Things are getting hot and heavy in the NFL here, ooooh baby things getting good. We’ve got three weeks left and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. The board is set, the pieces are moving, and many pawns are already dead. Currently eliminated from the playoffs:
Cleveland Browns (first one out!)
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
The Patriots clinched a playoff berth, but don’t have the division yet, surprisingly. The Jets are keeping pace and keeping New England nervous. However, the Patriots are back in the hunt for the No. 1 seed, thanks to the Denver Broncos getting embarrassed at home, and the Bengals season going up in smoke with Andy Dalton’s thumb injury. The Poor Bengals. With Dalton’s thumb injury, they have to start A.J. “I think I’m worth a first round pick” McCarron. Now, there is a good chance the Bengals fall to the third or fourth seed (and possibly even lose the division to the red hot Steelers) and get ousted in the first round of the playoffs… again. At least this time it will be Andy Dalton’s fault for different reasons.
The NFC East is still a dumpster fire, but all three teams tied for first stayed that way with three victories this weekend. The Eagles held off the Bills, the Redskins held off the Bears, and the Giants held off the Dolphins. I say “held off” because saying any of these teams decisively won is giving this woeful division too much credit. The Cowboys got obliterated by the Packers, which should remove any hopes of them winning the division, even though they technically still can.
The teams to watch out for now are the Seahawks and the Steelers. Both have gotten hot at the right time. Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind and the Steelers passing offense might be the most frightening in the NFL. The Seahawks were dealt a major blow with the loss of running back Thomas Rawls, however, which might just keep them down. The Cardinals still have a strong grasp on the NFC West, so the Seahawks likely won’t have any home field advantage this year if they make it.
The NFC North is still the most exciting fight, with the Vikings and Packers still trading punches to get out front. The Vikings have suffered some big injuries lately, though, so they have the tougher road.
One last thing. The Panthers. They inch ever closer to being a word we are all afraid to whisper. Could they do it? Could they be the second team to ever go all the way? The second team in a decade to not lose during the regular season? The Panthers look fantastic and blew the woeful Falcons out of the sky 38-0. They look unstoppable. Cam is incredible. The final three games on the schedule? The Giants, the Falcons, and the Buccaneers. That’s a very winnable slate of games.
I got six games wrong this past week because I’m really bad at this, so here we go!