The second half of the season is one of the most exciting times in the NFL. It is when we get out our schedules and look at the matchups in the weeks to come. We start trying to formulate what games our favorite teams will need to win and where they can afford to lose if they are still going to be playoff-bound come January.
It is also a time when we hear the words "contender" and "pretender" thrown out quite a bit. Through nine weeks, it is safe to say that there are five contenders. The Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC and the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers in the NFC.
Don't get me wrong, the above-mentioned teams do have holes, but they appear to be able to rise above them and get the job done on a pretty consistent basis. There are other teams, however, that would be considered more pretenders, or in this case, I will call them "bubble teams." They are good teams, but they have some issues that crop up on a consistent basis that prevent us from fully endorsing them as playoff ready.