The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14 , 35-43. Now with Monday Night Football’s upset behind us as the Miami Dolphins topped the New England Patriots, 27-20, we’ve got a wildly compelling playoff race in both conferences shaping up.
Gonna start including the other side of the fence merely for the drama. Not only is the wild card race wide open in the AFC, but you’ve got a 7-6 Kansas City Chiefs team atop the AFC West right now.
Gonna be a wild three weeks.
1.) Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)*
* - Pittsburgh has clinched the AFC North
The Steelers’ offense is cranking as they ride an 8-game winning streak into Week 15 against...the Patriots.
Yeah, that’s gonna be a good one.
2.) New England Patriots (10-3)
Pats-Steelers, Pats-Steelers, Pats-Steelers.
3.) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
The Jags got a major win in Week 14 over the Seattle Seahawks just two weeks after dropping a game against the Arizona Cardinals. With the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers docketed for the next two weeks, it’s the Week 17 matchup against the 8-5 Tennessee Titans that looms largest.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
5.) Tennessee Titans (8-5)
The Titans currently lead the wild card race, though it’s the two-way battle they’re in with the Jags for the AFC South title that’s the real treasure being sought here. And while both get to play the 49ers at some point in the next two weeks, the Jags get a 4-win Texans team prior to Week 17 while the Titans will host the Rams in Week 16 before that AFC South crownmatch.
6.) Buffalo Bills (7-6)
This is where things get very interesting in the AFC.
As of right now, the Bills have the lead among the conference’s three 7-win teams. Maybe the most interesting aspect here? The Bills play the Dolphins in Week 15. And in Week 17. With the Patriots in between.
That’s a pretty weird schedule sandwich even without looking at the weather forecast to see if there’s a repeat of the snowstorm that hit Buffalo this weekend...
In the hunt
7.) Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
Screwing this up would be very not good.
8.) Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)
The Chargers are absolutely rolling right now. If they can topple the Chiefs at Arrowhead on Saturday, they’ll likely head into the playoffs steamrolling.
9.) Oakland Raiders (6-7)
The Raiders aren’t out of it, but Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs + their remaining schedule = not lookin good. They’ll host Sunday Night Football in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys before heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Monday Night Football and then close out the season in LA against the Chargers.
10.) Miami Dolphins (6-7)
The Fins are hanging on by a thread which is as good a reason as any to link to Jay Cutler’s ass cheeks as we remain officially a Los Angeles Rams site but unofficially a Jay Cutler ass cheeks site.
Yes, the Rams’ loss to the Eagles cut deep. No, it hasn’t relegated them outside of the playoff window. There’s everything left to play for and that’s obvious in Week 15 as the Rams head up north to take on the Seahawks, but the top-heavy NFC looks much different than the AFC right now to the point we can cut the 6-win teams out of the race on our side.
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)*
* - Philadelphia has clinched the NFC East
The win on Sunday came at a steep, steep cost as QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL. It’s a horrible injury that robs all of us as football fans ultimately, but the question now is one of the road ahead. Last year, the Raiders rode a breakout season behind QB Derek Carr until the penultimate regular season game in which he broke his leg. With QB Connor Cook filling in, the Raiders lost to the Denver Broncos to finish the season before bowing to a Houston Texans team led by QB Brock Osweiler in the wild card playoffs.
With the New York Giants, Raiders and Cowboys on the schedule, we’ll see how the Eagles respond behind QB Nick Foles and if Philly can avoid a repeat of the Raiders’ 2016.
2.) Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
The Vikes were tripped up by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday further condensing the playoff picture. They’ve got a home game against the Bengals up next, but what’s perhaps most interesting is a Week 16 game against the Green Bay Packers looming as QB Aaron Rodgers nears a return...
3.) Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
The loss on Sunday opens the door at the top of the conference to many of the other contenders, but the Rams control their own destiny. The real twist is that the Rams-Titans game in two weeks could be the biggest cross-conference game left in the entire NFL.
4.) New Orleans Saints (9-4)
The Saints currently have the leg up in the NFC South, but this one’s going to require all 16 games. By losing to the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday and the Panthers holding off the Vikings, this has the makings of a ridiculous dramatic ending forthcoming.
5.) Carolina Panthers (9-4)
6.) Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
See above above.
In the hunt
7.) Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
Sure, Sunday’s loss to the Jags was a major defeat, but the Week 11 loss to the Falcons that currently serves as the tiebreaker that would keep Seattle out of the playoffs might be weighing heavier in three weeks’ time.
8.) Detroit Lions (7-6)
9.) Green Bay Packers (7-6)
10.) Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
All three of these teams were in desperation mode last week. All three won on Sunday.
I think it’s fair to say at this point that 9-7 won’t be enough in the NFC to get into the playoffs in 2017, so a loss at any point kicks these three out of the club.
Detroit has the easiest schedule, but they ended a two-game losing streak with a last-minute field goal to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not exactly an impressive out. Dallas still has the Eagles and Seahawks on the calendar. Green Bay, though, has the toughest run with the Panthers, Vikings and Lions all remaining. If Rodgers returns this week and especially if he leads the Pack to a win over Carolina, NOBODY is going to want to play Green Bay and that nobody would include those three regular season opponents and any potential postseason opposition.