Like I said the other day, Seattle is still a tough place to win for road teams. Especially when the Seahawks felt disrespected by being six-point underdogs at The Link. The fact that the Eagles were held in check for the first time since week two, doesn’t mean they’re all of a sudden no longer the best team in the NFC. The Seahawks are a very good team that was in desperation mode Sunday night; so please don’t tell me that Philly got exposed and Wentz isn’t for real. If you say that then you clearly didn’t watch the game.
I’ve swapped back and forth between the Patriots and Eagles for the number one ranking since around week 7 of the schedule. The Chiefs held down the #1 spot for nearly half the season before Kareem Hunt hit a wall and the defense softened up. The Steelers have been in the mix proving to be a complete team. Yet sometimes Pittsburgh completely baffles us as they play to the level of their competition. This was on exhibit Monday night after being down 17 – 0 to begin the match-up against the Bengals. Then the Steelers made a second-half comeback feeding Le’Veon Bell and eventually winning the game as time expired on a Chris Boswell field goal.
Besides New England and Pittsburgh who are both (10 -2), no other AFC team besides maybe Jacksonville (8 – 4) or Kansas City (6 -6) scares their opponent. When it’s all said and done I believe that Tom Brady will be heading to his eighth Super Bowl. That’s just insane! Perhaps the Chargers (6 -6) could make a run as they are playing solid football and peaking at a time that can carry them to the playoffs and even the AFC West crown.
The NFC is much more of a mystery. This conference is stacked with contenders starting with those Eagles who still have the best record in the league at (10 – 2). Philadelphia has weapons all over the field and is very well coached. They have the quarterback, the defense and the skill to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The team that just beat them also has a chance. Russell Wilson is the NFL’s version of Houdini. First, you see him, then you don’t and then something amazing happens. If Seattle (8 – 4) can get their secondary together then the Seahawks could go back to familiar territory as they’ve played in two of the last four championships.
New Orleans (9 – 3), Carolina (8 – 4) and Atlanta (7 – 5) have all been to the Super Bowl in recent memory. Only the Saints won out of this group back in 2009. That was a passing team. Almost a decade later, Sean Payton and Drew Brees have switched it up focusing on the ground game and defense to get victories. Their dynamic duo of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara showed the Panthers what their two-headed monster looks like in a convincing season sweep to victory in The Big Easy over the weekend taking full control of 1st place in the NFC South.
The third place team in that division are the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons who clearly have had the Super Bowl loss hangover all season. The Falcons couldn’t put the ball in the end zone against the Vikings Sunday who improved their record to (10 – 2) tying the leagues best along with the Eagles, Steelers, and Patriots. When I watch Minnesota play ball, I see a team that has a totally cohesive unit and players who go 100% on every single down. Mike Zimmer is my coach of the year for a variety of reasons. They end up with Case Keenum at QB and lose the potential rookie of the year in Dalvin Cook but the Vikings just seem to get better. Nobody wants to play Minnesota because they know that the defense is going to send them home with more black and blue marks than the old NFC North.
Unless Aaron Rodgers makes some spectacular comeback in time to get the Packers (6 – 6) into a wild-card spot, the only remaining contender in the NFC is the Los Angeles Rams who lead the NFC West with a (9 – 3) record. They take on the Seahawks up in Seattle in two weeks so mark your calendars for that one! The Rams have become a very serious contender to make a Super Bowl run. Sean McVay and Wade Phillips are coaching this team up and getting the best out of every player. As far as I can see, the only thing going against the Rams are their collective age. This is a very young team without championship pedigree so coaching will be as important on the field as it will be off when it comes to postseason success.
If the season ended right now this is what the postseason would look like:
Right now the league is stacked with excellent quarterbacks if you include Aaron Rodgers and rookie DeShaun Watson. The NFL is in great shape for the future and parity will be better than ever over the next five to six seasons. My pre-season final four were Steelers defeating the Patriots and the Seahawks beating the Eagles like we saw the other night. Although this time the game would be in Philadelphia. Ultimately I went with the rematch from 2005 when the Steelers beat the Seahawks. I picked Pittsburgh again to win by a field goal in what could be an epic Super Bowl. Hey, I am The Sports Prophet after-all!
Here are my top 10 teams as it stands heading into week 14: