There are nineteen or twenty teams that still have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs and one of those teams have already secured their ticket to the playoffs. There were some impressive games this past weekend and there should be more coming soon with the playoffs quickly approaching.
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-1; Prev. 1)
It was ugly, but the Cowboys were able to pull off their eleventh straight win and punch their ticket to the playoffs, thanks in part to the Arizona Cardinals. These next four games are going to be tough though, three of the teams that they are going to be facing would be in the playoffs if the season were to end today. The Cowboys are visiting the only team to beat them this season, the New York Giants. If Dallas is able to win this game, then they will win the NFC East.
2. Oakland Raiders (10-2; Prev. 2)
The Oakland Raiders now have the number one seed in the AFC based on win percentage against common opponents with the Patriots. Their offense still looks very potent, but they need the number one seed because it is hard to imagine this offense working as well in a cold weather environment. They have a tough schedule coming down the stretch, starting with the Chiefs in Kansas City this week.
3. New England Patriots (10-2; Prev. 3)
The Patriots defense had one of their best games of the season this past week against the Rams, but need to continue playing at that level going into the playoffs. The loss from Miami certainly helps New England’s playoff hopes. If the Patriots win this week against the Ravens and the Dolphins lose, then New England would be the next team to clinch a playoff berth.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3; Prev. 4)
The Kansas City Chiefs won a close game against the Atlanta Falcons thanks to Eric Berry and the defense. If their defense can stop the Atlanta offense like that, then the rest of the AFC should be careful going forward. The Chiefs are in good position for the playoffs, but have a tough last four games, starting this week against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City.
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1; Prev. 6)
Seattle reassured their dominance on Sunday when they completely dismantled the Carolina Panthers. They are in good position to have a first round bye with the Falcons losing, but with the Lions surging, they need to stay on their toes. Their schedule for the last three games is favorable as the only team that they will face with at least a .500 record is the Packers when they go to Green Bay this week.
6. Detroit Lions (8-4; Prev. 7)
Detroit might be the hottest team in the league, outside of Dallas. They have won four straight games, and their win against the Saints was their best win of the season. Their offense is clicking and they now have a two game lead, thanks to the Vikings losing last Thursday night. They do have a tough remaining schedule as they face the Bears in Detroit this week, but their last three games are against teams with a record of .500 or better.
7. Denver Broncos (8-4; Prev. 9)
The Broncos are back into the playoff picture with their big win against the Jaguars and the Dolphins big loss against the Ravens. This offense is concerning, no matter who is playing quarterback, and they need to figure out a way to get more production or they won’t have a run like they did last season. They have one of the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, and it starts this week when they travel to Tennessee.
8. New York Giants (8-4; Prev. 5)
The New York Giants lost against the Pittsburgh Steelers and hurt their chances of overtaking the Cowboys for the NFC East. They had trouble scoring early against Pittsburgh and haven’t looked good in the last three weeks, despite winning two of the games. They need to play better this week as they welcome the Dallas Cowboys to town and if they lose, then there is no chance of them winning this division.
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-5; Prev. 10)
Baltimore won a huge game against the Dolphins and were able to be really good on offense. They are still in first place in their division and are on pace for a Christmas day game for the division against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week, they are travelling to New England for a huge AFC matchup with the Patriots.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5; Prev. 11)
Tampa Bay is in the playoffs right now and are surging to take over the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South. Their remaining schedule is fairly tough with the Cowboys on the schedule, but two of their next three games are against the Saints. If they can win this week, then they are in an even better position to win this division.
