AFC

The Burning 7: The NFC Playoffs Will Be Incredible

Can’t believe there are only three more weeks of the season remaining. Yet the prospect of the postseason this year has me jacked up. Especially on the NFC side of things. The AFC is starting to become a bit more interesting but in the end, we all expect Patriots/Steelers in late January.

Then again these next three weeks could flip narratives on its axle.

1. Are we sure Matt Ryan is still good?

Look. The Falcons won on Thursday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. All the credit goes to the defense. End of the discussion. I’m a Matt Ryan fan, but my goodness was he dreadful, throwing three absolutely horrible interceptions. He was the MVP last season and deservedly so, but he hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game this entire year. Is he a top 10 quarterback in the league still? Sure. But this year has been a strange one for the guy.

https://youtu.be/30JS97BDQBo

2. If the Lions fire Jim Caldwell at season’s end I’m going to lose my collective shit

So let’s keep it 100. Hypothetically the Lions finish the year 8-8. Do you fire Jim Caldwell in hopes you can do better in filling a head coaching position rather than letting him ride his contract out? Caldwell may be too quiet for our liking and quite frankly, he does come off as a bit bland. But here is what he has also brought to the Detroit Lions.

Stability.

Hopefully, the Lions front office thinks thoroughly on their position on Jim Caldwell — who is reportedly on the “hot seat”. Now let’s be honest, it hasn’t been great but he’s been very solid and I believe he earned the right at the very least to see the remainder of his contract play out.

3. Kansas City can actually right the ship to end the season

A must win over Oakland is what the doctor ordered. So step one is complete. Now they must beat the red-hot Chargers next week to take back full control of the AFC West. As bad as the collapse in recent weeks has been for the Chiefs, these next three weeks could turn around their season. A win over the Chargers will surely put them back in the driver seat as they close out the year vs. Miami and Denver.

4. The 49ers are going to be good sooner rather than later

Sure the 49ers are only 3-10 for the season. But something to ponder. They are on a two-game win streak with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Also, if you have paid attention to this team in recent weeks you’d notice there is a certain swag about them both on and off the field. San Francisco is acting like a team that is 10-3 as opposed to the latter. I really believe that the presence of Jimmy G and the knowledge that he is the team’s future (so long as the Niners sign him to a long-term deal this spring) has instilled a boatload of confidence and it is resonating throughout that locker room. Never underestimate that.

5. The NFC playoffs are going to be epic

If the playoffs started next weekend this is how the seeding in the NFC would look.

1. Eagles (11-2) – Season could be down the drain if the reports on Carson Wentz’s knee injury about a torn ACL are true.
2. Vikings (10-3) – Came down to earth in Carolina
3. Rams (9-4) – To be honest they beat themselves in losing to the Eagles.
4. Saints (9-4) – Still not sure how I feel about New Orleans.
5. Panthers (9-4) – When Cam Newton is on his game and the team responds, they are the most dangerous team in the entire conference.
6. Falcons (8-5 – Defending NFC champs has to be taken seriously to some degree, right?

Then look at the cluster behind the playoff six.

Seattle (8-5) – Russell Wilson is carrying this team with duct tape and stitches. Still my MVP.

Dallas (7-6) No one is talking about it but they do get RB Ezekiel Elliott back in the lineup for Week 16.

Green Bay (7-6) – Very strong possibility Aaron Rodgers is back in the lineup next weekend. Could be potential chaos ahead.

Detroit (7-6) – Do not count out the Lions just yet. Schedule still remains relatively “soft” to close out the 2017 campaign.

6. I am still having trouble trusting the Steelers

Maybe I’ve been too hard on the Steelers all year. But the fact is they are in my opinion the most talented team in all of football. In the last two weeks, they’ve had to eek out late-game heroics to knock off both division rivals in the Bengals and Ravens respectively. In the end, I got what I wanted. Steelers vs Patriots with the same identical record (New England should take care of Miami Monday night). Week 15 we will learn a lot more about Pittsburgh.

7. Time to take the Jaguars seriously.

What was built in Jacksonville as the “biggest game in a decade” the Jags sure as hell came through with a bang in a solid 30-24 win over always tough Seattle. Even Blake Bortles made key plays throughout the contest. Add Jacksonville’s dominant defense and they could potentially cause some serious issue in the postseason with teams not named New England.

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