The Playoff race is in full flow as teams continue to battle it out for a place in the post-season.
The yearly December routine is one that we all look forward to year in and year out. The nights are cold and dark, the tree emerges from the attic once more, and most importantly, our team’s playoff picture starts to become that little bit clearer. With only four weeks of the regular season remaining and two teams already confirmed for the post-season, the remaining spots will begin to fill up in a short space of time.
Teams on the edge of a potential playoff spot, or “In the Hunt” as the league likes to coin it, are approaching the point of no return. Wins can be worth their weight in gold at this late stage of the season and losses can deal a deathly blow to any post-season aspirations. As is the nature of the beast at this point in the season, many of the matchups this weekend are critical in regards to playoff seeding.
Looking past the deadwood games – Chicago v Texas, Carolina v Denver, Dallas v Cincinnati, and the Chargers v Falcons – the remaining games of week fourteen are sure to provide drama.
The New York Jets almost pulled off an upset victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last weekend only to fall victim to a Derek Carr comeback. Their opponents this week, the Seattle Seahawks, were upset victims themselves. They lost at home to a New York Giants team led by Colt McCoy – not too many people expected to be saying that this season! Can the Jets somehow muster up a performance and topple the spiraling Seahawks?
Speaking of the Giants, their game against the Cardinals this week will certainly be one to watch. I believe this is a very winnable game for the G-Men and a replication of last week’s performance will see them shock Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Nobody expected the Giants to win last week – but their defence smothered a hapless Russell Wilson and shut down their deep-ball ability.
If the Giants defence can seal the edge, force Kyler into the pocket, and force him to make the tough throws, they may have a shot of winning this game and cementing their position atop the NFC East. An important game in many aspects for two teams who believe they are capable of performing in the playoffs – they just need to get there first.
Another scenario of two teams currently on the outside looking in is the fixture between the Raiders and the Colts. As previously mentioned, Vegas narrowly escaped an embarrassing loss last week while the Colts got back on track with a win over Houston. Both teams currently sit in second place in their divisions and will be eyeing a Wildcard spot with beady eyes.
They both have the talent, they both have gutsy play callers on the sideline and they both have all to play for. This match could turn out like a heavyweight boxing bout where the two fighters are just throwing haymakers all day long until the other throws in the towel – A crucial AFC matchup worth keeping an eye on.
The Kansas City Chiefs face a trip to Hard Rock Stadium where just ten months ago they were crowned world champions. The Miami Dolphins have proven a surprise package this year and with the Chiefs struggling to put teams away like they have done in years past, expect this game to still be competitive in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
A well-rounded slate of games, with both divisional clashes and intra-conference matchups scheduled to take place. Sunday Night Football will answer a lot of questions in the AFC playoff race as the Bills and Steelers play on Primetime in a crucial playoff positioning battle. As fans, we are treated to several enjoyable games as neutrals this weekend and the likelihood of an upset in a few games is not too alien of an idea.
Where will your team be in the standings after this weekend’s action has concluded? Share your opinion and let us know what you think of the games in week fourteen by getting in contact on Twitter @irenflshow.
Michael Lavery writes on behalf of the Irish NFL Show who are in partnership with Pundit Arena. Tune into their Sunday, Monday and Thursday shows every week on Facebook.