Just two weeks to go, and unlike most years, the NFL playoff picture is very clear. In the AFC, New England and Cincinnati have the inside track to first round byes.
Pittsburgh and Kansas City have the inside track to wildcard berths. Denver must win another game to avoid getting passed. The Jets are poised on the edge, waiting to jump in. And the Houston Texans appear to have won the suck lottery known as the AFC South.
In the NFC, Carolina and Arizona have the byes. Green Bay and Minnesota are both in – Green Bay probably as a division winner. Seattle is the wildcard no one wants to play. In the NFC East, Philadelphia can clinch if they win out. Washington can clinch if they win this Saturday. The Giants can probably still get in too, but no one cares because the NFC is a giant shitpit where football goes to die.
Let’s just hope the crap teams who don’t belong get eliminated early, because I’m antsy to see second round games like Pittsburgh at New England and Seattle at Carolina. Who the hell WOULDN’T want to see those?!
This Week’s Sucked And Won
Devonta Freeman, RB (ATL): The Falcons first win in ages certainly didn’t look like their early season victories, which featured an effective running game. Freeman carried 25 times for just 56 yards, a woeful average that would never have cut it in a more wide open game.
This week’s catch of the day came from underrated Seattle WR Doug Baldwin. Besides a pair of touchdowns, he had a pretty 27 yard catch and run that featured some legit #1 receiver moves. You think Russell Wilson’s putting up those awesome numbers all by himself?
Shocking Realization of the Week
It’s a passing league? If the playoffs started today, three of the top 5 quarterbacks in passing yards and 3 of the top 5 receivers in receiving yards would all be watching on TV.
So what do you make of Odell Beckham Jr.’s little tantrum vs. Carolina’s Josh Norman. Two things. First, Beckham has a little maturing to do. Someone needs to take him aside and explain who Terrell Owens was and why he, Odell, doesn’t want to be the next T.O. Second, Josh Norman is flat out the man. He is THE shutdown corner in the NFL this year, and the proof is how he shut out Beckham (and every other top receiver he’s faced) for most of the game, up to the point where they guy was so frustrated he lost his cool.
This Week’s Great But Lost
Kamar Aiken, WR (BAL): This completely unknown receiver managed to catch 8 balls for 128 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City. Way to make the roster next year guy!
If Pittsburgh or Seattle are the teams no one wants to face in the playoffs, then surely the Vikings are the team no one’s losing sleep over. Although they’ve had a terrific season, they’ve come up small every time they’ve played a quality opponent down the stretch, and the Vikings look and feel like a team that’s not quite ready. One more strike? They have key injuries on defense that will make them that much easier to beat if they persist.
Thursday Pick: San Diego (+5.5) @Oakland (Westgate Superbook)
This spread feels a bit high. San Diego has been bad all year, but they’ve also had injury problems nearly as bad as Baltimore’s, and now they’re gettings some people back. Oakland, meanwhile, peaked in November. They’re a bit deflated and playing out the string. The Chargers probably aren’t good enough to pull the upset, but the Raiders don’t look like they have many fireworks left to set off either.
Oakland Raiders 24 San Diego Chargers 20