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We’re six weeks away from knowing who will face who in January, and Chilly won’t be around to see it. Houston fell yet again, and the Jets won late again, the Falcons came up big in St Louis, and the Panthers are the new Rams, thanks to Buffalo’s massive comeback over Cincy. Thanks to New England’s almost-loss, Jacksonville is now leading the AFC South. The Chargers will be the #2 seed again soon, as their trademarked late-season run, currently at three straight wins, has them at 5-5. No team is safe yet, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 23:
With a 34-17 victory over the Rams, the Falcons have now won their last four, and at 8-2, they’re the sole best team in the NFC. With Matt Ryan leading the way along with Michael Turner, and with a pretty decent defense backing them up, Atlanta is a huge favorite to represent the NFC in Dallas. The only thing they really have to do now is be prepared for Michael Vick. With an equally capable quarterback, I sense no real obstacle to that.
Speaking of stopping Michael Vick, the Giants did a pretty good job, limiting Philadelphia to four field goals and just two sporadic touchdowns. If only they hadn’t let David Akers have such a big day, I would’ve beaten KC in SoB’s fantasy league. GRRR!!!!! But seriously, Michael Vick is a quarterback and running back all in one, but his weakness is running to his right, which you can be sure 31 other teams noticed on Sunday. The Eagles need to work on that.
Chicago is once again the Super Bowl team from a few years ago, having handed Miami their first home shutout loss in decades. Plus, they already won this game in Week 3, 20-17. Aaron Rodgers is leading the Packers just as admirably as we thought he would, but the Packers do have injuries to worry about. Trouncing Minnesota in Minnesota 31-3 (and getting Chilly fired in the process) is a good sign, but Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher will look to have something to say about that, while Jay Cutler and Matt Forte will look to play a game of one-upsmanship. This one will definitely come down right to the end.
The Jets may have a knack for trailing towards the end, but they somehow manage to pull it out in the end. Of course, facing teams like Cleveland, Detroit, and the league-worst passing defender Houston help. Facing New England, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh, New York really will want home-field advantage, so Fireman Ed can lead some cheers on their behalf. They really can’t keep living on the edge and expecting never to fall off the cliff.
Baltimore did their thing in Carolina, which helped keep them on top of Pittsburgh. While talk of their elite defense has lessened to a pretty good defense, Baltimore is still a lethal team. Don’t forget about Flacco and Rice, who can still put up mega points and go deep in the playoffs. Considering they’re in line to possibly (or likely, if you’d like) host the Patriots in their first game of the playoffs, it’s a good thing the Ravens are so balanced, and have a high home-field priority.
Kansas City is back on top of their division after taking down the Cardinals, but they have Pittsburgh to thank for that, for holding Oakland to a field goal. Granted, Kansas City is 5-0 at home this year, but Pittsburgh has a very potent offense, and just as good a defense. The Chiefs have taken some knocks lately from teams they should have beaten handily (Buffalo) or at least defend their divisional honor (Oakland). Pittsburgh is simply too experienced in January to lose so early.
If the Patriots hadn’t solved their horrendous road worries from last season, I’d be nervous. But Jacksonville‘s net points are -50, the worst amongst all playoff teams. New England’s 36 touchdowns (the NFL’s best mark) should be able to slaughter the Jags’ defense. But New England’s defense (242 points allowed, second worst of the playoff teams behind Jacksonville), especially late in games, is a HUGE concern.
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL Playoffs, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks