Playoffs?!? Playoffs?!?

Anthony Faber and Nick Frigerio

As the NFL regular season is coming to a close, teams have sights on one goal and one goal only: the Super Bowl. At the top of the AFC the usual teams are there, such as the Patriots and the Steelers. They both won their respective divisions this year. These two teams faced off in what looks like the game of the year as it came down to the last play. Not only was it a good game but it was extremely controversial. As tight end for the Steelers, Jesse James, reached for the end zone in the last minute of the game it looked to be over as the call on the field was a touchdown. However, after further review it was determined that it was an incomplete pass and the Patriots came out on top. After years of trying, the Jaguars’ hard work has finally paid off as they clinched a playoff birth for the first time in 11 seasons. This team is led by quarterback Blake Bortles. Many people have considered him mediocre, but this season was a breakout year for him. He has thrown a career low 8 interceptions this year along with 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.

In the NFC the story of the year is the Philadelphia Eagles. Quarterback Carson Wentz was the frontrunner for the MVP this season until it was all cut short in a game against the Rams where he tore his ACL. Now Nick Foles is leading the way in Philly and he proved that this team is not out of the race as he impressed all in a 34-29 win against the Giants who have disappointed many this year. The Eagles did not only clinch the division but they have a first round bye and a home game. Another impressive team in the NFC is the Minnesota Vikings who are led by Case Keenum who is in MVP talks. The team that has been an eye opener lately though is the Rams. They obliterated division rival Seattle Seahawks who are fighting for a playoff spot themselves. The Rams topped the Hawks 42-7 in a dominant performance by Todd Gurley. He stumbled his way to 4 touchdowns and 170 yards. The Rams are looking to prove they aren’t just a good story this year but they are contenders in a high powered conference.

The teams who are still in the hunt are fighting for their lives as this season comes to a close. Two of these teams are the Chiefs and Chargers who played each other in a Week 15 matchup  where the Chiefs came out on top in a 30-13 win. In the beginning of the season these teams couldn’t have been more different as the Chiefs started out 5-0 and beat the Patriots the first week of the year and put an end to all the talks about the Patriots going undefeated. The Chargers, on the other hand, had an awful start as they looked like they were competing for a top pick in the draft this year. But they battled back to put themselves back in contention for the playoffs. A team that exceeded expectations are the Titans, who are led by rising star Derrick Henry and young QB Marcus Mariota. This team can go far and surprise many with a deep run. Buffalo is a team who has been in this position many times and the odds are against them to find their way into the playoffs which they have not done since 1999 and have defined mediocrity since then.

In the hunt for the NFC are teams such as Dallas, Detroit, Seattle and Atlanta. The Falcons of Atlanta and the Cowboys of Dallas each clinched a first-round bye; last year, the Falcons advanced to the Superbowl and lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Seattle, who lost to Atlanta in the divisional round to Atlanta last year, has been losing games this year off of the foot of Blair Walsh who can’t find the rhythm he once had in Minnesota. Detroit, who lost in the in the wildcard to Seattle, has been a roller coaster of inconsistency this year led buy Matthew Stafford who got paid huge during the offseason even though he can’t seem to take his game to the next level in the playoffs.

All these teams are fighting for the one common goal which is to win the big game. They are ready to go and are preparing for what is ahead.

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license