Now that we are in the home stretch of the NFL season and the playoff picture is coming even more into focus, it’s time to look at where each of the teams are headed. Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.
True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles (9-1) all but locked up the NFC East, after stomping the Dallas Cowboys in the second half of the game, and now maintain a commanding four game lead. The Steelers (8-2) and their championship caliber defense looked great over the Titans on Thursday night, and are getting hot at the right time in the season. The Patriots (8-2) roughed up the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, and seem to be poised for yet another deep playoff run. The New Orleans Saints (8-2) won their eighth straight game in dramatic fashion, with the Redskins defense helping them escape with an improbable victory. Lastly, the Minnesota Vikings (8-2) took care of the hot Los Angeles Rams, and it sure looks like Case Keenum is their quarterback moving forward into the playoffs.
Will Mike Zimmer need to make an announcement that Case Keenum will start again next week or does going 27-38 for 280, 1 TD, 0 INTs, and sixth straight wins mean you’ve kept your job?
— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) November 19, 2017
Playoff Bound Material: Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams.
Kansas City (6-4) continues their free fall at the top of the AFC West standings, losing an inexcusable game to the hapless Giants, and Oakland remains just two games back from the division lead. Seattle (6-3) has a pivotal game against Atlanta (5-4) tonight, with both teams trying to remain in the playoff picture. Jacksonville (7-3) took the AFC South division lead with a victory over the Browns, while the Titans (6-4) remain a game back. The Panthers (7-3) were on a bye this week, while the Lions (6-4) earned a hard-fought victory over the Chicago Bears. Rounding out this group is the Los Angeles Rams (7-3), who need to prove they belong with the elite teams, after a disappointing loss to the Vikings on Sunday.
When is the last time the Chiefs have had a more shocking loss? My memory is fuzzy. I'm sitting here stunned. This is off a bye to a team beat up and a coach under fire.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) November 19, 2017
The Baltimore Ravens (5-5) remain very much alive in the AFC playoff picture with a win over the Green Bay Packers. Elsewhere, the Washington Redskins (4-6) look all but finished after yet another blown victory due to some poor defense down the stretch, and questionable decisions made by coach Jay Gruden. The Bills (5-5) are likely regretting their quarterback decision, as Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions against a bad Chargers team, and was benched for Tyrod Taylor in the second half of play. The Dallas Cowboys (5-5) are just not the same team without Ezekiel Elliot, as they were steamrolled by the dominant Philadelphia Eagles.
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2017
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 19, 2017
The majority of these teams are dealing with poor quarterback play and coaches on the hot seat. The NY Giants (2-8) were the only team deserving a shout out this week, as they refused to quit against the Chiefs, and won a tight game in overtime. Elsewhere, the Dolphins (4-6) may have finally found out that their Jay Cutler experiment wasn’t worth the money they paid, and are likely out of the playoffs after another disappointing loss to the Buccaneers.
Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.
Photo Credit: ProFootballTalk.com
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