NFL Playoff Hunt

Sebastian Parente, Staff Writer

AFC West, more like the AFC’s best?  Most teams can on any given Sunday put up a legit chance of winning, except the Browns.  Even on their bye week, the Browns would find a way to lose. With the NFL season coming to a close, many teams are looking forward to the playoffs and some teams are not. The Cowboys and the Patriots continue to lead their respective conferences, while the Browns and 49ers continue to be a disappointment for fans. Though certain teams are a lock for the playoffs barring any unforeseen injuries, many of the teams’ spots are not guaranteed and every game is a must win for them.  According to, “More than half the league remains legitimately alive in their hopes of playing in the postseason.”  So let’s break it down conference by conference.

In the NFC, the Cowboys are essentially a lock for the playoffs due to their impressive season without their “former star” Tony Romo. And as much as it pains me to say, the Cowboys are for real this year. Eleven straight wins in a row, and while on the verge for 12, the New York Football Giants handed the Cowboys their second loss of the season, with both coming to the Giants.  The Vikings started strong and they are on the verge of making the playoffs, but they are also on the verge of missing out to division rivals the Lions. The Packers after a slow start are looking like the team that many predicted they would be and could win the division in these closing weeks and contend for the Lombardi.  And the West belongs to the  Seahawks; the rest of the teams are among the worst in the league and none will make the playoffs.  The wide open NFC South has probably two teams that have legit chances of winning this division and making the playoffs, but who knows what will happen in the final weeks. The Buccaneers in previous weeks have won close games in relatively difficult stadiums in which to win, which makes them a threat to many teams (since if the Bucs sneak in, they will not have home field advantage). And the Falcons hope that their stars, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan, can stay healthy and playing at the top level they have been playing at all year. Will the Bucs edge out the Falcons for the division or will they stay in a wildcard spot? Only time will tell.

In the AFC, the Patriots and Raiders are the teams that nobody that is in the hunt for the playoffs wants to see.  The AFC South is up for grabs as any of those teams could win or lose on any given Sunday, while those that miss out will have a good draft pick. The Colts were early season heavy favorites, but have not been so convincing this year.  The Texans lead this division but in my opinion, with no consistent quarterback they will fall just short of winning this division.  The East has the Patriots as the top team but the Dolphins, who unfortunately are in a division with the Patriots, could contend for a wildcard spot if one of the teams in the AFC West falls apart and allows the Dolphins to sneak in. The West is arguably the best division this year with a possibility of three teams to make the postseason and probably will.  A week 17 matchup between the Broncos and Raiders very well could determine this division.   And the AFC North is nowhere where it has been in years past with plenty of teams failing to meet their expectations, only the Browns able to do so by being… well the Browns. Sitting at 0-14, the possibility of an 0-16 season is becoming a reality week after week.  Every week it seems that a new quarterback is playing for this team and that can certainly help them finish without a win. The Steelers have overall not been the great team they were supposed to be with all of their weapons, and the Ravens have been inconsistent as well for a majority of the year.

When the season comes to an end in two short weeks, only twelve teams will have qualified for the second season, the playoffs . These twelve teams I have listed below will be the ones that fight for the almighty Lombardi trophy and win Super Bowl LI in Houston.   “Who is going to be around when the dust clears, (this is) an exercise otherwise known as separating the contenders from the pretenders,” as said by’s Jeffri Chadiha.  



NFC                                                                                         AFC

1: Dallas Cowboys(NFC East Winner)                                1: Oakland Raiders(AFC West Winner)

2: Seattle Seahawks(NFC West Winner)                           2: New England Patriots(AFC East Winner)

3: Detroit Lions(NFC North Winner)                                3: Pittsburgh Steelers(AFC North Winner)

4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers(NFC South Winner)              4: Tennessee Titans(AFC South Winner)

5:  New York Giants(First Wildcard)                                  5: Kansas City Chiefs(First Wildcard)

6: Atlanta Falcons(Final Wildcard)                                    6:  Denver Broncos (Final Wildcard)



* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license