Perhaps one of the best statistics for looking at if a playoff team will be successful is looking at their record against teams over .500. Just looking at some simple statistics shows us how the Browns 8-3 is much less impressive than the Bills 8-3. A winning record against losing teams almost always gets exposed in due time. Here are the best and worst records of contenders vs teams over .500 this season.
Buffalo Bills: 4-3 (0.571)
The Bills have been tested the most this year with 7 games against teams over .500. They beat the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Raiders convincingly and arguably got lucky on a phantom pass interference call to beat the Rams although there were a few calls earlier that went the Rams way and they rallied at the end to win. Buffalo lost convincingly to the Titans and Chiefs and were taken down on a last second hail mary to the Cardinals. Even with those losses, this is a battle tested team who will be ready for any team they face in the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins: 2-2 (.500)
One of the biggest breakout teams of the year, Miami’s quality losses came early in the year to current division leaders in the Bills and Seahawks, both games in which the Dolphins were outmatched. Their two quality wins were over the Rams in a game in which the defense dominated and the Cardinals where a Zane Gonzalez whiff allowed them to win. Miami hasn’t been tested too much and their 7-4 is a bit bloated. If this team can reach the playoffs it will be great for their rebuild, but there’s high doubt they’ll win a game.
Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (.800)
The reigning super bowl champions have been tested and they’ve held up like any champion would. Their only loss came early on to the division rival Raiders whom they would end up beating in the second matchup between the two. Kansas City has beaten every team they have played this season and have never looked off beat. This team is obviously well equipped to win and with wins over the Ravens, Bills, Raiders, and Buccaneers there’s no way to imagine this team isn’t in the front running to hold Lombardi’s Trophy again.
Las Vegas Raiders: 3-3 (.500)
The Raiders have been tested this year and have surprisingly been up to the tasks. They have impressive wins over the Saints and Chiefs, neither of which were complete flukes. They also grinded out an ugly win over the Browns. Vegas’ losses came at the hands of the Chiefs at the last minute, the Buccaneers in a blowout and the Bills in a fourth quarter comeback. This Raiders team is well tested against quality teams and could have a shot to win a playoff game, although they have to make it there first.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-0 (1.000)
The Steelers haven’t had the hardest road here playing just 4 such games. Their wins however, were over the Ravens twice, Titans, and Browns, who have all been solid this season. They still have the Colts and Bills left on their schedule and how they perform in those games will prove if Pittsburgh’s undefeated record is truly legitimate heading into the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns: 1-3 (.250)
This stat completely exposes the Browns. Cleveland has beaten up on bad teams all year and have not fared well when faced with real challenges. They were destroyed by their division rivals in the Steelers and Ravens and lost to the Raiders even while playing their style (an ugly, hard fought running game). Their lone win over a .500 team was over the Colts which was solid, but the fact that Cleveland has won 7 of its 8 games against losing teams signals that they won’t succeed in the playoffs, assuming they stay on track and get there..
Baltimore Ravens: 2-4 (.333)
For a team that dominated the league a year ago, The Ravens have taken a drop off. Baltimore has been tested quite a bit this season, and they haven’t exactly stepped up. Baltimore has lost to three of the AFC’s division leaders in the Titans, Chiefs, and Steelers. Their over .500 wins came against the Browns (in week 1 without preseason) and Colts in a close game. Both of those teams aren’t among the true contenders this year and without a true signature win, the Ravens are on the outside looking in through 12 weeks and are one of the tougher teams to predict the rest of the way.
Tennessee Titans: 3-2 (.600)
The Titans have been tested a fair bit and they’ve proved last year’s playoff run wasn’t a fluke. They split with the Colts but their win against them was much more convincing than their loss, with a 45 point explosion on the road. Tennessee had a statement win over the Bills and were able to take down the Ravens in overtime as Derrick Henry dominated them again. The Titans gave Pittsburgh all they could handle and were a kick away from ending the Steelers undefeated run. Bottom line, Tennessee is just as good, if not better than last year and are a very dangerous team in the playoffs.
Indianapolis Colts: 2-3 (.400)
The Colts have been a mixed bag this season and their wins haven’t looked that convincing. They got lucky with a win over the Titans due to special teams gaffes and knocked off the Packers on a fumble. Indianapolis also lost winnable games vs the Browns and Ravens. The Colts have been one of the more under the radar teams in the league this year but with tough matchups in the Raiders, Steelers and two games with the red hot Texans upcoming, it could be tough for them to hold on.
Seattle Seahawks: 2-3 (.400)
The Seahawks have played quite a few games against teams over .500 but they haven’t played the top teams in either conference. The losses against the Bills and Rams were not as close as they looked. Their other loss against the Cardinals however, could have been avoided had Carson stayed healthy. Their wins over the Cardinals the 2nd time and over the Dolphins are nothing to write home about either. They should be fine in the playoffs because of the team experience but they haven’t really been tested too much this year.
Los Angeles Rams: 2-2 (.500)
In a resurgent season, The Rams have win their big games with defense. They have beaten the rival Seahawks and Bucs by holding down the elite passing attacks of both squads. Their losses came to the AFC East contenders in the Dolphins and Bills, two winnable games that they let slip away because of turnovers and offensive ineptitude early. They’ve played decent competition and have held up solid so far. With a return to the playoffs looking likely, LA should be a threat to win at least one playoff game and maybe more.
Arizona Cardinals: 2-2 (.500)
The breakout Cardinals have some quality wins vs the Seahawks and Bills but when you look closer their wins haven’t been that impressive. Barring a Chris Carson injury and an a hail mary catch at the buzzer by DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona could be 0-4 in over .500 games right now. They still have those wins in the bank however, but their loss to the Dolphins was avoidable. Their second loss to the Seahawks was close as Seattle’s adjustments combined with a dinged up and Kyler Murray prevented the sweep. Arizona has been a couple bounces away from being 4-0 or 0-4 but at this point, with what we’ve seen from them, they are a boom or bust team come playoff time.
Green Bay Packers: 1-2 (.333)
Looking at the 1-2 mark without context looks pretty bad but the Packers have played well this season. They beat the current best team in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints, in a game where the Saints played decently, especially without Michael Thomas. However, the Packers were manhandled by the Buccaneers in a 38-10 rout. Their game against the Colts came down to an unlucky MVS fumble and that was a game they easily could’ve won. Despite having the lowest total in the league of these games, Green Bay has played some decent opponents and have looked in control for parts of all those games. Combine that with some recent playoff experience and of course having Aaron Rodgers, they are poised to be in position to make a run this year.
New Orleans Saints: 2-2 (.500)
The Saints two losses came early in weeks 2 and 3. The Raiders outplayed them in a matchup in which New Orleans didn’t have their A game. They played better against the Packers but still lost fairly convincgly. But New Orlenas hasn’t lost since September and their signature wins were both over the divisional rival Buccaneers, the second one being extremely convincing and showing that the Saints are still an NFC powerhouse. WHile they haven’t faced as hard of competition this year, we know this team can win a big game and with their experience, this could be the year New Orleans finally breaks out of the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-4 (.333)
A loss to the Saints in the first week of the season in a shortened offseason made sense but the Saints domination of them in Week 9 was worrisome. Tampa also dropped a winnable game at home to the Rams which showed that the Bucs are stoppable when the ground game isn’t working. Almost coming back to beat the defending champion Chiefs wasn’t too bad of a loss though. Their hammering of the Green Bay Packers was a great win however, and the Bucs controlled the Raiders the from start to finish. Tampa has been on and off but with a team led by Tom Brady, they for sure have a chance to make a run in the playoffs. If they can get there.