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Just a month remains in the season, and things are still as close as ever. The race for #2 in the AFC is a three-way dead heat. Many teams are chasing the NFC’s second wildcard spot. Only three of eight divisions and four of twelve playoff spots have been wrapped up. Injuries are really starting to become issues or at least big concerns for many teams. With many playoff possibilities still up in the air, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 4th:
Atlanta got some revenge for their lone loss by defeating their most frustrating opponent, New Orleans. They have plenty of balance on their team, skilled on offense and defense alike. They’re even close to locking up the NFC, and are a good pick to make a deep run.
Something about St. Louis is giving San Francisco fits this year; San Fran went into another overtime game against their divisional foes before finally losing. Still, they have given up the fewest points in the league by far. All they need now to win a title is to make sure their offense can reliably put points on the board.
Seattle finally got a signature road win in Chicago, while Green Bay took care of Minnesota at home. Still, Seattle had to work for their win. With their road struggles and Green Bay’s potent offense, look for the Packers to pull out the victory.
Not only was Chicago disappointed with their loss to Seattle, but New York took a bitter loss to Washington, lowering their lead in their division. This kind of play is expected by this point for the champion Giants, but Chicago’s has really cooled off following their explosive start. With a raucous home crowd behind them, New York should have the edge.
Houston moved one step closer to locking up the AFC with a 24-10 win in Tennessee. With the rest of their nearest competitors fighting tooth and nail over the other bye, Houston will have a good opportunity to go into the playoffs well-prepared and well-rested.
Now in a three-way tie, the Patriots‘ superior conference record has them at #2. They miss Rob Gronkowski’s massive presence to be sure, but they’re still managing just fine without him. Even giving up massive yardage, the defense still makes some key stops as well. The Patriots are very good at home, so their upcoming battle hosting Houston at home will be a good litmus test for their future prospects.
Just this past week, Pittsburgh won by a field goal in Baltimore, the Ravens’ only home loss this season. And that was with their third quarterback. By the time the playoffs roll around, Pittsburgh will be a lot healthier. That won’t be good news for the Ravens, banged up until next season, but these games are always close no matter what.
Indianapolis came from behind late to hand Detroit yet another soul-crushing loss. Meanwhile, Denver won their seventh game in a row behind Peyton Manning’s superior abilities. Andrew Luck may have plenty of skill, but Denver is a better and more disciplined team than Detroit.
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New York Giants, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks