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With every team now through at least eight games, nobody is slowing down yet. The injury bug just doesn’t stop, now keeping Aaron Rodgers out for a few weeks; might a Matt Flynn redux in Green Bay be in the works? Kansas City remains without a loss. The NFC especially is producing plenty of close races, including a three-way tie in the NFC North. The AFC has its division leaders pretty close to each other as well. With plenty of room left to maneuver in the final eight weeks, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 5:
Seattle was nearly embarrassed by winless Tampa in Seattle, but overcame a 21-point deficit to topple the Bucs in OT. It’s good for Seattle to know they have the perseverance to power through such times, but they don’t want to make a habit of this sort of thing.
New Orleans remains at #2 with their nearest competitors having issues, but lost a tough game against the Jets; Rob Ryan just can’t seem to beat his brother Rex. Still, if the Saints can get everyone healthy, they’ll be a major contender with an already impressive offense as is.
While on their bye, Detroit moved back into the division lead thanks to Chicago’s win in Green Bay. Carolina‘s big win against Atlanta combined with their conference record has them ahead of Chicago and Green Bay for #6. The Panthers have won four straight, but they aren’t used to playing in January. Neither is Detroit, but they have plenty of big pieces on offense, a rough defense, and would get to host a playoff game after making it in two seasons ago.
This time, Dallas was on the right side of a last-minute comeback (against Minnesota). San Francisco rested up on their bye week, which followed an easy day against Jacksonville. Dallas picked up a much-needed win in one game, but they’re having too many problems winning games lately to stand too much of a chance against San Francisco.
Kansas City picked up another win, this time in chilly Buffalo, to move to 9-0. They’ve done a good job scoring, but defense is what’s winning them games by far. Keeping up the pressure against that defense while getting a quick stop here and there will be the key to knocking off KC.
New England exploded for 55 points against Pittsburgh, and both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are looking like their old selves. The Pats did give up 31 points as their defense is still hurting, so they’ll need the offense to play like this all the time to have a chance at contending. We’ll see in the coming weeks if New England can indeed keep racking up the points on a continual basis.
Indianapolis overcame an 18-point deficit to win in Houston, but of greater concern is Houston’s head coach Gary Kubiak collapsing while on his way off the field for halftime, reportedly from a transient ischemic attack. He should be well enough soon. The Jets, meanwhile have not won or lost more than one game in a row all season. Going back and forth like that will put New York in a difficult position, especially with a rookie on the road in the postseason.
Cincinnati has done very well this season, but did lose to Miami just over halfway through overtime on a safety. Just hanging in there in a close game won’t help against Denver, because Peyton Manning will make sure things don’t stay close for very long. Even with a very good defense, Cincinnati will be hard-pressed to handle the pressure Denver can bring.
Tags: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks