NFL Playoff Picture

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As the NFL regular season draws near an end, it starts to become the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not talking about the holiday season, I’m talking about the NFL playoffs. But just because the regular season is ending doesn’t mean that football will be over, in fact the best football has not even started yet. The postseason is where some teams play their best football and others just want to get in to show the success of their season. Teams have two more weeks to claim a spot in the elite playoffs but only 12 can get in which leaves 20 teams straight out of luck. These 20 teams range from teams who never had a chance like the Bengals or the Dolphins, to teams that disappointed their fan base like the Browns and Rams, to teams that still have a chance, including the Eagles and the Titans. Among those teams that have made it into the playoffs range from powerhouses to head scratchers making you wonder whether the playoffs are set up in the best way.

It is easiest to explain the scenarios going from team to team, so starting in the AFC and working our way down the seeds is:

 

Baltimore Ravens (12-2)

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have been unstoppable all season and they are backed up by a really decent defense as well. It seems unlikely that they won’t be playing in the AFC championship come that time but having lost twice to the Browns and the Chiefs, it is possible they could run into one of those teams again and have another off game. The Ravens have clinched their division with a 12-2 record but could still lose the one seed to New England if they lose out.

 

New England Patriots (11-3)

Even though Tom Brady has looked rough at times this year their defense has put up a strong performance thus far and is why they win games. The saying “defense wins championships” is a real thing and they have a scary one. They are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs making this the 11th consecutive year they qualify. They also have a history of turning it on in the playoffs so you should expect to see the Patriots most likely face off with the Ravens I’m the AFC championship.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

Patrick Mahomes did not have as great a year as he did last year but that is pretty hard to follow up. Overall it was a successful year and with the guaranteed 3 or 4 seed they look to take these next two games easy so as to not sustain any injuries to their team. If the Chiefs stay the 3 seed they would most likely be playing the Patriots who they already beat in week 14. 

 

Houston Texans (9-5)

 

Nothing is guaranteed for Houston but if they win out  they will win their division. Last week’s victory over the Titans in Tennessee was a huge one which put them in charge of their destiny. However if they lose out they could lose their spot to Tennessee.

 

Buffalo Bills (10-4)

The Bills have clinched their spot in the playoffs, whether it be in the wildcard spot or the division winner. Josh Allen has looked really solid this year and while I do not think they are Superbowl contenders, anything could happen. 

 

Steelers (8-6) 

The Steelers are the 6th seed and the most likely to be replaced by either the Titans or even the Browns if the Steelers lose out and the Titans win one game or the Browns win both games. With a new quarterback, Duck Hodges, Pittsburg has Duck fever but the real reason they could get in is their defense. They have the most turnovers created and around an average of 20 points allowed. The issue is if their offense can keep up.

 

AFC Teams Trying To Get In

The Titans and the Browns are the other teams trying to eek their way into the playoffs. The Titans need to either have the Steelers lose out and then they need to win one game, or the Texans can lose out and the Titans can win out to take the division. However they play Saints, an unlikely victory, and then they go to Houston to play the Texans. The Browns and even Oakland have a chance of getting in if the Steelers lose out and they win out but the way those teams are playing it is not likely.

 

Seattle Seahawks (11-3)

The Seahawks took the one seed after the 49ers lost to the Falcons and have clinched a spot as either the division winner or a wildcard. Russel Wilson is playing good football this year and is in the MVP race but there are so many other good teams in the NFC so they have to play at their best all the time.

 

Green Bay Packers (11-3)

Green Bay is playing so much better than they did last year and is leading their division so far. The Vikings could come and catch them from behind especially because Green Bay comes to Minnesota next week. Aaron Rodgers is hoping to lead his team to the Superbowl one more time before his prime is up.

 

New Orleans Saints (11-3)

Drew Brees and Micheal Thomas are the best quarterback and wide receiver duo in the league right now and Drew Brees just broke the record for the most touchdown passes in a career and he is not going to stop now. However they have one huge weakness: their defense. The Saints are what some would call a ‘glass cannon’ meaning they have an explosive offense but a weak defense. Their chance is to just outscore the opponent but against teams with good defenses and offenses this does not always work like when they got into a shootout with the 49ers and lost. But their offense is probably good enough to get them to the NFC championship.

 

Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

This is where things get a little strange. The Cowboys could have a losing record and still make the playoffs, passing on teams like the Rams who have an 8-6 record but because the cowboys have won their division, they will make it into the playoffs unless the Eagles pass them but then they would have a bad record as well. This makes some people question how the playoffs are set up. Should a team with potentially an 8-8 or 7-9 record make the playoffs? Others would just point out the importance of winning your division but what does that mean if the rest of the division is trash?

 

San Francisco 49ers (11-3)

The 49ers fell from a 1 to a 5 seed after losing to the 4-9 Falcons but it’s pretty easy to say this was just a fuke after the season they had already put up. However because they lost and are the 5 seed, they have to go to Dallas to play which is another reason the playoff system is scrutinized. Regardless, the 49ers are a dominant team and are likely to make the NFC championship. 

 

Minnesota Vikings (10-4) 

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings have been flying under the radar all season and have found their way to a potential wildcard spot. Dalvin Cook has been dominant all season, but he has to continue if he wants to carry his team to some playoff wins. Going to Seattle is never easy but the Vikings could be capable of anything

 

Other NFC Teams Trying To Get In

The Rams and the Eagles are just out of contention right now but if the Eagles win and Dallas loses, they would take their spot at the 4 seed. If the Vikings lose out and the Rams win out, they would find themselves in the 6 seed instead of the Vikings.  

 

Source

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/standings/playoffrace