>Tuesday Lunch: Sizing Up the NFC Favorite

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Uncategorized
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By Will Robinson

 

With only three weeks to go in the regular season, the playoffs are being clearer and clearer. Or murkier. In fact, a lot can still happen with three games to play. The AFC looks locked up with New England and Patriots all but guaranteeing first round byes. Atlanta is ahead by two games over the next non-division foe, and if they hold off New Orleans (ahead by one), then they will have a first round bye.

However, there is still the possibility that Atlanta and New Orleans can be tied at 13-3 by the season’s end. If that is the case (assuming New Orleans wins out and Atlanta loses just one game, to New Orleans), there is a small chance New Orleans could clinch the first seed ahead of Atlanta, but reviewing the tiebreakers, it looks like Atlanta would have the advantage at the “Strength of Victory,” the fifth tiebreaker. This would place New Orleans at the fifth seed, with the second best record, opening their playoffs on the road at the NFC West winner’s stadium. Tampa Bay seems to be out of the playoff race for two primary reasons. 1) They are two games behind New Orleans for 2nd place in the NFC South, but only a game behind for the Wild Card. 2) They have placed three defensive starters on the IR and four total since December 6. They managed to stay healthy for the season, but it really matters what happens in December. They have lost too many crucial pieces too make a late run and sneak into the playoffs. Hell, they were a Punter Smith non-botched snap away from having to deal with the Redskins in overtime.

 

Chicago is up one game on Green Bay, who is currently in eighth place in the conference. They have an imminent head-to-head match-up in week 17 to end the season. This game could decide the division, especially if Green Bay does not fall too far behind the Bears, even though they will be playing the mighty Patriots this week. Green Bay’s playoff hopes seem to be dwindling away, especially with how they lost a should-be win against Detroit, even without Aaron Rodgers. I liked them before the year to come out of the North and to win the Super Bowl, but they would have to jump Tampa Bay and New York to make it into the playoffs.

 

Over in the NFC East, the competition has stepped up in recent weeks. The Cowboys are alive (while out of playoff contention), the Giants are back on the up, and the Eagles are front running. Vick and the Eagles look ridiculous on offense, finally achieving a balance with Shady McCoy running and Vick’s great weapons in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, McCoy, his legs, and his arm. They are in the driver’s seat. This upcoming match-up with New York will decide the NFC East, because Philadelphia will have the head-to-head tiebreaker, and will be automatically one game ahead of New York. image

 

The NFC West is actually very close, despite filled with mediocre teams. St. Louis is currently ahead of Seattle on a tiebreaker, and San Francisco is one game behind… with a 5-8 record. It is crazy to think that a sub .500 team could make the playoffs this year, because they are from the atrocious NFC West. I will give props to Steve Spagnuolo and Sam Bradford, for leading the Rams to six wins this year, which is as many as the last three seasons combined. If the playoffs started today, the Rams would host the current Super Bowl champions in a first round match-up. I would not like the Rams’, or any of these teams’ chances against the Saints.Rams Patriots Football

 

With all of the NFC divisions accounted for, this is how I now see the NFC Playoff picture shaking up.

 

1. Atlanta

2. Philadelphia

3. Green Bay

4. St. Louis

5. New Orleans

6. New York

 

So really, this is like the current standings, except Philly gets a first round bye and I have Chicago falling out. I like Green Bay’s last three games over Chicago’s, and I feel that Jay Cutler will feel the heat of must-win games in December and CHOKE (again).

 

Of the group that is in my playoff projections, I like Philadelphia the most because of their consistency to play away from the Linc. I would LOVE a Philly/Pittsburgh Super Bowl because it would divide the state of Pennsylvania, and it would be the most controversial media week ever (Ben Roethlisberger AND Vick? Sign every media member up!).

 

Sorry, for the shorter piece today; I’m in the middle of finals and I am feeling kind of lazy stressed and busy. Enjoy your week, and next week I will have a LOT to talk about with a sizeable slate of big games next week (Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis, New Orleans vs. Baltimore, Philadelphia vs. NY Giants, NY Jets vs. Pittsburgh, Green Bay vs. New England).

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