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Just three weeks left until the playoffs are set. Speaking of three, only three teams have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot. In the AFC alone, four teams are tied for the last wild card spot, and three teams are one game behind them. The Colts have already clinched home field advantage, and while the Saints have not yet mathematically done so, they have essentially locked it up with two of their remaining three games against the Buccaneers and Panthers. With so much on the line, especially in the wildcard positions, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 15:
To paraphrase Britney Spears, oops they did it again. The Saints managed to win, in squeaking fashion, over a vastly inferior team when they only beat Atlanta by a field goal 26-23. A win’s a win, but they’ll have to do better in the playoffs, especially if they have to face wily veterans Brett Favre and/or Peyton Manning.
The Vikings got back in form, trouncing the Bengals (who are very good in their own right) 30-10, moving to 11-2 to stay the best team with a loss this season. Having arguably the best year of his career, the blue jeans salesman from Mississippi is establishing himself as a serious Super Bowl contender.
The Eagles have won four in a row while Dallas has lost two. Philly won a shootout in the Meadowlands against the Giants 45-38 while Dallas lost at home to red-hot San Diego 20-17. Dallas won 20-16 in Philadelphia in Week 9, but has Philadelphia become too good since then? If the Eagles win in Dallas in Week 17, they’ll make their point.
With five straight wins, it’s hard to argue against Green Bay. The Packers visit Arizona in Week 17, which will not only determine who has the crucial momentum going into the postseason, but if the playoff situation holds, this match will happen twice in the same stadium in as many weeks. Fun, huh?
With a 28-16 win over Denver, Indianapolis became the first team to wrap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and since they’re in the AFC, that includes the Super Bowl this year. With games against the Jaguars, Jets, and Bills, the Colts definitely have a good chance to go unbeaten, facing a likely return home match against the Patriots or Broncos in Round 2.
San Diego finally overtakes Cincinnati, and holds a one-game lead for a first round bye. The two play in San Diego next week, and if San Diego wins, they’ll pretty much lock up the bye. After all, how much effort should it take them to beat Washington?
Jacksonville is barely clinging to the last spot. If it weren’t for Baltimore sticking their nose into the race with their 7-6 record, Miami would get the spot after having beaten Jacksonville 14-10 in Jacksonville. At least (for the Jaguars’ sake), Cincinnati got roughed up in Minnesota. Though with a net points advantage of 47 to -52, Cincinnati should get the job done.
If it weren’t for the seeding by division, this game would be played in Denver. New England has been having as rough a time as just about any team lately, and aren’t looking like themselves in the least. The Broncos have pretty much stabilized since their early season highs and mid season lows; who can blame anyone for losing to the Colts? The only thing the Pats have going for them is that they haven’t lost at home yet, but even the 2007-2008 Celtics ran out of that magic eventually.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, NFL Playoffs, Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers