With only three weeks left in the season, we will start to see more teams enter the dead zone.  On the other hand, the play-off races are a beautiful jumbled mess.  It should make for a very exciting finish to the year.  Let’s see where your team falls in the power tiers….

DEAD – Teams playing for the Josh Rosen/Sam Darnold sweepstakes

Jets, Broncos, Bengals, Browns, Colts, Texans, Giants, 49ers, Bears, Buccaneers

After weeks of singing the Jets praises, they finally let me down.  Getting shut out by the lowly Broncos, and losing their starting quarterback land them in the dead category.  The 49ers and their new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are doing their best to get out of the dead zone.  One has to wonder where they’d be if they pulled the trigger on that trade sooner.

LIFE SUPPORT – Teams with a sliver of hope, but c’mon who are we kidding here

Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Cardinals

The Miami Dolphins are coming off a huge upset of the Patriots on Monday night football.  Just think if Jay Cutler played like that more consistently throughout his career where would he be?  The Cardinals just refuse to go away.  Bruce Arians has done a tremendous job keeping this team afloat despite losing his starting quarterback.

ALIVE BUT……Teams with a realistic chance to make the playoffs, but not really

Bills, Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Titans

The Titans will make the play-offs, but only because of how bad the AFC is this year.  They are awful and will be a first round exit for sure.  Well the Packers did it.  They managed to scratch out enough wins to keep them viable until Aaron Rogers return.  Now let’s see if he can get them to the post-season.  The NFC play-off race promises to be extremely entertaining.

JUST A SLIGHT LIMP – In the post season, but not quite Super Bowl caliber

Seahawks, Jaguars, Falcons, Chargers, Ravens

I’m very tempted to put the Jaguars in the elite category after another impressive win.  As long as Blake Bortles is their quarterback I can’t, I just can’t.  The  defending NFC champion Falcons had a big win Thursday night.  Atlanta is as dangerous as anyone if they can get their offense going.  Have I mentioned how freakin good the NFC is this year??

HEALTHY AS A HORSE – Elite teams all with a legitimate claim to be Super Bowl champions

Steelers, Patriots, Eagles, Rams, Vikings, Saints, Panthers

It may be time to take the Carolina Panthers seriously now.  If Cam Newton plays well they can beat anyone in the league.  Philadelphia suffered a huge blow when they lost Carson Wentz for the season.  Their place in the elite status will probably not last without him.  The game we’ve all been waiting for is about to take place as the Steelers and Patriots will square off at Heinze Field on Sunday.  The Steelers really felt the loss of Ryan Shazier against the Ravens.  Their defense looked horrible, and now they have to face the team that has given them so much trouble over the years.  New England’s defense isn’t playing much better so this game promises to be a shoot-out.  If Ben Roethlisberger can repeat his performance from Sunday night, the Steelers have a legitimate shot at winning this game.  If he struggles, we may be in for a repeat of the AFC Championship from last year.