Green Bay Packers and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, are just .500 four games into the the season.
The biggest disappointments in the NFC has to be the New Orleans Saints (0-4) and the Detroit Lions (1-3). Both teams face steep uphill climbs to reach the playoffs this season.
On the reverse side, the Arizona Cardinals (4-0) and Minnesota Vikings (3-1) have been the surprise teams a quarter of the way into the season in the NFC. The Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears a living up to their preseason and 2011 billing so far.
In the AFC, the playoff teams are fairing a little better than their NFC counterparts. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers (on a bye last week) has a losing record at 1-2.
The Houston Texans (4-0), Cincinnati Bengals (3-1), Baltimore Ravens (3-1) all have winning records after a month into the season. As for the rest of the 2011 AFC playoff teams that are .500 include the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots.
Every playoff team from 2011, with maybe the exception of New Orleans and Detroit, still has a chance to reach the playoffs this year. There are 10 teams that are 2-2 at this point in the season, including playoff teams from 2011.
In the NFC, Green Bay, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants are 2-2. In the AFC, New England, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Denver are 2-2.
The AFC has fewer teams with winning or .500 records so far with eight teams already in danger of being out of the playoff race. The Cleveland Browns (0-4), Kansas City Chiefs (1-3), Oakland Raiders (1-3), Tennessee Titans (1-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3), Indianapolis Colts (1-2, on a bye last week), Miami Dolphins (1-3), Pittsburgh need a quick turnaround in October.
Besides New Orleans and Detroit, the only other teams with a losing record are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. The NFC South has been terrible this year and Atlanta might have the division clinched before October ends if things don't turnaround for the other three teams in the division.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in games between the AFC and NFC teams. A month into the 2012 season and the NFC looks like the stronger conference.
The NFC West and the NFC East divisions don't even have a team with a losing record at this point in the season. The only dog baby division is of course the NFC South that has a combined 6-10 record with four of those wins belonging to the Atlanta Falcons.
In the AFC, the South division is the NFC South counter part to nearly dumpster fire status. All the teams in the AFC South have a combined record of 7-8 with again four wins belonging to the Houston Texans.
Only six teams in the AFC have a positive point differential after four weeks. Of those six teams, only Houston, Baltimore and San Diego have a winning record. Two of the other teams are .500 in Denver and New England and the Steelers have a losing record.
In a surprising stat, only eight teams in the NFC have a positive point differential after September. Five of the eight NFC teams have a winning record with San Francisco, Arizona, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Chicago.
The rest of the NFC teams with with a positive point differential have .500 records. Only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles has a winning record and a negative point differential at -17.
Cincinnati is the only team with a zero point differential with a winning record and Washington has a zero point differential with .500 record. The team with a losing record and lowest point differential is the Miami Dolphins at -4 and followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at -9.
It has been a strange NFL season and at a quarter of the way to the end, things are sure to get even stranger before the playoff teams settle themselves out. Now on to this week's picks that are sure to go horribly wrong.
This week's picks (winners in Bold)
There is a potential for a lot of upsets with most of the games featuring teams with winning record or .500 records against teams with losing records.
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers
Houston Texans at New York Jets
*Bye week teams: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saints pick coming before the Sunday night game.*