Ah the holidays! Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa…and of course, the end of the NFL season.
The push for the playoffs is coming down the home stretch, and eleven of twelves playoff spots are still up for grabs, with the Dallas Cowboys becoming the first team to clinch this past weekend. Here are four predictions, four things to keep an eye on, as we approach the final stretch…
1) The Titans Win the AFC South
Back in September, I picked the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the AFC South. Oops.
But now, I’m going to request a formal redo, going with another bold pick, not the seemingly safe option in the usual suspects Houston and Indianapolis…but rather, I’ll go with the Titans.
Of the three remaining teams in contention for the South’s title, the Titans, to me anyway, stand the best chance in an inevitable showdown with the runner-up of the AFC West brouhaha between the Raiders and Chiefs. Sorry, but I don’t need to see Brock Osweiler struggle on national TV…AGAIN…or Andrew Luck running for his life behind an offensive line made up a picket fence. Rather, give me Marcus Mariota. Give me DeMarco Murray. For my childhood’s sake…give me the Titans!!!
2) The Denver Broncos Will Miss the Playoffs
Broncos fans who claimed “all we need is a great defense!” back in September are already preordering their Tony Romo jerseys. Romo in Denver, to me anyway, is a perfect match, but for the time being, the Broncos are in trouble. Trevor Siemian has been serviceable in taking over for Peyton Manning, but Paxton Lynch has failed to display the potential that caused the Broncos to take him in the first round last season. Denver has fallen a bit behind the Raiders-Chiefs for division supremacy, though they do control their own destiny via the wild card, receiving a bit of a boost when the Miami Dolphins failed to show up to defend their six-game winning streak on Sunday afternoon, but they could quickly lose ground to the runner up of the Steelers/Ravens AFC North battle. Denver’s remaining schedule isn’t the prettiest either. Rematches with the Chiefs and Raiders loom (the former on Christmas Day), but beforehand they get the Titans and Patriots.
3) The Green Bay Packers Win the NFC North
Don’t get me wrong…I for one, love what the Detroit Lions have been doing this season. They’re a heck of an exciting team to watch, and I love that they’ve been able to accomplish so much sans Calvin Johnson, one of the best receivers in NFL history. So what’s the problem? Oh yeah…they’re the Lions. You’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Meanwhile, the Packers, left for dead a few weeks ago, earned some much needed confidence against mediocre teams like Philadelphia and Houston, currently sitting two games behind Detroit, who needs to play the NFC East two headed monster of the Giants and Cowboys…before wrapping things up with a Week 17 tilt with Green Bay. I never like counting an Aaron Rodgers led team out of it. And if the Packers pass a hugeeeee test this week against Seattle…hold tight.
4) Atlanta Misses The Playoffs
If the Lions do indeed choke, they can still make things right via the wild card. But which unlucky team would drop out? My money would be on the Atlanta Falcons.
Out of nowhere, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become the hottest team in football, taking over shared ownership of the NFC South lead. The Falcons, meanwhile, have been maddeningly inconsistent since a 4-1 start. Just when you’re ready to trust them again…like when they put up 43 on Tampa Bay a few weeks ago…they pull out something like losing to Kansas City on a two point conversion returned for a score. Matt Ryan has been known for his playoff collapses in the past. But it would appear this year’s choke is way ahead of schedule.
What prediction do you have for the final four weeks of the year? Tweet @GeoffMags5490 and keep the conversation going