With the 2010 NFL Regular Season nearing its end, the playoff picture is starting to come together. Sort of. With several key games with playoff implications occurring during week 15, let’s take a look at the playoff picture as it stands right now.
The New England Patriots are the only team to have clinched a playoff spot so far. They look to wrap up the AFC East this week as they face the Green Bay Packers, who though are fighting for a playoff spot, might be without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but we will get to the Packers a bit later.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a one game edge over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North, but will be without Troy Polamalu this week as they face the New York Jets.
The AFC South will basically come down to this weeks game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts. If the Jags can pull off the road win, they will clinch the division. Indy needs a win to pull even with Jacksonville, otherwise their season is over.
The West is starting to heat up a bit. Currently the Kansas City Chiefs have a ½ game lead over the San Diego Chargers, but with Chiefs’ QB Matt Cassel listed as questionable after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, Kansas City might be on the decline while San Diego is coming on strong.
As for the two wild card spots, the Jets are on a bit of a slide as they are losers of two in a row, having issues finding the end zone, and have coaches that like playing footsie with opposing teams players on the sidelines. New York is fighting for a wild card spot with the Baltimore Ravens who sit one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and play the New Orleans Saints this week in Baltimore.
The NFC is going to provide a bit of drama for us over the next few weeks. In the NFC East the Philadelphia Eagles will visit the New York Giants with the winner having a relatively firm grip on first place.
The Chicago Bears face off against the Minnesota Vikings this week looking to put a dagger in the Packers playoff plans. Currently Chicago has a one game lead over the Rodger-less Pack.
In the South, the Atlanta Falcons have the NFC’s best record as well as a one game lead over the New Orleans Saints. Not only are those two teams in the playoff hunt, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an outside chance to claim a wild card spot. This week Atlanta plays the Seattle Seahawks while the Saints head to Baltimore before these two teams will meet up next week in Atlanta.
The West, as mediocre as those teams are, will also provide some fun for football fans. The Sam Bradford-led St. Louis Rams are tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the division lead at 6-7, but the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals are still somehow within striking distance provided they figure out how to actually win games.
As far as what I see, I think the AFC seems pretty set as far as the Patriots taking the East and the Steelers taking the North. I think Indy will hold on to defeat the Jags at home and will take the division as they will play the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans while the Jaguars will play the Washington Redskins (who for whatever reason are starting Rex Grossman over Donovan McNabb), and then they face the Houston Texans on the road to end the year. I see them losing that game in Houston as well as this week in Indy. I see the Chiefs faltering at the end and the Chargers snatching the West. As for the wild card spots, Baltimore and New York are the two best teams not leading their divisions.
The NFC is pretty set except for the West. Both the Giants and Eagles will make the playoffs with the Giants taking the East and Philly being a wild card. Both teams are very good, but I just see New York taking this weekend’s game at home. The Bears will pull away in the North while the Falcons will take the South with New Orleans grabbing the other wild card spot. As for the West…well does it really matter? The Rams play KC this week before they host the 49ers and then travel to Seattle to end the season. Seattle plays Atlanta this week before they play Tampa Bay on the road next week, and then host the Rams. If Seattle can pull off beating either Atlanta (doubtful) or Tampa Bay (a bit more likely but still doubtful) Seattle will take the division as they will most likely beat St. Louis at home. Otherwise, I see St. Louis actually making the playoffs. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.