With Week 15 in the books and the playoffs just around the corner, we are bound to see a lot of movement in the seeding in the last two weeks. The AFC is loaded with bubble teams fighting for their playoff lives right now with the Steelers and Ravens occupying the wild card spots at 9-5. Right behing them are the Chiefs, Chargers and Bills at 8-6. Finally hanging by a thread are the Texans, Dolphins and Browns at 7-7. The Bengals currently only hold a half game lead over both the Steelers and Ravens and still have a game at Heinz Field in Week 17, most likely with the division on the line. Don’t count out the Ravens however, who Cincinnati swept, as they probably have the easiest schedule of all aforementioned teams. The Patriots, Broncos and Colts have all clinched their respective divisions, though we still don't know who will have homefield advantage.
In the NFC, the 49ers’ playoff hopes ended with a loss in Seattle. That leaves two wild card spots for three teams in the running: the Eagles, Packers and the defending champion Seahawks. Those same three teams however also all have a chance at the division crown. The Cowboys beat the Eagles on Sunday night and have the inside track to NFC East crown. If the Seahawks can travel to the desert and handle the depleted Cardinals, they’ll have the inside track to the NFC West crown, and if the Lions can go into Green Bay in Week 17 with the NFC North crown possibly on the line and win for the first time in 23 tries, then they would potentially win that division. Finally there’s the NFC South. What an absolute disaster of a division it is. The division is so bad it could make the 2010 NFC West look good! No but seriously, the team who wins the NFC South will not have a winning record as the Saints (6-8), Falcons (5-9) and Panthers (5-8-1) duke it out to win the division of mediocrity. Still, like in 2010 with the 7-9 Seahawks, the winning team will host a playoff game and could leave a 10-6 or 11-5 team out of the playoffs. We all know that led to Seattle’s improbable triumph over the heavily favoured Saints on the heels of THE career-defining moment in Beast Mode’s (Marshawn Lynch) career. That rule has to go and hopefully this offseason will bring that much-needed change.
As of right now, the AFC playoff picture would look like this:
1) New England Patriots – Bye, Homefield Advantage
2) Denver Broncos – BYE
3) Indianapolis Colts vs. 6) Baltimore Ravens
4) Cincinnati Bengals vs. 5) Pittsburgh Steelers
As for the NFC…
1) Arizona Cardinals – BYE, Homefield Advantage
2) Detroit Lions – BYE
3) Dallas Cowboys vs. 6) Green Bay Packers
4) New Orleans Saints vs. 5) Seattle Seahawks
Every year, NFL fans are treated to great playoff matchups that create some buzz. Here’s a top 10 list of playoff matchups we’d like to see:
10 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
These two teams do not like one another. They are used to each other, playing in the AFC North. The last time these two teams met in a playoff game was back in 2005 when the Bengals won the division behind Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Disaster struck early in the game for the Bengals as Palmer’s left knee was taken out from the side by Kimo von Oelhoffen on a play that saw the late Chris Henry haul in a beautifully thrown deep ball. That offseason, the NFL came up with the “Kimo Clause” which requires defenders to do everything to avoid hitting a quarterback at or below the knees. After Palmer's exit, Jon Kitna came in and the Bengals fell 31-17. The Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Bengals fans have never forgotten this incident as they thought it was their year to go all the way. And who knows? They could have been right.
9 Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
8 Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
7 Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
6 Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
5 Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
4 Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
3 Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers
2 Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks
1 New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers
When these two teams met at Lambeau a few weeks ago, fans were treated to an awesome football game. These two teams have been on fire after struggling out of the gate. Both teams’ success is largely dependent on how their quarterback plays. Both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers did not look like themselves when their teams were struggling. They’ve been great since and Rodgers looks like a shoe-in for NFL MVP. Both franchises have a large and loyal following and both have been extremely successful on the field. The Packers last brought the Lombardi trophy back home in 2010 defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. The Patriots meanwhile, won three Super Bowls in four years between 2001 and 2004 but have lost two straight Super Bowl appearances (both to the New York Giants) as favourites. To see a future hall of famer in Brady go head-to-head with today’s best in Rodgers with everything on the line would be quite a thing to see. As a football fan, what more can you ask for?
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