Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sports: NFL (Week 15-17)

The NFL season is over with the final game offering some surprises and giving a few teams a chance in the playoffs while other teams end on a high note for next year. I managed to win the Super Bowl of my fantasy team after starting the season with four straight losses. I slipped into the playoffs and won the two-week matches to take the championship for my league. I'll take a look at the playoffs teams that won each division and the two wild-card teams from each conference. I'll either predict the matchups here or write them out on my wild card weekend post. 

AFC
1. New England Patriots (AFC East)
It looks like nothing will stop the Patriots from repeating their drive to the Super Bowl as they now have home-field advantage to help them along. Their star quarterback and tight-end make a nearly unstoppable duo and their win earlier this season against the Steelers proves they can defeat their toughest opponent. They'll take the bye week. They'll face their divisional rival the Bills if Buffalo makes it through the first round or the Titans or Chiefs, but whoever it is, I suspect they'll make short work of them.


2. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North)
The Steelers have the best chance of upsetting the Patriots but I'm not sure of the condition of their star wide receiver who was injured in the next to last game. They rested their players against the Browns in the last game so the close game is not a sign of their playoff performance. They will face the tougher team that comes out of the wild card weekend. 
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)
The Jaguars haven't been in the playoffs for a while and they are the leader of a bad division. They do have a chance to move the AFC Championship but it would take an upset of the Steelers to do that and I just don't see that happening. If their quarterback can improve and they keep a consistent run game with their defense strong, then they could be a force to be reckoned with in future seasons. They lost their last two games so they don't have good momentum.
4. Kansas City Chief (AFC West)
The Chiefs started out strong this year and have the potential to be a great team. I thought they were the only ones who could upset the Patriots but they started to fall off rapidly and ended the season on a weak not almost losing their division title to the Chargers. I'd like to see the Chiefs succeed but they'll have to remember who they were when the season began. 
5.  Tennessee Titans (Wild Card)
The Titans earned their spot with a win in the last game but three losses before that do not bode well for how they will perform in the playoffs. If they can take out the Chiefs, then they may face the Patriots unless the Bills go on, and in that case they'll probably lose to the Steelers. I don't see a path forward this year but Tennessee has improved a lot and could have a brighter future. 
6. Buffalo Bills (Wild Card)
The Buffalo Bills had to have a lot go their way to get into the playoffs and that exact scenario happened so that they are in. If their luck continues, they can move past the Jaguars but I don't see them beating their divisional rivals, the unstoppable Patriots. Still, Buffalo did snap a streak of not showing up in the playoffs so this is a positive step forward. 
NFC
1. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)
The Eagles are suffering from a rough end of the season as they lost their rookie quarterback who is responsible for their winning season. They beat two weak opponents, Raiders and Giants, but didn't score in their final game of the season against the Cowboys. Whoever the Eagles face could easily eliminate them unless their backup quarterback comes through for them. I don't see the Eagles int he NFC Championship and definitely not the Super Bowl.

2. Minnesota Vikings (NFC North)
The Vikings look like the strongest team in the NFC but even they have their weakness. The backup quarterback who took over helped my fantasy team out so I'm a fan and they will be the last team to face the Falcons so I'm rooting for them to go far. The Vikings had a clear path thanks to a Packers injury so I'm not sure if they are the real thing here. 
3. Los Angeles Rams (NFC West)
The Los Angeles Rams should try to win the Super Bowl this year for their new city because next year they are going to have to deal with a lethal 49ers team with an undefeated quarterback who beat them in the last game of this year. I hope the Rams lose to the Falcons but if they move past, I'd like for them to go far. 

4. New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
The Saints have turned their season around from the last two seasons of rough play. They have a strong run game and their veteran quarterback is up for one more run to the Super Bowl. They'll face their divisional rival in the wild card weekend and if they get past that, they may be able to push past the other NFC opponents. Their loss to the Buccaneers prevented them from taking third place in the standings. 
5. Carolina Panther (Wild Card)
The Panthers lost their last game of the season but they have given a decent performance this year. The Panthers will be a force to reckon with, especially if they can get past the Saints in their first round. If they can get some momentum, the Panthers could get to the Super Bowl like they did two years ago. 
 
6. Atlanta Falcons (Wild Card)
The team I'm most happy about being in the playoffs, the Falcons could possibly go pretty far, maybe even a redemption Super Bowl visit. This may just be me being optimistic but if they can get past the Rams, who have some problems, they'll play the Eagles who lost their starting quarterback. The NFC South is the strongest division so I see two teams from this division in the NFC Championship.  

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