Three years ago when the Carolina Panthers went 2-14 if you asked a fan if the Panthers would win 8 straight games, they would say it was impossible. Three years later we are now talking about one of the best teams in the NFL with an 8-game winning streak and looking to beat the Saints for the division. Carolina isn't the only hot team in the NFL. The Eagles have looked much better with Nick Foles throwing 19 straight touchdowns without an interception. Even the 49ers look good with Michael Crabtree back in the lineup. Some teams (Chiefs, Jets, and Colts) have had a disappointing few games despite their good start to the season. Each AFC division is tight, so the question is which one of these teams who are hot and not make the playoffs?
Panthers- You can argue that the Panthers have developed into one of the best if not the best NFC teams. Winning 8 straight games is tough to do especially after a rough start. They play the Saints this week who are a tough team at home even coming off a disappointing loss to the Seahawks. The 2 games they play against the Saints will determine whether this team is ready to contend with the Seahawks. Right now they are hot and I don't see them slowing down any time soon. They will make the playoffs whether they surprise the Saints by winning the division or beating a lot of teams for the 5th spot.
Eagles- Right now Nick Foles is playing like Tom Brady. His performance has been at a level not expected from him or maybe any Eagles quarterback on the roster. The defense has improved and offensive star DeSean Jackson has been playing very good. The team has come together late in the season and looks like the team we saw in Week 1. It will come down to the showdown against the Cowboys the last day of the season and ultimately Tony Romo will make the Dallas fans cry again with another game ending turnover and the Eagles will make the playoffs.
Chiefs- A 3-game losing streaks could mean no playoffs for some teams but we're talking about a team that started 9-0, had people predicting them as the Super Bowl winner, and has contended in 2 tough games with the Broncos. Yes, a three game losing streak is not good for any team. But if they become a wild card team and fall to the number 5th seed, no team in the hunt would have a better record. They do need to improve in some areas but for now they can keep cruising until they get to the playoffs and play tougher opponents.
Jets- At 5-4 everything looked bright for the Jets until they hit a wall against Buffalo and then played poorly against the Ravens and Dolphins. Now they sit at 5-7 with playoff dreams fading fast until they do something to get back on track. Geno Smith has been in a slump and is on the verge of loosing his job but to who? Matt Simms, the inexperienced son of Phil Simms? Or maybe David Garrard who has not played since 2010 due to a knee injury? There have been struggles everywhere from lack of weapons to the secondary. It will be hard for Rex Ryan to get his team back to where it was and when he does it will be to late. The Jets will not make the playoffs.
Colts- They have also had late season struggles despite a big win against Tennesee. They have victories this season over Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver but were reduced to being blown out by the Rams! The loss of Reggie Wayne has shown as Andrew Luck has struggled without him. Despite all the issues the team has control of the AFC South and should cruise into the playoffs.
All of these teams have been surprising whether it was the beginning or towards the end of the season. And if they are hot right now they hope to stay like that to make a playoff run. If they're not, they need to turn it back on and play some good football from this point forward.