With only two weeks left in the NFL regular season, Jaime sorts through the rubble to find which teams are still breathing.
So Week 15 is on the books. Well, technically no; the Jets and the Titans are playing right now, but based on their records they don’t really count. They’re done. No one is paying attention to the Jets and Titans anymore. I’m not even watching the game. No one is. This is the NFL; the only teams that matter are the teams going to the playoffs, and the Jets and the Titans are definitely not doing that.
But that game aside, this is my favorite time of year for football. It seems that every year it comes down to the last few games on the slate, with five or six teams still vying for a final playoff spot, separated by only a single game or a division record. For the next two weeks we’re gonna have some great matchups with some seasons on the line, and nowhere is going to be more competitive than in the:
The AFC North is never settled; every time the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals meet it’s a bloodbath. There doesn’t even need to be a playoff spot on the line for them to tear into one another, but when there is, it’s doubly troubling.
With a loss yesterday, the Steelers are in a must-win situation this week to stay in the hunt in the AFC North. But they’re playing the red-hot Bengals and I’m expecting a loss, moving Cincinnati into the final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in the middle of a three-game losing streak and drew the equally out-of-touch Giants in a must-win game for the G-Men. If the Ravens lose, they could fall to 9-6 and be in danger of losing the division (but not a playoff spot), especially with the Bengals coming to town in Week 17.
So that’s the most exciting division. The least exciting division is (once again) the AFC East, where (shocker alert) the Patriots have had it locked up for weeks. No one’s even close. No one else is even above .500, including my Dolphins. It’s kind of depressing.
The most surprising team? Gotta be the Colts, who, with a rookie QB, came back from 2-14 to be sitting pretty for the playoffs. It’s one thing to walk onto a team that’s terrible and replace Rex Grossman (looking at you here, RGIII), but to walk onto the field in a crazy football town like Indianapolis and replace a legend like Peyton Manning is something else. Even more exciting is the potential matchup between the two teams should they meet in what I’m affectionately calling the PonyBowl (it being between the Colts and the Broncos).
Across the way, the most exciting division in the NFC is not surprisingly the NFC East. Only a few weeks ago it looked like the Giants were on their way to locking this one up, but now they’re on the outside looking in, on the losing end of a three-way tie. Which is funny; the team that everyone thought would run away with the division, the Eagles, are the only team not in the running. But the Giants do get a boost from not having to play either one of these teams in the final two weeks; having the ’Boys and the ’Skins playing each other in Week 17 means one of them has to lose and fall back, and the G-men are hoping it’s the ’Skins who have an edge in the divisional tie-breaker.
The most surprising team has been the Vikings, who at 8-6 still have a shot at the playoffs, but they have to get through the Packers and the Texans in the final two weeks, and that doesn’t seem likely. The Bears, on the other hand, control their destiny with the lowly Cardinals and Lions lined up and should be able to squeak in as the final playoff team, along with Seattle.
And while we’re talking about Playoffs, I’ll have you all know I advanced through the final round of my fantasy playoff season after an arduous two-week playoff that was tied after week one and was sabotaged by Matthew Stafford and Ray Rice in the second week. But I still managed to make it through and am confident that my team will step it up to take this year’s crown.