The playoff picture is becoming even clearer after 14 weeks of NFL action, with a few teams punching their playoff tickets, so let’s take a look at how each team fared. 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, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers.
The Eagles (11-2) were able to clinch the NFC East last afternoon with a win over the Los Angeles Rams (9-4), but with a bad knee injury to star quarterback Carson Wentz, their Super Bowl aspirations took a major hit. The Steelers (11-2) also were able to clinch their division, with a hard fought victory over the Baltimore Ravens. However, if they want to advance past the Patriots (11-2), they need to fix their defensive issues. The Saints (9-4) and Panthers (9-4) now find themselves neck-and-neck in the NFC South race, with the Falcons (8-5) a game behind them. Elsewhere, the Vikings (10-3) lost for the first time in awhile, and now suddenly find themselves looking up at the Eagles for the top seed in the NFC.
Playoff Bound Material: Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions.
The Seattle Seahawks (8-5) lost a key battle to the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4), and the aftermath of that contest was an ugly scene. Several Jaguar fans were shown throwing beer and other objects at Seattle players after the game ended, and put a serious damper on a highly entertaining game. The Ravens’ (7-6) playoff aspirations took a major hit after a close loss to the Steelers, while the Chiefs (7-6) finally figured out their offensive woes by dismantling the Raiders. The Chargers (7-6) remain in a tie with the Chiefs in the AFC West race, after they beat a heartless Washington Redskins team left searching for answers. The Packers (7-6) remained in the playoff picture, for now, with an overtime win over the Browns. Elsewhere in the crowded NFC playoff picture are the Dallas Cowboys (7-6) and Detroit Lions (7-6), who both earned key road victories this week.
This category seems to be slimming down as of late, as many of these teams have bottomed out to the “basements” of the league. The Raiders (6-7) did themselves no favors after an ugly loss to the Chiefs, and the Bengals (5-8) were embarrassed by the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Cardinals (6-7) found a way to halt the Titans, and the Bills (7-6) kept their playoff hopes somewhat alive with a snowy victory over the Colts.
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: New York Times
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