The 2021 NFL season is now in its second half, and teams are starting to jockey for playoff spots.
But in the AFC, it’s looking like the wild west with 12 of the 16 teams just two games away from conference-leading Tennessee.
On the other hand, the postseason race in the NFC is not as volatile.
Frontrunners are emerging in each division, except for the NFC West.
If the trend continues, only two of the seven spots are technically up for grabs.
Meanwhile, consider these five squads as postseason contenders as early as now.
Will the Super Bowl LVI champions come from this list?
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off their bye week after a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
That game was Tom Brady’s third loss to the Saints while donning the Tampa Bay uniform.
However, they are still on top of the NFC South at 6-2, and they will get Washington, the New York Giants, and the Indianapolis Colts in their next three assignments.
Back to work, it’s a Monday like that. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/00dLp4KLvf
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 8, 2021
Brady remains a top MVP candidate for being second in passing yards (2,650), first in average yards per game (331.3), and first in touchdowns (25).
Tampa Bay has the third-most total yards per game (423.1) and is first in passing (325.7).
They also have the second-best run defense in the league, allowing just 78 yards per game.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas snapped its six-game winning streak against the Denver Broncos.
Their offense could not generate points during the game while the Broncos rattled off 30 unanswered points.
But great teams do have off nights, and this was an exception to the Cowboys’ dominance early in the season.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 8, 2021
So far, they have been playing so great that backup quarterback Cooper Rush led them to victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Ezekiel Elliott’s resurgence also helped them become the third-best run team in the league with 142.8 yards per game.
3. Green Bay Packers
Here’s another NFC team that lost to an AFC opponent.
Unfortunately, his performance made Green Bay Packers fans miss Rodgers even more.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 9, 2021
They only scored seven points while Love struggled to connect downfield when the Chiefs dialed up the blitz.
Despite the defeat, the Packers are still firmly on top of the NFC North at 7-2.
Their woes could be short-lived as Rodgers might return in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Were the top NFC teams cursed against AFC opponents in Week 9?
The Los Angeles Rams were favorites to win their matchup against the Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans.
But they lost by double-digits and scored only 16 points.
"It's pretty crazy being out here with him now."
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 9, 2021
While they took a step back with a loss, their future looks bright after adding Von Miller to a 7-2 team.
Jimmy Garoppolo must be saying his prayers because the San Francisco 49ers will be the Rams’ next assignment.
1. Arizona Cardinals
They are the only team out of the NFC’s top five that won in Week 9.
James Conner is a bad, bad man 💪 pic.twitter.com/n2P5DBbDsh
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 9, 2021
The Cardinals also had five sacks on Garoppolo, three of which were courtesy of Markus Golden.
Arizona has the NFL’s best record at 8-1, and they can start another win streak versus the Carolina Panthers and the Seahawks in the next two weeks.
Kliff Kingsbury‘s team has the second-best scoring offense at 30.8 points per game.