Seattle Seahawks riding the dark horse into the NFL playoffs
Frontrunners and Dark Horses of the playoffs
With the NFL playoffs just four weeks away, let’s take a look at the postseason hunt:
Who are the AFC/NFC frontrunners? Which team to watch out for a late playoff surge?
Scroll through to find out more on the current NFL playoff picture…
Kansas City Chiefs: A 9-2 record, a rookie gun-slinger, and the fastest wide receiver in the league, of course the Chiefs are the drivers in AFC playoff picture. K.C.’s remaining schedule includes at Oakland, vs. Baltimore, vs. L.A. Chargers, at Seattle, and vs. Oakland, which leaves a probable 13-3 record at the end of the season and a first-round BYE.
New England Patriots (8-3): Name a deadlier duo then Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the tail end of the season? These two understate one another and the game more than Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solving a mystery. Season after season, the Patriots find themselves constantly in the hunt of the AFC Championship game. This season is no different with the Pats’ remaining schedule vs. Minnesota, at Miami, at Pittsburgh, vs. Buffalo, and vs. N.Y. Jets.
***Mark your calendars for the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 23rd on Sunday Night Football. This one is going to be good on several levels: Patrick Mahomes vs. Russell Wilson; Seattle vying for a playoff spot; Sunday Night Football; home field advantage; you name it…
AFC Tight Race
Houston Texans (8-3): Talk about the turnaround of the year. QB Deshaun Watson has these Texans rolling on an eight-game win streak and sitting atop of the AFC South at 8-3. And with a remaining schedule of vs. Cleveland, vs. Indianapolis, at N.Y. Jets, at Philadelphia, and vs. Jacksonville, a potential division lock and playoff spot is eminent.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1): After starting off the season 1-2-1 and not knowing the status of elite running back Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers have somehow managed to turn their season around with a mid-season six-game win streak and atop the AFC North. However, this will be a tight finish with the L.A. Chargers, at Oakland, vs. New England, at New Orleans, and vs. Cincinnati left on their schedule.
Chargers (8-3) vs. Colts (6-5): Yes, looking at their records right now, absolutely put the Chargers in the playoffs. However, there are still four weeks remaining in the season and based on the direction each team is headed, this could be close in the end. Look at the Colts: Andrew Luck is on fire. The Colts are riding a five-game win streak and are at Jacksonville, at Houston, vs. Dallas, vs. N.Y. Giants, and at Tennessee remaining. The Chargers fly to chilly Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati, at Kansas City, vs. Baltimore, and finish a mile high in Denver.
New Orleans Saints (10-1): Duh. Drew Brees is playing like he has the mind of someone who has been in the league since birth and with the body of a 25-year-old. The connection between Brees and receiver Michael Thomas has been lights out, and the steak-n-sizzle of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram has been unstoppable. New Orleans will make the playoffs on 99% of all scenarios. I like those odds. Remaining on their schedule: at Dallas, at Tampa Bay, at Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Carolina. The only negative in this home stretch is three away games in a row…
Los Angeles Rams (10-1): A 45-35 loss to the Saints in week nine and a huge 54-51 win on MNF vs. the Chiefs two weeks ago
***Seattle almost gutted out two wins over the Rams this season: a 33-31 loss at home and then a 36-31 loss in Los Angeles proving that despite records, a division opponent is not one to be overlooked and that Seattle at home is never an easy win.
NFC Tight Race
Chicago Bears (8-3): Chicago is absolutely rolling right now on its five-game win streak and atop the NFC North. Talk about a shake up in this division with Green Bay falling to a losing record WITH Aaron Rodgers and the Vikings being hot and cold, keep an eye on this division moving forward. But acquiring Khalil Mack early in the season is paying its dividends. Chicago is fourth in the league in team defense behind Kyle Fuller (5) and Eddie Jackson (4), who are second and fourth in the league in interceptions. Pair that with the year that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is having, and don’t wake the Bear.
Dallas Cowboys (6-5): The NFC East is one of the more complicated divisions in terms of what could happen. Dallas is beginning to turn things around after a shaky 3-5 start to sitting on a current three-game win streak and are looking ahead to hosting New Orleans and Philadelphia, at Indianapolis, vs. Tampa Bay and at N.Y. Giants. On the other hand, the Washington Redskins, also sitting at 6-5 in the division, are still hanging around. But we will soon find out just how much impact the loss of starting quarterback Alex Smith will have down the stretch with games against the Eagles twice, vs. N.Y. Giants, and at Jacksonville and Tennessee.
NFC Dark horse (Seattle Seahawks)
The odds are in the Seahawks’ favor.
Seattle is coming off two stellar and much needed wins for a 6-5 record: 27-24 over the Green Bay Packers and a 30-27 road win at Carolina, putting Seattle above Carolina in the NFC playoff race in the event of a tie.
Four of the final five games on their schedule are at home, and boy the 12th Man is for real in Seattle as one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. Seattle hosts San Francisco and Minnesota (MNF), on the road at San Francisco, before returning home for their final two games hosting Kansas City (SNF) and Arizona.
Three out of five games remaining are to division opponents San Francisco (2-9) and Arizona (2-9), two rookie quarterbacks and two programs in a rebuild stage. All in favor of Seattle victories.