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Just one week left in the season! Nine of the 12 teams have punched their ticket so far, and as long as the Rams lose or tie in Week 17, a losing team will make the playoffs. The AFC’s road to the Super Bowl goes through Foxboro, and unless the Falcons lose at home to the NFL’s worst team, the NFC’s road will go through the Georgia Dome. And who would’ve thought the Colts would have to fight for a playoff spot in the final week? And if Philly loses one of their final two games, Chicago is guaranteed a bye. Only the Patriots have actually guaranteed a particular seed so far, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 28, before the first Tuesday NFL game since 1946:
The Falcons did lose to the Saints, but it was very close. They still have home-field advantage, and thanks to eight straight wins before that loss, aim to keep it. Matt Ryan still likely would have gotten another chance, except the Saints were gutsy and passed with the lead with minutes to go instead of guaranteeing less clock with a run. Atlanta will be tough to do in in their house twice in a year.
Chicago has done well this season, but for a first round bye, they’ll have to either beat Green Bay or hope Philadelphia loses to either Minnesota or Dallas (both at home). Chicago did beat Philadelphia and help fine-tune the blueprint on how to beat them, but it’s still tough. Chicago is a dark horse contender, but with so many other great teams around them, I have a hard time believing Chicago will make a deep, serious Super Bowl run.
Don’t count Philadelphia out; their Giants’ comeback was as much about their prowess and the Giants’ ineptitude. Green Bay put up 45 over the Giants, but New York’s mindset perhaps over-inflated that victory. Green Bay did win in Philadelphia 27-20 way back in Week 1, but Kevin Kolb was in for some of that game. With Michael Vick doing what he does, and thankfully not with dogs (can you believe he wants to adopt another dog? Nobody that’s sane would ever give him another one. Ever.), the game might turn out different this time around.
All hail Tommy Boy. And Tom Brady while you’re at it. New England thoroughly dismantled Buffalo in Buffalo. That’s a great way to get the Pats’ confidence up after nearly blowing it against Green Bay’s backup. It would be nice if this can continue, but if New England can let a backup have such a great day, an established quarterback on a great team could certainly do them in.
Pittsburgh bounced back against the Jets by holding the Panthers to a field goal, and handing Carolina the #1 draft pick. Now, all they have to do to lock up the #2 seed is beat Cleveland. They’ve lost their last three, so maybe Cleveland won’t be as much as a trap game as they could’ve been.
Along with the Pats, Kansas City is now the only team yet to lose at home. Think Oakland can end that? The Jets lost to Chicago, and though they did give up 38 points, they put up 34. It’s nice for the Jets to see that they can do that and knock off Pittsburgh. Kansas City’s average margin of victory at home has been nearly two touchdowns, which means the Sanchize will have to work extra hard to beat his counterpart with Patriot experience.
|#1||Atlanta Falcons||#1||New England Patriots|
|#2||Philadelphia Eagles||#2||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|#3||Chicago Bears||#3||Kansas City Chiefs|
|#4||Seattle Seahawks||#4||Indianapolis Colts|
|#5||New Orleans Saints||#5||Baltimore Ravens|
|#6||Green Bay Packers||#6||New York Jets|
|GB def. CHI||NO def. SEA||KC def. NYJ||IND def. BAL|
|ATL def. GB||PHI def. NO||NE def. IND||PIT def. KC|
|Conference Championship Round|
|ATL def. PHI||NE def. PIT|
|NFC def. AFC|
|NE def. ATL|
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL Playoffs, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams