Posts about NFC East

Previewing the final week in the NFL regular season

12-27

For most of the season I was complaining about Thursday games and their lack of quality but I must admit, I’ve missed them since they’ve been gone. Or maybe i’m just slowly realizing that football is coming to an end sooner than later. At least the regular season is. Only one more week of regular season football but i’m hoping that it’s a good one. There’s a lot on the line for several teams. Division titles and playoff positions are still going to be decided. Most of the attention will be on the NFC as only three teams (Sea, Car and SF) have secured their spot in the postseason. We’ll get to them in the next paragraph because first we have to discuss the AFC and it’s second wild card spot. Let’s just assume that the Patriots and Broncos won’t slip up this weekend, each facing inferior opponents, to give up their top spots. The Ravens are fighting to land the wild card spot and are playing in Cincy this weekend, who is trying to stay in their position as a 3rd seed. Here’s the sneaky fact: Baltimore doesn’t need to win this weekend to make the playoffs. Of course they’re still going to try and win their game because the Dolphins, Chargers and even the Steelers all have chances of snatching up their spot. On a more personal note, i’d much rather see either Phil Rivers in the playoffs more than any of the other quarterbacks in contention. But the odds are stacked against San Diego and i’m afraid that they’re stacked a little too high. If I were a betting man (i’m not…that much) then I would probably put my money on the Dolphins mostly because they have the most favorable opponent and are in the best position when it comes to tie breakers. Then I think about their game last weekend and how they got shut out in Buffalo. I also think about how unpredictable this season has been. My money is still on the Dolphins but I fully expect anything and everything to happen with that 6th seed in the AFC.

So what’s going on in the NFC this Sunday? One almost has to feel bad for the Cardinals and their fanbase. A playoff caliber team competing in the best division in football. Does everyone realize that Arizona would be leading and/or tied for first place in four other divisions but because they’re in the NFC West, they’re in 3rd place and on the outside looking in? They would also be within one game of leading every other division remaining that’s not the AFC West. Then again, if the Cowboys were to somehow make the playoffs, I would not give up their spot to the Cardinals just because they have the better record. Arizona still has a shot but it would need to beat the 49ers (still with a lot at stake) and also need the Saints to lose against a mediocre Buccaneers team. There could be a lot shuffling between the top two spots in the conference along with the Niners but with Seahawks and Panthers both facing less than stellar teams, I don’t see much happening. Then come the biggest games of the day. At least, in terms of the attention that both games are getting and what’s at stake. First the Packers are Chicago to decide who wins the NFC North and who goes to the playoffs. News broke yesterday and Aaron Rodgers is in fact going to start on Sunday. Scary thought for Chicago and scary for anyone facing the Packers going forward, should they make the playoffs. I expect the Packers to win the game on Sunday mostly because Rodgers makes that much a difference for Green Bay. As does Tony Romo for the Cowboys. But unfortunately for Cowboys like myself around the country, it was confirmed about an hour ago that Romo did undergo (successfulback surgery and will miss Sunday’s do-or-die game against the Eagles for the division title. I’m hoping the Cowboys play with heart against an Eagles team that looked unstoppable last weekend but I expect Philadelphia to come out on top after Sunday night’s game ends.

Enjoy the action packed Sunday everyone because it will be while before we have all the teams playing again.

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NFL division/playoff races in tight battle with two weeks left

12-19

It’s getting to the time of the NFL season where the experts begin to use phrases like “crunch time” or that every single game is a “MUST win” even though technically it’s not a must win unless your team will be mathematically out of the postseason. So for many teams (yes, including my Cowboys) what they do these last two weeks will significantly alter their position or lack of position in January. You know, the playoffs in the NFL or when “the real season” begins. First things are first, let’s take a look at the teams that have either clinched their divisions or have a good enough record to clinch a definite spot.

The AFC is a little more simple because the top 3 seeds have clinched the division (Texans, Broncos and Patriots in order) and I don’t see the seeding changing because even though Houston has the toughest schedule, I don’t see them slipping up knowing that both Denver and New England are hot on their heels with two very easy games for each team. Now, the Colts aren’t going to win the AFC South but they have clinched a spot and it’s pretty incredible that this team can go from 1st pick in the entire draft to participating in the postseason in the same year. Something else that’s incredible is that the Ravens, in a complete tailspin, actually clinched a playoff even thought they’ve lost 3 straight games. So it’s up to the Bengals whether they would like to take the division, which could come down to the final game this season but first they’d have to defeat the Steelers this weekend. The Steelers have been up and down since the Big Ben injury but they’ve proven that they can get it done when it matters most and they have the easiest remaining schedule of the three AFC North contenders.

The NFC gets a little more complicated because there are only 2 teams that have clinched their division (Falcons and Packers) and one team that has a spot (49ers) but there are still 6 teams in contention with the NFC East still completely wide open. Teams not named the Eagles in the NFC East are all tied at 8-6 and conventional thinking would have most people leaning toward the Redskins. The Giants do have the easier schedule (at Ravens, Eagles) but they don’t control their own destiny and for that reason alone, they’re the least likely to win the division. My gut feeling is that the NFC East is going to come down to the Redskins-Cowboys games in the final week but it’s also going to depend what happens with Seattle/Minnesota/Chicago for the wildcard. The Bears are in completely disarray and if ever they needed two easy games to save their season, it’s now. Despite a grueling final two games, i’m not going to pick against the Vikings because Adrian Peterson is their RB, enough said.

Let’s all take a minute to thank whatever higher powers you believe in and say thank you that Thursday night games are finally over. I love the NFL but the every single Thursday game was mediocre at best because it was painfully (for the players, literally) obvious that it’s impossible to play at full capacity with only 3 days rest. Thanksgiving is a tradition but every single week, no. Just toss in a random Friday or Saturday games. Speaking of Saturday, this week the Falcons try to move closer to the best record in the NFC as they take on the Lions who are only playing for Megatron’s record breaking performance (only 182 yards being Rice) so keep an eye out for that if you watch the game.

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