Looking back at the weekend in college football, nothing out of the ordinary took place. With the exception of second-ranked Florida State having a close game with Boston College, the other teams ranked in the top-four all had relatively easy encounters.
Alabama hosted Western Carolina in a game that was over the day they scheduled it. Mississippi State played a poor Vanderbilt team and Oregon hosted Colorado, which has all of two wins this year.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles squeaked by Boston College on Saturday.
When you look at the SEC schedule as a whole, just about every team in the conference played a cream puff in one of their last two games. Two weeks ago Mississippi State played UT-Martin while Ole Miss played Presbyterian. In addition, Georgia hosted Charleston Southern last Saturday. In this new playoff era, scheduling FCS opponents this late in the season or at any time should be prohibited. If the SEC wants to continue to be looked at as the best conference in college football, they have to play worthy opponents.
Looking ahead to this weekend, there are a few games that will have a lot to do with what the top-four looks like in another week. Alabama hosts archrival Auburn in the Iron Bowl. An Alabama loss would remove the Crimson Tide from playoff consideration. The same holds true for Mississippi State, who plays at Ole Miss Saturday afternoon. An Ole Miss win will knock Mississippi State out of the top-four.
Florida State should have no trouble with Florida and the same holds true with Oregon, who travels to a 5-6 Oregon State team.
Congrats have to go out to the Buffalo Bills. After going through what this team did last week, the Bills went out and beat up on the hapless New York Jets in a “home” game played in Detroit. That tells you the type of character players the Bills have on this roster.
I have three daughters living in Buffalo, so I know how bad the conditions were. The Bills were not able to practice until they got to Detroit last Friday night. Conditions were so bad they had to send snowmobiles to pick up some of the players. The Bills prep was about half of what it normally would be. I thought going into the game that there was no way the Bills could possibly win.
With that being said, how bad are the New York Jets? They were coming off a bye and then had an extra day to practice and prepare and still got their butts kicked. Being a native Buffalonian, I watched that game closely last night and the Jets flat-out quit in the fourth quarter. The Jets came out flat to start the game and it just got worse in the second half.
Looking around the league, the most compelling playoff race remains the AFC North. A half game separates first place Cincinnati from last place Cleveland. Cincinnati has a 6-3-1 record while Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland all sit at 7-4. We won’t know the winner of that division until the last game is played.
Drew Brees and the Saints co-lead the NFC South with a 4-7 record.
Looking at this week’s schedule, the standings might not change as Cincinnati plays at Tampa Bay, Cleveland goes to Buffalo (who will be on a short week and will still have practice difficulties) and Pittsburgh host New Orleans. The only real tough game for an AFC North club is Baltimore, who will host the San Diego Chargers. At this time next week, the standings in that division could very well be the same as they are now.
The other interesting divisional race is taking place in the NFC South. We very well could see a team with a losing record win the division. Atlanta and New Orleans are tied for first with matching 4-7 records. Carolina is a half game back at 3-7-1.
Looking at this week’s schedule, the team with the best chance to win is Carolina. The Panthers play at Minnesota and weather could play a big factor in that game. Atlanta plays Arizona who just happens to be one of the better teams in the NFL this year and New Orleans plays at Pittsburgh, where it’s always difficult for the road team.
When the season ends, the winner of the NFC South could very well be just a 5 or 6-win team. That won’t make the powers that be on Park Avenue very happy. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rule change that says a division winner has to have at least a .500 record in order to qualify for the playoffs. If a division winner doesn’t meet the criteria, then a third wild card team is chosen to take their spot.
The NFL playoffs aren’t for teams with losing records.
Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggabe