Last spot in the AFC up for grabs
Dolphins lose to the Jets at home. Why? Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is expected to play after a knee scare. Miami didn’t get on the scoreboard last week against the rival Bills, the rival Jets are playing for head coach Rex Ryan’s j-o-b.
The reigning champions won’t make the postseason to defend their title. Baltimore loses at Cincinnati, who has an outside shot at getting the second seed and a bye. The Bengals are playing good football on both sides despite losing key starters on D. The Ravens haven’t shown much this season, they are who I thought they were. Getting blown out by the Patriots at home was a statement, plus quarterback Joe Flacco is hurt.
San Diego finds themselves with a golden opportunity, with the Dolphins and Ravens losing they can punch their ticket to the playoffs. A few weeks back they went to Kansas City and stole the game from them in the final seconds. This time around the Bolts are riding a three game winning streak, as the Chiefs have fallen off the map after a hot start. Chargers sneak their way in.
The Steelers have a slight chance, they would need the Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers to lose. You would think that they can carry their momentum to take care of the rival Browns, but they need too much help to depend on. They can win and still be outside looking in, which will probably happen.
Denver should take care of business in Oakland, claiming the top seed, home-field advantage, and a bye. This has been the best offense in the NFL all year long, hence the touchdown record.
New England keeps stringing together victories, the same should be the case as Buffalo comes to town. They lock up the second seed and a bye. Bill Belichick gets my vote for coach of the Year.
Cincinnati will seal the fate of the rival Ravens, solidifying themselves in the third spot. They will host the sixth seed. If things went the other way like they did in the first meeting, they would be facing Baltimore again next week by losing to them. With that said, again Flacco is limping around and Cincy won 4 of 5. The favorite to clinch the final spot is Miami, whom they lost to earlier in the year. I think the Chargers find a way in, whom the Bengals beat a few weeks ago. Hard to pick against the cats, regardless of their wildcard opponent.
Indianapolis host Jacksonville who has been more competitive as of late, but it won’t be enough to stump their rival. The Colts got back on the grind, winning 3 of 4 and they do play with a playoff style of football. If the Bengals falter they can snag that third seed, but I expect them to finish fourth and hosting the Chiefs who they just defeated. I’d roll with Indy in the rematch too.
NFC Division Crowns
Seattle should bounce back in front of the 12th man. The rival Rams haven’t been an easy out, and they would love to spoil anything they can in the final game. In the end, the Seahawks clinch the division and home-field advantage awaiting their next opponent.
San Francisco’s win on Monday Night Football bumped Arizona from the conversation. The Cardinals will bring it at home, coming off a big win against Seattle. A 49ers seals the envelope on the fifth seed and a date in Chicago. If they lose, the Saints could pass them by for that spot.
Speaking of New Orleans, they get a matchup in the Superdome against Tampa Bay. Another rivalry, the Buccaneers will try to play spoiler but this isn’t the place to bet on an upset. The Saints should march this weekend, settling for a wildcard berth. If San Fran wins, New Orleans travels to Philly. The Saints would leap frog the Niners for a date in the Windy City if SF got beat.
Carolina is en fuego and gets to play in the A-T-L. The Falcons played with heart in Monday Night’s loss, but they haven’t been a competitive team and that will unfortunately end Tony Gonzalez’s career. The Panthers will flex and clinch a first round bye, as well as the NFC South.
With Tony Romo out this weekend, Philadelphia will knock out Dallas while claiming the third seed in the NFC bracket. It’s unfortunate timing, but the gutty quarterback hung in there to notch a win for his team. The Eagles have played at a high level, aside from overlooking Minnesota they’ve won six of seven.
Chicago got a reality check that might have come in the nick of time. Perhaps Philly’s bracket coverage on the stud receivers gives them something new to prepare for. Green Bay heads to Soldier Field without Aaron Rodgers, but Eddie Lacy gives them hope of stealing the division. Expect counterpart Matt Forte to spearhead a Bears win in the absence of Rodgers. If he plays you have to roll with the balanced Cheese Head offense against that Chicago D. So for now, pencil in the Bears winning the NFC North for the fourth spot.
Seattle should confirm what we all think, obtaining the best home-field advantage there is. The most complete team in football this year.
Carolina follows in the second slot with an extra week to prepare, however nobody is afraid to go to their house and play a one-dimensional offense. The defense is a different story.
An Eagles win will net them a home game against either the 49ers or Saints, if both of those teams win then it would be New Orleans. Interesting matchup, as the Saints struggle on the road but the Eagles split their home games. I would say the Eagles would be the favorite, because of LeSean McCoy the league’s leading rusher.
Chicago should slide in as long as Rodgers sits out. San Francisco has the edge over New Orleans, which would send them to Soldier Field as a wildcard. In the playoffs at home, the Bears would be underdogs with that friendly defense. Plus, SF has won five straight heading into week 17.