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There’s just two weeks left in the season, but five playoff spots remain un-clinched. The NFC Wildcard race is pretty much locked up, but the AFC race is as heated as ever. New England and Kansas City took advantage of their competition losing to improve their standing. Ditto for Dallas, who reclaimed the division lead after the Giants were swept by Washington. And the Colts finally won, which means Andrew Luck may not be theirs after all. There’s still much to be decided in the next two weeks, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 20:
Serously? The Chiefs are the team that ended the streak? At least Green Bay doesn’t have the insane pressure that comes with being unbeaten.
Just when you thought San Francisco might be reeling a bit, they put a 20-3 beat-down on the dominant Steelers. If they keep putting up performances like that, they won’t go down easy to anyone.
New Orleans just continues to roll, putting up 42 on Minnesota. Detroit solidified their position with a second straight win, but they cut too many games too close. New Orleans is just too explosive for Detroit’s mindset to hold back.
Atlanta has continued to do well in recent weeks to all but lock up a playoff spot. Dallas hasn’t been doing quite as well, and wouldn’t be in this position if the Giants hadn’t screwed up so much lately. Not that the Cowboys won’t put up a fight, but Atlanta is a little better.
New England finally showed some encouraging signs in Denver. They put on an offensive clinic, actually winning by more than one (three) possessions. They did so on the road. And they did so against the one team that has given them more headaches than any other in recent years. They’ll need to keep up that offensive pressure, because their defense, which got even more banged up, sure can’t help.
Baltimore may have been upset in San Diego, but San Diego has been improving over December. Baltimore still has a talented defense and offense, and they’ve beaten the likes of Pittsburgh (twice) and San Francisco, so they should still do fine.
Both teams were embarrassed last week, but New York was absolutely torched. But the Texans had been winning more often before that. Plus, their defense has been much better than New York’s this season. With New York’s poor performance on the road combined with Houston’s overall effectiveness at home, Houston has the edge.
Denver has had issues facing good teams this year. And they don’t get much better than Pittsburgh. Denver may have put up 23 points, but they botched an extra point and it was New England, who couldn’t do worse if they put zero guys out on defense instead of 11. Pittsburgh has the definite edge here.
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers