Despite Oddities, NFL Standings Still Offer Hope

The first six weeks of the 2012 NFL season have produced at least one notable oddity in the league standings.  The Buffalo Bills have allowed 55 more points than they’ve scored so far, so it’s not surprising that they’re tied for last in the AFC East.  They are also tied for first.

Yes, every team in the Bills’ division is 3-3 after three weeks.  Something’s definitely going to give this weekend, as Miami is on its bye and the Jets and Patriots play each other.  Still, the AFC is a nice place to be right now if you enjoy early-season playoff hopes for your team.  If the playoffs started right now, there would be a five-way tie for the two Wild Card spots, with another three teams within a game of that group.

Of course, the Bucs play in the NFC, and there’s a little bit more spread in the standings there.  Some of that has to do with the conference’s dominance in interconference play so far – the NFC is 19-9 against the AFC through six weeks.  The Bucs helped last week, taking down New Orleans, but the top gladiator in that arena is Atlanta, which has already swept undefeated through its four-game interconference schedule.

That said, there’s just as much reason for most of the NFC teams to still believe in their playoff chances.  The four division leaders after six weeks are Atlanta (6-0), the Giants (4-2), Chicago (4-1) and San Francisco (5-2).  After that, there are three teams that are either 4-2 or 4-3, and another four that are 3-3.  That’s a logjam, to be sure, but the Buccaneers are 2-3 and have a home game on tap in which they could join all those .500 or better squads.

And, of course, it’s too early for the Bucs to give up on catching the streaking Falcons.  Yes, Atlanta has a 3.5-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay at the moment, but the two teams still have both of their games against each other.  This early in the season – essentially a third of the way into it – the Bucs are justified in thinking they still control their own fate.

And that works right into the team’s approach under Head Coach Greg Schiano, who convinces his players that each week is a season unto its own.  Right now, the Bucs are wrapped up in “New Orleans Season” and are not really paying any attention to all of that rambling about standings to which you just subjected yourself.

“That’s not something I look at to be honest with you,” said Schiano on Friday.  “I’m so wrapped up in just trying to get the Bucs to play the best that we can play, coach the best that we can coach, [the standings are] kind of out there for me. At the end of the day if you work hard and you do things the best you can, you look up and you’re in a good spot.”

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