It seems like this year has been the year of "Any Given Sunday". More surprises than not, bad teams giving good teams a struggle for their money and every team in the NFC has at least two losses up to this point. However, if many games had gone a different way, the standings could be much different right now, especially for teams such as Dallas and Cleveland.
So what's going to happen here is that I'm going to evaluate four games from each week that could have very easily gone a different way, pending one or two game changing events.
1. Detroit @ Chicago: This one is easy, if the officials rule Calvin Johnson's catch a touchdown instead of an incompletion, the Lions win.
2. Cleveland @ Tampa Bay: If Jake Delhomme doesn't throw the interception near the end of the first half, the Bucs don't score a touchdown to pull within 14-10 at the half, and would lose by that score at the end of the game had things gone the other way.
3. Green Bay @ Philadelphia: If Michael Vick starts the entire game, the Eagles would have won, since he led the Eagles to 17 points in the second half.
4. Dallas @ Washington: Another easy one, if Alex Barron doesn't hold on the last play of the game, Roy Williams' touchdown counts and the Cowboys win, 14-13.
1. Baltimore @ Cincinnati: The Ravens were in this game the whole way but four interceptions by Joe Flacco killed them, especially on the last drive.
2. St. Louis @ Oakland: If Josh Brown doesn't miss a field goal, Gradkowski doesn't start the 2nd half, and the lineman isn't called for roughing the passer on a questionable call, then the Rams most likely win.
3. Houston @ Washington: If Washington doesn't give up a 17-point lead, Andre Johnson fails to come down with the ball on a 4th-and-10, Gary Kubiak doesn't call timeout on the field goal attempt in overtime, or Graham Gano makes the second field goal attempt after the timeout, then the Redskins win.
4. New Orleans @ San Francisco: The 49ers outgained the Saints by 200 yards but ended up losing on a last second field goal. They should have won if not for two interceptions by Alex Smith.
1. Atlanta @ New Orleans: This one is pretty obvious too, if Hartley makes the 29 yard field goal the Saints win, 27-24.
2. San Diego @ Seattle: The Chargers gave up 2 kickoff returns to Leon Washington and Philip Rivers, despite throwing for 455 yards, threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter to Earl Thomas. If the special teams is improved, and Rivers does not throw either of those interceptions, the Chargers win.
3. Oakland @ Arizona: Janikowski missed three field goals in the game, if he makes even one the Raiders win that game, 26-24.
4. Green Bay @ Chicago: Aaron Rodgers threw for 316 yards and the Packers dominated the game, but they lost because of a team record 18 penalties, a fumble by James Jones, and a pass interference call. If some of the penalties are not called and neither of the other two happen, the Packers win.
1. San Francisco @ Atlanta: If Nate Clements doesn't fumble on the interception, the 49ers are able to run out the clock and win, 14-13.
2. Detroit @ Green Bay: The Lions had every chance to win this game but pretty much shot themselves in the foot by being unable to turn four possessions into touchdowns and instead, settled for field goals on all those possessions. If they turn even one of these into a touchdown, they win.
3. Washington @ Philadelphia: The Eagles held McNabb to 8-19 for 125 yds, but were unable to win because of an injury to Michael Vick in the first quarter. If Vick had played the whole game, the Eagles would have most likely won.
4. Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: If Dallas Clark doesn't bobble the ball on an interception by the Jaguars, the cornerback doesn't drop the interception on the last pass by David Garrard, and Scobee doesn't make the 59 yard field goal, the Colts easily win this game.
1. Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati: Combined with a poor interpretation of the NFL's catch rule on what should have been an incomplete pass to Michael Spurlock late in the game, Cincinnati's Carson Palmer pretty much choked away the game, throwing two interceptions in the final two minutes that led to 10 Tampa Bay points. If he doesn't throw those interceptions, the Bengals win.
2. Green Bay @ Washington: The Packers led 13-3 in the 4th quarter before giving up their lead late in the game. However, they still had a chance to win until a 53 yard field goal hit off the upright. If it had gone through, it would be another Packers win.
3. San Diego @ Oakland: A questionable call on a "fumble" by Philip Rivers allowed the Raiders to score a touchdown that pretty much sealed the game. If it goes the other way, the drive is still going in Raiders' territory and the Chargers most likely score a field goal or touchdown to win.
4. Tennessee @ Dallas: If the celebration penalty isn't called after Jason Witten's touchdown, then the Cowboys don't have to back up 15 yards and don't give up a long kick return, most likely hold the Titans, and with the way their passing game was working throughout the game, drive down the field for a winning score.
1. San Diego @ St. Louis: Nate Kaeding slipped on a 49 yard field goal attempt that ended the Chargers hopes of cutting the lead from 17-13. If he had made it, the game would have either gone to overtime, where the Chargers would have most likely won it, or given them another chance to win it in regulation.
2. Kansas City @ Houston: The Chiefs led 31-21 with under five minutes left. If they had held the Texans on multiple fourth down attempts, they would be able to run out the clock and secure a win.
3. NY Jets @ Denver: A very questionable "pass interference" penalty on fourth and 10 from midfield moved the ball to the Broncos' two yard line with the Jets trailing 20-17. LaDanian Tomlinson then took it in from two yards to give the Jets a 24-20 win. If the penalty isn't called, Denver wins.
4. Dallas @ Minnesota: If Miles Austin's questionable "pass interference" isn't called, he scores a 68 yard touchdown and the Cowboys win, 28-24.
Final Could/Should/Would Be Standings:
Philadelphia 6 - 0
Dallas 4 - 1
NY Giants 4 - 2
Washington 3 - 3
Green Bay 3 - 3
Detroit 3 - 3
Chicago 2 - 4
Minnesota 1 - 4
New Orleans 4 - 2
Atlanta 3 - 3
Tampa Bay 1 - 4
Carolina 0 - 5
San Francisco 3 - 2
St. Louis 3 - 3
Arizona 2 - 3
Seattle 2 - 3
NY Jets 4 - 2
New England 4 - 2
Miami 3 - 2
Buffalo 0 - 5
Pittsburgh 4 - 1
Baltimore 3 - 3
Cincinnati 2 - 3
Cleveland 2 - 3
Indianapolis 4 - 1
Houston 2 - 3
Jacksonville 2 - 3
Tennessee 2 - 3
San Diego 5 - 1
Kansas City 3 - 2
Denver 3 - 2
Oakland 1 - 4
So there you have it. What could, should and would have been the standings of the NFL up to this point in time.
We would still have an undefeated team, with the Eagles at 6-0, and the Cowboys and 49ers, picked as preseason favorites to win the division, would be right in it at 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. San Diego would be at the top of the AFC with a 5-1 record.
The other divisions in football look very similar to what most people would expect at this point in time at the season, with the exception of the NFC North. Most people would not expect Detroit at 3-3, although they have played many close games this season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!