11. Atlanta Falcons (7-5; Prev. 8)
The Falcons had their hearts broken on Sunday when they took the lead at the end of the game, but game up a pick two to Eric Berry, especially since he had a pick six earlier in the game. they still have the division lead because they own the tiebreaker against the Buccaneers, but they haven’t played that well in recent weeks. Luckily, the rest of their schedule is favorable to the Falcons.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5; Prev. 15)
The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big win against the New York Giants and are still in position to take over their division. The tiebreaker is still going to the Ravens, but their game in three weeks could decide the division. The Steelers have a more favorable schedule and are going to visit the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
13. Houston Texans (6-6; Prev. 12)
Houston did not look good in Green Bay and are now on the brink of losing their playoff positioning. The Houston Texans had a hard time in the snow and Brock Osweiler is terrible. They still hold the tie breaker over the Titans and Colts, but they are going to face both of these teams in the next few weeks, starting this week in Indianapolis against the Colts.
14. Washington Redskins (6-5-1; Prev. 13)
The Washington Redskins lost a huge game on Sunday and are now on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Their defense gave up a lot of points and were unable to keep up for the entire 60 minutes. They have a favorable schedule and the only team that they are going to face with a winning record is the Giants in week seventeen. This week, they are travelling to Philadelphia to face off with the Eagles.
15.Miami Dolphins (7-5; Prev. 14)
The Miami Dolphins may have ruined their playoff chances this week when they couldn’t even be competitive against the Baltimore Ravens. They have to win at least three of their last four games and only one of their remaining opponents have a winning record. They have the Cardinals coming to Miami this week and need this win or they could be out for good.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-6; Prev. 16)
The Vikings lost a close game against the Cowboys and are now two games behind Detroit with only four games left to play. They have two games against teams that are also fighting for a playoff spot, but two games that should be fairly winnable for the Vikings. This week, they take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville and can’t afford a loss at this point.
17. Tennessee Titans (6-6; Prev. 20)
The Titans come out of their bye in a three way tie for the division lead with the Texans losing and the Colts winning. Hopefully the rest will help them with only four games left because they only have one opponent left with a losing record. This week, they have the Broncos coming in and need to control the ball to get the win.
18. Indianapolis Colts (6-6; Prev. 21)
The Colts showed up in a big way on Monday night and look like they could very well make a run for the AFC South. Houston losing and Tennessee on a bye gave the Colts an opportunity to capitalize and Andrew Luck came through in a big way. They only have one really difficult game left on their schedule and could knock off one of the other teams in first this week with a win against Houston at home.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7; Prev. 17)
The Eagles have fallen off in a big way and they need help if they want to make the playoffs. Their last four games are against teams that are all on the brink of making the playoffs or have already made the playoffs so it is hard to imagine them winning more than a game or two down the stretch. The only thing that they can hope for is that the Vikings lose a couple more games so the Eagles can have a higher pick. This week they take on the Washington Redskins in Philadelphia in what should be an interesting NFC East matchup.
20. Green Bay Packers (6-6; Prev. 23)
The Green Bay Packers got a huge win on Sunday, showing that they can still win big games in big fashion. Unfortunately, it might be too little too late for a team that is now two games behind for the division lead. They essentially need to win the rest of their games and hope that Detroit loses another game before they meet on New Year’s Day in Detroit. That is a tall task considering that the Packers are facing the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field this week.
21. San Diego Chargers (5-7; Prev. 18)
The San Diego Chargers lost on Sunday and are now three games behind the Broncos for the second wildcard spot with only four games left to go. None of their remaining games have a lot of value unless they want to jeopardize playoff positioning for either the Raiders or Chiefs. They are going to Carolina this week to face off with the Panthers in a pride game.
22. Buffalo Bills (6-6; Prev. 19)
The Buffalo Bills are now four games behind the Patriots and it is hard to imagine a scenario that they are able to make the playoffs. They should be able to finish their season around .500 and build some momentum going into next season when they can hopefully be healthy. The Bills are taking on the Steelers this week in Buffalo that maybe Buffalo can mess up the Steelers season.
23. Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1; Prev. 24)
The Cardinals are playing spoilers to the rest of the NFL at this point. There is little hope for them to get into the playoffs this season, but they are still trying to stop teams like Washington from getting a wildcard spot. They have had a disappointing season this year, but hopefully drafting the quarterback of the future or bringing in a veteran, like Tony Romo, would make this team a contender again next season. This week the Cardinals are facing another team with playoff aspirations that they could stop when they travel to Miami to face the Dolphins.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1; Prev. 26)
The Cincinnati Bengals looked good on Sunday, despite another game without AJ Green. They are now two and a half games behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh and are facing both teams down the stretch, but it is unlikely that they will take the lead from either of those teams. Both of those games are at home, but they would need both teams to lose three of their next four and the Bengals would need to win all four of their remaining games. They are going to Cleveland this week to face the Browns in a game that they should win.
25. New Orleans Saints (5-7; Prev. 22)
The Saints are now two games behind for the wildcard and division, but have a chance to turn everything around with some help. The two teams ahead of them are going to be playing against the Saints in three of their next four games. If they win the rest of their games and the Falcons lose a game between now and week seventeen, then the Saints would be in, but that is unlikely. They have the first of their two matchups in three weeks against the Buccaneers this week in Tampa Bay.
26. Carolina Panthers (4-8; Prev. 25)
The Carolina Panthers are done for the season, but Ron Rivera did the right thing by suspending Cam Newton for the first drive. The fact that Newton understood and was accepting of it just shows the respect that Rivera has in the locker room. They had a bad season, but they are facing the Chargers in what should be a fairly entertaining game.
27. Los Angeles Rams (4-8; Prev. 27)
The Rams didn’t look good on Sunday against the Patriots and Jeff Fisher was rewarded with a two-year contract. Their offense couldn’t get any momentum against a defense that has trouble up front. They are going to have to get creative in the offseason since they don’t have a first or third round pick this season thanks to the trade with the Titans last season. The Rams are facing the Falcons and have the chance to play spoilers to Atlanta’s season.
28. Chicago Bears (3-9; Prev. 29)
Chicago actually looked really good on Sunday, granted it was against the 49ers, but a win is still a win. Jordan Howard is really exciting and possibly a top ten running back even with a subpar offensive line, a third string quarterback and some deficiencies at the receiver position. They might not win another game this season, but with Howard, a top five pick and hopefully a healthy defense, this team has a lot of positives in the future. They are travelling to Detroit this week to face a team that they beat earlier this season and have the chance to play spoiler to now.
29. New York Jets (3-9; Prev. 28)
The New York Jets got demolished on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts and Todd Bowles seat is getting a little bit warmer. They need a change next season, none of their quarterbacks are very effective and it shouldn’t be that difficult, given all of the talent on offense. They have a game that they could win this week when they face off with the San Francisco 49ers.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10; Prev. 30)
The Jaguars lost again and there should be no way for Gus Bradley to keep his job, even if they won their last four games of the season. They have a good nucleus of talent, but their coaching and quarterback play are holding this team back and there needs to be a change for at least one of those problems next season. They are facing the Vikings this week and it is hard to imagine a scenario that the Jaguars come out of that game with the win.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-11; Prev. 31)
The 49ers looked really bad in the snow this past Sunday. They couldn’t move the ball, Colin Kaepernick was pulled after three quarters and only four yards passing. They need to find a way to turn this team around next year, but there might be too many holes for them to be back for at least three or four years. They have the Jets coming to town this week so maybe they can figure something out against another bad team.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12; Prev. 32)
The bye week really did nothing for the Cleveland Browns. They are still winless, they are still on pace to have the first pick in the next draft, and it is unlikely that either of those things will change between now and the end of the season. The one bright spot for the Browns is that the Eagles lost and if they are able to keep losing, then the Browns might end up with two top ten picks to turn this team around quickly. They have the Bengals coming to town this week for a game between two teams that are just playing for pride.
My name is Sean, I have been a fan of the NFL for at least 25 years and want to get my thoughts out to the public. Please visit the main site for more posts