|To Boo or Not to Boo? Ellsbury Returns to Boston with Yankees||Yankees vs. Red Sox: Round 2 in Boston||2014 NFL Draft Profile: Ra’Shede Hageman||2014 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round|
Things in the NFL have remained more or less stable from last week, with the top dogs still in place. Though Brett Favre would probably have rather had more than a few mulligans. Each conference has seen only one potential playoff spot change hands; the NFC reformed itself to look more like last year while the AFC replaced one long shot with another. The league has been turning into a contest to see which of the unbeaten teams will blink first, and only three contestants remain. That’s not to mention the jostling going on for the lower seeds. With this in mind, here’s what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, October 27:
Drew Brees did a pretty good Tom Brady impression, leading his team back from a 21-point deficit to defeat the once more lowly Dolphins. The Saints kept their unbeaten streak alive, for now, but one can’t help but wonder how long it will last after that close call. It would seem that it’s only a matter of time until New Orleans bites the bullet, depending on whether Brees and co. repeat their first or second half performance.
Brett Favre got sloppy. Real sloppy. Like he was in the pigpen on his Mississippi farm. At least it was against the champions (Steelers), and the Vikings should continue to dominate weaker foes. But they will have to face tough foes in the playoffs, and if Week 7 was any indication, the Vikings will get booted out early.
Green Bay destroyed Cleveland, while New York uncharacteristically choked against a team many likely expected them to do good things against, even if it was the defending NFC champs. Remember when the Giants upset the Packers in Green Bay in the dead of winter in the playoffs two years ago? Nobody does that. Green Bay got a lot of credibility back this week.
Kudos to the Cardinals for wresting away the division from San Francisco to take over the 4 seed (with a little help from Houston). A stellar win over the Giants coupled with a Falcons loss to Dallas gives the Cardinals confidence going forward. They’ll need it in a rematch from last year’s wildcard round (with the exact same seeding no less) to once again emerge victorious.
The Broncos had their bye week to rest up, after marching into San Diego and taking the match from their most persistent rivals. Next week, they’ll try to do the same in Baltimore against a team on the outside looking in, a team that is always in the race for the playoffs, and a team looking to build on their impressive outing in last year’s tournament.
In a week jam-packed with blowout wins, the Colts had the second biggest of all, beating the still-winless Rams 42-6 to match Denver‘s 6-0 record. However, that only hurts their playoff seeding against Denver due to the strength of victory tiebreaker. We may have to wait until the two square off in Indy in Week 14 to settle this season’s power match.
The Colts had the second biggest victory, but the Jets had the biggest, pitching the only Week 7 shutout, 38-0 over Oakland. In doing so, they knocked the idle Jaguars out of the playoff situation. Cincinnati also obliterated division rival Cleveland 45-10. With the Jets out of their current slump and back on offense, there’s no telling what could happen. With a little good fortune, an AFC title game between the Jets and Patriots in Foxboro could materialize.
New England once again looked like their old first half of 2007 selves. Pittsburgh had a see-saw battle with Minnesota with their opponent finally unraveling at the end. Pittsburgh and New England is always an exciting match, and if New England can find a way to translate their recent performances into similar successes against better teams, the Pats could win this match-up one more time.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Playoffs, Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers