2017 NFL multiplication leaders: Steelers a lock, Rams no certain thing

This has been a vibrated NFL campaign, though with a plain half-season of movement in a books, we have a clearer thought of the playoff picture holding shape. Some local races seem to have crystallized to a indicate that we can some-more or reduction call them now, while others sojourn decidedly in flux.

Below, I’ve ranked all 8 multiplication leaders (per NFL.com’s standings) according to a odds that they will still be in initial place when a 2017 unchanging deteriorate comes to an end, fixing a tip challengers to a many exposed front-runners:


1) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2 in a AFC North)

There is not a bona fide challenger to a Steelers’ leverage in this division, with a Ravens (4-5), Bengals (3-5) and Browns (0-8) all floundering. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is one of usually dual teams to arrange in a tip 10 in both offense (No. 10) and defense (No. 5), fasten a Jaguars (who arrange ninth in offense and third in defense). The Steelers’ schedule also lines adult unequivocally many in their favor, with all their remaining highway games (at Colts, at Bengals, at Texans) entrance opposite teams with losing records, while they should be a favorites in all 5 of their remaining home games (vs. Titans, vs. Packers, vs. Ravens, vs. Patriots, vs. Browns). Yes, we like Pittsburgh to win a pivotal Week 15 matchup with New England, that we also design to confirm home-field advantage in a AFC playoffs.

2) Philadelphia Eagles (8-1 in a NFC East)

Since a 12-team playoff format was initial implemented in 1990, 100 percent (35 of 35) of a teams to start 8-1 have reached a postseason. The Eagles are in a tip 11 in both offense (No. 5) and defense (No. 11), and they’ve outscored their opponents by 104 points so distant this season, a second-highest symbol in a NFL. Carson Wentz is carrying an MVP-caliber campaign, with 23 touchdowns, a 104.1 passer rating and an considerable yards-per-attempt symbol of 7.8. General manager Howie Roseman has finished a good pursuit adding talent, such as receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, rookie kicker Jake Elliott and recent trade acquisition Jay Ajayi. Some severe highway matchups loom, including games at a Seahawks, Rams and Cowboys. And there’s a doubt of how many losing tackle Jason Peters to ACL and MCL tears will harm a offense. But a Eagles have a 2.5-game lead over a second-place Cowboys and have already beaten Washington twice and should during slightest separate their dual games with Dallas, a NFC East is theirs for a taking.

3) New England Patriots (6-2 in a AFC East)

The Patriots have won a AFC East in 14 of a past 16 seasons. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick during a helm, they seem to be as involuntary a close as we can find. So because are they third? Looking during this season only, a Patriots do face obstacles that could be somewhat worse to overcome than those in front of a Steelers and Eagles. Yes, it would be a startle if anyone else won a division, though a Bills (5-3) and Jets (4-5) are softened than expected. New England has a unenviable charge of personification 3 highway games in a quarrel (at Bills in Week 13, at Dolphins on “Monday Night Football” in Week 14 and at Steelers in Week 15, with a latter diversion entrance after a brief week). And afterwards there’s a arriving two-game widen of games in Denver and Mexico City (against a Raiders), nonetheless that does not demeanour as tough as it once did. Finally, a second-place Bills get dual some-more shots opposite them, nonetheless Brady is 26-3 opposite Buffalo in his career. Those factors make New England slightly some-more expected to finish out of initial place than Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, if usually by a hair.


4) Minnesota Vikings (6-2 in a NFC North)

The Vikings have a two-game lead over Detroit and fundamentally face usually a up-and-down Lions as a threat, as a Packers demeanour mislaid though quarterback Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone) and a Bears are lacking on offense. Minnesota’s fourth-ranked defense is very good, giving adult usually 16.9 points per game. The offense has been OK notwithstanding a absences of using behind Dalvin Cook and quarterback Sam Bradford, with Case Keenum personification good in Bradford’s place, completing 63.9 percent of his passes and notching 7 scoring tosses (I don’t see Teddy Bridgewater being some-more than a backup this season). The arriving schedule includes a potentially cryptic five-game widen (at Redskins, vs. Rams, at Lions, at Falcons, at Panthers). But if a Vikings win during slightest dual of those, they should be in good shape, given that they finish with games against a Packers and Bears. Minnesota is a many unchanging group in a division, and that will be rewarded with a title.

