ATL colleague Dan Hanzus recently floated his "25 percenter" theory. According to the man we call "Zeus," just eight of the NFL's 32 teams have a chance to win the Super Bowl.
Harrison: Week 10 predictions
Two of the NFL's best teams face off Sunday night. Who will prevail: Texans or Bears? Elliot Harrison provides his picks. **More ...**
Meanwhile, Bucky Brooks argues more than half the league has a legitimate shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season.
That's charitable, but the field is wide open when we lower the bar (as we love to do around here) and talk about simply sneaking into the playoffs (likely to be destroyed soon after).
The NFL is flush with mediocrity. Both conferences feature a handful of sub-.500 teams that have frustrated their fans all season but still have a chance to turn it around. As the playoff picture comes into focus, here's my list of losers with a chance to crash the postseason party:
1. New Orleans Saints (3-5): That white-hot team from a season ago is a distant memory, but ponder these two words: Drew Brees. Every franchise on this list would drop their starter in a second for what the Saints have under center. I can't count out a Brees-led team this early. There has been a lot of hating on New Orleans this season. The Saints are A-plus spoiler material down the stretch.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5): Here's my problem with the Bengals: There's plenty of young talent on a team that can't get on the same page. I picked the Bengals to upset the New York Giants on Sunday because I believe they're capable of it. But the Bengals can't be taken seriously until they learn to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. They have one more shot at each. It's time for the Bengals to capitalize -- not shrink away -- at the opportunity.
3. St. Louis Rams (3-5): The Rams are learning how to play as one under coach Jeff Fisher. That's why we're seeing solid play one week, followed by a disastrous performance (i.e. that overseas stinker against the New England Patriots). Their young defense is the reason I still buy into the Rams. The return of Sam Bradford's favorite target, Danny Amendola, is why the NFC's final wild-card spot isn't impossible.
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-5): If the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dallas is a horse in the race for one more week. Coach Jason Garrett has eight more games to show Jerry Jones he deserves to keep his job. I'm interested to see how the Cowboys respond. Jones last year fawned over a New York Giants team that responded to adversity. Mr. Jones: Here's your team's chance to do the same.
5. New York Jets (3-5): I would argue the two-win Cleveland Browns are a better team than the Jets, but the difference here is time. New York's three wins have the Jets on the ropes in the AFC. Gang Green walks out of its bye week with the Seattle Seahawks on tap. Tall order for Rex Ryan, but there's still a pulse in Florham Park. We've been sticking forks in teams on a weekly basis. Another Jets loss Sunday, and this team is history.