Sorting through anomalies in NFL standings

I swear the NFL is wrong sometimes. Look at the standings and you’ll find some confusing errors, what with the Lions, Bills, Bengals and Chiefs all in the playoff picture. I seem to remember all those teams being terrible.

It is early in the season, though, and the NFL has 10 more weeks left to correct itself, which it does more often than not. Let’s look at a few NFL standings anomalies.

*Cincinnati Bengals, (4-2, 2nd in AFC North)*

Get your nose out of here, Cincy. You are not a good football team. Your wide receivers consist of a rookie stud and a bunch of nobodies, your running back is serving a suspension this week because that’s what you get when you go to jail in the NFL: a week’s suspension. Your defense has no playmakers and, worse yet, your starting quarterback is a ginger, and a rookie at that.

The scariest part of the Bengals’ record is that they’re a total of seven points away from being undefeated. A narrow five-point loss to 5-1 San Francisco and a two-point defeat at the hands of the lowly Broncos are the only smudges on Cincy’s record.

Cincinnati continues to surprise, however, coming off a bye week carrying a three-game winning streak to Seattle where they’ll face the not good Seahawks. Come to think of it, that’s been a theme for Cincinnati this season, as the combined record of its opponents is 16-22. Luckily for the Bengals, this trend continues. So much so that Cincinnati’s aberrational start might actually have legs.

Cincinnati has games against Tennessee, Cleveland, St. Louis and Arizona, in addition to the game against Seattle, left on the schedule. Cincinnati could have nine wins right there, in need of only one big win against either Baltimore, Pittsburgh (twice) or Houston to steal 10 wins. They say wins don’t come cheap in the NFL, but Cincinnati has been sniping bargains all year and is in jeopardy of getting somewhere if it continues to feed on the league’s bottom half.

*Philadelphia Eagles (2-4, 3rd in NFC East)*

Get ready for this team to be incredibly relevant incredibly quickly. Staring down a home straightaway against the Cowboys, Bears and Cardinals, featuring two primetime games and a lot on the line for the mocked “dream team,” the Eagles could be three weeks away from standing at 5-4 and looking scary as hell to the rest of the NFC.

Regardless of how funny it is to watch such a talented team get beat this much, the Eagles should be feared. Michael Vick is a weapon wielding weapons. With LeSean McCoy spearheading the league’s No. 1 running game, Vick becomes even more dangerous chucking the ball deep to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who are both very, very fast. The positive is that they have poor run defense and can be beat if you know how to throw on them (two-word hint: tight end).

*New York Giants (4-2, 1st in NFC East)*

Philly spiel aside, I’m a huge proponent of hating on the NFC East. Touted yearly as the NFC’s best division, it brings me joy to watch this division fail year after year to put a team in the Super Bowl. The last team from the division to reach that plateau was the Giants in 2008.

I can’t figure out the Giants. Each year, it seems their running back situation worsens and their receiving corps gets depleted. Their defensive line is a seemingly endless well of talent, but beyond that the defense is pretty average.

The public seems to decide Eli Manning isn’t as good as it thought he was year after year, and yet the Giants stand atop the NFC East.

Unlike Cincinnati, the G-Men do not face a schedule easy enough to sneak into the playoffs. They play Miami this week, but then they face the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles, Saints and Packers consecutively. A 5-7 record is a distinct possibility for New York’s other football team, so don’t be fooled into imagining them in the postseason this year. After all, their record is aided by three NFC West games already this year. And, 5-1 49ers notwithstanding, the NFC West is terrible.

_Eliot is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EliotTweet._