Ranking Every 8-8 team in the NFL Entering Week 18
On an annual basis in the NFL, the importance of each game tends to be overlooked. This season, eight teams sit at .500, hoping they get a chance at a clean slate in the postseason. Not all eight teams will make the cut, and one game will separate the field next week.
Nonetheless, here is a look at how each 8-8 team ranks among each other.
1. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins started the season strong. In a make-or-break season for young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. With the addition of star wideout Tyreek Hill and sophomore Jaylen Waddle poised to break out, this seemed like now or never for Tagovailoa to prove he’s a franchise quarterback.
Miami started the season 8-3 under new head coach Mike McDaniel. A season that looked to have championship aspirations quickly took a turn for the worse. Following a few injuries, including Tua himself, the Dolphins found themselves on a losing skid, placing them where they are today.
Eager to make the playoffs, the Dolphins are on the outside looking in, needing some help this weekend. Regardless, when the team from South Florida is healthy, they have one of the most explosive offenses in the league and a defense to match that energy. If the Dolphins sneak into the playoffs, they could run the table and find themselves on a run to the Super Bowl.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have been behind the eight-ball seemingly all season. With new head coach Todd Bowles at the helm, the transition hasn’t been as smooth as many may have believed.
However, the Bucs have managed to keep the ship afloat and clinch their division after their poor start. With Tom Brady navigating the way, it’s safe to assume Tampa Bay is never down for the count. Brady could do Brady things and end his storied career with a fairy-tale playoff run. With the defense and offense finally clicking, this could be a team to watch.
The Buccaneers find themselves at number two on the list.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have had an underwhelming season. Following the departure of Aaron Rodgers’s favorite target Davante Adams, the supporting cast was a big question entering the season. With multiple rookies in the starting offense, it took time for the team to find its rhythm.
After many fans called for Rodgers to hang it up or play elsewhere following the slow start, those fans are now changing their tune. Green Bay has won four straight, including their dominant win over the 12-3 Vikings last week.
The way the Packers’ offense and defense have been playing to close things out could mean trouble for the rest of the NFC if they find themselves in the postseason. The back-to-back MVP and his group find themselves in a win and you’re in situation against the Lions.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last season was arguably the most embarrassing in Jacksonville Jaguars’ history. Between the drama surrounding former head coach Urban Meyer and the team’s poor record, it was a tough scene in Jacksonville around this time last season.
Under new leadership with head coach Doug Pederson and new general manager Trent Baalke, the Jags have found light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite a slow start, the Jags and sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence have gone 5-1 following the bye week. Led by the former Clemson Tiger, the offense has shown unlimited potential, while the defense has turned into a well-rounded unit.
The Jags find themselves in a win-or-go-home game against their division-rival Tennessee Titans this Saturday.
5. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions may be one of the easiest teams to get behind. After many years of underachieving and missing the postseason, there’s finally a glimmer of hope.
Detroit started 2-6 but has since found its identity, winning six of its last eight games. Dan Campbell has gotten his players to buy in, and the team is getting hot at the right time.
With multiple weapons on offense and young defenders who fly to the ball, the Lions are another team that has made an impressive turnaround. The Motor City Lions could be a threat if they can upset the Packers this weekend.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Many thought this season would be the start of a rebuild for the Seahawks following Russell Wilson’s trade and Bobby Wagner’s release. It turns out that Pete Carroll and Geno Smith had other plans.
Through an up-and-down season, Seattle manages to find itself at 8-8. The Seahawks have offensive talent that could give any team issues and a young defense that fights until the end. This well-knit group could be scary to meet in the playoffs.
With the team sitting in the seventh seed in the NFC, they could be one of the more interesting stories of the year.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers started the year with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. However, with an injury to star linebacker TJ Watt, the Steelers had a rough go. The team struggled offensively and defensively.
Nonetheless, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to move to rookie QB Kenny Pickett in Week 4. The offense struggled at first with rookie woes, but as of late, Picket has managed to take care of the ball and lead the Steelers to gritty wins with the help of a well-coached defense.
Pittsburgh has had a wild ride this season, but they have managed to find themselves at 8-8 as the regular season enters the final week. Could the Steelers and Tomlin manage to get into the postseason?
8. New England Patriots
The Patriots always seem competitive regardless of the talent on their roster. Despite having arguably the least talent in this group, Bill Belichick will always get the best out of his players.
New England has a tough-nosed defense and an offense that relies on the running game. It’s hard to say what this team will do on offense weekly, but the defense keeps them in nearly every game.
The Pats round off the list in the eighth position.
Regardless of position or record, each team has dealt with adversity. It will be exciting to see which team can sneak into the playoffs.