The NFL season is heading into Week 6, making it a good time to draw conclusions now that we are about a third of the way through the year.
For all of the talk about the stacked NFC, the AFC ate their lunch through the first five weeks. There is still plenty of games left to be played, but the AFC may just be the stronger conference.
The NFC East has been even worse than expected. Washington, Dallas and Philadelphia have played about as well as expected, but the Giants have been downright embarrassing. The Cowboys showed something in its narrow loss to Denver, and they appear to be the class of the division and likely the only playoff team.
The NFC North has played out the way it was expected to, at least in my opinion. Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago should battle for the division title and potentially a wild card spot while Minnesota regresses thanks to a shaky quarterback situation.
The NFC South has been one of the surprise divisions in football. The Saints are back, which doesn't come as a big surprise with the return of Sean Payton. Atlanta is a total mess and their season is essentially over given their 1-4 record and the injuries to its two star receivers. Carolina has a great front seven but the offense is a mess, and Tampa Bay has a similar issue.
The NFC West remains a tight race, but it appears Seattle is better than San Francisco at this point in the season. Arizona is still in the race but their offense is just too inconsistent, and the Rams have been a pretty big disappointment.
The AFC East is still controlled by the Patriots, who may finally be getting healthy, though the loss of Vince Wilfork is devastating. The Dolphins are trying to close the gap, but the offensive line is a big concern. The Jets have been a big surprise, but luck and favorable scheduling won't hold up over the course of the season. Buffalo's playoff hopes are likely done because of the issues replacing E.J. Manuel.
The AFC North is a surprising three-way battle between Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland, despite the fact the Browns traded away Trent Richardson. Pittsburgh is really bad and won't be re-joining the race. It's likely to come down to Baltimore and Cincinnati for the division title and probably just one playoff spot.
The AFC South might be seeing a changing of the guard with the Indianapolis Colts leapfrogging the Houston Texans. Matt Schaub is a complete mess and the Texans are digging themselves a pretty big hole. Tennessee has been a surprise, but Jake Locker's injury should bury them. Jacksonville might be the worst team in NFL history.
The AFC West is clearly Denver's division to lose, but the Kansas City Chiefs aren't going quietly. If nothing else, it looks like the Chiefs have basically locked up the top wild card spot. San Diego and Oakland have both been more competitive than expected, but will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs.