The NFL Season is entering the home stretch:
Has there been an NFL season with as many teams having losing records or close to .500 with a chance still to get into the playoffs? The Bills, Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Dolphins, Colts, Broncos, Washington, Eagles, Falcons, Saints, Vikings, and 49ers; all have a mathematical chance. Many of them have a better shot than that. Many of those teams you can look at and say, “no, they won’t make it due to their remaining schedules being too tough.” Many have division games against the current division leader left to play. The strongest teams are pulling away now. The Packers, Buccaneers, Patriots, Chiefs, Cardinals, and Cowboys should win their respective divisions if they just continue playing tough. They should be able to head into the playoffs on cruise control. Those teams’ biggest issues are, of course, playoff seeding. Getting matchups with more favorable teams earlier in the season, as opposed to just squeaking in. Onto the Aftermath.
Steelers @ Vikings (28-36):
The Steelers came into this game at 6-5-1, with a fairly good chance of, maybe, getting in if they won out. The Vikings, even with this win, are still a game under .500 and are all but eliminated unless you figure in different scenarios/mathematical chances. All that is not even an issue unless they win out. Both teams still are not eliminated; yet, another loss for either should take care of that, more so for the Vikings. Fans of either team should not hold their breaths. It’s time to concentrate on the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ravens @ Browns (22-24):
To me, the Ravens (8-5) have been a pretender all season long; they just don’t score many touchdowns. The Ravens are tied for 16th in offensive points per game. Being that 14 teams make the playoffs, need I say more? It’s amazing that their record doesn’t reflect this more. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has a lower ankle sprain but is expected to start against the Packers. With the Ravens having the Pack, the Bengals, Rams, and Steelers still to go, it’s conceivable that they could miss the playoffs, while the Browns (7-6) are trending upward. Their remaining games are almost identical to the Ravens minus the Rams, add the Raiders. It’s going to be quite a finish in the AFC North.
Raiders @ Chiefs (9-48):
Not much to say about this game that the score doesn’t imply. It was a blowout by a playoff-bound team over a team that is absolutely not going anywhere (Raiders 6-7). The Chiefs (9-4) are on fire and are beating everyone they play during their 6-game-winning-streak, and a playoff bid is just a formality for Andy Reid’s squad. Side note: the Patriots (bye week) are the number one seed in the AFC. What a turnaround.
Cowboys @ Washington (27-20):
This was a chance for Washington (6-7)to really make waves in the NFC East. A win would have gone a long way in giving legitimacy to their four-game win streak. In the end, the Cowboys’ (9-4 #4 seed after week 14) just have too much talent. Micah Parsons is a beast and just another star among many on both sides of the ball. While the Capital City team is not eliminated, just yet, It doesn’t seem likely they will make a post-season play. They must play the Cowboys again, the Eagles twice, and the Giants in the regular-season finale. It’s surely possible that the next couple of weeks will reveal the truth. The Cowboys are concentrating on getting a favorable seed for post-season play. They will be a handful for fellow NFC Opponents come playoff time.
Giants @ Chargers (21-37):
The Chargers (8-5 #5 seed in AFC after week 14) winners of their last four of six are meeting my expectations. With games left against the Chiefs, Texans, Broncos, and Raiders, respectively, they should cruise into the playoffs, beginning a new era in San Diego. Their last trip was in 2018 and 2013. This team has a chance to be better than those teams, especially in the next several seasons. I have nothing to say about the G-men (4-9)
49ers @ Bengals (26-23 OT):
The 49ers (7-6) went into the game needing a win to stay in contention for the post-season. It took overtime to do it, but the mission was accomplished. They overcame the Bengals (7-6) Joe Burrow’s 348 yards passing. Both teams control their own destiny of getting into the playoffs. If they win out, it should be a no-brainer. Of course, there are a good number of teams in the same spot, and winning out for any of those teams should get them in. One thing for sure is that nothing is for sure. Stay tuned for updates on this crazy season.
Bills @ Buccaneers (27-33 OT):
The Buccaneers (10-3) did their best impression of a walk-off home run when Tom Brady hit Breshard Perriman of UCF fame on a slant that went the 58-yard distance in overtime. That ended the upstart Bills’ (7-6) chances of completing the come-back at Raymond James Stadium late Sunday afternoon. All is not lost, as 3 of their last 4, are against losing teams. The only probable loss would be to the Division-leading Patriots. The Bucs showed resiliency in hanging on to win the game after allowing the Bills back in it. The Bucs have now won four in a row, two coming against talented teams(Colts and Bills). It’s looking pretty good for the Bucs. They seem to be coming together. Although, the offense did have to bail out the defense overall in the game. The defense should be commended for forcing the Bills to punt in overtime, setting up the big play for Tampa that won the game. This probably won’t be the last time that the offense will have to save the day. That’s okay, the defense has been doing that for a while. Leonard Fournette again had a nice game going over the century mark again (113 yds, 1 TD) with a season-long 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Brady set another record with his 700th touchdown pass, passing up Drew Brees for the honor. The Bucs are the #2 seed in the NFC behind the Packers after week #14. View the week #14 highlights against the Bills here.
Bears @ Packers (30-45):
The upstart Bears (4-9) had it in mind to take down the mighty Packers (10-3) at Lambeau Field, and they almost did. In a game that saw six touchdowns (three for each team), six extra points, and a field goal (Bears) in the second quarter alone. You could say they were slinging it around a little bit. The Packers survived the onslaught of points, scoring 45 of their own to put Da Bears in their place. The Packers took over the #1 seed in the NFC with the Cardinal loss this week. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have never looked better and will be a hard nut to crack for any team looking to make the Big game in February.
Rams @ Cardinals (30-23):
The Rams (9-4) took a very big step in getting back to the playoffs, defeating a bit of an over-rated Cardinals (10-3) team. While the Cards are no doubt a great team, they are extremely beatable by the NFC elite. I don’t see the Cardinals beating the Bucs or the Packers (Packers defeated Cardinals 24-21 in week 8), or the Cowboys. I think they will struggle against the Rams and 49ers, as well, if both of them get in. The Cards are talented; I just don’t believe they are the force their record indicated for most of the season; so far. Both of these teams will make the playoffs. The Cardinals are the 3rd seed in the NFL. The Rams are the 5th seed after week #14.
My top 14 teams in the NFL:
1. Packers – They are the new #1 on my list, jumping up a couple of spots after the Cardinals’ loss.
2. Patriots – The seven-game win streak they are in is impressive; they are playing top-flight football
3. Buccaneers – The Bucs showed resiliency against the Bills, taking the win in a walk-off TD pass to Breshard Perriman.
4. Chiefs – Their six-game current win streak is second only to the Patriots; they have become a force again since early-season problems.
5. Cowboys – The Cowboys are loaded with stars will be a tough team to face in the playoffs if healthy.
6. Cardinals – I believe the Cardinals are extremely beatable, but until they lose early in the playoffs, they free-fall to number 6 after the Rams loss.
7. Rams – They took down their division leaders but still fall in one place behind them at this point.
8. Titans – They are a good team. If Henry comes back, they are a great team. stay tuned
9. Chargers – They barely lost to the Patriots and Cowboys, both by 3 points, then there is the Ravens loss that’s hard to explain. They did beat the Chiefs early on.
10. Colts – If J. Taylor is healthy, so are the Colts chances of getting into the playoffs
11. Ravens – The Ravens may be better than this ranking, but I don’t see it
12. 49ers – They beat the Bengals in OT this week, so they step up a spot over the Bengals.
13. Bengals – They are very talented, still trying to find their identity and place in the League.
14. Bills – The overtime loss at Tampa may be too hard to recover from. Stay tuned. Another loss and this team is out for sure.
on the rise – Broncos, Browns