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Each team has now played 11 games, and the races for positioning are as hot as ever, especially with a six-way tie for the last spot in the AFC (and three others one game behind). New England made things especially interesting by knocking off Denver. New Orleans, Carolina and Seattle are all continuing their winning ways, making things very difficult on the rest of the NFC. With the season nearing its final month, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 26:
The 10-1 Seahawks are a game ahead of New Orleans, but are coming off their bye well-rested. We’ll see them tested against New Orleans and at San Francisco in the coming weeks, but having such a dynamic team and one of the best home-field advantages in football can’t hurt.
The Saints nabbed a big victory in the home of their arch-rival Falcons to stay ahead of the competition and advance closer to Seattle. With so many weapons and an elite quarterback distributing the ball, slowing down that offense will be difficult, but necessary for anyone to stop them.
San Francisco got themselves back on track Monday night in Washington, while the Lions regressed further at home against the suddenly hot Buccaneers. The 49ers have the better record and defense, and if they can stop Calvin Johnson, they can halt the worst of Detroit’s offense. With Detroit sliding, San Francisco has the edge.
Dallas ended the Giants’ winning streak to keep pace with Philadelphia, but the Panthers‘ winning streak is now at seven games after a gutsy performance in Miami (including a 4th-and-10 conversion from their own 20 late). Carolina’s defense always keeps them in games, and their offense can strike at a moment’s notice. Dallas has had too many struggles this season to have much success.
Denver squandered a 24-point lead and fumbled away a punt to give New England a huge comeback win. Denver brought out their running game to help Peyton Manning compensate for the cold weather, and the Denver offense can still win them any game. But as New England has shown in recent years, pure offense can only take you so far. Their defense needs to get better (despite New England’s three turnovers to start) for Denver to win the Super Bowl.
New England suddenly finds themselves just a game out of #1 after an impressive comeback win against Denver. Things get a whole lot better if New England can avoid so many turnovers, but performances like the second half will definitely go a long way in helping New England’s playoff push.
Indianapolis lost another blowout loss against a non-playoff NFC opponent in Arizona. Tennessee, however is just 5-6 even after a close win in Oakland. Add to that the divisional records (0-3 for TEN, 3-0 for IND), and Indianapolis has reason to believe they’ll pull through.
Kansas City‘s defense utterly failed them for the first time, but an offensive outburst nearly made up for it. Cincinnati is coming off their bye, and a powerful performance against the Browns before that. KC’s defense is much better than that, and should show it once they get healthy (with mid-game injuries being a big part of the defense’s failure against San Diego). Especially if AJ Green is made ineffective for the Bengals, look for Kansas City to prevail.
Tags: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans