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If the Playoffs Started Today – NFL Week 16

Broncos vs Seahawks: Week 16's prediction for the Super Bowl

Just one week remains in the season, and plenty remains to be determined. The last Wildcard spot in each conference is up for grabs, as are all four NFC divisions. After being in contention for #1 for some time, the Saints could still miss the playoffs entirely. The Patriots could finish anywhere from #1 to #4. The NFC East and North will each be decided by win-and-you’re-in games, including one involving the Cowboys for the third straight year. Four teams are fighting for the AFC #6 spot as well. Much is on the line in the season’s final week, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 24:

NFC

#1 Seattle Seahawks

With a difficult home loss to Arizona, the Seahawks face the possibility of dropping all the way to #5 after Week 17. However, they can still break out at any moment, and Seattle remains one of the best, if not the best, home-field advantages in all of football.

#2 Carolina Panthers

With a very well-earned home win over the Saints, the Panthers are in control of the #2 spot. That defense can hold down just about anyone, and if Cam Newton can break the offense out into a rhythm, a Super Bowl bid remains a good possibility.

#3 Philadelphia Eagles vs #6 New Orleans Saints

A valiant bid for the Saints in Carolina came up just short, while the Eagles had their way with a Chicago squad that could have wrapped up their division with a win. After a very rough home start, Philadelphia has really picked things up, and remains a viable offensive threat. New Orleans will always be that and more, but being away from home has definitely been their Achilles Heel this year.

#4 Chicago Bears vs #5 San Francisco 49ers

In the aforementioned blowout loss to Philly, Jay Cutler was okay for the Bears, but there was definitely room for improvement. When you have a chance to close out the division and blow it that badly, it’s really tough to do much of anything afterwards. With the way San Francisco has played all season long, Chicago will have a difficult time, even at home.

AFC

#1 Denver Broncos

Denver easily handled Houston to hold onto their spot atop the AFC. However, Von Miller is out for the year with an ACL tear. That isn’t good in the least for Denver’s defense, but even before the season’s over, Peyton Manning has set the record for most TD passes in a season, and could easily break the season passing yardage record against Oakland. Peyton has too many weapons around him to stop Denver’s offense, and not many offenses in the league can keep up with him, regardless of how Denver’s defense looks.

#2 New England Patriots

New England picked up a 41-7 blowout win over Baltimore, a real accomplishment for any New England team, and they did it in Baltimore, no less. It’s a great sign for their hopes for a bye, but the defense is still riddled and the rookies and other receivers, while performing admirably, don’t have much playoff experience between them. The pressure of sudden death hasn’t been the kindest to the Patriots in recent years.

#3 Cincinnati Bengals vs #6 Miami Dolphins

Despite being shut out in Buffalo, Miami moves up into #6 because San Diego has moved into position alongside them and Baltimore, necessitating a conference record tiebreaker. Cincinnati slaughtered Minnesota, which coupled with Baltimore’s later loss, clinched the division for Cincinnati. The Bengals are also still perfect at home, one of only three such teams left (with New England and New Orleans). Cincinnati has all the momentum they need, especially with Bully-gate still on the minds of analysts and the general public.

#4 Indianapolis Colts vs #5 Kansas City Chiefs

Indianapolis stopped Denver at home earlier in the season, and now they have the chance to do the same to Kansas City. With a 23-7 win in Kansas City this Sunday, as loud as it gets there, the Colts gave that possibility plenty of credibility. Kansas City started the season as a defensive team, then became an offensive team, and now can’t seem to put the two together in a good way. Indy has definitely seized whatever momentum KC had going for themselves.

Predicted Final Standings:

AFC NFC
#1 Broncos Seahawks
#2 Patriots Panthers
#3 Bengals Eagles
#4 Colts Packers
#5 Chiefs 49ers
#6 Dolphins Saints

Predicted Wildcard Round Results:

AFC Bengals def Dolphins Colts def Chiefs
NFC Eagles def Saints 49ers def Packers

Predicted Divisional Round Results:

AFC Broncos def Colts Bengals def Patriots
NFC Seahawks def 49ers Panthers def Eagles

Predicted Conference Championship Results:

AFC Broncos def Bengals
NFC Seahawks def Panthers

Predicted Super Bowl Results:

  • Broncos def Seahawks

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