5) Kansas City Chiefs (6-3 in a AFC West)

Back when a Chiefs were 5-0, it seemed like they would hurl to home-field advantage in a playoffs. But they’ve mislaid 3 of their final 4 and demeanour vulnerable, with a unsatisfactory performances of a Raiders and Broncos (and a early-season struggles of a 3-5 Chargers) gripping Kansas City in this tier. Veteran QB Alex Smith is still personification unequivocally solid ball, though using behind Kareem Hunt has slowed down — a energetic rookie has averaged usually 48 rushing yards per diversion over his final 4 games after putting adult 122 yards per competition in a initial 5 games. The Chiefs’ 29th-ranked defense is also giving adult lots of yards — we consider they unequivocally skip reserve Eric Berry (ruptured Achilles). The register is strong, though a group is not personification good right now, that is because Kansas City is a nick subsequent Minnesota.


6) New Orleans Saints (6-2 in a NFC South)

After starting 0-2, a Saints won 6 true and are now 6-2. Only dual other teams have finished that before in a Super Bowl era: a 1993 Dallas Cowboys and a 2007 New York Giants. Both went on to win a Super Bowl. New Orleans’ invulnerability has softened dramatically, ranking 15th overall and ninth in points allowed after finishing 27th and 31st in those categories final season. Two rookies are starting during defensive behind — Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore — and both are personification well. The using game, meanwhile, has been many better; a Saints averaged 94 rushing yards in their initial 4 games and 151.5 in their final four.

WATCH OUT FOR: a Carolina Panthers. Carolina, that already lost to a Saints during home, would need to win in New Orleans in Week 13 and get some assistance from Atlanta, that has two games against a Saints left. But a Panthers do have the No. 1 ranked defense, and that gives them a legitimate shot in this race.

7) Los Angeles Rams (6-2 in a NFC West)

The Rams are averaging 32.9 points per diversion this season, an boost of 18.9 over 2016′s normal — that’s a biggest boost from one year to a subsequent by any NFL group given 1960. Interestingly, a next-biggest boost given 1960 was logged by a 1999 Rams, who done a burst of 15.1 points from 1998 — and went on to win a Super Bowl. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are soaring, with maestro left tackle Andrew Whitworth — who is 4 years comparison than conduct manager Sean McVay, for whatever that’s value — proof to be a essential addition. That said, how this group will perform down a stretch, with a tough remaining schedule that includes games against New Orleans and Philadelphia and highway contests against Minnesota and Seattle, stays something of an unknown.

WATCH OUT FOR: a Seattle Seahawks. The Rams are now forward of Seattle by one game, though statistically, there is unequivocally small opening between a teams, as Los Angeles ranks third on offense and 16th on defense and a Seahawks arrange fourth on offense and 13th on defense. Where I’d give an corner to a Seahawks is in experience; this Seattle group has a proven record of next late in a year, with a 34-10 regular-season record in November, Dec and Jan given Russell Wilson became a starting QB in 2012. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is new to a stage of NFL contenders. Plus, Seattle has already beaten a Rams in Los Angeles. The Seahawks have a heartless schedule forward of them, with usually one sub-.500 competition on a calendar (San Francisco in Week 12), though a Rams have usually dual (Houston in Week 10 and San Francisco in Week 17). Of course, Seattle contingency take caring of business in both remaining games opposite a Cardinals, commencement with this week’s “Thursday Night Football” matchup in Arizona.

8) Tennessee Titans (5-3 in a AFC South)

The Titans are in initial place by trait of their Week 2 win over a Jaguars — who are also 5-3 — in Jacksonville. But they demeanour intensely vulnerable, with a 17th-ranked defense, 20th-ranked offense, a indicate differential of minus-12 and a walking takeaway differential of plus-1. Tennessee also has games against Pittsburgh and a Rams on a schedule.

WATCH OUT FOR: a Jacksonville Jaguars. In contrariety to a Titans, a Jaguars arrange in a tip 10 on both offense and defense, while quarterback Blake Bortles has been personification well. The Jags also have a easiest remaining strength of report in a league, with their opponents posting a total winning commission of .348. It competence come down to a regular-season finale, though even if it doesn’t occur until a dual teams’ Week 17 showdown, we consider Jacksonville will hit a Titans out of initial place in a division. we do still see Tennessee as a wild-card team, however.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.

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