The Playoff picture is starting to take form. Some teams are fighting for slotting and home field advantage, while others are just trying to get in. This week is going to be an important week for a lot of teams. This is not the week to be off, sleep, or not prepared, especially if you’re on the outside looking in. One bad pass, one bad penalty, on bad handoff, all could be the difference between getting in or being left out.
(6-5) Baltimore Ravens v (4-7) Atlanta Falcons
If the season ended today, the Ravens would be playing the Texans in the Wild Card. The Ravens currently sit at the 6th seed in the AFC. But with the Colts nipping at their heels, the Ravens can not afford to slip up. They will be playing a disappointing Falcons team, who are trying to turn things around, and make their own little bit of a push. If they (the Falcons) could win out and get some help, in the form of the teams ahead of them losing, they could find themselves in the Wild Card round.
(5-6) Denver Broncos and (5-6) Cincinnati Bengals
Despite having losing records, both the Bengals and Broncos are still in the hunt. With the Ravens holding a slot at 6-5, it just takes one of these teams (Broncos or Bengals) getting hot and getting some help. Now if any team can do that, I am thinking the Broncos can. They have played some top teams close (ie Chiefs, Chargers, and Steelers), and even coming out the victor against the Chargers and Steelers. Meanwhile, the Bengals just lost to the Browns in their own backyard last week. A Browns team, who flat out outplayed them.
(10-1) Los Angeles Rams v (4-7) Detroit Lions
With the Saints losing to the Cowboys Thursday night, the Rams now control their destiny for home field advantage. And you can bet the Rams are aware what this can mean come playoff time. But these Lions are not slouches. The team that frustrated Brady and the Pats, have shown times when they can actually be a tough team to beat. Question is will they show this same toughness, and be able to handle the high powered Rams offense?
(2-9) Arizona Cardinals v (4-6-1) Green Bay Packers
This has been a disappointing season for the Packers. They had every opportunity to still find a way into the playoffs, despite their poor season. This week they can get a win against the Cardinals, and try and ride that momentum to a 9-6-1 record. With help, a 9-6-1 team could be a playoff team. And given the teams they have left on the schedule, every team except the Bears, are games that they could be favored to win. Question is if the team can rally and make a push?
(4-6-1) Cleveland Browns v (8-3) Houston Texans
Baker Mayfield has been having a pretty decent rookie season, considering. The Browns have rallied around him and are ready to build their future around this young man. Coming off of a victory against state and division rival Cincinnati Bengals, who’s “special assistant to the head coach” was the former head coach of the Browns. Baker Mayfield has not been silent about his feelings about the coach “joining the enemy”. But will all this get in the way of their preparations against the red hot Texans, who have just been straight fire (especially on defense)?
Right now the Texans pretty much have their ticket punched for the playoffs. But they can’t get sloppy now. There are a number of teams knocking on the door to try and take their slot.
(6-5) Indianapolis Colts v (3-8) Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 3 people could have seen this game as one in which the Jaguars would be fighting for a playoff spot, while the Colts were just playing for pride. The opposite is the case, as the Jaguars are playing for pride, and the Colts are literally knocking at the door. If the Colts can take care of business, they could indeed have a Cinderella season. But it is not going to be easy. In fact, this game may be the easiest opponent they will encounter for the rest of the season. They will have to play at Houston, home against the Cowboys (who just beat the Saints), home against the Giants, and at Tennessee.
(4-7) Buffalo Bills v (5-6) Miami Dolphins
I for sure thought the Dolphins were going to turn it around this season. They started out hot and I really thought they had the ability to make some waves. The only waves they are going to make now will be on the beaches of Miami, as this team will be packing it in for the playoffs. But they will not be alone, as the Bills will be joining them. These next few games are for pride, and draft pick seatings. The good thing for both teams is that they will not have to play this game in the cold, as this game will be in Miami (where game time temperatures is expected to be in the 80s).
(8-3) Chicago Bears v (3-8) New York Giants
The Bears are currently sitting comfortably at the 3rd seed. For all intents and purposes, the Bears have basically punched their tickets. Right now they are just trying to hold on to home field advantage in the first round. The Bears have a defense that can make waves in the playoffs. And next week they will get a chance to see how they fair against a top seed (LA Rams).
(6-5) Carolina Panthers v (4-7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Come on Carolina. These last few weeks have not been good. You guys went from being in the drivers seat of a Wild Card slot, to begging for some help. And to make matters worse, the Seattle Seahawks are ahead of you in line. The Panthers are going to have to win out and get some help. The problem may come in the “win out” part. See, their remaining schedule have them playing the Saints twice. The playoffs pretty much starts now for the Panthers, and they are going to have a tough road in front of them.
(9-2) Kansas City Chiefs v (2-9) Oakland Raiders
This is a long standing, nasty rivalry. Raider nation have no love for the Chiefs, especially now that the Chiefs may end the season lifting the Lombardi trophy, while the Raiders are “on the clock”. So you can bet Raider nation will be in full force, and if they had the choice of one prayer getting answered, “world peace”, or “season ending injury for Patrick Mahomes, as a result to a loss to the Raiders, that later spiraled into a bunch of losses, and getting bounced in the playoffs”, get ready for WWIII.
(3-8) New York Jets v (5-6) Tennessee Titans
The Titans still have something to play for, as mathematically they are still in the hunt. This Titans team have the defense and offense to make a run. The question is whether they will be able to turn it around?
If they are able to find that grit, they have a good shot at winning out. The rest of their schedule are of teams that the Titans can beat. They have the Jaguars at home, Giants on the road, and the Redskins and Colts at home.
(6-4-1) Minnesota Vikings v (8-3) New England Patriots
Two playoff teams, one from the NFC, and the other the AFC. This game could be an early look at the Super Bowl. Of course the Vikings are barely looking like a playoff team, that alone a super bowl team. The Patriots, however, are peaking at the right time. Gronk is back and healthy, and Tom Brady is finding his stride with the offense. The Patriots, unlike the Vikings, are actually looking like a playoff team. A dangerous playoff team. The Vikings are going to get an early look of what playoff football looks like.
(2-9) San Francisco 49ers v (6-5) Seattle Seahawks
I’m not going to lie, the Seahawks looked good last week. Considering they were not looking like a playoff team earlier this season, they now have a chance at getting a spot. Russell Wilson is on fire, and they will be hosting the 49ers at home. The 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks see the opportunity that lie in their grasp, and they are not going to let the 49ers hold them back.
I am “Faithful“, but I am going to have to step back and be real on this pick.
Sunday Night Game: (8-3) Los Angeles Chargers v (7-3-1) Pittsburgh Steelers
If the season ended today, this would literally be the Wild Card game. The Chargers would have to go on the road to beat the Steelers in order to advance. We now get an early look at what may be the first round of the playoffs. The winner of this game could change the venue in where this game is played come playoff time.
Monday Night Game: (6-5) Washington Redskins v (5-6) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are on the verge of being one of the teams to miss the playoffs after winning a super bowl the season before. The Eagles still have a chance, as the Redskins are limping into this game. A chance at a victory, and a hope for a slot (with a lot help). Can the Eagles make it happen on Monday night?